The Chore List

Trixie’s (7) been angling for a while to get a toy she saw on TV, a Shopkins Happy Home.

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At $29.99, it wasn’t outrageously expensive (although overpriced for what it is), but it also wasn’t cheap enough to make it something I’d randomly let her get during our weekly Target run.

She saved her allowance ($5/week) and Tooth Fairy money until she reached $22. 

Close but no cigar.

We agreed that she could get the toy this week and earn the rest by doing chores around the house.

She made a list:

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Translation:

  • Make every bed in house
  • Do laundry (maybe)
  • Clean living room and keep clean

I’ll remain optimistic about the list, but I’m also not holding my breath for ironed linens and hospital corners on my bed.

Wax Museum

Last Tuesday night, amidst the usual evening chaos (scrounging for dinner/homework/backpack emptying/form signing/lunch packing/laundry folding/washing/brushing/grooming kids before bedtime arguments start), MGM (9) informed me that he needed a costume for a school project. 

Before Thursday.

His class would be presenting a Wax Museum project, which apparently is a Thing nowadays. (When I mentioned this to my co-workers, all unanimously chimed in about their kids’ Wax Museum experiences).

Here’s the idea: each kid would choose an explorer and dress as him/her. They would pretend  to be wax figures in a museum and museum goers would press a “button” to bring the character to life. The wax figure would then recite a narrative about his/her adventures.

Back to Tuesday night: I asked MGM about what other kids were going to be. The near-unanimous answer seemed to be astronauts.

Except for MGM, who decided to be Hugh Glass, who is the character Leonardo DiCaprio plays in “The Revenant.”

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This guy.

(Why, oh, why, did he choose this? He hasn’t even seen the movie).

Luckily, we had an old Robin Hood Halloween costume that my sister made for her own kids many years ago stashed away in our laundry room closet. I was able to re-purpose the costume’s shirt and pants, plus fashion a “bear claw” necklace from a fake tooth thingy and a piece of cord. The final touch was a fur collar that MGM wore as a headband.

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It turned out better than expected, especially on short notice.

The best part, though, was that I decided I would be a patron of the Wax Museum. It was in the middle of Thursday afternoon and if I tried hard enough, I could re-configure my schedule to attend.

But the unflattering secret is that there have been many similar events over the past four years where I haven’t re-configured my schedule to attend. Either from real or perceived busyness, I didn’t make them a priority. And I am sad about that.

With my recent changes and priority shifting, however, it was clear that I would show up.

When I arrived at the school, MGM was in the middle of a recitation of Hugh’s story, which included jerking to life and roaring like a bear when his imaginary button was pressed. (This was extremely popular among the younger kids).

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When he saw me, he stopped mid-sentence: “Mom! You came to the Wax Museum! This is the first time you’ve ever come to anything! I’m so happy!

Cue simultaneous happiness and sadness on my part. My eyes felt leaky.

I listened to every single figure in that museum. Even with a glut of astronauts, it was really fun. I was proud of MGM and in the end, I loved the originality of his choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Movie Problem

As I mentioned earlier in the week, MGM and the babysitter watched the opening credits of a movie last weekend that was deemed “too scary.”

Even though the TV quickly was shut off, the damage was done. 

MGM was crying about the movie’s beginning and said that he couldn’t remember exactly what was scary about it, but he knew it was scary – so scary that he couldn’t even try to remember it in order to explain WHY it was terrifying.

For reference, this movie was “Cowboys & Aliens,” a 2011 movie starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde. I haven’t seen it, but the plot according to Wikipedia looks pretty stupid. 

As a pure outsider, I would deem it “scary” in the sense that relatively high-profile stars were somehow coerced (blackmailed?) into appearing in this theatrical dud, but not “scary” in sense of Things That Go Bump In the Night.

But I’m also not nine years old.

Spouse and I felt bad for MGM to the point that we acquiesced to his request to not sleep alone.

I let him sleep with me in our king bed (with Spouse relegated to the guest room or sofa) for two nights, and then I began to get suspicious over his pleas that the “Movie Problem” was still in full force.

Exhibit A:

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This card shows some Minecraft toy sets that are available for purchase.

Close up of the accompanying note:

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I think I’ve been had.

 

 

 

Humbling

Life is so humbling for me.

