Friday, December 31, 2010


I am writing this ahead of time. If all has gone well, I am in Wisconsin eating cheese at Cyberspace Sarah's house. The forecast was for freezing rain which is kind of an oddity this time of year, so the pessimist in me feels obligated to suggest that perhaps I am celebrating New Year's in a ditch down by Rochester.

Let's hope not.

Happy New Year, dear friends and loved ones!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

All is Calm

It was a pretty sad day yesterday when s'daughter Shelby, the last house guest, packed up her things and left.  Preschooler D wouldn't even look at her, much less say good-bye.  They are two peas in a pod and he feels betrayed every time she leaves.  For some odd reason, she'd rather go and celebrate the new year with her friends than hang around here playing Wii and going to bed once it's midnight in New York.  Big Daddy and I call that close enough.

I threw out the last of the old dried out cookies and washed an endless mountain of sheets and towels.  I walked around Target looking at the Christmas carnage.  All the good stuff was snatched up on December 26.  There's nothing left but boxes of graham crackers shaped like gingerbread houses and lime green short sleeve t-shirts that say "Have a Cool Yule."

Aren't these days a little melancholy?  As hard as we try to make that Christmas feeling last all week, there's just no denying it's coming to a close. I feel a sort of painful good-bye to Christmas that's just like Daniel feels when Shelby goes back to school.  It's all nice to be getting back to a regular routine -- eating the right thing at the right time, getting enough sleep, not worrying about having the right gift for the right person.

But wasn't it nice while it lasted?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

When You Know It's Time

How do you know it's time for your child to commit to potty training?  "Experts" have all sorts of suggestions.

  • Can your child follow simple one word instructions?
  • Can he stay dry for two hours?
  • Can he walk to the bathroom?
  • Is he generally cooperative?

To those questions we can answer a definite "Yes!"  But I have a few more to add:

  • In the middle of a Caribou coffee date, does your child say, "I need to go to the bathroom.  I need my diaper changed."
  • Can your child take a bag containing a dirty diaper, unlock the back porch door and set it by the back door?
  • After being forced to sit on the potty for "5 minutes," does your child look up at the clock and say, "Mommy, it's been five minutes."
Where we seem to be getting into trouble is the part where your child wants to learn to use the potty.  Preschooler D does not want to learn to use the potty. He is perfectly content with his diaper.  We have lots of rational conversations where we discuss the merits of using the potty and lots of irrational conversations where I start promising, as one friend I know did, any toy in the store.

Since our holiday schedule is still a little off what we normally do, I am going to wait until next week.  Next week.  When D turns four.  That's right. Four.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

Because we're all about multi-media here at "At Least We Know," our poem today is a video presentation.  I found this on youtube.  I don't know any of these people, but it looks like they are getting ready for a great new year, and I think we should too.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My 600th Post

Heavy from a weekend of eating ribs and homemade caramels, I have just rolled over to the computer through the cast off wrapping paper, empty boxes and already broken toys. I see that today will be my 600th post.  Thanks for being faithful readers, friends and loved ones, and happy holidays from my writing material family.
Cute-As-A-Button (CAAB) Rachel, Preschooler D, S'daughter Shelby, S'on Jeremy and Colin
Your crazy friend me and Big Daddy Brent
You know those photos were taken this summer, right?  Because right now my yard looks like this:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

Good heavens!  I didn't realize I'd been away so long.

It snows all the time here now.  It's like we're trapped in a snow globe.  Here's a little ditty from our buddy Irving Berlin in salute to our dear reader-friend Audrey, who had to turn on her air conditioning to do her Christmas baking.

White Christmas
Irving Berlin

The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I've never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills LA.
But it's December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the treetops glisten,
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright.
And may all your Christmases be white.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Songs of the Season

By now, we all know my feelings on "Marshmallow World."  My favorite song this year is this one, and the trees singing it make me chuckle.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

We've had Billy Collins before and we are definitely having him again -- today for the man who makes grocery store trips fun.

Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

Anonymous submission.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Date Weekend

On Saturday Big Daddy Brent and I were supposed to go to the Big City and go out with friends and have a jolly holiday time. Instead it snowed a foot and the wind started blowing and the high Sunday was -2.  Yes, that's right the high was minus 2.

Here was my front yard on Saturday:

Oh yeah, I can hear you.  "What is that even a picture of?  What is that?"  That, my friends, is the place where the grass used to be.  Now it is a big pile of picturesque Christmas snow.  That will be fine and lovely as long as it's Christmas time, but if it's all the same to you, it can melt and be spring December 31. What if spring is late?!

So anyway, my Big Trip to the Big City turned out to be dinner in town and a trip to the grocery store.  It wasn't the same.  No, it wasn't . . . but I have to say, one of the things I appreciate about BD Brent is that he is optimistic in an understated way.  He's not all Pollyanna about it.  He's not all "Hooray! Rah! Rah! Go team!"  He does, however, manage to turn a depressing night of emergency food shopping into a real date, and that is a jolly holiday no matter what time of year it is.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Company You Keep

As an admitted crazy person*, I tend to gravitate towards fellow crazy people as friends.  I have a few whom I have loved since before time.  They see the world in a way other people don't.  They make me laugh so hard.  It brings me unmatched joy to know I can make them laugh too.

The up side of crazy can be a riot. It's drug-like.  It's Jim Carrey.  It's the chocolate at the bottom of your drumstick cone.  It's a short line at Disney World.

It's a roller coaster.

The down side of crazy is that it's unpredictable.  It's lonely, not just for the crazy person, but for his and her friends.  It's helpless because there's just not one thing you can do.  You can't make them come out of the fog.  You can't make them answer the phone.  You can't make them commit.  You can't make them feel better.  It's a process.  Part of it is choice.  Each crazy person must walk his or her own lonesome valley.  Each day is different.

Some fellow crazy people don't like to talk about it.  I don't mind discussing the topic, but I very rarely like to admit that I am going through a difficult time.  People who don't struggle tend to shy away.  One dearly beloved friend of mine will change the subject quickly or even not acknowledge when I say I am struggling.  It's hard not to take that personally.  It makes it harder to be honest.

But I understand she doesn't know what to do because I am also on the other side with the "before time" friends.  I think I will be a better kind of friend because I can understand what they are going through, but I still get my feelings hurt.  I still take it personally.

If I were a better friend . . .
If I had said something differently . . .
If I could think of something truly fun . . .
If I could make it easier . . .

we would be laughing together right now.

* If you're not a faithful reader, you may not realize I am talking about chronic depression.  I like the term crazy. It sounds more fun.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Little Story for Sue

I told my friend Sue I didn't have anything interesting to say today, but I hate to disappoint a faithful reader.

Once upon a time . . . Nope.  I'm sure that's not my life.

It was a dark and stormy night . . . Well, it was cold.  It sure was dark, but it hasn't been stormy in a day or two.

There once was a woman from Glenwood . . . That will lead to trouble, sure as shootin'.

Um.  Let's see.

Today I got up, got dressed and drove over to see my friend Sue.

The end.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spreading Rumors

Is is just me?  Remember this gem from Hee Haw?

Now we're not ones to go round spreadin' rumors
Why really we just not the gossiping kind
Oh, you'll never hear one of us repeating gossip
So you'd better be sure to listen close the first time!

Oh!  Precious memories.  What can I say.  We only got two channels back in the day.

I've been thinking about gossip.  In the evangelical circles I run around in sometimes we call it "prayer requests."  You just really need to pray for so-and-so because they did such-and-such.  Now, don't generalize.  Not everyone does that . . . but some do.

Back 20 years ago I got myself into quite a pickle that set every one's tongues wagging out here in West Lake Woebegone.  Some of it was true.  Most of it was not.  I think everyone had an opinion on the subject -- which was me.  The stories just got bigger and bigger.

For a long time after I wanted to give as good as I got.  If there was talk to be talked I wanted in on the action.  If there wasn't talk I was a good speculator about people and I imagine I started a few things whether I meant to or not.

