Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Got Goat?

Lola had sloppey joes the other day at her school. "Mom, mom we had sloppey joes and carrot sticks and crackers for lunch today!" The parents are given a weekly advanced copy of the menu. Teriyaki chicken, meatballs, tuna noddle cassarole, corn dogs? I wasn't thrilled she'd be eating corndogs.

She wanted sloppey joes for dinner tonight. We have tried as a family to eat together and have failed miserably. Sean is usually home by 7 or 7:30. I've tried having dinner ready when he hits the door, but it felt too rushed with the dog, Lola, Gibby, me, all rushing to greet Daddy. For me, it was hard to instantly switch gears from mom-dom to partner who listens to your day with an undistracted ear and thumbs her nose at the corporate suits who employe my husband. (I, We, are incredibly thankful he has a great job!) So, now Lola has her dinner by 6, then bath, unwind with family, some cartoons and off to bed.

We're back to the dinner table. She loved the sloppy joes which we renamed Sloppy Lo's. "Mom, I love them! I also love tomatoes, broccoli, brownies, and spahgetti. Oh, and milk, I love milk!" She doesn't eat broccoli, or anything green. Color aversion. "Milk comes from cows and goats. You know cheese comes from goats too, goat cheese." She takes a bite of her sandwich. "What do horses give? Do they give milk?" "No, hon they don't give milk." "But they're fast runners in the field aren't they? Can I have a goat or a horse? We could keep him in the garage and I could take it to school!"

Why do I have this suspicion she crafted this whole conversation about cow's milk, just so she could ask for a horse?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The World Is Full Of Strangers

I'm trying to educate Lola about "strangers." What a slippery slope! I had picked her up from daycare and after a drink and yogurt, wanted to play pirate outside. She had drawn an elaborate map in school and wanted to continue her game outside. She's wanting her independence more and more. "Mom, just let me play outside by myself, I promise I'll stay on the sidewalk." "Mom, can I ride my scooter to school, you can stay home with Gibby, I'll be fine!" "Mom, let me use the potty by myself, no one will bother me!"

I told her she could play in the side yard along the driveway, so I could keep an eye on her. Gibby was taking a late nap, and I grabbed a few Gourmet magazines and sat on the side porch. She was pretending the driveway was her ship and she was the captain. She had her foam sword and pirate hat from Halloween a year ago and was screaming "Ahoy, man overboard!"

A young man walked by with a black and white speckled Greyhound and smiled in amusement at Lola's play. "Hey can I pet your dog?" she asked. She ran over so quickly, the force knocking her pirate hat off. "Lola, stop!" She knows the rules about strange dogs, ask the owner if you can pet, then ask where the dog likes to be pet, don't make initial eye contact with the dog, let the dog then be the first to sniff you.....

It's strangers that frighten me more than a rabid, drooling dog. "Mommy, who was he?" "Honey, that's a stranger, remember, someone you don't know..." "But he smiled at me mom?" He's a stranger because I don't know him either. I've seen him walk his dog for several months now, he waves hello as his dog urinates on the telephone pole at the end of my driveway. "It doesn't matter if he smiles, he's still a stranger, and you have to be careful." "But what if I ask him if he's going to be nice to me?" This is where I begin to hear the words tumbling out of my mouth, not making sense. "It's like the witch in Snow White, she tricks her with that apple. She dresses like an old beggar woman and gives her the apple, it's a trick!" "But, mom, he didn't have an apple. He just had his dog and a poop bag."

By then our neighbor Bunny pulled in next door. She waved hello and Lola ran over to see her. She told Bunny she was playing pirate and we saw a stranger walking his dog. Bunny told her to be careful of strangers too. What message am I hoping Lola learns from this? I don't want her to be afraid of the world, the people in it, I only want her safe and sound and to play in her carefree child world for as long as she can.

I asked her later tonight if she understood what I was trying to teach her about strangers. "They are people we don't know, who smile at me, and maybe will try and trick me. But I know to yell and run away. Sometimes mom, you just confuse me."

