Monday, December 22, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The 8 phases of the holiday photo

Oh, the blessed ritual of the holidays. The festivity, the preparing of home and heart to welcome miracles. The feasting, the sharing, the ushering in of a new hope, a new year. All this richness is what every mother hopes to capture in her children's holiday photo.

Phase One: Robot Children
You're just beginning. Everyone is hopeful, cooperative. They're trying. But it's just too stiff. Not warm enough.

Phase Two: Grandma tries to help

Grandma steps in and attempts to make everyone smile. From the other end of the room.

Phase Three: New Location

You decide an outside shot might be better. Everyone settles in, tries to find a comfortable pose. Especially the two-year old, whose most comfortable pose is less than modest. Also, your sister pulls into the driveway and yells, "Hi guys!" just as you're hitting the button.

Phase Four: Smile!

Everyone gets comfortable. You say, "Smile!" The two-year old really, really tries.

Phase Five: Impatience decends

Everyone is getting just a little bit anxious. "This is going to be it!" you reassure them. "Just one more!" And yes, it's a great shot! Cute! Natural! Semi-focused! Except the four-year-old forgot to sit still.

Phase Six: Hilarity

They've begun to mock your dream of a nice Christmas photo.

Phase seven:

Phase Eight: Tears

Now you've done it. You've made the baby cry.

Phase Nine: Wine

Mutter, "F it." Go inside. Pour a glass of wine. Pick a mediocre shot and live with it.

And no, you can't see it because you might be getting a Christmas card.

Holidays officially underway.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You are my favorite because...

Another birthday (erm, only a couple of weeks ago...or so...), another favorite post (which I've been working on for a week!)

Owen, you are my favorite because...

You can't stop giving Mitch your birthday money. Every time you spend a little of it, you hand some over to him because you can't stand to see him disappointed.

Your enthusiasm for maps and geography facts has made me an expert on capital cities, both in the U.S. and abroad.

You share my love of Beverly Cleary, Spencer on iCarly (he totally makes that show watchable), drawing, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and sleeping for five more minutes.

When you asked me, "Are you the tooth fairy?" and I responded, "Are you kidding? I don't have time to fly around the world gathering teeth every night!" that was a good enough answer for you.

I said it last year, and I'll say it again: you laugh at my jokes, and you make jokes that make me laugh.

You have good taste in shoes.

Your performance and behavior in school are absolutely the best a parent could hope for, and you do so well because you love it, like I do.

You are proud of who you are and completely unselfconscious.

You are my first born, and there is something special about a mother's love for her first born. You introduced me to the meaning of life, and every day you are that enlightenment made manifest.

Snowball, I can't believe it's already been 7 years. In the same amount of time from now you'll be 14, and that makes me dizzy. Please don't ever leave behind the smart, funny, quirky boy I love.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November 4, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You are my favorite because...

(For more about my "You are my favorite because" series, go here and here)

Paige, you are my favorite because...

  • You bobble out to the family room every night around midnight simply because you can't go an entire night without seeing your momma.
  • When you bobble out to the family room at midnight, half asleep, your hair looks ridiculous, and the sight of you grinning from behind those mangy locks turns my heart into butter.
  • You share some of my dearest loves: crackling fires, popcorn, dressing and undressing dolls, Diet Coke, sleeping with your head under the blankets, and the marshmallows in Lucky Charms cereal.
  • You are resourceful. If someone puts a basket of candy on top of the refrigerator, you do not hang your head woefully and think, "Oh dear, now I can't have candy." No. You find a stool, put it on top of a book, take off your socks, use the fridge handle as leverage, and you scale that damn refrigerator (or bookshelf, or dresser) and you GET that damn candy (or cellphone, or lip gloss, or remote control).
  • You grab my hand and say "show'mon" (a combination of "show me" and "come on") when you need something. And you sound like Michael Jackson when you say it.
  • You have no problem putting your brothers in their place and have been known even to make them cry.
  • As the smallest one in a family of six, you tolerate and forgive my tardiness in, say, writing your birthday blog entry, or teaching you colors and letters, or remembering to give you lunch.
  • Every night, after we've read books and said goodnight, you slobber kisses all over me until I have to physically remove your lips from my face.
  • You feel glamorous in a diaper and plastic princess shoes.
  • You understand the hilarity of walking around with a bucket on your head.
  • Every time I come home from work, you race through the house howling "Mommy home!!!" and fling yourself at my legs as if I've been gone for months.
  • Despite your limited vocabulary, you sing all the "words" in your favorite songs.
  • You are admired and doted upon everywhere you go because you have a light and a happiness in your soul that radiates outward, lifting the hearts of those lucky enough to cross your path.
Happy birthday, Bobble. I'm so glad you're two. But please don't turn three.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dear Tech Services Guy

I'm very sorry to report that my computer is malfunctioning, and I think it may be because I spilled about 8 oz. of coffee on the keyboard. However, before you charge me for a replacement, please allow me to explain how the coffee-spilling incident wasn't my fault.

It wasn't my fault because it was Nickelodeon's fault.

See, Nickelodeon accepts advertising for thousands...and thousands...of children's products, cereals, vacation spots, and toys. From these thousands of ads, they choose, oh, three a week to play over and over and over, effectively brainwashing children into believing there is no better toy in the whole wide universe.

