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‘Little Miss’ Category

  1. Miss-Labeled

    April 13, 2011 by Wendy

    Last weekend, we spent the entire two days working in the yard. Not being the most adept at Hula-Hoeing weeds or trimming trees, Little Miss decided to go inside to work on her own project. When dusk fell and we quit, I was summoned by the Mr. using my real name. (He never does that, instead either using a shorter form of it or an original nickname, like Wife or Friend.)

    “Uh, Wendy?” he called to me through an open window, as I was outside picking up dog excrement. “Uh, the little one decided to label her dresser drawers while we were outside.”

    “Really?” I said, impressed that she would take such initiative. She and I had just reorganized all her clothing for the upcoming warmer months.

    “Yeah. With a Sharpie,” he replied in that calm, even tone that could only mean it’s something really bad, like when he got stung by a scorpion or got into a fender bender.

    I went inside to inspect the damage:


    Yup. Sure enough, it was Sharpie. On the wood. Both dressers.

    But when I looked at her labeling job—underwar, pajamus, long pans & shets for next year—I couldn’t be mad. (The Mr. was doing a fine job of that himself.) For one thing, she labeled them properly. For another, her spelling wasn’t too bad. And she even used an ampersand! But just the fact that she took it upon herself to label them—and correctly—made my heart swell with pride. (I’m a sucker for labeling.)

    I only wish she had used my label maker.

    As the Mr. lectured her about how we don’t write on wood, telling her she needs to ask before she writes on anything and banning her from the Sharpies, Twin A was already Googling how to get Sharpie out of wood.

    “Try toothpaste!” she called out.

    We did. All it did was make a smeary mess that smelled like mint.

    “Look up the Queen of Clean’s website!” I shouted, as the Mr. was vigorously rubbing Goo-Gone into the wood to no avail.

    Then Twin A had a sudden brainstorm. She came running into the room with the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

    It worked! With only a little elbow grease, the Sharpie came right out.

    We decided to take the experiment further by trying it out on our kitchen table, which for months had bore the scars of another Little Miss creation, a Sharpie art project that had soaked through the paper. It worked!

    It was a valuable lesson learned. Up next: Teaching Little Miss to use the label maker.

  2. “Not the really bad ‘S’ word”

    February 18, 2011 by Wendy


    Last week, Little Miss’s kindergarten class celebrated Arizona’s birthday. All the children were to dress up in their finest Western wear (because that’s how we all dress here in Aree-zona). We dug out some old boots from when the twins took horseback riding lessons, picked out her most Westernish dress and found a safari hat we got at Disney World that Poppy fashioned into a cowboy hat by curling and tying up the brim overnight. A little ghetto, but it worked.

    I don’t know if it was the outfit or what, but later that evening, Little Miss casually mentioned to one of her sisters that “Today, Peter called me and another girl the ‘S’ word, but not the really bad ‘S’ word,” she said, all wide-eyed and reassuringly. (The “really bad ‘S’ word” is stupid.)

    “Well what word did he say?” her sister asked. (This is the same boy she had a crush on in the beginning of the year, but she has moved on and there have been two others since.)

    “The ”S” word that all the singers say, like Ke$ha. Ke$ha says it all the time.” (This is what happens when you have a 5-year-old with middle-school sisters—forget cutesy sing-along songs; she listens to their music.)

    And then she spelled it out for us: “You know, S-E-K-S-I.”

    Ohhhh, that “S” word.

    I think I would’ve rather he called her S-T-U-P-I-D.

    Why in the world is a 5-year-old boy is saying this, and how in the world does my 5-year-old know it was kind of a not-so-nice thing to say? (Unless you’re my age, of course, then, bring it on!)

    The next day, I repeated the conversation to the teacher. She didn’t get it when I spelled it the same way Little Miss did. So I had to say it: “SEXY. He said she was SEXY.”

    “Ohhhhhhh,” she said. And then her expression changed from confusion to horror. And then she said something only a teacher would say:

    “Well at least she spelled it correctly phonetically, I guess I can be happy about that!”

    Yes, me, too.  Her father and I are thrilled.

  3. Kindergarten Crush

    September 15, 2010 by Wendy


    Well, it’s been over a month now since the Little Miss has begun her school journey and all I can say is this: She is in love. Like, really in love. With a boy.

    The object of her affection is a cute little red-haired boy named Peter, and I’m pretty sure it was love at first sight. At least we started hearing about him from Day One.

    “He has these orange eyebrows and they’re just so, so cute!” she’d say. Or, “Peter is just sooooo funny!” Or, “Guess what Peter did today!”

    Whenever somebody asks her how school is going, she’ll tell them about Peter.

    “I’m so, so totally in love with him,” she’ll say emphatically.

    Every day when I pick her up, anticipating stories of what she learned or what she did, I’ll hear stories about Peter instead. How funny he is, what he said, what he did, how he chased the girls on the playground.

