Saturday, July 9, 2011

Blame it on the Chickens

We were in the car the other day when the subject of mothers came up. Specifically why mothers had to be so bossy and mean. Like me. "Well, on the bright side, you only have one mother to deal with." I told the girls. "I had two."
"TWO mothers bossing you around!?!" they exclaimed in horror.
"Yep. But then again, I also get twice the love, so that's good."
"Tutu and Mimi are your mothers, right mommy?" asked Ava "How can they both be your mother?"
"Well, Tutu and Poppy were my mother and father when I was born, and then they stopped being married. Then Poppy married Mimi and she became my mother too."
"But why did Tutu and Poppy stop being married?" asked Cate

****Danger! Danger! Danger!******Back away from topic!****Danger! Danger! Danger!****

"Weellllll...." I began, silently cursing myself for going down this particular conversational road....

"It was because of the chickens, right mommy?" says Ava.
"The chickens?"
"Yes. Because Tutu had all those chickens and Poppy didn't like them. So he married Mimi instead because she only has dogs and cats and he liked dogs and cats".

"Yes. That's just it. It was because of those darn chickens."

See? Someone needs to tell the Republicans it's not the gays that are threatening marriage - it's the chickens they need to be keeping an eye on......

Marriage = man + woman NOT Marriage = man + woman + chickens

Dyslexia? I wish.

For our visit to Chicago I packed the tops I had embroidered for the girls so as to show them to their grandma. Ava, of course, happily put hers on and showed grandma how she had helped pick the colors, etc. etc. Cathryn, on the other hand, took one look at the top and proceeded to have a nuclear-power-plant-worthy meltdown.

How could I possibly ask her to wear this horrific monstrosity? Didn't I know that she hated it? HATED! IT! and would NEVER wear it, not in a million billion infinity years! EVER!

Just in case I was not sure if she liked it or not.

Fine. Got it. You don't like the shirt. BUT, and this is a big BUT, let's take a moment to talk about civility. And how, if someone spends a great deal of effort making you something, you need to be grateful. Even if you don't like it. Even if that person gave birth to you.

NOOOOOOO!!!! I will not EVER like it! I *HATE* grateful! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

So I told her that she did not have to wear the shirt, I wasn't going to force her, but I thought she was behaving very rudely, she had hurt my feelings and I didn't want to talk to her for a while. And I left the room and went to read a magazine full of young, single, childless women, clearly enjoying their young, single, childless lives. A few minutes later Cate comes up and yells "Fine! I'm SORRY!". To which I reply: Cathryn, you are old enough to understand that when you are rude and hurt someone's feelings, yelling "I'm sorry" at them isn't enough to make things right. I am still angry with you. Please leave me alone. She throws herself to the ground in mortal agony; my words have wounded her to the quick! When she sees that I am ignoring her she huffs off dramatically. (Probably going to tell on me to grandma)

She comes back about 5 minutes later and thrusts a piece of paper into my face. "I made this for you" she snots. It is a drawing of a woman (presumably me) and a little girl (presumably her) standing together. Both are smiling. On it she has scrawled LOVE MOMMY, although the "love" part is backwards (E-V-O-L; isn't that precious?). My heart softens. "Are you telling me you love me?"

"No. It says 'Evil Mommy'."

Of course. Thanks, kid. Have I told you lately that you are NOT my favorite?


I went walking with Michelle this morning, around the track at Mt. SAC. As we were heading up one of the more killer hills I was suddenly attacked by a bee. I say ATTACKED. I have never witnessed this type of behavior in Apoidea, and let me tell you it was quite unsettling. The thing lodged itself in my hair, at which point it became entangled in my -ahem- glorious mane. Seriously, I could not get this thing out, and I could hear it buzzing around, close to my ear, just trying to get into my brain. I'm jumping all over the trail, hair flying wildly around me, yelling BEE! BEE! BEE! at the top of my lungs. Michelle finally stops laughing and attempts to help me by combing her fingers through my hair, saying "I don't feel anything. Are you sure it's still in there?" YES! YES! DON'T YOU HEAR IT BUZZING?!? She continues to comb through my hair, all the while yelling at me to keep still dammit! This goes on for a few minutes: her combing, me wailing, the bee getting angrier and angrier, at which point Michelle proclaims "I just want you to know I AM NOT CHANGING YOUR DIAPERS. You are on your own." At which point the bee is finally extracted from my hair and promptly goes after Michelle, because it senses her evilness.
Now who's a whiny bitch, huh? HUH?
In the end the bee flew off, probably disgusted with us both. And while Shell may not ever change my diapers she was there for me when I needed her today, and really what more can you ask of a friend?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Did You Know?

Just a few factoids to keep in mind as we grumble through our day:

*Half the world's population is living without access to clean drinking water. (BBC)

*At least 80% of the world's population lives on less than $10 a day. (

*25% of the world's population doesn't have electricity. (Baker Institute)

*Three quarters of the world doesn't have internet access. (

Living in the land of plenty (Southern California), it is often difficult to comprehend and appreciate just how stinking lucky we have it. I am trying to do this more, and find that facts like these help to keep me grounded. What thoughts help you to stay grounded? Share!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Be Jammin'

What's that? Why yes, I have been busy. Quite busy. Doing what? Oh, you know, this and that......a bit of grading, moving my entire lab to a different building, making jam, folding laundry. You know, the usual. What? That third thing? Making jam? Yes, I make my own jam. I've been doing it since......let's see.......two Fridays ago. Practically forever.


