Monday, October 26, 2009


Ahhhhhh. I like when Destructo is napping. . .

Check out early Christmas presents for Spitfire and Destructo!! We brought home two sibling kittens from animal rescue on Sat, names still pending, though Spitfire has some specific ideas on this subject, namely, that one should be called, Elizabeth, after a helper in her Sunday school class that she adores. I'm sure Elizabeth will be glad to hear this. Destructo has been surprisingly non-destructive with these kittens; he picks each one up gingerly (only once have I feared for Kitten's tiny little neck), with two hands spanning a petite belly, and parks he/she on his lap gently, being sure to keep a firm hold so the wiley, little creature won't run and hide. Again.
Spitfire has surely found Heaven on earth, and is convinced that she should stay home from school to take care of her new charges. She keeps excellent tabs on our furry friends, even orally detailing events that take place inside the litter box, as though she is a football commentater.
"They are going into the littler box. . . Now they are covering up everything, and moving it all around. . . "

Mmmm. How best to pick him up from this angle. . .

This is the life. . .

Monday, August 31, 2009


This is now the second week of Kindergarden for Spitfire, who appears to have warped into a poised, young-adult over night, leaving her parents in bewildering contemplation of the time passage between diapers and school supplies. Suddenly, Spitfire has become a testy fashion connoisseur , squashing my suppsedly well thought-out wardrobe aspirations for her, as well as my attempts at perfection in lunch box assembly, which are now required to pass a "friend test." I am somewhat taken aback to hear that the little cut-out hearts and star shapes adorned with sweetzie type messages that I have lovingly created and placed in her lunch pack each day are a source of humor for a discerning Spitfire and her peer group.

"You laugh?" I ask lightly, as though not very interested in her answer, all the while moving as close as possible with both ears cocked and ready. Maybe I hadn't heard her right.

"Yeeeeesss," she says impatiently. "When I take them out and show them to my friends, they make us laugh."

Mmmm. I absorb this painfully. This is like the first day all over again: Dart Guy, myself, and Destructo, quiet in his stroller, walk Spitfire up to school on the first day of big K expecting protests, tears, and drama, only to leave a newly commissioned sophisticate in a chair with Spitfire's name on it. There is an off-handed wave and a hug we insist upon, then we become non-factors. The only worrying and mourning imposed on this day is offered up by her parents.
It would seem we are on the fast track to uncool, a fact that is even more apparent while waiting outside her friend's door on the week-end, hoping to borrow a blender for smoothie making. I break out into a silly dance, pretending there is a tune playing somewhere, making Destructo giggle crazily in his stroller. Spitfire smiles ever so slightly, nervously glancing at the door on which she has just knocked.
"I hope Abigail doesn't see you," she says fearfully, watching the knob closely for any sign of movement.
What do you mean? These are happening moves, sister!

I guess it is lucky we still have Destructo's destructive ways to distract us from our precarious slide into the land of old and out-of-touch. This morning at five he wakes and immediately demands breakfast, though I stash him in bed with us in hopes of more sleep.
"I eat," he states forcefully. I ignore. Forcefully. Or sleepily.
Some random thumping noises alert me to the fact that he is trying to pull his Big Wheel fire truck into bed with us, possibly to ride it over the top of our heads. This thought brings me fully awake and upright, which causes Destructo to strike out gleefully and triumphantly for the kitchen ahead of me. I step on a plastic tire on the way, yelping loudly. Destructo comes to my rescue, offering to kiss my boo boo. At least to him, I am still a little cool.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dart Tournament

It is a fateful day when I agree to play in a Couple's dart tournament with Dart Guy. I think I was under the influence of too much sleep, a rare happening in our household. So here we are, entering the smoke-filled Dart Bar (it's like Texas--a whole other country), and I shutter seeing a large crowd of dart-playing connoisseurs milling around tables littered with all manner of dart paraphanalia. I live with one, but, even so, I feel decidedly inferior holding onto three darts and stepping up to the line to take my first throw. That's when I decided I need a drink. Or a few drinks. So I gulp some wine and try and stay near the "tip" case, which, unfortunately, is not a case containing a nicely prepared notebook filled with an array of helpful dart hints; but, instead is the case filled with extra plastic tips for when one or more errant dart throws creates a sensation all across the bar by violently slicing the short, black tip of your dart away from the steel shaft. My darts are a little wild today, or every day, to be honest, and they rush toward the electronic boards like rogue missiles destined to place me in war crime tribunals. I have a particularly disturbing image in my mind: me standing before a panel of somber, dart experts that deluge me with all sorts of terrifying, hard questions--Did you practice for today? Do you want to win as bad as Bruce Jenner wanted to win the gold in his hey day? Can you add numbers quickly in your head to determine the proper target on the board? At this point I begin to stutter and stammer and wish for a starbucks to wisk me away to lovely esspresso land. I go outside and take a sip of my Frappacino in the car. We lose our first match, since I cannot decide what end of the dart should be pointed toward the board. Dart Guy pretends that I do not frustrate him., and I am reminded of why I married him. He puts our team on his shoulder for the second match, dragging us to a win. His throws are graceful, perfectly aimed miraculous events. Five hours after this all began, we lose our last match. Though I have not really performed any great athletic feats here, I am ready for bed. We pick up Destructo and Spitfire from Grandma's, where they have created the world's largest House of Clutter, and enthusiastically enjoyed it. And that's the end of my bi-annual Dart Adventure. I leave the real dart playing up to Dart Guy, for which I think, he breathes a great sigh of relief.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Oklahoma Weekend

Spitfire and Destructo inside the Giant Windmill Wing
Aunt Kianna, Cousin Kalie, and Gpa Donnie standing by
Feeding the chickens--Spitfire called them stinky

Growing up, I didn't really notice the wind in Oklahoma--that's how oblivious I can be. After this week-end, it is apparent to me why the part of Oklahoma that I grew up in, is the site for 98 HUGE, space-age looking wind mills. But the gales are welcome! They stave off the heat and allow us to enjoy family time on the porch. We watch hummingbirds flutter cautiously to the feeders. Later, when the hurricane calms some, Spitfire and I giggle at the sound of the them--miniature helicopters whizzing by us. We all have a good time visiting my sister, her hubby, and my niece (age 13 and bound for the WNBA or modeling at 6 feet tall and with beautiful, high cheek bones!) who drove the thousand hours in from West Virginia! Although I do have a mild panic attack when Destructo lands barefooted in fresh cow poop, Uncle Ron saves the day, scooping him up and carrying him straight to the kitchen sink (because no amount of germ juice can effectively remove a party foul of this nature, even though it was close by in my pocket).
On Sunday, I witness the transformation of my Dad from genteel farmer, to agile marathon runner, when he has to herd an errant, disgruntled group of the neightbor's cattle from his garden. Unfortunately, about half of the corn, potatos and onions get trampled--a sight sad enough to make a grown man cry. Though I didn't see any tears from my Dad, I do feel pretty sure he uttered a few choice words during the chaos. Spitfire loves the sight of lazy, eyed cattle up close until the big, lumbering, noisy bull comes into view, which is a little scary to behold.
She also loves the sound of "Jack," beloved donkey from a neighboring pasture, speaking distinctly to us while the cattle mew and complain at the rude interuption of their feast.
A great big thanks to Gma Janet, Aunt Glenda and Uncle Albert for hosting a great gathering and birthday celebration, and especially to my cousin Jennifer, who labored on an, absolutely, perfectly-rendered Spongebob cake. We all had a marvelous time. I am convinced there was something "extra" in that cake, which caused Destructo to engage in an impromtu striptease, complete with throwing his shirt into the crowd.
It is lucky that Dart Guy is unusually tough and pain tolerant--he can take all kinds of kid excretions, muddy, back-yard throw-downs, and, even the longest drive home in the history of drives home. While I commend the kiddos for pretty great behavior all week-end long, the streak is broken during 41/2 hours in the car back to Dallas. Aptly-named Spitfire is spouting off sass faster than I can comprehend it, but Dart Guy keeps his calm, even though our first inclination is to pull over and sass back. Cudos and love Dart Guy! Check out more pics below, and thanks for reading.
One of the miniature helicopters