Monday, July 13, 2009

If I Had A Nickle

Just read the story about the West Virginia woman who again has won the lottery! It's ONLY her ninth time winning and her jackpot totals over $159,000. Her husband has been hit by the lucky stick too. He's won over 16K! Is it luck? I see people buying tickets by the handfuls at the grocery store. How many of them will be winners? How many of them have recently lost a job, received news of cancer, have no insurance, are single parents hoping to add money to a zero balance account, long overdraft and all hope abandoned? How many of them are behind on mortgage, car loans, worrying about how to pay for this winter's rising cost of heating their homes?

Nearly half of American adults spend over 45 BILLION! annually on lottery tickets! We all love the stories of the down and out who win big, with only several quarters and nickles jingling in their pocket! My father always said "There's no such thing as easy money." Remember as a kid you would play the game WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH A MILLION DOLLARS? You would lay in the grass, looking up at the clouds guessing at all the possibilities....I'd buy a donut shop, a toy store, a deluxe bike with sparkle handlebars, all the Snickers in the world and stash them under my bed! Kid's dreams with not a care in the world.

Today it's back to paying the bills, saving for college funds, having enough in the IRA account, the 401K, money markets. I'm teaching Lola the importance of money. She's learning that you can't just have a toy every time you go grocery shopping. I explain to her that a quarter is worth twenty five pennies, two dimes plus a nickle. In her small marker stained hands, a quarter holds lots of power. I see her eyes glaze over at the possibilities. Just for kicks, I'll defy the common sense Gods and buy a scratch-o today! If I win big, I'll be blogging from some sunny, mojito soaked island. Oh, the possibilities.................

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Youth Is Wasted On The Wrong People

Last night was a "date night!" My boyfriend was out of town, so Sean was the next choice! A good babysitter, someone who you can trust with your children, in your home is a rare find. Someone who will sit for free is a BIG bonus! I don't like asking people for favors. I don't want to impose. And it's not the reciprocating that gets in the way. I understand time restraints and peoples' lives and don't want to clog their universal pipeline with my requests. I've learned over the years though it's OK to ask for help and this parent, mom thing is to be shared. (I'm rambling, it's my cross to bear, and yours when you read my blog....)

Anywhooooo.....I've become friends with Faith and her son Jake. Lola adores Jake. They live a mere two minute walk from our house, just across the grassy common. They have their playdates and we've gotten to know each other in that comfortable kind of way. She agreed to watch Lola and Gibby last night for a few hours. Every few minutes Lola would ask "Is Jake here yet? When is he coming to babysit me? What is he doing right now Mama?" It was late afternoon and she was cranky and as usual refusing to take a nap. Her whining was at that all time high where you want to pull a Sylvia Plath in the kitchen...."I need Jakey, Oh Jakey where are you..I need you now!" Serious Romeo and Juliet from a four year old! I barricaded myself in the sunroom with the computer until her storm blew over. Minutes later, all is eerily quiet....? She is sound asleep on the sofa, clutching a pillow, cherub mouth open, snoring it off.

Faith and Jake arrive. Hurray! I give Faith the low down on the zillion remotes and dvd player should the kids want a movie. I had Gibson in bed before they arrived. I show her the snacks in the pantry and give her our cell numbers, pediatrician's number, restaurant phone number, poison control number and the access code to the red phone in the White House. All bases are covered, I'm dolled up and out the door!

It's a gorgeous warm evening as I drive to Northampton. Sean and I walk to Sierra Grill. The owner greets us and treats us to a round of drinks! That's how you run a successful restaurant! On a busy Friday night, we're seated quickly in our favorite plush, dimly lit booth. Over a bottle of Viognier, we trade our stories. The votive flickers over our table like a cleansing stream. This is our time to reconnect. Sean orders steak with red wine reduction, onions and mushrooms. Grilled asparagus and Belgian fries with house made aloi and ketsup. I order scallops with carrot, ginger butter, asparagus and mixed grilled veggies. Delightful, savory, magical. We also had cold marinated mussels. The taste reminded me of our Italian travels.

