I blame Martha

The week before last it seems that Emily mentioned to me that she’d like to have a little tea party in the park someday. While that may be what she said, what I heard was Martha Stewart in my ear singing siren songs of fruit kabobs and sandwiches in the shape of flowers.

This was no little tea party in the park. This was a move furniture, set up tents, bake homemade brownies until midnight the night before kind of shebang.

Lanette was kind enough to bring her camera to document the entire thing for use in my commitment trial.

Exhibit 1: Emily who probably just wanted PB&J and juice at the park, but she is kind to put up with her mother’s over-the-topness.

Exhibit 2: The girls mid tea party.

Exhibit 3: The girls are joined at last by Carson who was invited and was at the park the entire time but who, once he saw the table said, “Wait a minute. Is this some kind of TEA party? No way!” And off he went to do rough and tumble “boy things” until the girls lured him back with fruit kabobs. Ah, sweet, sweet fruit kabobs. Is there no end to their power?

I have no idea why Emily is making that face, but I do know that it wasn’t because Carson joined them. We haven’t gotten to the cootie stage yet.

By the way, in the background please notice my fabulous $700 van. I just realized tonight that we got it two years ago and it still runs if not exactly like a dream then at least far from a nightmare. I say, $700 well spent!

Some people get a great deal of pleasure showing off their expensive things, I am perhaps a bit too far the other way. If I could piece together a mode of transportation for free it would make my year. I am doing pretty well so far since my bike and the trailer together were only $21. Anyway, back to the tea party.

Exhibit 4: Claudia who was not invited to the kid’s table but instead had to sit with the moms until the big kids went off to play and only then could she sneak over and knock down all the teapots and cup in protest for such shabby treatment.

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Scenes from a garage sale

Imagine someone you love and trust goes through your things while you’re sleeping. This person paws your things looking at them not with the sentimental look of adoration you would, but with a cold, critical eye. This person sees only the scuffmarks and tears, not the memories of the past and the potential for the future.

Once through your things, this loved one goes back, gathers up what he/she wants and takes it away. Sure you don’t realize immediately what things are gone—your grandfather’s pocket watch, that DVD that you love but haven’t watched in months, that sweater that makes you look like you have breasts or that you are 10 lbs. thinner, or both—you don’t realize they are gone but you loved those things, and you will be heartbroken when their absence registers.

Now, still oblivious to the betrayal, you join your loved one for what you think will just be a fun day out at a friend’s house, but you are wrong. Instead, you are forced to watch strangers buy your things and carry them out of your sight. You are powerless to stop any of it. You feel as though parts of you are being ripped away.

That’s what Friday must have been like for Emily, except that the things I took to sell included unused baby toys, torn pop-up tents, and rarely watched Blue’s Clues videos that might cause ADHD.

Nonetheless, her gut wrenching screams of, “That’s my stuff! They cannot have it! THAT’S! NOT! FOR! SALE!” echoed throughout Belmond this weekend as though I were selling off her body parts. Despite my best efforts to quiet her she pled with me, breathless and panicked, “Mommy… get that back. Please, I need it. I play with it all the time. Please, please, please Mommy.” She tried to force herself from my arms to chase down the shoppers like they were her family going in another line at Auschwitz, hands reaching out, tears streaming.

It is only because Emily treats every event lately like she is being carried off to a death camp that I can watch her act like this and continue doing whatever thing it is that is causing her heartbreak. So, I held her with one hand and sold her things with the other, and soon she was over it enough to eat donuts and play with the other kids.

I did, however, notice last night when we were with my in-laws and they asked her about the sale that she had this weird sort of expression on her face that reminded me of the one that my brother used to get after he’d been removed from a situation, spanked for misbehaving, and retuned. It was this look like something awful had happened to her and she had accepted it but that it was maybe even worse that the adults in her life could sit around talking about her assault like it was okay, that really bothered her. Or maybe she was just tired and I’m not as over it as I thought I was.

Had I really done this awful thing to her? I would feel an awful betrayal if Eric sold my things. Does it seem weird to anyone that we do things to our kids that we wouldn’t want done to us? Would absolutely everything I do as a parent seem this strange if I over thought it this much?

This was my first garage sale experience as a mom (having one that is) and my child was the only one out of all the families there that had a problem with it, so this time I’ll chalk it up to tired child and even-more-tired-mom. Because, despite Emily’s best efforts I sold her things, and mine too, and the sale was a success.

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Scenes from a garage sale


Imagine someone you love and trust goes through your things while you’re sleeping. This person paws your things looking at them not with the sentimental look of adoration you would, but with a cold, critical eye. This person sees only the scuffmarks and tears, not the memories of the past and the potential for the future.

Once through your things, this loved one goes back, gathers up what he/she wants and takes it away. Sure you don’t realize immediately what things are gone—your grandfather’s pocket watch, that DVD that you love but haven’t watched in months, that sweater that makes you look like you have breasts or that you are 10 lbs. thinner, or both—you don’t realize they are gone but you loved those things, and you will be heartbroken when their absence registers.

Now, still oblivious to the betrayal, you join your loved one for what you think will just be a fun day out at a friend’s house, but you are wrong. Instead, you are forced to watch strangers buy your things and carry them out of your sight. You are powerless to stop any of it. You feel as though parts of you are being ripped away.