Take, for example, the Rocket Powered Fishing Rod. Last year, my children, who had never before expressed one iota of interest in water sports, swore that there lives would be empty and meaningless until they owned this fishing rod, which casts--"at the simple push of a button"--FIFTY FEET into the water (which is, of course, really not that far, but FIFTY is an enormous number to anyone under 8 years old).

A few months ago, the coveted toy d'jour was the Phlatball, a "ball" that one can squish into a disk and then throw to someone who, expecting to catch a Frisbee, will be totally wowed to see it pop open to become a ball in midair. I say, if you want to play Frisbee, throw a Frisbee. If you want to play ball, throw a ball. No one needs a Fris-ball. But whatever.

One afternoon, my children spotted the Phlatball in Target, and because they had seen it on TV, they nearly peed their pants with excitement to see it live and up close in the store. It was on sale for $10, and Mitch had some birthday money. I tried to persuade them it that it was a useless toy; I tried to steer them toward other, more entertaining toys. I even suggested saving the money (the horror!) to buy something bigger and better. But no. It would be the Phlatball and nothing else.

The Phlatball now lives in the bottom of the toy box, abandoned by the boys because, yes, it is pointless after all.

However. One rainy day I undertook a cleaning project wherein I gathered all of our toys to weed out the pointless, forgotten ones. Once in the "toss" pile, the Phlatball was discovered by Paige, who both loved and was scared to death by its "popping back into a ball" feature. She became a bit attached to it in that kind of sick "I love what appalls me" way and refused to leave it in the giveaway pile. So it's back in circulation now.

On Saturday morning, I was checking my email and drinking coffee very carefully, ever mindful of my responsibility to care for the property of the good college that employs me and shares with me its electronic bounty. While I worked, Paige played with the Phlatball at my feet. After growing frustrated with her attempts for flatten the ball on her own, she decided that perhaps she could use my chest as leverage. So she stood up and pushed the Phlatball against my left boob, successfully, if only momentarily, flattening it.

I shifted a bit to avoid her pushing, and when I did, the Phlatball popped back into a sphere. Unfortunately, as the ball opened, its flexible sides snapped back into shape, and in doing so, clamped down on my left nipple.

Dear tech guy, it hurt. It really, really hurt. And so I jumped, thereby sloshing half of my coffee on my laptop, which let out this long, rather screechy and primal beeeeeeep. And then all went black.

I dried the keyboard with a hairdryer; I let it sit overnight; I even prayed a little because I haven't backed up any of my data in awhile. And much to my delight, the computer started up the next day. But now things are strange, as if the coffee perhaps caused a few of the computer's synapses to misfire. Now there are all these quirks, and strange error messages, and difficulties.

So I think I might need a new one, and I know you don't, as a rule, replace computers that have been damaged by the neglect of the employee, but wasn't my fault.

It was Nickelodeon's fault. And my sister's fault for sending Mitch birthday money. And Target's fault for putting the Phlatball on sale.

So can I have a new computer? Please check yes or no.



Saturday, September 20, 2008

Having fun with no money

August and September are tight in our household, since I get paid on a 10 month schedule. Things get much better by the end of September, but until then, we have to make our own fun. No movies, restaurants, or trips to the zoo for us.

The upside is that, in our quest to find inexpensive entertainment, we often wind up having more fun than we'd have on a costly outing. We're more creative, and free activities usually center around simple togetherness.

Today we got a late start to our Saturday and didn't really feel like packing everyone up to go out, even though it was a gorgeous, cool day. So we had a picnic lunch in our yard. The result was lovely, one of those moments when nothing particularly special happens, but everyone feels completely content, congenial, and close.

We ate ham and cantaloupe:

We swiped each other's cantaloupe when supplies ran low:

We waved to the mailman:

We talked with our mouths full:

We even had a guest:

Who fell asleep after gorging on cantaloupe:

All in all a perfect afternoon, nothing that a movie or a shopping spree at Target could beat. Tonight: DVD, air mattress, popcorn, and late bedtimes. Good times.

Monday, September 8, 2008


I can't remember where I read or heard that the terrible two's are a product of a child's dismay at discovering that she is not (as she'd previously assumed) queen of the world.

Until a child is about two years old, we're more willing to cater to every whim, to respond to every request. Then we raise our expectations. And the child's requests become more... complicated, to put it nicely. To put it not nicely, the child's requests become freakin' ridiculous.

At two, a child suddenly wants to participate in activities like

  • Tearing up rolls of toilet paper and trying to flush all of the pieces
  • Sitting on the back of the couch instead of on the seat of the couch
  • Calling the (poor, unsuspecting) first person on your cell phone's speed dial over and over and over
  • Watching the same Backyardigans sixty-eleven times in a row
  • Eating money
  • Climbing into your lap when you have a full cup of coffee
  • Painting the kitchen floor with ketchup (or soggy cereal...or syrup)
  • Drinking sixty-eleven juice boxes
  • Pounding on the computer keyboard (when she needs a break from turning the computer off and on)
  • Opening the fridge, then figuring out how to work the fridge lock and opening the fridge again. And again, and again.
  • Wearing nothing but a diaper and an old cheerleading costume that's 10 sizes too big
  • Eating hair clips
  • Climbing dressers and bookshelves
  • Protesting the car seat with back arching and flailing
  • Tattooing herself with magic marker
  • Taking off her own diaper at, let us say, "inopportune moments"
  • Turning the TV volume all the way up
  • Riding the cat
You see, it's impossible to say "yes" to such activities. And the toddler starts to learn that "no" will often be the response to her requests. The world is no longer simply eating, pooping, and sleeping. There is so much to be done, and so many people standing in the way of her doing it.

