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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Tempting...

I really, really want to use this for our Christmas card picture this year.

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Thanksgiving

Thursday morning, Thanksgiving, 1:00 AM. I woke up with the unmistakable knowledge that I was going to vomit in the very near future. A stomach bug has been running roughshod through Mia's kindergarten, and I had it. Oh boy, did I have it. It was not a pleasant night.

When I finally pulled myself out of bed sometime late Thursday morning I tried to pretend all was well. I could do this. No problem. There was no way I was going to miss Thanksgiving. It took about an hour before I was on the phone to my mom, who was hosting, to say sorry, there was no way I could do this today. I was just about to start begging Chris to take the kids and leave me at home, when my dad called back. Let's reschedule, he said. Saturday, Sunday, whatever works.

I burst into tears. It took ten minutes to work it all out. My family, my entire family, was going to reschedule Thanksgiving so that I could be there.

I don't think I was conscious for more than four or five hours of Thursday. Friday was pretty bad. Saturday was a bit better, but I didn't really feel mostly ok again until Sunday morning, and I would still just as soon not have to deal with food at all, if it is all the same to you.

But Chris was home to take care of the kids when I couldn't, and I just got back from Thanksgiving dinner. And it didn't matter that we were three days late or that everyone else was mostly through the leftovers already. My family was there and the kids were going insane with the pure glee of being together and there was a table full of food that I mostly didn't eat and it was the best Thanksgiving ever.

I hope that yours was excellent as well.

Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.

Actually, it was 2:30 A.M., but Simon and Garfunkel never wrote a song about that. Anyway, Wednesday morning, 2:30 A.M., Mia crawls into our bed, delivering a resounding thunk to the footboard on her way in else I may never have noticed. She's a good sleeper, but gets on these kicks sometimes where she wants to sleep with us and occasionally gets lucky enough to wake up after we are asleep and sneak her way in. We don't mind, it is so rare that it is just a nice chance to cuddle with a kid who is way too busy for such things these days.

Wednesday morning, 3:30 A.M., Owen experienced a Diaper Malfunction and Chris, not noticing that our bed was already one over capacity, changed Owen and brought him into bed with us. So there we were, all four Cactus-Fishes, crammed into a king-sized bed that was suddenly far too small. Mia spent the rest of the night herding me closer and closer to the edge. Owen pulled his trick of sleeping directly on top of Chris.

It was uncomfortable and awkward and I got about 15 non-consecutive minutes of sleep between Mia's 2:30 arrival and when Owen popped up demanding to watch Spiderman on the iPad at 6:30. But that, those four sort of miserable, cramped, grumpy, oh so tired hours, that is what I am thankful for this year.

The Air is Very High in Fat

Every wooden spoon, mixing bowl, measuring cup and measuring spoon in my house is currently dirty, and I am only responsible for half of dessert tomorrow. Well, half of dessert and three meals a day for three people (plus dinner and cleaning up pop tart crumbs for my husband). There are three flavors of homemade ice cream in the freezer, Swistle's salt toffee brownies on the counter, and gingerbread dough in the fridge ready to be made into men by the children come morning. I suspect just walking into my house causes you to gain five pounds. Chris keeps suggesting that I do less, like maybe have only two flavors of homemade ice cream in the freezer, but he does not understand the baking=love equation, clearly.

Also, I went to pick up something I saw offered on Freecycle this afternoon (not as addicted as before, but have gotten a bedframe, a Little Mermaid game, and a tool bench larger than I am since Saturday) (ok, maybe still totally addicted), and I was standing at my car with the lady who was giving me the massive toy tool bench trying to wrestle the damned thing into my car and her neighbor came out and said "Are you Beth?" As soon as she said it, I knew she read my blog, there's just a look people get. It always amuses the crap out of me, I mean, I've sort of known you for years and had no idea you lived two miles from me.

I was telling Chris this story, and when I got to the part about how she recognized me from my blog, he said "how did she know?" And I said, well, she was right there... (blank stare from Chris) looking at me... (more blank stare from Chris) and at Mia... (continued lack of comprehension). Well, I don't know how she knew. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that she has eyes." And he said, "so she just recognized you?" Apparently it has never happened to him, so then I had to explain how many of our friends are people I ran into in the library or grocery store who I already knew online and just didn't know we were neighbors. It has happened so often to me that I was pretty shocked it has never happened to him.

