Tuesday, September 30, 2008

See You in November

Poked and Prodded blog has a good post on "7 Ways to Get Ready for a Child's Trip to the ER Before It Happens." I'm sure there are a lot of mothers who have been to the emergency room much more often than I have, but I've been enough times for it to take on a nightmarish Groundhog Day quality. I would say my top three tips are 1) Keep lots of information (such as your children's social security numbers) written down and on your person at all times 2) Be prepared to answer the same questions over and over again 3) (If admitted) Find out where the cafeteria is and what the hours are, and then go physically check it out, because the sheet they gave you that tells the hours is lying. That last is a new one.

I was sufficiently flustered at our most recent ER visit that I promptly and efficiently told the registrar that my husband's birth date is "6/30/1969." "That's my husband's birthday!" she exclaimed, and we marveled over this coincidence until my mother said with poorly-suppressed anxiety and disgust, "That's not R.'s birthday!" "Oh," I said, "right. 9/30/1969." A manifestation of my complicated relationship with numbers. I'm not bad with mental arithmetic and I especially love multiplication facts, but some primal part of my brain believes that, in the end, there are Curvy Numbers and Angular Numbers and that's about it. 6, 9, whatever.

Anyway, a happy 39th birthday to my beloved husband. Two curvy numbers!

And an announcement: in the tradition of NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo, I am declaring October PerNoFiMo (Personal Novel Finishing Month). Blog posting will be light or nonexistent as I try to whip this thing into shape once and for all. Clocks are ticking, not least of all the Baby Clock. So wish me luck.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Some Things I've Been Meaning to Tell my Children

Dear Children,

1) Here are the locations of garbage receptacles in our house: basement, kitchen, downstairs bathroom, living room, your bedroom (no matter who you are), upstairs bathroom. It seems to me, given so many places in which to throw your trash, there is really no excuse for there to be (I have said this so many times that the phrase is now capitalized in my mind) Actual Garbage on the floor. By garbage I don't mean possessions of which I am scornful, such as Happy Meal toys, although there are plenty of those around too; I mean Actual Garbage like the wrappers from juice box straws, glucose test strips, and used tissues.

I know all about lazy. But the hierarchy of disposal-related tasks and their apparent onerousness (onerosity?) to you fascinates me. To wit: it makes M. and R. feel faint to open the cabinet below the kitchen sink, so they will walk all the way into the downstairs bathroom in order to stuff an empty cereal box into the small white wicker bathroom wastebasket. This, I hasten to add, is after I have said, "R., could you please throw away this empty cereal box that you put back in the pantry?"

2) Here is how the laundry room is set up: the dirty clothes which magically disappear from your room are sorted into the tall blue hampers to the left of the washing machine. Clean clothes appear magically in the baskets to the right of the dryer. If you think about it at all you can understand how this arrangement works (hint: like words on the printed page). When you come home from a landscaping service project so dirty that you are a biohazard, and I ask you to undress in the basement, you should not put your unbelievably filthy clothes in the baskets to the right of the dryer. Please. Oh, please.

3) It appears that someone has been climbing, or hanging, on the large white laminate cupboard in the downstairs bathroom. One particleboard side is ripped right off the bolts, and consequently the shelf inside the cupboard lost two of the nearly-inadequate clear plastic clips that are supposed to hold it up. I was able to hammer the side back on, and I'm sure I can buy that kind of plastic clip, or some other shelf-holding-up thing, at the hardware store. I just think it would be particularly tragic if one of my children were crushed to death under something that cannot really be dignified with the name of furniture. This cupboard is not a permanent solution to our lack of a broom closet, but it is a solution; could we not destroy it and endanger our lives in the process?

By the way, if you were climbing up to get napkins from the basket on top of the cupboard because I asked you to set the table, THE NAPKINS ARE IN THE CABINET ABOVE THE SUGAR BOWL. They always have been. There is, in fact, a large drawstring sack of napkins on top of the bathroom cupboard, but just let me worry about that. You see, when the napkins magically reappear in the cabinet above the sugar bowl, that's where they come from.

