Thursday, May 7, 2009


Entry for October 13, 2007
Genevieve throws tantrums. She is three, after all, so it's her job. The thing about Genevieve is that her mood can change on a dime. One second she's jumping around the house holding a flashlight, singing Hannah Montana songs and the next minute her head is spinning and she's spewing pea soup. If we are at home, I usually can get through it by making sure she is safe, then leaving the room and covering my ears while doing lamaze breathing techniques.
Out in public, it's a different ballgame altogether. Once, we went to the library on a Sunday after Mass. A nice, relaxing family outing; educational, too. As we were getting in the van to go home, something went wrong. Not sure what it was, but Genevieve would NOT get in her seat. Now, I am an educated woman, but I started to reason with her, as if this would actually work.
Me: Honey, you need to get strapped in or you won't be safe. Let Mommy strap you in.
Me: Sweetie, time to go home now, let's get into the seat.
Me: (coming a bit unglued) OK, look, your behavior is horrible. Get in the seat or I'll...
Joe: Take a break from this, AnnMarie. Let me try. OK, look, your behavior is horrible. Get in the seat or I'll...
Now I notice that the people in the parking lot are looking at us, but trying not to let us see they are looking at us. I think they are fishing for their cell phones to call 911, because it sounds like there is a pack of wild, rabid wolves in the van.
I tell everyone to get strapped in and read a book until Genevieve is done. Surprisingly, they all comply. So, there we were, 6 of us sitting calmly in the van, turning pages, while Genevieve was going ballistic. She was screaming, crying, flinging her body all over the place. I can imagine what it must have looked like to the onlookers in the parking lot.
All we needed was Cookie Monster singing: One of these things is not like the other things, one of these things doesn't belong. Can you guess which thing is not like the other things, before I finish my song?
Actually, it would have been really great if someone piped in some elevator music. This thought popped into my head as Genevieve threw her body against the seat for the 67th time. and I let out a chuckle. I could just see what the spectators saw; everyone else calm, but every once in awhile a body part would pop up into the van's window, with a continuous, muffled scream coming from inside. The Girl From Ipanema would be the perfect background music. (No one really knows the words to that song. I know some of them: Young and lovely, la dada la-la-la, the girl from Ipanema goes dancing and la dada lala, la-la-la-la-la-la. You get the idea. )
Anyway, all of a sudden her yelling starts to become intelligible: "UNDERWEARUNDERWEARUNDERWEAR!!!!!
Us: Huh?!
Me: If you want to tell me something about your underwear, you need to use a nice voice, sweetheart.
Genevieve: It's this underwear! I gotta get it off me!
I see an opportunity here, to be let out of the van prison, and go home again. But do I really want to disappoint our audience?
Me: OK, sweetie, you can take off the underwear IF you get right into your seat.
Time stood still while we waited...
She did it! She took off the underwear (thank GOODNESS she was wearing a dress) and hopped into her car seat.
Joe: (starting the ignition) Somebody strap the kid in!
Bella dives across the seat and buckles her sister in, in record time and we speed away.
Little Genevieve, a toddler trying to exert some control over her environment. For now, at three, she has dominion over her underwear. She has complete control over ALL of her clothing and, by gosh, if she wants to remove it, she will!
Funny thing is, as a mother (HER mother, in particular), I can completely sympathize with the feeling of lack of control over the world around her. Some things never change...

Entry for October 09, 2007
Dead animals.
There is a dead squirrel in the parking lot next door to my house. When the kids told me about it, I thought it would be a squished, barely-can-tell-it's-a-squirrel, dead squirrel. But it's not. It is a perfectly preserved, taxidermist's dream. It is lying on it's back, little squirrel hands and feet reaching toward squirrel heaven. Hope he made it.
I don't like animals all that much. Being originally from Brooklyn (and having the distinct advantage of learning to speak while living there), I prefer pavement to grass. Actually, I prefer hardwood to pavement. I am not exactly what you would call the "outdoorsy type." Hoop earrings and raspberry lipstick don't really go well with overalls and other camping, working-in-the-garden type clothing. And I am all about the hoop earrings and lipstick.
But, as fate would have it, one day I was inspired to venture outside. It was several summers ago and I was back there with the kids trying desperately to have a good time out in that hot, beating sun, with all those insects around me.
Anyway, I hear Isabella scream, "Eeeeuuwww!" and I turn around to see Charlie with a chipmunk in his hand, coming toward me. This was not a cute little Chip and Dale Disney chipmunk, it was a stiff, dead chipmunk with FLIES IN ITS MOUTH!!!!! I heard some one screaming. It was me.
"AAAAAAUUUGHHH!!! Drop the chipmunk Charlie, drop it!!!!"
He advances with the dead rodent.
"NONONONO!!! Drop it! Put it down!!!!"
He drops it at my feet. I grab him (by the wrist) and drag him toward the house, yelling, "Everyone inside, and no one go NEAR that chipmunk!!!"
Once inside, I actually poured straight rubbing alcohol onto Charlie's hands and rubbed for, like, 80 minutes. If I had a surgical scrub brush I would have used that, too. Then I had to stand still for a moment and allow myself to finish getting the willies, because, up until then I had been too busy.
Then, I armed myself. I got a spray bottle of straight bleach. I put on Joe's heavy leather work gloves, long pants, long sleeve shirt and sneakers. I was tempted to put on a ski mask to cover the rest of my body, but I bravely fought the temptation.
I went outside and grabbed the shovel that had the longest handle. I held my breath and screamed (yes, it is possible to both hold your breath AND scream at the same time, if you are grossed out enough) and got the dead thing onto the shovel and flung it into the garbage pail. Then I got the bleach and sprayed, well...everything. The shovel, the grass, the picnic table, the swing set; everything.
Then I went in the house and locked the door and leaned my back against it, like they do in horror movies, when they are so sure they have escaped whatever evil is stalking them. But they don't ever really escape, do they? Me neither. I know that, at some point, I'm going to have to go back outside.

