Saturday, July 26, 2008

More Spectacularly Bad Parenting

Scott, my weird-news-junkie husband (er, that means he's hooked on weird news, not that he's weird) just alerted me to this: NZ judge orders 'odd' name change

Short version:
Some phenomenally wacked-out people named their child Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii. The girl, apparently a lot brighter than her parents, was horribly embarrassed by the name. (Her friends knew her as "K.") She was put in protective custody so her name could be changed, presumably to something more (cough) mainstream.

I ask: How stupid do you have to be to name your child Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii? 'Cause if you're going to name your child after husky-voiced 1930s film star Tallulah Bankhead, SPELL IT RIGHT! (That's probably what the kid was embarrassed about...not the "Hula" or "Hawaii" part....)

I really should be writing a talk for church tomorrow. Just overcome by the appalling lack of parenting skills out there.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This has been causing endless hilarity around our house this week

...mostly because Scott and I keep repeating it at odd times. Tonight we couldn't even get through the whole thing without cracking up.

From the Shouts & Murmurs column, "Animal Tales," in the June 30 issue of The New Yorker:


“Hey, look, the truck’s stopping.”

“Did they take us to the park this time?”

“No—it’s a fire. Another horrible fire.”

“What the hell is wrong with these people?”

Yeah, we're odd. Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not exactly a visit to the Louvre. But then, when you have kids, who wants to see the Louvre? the bathroom at the children's museum, there's a shadowbox of animal poop. Little mounds in varying shades of brown. Labeled: fox, toad, moose, squirrel. (Go ahead — say "moose and squirrel." It'll make you feel better.) Ever so appropriate a display for these little scatalogically-minded people who are in there to go potty.

The museum trip was my adventure buddy Rose's idea late last night, just spontaneous enough that I could tell the girls this morning that we were going on an adventure, and wouldn't that be fun, and they were waaay excited but able to take it in stride. We played on some Blue Man Group-esque wind instruments made out of PVC pipe, and played with the weaving exhibit (which has opened up a whole new world of classification for Beth, who was delighted to find that her sandals were woven, and so was the basket, and so is the plaid pattern on Daddy's shirt), and saw a play (Beth called it a movie, which tells me I definitely haven't been doing my job as a promoter of the arts). Sarah was fascinated with the wind display — she'd reach up as high as she could to put a hollow ball in a plastic tube, then push a button to trigger a blast of air that shot the ball out. Over and over again.

There's also a recycle shop at the museum, where local businesses donate things they're getting rid of in bulk. Amid bins of plastic wheel-shaped dohickeys and sheets of surplus plastic paperclips and unused folders for conference packets, there was a find: the magnetic sheets left over from making stick-to-the-fridge paper dolls. And then Rose found a bunch of wallpaper samples, and we concocted a paper-doll-making scheme: we'll use the sheets as templates to make cardboard paper dolls and clothes that attach with Velcro.*

So, yeah: great day at the museum. And, for your enjoyment, two Joshisms:

First, a classic from any apartment-dwelling kid: "Beth, can you come over and play in my backyard? When I have a backyard?"

And: on the way home, out of the blue, Josh piped up, "I love you, Beth."

"I love you too, Josh." And then companionable silence.

*Brooke, one of these sheets will be rolled up in my luggage when I come out to visit. This has Ellabelle written all over it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Beth and the snappy comeback

Yesterday Beth clocked herself falling off the couch, and despite Scott's best efforts at getting ice on the owie immediately, she ended up with quite a shiner. So we coached her to say "You should see the other guy!" if anyone comments on it.

She thinks this is hilarious, and in true three-year-old fashion has been repeating the joke over and over and over, giggling like a loon every time she says it.

Oh, and her emphasis makes it even funnier: instead of "You should see the other guy," it comes out "You should see the other guy!" I love my kid.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

From the photo archives

I've been meaning to post some of our better pictures....

Getting on the T at Alewife...not the train, just the T

Beth and some friends playing on the turtle at the park in Concord

This was the view all the way home from my seat on the train

Beth the giraffe girl on our trip to the zoo

Sarah's first water balloon. She isn't quite sure what to do with it.

Beth got to ride a pony! Such excitement...and such horror when I discovered a flea after we got home. Totally worth it, though.

Beth being an "alligator" at her swimming lessons

Sarah reading to Pink Teddy

The girls in their sundresses

Sarah feeding Baby Margie (with some help from her daddy)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Beach day

I can differentiate the days this week by what we did in the water: Monday and Tuesday were in the saltwater pool at our friends' vacation house; Wednesday was all of the ward kids running through the sprinklers while the moms sat in the shade; Thursday was eating goldfish crackers in the splash pool; today was the beach.

We are all sandy and a little sunburned and that bone-happy tired that a day of sun and sea and sand do to you. This was Sarah's first time playing in the ocean. She alternately loved it and clung to me (more out of missing her nap than fear). Beth dug in the sand and bossed her friends around, all while holding an uneaten PB&J in one sandy hand. (The picture is of Beth and Josh digging and talking.)

