The Y Chromosome

The Group: Three boys, one girl
The Game: Very detailed, nuanced game of Superheroes. Lots of "pretend I can fly and then I fly to take you to the doctor and you pretend to be sick but then you get better after I fly you to the doctor then we fly back home...no, fly like THIS".

Mom picks up the girl.

The Group Now: Three boys.
The Game: How many times can I push you down? OK, now YOU push ME down! Ha! That was awesome! OK, do it again! Now, how far can we jump off the playscape? Oh, come on! Farther! How hard can I kick you? What? Come on, Moooooom! We're JUUUST punching ears!


Wild Suburbia

Late last week, Big E spotted a couple of little hatchlings sprawled on the sidewalk during our bike to school. Thinking they were both already dead, I opted to continue the trek to school and deal with their little bodies on the way home when I wouldn't have an emotional nine year old girl shrieking and sobbing behind me. Instead, I rode blissfully home completely oblivious of any dead bird babies and callously didn't give them a second thought until that afternoon when on our ride home, we spotted ONE of the babies and it was most definitely alive, but most pitiful looking. KT fetched a rag and we boosted it back into it's nest, which was quite precariously tilted in the mountain laurel hanging over the sidewalk, susceptible to every tyke that runs or rides by. Mama bird apparently didn't excel at Nest Building Academy. Bubble Boy suggested a survival of the fittest tactic and said that a bird that can't build a decent nest probably shouldn't be allowed to contribute to the species and perpetuate more inadequate nest builders.

The next morning the darn birdie was back on the sidewalk. Big E was verklempt and I was able to scrounge a sock from the bottom of her backpack (don't ask me WHY there was a dirty sock in her backpack, but actually there were THREE) and gently hoisted baby birdie back into it's nest.

All seemed to be going well until this morning when we headed out for school only to see the whole damn nest upside down on the sidewalk. There was quite a little spring storm yesterday and apparently the hail and wind was too much for the already tippy nest and down the whole thing went. Darwin and Mother Nature won out.

In cheerier news, today a monarch hatched from it's chrysalis which has been perched on the puppy fence I recently acquired from a friend. Bubble Boy was lucky enough to take a few pictures, but I don't have access to them quite yet. Little A got to hold it and he said it squeezed him so hard, it hurt. You know how vicious monarchs can be. Big squeezers.

And so, you may be wondering just WHY I would have acquired a puppy fence from a friend and you'd be wrong if you assumed it was to keep my children confined during the summer months....however tempting that may be.

No, it has come into our possession for the very practical reason that we are finally getting a puppy. Our little Golden Retriever girl was born March 22 and will be joining the Bubbles NEXT WEEK. Here she is with her sister....she's the one on the left....or the right.

Either way.

Cutie, no?


Big Sigh

After a fun, busy weekend of Big E's first big swim meet, dinner with friends where the MEN did much of the cooking (and it was so very fine), laundry left undone, landscaping left unmulched, newly planted seeds left unwatered (gasp!), beds left unmade and yes, even dishes left undone I was starting to feel that feeling of panic sneak up on me. That Feeling that makes it seem like the air is being sucked out of the room or that I'm being swept down the river rapids and my head keeps going under. Or like when I start to notice that clutter is building up in the closets or drawers or papers are accumulating on my desk or kitchen counter and all I want is to throw it all in the trash just to be rid of it lest I completely lose my last shred of sanity and run screaming down the street. Last time THAT happened? Not pretty.

This Feeling of Stifling Overwhelmation was exacerbated by impending PTA elections. See, some so-called friends had been working on convincing me that it would be a good idea to run for PTA vice president. In a moment of Idealistic Weakness, I agreed. Subsequently, I was mortified into virtual paralyzation. I was horrified at the thought of humiliating public loss, and yet I couldn't summon the gumption to actually ask people to vote for me, so campaigning was definitely out. The worst was at the meeting last night when the audience and I endured an excruciating 41 seconds that seemed more like days in which I was required to get on a stage and SPEAK words! Visions of the empty blathering that ensued when I came face-to-face with one of my literary heroes, David Sedaris, came roaring back. I might need to work on that.

But NOW! The laundry is caught up (enough), the floors are clean (-ish), yard work (mostly) up-to-date and I'm ready to bring all Dick Cheney has taught me about being a VP to the PTA. But I promise to do my best to not shoot anyone in the face.