Some time over the last four or five years the fun went out of it.  I started to feel like gossip didn't really suit me so much any more.  I started to think I had enough business of my own to worry about much less stick my nose in someone else's.

That doesn't mean I've stopped entirely.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

Here's a little something for the season.  I dig verse 5.

Once in Royal David's City
Cecil Frances Alexander

Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour Holy.

And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honour and obey,
Love and watch the lowly Maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God's right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Just as Bad This Year

I heard the song from this blog entry and was mortified all over again.  What if spring is late?!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Sled Incident

I was sitting in my jammies dripping from the shower making a list of the 101 things I need to do today when the phone rang.  It was Colin.

"I need a sled."

I'm sorry.  What, dear?  I thought you said you need a sled.

"I have enough reading points to go sledding today.  I need a sled."

All right. Huh.

So I got dressed and went out to the garage, fearful of disturbing the mice or voles or whatever is living in the eaves while I tried to dig out a sled I didn't think I could reach.  But -- hurrah! -- Brent in a stroke of genius had already gotten the sleds down.  This would be easier than I thought!

That's when I went back inside to get Preschooler D dressed.  Now, I wish I could post a photo of how I found PD.  I took one, but he is naked and I don't think that would be fair.  Yes, naked and with a plastic hanger around his waist.  I don't have husky children and this particular child had just stepped into and worked a hanger around himself.

Step one:  Remove hanger.

D did not want to take the hanger off.  He did not want to get dressed.  He did not want to go to Colin's school.  My patience wore down really, really quickly and there might have been one spank involved.  I will not say for sure in case you are opposed to such things.

I wrestled D into his pants, t-shirt, sweatshirt, socks, boots, coat, hat, mittens, car seat and we were off to Colin's school with D wailing all the way.  I got out, got the sled out, got D out and walked the long and snowy walk to the door.  We made our way past the check-in point down to Colin's hall.

"Hey!" said a random sixth grade girl I would swear I had never seen.  "Is that Colin's sled?  Do you want me to take it?"

(Don't you love my small school?)  Um, yes, random child.  Please take this sled.

Since we had extra time I thought we would poke our head into the classroom where Colin was.  He and a bunch of other kids were playing a game.  One random child I would swear I had never seen before looked up and said, "Hey!  There's Colin's mom!  Hey, Colin!  I didn't know you had a baby brother!"

Colin looked like he wanted to crawl in a hole and die.  "Did you bring a sled?!"  Of course, I brought a sled.  Are you kidding me?  (I actually just said, "yes.") D started taking off his coat. NO! NO, D!  We are not staying!  We must go!

And that's when I had to haul the wailing D back across the snowy parking lot where I wrestled him back into the car seat and home and back into the house.  We had to sit together for a full hour watching Mickey Mouse and lamenting how we had left poor Colin behind before we felt better.

And I never did finish my list of 101 things.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cookie Bake

I have such wonderful memories of baking roll out cookies with my Grandma Malmberg.  It's been my heart's desire to share this experience with my own children.  I think favorite s'daughter Shelby and I might have cranked out a few, but she was more into egg dying than baking.  Still is.  Jeremy and Colin aren't really into eating so much, so they're not really into cooking.

My last best hope is Preschooler D. So far, so good.  Here he is making spaghetti with his dad the other night.

This year was really going to be our year for roll out cookies.  It started out quite promising.  Isn't this precious?  This is exactly how I imagined it. (It was a Home Day. I'm not wearing mascara.  Move on with your life.)

But then we got to the decorating part.  Now, I don't care about any kind of research you can show me.  My personal experience is that boys and girls are different.  While I was picturing a lovely pretty princess fairy sugar dusting of the cookies, Hurricane D came by with double fisted sugar pumping action.

Actually the tray still looked pretty good at that point.

