Friday, December 30, 2005

Slam Your Body Down and Wind It All Around

I got an iPod for Christmas. I guess Santa knew it was one of my fondest wishes, along with cellulite eradication and world peace.

Anyway, I listened to the sleek blue mini as I toiled away on the treadmill this morning (per my second wish), and I quickly discovered my problem: my music is woefully out-of-date.

I mean, the Backstreet Boys, Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis,” and “Wanabee,” the quintessential Spice Girls track, all made the forty-minute playlist. I know. It’s so bad it’s embarrassing.

Because I realized my cool-factor needed a boost, later in the day when Jessie and I went to pick up Shef, I turned up my “poppin’” mix, made by my uber-hip sister. Jessie and I bobbed happily to that song about “my milkshake” until I started over-thinking it:

“What is her milkshake?” I wondered. “Is it her body?”

Jessie considered this for a while, and then said, “No…. I think it’s, like... her bootylicious jiggle.”

And so, I realize my musical transformation might be slow, but I’m committed to making it work, one-two step.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

If I Weren't Always Telling My Students Not to Apologize for Their Writing, I Would Apologize for This Entry

After two days working on the list, I don’t have much to show for myself.

I will say I now kind of regret not keeping up with my grad work this semester. If I knew what the topic of my paper should be, it would be a lot easier to write it.

I did get the glasses – it took about fifteen minutes and it’s safe to say that the woman who sold them to me wasn’t overly concerned with helping me find the very best glasses for me. But, I had a small budget, and I managed to buy non-offensive frames and the whole thing was eight dollars under the limit. The old me would have scoured back-issues of In Style looking for foolproof advice about which frame would be best for my face shape and then spent the afternoon comparison shopping all the optical shops in the Mall of America, but the new efficient me just marched in to Pearle Vision Express, sucked it up, and picked something.

I hope I still like them on Friday. In the meantime, I'm crossing glasses off my list.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Now that the holiday is over, there is the winter break to-do list:

Finish the twenty-five-page paper that I ignored during the semester.
Grade eighty sophomore essays on themes in Black Boy.
Buy new glasses before the 31st, so as to use my flexible dollars before they’re eaten by the powers-that-be.
Run most days.
Stop eating frosting for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Return and exchange the holiday gifts that won’t do for whatever reason.
Take Shef to museums and the zoo.

And that paper. Really, the paper is weighing on my mind.

Today, a good novel, Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, kind of distracted me from my list, but now that's I've turned the last page, I can move on. And I did do a some work, so I don't feel overly guilty.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Good Night

This year was Dan and my seventh Christmas together. That’s a pretty big number, don’t you think? And this year, we had Christmas with an almost-two-year-old. It turns out (and frankly, this is a surprise to me), that’s the best kind of Christmas there is.

Also, we had Christmas with multiple glasses of wine, the world’s greatest in-laws, and way too many presents.

And, as icing on the yule log, my husband gave me a fancy piece of jewelry because, in his words, he works all the time and I take up the slack. Apparently, if I’m taking up the slack, I should do it wearing diamonds.

I really can’t complain. Not even one little bit.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Very Bad Parenting

Shef loves my mom’s dog.

“Give Amber a treat,” he says eight million times per day.

If I’m feeding Amber, he’ll say, “Help, Sheffield,” which means that Sheffield will help with the food.

“Touch Amber!” He says, leaning over the baby gate that separates them. “Pet!”

When he’s done eating, it’s “Play with Amber!”

You get the picture.

His affection for Amber is kind of a blessing because I really dislike the dog, and therefore give her very little love. The dog probably deserves better, even though she’s slobbery and hairy (“Dog hair in mouf,” Shef reports occasionally, while fishing around in between his teeth for the offending piece of fur). She barks a lot, especially outside; and she chooses not to obey commands that I know she understands.

Anyway, tonight when Amber barked annoyingly upon the arrival of Dan at the front door, Shef said, clear as a bell, “Damn dog.”

“What?” I said calmly.

“Damn dog,” he repeated. Dan and I looked at each other despairingly.

“Maybe he’s saying ‘down’?” Dan suggested.

And so we hoped, but after making him repeat it ten or twelve more times, we can say pretty definitively that it was damn. I don’t remember using this expression, but because I dislike the dog the most of everyone, I think it must have been me.

And so, thank you very much for the worst mother of the year award.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Avert Your Eyes

I really hate missing work; however, I think this is good rule of thumb:

If you have a rash covering the bottom half of your face, you should not flaunt it before ninety high-schoolers.

I did take my freak show out to the doctor’s office, though; and as I moved to take my jacket off, I realized I haven’t changed my clothes since Sunday evening at about five p.m.

Since I have to go to work tomorrow, rash or no rash, I vow to shower this very night.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sick Day

I’m on day nine of The Nasty Cold. All last week I bravely soldiered on, taking teaching breaks here and there to honk into a Kleenex.

“Excuse me,” I’d apologize to my sophomores. “I’ll be right back with you to discuss that scintillating poem.”

And then, each night, I’d go home and think about calling in a sub for the following day; and then, each night, I wouldn’t do it.

I’ll rest up on the weekend, I thought.

But no. The weekend was spent zooming around the city at a breakneck pace in a vain attempt to get into the holiday spirit and also having this conversation with Shef:

“Please don’t hit Mommy. It’s not nice and it hurts Mommy.” The smirk is lingering on his face.
“Hit people,” Shef says.
“No, we don’t hit people.”
“Hit friends,” he says.
“No. If we hit our friends, it makes them very sad.”
“Hit babies,” he offers.
“No. That would be very, very sad.”

And what the hell? Is my child pathologic or what?!

Then later, after he’s gone ahead and tested the theory about hitting people, and I’ve put him back in time-out nine million times per Super Nanny’s suggestion (he won’t sit):

“Do you know what you’re in time out for?”

Yes. So, I decided I needed a day on the couch alone with my snot. I suppose a marathon of Making the Band would be too much to ask?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mouse Diaries

There is a mouse problem in my school. They’re simply running the place over, and frankly, it creeps me out.

The custodial staff provides glue traps, which my animal-rights-activist student tells me are highly inhumane. I tend to believe her, as we’ve found a couple of mice trying to gnaw their legs off whilst stuck on the traps. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to buy my own alternative traps; although, I suppose no one would notice. Chalk up another out-of-pocket expense for teachers, right alongside pencils, paper, and white board markers.

Anyway, my third hour students have a contest going. They each set and bait traps, and then whoever's trap catches a mouse gets a point. They also liked to assign points for kills (imagine six fifteen-year-old boys racing out the back to drop cinderblocks on the stuck rodents), until I told them I had to put a stop to the vigilante-ism.

“Don’t tell your parents about this,” I said to one chap as he stood on my desk, planting a trap in the ceiling.

It was too late – he’d already detailed for her the mouse adventures, including the spattering of blood from the outdoor smashing. As I haven’t gotten a call, I’m assuming she doesn’t mind too much.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Voice of Reason

Yesterday, I pled desperately with my nearly-comatose first hour class to try to think of a theme of the poem I’d unwisely chosen for them to read.

After many heavy silent seconds, one fairly normal boy found it in himself to lift his head high and yell out, “POOP IN YOUR MOUTH!”

And so I decided it was safe to say I’d made a critical miscalculation in planning a unit on poetry to fill the long weeks before winter break.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Two Ear Infections, One Stomach Flu, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

It’s official: daycare is a germ trap – no one escapes unscathed. Poor Shef (who knows how to milk an ailment, let me tell you) is on his fourth significant illness of the season. This time it’s a nasty sounding cough with an accompanying ear infection speedily diagnosed by Dr. H. this morning.

Luckily and unluckily for us, he mostly gets sick on the weekends. As a bonus, this time we had fair warning. Teacher Tina told Dan that they thought Shef had thrown up on his cot during naptime until they realized the substance in question was just an unusual magnitude of nasty, crusty, decidedly non-clear mucus.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

America's Next Top Model is Cellulite-Free

I dragged myself to the Y tonight to put in a little time on the treadmill, and I happened to see the last ten minutes of the America’s Next Top Model with Tyra Banks. Ok, let me tell you, even in closed captioning that show is SMOKIN’. Why hasn’t anyone sat me down and made me watch? To think I’ve missed three or four full seasons of this!

So, that was a boon; and then, when I went down to the locker room and traipsed into the shower, I ran into my brother’s ex-girlfriend. This was a bit awkward, if you want to know the truth. It turns out I don’t mind if total strangers see me naked, but when acquaintances have full-on access to my cellulite, I get a little anxious. Luckily, we pretended not to see each other, and went our separate ways.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Isn't This a Mommy Blog?

New tricks for Shef:

He’s more-or-less mastered his colors. Blue makes him feel especially happy. He’s says it in two syllables: “Buh-LOO!” And then he runs in for a hug to celebrate his color-identification prowess.

He’s obsessed with a ridiculous Raggedy Ann and Andy book that my mom bought for him. This book has inane plot twists, including the fact that Raggedy Ann and Andy can blindfold the Camel With Wrinkly Knees and make him run backwards in order to find their friend Babette, who has been kidnapped by dim-witted, fake-nose-wearing pirates. Luckily, the pirates are more than willing to give up marauding in exchange for free lollipops given to them by a bespectacled horse. Sadly for us, our beloved now requests this book six or seven times per day, and there's no chance he'll settle for a synopsis.

My mom’s house (which, as I mentioned before, is where we now live) is fully decorated for Christmas. Nana has taught Shef to identify Baby Jesus, Mary, Angels, and Joseph, whom he sometimes just calls “guy.”