Entry for October 04, 2007
Today is Joe's birthday. He is 44. In a couple of weeks we will be married for 20 years. I have to say that he is pretty patient when it comes to me. I have done some really wacky things and he always takes it in stride.
In mid-August, we went down to KC for Joe's boss' daughter's wedding, and the hotel included breakfast. Now, I am the type of person who needs protein in the morning. The continental breakfast isn't really my idea of a good breakfast-- it seems more like a sugary snack. So I go and check it out. Hmmm, make your own waffles. Nah-- too much work to pour the pre-measured cup of batter onto the waffle iron. It would seem like cooking, and I'm on vacation. Next I check out the baked goods. Bagels, which seem to be screaming, "I taste like cardboard!" Uh-uh. Danish? No. Cereal? This kind has too many colors. I'm a nervous wreck because I am meeting my husband's bosses for the first time later and I'm afraid that I would be a live example of what the term "technicolor yawn" means. Hey, wait a minute, what's in the crockpot? A little crockpot filled with.. is that oatmeal? Homemade oatmeal? I LOVE homemade oatmeal! Yay! I take a little styrofoam bowl and start scooping it in, humming contentedly to myself, when Joe appears next to me.
Joe: "Hon, what are you doing?"
Me: (excitedly) "Getting oatmeal!"
Joe: "That's not oatmeal, it's gravy."
Me: "HA! Don't make me laugh."
Joe: (takes the bowl) "It's gravy. Don't you see the bicuits?"
Me: "I hadn't got that far down the line yet. Are you sure? It looks like..."
Joe: (throwing out the bowl) "Have a bagel."
Joe is a talented gardener when it comes to vegetables and flowers. Me? I don't garden. I don't even go IN the garden. I don't even go OUTSIDE unless it's absolutely necessary. One day, though, I got an inspiration. It was a couple of summers ago and the kids were out playing and I thought to myself, "I am going to weed my husband's garden. He'll be so happy." So I went outside and started pulling all the nasty weeds that were polluting my husband's garden. It wasn't too bad. I got a bit sweaty, but what's sweat when you're doing something special for your sweetie? Then I got to a big patch that had really thick stalks. Darn! These weeds are strong! I went and got a knife and hacked them all away. I just knew my hubby would be so proud.
Later, as I was doing some dishes, Joe came in from work through the backyard. The kids were still out there. He went over to the garden. My heart leapt! He's going to see that I slaved away in his garden and truly know the depth of my love for him! He dropped his briefcase (in awe, I thought). His hands when up in the air and he began to yell. Uh-oh. Then he turned to the kids and began to yell at the kids. I couldn't hear what he was yelling about because the water and the radio were both on. He continued to yell and the kids ran away from him. He followed them, still yelling. I went out there. His hands were on his hips and he was shaking his head. "Now who is going to tell me who did this?" I raised my hand, like I was in a classroom. I was hoping he wouldn't call on me.
Joe: "Did you see what they did?"
Me: (stalling) "Who did? What?"
Joe: "One of the kids ripped out ALL of the zucchini plants! Every last one!"
Me: "Zucchini? Are you sure it was zucchini? It wasn't weeds?"
Kids: "It was Mom!" (the rats!)
Joe: (stunned) "You ripped out ALL the zucchini..."
Me: "I was...helping."
Joe: (laughing) "Kids, Mom was the one who wrecked the garden. How should I punish her?"
Kids: "Spank her!" (the rats!)
Joe was nice. He let me sit in the corner, if I promised never to help him in the garden again. I thought it was a pretty good deal.
Before we had children, we lived in Flushing, in an apartment that backed up to an empty lot. We were having Joe's family over for St. Patrick's Day and I was cooking a lot of corned beef. I trimmed it and he threw the scraps over into the lot. I yelled at him not to do that because there were raccoons that lived back there and the raw meat would make them sick...
So, here's to my hubby, who has put up with my antics for almost 20 years. Happy Birthday, Joe!
Today is also the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Here's my favorite prayer of his:
Behold the cross of the Lord. Flee thee adversaries, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The Root of David has conquered, Allelulia.

