Wednesday, August 31, 2011

300th Post

Hadley loves to hear stories, and she likes to hear them over and over again.  It can be a story from a book, which she'll memorize, and repeat to her stuffed animals, or it can be a "real" story - something from when she was younger or when Jesse and I were kids.  The one she asks me about most these days is about a time when I was in first grade standing in line to go out for recess and a bold lad decided it'd be OK to kiss the hood of my winter jacket.  It was not OK. 

I told Hadley this story in the first place to illustrate that not everyone likes to be kissed, or pursued for that matter.  Hadley can be a bit of a kissy kisserson and while I don't want to blow out the candle of friendliness, I also want her to understand that there are other ways to say, "Hey!  I had fun with you at the park!" besides giving smooches.  For crying outloud, this isn't France.  Don't they do stuff like that in France?

On Monday night, Hadley wanted to hear a story from when she and Harper were younger.  Because, you know, they're so old now.  So I told the two of them the story of the time when both were still in diapers and we went to the park.  I said, "All was going well until both of you pooped at the same time."

Folks, it's not just boys that think pooping and tooting and butts are hilarious.  I am sure to break up a fight, stop tears, turn the entire day around just by using any of the aformentioned words to my girls.  And I don't even need to use them in a sentence.  I can just say, "butt!" and the day just got better.  Needless to say, this story about me having to change two poopy diapers in the backseat of our car while the girls screamed was a real crowd pleaser with the H's.

I'm not always sure what Hadley as well as Harper, will take away from the stories I tell them. For example, I wonder what they think of what happened to us yesterday and how they'll re-tell it one day.  Here's what I have to say:

This is a picture of a balloon in Target.  It's Harper's balloon.  But that's not where I want to start this story.  I want to start this story a few hours earlier when the three of us got in the car to go to Romp n Roll.  As I'm getting read to pull out of our parking spot, there is a car that is driving in the lot, so I wait for it to pass.  Except it doesn't.  The car, moving at the quick clip of a turtle, stops behind my car.  When I write "stop," I mean the driver of the car turned her car off, and got out of it.  I just want to make it clear that she was in the middle of the street, stopped her car, and walked away, thus leaving me blocked in.

I roll down my window and say, "Excuse me, m'am?  I need to get out."

She turns around and says, "Oh, OK.  I'll be back in just a minute," and continues her stroll.

Would it help to illustrate my reaction here?  Perhaps some thoughts that went through my head at this moment?  Maybe it'd be best to just write what I said next.

"I need to get out now." I tell her.

Without turning around, the lady waves her hand over her head - AS IF TO BRUSH ME OFF - and says, "You can get out."

To which I reply, "You're a jerk."

Also?  This lady was maybe 70 years old. 

I felt so bad I texted my cousin Tara to tell her what happened and, always knowing the perfect thing to say wrote, "I just taught Aquazumba to a bunch of 70 yr olds....I get it."

After the girls class at Romp n Roll, they each get a balloon.  This balloon is played with and carried around for the remainder of the day.  Every Tuesday, for the entire summer, I have had lovely afternooons because Hadley and Harper play with a pink balloon with a purple string all day long.  When it runs out of helium, it becomes a dog to pull around on a leash.  When that gets old, I'm asked to cut the string off and it becomes a volleyball.   It's endless fun, I tell you.

We go to Target after the class and I say to Harper as I'm taking her out of the car, "Can we leave the balloon in the car so it doesn't get lost?" 

Because that would be AWFUL if it got lost.  But losing a hold of it and watching it float up to the ceiling?  That's much better.

We're standing in line paying for computer paper when just that happens.  I see it float past my face and think, "Oh, that's Harper's balloon.  That's not good."  I don't attempt to grab it, though.  My reflexes aren't what they used to be.

Harper watches it and then says, "Mommy? Can you reach your hand up to the ceewing and get my bawoon?"

"No, Harper, I can't.  I'm sorry.  We've lost the balloon." 

Harper turns around to take Hadley's balloon.  Because, gee, I lost mine, so Hadley won't mind if I just grab hers.  This was not OK with Hadley.

Then, as if she's been practicing for this moment all her life, Harper screams, pushes me as hard as she can, then throws herself to the floor.  At the same time, the cashier tells me, with a friendly smile, "You lost your balloon."

I'm sorry Harper lost her balloon.  I really am.  But I'm thinking the sooner we get out of here, the sooner we'll be able to forget this whole thing.  That's not what happens.  Soon, all the cashiers are noticing the balloon as well as several patrons.  Then maintenance is called.  It's a whole "to-do."  There are walkie talkies and everything.  All the while, Harper's screaming and reaching for her balloon, Hadley's holding on to hers for dear life, and I'm laughing slash crying because of the scene I've caused in Target.

Call me a suburban mom, but Target is my happy place.  When Hadley was first born, and I wasn't sure what to do to get the crying to stop, we'd go to Target.  I'd put her in the Bjorn, get a cup of coffee, and we'd walk around the store checking out the goods.  Once, I ran into another mom doing the same thing.  We were in the hair product section.  We smiled at each other, and then she said, "You looking for anything in particular?"  I said, "Nope.  Just walking around."  She said, "Me too." We both laughed and I felt so much better knowing I wasn't the only person who had no clue what to do with an infant; that there were others who were just figuring it out as they went along, too.