He doesn’t understand real tv, having been raised on tivo the way he has. Whereas before I could easily help him out when he asked to watch
“Journey to Ernie again” (and again and again and again), now he has to watch whatever segment of “Elmo Street” that happens to be on with no rewinding or skipping at all. I can’t really blame him for being pissed.

Finally, Shef has picked up quite a few new sentences. “Where could Daddy be?” “Where’d the paci go?” “Aunt Mary come over!” and my personal favorite, “Hi, Mommy. How doin’.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fascinating My Ass

What the hell is wrong with Barbara Walters?

I wasted an hour on her “10 Most Fascinating People of the Year” nonsense last night. This was an only a very slightly better way to spend time than picking my toenails or grading the huge pile of essays I promised the tenth graders I’d have for them by Friday.

Barbara asked absolutely NO hard-hitting questions and instead sucked-up shamelessly to all of her “honorees.” She and Tom Cruise, for example, zoomed around in his Mission Impossible mobile laughing about Scientology and “silent birth.” I kept waiting for her to ask, “What methods of mind control are you using on your bride-to-be, you psychotic, egotistical whack-job?” but instead she asked him about his favorite color and how manly he feels while doing his own stunts.

But worse than Tom, and worse than Lance Armstrong not forced to mention “divorce” or “doping” while mugging with Sheryl on the couch, and even worse than the sycophantic Condi Rice tribute, was Barbara’s selection of the year’s MOST FASCINATING person. Realize I waited through like four commercial breaks for the big announcement, and do you know who it was?

Jennifer Aniston? Nope.
Saddam Hussein? Nope.
Jon Stewart or Michael Jackson? Uh-uh.

It was Camilla Parker Bowles. CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES.

Give me a break.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The First Step

Yesterday, our refridgerator was in our mudroom. It was an odd placement, yes, but we were used to it.

Today, there is no mudroom, and our fridge is in the dining room.

As Dan said this afternoon, there’s no turning back. In order to avoid the dust, the accidentally broken windows and the weird styrofoam particles that I insanely mistook for snow this afternoon (hence humiliating myself in front of Contractor Joe), we'll be moving to my mom's house. Tomorrow.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

All Right, Already

It seems that when you’ve made your readers, however few, accustomed to daily or at least thrice-weekly blog entries, they start to complain about a less-than-prolific holiday weekend.

“I meant to write yesterday,” I explained to my mother-in-law over lunch this afternoon, “but I couldn’t think of a good topic.”

She looked skeptical and helpfully suggested that I return to the boobs entry from a few days ago and see if I could produce something else on breast-size.

While this is tempting, but especially since I count my father-in-law among my loyal readership, I think I’ll discuss my addiction to zit-picking instead:

A few days ago, I felt a big zit coming on in the vicinity of my chin. It was going to be a doozie, I could tell. Normally when I get a zit, I pick it and squeeze with all my might until I have a welt the size of Alaska where the tiny patch of redness used to be.

People try not to stare at the oozing lesion, and instead of using a little concealer and carrying on with my life, I end up blathering about the zit obsessively for days and days.

“This used to be a little zit,” I say to perfect strangers, while gesturing wildly at my face, “but I picked it!! I just don’t know why I DO that!!” And then I shake my head and look incredulous, and people back slowly away.

So, this time I decided it would be different. I would NOT pick. I would NOT blather. I would use concealer like a normal person. People would not notice the zit.

And so what happened? My resolve lasted all of sixteen hours. When I found myself in the bathroom of an upscale restaurant on Friday night, frantically poking my chin and making fingernail marks in the surrounding skin from the aggressive squeezing while fellow diners hurried out of the restroom to get away from me and my zit puss, I had to admit I have a very big problem.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

For Snack He Wanted Vegetables

If I hadn't labored for thirty-six hours in an attempt to deliver him, only to have him wrenched from my abdomen while I lay unconscious on the operating table, I'd think he wasn't my son.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Pluses and Minuses of Going Solo

This is the first year of my last four in teaching that I’ve conducted parent conferences without a buddy.

Usually, I chat up the ‘rents with my One True Teaching Love, Renee. I do love double-teaming the parents at conferences. They get a more complete picture of their kids’ performance, and I get company. Also, if a parent gets pissed, you don’t have to call for back-up – it’s already there.

One thing that I didn’t like about those team conferences, however, was that Renee would sometimes make fun of me in between appointments and also throw balls at me. She liked to do the ball-throwing so that I would feel compelled to throw back, and then she could laugh at my “girly” arm. The joke never got old. Oh, and the year I was pregnant, she burst into wild laughter on account of my fetus’s “tail” EVERY SINGLE TIME the parents left the room.

Still, I liked the team approach, even though the conferences were a little rough on my ego, since Renee is Everybody’s Favorite Teacher.

“Oh my gosh, MS. S.!” The parents would exclaim on seeing her. “Susie just LOVES you and your class. Really, she is sooooo happy, and we are so GRATEFUL!!”

And then usually they’d hug her or give her an expensive gift as a token of their hero-worship.

Finally, they’d see me out of the corners of their eyes, and say something polite and restrained like, “Oh, and Ms. W., Jenny likes you, too, but MS. S.! You’re really special.” And then they’d wink at her and you could just tell their hearts were still fluttering with the honor and pleasure of meeting this Teaching Goddess.

So, although I missed Renee and her companionship (“Don’t you wish you were Italian, too?” she asked me one year while we waited for our next victim) it was kind of nice to just accept the low-key compliments and feel satisfied.

Friday, November 18, 2005

What is, "Low Expectations"?

I’m oddly calm about the party we’re having tomorrow. We’ve invited seventyish people, so this feeling of zen I’m experiencing is really quite extraordinary.

I think the calm stems from a couple of philosophies that I’ve come upon since becoming a mother. First, I have a new vision of efficiency. If I have sixty uninterrupted minutes, my god! I can clean the entire house from top to bottom and still have time left over for a shower.

Second, I feel strongly the party needn’t be perfect. In fact (and this is kind of a shock), I think I might have given up on “perfect” altogether. This party, I realize, doesn’t have to be the best, most fabulous party anyone has ever been to. It must only be a good way to spend an hour on a Saturday afternoon -- it must only be good enough.

And that seems pretty stinkin’ manageable.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Toward a More Meditative Existence

I went to yoga tonight. The only other time I’ve taken yoga was during my last trimester of pregnancy, when I weighed 200 pounds and had a face the size of Texas. I did the yoga then because I thought I should be mindful of my growing self and my correspondingly gigantic baby.

Overall, the prenatal yoga was a good idea, even though my obsession with my potential foot odor and my concentrated attention to my hideously stretch-marked hips and thighs sometimes got in the way of “my practice.”

Tonight was good, too. If possible, I’d like to do more yoga; but I don’t think I have enough time.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I Have Missed The Entire New Season of Making the Band

This new “part-time” job I have is really cramping my tv-watching style.

No longer can I languish on the couch each evening, ingesting mediocre offering after mediocre offering while feeling mildly guilty for not doing my grad school work.

Instead, I have to half-watch only the most important things – that means absolutely no more Super Nanny or Bachelorette -- while simultaneously grading papers, researching lesson plan ideas, or skimming studies about reader response.

This situation is really a drag, and frankly, I’m not sure the sacrifice is worth it.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Blast from the Past

I was surprised to find that I got a little pain in my chest thinking about the fact that almost a year ago, my baby was just this big.

I staved off the pangs of missing the littler guy by remembering that this picture was taken at the height of the nipple-biting phase. And also by remininding myself that back then, he wasn't nearly as enamored of The Electronic Babysitter.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Classic Backhand

The other day Frau Miller was consoling an awkward sophomore after German class, which is conducted in my room while I’m on prep. This poor, forlorn kid had gotten his iPod stolen by some brutish upperclassmen, and Frau was giving him a little pep talk.

“Don’t worry, Lars,” she said reassuringly, using his German name. “I think I’ve told you before that high school just sucks sometimes.” She looked at me for confirmation. “It gets a lot better, doesn’t it Ms. W.?”

“Oh, yes,” I gushed, wanting to be supportive, especially since Frau and I have had some rough moments this fall. “Some people say high school is the best four years of your life, but I find that’s really not true.”

“Yeah,” continued Frau, “I mean, the people who say that it’s the best time are really just the jocks and the beauty queen-types.”

I nodded enthusiastically. “There’s a lot more to life than high school,” I agreed.

Lars was smiling tentatively. Despite the total lameness of this talking-to, he was actually feeling better.

Frau recognized progress and ran with it. “Plus, Lars” she said definitively, “Ms. W. and I made it, and I think you can see, that neither of us was a beauty queen.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Big News

Pronto Pup. He's back.

Also, Shef's begun singing super cutely. This afternoon, he did many more-or-less complete versions of "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" together with hand motions and dancing. And he's memorized a few skits from "Elmo Street," often leaping out of his chair to proclaim the arrival of The Count. Also, his teachers tell me he says, "What about Mr. Sheffield?" when his they a don't give him seconds quickly enough.

And, of course, he still resists sleeping. Tonight, he told me he was feeling very lonely and grabbed desperately for my neck when I tried to leave him in his crib.

So, of course I picked him up because what the hell was I supposed to do when he put up that kind of ingenius offensive?

Tuesday, November 8, 2005


I’m not generally a picky teacher.

I’m cheerful in the face of tardiness, quick to sign the pass to the nurse’s office, and tolerant of the incessant construction noise at my new school.

“What was THAT?” a student wondered as the roof shook and clattered alarmingly last week.

“Hmmm,” I said, pausing for a moment, “I’m not sure!” And then I frowned briefly at the ceiling, and brought the class right back to the gerund in the sentence of the week. I was the model of unflappability.