We are happily full and flushed as we step out into the night air. We are going to catch some live music tonight. This is my high, my overindulgence. I become a giddy school girl standing against the stage. Mission of Burma is playing and we've been looking forward to seeing them. When we first met, we both had their album. Kismet, cosmic. Lots of people were milling about. Hipster kids, old die hards, too cool for school, and then the forty plus group. We had the real passion last night! We rocked it with the best of them! We knew all the lyrics and pulsed our aging bodies to the beat. This forty something group, as sweaty as the three guys on stage! We would readjust our complimentary earplugs and rock the night away, raising our Red Stripe Beer in anthem, the power of rock and roll!

I then knew what Cinderella felt like, the clock ticking, knowing that someone else was in charge of my children. I ask Sean what time it is, the music so loud, my question is lost over the speakers and monitors and lights. I make the universal sign for time...pointing to the imaginary watch on my wrist. 11:30 and Mission Of Burma is just ending their first set. Cinderella has to go...I'll be damned if I leave behind my leopard print stilettos!

Monday, July 6, 2009

I've been wanting to plant my own garden this spring. Never got around to it....there are so many wonderful, fresh, fertile farms in my area of New England. There's a farmer's market every few miles and a Saturday market just a five minute walk from my house.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, my parents cultivated an enormous garden, ripe with twelve rows of corn, potatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes. The kids (Joe, Denise, Jim, and I) would spend early mornings weeding. I hated the spiders, hidden, embedded in the corn stalks just waiting for a finger. I loved the dew strung along the webs like a glass beaded necklace. There were slugs, Japanese beetles, ladybugs, and rabbits who took advantage of twilight to feast on the backyard bounty.

There has never been a taste sensation to rival that of a fresh plucked, warmed by the sun plump tomato, with just a sprinkle of salt. Backyard dinners were complete with sweet corn freshly picked and husked by little hands minutes earlier, green salads loaded with radishes and beets, cabbage and carrot slaw with the kick of vinegar and mayonnaise.

So many of my summer childhood memories are rooted in that family garden. Next spring I hope to grow a garden and hope my children will help me weed and plant, and pick. If the season is good, we'll grow lots of memories too!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


My brother, sister in law and their daughter was visiting for the 4th. The house is quiet and I have lots of cleaning to do. I've been itching to blog while they've been here. I've shown great restraint!

I held my brother captive playing Scrabble and Password while they were here. He's a year and two days older than me. My birthday is June 13th and his is June 11th. My mother is also a Gemini, born June 2nd. I refer to Joe as my "baby brother." He stands an impressive 6' 2" and weighs about 260. Not so tiny! His sense of humor and love of high jinks is as big as his stature. His hazel eyes are now framed by brown, slightly grey at the temples, thick shocks of hair.

As usual, we talk about the days growing up together. Lots of laughing, wheezing, and "Oh my God, I forgot about that time!" His 13 year old daughter loves to hear these stories and see her dad in a more youthful lens.

We grew up in a time when you could ride your Big Wheel down the road for hours until Mom would lean out the patio door and ring the little school bell for lunch. We would spend lost afternoons in our backwoods building tree houses and lifting up rocks hoping to discover salamanders. We would play with Matchbox cars in the sandbox and then catch Monarch butterflies, running thru open fields of Lazy Susan's. We would swing on overgrown vines over the pond. We would ice skate on it in the winter and build bonfires. I remember late summer twilight's rolling down our grassy bank until we were breathless and the grass had turned our clothes and flushed faces greenish black.

My childhood memories hold glimpses of my sister and older brother too. My memories of Joey and I, rag-a-muffins, in our corduroys and western, mother of pearl button down shirts, pursuing box turtles or doe through the woods are still so fresh, so pungent in my mind. Joe taught me how to tie my shoes when I was three. He would share his sandwich with me when I had greedily finished mine first. He taught me the delicate art of twisting the cookie open so filling would be on both halves.

When we both starting dating, we shared our secrets, our crushes, our first "Well did you kiss?" During one of our many teenage summers, mom and dad were camping for a week, we had the house to ourselves. That week, and how we spent it with our friends is still something of a legend that only Joe and I share as our secret. We were fearless, free, excitement around every corner. We were young, scared, shy, eager to explore the world. We had each other. There is no better joy than to relive the past with my little brother. I see Lola and Gibson, several years from now, hand in hand guiding each other through life as only a brother and sister will do.