I don't know if we made precious memories or not, but I have a feeling we'll still be picking sprinkles out of our socks come Easter.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

Today's poem is stolen unashamedly from a blog called The Fat Pastor.  I mean, how great is that? He sounds like a guy who's poem should be featured on a blog called  At Least We Know We're Crazy. Right?

His poem is in honor of Advent.

Established, Unfinished
Robb McCoy

Established, unfinished; at hand, yet to be.
For the Kingdom of God, we are waiting to see.

Where’s the Prince of Peace in the midst of such war?
Made in the image of God, yet corrupt to core.
It is Peace that we seek, for peace do we yearn.
While cities and buildings and children still burn.

Dividing walls built in hearts and with brick,
By people who hold onto Bibles so thick.
Telling us who we can and cannot love,
Like Pharisees all, they strangle the dove.

Through the darkness does break a beacon of hope.
In midst of rough waters a life-saving rope.
Lo a child is born in a manger so rough,
Letting us know that, YES, love is enough.

Love your neighbor, Love God, there is nothing more.
And at once the seams of the curtain, they tore.
In the midst of fighting and chaos and doom,
We know our Creator is saving a room.

The Kingdom of God is still unfulfilled,
We continue to struggle for what God has willed.
Love mercy, do justice, walk humbly with God.
Eat dinner with sinners, the poor and the odd.

Though sometimes the Kingdom comes painfully slow,
Together we struggle, together we go,
to the Kingdom of God, our victory won
Established, unfinished, our struggle not done.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Grandpa Ron & The Bathroom Debacle

I live in an older home.  It's solidly built with little bonuses like glass doorknobs.  I love those doorknobs.  I have been reluctant to replace them even after they stop working.  The downstairs bathroom knob has been especially troublesome.  You can't turn it too far to the right or you have to "unwind" it.  It's one of those little tricks you learn from living in your home for a while.

Well, my Thanksgiving party was going pretty well.  Lots of food.  Lots of laughter.  Lots of noise. So much laughter and noise, in fact, that we did not notice the sound of Grandpa Ron trapped in the downstairs bathroom.  Eventually niece Ella went and found Cyberspace Sarah and said, "That man is pounding on the bathroom door.  He can't get out."

And that is how we discovered that the lock had finally broken with Grandpa on the inside.

At first, Brent just tried pounding him out.  Nothing. Then he took the doorknob off.  Nothing.

Fortunately, another one of the great little quirks of my older home is that the laundry chute goes from my bedroom past the bathroom downstairs where there is another opening.

Brent and his helper were able to lower some tools down to Grandpa Ron. (Yes, that is the color of my bedroom carpet. Another joyful quirk of my home.  Yes, with all the holiday friends and loved ones, there were people sleeping on the floor in every room.)

Grandpa took off the hinges and with some more artful pushing . . .

Grandpa was freed . . .

He was our own Chilean miner miracle.

There's never a dull moment at my house.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

I'm thawing turkey and cleaning the bathrooms if you don't hear from me any more this week.

Here's an ode to the day.  Shout it out! Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

Giving Thanks
Author Unknown

For the hay and the corn and the wheat that is reaped,
For the labor well done, and the barns that are heaped,
For the sun and the dew and the sweet honeycomb,
For the rose and the song and the harvest brought home --
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

For the trade and the skill and the wealth in our land,
For the cunning and strength of the workingman's hand,
For the good that our artists and poets have taught,
For the friendship that hope and affection have brought --
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

For the homes that with purest affection are blest,
For the season of plenty and well-deserved rest,
For our country extending from sea unto sea;
The land that is known as the "Land of the Free" --
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Think, men! Think!

You have to watch about four minutes into this video, but this was totally me last night at the sixth grade band concert.  "Play to me, son! Play to me!!"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday on Wednesday: The PD Saga, Part 3

Back at the beginning of this week's story about Preschooler D, there was a moment when Brent and I were staring at my computer as the full realization of what PD has done came over us.  I walked through the process of what he had done to see how easy it was and had that screen up that showed the default choice of $140 on it.

PD came by and glanced up.  "Oh!  I bought some money, Mommy."