I was less than impenetrable, however, on Monday because that’s the day the rodents decided to show themselves.

I had heard rumors about the infestation, but I hadn’t had a sighting myself. Lucky for my first hour, we were treated to five-minute mouse interlude featuring rodents frolicking on the wall above the blackboard just after the bell.

It was nothing less than terrifying, and I was forced to restrain students who ran at the mice wielding textbooks and pencil cases. I made an emergency call to the custodian, who promptly deployed the traps and reassured me that this will make the mouse threat diminish.

Let’s hope.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Construction Report

Contractor Joe has been paid a hefty deposit, and now he says the digging might start at the end of next week. This is great. Let’s get the show on the road, we say.

Of course, we didn’t realize that the digging would require the tearing off of this little mudroomish structure we have off our kitchen. We thought our new and potentially kick-ass family room would be completely constructed before they made any holes in the current house.

Plus, the mudroom currently contains our refrigerator. This odd placement is just one example of many “charming quirks” of our home. Another is our antiquated electrical service, which makes it almost certain that moving the refrige to another location would permanently blow a fuse, or break the circuits, or whatever.

We're not do-it-yourselfers, obviously, so that's a plus.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The Magic Might Be Gone

You can tell you’re having a romantic Friday night when you politely ask your husband to rewind the Tivoed Alias a few seconds, and he looks at you incredulously and says, “Maybe if you’d stop farting so loud we could actually hear the show.”

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Inflatable Face

Lindsay, my internet friend, and I have known each other for more than ten years, but we’ve only met in person twice. The second time was this weekend, and the first time was in the fall of 2003 when I was five months pregnant. It’s important to know that five months pregnant on ME looks like seven or eight months pregnant on any normal person.

On Friday, I noticed Lindsay staring at my face while we ran around the lake. “You look different than I remember,” she said in explanation.

“Well YEAH,” I said, “I was pregnant last time.” And then I shuddered, just thinking of the horror of the inflation. “THIS,” I said desperately trying to explain myself, “THIS is what I really look like. My face… UGH! It’s really not that fat in real life.”

“It wasn’t fat,” Lindsay said. She’s a model of tact, I tell you. “But I think you're much more chiseled this time.”

And for that, I praise the Lord and breastfeeding.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Tonight was a really good night for my graduate school career.

I finally won my advisor over on my thesis idea. This development is, quite frankly, a small miracle.

I’m not sure if she remembers the conversation we had last summer wherein she shot my research interest down out of the sky like a sick pheasant. In fact, I think she must not because tonight she acted like it was the most natural thing in the world to love that topic. “Well, after all,” she smiled, “you SHOULD be writing about what you’re interested in.”

Regardless, I was so psyched about this thrilling development, that I came home in kind of a frenzy.

Dan, being a good husband, pretended to be really happy for me, and then, clearly thinking ahead to the long-range implications of my academic zeal, which could last beyond the completion of my master's degree, tactfully mentioned that he thought you “got paid to do your Ph.D.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Terrible. F.

We’d reached the end of our flipping rope when it came to Shef’s sleeplessness. We were tired of getting kicked in the head at 1:30am, tired of sleeping on the floor in front of his crib, tired of drinking seventy-two ounces of caffeine during the day in a futile, desperate attempt to remain functional, tired of being awake when everyone else in the world is happily, blissfully asleep.

It’s been awful, and we weren’t going to take it anymore.

So, for the past three nights we’ve been employing all kinds of measures to drown out the crying: turning on the loud fan, throwing pillows over our heads, plugging up our ears with cotton and our fingers, yogic breathing, and tuning into Tivoed Gilmore Girls at all hours.

Eventually, we’ve told ourselves, he’ll give up and fucking GO. TO. SLEEP.

Today, unrelated to the hideous lack-of-sleeping, I decided I should take Shef in to see Dr. Gold for his lingering cough (which we’d been muffling at night with cough suppressant).

“Any other symptoms?” she asked.

“Well, he’s been crying at night,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“So, nothing new, then,” she concluded.

And then she listened to his breathing and looked in his ears and matter-of-factly diagnosed a nasty double ear infection.

And so, don’t we feel like total stinking assholes.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Baby Displays an Interest in Domestic Responsibilities

Tonight he was really interested in washing his plastic vegetables in the sink of his play kitchen and then storing them in the oven and shelves beneath the cooktop.

Although he seemed a little obsesseive about it, I've decided to strongly encourage this type of activity.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

It Was Worth Missing the Baby, Especially Since I Slept All Night Two Nights in a Row

Jessie and I just returned to The Motherland from our trip to Lee’s.

There were drinks and laughs and The 40 Year-Old Virgin, which was completely transcendent.

Also, as you can see, Lee was the perfect tour guide.
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We learned about Benjamin Banneker, the Dunn legacy, and the Founding Fish, among other things.

As an added bonus, Lee’s darling Teen Daughter graded some papers for me while I ate at an authentic Hoosier establishment.

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On the way home I was feeling kind of sad, and I asked Jessie why I wanted Lee to live in Minnesota so badly.

“Because,” she told me, “you heart Lee very much.”

Yes, I thought. That must be it.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I'm not ready to provide an official account of our weekend at Lee's, but I do want to mention the miniature books we saw at the Lilly Library.

I was skeptical about the actual existence of print on the mini pages, but a little internet reserach has more or less convinced me.

I'll stop short of joining the Miniature Book Society, but I will say I'm intrigued by those tiny page-turners.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Goody This and Brimstone That

Shef hasn’t slept in four days, which must be why, when one of my American Lit’ers tattled on another for swearing when I stepped out of the room for a moment during Act I of the Daniel Day-Lewis/Winona Ryder version of The Crucible, I told the offender that he would “surely burn in hell for that.”

I’m pretty sure I can blame the Puritan influence, but I think I best be careful, nonetheless.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Yet Another Reason We Have to Watch What We Say

We are so happy with almost everything Shef’s caregivers teach him at school. He can count to ten, he can sing most of his ABC’s, he can identify shapes; and I’m totally down with that preschool skill stuff. Well done, Pauls, I say. Bring on the colors and letter-identification.

He certainly responds well to their lessons and mimics most everything they say. For instance, one of the teachers calls him “Mr. Sheffield,” and he has taken to referring to himself that way, in the third person. “Mr. Sheffield,” he’ll say proudly, pointing at his chest and nodding. “Yep. Hmmm hmmm.”

It’s sweet, really. A good crowd-pleaser.

The other night, though, when Shef was grooving to some happening tunes (I think it was Raffi, the old stand-by), and told himself to, “Work it, Shef!” I wondered if they might just be a little too good at their jobs.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Shef and I are staying at my mom’s house for a few days because I realized that it’s impossible to get Shef to school, which opens at 7:15, and myself to work, which is a million miles away and starts at 8:30, on time.

Dan is the usual weekday transporter, but he’s on a business trip in San Francisco, which, in my opinion, could be worse for him.

Anyway, at my mom’s house I’ve discovered one thing that’s good about watching television without Tivo: My paper-grading efficiency improves greatly during the commercials.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Dan and I signed a contract this week -- we've given a sizable chunk of our livelihood to Joe, our new builder.

Joe is a friendly sort -- a little pudgy, a shy smile. He grew up in the same suburb I did, and he and my brother went to elementary school together.

Joe says that he’ll add a family room and nice little guest bathroom to our house. He'll also remodel our kitchen and existing bathroom. He says it’ll be really nice when it’s done and that he’ll try to save us money.

For better or worse, I believe him.

And regardless, I figure the remodel will be good for the blog.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Today I ratted out some kids who were skipping their Russian class.

I felt kind of bad about this, but not overly so. After all, I AM a teacher, an authoritarian representative of the state, as Lee would say.

Anyway, when I was doing the ratting (which was easy since the Russian class convenes in my room while I’m madly assembling my American Lit lesson) I noticed a kid pulling out his phone to text-message the offenders.

I frowned at him, and he smiled impishly. “I’m telling them to run,” he said.

“Hmmm,” I replied. And it seemed like a sign of the times.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

New Frontier

I’ve taken the plunge and assigned blogging to my students in American Lit. There are twelve budding scholars in that class – just enough, I thought, to stage a little blog experiment.

I was giddy as I handed out the guidelines for the blogs. I told the students that it was my dream to do this assignment; that in starting their Crucible blogs they would be fulfilling my wildest instructional dream.

They thought this was pathetic, but they humored me – I felt a thrill when I logged in to my official teaching blog and saw nine new comments. They were instructed to post their URLs in my comments section, and sure enough, they have.

I think it’ll be a whole new kind of discussion we’ll have about literature out here in cyberspace. I’m sure of it, in fact.

And, just in case the discussion is altogether TOO new, I think I best get their usernames and passwords. I’ve decided that censorship is okay when it has the potential to save my job.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Tap Dancing

The Odyssey, it seems, is a tough sell.

“It’s archetypal!” I said at in the beginning. I showed clips of Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker. I was the opposite of a stick-in-the-mud. “See?” I said. “The Odyssey, like me, is very hip.” They rolled their eyes, but their interest was piqued, I could tell.

And then they had to read some. And they were, shall we say, disappointed.

“Don’t worry,” I assured them. “There’s a one-eyed monster and a blind prophet coming right up!” Still, their skepticism persisted.

“Look,” I said finally, after they failed their second quiz, “If you stick with it, there will be incest and lots of goddess sex.” They giggled, but, alas, they did not crack their books.

The dedicated among them scanned their Spark Notes, and for this, I suppose I should be grateful.

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Because You Don't Grow Out of Dorkiness

Dan and I have been teaching Shef "party tricks" of sorts. Little things; silly things; things that make us unreasonably proud and gleeful.