The Emotional Turmoil!

After having avoided it for six seasons we finally succumbed to the Peer Pressure of the Masses and have been watching American Idol. I like to think that the reasons I haven't watched this (or any of the other reality tv) is because I value thoughtful writing and talented performances by gifted actors and that these shows target the lowest common denominator.

But I KNOW that the real reason is because I have an addictive personality and can easily find myself completely consumed by the show. The contestants' performances, their wardrobe, their hairstyle, their fake eyelashes, tattoos, the way they stand when they sing, things they say during interviews, what they do with their hands, how they tilt their head, and on and on. And as much as my friends have tolerated my need for discussion on these topics I feel like I need to restrain myself somewhat so as to not overwhelm them with my....enthusiasm.

I've been waiting for WEEEEEEEEEEEEKS for this contestant to go home. She's not a bad singer, but I just don't see the talent I see in the others. And yet. There we were, catching up on this week's show - I already knew who was leaving from reading headlines on the news today and I did the same thing I do every week when Ryan finally dropped the hammer down and let Kristy Lee Cook know she was not coming back. That is - I cried. No, not just a little watery in the eyes. Not wracking sobs, but a little sniffly. Real tears rolling down my face. It's like I'm soft clay in their hands and they are manipulating me like a 16 year old girl. I used to try to hide my tears from Big E and the gang, but now I don't even bother. As soon as we get down to those final two, no matter how much I really want one of them to go, the tears start flowing.

I remember seeing my best friend's mom crying at a Kodak commercial when I was about 13...that is so going to be me.


Doing the math

For about the past six months Little A can't eat dinner, take a bath, go to bed, or ride in the car without asking BB or myself to "Tell me math". Having not quite mastered the syntax differences between "asking" and "telling", one might think he's asking us to explain the square root of an isosceles triangle or verbally solve a quadratic equation. What he REALLY wants is someone to ask him some math questions. So we started off with the basics like, "What's 2+1?" or "If you have three apples and give two to Big E, how many are left?".

I NOT am one of THOSE parents who think ONLY their children are brilliant and special and surely no one else's children can compare. Piddlecock! I recognize that ALL our children ARE brilliant and special. I really don't want to come off like one of those people who laments the challenges of having too much money and how hard it is to find decent help and how people just don't realize the horrific trouble caused by all their good fortune. Poor souls all, but do we really have to hear about their tragic tribulations?

But this math thing has really started to surprise me. Mild surprises at first then growing in magnitude on the Bubble Girl Surprise'o'Meter. BB and I catch ourselves looking at each other with questioning eyes whether Little A really just answered 25 x 4 is definitely 100 and then extrapolated, unprompted, that since 25 x 4 was 100, then 25 x 8 must be 200 and 25 x 12 must be 300, and so on. That's all great but when I ask him to count how many letters are in his name? You'd think I was asking him for a geometric proof about parallel lines.

I'm happy for him to have a grasp of The Mysterious Mathematical because I know this is most definitely NOT from my genetics...from me he obviously gets his syrupy sweet temperament. Since I do always have to make it All About ME, it's getting harder and harder to give him questions that aren't too hard but not too easy. If he feels I'm trying to skate by and give him questions in the same number family, like "What's 24 / 6?" and "What's 28 / 7?" or not providing a variety of questions, that charming, syrupy sweet temperament goes Bye Bye and we all suffer the consequences. And suffer we do.


Hunter Gatherer

Big E and I mosied over to the Natural Gardener today after hiking past a mile or so of cars and negotiating through the throngs of people racked with the Spring Fever pandemic sweeping through Austin. Big E has succumbed to this extremely virulent strain and the only way to ease her suffering was to get her hands dirty and plant some organic tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and various flowers. While we were there she found a few other goodies that she felt would really make her feel better so we came home and spent the afternoon planting Roxi, Colby, Tom, Artemis, and a few others whose names escape me at the moment.

That's right. She named all her little plants, including the "rescue" tomato plant that was on the FREE table because somehow it had lost its top. Poor girl needs a pet.

While we were elbow deep in compost and mulch Little A and BB were at a birthday party where Little A allowed a SCORPION to not only be near his person but actually CRAWL on him. I'm trying hard to not take this as open rebellion. But as great as having a horrendous arachnid crawl on him must have been for him the first thing he said when asked how the party was?