I sighed.  "Yes.  I see that."

He was so proud.

He'd been so smart.

I couldn't be angry at him because he had no concept of exactly what it was he had done.  I was the one who needed to learn several valuable lessons from this situation, and I hope to heaven I have.

Today's poem is about a boy and his ice cream.  You must go here to enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

PD Shops On Line: Part 2

My first call was to Zynga. My preschooler made this purchase, I explained. The young, childless man on the other end of the phone laughed and said, "Cool." I then yelled at the young, childless man from Zynga.  It was not Christ-like.  It was not patient.  It was tired and angry.

He put me on hold for a long time.

When he came back, I apologized to the young, childless man from Zynga.  He was sort of taken aback by that.  He said that PD had not spent the credits and that they should be refundable, but I would have to contact Facebook.

You can't call anyone from Facebook as near as I can tell, but Junior from Zynga showed me how to file a dispute on-line which I did immediately, explaining that my 3-year-old who cannot read made this purchase.

24 hours later I received an email from Facebook.  Since it was someone in my home, the email said, they were not responsible.  Non-refundable.  All sales final.  Please read their terms.

Well, I did read their terms and there was not one thing in it about 3-year-olds who cannot read.  I sent a firmly worded email back for which I have not received a response.

It was Saturday morning when I called Ricardo from my credit card company.

To get the full feel of how hilarious this conversation was, you must know that I speak with a rather thick Minnesota/Canadian/Scandinavian accent.  Lot of long vowels.  An occasional rolled "r."  If I were to invite you along on an afternoon boat ride, it would sound something like this:  We'rrrre goooing to taake the bowt owt this afternoooon.  Do you want to goh with? Richardo's first language was clearly Spanish and there were a lot of long pauses while we replayed what the other person had just said trying to figure it out. We laughed and had a great time because the first thing he said was not "cool," but "You must not worry about this one minute longer.  I will take care of this for you."

"I love you, Ricardo."  Okay, I didn't say that out loud, but I certainly thought it.

Ricardo says he gets 2-3 of these calls per day.  The night before he'd dealt with an upset mom whose 13-year-old had spent $3000 on Facebook.

Now, look.  Not for one minute do I claim I am not repsonsible for my small child's actions.  If that had been an elementary child who could read and have some understanding of what he had read and purchased, I'd be getting a lot of free kitchen and laundry help right now while he paid down his debt to me.  If I'd been out of the room for 30 minutes not checking on PD, I'd be kicking myself in the butt right now for not getting out the Play-doh.  In two seconds, in two clicks, my pre-reader spent $140 and I think that's a little bit snarky on the part of Facebook.

I have removed all of my credit card information from Facebook, and I'm naming my next child Ricardo.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Preschooler D and the Credit Card

Every stay at home parent knows the worst time of day is between 3 and 6 o'clock.  Every one's goodness for the day is just gone and chaos reigns.

It was this way for me last Thursday.  Colin was stomping around in a fit of preteen angst trying to get himself ready for piano.  Preschooler D (PD) was cranky and getting tired and I was trying to start supper.  PD thought he would amuse himself playing on my computer which sits in the kitchen. "Fine!" I thought.  "Good.  He will be right here where I can keep an eye on him."  I had my Facebook page up and PD immediately went to a game I tried playing but didn't like.  It's one of those role-playing Facebook games where you're building a little world. You advance in these games by having other people on Facebook send you virtual items for your world.  This one is an island.  I thought the island game was boring, so I didn't keep playing.  I had, in fact, taken it off my list of applications, but there was a picture of it at the top of the screen and that's where PD wanted to go.  "Fine," I thought again.  "What can this hurt?  I didn't like that game.  He can just move things around the little island to his heart's content right here where I can see him."

I went on my way making dinner . . . but I said out loud to the sink which was the only thing listening, "You know, I'm not sure this is a good idea."

I found out I was right two hours later when I got a receipt from Facebook thanking me for my purchase of 1400 credits for the island game.  And what a bargain!  They were on sale for $140.