For example, here's a dialogue we repeat daily, if not more frequently:

Parent: Hey, Shef, what do dolphins do?
Shef: Jumping!
Parent: Right! What else?
Shef: Swimming in the water!
Parent: Thaaat's right! And Shef, [here comes the piece de resistance] how do dolphins find things under water?
Shef, proudly: Echo-cation!


Our son, he doesn't have the faintest idea what echolocation is, but man, it makes us happy when he says it.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

The Old 26.2

We are emerging from the haze of sickness, and Shef was well enough to spectate at the Twin Cities Marathon today.

Good pal Jess schooled him in the art of a good cheer, and we heartily applauded runners all morning.

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While urging on this year's crew, Jessie and I couldn't help but think back over our own marathoning ventures. Despite the obvious downsides to an hours-long run -- Jessie remembers telling her dad that she was "fucking dying" when she crossed the Franklin Street Bridge, for instance -- we both expressed a desire to sally forth from the starting line again someday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Limit

Shef has been feverish for five days straight, and I tell you, we’ve had just about enough.

Even if we didn’t have the hard data, we’d know he’s sick because he cries. A lot. Whenever we leave his side and sometimes when we don’t. This makes me feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience. For ten minutes today, I must admit I dumped him in his crib and took refuge in the basement because I felt my brain frizzle and pop – it was, I’m pretty sure, a precursor to explosion.

When I came back to him, he was still crying, so I picked him up and put him in the car for a drive-around.

When we got home he was still awake and still crying, so I thought about holding kebab skewers over a burner and then using them to poke out my eyes.

Please God let him be well enough to go to school tomorrow.

Monday, September 26, 2005


I stayed home with sick Shef today.

He was not himself. We managed this during a brief fever break,

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but otherwise, he sat on the couch with his head on my thigh all day.

Very disconcerting. Very un-Sheflike.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Reunion=Blog Fodder

It turns out that, like me, most of the survivors of the Class of 1995 look older and considerably more exhausted. Especially the moms and pregos look this way, but in fact, so do the attorney and the medical resident and the interior designer and the divorcee. Only the never pregnant, never married, and never grad-schooled seem unscathed.

Although I managed to not talk about wart removal and gas pains, I did say a few things I wished I’d hadn’t. I’ve decided to “bless and release” those things, which seems the healthy and well-adjusted thing to do. Besides, I only seemed to bother one depressed sort of person who obviously disliked me before I blabbed about leaking breasts and my pro-choice beliefs.

Apparently, I gravely offended this depressive girl when I asked to have two pads of Alumnae Association post-its. Clearly, she’s never carried free post-its into a room containing teachers before, or else she’d be familiar with shameless clamoring and frothing at the mouth that inevitably ensues.

She looked at me as if I had just crawled out of the primordial sludge, and said that sure, I could have an extra pad if I was willing to have someone else go without. I muttered something about getting over-excited about office products and turned sheepishly awy.

At the end of the night there were plenty of pads left over, so I took five just to spite her.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Reunion: A Reality Show

My ten-year high school class reunion is this afternoon. I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m only just a little bit nervous. I got along with most everyone in my class when we were in school. There were only 62 of us girls, and we went on mandatory retreats every year for bonding purposes; so it’ll be good to reminisce, I think.

I know this sounds shallow, but mostly I’m really, really grateful that I’m not fat. It would be tricky, I think, to reunite with people who only knew you when you were thin. You know everyone would talk about the weight behind your back. It would be an additional stressor, that’s for sure.

So, because I like to avoid stress, I’m glad I look the same, except older and considerably more exhausted. I plan to wear black and khaki so as to blend in and not draw too much attention to myself.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Over the Stinking Top

This was a long day.

I left a sleeping and slightly feverish Shef in bed with Dan and slunk out the door to plan a lesson on The Trojan War. You know Helen who “launched a thousand ships” and Brad Pitt. That kind of thing.

That was at 5:45 this morning, and now I have just arrived home at 9:45 pm. It was Open House night, so I smiled and professed my love for teaching and literature. And all was well.

Dan is watching CSI, which is generally too creepy for my taste; but this time it’s just shamelessly gruesome and plain old nasty. Here’s what they did, and I am NOT kidding about this. Two detectives find liquefied bodies in a trunk in the desert. Liquefied bodies. And they showed this on prime time television. And then they DRAINED THE LIQUID BODIES into a bucket under the trunk.

And that’s just too much. Really. I object.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Polo-Clad Shef Makes a Case for His Way

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But alas, his was a valiant, yet unsucessful attempt; and we remained unyielding in our insistence that he not throw melon on the floor.

And then, we laughed at him and took a picture to document this poor, pathetic expression.

And Some Things Are Just the Same

My students played Balderdash, the definition game, with terms related to The Odyssey today. It was, all in all, a good activity, brainstormed by none other than my old comrade, Renee. You see, neither bricks and mortar nor miles on the highway can truly separate a great team…

Anyway, as I listened in on the kids’ games, I heard mostly really plausible fake definitions – kleos is the ancient art of bone-setting, nostos is the Greek method of hunting and fishing – but I admit there were a few exceptions to the high quality.

“Lemme see what you put for epithet,” said one kid – a student from my first hour who came back for a minute in third to pick up his forgotten lunch.

His classmate acquiesced and tipped his paper toward him.

“Hey!” laughed the visitor. “No way! You said, ‘poop’?” More giggling. “I put that exact thing, too!”

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Itinerary

It will be a busy day.

We are off to swimming lessons. And then, home for a nap. (Please God, let it be a long nap). And then a trip to visit a friend in the ‘burbs. And then dinner at Nana’s house. And then home for bed.

Luckily, last night, I discovered the secret to a good night’s sleep:

One loud fan + one finger in one’s ear

Mix well, and it’s like the crying doesn’t even exist.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Another Miracle

Today a high-schooler smirked as he walked past my classroom before lunch. His backpack seemed to have a built in boom box, and he was emitting music. It was loud, and I couldn’t help but notice that the lyrics included the f-word.

I wasn’t sure of the rules on this type of thing. Cell phones are allowed in the hallways at my school, as are iPods and other music players, so I wasn’t positive; but this seemed sort of not allowed somehow.

The kid stopped at his locker, so I feigned confidence and sidled up to him.

“Excuse me,” I said. “That seems kind of disruptive. Would you mind turning it off?”

I braced myself, preparing for the inevitable “fuck you” or “whatever, bitch.” I had already made it through five teaching days without being sworn at, so I knew I was pushing my luck.

The kid, though, he just shrugged, took off his backpack, and calmly stopped the music.

That was it.

“Thanks,” I smiled, and continued on to lunch.

And OH MY GOD, I love my new job.

Friday, September 9, 2005

Certain Things Are Easier Here

Here’s something amazing about tenth graders as compared to eighth graders:

When you tell them to put their desks in a circle and make name tents so everyone can get to know each other, they all just do it. They do it without an overhead with detailed instructions on how to make a name tent and without a step-by-step tutorial on moving one’s desk to the periphery of the room.

Everyone does it. And then they discuss for a full forty minutes without any teacher intervention.

It’s a miracle.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

The Ivy Tower

Today I realized that, despite my long-time desire for a senior high post, I really belong deep in the bowels of middle school, side-by-side with pimply, unshowered, nose-picking eighth-grade boys.

I realized this as I sat in on Frau Miller’s German class. Frau and I are roommates, and this afternoon, I hunkered over my desk while she led her earnest, sophisticated students through their ichs and guts. It seems they also have plenty of opportunities to say “fahrt” in German, and oh how giggly it makes me feel.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

A Feeble Attempt

I have been in a blog slump.

I’m not really sure what my blog turf should be, as I’m no longer a mildly bitter stay-at-home-mom. This has been causing me angst because I enjoy The Savvy Mom, and I want to do good work here.

Because we have an open and loving relationship, and because he’s a good problem-solver, I turned to Dan with this dilemma.

I had just deleted today’s entry for the third time, and so, quite distressed, I went to him in my moment of need. “I can’t think of anything to write about on my blog,” I lamented.

Dan popped a few peanuts into his mouth and smiled smugly. “You could write about what a great husband you have. I think people on the internets would really like to read about that.”

And though this is probably not the case, I am still grateful for something to put down.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005


Well, the first day was fairly uneventful. I wore a nondescript outfit per Mary’s suggestion, and nothing staggering happened. I again tried a bit too hard to make pals, but the other teachers included me nicely and mostly didn’t make fun.

While starting school is exciting and all, more importantly, let me say how over-the-moon I am that fall TV is popping up again. Already I’m in love with FOX’s new Prison Break. And then next week, we’ll begin again with the Gilmores. After that will come Desperate Housewives – I think I’ll be attending a season premier party – and then Lost and Alias and who knows what other show might turn out to be the Super Nanny of 2005.

Once again, Tivo will be my best friend, and I’ll neglect child and chores to tune in.

Monday, September 5, 2005

It's Time

Tomorrow, after eighteen months, I will make my classroom teaching comeback.

This event seems significant.

I’m not sure if it’s a good sign or a bad one that the thing I’m most worried about is what I’m going to wear.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Shef has become a tree-hugger, and I mean this quite literally.

Tonight, when we ventured outside to play (“Go outside!” he demanded, and hurled himself toward the front door), he ran down the sidewalk and wrapped himself around an elm.

“Hug the tree,” he said.

“Good!” I praised him, surprised by his target, but inclined to encourage loving behavior. “That’s nice!”

He unwound his arms, smiled, ran a few steps toward me, and then turned back toward the tree. “Big hug tree again,” he said, smashing his face into the bark.