Strawberries and Blackberries

Garden, Pre-Cattle trampling

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


The plan for today is to pick up Spitfire's good friends Ben and Emily and go see the new Pixar flick, Up, at the mall. Excitement brews. When I pick up Spitfire, she is wearing a pair of Destructo's jeans, the hem of which reaches to just above her ankle. I question her about this particular fashion statement, and she tells me that Dart Guy is responsible, then refuses to change. Considering my history with certain items of her clothing, namely the recent ballet-costume faux pas, I decide to let it go, and we are out the door. There are smiles all around when we pick up Ben and Emily at their school. The first thing the three conspirators do is say that our car stinks! Like cheerios and diapers. Ugh! I take a wiff but don't get that specific combo. Off we go. Here is the conversation on the way to the movie:

Emily drops her cookie on the floor.
Spitfire: I think a frog will jump inside and eat that cookie.
Me: I don't think frogs like cookies, do they?
Ben: (in deep thought) Well, I've never seen a frog eat a cookie. . .
Emily: We did see a turtle in the road one time!
Ben finishes his cookie and Spitfire tells him to just throw the packaging in the floor.
Spitfire: It's ok, there is already 130, 000 stains in this car.
Ben: Mmmm. I think there is only 200 stains in here.

There is a definite trend on the subject of our car. . .

During Up, Ben is zoned into the movie, Spitfire wants to engage in a rather loud running commentary, and Emily peacefully eats popcorn beside me. All of us enjoy a really great movie, which has some teary-eyed, sweet moments, as well as great, adventurous animation.
Thanks to Ben, Emily and Spitfire for an evening of stellar preschool company.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sunday Cook-Out

Thanks to friends and family that joined us for our cook-out/b-day gathering on Sunday! It was great fun, and our family looks forward to the planned pot-luck dinners over the coming months! Although we had already celebrated Destructo's b-day in Illinois while on vacation, we did get a really cool cake from Central Market and made it a partial birthday celebration. Spitfire was responsible for picking out the cake, and her choice may give some indication as to the type of cuisine we have at our house. I asked all the kids what the cake would taste like--a hamburger or a cake, and got a withering, you-are-silly-of-course-it-tastes-like-a-cake answer. We missed the Cullums! Hope you are feeling better, Melissa. :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Amphibian Issue

It's just a frog--I caught a number of them as a kid--but does it have to share dinner with us? Does it have to sit with beady, frog eyes staring at us while we chew mexican casserole and mixed veggies? I cringe inside every time the scaly green legs jump up and slide in oozing stickiness down the glass wall of its cell, while the kids exclaim with excitement and delight. Spitfire does not want said frog more than two centimeters away from her. I do not want said frog more than two centimeters close to me; and therefore, the line is drawn in the sand. The frog survives over night, sitting intimately close to Spitfire on her nightstand while she sleeps, and I catch a giant fly that is buzzing through the house and set it loose in the cage--my thought being that even poor, captive frogs need comfort food. But when Spitfire begins carrying our adopted amphibian around in the palm of her hand, and then generously allows Destructo to join in this stellar activity, I have to give the executive order to Free the Frog. It's just like Free Willy, I suggest--frogs do not thrive while incarcerated, and Mommy does not thrive while her kids handle a possible salmonella contaminated creature. Of course, all this falls on deaf ears, and I am going deaf from listening to the piercing sound of Spitfire wailing about the injustice of it all. I know I rode around completely unbuckled, even lying in the back window of my parent's car on vacations, busily making honking motions to passing truckers--and survived. I spent time scratching dirty bellies of chunky pigs in backyard pens, lived precariously without any contact with hand sanitizer, ate strawberries unwashed, picked straight off the vine. But still. . . I want slimy, warty, dirty frog to take a hike, and there is nothing that can console Spitfire when she hears the decision. Only time, and the arrival of a co-cospirator from across the street finally quiet the shrill sadness. As for me, I am relieved to eat dinner beyond the watchful eyes of frog, and hopeful that most amphibian poachers like him keep a very low profile in our yard.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Confessions of an Ungirlie-Mom

I'm not sure if I could have botched Spitfire's ballet recital event any worse than I did, but I will undoubtedly try again next year--I may not be girlie, but I am definitely bull-headed. On Tuesday night, I am preparing to take both kiddos with me to the dress rehearsal, for which I have decided that putting Spitfire's hair up in a bun consitutes enough of the "dress" part of rehearsal for me. She is wearing her jeans and ballet shoes, and I am fine with that. Sadly, she is too (already she must be duplicating my un-girlieness). She hates sitting still for my amateurish attempt at a ballet bun and protests soulfully for the ten-minute procedure, then we are out the door. I have to wrestle Destruco into his seat since he does not appear to be interested in anything related to ballet, but finally, we are on our way. When we arrive, I am immediately aware that we have come to the wrong venue--and that's not due to keen intelligence--it's simply because there are no cars in the parking lot! This is when I get that sinking feeling in the stomach and begin to weakly tell Spitfire we have five minutes to find the right auditorium. I make calls but don't reach anyone, so we drive home. Spitfire first angrily announces she will not be going to recital tomorrow (we won't if I don't find out where it is, I say naughtily), but then decides that being able to release the thousand bobby pins from her hair is not such a bad thing. For once, I am happy for the attention span of a five-year-old--it is all water under the bridge now, and a story to tell.

On Wednesday night, I labor on the bun again. Spitfire says she has never been more bored and I tell her to hold still and we repeat this about a million times. When I am done, I discover that the bulk of my work is resting oddly on the right side of her head, but I rationalize this--who said a bun has to be in the center anyway? My friend who lives across the street is kind and says it looks fine. We are dressed and ready to go. Spitfire's good friend and neighbor is going with us, but we decide to leave Destructo at home this time with Dart Guy, who breathes a sigh of relief.
When we arrive, there is no parking so we leave the car in front of a nearby house and walk. Inside, I step triumphantly up to the check-in desk, two highly excited girls in tow beside me. And that's when I hear the tiny voice--a little girl's voice just to our left--she tells us that Spitfire has her outfit on backwards!! I examine Spitfire critically, with eyes glazed over from years of ungirlish behavior. I just don't see it, but get an afirmative, mirth-laced, sympathetic nod from the check-in lady. Unable to find the bathroom, I strip her down behind a large, wooden door, then go back to the desk. The show must go on, right? Spitfire dances with her good friend, smiles all around. I get down on my knees in the front to take pictures, shamelessly clicking away, bending this way and that to get a view. Dart Guy shows up with Destructo, announcing that he wouldn't miss watching his girl dance. He is our hero, as always. We both enjoy watching Spitfire being just a little girlie.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vacation Pics

