January 14, 2014

Family Tree

                This story has been taken down for personal reasons, but it did win Editor's Pick at Yeah Write! Thanks, as always, for reading. -mg

January 7, 2014

The Snow Day

I woke up groggy, in the kind of haze where you're pretty sure your hair is somehow being accidentally vacuumed, but really it's just your 3-year-old pulling at your scalp to make sure you're up. Because it's 5:45 a.m. And he's thirsty for milk. Now.

My fault. I went to bed with the sweet song of the "no school tomorrow" phone call still chirping melodically in my ears and two whole episode catch-ups of Downton Abbey done on the iPad (I'm still on Season 1, but still! two whole episodes!). Up too late with naughty nobles and dastardly footmen, I was.

So as my husband kissed me good luck and made his way into the arctic deep freeze, I turned to Facebook for ideas. What the sam hill was I going to do with three kids--three totally different skill sets (~5, 3, 17mo)--that we hadn't already done over the two-week Winter Break?

I have some savvy friends on Facebook, and I loved their suggestions. Bake. Pretend it's school (something I once wrote about doing over here when I had one kid, but it was like, music school all day and we studied music by the decade each hour). Make a tropical island destination and put the kids in swim suits. These were all great.

But then I turned to the kids, their wee, lovely cheeks full of bagel, and asked them what they wanted to do.



AAAAAAH! {said the baby.}

So. We went to Africa. When I asked 5 more specifically what she had in mind, she said she'd seen a big waterfall in a picture, and wanted to go there. Victoria Falls is in Zimbabwe, so now that we had a more specific destination, there was only one thing left to do.

We grabbed our passports.

And quickly made an itinerary, agreeing not to over-plan, but to see where our trip took us.

We saw sleeping lions and tigers in their "habitat."

Monkeys, doing what they do best.

We played in desert "sand" with a zebra, hippo, leopard, and giraffe.

(We even spotted their secret watering hole.)
All the while, listening to "The Lion King."
Of course

The babe really dug this. Holy sensory play.

And then, off to "Victoria Falls," aka, the tub of  N-iquity (you probably can't tell,
but our shower curtain is a map of the world--so there was a mini-geography lesson in there somewhere).

(N.B. blue "falls" washcloth)

No trip to the continent--no trip anywhere, really--would be complete without music. African drumming, people!

Mini-science lesson: how many different sounds can you make
 when you put different stuff in
different containers? Answer: enough to make the baby scream for mercy.
And to quiet the beasts in all of us, some reading/circle time: Giraffes Can't Dance (yep, it takes place in Africa). Crowd favorite.

We paused for lunch and quiet time, where my fearless travelers are resting their weary wanderlust. 
What a lucky momma I am: an extra day to spend with my babes, and in our own little sub-Saharan haven on this sub-zero, Arctic day. 

Thanks for the ideas, friends! Next snow day destination: South America. 

November 19, 2013


My four-year-old daughter espouses the merits of what sounds like fertilizer on our way to her checkup. Like in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, you have to put all the stuff you don't eat into the earth so you can grow more food. What is the doctor going to do?

Because I am a teacher, I prepare for the exam. We role play the questions. Do you brush your teeth? I ask. Mom, you know I brush my teeth, she says. What do you eat? I ask. Mac and cheese, chocolate, popcorn, and lollipops, she answers, truthfully. I try to imply that she eats more than that, and doesn't mommy put lots of fruit in your lunch and veggies in your dinner? That gets a huge laugh. What do you like to do? She perks up. Watch mooooovies! I refrain from suggesting she not talk about how much t.v. she watches. What comes out in the wash comes out, and I remind myself that more than one person said It's o.k. Unless it's like, four straight hours.

The doctor's appointment: it's like my report card, but from the most non-judgemental people in the medical profession. It was the husband-wife pediatric team that talked me down off the ledge when I brought in my 18-month-old middle child who had no issue, save for a mother that felt like she was drowning from sleep deprivation; it was my kids' doctor who assured me that I wasn't the first person to feel completely inept at parenting and it was his wife, the nurse, who told me that my and my husband's jobs during the first few years of parenting three kids were primarily keeping them fed, clean, and happy.

Yet I can't help but crave some kind of approval.

Her temperature, weight, height, vision, all normal. Then the questions begin.

Do you know your colors? The nurse asks.

Yes, my sweet daughter answers, every one except for green. Hmm.

How about your numbers? My daughter takes in the question and decides that she does.

Do you brush your teeth? That's an easy one.

What do you eat? What are your favorite foods?

I watch my daughter's wheels spin in her blonde head.  She sits up straight: My faaaavorite foods (she's turning it on, now) are carrots and broc-co-li! Yum, I LOOOOVE broccoli! My girl looks at me for approval--clearly I've subliminally persuaded her to lie and tell 'em what they want to hear. The nurse looks at me askance. I shake my head that no, that's not quite the case. Broc-co-li was last night's dinner's drama.

The nurse inspects her little body. I am not sure how she looks it over and manages to not want to bite all the parts I want to bite and kiss and nuzzle. I am silently grateful that she is dry, no accidents (yet).

Aren't you going to check my eyes and my nose? she offers her head forward for inspection. The nurse tickles her cheek and my daughter fake laughs her "cute laugh," the one that sounds like kid laughter on a toy commercial. And now we're both seeking feedback.

Does she drink milk? The dreaded question. My kid gave up milk this year in all it's forms: the smells of cheese and yogurt and cottage cheese make her run out of the kitchen, holding her nose like a clothespin, screaming Eeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwww! I explain that we're trying soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and rice milk! my girl chimes in. The nurse quietly offers alternatives. We move on to how to disguise vegetables into everyday meals, but I know my kid is on to me, so I make the conversation overt. I suggest that I make her a spinach ice cream smoothie.

What color would that be? The nurse asks, smiling.

Pistachio! Says my daughter.

And what color is pistachio?

She smiles and rolls her eyes to the ceiling. See! she says, I told you I don't know green!

The visit is nearly over when the nurse asks my daughter what she's learning. Spanish, swimming, dance, she lists on her little fingers. M is for Mexico and I is for Israel. The nurse scribbles some notes and mutes her amusement so as not to invite antics. The visit is done. She invites my daughter to get dressed, and my daughter falls apart.

Falls apart. Tears all over the place.

Where's my TREAT?!? she explodes. You said I could have a treat if I got a shot!

I remind her that she got her flu shot yesterday, and that she did, indeed, have a lollipop.

Now she is naked and crying, and it's all my problem, because the nurse politely makes her way out of the room, wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving!

Between her sobs, I tell my daughter to say goodbye back--C'mon, whaddaya say?--to no avail. The sobs turn to wails, and all I can do is put her back on the exam table and nuzzle her back to laughing. And though given two more chances to say goodbye to the gracious nurse on our way out, she doesn't, but instead flashes a smile and licks the glass door.