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 . . .





School Picture Day: A Communications Farce in Two-Acts

The Cast:

Sunny . . . . . . . . . an eight year-old

Jane . . . . . . . . . . a twelve year-old

My Husband . . . their father

My MIL . . . . . . .  their grandmother

Me . . . . . . . . . . . . the mime (I assume)



Last Night

Sunny: “It’s Picture Day tomorrow! I’m going to wear my new pink dress!”

Me: “Good idea! Do you have clean tights for it?”

Sunny: “Yes, Mommy.”

Me: “Go make sure. If you need something washed, bring it to me and I’ll wash it right now.”

Sunny (running off): “Okay!”

Me: “Jane? What are you wearing tomorrow for Picture Day?”

Jane (poking at her 2DS with the stylus): “No idea.”

Me: “How about your blue sweater with the tank underneath?”

Jane: “I guess.”

Me: “Or that lace wrap you bought that looks so good over your blue top?”

Jane: “I guess.”

Me: “Why don’t you go figure it out. If you need any laundry done, let me know.”

Jane (wandering off, still poking): “Okay.”

Time Flies


This morning

Sunny: “Mommy! Where are my tights?”

Me: “You don’t have any?”

Sunny: “You said you would wash them!”

Me: “You didn’t give them to me.”Pink tights

Sunny: “Yes, I did. The pink ones!”

Me: “The ones next to your fish tank? The ones you didn’t give to me?”

Sunny: “I thought you would see them there.”

Me: “. . .”

Sunny: “Can I wear these ones instead?”

Me: “Good idea. Jane? Are you dressed, yet?”

Jane: “Yeah.”

Me: “You’re wearing a tee-shirt for Picture day?”Laundry hamper

Jane: “What wrong with it?”

Me: “Nothing. You just usually like to dress up.”

Jane (shrugging): “Everything I wanted to wear is dirty.”

Me: “I told you I’d wash whatever you wanted.”

Jane (shrugging): “I didn’t know what I wanted.”

Me: “Are you wearing a bra?”

Jane: “YES, Mom, I’m . . . Oh. Be right back.”Hairbrush


Me: “You have beautiful hair. Look, we’ll just brush it under a little. . . See?”

Sunny: “I want bangs.”

Me: “Okay, but we’ll have to wait until Friday.”

Sunny: “But that’s AFTER Picture Day!”

Me:  “Yes, it is.”

Sunny:  “My hair is all POOFY!”

Me: “It’ll settle. Do you want a headband?”


Me: “Okay, no headbands.  Maybe a pony tail?”

Sunny:  “NO!”

Me:  “All right.  Your choice.  But I promise, your hair will settle down.”

Sunny: “Hmmph.”

Me: “Go take your school stuff to the kitchen. Jane! Did you brush your teeth?”

Jane: “Yeah.”

toothMe: “You brushed your teeth?”

Jane: “YES, Mom, I . . . Oh. Be right back.”

My MIL: “Sunny’s hair looks like it hasn’t seen a brush for days!”


Me: “I brushed it. It looks fine. It’ll settle down.”

My MIL: “Maybe a headband would help?”

Sunny (bending over to dig into her backpack): “ALL RIGHT, I’LL WEAR A STOOPID HEADBAND!”

My MIL: “Well, I didn’t mean to upset anyone . . .”

Me: “Sweetheart . . . You can’t wear a yellow headband with a pink and black dress. It doesn’t go. I’m sorry.”

Sunny: “It’s the ONLY ONE I HAVE!”

My MIL: “No it isn’t, you have some very nice ones in pink and black. Where are they?”

Sunny: “In my room somewhere.”

Me: “We don’t have time to find them. We’re late already. Her hair is fine. Jane!”

Jane: “I’m tying my shoes!”awesomeshoes

Me: “Did you brush your teeth?”

Jane: “YES. I mean, after this.”

My husband (to Sunny): “Oh, don’t you look pretty!”

My MIL: “I just wish someone would do something about her hair!”

Me: “I brushed it. Twice.”