Mark Twain's Mississippi

Gpa and Gma Tiark's House in Decatur, Ill
Gpa Ed's Big Golf-Course Back Yard
Our Very Own Monkey
John Deere Birthday for Destructo
Lovely Peacock
Sea Lion Show at St. Louis Zoo

Spitfire and Destructo on the move at the Zoo

Friday, May 15, 2009

Vacation Post

On the evening our vacation begins, we buckle the kids in the car, turn on the DVD players, say a prayer to the child-traveling gods, and strike out for the far-away land of Illinois! With 800 miles still to go from Texas to Urbana, the idea for the long road trip does not appear to be as wildly entertaining and adventurous as it did back in the planning stage. In reality, it seems a little. . . Dumb. But Dart Guy rises to the occasion--he is the ultimate traveling companion--better than the tranquilizer gun I wanted to be shot with before we even got started (if I had one, that is). He has mapped out two pages full of convenient, roadside parks where we can dump ourselves out and run for the safety of our own company for a few minutes. We do this around seven o’clock on the first night at a small, but quiet little spread somewhere in Oklahoma next to a high school. The grass is tall and soaking wet, and it is raining. The kids look like the Ingalls girls running wildly as they make for any and all standing water as quickly as possible. They are crazed with vacation excitement and the scent of freedom. Destructo sniffs out the deepest puddle and races for it, jumping giddily and landing with a satisfying, splashing thud. Then he sits--the water engulfs the lower half of his body--and he looks extremely joyful. He calls for Spitfire to join him, and the rest is history. Dart Guy and I strip them down at roadside, install them in pajamas, bribe them with thoughts of the St. Louis zoo visit planned for the next morning, and hurry to swallow up the miles while the kids fall asleep.
The zoo is a highlight for the kiddos, though the adults are ready for the sanctuary of the car by the end. Spitfire loves the monkeys, the elephants, the reptiles, the brightly-colored, wide-spread feathers of the Peacock, and the ice cream we get just before we leave. Destructo mostly just wants to run--his favorite thing at the zoo would have to be the fabulous bleachers at the Sea Lion show where he tests their strength by stomping heavily up and down the benches at break-neck speeds. After a few hours, we are back inside our handy, mobile, jail cell on our way to the Land of Lincoln. Illinois or Bust.

The kids are overjoyed to be free from restraints and showered with love by Grandparents McCammack and Aunt Johanna when we finally arrive. It’s even better than the zoo. Ed’s dad grills yummy chicken and we have potatoes and veggies as a feast on our first night. A great start to what will be a very fine vacation week.
Spitfire is in full entomology mode at Gpa’s house, prowling in his big yard for rollie pollies, worms, butterflies, moths, and mosquito hawks (last night she informed me, in a dreamy, just-before-sleep voice, that she liked fireflies best, then ladybugs, then butterflies). She also loves to alert Gpa and Gma to the “invasion” of golfers in their back yard (their house backs up to a beautiful golf course).
“Gpa! The golfers are coming!”
Sunday is church, which we all enjoy. The kids love being with Gma and goldfish in the kids's room, and Dart Guy and I enjoy a class that Ed Sr. teaches. In the afternoon, our thoughtful hosts have arranged for a cake and an early birthday party for Destructo. We all have our fill of decadent cake with John Deere green icing that turns our mouths the same color! Thanks to Amy for wonderful pics of the event.
On Monday night, we visit with one of Dart Guy’s high schools buddies and his family. They have three boys for the kids to play with and are gracious hosts. We dine on steak and potatoes inside the screened patio while watching the kids play out in the beautiful, cool evening. Spitfire and Destructo are enamored with the battery powered car, which they are loathe to leave behind. Destructo doesn’t even mind riding shot gun instead of driving. Thanks to Travis and Joy, Tristan, Trevor, and Trey (sorry if I got the names wrong) for a very enjoyable evening.
Gpa’s basement is almost like another whole house, and in it, is one of the most addictive gadgets ever to be invented: the Wii video game. We laugh almost until we cry while watching Dart Guy try out his boxing prowess. The kids bowl, golf and play some sort of horse game. The adults get into aerobics, tennis, yoga, Tiger Woods golf, and skiing. We come away with a new respect for the power of the Wii, and the fun it can bring among families.
Our next outing is an adult get away to Parke county, Indiana, home of Historic covered bridges and Turkey Run State Park. The kiddos are left in the capable care of Gma and Gpa. Our destination is about one and ½ hour away ,where we have rented a cabin on the outskirts of the state park with thoughts of doing a little light hiking and enjoying some beautiful scenery. We are driving deeper and deeper into the woods, and I begin to notice very few signs of inhabitants. When we arrive, I immediately notice there is only one reception bar on my cell phone. The log cabin setting is picturesque, with little chipmunks scurrying and birds calling and a wavy, green, open field as part of our view--but surely there is a cell phone tower close? Did I fail to mention that I was a certified city slicker when booking--that I wanted to see beauty from the safety of city slicker accommodations, with cell phone access and internet access? I love the great outdoors as long as it is accompanied by a bit of luxury--er, I mean, a lot. I walk around the front of the cabin hoping for more bars to magically appear on the digital read-out.
“I can’t get any service,” I say to Dart Guy, my voice rising unpleasantly. “How are we going to call the kids?”
He gives me a dour look that says--what kids? Aren’t we supposed to be alone for two days? He holds up his own gadget, looking triumphant.
“Two bars. Right here.” He points to the ground below his feet.
I am suspicious of his announcement, but pretend to believe him.
Fortunately, the cabins turn out to be very nice--awesome really, equipped with a coffee maker, a small fridge, a microwave, and running water. I sigh with relief for these modern conveniences. Dart Guy urges me to have a drink. Or two or three.

But first, it's off to find fuel for the car and for us--we plan on cooking out and sitting bythe fire pit tonight. We decide to drive down the street to a little place on the map called, Marshall, but after making a sweep of the little town, wasting our precious, carbon-emitting gasoline, we stop next to a friendly looking Mom and kids and ask--gas station?
The answer is no, and we ask directions to the the next closest town.
“There are gas stations there, right?” I just want to confirm.
“Oh yeah. Quite a few--three or four,” she smiles a friendly smile. We thank her and head for Rockville, fabled home of three or four fuel stops. A few more words on our vacation later. . . Check out some pics! Thanks for reading. /div>

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Week-End Pics

In the late afternoon on Easter, the sun decides to show up for the party on our street! The neighbors gather for our annual, hard-charging, serious Egg Extravaganza. The girls are in complete, Egg-Hunt Party mode.

On the Friday before Easter, we head out to Oklahoma to attend my Aunt's 80th Birthday celebration (Great party guys!) amid strong winds and the kiddos bashing each other loudly with verbal insults (one coherent, one not)from the back seat. This is the view just outside my cousin's home, where we had the party, not far from my hometown. Wind farms have popped up all over the horizon in this part of the state. (you know, "where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain. . .")

We take the kids to a park after lunch to run off some energy built up from the long hours as a car hostages. Destructo takes off, running hard for a spot far away from any known authority.

Spitfire--Aspiring to great heights

Destructo and a new buddy at the party--mulling over issues of National Security. . .

