The Light Up Backpack

Dumples started preschool last week. It’s only two hours, two days a week. Basically, there’s time for a song, an art project, and a snack. She needs her own backpack now, and she picked out the only one in the whole store that lights up when you shake it.  She uses it to bring her art projects home and, I presume, to engage new friends.

After the first day of preschool, I asked Dumples if she had made any new friends. “Yep!” she said, beaming.

“Tell me their names,” I coaxed her.

She thought for a moment, then eureka’d, “Silas!” She added, “Silas is my best fwiend.”

“Oh yeah? Did you play with Silas today?”


“Did you talk to Silas today?”


“But he’s your best friend?”


I’m pretty sure this best friendship is all about the light up backup. I can’t see how it could be based on anything else. If Silas even knows who Dumples is.

Important Announcement

Erma and Sigourney would like to announce the retirement of their silly nicknames. From now on, they will be referred to as Chicken and Dumples.

Be a Rebel

Erma switched elementary schools from kindergarten to first grade, because we moved. Now she is a really big kid, who takes the big yellow banana to school and possesses her own protractor.

The new elementary school is pretty great. Only three classes of first grade; no automatic flushes in the bathroom; and the principal gave us the school tour herself! The only thing that troubles me is…they promote rebellion.

Well, they promote rebellion and conformity at the same time. It’s a little confusing. Apparently, the rebel way is for everybody to dress alike.

My favorite rebel behavior is “leave no trace.” Frankly, this sounds very gangster. It’s both rebellious and conformist at the same time. It wins!

And anyway, being a rebel is a mite bit better than Erma’s previous school, at which she was a potato. Go Spuds!

Kidisms from the Apple Orchard

Walking along a nature trail at the Maple Hills Apple Orchard, I’m not sure if Erma asked what caused dinosaurs to become extinct or some other chicken-and-egg type question, but I told her, “Nobody knows.”

“Hey!” said Sigourney, hands on her hips, “that’s my line!”

“Oh, really? Did you copyright that line?”


“Did you patent protect it?”

“Yes, I cat and tekkidded,” Sigourney insisted.

“What is cat and tekkid?” wondered Erma. “Nobody knows.”

“Hey!” said Sigourney, “that’s my line!”

Sigourney in the Apple House.

On the drive home from the orchard, the kids were playing on their kid tablets. Erma, excitedly from the back seat: “Mom! Guess what! Sigourney beat the game! She’s a vegetarian now!”

“What? What game are you playing?”

“Let me look. Um. Best Pet Vet. I’m gonna play and see if I can be a vegetarian.”

Not a bad idea for a game, actually. Has anyone cat-and-tekkidded this idea?

Erma blow drying her painted pumpkin.

My Verruca

Today I found out that I am part witch. The part of me that is witch is the part of me that made me hobble around; cry in pain through the twilight hours; and never, ever, ever tell another soul the embarrassing secret that was happening to the bottom of my foot.

That’s because I thought it was a corn. My mother thought it was a corn. My mother-in-law thought it was a corn. Google image search thought it was a — no, I can’t go back to that dark place. Anyway, even my primary care physician thought it was a corn. And that was embarrassing. Not only was it a corn, but it was a corn that would not be Epsom salt-bathed away, no matter how hard I pumiced.

That is how I ended up with a referral to the P-word, the foot specialist, the word we dare not say. There I sat in a giant airplane hangar, full of neutral colors and fake green plants and lots and lots of people waiting to see different specialists. I sat among a crowd of people who could barely stand up. (I watched them try. It was hard to watch.) My name was shouted and my blood pressure instantly shot through the roof. (Which as I said, was high enough to contain a jumbo jet.)

The nurse asked me some questions. What was my current level of pain? Did I feel safe at home? Have I had an unexplained weight gain? Are there guns in my home? Is there a religious affiliation that I would like them to note in case of…

“Excuse me. I’m here for my foot. Why would I need my rabbi?” I MAY have asked, “Am I going to die?” At the least, I was thinking it.

“Hmm, your blood pressure is pretty high,” the nurse noted, while I was pondering my imminent corn-fed demise.

She told me to take off my shoe and sock and sit in a massage chair. There was new age music playing. She said the doctor would be right in.

The doctor came in 20 minutes later. She was fifteen years old. I almost carded her. She had a scalpel, so I figured, sure, she was the doctor. She pushed some buttons and the massage chair moved around like a dentist chair. I stuck my foot in her face. “It’s a wart!” she proclaimed.

