Wednesday, January 28, 2015


"Mom, I signed you up to chaperone a field trip," Big Kid announced. "Are you available February 5th?"

Guys, remember how I quit volunteering? Like, four different times, but for really really real last time? With a recent holiday party relapse but still determined to stay the course?

Well, he looked so...hopeful. Excited. I was overcome with relief that I must not be that embarrassing to be around if he volunteered me. Never mind that volunteering others isn't really a thing that should happen. Of course I was going to be available.

"Yay!! Yes, of course I'll be available. So, you already signed me up? Or you want me to ask if I can go?"

"I already signed you up!"

"Cool! Where are we going?"

I'm still not 100% clear on where we are going but it includes the word swamp so I'm pretty sure it's not the Philharmonic. He seemed to be waiting for a reaction when he said it, like he knew I might not be overly excited about a swamp visit.

"Wow! Super fun! That's awesome, I bet it will be beautiful. Just get me the details and I'll be ready!" He looked relieved.

A few days later--"Mom, I got the details of the field trip. You can drive or take the bus, but they said it might be a tricky drive. Also, you need to wear pants and shoes you don't mind getting wet and ruining. We're going to be in water."

"Oh, huh." I said stupidly as I tried to make an appropriately happy face.

"I know, I know...I started thinking that maybe this wasn't a good fit. I even raised my hand and asked if the chaperones would have to get wet and she said yes--"

Quickly stifling a mortified laugh at the thought, I interrupted, "No! I'm totally excited about the swamp walk part! I was thinking about the driving. How they said it could be tricky. I mean, do you want me on the bus with you?" He shrugged. "I mean, I think I could make the drive no problem--"

I drive a Volkswagen Jetta.

Also, I was not thinking about the drive, I was thinking about swamp water. And a little bit about riding on a bumpy bus full of 6th graders. I'm just being realistic here, people. I can do some of these things but can I do all of those things?

"I was worried about the water part," he started again, looking regretful, preparing to launch into some sort of apology.

The thing is that I do NOT want to be the mom who wouldn't march right into a Florida swamp full of snakes and alligators and bacteria for the sake of her 11-year-old's education. I am adventurous. I am the mom of boys. I am fun. I am all about experiences with them. I could survive encephalitis (but probably not a panther attack--again, some of the things, not all of the things).

 "Do not feel bad, I am super excited! I've done it before--I love stuff like this, it's amazing. In college I went on a four hour walk through the Everglades where the water was up to our waist at times." And I fucking hated every minute of it. And it was one of the reasons I officially decided that my relationship with science would be an affinity from afar. The thing about the Everglades is that people don't really belong out there, like an alligator doesn't really belong in a country club pond, and this was all very obvious the moment I waded into that dark, cold, quiet water. "It will be a really cool experience, I'm glad we're going to get to go together."

And I am glad we get to go together. I am genuinely honored that he wants me there. I will walk through the swamp water in wet jeans and tennis shoes and I will be the picture of enthusiasm about it. Because that's what moms do.

(But I don't have to ride the bus, right?)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Bundle of Joy

Today I got to snuggle the absolutely perfect, precious, one day old baby girl of my friend of 32 years. (Longtime readers know the friend as Catfish, the nickname my dad gave her when we were little.)  It made my heart sing! She fit in my arms so nicely, she smelled so lovely and she made the sweetest faces and sounds. Her little flowered nightgown with its lacy, ruffled edge was darling.

Babies are such a miracle, such an amazing time of life--with everything so brand new and glowing with hope and excitement.

As soon as I got back in my car, I called my husband and told him that I've been thinking about it for a really long time now and that we need to make a plan because I know for a fact that I want a MacBook Pro. Because my friend had a brand new one of those, too. I need one.

And that's how we know I'm over the baby phase, my friends.

But, man, other people's babies are awesome.


"I'm going to pay you to feed the pets," I told little kid. It's his job normally, without pay, but I thought financial incentive would get more consistent results with less complaining.

"How much?"

"Let's do a package deal, like, throw another chore in there, all for one price." 

"Like what?"

"Like the dishes?" Another sporadically accomplished chore. 

"No deal. I just want to know what I'm being paid for the pets. Let's start with that." 

He is so strategic. I hadn't really thought this far ahead because I thought going from free to not free would be good enough.

"What do you think is fair?" I asked, both because I was curious and because I had no idea. 

