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April 2013

Speaking Of (Mostly) Caroline

Caroline and Edward attended kindergarten round-up on Thursday. Although I am as ambivalent as the next mother of a controlfreak child I told Edward that he had to wear actual clothes to the kindergarten evening, no pajamas - I meant it.

Edward said, "OK OK. I'll get dressed in clothes" and when I said, "Edward! I'm serious. I mean it" - he saluted. 

[I could take it personally that Patrick has started replying to my peremptory statements with a crisp "Yes Ma'am!" while Edward has begun to actually salute me but I do not. As long as they follow my every outrageous command ("Get your shoes on before you go to school" "Stop hopping around on one foot and go to the bathroom already" "Charge, Light Brigade" ) I'm cool with all the sarcastic compliance they want to give me]

[OK. Patrick is sarcastic. Edward just likes to salute]

Anyway, Edward returned from his bedroom ready to go


And I thought, ok, grea... wait. Those aren't socks! They're footie pajamas! Edward!

He had put on a pair of what he (and only he) calls his zippies and then put clothes on top.

I say it again. Ay yi. Yi. 

So. Kindergarten round-up. This was their chance to see the classrooms, ride a schoolbus, tour the cafeteria and check out the playground equipment. As anticipated, once there, Caroline was ebullient and chatty; Edward was intrigued but reticent.

They had numerous stations to visit and one of them involved sixth graders offering rub-on monkey tattoos in a variety of colors. Edward chose a green monkey since blue, green, orange and sometimes black are his favorite colors. Caroline went for pink and when the young lady asked her whether she wanted it on her hand or her arm, Caroline said


(look closely. it's faded after two baths)

The girl looked at me for corroboration and I nodded.

"You are the only one I have had tonight who wanted the tattoo on her forehead," she said.


A few months ago - from god only knows where - Caroline got a small plastic figurine of Chip (or maybe it's Dale) and when she hits the tiny button on the side it says, "AWESOME!" in an awful falsetto. 

Tonight, as is her wont, she had secreted it somewhere about her person and as we drove home from a family dinner out she proceeded to hit the button over and over and over and...

Patrick finally snapped, "Caroline! Do you KNOW how annoying that is?"

Caroline replied, "Yes. Yes, I do. It's one hundred percent annoying."

She smiled.

"AWESOME!" said the chipmunk. 


A few days ago I wanted to generate some excitement about the dinner I had planned so I pulled Caroline aside. 

"Hey," I whispered, "Can you keep a secret?"

Caroline gave me a long, contemplative look.

"No," she replied.

Then she walked away 


As Caroline ate breakfast this morning I glanced over her shoulder and saw a robin with a twig in its mouth. It landed on an exterior light fixture just outside the window.

"Oh!" I said. "A robin! Right there! I think she's a mommy robin and she might be building a nest!"

Caroline said, "What? Really? Where? I want to see!"

We went slowly over toward the window and watched the robin drop the stick on top of the light fixture and then fly away.

I said, "Won't that be fun! I believe she really is putting her nest there. If we are careful not to startle her over the next few days I think we'll be able to watch her finish it. Then there will be eggs and maybe baby robins! Right next to the house!"

Caroline cocked her head, considering.

"Hmmm," she said, "they will be very very close to our house won't they?"

"Yes!" I said.

"Hmmm," she said again.

"So are robins... delicious?"


My much beloved friend Lauren was in my kitchen telling Caroline that she is going to start to train for a half marathon.

"Do you know how many miles that is?" she asked.

"A thousand?" Caroline ventured, never one to admit that she doesn't know something.

"No, not that many," Lauren laughed. "It is around thirteen miles. I don't know if I can do it but I am going to try and that is what really matters, right? Try even if you don't succeed."

Caroline nodded. "Uh-huh. And that's called failure."

Or When Summer's In The Meadow

I eventually accepted the fact that it is never going to get warm and I will never see all those damned daffodils I planted (we lost three trees yesterday to heavy snow) so I have decided to embrace the fact that I am all about books and food and television - the triad of neverending winter.

I should probably learn to finish a book before I blather my opinion of same. To return, briefly, to the subject of Ender's Game: first, rather than read it as a book made out of paper we listened to a cast-recorded audio version (I orginally typed "cat-recorded" and then because I am simple I laughed for about five minutes. No wonder I didn't like it - too much cat.) I am not a fan of cast-recordings in general and was even less of a fan of this one. Some of the readers were ok but there was this one woman... whoof. She had a breathy, oddly inflected style that never varied and Patrick and I tried to figure out what emotion she thought she was conveying. We settled on... beryllium; she was trying to express what it feels like to be beryllium. I love audiobooks pretty much more than my children (do my children make it less boring to load the dishwasher? well then) but a poor reader, let alone several of them, can really kill a book. So that was one problem.