Entry for October 03, 2007
I never bothered with CCD for Charlie. Well, actually, I tried, but I had to be his teacher and I figured if I was going to be his teacher I may as well do it from the comfort of my own home without the responsibility of a bunch of other people's kids as well. So, I decided to focus on prayer with him.
When I taught him to say the Hail Mary, Charlie would say, "Hail Mary, full of grapes." I thought it was so cute that it was years before I corrected him. Charlie knows the Our Father, the Guardian Angel prayer and when we are at Mass, he says the Gloria and the Creed.
At home we sometimes say the rosary in it's entirety. Charlie knows the majority of the prayers of the rosary and will say some of it and sit quietly with me while I say it. The other kids aren't so compliant. Genevieve is usually crawling all over me. Angelina occupies herself with searching for treasures underneath the couch cushions or playing with her feet. Bella sits OK, mostly, and Noah is usually doing some form of acrobatics on the chair he's supposed to be sitting in. This, of course, drives me insane, because patience was definitely not a virtue bestowed upon me.
They are busy. They lose interest. I usually have to stop at some point and explain that if they want to pray for our intentions, they have to actually DO the praying, not just sit and zone out. I once made the mistake of saying that if I wanted to stand in front of people and pray I would have become a priest. This put Noah into hysterics, because he knows women can't be priests.
Noah: "But it's WRONG!!"
Me: "Yes, I know. I just said it to make a point."
Noah: "But it's WRONG!"
Me: "I KNOW. I don't WANT to become a priest. I know I CAN'T become a priest. I JUST SAID IT TO MAKE A POINT!! Now PLEASE SIT STILL and SAY THE ROSARY FOR PETE SAKES!!!"
Genevieve: "Mom said a bad word!!"
Bella: "For Pete sakes is NOT a bad word, you baby!"
Genevieve: cries
Me: "Bella, you hurt your sister's feelings, that's not nice!"
Charlie: "It's praying! It's Church! It's yelling!"
Angelina: "Hey! A quarter!"
So, by the time we get through the rosary (IF we get through the rosary) my hair is falling out in chunks on the floor, Noah is climbing the shelves like Spiderman, Angelina has created a sculpture with the bits of dust and things she's excavated from the bowels of the couch, Isabella and Genevieve are having a fistfight and Charlie has long since escaped to the sanctuary of his room.
What a holy family. You think Martha, Mary and Lazarus behaved this way? They are all saints, but you don't hear about their mother, do you?
Mom: "Martha, Mary, stop bickering!"
Martha: "But Mom, I'M saying the prayers, but Mary's just SITTING there!"
Lazarus: laying down
"Lazarus, please SIT UP when you pray."
My guess is she's still in Purgatory, picking up chunks of hair off the floor...

Entry for September 30, 2007
Charlie's school asked the families to send in a recipe tomorrow for a project they are doing. I think I will send in Charlie's recipe for fish that he concocted one day after school.
Charlie sauteed some frozen tilapia filets in A TON of crushed garlic. I mean, he used so much garlic that I was afraid it would be toxic. I tried to get him to take some out, but he fought with me about it.
He thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the fish. Afterward, he totally reeked, so I had him brush his teeth. He had to brush them in the kitchen, because one of the little ones was using the bathroom at the time.
The next morning Charlie was enveloped in a toxic, garlicky cloud. The stench was oozing out of every pore in his body. I felt really bad even sending him to school, so I put a note of warning/apology in his backpack that day. Anyway, he got ready for school and ate breakfast and he was really dawdling and it was getting late so I told him to go brush his teeth. He headed for the kitchen. I told him his toothbrush was in the bathroom. He went in the bathroom, came out and headed toward the kitchen. Again, I told him to go in the bathroom. The bus pulled up and Charlie headed toward the kitchen again. Finally, I lost my temper and said, "Charlie, GET in the bathroom and brush your teeth and don't come out until you are done!!" He went in there and I heard the toothbrush going and then he came out and I kissed him goodbye (reluctantly, bad mother that I am) and off he went to pollute the bus.
After he left, I was putting his coffee cup in the kitchen sink and I noticed Charlie's toothbrush there. Wait, CHARLIE'S toothbrush????? I sprinted to the bathroom. Yep, he used MY toothbrush on that fateful, garlicky day. The poor kid was just trying to get to his own toothbrush until I lost my temper, then he gave up and used the only one available-- mine. Serves me right...
Anyway, here is the recipe for Charlie's Garlic Tilapia
Coat the bottom of a large pan with olive oil and put on medium heat. Add 4 frozen tilapia filets. Add about 4 heaping tablespoons of crushed garlic (personally, I would use less). After fish begins to brown, use a country herb grinder to coat the fish (ours has salt, rosemary, parsely, mint, oregano, basil and thyme). Turn and coat the other side. Cook until done.

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