My husband: “It’s not. It’ll settle down, Mom. Maybe we should buy her a pick.”Volcano Eruption

Me: “That won’t settle it down. Jane!”

My husband: “No, but she can get at the underside herself. She’s only brushing the top.”

Me:I brushed the underside this morning.  JANE! WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE!”

Jane (from offstage): “Ah’m bruffing ma feeff! Ya WANNAG me coo bruff em, wight?!”

My MIL: “Maybe a ponytail?”


Me (giving up): “I’ll be in the car.”

Sunny (several minutes later): “Here you are, Mommy!  Aren’t we going to be late?”

A brief, grounded post

paper nest

Sorry for the short post, but I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment: one Labor Day off from the library apparently equals three days of accumulated work—ironic, don’t you think?—and on the homefront, we’re all still recovering from Jane’s first grounding, which turned out to be more of a group event that we had originally anticipated.

Amateurs, right?

Punishment, as we reminded her several times during her Long Housebound Weekend of No Electronics And We Mean It, isn’t supposed to be fun and it wasn’t supposed to be ours,

Except at times, it sort of was, because a bored ten-year old is . . . a bored ten-year old.

And if, exasperated from being constantly interrupted in your attempts to get the &#!%ing scene in your mind down on paper so it makes sense to you, never mind an actual reader, you tell a bored ten-year old who is vacillating between remorse and defiance to find something to do that isn’t complaining that she has nothing to do . . . you had better be willing to accept the consequences and the guilt of realizing how much you depend on electronic babysitters.

So, there were a few problems, a few outbursts, a few tears, and a couple of Learning Experiences™—not all on her side.

But the playroom—her future bedroom—has been halfway prepped for repainting and repurposing.

She learned to make macaroni & cheese from scratch (thank you, Watson)

She spent several hours practicing knitting, even though it was audibly frustrating to her.*

She learned that she can take or leave television, but she really missed riding her bike and going online.**

And we all hope she learned that committing the crime isn’t worth doing the time.

Any advice for the disciplinary challenged?***


*If space aliens ever try to invade, our first line of defense should be a projected looped recording of the noise Janie makes when the world does not bend to her will, alternated with Sunny complaining that Jane always gets to do whatever she wants to and it’s not fair.  We will not need a second line of defense—though six billion earplugs might be necessary, lest friendly fire decimate our numbers.

**So noted.

***Kevin, if I get a BSDM catalog in my in-box, I’m forwarding it to your mother.

[Insert Witty Post Here]

I don’t know if I’m up for witty and thought provoking today.

My mind is full of stuff that needs doing:  packing for Jane’s Concordia trip; calling my eye doctor for a well-overdue appointment; doing laundry so Jane can take clothes with her on her Concordia trip; calling the billing office of our pediatrician, now that our insurance company has finally accepted that our five-year old isn’t insured through her workplace; printing off the list of Concordia contraband and frisking Janie for said items the morning of the trip; figuring out which plot idea I’m doing for Nano, because the last thing I need is to put fingers to keyboard and go blank; placing travel money in specifically-labeled envelopes so my darling older daughter doesn’t use all of her meal funds for tee-shirts and candy; figuring out how to personalize my query letters so I don’t sound like a stalker; consoling Sunny because kindergarteners can’t go to Concordia; making an extremely overdue appointment with the dentist; for the love of all that is holy buying kitty litter before the city’s Hazmat team comes after us or the cat takes things into his own paws; and keeping the rest of the family from throwing Janie out the window because she’s gone into complete Vacation Mode and doesn’t see why she has to do homework, turn down the volume on the television or herself, or be decently civil to people.

More importantly, I haven’t heard (or heard back) from three people* I know on the East Coast and while I realize their priority at the moment isn’t to drop me a reassuring line, I’m worried that they don’t have the power—pick your meaning—to do so.

So if you know or suspect that we have mutual friends, acquaintances, or family in Sandy’s path or wake and you know they’re okay (or not, because knowing is better than not knowing) or you are a friend, an acquaintance, or family and you’re able to do so,**   please get in touch with me somehow, as soon as you can?