It's hard to accept, so the child melts down.

Paige will be two in October. Let the dethroning begin.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hey people!!!!

It's been one of those weeks. You know the kind: those weeks when both your house air conditioning AND your car air conditioning break on the same day. And then, even though you tell your husband, "Don't let the HVAC guy bamboozle you into some maintenance contract (cause you wouldn't dream of paying to prevent problems, you'd rather just cough up 5 times more after things break), you get home and your husband tells you he had to sign the maintenance contract because blah blah blah de blah blah.

And the Olympics are over, and your DVR keeps stopping recordings just before the actual end of programs, so you don't get to see one gold medal handed out or find out what happens "Next week on The Hills." And you discover that your work pants from Spring semester are, um, snug (to put it mildly). And the fun fabric shopping trip you have planned with one of your closest friends whom you haven't spent time with in way too long gets canceled cause the damn shop is closed on Mondays.

That kind of week.

But. In the midst of all my whining this week, I did find a few moments of unexpected joy. Turns out that riding around town with the windows down, something I haven't done in a really long time, has a kind of euphoric effect on passengers. Apart from the blistering, smothering heat at stoplights, rolling along with the wind in our hair this week has been kind of fun.

I think it's because driving with the windows down makes you turn the music up, which causes you to sing along more loudly than you otherwise might, which, it seems, releases endorphins, even in toddlers. There's been much giggling and smiling in the car of late, a good bit of waving out the window, and lots and lots of singing. I'd even be as melodramatic as to say that driving with the windows down makes me feel more connected to the world.

Apparently it makes Mitch feel that way too.

Why else would he release himself from his booster seat, lean across the front seat to stick his head out the window, and holler, "Hey people!!!!!"

See? Not all bad is bad. Sometimes bad can be good.

But air conditioning is better.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

I won't grow up

Here's a secret about me (not a secret if you know me in real life): I have a tendency to get more carried away by my children's games, toys, and crafts than they do. It's not uncommon for John to find me in the playroom coloring long after my kids have moved on to the next activity ('cause it's just wrong to leave a coloring book with a half-colored picture).

I have also been known to overtake the decoration of doll houses, the dressing of baby dolls, and the construction of block cities. And God forbid a child try to collaborate on MY paintings. Also, please don't forget to wash your brushes between colors because I hate when the paints get muddy.

So lately, I've been sewing doll clothes for Paige's dolls, nevermind that she'd be just as happy, if not happier, playing with naked babies. And, true to form, I've gotten just a wee bit obsessed with the task, often to the neglect of my actual parenting duties, like playing with the children and, er, feeding them.

But there are 4 "major" (i.e. well-played-with) dolls in the household and only one pair of doll pajamas. And only one party dress! How is one to have a proper dolly tea party if only one doll has appropriate attire? To remedy this situation, I've been working hard to expand the doll wardrobe with some vintage sewing patterns I bought on Etsy and Ebay (because who needs groceries?).

So even if my children are running around naked because I can't be bothered to dress them, by gum their dolls will be dandy.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

A poem, by Mean Mommy

I just took a look at Google Analytics (which I never do, cause I totally don't care how many readers I have) and decided to check out which keyword searches have lead internetters to Mean Mommy. And reading through these keywords, I realized they tell the story of my life, in a vaguely poetic, essential kind of way.

So today, I thought I'd share my a poem:

My Life in Keywords*

do you know the mommy game?

accidentally put baby's head in ceiling fan
baby fell and hit cheek
3 month old baby falls on tile floor
feeling guilty toddler bruise

nasty mean mommy

how well you know the mommy
20 and have gray hairs
crazy requests at McDonalds
italian bon bons

wild, mean and squeaky clean

outgrowing a mullet
waking to a bat in my room
losing teeth in my dreams

why are mothers so mean?
my children are driving me crazy

(*yes, these are actual keyword searches that have lead readers here. Blush.)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

August is the cruelest month

Some say it's April. But no.

August means temperatures in the 90s every day; insufferable humidity; a tighter budget (I get paid on a 10 month schedule); the start of the fall semester; astronomical electric bills; swarms of mosquitoes in our yard; and no vacations or holidays.

The older kids are 3 weeks into school and just starting to complain about homework and waking up early. Mitch is stir crazy, particularly with his partner in crime away at school all day, and is getting into all kinds of mischief. He's totally sick of me and asks every single day when school starts (not til September for him, helpmeJesus).

It's too hot to play outside, too boring to stay inside, and we're running out of ideas. And patience. Especially patience is all but depleted, and I've become a sweaty, frizzy-haired, ponytail wearing, tank top sporting superbitch of a mother.

I can stand nothing but silence. If the children are doing anything but sitting quietly, my nerves get jangled. The noise, noise, noise is more than I can take on top of the cabin fever and the suffocating heat. And Owen and Mitch are the kings of silly lately, with all of these inside jokes that make sense to no one else but send them into convulsions of laughter, laughter which escalates into hilarity, which leads to Mitch leaping gleefully onto Owen and knocking him to the ground, which turns into someone getting hurt, which becomes a fight, which ends in tattling and tears and yelling, and people getting sent to their rooms. And when they come out of their rooms, it starts all over again.