Okay, so here's what happened.  I don't like the little island game, but I have been very addicted to the game where you make a little frontier.  So addicted, that from time to time I have purchased $2-3 worth of credits to advance myself along in the game without waiting for my other little frontier friends to send me what I need.  Several weeks ago I purchased $7 worth of credits and I sort of freaked out that my addiction was going too far.  So anyway, as you play these games, the fine folks at Facebook and Zynga, the creator of these games, want to make it easy for you to purchase credits and a screen pops up which says something to the effect, "Credits are on sale!  Would you like to buy some?"   When you click "yes" as PD did, another screen pops up with the different amounts you can purchase.  The default option is the maximum amount, in this case $140.  To be even more helpful, Facebook then automatically charged my credit card from the times when I made my $2-7 purchases of credits. With two clicks, PD purchased $140 of credits.

Stay tuned . . .

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Thankful List

My autumnal insanity is starting to make me feel physically sick.  On an optimistic note, I hope that means I am at the lowest point.  That doesn't sound very optimistic, does it?  What I mean to say is that hopefully I am closer to the end than the beginning.

Is that too much information?  I am concerned that you will worry about me.  I am all right . . . you know . . . considering.

I thought, today, I would make an alphabetical list of things for which I am thankful.  That's always a good exercise.  I hope you do it too.  Here we go:

Artichoke dip
D., Preschooler
ECFE paintings
Grandparents who babysit for free (or reduced prices)
Ice in my Diet Coke
La-la-la Linoleum (Shout out to Bert from Sesame Street)
Modern plumbing
Night lights
Pumpkin latte (Shout out to the Caribou friends)
Satellite radio
Underwear (Well, aren't you thankful for underwear?)
Xmas outside light project done
Yellow kitchen
Zamar the Bass Guitar

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday on Wednesday

Oh, the cycle of life and my less than clean basement clashed in fevered pitch tonight.  There is a large cobweb in the window I must pass on my way to the laundry.  For most of the afternoon I passed a fly fighting for its life with a small spider waiting for her supper.  Every time I walked by I wondered if I should free the fly or allow the spider to eat.  From my giant human perspective, I wondered if it was more annoying to walk through the cobwebs or be pestered by a large fly.  I decided not to interfere.  I thought of Charlotte and Wilbur.  Do you remember how he couldn't decide if he could be her friend when she was so ruthless, and she reminded him that no one came to feed her slop from a bucket.

So anyway, here's the spider and the fly.  We may have had it before, but we must have it again today.

The Spider and the Fly
Mary Howitt

Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly,
'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to shew when you are there."
Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."

"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?" said the Spider to the Fly.
"There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I'll snugly tuck you in!"
Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "for I've often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!"

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, " Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I 've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome -- will you please to take a slice?"
"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "kind Sir, that cannot be,
I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!"

"Sweet creature!" said the Spider, "you're witty and you're wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I've a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,
If you'll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."
"I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "for what you 're pleased to say,
And bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day."

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
"Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple -- there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!"

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue --
Thinking only of her crested head -- poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour -- but she ne'er came out again!

And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne'er give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.

Monday, November 8, 2010

More Coffee-Mate

A long-time friend (as opposed to "old") and I have been emailing this year and we decided that the answer to life's problems is more Coffee-Mate.

Pre-teen angst in your house?  MORE Coffee-mate!
Change of seasons making you crazier than usual? MORE Coffee-mate!
Unexpected layoff? MORE Coffee-mate!

During this discussion I have polished off cup number one and I am sure this is a 2-cup Day. Wait right here . . . Mmmmm.  Belgian Chocolate Toffee. Nice!

New church plant more exhausting than you anticipated? MORE Coffee-Mate!
Too many politicians on TV? MORE Coffee-mate!
In-law troubles? Former in-law troubles? More, More, MORE Coffee-Mate!

I don't know.  Maybe I've been watching too many Mad Men episodes on the tread mill, but I think I'm really on to something.  What if we all just took a breath and had a cup? What a wonderful world this would be.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Writer's Block Friday on Thursday

Blah, blah, blah . . .