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spring of Our Discontent

My hair stylist pointed out that I had some gray hair last time I went to see her (I will forgive her because it seems she doesn't yet realize how vain I am), and I am convinced that I have aquired more after last night. Who knows, next I may be sporting all-over blue and getting a senior discount at places. My kids worked diligently on getting into the Disgruntled Behavior Hall of Fame last night, beginning with our walk through the neighborhood. Halfway down the block, Spitfire and her good friend decide to turn back and ditch the scooters for their bikes, as I try to keep a giddy-with-freedom Destructo from angling into the street at each and every opportunity (we didn't bring his stroller this time, which turned out to be a grave miscalculation on my part). When we arrive, a dispute arises about scooters and bikes and who gets to ride which mode of transportation, and then Destructo squeals as though being put through a Chinese water torture when I try to get him buckled back into his stroller. In the end, the walk gets scrapped, and my clan heads back to our house across the street, amid desparing cries and accusations of war crimes against my soldiers. Inside, I put dinner in the microwave and try to tune out the sound of Spitfire wailing woefully at the open window (the neighbors think I am beating her mercilessly?). Instead of eating his dinner, Destructo decides to throw it, and then crawl up onto the table simply because he can, now that we have started seating him in a booster instead of his high chair. Afterward, out of sheer hopelessness, I take them to the park, dump them onto the open grassy area, and hope they run until they can't run anymore. Of course, kids at this age don't ever hit the "wall," as they are fueled by some type of magical energy bank that never goes dry, but, I reason that it is worth a try. We find some dandelions blooming.

Back at home, it's time for our bath and bed routine, which goes suprisingly smoothly. I lie with Spitfire as promised--the plan being to get up when she falls asleep. But at midnight I wake and find that I have carelessly wasted several hours of rare, me-time sleeping! Agh!! I get up, defiantly, and make for the TV, just as Dart Guy ambles back home from the dart league. My poor, better half is caught in a season of discontent, and doesn't quite know which direction to turn, having left this house only hours earlier while it was still inhabited by a right-minded, somewhat well-mannered, possibly even smiling, supportive wife. The only words of comfort I have for you Dart Guy are these: Your week in Vegas is just around the corner. Cheer up.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Mystery Gum

As in most households with kids, we revere silence as something close to holy, though it is also regarded with a healthy degree of skepticism--what’s going on if the kids are quiet? When Destructo suddenly falls mute after a rousing, completely incomprehensible rendition of the alphabet tune, it is cause for mild to moderate concern. I go searching. When I find him, he is looking decidedly guilty, glancing at me warily from the corner of his eyes and trying hard to appear nochalant.
“What?” I say, suspiciously. “What have you done?” Guilty until proven innocent prevails at this address.
I can find nothing out of place, nothing torn to shreds, nothing adorned by great, flourishes of a so-callled, “washable marker,” nothing systematically disassembled and left in indecipherable pieces. I don’t know what to be worried about, so I ask him again, pulling his pacifier out so he can answer—and then I see it—the huge wad of vividly, pink gum stuck to the rim of his blue “na na.” As fast as a laser beam, his arm snakes out and grabs the gum-covered soothie possessively, plopping it back in his mouth and commencing a great, ferocious type of sucking. He dares me with his eyes to take it again.
“Where did you get that?” I ask, knowing he will probably take a page from Dart Guy’s play book and answer with a noncommittal grunt. Since we are not in possession of any pink gum here, I reasonably suspect this is of the ABC variety, and shudder at the thought of it. I can only hope it belonged to someone we know, and was not picked up at street side when they were outside playing. He sits blissfully watching me, then takes it out and strings it carefully across the room when I turn my back, singing the ABC song again. I guess the holy silence is over!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The offending suspect above--Dart Guy's shop vac--recently coughed up (with some help from Dart Guy) my wedding ring, which I hadn't seen in nearly a year. Important note to girls: this is a good way to end up with two wedding rings, although you may want to choose a variety of vacuum that works with a little less force/intensity-the ring has lost a bit of its luster. Nothing a good cleaning won't cure, I think. Cudos to Dart Guy for being the kind of guy who buys another wedding ring, no questions asked, and for spotting this little sparkle at the bottom of a grimy shop vac!
Here, I enlist Spitfire and her girlfriend to put a hex on Dart Guy's garden spot. It is a competition to see who can balance the longest--and who can wreak more havoc on the inner sanctom of his raised bed. All is fair in love and gardening!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Creature Discomforts

The land around our house is full of living things I’d rather not see, touch, or be near; though, to Spitfire and Destructo—it's a sporting paradise. Creature sport, that is. If it flies, crawls, slithers, boasts multiple appendages, has bulging bug-eyes or no eyes, is mud-covered, slimy, woefully scaly, or is protected by a hard outer shell (and I am not talking about an M & M), you will probably find it housed in one, of many, uniquely assembled containers around our home. Beware what lid you remove here.
“No snails!” I say forcefully, as Spitfire studiously examines the ground behind the porch, zeroing in on her victim. She ignores me, which is a favorite hobby of hers. Destructo, his head looking like a patchwork quilt since he rubbed liberal amounts of ketchup over its mostly bald surface at dinner, is more than mildly curious about what she sees. She growls at him when he gets near, and he shrieks back. It’s my turn to ignore. She merrily holds up her find for us to see.
“See! No snail!” she says triumphantly, her hand dripping with a long, squirming night crawler. I guess I should be happy--it's just an earthworm. Snails alarm me. Dart Guy is confused as to why your basic, mostly-empty shell bothers me, but fourteen million randomly strewn toys blocking a safe passage from hallway to kitchen doesn’t. I can’t say why. I’m sorry, Dart Guy. I know this causes a certain rise in your blood pressure. We do appreciate you keeping our residence above sloth status, even if we don’t tell you very often. Your spring cleaning has resulted in nothing short of a miraculous metamorphosis in our humble abode. I am shocked at the color and beauty of our floors you have exposed—who knew they looked so nice underneath it all?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Above is what can happen when you leave your child at home alone all day with his dad--boredom sets in and the electric trimmer comes out. When I left home this boy was perfectly whole, untroubled, happy, emotionally healthy--he had hair. Spitfire and I arrive home from a long day of girl bonding and lady-bug stalking to find Destructo in a state of anxiety--only a shell of the toddler he once was, lost and floundering in a world full of people with more hair (with the exception of Dart Guy, who took the clippers to his own head too). Okay, okay. I embellish some. Really he is fine, not scarred for life, but maybe I am, since Dart Guy took away most of the visible evidence that some of my DNA lurks inside of Destructo (curls). He does still have the brown eyes, which Spitfire recently informed me, on a tip-off from Dart Guy, means a person is full of. . . fish.

Below is only one of about fifty, poor, traumitized lady-bugs that had the misfortune of being captured on Saturday while Spitfire and a good friend ran wild at their camp-site. Said lady-bugs made the drive home last night in an empty raisen box and were easy targets this morning for Spitfire and Baldy Destructo, who decided to have a lady-bug throwing contest in our living room. We said a small blessing for our peace-loving, red and black friends.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Garden!