And it's only August 2nd.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

If you insist

I've had several (2) complaints over the past week about the lack of new posts here at MM. Well, our lives have been exceedingly boring, and I haven't been thinking about anything interesting at all, so you want me to be one of those blow-by-blow bloggers who write about the minutia of their daily lives? Who discuss what was had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Actually, If I am going to update, it will have to be minutia, for truly nothing more has happened.
A few minutii (the singular of minutia?):

Owen started first grade. This may not seem mundane to you, but the move to first grade has been taken very much in stride by my first born. His favorite things about 1st grade so far: no naptime, real desks, and his new pal James.

We still have overdue library books. The librarian actually gasped when she tallied our fines. Luckily they can't charge more than $10 to clear your tarnished name.

We freakin' love Blue Bunny Cookie Dough ice cream. So much that we ate (as a 6 person family, mind you) an entire half gallon container in one day. Well...maybe the babysitter had some.

We saw The Dark Knight. And you know how when there's lots of hype about something it never ends up being as good as you hoped it would be? Well Heath Ledger lives up to the hype. I was shocked actually.

Paige strung three words together for the first time, and the phrase she uttered is one of my least favorites: "One more time!"

John perfected his butter/wine/lemon sauce. And we've been eating it on everything.

I'm getting fatter. See entries 3 and 6.

I cleaned the van. Because if you're in carpool line and trash falls out of the car when you open the door, it's way embarrassing.

I've been sewing my ass off. Which is hard because you totally need an ass if you're going to sit at a sewing machine.

Mitch has been prattling on and on all the live long day. Talking without ceasing and actually demanding my full attention as he does so. It's hard. So hard.

So there you have it, a slice of our boring lives and my flatlined mind. I think it's the heat that's made us sluggish. Perhaps I'll have more insightful things to say next time. But I do, after all, have to save some insight for Momformation since they, like, pay me. So if you truly need a fix o' the Mean Mommy, you can always check out what I have to say over there.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Best vacation photo 2008

'Nuff said.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Top ten best beach experiences 2008

In no particular order:

1. Playing "doodle guess" (like Pictionary but simpler and rowdier) with all 4 kids and my mom, who was a very bad sport. Mitch's strategy: scribble on the paper and say "YES!" to the first guess.

2. The tidal pool on the last day (aka the "baby ocean"). Paige was in splish splash heaven.

3. Watching Owen and Mitch driving kiddie go-karts. Owen = old man driver (complete with side swipes of parked cars) Mitch = bad ass teenager (complete with turns on two-wheels). The attendant feared for his life.

4. The filet mignon. Who cares if they were bought on the "sell by" date and lived a long life in my parents' deep freezer. Against all odds, they were freakin' delicious.

5. Owen asking my dad for his change at Dairy Queen after being told he could pick something under $4. He did pick a $2 item after all. The kid just wanted what was coming to him!

6. Owen loosing his first tooth. He was mighty brave about it, so the tooth fairy was generous.

7. My 5-year-old niece's submission to a round of Apples to Apples (such a fun game). The adjective was "haunting." Her card said "kittens."

8. Mitch's refusing to call my brother-in-law anything but "Dave." Not Uncle David, not even just plain David. Just "Dave."

9. The Orange Blossom Bakery vs. Gingerbread House Bakery taste test. Apple fritters went to Orange Blossom. Butterscotch cookies went to Gingerbread House.

10. My mom wearing the kids' hooded fish towel. While having a serious conversation during which no one was able to take her seriously. (She was trying to keep sand out of her ears on a windy day.) I so wish I had a picture.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Totally vaca

If you speak Spanish, you might think my title means, "totally cow."

But no, it's VAY CAY, as in VAY-CAY-tion, as in, I'm so 80's cool I call it "vay cay."

All this to say, I'm away for a week enjoying a week of unpluggedness. Don't miss me too much!

Sunday, June 29, 2008


What I love right now:

1. Once. I have a big time crush on this movie and the soundtrack. This song is gorgeous, gorgeous. ETA: Watch out! Spoiler alert in Comment #4! (Kelcey!)

2. The Toy Society. I want to do this. And I will, I will!

3. These mosiacs on Flickr. I just love them so much.

4. The Matilda Top. This could be the best 4th of July fabric ever.

5. Kiddie Records Weekly. Click and weep with nostalgia.

6. Park Slope by Erin McMorris. I want nearly every print in every colorway.

7. The Mama Bird Diaries. Kelcey left a comment here the other day, so I clicked over to her blog and read the archives for over an hour. She's hilarious and insightful and real and way hipper than I could ever hope to be but not in an annoying way at all.

Can you tell I had way too much time on the computer last week? Back to reality this week. Yay! (For real. I'm happy to be back at home with the hooligans. Believe it or not.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

From baby to toddler in 3 snips

Remember when Paige was a baby?

She had goofy hair and a wobbly walk.

Now that walk is called "toddling," and her hair has been tamed.

Her mullet is gone. And along with it, the delicate, wispy curls at her shoulders.

Now she is, officially, a toddler. A big girl. An almost (gulp) 2 year old.

