Friday, February 29, 2008

It's Leap Day!

Here are some bits and pieces for you...

Here's a post I wrote on using books on writing as a way to procrastinate instead of writing books.

I'm going to a girl's night out tonight. Several of my friends and I will be eating dinner at P.F. Chang's and then going to a movie. This is great, since I haven't done such a thing in a long time.

The movie choices mentioned are Definitely Maybe and The Other Boleyn Girl. If anyone asks me, I will vote for the first one even though Natalie Portman is one of my favorite actresses. Here's why: because my reading project last year was to read histories/biographies of Henry VIII, his wives, and his children, and I fear that my friends would have to cover my mouth in the theater because I would keep embarrassing them by saying out loud, "THAT didn't happen" and similar comments. You can take the girl out of grad school, but you can't take grad school out of the girl. (And yes, I am assuming that the movie won't be historically accurate, because they almost never are. Even when the history is just as interesting. However, I would be okay with it if they don't show all the theologians arguing for years about how to justify or condemn Henry's reading of Scripture to divorce Catherine of Aragon. The reality there certainly sounds too dull for a movie.)

How did I ramble into that monologue, which doesn't really matter? Let's see, what else do I want to tell you?

Last night I went to a meeting about the charter school I'd like to get Miss Pink enrolled in. If you're unfamiliar with charter schools, they're public schools that are free and subject to the district's academic standards, but are run more like a private school. This particular school has more neat things about it than I have time to tell you about, but basically all the teachers use teaching methods based on research that shows how the brain actually works (i.e. no lecturing for an hour while writing on the board). They believe in multiple intelligences and learning styles, so they do a lot of projects, experiments, presentations, field trips, and group discussions. All things I saw (and tried to do) when I was teaching, but at this school, it's a more wholistic approach, since they start in kindergarten.

I liked everything about the school, so obviously I want Miss Pink to go there. It's first-come-first-served, so you log online on the appointed day and try to get a slot. Nerve-wracking for someone like me, but better than when people used to camp outside the school for 2 days to register. The assistant principal said that obviously kindergarten (which is what we need) is easier to get in since there are no students moving up from the next grade, and if we log in on time, we have a good chance of getting a spot. I know Miss P could get a good education elsewhere, but I think with her love of people, artwork, and storytelling, she'd be a good fit here. I've prayed about it and asked God to just put her in the right school, and I feel good about whatever happens.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Two quotes I heard this week that made me laugh (both are paraphrased since I can't bring magazines home from the gym to check my accuracy):

Ray Romano said that having kids is like living in a frat house: it's always noisy, everything in the house is broken, and there's a lot of throwing up.

Jon Stewart noted that the thing to remember about the will of the people is that it wasn't too long ago we were all swept away by the macarena. (Draw your own conclusions about how to apply this statement.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Happy 2nd Birthday, Mr. Blue!

My baby boy turned two years old on Saturday. We had a small party since I believe in keeping parties low-key (and inexpensive) as long as I can. My parents and brother came, and a couple of other toddlers and their parents (and one older sibling who is my daughter's best friend, so that was great for her). We have a small house, so it ended up being perfect for the amount of people who came. (Still, the insecure part of me wished the other two invitees, both boys, could have come. Oh well, all the kids had a great time.)

The kids ran around and played, mostly with ordinary balloons, until it was time for cake and presents. I made these cupcakes, and they were amazing. While I clearly do not have an alternative career as a cake decorator, I learned that I CAN bake from scratch, and butter and sugar and cocoa are much more tasty than chemicals in a mix. (Duh, right?)

Mr. Blue loved his party and was very sweet to his friends and family, because that's just the kind of guy he is. I keep waiting for the sentimentality of "OMG I'm losing mah baby" to hit me, as it has one of my friends, who is tortured by the idea of moving her nearly three-year-old youngest child out of his crib into a big-boy bed. ("But you know he's not going to be able to fit into it when he leaves for college," I told her in a mock-reasonable tone. Such a supportive friend I am, with the mocking.)

