Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why Must I Chronicle This?

You would think I was sending these girls to live on the International Space Station the way I carry on, wouldn't you?

Well deal with it, people. Three weeks is a long freaking time. And if you think I'm exaggerating, let's see you last twenty-four hours with them and then multiply that by 21. Yeah, I thought not.

So. Two polka-dotted suitcases (plus coordinating backpack carry-ons) await the morning departure. The alarm is set for 4 a.m. Yes, we are going to bed soon, Tylenol PM willing (me, obviously. They get whiskey straight up.) ((Just kidding.))

In an effort to make the day not entirely about my own anxiety, I mentioned to the girls that today would have been my father's 60th birthday and perhaps we could pay a visit to the cemetery. Second Grader one-upped me. She suggested we bring balloons and send them up to Grandpa while we're there. Damn kid and her sweetness. So we bought three helium-filled balloons, took them to Dad's marker, and let them go.

Almost a touching moment. Except Second Grader knows only one way to act in the out-of-doors, which is like a hyperactive puppy.

So that's it, I'm out of ways to prepare for this. I must go disconnect them from their intravenous Disney Channel drips now and force them to go to bed.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Get Ready, Get Set, Don't Go

Obviously I stole that.

Not because it's terribly clever, but because Billy Ray Cyrus and his nubile offspring are belting it out on Fourth Grader's boom box right now. Which, in the spirit of sharing, is set up in the hall. This way we can all enjoy a little Miley while we go about the business of preparing for the Tornadoes' imminent departure.

That's a half-truth. True, today is packing day. But let's talk about yesterday, better known as Cram Half of Summer Into Twenty-Four Hours day.

The plan for CHOSITH day was as follows:

1. Sleep until 8 a.m.; breakfast on the road; beach by 10 a.m.

2. 10 a.m. - Noon: Boogie Board

3. Noon - Several Hours Later: Leisurely lunch on the upper deck of our favorite beach restaurant. Steamed clams for them, cocktails for me, live music and heaps of french fries all around.

4. Back to the beach for a few more hours of waves before cleaning up and heading to:

5. Fisher Cats game at 7:05. (non-New Hampshirites: Fisher Cats are our minor league baseball team. We go to 2-3 games every summer simply because it's fun to go, even if you don't know - or care - about the players' stats. Or, quite frankly, their names.)

If it wasn't obvious, CHOSITH day was planned by me for me, along the lines of "These are some of the things we love to do together. Now please shower me with love." Except the tornadoes choseth to break into a million pieces until I allowed them to each bring along a friend.

So here's how it went really:

1. Wake up at 6, damnit, even though the alarm was shut off. Wait for Second Grader's friend to be dropped off. Drive across two towns to pick up Fourth Grader's friend, finally get on the road to beach at 10:30.

2. Buy two more boogie boards so nobody has to share.

3. 11:30 - 12:30 boogie away.

4. 12:30 - 2:00 Beachside Bagels and Sub Shack for lunch. Fourth Grader and her friend chose to sit inside at the counter, while Second Grader and Co. ate outside at plastic patio table with me.

5. 2:00 - 3:00 girls boogie some more while I pack up car then sit on rock by myself.

6. 3:00 - 6:15 bring everyone to our house to shower and change. Empty and vacuum car in effort to keep my wits about me. Internally freak out a little when it starts to downpour and thunder outside. Spend at least an hour basically staring out the window and willing the Fisher Cats not to call a rainout. (Again, not because I am any kind of fan, but because the alternative is four girls standing on my last nerve on a rainy Friday night). Fortunately, storm passes and we go to game.

7. Fairly pleasant night at baseball game only costs $80 in burgers, sodas, sno cones and fried dough, plus one Sam Adams draft. Leave after eighth inning - no need to go all fanatic on the experience.

8. All tucked in by midnight.

Their friends were picked up by noon today, Packing Day. I spent the morning doing laundry, which now sits in three heaps of white, dark, and pink on my bed. Nothing left to do but pack.

Unless I insist that the girls clean their rooms top to bottom before we get started, while I fold the laundry. Unless, instead of folding the laundry, I turn on my laptop. Unless, when I go to check on the room cleaning progress, I find that Second Grader chose to first alphabetize her bookshelf and Fourth Grader is looking at old math papers from first grade that she keeps in a box under her bed.

