Thursday, July 31, 2008

The ballerina and the monochrome one

Lately, I have been allowing my children much more freedom in terms of their daily attire. Actually, it isn't so much that they haven't had any freedom, just that they really didn't care all that much. And I ran with that one, baby. I know my days of dressing them in sickeningly adorable matching outfits are not going to last forever. And if they're cool with that, why not?
Recently, however, they have been exerting more independence in the "dress yourself" category. I still stand my ground when we are going somewhere nice, or when I am being particularly queer and making them do things like wear their matching strawberry capri pants and shirts to the strawberry patch. Because if I didn't, how would we ever laugh at their photos in another 15 years? Well, judging from the outfits I've seen lately, we'll have plenty to laugh at.
Ruthie is in the midst of a hard core ballerina/fairy stage. Today was the first day this week that she has not worn a tutu over her shorts/skirt/pants/whatever else it is she has chosen to wear that day. In the house, she wears ballet slippers constantly, and only removes them to leave the house, at which point she is instructed to put on real shoes. This tutu ensemble is frequently accompanied by fairy wings, which she has in both pink and purple, depending, I suppose, on her mood. Also this week, she added a paper tiara, which she made at a Fancy Nancy party at the library on Monday. The tiara is a little big and is frequently resting on the top of her glasses. It's a fabulous look and elicits all sorts of comments from the cashiers at the grocery store, the post office clerk, and anyone we encounter in a parking lot. And I am impressed with her ability to engage in such unladylike tasks as helping Daddy cut down tree limbs, while wearing said tutu.
Helen has been trying to dress herself for a while now, but we hadn't gotten past the ability to recognize that three shirts and no pants do not an outfit make. Lately, she's gotten better. While she declares that pink is her favorite color, and her dresser drawers are filled with all manner of cute girly clothing, she would likely wear her green M & M t-shirt, or her NY Giants SuperBowl shirt, every day if I allowed it. (Though today she was crying desperately to wear her down parka outdoors in the billion percent humidity...strange child indeed.) Last week, when I instructed her to get herself a shirt (she is quite independent and I do try to encourage that) she went upstairs and proceeded to take each and every shirt out of her dresser drawer and pile them up on the floor. She rifled through the pile, throwing them around and declaring "Not this one! Not this one!" Yesterday, she finally got that she needs to have both a top and a bottom to complete an outfit that can be worn out of the house, and she proceeded to find both on her own. Helen proudly emerged from her room with a pair of tan shorts and a brown shirt. No amount of prodding could convince her that a bright shirt might be fun to wear, or those cute madras shorts. It had to be the brown one and the tan one. So all day yesterday, I carted around a four year old who looked like a Tinkerbell understudy, and a two year old who looked as if she existed in sepia, or perhaps was waiting to have her picture taken at one of those "old tyme" photo places. Other than that, it was a perfectly normal day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Take a bow, brother

I'd like to thank my brother, for providing me yet another way to waste my time and neglect my children. Now, in addition to the message boards I frequent, the blog I post, the endless true crime shows stored in my TiVo, the six books I am simultaneously reading, and my newfound, painfully slow knitting hobby (Ruthie, that tiny blanket for your Barbie will be done real soon...I promise), I have now been introduced to the virtual crack cocaine that is Facebook. Oh elder sibling, shall I have DCFS call you directly when they remove my gaunt, filthy, crying daughters from my ramshackle home?

Monday, July 28, 2008

That's me screaming... probably can't hear me though. Why? Well, I am currently being treated for strep throat and it kinda hurts to yell. "Oh, how unfortunate," you might be thinking.
This is not is outrageous!! Because 7 short weeks ago, I was recovering from a TONSILLECTOMY!!! Yes, a tonsillectomy. As my brother said, that should have come with some kind of guarantee. I was perplexed when I woke up with a mildly sore throat on Friday, which evolved into raging pain reminiscent of recent tonsillectomy, accompanied by a fever approaching 103 degrees. This fevered state sufficed to mimic the codeine haze I was under for five days post-surgery. It was all a bit of deja-vu. (Hey, Kitty, that's a fancy word for been there, done that!!) Now, to be sure, the test has not come back yet, but the halitosis affected on-call doctor was confident enough to put me on a regimen of antibiotics. And since I've been in that on-call place before with a horrid sore throat and left with no drugs at all because it was clear I did not have strep throat, I am considering asking for a refund for my tonsillectomy copay. Maybe I should have requested a tonsil transplant. My ob/gyn once remarked, after my bizarrely evolving, seemingly endless miscarriage, two oddly presented cases of preeclampsia resulting in premature births, and an unheard of reaction to these fabo new birth control pills, "Your body just doesn't do anything by the book, does it?" Nope, doc, it doesn't. Can you give me anything for that?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Knit wit