It wasn't always like this, oh no. I, too, used to buy my jam, hanging my head in shame, desperate and confused, not knowing where to turn. But then one day, I was hanging out with my friend Elise and noticed a bunch of empty jars on her table. "What are these for?" I asked. "Oh, yeah" she answered. "Strawberries are coming in, so I'm gonna make some jam tomorrow". Just. Like. That. No big deal, no hours of preparation, no crushing anxiety. So I asked the magical Elise if she would share her secrets of jam-making with me. And she did. And it was good.

When we were finished I still had some strawberries left over. So guess what I did? I made MY OWN jam the next day. Just like that. Took Elise's recipe, semi-combined it with another recipe I found online (adding balsamic vinegar!), and made my own jam. All by myself. And it was good.

AND, so far no one has died. Bonus!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

The kids had a sleepover at their friend Amelie's house on Saturday night, so my *real* Mother's Day gift was the opportunity to sleep in on Sunday morning. However, they were upset that they did not get to give me breakfast in bed. Apparently on Mother's Day it is imperative that one be served some sort of food product while in bed. So, I was awakened from a lovely afternoon nap by three midgets bearing a tray of:

They shelled the peanuts themselves, the little dears.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

For Mom

Yes, yes, YES. I suck. But you see, I've been busy. Doing stuff. What kind of stuff, you ask? A few little things.....some booties, a hat. But mostly these: little tops I made from a pair of pillowcases. I embroidered them for the girls for Easter presents. I told mom about them and she asked for pictures, which I immediately never sent to her. Because I am an awesome daughter like that. She also sent me a lovely Mother's Day card. I, on the other hand, thought briefly about calling her, but then ended up getting coffee instead. Again: awesome daughter.

So mom, this is for you. Happy Mother's Day.

All pictures were taken with my iPhone in crappy light. Sorry 'bout that, but if I waited for 1) the good camera (Brian's camera that only Brian is allowed to touch) and 2) good light, then this would probably not be happening at all. So.

First up, Ava's top. She is very into mermaids these days.
The front:

The blonde mermaid:

Ariel's pet squid:
The Back:
Sea horses:


Next, we have Cate's top. She has really become a reader in the last few months, so I wanted to commemorate that.
The front:
Cate in a tree:


A little deer:
The Back:
Hedgie & Bunny:
The other tree (with bonus hedgehogs!):

Who's peeking?
Flutterby sleeves:
So that's it. I have some other projects I'm working on, so who knows when you will hear from me again?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Taking One For The Team

Jack: Mom? Can we have dessert?
Me: What are you thinking of?
J: We have Popsicles! And chocolate popsicles!
M: Well, actually we just have Popsicles. There was only one fudgesicle left, and I ate it last night.
J: Mooooooommmmmm! I was wanting that one!
M: I'm sorry buddy, I didn't know you wanted it.

Jack thinks about this for a moment....

J: You just wanted us to have jokes, didn't you mom?
M: I'm...ummm.....what?
J: The reglear Popsicles have jokes on the sticks. The chocolate ones don't. You ate the chocolate one so we could all have jokes today. Right mom?
M: You know, I don't think I've heard a "thank you" yet.... ;)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Slice of Life

Ever had one of those moments that perfectly captures the essence of your existence? Yeah, me too.

It is 6:30 on Wednesday evening. We have just finished dinner, the dishes are waiting patiently in the sink. The table still needs to be wiped down, the floor needs to be swept, the animals fed and watered.

But they will all have to keep on waiting. I am in the living room with the children. Cathryn is sitting in my special spot, the one with the good light, diligently working on her embroidery. Something that, had I not seen it with my own two eyes, I would never have thought possible. The patience and skill this girl has exhibited as she works this piece is staggering. Did I also tell you that she can knit? She can.

As Cate works, Ava treats us to an amazing dance routine, one that she choreographed herself. As she struts and twirls in time to the music I want to laugh out loud at the sheer enjoyment of it all. She is a thing of beauty. She is also reading this over my shoulder as I type, with the proper inflection and cadence. She is six. I'm not sure where she comes from.

The boy hangs in the back, alternately playing DJ for his sister and setting up a game of Stratego. We got the game for Christmas from the grandparents, but thought it was a bit beyond them. Yeah. We broke it open a week ago and are now routinely being handed our collective butts by our son, the future military commander.

So there we all are, Cate with her embroidery, Ava dancing, Jack preparing for world domination, Brian and I gazing at our progeny with goofy grins, crazy in love with them and each other.