If those things were to happen, the packing might take a little longer. It might not even get done at all.

Unfortunately, we can probably squeeze it in tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

And Now, Some Shameless Self-Promotion

So my column for the NH Mirror starts next Wednesday...

If you are not familiar with the NH Mirror, it is the super classy local women's magazine that is out in print for FREE once a month and can be found in oh, a gazillion places around the state.

My column - Tween Us Girls: This Is Not Your Mother's Adolescence - will appear in the online Forum. It debuts July 2nd, with new stuff every other Wednesday thereafter.

Not coincidentally, July 2nd is the drop date for the next print edition, and an introduction for Tween Us Girls will run in that edition. As I said, the magazine is available all over the place. The website has a list of locations where you can pick one up, and if you're not in New Hampshire you can still read a lot of the print articles here:

Did I mention that it's free? Did I mention that I will be writing for the online forum? July 2nd? Every other Wednesday? Am I talking too loud? I feel like I'm talking too loud. I'm a little giddy at the moment. Please endure.

Oh, and I will also continue to write AficioNada. So come see me. Here and there. On a train. In the rain.

You get the picture.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Seven Days

One week from now, at about this time, I will be going to bed. I will need to go to bed, because one week from tomorrow I will be at the airport, at quarter 'til daybreak, to see the tornadoes off.

This weekend has been a circus of birthday parties and guest tornadoes and very little opportunity to complete a thought, because someone needed something or injured somebody or just plain wanted me in the room while they watched Camp Rock for the four hundredth time. You know, the usual. It was tempting to complain. Especially about Camp Rock.

But I didn't. Okay, I did a little. There's only so much flipping around a mother can stand to watch - especially when Flipper (aka Second Grader - who will have to be Flipper now, since Second Grader will no longer apply) has begged this mother to watch the Jonas Brothers with her over and over again but has forbidden her from commenting that Joe's a real looker, and now can't even admire Joe in silence because Flipper is flipping in front of the screen. That had to be addressed. Otherwise, I am trying to be appreciative of their attention.

That's not to say that I haven't started compiling a list of things I can do while they're gone. I can:

- Go for my run outside instead of in the basement
- Go to a movie not Imagineered By Disney
- Eat crackers and cheese for dinner. Actually, I do that anyway.

It's a wild and crazy list so far, I know. As I mentioned, hard to complete a thought around here today. Here's what I won't have to do:

- Get kicked in the stomach in the middle of the night
- Protect my face from flying feet during the day
- Drive anyone anywhere
- Cook anything out of a blue and yellow box

I am now being summoned to Pleeeaase Come Play Guitar Hero With Us, so I will have to stop there for now. Rock On.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Psst...There's a Fly In Your Purse

Miss S. called me a few days ago. She was en route to visit her parents, a mere nine hour drive away, with her two-year-old on board. We have a difficult time connecting, Miss S. and I - our voicemails have grown quite chummy - but it was reasonable of her to think that a nine hour drive might provide some chance of mutual availability.

Well, she was wrong, of course. She left me a message, inviting me to call her back and question her sanity on the whole "nine hours in a car with a toddler" thing.

Before I had a chance to respond, Miss S. called a second time. Or more accurately, her purse called me. Either way, a second message of considerable length was deposited into my voicemail.

After the first few seconds of garbled and distant radio noise, I realized the error at hand. And proceeded to listen.

There is nothing like hearing your highly educated best friend coo and giggle at her two-year-old like a two-year-old. They shared a robust round of "Weee!", mockingbird style (first him, then her, a harmony of echo) - at least I think it was "weeeee!"...It could have been "treeee!" I'd buy that, since they also marveled at trucks passing by, Miss S. apparently having never seen them before herself.

SON: Truck!

MISS S: Look at that truck!

SON: Truck!

MISS S: That's a big truck!

I clamped a hand over my mouth (as if she might hear me, giggling in her purse), stuck around for another round of "Weee!" and quite a lot of Miss S. chuckling to herself, telling the little observer in the back seat that he is silly. Then I started to feel a little dirty and sneaky. So I deleted and dialed Miss S.

Naturally, I caught her during the sole ten minutes of her nine hour drive that she couldn't talk, taking a break at the Chick-Fil-A PlayLand. I didn't have a chance to come clean about my eavesdropping before her son got lost in a tunnel and she had to go.

