Friday, January 30, 2015

Cool Skips A Generation

     My parents, and Ariel's mother for that matter, were cool parents.  Young, beautiful, thin, and on top of current fashion trends.  Ariel grew up with a hair do straight out of an MTV music video and I think my mother started chemically lightening my hair on the operating table as the doctor stitched her up from the C-section that brought me into this world.  Both she and the doctor had hip cigarettes dangling off their lips during this entire process.

     During our high school years, when people generally hit their coolness peak, Ariel and I did our best to be bad asses.  I don't know about Ariel's mom but my parents could see through my lame attempts and tried to help me achieve my maximum coolness potential.  Lora, Sweetie, that hair cut makes you look like you're six.  Come over here to the sink.  We'll make you a blonde.  That Should help.  Or Hey, don't kids your age, like, leave the house?  Isn't there someone you could call to maybe hang out with you?  Or Trust me.  EVERYONE your age tweezes their eyebrows.  You just haven't noticed.  Or You're getting fat.  You just think you're not because your girlfriends are fatter than you.  Or  Really, Alyssa?  Your sister should probably experiment with drugs or alcohol soon.  She's getting kinda old for all of that.  She'll probably end up an alcoholic if she doesn't get it out of her system soon. (that one from my parent who WAS an alcoholic)   Or Do you want to go to the prom, Lora?     No, Dad.      Really?  You should probably go.  You don't want to look back and regret missing out on 'teenage things'.         Really, Dad.  I don't want to go.  Did you go to your prom?       Hell no.  The prom was for f#@king nerds.  And the big one You are learning to drive OR ELSE.  We're not driving you around forever.  Ariel spent a large portion of his teen time in his room reading old Conan books.  Even I knew that wasn't cool.

     After I left my parents' homes I never did another cool thing, ever.  I remained close with both of them but we came to an unspoken mutual agreement.  They had done all they could for me.  It was time for them to focus their coolness on my remaining siblings, who were all much cooler than me.

     As luck would have it my recessive cool gene connected with Ariel's recessive cool gene and I gave birth to cool kids.  At the age of six Enzo asked for both of his ears pierced.  I bit my tongue...hard...and nodded  yes.  At the age of three Clara invented an alter ego named Cynthia.  Cynthia wore half shirts and knee high, high heeled, black leather boots.

     Enzo is now twelve.  He wears his hair long and dresses in an I don't care what you think of me.  I like what I like.  Get over it. manner, which seems cool to me.  Clara is ten and needs to be forcefully reminded of that fact on a daily basis.

     But today, on a snowy Friday off from school, Cool Clara experienced a victory, her second of this kind since Christmas.   Right after Christmas I went against every single instinct I had and put magenta highlights in my ten year old daughter's silky, virgin hair.  The six little stripes weren't so bad.  It looked like pieces of Strawberry Shortcake doll hair.  Today, Clara pushed the limits of my nerves a little further by asking me to color the ends of her hair turquoise.  After an initial flip out clearly defining the word TEN  I decided to get over it and let her have her way.  She is a good girl.  She does her homework.  She is sweet to the babies.  She spends her free time writing stories, painting pictures, and singing along with the radio, not smoking crack.  I convinced myself she would still be as good a girl with mermaid hair as with mousy brown hair and took out some latex gloves and aluminum foil.


     My very cool daughter is very happy.  Happy children are something even the nerdiest parent appreciates!


Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Keeper Of The Toothbrushes

     This morning Ariel interrupted an episode of Wonder Pets by leaning over the baby gate and waving two hand fulls of toothbrushes at me. "Hey.  Can you identify any of these toothbrushes?", he asked.  It was clear the whole toothbrush situation had him a little disturbed.

     "The clear blue one that says Countryside Dental is mine and....", I looked at those toothbrushes good and hard but nothing came to mind.  Not one stood out at me as an ENZO brush or a CLARA brush.  I was surprised because in the last twelve years I furnished my "brain attic" (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle calls it in his Sherlock Holmes stories) with little more information than toothbrush cataloging, lunch box cataloging, backpack cataloging...It felt good to only know my own toothbrush.  Independent.  If Ariel's feathers were in a ruffle because the kids didn't throw out their old toothbrushes when they got new ones, well, that could be his problem.  But there he was still looking at those toothbrushes he had pointed at me.  I bit.  "What's up?"

     "There's one here that says Minoo Buchanan on it.   The other day I asked you if we had any new toothbrushes and you gave me one.  Was that it?"