As this continued for a good twenty minutes, interrupted only by moments spent searching the ground for ants, his cheeks are a little chafed, but I assume they’ll heal overnight.

Monday, August 29, 2005

"Bobsey Twins" No More

This morning, anxious to make and keep friends at my new job, I glommed on to Jodi, a friend of Renee’s I know who happens to teach in my new district.

I sat next to her, and I walked in step with her. When she drank water, I also drank water. When she ventured outdoors to cool off, I stayed faithfully by her side.

These behaviors were motivated by my insecurities about being new, yes, but they were also prompted by my years of attending staff development meetings with Renee, my One True Teaching Love.

Renee, you see, has what we might call “high-inclusion needs.” If you’re a step beyond arm’s reach of her at any given event, you need to provide fair warning and adequate explanation.

So, midway through the morning, when I gave Jodi a run-down of where I would be for each minute of the next five and asked if she would like to accompany me to each location, she shot me an exasperated glance and stopped walking:

“Look, Kace,” she said, putting her hand out in front of her, as if to say stop right there you neurotic type-A, “we don't need to go through all that.”

I nodded agreeably, although I felt rather perplexed.

“I mean,” she looked at me knowingly, “I know you’re used to going to these things with Renee, but..." She shook her head and raised her eyebrows, "I’m not Renee." She paused and searched my face for recognition.

And so it’s clear I’ll have to re-train myself in appropriate staff-development behavior. This will be tricky, but I think, if I actually do want to make and keep friends, it’s probably necessary.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


“Golly-gee-whilikers!” Dan exclaimed in response to something I’d said. It was a total Hugh Grant moment.

I rolled my eyes. “You’re such a dork,” I said, shaking my head.

Dan frowned. “I am not!”

I raised my eyebrows. “You just said, ‘Golly-gee-whilikers.’”


“Anyone who says ‘Golly-gee-whilikers’ is a total dork.”

This is an irrefutable fact, and so he had no response. It should be mentioned, however, that although clearly dorky, he did tirelessly t-ball with Shef while I drank wine on the deck this evening, and for that, I am very, very grateful.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

I Draw the Line at Five Pounds of Cubed Ham

For a few days, I thought that what I should do is become a Once-A-Month Cook. I’d buy lots of food in bulk and then spend one-of-four Saturdays wiping sweat from my earnest brow, wielding the Cuisinart and hefting the dutch oven, heart set on providing only the most delicious (and freezable) meals for my family.

But then I checked out some once-a-month cookbooks from the library, and I realized something: I don’t want to cube ham in order to make seven dishes of Ham and Cheese Surprise, and I don’t particularly want my chicken pre-boiled.

So, I’m back to the drawing board on the home-cooking front. I will now investigate the possibility of once-a-week cooking, which seems less revolting.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Doing the Toughest Job

My former guru, Oprah, always says that being a stay-at-home mom is the toughest job. (I say she is my former guru only because now that I have forsaken breastfeeding and no longer spend mind-numbing days alone with Shef, diapers, and housework, I don’t really have time to dial her in. I even quit Tivoing her when I realized I could capture back episodes of Gilmore Girls on ABC Family in that same timeslot, and, well, as you may remember, I was really into the Lorelais there for awhile.)

Anyway, I know "O" shouts-out to SAHMs because it is they who purchase her line of anti-frump lounge wear, and also because she knows being a SAHM is a job that she surely doesn’t want to do. It seems like every-other show features Oprah confessing that she never felt she could balance motherhood and her lofty career aspirations.

Now that I’m officially a working mom, I’ve been thinking about Oprah’s “toughest job” pronouncement, and I must say I’m not convinced. Having done the SAHM gig for awhile, certain other jobs seem harder to me – active-duty military, for instance, or working in pediatric oncology, where kids regularly die on your watch. Frankly, I'd much rather be a SAHM than empty porta-pots eight hours a day.

Even if I directly compare “working mom” to “stay-at-home mom,” there doesn’t seem to be any great difference in difficulty. I’m still exhausted. While my mind was numbed before, it’s now reeling. I’ve had to groom (God-forbid) and dress professionally, and then, just when I’ve hit my stride at work, I have to zip over to daycare and dive into hardcore, making-up-for-lost-time mothering for five hours straight, during which time I'm guaranteed to get snot and shit and masticated food on my work clothes instead of my frump gear.

While the mix of work and home I’ve chosen may not be easier, I will concede that for me, so far, it seems much, much happier. I feel decidedly more stimulated, less put-upon, and more empowered to manage my own time.

Perhaps I should call Oprah and let her know that I’ve come to this conclusion? Maybe I should include a copy of my new work badge photo, which I’m sure would qualify me for a full makeover.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A Litany to Alleviate My Guilt

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Here are some things that Shef can do now that he’s a big, grown-up seventeen-month-old:

He yells, “Ready! Set! Go!” and takes off running down the sidewalk. “Running” is a very earnest waddle, and he keeps it up until he falls down or loses his breath.

Dan has been quizzing Shef on the map in the study. Now we can ask, “Where’s Devin?” and he’ll answer, “Pah-wu,” and point to South America.

“Do it self,” has become a frequent utterance. He aches for self-sufficiency.

The dolphin obsession rages on, and he asks to watch the Minnesota Zoo’s web cam on my laptop several times a day. Ask him what dolphins do, and he’ll say, “Jumping! Swimming!”

He’s really into playing t-ball with Dan. “Daddy do it,” he says. Dan hits the ball and tells Shef to “field the grounder,” so Shef watches the ball land, yells “Get it!” and brings it back to the tee.

He loves Teletubbies. “Watch the Tubbies,” he says, and asks us to sing the theme song. I’ve made up raunchy alternative words to the song, but I don’t sing these to Shef.

His new favorite song is the Minnesota Rouser. “Mih-so-da!” he demands. We oblige at least ten times a day. I haven't yet made up inappropriate counter-lyrics, but eventually I will. It's inevitable.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

It's Guilt That's Kept Me Away

As it’s Saturday, I’ve enjoyed three desserts so far. It’s not quite the “moderation” I’d envisioned, but it’s a start.

In other news, I’ve been having blog angst because I haven’t really been, you know, documenting Shef’s life on the blog so much.

At a dinner party, I’ll recount an amusing Shef-related anecdote, and some well-meaning friend who has no intention of causing my guilt meter to read “Commence Flagellation With Thorny Whip” will remark, “Oh, that’s so cute! I hope you’re writing these things down.”

And then I go home and worry about not recording enough stuff, and how now Shef is going to be one of those kids who laments that he has no baby book. His mother, he'll tell his therapist, failed to monitor milestones and archive photographs, and instead she wrote about his penis on the internet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


This morning I went shopping at Target, where they have state-of-the-art dressing rooms in which you can view your front and back simultaneously via well-placed mirrors.

It was between the mirrors that that I came to be intimately familiar with the chunks of cellulite glommed on to my outer thighs. Instead of freaking out about their presence, I spent several minutes hoisting the lumpy mounds and pulling them this way and that until I arrived at a couple of decisions:

1) The underwear that I thought was in pretty good shape for being six years old is really not.

2) There is no need for me to be eating candy and dessert and multiple treats every day. From now on, I’ll only be ingesting junk food from Friday through Sunday, and then, only in moderation. I swear to this.

When I called Molly, the friend with whom I used to frequent Wendy’s in my pre-Fast Food Nation days, to tell her of my nutritional resolution, she told me it was the “stupidest f'ing idea she’d ever heard.”

We’ll see.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Movie Review

I am so disappointed.

It turns out Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous totally sucks.

I am now watching the end of it, but I’m doing it only out of a deep sense of loyalty to Sandra Bullock, with whom I know I could be bosom friends if only we were to meet.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Continence: It's Everyone's Business

Next week, I’ll be going back to work at an actual school building. I’m sure it’ll be a little startling after eighteen months at home, but despite a healthy case of nerves, I’m really looking forward to it.

I got a job teaching tenth grade, an age I love; and frankly, there wasn’t much keeping me at my old job. You see, first my principal offered me a part-time position, and then a month later decided I couldn’t have it; and then, to hold a hot iron to the already seeping lesion, he called a week after that to say that if I did decide to come back full-time, I would no longer be working with my One True Teaching Love.

And really, if the social studies teacher on your team isn’t going to tell all 150 of your students that you sometimes pee in your pants when you laugh too hard, what’s the point in reporting for duty? Also, I’ve really gotten used to the Enrique Iglesias that she blasts toward my wall during homeroom. If I knew that some other teacher was over there crooning “Hero” with her while I languished away across the building in a Enrique-Free Zone, I think that just might put me over the edge.

Anyway, Renee, my One True Teaching Love, was complaining yesterday that she hasn’t been featured enough on my blog. I reminded her of the 30th birthday photo spread, but she still wasn’t satisfied.

“Look,” I said finally, “you’re just going to have to say funnier things when we’re together.”

“HEY!” Her eyes narrowed, and she pointed a finger in my face. “You KNOW that there’s hardly a time we’re together that you don’t almost pee your pants.”

I had to admit that truth of that, and so FINE: it’s Renee’s day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Thou Shalt Not Engage in This Deranged Competition

Our good friends Jordan and Joel have some other good friends, Rob and Katie.

You have no idea what effect this simple fact has on me. Basically, when I think about Rob and Katie, I turn into the husband from Sleeping With the Enemy.

“What did you do this weekend?” I’ll quiz Jordan suspiciously, sure she’s cheated on us with her “other best friends.” Sometimes, I’ll even interrogate Mo, Jordan’s babysitter, to determine which couple they’ve seen more of lately. If it’s not us, I’ll sulk and devise a plan to rise again to the top their friend pyramid.