"We can get the balloon for you," a maintenance main tells me.

"It's OK," I tell him.

"It's not a big deal," and he walks to the back of the store.

Harper, Hadley, and I stand against a wall facing the checkout lanes.  Every single patron is looking at the balloon along with all the cashiers.  Mostly moms, I hear things like, "Oh man, that's not good," and "Who's crying?  Whose kid is screaming like that?  What is WRONG?"  I even heard, "Well.  What mother lets her kid bring a balloon into the store?  At least tie the thing around her arm!" 

When the man comes back with a claw type wand and begins to reach for the balloon, the moms have all kinds of advice, "That's not gonna work," "He should've put a piece of tape on it so the string can stick to the claw."  I'm sure he can hear all of it, as I can, standing there holding Harper whose eyes are bugged out with hope that this man will save the balloon.

And he does.  He brings the balloon down, and walks it over to Harper while the ENTIRE CHECKOUT AREA of Target is clapping: cashiers, kids, moms, everybody.  It was a scene straight out of a Nora Ephron movie.

"Thank you so much," I say to the guy, but I almost blurted out, "I called a 70 year old a jerk a few hours ago.  I don't deserve this." 

I guess that's not what it's about, though.  Even those of us who are in fact the jerks are shown kindness.  Whether we deserve it or not.

We get back in the car, and I turn around to the girls and say, "Whew!  What a day."  Harper eyelashes are crusted over from the dried tears and Hadley is thudding her balloon against the window.

"I think we should go to the park.  You guys think that's a good idea?"


"But Mama?" Hadley says.


"I really hope me and Harper don't poop at the same when we're there."

I'll try to keep my cool if that happens.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What To Do When Daddy Goes to Hawaii For a Week

Drown your sorrows in ice-cream.

Spend his per diem at Toys R Us

Go out with your six and under friends where the food and balloons are free and people are riding around on unicycles.

It makes the time go by much faster.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hadley- 4,576 Momma - 0

Hadley: My skirt is prettier than Harper's.

Me: Hadley!  Don't say stuff like that.  It hurts peoples' feelings.

Hadley: Harper?  Did what I say hurt your feelings?

Me: Hadley!

Hadley:  Did it, Harper?

Harper: Nope.

Hadley: Well, then I'm sorry to Mama.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Earlier this summer Jesse came home from work and said, "This weekend I'm going to paint our table." We've had the table since we were married in 1999, so I think he wanted to do something a little different with it. 

I knew that once Hadley saw what he was doing she would want to help.  She'd been wanting to paint her wooden dollhouse for awhile, so just as she was beginning to ask Jesse what he was doing and did he need any help, I set up paints, the house, and a bunch of newspaper. 

I encouraged her to plan out how she wanted to paint the house before she dipped her paintbrushes in the paint.  Hadley likes to mix all the colors thus creating black.  This would be fine except I knew she would be upset and not want to play with the house after it was finished.  Although, I could've stored it away and brought it out for Halloween. 

Hadley agreed to make a plan of how she would paint the house.  I was pleased to have the opportunity to teach my children the importance of a well laid out plan.

Then she started to paint.

Meanwhile, Jesse worked on the table.

I kept thinking of the end of the book Fahrenheit 451 when Granger and Montag are reflecting on their part in the world. Granger says, "Everyone must leave something behind when he dies....A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made.  Or a garden planted.  Something your hand touched....It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away."

I love that everyone in our little family leaves their mark around the house and on each other so that we are a little bit more like the other. 

I love that now that Hadley painted the dollhouse she plays with it more and the stories she makes up when she's playing with it are so much more detailed and (pardon the pun) colorful.

I love that after a week away I came home and saw the table and said, "Oh yeah!" with a smile, forgetting what it looked like and pleased at how nice it looked in the playroom.

Harper's been creating, too.  She's begun making "guys" and oh, do I love them.
I love that she gives them all shoes.  And look at the hair.  It's all slightly raised and not touching the head.  The above picture is of our family.  Note that Hadley, Harper, and Daddy all have large eyes and Mommy has....well, where are my eyes? 

Here's the artist at work.

This is a picture of Hadley working on shape puzzles early in the morning.  She studies a picture like an apple, or school bus on a worksheet then tries to duplicate it using magnets in the shape of triangles, squares, etc.  While she was working, I was reading my book for the Creative Nonfiction class I'm taking.  Hadley likes to be wherever the other family members are.  She doesn't necessarily have to be talking to them, but she likes to be near them.  So I sat on the kitchen floor and read while she worked on her shape puzzles.

I learned in this lesson that "essay" comes from the French verb essayer, which means to try. I highlighted the following words written by my teacher, Lindsey Crittenden: "An essay is an attempt, a trial...essays 'figure out'.....A successful essay doesn't need to answer the question it poses - but it does need to address and explore it."

I hope everyone in our family understands the thrill and the peace that comes with trying, with exploring.  I hope that each time we come back to a favorite toy, a piece of furniture, or a piece of writing we're working on that we find something new we hadn't seen before.  Maybe a different way to play with it, or that a table looks lovely next to a certain window.  Or maybe the next time we try to draw our "guys" we'll add fingers or perhaps a hat. 

Whatever it is, it's wonderful to be able to see a thing that's more like you after you've taken your hands away.