free hit counter Snacks, please!: September 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

oh, what a day...

Highlights from the last 24 hours:

As David's car begins slowly shutting down, one electrical system at a time, somewhere on Washington Boulevard, Lucy begins screaming for "a Popsicle from the market, Mommy!"

We get home -- Margaret throws up on me. Twice. Oh dear. She's feverish and sad.
All night long, she tells us -- over and again -- I'm feverish and sad! I'm feverish and sad!
Then Lucy falls out of the bed.

Our pediatrician guesses Margaret has an ear infection. We start antibiotics, but her fever still won't go down. All day long, it hovers around 101. She remains feverish and sad.

Sometime after lunch, David comes home so that I can go into work for a few hours. Since his car is crapped out, I must take the minivan into my insanely crowded parking garage and, as I descend into the fourth ring of Hell, I totally scrape the shit out of it. (My less-than-a-year-old minivan!!) And it gets stuck! So I get out, leave the keys in the ignition, walk up the ramp, and tell the parking attendant, "I have a problem with my van. Down there." I give him $10 and I pat his arm. I do not know why.
And then I have to go to work.
Where, goddamnit, somebody ate my lemon tart!!

What else?
Oh, yeah, Josephine threw up on me too. (She's fine.) The Opie says she needs a new bed -- and to be paid early because her sister in El Salvador is sick and her mother is crying. The house is a disaster, and my parents are coming tomorrow. And I don't have any food in the fridge.

But, on the bright side: I just realized that my favorite cartoon couple, Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper, have different last names! How nice! And I suspect their daughter, Paprika, probably has her mother's last name -- because Paprika Salt doesn't make any sense.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Confessions of a Terrible TV Watcher

So, I have about one hour to myself at night -- after the kiddos go to sleep and before I drag my own bottom to bed. And how do I choose to spend it? With Bret Michaels! (Admit it. You love this show too.) I am so conflicted! Who should have Bret's eternal love? The stripper with the big...heart whose devotion is so true that she had his name permanently inked across the back of her neck? Or the hipster with the pink cotton-candy hair? I like her best, but I'm just not sure that she really, really loves Bret. And he deserves that, of course.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How nice it would be to be HOV!

The quality of my life improved a whole 2.7 percentage points this morning (which is a lot) -- when I shaved 20 minutes off of my morning commute! Hooray! I'm back on HOV, baby!

Since I returned to work, I've been driving alone on local roads -- with every other sad singleton. I was forced off the HOV-only highway when my old passenger, my disloyal daughter, was converted to public transportation by her hippy father. (Outrageous. What happened to rights of all tax-paying Americans to sing 80s hits in PRIVATE?!) On a good day, it takes me 50 minutes to go six miles. I could run faster! If, you know, I could run faster... One horrible day, it took ONE HOUR and FIFTEEN MINUTES.

Anyway, today I picked up a passenger -- a very nice woman with a 6-month-old son named Samson. She also commutes with a breastpump. (I haven't told her yet about the Public Pumpers Unite campaign. Maybe next week.) We listened to NPR. We had civilized chatter. There was no singing. But maybe next week. I met her through Commuter Connections, which is sort of like eHarmony for people who love cars.

With her by my side, we were able to get on I-66, where I gave a little nod (smug) to the THREE police cars pulling over HOV offenders on the on-ramp. Door-to-door, it took 30 minutes. I am so happy to be HOV!

Monday, September 24, 2007

No, really, they grow on trees!

We stopped at farm stand for apples yesterday, on the way home from our most excellent Thomas the Train weekend in western VA. Then, after we loaded a few bushels into the van, Lucy grabbed a "baby" one, turned it over in her hands and said, "Hey! Daddy! Where's the sticker?"

Why Arlington is like Guatemala

It takes three months to see a pediatric eye specialist! I called one this morning for my little bunnies and we were blessed with the opportunity to see Her Holiness on December 13. Good grief! They could go blind by then! (No, they really couldn't. It's just a minor thing with their tear ducts -- although the eye gunk is driving me crazy!)

And that's why (need I say it, again?) I'm voting for John Edwards. (Because no matter what she promises during the longest campaign, I don't think Hillary Clinton is the kind of person who would bring me soup in bed. But he would. Yes. I think so.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mommy, they're heeere!

Somebody who loves us very much gave us this... baby.

Creepy, no? And she shows up in the strangest places. On the couch. In the bouncy seat. In the front of Lucy's shopping cart. You walk into a room and -- ack! There she is! What the hell? What is she doing there? DEMON!!