      I shrugged because I didn't give him one.  I told him there was one on the middle shelf of the cabinet that hangs over the toilet in the way, way back next to some cough syrup.  I really didn't know what it looked like.  I only knew it was back there.  I was loosing interest in the disorganized toothbrush catastrophe.  I know the kids are slobs and I don't clean up after them AND I don't teach them how to clean up after themselves.  It's the story of my life.  How could I not know?  At the moment, however,  Israel, Dorothy and I were trying to see if The Wonder Pets  were going to be able to help The Cool Cat and The Hippo settle their differences.  Toothbrushes.  Wonder Pets.  Good grief.

    That's when he got to the point.  "I don't know which toothbrush is mine".

     HA.  HA.  HA.  I did NOT expect that!  Now I need to decide if I'm going to go back to my position of The Keeper Of The Toothbrushes (I could easily toss every brush in the house and start fresh, taking mental note of each brush I assign to each family member) or if I'm going to let my family take up a little real estate in their own "brain attics" with such trivial and boring information as the color of their own toothbrush.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Non Verbal Communication

I walked into the dining room to find Israel just standing in there.  I asked him what he was doing.  He smiled and pointed to his rear end.
 Message received.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


     The last time we had snow a couple of young lads knocked on my door and asked if they could shovel our sidewalk.  This whole scenario matched my small town, Norman Rockwellesque fantasies, so I quickly dipped into my wallet for the boys, only pausing for a moment to wish I was wearing a shirt waist dress and sensible heels instead of fuzzy pajamas and slipper boots.  I also wished I had warm cookies and hot chocolate to offer them at the completion of their delightful job.  Come to think of it, I wish they boys had been wearing pea coats, those plaid hats with the flaps that hang over the ears and would it have killed them if one of them had worn red mittens?

    Well, if my fantasy fell a little short it was nothing compared to Ariel's dashed fantasy.  He had a moment of excitement when he came home and saw the walk shoveled but then images of two boys on bicycles on shovels riding around town popped in his head along with a voice that told him, "Lora paid those boys to shovel".  He knew his own twelve year old son had spent his day curled up in fleece bed sheets shoveling big blocks of virtual snow on his computer.  Let me just say that his disappointment was apparent when he came in from work.

     My mother put my mind at ease over the situation by telling me that there are shovelers in this world and people who hire shovelers and not to worry that my son wasn't a shoveler because everyone has a place.  She couldn't really help me with the sensible heals or warm cookies.

     Today we are having a nice snowfall and I thought, even though Enzo might not make a living in the future as a snow removal specialist he could certainly make his daddy happy by pushing a few flakes off the blue stone this afternoon.  I cheerfully presented this idea to the boy while we feasted on cheese danish this morning.  Enzo clearly told me, "No", he would not be going out there to shovel.  "It's so cold....and the same time.  Honestly Mom, no good can come of that".

      Ok. Ok. My son isn't a manual labor sort of fella.  Fine.  Now I'm just hoping those boys come back before the mail man  breaks her neck.  They don't even have to be wearing red mittens.  Then again, Enzo could do a little babysitting, which is neither cold nor sweaty, while I go out and shovel.  I  just happen to own a very adorable pair of mittens and enjoy the activity quite a lot.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


MOM (LORA):  Enzo, if you don't take a shower I'm going to...

ENZO:  Kill me?

MOM (LORA): No.  I'm going to take your computer away.

ENZO: groan That's worse.  Are you sure you don't just want to kill me?

Baby Day

ASTON: I'm so excited to have a new cousin today.  

DOROTHY: I'm so excited to have a baby sister and a helicopter.

Later DOROTHY informed my that she'll be naming her baby sister Hello Kitty. Aston concurred that our next baby will be a sister.  I just want to get back on the subject of my sister's baby.  Let's leave my uterus out of this.  And the helicopter????

Letting Me Down Easy

    Last night I told Ariel that I wanted to buy a new dining room set this weekend or that at the very least he had to shave down the screw sticking out of one of the chairs in our current, sad little set because Israel scratched himself on the screw.   About half an hour later Ariel found me upstairs and told me he had removed the screw.  I think that was his gentle way of telling me I'm not going furniture shopping this weekend.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Manly Man

     I was coming down the stairs yesterday morning and Ariel was coming up.  All in all it was a rather unspectacular scene except for one teeny tiny detail.  In Ariel's big, man hand he held a toddler sized plastic Hello Kitty mug filled with his morning coffee.

    This morning I was telling Ariel about Dorothy being on a first syllable basis with everything.  Diapers are "diaps".  Pajamas are "pajams".  Blankets are "blanks".  He was quick to inform me that this behavior comes from Barbie's Dreamhouse.  "Everything on that show is 'adorbs' and the like".


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Well Whadda Ya Know? I Don't Care.

     This was my Enzo.  I remember this day.  He had just finished a bowl of homemade organic butternut squash soup and  organic whole wheat pasta.  You can see he is wearing a smart looking fisherman's sweater.  It was from the GAP and cost a small fortune.  I knew it was important for Enzo to be dressed well because people will form an opinion of other people based on their appearance and if Enzo was going to be the superior child I knew he could be he would need to appear as though he came from a good home.  I'm not sure if you can tell but he is also wearing a thermal union suit under his clothes because if a person is going to be an environmentalist as an adult, I knew it was important to start them off at sixteen months old.  The day this picture was taken was much like any other day.  After this picture was taken I let Enzo breastfeed to take his nap and panicked that at sixteen months of age he was A) still breastfeeding and B) couldn't fall asleep on his own.  During his waking hours I read to him and worried that I might not hit the recommended twenty minutes of book time that day.  I built blocks with him and worried that his motor skills weren't getting the attention they needed that day and that he didn't seem to be remembering to clean up after himself very well.  I'd force him to bathe and worry that his fit would interfere with his ability to create and carry out the schedule of a successful man when he eventually became one.  I stumbled through books in foreign languages with him because I read that it was important to introduce those things as early as possible.  I made him listen to lullabies in Spanish so he wouldn't pick up my poor pronunciation.  He also HAD to be exposed to a little Mozart each day.  I knew that was crucial for brain development.  I would torture him by forcing him into his snow gear because at least one hour of outdoor time every single day is mandatory for good health.  I would yell at Ariel for turning on the television in front of Enzo, as he just had to do every day like it was his job, because I was worried we would end up with a lazy brained fool for a son if he saw that glowing monstrosity!   The short and skinny is I had done my research and I knew how to raise the perfect person.  The smartest, most handsome, best mannered, most organized, neatest, healthiest, most successful human being ever to grace this Rat Race Earth.

     When Enzo was eighteen months old he began therapy for a few developmental delays.  When he was twenty seven months old he was diagnosed with mild autism.  I was warned that he might never develop speech.  I gave him a hot dog and a red ice pop after our meeting with the developmental specialist.

     This is Israel.  He has just come home from his fifteen month well baby check up.  Before the appointment he watched four episodes of Dora the Explorer and one Backyardigans episode.  In this picture he is trying to stuff macaroni and cheese (home made with american and cheddar cheese, white elbow macaroni, evaporated milk - whatever THAT is- and generic bacon) into his Nestle Quick.  I'm not sure if his cup is BPA free or not.  He also has some cheddar cheese popcorn and cheddar cheese potato chips he busily transferred from that black and white bowl to the stainless steel creamer pot you see on his tray.  I don't know the brand of his shirt but his pants are GAP.  I paid about a dollar for each of them at The Salvation Army.  I bought everything they had in his size last Half Price Wednesday.  Right now Israel is asleep with a boob in his mouth. Today the doctor told me that Israel continues to be in the ninetieth percentile for his height (just like Enzo was) and he's chunked up from the seventy fifth percentile to the ninetieth for his weight.  This takes him from slightly skinny to perfect.  The doctor also mentioned that Israel is developmentally advanced.

     When I was just Enzo's mother I probably would have slipped someone a twenty just to hear them say the word, "advanced" but all I heard was, "delay", "delay", "delay".  NOW the universe blesses me with these coveted words and I find that I don't give a rat's a**.  I love both of these boys, not for the tricks they can do, but for the very core of their being.  These are my sons (well two of my sons) and I will love them in occupational therapy, in the Olympics,  with chiseled abs, with  beer bellies, on Wall Street, on Crack Alley...I will love these boys no matter what and THAT my friends is success.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hormone Imbalance

This morning the activity in our living room involves our Little three year old Dorothy, dressed from head to toe in pinkie; pink dress, pink pants, pink socks.  She is brushing her hair with a pinkie brush and has me employed in the same way.  To make sure I perform my task effectively she sweetly tells me, "Please brush my hair and don't forget to brush my back and my toes".


Monday, January 19, 2015

Together At Last....

Together forever
We're tied in a knot
They never can sever
I don't need sunshine now
to turn my skies to blue...
I don't need anything but you!

     When I was ten years old I belted out these lyrics as Little Orphan Annie in our local summer stock theater's production of Annie.  Now, twenty five years later I'm motivated to sing them again (just to myself this need to torture my community again, got that out of my system the first time) BECAUSE after a sad, sad, sad year and a half I finally found what I've been looking for.

     At the beginning of summer vacation, not this past one but the one before, Ariel and I decided that we do not negotiate with terrorists and we left our home of six years for one of Ariel's rental houses that was empty.  I'll be honest, I was excited.  I was against the purchase of our old house from the beginning because I loved the house we were in (except for Ann the Ghost-I could have done without her).  Also, I'm a firm believer in the home.  I'm no nomad.  I was forever traumatized by my idiot parents' decision to move from our home when I was twelve...Now that those words are out of my mouth they seem small and petty, but these are the facts, so stick with me.

     Anyway, I agreed to move from "home" to "Ariel's Big Mistake"  because I knew that if I put my foot down over this Ariel would look at me for the rest of his days and think, "If only my wife wasn't such a b!%@h I'd be living it up in the house of my dreams".  It turns out that this wasn't a hysterical or irrational fear.  It was a distinct possibility because every time I looked at the nasty carpets and exposed sub flooring, every time I wiped mold off of our furniture, every time Ariel wasn't around because he had to work around the clock to pay that massive mortgage, I thought, "If only my husband wasn't such an A$$h@!e I'd be living it up in the house of my dreams".

     When the time came to abandon ship the house I considered "home" was being rented to a family I adored and I didn't have the nuts to ask them to leave.  We had a rental house empty that I was pretty sure if we gave away every thing we owned we might be able to cram our family into (The baby due in the fall would be totally tiny for quite a while...right?).  And thus began The Great American Downsize.  I waddled up and down my driveway for months, my pregnant belly getting bigger with each trip, piling things that had been our life under a spray painted sign that read FREE.  At the same time Ariel was up at our new "dollhouse" exchanging windows and the heating system, refinishing floors, and painting the walls, ("Lora, what colors do you want in there?", "Paint the entire f@(%ing thing white.  Fourth house...can't go through it again...can't care, Help me drag this box of books down the driveway, will ya' Sugar?")

     On moving day we had no idea what would fit in this place that was half the size of our current home so we decided we'd fill the new house until nothing else fit and throw the rest out.  There were a few boxes of things that we decided we couldn't part with that we put in the barn behind "the dollhouse".  In our certifiable mania we envisioned ourselves as Buddhist Monks and snorted and sneered at American materialism.  What a weakness the dependence on stuff is!  We've got the sun in the mornin' and the moon at night. (Someday I'll declutter my brain and get rid of all the show tunes that are taking up space in there.)

     As time marched on at "the dollhouse" I often found myself rattling off a string of curse words that ended with, "Where is my__________?".  Truth be told, I didn't know what I had convinced myself I could live without in those final days at "The Mistake".  "Where are my mud boots?"  "Do I have mud boots?"  "Where is my slow cooker?" "Do I have a slow cooker?" but most of all...most of all, "WHERE IS MY COOKBOOK????!!!!" I made a million trips to that barn and a million more into the attic.  Every time I craved, MY hummus, MY spinach soup.  MY banana muffins.  Rip, tear, dump. Box after box. There was also the nagging, "Ariel, have you seen my cookbook?" time and time again.  I guess I was destined to be a b!%(h wife after all.  I was really terrified I threw my precious out because I imagined I'd never need to eat again at the new house.

     The days turned into weeks, the weeks into a year...and a half  with these periodic raids until this weekend, when the craving for hummus was nearly crippling.  I put on snow boots (with my blue nightgown), grabbed Ariel's ladder and marched across the back yard to the barn (backyard neighbors, you're welcome for that show) and tore apart some shelves that were way too high for me to reach.  I found a delightful board book about ballerina babies, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, My entire Alcott collection and...wait...wait...what's this???


So Sexy It Hurts


I don't keep up with current fashion trends but I'm going to guess that the marshmallow is NOT what's hot in hair accessories right now and yet, here I am ROCKING this thing.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Are You Smarter Than A First Grader?

     Aston burst into the living room this afternoon while shouting,"Do you know who King Martin Luther was?"

     "Uhhhhh huh".

     "He was assassinated!!!  WITH A GUN!!!  I wonder what kind of gun it was...", and he exited the room.

     I wanted to home school our children but Ariel was firmly against it primarily because he did not feel I was smart enough for the job and so our children attend public school.  I beginning to think my lack of intelligence would be a non issue.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


     Sometimes I wish I could complete my To Do list during regular business hours but desperate times call for desperate measures.  My current day job is keeping Israel's fifteen month old skull intact despite his continual, almost obsessive efforts to crack it open and keeping Dorothy's tantrums at bay by feeding her curiosity.  There's also keeping the big three from killing each other, keeping them current at school, and keeping abreast of what they presently are and are not eating ( and at some point Enzo needs an eye exam).  This pushes housekeeping into the Hobby category.   Hobbies, as you know, are done during one's free time.  My free time is the fleeting moments when my family is sleeping and I, miraculously, am not.  Were you an insomniac fly on my wall you would occasionally find me washing floors, or toilets, or dishes in the middle of the night.  Last night you would have buzzed into my bathroom at 2:30 am and caught me stuffing laundry into the washing machine.  I promise I was quite a sight with my pink plaid flannel pants sticking out of my fuzzy Tinkerbell bath robe; my snarled hair attached to my back by static electricity, except for my bangs, which were standing at attention.  My motions might have worried you.  You might have thought the zombie apocalypse was upon us.

     You probably would have heard the same crinkling sound in the washing machine that I did at that very moment.  You might have wondered if I was planning to address the crinkle or planning to ignore it and launch the wash cycle instead.   Seeing me eventually sigh and thrust my arm into the washing machine would answer your question and you'd wait patiently as I rummaged around finally pulling out this:

     We'd have shared a nice laugh about sorting our laundry into whites, lights, darks, and soup from now on and wondered together just how long that soup mix had been in the hamper and how the #^(% it got there in the first place.  That would be the end of our exchange though because Dorothy would have overheard us and woken up and I'd have to punch back in.  Dorothy would absolutely need to know how DO dinosaurs say goodnight at that very instant and off I would shuffle, leaving you to deal with the onion soup.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Everybody Poops

     Two days ago Miss Dorothy Grace announced she was too big for diapers.  We put her into some undies we had waiting in her drawer for this magical day and discovered she was also too big for her undies.  She found a pair that didn't pinch too badly and wore them while she ran to the corner by the end table in the living room and peed on the floor.  She asked for a fresh pair of undies and pants and before long she was peeing on her bedroom floor too.  She waddled to me, legs very stiff, in her soggy purple sweatpants and said, "Mommy, you're so proud of me for wearing undies and very big diapies".  So we strapped on a size six diaper and I said to myself she's just not ready yet.

     As a woman who sent two children who needed to constantly be reminded to use the potty to kindergarten and had one child who toilet trained because we ran out of diapers one night and she wanted a bed time story so she said, "I don't really need diapers" to keep me from going to the store (she NEVER had an accident...she was four years old) this whole "not ready" thing sounded like I was up to my old B.S. again.

     I've never been a mother in another time, so I can't know for sure, but it seems to me like my mother peers and I treat growth toward independence like child abuse, maybe more so than mothers who came before us.  All discomfort is to be avoided because of the possible emotional damage (but no growth comes without discomfort). Before I end up with five adults fighting to live in my basement rather than attempt independence I decided to move forward with Operation Underpants.

     In my new state of mind (poo isn't punishment) I stuffed Israel and Dorothy into the van and drove to the store so Dorothy could pick out fun and pretty undies to make the transition from pooping in her pants to pooping in a bowl more enjoyable for her.

     At 10:55 am we were back home and she was giggling, "Close your eyes.......SURPRISE!!!", as she flashed me the pinkie Elsa and Anna undies she had put on under her dress.  At 11:02 am I caught her gripping her play kitchen with her knees pressed together trying to hold whatever wanted to come out of her IN.  I ran like I had wings on my feet to get her ducky potty for her and made it back before she LET IT GO!  She sat there, playing bongo drums on a duck toilet in the middle of the kitchen floor forever then got up with out any action.  Same at 11:15 am and 11:32.  I was ready to grab her a diaper when a voice in my head said to me Every milestone your children have reached has included a little discomfort.  Let her figure it out now.  Better to be uncomfortable at the age of three in your own home than to be uncomfortable when you're five and at school.

     At 12:34 pm, I heard, "Clean my potty", being shouted over Phineas and Ferb's voices.  

     It is now 1:04 pm and the pinkie undies are still clean (but we have twenty seven more pair just in case) and my independent daughter is proudly sitting on her throne, waiting to do what she'll do every few hours for the rest of her life.