So far, I am okay with Mr. Blue reaching the ripe old age of two. I love that he talks all the time, even as much as his sister, and it even makes me laugh that if you do not respond to him, he will repeat his statement over and over, in a louder tone each time, until you do. I love that he says "Tank oo Mommy" almost every time now, but when you remind him to say please, he says, "Say pease" like a little parrot. I love when he says, "I go get it," and "I be wight back." I love the way he plays with his toys and the way he wants to "look at aminals" on Most of all, I love the way he turns back into a baby when he's sleepy and wants "Mommy rock" (NOT Daddy) and I can hold him and sing to him for a few precious minutes, which feels like the ever-shortening amount of time left for him to be small enough to hold like this.

No, I'm not sentimental at all. (sniff)

I'll let you know if it hits when he starts school.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I just have one question today.

Low-rise jeans in size 4: why do they even EXIST?


Edited: yes, children's size 4. (I didn't even realize I hadn't specified, I was so irritated.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


My husband left town yesterday around 3 p.m. The kids and I had a good evening together, but I checked Mr. Blue’s temperature because he seemed a little warm even after a bath, and wouldn’t you know it—he had a 100.3 fever. Nothing to really worry about, but enough to derail our plans for the next day.

Crap. Perfect timing.

I was a little morose this morning since he still had the fever when he woke up, and downright alarmed when he threw up a little after slugging down some milk—NOT THE DEATH VIRUS AGAIN! Haven’t we suffered enough? Plus his birthday party is on Saturday! But he was fine afterward (I took away the milk) and I THINK it might just be that he had drainage in his stomach and the sweet cereal and milk hit his tummy wrong. He hasn’t thrown up again, although anything’s possible, I realize. He’s been eating normally all day—which is to say, snacking on string cheese, grapes, and popcorn and demanding candy between every bite.

The fever’s still here, of course, which means we can’t do any of the things that give our day structure and get us out into the world to have contact with other people. In other words, the things that keep me sane.

I guess I’ll just have to be insane for the next few days.

It doesn’t make me proud to say this, but when my children are sick but not really sick, not sick enough to go to the doctor or to lie around motionless all the time, I feel sorry for myself. “Poor me,” I think to myself, “here I am stuck at home waiting hand and foot on a person whose only symptom is a fever and a tendency to yell nonsense syllables louder and louder when I don’t understand his demand, while I try to guess: ‘Juice? No? Blue? Blueberries? No? Books? What?’”

It makes me realize how much I depend on getting out of the house at least once a day to make raising children doable for me. “Stay at home mom”—whatever. If I actually stayed at home all day, every day, I’d…

I don’t want to think about what I’d do.

(This is one reason why I decided not to homeschool, by the way.)

Sometimes we do stay at home all day (although we usually at least run an errand or two) but that’s by choice. Right now, it’s not. And I don’t even have my husband or small group meeting tonight to look forward to at the end of the day.

That last sentence was very whiny. I realize that. And I’m leaving it in, in the interest of honesty.

I am all about the honesty, here at Hairline Fracture. I am sure you appreciate it. ("That's enough honesty for today, Alison," I can hear you saying.)

I’m not sure what the moral of the story is, except to say that I reminded myself firmly about single parents, working parents, and military families who routinely deal with this kind of thing without backup from a spouse. I can make it one week (really just two more days) with a sick child. We have a doctor’s appointment Friday for checkups, so if he’s still sick we can see what’s up. And—worst case scenario—if whatever-it-is gets worse, we could reschedule his birthday party for when he gets better; at least, since he’s only turning two, he won’t know the difference and we can celebrate another day. And believe me: celebrate we will.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Week in Review 2/10--2/16

5 things that made me happy this week

1. Mr. Blue has been carrying around a screwdriver and a tape measure for the past few days. His serious expression when he “uses” the tools just kills me.

2. I got a lot of phone calls made, tasks I’d been putting off. Some things are not finalized, but Mr. Blue is probably going to preschool two days a week in September, Miss Pink is in gymnastics for the spring, and I know who I need to talk to when it’s time to find out which school she’ll be attending in the fall (they’re redistricting and it’s not decided yet).