Yes, it’s twisted and sick; and frankly, I’m not proud of it.

To make things a little more complicated, Rob and I are co-Godparents of Jordan and Joel’s oldest daughter. We’re “God spouses,” as he likes to say, a phrase that always elicits giggles from the group.

And Jordan and Joel are Shef’s Godparents. When we asked them to oversee his spiritual development (translation: try to make sure he doesn’t grow up to be a gay-hating bible-thumper), I was sure this would put us over the top for good – Rob and Katie could never catch up.

And then, right when I was feeling most confident, the competition went in for the kill – eight months later, J&J became their son’s Godparents, too. Conniving bastards.

So when Jordan and Joel announced that Dan and Katie would be Godparents to their new baby, our complicated relationship with “the other best friends” was completely solidified. We were inextricably linked in a Holy Religious Sense, Bound Together Forever By God.

After a moment of silence, Rob asked, “Does this make us Spiritual Swingers?”

Yes, I thought despairingly. Yes, I’m afraid it does.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Whipping it Out

“You really work hard,” grad school comrade Jessie observed, as I cranked out four pages of my Karen Cushman paper in three hours on Saturday. We met for lunch and coffee and lots and lots of silence -- silence broken only by the clicking of laptop keys and occasional deep sighs of frustration.

“Yes,” I acknowledged, briefly tearing myself away from my handiwork. “There’s no motivation like a baby.”

Jessie looked a little confused.

“Well,” I explained, “if you’re either paying hard cash money for the privilege of writing your paper, or your spouse has assumed 100% of the childcare for an entire Saturday, then you can’t really afford to dick around.”

Sad, but true, she agreed.

And so, armed with the motto “Don’t Dick Around,” I’ve written fifteen pages since Thursday.

Saturday, August 6, 2005

The Way, Way Opposite of "Hip"

This morning, I held Shef on my lap and scrolled through Tivoed Sesame Streets, looking for something to fill twenty minutes before the guys headed off to fuel Shef’s new obsession -- “Dawfiiins!!” -- at the Minnesota Zoo.

Friday’s episode, Tivo reported, featured Telly, who “must face his fears about performing at Karaoke Night at Hooper’s Store,” and I honestly thought to myself:

Now that sounds like a great episode.

Although I’ve never been “cool,” it’s possible that with this thought, I’ve hit an all time low. In any case, I still think Gaby and Miles’ rendition of “New Way to Walk” was especially stirring.

Friday, August 5, 2005

My Ponytail Has Been in So Long That My Head Hurts

I had lunch the other day with Emily, my most stylish friend. Now, before you start feeling offended that you’re not my most stylish friend, you should know that Emily looks like this:

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And you should keep in mind that she’s looked like this almost every time I’ve seen her in the last eight years. She looked like this even when we were camp counselors who showered once a week, and only in the lake.

When I’m with Emily, I sometimes feel like Country Mouse to her City Mouse. This feeling is based in the fact that I look like this, and have looked like this almost every day for the past eight years:

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Despite her superior appearance, however, Emily is warm and accepting. When she did my wedding-day make-up, she plucked my unibrow without complaint and explained patiently about the mechanics of the eyelash curler. Similarly, when I visited her at Aveda Institute for a $12 haircut while she was in school, she didn’t flinch when I told her I used whatever shampoo was in the shower and didn’t own a round brush.

“Okay,” said Em, nodding without judgment. “Then, do you own any brushes, Kace?”

Now, that’s my kind of friend.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

A Shocking Discovery

The other night, I called an important meeting with Dan to discuss our conversion to FlyLadyism.

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You see, I’ve decided that together we’re going to stay out of CHAOS (that’s Can’t Have Any One Over Syndrome), and we’re going to do it as FlyLady intends – fifteen cheerful minutes at a time. So, I signed up for FlyLady’s millions of daily emails, and in her welcome form letter, she said, among other things, that she was so proud of me. I must admit that I felt a little proud too, and right away felt motivated to do whatever FlyLady said.

Dan is considerably less enamored of FlyLady and spent most of our housework meeting lounging way back on the couch and looking at me incredulously. His lip curled up, and he appeared to be constantly on the verge collapsing into hysterical guffaws. In fact, he did giggle a little when I paused a moment while explaining the Morning Routine in order to search for the FlySpot, which, despite how it may sound, has nothing to do with sex, but instead contains the details the Weekly Zone Missions.

“Now,” I said, getting back to the agenda once I'd located said FlySpot, “after the bed is made, we swish the bathroom.”


I pursed my lips disapprovingly. “Rub down the sink, and then do the top of the toilet and around the edges.” I moved my hand in a circular motion to illustrate the process.

“Fine,” Dan sighed, rolling his eyes.

“Then,” I continued, “every few days when the toilet gets skuzzy, put one of those scrubber things on the toilet wand and swish the bowl.”

Dan stared at me blankly. “Scrubber things?” he asked.

“Ye-ah,” I said. “You know, one of those Clorox sponges I got to replace the toilet brush?” I pantomimed clicking a scrubber onto the handle.

Vacant stare from my spouse. No response.

“Um, Dan? Have you ever cleaned the toilet?”

After a few seconds of trying to think up ways to get out of admitting that this was the case, he laughed sheepishly. I stared at him open-mouthed and wondered how it is possible that he has never, ever cleaned the toilet in our almost five years of living together; and for that matter, in the whole rest of his life. Clearly, his parents and I are guilty of some major enabling.

“Look,” he said finally, pointing at me accusingly, “when you blog about this, you had better make fun of yourself, too.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Almost Famous, Baby!

Tonight, when we were reluctantly slinking back home after lounging blissfully in Jane and Dobby’s air conditioning, we noticed that outside our house a block party was in session -- a block party we hadn't been invited to.

Lois, a sheepish neighbor, knocked on the door and explained they’d forgotten to “flyer” us, but asked if we would please come out and meet a few people. So, Shef in his pajamas, Dan in his Old Farte t-shirt, and I, inexplicably obsessed with checking my fly, moseyed out there to make nice.

This turned out to be an incredibly fruitful endeavor, as I learned that Soul Asylum began in our garage. Yes! Soul Asylum! They played here in their early days, like before Runaway Train and Winona Ryder.

In other news, my brother Devin has a blog. He’s going to write about his experiences of being a missionary in Peru. Don’t worry, I don’t think he’s going to be the psychotic kind of missionary who preaches about hellfire and eternal damnation, so you probably won’t be repulsed if you go check it out.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005


His legs have thinned out, but his tummy -- not so much.

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On a side note, I have successfully harrassed and cajoled another pal into Blogdom, and I have very high hopes for Calico Fig.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Status Report

This morning, as Shef devoured a breakfast of waffles and applesauce, I inquired what he’d like to do today, thinking he’d say “swimming” or “zoo” or “slide.”

“Paul’s,” he said smiling. “Tina.”

And with that, I’ve decided his status is now “perfectly well-adjusted,” and will remain so forevermore.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Sinner, Part II

The fact of my heathenism was thrown in my face yesterday while I was driving innocently along Lexington Avenue.

I had to brake suddenly because the asshole in front of me was incapable of reading signage, and in response to this, Shef’s little voice rang out from the backseat: “JESUS!”

His intonation was spot-on, and I realized, reluctantly and guiltily, that I’d blasphemed on one too many traffic-related occasions. I looked over my shoulder at him, and he smiled at me around his paci, completely unaware that’d I’d perhaps corrupted him beyond redemption.

Poor guy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sinners at Dinner

Shef and I recently attended an intimate family dinner at Culver’s in Chanhassen. Chanhassen, while close to Valley Fair and the famed dinner theater, is not particularly close to Casa de Sheffield; but what can you do. It’s family.

We’d never been to Culver’s before, and I admit I was pleasantly surprised; although, the chicken fingers would have tasted a whole lot better if I hadn’t read Fast Food Nation. Stupid slaughterhouses. Why do they have to be so e-coli laden and maggot infested?

Anyway, mid-meal, we broke into song to distract two-year-old Cousin Emily from her impending tantrum, and “This Little Light of Mine” was the chosen ditty. Our index fingers swayed in perfect unison, and we bobbed our heads happily. “Let it shine, let it shine, let it shiiine!!” we sang. Shef and Emily thought this was great fun, and our fellow diners didn’t seem overly perturbed.

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And then Aunt Mary plowed cheerfully into the second verse, which, for her, goes like this:

“Don’t let Satan blow it out! I’m gonna let it shine!”

Needless to say, my sister (there she is in the middle – isn’t she cute?) and I stopped finger-waving and burst out laughing.

“What?!” asked Mary. “You don’t sing it like that?”

Um, no. I like my “Light” a little farther away from the fire and brimstone, thank you very much.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Learning Rocks!

My summer school class has started, and I’m so glad.

I’ve been feeling very inspired as I delve into Karen Cushman’s materials at The Kerlan Collection. Lucky me, this endeavor counts as official homework. If I weren’t paying two thousand dollars to do it, I’d never know I was slogging away toward a master's degree.

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I open box after box of Cushman’s papers -- handwritten first drafts of Catherine, Called Birdy, clippings of horoscopes, post-its on which she’s written quotations, four drafts of her Newbery acceptance speech…. I feel like I’m opening someone’s mail, all under the guise of scholarly pursuit.

Today our class took us on a field trip to Debra Fraiser’s studio. She’s in crunch-mode on a new book, and I sat open-mouthed listening to her talk about her process. Then she gave us signed copies of this beautiful book:

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What a delight.

Fighting the Good Fight

We’re back from a weekend jaunt to the cabin, which was great, but now I realize I didn’t get around to FlyLadying my house on Friday; so all of a sudden it’s a pit. Yes, it happens that fast.

