Friday, February 28, 2014

The help


I posted this photo on Instagram earlier this week.

I was downstairs unpacking groceries, and came upstairs to find Mary Clare by the sink, valiantly trying to tie a dish towel around her waist to use as an apron. I started to tell her that she knows she's not supposed to play at the sink, when I noticed that she had unpacked her lunch bag and the empty containers were sitting in the basin.

"I'm trying to wash my lunch dishes," she said. "But I can't get my apron to stay on me."

Heart swell.

How could I not love that?

So, I clipped the towel around her waist and helped her get the lids off of some of the containers. She turned on the water, and I adjusted the pressure so it wouldn't shoot out everywhere. And away she went. A few minutes later, she said, "I need more dishes to wash, mommy." So I unpacked my lunch bag, and she worked on those as well.  At one point, she asked about the residue in one of the dishes, and wanted to know what I had for lunch. When I told her it was the same chicken we had the night before, she said, "Oh, yeah. Thanks again for making that."

COME ON. Just tell me what you want already, kid.

I ended up with a pool of water on the counter, and of course her carefully washed dishes went in the dishwasher when she wasn't looking, but it was well worth a soaked dish towel.

She can really make me proud sometimes, that one.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Continent conundrum

This morning, the questions started way too early. And they were about geography. I am the worst at geography. Yes, I work for an incentive travel company. However, corporations usually stick to the likes of Hawaii, Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and the EU countries for the majority of their luxury incentive travel programs. Oh, and I usually just have to write about them, not provide directions.

So you can understand why this seemingly simple question had me perplexed: "Mom, sometime, can we go to the biggest cont-ti-nent-et?"

Mind racing. Biggest continent, biggest continent.

"You mean Antarctica?"


Cue the feeling of triumph.

"Well, that is really far away, so we would have to talk about it. I'm not sure we would be able to go for a long, long time."

"Oh. Well, I want to go there because you can float in the water without any help. The water is so salty that you don't even have to wear a floaty."

Crap. She's talking about the Dead Sea. And I am 99 percent certain the Dead Sea is not in Antarctica.

Mind races some more. Continents, continents, continents. Asia! Asia is the biggest continent.

"I'm sorry, I was wrong. Do you mean Asia?"

"Yes!" she responded, with an expectant look in my direction.

"Okay. Well, sorry, honey, but we still probably can't go there very soon, either. But we can talk about the Dead Sea some more."

As soon as I Google it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lipstick jungle

Like any house, especially any house with kids, our mornings are hectic. The other morning after the boys left, I threw on my dress and herded Mary Clare down the stairs, with the plans to finish getting ready after she had tucked into her hearty breakfast ... of Cheerios. 

As we walked down the stairs, she gave me a little side eye and said something about my dress. It wasn't a snide comment, per se, but she was clearly eyeing me up. The rest went something like this. 

Me: I’ve worn this before. It looks okay, right?

MC: Yes. But, where is the rest of your stuff? 
Me: Well, as soon as I get your breakfast together, I am going to run back upstairs and put on my watch and some jewelry.
MC: And some lipstick. Don’t forget your lipstick.

Now, this girl hates lipstick. Hates it. She is loathe to use lip balm, even when her lips are horribly chapped, and she can't even stand to see me put anything on my lips. I often hear "ewww" when she sees me putting on lipstick, and there is absolutely no way she is letting me kiss her if I recently put on lip balm, much less lipstick. 

So, yeah, I must have looked pale. Like really pale. Like cadaver pale.

Anyway, you better believe that when I came back down those stairs, I was wearing lipstick. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Demands of love

Now, this is what I mean when I say that Charlie can be disarmingly sweet. And that he has an uncanny knack for knowing exactly when he needs to turn on the charm. 

Yesterday after Charlie woke up from his nap, he asked me to cuddle. So we went downstairs to sit in the sun and cuddle. I tried an armchair first, but he quickly requested demanded the couch. So, yeah, Operation: Regain Control is not fully operational quite yet.   

Anyway, after a good cuddle session, he decamped from my lap and went to find a helicopter. Thinking he was otherwise occupied, I went into the kitchen to start on dinner. A minute later, he appeared at the doorway. "Mama! Come here. Come sit with me. Come. Pwease." So, I followed him into the living room and received the rest of my orders:

"You sit here. On the couch. In the middle. There." 

And as he clambered up onto the couch and onto my lap, helicopters in hand he said, "There, mama. There. Now you watch me play with my helicopters." 

So I did. And I stayed, even after he abandoned me for the comfort of a pillow. 

He may be a tyrant, but I have to give him some credit for making me realize that dinner prep will always be on my to do list, but cuddling and watching him contentedly play with him by my side are two things that won't last forever. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

But he can be so sweet

This guy. This guy can be a real stinker these days. He's stubborn, he's loud and he's determined. So, so very determined. And did I mention stubborn? And loud? As in deafening. But darn it if he cannot be the sweetest thing you ever did meet. 

When I go into his room each morning, he asks me, "Sunny day? Sunny day outside?" And then we—and I most definitely mean we, as opening the blinds is a joint effort as far as Charlie is concerned—open each shade to see if the sun is out or not. He is the first to offer an emphatic "Bless you!" when someone sneezes or coughs, and oh, those hugs. Those tight, tight hugs, the European-style double kisses and the way he will place both hands on my cheeks so he can maneuver my head before going in for a full-on kiss are all things that are seared onto my brain and will be treasured long after Charlie has grown and moved out of our home.

The other day I had to wake Charlie from his nap, and, well, that is always a tricky situation. So I opened the door and let him wake up on his own. I soon heard, "Mama! Mama! Come here. Come HERE!" When I entered the room, he started stammering, "I need, I need, I need, I need ..." and then finally he said, "I need a cuddle." 

I mean, COME ON! Now you know why he is such a hellion. My mom always says that he has us well trained, and she is 100 percent right. I couldn't discipline that kind of sweetness if my life depended on it. So the fights will no doubt wage on as long as the kisses keep coming. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Truer words have never been spoken

This morning, as I coaxed Mary Clare along in the whole getting-ready-for-school process, she stopped and said, "I'm kind of cranky in the morning."

This would be well after she growled at her father in response to his "Good morning!" greeting. So, no, I didn't disagree with her. 

Monday, February 3, 2014


Yesterday during breakfast, Mary Clare informed me that she is retired. After reminding her that she has not yet had a job, and therefore cannot retire, she paused and then asked me, "Is tomorrow a home day?" I nodded. "So, I'm not going to school. Which means I'm retired. See, mom, that's what retired means for kids. It means it's a home day instead of a school day."

After stifling my laughter, I told her that that sounded completely reasonable.

She nodded thoughtfully and then said, "So, tomorrow, Charlie and I will both be retired. Just like Papa. And Gramps. And Gram. But not Nana. Nana still works. She's not retired like the rest of us."

Poor Nana. And poor me, living with two midget retirees.