One who gets rather ornery about having her picture taken one too many times.

(Yes, she told the stylist she wanted the Kit Kittredge look. She's just trendy like that.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Loose teeth and other mysteries

It's that week again. The secret week of bliss. But don't tell. I'm working...remember? If anyone asks, I'm working, and it's hard work.

But truly, the work leading up to the opening day of the workshop is hard, and the first day is, if not hard, then stressful. I have to give a speech to a roomful of strangers and field myriad requests and complaints from the participants and faculty. I'm very good at faking poise and aplomb. Underneath, I'm all sweaty palms and knocking knees.

Last night, my nervousness about opening day bubbled up in a seemingly unrelated anxiety dream. This dream revolved around a current household drama, the drama called "when will Owen's first loose tooth fall out?"

Ever since I told Owen that the tooth fairy makes a very big deal over one's first lost tooth, he has been obsessed with its potential date of loss. He begs me for details, "Will it fall out in one day? Two days? Three days and 4 hours?" He has always required precise answers to his questions; unfortunately, I am not well-versed in the typical behavior of loose baby teeth. So I give vague answers, and he is crazy with anticipation.

In short, the loose tooth is a Very Big Deal.

So in my dream, Owen's tooth came out, and he gave it to me for safe keeping until bedtime. And I lost it. On a beach covered in tiny tooth-sized shells. For hours (in dream time) I crawled on my knees in the sand, frantically sifting and sifting and fretting and fretting. But I failed. I woke up before I found it.

It was one of those dreams that exposes very tender vulnerabilities: not only my fear of forgetting some detail for the workshop, or of failing to do my job in some way, but also the deeper, more penetrating and painful fears of a parent, the fear that I'm going to let my child down, scar him in some way, and, ultimately, lose him.

All of this incoherent rambling is an attempt to purge the uneasiness the dream left in me. I can't stop replaying it, feeling that panic and worry. And I realize that my worst fear, in my professional and my personal life, is letting people down, exposing myself as an impostor, as someone who never should have been given the job.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Keep up the good work

It's good to get a pat on the back every now and then, for your employer to tell you, "Right on. You're doing great. Thanks for your contribution to the company."

Even if that employer is 6 and a half (and don't you dare forget the half).

My quarterly bonus:

Some more things about Owen that have me grinning these days:

He's writing books (I can die a happy woman), and they're pretty good books.

He's spent hours this summer pouring over his children's dictionary. This means he loves words = jubilant English teacher mother.

He won the Character Award for his kindergarten class this year. And if there is anything I want my children to be, above being smart or attractive or popular or funny, it's nice. I'm so glad he's nice.

He cracks up at the "Mahna Mahna" skit on the Muppets

He will do anything to make Paige happy. Except share his dry erase markers (thankfully).

He's grown so much this year and overcome nearly all of his insecurities about loud noises. This is huge for him. Huge.

He takes showers alone. This just blows my mind.

He's counting down the days until we go to the beach. He loves our beach as much as I do, and this makes my heart feel warm.

I'm so proud to be the mommy of this little boy. I hope I'm worthy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We have a winnah!

And I'm excited because, so very appropriately, this reader was the very first person to add me to her blogroll. I was way too excited when I realized that someone I didn't know liked my blog enough to link to it. In fact, it changed my perspective on Mean Mommy entirely. I suddenly had an audience (albeit a small one), and it made me a bit giddy (and for awhile, self-conscious).

So...the winner is the very smart, funny, insightful, hip, and just damn nice Gray Matter Matters. Really, if she's not on your feed reader yet, she will be once you click over. (In fact, I just realized that the link to her blog disappeared from my sidebar. Sorry! I put it back.)

I'm also relieved that the winner is someone I "know" well enough to admit that the actual prize package I promised will probably not be mailed (or, erm, created) until the end of June because...dress show. I'm falling off pace a bit, so I'm about to turn the playroom/sewing room into a sweat shop where I will work long non-union approved hours for very little pay, but much gratification.

Congrats, Gray! Send me your mailing address when you get a chance: meanmommyblog {at} gmail.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bless me, readers, for I have sinned

It's been 3.5 years since my last major screw up.

I'm beginning to think every child is destined to live through some moment of physical peril that will make a good "look how badly I was treated" story for him to tell through the years. At least each of MY children have one.

Owen's: We were at the beach house, where the ceilings are low, much lower than the ceilings at home. He was a wee babe, about 8 months old, and I had just changed him on the bed in the master bedroom. In a moment of playfulness, I swooped him up to tickle his tummy with the top of my head. As soon as I extended my arms, I heard a sickening, "Thunk, thunk, thunk," and with suddenly realized I'd placed his tiny baby head in the way of the ceiling fan, which was ON. I nearly swooned. I pulled him back down, praying I wouldn't find a headless child, and was relieved to find him intact, but wailing. Luckily the fan was on the lowest setting, so it hadn't done much damage. Ultimately I was wounded far more deeply than he was.

Mitch's: If you've known me long, you've heard this story. I tell it again and again in an attempt to purge myself of the horrible memory. (It never works.) When Mitch was a newborn, he loved the sling. Anytime I went shopping, I'd put him in the sling because it kept him happy and kept my hands free to hold on to Owen, who was 2. As Mitch's neck got a bit sturdier, I started facing him forward in the sling with his feet curled up under him, certainly not a "recommended position," but I always kept one arm crossed in front of him to keep him from toppling out.