I think Josephine is saying, "Reba! Talk to me!"

No, my dear, you can not eat my children.

Go away!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Food Issue

I was delighted when the New Yorker showed up last week: Calvin Trillin AND John McPhee! Writing about food! But, I don't know... it wasn't as good as I had hoped. First, John McPhee starts off with this bizarrely constructed paean to another New Yorker writer. (I'm not in your club! I don't get your jokes!) He writes: "He it is who improved his understanding of wild trout by filling his belly with brown-drake mayflies... He it is whose acquired tastes run to things like grasshopper juice." I don't know -- I'm no New Yorker writer but doesn't that "he it is" feel weird in your mouth? And then he confesses to eating porpoise. Porpoise!

(A side note: In his story, Adam Gopnik writes about Wildman Steve Brill, this guy in a pith helmet who teaches people how to find food in Central Park. Not in the garbage. I went on a foraging tour with him in early 2001, ate mulberries and cattails, and wrote a very interesting travel story, if I do say so myself. It was slated to run in the spring of 2002 but, sadly, it never was published. After 9/11, the travel editor decided it was too apocalyptic.)

Anyway, this is my food issue -- and it's about my food issue. Last week, for our fifth! anniversary, David and I went to Bebo, a relatively new trattoria in Arlington, offered by a very well-known Italian chef. First warning sign: When we arrive, we have the opportunity to pick up a new bumper sticker. It says: The Washingtonian Lies.

I still don't know what's up with that. As far as I can tell, the restaurant is No. 34 on that magazine's 100 Best Restaurants list. (Did they want to be higher?) Anyway, this becomes my concern: Do angry chefs make bitter food?

No. They don't. The food was pretty much fabulous. But I did have some issues that made me a little less than totally satisfied. So I wrote to the chef on his blog:

"Oh, the cherry tomato sauce! And the handmade tortelloni. How absolutely lovely. You delighted my husband and I during our dinner visit to Bebo this past weekend. (The bomboloni! Adorable!)" Note to editors in the audience: This kind of fawning tone would be a good way to approach any correspondence with moi.

"But I must agree with (a previous poster). Our waiter was charming and occasionally attentive — and he didn’t deliver our dinners midway through our appetizers. But some other server did, and it made us feel rushed...There were servers coming out of the kitchen, not knowing where to bring food, stopping by our table (no, not ours, thank you) and then pacing the aisles until somebody looked up to say, “Oh, yes!”

"And, a small matter, but there were little flies all around our table. One landed in my husband’s wine. He drank it anyway, but it was not very nice..."

And today, he wrote back!

"Thank you Mary Ellen for your post. I am thrilled to hear of your love for our true Italian cuisine." (Oh, Roberto, it is true. I do love your true Italian cuisine!!) "Our homemade pasta and sauces are what make Bebo authentic... I am truly apologetic, however, that our staff made you feel rushed...You are a guest in our home each and every time you dine with us and in no way is it our intention to hurry you through your visit with us. I am also terribly apologetic that a fly chose to take its last breath in your husband’s glass of wine...It would have been a pleasure to have brought your husband a fresh glass of wine and given the fly a funeral, if only we had known."

Anyway, he wants to look further into our experience. But I don't want to get our waiter in real trouble. He did, after all, call me "Bella," which goes a long way... And then Chef writes, "I look forward to the pleasure of meeting you next time you are in my restaurant!"

Monday, September 17, 2007

Like the Zeta-Jones family

Funny au pair story:
The Opie and her gal pals went to the library today to get hooked up with library cards and DVDs. (Imagine: Our two English Language Learners -- the au pair and Lucy -- watching The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind together.) Anyway, they got to talking about their host families and apparently the other girls complained that their new moms and dads were... Oh, how do you say it? Cold!

So the Opie says, "I tell them, I am lucky -- my host mother and father are very hot."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Can you find my mind too?

"Are you going to write about the pearls?" David asks. "Because it makes you sound crazy." Well... I could be a whole lot crazier, as he well knows. And, as my buddy Bill says, "It just might be a lunatic you're looking for." (He also says, "You got a nice white dress and a party on your Confirmation!" and that's pretty much true, although it was just a family thing with a whipped cream cake from Mozzicato's...)

