So the Fish Said...

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem, I whisper with my lips close to your ear.

- Walt Whitman

Meet the Fish

I want to get a pet duck and keep it in the bathtub.
I am addicted to chap stick and altoids.
I am freakishly flexible.


World's Most Beautiful Child

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World's Most Handsome Child

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Other Important Things

Clive Owen

Clive Owen
Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend


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Eat This

Does your store have naan? It is an Indian flatbread thing, and the store-bought stuff is not nearly as good as what you get in a restaurant, so even though we love it and even though I make Indian food a couple of times a month, I never buy it because it is a let-down. But! And oh my, this is a wonderful but! If you get the naan (some places have it in the bakery, some have it frozen), and a jar of pizza sauce and your personal favorite pizza toppings and have make-your-own-naan-pizza-night, you will love me, and your stomach will love me, and your family will love you for feeding them such excellent food.

Eat it, you will like it.

My New Boyfriend: Zappos

Mia had one request for starting kindergarten - light up princess sneakers. I promised she could have them, assuming we would find the things everywhere. Such was not the case. In fact, the only place I could find anything of the sort in her size was Zappos. They were about twice the price that I usually consider reasonable for a pair of kid shoes and I had to pay overnight shipping so she could have them on the first day of school, but I had promised so I sucked it up and did it.

I was more than a little annoyed this morning when I noticed that the sole of one shoe is completely separated from the shoe at the toe, and the other shoe has long strings hanging off of it so I am just waiting for that one to fall apart too. So once we got Mia on the bus, I called Zappos prepared to do battle. Mia has no other sneakers that fit and she needs them for PE, so I planned to demand that they ship me a new pair of shoes, without charge, and wait until I received them for me to ship the defective shoes back. I was ready to argue, to ask for supervisors, to basically make a huge stink until I got what I wanted.

Instead, I got an apology. And a promise that the new shoes would be here Monday. And an assurance that they trusted me about the defective shoes so there would be no need to send them back. And an invitation to some VIP site with free overnight shipping. And a $15 coupon. And a couple more apologies sprinkled in there.

They didn't have to do that. Well, they did have to send me new shoes, but the rest was above and beyond, so I figured I would tell you about it. Maybe you already know all this, but it was my first Zappos purchase, although unlikely to be my last.

Instant Book Club

I just finished (as in minutes ago, as in I turned the tv on for Owen so I could read, which was a first for me, oh look at the virtuous mommy, she thinks she's so much better than we are, screw her, I'm never coming here again) The Girl Who Played With Fire, and what I need to know from you people immediately is, what in the name of difficultly-voweled Swedish proper nouns did that whole first bit with the guy and the woman and the place and the thing that happened and the other thing that happened have to do with the price of brannvin in Stockholm? Or, you know, all the rest of the book.

Anyone? Anyone?

Also, if you have not read the book, do not read the comments, and then you need not encounter the merest hint of a spoiler. Unless the whole "the guy and the woman and the place and the thing that happened and the other thing that happened" has already ruined the book for you, in which case, I think you were just looking for a fight.

High Fashion

Both of my kids dress themselves pretty much every day With Owen, this sometimes means he emerges from his room wearing a fresh new set of pajamas or a sweater in July or three shirts, his cherished pink hand-me-down socks from Mia and no pants and must be sent back to try again. But once he selects the appropriate number of the appropriate articles of clothing, he usually looks pretty acceptable. Sometimes he doesn't quite match, but since his wardrobe consists almost entirely of solid, neutral colored pants and shorts and an assortment of shirts, it is hard for him to go too far astray.

Now Mia, on the other hand. Mia. At five, she can pretty reliably select an outfit that is weather-appropriate and contains all the requisite pieces (although she did emerge this morning wearing a t-shirt, sweater and socks, exclusively), but her chosen outfits are nearly always outrageous. She loves color. She loves prints and patterns. She loves layering. She has this one multi-colored heart-print skirt that she loves and invariably pairs with a striped shirt and, if it is chilly, black and white striped leggings and a polka dot sweater.

Other than certain rare occasions where a nice outfit is socially required, I tend to let her go. As long as she is dressed for the correct season in clothes that fit and are clean, I consider her clothing choices to be a form of self-expression and one of the few places in life where a five year old may be allowed near-total responsibility for their choices.

But I got to wondering what the rest of you do. Do you let your kids go to school in egregiously mis-matched clothes? Do you gently suggest changes that may result in a more aesthetically pleasing combination? Do you just reserve veto power? And does age matter? Does what is cute on a two year old look more like irresponsible parenting on a five year old? Fill me in, please.

Owen Tells a Joke

Owen: Knock knock
Me: Who's there?
Owen: Banana.
Me: Banana who?
Owen: Banana your nipples!

Fret Fret Fret. Also, Plan My Vacation For Me.

Last October, Chris and I spent three nights in New York for our tenth anniversary. It was the first time we had left town without the children for more than a couple of hours, the first time Owen had spent the night with anybody other than us, the longest I had ever gone without seeing my children. When we got home, we had less than 24 hours with the kids before Mia was checked into the hospital for three solid days of oxygen masks, IVs, major antibiotics, and even more major antivirals. We decided pretty much on the spot that we were never leaving our children again.