Except once.

We were getting out of the car at Target, and as Owen stepped out, he tripped and fell forward, heading face first for the pavement. Out of pure instinct, I lunged forward to grab him, and when I did, little Mitch (only 3 months old) toppled out of the sling and flipped onto the pavement himself. The moment I realized what had happened and looked down to see him lying there, howling, is forever imprinted in my brain. I feel almost nauseous when I relive it.

I took him straight to the pediatrician's office, and he fell asleep on the way, causing me to nearly hyperventilate with fear that he had a concussion. He was fine, of course. Me? Not so much.

And today. Today Paige received her story.

As I may have mentioned, Paige hates strollers, shopping carts and highchairs. Lately, despite the warnings imprinted on all grocery carts, I've been letting her sit in the basket instead of the seat, which she tolerates much more readily. Otherwise, I face sobbing and fit throwing and general misery for the entirety of the errand. So I succumb to her demands. Mistake #1. Mistake #2 was, of course, ignoring the warning on the cart. You see where this is going...

Today, again at Target (shut up, Anna), Paige kept standing up in the basket. I must've told her 103 times to SIT DOWN, but alas, 19 month olds have not yet been issued their listening ears, so it was an ongoing and mostly futile battle. My mom was with us today, and as I stopped to look at something, turning my back to the cart, Paige decided she'd rather be with Grandmommy. So she stood up and dove headfirst out of the basket. She didn't fall. She actually dove. On purpose.

Luckily one of us was paying attention (Grandmommy) and leapt forward to catch her. Sadly, the catching didn't exactly work out, and Paige hit the floor face first, but my mom's nearly catching her broke her fall and slowed her down enough that the result of her cart diving wasn't tragic.

Paige was hurt, of course, but not badly, and was probably more frightened than she was wounded. I, on the other hand, am considering leaping from the roof and landing on my face in an act of self-flagellation. I know better than to allow kids in the cart basket. I know better than to turn my back on Paige when she's riding in the basket. I know better... but I did it anyway. I gambled her safety to win a more peaceful outing.

Despite these horrible mistakes for which I am due some major penance, my children live on, relatively unharmed but equipped with darn fine childhood stories. And excuses for being a bit on the slow side. You're welcome, kids. Once again, you couldn't have done it without me.

*Tomorrow's the drawing for the blogiversary giveaway!*

Friday, June 6, 2008

Good morning, mommy. Here's vermin in your eye.

It's 7:30 in the morning. Your oldest child, on his first day off of school for the summer, wakes up earlier than he ever does on a school day and makes a beeline for your room, where everyone in the household is now sleeping, including his brother and sister, who crept into your bed in the wee hours and are now sleeping with knees and elbows knifed into your ribs.

The oldest child "whispers" that you need to "get UP now" and wakes up the other children. You shoo them out of bed, and they all trot to the family room to watch TV. You reason that you need only 5 more minutes, and surely the 19 month old will be fine for a few minutes until you...zzzzzzz.

You wake to the middle child's voice in your ear, saying, "Mommy. I have a rat from the beach house." This statement doesn't make sense to you because you haven't been to the beach in 10 months, and...rat? You decide he's speaking some 4-year-old nonsense, give him a "mmmhmm" and try to drift back off to snoozeville.

"Mommy. It's a RAT. From the BEACH HOUSE."

This time you open one eye and turn to look at him, ready to chase off the boy and his nutty jibber jabber. And dangling one inch from your eyeball, swinging by a tail now held in the fingers of your young child, is a dead mouse.

For a moment, you close your eyes again. The situation is much too odd to be real. You must be asleep, still dreaming. The four year old disagrees. "Mommy!" he hisses. "It's a RAT!"

You open your eyes again and the thing is still there, it's wretched little claws all balled up, eyes shut tightly, body swinging like a pendulum in front of your nose.

"Is that a real mouse?" you ask the child, who nods earnestly. "Where did you find it?"

"In the family room," he tells you. "Paige found it."

"Wait. Paige touched it?"


"Okay, go put that thing down. Now."

He trots away. You lie there for a moment, trying to remember if you'd seen any mice at the beach house last summer, then realize that your children are in the other room playing with a dead rodent, and it occurs to you that you really need to get the hell up.

They've left it for you in the middle of the family room floor and are watching TV again, unfazed by their gruesome discovery. You march them all into the bathroom and scrub their hands, then sweep the mouse into a dustpan and inspect it more carefully. It's a little bloody with a sort of terrified expression frozen on it's little whiskered face. The cats. What a night they must have had.

No match for your morning, though, and the joy of waking up to find a dead mouse swinging in your face. Bodes well for the rest of the day, don't you think?

P.S. Don't forget to comment on this post to enter my blogiversary giveaway!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Party! Whoo hoo!

Welcome to the Mean Mommy 1st blogiversary dance party! My blogiversary (what an irritating word that is) was actually May 28, but I'm still going to celebrate, even if belatedly, because (at the risk of sounding melodramatic) blogging has changed my life.

Let me count the ways:

1. I no longer feel guilty for not keeping up my kids' baby books. THIS is my baby book, and it's a richer account of our lives than any fill-in-the blank keepsake could be.