In eternal devotion, but a little confused about how such bright and winning children can lack the sense God gave a goat,


Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm Back, and Obviously Eating for Two Considering My Apparent Obsession with Food

It's been one month since my last post, not counting the stop on James Patterson's Mothertalk blog tour. Since I wrote my birthday reflection M. swallowed a penny and we spent the night in the hospital (thus I did not go to the Fireman's Fair after all). I have had two ultrasounds, been to so many doctor's appointments I don't even feel like counting them (I think it's seven), and had to start taking blood pressure medication, which really hurts the "I'm HEALTHY!" pride I didn't know was there until it got kicked in the teeth. The kids have started school, cross country, scouts, piano lessons, band, and soccer; but we have not yet factored in drama club, art club, or squash matches, much less the other activities that have been requested additions such as karate, art lessons, and fencing. (Side note: do you not know any fencers? That's probably because you don't know any billionaires. The initial equipment outlay is breathtaking.)

I have packed three lunches for every full day of school, not once resorting to the cafeteria (the temptation is somewhat less because M. eats in the classroom until after Christmas, so I have to pack at least one lunch a day regardless). This is partly because it is such a joy to fill NSLR's new lunch box, which is so cool that classmates are asking their mothers to get them the same one (okay, one classmate). R's box is sufficiently spacious that I can finally fill it with enough calories to power his explosive growth. Another joy? Neither R. nor S. has a classmate with severe nut allergies this year, so I strew cashews and almonds gaily about the kitchen nearly every day. Protein that is neither cheese nor salami! Something to go with your dried fruit (it is so fun to feed people who need calorie-dense food)!

I have also come to a realization. People rave about summer and the availability of fresh produce, but I love fall best. Berries and plums, yes, I love. Tomatoes, of course, or I'd be a traitor to my state. But all the time a voice in the back of my head is saying, "Yes, yes. Where are my apples, pears and grapes? My beloved winter squash? When can I have hot soup again? Beef stew with dumplings? Pot pies? Any food involving the glorious triumvirate of pork, apples, and cheddar?"

The answer is now!

Friday, September 12, 2008

License to Create

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X bears a red and white box on its back jacket flap that looks like a warning, but is in fact a reassurance: "In the spirit of the most enduring hit movies and books, James Patterson has written this story for readers from ten to a hundred and ten. Special care has been taken with the language and content of The Dangerous Days of Daniel X."

That is evident. Daniel X has it all when it comes to thrillers for little men: lots and lots of action, violence (just scary enough), and a soupcon of romance (mostly yearning and an occasional embrace). The promotional materials are focused on getting reluctant boys to read, and this book is calculated to keep the pages turning.

Unfortunately, neither I nor my 12-year-old son could be described as reluctant readers. While we were intrigued by the original premise--Daniel X is an alien hunter with the ability to create and manipulate matter, sworn to avenge the murder of his parents--we were distracted by the 92 two-to-three-page chapters, and maybe even a little fatigued by the necessity for 91 cliffhangers. However, I'm sure this structure is gold to parents who are wheedling their sons to read just one more chapter before going out to play (or staying in to game).

James Patterson has an enviable imagination. Pitting a creator against an army of destroyers is a great twist in the eternal battle of good versus evil. As we learn more about Daniel's origins there is a sort of Superman homage; Patterson knows his superhero tropes and uses them well. I don't know much about Patterson's views--though I notice he wrote a book based on the Fatima apparitions--but I thought I perceived a subtle pro-life message in one of the book's quieter twists. To say more would be to spoil it.

My son had some concerns about the exact nature of Daniel's abilities and the consistency with which they are portrayed, but he is a harsher critic than I--whether because he has a keener intellect or because of incipient adolescence only time can tell.

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X is a page-turner; it moved me, it made me laugh, and it kept me on the edge of the beach chair, holding my breath. Patterson and his co-author Michael Ledwidge should be very proud of their creation.