free hit counter Snacks, please!: July 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's midnight: Do you know where Gigi is?

Since we've returned to the Dickensian-style boardinghouse that we call home (thank you to Cynthia for pointing out the Victorian nature of my night-time parenting), we have had some... sleep issues.

While in that Eden that some people call "Cape Cod," Josephine and Margaret were gently rocked to sleep every night by a fairy grandmother with incredible patience for their leg-kicking, I-will-not-sleep, this-is-too-exciting antics. In the middle of the night, at the first whisper of hysterical crying, she'd gallantly appear: "I'll take her." And one little cuddle-bunny or another would settle into a cozy queen bed between Gigi and Poppa.

Sooo, yesterday, I'm sitting in a staff meeting. (Greenhead flies, I miss you. Even as your loving nips have barely stopped oozing, I admit: I'd rather bear your demon attentions than sit in this damn conference room.) Anyway, I'm sitting there and I realize -- I smell like baby puke.

Oh, Josephine!!! You need to go to sleep by yourself! I can not rock you and Margaret, and then also lay down with the ever-pitiful Dr. Lucy, Esq., every night. I have to wash the dishes. And scrape Play-Doh. And read the new New Yorker. Oh, and sleep! I need to sleep too, kiddo. But my smallest child, she doesn't agree. And, like some kind of tiny Buddhist monk with no access to matches, she stages these vomit protests.

Night-night, Josephinie!

Scream! Scream! Cough! Cough! Puke.

Three nights in a row!

Anyway, these kind of guerrilla tactics might work with the Chinese, but they're not working with me. Your kinder, gentler America ended at the Sagamore Bridge. (Seriously, please stop throwing up. You're killing me.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back from the beach

The worst of the worst:
Did I say it would be a 12-hour car ride?? Ha. We tried out a new route, one that was intended to steer us away from bright lights and through the less trafficked roads of eastern Ohio (I am only slightly exaggerating), and it took 14 hours. We ate mushy peas in Scranton, PA. And the DVD player broke.

This is Lucy, asleep with Dolphin. I don't know why she's blindfolded, but I suspect it's because the traffic around her was such a disturbing sight.

The best of the best:
Who knew that the babies would like the beach so much?? When Lucy was a little baby, it was like she'd watched Jaws in utero. She refused to let her feet touch the sand. Aaah, it's killing me!! She screamed at the seaweed and she'd nearly climb on your head if you dared bring her into the surf. The babies, on the other hand, mixed their Cheerios with sand and gleefully ate it all. They charged into the water, grabbed hermit crabs and tortured them by pulling their little bodies out of their shells, and they kicked, kicked, kicked us as we tried desperately to keep them in our arms. "You don't know how to swim, Margaret!" Yes, yes, yes, if you'd just let GO OF ME, MOTHER! "No, you don't, Margaret! You are a baby!!!"

Margaret on the beach:

Josephine on the beach:

The food:
One lobster roll.
"Can I have more of that pink stuff?" says Lucy.
Two seared diver scallops with pureed celery root.
Three stuffed zucchini blossoms.
Twelve Wellfleet oysters on the half shell.
Lots and lots of fried eggplant. My favorite!
And here, the best birthday cake ever:

Yes! That is a gummy shark that you see!

The reading:
Oh, Maureen Dowd. I'm sorry I couldn't finish your book. I completely, whole-heartedly agree that the current trend toward anti-feminism is disturbing as hell. I do dislike (as much as you do) the new little Mrs., who traded her Yale degree for a cute apron from Anthropologie. (And can it be true? Did you really find an L.A. playgroup where the women introduce themselves with this question: "Tell everybody what your husband does!" Because that makes me a wee bit sick.) But still, you depress me. And I don't want to be depressed on vacation.

So, instead I read War & Peace. Not all of it, but I'm making good progress. It's for my crazy book club -- I had suggested Gone With The Wind, mostly because I thought we could go to Georgia Brown's for dinner, and it wouldn't take too long to read. Instead I got Tolstoy.

The biking/running/hiking:
David did a yeoman's job of carrying around three children on one bicycle. (What an ass! Get it? Ha? Ha? No, not funny. You're right.) But I carried the bag of snacks. Yes, I did! And juice bags are not light!

The running was quite nice. I had some sandy routes past big houses, and a paved route past the beach. I took the babies on one run and Lucy on another, and it turns out that it is possible to push them in the jogging stroller. So now I think I'm going to try to find a 5K (a flat one!) this fall to do with two out of three children.

I'm a little paranoid about ticks. I think Cape Cod is like the capital of the world of Lyme Disease, but we did get into the Audobon Wildlife Sanctuary one day and found all sorts of fiddler crabs, waving their arms furiously at us. (I have a joke about Rome in my head, but it's not worth writing down.) Anyway, Margaret thinks it's more fun to hike upside-down.

And here's Lucy:

Also, because I promised my niece, here's a picture of her with the girls, who do absolutely love her to death. This is not our boat! I wish.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

And we're off!

Yep, that's me. And that's my brother on the right. This photo is... oh, maybe 32 years old? And I know exactly where it was taken -- because I'll be there tomorrow! We're off to Cape Cod in the morning. First, we suffer 12 hours in the van. Then, we celebrate two blissful weeks!