3. The week has not been as difficult as I feared. I AM tired at night, but the kids are playing together much better all of a sudden. Miss P “teaches” him things and he is old enough to understand and young enough to want to participate (mostly). It reminds me of me and my brother (awwww).

4. Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch.

5. Hearing Miss P say, “This is the best day of my LIFE!” because of it being Valentine’s Day and gymnastics class on the same day.

6 things that bothered me

1. Restless sleep in the early morning hours, after Justin gets up at 5 am. At least I usually go back to sleep.

2. I didn’t eat so healthfully or exercise that much this week, and feel sluggish as a result.

3. Things cost money. Things like Easter outfits and dentist appointments and routine car maintenance. I can’t help letting it bug me a little.

4. Next weekend is Mr. Blue’s second birthday party. I am solely responsible for planning and preparing for the party, since Justin will be gone until the night before. I’m sure it will be fun once it gets here. I always do this—stress over the details in advance. No wonder I keep my kid’s parties low-key as long as I can!

5. Dreams which my subconscious mind thinks should be turned into a story—to the point where I try to figure out how to make the details coherent. Given that my dreams are always incoherent, this is exhausting.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Last night was Miss Pink's first gymnastics class. The mother of her best friend at school and I decided to enroll our girls together so they would have a friend in the class. We got off to a rocky start because I got lost in the city I have lived in my whole life. When I ended up in a whole other town, I called my husband and the conversation sounded like this:

Me: "I'm in [nearby town 20 miles from the city] and I don't know how to get back and we're going to be LATE waaaah!"
Him: "What road are you on?"
Me: "I don't know! I thought I was on [highway] but that turned off a while back and now I don't know! I don't think it's even worth it to go now, we're going to be so late, tell me what to do!"
Him: "I CAN'T because I don't even know where you ARE!"
Me: "Stop making me feel worse!"
Happy Valentine's Day, honey. Aren't you glad you married me?

Anyway, we made it and got to attend half the class, which was totally worth it because Miss Pink LOVED it. Her friend was reluctant to do some of the activities (which is normal for her, she's slow to warm up to most activities, her mom said) but Miss P just jumped up there and gave everything a go like she'd been doing it for years. My heart swelled with pride even while I was encouraging the other mom by bragging on her daughter's efforts (I could tell my friend was a little worried.) Secretly I was thinking, "My kid looks like a NATURAL!"

Really, I don't know why I'd be proud of Miss P for something that comes naturally to her. It's just her nature to enter new situations without needing support from me. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that I am not like that--I would have been her friend, scared to try in case I didn't do well or fell or something. I could always think of numerous reasons not to risk. So I can't take any kind of credit for my oldest child's confidence (except maybe I can, because I've been careful to encourage her rather than implant nervousness in her mind by constantly urging her to be careful so she doesn't hurt herself, or make a mess.)

I guess I'm just happy she will have the opportunity to try things without suffering crippling anxiety about her performance. At least at this age. There's always adolescence to come.
And her friend ended up saying she loved the class, too, so all was well. We'll be back next week.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Part II--Bad Taste in Guys and Music (Until Now)

Happy Valentine’s Day to you! Justin and I are not celebrating per se—we’re going out to dinner with the kids—but since I don’t have to cook or do dishes, I’ll take it. Here’s Part II of my trip down memory lane with the help of some lame songs.

When fifteen-year-old me had a crush on Larry, I loved “Lady in Red” because I had a red dress that I wore to church and I felt so beautiful in it. Unfortunately for me, Larry already had a girlfriend. What was with these guys who didn’t just look into my eyes and decide I was the One for them and get rid of the girls they were already dating? Couldn’t they see that I was the better choice?

Finally Larry’s girlfriend broke up with him (I was thrilled) and eventually, taking his older brother’s advice, asked me out. It was a strange couple of weeks, since he didn’t have a car and there we were in the back seat while his brother drove. Larry was a singer (not in a band, he just liked to sing) and he serenaded me with the immortal New Kids on the Block classic:

I’ll be loving you forever
Just as long as you want me to be
I’ll be loving you forever
All this love’s for you and me, yeah

And…that’s as far as forever went. Larry broke up with me at church on a Sunday morning and by that evening had another date. They stayed together for a year or more, as I recall. I have no idea what he’s doing now.

