Category Archives: madness

Peas and carrots

Mabel: Me and A__  just … fit together.

Aw, I think. What an adorable sentiment about her bestie.

Mabel: Like, he likes fire engines and ambulances, and I like it when people get hurt.


I keep trying to twist this around to getting her to say that she wants to be a doctor to help all these hurt people, but we haven’t got there yet. At least she’s not actively saying that she likes to be the one doing the hurting. No, she’ll just be over there observing your horrible accident.

A little ghoulish, perhaps, but not downright psychotic. I think.

Rat’s arse

This morning it was still so humid that it was positively smelly outdoors, and I put on capris and a t-shirt and sandals again and complained loudly. Since then the deluge has reached us, the lawn (ahem) is dotted liberally with yellow leaves from the trees behind us, and everything’s a lot more autumnal. I made soup for lunch. It’s still humid, but getting better.


I went to a local clothing co-op used clothes/books/toys sale at the weekend, and I had to take the kids with me because their father was out on his Saturday morning long run. I promised they could each get a toy so long as they let me look in the big room with the clothes first. I was in search of one thing: snow boots for each child. I found a perfect pair for Mabel, but the price I paid was more than the $5 I happily forked over to the nice lady at the desk, because in the toy room a disgruntled Dash found the most horrible toy in the world, and I was powerless to refuse, since it cost a mere two dollars.

Plastic rat

It’s a plastic rat. It is remote controlled, and its little red eyes light up as it whizzes around the kitchen floor. It is the embodiment of evil. And now it lives in my house.

Toy rat with red lighting-up eyes


My body is rebelling against the computer by giving me a sore wrist. It can’t really tell me any louder that I need to lay off the Facebook and go and read a book. And yet, here I still am. I’m getting better at surfing with my left hand, mind you.

Baby update

The babies have been earning their keep lately, you’ll be pleased to hear.

Dolls on a sofa

They’ve been going to school.

Babies with "Great" stickers

Some of them are exemplary students.

Doll with A+ sticker

And they all have their names on flashcards.

Flashcards with "names" written by a four-year-old.
After a hard morning’s learning, it’s time for a snack and some TV.
Babies on the sofa, 4-year-old at table with apple and yogurt.


Sometimes I don’t know why we bother with toys. I know it’s just another riff on the baby-loves-boxes theme, but this is what I found Mabel playing with this afternoon, after she’d raided the kitchen for implements.

And then I asked her to clean up a mess and she found the cutest little family of sweeping brushes.

Three different-sized sweeping brushes

Then again, maybe it’s because all the babies were napping.

Baby doll lying down

Three small dolls in "bed"


Generally speaking, I’m the chilly one in the house.

I mean, I get cold more easily than my husband, and the children take after him. I’ll have four layers on and be pulling another cardigan round me and making another cup of tea while Mabel throws her clothes off with abandon and tries to run out the door barefoot. So we have a hot-water bottle, and I like to take it to bed with me on especially cold nights.

(Hot-water bottles seem not to be the ubiquitous bed-warmers here in the US that they are at home. In Ireland, I’m pretty sure I could walk into any chemist/pharmacy/drugstore and find a nice red or blue or even orange rubber receptacle for hot water, with which to take the chill off the sheets of a winter night, but over here they’re a bit harder to track down, and  sometimes, extremely offputtingly, come with attachments for giving yourself a nice little colonic irrigation while you’re at it. I don’t really understand this part. I don’t want to understand. Here’s a more normal one. Phew.)

Anyway, since I never remember that it would be nice to have another hot-water bottle while I’m browsing Amazon for more interesting items, we only have the one in the house. I know there are such things as electric blankets, but that’s so high-tech, you know. And I only want my bed to be warm at the start of the night. Later on, when my toes are finally toasty, I like my sheets to be soothingly cool. I’m an enigma, you see, a woman of intrigue and mystery.

So, and gosh but it takes a long time to get to my point tonight, I have found it a little annoying lately that Dash has decided he needs the hot-water bottle. Even though he’s regularly found in bed with little beads of sweat on his nose (probably from insisting on falling asleep under the direct glare of his bedside lamp), he professed to be cold and to need it. And since every parent’s prime directive is to get the children to go to sleep ASAP so they can finally enjoy a glass of wine and watch an R-rated movie in peace, we gave it to him.

Then, one night, he was so hot that he couldn’t sleep. The duvet was taken entirely out of his duvet cover, but he was still too hot. B filled the hot-water bottle with cold water, and that seemed to help. He finally conked out. The next night he was still hot and wanted the cold bottle again.

The following night, B asked what sort of water bottle his majesty might desire, and I found him in the kitchen filling a lukewarm water bottle. Yes, Dash wanted his bottle neither heating nor cooling, but just body temperature. The better to keep his bed, um, the same.

So off I went to bed again that night in my socks and my cosy pyjamas, burying myself under mounds of down comforter and extra blanket, because my son was using the one and only hot-water bottle for nothing at all except to be a pleasantly squishy neutral-temperature thing in the bed beside him.

The things we do for our children.

No shirt, no shoes; no shame

Mabel is a tactile person. She likes textures. Specifically, the thing she likes most is to remove (almost) all her clothing and wrap herself up in my big espresso-brown soft fuzzy blanket. She tends to do this at the most inopportune of moments, though, like right before we have to leave the house to get her brother from school.

For the past week we’ve had the same problem every day: three o’clock comes and Mabel has no intention of putting her clothes back on. I’ve dealt with it variously by tossing her (almost) naked self plus blanket into the car and dressing her when we get there, sitting on her to get her dressed (not so successful), or just going with it.

Today I just went with it: she sat cross-legged in the stroller with a crib-size knitted blanket covering her completely, like a cheerful orange shroud. Underneath she was clad in nothing but underpants and a fine layer of black (washable – I’m not stupid) marker, to which she was adding for most of the ten-minute promenade. She poked her head out once or twice, but mostly was content to stay thus concealed while I chatted to my friends, retrieved Dash and our neighbour who we were also getting today, and walked back home.

I had her clothes in the basket underneath, should she have wanted to get dressed. (If she’d decided to set foot out of the stroller, dressing would have been mandatory.) And it is quite mild today, though threatening rain, so I wasn’t too worried.

One day last week, though, the school counsellor, who oversees the dispersal of the pupils outside school, was definitely giving me the hairy eyeball as she watched Mabel cavort shoeless and coatless, but perfectly happy, as we waited for her brother. That child should have more clothes; where is her mother?, she was clearly thinking. Then my neighbour arrived and shrugged in my defence: “It’s not so cold. I’ve seen her barefoot in much colder weather.” I didn’t know whether to be proud or mortified.

But I’m glad Mabel didn’t venture out of her blanket today to further scandalize the counsellor. I might have been called in for some counselling of my own.

Basters and boobies

I just wrote a big rant about homework and intransigent six-year-olds, but I think we’ll leave that for another day. Maybe I just needed to write it.


The morning before Thanksgiving, I found myself in the unhappy position of having to do the shopping with two children. It was my own fault, as on Monday when I should have done it I frittered away my time instead with more enjoyable pursuits; also, I hadn’t yet planned enough to know what I needed.

But it wasn’t so bad. They’re at their best first thing in the morning, and we actually got out of the house by 9.30, which still counts as first thing in my book. They got a bagel each to keep them quiet, and things progressed without too many not-on-list items being added to the trolley.

As we processed down the rice-and-beans aisle (also peanut butters, honey, and juice boxes), Dash came running after me:

“Mummy, Mummy, look! Look! Can I get one of these? I’ve always wanted one of my very own to play with. Pleeeeease, Mummy?”

I looked to see what he was brandishing. It was a turkey baster.

On balance, I think I got away lightly with a pack of chocolate-milk straws and a bag of chips.


It was colder this afternoon than it had been in the morning, and though I did get Mabel to wear her coat, she didn’t have her gloves as we waited for Dash to get out of school. I was holding her (my side of the bargain that got her to put the coat on), and she was putting her hands inside my top to warm them up. Then her hands went a little further down … down… I had to let out a shriek-laugh as I pushed her hand away.

 “I just wanted to find the…”

I stopped her before she could remember the word “nipple” – or anything like it – but I’m pretty sure the other mom I was chatting to knew exactly what had happened. It’s possible that most of the school heard the squawk and knew she’d hit the spot. Letting your four-year-old get to second base with you in public is just never appropriate. (You probably knew that already.)

Nothing compares

It’s been thirteen hours and seventeen days
Since they took the hour away from me
I go out every night from my bed to yours when you call me at 5am or before
And now you’ve messed up my Sinead O’Connor tribute poem too

Okay, fine, never mind. But my point is that it’s been more than two weeks since the hour went back and Mabel still doesn’t seem to have adjusted in the mornings. She broke a run of horrible nights last night by sleeping soundly from bedtime till morning, but morning came at the unreasonable hour of 4.50am, which is not what I would call morning. I nursed her for an hour and then I was drained dry and she was her father’s problem and I got about an hour’s sleep before I had to get up and find out what all the shouting was about.


That moment when you’ve said “Fine, just get in the car naked then,” and your four-year-old leaves the house resplendent in underpants and trailing a big red blanket, and you throw her clothes in the car for when you get there, and then the neighbour across the road comes out and sees you and laughs. And it’s late November, of course. That moment. It’s funny, but only because she’s my second child.