Spouse and I spent part of the weekend out of town (kids stayed behind at Fancy Pants Ranch with a 20-year-old babysitter), and it included two important meals. 

The first was dinner with another couple we do not know well, and I have to admit I was nervous going into it.

As a person who enjoys public speaking, live TV events and performing surgery, feeling nervous is an unusual state for me.

They are extremely elegant, worldly and sophisticated. Often, I am not.

While I joke that I am best described as someone with toilet paper stuck to her shoe, I discovered during champagne at their beautiful home that I literally had a wet leaf stuck to my foot. I discreetly removed it and put it in my Prada handbag. This may be the first and last time someone ever did that.

Ostensibly, the dinner was phenomenal. The food was great, the conversation flowed well and I left energized and excited for the future.

The next day we had breakfast with our friends P. and T., but there was also an agenda to discuss a huge undertaking we’ve got in the works.

That, too, went well, but the underlying stress of the weekend eventually caught up with me.

When Spouse and I returned home on Sunday afternoon, we were greeted with disarray.

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Not quite this, but you get the idea

MGM (9) and Trixie (7) had taken every last pillow in our home (and I have an insane quantity of regular and decorative pillows) and created a fort in the living room. 

Our 15-year-old toy poodle had peed in our bedroom.

And pooped in the dining room.

A (nice) bottle of wine was empty, although I really can’t blame the babysitter. I might have done the same.

MGM was crying over a scene in a movie they watched that was deemed “too scary,” even though it had been turned off after the opening credits.

Toys were scattered everywhere.

Dishes were piled in the sink.

And then, Trixie was jumping on our ottoman into the pillow fort and landed just right so that she smashed and broke one of the doors on our TV cabinet.

I lost it. 

I yelled at her to look at what she did and she immediately ran off and started crying.

Spouse kept his head together and started in on the sink. The babysitter exited. MGM was still crying about the movie.

I was seeing red but pulled it together enough to make a first stab at apologizing to Spouse and Trixie.

And then realized I needed to go to the gym.

One thing I learned recently: when I’m in stressful situations, I should try to step outside myself and check in, asking myself how I’m feeling and why. This doesn’t come naturally to me. Maybe it’s obvious and intuitive to you.

What I understood in that moment: I’ve got a big, exciting new thing coming to me. And while all signs point to it being awesome, it’s still scary and there are parts that are going to be messy and not in my control. 

So I went to the gym with MGM and Trixie. A therapeutic treadmill hour later, we were headed home. I had (almost) forgotten it all.

At a stoplight, I heard a tentative voice from the backseat.

Trixie: Mom, are you still mad at me?

Gut punch.

My anger had diffused nearly two hours prior, but she was still wondering. I felt awful, as I should.

Me: No, Sweetie. I love you and am sorry for losing my cool. I’m not mad. I do want you to be more careful in the future, but I always, always love you.

She accepted the apology. 

Ever the comedian, MGM stepped in:

Just think, Mom, there could be seven of us! Then you’d really come home to chaos.

Again, life is so humbling.

 

 

 

 

 

Here We Go Again

School starts today…

Which meant that yesterday involved a frantic scramble to organize the massive pile of school supplies that the kids and I threw into an overflowing cart at Target last weekend.

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What $330 looks like

Our kids’ school pools supplies, so all of the crayons, markers, etc. go into a communal stash. This takes some of the pressure off of deciding which cartoon character notebook gets purchased, but still. Last weekend in the school supply section of Target, the struggle was real. At least three moms made a dive for the lone yellow plastic folder at the end of the aisle. It wasn’t pretty.

At the end of last year, I also basically gave up on preparing the kids’ lunches.

Forget this:

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I could barely muster up this:

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This year I’m determined to do better and I’m referencing this list of school lunch ideas from Food.com.

At least for the first week of classes…

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First day from three years ago. They were so tiny! Sniff.

 

 

 

 

This Girl

Spending last weekend with my Fellow Flowers crew at Rock Retreat Run made me think – hard – about This Girl:

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Trixie, age 1, circa Summer 2010 in her Pirate Fascinator

My daughter’s seven now, too old to be that tiny pirate, but she’s also still too young (I hope, oh god, I hope) to have internalized society’s messages about how she *should* look/act/feel/be.

