Month: September 2011 (page 1 of 2)

Haunted by a Squirrel (hopefully not literally)

Yesterday, on the drive to piano class, Julia and I were taking notice of everything Fall. Piles of leaves. Pumpkins on porches.

“Mom, look at that scarecrow!”

“Aw, that’s cute. Hey! Look at those squirrels. They’re chasing each other.”

And just like that, they ran out into the road. The chasee narrowly escaped an oncoming car, but the chaser, unfortunately, didn’t. I sucked in a sharp breath and clapped my hand over my mouth.

“Mom? Mom, what happened? Did that squirrel get killed?”

I glanced in my rearview mirror at the limp body on the pavement as the car moved speedily away. “Uh huh,” I uttered. “I don’t think they even slowed down,” I said, more to myself than to Julia.

I’m not really sure what I expected the driver of the car to do. Pull over? Try to save him? I don’t know. Something, though. Maybe just a slight pause – a flash of the brake light to signal some kind of concern or regret or I don’t know. I don’t know!

“Poor squirrel.”

“Yeah,” I sniffed.

At bedtime, we pulled out our latest read: Ribsy by Beverly Cleary. We read Chapter 4: Ribsy Becomes A Mascot in which Ribsy (a dog) joins the second grade and things get wild when Danny Yaxley brings his pet squirrel in for Show and Tell. It made me think about the dead squirrel on Front Street. And that squirrel parody of the Beastie Boys song “Girls.” But mostly about the dead squirrel on Front Street and how no one was going to bring him to class for Show and Tell. Well, no one was going to bring him to Show and Tell alive. No one was going to put a sweater on him. (Note: The squirrel in Ribsy wasn’t written as wearing a sweater, I don’t think. That’s just how I imagine him. In a turquoise sweater with red trim.) And I thought about how much I disliked the squirrel squishing driver who cut my sweater-less friend’s life short without so much as an attempt to swerve.

This morning, without giving it much thought, I chose to fold Julia’s origami lunch note in the shape of a squirrel. An unconscious homage, perhaps.

Origami Squirrel

I wrote on the back: “Squirrel!” (A reference to the movie “Up,” which Julia loves.) And also, “We’re both nuts about you! Love, Mommy.”

I had sort of forgotten about the squirrel note until Julia reminded me after school. The truth is, I don’t remember much of what happens during the hours before I am caffeinated and I sort of wish what happened next would have happened then, because if that was the case, I wouldn’t have the experience burned in my memory to relive again and again…

You guys, I ran over a squirrel today with my van and I killed it. It’s…it’s dead. Definitely. I am feeling so bad. It’s the first time I’ve ever killed anything with my car. Well, other than those birds. And that snake. It just happened so fast. But not he-probably-never-knew-what-hit-him fast. I think he saw it coming. And I became the thing I hated.

I shook my head and pounded the steering wheel as I relayed the frightful tale of the probably weresquirrel (because the thing was so much bigger than a regular squirrel!) to a freshly picked up from school Julia, who was looking Cheshire cat-ish.

“Oh, Mom,” she chuckled. “Wait until you see my poetry folder today.” She pushed it forward. I grabbed it from over my shoulder and opened it to find a squirrel.

Juila's poetry folder

And another squirrel.

Julia's squirrel drawing

They’re just…they’re just everywhere. Squirrels are one of the most populous species of wildlife in Ohio! And every squirrel sighting feels like a wet willie from The Universe.

I can’t help but wonder: is there anywhere squirrels don’t live?

I asked, “How ya feelin’ Lucy Bear?”

cheeks flush with fever
black underscores tired eyes
“My tummy’s angry.”

Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

I knew she was lying. I could feel it. Maybe it was her tone. She was trying just a little too hard to sound convincing. Or it could have been her eyes, refusing to break contact with mine and searching for a sign that I’d bought it.

I hadn’t.

I was tired of interrogating. I was frustrated that even an offer of clemency couldn’t get her to admit she’d been playing in my room and digging in my closet. And so, I changed tactics. I moved in close – real close – and took her hands in mine. “You know,” I began. We were nose to nose. I was almost whispering. “When you lie, your heart rate changes, and when I put my fingers here,” I placed them on her wrists to take her pulse, “I can feel it.” Of course, I was lying. Sort of. I think your heart rate changes when you lie. (Isn’t that how lie detectors work?) Still, I couldn’t really feel her pulse or anything because mine was racing since I didn’t have a plan if she called my bluff. But I knew she wasn’t being honest with me.