It has been so long since I wrote in this blog, that I had trouble remembering my log-in. Of course, Spitfire, Destructo, and Dart Guy do not beg me to record things here since they are the embattled subjects of most posts, and instead, breath a collective sigh of relief when the entries have a dry spell. Sorry to end your nice respite, guys.
Our clan has decided to attempt a garden patch again this year, even though last year's effort plunged us into the red immediately and kept us there all summer by producing approximately five, sad, little, dilapitated, and withered herloom tomatoes, and a total of three string beans. Luckily, abject and total failure does not thwart us. This year, a competition brews--proposed by, none other than Dart Guy, himself, whom we have chosen, (during a specially called Session of the House that he missed) again this year to perform most of the work required to install our small, green enterprises. Dart Guy and I each get a plot or pot--Dart Guy plans an interesting pot-on-a-pole invention--and will get to use all the child labor we want or can induce by certain bribery.
Judging criteria of our dueling gardens' success has not yet been determined, but could mean the start of an elaborate counting system vunerable to scheming, conniving, and your basic vegetable "enhancement." If nothing else, this project will give us all a break from Fox News Channel and March Madness. May the best Gardener (aka conspirator) win!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

House on the Right

Who knew I was marrying such a right-winger? Full fledged dart obsession--check. Closet white-collar redneck--check. A propensity to streak when dared--check. Fantasy football addict--check. Flaming right-winger? That must have been in the fine print. I missed the part that would have tipped me off to Staunch Capitalist, overt NRA Proponant, and is-the-government-tapping-our-phones Conspiracy Theorist. It is said we all lean a little right as we get older, and there is that strand in the goetee that appears to be fading. . . We are both approaching a milestone birthday, though I prefer to pretend that it's 30 instead of 40 (after all, our children deserve to learn from first rate imaginations). It's more than ok, Dart Guy--I'm with you on a lot of things. I admit that I tune into Presidential addresses and Fox News Answers to the Address more often than I use to, even though it's a toss up on whether the drama is better there or on Grey's Anatomy. I think I am lucky to get my Daily News Feed from you, even if it is decidedly biased. I appreciate and admire that you carefully gather Right information, form your views, and take the time to send your Congressman impassioned and educated letters . Our children are lucky to have you as an example of how to care about the world, and also as a first-rate Moderator, especially because they almost always come at each other with unpleasant intentions--one from the left, one from the right.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Is There Life Beyond the Dishwasher?

Destructo snatches a triangular pie server from the dishwasher with the speed of a Nascar driver, wielding it through Combat Zone A (our house) like a highly skilled swordsman. Spitfire watches him with aloof distain, though he is obviously ready for war. She is in rare, five-year-old form since returning from two hours with her friend from across the street, who is more highly regarded than either of her parents. Dart Guy is indulging in Doom and Gloom (see Glenn Beck), having decided to cut Coca Cola from his life (it's not even Lent, I cry!). I respectfully suggest that he KO Fox News Channel instead, but recieve an especially black stare for my efforts. Spitefire doesn't appear to like me today, either, since I sent Dart Guy to retrieve her from the nieghbor's house, where she would prefer to live. I continue loading up the dishwasher, which I do in my sleep too, and, luckily, am aided by Robin Hood Destructo, who has laid down his pie-server-sword and taken up with a wooden spoon for his fraternizing. When it is time for Dart Guy to make a deserved exit from the day's chaos, escaping to Dart World, both children line up at the window, one wailing mournfully, as though being left at an orphanage, and one waving and calling out with grave enthusiasm. The neighborhood shudders at the sound, and Dart Guy shakes his head. I decide I should be prepared for him to make for Mexico, because, even with State Department cautions about the dangers there, it may be safer for his sanity than here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


What does one do with two agitated, sleep-deprived children just home from an over-night stay at Grandma's house (i.e. an evening of lovingly imposed spoiling)? Go to Starbucks, of course. This mostly benefits me, but has the added bonus of a gratifying, if short-lived, mood-boosting effect on Spitfire and Destructo (they get decaf but not sugar-free!). I did read about how to save for your children's future recently, and realized that Dart Guy and I could save fourteen trillion dollars by the year 2022 (the year Spitfire will be 18) if I would stop buying over-priced lattes from Starbucks each day. However, I have decided to rationalize spending their college money on coffee by telling myself I am Stimulating the Economy. Just now, I am in need of stimulation, since Spitfire has learned how to bypass the child-proof knobs located strategically throughout our house. The Great Potty Escape is just not the same anymore when the werewolves are able to cross the treasured, bedroom threshold, arriving breathlessly exilerated to pound on the ultimate gateway to privacy (locked bathroom door), apparently motivated to be continually socialable even while one of us is conducting highly specialized business in the Potty Room. It is lucky that Spitfire is now starting to give free Science lessons while I am indisposed --"Daddy says that when the Earth is light where we are--morning time--it is dark on the opposite side--night time, and that the earth rotates around the sun every day." Otherwise, I'm sure I would feel entirely abandoned and forlorn.

Dart Guy and I salute the good people of the Brazos Valley Hunt Club! Thanks for allowing Dart Guy to play music for your Hunt Club Ball. This club believes in, and works hard to preserve the traditions of Fox Hunting that originated hundreds of years ago in England, while enforcing new standards of conduct such as "hunt and release," and prohibiting the purposeful release of quarry into the field (cheating!). For info on the hunt club, visit:

For info on hiring my Favorite DJ for your own event, visit:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do You Know This Face?

This intrepid visitor descended upon Dart Guy, Spitfire, and Destructo while they innocently played (so they claim, anyway)in the back yard yesterday. If you, or anyone you know, has seen this, one of America's Most Wanted, prancing in her owner's yard or straining at the end of said-owner's leash, please tell them you know where this Jumping Dog is currently residing--our home. She is, of course, being well taken cared of, in spite of some, small degree of traumatizing induced by the crazed enthusiasm of the pet-starved Spitfire and Destructo. We did feed her organic goldfish and the remains of Chipotle burrito bowls, so no need to worry about her eating habits. I believe she is even a little smarter after having scarfed down her crunchy, organic entree in a single bite (surely owing this eating habit to watching Destructo eat his own organic goldfish). I hope the owner sees this and comes forward, or else we may simply become yet another statistic--the latest non-pet family to bite the dust.

Happy Birthday Sis!

It’s hard to believe, but you seem to get younger every year. Wasn’t it only yesterday that we were slinging burritos at each other in the kitchen, sword fighting with pencils (I have the mark under my arm that proves your marksmanship), and barreling down uneven country roads—think Simpson-like, white bronco—being chased by juvenile delinquents? Did anyone even know what a seat-belt was back then? We’ve come a long way, babe, but I have to give it to you—you are the classier of the two of us, hands down. I no longer think you got dropped off by the mail man—it could very well have been me. Lol.
Your family is first-rate, adorable and admirably well behaved (even Ron, haha)—not sure how you did that, but I am hoping to be privy to your secrets someday. I admire your distinguished achievements in your job, and have witnessed the respect and reverence you receive from your co-workers and church family. You make a difference in children’s lives each day, a feat that is hard to match.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy a very, special day. It is well deserved.

