Recent Reasons to Smile

♥ Janie asked me to have a Five-Minute Sit Down Breakfast with her in the middle of this morning’s chaos.  We managed two, but with a little practice . . .


Give Peas a Chance♥ Give Peas a Chance by Morris Gleitzman. A collection of kid-oriented short stories written by an Australian with an uncanny talent for balancing poignancy with humor (The first one in the collection is here).  The audio version (read by the author and the delightful Ruth Schoenheimer), which I’m listening to in the car right now is even better.  

My favorite so far is “100 Text Messages you must Read Before you Die”, which proves that actions speak louder than words and there’s nothing more actionable than a father’s love for his daughter.


♥ Friends who snark out of affection.


♥ I woke up humming a favorite song that I hadn’t heard in over a year—and it played on the radio during Two-Minute Sit Down Breakfast so I could groove to it in front of the kids.


♥ Pomegranate and Blood Orange Skittles.

Darkside Skittles





(And also the concept of “the other side of the rainbow”)


♥ Air-conditioned workplaces.


♥ Kids in superhero costumes who are happy to have a serious discussion of the merits of Batman versus Captain America with you until their parents coax them away from the library desk.

Cap Shield

Fresh Paint app♥ Children who can be bribed into vacuuming their rooms and setting the table with a pad of drawing paper and an hour on my Fresh Paint app, respectively.


♥ That I managed to discover a continuity error in my WIP and managed to fix it all by myself yesterday.


♥ A Harry Potter/Hot Fuzz crossover fanfic series that works far, far better than it should.  Especially when it calls Dumbledore to task for some of his shenanigans and eventually has Ron in it.

Potter Fuzz

♥ That I had something to blog about after all.



Reflections on Summer Camp

This Sunday, my husband and I will be dropping Sunny off at a week-long overnight camp.  She’s in a cabin with her best Friend in the Universe, Gail, and their shared excitement and anticipation could power every town between (and including) Chicago and St. Louis, if we could get them to stay still long enough to hook ’em up to the grids.

She would have packed the moment we told her, but she didn’t have a suitcase, something she reminded us about at least twice a day during the course of the last month.  My husband finally took her out last night to get a handled backpack affair that she filled to the brim ten minutes after they brought it home . . . except for her spare gym shoes, which have gone walkabout in the way peculiar to children’s shoes that were last seen in that exact spot yesterday, for given values of exact, spot, and yesterday.

awesomeshoesThe absence of these shoes has left a rift in her very soul.  She’s searched absolutely everywhere for those shoes!  Those shoes have disappeared off the face of the earth!  She has to pack those shoes!  The shoes are on the camp packing list!  The camp won’t let her in without those shoes!

Heaven help the parent—seriously, I could use it—who suggests that her method of searching absolutely everywhere, which consists of standing in the middle of her room and staring straight ahead at one corner of it, might not be the most efficient use of her ocular senses or pattern recognition.Laundry hamper

Nor, by the way, will that parent win any cause-and-effect argument over the possibility that since all her clothes are packed, she might well be running around stark naked by Friday.  Or that it might be necessary for a parental figure to UNpack her suitcase to make sure all items of clothing pass the two essential Does This Item Have More Cloth Than Holes? and Have You Been Packing From The Dirty Hamper?? tests.

I’m beginning to suspect that this kind of behavior is nature’s way of encouraging parents who are perhaps uncertain about sending their child away for a whole week to not only make the decision to give their precious baby a taste of independence, but also to call the camp to see if they can be dropped off a bit early.

Like, say, Thursday.

Jane, of course, is thrilled about Sunny’s impending departure as well, though no one would choose a preteen to power anything except a universal sense of sullen ennui.* She is visibly happy about having the bathroom to herself, presumably so we won’t have another repeat of this morning’s argument:

“Move, pleathe, Janie.”

“I’m brushing my hair.”Toothbrush2

“Buh ah havtha thpit out mah foofpathe!”

“You’ll have to wait until I’m done!”

“Ah wath ‘ere furtht, ‘anie! Moo-ooom!”

Please not that in that bathroom, the mirror and counter both stretch the length of the room. But in Janie’s estimation, only the part of the mirror in front of the single sink provides the One True Reflection** by which her hair may be accurately parted, for a given value of accuracy. ***

On further thought, perhaps we should have signed both kids up for camp. It would be nice to see what having a toothpaste-free countertop is like.


*We wouldn’t even need cables—it’s all in the cloud.

** I personally like to stand on the left side, where the vent wafts warm or cold air on my toes, depending on the weather, but it’s been made clear to me that I’m too old to get anything I don’t get.



Bragging on my Kids: The Adventures of Ordinary Rachel (by Sunny)

Sunny loves comic books and strips and graphic novels so much that she’s decided to create her own.

Okay, that and because I challenged her older sister the Math Class Chibi Doodler to draw a weekly comic strip with me this summer, and there’s no way Sunny was going to be left behind.