So consider this my official 'fessing up: You, my friend, were silly. And I was there.

And of course, I should be forgiven completely, because you called me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

She'll Thank Me Someday, Right?

We are on day four of the new braces, and I am not adjusting well.

We have already been back to the office for repairs - a wire popped out of its bracket yesterday - and may I remind you there is only one road in and out of our town linking us to civilization, so the one hour commute from work to Twornado's school (at the far end of said road) to the orthodontist (in civilization) for a thirty-second appointment made for a less than soothing afternoon.

Add to that the high decibel lament of Second Grader that she didn't want to go to the "stupid braces place" and anyway she thinks her sister looks "hideous" now, followed by the requisite sibling physical retaliation, and any lingering notions I may have had that country roads make for peaceful drives were completely shattered.

I am definitely taking this harder than Twornado, who actually has to wear that mess. Every time I look at her I am reminded that I gave this the green light, I authorized the installation of a medieval torture system in her teeny little mouth. The girl has eaten nothing but noodles for four days, and I did that to her.

Fortunately, she returns my gaze with nothing but her standard mixture of love and "are there any more noodles?" Fortunately, her friends think she looks "cool". Fortunately she is her same snitty little pre-teen self, with the exception of a brief window of oral discomfort every five hours or so, during which she temporarily becomes a puddle of child again. These windows provide me with an opportunity to dole out hugs and ibuprofen, a powerful combination known for its guilt-alleviating qualities. A mother can never have enough remedies for alleviating guilt.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Countdown to Panic Attack

Tornadoes and I are now a mere two weeks away from a three week separation - our first major separation ever. I suppose it's only fair that they see their dad, so I have maturely agreed to allow them to fly far away from me for a prolonged visit.

I've avoided bringing this up here, mostly because the thought of it makes me nauseous. Also because some childish part of me wants to believe that if I don't think about it, it won't be true. But it is, and it's coming, so there's that.

Last Monday at bedtime, Second Grader informed that she was feeling a little anxious about the whole thing herself. Her main concern was the abstract idea of three weeks' time. "How long is that, really?" she asked. Not knowing how else to answer, I informed her that she would be getting off the plane exactly three weeks from that bedtime to begin her visit. "So from tonight until you leave is exactly how long you will be away."

That cleared it all up. Suffice it to say, the week has been riddled with intermediate markers of the passage of time. And we still have two weeks to go.

Now that I've brought it up, expect that I'll probably bring it up again. I'll try not to vomit on you. No promises, though.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gotta Love The Spring Spectacular

I am very disappointed in myself. Last Thursday was Second Grader's spring concert, and I totally intended to write about it. And then Friday came, and Saturday...and here we are all the way at Wednesday. And I still haven't bragged about what a mighty fine square dancer Second Grader is.

Yes, indeed. Queen of the Do-Si-Do, that one. Which is a good thing, since there was no singing at the spring concert. Though why I would go in expecting such a novel thing at this stage is an excellent question - and the answer is: because they call it a concert. Duh. But hey, I can't say it wasn't fun to watch.

Also, so very relieved that the "audience participation" element, about which Second Grader forewarned, was scratched from the program of the K-3 Spring Spectacular, especially since certain relatives in attendance felt it necessary to sit in the front row. The front row! Are you people mad? Do you not understand the shenanigans of which this performance-driven student body is capable?

Please note that the Spring Spectacular, like its counterpart, the Winter Musicale, was split in two. For those of us with tornadoes in Grades 4-6 Plus Band, welcome back. Have a seat. We are the big kids, so our theme for the evening? Rock 'n Roll, my friends. Rock 'n Roll.

But FIRST, the band. Which means the Band Instructor. I think I love the Band Instructor. He's just so into it, and he uses the word "arrangement" a lot - which is just a great word, people, I don't know why - and he makes Twornado smile and play music. How can you not love a man like that? I think Twornado loves him a little, too, because all of a sudden she has decided she doesn't want to quit band...

Let's move on now. Miss Music Teacher informed that the upper grades have been learnin' them some Rock 'n Roll history, and we will now perform for you a selection of ditties which will make it clear why you had to dress your boys in white T-shirts with the sleeves rolled up, and pin poodle cut-outs onto your daughter's skirts, and by the way, you're welcome for making the girls all wear ponytails but sorry again about the white T-shirts, they do look kind of sloppy now that you mention it. (She only actually said the learnin' part, by the way.)