“So let me ask you again: Were you in my room?”

“No,” her voice waivered. “I mean, not really. I wasn’t in your room.”

“I see,” I said. “Lucy!” I thought. I released her. “That’s all I need to know.”

I had been triumphant.

At bedtime, we talked about what had happened. I tucked her into bed with a final word on the subject: “Tell the truth, Julia. Always. It’s just easier that way.”

“Okay, Mom,” she said and kissed me good night. “Mom?”

“Yes, honey?”

“I’ve been wondering about something.”


“When you were trying to tell if I was telling the truth, why didn’t you just read my mind?”

Love For Sale

Every time I post a new monkey in our Etsy shop, I’m tempted to write the description in the form of a personal ad.

Camouflage sock monkey

“I”m longing to feel your arms around me!”
Name: Hunter
Birthdate: 9/26/11
Height: 14.5″
Weight: < 1 pound Location: Ohio, but willing to relocate Likes: Hiking, fishing, camping, snuggling by the fire Dislikes: Mayonnaise

Red, black and gold plaid sock monkey

I think this guy‘s name is Hamish.

Neon argyle sock monkey

This monkey reminds me of the ’80s. He probably has an IOU shirt collection. And his favorite band is Glass Tiger.

Instead, I say something like, “Hey, we’re not perfect!” and then give a rundown of what they’re made of. I keep my thoughts to myself because 1) they’re not always very well thought out and 2) someone might see one of my monkeys and totally fall in love with it, then click to buy and be like, “Hamish? Hamish?!! My ex-boyfriend’s name is Hamish and he was a jerk! Forget this!” And then I’ve lost a sale all because of my dumb whimsy.

I also believe all of my monkeys are boys. Not everyone agrees.

So, I leave it up to the buyer which means my monkeys are like Pretty Woman.

You: “What’s your name?”

Gray and purple monkey

Sock Monkey: “What do you want it to be?”

My Little Bee is One!

Grandma and the Birthday Bee

Blow out the candle

Bee cupcakes

Bee's cupcake


Psychos Like Us

Dinner was over. I was packing up the leftovers and getting anxious and screamy because the girls were getting up to a bunch of no-good. Since Dave and I have an agreement that only one of us can be a jerk at a time, he intervened to change the trajectory of our downward spiral.

“Who wants to see a magic trick?” he called and motioned for everyone to join him at the dining room table. “Mommy, I’m gonna need your help.”

“A magic trick?” I asked.

“Yes, the magic trick.” He winked.

“Oh, THE magic trick. Oh! Yeah! Sure!” I hurried in and sat down at the table.

“I bet you didn’t know that I can read Mommy’s mind,” he told the girls.

“It’s true,” I confirmed.

“I used to do this magic trick with my mom. She could read minds, too.”

“It’s probably genetic,” I added.

“Julia, pick a number and tell it to Mommy. I’ll go in the kitchen to be sure I don’t hear. Let me know when you’re ready.”

Dave left. The girls and I huddled together and Julia whispered, “Four,” then shouted, “We’re ready!”

Dave returned and moved behind me, placed his fingers on my temples and began rubbing gently. “I think I’m getting something…” he stalled as the “magic” flowed from me to him.

The girls stood quiet, carefully studying us for evidence of trickery.

“Oh, this’ll help,” he said placing a pinky finger in each of my ears. I grimaced. The girls giggled. “I’ve got it!” he shouted, making us all jump. “The number is….four.”

I raised my eyebrows in a “whattaya think of that?” fashion as the astonishment washed over our little crowd of spectators. They bounced, they squealed, they clapped their hands with delight.

Lucy scrambled up into the seat beside me, drew in close and placed a chubby hand at the corner of her mouth to shield the word, “Seven” as it passed softly from her lips to my ears.

“Okay, Daddy,” I said hoisting Phoebe into my lap. “Let’s give this one a try.”

We restarted our charade and then Dave revealed, “The number is….seven.”

Again, shock and awe.