When Mia finally returned to school, I was chatting with one of her teachers about the experience and joked-but-not-really that I took Mia's illness as a sign that I should never take another vacation. Her response was to comment on how fortunate we were that it had happened when we were home, when we could hold her hand and care for her and just be there, instead of going out of our minds with worry while we spent hours getting home.

It was mostly an offhanded comment from her, trying to offer me a little comfort. But sometimes it is the smallest things you do that have the biggest impact, and I took that offhanded comment to heart. It is lucky that we were home. Our going away had nothing to do with Mia getting sick. And I suppose that is partly why I am taking two trips this coming October.

First, I am going to Puerto Rico. Without my kids. Without my husband. I am going with three other women and we are going to sit on the beach and tour the rain forest and drink fruity things with umbrellas in them and I have never done anything like this in my whole life. I'm equal parts thrilled and terrified, but I am finally at a place where I am willing to admit that I need a break from my all mom all the time life and it is good to do things that scare you.

Second, Chris and I are taking a long weekend. The babysitters are lined up, the relief babysitters are lined up, I have already started working on the grocery list and the extensive set of instructions I feel compelled to leave. The only thing that isn't totally arranged is where we are going. Minor detail, right? Maybe you can help me with it. We want to drive (it seems we are not totally over the events of last October) and stay within 3-4 hours of Washington D.C. We want to be somewhere with the option to do the tourist thing and see sights and eat at great restaurants, and also the option to hang out at the hotel and read and order room service instead. Anybody out there have the perfect place?

Kindergarten

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Back in January, when we were trying to decide whether Mia would be ready for kindergarten or would be better off with another year of preschool, I talked to her preschool teachers to get their advice. They said it could go either way. In the end, they recommended that we go ahead and sign her up for another year of preschool, and then we could make the final decision over the summer, closer to when school started. It was solid advice, we decided to take it.

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See, Mia just turned five, and has always been a little reluctant in new situations, and her two years of preschool were fraught with woe over separation from me and from home. Hedging our bets was the best idea. But then, the application deadline approached, and we changed our minds. We decided that, while she might have a hard transition to kindergarten, she would not be well served by another year of preschool. She is ready to learn, she is already reading and doing math and all sorts of things that just are not supported by her excellent and well-loved preschool. We decided that kindergarten would be the best thing for Mia, and that we would put our trust and faith in her and move forward with confidence. But secretly, I have been so afraid.

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Then came this summer, and wow. I have a totally different kid now than I had at the beginning of the summer. She is confident and independent. She is large and in charge. She is a kindergartener, and we haven't the slightest doubt that we made the right choice.

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Mia demanded that we leave for the bus stop 20 minutes early this morning. She ran to the bus stop. She ran onto the bus. When we met her at school, she would barely speak to us, other than to ask us not to follow so closely as we walked with her to her classroom. She skipped off the bus this afternoon reporting that kindergarten was "so fun" and is counting down the hours until she can go back.

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And all I have to say is: look out world, Mia is coming for you.

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My Summer

I was talking to a friend last week, catching up. We had covered how my kids were and how my friend's kids and grandkids were, and my friend asked "So, what's going on with you? What have you been doing this summer?" And I said, "Oh, you know, the pool, the playground, picnics, playdates, all that kid stuff." And my friend said, "Careful, you don't want to become one of those parents you always hated."

*Blink*

My friend meant, don't become one of those parents who has no interests outside of their children. And I don't recall ever hating those parents, but if I did, I sincerely apologize, because that is exactly the parent I wanted to be this summer. And for the most part, that is exactly the parent I was.

I set out at the beginning of this summer with the idea that this was the last summer of my little kids. The last summer before Mia is in school seven hours a day, five days a week, the last time I was likely to have my kids home with me full time. And I decided this summer was going to be entirely about my kids. And so we did what they wanted to do. We spent entire days at the pool. We ate ice cream before lunch. We rode bikes. We chased bugs and butterflies and neighborhood cats. We met friends at playgrounds and pools and the movies and the water park. I threw myself into swim team and playing princess and having nasty baby pool water dumped on my head.

My house was almost always filthy, there are toys scattered everywhere, we frequently ran out of fruit or milk, the laundry went undone and the bathrooms unscrubbed.

But oh, did we have fun. We are tanned and bug bitten and bleached blond by the sun. Knees were skinned and skinned again and skinned again. We've been filthy and stinky and exhausted. And while I am sorry to see this summer end, I am also ready. We are ready to move on to the next thing, Mia is so ready to start school and Owen is so ready to have a little more attention and do a little more of what he wants to do without tagging along behind Mia. And I am ready to get back to our routine and remember what I did with the vacuum and get back into doing some of the non-kid work that keeps me engaged and balanced. But we had exactly the summer I wanted to have.

And I was exactly the parent I wanted to be.