"I shot a BOW AND ARROW!!!!!!!!!!!! It was sooooooo AWWWWESOOOOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!".

A few minutes later....

"Did I tell you I shot a bow and arrow? Into hay bales? It was soooo cooooool. Have YOU ever shot a bow and arrow? Did you love it? How many times did you shoot it? What did you shoot at? I really liked shooting a bow and arrow. It wasn't really part of the party but it was the BEST! When do you think I can shoot a bow and arrow again?"

The last time I heard that much enthusiasm come from the boy I'm sure there must've been ice cream, Transformers, an amusement park, AND a 24 hour jumpy house marathon and even then maybe not quite.

I remember a time when I didn't buy into the whole 'boys are inherently different than girls' theory that had been pushed on us for lo these many years. It was around the same time I smugly watched other parents speak harshly to their children at the grocery store or so confidently announced to my other childless friends that MY children would be well disciplined, respectful and polite because that's how I would treat them and they all agreed. We were confused by everyone else's inept parenting skills. Didn't they read the books and the magazine articles clearly explaining how to be a good parent? It all seemed so obvious. Girls didn't HAVE to wear bows and pink clothes and play with dolls and pretend kitchens and boys didn't HAVE to play with balls and things with wheels and toys that make loud shooting noises.

No, they don't need those things because a girl can and will make a doll out of popsicle stick and a boy can and will make a gun out of a popsicle stick. Even when he's never heard the word "gun"....it's just a "shooty thing".

And then the girl will use her popsicle stick to write the names of all the plants and seeds she just planted (not their scientific or common names, but their GIVEN names) so she can talk to them and make them grow big and healthy. And the boy will fashion his popsicle stick into a gun. Or a catapult. Or a sword.

Because that's what they do.


The daily grind

Saturday found us spending the whole day at the Delco center in Austin - Big E participating in her third Math Pentathlon tournament and me supervising 2nd and 3rd graders who themselves were going for the gold. BB coached Little A in another soccer game and everyone had fun doing whatever it was they were doing that day. Even when one of the little boys I was monitoring broke into tears and the little girl next to me had a potty accident (they really do need to schedule more breaks - poor girl). OK, so those particular 20 minutes weren't exactly highlights, but look what made it onto the blog? Big E continued her winning streak and was happy with the way it all turned out.

Sunday was spent with blood, sweat and tears doing yard work, yard work, and then a little more yard work. You know you've pulled a lot of weeds when your hands gnarl up into wretched balls and the tips of your fingers throb whenever you try to do the simplest of things, like say...type up a little something for your blog. But how can one resist the Call of the Yard when the day is so gorgeous and the yard is beginning to look like Nature is having Her way with the 1/4 acre we call home and making it Hers and Hers alone.

Sunday also saw the arrival of Aunt A and the two M's. Bluebonnet Time is upon us and nothing says "I'm a Masochist" like driving 375 miles to get a picture of two toddlers plucked down in the middle of a patch. We scouted locations today and we'll be attempting the shot tomorrow. Wish us luck.


Back in the saddle?

Fighting the raw instinct of 99.8% of every fiber of my body which were telling me in no uncertain terms to TURN AROUND! GO HOME! THE WIND IS GOING TO BLOW YOU INTO AN ONCOMING SEMI!, I got back on my bike today and actually rode it.

The Silver Surfer hadn't been down from the hook in the garage since November when I, unbelievably, rode it 62 miles to eat a sausage. Could that really have been ME?

I honestly don't remember being THAT scared and freaky when I first started this cycling thing a year ago. Nervous? Heck yeah. Not confident riding in traffic situations? AbsoDarnLutely. Heart palpitation, sweaty palms, crippling panic attack scared s#!tless?

Lucky for me that .2% that was keeping me from blacking out and rolling into a fetal position on the side of the road to do some groaning or practice cubing prime numbers was also listening to the words of encouragement from my co-riders and telling the rest of me to knock it the hell off, already.

So I don't guess I'm ready to quit just yet. I'm confident that next time it'll only be 98.3% of my fibers warning me of the menacing danger of not being able to unclip my shoes. Then 96.7% and before I know it there will just be a whisper of doubt. Which will be much more acceptable than the blaring throb of today.