The first week it'll be just us and my parents, and then my sisters and brother, and their respective spouses/children, will join us. Chaos! Seriously, I think it's fabulous for the girlies to spend time with their cousins. When I was a kid, when we didn't go to the Cape, we vacationed on this kind of dirty stretch of Long Island Sound, in a little beach community where we rented one house, my father's brother rented another, and his sister rented a third. We used to come and go between the houses, but mostly ours (because my mother is the best cook, hands-down). And the memories!

This was actually a private beach (they're all private down there) and it was known as the Irish beach. But a little further down the coast, separated from our beach by a little cove, was the state beach. You had to pay to get in, but it was public. One day, at low tide, we decided to wade across the cove. It took forever. And then when we got there, we were kicked out by a ranger, which is sort of funny when you think about it.

Anyhoo, by that time, the tide had risen. So I decided to walk around the cove with my little brother, and one or two of my cousins who also decided they would rather brave the railroad bridge (yeah... very Stand By Me) than try to swim across. But my cousin Ciaran -- who didn't know how to swim -- decided to go back across the cove! So there he is, neck-deep in the poop-infested water, screaming, "I don't know how to swim!" to passing boaters. And, of course, they thought he was kidding... He was very fortunate that my Uncle Bill happened by, in a little boat that sank a few days later.

"Uncle Bill, the Kerry Ann is under water in the marina. Again!!"


What else? We spent a lot of time trying to catch crabs with raw meat. My cousin Brian would beg his aunts for chicken parts, which he craftily hid in a garbage bag in his closet. When his mother finally found them one morning ("What the hell is that smell?"), she actually chased down the garbage men in the street, bag held high, Brian right behind her, screeching, "Maaaa! Not my bait!!"

We ate a lot of blueberry cake. We played some kind of game that involved throwing tennis balls at each other's butts, as hard as you could. We shot off bottle rockets. Once through our neighbor's window. One day, during a rain storm, lightning came through the window and rang our telephone! Oh, and another day, my brother and I were swept out to sea in a rubber boat, but fortunately rescued by Mr. Carbone, who owned an Italian restaurant in Hartford. (Why wasn't he at the Italian beach? Well, thank God he wasn't!)

We went fishing for eels, which was disgusting, and sometimes involved walking through the woods at night. Once, my father pretended to be a bear and Ciaran started crying so hard he had to go home. (And he still likes us! He really does.) And we made fun of my Uncle Bill because he would cut the sucker end off the sand worms before baiting his hook.

We avoided jelly fish. And hot pavement. It was possible, we figured out, to walk to the beach entirely on grass and cool water pipes. When we got sick of the beach, we'd bicycle to the video arcade and play Frogger. We begged our parents for quarters -- and then for 65 cents when the ice cream truck came. It was possible, back then, to get a Strawberry Shortcake bar for 65 cents. day, I ate six Strawberry Shortcake bars and then I got covered in hives and had to go to the emergency room for a shot.

Good times, baby!!!

Anyhoo, I won't be here for a while -- see you all in two weeks!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Heartbreaking Works of Staggering Genius

Actually, I hated that book. Ugh!

But I'm not talking about Eggers and his self-indulgent muck -- I'm talking about Margaret and Josephinie, who stunned us all with their age-appropriate abilities today! We had another appointment with the "play doctor," as Lucy calls her, and she put the girlies through the regular battery of developmental tests.

How do they approach three Cheerios in a thin-necked bottle? With great eagerness. They love Cheerios. First they shook it. Then they brought it to me. No help there. Hm. Then they tried to suck them out! (That was funny.) And finally, after crouching down and examining the problem from yet another angle, they tipped it over! Woohoo! Tumbling Cheerios!

What else? They stacked blocks, fed their baby dolls, emptied cups and filled them, and carefully placed pegs into holes. They scribbled. They ate their crayons. (That was NOT so smart.) They turned the pages of Brown Bear, and Margaret even pointed to the Purple Cat and said, quite clearly, "Kitty Cat!"

With that exception however, their weakest abilities are verbal. (How could that be??) They're a bit better at receptive language than expressive, and apparently that's actually more important. (Again, how could that be??) But we'll see. Maybe they'll pick up a few more words in the next few weeks.

I'm aiming for Mama, Dadda, and chocolate.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Whirled Peas

Tonight at dinner Margaret stuck a green pea in her nose. It was half in, half out, and of course I told David to get the camera, quick! But then she took her little finger and poked it in her nose, poke! poke! Oh dear... I tried to get it out. But no. She'd shoved it halfway to the medulla oblangata. She coughed and coughed, cried, eeeeeh! "Yes Margaret, I know! You have a pea in your head!" and then... ACHOO!!! That pea flew out of her nose like a giant gas-powered snot! (And then, because I really do care, I snatched it away before she could pop it in her mouth.)

Monday, July 7, 2008


This past weekend of work was horrible. I can't begin to describe, because it will sound like I'm on drugs. People in loon hats. Flies on my desk. Millenials with attitude. Men barking like seals! And then somebody told me to turn off my 80s music. Enemy! Enemy!