I decided recently that I wanted to learn to knit. I think my friend Kitty (no that isn't your real name, but your real name sounds like that, and I don't use real names on my blog, so you're Kitty) is disturbed by this decision, since it came on the heels of me reading this book. It's a horribly sad book about a woman who loses her 5 year old daughter to a rare form of strep. It's a true story. It's gut-wrenching and heartbreaking and I found myself audibly sobbing during the single afternoon it took me to read it. I could not put it down. My heart skipped a beat at her description of her daughter. She had beautiful blue eyes, blond hair with bangs, and glasses. Which is exactly what Ruthie looks like. At one point the author described how they had to decide whether or not to put her glasses in the casket. And they did, so she could see her dreams. I'll wait for you to dab your eyes so you can read further.
Okay, so this woman turned to knitting in her grief. It brought her tremendous comfort. And I was interested in her descriptions of learning to knit and what she made, etc. Now I can see why Kitty is slightly concerned that I am trying to mimic the life of this woman who lost her daughter who looks almost exactly like mine. But really, I was interested in it before. I just never had enough motivation to start learning. But after reading this book, and another fiction work by the same author, which also leans heavily on knitting as a theme, I asked a few friends who knit what they recommended to get me started. They recommended this book. After checking the online catalog, I found it at one of the local libraries, and while checking it out, noticed a flier for a "Learn to Knit" class at another branch. Fate, I tell you. Fate. So I signed up. And last night was the class. I figured, since knitting has become much more popular among younger people, that this class would be chock full of younger women ready to learn. Nope. Not even close. I was easily the youngest there by 2o years, not counting the librarian who was helping run the class. But it was fun, and I learned how to fix a mistake I have continually made during the few weeks I have been trying to teach myself.
The class was in the evening, which left Benny with a free evening with his daughters. How, you might ask, did he spend his time with his two PRESCHOOL AGED children? Why, he took them to a bar, of course!Apparently, the NY Giants SuperBowl trophy was on display at a local bar/pub (restaurant if you are the father of the children and trying to defend yourself to your wife). He wanted to dress them up in their Super Bowl shirts and take their picture, since taking your picture with the trophy was the big draw. Fine. Take them TO A BAR. Hopefully I will be so entranced by my knitting that I'll forget where you've gone. He waited in line in the bar with my little girls (who, if you don't remember, are the offspring of an alcoholic mother...albeit a recovering alcoholic). He made it a memorable experience for them. Ruthie got to sit at the bar on a stool, and Helen got to sit ON the bar. And Daddy almost got into a bar fight (while holding our two year old) over someone cutting the line. And when I returned home at 10:30 (from a post-knitting trip to hell (Wal-Mart) with my neighbor, I went upstairs to find Ruthie fast asleep in a puddle of urine. She never wets her bed. And Helen was in her crib, sleeping with her Taggie over her head, like she had the spins and the night light was causing her head to split open. It was all way too reminiscent of my first attempt at college. My children were hazed before they even got to Kindergarten.
This morning they continued the trend by behaving horribly and being altogether too cranky. Hangovers, no doubt.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Long, long time

So sorry I have been MIA. No legitimate reason. A tonsillectomy rendered June a wash of a month for me, but otherwise, I'm just busy. I'm learning how to knit, we went on vacation, I've been reading a lot, and my days are spent exhausting my children which usually exhausts me as well. And I've slacked off on a lot of things, like weeding my garden and blogging.
It's hard to pick up where I left off, or whatever, so when I saw this meme on Busted Babymaker, I thought it would be a fine way to make my return. Never done a meme before and usually don't even read them. But this one was interesting.

Here's how it works:

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read. In an ideal world, I'd read most of them, but I just highlighted the ones I intend to read in the next few years. Catch up with me in retirement and maybe I'll have finished the list.
3) Underline (or mark in a different color) the books you LOVE - mine are in red
4) Reprint this list in your blog.

The basis of this meme is that the National Endowment for the Arts is under the impression that the average American has only read 6 of the books listed below. Um, I've never heard of a few of them. And why are they encouraging people to waste their time reading things like The Lovely Bones? Honestly, there are a few on there I've tried repeatedly to read and they have put me to sleep again, repeatedly.

I took a fiction writing class in college and was warned by my professor that the class and its exercises would ruin reading forever for those of us in attendance. I was inclined not to believe her, but, sadly, it was true. I read with a much more critical eye (or ear) than I did before. But I guess the flip side of that is that I can appreciate fine writing in a way I could not before. So some of these books seem to me to be strange inclusions. But whatever. It is what it is.

Anyway, here is the list:

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling - technically I have about 100 pages left of book 4 (I started with book 5, but I'll be done with this set by the weekend probably).
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens -
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott 12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien – tried to read it. Can’t get into it.
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger -
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger – sitting next to mynightstand…next book up.
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy - okay, maybe that's a retirement book.
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy -.
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden – I loved this book..
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown –
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery - not if I can help it.
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan -
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel -
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon - see # 51
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold – didn’t like it. Kept my attention probably because it’s so disturbing, but I tought the writing was a bit amateurish and predictable.
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker - I think I've read this about 5 times.
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce -
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath – I have read this book at least 3 times and did a term paper on Sylvia Plath in high school. Probably says a lot about my dark side.
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery- I have had a copy of this since I was a child and have intended to read it for the past 30 years. I tried when I as little. Maybe I’ll try again.
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams –
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo