Saturday, December 8, 2012

Jessica club

Jessica: You know what my first rule is? "Listen to Jessica". You know what my second rule is?
Mommy: Listen to Jessica? (a la "don't talk about Fight Club")
Jessica: (gives Mommy a look that says "You're an idiot" because of course she's never seen Fight Club). My second rule is "Be Nice to Jessica."

Well then.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The grass is always greener--except in Mommy's yard

It snowed here on Saturday. Not a lot, but enough for the kids to play in. At one point Xander came in and started whining about how Jessica wouldn't share the broom with him. Turned out they were cleaning the snow off the car. I found the actual snow brush for the van and gave it to him. As soon as Jessica saw it, she said he could have the broom because she wanted the brush. Of course, he wasn't making that deal, but eventually they worked it out.

This morning, now that the snow has melted, I discovered the grill brush on the ground near the van as we headed out to the bus stop. The question "Did you use this on the car?" was answered with guilty looks. I was remarkably restrained, I thought, mainly because it appeared there was no damage to the car.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It was bound to happen sooner or later

I've known from the beginning that Jessica and Xander have bad genes in terms of eyesight. I got glasses in the 3rd grade. Every so often, I ask Jessica to read something far away.

Last week in Target, she had some trouble. Not a lot but I made a mental note to get her checked at the doctor.

Mental notes don't work very well for me, so I was actually kind of glad when I got a letter from the school today saying she should be checked by an eye professional. So I asked Jessica if they had checked her vision at school. She said yes. I asked if it was before or after we'd been to Target (which was 6 days ago). She said after. I guess the school and I made this discovery at approximately the same time.

I'll be calling tomorrow to make an appointment for her. Poor thing says she doesn't want to wear glasses. I know how that feels. I didn't want to either. She said no one else in her class wears glasses, which actually kind of surprised me, because I feel like I see lots of kids wearing glasses. I told her not to be too upset, that I'm sure soon enough a lot of kids will be wearing glasses (or contacts).

Now I'll have to start checking on Xander's vision.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


There are definitely some advantages to the kids getting older. Today, Jessica was still hungry after the first course for lunch (chicken and stars soup). When she complained, I asked if she wanted PB&J.  I suggested she make it, because I didn't feel like doing it. Imagine my surprise when she eagerly agreed to do it. I'm not sure who was more excited: Jessica about doing it or me about Jessica doing it.

* * *

Last week we went out for ice cream but I was short on cash. I borrowed $4 from Jessica. For the next few days, she asked me several times a day if I had gone to the bank yet to get money so I could pay her back. I was afraid she was going to send out someone to break my legs.

* * *

We've gotten several multiplayer games for the Ipad, like Uno and Chinese Checkers. I bought Blokkus because I like it and I thought it would be fun. For the past month, every few days I ask the kids, do you want to play blokkus? only to be shot down every time.

I noticed recently that Jessica was covertly playing Blokkus in the single player mode. She looked appropriately chagrined when I busted her.

* * *

Xander has developed this wonderful habit lately of saying  "love you, Mom" many times a day. Sometimes he just throws it out "Love you, Mom" and sometimes he says, "Mom?" "What?" "Love you." It just never gets tired.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Going swimmingly

A brand new pool opened in town a couple of weeks ago. It's very nice, with zero grade entry and some fountains and it's FREE. We went the day it opened and shockingly it wasn't mobbed. Jessica really liked it. Xander liked it, too, until we were informed that he couldn't wear his "bubble," the backpack flotation thingy they approve of at the Y. Only Coast Guard approved devices. This really soured Xander, because he'd been having a great time swimming by himself. So I had to get out of the pool and sit with Mr. Sulky while Jessica had a great time.

I thought I would investigate buying a coast guard approved life jacket, if it wasn't too expensive. I looked online and Walmart had some between $10 and $20. I went to Walmart today but they were sold out. I hadn't thought of my go-to place, Target, but I had to stop there anyway (of course). I looked down the swimming supplies aisle. They had floaties and tubes. I almost missed the life jackets, which were very picked through.

Then I saw a vest with Cars on it. It seemed almost too good to be true. There was only one there. I grabbed it, before anyone else came down the aisle. It was for kids weighing 30-50 lbs. Okay, good. The lifeguards at the pool told me officially sanctioned life jackets would say so on the vest itself. I opened up the vest. Coast Guard approved! Score! I almost didn't care how much it cost, because I know Xander will approve. But it was only $17, so double score.  Brand new pool, here we come!

August 18: Update:
Argh! Unbelievable! He *still* refused to wear it. So I took it back. I don't know where this kid gets his stubborness from......

* * *

You can't always get what you want

Jessica is very sensitive to the smell of my car. I had bought some air fresheners a while ago and we had used them all up. We bought some more recently. I wanted to get the same fragrance we had last time ("fresh washed cotton") which, while not fantastic, was tolerable and seemed to do the job. Jessica was with me and really wanted to get cherry. I had my doubts but went ahead and got the cherry. It rained the other day, which seems to aggravate the smell in the car. I got out one of the air fresheners and opened it up. She seemed okay with it at first. Then yesterday, when we got into the car first thing in the morning, the smell of cherry was overwhelming. She got in the car, started to gag and begged me to turn on the car so she could roll down the windows.

I reminded her that *she* had insisted on this fragrance. She remembered. I told her I was going to get more air fresheners and I was going to select the smell. She agreed.

I got fresh washed cotten.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Laura/Harry Potter: 1
Jessica: 0

I've been trying to get Jessica to read Harry Potter for a while. Every time I suggested it, she'd say it was too scary. Since she hadn't read it, I don't know how she could accurately come to that conclusion.

I read to the kids every night. On Friday, I asked about Harry Potter again. No. So I offered to read a few pages, and it wouldn't count against her reading time, that I'd still read her whatever she chose afterwards. I told her if she didn't like it after a few pages to tell me to stop.

When I finished the first chapter, I stopped reading.

"Well?" I asked. "Did you like it?"

Begrudgingly she replied, "Sort of." But she still insisted on choosing something else to read.

Last night I read another chapter. When I tried to stop after the chapter was finished, she begged me to keep reading. So I did.

She leaves today for a 5 day cruise with Daddy and his family. I offered to give her the book to take with her, even though I felt selfish and didn't want her to read it without me. Fortunately, she decided she'd rather read it with me, so it's going to wait till she gets home.

I *knew* she'd like it......

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ear trouble

Jessica is a nail biter. Xander is not. Sometimes I forget to trim his nails and they get kind of long. He was complaining that his ear hurt and I suspected maybe he scratched it with his uber long fingernail. He confirmed that that was the case, and I told him not to stick his finger in his ear and that it would feel better if he left it alone.

A few days later, he complained again that his ear hurt. "It's not just that I scratched it," he explained. "I think I took bits of ear out."

After a long pause in which I managed not to laugh, I assured him that that was not the problem. I'm not sure he believed me.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Two cute things Xander said recently:

pink "brains" (for berets, from "Hop")

"Mothertine's" day. I'm assuming he mixed Mother's Day and Valentine's Day but it's so unbearably cute, I don't have the heart to correct him.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sick days

Xander stays home with me on Tuesdays and Thursday and attends preschool Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Yesterday, Thursday, he spent most of the day in an attempt to prepare me for him taking a sick day today.

Last week, I let him stay home one day when he told me his stomach hurt. I suspected he was faking but I didn't want to risk him exposing other kids if he actually were sick. He tried it again with Daddy on Monday, but Daddy didn't give in.

So yesterday, he spent the whole day telling me how tired he was and that he was hot. He is actually prone to frequent fevers and I can tell just by touching him if he's got a fever. He was not hot at all. I even took out the thermometer and took his temperature. Our thermometer shows green for no fever, orange for low fever and red for high fever. It was green, much to his disappointment.

Yet, despite all his preparation, as soon as Jessica came home from school, he forgot all about being tired and potentially sick and played happily with her. Then at bedtime, he wasn't at all tired, even though I even pointed out to him that he'd been complaining of being tired all day.

I think his 5 year old mind forgot about this planned deception because he didn't bring it up today and went off to school with fewer complaints than usual.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Smarter than the average 2nd grader

After a few days of rain or otherwise cold and raw weather, it's nice and sunny out today. While I was working on dinner, Xander went out to play. I asked Jessica if she wanted to go out and play with him. No.

I was slicing up some watermelon and asked her if she wanted any. She did. Then I asked her to go outside and ask Xander if he wanted any. My theory was that once she got outside, she'd realize she wanted to play out there. She came back in and told me Xander did not want any watermelon. I thought my plan had failed but a minute later she grabbed her bowl of watermelon and told me she was going outside to play.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


In the spirit of Earth Day, yesterday was Clean up Waltham Day. The girls from Jessica's Brownie troop went to a nearby park and cleaned all the trash they could find.

This reminded me of a recent conversation I had with the kids. Their current favorite dessert is a package of gummies (gummy fruit, gummy Cars, gummy anything). However, almost every single time they eat them, they just drop the wrappers on the floor or the couch or wherever they happen to be. Now, I've drilled my contempt for littering into the kids so I tried to appeal to that contempt. I told them dropping trash on the floor is just like littering inside. They knew what I meant but thus far I still keep finding wrappers.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Peer influence

I took Jessica to the Museum of Science today. We wanted to see the gecko exhibit before it closes in a couple of weeks.

After we were done, we went around the museum. They had this one exhibit where it demonstrated the prisoner's dilmenna , only with the theory that if both people cooperated they could share $100 ($50 each). If one person wanted to keep the money and the other person opted to share it, that one person got $100 and the sharer got none. If they both opted to keep the money, neither of them could keep it.

There was a 10 or 11 year old boy sitting in the other chair, as player 1. Jessica was player 2. The game went through 5 iterations, to see how your behavior changed based on how your opponent acted. Round 1: the boy hit "keep" and Jessica hit "share" so he got $100. Round 2: both of them hit "keep", Jessica because the boy had done it the previous round. Route 3: both of them hit keep. Round 4: Jessica tried to share again and the boy hit "keep." Round 5: they both hit "keep." Final result: the greedy boy got $200 and Jess got nothing. They played another set of 5 and the boy hit "keep" on every round.

I found this very annoying, particularly because when the boy got up and I took his place, I played a set with her. The first round? I hit "share" and she hit "keep" because she'd learned to do it from this kid. Round 2: I hit share, she hit keep.  Round 3: we both hit share. Round 4: I figured she'd hit share and wanted to teach her a lesson, so I hit keep. Round 5: we both trusted each other and hit share. She ended up with $100 more than me.

I know that if the 2 of us had sat down and she'd never interacted with the boy, we'd (probably) both have hit share every time. It made me a little sad.

* * *
I think I've been talking too much about money. What with taxes due, I've been keeping a tight rein on spending and when the kids ask for something, I say, "Not today, we're saving money."

Today I bought a new grill. When I picked Xander up from school, I told him I had bought it . He immediately responded, "So, how much did it cost?"

I didn't tell him.

Friday, March 16, 2012


When I picked up Xander from preschool today, he whispered "Can I eat this?"

I asked him what "this" was. He showed me a jelly bean. I said yes. It was just a jelly bean.

When we got home, I saw he had a handful of jelly beans. I thought he just had one.  "How many jelly beans do you have?" I asked.

"What? Xander has jelly beans?" asked Jessica, who, heretofore, had her nose buried in a book.

"Xander, give her some jelly beans," I said.

"Where did he get them?"

"School," I said, assuming that was where he had gotten them.

"No, I didn't," Xander piped up.

"Well, where did you get them from?"

He shrugged. I asked again.

"Well, I put on my coat and there they were," he said. I remembered that the fleece jacket he was wearing he hadn't worn in a while.

"Xander, how old are those?" I asked, understanding the situation now.

He shrugged.

I didn't let him eat any more but he seems to be none the worse for wear.

I subsequently remembered that I had bought him jelly beans last weekend (which seems like forever ago to me) when we went to the movie. I don't exactly remember that he was wearing the green fleece jacket, but that's the explanation I'm going with.

* * *
From a Facebook status a few days ago:

Jessica and Xander playing:
Xander: "Mom! We need an umbrella."
Jessica (as Mom): "No, we don't, it hardly ever rains here."
Xander: (makes thunder noise)
Jessica: "Now we need an umbrella."


Now that Jessica likes to read so much, I've been encouraging her to read books at a higher reading level. She's not reading War and Peace yet but we recently started the Chronicles of Narnia. I do most of the reading, out loud at bed time, but when I stop reading to give Xander his turn, she'll grab the book from me to continue reading on her own. I only ever read the Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe, so most of the books are new to me, and I'm really enjoying them too. We finished the first two books and are currently working on The Horse and His Boy.

I was trying to think of what I could suggest for her to read next. A friend mentioned the Prydain Chronicles (Book of Three) which I *loved* so much that I actually bought all 5 books (the whole series) when I was pregnant. Of course, that was so long ago, that I'd forgotten about them sitting there on the bookshelf.

I took the first one out and realized there may be a problem getting Jessica to read it. See if you can guess:

I don't remember the book itself being anywhere near as scary as that picture. I may actually have to get a different copy from the library, even though I own it, just to find a more benign cover!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Conversation from 2 minutes ago, after watching a cartoon with a mother-in-law character:

Jessica: Who's my mother-in-law?

Laura: You don't have one. You don't get one till you get married.

Jessica: How old do I have to be to get married?

Laura (not missing a beat): 25.
Editor's note: I actually thought about telling her 30.

Jessica: How many years till I'm 25?

Laura (feeling very satisfied): 17.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Children love pets. Me, I'm a cat person. We currently have 5 cats in the house, 2 permanent, 3 foster. I'm all pet-ted out. When the children started clamoring for more pets, I steered them towards their father.

My recommended approach was this: ask for a dog, beg for a dog, plead for a dog, settle for a mouse. It worked! About a month ago, Hari bought them each a little white mouse.

Their names? Jewel and Firefighter / Pirate Ship (with the "slash" pronounced).

Guess who named which mouse?

For the record, Firefighter "slash" Pirate Ship was subsequently renamed to something which I can't remember but had only one syllable.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Top Secret

Somewhere, Jessica got the idea that she needed a diary. A diary with a lock. Then of course, I had to get one for Xander. These are not easy to find. I ended up ordering them online, a princess diary for Jessica and a pirate diary for Xander. With locks.

While we were looking for one, we saw an ad for invisible pens.  Jessica thought this was a great idea. I got her one of those too. When they arrived, she immediately started writing with her invisible ink in her locked diary. I asked her what she was writing about. She wouldn't tell me.

The diary came with 2 keys. Two small keys. I put Xander's on an elastic string to wear around his wrist but I ran out and couldn't find more so we just had to be careful with Jessica's keys.

This morning Jessica told me: "I don't have to worry about losing my key anymore."

"Why not?" I asked.

She showed me. The key to the lock was attached to the diary with a pipe cleaner. I don't think she's quite clear on the concept .

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I love Jessica. She can be so sweet. I have to remember these times when she's being mean to Xander or making fun of him or being teenagerish with me.

Like on Friday. Now, for a while, Jessica has this very sweet habit of drawing hearts and writing "J+M" inside, for "Jessica & Mommy." No matter how many of these I see (and I see a lot of them, she draws them almost every day), I love them every time.

On Friday, she announced "I'm making my first 'J+X'" (Jessica & Xander) and gave it to her brother.

(Of course this didn't stop them from screaming at each other off and on all weekend but I have to take victories where I can).

What'd he say?

You know when someone says something to you and you understand the first 10 words but it's only the last 2 words you couldn't understand? And then, you ask them to repeat it, and you understand the first 10 words (again) but not the last 2 words (again)? And then you get caught in an endless loop?

I had one of those conversations with Xander today. To make it harder, we were in the car. I don't hear about 80% of what he says in the car between road noise, bad hearing and bad pronunciation.

Xander: Remember when we saw those people and <blah mumble blah>

Mommy: What?

Xander: Remember when we saw those people and <mumble jumble>

Then you try to make things easier by repeating the part of the sentence you understood, to let the other person know you got that part, and to repeat only the rest of the sentence.

Mommy: Remember when we saw those people and...what?

Xander: Remember when we saw those people and <blerg blah blah>


Xander: <mumble mumble>

Mommy: (sigh). Thanks for clearing that up.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What then?

Xander has picked up this habit of wanting an hourly accounting of our plans. It usually starts like this:

Mommy: We're going to the library.

Xander: Then what?

Mommy: Then we're going to the grocery store.

Xander: Then what?

Mommy: Then we're going home.

Xander: Then what?

Mommy: Then we're having dinner.

Xander: Then what?

Mommy: Then we're going to bed.

Xander: Then what?

Mommy: (sigh) Then we're waking up.

Xander: Then what?

Mommy: Then you're going to school.

Xander: Then what?

Mommy: (pointing out the window of the van) Look! A truck!

If I'm lucky that distraction will take him off this pattern. If I'm not, well, we get to go through a week's worth of getting up/eating/school/eating/going to sleep, etc. You'd think he'd know by now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Two of our 4 foster kittens were adopted a few weeks ago. One was Tangerine, the orange tiger that was both Jessica and Xander's favorite. The ones we have left are Willie, the stereotypical tabby cat, and Fluffy, grey tiger with long fur and absolutely ginormous paws. We've grown pretty fond of these two and when someone came last weekend to meet them and seemed to really like them, I got a bit worried.

But I have been prepping the kids for the eventual adoption of our kittens by reminding them that we can always foster more kittens, that there with always be more kittens. One day Jessica and I went online and looked up pictures of newborn kittens. SO CUTE! Well, extremely newborn kittens actually kind of look like rodents but once their fur grows in and their eyes open, then SO CUTE.

The kids weren't home when the prospective adoptive couple visited but I told them that I thought there was a good chance Willie and Fluffy might have to leave soon. I was all prepared for Jessica to be really upset.


"Okay," she said. "When can we get more kittens?"

I think I'm going to have more separation trauma than she is.