I’ll be over here distracting myself with the rest of the list . . .


*I’ve heard from the rest of them/you, or at least know that they’re/you’re well from their your e-mails and comments and Facebook statuses (statusi?).  Whew!!

**Or even if you have no idea  whom I know but you want to share news about your own friends, acquaintances, and family

Sunny’s Nutcracker

Every year, Sunny’s school puts on an all-student performance of The Nutcracker.  This doesn’t just mean everyone who performs is a student, it means all students perform, from the 6-week babies to the 6th-graders —they even have alumni kids come back to help wrangle the dancers.

Janie spent three years at this school and was, in order, a Snowflake, a Spanish Dancer, and a Flower.*  Sunny has followed in her sister’s footsteps until this final year, when she was cast as a Russian Dancer.

“Not a dancer, Mommy,” she told me.  “A tumbler.”   And she proved it by somersaulting into the barrister’s case.  For three weeks.

But the performance itself is always a hoot and you can’t get near the stage for parental groupies.  My husband and Janie went to the balcony to take photos with his camera, while my MIL and I did what we could from the main level.

These aren’t good, because I took them and my husband left for an all-day yoga workshop right after the final curtain call, taking his camera with him.  And the theater was dark and the similarly-dressed dancers kept moving and, well, I took them.  But these are the best of the lot and should give you an idea of the exuberance and fluidity of the experience.

To keep things more manageable, the cast—barring the littlest members, who “go to bed” right after their acts—stays on the stage:

The kids are sitting about five deep.  Sunny is on the right, behind the pointsettias.  I think.

Here’s the epic battle between the Rat King’s mouse troops and the tin soldiers.  The soldiers were outnumbered this year—two took one look at the audience and fled back to their cupboard—but since most of the mice ignored them to fight each other, it didn’t matter much.

The Rat King and the Nutcracker duke it out.I took this about ten seconds before the Nutcracker’s head spun around and fell off.  It was great.  Clara, who’s doing the oh, dear face under the tree, will be taking off her shoe and decking the Rat King, thus becoming the first self-rescuing princess in ballet.

The Chinese Dancers, with dragon.  There’s more to meet the eye with this dragon . . .

. . . a lot more.  Last year, the last segment of the dragon broke free and had to be chased down by Herr Drosselmeyer.

The flowers were as busy as bees this year—they would occasionally plant themselves, and the Flower Fairy on the right would smack them on the head with her wand to make them twirl again.  If the Fairy had been wielding that when Jane was a blossom, it might have been a little less vaudeville . . . Which would have been a shame.

Here are the Russian Dancers.  Sunny is third from the left, or fourth from the right, and kicking like a small, curly Cossack.

She’s next!

To the delight of the audience, she threw her hands high in a sort of gymnastics salute . . .

. . . bent in half . . .


. . . flipped over . . .


. . . And recovered to thunderous applause.  I’m not kidding—the ladies behind me were cheering.

Especially on her second pass, when she threw her hands up high . . . then stopped the proceedings to pull her pants up.  It brought down the house.

As did her curtsey before she hid behind the poinsettias again.

“You were wonderfull,” I said later,while trying to get her new Hello Kitty! bootsover her still-kicking feet.  “Did you have fun?”

She grinned at me.   “I was scared when I was waiting, Mommy.  But then it was my turn and I was brave.”

Yes, you were, sweetheart.

This was our last year for this particular production company’s Nutcracker—Sunny will be going to Jane’s school for kindergarten.  But it’s always so much fun, I think I might sneak in next time as an alumni parent.**


*In her last performance, she and her friend hammed it up so much,  I was certain the Flower Fairy was going to plant her permanently in the stage, petals down.  Her father and I sympathized.

**One of the ladies behind me did—she says it’s even better when you don’t have to worry that your Snowflake might absentmindedly stick her finger up her nose to the second knuckle while waiting for her cue.  Sounds good to me.