Have the Best Birthday Ever.
Cher and family

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Meltdown Mania

All is well until the witching hour, at which time most mild mannered children have already succombed to a nap. Not so, our children. The Melt Down Mode in our household raises its ugly head, and Spitfire is gathering speed, roaring down the highway of no control with frightening accuracy. I often have no idea what precipitates these prechooler tantrums. Is it the chocolate kiss I gave her after lunch? The length of time I held Destructo before nap time? The amount of salt on her French Fries? The dire need for a nap?
At the height of discord, Spitfire loudly invites Dart Guy and I to go sleep outside with the raccoons, which, quite frankly, seems like an inviting option. I burn my hand trying to empty the dishwasher before things have cooled, all the while ignoring her outburst, and, since nothing is more entertaining than a Parent In Pain, Destructo giggles uncontrollably. I hear the start up of more Conflict between Dart Guy and Spitfire, ending with Spitfire yelling so the neighbors can hear--"You are definitely too mean!" She stomps from the room, a relief for all of us. The ensuing quiet is intoxicating, and then dinner is ready. I call out a request for hand washing, which brings Spitfire out of hiding and into the hall, waiting for me to twist the child-proof knob of the bathroom door to allow her entrance. I am about to leave her scowling self alone, when I notice that she is able to reach the faucet without the stool. She is tall enought to reach. This is the same stool that Dart Guy and I purchased only a year back, smugly mired in Land of the Little. I suddenly forget that I was ready to sleep with racoons a few minutes ago. I hug her, inhaling her sweaty, rough-and-tumble-outdoor- kid smell, memorizing its essence. It is fading already when she moves away from me, and then Dart Guy appears in the doorway.
"I am going to have the Serenity Prayer tatooed on my #@$," he says grimly.
I immediately know that I shouldn't have complained about the dishwasher for the hundreth time. It has sent poor Dart Guy over the edge.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I wake at 5AM this morning from my nightmare (Obama signing the Spending Package) to our alarm Destructo, whom, like any good alarm, gets louder until you answer him. I take him from his crib and put him in bed with us, hoping that God is awake at this hour and can miraculously help him go back to sleep. All is quiet until I feel his fingers gently massaging the inside of my nostrils. His hands are like spiders in a horror flick, amazingly nimble and strong, as I sputter and push them away. A calm ensues, and I am hopeful. I begin to drift back to my dream--I am urging Obama to tighten his belt and curb his own spending as a way of setting an example to the American people. I tell him to have Vice President Biden ride on Air Force One with him occasionaly, saving tax payer's money and the environment, instead of taking extravagant separate flights during a time that many citizens are struggling to pay their mortgage. Suddenly I hear Destructo performing the Chicken Dance beside me, and I wish that Dart Guy had taught him something a little more soothing. I try to calm him, but he stands, feet perilously close to my head, and pounds passionately on the head board, rallying the people. Dart Guy rouses up from beneath the pillow he has jammed onto his face.
"Don't you two have a home somewhere?"
This excites Destructo. He bounces up and down, continueing his speech. He seems to be calling for Optimism, as he strikes his hands down with gusto, slinging my glasses onto the floor. I sigh, reaching to retrieve them. Not a bad idea. Hey, I'd vote for him.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Living With the Police

I begin to notice that I am living with the police as I drive Spitfire to skating lessons at the Galleria, muttering unpleasantries under my breath while trying to bring up a video on my phone for her to watch (stopped at a light for all you other policement out there). It is taking long minutes to load.
"Be patient," Spitfire admonishes, as though she bathes in patience each night. I find myself defensively replying that I am being patient. Who is the adult here?
Soon after, we are humming down Central Expressway with thousands of other hurtling fiberglass weapons of mass destruction, when she asks if we are going the speed limit.
"Of course," I lie, decelerrating. Is this the Spanish Inquisition?
We arrive at skating, where she barks orders about how to put on her skates and where to stand so we can best watch for her skating friend, Dylan. Though I try to temper her words with some admonishments of my own, I have an uneasy feeling about who is the boss here.
Back at home, we break out bubbles after dinner, and though I wish it is the Champagne variety, it is the soapy kind that leaves wet residue all over the floor when she scarmbles to pop them as they fly from the wand. She reminds me that it is best not to hold the bottle up because you can spill it that way--better to leave it sitting on the ground in a steady position. I am a little on edge now. I leave her to the bubbles and drop a glass dish of leftovers onto the floor, which sounds like a cannon ball being fired as it smashes into a million tiny pieces. Lieutenant Dart Guy gets involved now, looking smugly on as I resentfully begin Clean Up.
"Whose idea was it to get rid of all the plastic in the house?" he asks. As if he doesn't know. I give him my narrow-eyed glare, which causes him to look very pleased with himself, then step nimbly up on my soap-box, which is conveniently located, anywhere I am. I fire off on all the health hazards of plastic containers, the havoc they wreak on the environment, and then announce, haughtily, that he could soon sprout two heads from all the chemicals that leach from them into our bodies.
Lieutenant Dart Guy smirks, sweeping Destructo up just before diving head-first into the shards of broken glass and splattered spaghetti. "Two Heads are Better Than One," he says.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Obama's Hidden Health Care Agenda

Betsy McCaughey wrote a disturbing article in Bloomberg recently regarding health care provisions that were subtly slipped into the stimulus package. In short, this article suggested that the federal government will track each American's health care record electronically and then monitor treatments or other courses of action to insure that the doctor is performing in a way the feds deem is appropriate and cost effective. Are these words simply a scare tactic? Maybe, but only time will tell. For now, I am scared. I work in the health care industry, which, according to McCaughey, is the largest employer in the United States. Interference with, and tracking of the physician/patient relationship has the potential to disrupt the quality of patient care and erode confidence in the overall health care system. Limiting repeat exams and illuminating mistakes by careful assessment of patient care are not at issue here. Diagnostic exams and treatments should be medically necessary. What American's should be concerned about, is who is getting to make the decisions about patient care. I do not want a nameless, faceless bureaucrat with little or no medical education or knowledge making decisions about what exam, consultation, or treatment I may receive. I want my doctor to make those calls, in collaboration with someone who will be most dramatically affected by them--me, the consumer.
McCaughey suggests that those hit hardest will be older Americans, because the government will use a UK-employed formula to determine if treatments or exams are approved--this formula divides the cost of health management by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Forgive me for being nostalgic, but didn't our ancestors throw an abundance of perfectly good tea into Boston harbor, and engage in a passionate, bloody conflict so that we could be free from government influence such as this?
This new legislation could do much harm to retired and aging Americans. In addition to facing unsteady footing, loss of spouses and good friends, and fear of the End as we get older, it appears that we will also face an increased uncertainty in they way we are able to seek and receive medical care, even after years of splitting our paychecks with the government in order to fund social programs designed to help us maneuver the mine field of our later years. Apparently, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself--and the Golden Years.
In closing, I respectfully submit a suggestion to you, President Obama: please don't presume that you, or any other anonymous official can make informed decisions about what clinical path best serves my health. After all, I would never presume to advise you in your realm of expertise, such as leading a multi-million dollar Presidential campaign, writing successful books about your life, and what to do with your Blackberry.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

To Stimulus or Not to Stimulus

The stimulus jargon sounds like bad rap lyrics to me, but apparently it's our future. It's our children and grandchildren's future too. Dart Guy, not surprisingly, is against the stimulus, not only because he can't stand the sight of the Barack Obama coin permanently burned into the screen of a one of the home shopping network channels, but because he fears the ultimate in excess. He believes it may overshoot the mark and leave a legacy of debt--even more colossal than our current legacyof debt--to our zealous warrior children, Destructo and Spitfire. (About a third of the American public support the package currently in Congress) If, against all odds, these children grow up to become productive members of society and bless us with grandchildren, they may pass, at least a portion of the debt on to their own unsuspecting offspring. I am certainly not a Great Economic Mind--I have trouble remembering to pay the water bill most months--so I can not even begin to unravel the intricacies or decipher the impact of the Great Stimulus Puzzle ahead of us. What is clear to me, though, is that we have a lot of work to do, one way or another, and it may take a healthy dose of good, old-fashioned, American Pioneer Spirit to achieve success, as well as require an undetermined amount of natural, minimally processed, non-hydrogenated, organic, green tea-containing salve to ease the sting of the Bite.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pride and Prejudice