    From the beginning, I really wasn’t getting a picture of what was going on day-to-day in the classroom. Other than what Peter was doing, of course. I knew that Peter used the blue scissors one day to cut out his triangles. (OK, so they’re cutting shapes.) I knew that he told a funny joke in Spanish class. (“Oh, you went to Spanish today?”)

    I figured I’d have a better idea of her day after attending the school’s Curriculum Night, which is when the parents go to the classroom and listen to the teacher talk about classroom expectations and what lies ahead.

    So there we were a few days later, squished in the kindergarten-size chairs, listening to the teacher talk about the daily schedule, how bright all the children are, how she can barely keep up with the speed at which they want to learn, etc. Then she started talking about how all the children have been bringing in so many interesting shapes from home, and I’m all, huh? The Little Stinker Miss never told us she was supposed to do that! She went on to say that one boy even brought in an article from Architectural Digest that showed the most interesting shapes!

    OK, that’s it. I felt like the biggest slacker, and we are not slacker parents.

    I nudged Hubby, and whispered, “She didn’t tell us she was supposed to do that! But we sure do know all about Peter!” Of course, I said this quietly, seeing as Peter’s mom was sitting across the tiny table from us.

    I am and always have been a school-rule follower, an extra-credit doer even when I have an A+ in the class, and well, yes, I sort of expect my kids to be kind of the same. So if they were told to bring in shapes from home, well by golly, we’re going on a hunt for the coolest, most obscure shapes and they’ll be in the backpack before night’s end.

    But no, she didn’t say a word about it.

    Oh, we’re so going to have a talk when we get home.

    Sitting in that classroom, I felt like we were in the middle of an Everybody Loves Raymond episode. I never really watched that show, but the few times I did, it always seemed to showcase them failing as parents. And there we were. Failing as parents.

    All because of Peter.

    In fact, I almost raised my hand and said, “Um, we didn’t know anything about this. Was there something sent home about this?”

    Except I had already raised my hand about 26 times to ask questions, undoubtedly earning the title of That Annoying Mom. I wasn’t about to become That Clueless Annoying Mom, too.

    As soon as we got home, I asked Little Miss if she was supposed to bring in some shapes from home.

    “No,” she said. And then a few seconds later: “Did you tell Peter’s mom that he’s the cutest boy in the class?”

    “No, of course not!” I said.

    And she was disappointed! “Awwww, why not?” she said.

    We went through this same thing with Twin B when she was this age, with yet another redhead, only his name was Reed. While doing a deep clean of her room recently, we unearthed a note that had the words, “I ♥ REEB” scrawled across it in her backwards kindergarten writing. Today’s seventh-grade version of her just slapped her forehead with embarrassment and crumpled it up. That should be reassurance to me that Little Miss, too, will get over this crush in time and focus more on her kindergarten studies.

    And while I don’t want to encourage this infatuation, I also don’t want to tell her to “not like” someone. After all, she sees something in this boy and it’s kind of sweet. Curious if this crush was two-sided, I asked her one day, “Does Peter seem to like you as much as you like him?”

    “Well, when I hug him, he says, ‘Stop that!’ and runs away,” she says with a laugh. “But then Clara tells me to keep doing it anyway so I do! He doesn’t like when I hug him at all!”

    Mmm hmm. Ya think?

    That prompted a little talk about respecting people’s personal space, and that if he doesn’t want her to touch him or hug him, she shouldn’t. (Wait, as a mother of three daughters, shouldn’t I be having this talk the other way around?)

    “But his hair is just so cute, I can’t help touching it. Can’t I rub his head?” she asked.

    She told me that during story time on the carpet, she likes to sit by him and then demonstrated how she scoots her head under his face so that she could look up at his “cute, cute eyes.”

    Oh, my. I’m waiting any day for a phone call or email from the teacher saying that this has become a problem.

    Last night as I was giving her a bath, we had an interesting little conversation.

    “Tomorrow for school, will you do my hair in a bun, but not all the way up, like Belle’s?” she asked me as I washed her hair.

    “OK,” I said, thinking the hairstyle idea must’ve been inspired by the tea party we’d just had with all her Disney Princess dolls.

    “Because then I think Peter might say I look cute!” she said, with that adorable chubby-cheeked smile and giggle she gets when she, well, talks about Peter.

    Oh man, is she setting herself up for a day of disappointment, is what I’m thinking.

    “I will do your hair like that, but don’t be surprised if Peter doesn’t say anything because boys don’t really notice those things,” I said.


    “They just don’t,” I said.

    Keep in mind, this is about 8:30 p.m., the time when moms are just sooooo tired and just trying to get through the nightly duties.

    “But why?” she persisted.

    “Because boys are just different. They don’t notice those things, and if they do, they don’t always say so, now come on let’s get out and get dried off and put your pajamas on and brush your teeth and pick your story so you can go to bed.”

    There. No room for questions.


    “When we have a wedding, we’re gonna hug and kiss, right?”