Then a large group of children at various stages of early puberty sang songs by Elvis Presley and Little Richard. And they clearly had no idea what these songs had to do with anything. They squirmed and lip-synced and generally looked bewildered. My favorite number was the Beatles' selection, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" - you want to see some grossed-out kids, make them sing "And when I touch you I feel happy inside" in front of their parents.

I was glad to get this whole "where it all began" medley out of the way, actually, because now they have opened the door to bigger and better themes. I propose Bon Jovi night, or maybe Hair Bands: the Early Hits.

No? Too soon?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Just Another (Five Thousand Dollar) Rite of Passage

Fourth Grader's dentist advised at her recent cleaning that I should take her for a Braces Evaluation.

More words to shudder by.

It appears, explained the sage dentist, that Fourth Grader's little mouth has gotten ahead of itself.

To which I said, Tell me something I don't know. But apparently he was not talking about her sassiness.

The dentist, who seemed taken aback - judging by the way he kept blinking and staring at Fourth Grader in mild disbelief - began to worry me. I pay pretty close attention to my kid, but what the heck is she hiding in there? Teenage boys? Anyhow, he was so kind as to not only recommend an orthodontist, but to arrange for him to call us. How helpful.

Admittedly, I pretended at first not to get the voicemail message. I couldn't help it. I never had braces. Why does everyone need braces nowadays? When I was a kid, we walked five miles uphill just to buy a toothbrush...Wait, wrong litany. Anyway, she's's ten, remember, and ten seems a bit young for this, no?

On second thought, many things about her don't seem ten-like to me these days. The sassiness, for starters. Every day I tell her to stop this growing up business, and every day she grows up a little bit more anyway. It's so annoying.

Well, if she insists on continuing this routine, I guess it's only fair that her pretty smile be included. So we went for the Braces Evaluation - Fourth Grader, unfazed and wondering aloud about color selection (naturally), and Mama silently hoping for a First Visit Acquittal -something along the lines of "There's no work for us here" would be fine. And free.

Setting foot in the office, I was instantly put at ease. Not by the collage of satisfied patients smiling down from the waiting room wall. Not by the sweet, lilting voice of the receptionist. No. The magazine assortment. Nothing but rows of glossy, heavy-papered, luxury travel magazines.

So at the very time I should be pondering concepts like Orthodontia Coverage...Deductibles... Installment Plans... instead I was adrift in Island Living. Spa Cruise. Dominican Getaway.

Oh, I want to come back here, I thought.

Oh, you're coming back, said the nice orthodontist a few minutes later - though he said it more officially, with his fancy orthodontist words and his fancy pictures of Fourth Grader's mouth. He, too, dropped the phrase "advanced for her age" numerous times - again, not a reference to her attitude, but to the fact that her ten-year-old mouth is housing twelve-year-old teeth, and the garage ain't big enough.

So braces it is.

On the positive side, the increasingly thorny Tooth Fairy missions are apparently now behind me - at least with one child. Also, it looks like I will have plenty of opportunity to read those travel magazines in the waiting room.

You know, since I'll be contributing to the subscription fund.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hey, I Work Out...

For lunch today, I packed grapefruit slices and pita with hummus, and a bottle of water.

And that's it.

And the reason I packed lunch for a parakeet? Because there's half a bag of Cape Cod potato chips (Robust Russet, with their delectable slightly burnt flavor) and onion dip at home, and I WANT THEM. In fact, it's totally possible that they are tonight's dinner.

Is that bad?

To clarify, they are possibly my dinner. I will feed the tornadoes actual dinner-like food...if you consider Day Two-Hundred-and-Twenty-Thousand of macaroni and cheese, coupled with tomato slices, or possibly peas if they are sufficiently mushy, to be dinner-like. That's for Second Grader, who lately proclaims herself a vegetarian. Which means pretty much only the aforementioned three food items.

Twornado, on the other hand, thinks every night should be Gourmet Night, yet she is not so much with the patience (hmm...) for such a scenario. For her: leftover spaghetti squash, green salad, and the remaining grilled shrimp from last night's kabobs.

For me...chips and dip. And I can't freaking wait.

So I will go ahead and say it for you: might this wayward dietary choice play a role in my gripes of yesterpost? More so, maybe, than alleged pubescent-sized clothing?

To which I say: shut up...