How about you? Have you ever been recognized? Done the recognizing? (Lisa, was I your first?)

And also, in the spirit of the season, I am thankful that none of the people who have recognized me have turned out to be crazy wacko stalkers who want to lock me in their basement and force me to eat bacon.

Cookery, and more

I feel I have been to the very end of the internet looking for a dessert to contribute to Thanksgiving dinner and I am growing frustrated, so I will turn it over to you. The only requirements are that it not be a pie (at least, not your standard pie) as my sister-in-law is doing pie and my mother doesn't like it, and that it go with pumpkin ice cream, which I am determined to make with my new ice cream maker mixer attachment thing. Go.

Is it common for children starting kindergarten to morph into rude, disrespectful, back-talking, soul-trying people who make you wonder how they shot from five to fourteen in three months? I don't talk about Mia here much anymore, because she's reached that point where I feel saying too much about her is violating her privacy, but sweet jeebus. Her new favorite phrases are "shut up" and "you can't make me" and she is lucky that her father and I both feel it is inappropriate to ever raise a hand to a child because nothing else is working and it is really, really tempting sometimes. We've talked to her about it, we know she is seeing this stuff at school and is curious about what will happen if she tries it, we know she is starting to test her independence, but we can't go on like this. I could use some new strategies up in here, if anybody has been there done that and lived to tell the tale.

(And don't get me wrong, she's still my perfect angel snowflake and isn't spending all of her time pouting in her room reapplying her black eyeliner, but the level of conflict is getting out of control.)

Now we are (Thirty) Six

Yesterday was my birthday, and I am at the point in my life where I have to do the math any time I care to recall how old I am. So let's see... 74 from 10, carry the 1, I seem to be 36.

I woke up on the morning of my birthday at a hotel in Philadelphia. Twice, actually, the first time when the fire alarm went off at 12:15 and again at a more humane time. Chris and I were there for a very-delayed anniversary trip which just happened to be rescheduled for my birthday weekend, so go me. We had breakfast at the hotel, then booked it home to rescue my parents from my children and so I could take Mia to a high school musical, a tradition I was not to be excused from for any reason.

Chris made my favorite let us not think about how high in fat dinner, the children collaborated on candle placement with predictable results, then blew out my candles, opened my presents, and sang several renditions of Happy Birthday beautiful only to their mother but oh so lovely and highly valued by me.

Once we got two sugar-buzzed children off to bed, it was cleaning and laundry and the couch and the recorded shows we missed on Thursday when I spent the entire evening at the pediatrician with Mia. Of course one of the children got sick when we went out of town, that's how we roll and every couple trip or family vacation either starts or ends with a trip to the pediatrician. Luckily this time it was minor, nobody even went to the hospital.

One of my gifts was an ice cream attachment for my mixer, which I have been wanting for ages, so there will be lots of ice cream up in here soon. You should all come over to try it out. Our first flavor will be Mario ice cream, which is Owen's adaptation of my offer of Oreo ice cream. Sure to be tasty either way.

Speaking of Owen...

I went to breakfast with a couple of friends this morning, and of course I took Owen with me because that's how we roll. We were there for an hour and he behaved himself beautifully the entire time. Well, ok, there was a bit of kicking and shaking the table and he did spend the whole time in my lap, but he sat there quietly, he played with the toys I brought for him, he didn't scream or flop on the floor or spit at anybody and I didn't have to chase him down when he bolted across the restaurant or out into the parking lot even once. This is unheard of.

And then we went to the grocery store, the one with the little kid-sized carts that he adores, although he refuses to place groceries in them for any reason, and he didn't slam his cart into a single person, not even me. He didn't knock down any displays, he didn't run away from he, he didn't grab everything that looked appealing and demand that I buy it. There was one minor disagreement right at the end about a Ring Pop, but overall he was the perfect child.

All afternoon, he listened to me. He said please and thank you and you're welcome and reminded me to do the same whenever he felt it was warranted and I had forgotten. We played and did some chores and told some jokes and did lots of pretending, and it was lovely.