Anyway, before we left for Cape Cod, like a crazy squirrel, I hid my pearl necklace. It might be the most expensive thing in the house, although I couldn't say for sure. I do have a very nice emerald ring and a fancy stove. (But who's going to steal a stove?!) Anyway, it's not just the money. I could buy a new necklace -- if I ate beans for the rest of 2007. It's that my mother and grandmother bought this one -- a single pearl at a time!! -- over a span of two decades, using money my grandmother earned on the midnight shift at the factory, for God's sake, and finally presented me with the whole, beautiful thing on my college graduation.

Plus, I already lost a bracelet that Nan got for me when this mean family posed as potential home-buyers for our house in Florida and then distracted me with their dirty baby (sad, but true) and swiped it off the top of my bedroom dresser. Oh, bad people!!! Your child is going to end up in prison!!

Anyhoo, figuring that I was going to be gone for a whole month, which is a lot of opportunity for more light-fingered visitors, I decided to hide the pearls away in a place that NOBODY WOULD EVER FIND IT. Can you see where this story is going??! Yes, I'm sure you can...

I was in a panic! My mother called me at work on Monday and says, "So, how are the girls?" And I said, "I can't find my pearl necklace! I hid it before we went up to the Cape and it's not where I thought I put it!" (Which was Lucy's underwear drawer. Not a very original place... which is why, of course, I moved it to the much better, completely mysterious location.) My mother is not concerned: "You need to ask Nan where it is," she says.

Now I am not above asking my dead grandmother for stuff -- but I think jewelry is a little shallow, no? Make sure the babies don't die. That's the kind of thing I save for her. But I went home, checked a few more super-secret Harriet the Spy kind of places, and still couldn't find it. So later, while I was sitting with Josephine in her rocker, I said, "Nan? Ma says I should ask you where my pearl necklace is... Um, what do you think? Do you know?" And then I sat for a few more minutes, while my little bunny finished her milk, and then I thought, "Oh, I should check in (BEST HIDING PLACE EVER!)"

And people, there it was.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Aaaaah! Babies!

Proof that the babies are getting big:

One of them did this to Lucy-lu's matching card game! I don't know which one (because I don't actually WATCH them every second of the day, okay??! There are, after all, TWO of them!!) I showed it to Lucy and she shook her head sadly: "The babies ate it, Mommy," she said.

And, I think they're trying to crawl!

And then they're going to take over the world!!!

In other news, I took Margaret to the cardiologist today for her six-month checkup. When we arrived, a little yellow-haired guy was negotiating with Dr. Hougen for additional stickers. "This one," he said. "And this one?" he added hopefully. Then, as they walked out the door -- with both stickers, of course -- the doctor called, "See you in two years! Send some pictures!" Oh, two years....I whispered to Margaret, "That's what we want to hear, baby! Two years!"

"Where's Josephine?"

Whaaat? See? Proof that I have too many children. I had no idea that he wanted to see Josephine. What for? I thought all was fine with Josephine's heart! So I had to call the Opie and ask her to run down to the hospital with Josephine. In the meantime, he checked out Margaret and... it was great! The thickening in her heart wall, which was there because of the Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, is totally gone. And he couldn't hear a trace of her murmur.

"We'll see her in two years," he said.

But that stupid genie outsmarted me again...isn't that always the way? Josephine didn't do quite as well. Her aortic arch is still a wee bit too narrow and she still has a little hole that should have closed about two months ago. It's nothing that puts her in any immediate danger, but she'll be back much sooner.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A little wrinkle

Have I mentioned how sad I am about Madeleine L'Engle? (Hopefully sad enough to have spelled her name right...) I LOVED those books, especially A Wrinkle In Time.

You know we named Margaret after my grandmother, but I thought I might like to call her Meg, after Meg Murray. It's a great name! Sadly, I don't think it's going to work. A Meg would not fling herself across the floor for a stray Cheerio. (Would she?) She would not giggle hysterically when her big sister cries. My big Margaret seems too insensible, silly and fat to be a Meg. Of course, I think that's okay. I just need to keep looking for the right name.

Confessions from the Mother of Twins

When I'm feeding both of them at the same time, I make them share a single rubber-coated baby spoon. Even worse, I sometimes take the edge of the spoon and scrape the dribbling peas, potatoes and pears off of one sweet cheek and offer it to the other to eat. And they do. They don't seem to mind at all.

For old times' sake, here's a photo of Lucy, around the same age.

Everybody loves carrots! Indeed, when I was a baby, I ate so many carrots, I turned a faint tinge of tangerine and my mother took me to Dr. Murphy. He told her not to feed me so much.
Do you think she listened??