2. I'm writing frequently again (maybe not in May, like I was supposed to, but still). It's not fiction, but it's words and sentences, and that's better than no words and sentences.

3. I've found (and in some cases, befriended) some very cool, smart, funny, interesting mothers in this community. In fact, there are more moms who share my sensibilities in blogville than in any other place in my life.

4. Blogging here lead me to write for Momformation, where I've met another very cool set of mothers, and which has become a rewarding and fun part time gig for me.

5. I've found a place to reflect on things that worry, delight, and interest me, and have been given invaluable advice, commiseration, understanding, and sympathy from my commenters.

6. Blog-surfing lead me to the world of craft blogs, which have not only inspired me, but also pushed open the door to a brand new side of me, one that has become a huge part of my life and my happiness.

So. I'm hosting a blogiversary giveaway. No contest, just a random drawing, and the winner will receive a yet-to-be determined package of handmade goodies from me. Just leave a comment, any comment, on this post and you're entered.

I want to hear from everyone! Who's reading? Show yourselves! I know some of you (hi Anna's friend Emily!) read but have never commented. Say hi!!! You just might when the prize o' the century.

Insert standard blogger excuse for scarceness here

I know I've been scarce this month, despite the "Post a Day in May" thing (which I totally flubbed) but I've decided to go ahead with the dress sale that my friend Jane has been encouraging me to put together. Jane has been my friend for almost 10 years, and she has always been a great motivator for me, even back in the day, when she was my boss. Not only does she encourage those she cares about, she always helps, in big ways, to get things moving. For example, she is hosting the dress sale at her beautiful home and is fattening up the guest list with her contacts. She's good people. I'm lucky to have her in my life.

All of this to say, I've been sewing like a mad woman. It's been fun, something I feared sewing on a deadline would not be, but pretty much all-consuming of my free time. So I'm here, just not as much until the end of June.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Sonnet

I heard this yesterday on A Prairie Home Companion, read by Garrison Keillor, who also wrote the poem. I don't listen to PHC much, but as a kid I loved the Tales from Lake Wobegone tapes my father had. My dad has been a big fan of PHC for years, and somehow Garrison Keillor's voice and mannerisms have gotten all tangled up with my emotions about my dad. So hearing this sonnet read in Keillor's voice gave me a big old lump in my throat. It's simply beautiful. One of the richest, truest poems I've found about war and death. You can listen to Keillor read the poem here.

Memorial Day Sonnet
by Garrison Keillor

We’re here to honor those who went to war
Who did not wish to die, but did die, grievously,
In eighteen sixty-one and in two-thousand four
Though they were peaceable as you or me.
Young and innocent, they knew nothing of horror—
Singers and athletes, and all in all well-bred.
Their sergeants, mercifully, made them into warriors,
And at the end, they were moving straight ahead.
As we look at these headstones, row on row on row,
Let us see them as they were, laughing and joking,
On that bright irreverent morning long ago.
And once more, let our hearts be broken.
God have mercy on them for their heroic gift.
May we live the good lives they would have lived.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I've been doing way too much online browsing lately. So that browsing doesn't turn to spending, I will now blog about my finds.

Mostly, I want this bento box. But I'm having a hard time justifying the purchase (for Paige's lunches when she's in preschool in 2 years? for my school dinners which I never actually pack, instead eating "dinner" out of a vending machine?)

These linen fabrics from Cicada Studio. So, so pretty.

Who's Hiding by Saturo Onishi. My kids love interactive books, and by "interactive" I don't mean electronic and annoying. Plus Japanese imports are the new black.

These apple shoes for Paige from Livie and Luca. Can't you just picture these on her big, fat feet?

A vintage swimsuit. This one or any number of others. But I wouldn't act so dramatic about it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Excuses, excuses

I know, I know. I've missed a day or two of "post a day in May." I wish it were "a post ALMOST every day in May." I've had a busy week: a big birthday bash for a good friend's little boy, a visit from my BFWUTBAWFF (best friend who used to be a work friend forever), Anna. These events plus dealing with inordinately obnoxious behavior from both boys has kept me from my leisure activities this week.

That and the myriad season finales on my DVR list: The Hills, The Riches, The Bachelor, Survivor, the finals of American Idol. It's important to keep up with TV too! One must do her pop culture duty, you know. I can't have the rest of the world knowing if Matt chose Chelsea or Shane and not know myself. (Shhh! Don't say! I haven't watched it yet!) It's damn irresponsible not to keep on top of current events.

So there you have it. I posted. Now I'm only 2 days behind instead of 3. More clever posts to come. Probably.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lift your sk*rt to kirtsy

I have a late mother's day post I'm working on, but until I get a chance to finish it (after grades are turned in tomorrow), I thought I'd take a minute to broadcast some news from the blog formerly known as sk*rt, a favorite site of mine.

Sk*rt now has a new name and a new URL. Everything else about it is the same: still great links, still woman-centric content, still the hang out for all the cool girls. But now sk*rt is kirtsy. If you haven't checked it out before, click over now. But be careful, you may get sidetracked over there. Possibly for hours. And hours.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

And the winner is...

After careful consideration and much waffling, I narrowed the list of names submitted to the name my new old sewing machine contest to three favorites: 1. Hazel (from Victoria), 2. Agatha (from Janet), and 3. Mrs. Penelope Turtleback (from Anna).