What did they get out of it? At the top of Beth's report to her daddy was "I goed wee-wee in the ocean!" Give me whatever stern looks you want, but I love that my three-year-old lives close enough to the ocean to learn this great trick early in life. And Sarah? Her picnic lunch was sandy PB&J, sandy fruit snacks, sandy grape halves, sandy apple slices, sandy sippy cup. Er...excellent source of roughage.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

43 new e-mails

I've been gone for TWO DAYS and I have 43 new e-mails. Hello? I mean, I know a good chunk of it is spam...but really.

My visiting teaching companion invited us all out to her summer house in the Berkshires for a few days. Scott read the e-mail especially carefully and realized that it would be, like, ALL female (except for a five-year-old boy who showed up today) and bowed out, but the girls and I did the two-and-a-half-hour trek out there and had a great time. Glorious, glorious. The girls loved the pool and the fact that there were other little kids! to play with. Have to say the best part for me was getting a tour of Tanglewood — my friend used to work at the BSO and spent five summers out there running the sizable volunteer program, so I learned some fun things I probably wouldn't have heard otherwise. (Am positively drooling over the fabulous perks they have to offer big donors.) I even got a quick look at Seranak, the former summer home of Sergei and Natalie Koussevitsky.

(That said, we didn't actually go to a concert. I have to go back, and I'm going to drag Scott with me.)

Time to read those e-mails. I have a sinking feeling that a chunk of them have to do with tomorrow night's book group, which I'm leading, and though I'm enjoying Angle of Repose I didn't get through quite as much of it in the last few days as I had hoped to.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Getting along swimmingly

We spent yesterday afternoon at the pool. Hurrah! Our town boasts the country's first public swimming pool — and while I'll complain all summer that the words "historic" and "pool" shouldn't be used together (there's this issue about the bottom of the pool crumbling and flaking off every year, and let's not talk about the old drains), it is awfully nice to have a swimming pool a mile away.

Beth's been taking swimming lessons. The first day — last Monday — she was pretty weepy and panicky and I had to hold onto her every moment we were in the pool. By the third day she could make it through the class without tears (and thus earned herself an afternoon trip back to the pool); by the end of last week she didn't need me in the pool at all. Today Sarah and I sat in the shade (though it's so humid shade doesn't help much right now) and hung out with our friends the Russes while Beth and Lila and about eight other kids had their lesson. It's so, so cute: they sing songs and splash themselves with water and then pretend to be pancakes in the water (they sit on the one-foot-deep bottom of the pool and kick their feet, then flip over and do the same thing), and eventually the teachers lead them out in a big long train of two- and three-year-olds in blue floaty rings. And they jump off the lifeguard's diving board into the teachers' arms, and hang onto the fence in the middle of the pool and practice their kicks. Beth's favorite thing to do is be an alligator: float on her tummy with her head out of the water, walking along the bottom of the pool on her hands.

So yesterday afternoon the pool was packed, thanks probably to the fact that summer vacation has just barely begun and the weather is so swelteringly unbearable that it's a choice between being sopping wet at home in your clothes or sopping wet in the pool in a bathing suit. Kiersten and Sam got there shortly after we did; Sam, who's not quite one, loved the water and turned blue with cold quickly. Sarah wanted me to help her float the whole time, preferably in circles with her head leaning back in the water. The kid's a fish. Beth showed off her alligator skills and practiced climbing in and out of the pool while Kiersten and I watched some Spectacularly Bad Parenting in action. (If you want your kids out of the pool? Get them yourself. Don't send some complete stranger after them when you're wearing your swimsuit and could very easily get into the pool. And don't make idle threats, 'cause kids see through those. Follow through on what you say once in a while and they'll start falling in line. I so, so want a month with those kids and a chance to slap that woman upside the head. But I'm not going to get it, so I'll just be snarky about it in the pool. And on my blog.)

(Good Bethism: after we got out of the pool and I was changing Sarah's diaper and Kiersten was changing Sam's because both kids were soaked and FREEZING, Beth pointed to Sam and said, "Oh! He has blue boy parts." We had a good laugh over that one.)

Here's the thing: I love hanging out in the pool. I love being out in the sun and the water and giving Beth piggyback rides in the "deep part" while trying to keep Sarah from throwing herself in for an attempted backstroke. The shallow end of the pool, the only side the kids are allowed in, is all of three feet deep in the very center. It's not like I'm practicing my butterfly stroke. But by the time I got home my calves were aching and I was really, really tired. I guess toting two kids around in the water for an hour is a pretty good workout. We're going to spend a lot of time there this summer, and Sarah will get to stomp around the pool and refuse offers of help until she desperately wants to be swung around by the hands, and Beth will play alligator, and at some point Beth's almost-seven-year-old friend (and object of hero worship) Audrey will take her in the pool, and we'll go through untold cans of spray-on sunscreen. Sound good? Come join us someday.