Tuesday, May 31, 2011

not a deal

I subscribe to various frugal/deal/we're saving you money.

They often do. Save me money, that is.

Sometimes, however, they do not. They really do not.

It all comes in reading the fine print. Or not even the fine print; the print that is smaller than the headline of the deal: "$50 dollars of groceries for $25!"
In this case, the fine print was: shipping flat rate of $5.99 for 5 pounds.

On first read, this sounded pretty good. For the things I buy online, 5 pounds is plenty. But for groceries? When the item that seduced you into the deal was that case of almond milk?

'Twill not be less than five pounds, I daresay.

Which I discovered after securing the deal, browsing the site, and realizing that
a) nothing I really needed was light, and
b) the things that were light, I didn't really need.
c) If I factored in shipping on what I had intended to purchase ($33 for shipping!!!) the cartons were definitely, definitely cheaper at Trader Joe's, where I usually buy them. And I wouldn't have to fill up my garage with a case.

I bought a few toiletries that will get used, though they are not in huge demand right now, and decided that I will henceforth read everything twice. And then wait an hour. And still maybe another hour, before clicking, "Count Me In!"

Monday, May 30, 2011

signs of life

Today we planted some seeds in pots and watered them. A few weeks ago we got an ant farm. Now, we're talking about a goldfish.

It seems that life is a little relentless with children. That newness, that discovery, that growing messiness pokes its head up through the established patterns of adulthood. So that pets, and dirt and growing things get in all of the tiniest places. And take over.

appliance shopping

At Best Buy:

Julia, walking over to the first in a long line of refrigerators: "Food-food?" I open. She moves to the next one. "Food-food?" Repeat. Again. Etc. They have a lot of fridges in Best Buy. All of them empty.

Upon seeing a Hello Kitty toaster Lucy said, "But Mama, I need a Hello Kitty face on all all my toast."*

And another appliance we will not be purchasing for our kids: A beer keg. But Lucy wants that too. Thankfully, that did not have Hello Kitty on it."

*Yes, ON the toast. Seared. Also available: Your favorite baseball team logo, and who knows what else. Perhaps we need the Caliri family crest.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Today, my girls and I walked around our neighborhood scoping flowers to pick*, all of us in spring skirts, ribbons in the sisters' hair, a basket with a checked cloth in it.
It was all springy and idyllic, and I felt kind of embarrassed, because it made me look a little Stepford.
Then Julia started screaming, and laying down in the dirt and rolling around, and I felt a little better.

*Does anyone else feel really weird about picking other peoples' flowers? It's one thing if you're a kid and you do it, but to be the adult, egging them on, is that weird? Because I feel both weird and awful, like I'm encouraging graffiti. And then I feel very Type A for feeling weird.
I feel better getting that off of my chest. But still a little weird.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

toddler brain

(Inside Julia's head)
No! I want the bag of banana chips. You know what I want. Don't try to give me chips in a Tupperware. It's NOT the same thing.
Now you're insulting me. A sandwich baggie? It's not called a banana chip baggie. It's called a sandwich baggie. Bag! Now!

Blueberries, you say?

I love you mama. And blueberries. Both. Best mama, best blueberries. Mmmm.

Wait, Look what I just found! A sandwich baggie full of banana chips! Perfect accompaniment to these berries. Mmmmmm.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I did it.
I called a housekeeper.

I resisted for a long time. There have been times help just wasn't in the budget, but we're feeling blessed enough to have some funds for now.

But really, I just resisted the idea. Resisted having someone in my space. Resisted the idea that I couldn't keep up with stuff myself. Resisted.

And now, what has changed? Well, two children, plus more homeschooling work from one, plus increased ornerieness from the other, and then a work project on top of it. And reading a few essays on how accepting help helps keep us moms sane.

Also, my floor hasn't been vacuumed in weeks. And not because it doesn't need it.

When I started asking my husband for a birthday gift of an hour so I could vacuum, I decided it was time. Time to give myself the gift of someone who actually has the time and patience and the renumeration to give my house the attention it deserves. Time to stop stressing about not being able to clean the toilets, again. Time to be able to see through our windows.

She can't start for a few weeks, and suddenly I CAN'T WAIT.