I wanted there to be some randomness in choosing the winner to save me from feeling too guilty, so I used a random number generator (Owen) to pick a number from 1 to 3. And the random number generator chose...
#1: Hazel!

It's the perfect name for my new old sewing machine: strong but pretty, old fashioned but not fussy. Thanks, Victoria! Email me your address at meanmommyblog {at} gmail {dot} com and I'll put your prize in the mail this week!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Wild girl

Here's a little story about Paige that says a lot about who she is these days.

Today my mom, the kids, and I were at Michael's (the craft store) looking for new ways to spend money on stuff I didn't know I needed, and Paige was being Lately she becomes outraged at the idea of riding in a shopping cart or a stroller, and she's very vocal about her displeasure. Once wrestled into the cart, she squirms out of the seat buckle and tries over and over to stand up, giving her poor mother visions of bloody chins and cracked teeth. Also, it's really annoying.

Lately my solution is to force her to stay in the cart until I'm 75% finished shopping; then I let her "walk," which usually ends up as running with me chasing behind her, frantically reshelving the items she's pulled down and smiling apologetically at other shoppers.

When my mom is with me, she and I can work like sheepdogs and maintain some semblance of control over Paige as she tears through the store. Sometimes my mom is even willing to do all of the chasing (though I think she secretly disapproves of my letting Paige out of the cart at all) and let me finish my browsing. Today was that kind of day.

At lunch, she gave me this report of her tour of duty: While chasing Paige up and down the aisles, my mom came upon a woman looking at some lovely Martha Stewart craft paper, a toddler perched demurely on her hip. The little girl had sweet blond curls, pinned back neatly with a be-bowed barrette, her hair falling in perfect ringlets on her neck. She was dressed in a crisp smocked sundress and little white sandals and was looking innocently, patiently around the store, giving little waves to passersby while her mother shopped.

Just as my mother noticed this woman and her darling daughter and had registered the scene, she looked up to see Paige at the other end of the aisle, bangs hanging in her eyes, barrette torn from her head and tossed on the floor of the knitting aisle, mouth green and sticky from my attempt at a lollipop bribe, one shoe on her foot, one in her hand, running toward my mother and hollering gleefully. "Like a wild girl come from the jungle" my mother said. She looked from the well-coiffed mother and child to her vagabond granddaughter, now hanging on her knees, wiping lollipop goo on her linen pants.

"Honey," she told me at the end of her story, "I wouldn't want it any other way."

Me neither.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Two reasons to love being a mother

Made at preschool by Mitch (the flowerpot, not the sign) :

Made by Owen after he got in trouble for being rude to me today:

To Mom, Love Owen
I am 100% sorry about what happened. It will not happen again!

Heart in a puddle on the floor.

p.s. Don't forget to enter the contest!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Name that machine

I know I already posted about my new old sewing machine, but I just can't help saying, again, how much I LOVE this thing. Everything about it. The way it looks, how heavy it is, the sound it makes when it's stitching, its cover. It has a soul, this machine. And so it needs a name.

I keep trying to give it grandma names like Rosie and Martha (also talk show hosts' names, I now realize), since it's at least 40 years old, but so far nothing has stuck. So I turn to you, my loyal readers (all 12 of you). I'm having a "name my new old sewing machine" contest and the winner will receive a custom-made zipper pouch much like the one pictured below (in different yet equally charming fabric):

Submit your names in the comments, and I'll pick one by Saturday, May 10. And please, at least one or two of you have to play. How embarrassing would it be to have a giveaway that no one entered...

Monday, May 5, 2008

But oh, those su-hum-mer niiiii-hites

One of my favorite things about summer is playing outside with the kids after dinner. The hours between dinner and bedtime are my favorite of the day anyway because our chores are done, daddy is finished working, and everyone is well fed and happy. We often play a game with the kids or do some drawing and coloring until bedtime.

But in the summer, we go outside. Sometimes we take a walk, sometimes we just play in the yard. I love the light of summer evenings and the feel of the air. I still get excited when the fireflies come out. I love being barefoot on the driveway, feeling the heat of the day radiate under my toes.

Tonight was one of our first nights outside after dinner. John lit some firework snakes we had left over from last 4th of July, and even though it started to rain, and the snakes made it look like the driveway was pooping, it was a gorgeous evening, a harbinger of a summer full of warm nights. The first one of the season.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Strawberry pickin' on a Sunday in May

Today we had a "best laid plan" that actually went off as I'd imagined it. Usually when I arrange a charming family outing, imagining the sweetness of an afternoon together, doing something that the children will love and be grateful for, the outing goes awry and ends with me exclaiming, "Why can't we just enjoy a fun day together without (insert obnoxious behavior here)," then feeling ridiculous and old because I sound so like a mom.

But today was charming. It really was. The sun was warm, the strawberries were gorgeous, the children were enchanted by the idea of picking their own food (Paige just like carrying the bucket), and we got 8 pounds of beautiful berries for half what they cost in the supermarket.

Now we have a lovely vanilla cake with strawberries and cream cheese icing. And a pile of stained clothing on the washing machine.

And we have strawberries to eat for a week and some to give away in yummy treats for teacher appreciation week, and some to put in homemade milkshakes. Strawberries are Owen's most favorite food, so we also have a very happy boy.