Preschooler D's (PD) mouth is healing nicely, thank you for asking.  He is very cranky though.  He has not slept well all week.  I wouldn't have either, had I been him.  It was pretty nasty.  It looks much better and it smells fine.  NP Beth told us to beware of nasty smells.  Ew. Let's not think about it.

I filled out PD's preschool forms yesterday for next fall.  I have FULL confidence that he will be potty trained by then.  That's the goal anyway.  Only 10 months left.

I bet PD is the only one with a 25 year-old brother as an emergency contact. (Shelby, I listed him because perhaps you will be living in New York City next fall.  Who knows?  I am counting on Rachel to take quick, decisive action in case of emergency.  Well, actually I am counting on me, your dad or one of the grandparents getting called first.)

The dog's remote was lost briefly, and it's as if he knew it.  "Yap, yap, yap!  I must protect you from the ferocious squirrel! Bark, bark, bark!  I must now race around the house as though I have seen the bunny at Gulf Greyhound Park!  Yip, yip, yip!"  I tried putting the collar on anyway to psych him out, but he knew I couldn't deliver.  I laughed a triumphant laugh when I found it in the secret place PD had hidden it. Bra-ha-ha-ha!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

I want to clarify from yesterday's post that Colin's pose is for the benefit of the picture, not because he really was an angry preteen . . . at that moment.

So today it has warmed up a bit which ought to be lovely, but is making my sinuses hurt.   While Brent was home for lunch I watched a movie with a blanket over my head -- that kind of hurt.  Preschooler D is eating from a large bag of Cheetos and watching an endless loop of cartoons.  It's not our finest hour.

I did manage to vote this morning and, although I did not vote socialist, I kind of like this poem.

Why I Voted the Socialist Ticket
Vachel Lindsay 
From General William Booth Enters into Heaven, and Other Poems (1919)

I am unjust, but I can strive for justice.
My life’s unkind, but I can vote for kindness.
I, the unloving, say life should be lovely.
I, that am blind, cry out against my blindness.

Man is a curious brute — he pets his fancies —
Fighting mankind, to win sweet luxury.
So he will be, tho’ law be clear as crystal,
Tho’ all men plan to live in harmony.

Come, let us vote against our human nature,
Crying to God in all the polling places
To heal our everlasting sinfulness
And make us sages with transfigured faces.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Trick or Treating that Never Was

So after talking about his Star Wars witch/Darth Vader costume for a month, Preschooler D would not put it on when the big event arrived last night.  Oh, but you should have heard the bargaining.

If you wear a costume, Grandpa and Grandma will give you candy!
What about just the shirt?
What about a different costume?
Here is a Tigger costume.
Here is a doctor costume.
Here is a monkey costume.
This is just a skeleton sweatshirt.
How about just a hat?
How about just some ears?
How about I paint a mustache on you?
What if Colin wears a costume? ("NO!")
Urgent whisper:  JUST PLAY ALONG!
What if Mommy wears a costume?
What if Daddy wears a costume? ("NO!")
Urgent whisper:  JUST PLAY ALONG!

Fine.  Can you at least go and deliver Mom's Thanksgiving dinner invitations?

"I'm not getting out of the car."

Fine.  Well, he did and managed to score quite a bit of candy anyway.  Colin did, too, for somebody who didn't even go along.

While they were gone, Colin asked if he could have some candy out of our basket.  I looked at him very seriously and said, "Not until you put on a costume."

He came down with this:

"Wait!" he said before I took the picture.  He then posed in that great preteen angry look. Love it!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Guilty Train Conductor

Preschooler D was running with a wooden Thomas the Train conductor-guy in his mouth yesterday and -- you see where this is going -- Boom! He tripped, and wooden conductor-guy ripped a 1/4 in hole in the back of D's mouth.  Try not to think too hard about this.  It was not pretty a pretty sight. Blood, gore, upset parents, screaming child . . .