That’s what Friday must have been like for Emily, except that the things I took to sell included unused baby toys, torn pop-up tents, and rarely watched Blue’s Clues videos that might cause ADHD.

Nonetheless, her gut wrenching screams of, “That’s my stuff! They cannot have it! THAT’S! NOT! FOR! SALE!” echoed throughout Belmond this weekend as though I were selling off her body parts. Despite my best efforts to quiet her she pled with me, breathless and panicked, “Mommy… get that back. Please, I need it. I play with it all the time. Please, please, please Mommy.” She tried to force herself from my arms to chase down the shoppers like they were her family going in another line at Auschwitz, hands reaching out, tears streaming.

It is only because Emily treats every event lately like she is being carried off to a death camp that I can watch her act like this and continue doing whatever thing it is that is causing her heartbreak. So, I held her with one hand and sold her things with the other, and soon she was over it enough to eat donuts and play with the other kids.

I did, however, notice last night when we were with my in-laws and they asked her about the sale that she had this weird sort of expression on her face that reminded me of the one that my brother used to get after he’d been removed from a situation, spanked for misbehaving, and retuned. It was this look like something awful had happened to her and she had accepted it but that it was maybe even worse that the adults in her life could sit around talking about her assault like it was okay, that really bothered her. Or maybe she was just tired and I’m not as over it as I thought I was.

Had I really done this awful thing to her? I would feel an awful betrayal if Eric sold my things. Does it seem weird to anyone that we do things to our kids that we wouldn’t want done to us? Would absolutely everything I do as a parent seem this strange if I over thought it this much?

This was my first garage sale experience as a mom (having one that is) and my child was the only one out of all the families there that had a problem with it, so this time I’ll chalk it up to tired child and even-more-tired-mom. Because, despite Emily’s best efforts I sold her things, and mine too, and the sale was a success.

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The “terrible” twos were a walk in the park

People cry about the evils of the so-called “terrible twos” in every parenting book ever written, and perhaps for some people there is such a thing. In our house this was not the case.

Instead, we sailed through the “twos” with nary a whimper. Sure there were times when Emily was grumpy or a bit stubborn, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle, nothing that gave us any cause for alarm. We thought ourselves not just safe, but above such things. It seemed then that we had somehow brought this upon ourselves with our superior parenting and fine luck.

We were wrong.

The “twos” departed and in their absence the “Oh my god, what have we done to deserve this? threes” have descended. Last October, clearly as one sign of the coming apocalypse, Emily embraced her new role as the world’s most obnoxious child. She doesn’t just push the envelope or test her boundaries; she makes it clear that she looks at me with nothing but pure teenage distain.

“I am NOT taking a nap! Never! Ever! Never!”

While I am not a believer in karma or in reincarnation I am beginning to run out of reasonable answers to the question of what I have done to deserve this. I read to her. I tell her that I love her 100 times a day. I try to look at the world through her eyes. I am left with this: I think that I may have been Mussolini. Why else would I get a child that acts this way at three? I was fine with the idea that somewhere down the road, in twelve years or so, we might have a fight or two or even that Emily would get that “too cool for this family” thing that I absolutely hate on teenagers, but this is far worse, and far earlier than I imagined.

One of the best parts of this behavior is that it often comes out of nowhere. We will be sitting, reading together quietly, and suddenly, as if another person has entered her body, she will turn to me like Linda Blair and say something like, “Claudia needs to die! I am NOT going to share my toys with her!” Well sure, that makes sense.

While it may be hard to believe while reading this, we do not just sit her in front of cable TV for days at a time. As far as I know, the only exposure to death that she has even had is the discussions about my parents. And yet, there she is throwing proclamations of bloodshed around like a cast member of the Sopranos.

When I try to explain to her that we do NOT want Claudia to die, that we would be heartbroken if that happened she will look at me with a face that makes me think for a minute that maybe she gets it, maybe she realizes what an awful thing it was that she said and say, “I’ll keep her toys to remember her by.”

So, as the days start ticking down to her fourth birthday I am filled with both hope and dread. Surely is has to get better, right? Or are there more, as of yet unimagined, ways that she could torture me?

Oh god, maybe I was Hitler.

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Movin’ on

I have, thus far, received nothing but lovely comments about my insane, pointless ramblings on this site. But, because I feel a bad subjecting the innocent people who come here just to look at pictures and receive updates of the girls to my aforementioned musings, I have decided to move them, the musings, not the girls, to a new site.

What is it that Abraham Lincoln once said? “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Yeah, that’s not happening.

Anyway, if you think that it may be your cup of tea, or if you just want to laugh behind my back at what a loser I am, feel free to visit http://katesasterisk.blogspot.com/

In a funny side note, I looked up the meaning of “musings” earlier when I was writing this to make sure that it was an appropriate word. It turns out that it is absolutely not, at least not in this context.

mus·ing (my z ng)
n.
1. A product of contemplation; a thought. “an elegant tapestry

of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections” (James Atlas).

I am nothing, if not capable of an elegant tapestry of autobiographical reflections.

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