It went downhill round about bus stop time, and I am not getting carried away by all this, but it did give me hope for the future. Hope that one day we will be able to take the children out to dinner and everyone will actually be able to eat their meal, rather than one of us (almost always Chris these days) getting two bites into the entree before needing to bodily remove Owen from the building. Hope that I may one day be able to go buy new pants when I need them rather than deciding wearing pants with holes in the butt is less bad than taking Owen shopping anywhere that doesn't have a toy section. Hope that he may eventually stop hitting me every time he gets frustrated. Hope that my wild, rambunctious, charming, adorable, infuriating little boy will one day be a bit more civilized. I love him madly just as he is, but I am so looking forward to that.

Owen, This Week

Owen wears red fleece mittens at all times other than meals. He is rather disgruntled that I make him remove them for meals, but since he refuses to master cutlery it is the only way to avoid a laundry disaster.

Owen is enamored with a four inch bungee cord with a hook at each end and wanders the house all day hooking things to each other and, most especially, hooking me to the cabinet knobs. He plays Luke Skywalker at a constant rate, and if Daddy is not available to be Darth Vader will grudgingly allow me to be Anakin.

Owen told me in the car this morning that he has small armpits and that penises are private and that I am not invited to his birthday party. He has been planning his birthday party since summer and has been adamant all along that Mommy may not come. The neighbor cat that Owen loves came along with us on our errands again today, only in Owen's mind, and I had to strap him into Mia's car seat after each stop and act suitably horrified each time Owen told me that JJ had jumped out of the car, so that he could tell me "I only joking, Mommy."

Owen loves to jump and run and tackle and wrestle and fight and play swords and to be tickled and, unfortunately, to bite. He hauls himself happily off to time out several times a day and waits more or less patiently for the timer, at which point he bounces out of the time out chair, apologizes sincerely, and then more often than not goes straight back to whatever it was that got him into trouble.

Owen loves legos and balls and sticks and slugs and apple juice and Buzz Lightyear mac and cheese and Uncle Dick's back scratcher and to be tickled and flung in the air and hung upside down. He talks a blue streak, he gives great hugs and kisses, and has leaned from his sister how to express annoyance by making huffing noises and rolling his eyes. He is a very boy little boy who all the same will dress up in sparkly princess dresses and plastic high heels if that's what the other kids are doing.

He drives me straight up the wall on a daily basis and I love him more than air.

Things That Annoy Me (in July)

So, I wrote this in July and never published it, don't know why. I present it now as a partial list of things that annoy me. In July.

Grocery stores where you can't take the cart into the parking lot and have to leave it next to the store with your groceries, go get your car, drive up, and then get out to load your groceries. I suppose in theory there is someone there to load your groceries for you and it is a nice little service for the consumer, but in practice it means carrying Owen (and sometimes Mia as well) across the parking lot rather than pushing one or both of them in the very convenient cart I was forced to surrender at the curb, strapping them into their car seats, handing out snacks and drinks, and, as often as not, getting most of the way home before I remember to go pick up my groceries.

People who say they got a flu shot but then they got the flu so flu shots don't work. I mean sure, that is annoying, but it is also the very nature of flu shots.

When someone asks you for advice, and you give them the best advice you can muster, and you get no response at all. I mean, even if they think it is the worst advice they have ever gotten in their entire life and they sort of can't believe they are even friends with you and you have just given them a road map of exactly what not to ever do, they could at least say "thanks," right? (I've done this myself. More than once, I am sure.)

People who don't RSVP. Seriously? Come on. Not that hard. (Done this one myself too. More than once, I am sure.)

Texting. Specifically how easy it is to intend to send something to Chris and send it to my mom instead. So far it has only been mundane stuff like what to have for dinner, but you know, that's just so far. There is disaster ahead and I know it and even knowing it I don't think I will be able to avoid it. Makes me wonder how people manage to conduct successful affairs.

I Am Brilliant

We've been having this problem with Owen lately. Specifically, with Owen's diapers and their total inability to contain his overnight diaper-bound production. I have been washing at least one set of bedding every single day for weeks now. Sometimes twice should we happen to bring him from his bed to ours before cluing into the issue that woke him up in such a lousy mood.