Next I transferred my thwarted longing onto Larry’s brother Lonnie. (I know, I know.) But at least he was the one with the car! However, he was in love with the prettiest girl in school and it wasn’t until several months later that he offered to drive me home one night even though I already had a ride, parked at the end of my driveway, and laid a big ol’ kiss on me. On the stereo was Debbie (not known as Deborah, back then) Gibson, playing over and over again because it was a single in the tape player. I don’t know why he thought this was ideal makeout music—it was an old song even then, in 1992.

I get lost in your eyes
And I feel my spirits rise

And soar like the wind
Is it love that I am in?

I guess Lonnie wanted to be “friends with benefits” (although more innocently than that term means now) but I was having none of it. I was holding out for True Love. He had no clue why, when he acted like nothing happened, I wouldn’t speak to him. Clueless guys. And I wondered why they wanted to date the girls who didn’t turn everything into Wuthering Heights, with the Tragedy and the Weepy Eyes. I had not yet figured out that guys don’t like Weepy Eyes.

There were a couple of other guys, but I don’t want to write about them except to say that my college boyfriend and I used to sing along with A Whole New World from the Aladdin soundtrack (shudder) even though we really should have known better because a) dorky! and b) our voices weren’t anywhere near as good as Peabo Bryson’s and Regina Belle’s. Also that for a while after we broke up, I couldn’t listen to the radio because happy songs made me cry since oh my God we used to be happy like that, and sad songs made me cry for obvious reasons. I memorized the words to “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” because it was like the songwriter KNEW somehow about our situation.

But there’s a danger in loving somebody too much,
And it’s sad when you know it's your heart you can't trust
There’s a reason why people don't stay where they are
Baby, sometimes, love just ain’t enough.

Then I met my husband, and fell in love, and what do you know, this time it WAS enough. We are dorky, too (hmmm--what's the common denominator in this equation? it couldn't be ME) and our favorite songs to sing along to are sung by groups since he can harmonize and make me sound better. If “Faithfully” by Journey comes on, we’re going to turn it up. Also many of Chicago’s songs. If pressed, I would say “If She Would’ve Been Faithful” is one of his favorites and “Love Me Tomorrow” is mine.

Basically, I’m just glad we’re singing a duet, and we will be forever as long as I have anything to say about it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Don't Blame Me for My Musical Taste; I Grew Up in the '90s

Other than certain smells, nothing triggers memories for me like music. A song from my younger days can take me right back to a time of Taco Bell nachos, big hair, stonewashed Guess? denim, and unrequited (usually) love. Every boy I pined for had his theme song, which would a few months later, be replaced by another boy and another song. Here, for your amusement, are some of my musical memories. Try not to be too disgusted at my musical taste. (I stand by the Natalie Cole song, though. I still sing it to my baby.)

"Into the Night" by Benny Mardones (who?)
She’s just sixteen years old, leave her alone, they say
Separated by fools who don't know what love is yet
But I want you to know

If I could fly, I’d pick you up
I’d take you into the night and show you a love
Like you’ve never seen, ever seen

(I HOPE she’s never seen that kind of love, if she’s just sixteen years old. Put that love AWAY, dude, or you’ll get arrested!) I fervently wished the object of my adoration felt this way about me. Except I wasn’t even 16: I was 13, and I had a crush on my 23-year-old volleyball coach. Despite my attempts to seem mature beyond my years when he was around, I think he probably knew how I felt about him because I kept getting hit in the head by the volleyball because I was staring at his wavy black hair and blue eyes. My crush died a natural but painful death when he got married (to a girl from my future husband’s home town.) He is now a physical therapist and I am not attracted to him at all.