“Ordinary Rachel” about an eight year old girl whose uncle is a superhero who takes her on adventures, even though she doesn’t have any powers of her own (she thinks).  She knows about her uncle’s secret life, but her parents don’t.

Rachel also has a talking ball for a pet.  Presumably, her parents DO know about that, but Sunny is a huge Calvin & Hobbes fan, so maybe not.

She–Sunny, not Rachel—drew these freehand with MS paint all by herself. She spent hours on it and I only helped with technical stuff, like panel size, file options, and getting the tails of the speech balloons to point in the right directions.

These panels are black and white, in case you’re wondering, because she plans to color them last, “like they do with REAL comic books, Mommy.”  She further states that it has nothing to do (Mommy) with the difficulties in using the “Color Fill” tool when your lines don’t touch much.  Really.

I can tell you that the pet ball will be purple. Or pink.

I’m campaigning to call him “Plinkle”, but I don’t get a vote.

   Slide OneI love how you know exactly what this character is doing,
even if you might be a little worried
that she’s taking a nap after laying a ginormous egg.

This confusion will clear up once the egg ball starts talking in panel eight.
Or no, actually it won’t. Never mind.

slide 2

The item to the left is a dresser, which is recognized
because Sunny never closes her drawers, either.

I like Rachel’s nightgown, here.  Very post-modern.

slide 3

 Sunny is always a little miffed that her swimsuit isn’t where she wants to find it,
so she’s just writing what she knows at this point.

This includes the parental nagging, I’m afraid . . .

Notice the reaction lines?  I’m so proud!

slide 4

I love the way she drew this character,
and also that she’s wearing her swimsuit to go hang with superheroes.
Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

And see how spiffy that right hand word balloon looks (ahem)?

Her style probably owes a bit to Patrick McDonnell at this point (especially his Doozie), but that’s not a bad thing at all—in fact, I think it’s pretty good for a not-quite third grader.

Seriously, how cool is this?

That’s right:  pretty darned cool.

So . . . Here’s What Happened . . .

Yesterday, was my day off. I’d planned to use the gift certificate I received for Mother’s Day to get my nails done and then maybe blog about it because I know how much y’all adore every detail about my nail care routine.

But I also  had to buy a birthday present for Sunny’s friend, dishwashing detergent, pumpernickel bread, a specific birthday gift for my husband, balloons for Jane’s science assignment illustrating static electricity.  I needed to make dinner for a friend who just had surgery (which is why pumpernickel bread is mentioned in the previous sentence) and deliver it.  I then had to pick up the kids from school—because my husband graciously agreed to take them to school that morning—and get them home in time for my husband to take them to their respective music lessons.Dancing Cake

Piece of cake.

I perhaps slept in a little more than I wanted to but I did get on the exercise bike without too much whining.  Showered, dressed, and sufficiently caffeinated, I set off.

The first store had Sunny’s friend’s gift and the detergent,* but no pumpernickel, specific husband gift, or reasonably priced balloons.

The second store had reasonably priced balloons (plus the gift bags and birthday cards I’d forgotten to add to the list), but didn’t carry bread or gifts my husband would appreciate.

I zipped over to my nail appointment, by which I mean I followed at minimal safe distance a series of other drivers who seemed to be unclear about where they were going and how quickly they needed to get there, but were adamant about leaving their turn signals on to save time.  But I did make it with minutes to spare.

Say what you want about the frivolity of manicures, but it’s always lovely to have someone hold your hand for half an hour, add a little color to your life, and then massage pineapple oil into your sore writing muscles.  My nails are now a shade called “Imagination”, which might look beige under artificial light, but sparkles gold in the sunshine.  I like that.

I only wish I’d remembered my gift certificate . . .

The third store had my husband’s birthday present and every kind of bread I could have wished for, as long as I didn’t wish for pumpernickel.

The fourth store had pumpernickel.

I went home, hid some of my shopping,** and started scraping carrots, de-stringing celery, and denuding spuds for a vat of baked potato soup (this one with smoked sausage bits added to the onions—and yes, the cat still considers himself a key ingredient) to feed my friend’s family, plus enough for my family the next night.

Halfway through, my stomach demanded to know what I was going to do about its state of impending implosion, so I made lunch, ate it, and continued making soup.  Once soup had been achieved, I let it cool and called my friend for directions.  Her husband, who is a jwonderful man who fully intends to take on his beloved’s work load but had no idea she did quite this much, answered and gave me detailed directions that depended on landmarks that haven’t existed since well before we moved up here, so I secured the street address to their town house complex and dug out the GPS.

I love my GPS but its suction cup mount and I have a non-aggression pact, which it violated by popping free just as I reached the part of town I knew nothing about.  Figuring that GPSing from one’s lap was worse than texting, I pulled over and got my own back by licking the suction cup and slamming it onto the surface of my windshield, where it stuck . . . upside down.  I pried it free, tried again, and we all went on our way.  I don’t believe I was imagining the disapproval in the GPS’s voice, but I didn’t start it, so I didn’t care.