Also, for about ninety percent of the book I felt worried and I dislike feeling worried. The main character is so emotionally, physically, psychically and spiritually battered that we started to feel like he might be better off... you know. Patrick at one point turned to me and asked if I remembered telling him about the Far Side about the old comic strip lady and her friend and after a few moments I said, "Oh! Yes! The rare Mary Worth in which Mary advises a close friend to commit suicide?"

Patrick said, "Yeah. I think Ender is running out of options here" and I agreed emphatically. However, even as I thought Ender was doomed and humanity was doomed and he and it probably should be doomed I worried that the author might be heading in the same direction and then where would we be?

[If you have not read Trinity by Leon Uris and plan to do so at some point please stop reading. Skip down below the bracket. I am serious. Cover your eyes.

Once upon a time I read all 900 pages of Trinity and I was SO FURIOUS at the end when...

I told you to stop reading...

everyone dies. I mean everyone. Every character in the whole goddamned story is killed including the narrator. THE NARRATOR. Uris kills off THE NARRATOR and then he just, like, picks up a new narrator to finish the last few pages of the book. Who does that?! It is cheating is what it is.

Anyway I was afraid Ender's Game was going to pull a similarly disturbing fast one.]


So the book made me feel upset and uncomfortable for the vast majority of it.

But! Then! The end! Woof.

I don't want to say that the end of the book completely vindicated the rest of it but if you asked me if I liked the book having finished it I would have to grudgingly say yes, yes I did. Do I ever want to read or listen to it again? No. Do I want to read anything else about Ender et al. No. Would I recommend it? Yeah. I guess so. Grudgingly! But yes.

Patrick, by the way, really liked it. 

Caroline went from kinda reading to reading to reading exclamation point. I went in to check on her last night and found that she had flipped her pillow around in order to capture the light from the closet. She was reading book # whatever from the Magic Treehouse series and when I opened the door she gasped and stuffed the book under her pillow.  

Steve has been reading the series to Caroline and Edward at night (better him than me. I dislike them most heartily; although I should admit that I have a personal weakness for the Disney fairies chapter books, which is even more shameful since they are written by a corporation and although corporations might be people they are not authors) and Caroline had lifted a book from the library pile and she was sneaking ahead in the series. The minx. Needless to say I confiscated the book. Why you ask? Because I know Caroline and I know that she works best when she is not forced to function in the absence of a repressive milieu. She needs to rebel. It is, after all, why the kids put beans in their ears.

Edward, apropos of nothing, has managed to advance the English language ten-fold with his clever new adaptations of first-person singular. He still uses the commonly accepted form, of course, as in, "Caroline and I want to play xbox" or "Read me another chapter please" but he has expanded to include: first person singular, authoritative and first person singular, draconian.


Authoritative - "Edward said to read him another chapter" 

Draconian - "Do not disturb The Edward when he is doing a maze!" or "Now presenting... The Edward versus preschool!" 

Seriously, when he really really means it he refers to himself in the second person with an article. Ai yi. Yi.  

But back to books. Patrick and I finished Ender's Game and just started the Lighthouse Trilogy. Not sure what we think yet.


Steve and I are watching Vikings which is a fairly-Showtime-esque series airing now on the History Channel of all places. It is capital E Excellent and if you haven't seen it I am sure that they will re-air it 20 or 40 times in the near future. Watch in order! In a similar vein we just got Game of Thrones from Netflix but I'm ambivalent. I've heard it is good but is it good?

We are still working our way through your movie recommendations. Patrick - much to my surprise - loved the Marvel comic movies. We've seen Iron Man and Iron Man 2 and Thor. Steve's going down to open the farm this weekend - and bowhunt for turkeys - so I got Captain America for the two of us to watch one night after twins go to bed. Comics leave me cold but it is fun to see Patrick's... I don't even know what to call it. His complete ignorance about the genre gives him the ability to watch these movies without bringing anything to the process - it's rather charming. Like biting your nails when you think the Harlem Globetrotters might lose.  

PS Edward-who-needs-a-haircut and the $20 Darth Vader blanket that finally got him out of our bed (except when he is sick. or recovering from a nightmare)


My father and step-mother invited us to join them and my brother's family for a week in Bend, Oregon this summer and because I am a complete idiot I told Caroline and Edward about it after I finished buying the airline tickets. Do you know when you tell five year olds that they are going to take a trip? When they are on the goddamned plane, that's when. Otherwise they immediately go and pack all of their precious treasures into backpacks and start asking you when we are leaving.

Sidenote: The Edward has yet again decided that he only wears pajamas and he is willing to die upon that sartorial sword if necessary. Caroline started wearing sundresses about three weeks ago, winter be damned. I try not to look at her and I have to admit she doesn't feel cold. 


A Patrick Comix for old times' sake


PPS D'oh! Simpsons! Not Far Side! I blame the child. 