Mabel likes to put her feet in Dash’s shoes and stomp around declaring, in a deep voice as if he’s, you know, at least ten years older than her instead of two and a half, “I’m Dash.” Then she says “I’m really strong,” and “Daddy shouts at me,” to add verisimilitude.


Since the hour’s been gone I can do whatever you want
I get up whenever you choose
I can never eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
But nothing
I said nothing can take away these blues
`Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

Homework (with ponies)

[Glossing swiftly over the hour it took us to make the 15-minute walk home because we got sidetracked into the neighbour children’s house and Dash and I had a long umdiscussion about whether or not he could have a cookie there, while Mabel pilfered the pony stash…]

ME: Sit down. Here’s your homework. Look. Have you a pencil? Here. Write your name and the date at the top.
Sit down. Sit. On. Your. Bottom.
Mabel, do you want to colour? Here are the markers. Here’s your My Little Pony colouring book.
MABEL: Yayyy! Oooh, Pinkie Pie!
DASH: Where? Where’s Pinkie Pie? Show me Pinkie Pie!
ME: Dash, sit down. Ignore her. Have you written your name? Now the date. Look, you look at the calendar. It’s Thursday, so it’s the 30th. Write Aug, A-U-G. Thirty. Okay?
DASH:  Done! Done. I’ve done it.
ME: And the year. 2012. Sit down.
MABEL: Rainbow Dash! Look, I found Rainbow Dash!
DASH:  Show me! I wanna see Rainbow Dash!
DASH:  Wow, there are a lot of 2s. It’s like a pattern, look! Two-zero-one-two, see?
ME: Yes. [He’s written the 2s backwards. I ignore it.] Okay. Let’s read what it says. This says “Directions”. Now you read.
DASH:  Wuh-rrr-ih…
ME: The W is silent.
DASH:  Oh. Rrrr-ih-tuh…
ME: Silent E, look.
DASH:  Oh, right. R-ite…out
ME: No…
DASH:  On?
ME: No. It’s a number.
DASH: One!
ME: Yes.
DASH:  One c-l-a-ss-r-oo-m…
ME: Very good.
MABEL: Twighlight sparkle! Ooh, Twighlight Sparkle and the Princess!
DASH:  Show me! Where? Show me!
ME: Mabel, you need to move into the other room. Stop distracting him. Okay, look, here we are. “Write one classroom…”
DASH:  Rrr-uh-ul-
ME: It’s a silent E again.
DASH:  Oh. Rull…
ME: Rule.
DASH:  Oh, right. D-r-a-w a pic-ture of…
ME: Good, good.
DASH:  …yourself f-u-l-u-w-ing…?
ME: Following.
DASH:  Following the ru-ll… rule.
ME: Yes. Great. So. Write a rule. Can you think of a rule?
DASH:  Um. Let me think…raise your hand before asking a question… no, not that one…
ME: That sounds like a good one.
DASH: No, let me think of something else…
MABEL: Applejack! Look, Applejack!
DASH:  I want to see Appleja…
DASH:  No, no!
ME: Mabel, if you say one more thing I’m going to throw away all your ponies.
DASH:  Always listen to what the teacher is saying. That’s a good one.
ME: Okay. Go ahead. Write what you hear.


ME: ListeN, listeN. Look at what you wrote.
DASH:  Lise…r? Why is that there? Why did I do that? [Changes the r to an n. I stop watching.]

[time passes]

DASH:  There, done! Is it right? Is there anything I spelled wrong?

lisen to the techurs is sainge

ME: Perfect. Great.
DASH:  Really? Did I spell everything right? Tell me!
ME: If I tell you, the teacher will know you didn’t do it yourself, and it’s more important that you did it yourself.
Now a picture.

[Draws two heads. One has a big ear, facing the other one that has a wide open mouth. It’s a pretty good depiction of what he’s trying to say, actually.]

ME: Hooray! Done! Yay! Is it wine time yet?*

[Mabel is found under the coffee table colouring her knees a nice dark green.]

* In real life this all took much longer, there were many more interruptions by Mabel and many more SIT DOWNs from me. I decided to condense it all a bit for your sake. (You’re welcome.) Then I had many more glasses of wine.

Pig leg

Step one: Take one IKEA “Mammut” plastic chair. Remove the legs, usually by sitting on them while the chair lies on its back or side. Remove the plastic base of each leg, usually by whacking it on the floor a few times.

 Step two: Place as many limbs as possible at one time into the chair legs.


Ta-da! You have pig legs.

Step three: Your mother tells you that the phrase is actually “peg leg”, and pirates only have one at a time, otherwise they can’t stand up.

Step four: Ignore your mother. She has no idea anyway.