Monday, September 10, 2007

The artist speaks

So, I was taking a nice shower this morning and squeezing a bit of my fancy frizz-free conditioner into my hand when... I made art! See?! It's clearly a butterfly! Upon reflection, I'd have to say that my inspiration was a vision of clean, shiny hair. And my influences?
The Beatles and Blue Morpho.
(Whaddaya think: Is there a market for my work?)
P.S. If you squint a little to the left... yes, that's my naked body!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Happy Anniversary, honey!

With all the Wedding News swirling around us, I have only this to offer to the betrothed: I hope you all are as happy as I.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Don't Stop Believin'!

So, I was doing a little research at work (yes, it's come to that, already...) on "prom babies" -- the so-called phenomenon of girls getting pregnant on prom night.

The only evidence I could find -- A letter from "Worried Dad in Alpharetta," who wrote: "Dear Abby, I first heard about (this alarming trend) while driving my teenage daughter to a lacrosse meet with several of her girlfriends. One girl in the car, 'Carrie,' said she hoped this year she could have a prom baby (like two of their former classmates)... Abby, both of the girls were studious and had been accepted to several Ivy League schools!"

Eh. I doubt it.

Far more interesting was the second letter on the page!

"Dear Abby, I have a 4-year-old who tends to act up from time to time. I have tried 'time-outs' and even soft spanking and have taken his privileges away. Nothing seems to work. However, I have found that smashing one of his small toys with a hammer works well. Do you see any danger in this form of punishment? -- YOUNG MOM IN OKLAHOMA"

Eeeee! I seriously HOPE this one isn't real either!! Good grief. I have a friend in Boston who puts his daughter's toys "in jail" when she's naughty. Weird, yes... but probably not ruinous. In 20 years, I predict she'll be a public defender. Maybe she'll even work on the case of this crazy Okie kid who killed his mother with a hammer.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

And then I ate San Francisco

Interesting news! I was changing Margaret's diaper this morning (6 a.m.) and I found a whole kernel of corn in her poop! Now, you may say, "So what? I already knew corn isn't really digested in the stomach." (And boy, you really know how to ruin a meal, don't you...) But consider this: Margaret did not eat corn for dinner!!! While the rest of us did enjoy a fresh salad of black beans, corn and cilantro, Margaret had rice cereal and mushy carrots.

Lucy enjoyed her first day at the new school yesterday. She rode one bus, one Metro train and six escalators to get there. She cried, but "jus a liddle bit...because I missed Daddy." (Sigh. Of course.) The new school has "two playgrounds!" And the boys, I hear, "were screaming! And they didn't get a time out!"

And, in Wedding News: The Bride is considering the Decatur House as an appropriate venue for The Wedding of the New Century...and I'm all for it! With its proximity to The White House, The Bride could throw her bouquet right into Jenna Bush's arms! And, even more interesting, I am pretty sure that, if the dj plays YMCA (and why wouldn't he??!) and we all jump up and down really hard on the first Y, we will find ourselves in Dick Cheney's secret underground lair!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Off to the chapel!!

Oh, we're going to a wedding! A wedding, a wedding!

And now, I launch into one of my favorite Irish songs: There's my sister Jean, she's not handsome, nor good-lookin'! Scarcely 16 and a fellow she is courtin'! Now at 24, with a son and a daughter, here I'm 45 and I've never had an offer. Oh, dear me, how can it be?? That I'll die an old maid in the garret!

Of course, in this particular case, the bride IS handsome and good-looking! And I'm not 45, thank you very much. (And, oh yes, I am married too.) But I continue singing anyway, to my favorite part: There's nothing in the world that would make me so cheery as a wee fat man to call me his own dearie!


Anyway, our very good friends got engaged this weekend. (Finally! I feel like I've been waiting forever!!) And seriously, I am giddy. I couldn't fall asleep on Sunday night! So, answer me this: Should every guest get a green-tea martini when they arrive at the reception? Should they enjoy pulled-pork barbecue in small polenta cups (in honor of the groom?) And mini-crabcakes (in honor of the bride?) How about tuna sashimi in cucumber cups? And, most important, how long before I drive the bride crazy? Will it take more than a week before she automatically hits the delete key to my every email with a memo line like this: To consider...

Vietnamese spring rolls!

I do love a wedding. And I do love them too.
(No, not the rolls! I'm talking about the bride and groom...)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A nightmare

I dreamt last night that David was pregnant --
and I was NOT happy about it.
"How the hell did that happen?" I demanded.
"I don't know!" he protested.