Me Grim

It was just like a House Hunters International episode. Steve and I were strolling along the beach, holding hands, and then we came to an abrupt stop. 

I said, awkwardly, "So I guess we need to make a decision about schools for next year."

Steve robotically intoned, "Yes. Yes we do."

I said, "So I guess we need to eliminate one."

Steve jerked spasmodically to indicate his concurrence.

I inhaled deeply through my nose before rushing on, "The Mandarin immersion school would be great and I am sure Caroline would love it even after Edward has run away to join the xbox circus but the building is practically in China and it could take us an hour to get there in snowy traffic. I think we should cross that one off the list."

Steve gazed into space, seemingly oblivious to the fact that there was a film crew six feet away.

I continued, "That leaves the French immersion school - which did accept Caroline by the by - and the local'ish school that Patrick went to - it's a tough choice. On the one hand I want to both challenge and satisfy Caroline, which might not be so easy in a traditional setting; on the other hand, you know, Edward; and on the third hand French school and Patrick's school (for next year at any rate) start at the exact same time, fifteen miles apart, with no bussing available for either. It's a pickle. So. Are we ready to make our decision?"

Steve nodded.

I squealed, "L'ecole francais!" at the same moment Steve said, "This is stupid. They should go to the place near us."

He's right, of course. Even if I could figure out the logistics without fairy dust, Steve's assertion that Edward would be deeply unhappy in an immersion program is no doubt correct. And although we will need to find ways to challenge Caroline and languages are most emphatically her thing... hwhh. It would have been a nice fit for her and I wish that I could have made it work. On the plus side she can always do some Concordia language camps until she is old enough to join the foreign legion and if Steve later makes a fuss about traditional camps and her need to learn archery or how to skin a bear I can just stab him in the eye with an eclair.

In other news there is no other news. I have/had another eight-days-and-counting migraine. Every afternoon around two it starts to feel like I'm in a flashback sequence - all weird light and wavy lines and a single tingly nerve that runs down my left cheek - until I take an imitrex and sometimes a couple of aleve and fall asleep on the couch. If I am lucky I wake up after a few hours feeling groggy but painfree. On my luckiest day ever Patrick pried my eyes open around 5 and said, "Do you want me to make dinner since you're unconscious?" and when I grunted at him he trotted off to boil water for pasta. He even made a salad and called everyone to the table including Steve.

From my selpuchre on the couch I heard him say, "Caroline I only gave you a tiny bit of salad but I added lots of nice crunchy peppers and you have to eat it."

[Listening to Patrick cajole the twins into eating things ("Edward! Pretend it's alive and trying to get away from you!") is sweet and utterly, utterly hypocritical. Patrick still uses a different utensil for every food item on his plate and I don't mean he only uses his oyster fork for oysters. If we have trout, salad, and rice he requests three forks. And if I were to combine foods he will eat into one delicious superfood like, say, a trout rice salad? Forget it.]

Anyway, migraines this month are sapping my will to live and certainly my ability to function. I saw my primary today and he gave me metha-something-prednisone which I took last year under identical circumstances and it helped to break the headache cycle. We talked about my migraine journal (only obvious triggers: hormones and stress) and came up with a prophylatic drug plan for future months and we agreed that it might help to change anxiety meds. I have always gotten the occasional migraine (like one every few years since adolescence with more during pregnancy) but the major clusters of daily headaches is new in the year+ since I started Celexa. It might be coincidental but it is worth a try. I guess. I don't know. I am anxious (ha! god) about changing something that has to date made me feel so stable and normal.


Patrick and I are still, slowly, very very slowly, listening to Ender's Game. Patrick likes it. I HATE it. I hate it so much. It is a well-written book, obviously smart, eerily prescient in some ways, creepy in his occasional descriptions of young male bodies (just saying, it's kinda obvious) and so goddamned depressing that I have started listening to the all-time stupidest regency romance writer (Laurens. she was a free download from the library and she is so awful I want to throw myself into Georgette Heyer's grave and beg her forgiveness for even listening) as soon as Patrick gets out of the car. We have two discs left and I fear it will only get worse. I am  counting the days until we can start a new series and speaking of which have any of you read or listened to the Lighthouse Trilogy? I cannot figure out if it is Patrick appropriate.

Has anyone every used priceline's Name Your Own Price for airline tickets? I have used it often for hotels (and love it) but I am wondering if you wind up on a 6:01 am flight with a million hour layover on the other side of the country before your 11:48 pm connection.

PS It snowed today. Real snow. I know we live in Minnesota and I know the winters are harsh here and cold and frozen and much too long but really? SNOW? AGAIN?

When I checked in for my appointment today I asked how the receptionist was doing and she just shrugged her head toward the window. I said, "Ah. Yeah. That."

"I'm trying not to take it personally," she said.