But now I'm free and I spent the day with a putty knife, scraping off the dried Rice Krispies and red Play-Doh on the coffee table. (Now, that is a job with real visible reward.) We got a delivery from the grocery store. (What luxury!) And I took Lucy to the dentist for three fillings.

You might recall that a previous dentist had recommended six to seven fillings during a three-hour operation under general anesthesia. So I found a new dentist, and David took Lucy a few months ago, and she recommended two or three small fillings -- and then she gave Lucy a plastic man attached to a parachute.

"You want to come with me?" Lucy asked.

"Yes! I want to meet your dentist!" I said.

"You want to find out what color she is?" Lucy asked.

"Uh...What??!" I asked, furiously racking my brain. Have I ever said anything about anybody's color?? Ever?? No.

"Do you want to find out what color she is?" Lucy repeated.

"Uh, nooo..." I said. (Wwwweeeer! Wwweer! Teachable moment siren! Teachable moment!)"I don't care what color she is, I just care whether she's a good dentist," I said, very importantly. "She could be purple and that would be fine with me, if she takes good care of your teeth!"


"She's not purple!"

"She's white."

I saw a snippet this weekend of a modern re-enactment of the famous black doll/white doll experiment, the one where little black girls too often say that they will play with the white doll because she's the "good" one. With that in mind, Lucy didn't say anything about her dentist being good and white, or bad and purple, but now I'm wondering what she thinks about race. Hm. I was kind of under the impression that she didn't think of it at all! In fact, I wouldn't have been sure that she even knew that some people were called White. I guess I was wrong.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I'm trapped in a big-city convention center. I have been here for 12 hours! And I have the song, "You are the woman that I've always dreamed of.." in my head. Please. Somebody send me a roasted veggie panini and one bottle of Blue Nun.
Thanks much.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I've twice been tagged recently by fellow bloggers -- Ms. Card and Auntie Pamela -- with one of these meme things. (Is it supposed to sound like me-me? is that the point?) Anyhoo, because I don't have time this week to think of my own ideas... here goes.

Ms. Card asks:
Four jobs that you've had?
1) Newspaper reporter -- best job ever! But one that hardly exists anymore.
2) Bartender -- also a great one. You have all the power -- the beer taps plus remote control. (Sorry, guys. Tonight I think we'll watch The Morning After, not the Red Sox game. Whaaa? Well, I'm cutting you off!)
3) TCBY yogurt -- I recommend the classic chocolate-vanilla swirl.

Four places that you've lived?
1) Washington D.C. -- back in the early 90s, before CVS bought People's, and again in the here and now.
2) Galway, Ireland -- the first week I was there, I called home and said, "My pockets are full of rain!" Ohhh, but I loved it.
3) Fort Pierce, Florida -- in a big house overlooking the Indian River, I could see dolphins from my bedroom window!
4) East Hartford, CT -- home of Pratt & Whitney, and me.

Four favorite foods:
1) Fried eggplant with Ma's sauce.
2) Full-fat plain yogurt with July blueberries and homemade granola.
3) A really good pizza with fresh mozzarella, basil and real tomato.
4) The Chocolate Sparrow's hot fudge sundae

Four places I'd rather be:
1) Sitting on a sand flat in Cape Cod Bay
2) Sipping a sweaty pint on the Aran Islands
3) Sleeping under a mosquito tent in the cloud forest
4) Riding the carousel at Glen Echo Park

And Pamela asks: Where were you 10 years ago?

Well. I believe it was 10 years ago this month that my brother got married in Bermuda. Let's see... what do I remember of that?? One of my sisters was staying at the fancy Southampton Princess hotel, on a special floor with a free happy hour every day. We had Dark & Stormy's (Gosling's and ginger beer) and met a man who identified himself as an arms trader. Ew.

My then-boyfriend and I each rented scooters. I hated mine. Eeee! Which pedal? Which pedal??! And sheepishly returned it. My father kept his and consequently flipped over the handlebars, breaking his wrist. Not the only accident: My brother, the groom, got spiked by a marlin during the bachelor party.

A Bermudian bachelorette party is called a hen party, in the English way, and it consisted of a slow floating boat, a cooler full of rum swizzle, and a sweet captain who averted his eyes, he said, when we threw off our dresses and dove in.

Speaking of rum swizzle, my sister and I drank waaaay too much at the reception. My mother said furiously to my brother-in-law: Control your wife! My brother-in-law said helplessly to Ma: She's your daughter! Both threw up their hands. And we were simply delighted with ourselves when the bartender asked: Are you professional athletes? Hee! Are you kidding? "Tennis?" he asked. Hm. No. We're not. (Tennis players are really athletic looking! Golf would be believable.)

The bride was lovely and carried a bouquet of sea grapes. The bridesmaid dresses were the best I've ever seen -- short, and of varying shades of raw silk. I did my favorite wedding reading -- one that I've performed THREE TIMES -- the Song of Songs, my lover on the mountaintop. (Someday I would like to introduce sound effects. I'm thinking of the clatter of hooves.) And then my brother sang The Star of the County Down to his new wife.

Oh, what fun...