I've been checking his diaper every night to make sure it was on correctly and firmly and that everything within the diaper was, erm, oriented appropriately for maximum diaperly absorption. No luck. I finally got fed up and switched brands, and the first night was a disaster. The second night was the same.

I had resigned myself to once again turning to you lovely people and begging you to solve yet another of my parenting dilemmas. But then, on the treadmill this morning, I figured it out all by myself. And to thank you for all the advice you have given me over the years, I am going to document the solution here for your own edification and enjoyment.

Here it is: if you do not want your two year old to pee through his diaper every single night, possibly you should not provide him with a full cup of water to chug immediately before tucking him into bed for the night.

No no, no need to thank me.

Can't Quit You

Dear Internet,

I keep wanting to quit you. It just all seems so... unpleasant, lately. We aren't in Kansas anymore, I suppose.

So I want to throw it all in, but then I remember You. Not all of You, but most of You. I guess I would have survived my first year of motherhood without You, but it would have been so much harder, and it was incredibly hard even with everything You gave me. And You are so brilliant. Like yesterday, I threw up something about Mia reading, and then Em (oh, my old and faithful friend) left a comment about how reading is power, about how some people are not taught to read so that they won't have power, about how reading enables you to go anywhere and do anything. And my god, I hadn't even thought of that. And my god, I wanted to drive to Mia's school and pull her out of class and tell her that. And my god but I did tell her that last night - how proud I was, how amazing it was, how she could learn anything and do anything and be anything. And I might not have thought to tell her that, not right now, except that Em has been sending me her wisdom for the past five years and I finally got smart enough to listen.

And so, my darling/despised internet. I hate you a lot of the time lately, but I love you a lot too. And you deserve the love so much more than the animus. I can't be here the way I was before, but I have eternal optimism that you will take me the way I am now.

Love and other indoor sports,
Beth

The Reader

Mia can read. I mean, she isn't diving into Nietzsche or anything, she's no savant, she's five and she reads like a five year old. But she reads, she definitely reads. She gets better, noticeably better, every single day. And I know that's how it happens, I know there is a general tipping point where they go from struggling to sound out cat to struggling to sound out antidisestablishmentarianism, and I know that given all the various components of her upbringing and opportunities and development it would be far more shocking if she weren't learning to read than that she is, but I can't help it. I am in awe.

I am amazed when she figures out backpack. I want to stand up and cheer for pigpen. And I don't know why. It isn't alchemy, it is just reading, something I have been doing myself for over thirty years. But my baby, my baby can read entire books, it amazes me.

Is/was it like that for you? Is there something in particular about reading that lends a mystique, or did you get equally excited about walking and putting on socks and all those other milestones?

Exhortation

I'm big into voting. Anybody who has been around these parts for a while probably knows that. And I recently got a request for a Beth Fish election day post, which since I doubt I can actually influence anybody else to go vote I interpreted as a request for either 1) a picture of me with an I Voted sticker on my head, 2) a picture of one or both of my children with I Voted stickers on their heads, 3) a picture of my bestickered pregnant belly (please note, not currently possible) or 4) a picture of my (fully covered with politically-motived clothing) boobs.

But I'm a little busy at the moment. So here's what I've got instead. I finally got up off my ass and updated my sidebar pictures, and it probably took me about as long to find and select and edit and post the pictures as it will take you to get up off your ass and vote. So how about it? I don't even much care who you vote for, I'm just into the whole civic responsibility/exercise of an incredible privilege/how many people in how many places in how many points in history including right now, have and would give so much just for the chance to do what we overwhelmingly can't be bothered to do.

So go vote (I did). Take your kids (I did). Enjoy a few minutes of self-righteousness (me? Never, not that kind of girl, clearly). And then wear your sticker proudly - on your forehead.

Pippi Longstocking and Buzz Lightyear

It was all arranged, the children had decided. They were going to be Pippi Longstocking and Buzz Lightyear for Halloween. Well, maybe Dorothy Gale and Buzz Lightyear, but definitely either Pippi Longstocking or Dorothy Gale and Buzz Lightyear. And then, the time came to actually get the costumes, and behold:

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Cleopatra and Superman.

Also, look ma, no training wheels:

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I'm afraid Owen was less than pleased about his new big boy bike.

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And oh, a couple more for all those who complain that I haven't updated my sidebar in two years.

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