Big Kid chimed in, "I'm thinking $1.50 a week for that." 

"Bro!" little kid hissed at him. 

"Five dollars? Two dollars?" Big Kid continued to guess. 

"Three dollars," he said, with a firmness I admire.
"I was thinking two dollars," I replied.

"Three dollars." 

"Two dollars." 

"$2.50," he said, with a waggle of his eyebrows and a smirk. 


I suck at negotiating but he's so cute. And a better negotiator.

Monday, January 19, 2015


There's no school today. After a three week winter break, two sick days of doubtful veracity, and early dismissal (which is the biggest waste of time ever) my kids are off again today.

I know it's a holiday and I totally celebrate that fact, but I want to point out that in essence, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream was all about these kids going to school. Together. All of them. Should they be home, segregated from other cultures on this day? We all want the same thing here, pretty much, freedom and togetherness and that togetherness not being at my house.

Also, does my right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness come into play at all here, with all of these absences? What about their right to an education? I just think more days off is un-American, that's all, and I'm sure there's a justifiable reason relating to patriotism.

Lady Liberty herself is weeping over my forgotten Netflix queue. Do you even know how much I was enjoying all of the PBS Frontline specials and true crime shows like the First 48 and Forensic Files? That darkly delightful series "Black Mirror"? So thought-provoking and Twilight Zone-like. I also miss my documentaries--my days are long without inmates and prostitutes. Will I ever catch up on House of Cards before the new season comes out on February 27th? I'm the only one saying curse words around here these days.

Freedom, people; mine is being infringed upon. 

Also, I have to work. And when I work, I like it to be quiet which is not a language these kids speak. That's the (only) downside of working from home--it's hard for other people to understand that you're working just as hard as other people even if you don't have pants on. Just because I can take a Netflix break to watch "Bob's Burgers" doesn't mean the jobs I do aren't serious business.

Earlier I could hear the kids fighting in the other room and I yelled for them to knock it off, and Big Kid yelled back that little kid wouldn't get off of him. I told little kid he would have to go to his room if I had to ask them to settle down again.

"THAT'S IT!! GO TO YOUR ROOM," I roared 45 seconds later.

"Mom, he's hitting me this time!" little kid argued back.

"Good. Then both of you go to your room!"

"I don't even care. I just released 11 years of pent up frustration and it felt great," Big Kid exclaimed before retreating to their shared room, where the bickering continued but with a wall and door to buffer the sound.  This is certainly not what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would want on his day.

Tomorrow they will be back in school and I will be stuck at home all day waiting for the plumber, and I am positively giddy at the thought. I will catch up on all kinds of work, without interruption except for the plumber. I will clean up a little and it will stay that way until 4pm or until the plumber messes it up. I will take an hour to catch up on some of my more pressing Netflix needs, even if it means the plumber might hear bad words. I guess I'll wear pants. I wish the plumber wasn't coming but it's as close to freedom as I've been in a long time and I will embrace it.

Spring break is just around the corner. I've got to appreciate whatever I can get. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sick Day

little kid is home sick from school today--a situation that greatly irritated me earlier because I have tons of work to do and he doesn't seem that sick.

But right now he's out on the porch in his pajamas, quietly chatting to himself while methodically and strategically setting up yet another battle among his little army men and their scene setting accessories. These toys are the bane of my existence--he must have over a 1000 with all of his sets; green and khaki ones, civil war, revolutionary war, Native Americans, knights, Roman warriors, mythological creatures. Then there's their covered wagons and tiny tents and catapults and tanks and fighter planes and trees and fences and flags and...pieces. They have invaded my porch and my life and the tracks of my sliding glass door. It's a mess that's been going on for years. He spends hours on these elaborate battles and set-ups, with strict rules of warfare and division of equipment.

It's insane.

And yet so heart-warming to watch. At 8, he's still little but on the cusp of being officially and undeniably big. I love to see how he immerses himself in his imagination this way, even if I hate the ever present mess on my porch. I know in the grand scheme of things, it won't last that long and recognize that these little flashes of childhood are worth cherishing.

I'm sure he'll come in here and annoy the crap out of me again soon, but it's nice for now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


My car wouldn't start today. My steering wheel was locked into an odd position and I couldn't turn it or my key in the ignition. I googled it for a recommendation that did not work. I called my husband and got the same advice that did not work. I got increasingly upset as my efforts went unrewarded and he eventually had to leave work to race to the house to make sure our 8-year-old wasn't locked out and then to my work to fix the car.