I sit listening to Spitfire read a book from BFF Ben's shelf today (Happy Birthday Pirate Ben!). She has already prepared a Pirate flag, acquired a pirate ship tattoo, played Pirate bowling, and walked the plank in a not so graceful manner. I hear her reading words like Mountain, Tumble, and Toad, and larger ones I can't recall. This leads me to ask myself a complicated scientific question: Is it possible for the human body to become overly inflated with too much pride? Could this cause me future, unspeakable, chronic, leprosy-type health issues? How many just-barely-five-year-olds can pick up a book and read these types of words? I know, I know--there are many. People put their kids in Pre-SAT classes just minutes after the umbilical cord is cut in labor and delivery these days. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to do shamefully inept cartwheels across Ben's room, or run up to the nearest unsuspecting innocent bystander and rave about how well Spitfire can read. Look! She is Reading!
Instead, I put on my best nochalant, sophisticated face. Yeah. That's Spitfire. She reads. In the car she spouts words from street signs--Arapaho!--Custer!--DoNotEnter!--and, because she is currently obsessed with all things related to Mail, she excitedly reads the side of every Fed Ex, UPS, and US Postal truck that we meet. The only downside to this achievement that causes my Inner Pride Bubble to swell to dangerous proportions, is that it's harder to spell words out as a way of keeping Adult secrets. The days of disguising words like ice cream, cookie, and cell phone are over. I fear what's next. Driving lessons?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Great Potty Escape

I sit blissfully on the floor in our master bathroom, feeling completely insulated from the day's beginning chaos, and peacefully roasting next to the electric heater. Ever since Dart Guy installed child proof knob covers on the bedroom door, our quality of life has improved considerably. It is much harder for little warriors to invade our honored room of last resort--the Master Potty. This morning, though, Destructo is already in a strategic position, having allowed us to sleep until 6:00. He lies in bed next to Dart Guy holding a one-sided conversation--Dart Guy's replies are incoherent blurbs (also known as grunts), straight from the annals of cave man edict. When I leave the shower, I hear Dart Guy calling--a desperate sound.
"Hey Enviro Girl," he calls. Since this is not exactly a pet name for me, I ignore him. "Did you know 30 minute showers are not environmentally friendly?" Ignore, ignore, ignore. Surely it wasn't 30 minutes?
"Your son is calling for you," Dart Guy continues. He knows how to get my attention, even after only five years.
I cautiously open the door to the Outside World. Destructo is not crying, but, instead, is delivering a dissertation, which must have been too much for Dart Guy to bear at this hour of the morning. I pick him up and find a remote control lodged in his pajamas. I guess this means my Great Potty Escape is over.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Birthday Thanks

Thanks to all who came and perservered! All the presents have been appropriately dissasembled and tried out and are very appreciated. The Guess Who game is a big hit--thanks to the Cullums. The dinosaur puzzle was great fun during Destructo's nap time too--thanks to the Walkers. Thanks to the Phillips for the great Playdough bucket--in our house, we live by the motto: one can never have too much playdough! it's awesome. And thanks to Gma Janet for duty above and beyond regular Grandma duty. We love you.

Happy Birthday Spitfire!

One bouncy day later and you are five years old. Thank you for enriching our lives. I value your questions ("do you nap while you're at work?"), your answers ("no, I did not put Destructo's pacifier in the fish tank"), and your aspirations ("I don't want to move out when I grow up"). Each day with you is a gift.

We love you, Spitfire!


As a kid, the index finger lifted slightly over the steering wheel while driving, was a form of communication. Between two precariously passing farmers on a narrow dirt road, it might mean--"surely this path is big enough for both of us?" or "what's the warrenty on your truck?" The downtown cafe was notoriously crowded at the crack of dawn each morning, where the locals gathered to talk weather, peanut prices, or what the neighbor had worn to Friday night's basketball game. I think about this as Spitfire, freshly annointed five-years-old from a rousing bounce-house party extravaganza, sits with a friend from next door awaiting gourmet chicken nuggets from our kitchen (a product of my microwave expertise, since Dart Guy makes most of his stuff from scratch to show me up). At her age, I lived a fair distance from any of my friends, and the internet was still just a speck of an idea in Al Gore's mind (lol). I couldn't jump on Facebook and see what the whole world was up to, or send a text message containing highly evolved acronyms to my best friend. I had dogs and cats and my sister and a very large blank slate out my back door. Friends had to come over to visit or I was stuck creating strange imaginary worlds in my favorite stand of trees behind our house (which, quite possibly, explains a lot). I think social networking on the internet, email, and text messaging is just fine, and, believe me, I do my share. It's a very useful way to stay in touch in this age of far-off families and loosely, connected suburban communities in which few people really know their neighbors. But I do worry about my kids growing up in this age of digital communication, what it will mean for their friendships and other relationships they will form. For the moment, I am extremely grateful that she can walk out her front door on many days of the week and yell across to one of her good friends, whom she can see, face to face, and exchange a hearty hug with, given both fickle preschool hearts can agree to do that.
Just before the nuggets are finished, I ask the girls what they would like to eat along with them (carrots? corn?) as they play a cool new game from Spitfire's birthday, called "Guess Who?" at the dinner table. They reply, "ketchup!" in unison, which I think is a sure sign that, although a generation and multiple advances in communication separate us, some things remain the same.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Present

I have had to ask myself, over the past few days--Who is this docile (Spitfire) child that has invaded our home? And where is the real one—the one that keeps a terrible, rumbling roar close at hand so that its use can be swift and sharp and biting? I don’t have any really good answers, except that maybe, it’s the effect of The Present. The present phenomenon reminds me of the commercials that were airing around Christmas time—the ones that depicted a little boy playing Atari exclaiming about the best present ever, and then cutting to the boy, all grown up, doe eyed over a brand new car. I definitely remember my own Present—a baby doll that sprayed pretend tinkle after you fed her a bottle of water. My first day with said baby—Christmas day--I nurtured her single-mindedly, without regard to interested adults milling around our family gathering or cousins my age who tried enticing me outside to play or upstairs for a rousing game of pool. This is the same way that Spitfire behaves with her new fluffy cat that purrs, speaks, growls, and “snores” just like a real cat, and given a breadth of a second, she will artfully describe all of Valentine’s many attributes and functions in the form of a never-ending soliloquy, as she did to the few bored spectators at ice skating lessons last night. Such is her loyalty and infatuation, that I hear only one rancid, werewolf snarl when Destructo invades her territory and spreads yogurt covered hands across Valentine’s revered fur. Now, Destructo well understands the importance of this newly minted member of our family, touching him with light hands, respectfully, while keeping a wary, watching eye on Spitfire. He has decided that interfering with such a solid relationship between toy animal and docile child is not in his best interest, and instead, performs his best downward facing dog in the middle of the living room floor. He goes one step further than most yoga aficionados, and pushes forward, sliding his head against the carpet and moving around the room in that position, stopping only when he wobbles and falls over, then cackling loudly at his, apparently, hugely entertaining trick. Dart guy shakes his head at this. He’d rather see Destructo zig zagging around the room with a football, leaving pretend attackers scattered around on the ground in confusion. I try and reassure him. Maybe that will be next week.

Thanks to all the Edelweiss attendees! Birthday night for Dart guy was outstanding. I love you all for being great friends to dart guy and his family, for gamely performing the chicken dance with him, and for being warm and funny with the two youngest members of the “Happy” group. Thanks especially to Grandma Happy, for being the kind of Grandmother who allows daunting annihilation of all things not firmly attached or anchored down in her home. We love you.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Dart Guy!