I delivered the soup, bread, a box of Godiva, and hugs to my medication-goofy friend and her exhausted husband, and went to pick up the kids.  While waiting in the Parental Line, I checked my e-mail and found that Jane’s Humanities teacher had cc’d me on an e-mail that supplied the four assignments Jane had missed that month, all of which were due the following day at 3:30.  To her credit . . . pun woefully unintended . . . she fully acknowledged that she needed to do them and told me she needed my computer.

I agreed, because legitimate excuses for writing avoidance are not to be ignored and I’m not interested in providing her with a scapegoat for her lousy grades, thank you.

Brain FailWhen we got home, my husband had put the potato soup in the fridge, which would have been perfect, except he’d inadvertently unearthed the roast I’d bought, which I’d meant to slow-cook Monday but had instead ended up dropping it into the black hole I have where other people keep their memory centers.  The date label suggested that I either cook it by the next day or lose it in the black hole we keep where other people have freezers.

So instead of spending the kids’ music lesson time doing a post on my busy day, I prepped the roast for crockpotting (it’s a Real Verb, Downith, I swear), and began gently reheating potato soup.

The kids came home, told me they didn’t like potato soup and would prefer Campbell’s, please, and dispersed to deal with their Humanities backlog and top up their RDA of cartoons, respectively, which may well have saved their lives and the state of Illinois the cost of a trial.

So I opened cans and heated things and kissed my husband good-bye . . . I think . . . and ended up burning the bottom of the potato soup, because of course.  But everyone was eventually fed and homeworked (she says) and showered, so I made good use of the dishwashing detergent, and sat down to write a belated post about I don’t even know.

And then my MIL came upstairs to complain that her toilet was bubbling, and the last time it did that, the sewer line outside the house had backed up into her back room.

It did that this time, too.

So that’s why my regular Tuesday post is being posted today and also why there will be no random Thursday post tomorrow.***

Because life is being random enough at the moment.

Time Flies


*Which was so well-hidden behind a young man examining a bottle of drain cleaner and his full cart that I made three passes down the aisle before I realized he was blocking the shelf I needed.  When I finally stopped and said, “Excuse me,” he smirked and said, “Sorry, I have a girlfriend.”    I gave him Sunny’s best unimpressed look and said, “I’ll forgive you if you move so I can get that green box right there.”  Wait for the pitch before you lob it back, gentlemen.

**Not because my husband doesn’t know exactly what he’s getting, but to prevent the kids from opening the bag if front of him, pulling out the gift and saying, “Mom?  Who is this for?”  Bother birthdays and parenting often depend on plausible deniability.

***That and Sunny’s Girl Scout bridging ceremony Thursday evening.  And I just remembered that I have to iron all her badges on her vest.  And that the ironing board is in the back room of my MIL’s apartment . . .




Sunny is Eight

Sunny is 8

As I gave Sunny her bedtime hug last night, I told her that it was a little sad to think that this was the last time I would be the mother of a seven year-old.

“Unless you have another baby,” she said.

“The very last time,” I replied, hugging her a little tighter.

“Mom! Can’t! Breathe!” she said, then giggled like a hyena-loon hybrid and kissed my ear.

She was so excited to be almost eight that she couldn’t settle down. “It’s okay, Mommy. I know how to sleep-wiggle!” she said.

Sunny Getting Down

I would have called her on it, but she might be right. This kid never walks—she dances and bounces and skips and jumps over all the cracks she can so my back doesn’t get hurt.

Super Sunny3She loves superheroes and dogs—the last time we went to the Family Museum, she bought two little dog figurines with Her Own Money and named them Connor and M’gann.  When I asked her where she’d found those names, she rolled her eyes and said, “After Superboy and Miss Martian from Young Justice.  Duh, Mom.”

Super Sunny has pledged her allegiance to DC, but still cuddles up to watch Agents of SHIELD with me and has Opinions about the Marvel Universe.  She thinks Tony Stark is a hoot, but Captain America needs a secret identity.

And that the Hulk needs a hug.

Super Sunny ReadsShe also loves to read. A few months ago, I found her in the bathroom, standing naked from the waist down with a wad of clean toilet paper in her hand, lost to the world in the open book on the counter.  She’d apparently hopped off the commode, glanced at a page, and immediately forgotten where she was in the proceedings.

“She’s yours, all right,” my mother told me, after she stopped laughing.

She’s also a Wesson.  Last week, at dinner, she passed more gas, loud and prolonged, than a non-parent would think could be held in a body that small.

“‘Scuse me!”  she said, calmly.  And then, as her older sister fell off her chair cackling, and the adults around the table tried to gather themselves to explain proper protocol without doing the same, Sunny nodded to herself in satisfaction and said, “I have very good manners.”

It’s no surprise that she was due on April Fool’s Day and then tricked us all into throwing her a birthday party a day early, by doing an unexpected, last-minute somersault in utero.

Come to think of it, that’s probably what she was trying to do last night, as I tucked in my seven year-old, one last time.

 Happy birthday, Sunny-girl.

We love you.

Even your sister.

When Janie Met Sunny