There are so many things I wish for her: authenticity, strength, resiliency, kindness, bravery, intelligence and unwavering friendships.

And of course I still want her to be a kick-ass pirate.

This weekend also made me think of This Girl:

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Me, age 3-ish, circa Let’s-Not-Go-There

This Girl still struggles with all of the things on that list above, although she’s figuring it out with a little help from her friends.

What I just wish for my daughter is that she could find a like-minded tribe at seven, not at 41, because I think the key to survival is knowing that while You’ve Got This, your tribe Has Your Back in case you fall.

And that’s a message we can’t ever hear enough.

For now, Trixie just learned to ride her bike and I’m there – literally – in case she falls, but 99% of the time she doesn’t need me. It’s the other 1% that matters the most, though, so I’ll do my best to pick her up when she falls and find others to join her on the ride.

Biking Trixie

Cheap Thrill: Kids’ Bath Edition

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Trixie (6) and MGM (8) saw these Crayola Color Bath Dropz at Target a few weeks ago, and since it was in the middle of one of our frantic weekly trips where we race through the store, sweating and randomly tossing things into the cart, I didn’t see them among our purchases until we made it home.

Sigh.

We tried them out that night, and they were were a hit!

The Bath Dropz come in red (looks purple in the container, but they’re red), yellow and blue.

One will tint the water (and not the tub or kids, a very important point), but two or more really makes for a fun kid bath.

Our favorite combos:

  • 2 yellows + 1 red = bright orange
  • 2 blues + 1 red = deep purple
  • 2 yellows + 1 blue = grass green
  • 2 blues + 1 yellow = a gorgeous turquoise, similar to Caribbean water

At around $4 for 60 tablets, these were a cheap thrill. 

This Disney Character…

A couple of weeks ago, Trixie started asking us to play a game called “This Disney Character.”

The game is simple: one person gives clues to the identity of a Disney character and the others guess. The person who gets it right does the clues for the next round.

Sample: This Disney Character is a snowman who loves summer.

Please don’t make me answer that one for you.

However, last week the game took a dark turn.

As I’ve mentioned before, Trixie is not the up-and-at-’em type in the morning.

She’s more like a mid-90s Courtney Love forced to meet a parole officer in the A.M.

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Undoctored photo

Last week the two of us were alone in the kitchen and the usual morning scramble to get out the door was in full swing.

I can’t even recall the precipitating incident, but all of sudden she snarled, “This Disney character is chubby, sweaty, stinky and is standing next to the sink!”

Ok, I *was* next to the sink, but really, the rest of that is not true.

(Is it? Sniff. My self esteem is destroyed by a six year old).

Once I recovered I was able to come back with one for her:

This Disney character is about to lose iPad privileges for the rest of her life.

It only took one guess.

P.S. Here’s another Disney game that is a lot of fun.

How Babies Are Different From Us

MGM’s (8) third grade teacher recently asked me to come and speak to his class, since they were studying a unit on the human body.

My immediate response, “You know I’m a gynecologist, right?”

We finally settled on a talk entitled “How babies are different from us,” with emphasis on an in utero baby, a.k.a. a fetus.

What we covered:

  • Before they are born, babies are connected to their mothers by an umbilical cord and placenta
  • Babies depend on their mothers to get their blood
  • Babies do not eat food the way we do; they get their nutrition from what their mother eats
  • Babies do not breathe oxygen. They essentially live underwater and breathe amniotic fluid in and out of their lungs
  • Speaking of amniotic fluid, it is mostly baby pee (This brought down the house! I was killing it at this point)
  • A baby has about 300 bones but an adult only has about 206. This is because some of the baby’s bones join together like a puzzle after it is born.
  • Even before a it’s born, a baby can recognize voices, open and shut its eyes, roll/punch/kick (MGM demonstrated this in class), sleep and get the hiccups
  • A baby usually does not poop before it’s born (another fact that resulted in gales of laughter)

The floor was also open to questions. Conservatively speaking, one kid alone asked about 80. He was so into it!

MGM repeatedly asked if he could use my laser pointer.

And while you might expect inevitable questions resulting in inflammatory emails from other parents about how a baby got there in the first place, it never came up.

Success!

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MGM and Trixie First day, 2015

P.S. If you would ever like to practice your stand-up comedy skills, I highly advise a test audience of third graders.