Warning: The following blog entry may contain sentamental comments

Dear Dart Guy,

Only a real man can be a stay-at-home dad. Even though you've got a lot of other irons in the fire, like dejaying (, the dart association (, and being a fantasy football commissioner and guru, the truly, hard work you experience is Mon through Fri without ever leaving the house. Your family thanks you, on this day that your were born, only 19 years ago (hee hee), for sticking with us through an assortman of lovingly inflicted abuse. For you, our Man of the House, each day is a test of patience, fortitude, latitude, and attitude, and you weather it like a marine in heavy combat, taking it on the chin with a nochalant smile, and then leeringly suggesting that perhaps another child could add to the fun. Thank you especially, for putting up with the over heated bathroom after I shower ("a camel would suffocate in here!"), suffering through whatever organic, plastic free, environmentaly friendly, and heart healthy trend I am pursuing at the moment ("don't buy any more of that #%@$ John Wayne eco-friendly bathroom paper!), and being able to work around multiple different bodily excretions our children throw at you. I know that Brad Pitt says he can deal with anything from a child, whether it is vomit, poo, or a virulantly bleeding scrape, but let's face it: he's got a few more hired hands around than you do. When it's all said and done, it's just you, Spitfire, and Destructo on the front lines in the battle field, and I have to say--I wouldn't want it any other way.

I hope you enjoy the dinner with friends and family. And, of course, the Dart playing afterwards. We love you Dart Guy!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Worry Free

Four o'clock is the witching hour at my house. Spitfire, in a long, lived, time, honored tradition, turns into Mr. Hyde on many days between 4 and 6, and there is no clear reason for it that we know of--it just is. Destructo is heartily trying to follow in her revered footsteps, and doing a fine job of it. I arrive home after work yesterday—Inauguration Day—to find these paranormal creatures in their finest hour. Destructo is wailing about the injustice of sitting in “time-out” from a remote corner of the house, and Spitfire is competing with him for a win in the volume category from her bedroom. Dart guy is looking grim. Passionate, obstinate, verbally demonstrative Dart Guy is silent and wearing a permanent scowl, and I know this is not only because the werewolves are at large in our humble abode, but also because his ticket didn’t get sworn in at Washington. Though I do not feel quite the same way, I am proud of Dart guy—that he is the type of person who really cares about what direction things are going in the world.
I plunge into the middle of this environment doggedly, trying not to join the glowering, shrieking masses by focusing on my nice Frappuccino buzz (from a secret stop at Starbucks after work). After coffee, I can do anything, right? Dart guy has dinner going—what a wonderful man. He has made fantastically, decadent mashed potatoes from scratch, and has even included the skins. Hmmmm. Although I can feel the pounds attaching to my hips, I can’t wait to have some. We finally get everyone to the dinner table. Spitfire prays. She thanks God for the food and for allowing Destructo to say “Go Illini!” (University of Illinois cheer) in an especially funny way. The kids eat like we have never fed them before, with Destructo downing the turkey I meticulously cut into perfect bite sized pieces in two swallows. I sometimes worry that these two will grow up to be frightfully obese telemarketers who go home and eat steaks whole along with a heaping mound of fantastically, decadent mashed potatoes. But I also worry when they don’t eat very well, which leads Dart Guy to remark that worrying is my one true calling. I disagree, but just in case he has a point, I have decided to worry less as one of my New Year’s Resolutions.

Happy Inauguration Day everybody, a day late. One good man left office, and hopefully, one good man begins in office. Beyond that, I’m not going to worry about it. (at least not very much, anyway)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Spitfire and Skating

I take Spitfire to ice skating lessons after work even though we are all famished. It is only 5 o'clock, but we are behaving as though we have hiked the Grand Canyon today. I stand possessively cradling a bag of potato chips near the kitchen sink, gobbling like a refugee and glancing at the clock. Spitfire retreats to a corner of the living room to hover quietly over her snack and protect it from a prowling Destructo. With only twenty minutes left before lessons, we leave. Dart Guy warns Spitfire not to get any body parts too close to my mouth in the car, and I narrow my eyes at him as we go. On the way there, Spitfire speaks with authority about everything, and I try to stay engaged, as I have read about how this is a crucial time in her life--5 years old in two weeks!--for building her self esteem. I want to give her my undivided attention so she will feel worthy and confident when she grows up, and live an absolutely outstanding and fulfilling life.
We arrive at the Galleria and Spitfire immediately seeks out her skating friend, who stands precariously balanced on thin, metal blades, smiling quietly. I am forgotten except for when Spitfire realizes that I did not fish her gloves from my bag. She yells loudly across the ice, waving her hands and letting all spectators know that I have overlooked her gloves. I remember now, as I duck down and fumble for her gloves, that she is bold and fearless, and collects friends like I collect the pennies at the bottom of this disorderly purse. Maybe her self esteem is on the right track after all.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Thanks Melissa, Chris, Ben, and Emily for an extremely fun sleepover. Spitfire can not stop talking about it. She especially liked Bible guy at church, who seemed to be stinky. She also liked Jonah, who was stinky.


At 6 this morning, I hear the call: “Mama!” My nineteen month old calls from his crib, using one of the only words he articulates well at this point. At first I ignore it. I like it better when I wake before him and have a few minutes to myself. Plus the electric mattress warmer (an ingenious invention), the flannel sheets, and the rhythmic sounds of Dart Guy’s oblivious breathing all combine to make it hard to leave my place in bed. I think about other things that would be nice to wake up to, preferably much later in the morning: bird songs outside the window of an Aspen cottage in the mountains, wave sounds outside an amazing bungalow on a Maui beach, or softly whispering grass of a hillside in Tuscany. Then I sigh and get up because I realize that, while all those things are innately and extremely appealing, they can not surpass the feeling induced from a toddler’s gently appreciative morning hug.
He has well earned his name in the household—Destructo—and goes immediately to work maintaining it this morning before the sun even rises. He sets his sights on the computer desk and chair—two items that he knows are off limits. While I sleepily address the dirty kitchen counters, he squirms his way into the tiny slice of space between the back of the chair and the top drawer, smiling contentedly as he settles himself in that ever-so-treasured position. I decide to ignore him, knowing that is not consistent with the household rules, but not having enough ambition to change it at the moment. I muddle through some dishes while glancing at him occasionally. I pretend he is doing the bills or writing a novel, though it becomes clear that he is systematically dismantling our wireless mouse. When I finish the dishes, the mouse pieces are strewn across the desk—a battery and a cover lay on opposite ends of the spectrum here. I also notice some new green marker scribbles on the floor. This is possibly the same green marker that created a single, perfect line from Destructo’s brow to ear, covered his left foot almost entirely in feathery scribbles, and marked randomly in both palms. I hope I remember to clean him up before church later, as he appears to have been marked for some sort of bizarre slave trading or child labor ritual. I wonder at his macho penchant for demolition, sometimes thinking maybe it is provoked from my drastically increased consumption of animal flesh while I was pregnant with him (I could rarely go a day without a hamburger when he was in the womb). I make him cinnamon toast, which he doesn’t eat, but rather destroys, chucking it into his mouth in one big chunk as though he is not sure that we will feed him again. This morning my 4 year old, Spitfire, is still sleeping over at a friend’s house, or she would be fiercely monitoring his rabid feeding habits, as is her usual practice. She would be sitting at the ready, piercingly, high-pitched voice only a split second away from deployment. Alas, I’m sure she is, at this very minute, sleeping angelically, as though God, himself, has reached down and placed angels wings on her shoulders. She usually saves her “Spitfire” behavior just for us.