It was at the cabin that I realized I may be taking PC parenting to the max.

It’s very important to me that Shef not be heterosexist and/or homophobic. Too many times, I’ve had the same “why saying ‘That’s so gay,’ is not okay” conversation with my eighth graders. Similarly, I’m tired of hearing seemingly rational adults advocate restricting human rights to “protect the institution of marriage.”

I want my kid to be enlightened, to stand up to hate speech from the get-go -- to know that all human beings have inherent worth, and to act accordingly.

It’s important, right?

So, when other PC parents in music class mention that their daughters might make good matches for Shef someday, I nod, and then say, “Or Henry! Henry’s cute, too.” Everyone agrees, and we carry on. I realize it'll be hard not assume that Shef is straight -- I think most everyone assumes her child is -- but I try diligently to imagine him with male and female partners. I want to make sure he grows up knowing that either (or both) is "normal."

It was in this vein that I had this conversation with Shef during diaper-change this weekend:

“Penis,” he said, groping his package, as usual. “Touch penis.”

“Yes,” I replied, same as always, “that’s your penis,” and reached for a wipe.

“Penis,” Shef said again.

“Yes,” I said patiently. “All little boys have them.” And then I realized my mistake and edited hastily: “Except some transsexuals, and that’s okay, too.”

And then I wondered, how much information is too much information for a one-year-old?

The Storm and The Calm

I heard screaming upon entering Paul’s this morning with Shef on my hip.

“Mama,” he whispered and locked his legs firmly around my waist. I steeled myself for a tricky extraction. It’s always worse when someone else is crying when we arrive.

A harried Dad passed us on his way out.

“Yes,” he said, when I looked at him sympathetically, “I’m abandoning my child.”

“I feel the same way,” I replied.

By the time we walked the twenty feet from the door to the “dining room,” however, the screaming had stopped, and I couldn’t even tell which Little Angel had been making such a fuss.

This fact encouraged me as substitute teacher Marion pried Shef, kicking and screaming, from my body, and I made a beeline for the exit. Maybe, I thought, as Shef yelled desperately for my return, and heartbreaking tears streamed from his scrunched up eyes, if Harried Dad’s kid recovered so quickly, mine would too.

Sure enough, when I snuck back in five minutes later to leave a pacifier in his cubby, he was chatting away about pancakes, and (I hope) looking forward to the rest of his day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Opportunity Squandered

How is it that in umpteen Monday evenings passed at the Loring Pasta Bar, we never noticed this?

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Jess and I were pretty miffed about our insufficient menu reading, as the savings were significant.

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We had a nice dinner anyway, despite our indignation, and I bought jm a celebratory drink, as promised.

(Links for jm, who can’t see my photos: menu photo, check photo)

Monday, July 18, 2005

What Happened Behind the Tasty Freeze?

We (Shef and I) spent the weekend in the air-conditioned loveliness of my mom’s house. It was unbearable here, and Shef loves Nana and her dog, Slobbery Amber.

Dan, on the other hand, spent the weekend working away at his office, penning important legal briefs. So, while he also enjoyed air-conditioning, he didn’t get to hang with the golden retriever.

On Sunday, I wrangled the troops – Nana, Shef, and myself – for a trip to the Y, where they have a “leisure pool” with slides and fountains and waterfalls. This keeps Shef happy for a good forty-five minutes, which makes the nightmare of showering a wiggly, slippery male child, who has learned how to say “penis” and discovered that his outside voice echoes satisfyingly off of tile, almost worth it.

On the way there, we heard John Mellencamp’s “Hurts So Good” on KS95, and my mom said one of those things I wish she wouldn’t:

“You know,” she said, “I’ve always liked this song.” Shef bopped away in the back seat, affirming its undeniably catchy beat. “But the other day, I was singing along to it on the radio, and I thought… Well… is it about S&M?”

“Moooom,” I replied, sighing deeply.

“No really,” she pressed on. “Listen: ‘Hurts so good, c’mon baby make it hurt so good,’” she sang a few bars along with John. “’Hurts so good’… See?!”


Saturday, July 16, 2005

In the Wee Hous

We were half-awake, lying on the bed and listening to Shef go in and out of our closet this morning.

“Open close,” he’d say, and then he’d giggle. I’d peek at him every once in awhile, and he’d wrinkle up his nose and coo. It was very cute, but it was also 6 a.m, which wouldn’t have seemed too terribly early if he hadn’t required five overnight visits, all of which were made by me.

Dan and I were playing that weekly spousal game of chicken, each hoping the other would be compelled to get out of bed and take care of the kid. I was mumbling about the heat, Dan was ignoring me, and then Shef deviated from his “open close” pattern.

“Penis,” he said, laughing on the other side of the closet door. “Penis. Hahaha.”

And that was that.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Size Issue

Shef is going through a developmental stage where he doesn’t understand scale. His Little People can go down their slide, he reasons, so he should be able to go down it, too.
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Every day, over and over, he straddles the slide.

“Slide!” He says again and again, each time with a bit more urgency. “Down!”

And, each time I patiently and gently explain that the slide is too small, that we have to try it with a Little Person.

“Person!” he agrees, happily. “Slide!” And so, the boy and the girl People each slide, and I naively assume we’ve gotten things figured out.

And then (sigh) we repeat this interaction twenty or thirty more times.

It’s the same with the dollhouse stairs at his friend’s house and with the ramp on the Little People Garage at Aunt Susie’s. It’s one of those things, like many in toddlerhood, that’s cute the first time, and then, after twenty or thirty or two hundred times, not so cute.

Case in Point

We were half-awake, lying on the bed and listening to Shef go in and out of our closet this morning.

“Open close,” he’d say, and then he’d giggle. I’d peek at him every once in awhile, and he’d wrinkle up his nose and coo. It was very cute, but it was also 6 a.m, which wouldn’t have seemed too terribly early if he hadn’t required five overnight visits, all of which were made by me.

Dan and I were playing that weekly spousal game of chicken, each hoping the other would be compelled to get out of bed and take care of the kid. I was mumbling about the fucking heat, Dan was ignoring me, and then Shef deviated from his “open close” pattern.

“Penis,” he said, laughing on the other side of the closet door. “Penis. Hahaha.”

And that was that.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tubby Toast

I borrowed Naughty Noo-Noo from the library for Shef. He’s partial to The Teletubbies – “Tu-bbies,” he says, pressing play on the DVD machine when he sees the box – and I don’t mind them.

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Because they debuted during my college nannying days, I’m used to their weird utterances and their big hugs. I understand what Lala is talking about when she says, “Tubby Custard.” I remember the Tinky Winky gay rumors and the subsequent uproar from the right wing whack jobs.

Molly, on the other hand, doesn’t quite understand the appeal.

“What the HECK?” she says, shaking her head, unable to embrace the baby in the sun and the psychedelic counting exercises played out on bright pink backgrounds. She sits there with pained, constipated looks on her face while Shef laughs and claps his hands for Po.

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“Doodlebug, why do you like this crap?” she asks him repeatedly, despite my frequent appeals to watch her language.

I, for one, don’t care why he likes it, but I love that he’ll sit still for five whole minutes to see Dipsy jump in and out of a hole and run around the space-age Tubby chromedome.

God bless 'em, I say.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Where is Paige Davis When You Need her?

We met with Fab Architect Jackie last week to look at drawings of our new kitchen/family room, which will attach to our garage.

I’m feeling very excited about this, but anxious about the homework I’ve been given. It seems that if you want a new kitchen (and a new powder room and remodeled bathroom upstairs) you have to pick out products that you like. For instance, cabinets, sinks, and countertops.

Does anyone have any tips on this?

Funding our giant, but totally worth it, home-improvement project requires that we make sacrifices like not having cable television. Lee tells me that not having cable is akin to not having air to breathe, and I'm starting to agree because just when I need HGTV more than I've ever needed it before, I must do without.


I picked up a happy, well-rested Shef from Paul’s this afternoon. Then, I took him to the library where he frolicked and socialized and picked out seven books for the week. On the way home, we stopped at the grocery store for taco fixings, and Sheila and Eric came over for dinner.

What a happy evening.

And then, without warning, Shef puked and puked all over me. There was puke down my back and in my hair and across my neck and in between my toes. After each projectile, as the puke splattered on the floor, Shef said, “Boom.” We were tempted to laugh and smile at his cuteness, but I was too covered in puke to really enjoy it.

I tried to get him to the bathtub, but what happened instead was we tracked puke all the way up the stairs and down the hallway. Dan followed behind us with a mop.

It was so nasty.

I thought vomit-dousing was some kind of Mom rite of passage, so I called my mom to report that I was in the midst of the harrowing trial; and she told me that she’d never been puked on like that. Not once.


I’m feeling sick, but I think it’s because the puke smell is lingering in my hair despite a mid-dinner shower.

Saturday, July 9, 2005


I’m having a terrible time pulling the trigger on a new washer and dryer.

It’s not because I think our old ones will do. Oh no.

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The resounding and repeated clunking sounds emanating from the dryer convince me that I have, at the very least, a repair issue; and after I inspected our first finished load here, I feel certain that our washer is not agitating properly. We don’t have the highest of standards, but we do like our clothes to be dirt- and body odor-free.

Our friends and family tend to like us that way, too, and as my father-in-law made a point to remind Dan and me to look decent for John’s high school graduation, I’m feeling like our presentation has been lacking enough as it is – we don’t need to be smelly and stained in addition to perpetually disheveled.

Being relatively eco-friendly and wanting to save money on water, gas, and electricity, Dan and I have decided to go down the front-loader path. So far, every fast-talking appliance hawker has pointed me toward a different machine when I asked to see the "best base-model."