D managed to calm down before Big Daddy and I did.  I took him to the clinic -- um, D, I mean, not Big Daddy.  Nurse Practitioner Beth took a good look and said it was pretty bad.  He could have stitches, but she didn't think it was worth the trauma.  She told D he could not eat chips but would be ready for Halloween candy by Sunday.

On a side note, I love NP Beth.  I took a very sickly Colin into see her one time and he fell asleep on the exam table in the few minutes we had to wait. She came in and whispered, "Well, that not very like Colin.  He'll be better in 48 hours or bring him back."  It was almost 48 hours to the minute, but it turned around that day.

So, anyway, D was pretty quiet yesterday. He watched a lot of TV and went to bed without much fuss.  We thought it would be a long night, but it wasn't too bad.  This morning, though, he wanted Doritos and then he wanted Oreos and then he wanted cracker sticks.  No matter how sweetly I try to sell the yogurt, he wants what he cannot have.

Isn't that life?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Learning is one thing, applying another

Preschooler D and I were at ECFE yesterday and the topic was staying calm when in an emotional battle with your child.  The mommies were sharing the toughest battles they have with their preschoolers, and I just sort of sat silently.  A lot of their stories involved misbehavior in stores.  Please.  I mean -- is Preschooler D not the most precious and well-behaved child in the universe?  What problem could he be in the big picture?  Of course I stay calm.  I even mentioned this to the parent coordinator.  I said something like, "I don't know.  D is the tail-end child of older parents.  I guess I just have a high tolerance."

Then we went to Target.

We had my favorite s'daughter Shelby with us (and I don't just say that because she is the only one of my children who reads this blog), and we had barely made it past scarves and mittens when D took off.  I mean -- took off.  Down and around.  In and out.  Here and there.  He was leaping through a clothing rack when a Target employee caught him. She could not see me and could not see that I could see her.  She got a look in her eye that told me she did not have children.  "Oh! Oh! Oh!" she shouted out, glancing around for the irresponsible mother.  "Don't go through there, sweetie.  I don't want you to get hurt."

I came storming up.  "Thank you!  I have got it!"

"Well, I just don't want him to get hurt."

Yes.  Because he's going to get crushed to death by this rack of short sleeve Halloween-themed t-shirts. What state is this anyway?  Who can wear short sleeves on Halloween?

"Yes!"  I smiled condescendingly.  "I. have. got. it."

I picked D up by the scruff of the neck and keeping in mind the lesson on calmness I had learned at ECFE whispered very calmly in his ear, "Because you could not walk nicely next to Mommy and Shelby, I am going to plant your little butt in the cart where you will ride for the entire duration of this trip."

I sort of wish I had been paying more attention in class.  I'm not exactly sure I got it right.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

Oh, friends and loved ones!  It is windier than ever.  I do not know if I am coming or going.  My insanity is at an autumnal high . . . or low.  My goodness.  And tomorrow it's supposed to snow.

While I retreat to my bed and pull the covers over my head, you read this simultaneously depressing and yet somehow encouraging poem by Shelley.

Ode to the West Wind
Percy Bysshe Shelley


O WILD West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being
Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes! O thou 
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill;

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, O hear!


Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion, 
Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of heaven and ocean,

Angels of rain and lightning! there are spread
On the blue surface of thine airy surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head 

Of some fierce Mænad, even from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge

Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre, 
Vaulted with all thy congregated might

Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail, will burst: O hear!


Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay, 
Lull'd by the coil of his crystàlline streams,

Beside a pumice isle in Baiæ's bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave's intenser day,

All overgrown with azure moss, and flowers 
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers

Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know 

Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: O hear!


If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share 

The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O uncontrollable! if even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be

The comrade of thy wanderings over heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed 
Scarce seem'd a vision—I would ne'er have striven

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
O! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

A heavy weight of hours has chain'd and bow'd 
One too like thee—tameless, and swift, and proud.


Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own?
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep autumnal tone, 
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,
Like wither'd leaves, to quicken a new birth;
And, by the incantation of this verse, 

Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?