He did what I had done before--yanked the wheel back and forth while jiggling the key in the ignition.

Then he pushed the car gently backwards while I tried the wheel and key.

Then I also might have acted like a jerk because I was frustrated and none of it made sense to me and because I'm a jerk sometimes. Might have. I could be misremembering that part.

Finally he admitted defeat and I thought we'd have to call AAA to tow it. I went to lock it with the keyless entry and that wouldn't even work so I handed him the keys to figure it out and flounced off to his car.

As I placed my bag on the floorboard, it bulged open and I saw my keys inside.

Confused, I reached inside. I pressed the lock button and my car locked. I could see my husband standing across the parking lot with the keys in his hand, confused.

"Oh. I think those maybe aren't my keys," I said because what can you say at that point? I added, "Sorry about that." Because I guess that's what you're supposed to say. But to be fair (to me), these keys were identical to mine--a VW key with one bronze key and one silver key on a plain keyring, and I found them next to my bag, at the desk I was sitting at.

I'm still pretty sure they were my keys, and that a time-slip or cloning conspiracy or supernatural phenomenon is the only plausible explanation.

Because I can't be wrong.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Tooth Fairy Terror

Have I mentioned lately how much our tooth fairy sucks?

Big Kid lost his last baby tooth, an occasion that should have been marked with some sort of tooth fairy fanfare, one would think.

After his Santa silence this year, I wasn't sure that I should suggest putting his tooth under the pillow but when I did, he said that of course he would, with no trace of humoring me. He's not a very good actor, so this is puzzling.

Unless he's such a good actor that he's acting like a bad actor sometimes to throw me off? It's confusing, people, I feel ill prepared for this tween/teen business. He 11 and reads Steinbeck and has opinions on Einstein's theories of's got to be a long con, right?

But, surprise, surprise, our tooth fairy was a no show on the first attempt. Except this isn't a surprise at all because she fails to show one out of every three visits. When he announced her absence over breakfast, I'm certain my frustration with her was written all over my face.

"Oh. Huh. Well, you have all of those pillows on your bed. And it's dark and all. And you flop a lot. Maybe you should leave it on your nightstand. Your brother did that the last time and it worked out well."

"Good idea. I'll do that."

The tooth wasn't on the nightstand that night, or under the pillow. Tired, confused and a steady underachiever, she shoved a small wad of cash under the mess of pillows anyway. Three dollars, due to the late fee.

At dinner later that week, he said, "I put the tooth on my nightstand two days ago, but no tooth fairy."


"Are you sure? You should check."

"I did. The tooth is still there."

"Did you look under your pillows for money? Maybe she left the tooth. Remember how you swallowed the first two and then asked to keep that other one? She's probably confused now."

"What would she even be doing with these teeth? If she's really building a castle full of teeth, that would take about one week at the rate kids lose them and--a castle built out of teeth? All bloody with bits of gum and cavities?" He shuddered. "Gross."

"It is gross," I agreed. "The tooth fairy is weird. Maybe she shines the teeth up and makes pearls out of them. Or maybe she's building something like the Great Wall of China but with teeth."

little kid agreed that would be cool and was a very real possibility.

I continued, "Or maybe that's how dentures are made. Gross. Can you imagine old people walking around with little tiny baby teeth? That would be so creepy! " We all considered that for a moment, with a mixture of laughter and horror before I had another idea.

"Oh, oh--you know how teeth have DNA on them?" I dropped my voice to a slow breath-y whisper. "Maybe she has a life sized doll of every child in the world and she puts the lost teeth in one by one and when the final tooth is inserted into its socket..."

little kid stretched his hand out, fingers spread in the universal sign for "STOP." "Mom! Seriously, do NOT say another word. Ugh. What is wrong with you?" He looked disgusted.

"Yeah, there goes my childhood," added Big Kid. "You are so weird."

The tooth fairy is weird.

Friday, January 2, 2015


"Mom, could you love a hairball?" little kid asked.

"Like, a physical ball of hair?"




"Yes, really."

"What if it was your hairball? If it came from you?"


"Then how can I know that you love me?"

"Seriously? You're just going to have to take my word for it."