What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Fish Are Jumping

Patrick is now eight, a fact that we celebrated by buying him a metal detector and making him a cake that he accurately but perversely declared to be "too sweet." I guess turning eight means that one now scrapes the frosting off although I always thought that was more like eighty. Steve suggested that maybe next time I could use less than a pound of confectioners sugar and I told Steve not to be an ass. Personally I loved it. Caroline was also a fan


but Caroline might be one of those people that do better when they limit their sugar intake


It is never dignified to be dragged away from cake by your ankles.

Edward - just off camera to the right - sat with his hands folded, patiently waiting for Caroline to stop acting the Fool so he could get something to eat. Edward is the only one of our children who consistently devours anything he is offered - he'd never say frosting was too sweet and the way he tackled a smoked salmon and caper pasta the other day brought tears to my eyes - he is such a comfort to me and I am telling you right now that I know which child is coming with me when I become an edibi-tourist. Loved your food memories by the way.    

So Patrick. Eight years old. What is there to say about Patrick? I just typed "he's a gift" three times and then erased it - all embarrassed because what a cliche - but... most of the time Patrick feels like a present. He is funny and loving and off-beat.  He doesn't have a mean bone in his body. When I asked who from his class he wanted to invite to his birthday party he was sincerely taken aback that I would even ask. He said, "Everybody, of course, or someone might feel left out."

He is occasionally thoughtless and often tactless and he never listens the first four times I tell him to do something and he has an irritating habit of saying "Yes master" on the fifth and he completely melts down when he is frustrated with himself (let us never forget that Steve once punched a hole in the wall after stubbing his toe - Patrick comes honestly by his self-control or lack thereof) but in the general scheme of things he is a Very Good Kid.

He is also such a good big brother. While we traveled he made my hovering paranoia about Caroline and Edward look like the neglectful disinterest a pirate captain might show his replaceable crew. He wouldn't just hold one of Caroline's hands as they walked he insisted on holding both, and he once tackled Edward into the grass when he thought a bicycle was about to run him over... from ten feet away. He worries about them and he plays with them and he is very very patient. Yesterday we broke out the kiddie pool and Patrick entertained the twins for an hour with the hose.



I told him afterward how much I appreciated his help and he said, "Oh yeah I almost forgot. You owe me twenty dollars for being nice to them."

I declined to pay although I noticed with great amusement that the name of his new company (he invoiced me) is "Infinity Co" and its motto is "It's too high to be a number!"

Patrick got sick for his birthday on Friday - which sucks - and then a major storm blew in (oh? you got that one too?) about five minutes after I took the birthday cake pictures and we were without power for two days. Being without electricity is annoying. Being without electricity when you have a birthday kid who is too sick to do anything but watch the unavailable Science channel is really annoying. Being without electricity when you have a kid who is sick and two filthy toddlers and you need electricity in order for the well pump to work, thus leaving you without electricity or water? Faugh. Beyond annoying. I finally got so desperate to at least rinse the cake dishes two days later that I carried up water from the hot water heater in the basement and setup a bucket sink. My mom suggested we go to a hotel but it just seemed too decadent. There must be a bit of early Christian martyr in me because being hot and dirty and bored and irritated beyond belief by all three children made me feel so virtuous and if there is anything nicer than finally washing your hair after being reduced to Handi-wipe sponge baths I don't want to know about it.

Speaking of my hair the most bizarre thing has happened. I wish I had a picture....


(why is this the only picture of me out of the 5000000 that were taken on vacation? are Steve's fingers broken?)

You cannot really tell from this photo beyond the frizzy halo but my hair has gone crazy. After having it below my shoulders for at least five years I got it cut to my chin a few weeks ago. This is not unprecedented. I have had shorter hair before. But for some reason in the interim my hair has gone from wavy to riotous curls that no amount of styling product can contain - even when I am not standing in front of a giant humidifier like Niagara Falls. My hair is now HUGE. Steve keeps poking at it and Patrick asked if I had gotten this hair cut on purpose. NO, I thought, I did not. Does hair actually change as you get older? And, more importantly, does the Brazilian keratin hair straightening about which my stylist pointedly gave me a brochure actually work? Please advise as I would be willing to adjust our austerity budget as needed if I can take the Bozo volume down to eleven.

What else?

Caroline is officially sleeping in her big girl bed which means I have to crawl around her room in the dark before I go to bed to find out where on the floor she has fallen asleep so I can transfer her back to her pillow.


It also means that her room constantly looks like a frat party just ended there so I am putting my plans to go nuts decorating a girly girl bedroom for her on hold. Meanwhile  Edward has noticed that Caroline is no longer sleeping in a crib and although he has resisted all mention of a bed of his own I have noticed his conversation has become punctuated with requests to do various things "like a big boy."

With Edward's deep and raspy and yet still pipsqueaky voice the addition of "like a big boy" slays me.

"Climb on the table like a big boy?" he says, all Lauren Bacall meets Elmo.

He realized half-way down the path to see Niagara Falls that if he bends at the waist and puts his hands down he can stop the stroller. This got old very very quickly. Caroline intervened



I found the fact that she kept hauling him back up strangely endearing. Most of the time they ignore each other. In fact when Emma at Tyler Place said she always finds twins easier because they entertain each other I opened my mouth to point out that Caroline and Edward are more like distant acquaintances than warm friends but having spent the previous ten minutes explaining the various safety pin systems we use to keep Caroline from falling out of a window naked I let it pass. 

I wouldn't say that Caroline's unwillingness to let Edward bang his nice round head against the ground is exactly the same as a special twin language that only they speak but it did indicate some kind of affection and without any previous indications of the kind I was touched. 

Where was I? Oh thwarted HGTV ambitions.

So I have been meaning to do... something... with both Caroline's and Edward's room for two years. Not knowing what we were having and being restricted to the couch for three months (god I miss bed rest) limited the decorating I did on the rooms for the babies formerly known as the 13s a and b to having Steve paint the walls a creamy yellow and asking Patrick to pick out some appropriate wall clings. He picked the alphabet (surprise!) and that's it in there. Our plan is to one day move Edward into the guest bedroom (it has a closet. his room does not) and punch a dormer into Edward's current room so that we can add both a closet and a small guest bathroom to that space. I asked Steve whether he could do this himself in his spare time and he said, "What? Can I easily change the roof line and put a waste pipe through the ceiling of our bedroom closet? No."

So I asked whether a contractor would charge more than one hundred dollars to do it for us and Steve said, "Yes."

So... so much for that idea.         

My point is that I hate their rooms but since Caroline keeps trashing the place and Edward's lease as a long-term squatter has been extended it doesn't seem to matter all that much. Still I have been trying to figure out what I can do to make their rooms more... oh, CUTE I guess... without spending, uh, almost anything. I'm open to suggestions.

We're off to Ohio for the fourth (so successful was our road warrioring that we have decided to drive back to Cleveland for a family reunion of sorts) but when we return I realized that we have nothing - literally nothing - planned for the rest of the summer. No camp, no trips, nothing. What do you do with your kids in the summer? I can foresee a time when the sprinkler fails to thrill.