“Alright,” Julia huffed. “Try this one.” We repeated the whole thing with the number nine. Julia, finally convinced of our power, decided that since she couldn’t beat us, she’d join us. “Okay, It’s my turn now. I’m going to the kitchen, Daddy give Mommy a number.”

Dave held up three fingers. I nodded and called Julia back.

Julia took her place behind my chair, carefully rubbed her hands together and jammed her pinky fingers in my ears.

I sat. I waited. I closed my eyes. I pictured the number three as if it were the number of the day on Sesame Street. And then finally she came out with it. “Three!” she exclaimed.

After a moment of stunned silence, Dave and I congratulated her on a job well done. And because we refused to be upstaged, we demanded she do it again. The second try was a bust, but the third try brought her another success.

“Two out of three, Julia. That ain’t bad,” I offered. “Even Meatloaf says so.”

Dave started to sing, “Now, don’t be sad….’cause two out of three ain’t bad…”

“That means you’re about 66.6% psychic.”

“Really?” she marveled, reveling in her obvious inheritance of the telepathic trait.

“Alright, bath time,” I announced.

Julia bounded up the stairs and bumped into her grandma at the top. “Guess what, Grandma? Guess what? Mommy says I’m psycho! Just like her and Daddy!”

Psychic. Psycho. Either way, she’s probably right.

A Bad Trip on the Psychedelic Groovebus

My van’s “Door Ajar” dashboard light and the corresponding “Ding!” along with the automatic locks and interior lights have started going on and off and on and off and on and off and on and off for a reason I cannot discern. It started yesterday on the way to take Julia to school. I spent the trip there and back stopping periodically to get out and run around the van slamming all the doors. This did nothing but exacerbate my annoyance. And entertain the kids.

“Mommy, your face is all red!”

“Yeah, what were you yelling out there?”

“Nevermind. How about some music?”

We turned up Billboard’s Top Hits of 1969, particularly this. We discussed going The Partridge Family route and painting the van in a Mondrian inspired pattern and heading to Caesar’s Palace. But then everything started looking a little warped and curved, Lucy zoned out, Phoebe passed out and Julia started seeing sound as color.

I think I’ll just schedule Vanessa for some maintenance instead.

Phoebe took her first steps yesterday. I didn’t capture that, either.

Yesterday, my mom turned 54.

(This would be the perfect place to include a photo of my mom on her birthday.)

She doesn’t look it, though. And because 1) she doesn’t look old, 2) my dad is rarely seen by anyone outside our home and 3) my mom and I are together a lot, we’ve been mistaken for a) sisters, b) sister wives and c) a lesbian couple. We are, actually, simply, I) mother and daughter and II) the best of friends.

(Here’s another great place for a photo. Oooh, one of mom and me, maybe laughing and looking at each other would be good.)

She is my constant. And I love her more than just about anything.

(Next year, my goal is to have some pictures to prove it.)

Sundays are for softball.

Dave joined a co-ed double-header softball league for Fall. He plays on Sundays near work.

Here’s the thing about Sundays: Dave is either coming off a 12 hour shift at work or getting ready to start one.

Here’s the thing about work: It’s about an hour or more away from our house.

You’d think Dave would prefer to rest on Sunday. He does not. Dave prefers softball. Always and forever. The End. I prefer to watch Dave play softball. The day we met, I watched him play softball. And since we’ve been married, I can count on one hand the games I’ve missed watching him play. So on Sunday, after working 12 hours, Dave was doing this:

Dave pitching a double-header

And I was doing this:

Dave running to second

(I’m taking his picture (in case that wasn’t clear). I’m not actually IN the picture. That’d be crazy.)

After the game, because he can’t get enough softball EVER, he had the girls get their gloves out to play a little more.

Playing catch

Lucy runs to second

Monkey in the middle

“Hey Dave, you haven’t slept in, like, 24 hours. Wanna head home?”

"I got it!"

“Sleep!!?!? Who needs sleep? Let’s run some bases, girls!”

Running the bases

Julia takes the lead

Eh, softball. At least he doesn’t have a mistress.

Relatively Speaking

Of my three girls, Phoebe is the shyest.

Bee with a messy face and sneaky Mommy

Bee loves Mama's sunglasses

Rock star!

This says a lot about the timidity of the other two.

Maybe “less outgoing” is a better description. “Shy” isn’t exactly part of our family vocabulary.

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