Unforgettable, by Natalie Cole

Unforgettable, that’s what you are
Unforgettable, though near or far
That’s why, darling, it’s incredible
That someone so unforgettable
Thinks that I am unforgettable too

This song was popular the summer that I got my first kiss. I was almost fourteen, at a church camp meeting. (In case you aren’t familiar with the concept, it’s a week of church services attended by members of a denomination in one state, and at least in our case, none of the young people thought about Jesus or anything other than how to get a date.)

All week, I had been going out with the son of one of my dad’s friends whom I’d long thought was cute, and we were having a good time. We were actually going out on dates, as opposed to just holding hands at the concession stand, because I had a 19-year old friend who wasn’t dating anyone and who was a terrific sport about driving younger kids around town. The last night, when we had to return to our separate towns and visiting each other was out of the question, we were in the back seat (ooh la la) and when Gina was distracted because she was talking to Michael’s friend in the front, Michael leaned over and whispered, “I’m going to kiss you, okay?” and did so, without waiting for an answer. I’ve always thought that combination of chivalry and confidence was perfect for a young girl’s first kiss. And I discovered I liked kissing. A lot.

P.S. Just to show how small a world our denomination is, Michael and my husband were pretty good friends after Michael moved to a town close to Justin’s. Michael married a girl Justin knew very well and never quite dated. So there you go. It’s a wonder I didn’t know Justin from birth, really.

How Am I Supposed to Live Without You? by Michael Bolton
Tell me, how am I supposed to live without you
Now that I’ve been lovin’ you so long
How am I supposed to live without you
And how am I supposed to carry on
When all that I've been livin’ for is gone

Yes, I owned not one but two Michael Bolton albums [adult me cringes in shame]. There was a guy who liked me but all my friends thought I’d never go out with him because he had a reputation for being “a bad boy,” while I was so innocent I should have been called a Goody-Goody-Goody. This guy (let’s call him Grant because that was his name) let me know that the song that most reminded him of me was this one. I gasped, “I like that song too!” Bad boy reveals softer side = Alison accepts his offer of a date to Homecoming. And then we dated for several months. Several astute people said this was a horrible choice to be Our Song, but a frizzy-haired screamer brought us together and that was just…so romantic to me.

He wasn’t really that much of a bad boy, but we made out a lot. However, I was almost as much of a goody-goody when we broke up (on Valentine’s Day, which was not nice of me, but I just couldn’t take his temper tantrums any more). And then Our Song was a lot more appropriate.

Wow, this is getting really long. I have a few more I’ll write up and post another day.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Week in Review: 2/3--2/9

This is an idea I got from Cathy Zielske: to list 5 things that made me happy this week and 5 things that I didn't like. I'm trying to do this every week to capture little details of our lives. And I thought I might as well post it here. I like that it's so random, which I love reading when others do it, but my little anal-retentive brain finds it hard to be random on purpose. So here ya go.

Week in Review

5 things that made me happy

1. Mr Blue saying “Tank you Mommy” without being prompted. This means he is 1 for 2,877,523 in the manners department. Victory is in sight!

2. Finding pants that fit me well at NY & Co.—on sale. And also a necklace. Now I SWEAR I will not buy myself anything else for at least two months! (I also got some crosstrainers--totally necessary because my others had no support left--and a dress from Target.)

3. Miss Pink’s teacher saying she is “a little learning sponge” and “a joy to teach.”

4. Miss Pink telling us last night that she wants to be an astronaut and a scientist who cares for tigers. You go, girl!

5. Finding out I have somehow reached my goal weight after not working out for two weeks when we were sick. Apparently the Death Virus wasn’t so bad after all.

5 things that bothered me

1. Finding out Miss Pink can’t play soccer in our town’s soccer organization because the teams are already chosen and registration is closed. What? It’s only February! (She wants to try gymnastics instead.)

2. Spending the money on the pants and jewelry.

3. Knowing that the next two weeks are going to be tiring. This coming week, Justin will be home late (around 8:30) every night except Thursday, including Saturday and Sunday, because of a class he’s taking. Then the following Tuesday he will leave for Louisiana to install a set of cabinets in his brother’s house, while I am here preparing for Mr. Blue’s birthday party on Saturday, which Justin will be back for, but not until Friday night or Saturday. Oy. I take back #2—I totally deserve those clothes.