That’s when the big gun came out. The freeze gun. Doctor Goodfeet asked me if I was ready. I was not ready. But I said I was. Then the bullet hit the bone. Actually, the liquefied nitrogen hit the weird foot growth.

That was it. It was over. The massage chair never massaged me; my rabbi was a no-show.

And I’m no longer a witch.

Unless the procedure didn’t work. Then I get to go back and do it all over again. I’ll keep my rabbi on speed-dial.

I Ask Them What They Are Talking About and They Say ‘Just Kid Stuff’

Overheard in the living room:

“Every time Scooby eats a Scooby snack, we have to eat a Scooby snack, and if Scooby eats TWO Scooby snacks, then we have to eat TWO Scooby snacks and if Scooby eats THREE Scooby snacks, we eat three!”

“That’s a LOT of Scooby Snacks!”

It Was Colonel Mustard in the Ballroom with the Candlestick

What a wonderful feeling of accomplishment to put the final touches on a project. Everything has gone pretty much right up until the final point. And then, WHAM, spatulacakes.

The grout is the same color as the cat, the spatula melts into the pancakes. Or the tiniest nesting doll’s face is smudged with paint pen.

I’m pretty sure the difference between an artist and me is that final step. The flub that cannot be unflubbed. The eleventh hour blunder. That thin red line that separates something that could have been a source of pride from something that is a source of embarrassment. But is at least worthy of this blog.

Nevermind. Here is the unveiling of my latest mistake.

Miss Peacock bangs herself with the lead pipe and weeps, “Why did she give me so much mascara? She knows I’m going to blubber and smudge.”

You Can’t Eat Money But You CAN Throw It Away

Ah, these are the dog days of me and The White Car.

This afternoon I did this half-hearted thing I do when my gas tank is being filled: I washed my windows with the dirty squeegy thingy; then, when the pump clicks off, I hurry to finish the windows and don’t squeegy off the excess water-filth.

By the time I got home, I could not see out of the passenger side of the windshield.

“Girls*,” I said, “I will pay you a dollar if you wash my car windows.”

“WHOA.” “WOW.” “A DOLLAR!” they shrieked. “Can we wash the rest of the car, too?”

Knock yourselves out, I told them, but I’m only paying one dollar, and I’m not paying anything if you argue while you’re doing it.

Miraculously, they washed the windows and the car without arguing. I paid them each their dollar and we discussed what a kid could do with a whole dollar.

After assuring Sigourney that yes, you can fold a dollar, no you cannot eat a dollar (“it’s dirty,” I told her, to which she agreed, “yeah, it fell in the MUD and now it’s MUDmoney”), I attempted to explain about going to the store and trading the dollar for something else, such as:

  • A small apple
  • Three or four bananas
  • A small bag of cotton balls
  • A tiny notebook (memo pad)
  • 100 pencils if you go into Office Max 4 different times and buy the maximum limit of 25 pencils for 1 cent each
  • A small pack of crayons
  • A few stickers
  • A cup of rice (white or brown)

“Or how about chocolate?!?” suggested Erma.

“Well, you might be able to buy a LITTLE chocolate for a dollar. Not a LOT of chocolate. But wouldn’t it be better to buy an apple?”

We both knew it wouldn’t be better. Because chocolate is chocolate. And secretly, I was kind of proud of her for wanting to use her money for chocolate. That seemed like such a sillyliss thing to do that she suddenly seemed like my child. (Which she is anyway.)

And then Sigourney wanted to turn her dollar into chocolate right now, which didn’t work out the way she hoped. She later tried to buy more dessert with her dollar, which also didn’t work out.

I heard a rumor that they are going to use their dollars to buy doughnuts and eat them in the park tomorrow. Now that’s money well spent.


*which I only call them when my mother isn’t around

Burgers with the Beetles

It was a quiet evening dinner of hamburgers (and a hot dog for Sigourney).

“Sigourney,” Flathead asked at a break in family banter, “do you want to tell Mommy why you’re not wearing a shirt?”

I had noticed the lack of clothing, but she’s three. Being shirtless is being Sigourney.

“Well,” Sigourney said, “my pet beetle went up my arm.”

I put down my burger (pineapple, cheddar cheese, teriyaki sauce) because I couldn’t keep eating. “Your pet what?”

“My pet beetle. He walked up my sleeve so I had to take my shirt off.”

“Pet? Beetle?”

“He’s over there in the jar.”

“What? Jar?”

“That one. Right behind you.”

I was basically eating dinner in close company with a creepy black crawly thing that had once been up Sigourney’s shirt.

A second later I recovered and ate the rest of my bonsai burger. Because it was that good. And because I was going to have to learn to live with a bug lover.