After I spent yesterday pouring over Consumer Reports, cursing the Warners’ Stellian guy who recommended the Maytag model that’s known for growing black mold, and surfing several appliance-centered websites, I’ve decided it may be possible to overthink this decision.

At dinner last night, Meghan gave me some sound advice.

“Here’s what you do,” she said authoritatively.

I nodded, pen poised to take notes.

“You go to Sears…”

“Yeah?” I looked at her hopefully.

“And you buy which ever’s the cheapest.”

She might be right.

Status Report

Overall, I’d say Shef’s time at Paul’s is getting a little less traumatic.

On Friday, he didn’t cry when I left him in his breakfast chair.

“Look! It’s cereal!” I chirped, hoping to distract him from the looming separation. “Can you take a bite like a big kid?”

He did, I overpraised (see below), and his beloved Tina came to sit by him.

“Buh-bye mom,” he said with furrowed brow and considerable apprehension. He whispered “mom,” a few more times, but I heard no screaming as I scuttled out the door.

I was feeling especially nervous yesterday because of the state he was in when I picked him up on Wednesday (he takes Thursdays off). Lead Teacher Terese told me he was waiting out his failed nap with Diana in the Dramatic Play room. When I peeked in there, he was huddled on her lap, sobbing, and repeating “All done, Paul’s. All done, Paul’s.”

It was very sad, and I spent the rest of the evening wracked with guilt for abandoning him.

Still, I think it’s getting a little bit better.

You can tell if you look at the big picture.

Friday, July 8, 2005

He Loves Him

Molly’s taken a bit of time off from work, thank goodness, and so has spent a lot of time with Sheffie and me this week.

Impressed with his vocabulary, she taught him to say, “Genius,” despite my warnings about the dangers of overpraise. (This child already applauds himself for even the smallest effort. For instance, choosing not to throw food off his high chair generally triggers quite a lengthy ovation.)

We’ve also been working on counting around here, and with Molly’s help, he has “one” and “two” pretty much down. We’re stuck at three, but I’m confident we’ll get there.

So yesterday, when Shef was carrying around a couple of plastic clothes hangers, the instructor in Molly sensed the imminence of what we in the field of education call “a teachable moment”:

“How many hangers do you have, Shef?” she asked, as he toddled by.

“Two!” he announced proudly.

“That’s right!” she cooed. “Very good.” I agreed that this was quite impressive.

Apparently Shef did too because he smiled at Molly and said, with perfect comedic timing, “Genius.”

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I’m not really so worried about his self-esteem.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Not Complaining

I’ve been thinking of Pal Erin a lot today – imagining her and New Husband David frolicking on the beaches of Hawaii with fruity drinks in their hands. I bet Erin is wearing her ultra cute and sophisticated beach cover-up. I bet they’re eating at fabulous restaurants. I bet they brought good reading material. Their honeymoon, I’m thinking, could be worse.

For instance, they could have opted for a low-key week at the in-laws’ cabin in Wisconsin, only to scurry south on Day 3, trying to escape the aftermath of a fatality on the water. Somehow, they would think, Love Lake is less idyllic when divers are searching for a corpse that has likely become entangled in weeds not thirty feet in front of the dock, and they might as well just go home.

But, this particular example of a honeymoon – while certainly worse than a romp on the Big Island – is neither here nor there.

What I really wanted to do was show you this picture of Erin’s wedding hair:

Very Grace Kelly, eh?

Let it serve as an example of just how cute and sophisticated a bride Erin was.

Monday, July 4, 2005

Burgeoning Vocabulary

“Car-git. Car-git,” Shef repeated as we breezed into The Quarry on an emergency paci run -- we’d officially lost all spares, and we haven’t gotten around to implementing Project Wean per Dr. G.’s recommendations.

“What’s he saying?” Dan asked. I shrugged – I’d never the word before.

“Car-git,” Shef insisted. “Car-GIIT!” The matter was clearly urgent.

“Um, Target?” I asked, as Dan pulled into a spot just beneath the trademark bullseye.

Shef laughed. “Car-git!” he confirmed.

We exhanged a look -- a look that could be roughly translated as, "We are so lucky the f-word isn't isn't part of his repertoire" -- and slammed our doors.

Sunday, July 3, 2005

An Accidental Blog Break

I’ve reached the finish line of the Erin and David Wedding Extravaganza.

All that remains is to step into the shower and eradicate helmet head and that pesky b.o.

This might take awhile, as my up-do required many ounces of extra-hold spray, and the temperature of the church rivaled that of the equatorial sun. When the trumpet sounded and Erin rounded the bend, my eyes teared and my armpits produced like never before. The bridesmaid behind me actually stopped to wipe the sweat that was rolling down her legs and dripping on her feet. This made my snot-mopping a little less conspicuous, and for that I am grateful.

Miraculously, I was the only bridesmaid not to spill on my silver dress. This might have something to do with the fact that I was also the only bridesmaid who wasn’t loaded, but I’m proud of myself, nevertheless.

Now that the formalities are finished, the newlyweds will bask in the glow of their nuptial fantasia all the way to Hawaii, and Dan, Shef, and I will away once more to the Lake Isle of Innisfree.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Truly a Thing of Beauty

I know what you're thinking: you wish your washing machine could be so chic, so sleek, and so high efficiency.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Status Report

Good news: Shef only cried a little at Paul’s today. Just for a moment before lunch, they said. This makes me feel happy instead of guilty, which is nice.

Bad news: Shef pulled a candle holder down on his head at Cupcake’s house and now has twin gashes on his poor little head. Another case of bad parenting, I’m afraid.

And now, go to Dooce and check out Udder Boy. So funny.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

I Forgot About Looming Deadlines

We're back from a therapeutic weekend retreat at Love Lake.

Shef toddled into the water multiple times per day, and therefore slept soundly at night and naptime, except for when he discovered he could hurtle himself out of his full-size travel crib and crash head-first on the wooden floor.

This troubled us, and we'll be bringing a crib tent on our next excursion.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Big 3-0

Pal Renee's mom managed to stun her with a surprise 30th birthday party at The Roller Garden.

Many guests hadn't been to a rink in years, but those guests have not been middle school teachers. Those of us who have, well -- we were more than familiar with the scuzzy rental skates and the ins and outs of the Snowball.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Status Report

When I arrived to pick Shef up from school, he was crying, but Teacher Tina assured me it was because he’d just woken up.

“He loved going outside today,” she said, smiling. “He went in the play houses and everything.”

“Oh good,” I said, kissing his sweaty little head. “Did he cry the rest of the day, then?”

“Well…” She looked down for a moment, and I could tell she was deciding how much of the truth to tell me. “He stopped a little at lunch, too.”


We’ll be back at it again on Friday.

Back to My Roots

This evening I’m reminded that I love Super Nanny. No one else can call a six-year-old “cheeky madam” with such panache.

And since I watched Super Nanny without the convenience of Tivo (my delightful husband refuses to call the Tivo Guys and figure out how to make it work without a phone line), I learned about another compelling reality show soon to debut on ABC: Brat Camp. In it, assholic, sexually active teenagers are sent away to be tortured and transformed.

If I ever get my Tivo back, I’m definitely capturing that magic.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hop, Skip, Jump

There are lots of wonderful things about our new neighborhood – the aforementioned wading pool, Cupcake, the proximity to the River – but the best thing is being six minutes by foot from the house of Jordan, bosom friend.

At 4:30 she called, we discovered we were both husbandless for the evening (Dan is sitting in on depos in Jersey), and we hatched a plan to consume Chipotle at her house at 6:00 while Shef waxed cacophonous on Solana’s toy piano.


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Not What The Doctor Ordered

What we really needed was a slow, relaxing weekend. We wouldn’t have a tight schedule -- one of us could give our lawn a plow while the other walked the baby to the neighborhood wading pool. (Yes! We have a wading pool at one of the two community centers that are within walking distance. Isn’t that charming?)

Instead, the weekend was absolutely jam-packed with important, mandatory events. These were things we really wanted and needed to do, but there were just too darn many of them; and now I’m feeling close to comatose.

To make up for it, we’ve vowed to escape the madness in seven days and sojourn to The Lake, where we’ll begin drinking g&t’s at four and try to keep from falling off the dock.

Friday, June 17, 2005

He's An Only-Child

One after another, the moms of Shef’s friends have been giddily announcing their second pregnancies.

Their babies are due in December and January, and they’re already glowing.

“I’ll be a lot of work, but we’re thrilled,” they say, gazing lovingly at their adorable one-year-olds.

I can’t understand it, really. It’s as if they’ve completely forgotten the abject misery of the third trimester and the harrowing darkness that is labor.

I manage to close my gaping mouth and choke back the nausea (it inevitably accompanies the thought of conceiving again) long enough to deliver the appropriate congratulations, the inquiries about how they’re feeling, the warm, knowing smiles exchanged between mothers who have already welcomed babies into their homes.

This morning at 3:00, when Shef had woken for the fourth time since nine, I told Dan that one child was most certainly enough.

“I’m not doing this again,” I said.

Dan sighed, probably thinking that there was surely a better forum in which to discuss this than in the dark at three AM. “It could be different next time,” he said hopefully.

I suppose he’s right. Maybe I won’t dry-heave for twelve weeks straight or have ankles the size of Ohio. Maybe my second trimester won’t be punctuated by daily, deadening headaches. Perhaps I won’t swell to 200 pounds or need an emergency C-section with general anesthesia. It’s possible that the new baby will sleep for longer than two hours at a time with some regularity, or not want to nurse every thirty minutes around the clock for the first six months of his life.

It’s just the chance that it won’t be markedly different that triggers the hyperventilation.