4. That’s really all—I am so blessed!

Friday, February 8, 2008

You're Thankful for WHAT?

Justin and I don’t tend to be all stuffy and formal in the way we teach our children about God. Mostly because that’s not how we experience our relationship with God. We want our kids to think of God and church as a natural, interesting part of our lives rather than something Serious that is No Fun at All for Kids. So I’m not very rigid about the way we pray: do their eyes really have to be closed? Not at this age, for sure, but they like folding their hands, and chubby toddler hands folded in prayer are adorable. Also, Miss Pink’s bedtime prayers usually sound more like we’re talking on the phone to a friend. “Excuse us, Lord,” she’ll pipe up in the middle of my prayer if she wants to tell me something. “Okay, Lord, we’re back,” I’ll say when she’s done.

But the other night she went too far.

She was sitting on the bed talking to the Creator, thanking him for…farts.

“Thank you, Lord, that we can toot,” she said. “Thank you for the smell.”

The SMELL? She’s thankful for that? I’ve always thought God could’ve spared us that.

Justin told her that was enough, that she was being silly and we don’t need to bring up farts in our prayers. Even if we’re appreciating them.

Then he went into another room and had a good laugh. I’m sure God did the same.

Because our God is not stuffy at all. I know He has a sense of humor. If He didn’t, He couldn’t have created this daughter of mine.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hungry All the Time

Mr. Blue is eating us out of house and home. Dude must be due for a major growth spurt. If we had the pantry space, I’d just order a grocery truck to unload at our house.

It’s mostly healthy stuff, but…it just surprises me that he can fit all of that inside himself and still be hungry. Here’s what he had last night just from supper on (because I can’t even keep track of what he ate earlier in the day): at least a cup of steamed broccoli; several bites of steak Parmesan; a piece of garlic bread; half a banana; two clementines (seedless mandarin oranges); a piece of Valentine’s chocolate; two bowls of cereal; and a sippy cup of milk. He was asking for peanut butter crackers after that, too. We didn’t have any, so I said, “No, bud. You’ve had enough.” Then I felt like a bad mom, because maybe SOMEHOW he was still hungry, and he would wake up in the middle of the night crying from horrible hunger pains—but seriously, we had to leave some food for breakfast. And he didn’t wake up until his normal time, but he had one and a half toaster strudels, another clementine, and some raisins before 10 am. Oh, and more milk.

Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that his current favorite book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

5 Going On 15

Miss Pink has decided she wants to be just like her mommy. This is not entirely new, but her desire to look exactly like me at all times is. It’s sweet of her, and I will wax nostalgic about it someday when she scorns my mildest fashion suggestions, but it can pose problems when we’re getting dressed. For one thing, she has a lot more pink clothes than I do. Today I had to wear a green T-shirt because that was the theme of today’s clothing. She was sad that I didn’t have green pants like hers. I was not sad about that. Thank goodness she can be persuaded that certain colors go together even if they don’t exactly match. (Thank you, Clinton and Stacy.)

It's part of wanting to be grown up. I get that. To her it seems like grown-ups have all the fun. She doesn't know there are days I'd trade places with her in a heartbeat, if it weren't for having to grow up all over again.

She even wants to shave her legs like Mommy. I don’t give her an actual razor. It’s a bladeless plastic razor that came with some depilatory foam. She lathers up her tiny leg and goes to town scraping the foam off. It cracks me up, thinking that someday this is going to be a chore she hates and now she thinks it is just the coolest thing.

She also talks like a teenager sometimes. (This is one of the things that surprised me most about preschool-age girls: I thought all the flouncing and eye-rolling and sarcasm came later. But no.) Her little brother (like most two-year-olds) has a favorite saying: “My do it!” He will back up this assertion with temper tantrums if he doesn’t get to do whatever it is (like, say, pour his own milk). This weekend Miss P said with world-weary scorn, “He says ‘My do it’ for everything.” Like, whatever.

Watching her grow up and getting to fix her hair just like Mommy's every day is one of the best things about my life.