Life is good.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Channeling the Tiger

So, some of you might have read or heard about this new book that is causing a bit of a stir: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In it the author, Amy Chua, posits that "Chinese mothers" (i.e. Eastern mothers) are better than "Western mothers" because their children are more successful. The idea is that the Chinese mothers push their children harder, are stricter and demand more from their children than Western mothers, who are more concerned with their children's emotional development and self-esteem. Chinese mothers are hard, Western mothers are soft.
Myself, I can see some of the logic in what Ms. Chua is saying, though I don't agree with many of her actual tactics. One thing that resonated with me was Ms. Chua's premise that Chinese mothers believe that their children are strong and smart, and this is what allows them to push them so hard - they absolutely believe that the kids can take that kind of pressure. When we coddle children, when we let them slack and do not push them to do better we are in a sense telling them "This is all we expect of you. We don't think you *can* do better." And while I don't think calling children "garbage" when their work is not perfect is a useful parenting technique, I do think that some not-so-gentle pushing is sometimes exactly what they need. Take for instance this very evening: Cathryn was working on one of those "draw me" pictures, the ones that have a drawing on a grid, along with a bigger (blank) grid on which you can copy the figure. A bit intense for a 6-year-old in my opinion, but she wanted to do it. She sat down at the table next to me, started drawing, realized her drawing wasn't like the picture and proceeded to have a meltdown, proclaiming to everyone in a 10-mile radius that she was terrible at drawing, the WORST EVER, and that she would never be any good, NEVER NEVER NEVER! Oh my. My first impulse was to grab her to me and whisper soothing words about how wonderful she was as I held her close. But then the Chinese mother in me whispered something else.
"Cathryn. Drawing well takes practice, and if you want to be good you better start now!" I made her sit back down and I told she wasn't going to leave the table until her drawing was perfect. I went and got another eraser and sat next to her as she drew the picture, grid by grid. If a square wasn't perfect I made her erase it and start over. "Again! Make it right!" My voice sounded to my own ears like some maniacal drill sargent who hadn't slept for 3 days. "Does that look like the picture? Do it again!" Over and over and over. We must have sat there for almost an hour, Cathryn crying, me yelling, the paper almost torn in several spots from all the erasing.
But you know what? She finished the damn thing. And it looked GREAT. And she was so proud! Her face was beaming as she showed it to her dad. We hung it up over the fireplace, so everyone could admire it.
And as she went to bed that night she whispered in my ear "Mommy, I'm a GOOD drawer, aren't I?" "Yes you are baby. YES YOU ARE."
Go Tigers!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Do As I Say, Not As I......oh, nevermind.

Brian was unloading the dishwasher the other night when Cate came into the kitchen. Not looking where she was going she ran right smack into the dishwasher door, which was down. Giving a mighty scream she bent over to examine her injured shin. "Ouch! That smarts!" said Brian. "Sucks." mumbles Cate. "Excuse me? What did you say?" Brian asks incredulously. Cathryn turns to him and rolling her eyes says: "SUCKS dad. I think the word you are looking for is SUCKS."

That's my girl.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Jack and I are in the car, driving to pick his sisters up from school. On the stereo is the soundtrack from Rapunzel, which has been in continuous play mode since we got it from Mimi two weeks ago. As one of the love songs plays Jack asks "Is this real?" "You mean the movie?" "Yes. It's not real, is it?" "No, it's a cartoon movie about a story. It isn't real." "Yeah, because people don't steal babies in real life right mom?" Gah. How did we get here? Sometimes I really hate the world for being such an awful place, a place I can't even begin describing to my six-year-old bright-eyed boy, a place full of horrors beyond imagining. "No, people don't steal babies sweetie." "Yeah, they can just have their own if they want some!" Ugh. Again, how do I tell him about this? Will his eyes be as bright when he learns the real answers to these questions? "That's right baby, they can have their own."

My sweet little boy, I know that someday you will learn the answers to these questions, will learn that the world is full of sadness, pain and terrible things. But I hope that you keep this vision you have now, of a world full of love and caring, because we can't get there unless we can see it the way you do.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Counting Blessings

So, this could have been the week from hell. Could have. But isn't. Why not? Because, in the words of the old spiritual, "I've got love like an ocean". For reals. I am surrounded by loving family members and friends who have stepped into the breach, and allowed me the time I need to rest and get better. Mimi has been taking the children overnights and Auntie is waiting in the wings to take them if Mimi can't. My lovely friend Danielle is picking up my kids from school, bringing me soup, and taking my shift in the classroom this week. So basically, all I have had to do is rest and feel grateful. Chicken soup for the soul, indeed.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Checking In

Here's what's going on today: I have pneumonia. The kids have ear infections and bronchitis. Brian has a meeting in New Jersey. All of this would be a disaster, except we also have Mimi and Auntie who are taking the kiddos so that I can sleep. And we have drugs. Lots and lots of drugs. Also so that I can sleep.
And I have to say that as sick as I am and as tired as I am and as glad as I am to have this wonderful time to rest, there is a small part of me that wishes my babies were here right next to me.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

You Know What I Love?

That while other 6-year-olds are obsessed with Spider-Man or Bakugan or Barbies, my kids can't get enough of Richard Scarry's Busytown Mysteries. Solving mysteries with Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm - what's better than that? And that theme song? The one that is playing on continuous loop in my head? That's pretty catchy too.