Monday, May 23, 2011

the horror

It's a peaceful day in the house; girls playing peacefully, birdies chirping outside. Mother does a quick pick-up while everyone's occupied. She picks up stray bits of paper, a stray sock, a puppet, a lego, another stray sock, a crayon.
She pauses, looks back.
(Cue creepy, scratchy music)
The sock. That white little girl sock she just picked up. How did it get back on the floor?
It's bedtime. Everyone carefully takes off their clothes, shoes socks, and dons footed pajamas. They put all the clothes into the laundry bin, and crawl into bed. Except--wait.
(Cue creepy, scratchy music)
The socks. They've reappeared. Somehow.
Everyone looks at each other nervously.
Putting the laundry into the wash, Mom scans the floor for strays, adds detergent, then closes and starts the machine.
(Panicky violins)
The tiny little girl sock! There's one on the floor. Wait. Is it--smiling? Laughing maniacally? Mom screams and slams the door to the house.
Girls asleep, Mom and Dad get ready for bed. They brush teeth, turn off lights, then fold back the sheets.
One small girl sock lies still at the center of the bed. So peaceful, so white, so ribbed. Then, without warning, it strikes.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

oh, dear

Yesterday, some kind of switch was flipped in Julia. When she didn't get her way, she screamed, "NO!!!" and stamped her feet, multiple times.
I knew that was coming, but it always takes one by surprise, no?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

secrets of homeschool autopilot

Buy lots of different kinds of paper. Long strips, tracing, graph. Place them on a table. Kick your feet up and read all day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

school supplies

We started setting up our kindergarten today. We have some snazzy workbooks coming in the mail. Also, we bought beginning-writer-friendly lined paper, and some big paper strips with lines, and chunky pencils, and tracing paper, and a set of drawers to store them all in.

Lucy told all of the store clerks she was starting kindergarten. She sat down at her desk when she got home. She drew pictures on tracing paper, and it was hard to convince her to come eat.

I'm loving this.

Also, I'm very confused. What exactly did I say differently that has created such enthusiasm? Is it something in the water?

I shall ride this wave as long as it lasts.

Monday, May 16, 2011


"Mama, I want to go to kindergarten," Lucy said today, on the way home from the park. We were walking leisurely through our neighborhood under sunny skies, after having just played in the sandbox, bounced on the teeter totter, and slid down windy slides.
I paused. We have had this conversation before. "What exactly are you hoping to do at kindergarten?"
"Well, learn to read and write. And have recess. That's when I'd get to play with my friends."
If satisfying her need for kindergarten was so easy, I'd jump for joy. "If we sat down in the morning with some writing books, and learned to read and write, then you went outside for recess afterwards, could we do kindergarten at home?"
"Yeah! And could I have a desk? With a drawer for pencils? Or maybe Dada could make me one?"
"Sure!" Please, let Ikea have one.

I'm hoping her need for school is satisfied with these techniques. It could work. If it doesn't, I've been looking into local charter schools for a hybrid program. I'm not thrilled about doing a charter (someone looking over my shoulder, "work" I have to supervise and hand in on someone else's schedule, up to four days of my daughters not being together the whole day, and standards tests that I don't really see the value of, not to mention some of the issues with letting the state coopt homeschooling) but I'd rather do that, I think, then a full-day public school with less room for homeschooling. I'm hoping if we do enroll her someplace, it will be a positive experience, that she will be motivated to let me guide her because that's part of the bargain of being in the school, and that listening to her and honoring her desire for more structure will build trust and maybe lead to more homeschooling in the future.

But. We will see.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


one artistic aunt
+ three big poster-sized paint samples
+ glitter glue and markers

Friday, May 13, 2011

lurching towards wisdom

Perhaps wisdom comes when I think:
"I can't do that for her."
"It's not my place to fix."
"Let me stay silent right now."
"I bet they'll solve it themselves."
and "They are capable. They are."

Instead of fixing, I'm just...waiting.

Monday, May 9, 2011

post mother's day

My lovely husband and daughter got me a fab dress for Mother's day. A summerish dress, with pockets for easy use in the park. Today, I proudly wore it for its first trip.
But instead of cooperating, the weather decided to sprinkle on us. Sprinkle!! In Southern California!! In May!!
I feel betrayed*.

*Not really. But I wish the weather had cooperated. Plus, I'm a little brain-dead after an early morning.

Friday, May 6, 2011

everyone needs one

"We saw a huge black widow today, Dadda," says Lucy.
Dyami looked at me.
"A house spider," I said. "Small."
Lucy, not to be fazed, said, "House spiders are helpful. They eat bugs and things and keep houses clean."
"Wow," said Dyami. "Do they vacuum and everything?"
I stopped. "They should. Eight arms? Man."
I need me one of those spiders. Maybe a few. Except slightly bigger, like Lucy said. With microfiber cloths tacked to their wiggly legs.
A woman can dream.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

lesson learned

When you're looking for important documents, get someone to hold the baby. Let them hold the baby while you flip through the filing cabinet. Without the baby, you will flip carefully, without fear that the baby will not only flip but empty. Flipping carefully ensures you will not miss the important bunch of documents, and think they were lost on an important errand or (possibly) misplaced by your spouse.

Have someone else hold the baby and you will not burst into your spouse's office and accuse him (or her, since this is hypothetical, right, and in no way based on real events, probably) of moving the files and leaving them someplace. You will not spend an hour tearing through your house, trying to breathe, but failing, since the documents with all of your personal data were probably placed in the car, which just spent days at the shop, with the documents in them, %$#@%!

Nay, have someone else hold the baby. That way, you will just see that the documents are there upon careful examination. Right there in the filing cabinet. They are there, where they always are, and you won't embarrass yourself with accusations or flights of fancy, or panic.

Just hand that baby over now, please.

Trust me.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

pink. pinkpinkpinkpink

Lucy's room is very pink. PINK. We went with the lighter shade, the one that did not remind me of pepto-bismol (one shudders to think what that would have looked like). Yet the pinkness of her room is very overwhelming. In the twilight, with the one lamp lit, it is like being in the pink light district.

Needless to say, it is not the color I would have chosen.

However, it is what Lucy wanted. Also, since it is a color, the room looks immediately more inviting. We rearranged the furniture to create better space for play and better flow, and I'm already looking at the walls, wondering how to make it even cosier. How could I put up her art and pictures, create interest on the walls, make it hers?

Welcome to our home, color. It's nice to have you back.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

new things

Besides the excitement of the gas leak scare, we've been having a few busy days. After we came back from evacuating, we welcomed painters to our house to paint some accent walls. We evacuated again to the zoo to give them time to paint two walls downstairs without young children dipping fingers into the paint. Then, just for fun, we added a mommy's night out, an early-morn dentist appointment, and a feverish, fussy baby all day, and we're sort of wandering around our house, wondering where things are, and what time we get to go to bed.

But: paint! (Yolo Colorhouse shown here: Water 06) Lovely and so perfect, and as satisfying as accent walls can be when the rest of the walls are still (sigh) white. But it's better! And it actually looks like people live here semi-permanently.

Also: we got an ant farm today. The ants are busy making their house a home, as are we.

So, ants, paint, zoo, dentist, and a snuggly, feverish baby. It did not feel like it was going to be a great day this morning, but it turned out to be lovely.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

so much excitement I can hardly stand it

Late this afternoon, upstairs folding laundry, I smelled a peculiar smell. First, it reminded me of the fragrant days living within range of the Houston Ship Channel. Then it just smelled like gas. Lots of gas. In and/or around our house.
I saw Dyami outside. "Do you smell that?" I yelled.
"Yeah," he said, very calmly. "Get the girls and come out here."
I grabbed* my purse and the keys and went outside.

Thus begun a peculiarly leisurely "emergency". We called SDG&E, and they pledged to send a technician before midnight. I walked the girls over to a local restaurant while Dyami waited outside of our house. He loitered there for a few hours, kind of looking like he was staging a sit-in.

By the time Julia, Lucy and I ate** and came back, the gas smell had dissipated. SDG&E still wanted to come. We moved indoors (no smell, no danger??) and evaluated our options. I decided to take the girls to my parents (conveniently) empty house. DYami would stay home, sleep at home, and wait for the technician. And probably watch basketball.

In the end, the technician came (after the girls were asleep off-site), and declared our house fit for habitation. "We got a lot of calls today," he said. "It was probably a ship, or a factory, or something, but no one's fessing up."
Ah, well. We're all safe, and key youngsters are asleep, so I'm happy.

However, I am ready for a very hot bath.

*Ironically, I have been preparing some emergency supplies. None of which were used in this adventure.
**During the dinner, Julia was extremely fussy. I gave her my iPhone as a last-ditch I've-got-to-eat-dinner gambit. I looked over two minutes later and saw (no joke):
Hot diggity, did I scramble to get that thing back and undo whatever she had been doing.
Note to child: Do not hack our country's intelligence agency before you're old enough to use the potty.