    Now it was my turn for the questions.

    “When who has a wedding?” I said, blowing right past the hugging and kissing part.

    “Me and Peter,” she said.

    “Peter and I,” I corrected. “Wait, now you’re going to marry him? We’re talking about a wedding?”

    “Yeah,” she says, with the Peter smile. “But I don’t think he’s gonna be too happy about that.”

    “Why not?” I ask, wondering if maybe, just maybe she picked up on his nonverbal communication cues that I picked up on when I visited her at lunch one day. As in, he shirked away from her as she attempted to reach for him. And then the shirking turned to running. Away. Fast.

    “Because he doesn’t like hugging,” she said. “And I don’t think he’ll like kissing at all. I think he’ll run away as fast as he can,” she said with a laugh.

    The  girl is 5, and yet she could be writing articles about committment-fearing men for Cosmo.

    Last Friday, I went through her school folder and found a blank white envelope. It was an invitation to Peter’s birthday party, obviously handed out to the whole class.

    “Oh, you got a birthday party invitation to Peter’s party,” I said.

    “Whaat??” she shriek-inhaled, then ran squealing through the house as if I just told her Justin Bieber was at our front door. (Yes, unfortunately, she has a little crush on him, too. Who is this child?)

    Immediately, she began working on a card for him. The party was weeks away and no one even said she was going but that boy was getting a card from her.

    She gave it to him on Monday, after which he said, “Is that for me?” and then turned to his friend and said matter-of-factly, “She’s in love with me! I really think she is!”

    She thought that was hilarious and repeated the story several times that evening.

    Recently in the middle of the night, I heard her calling out to me that she had to go to the bathroom. Blearily, I stumbled to her room to assist her. As she stood there washing her hands, she chatted on loudly, as if it were 1:30 in the afternoon instead of the morning, like it was.

    “When I get home from school tomorrow, I’m going to make Peter a picture with Legos and crayons!” she said cheerily.

    “OK,” I said, trying to mentally process Legos and crayons, Legos and crayons? Huh? Is she making him something with Legos? Or with crayons? Is she making Legos out of crayons? Or crayons out of Legos? Oh, forget it, it’s too late for this.

    But sure enough, on the way home, she said, “As soon as I get home, I’m going to change out of my uniform because my rump always feels hot in it, then I’m going to wash my hands, get a drink, and make Peter a picture of Legos with crayons.”

    Oh, so I wasn’t dreaming. Here’s what she drew:


    That’s Little Miss, lounging atop the Legos, and that’s Peter on the right in his red uniform shirt, and then there’s a mouse.

    While she was drawing it, more details of her day began to emerge, which is what usually happens.

    “Hannah and I got into an argument at lunch today,” she said.

    “Why did you argue?” I asked.

    “Because she said that she was going to marry Peter and I said that I was going to marry him!”

    Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me. Now we’re fighting with our girlfriends over this boy? Sheesh, when they say kids are growing up too fast, they’re not kidding!

    “You and Hannah are going to change your minds about a thousand times on that in your lifetime so don’t even worry about,” I said. “Besides, Peter might not even want to marry either one of you!”

    Without skipping a beat, Little Miss said, “Yeah, he might want to just marry his self! He might want to just hug his self and kiss his self!”

    Wow, this girl’s got it all figured out already. Forget phonics and shape cutting! She’s got an article to write for Cosmo right now. Better yet, I hear Oprah is leaving…

  4. First Day of Kindergarten

    August 10, 2010 by Wendy

    first day

    So, we survived the first day of kindergarten! (I say “we” but really mean “I,” since it was, as expected, more traumatic for me than for Little Miss.)

    I have been dreading this day for five years. Really, five years. I knew from experience how quickly my time with her would fly, and I held on to each day we had together as tightly as I could until the inevitable school years snatched her away.

    I knew the day would be hard. I knew it because, well, I’m a mom, and because I’d been through it years before with my older girls. I still go through it, every year on the first day of school.

    Last spring, the school had a “kindergarten buddy day,” in which incoming kindergarteners visit the classroom of outgoing kindergarteners, while the parents go to the library and listen to the principal talk about all the things to come. That was the day when the lump in my throat began forming, and as I watched a boy take her hand and lead her away from me and toward the classroom, that lump evolved into full-on tears, causing the other parents to glance at me uncomfortably. After all, it was only a half-hour, and we had four months before the real day came.

    Still, I barely got through that 30 minutes, which is why I knew the first day of real school would be so, so hard, and which is why it put a huge damper on my summer that even a week on the beach couldn’t lighten.

    Thankfully, Little Miss didn’t pick up on any of that, and has been beyond excited to begin this new chapter of her life.

    Over the weekend, we bought her an alarm clock of her very own, and she was so excited to wake up to it on Sunday morning at 7:45. (This, from a girl who’s been luxuriously sleeping in until around 10 all summer instead of getting dragged out of bed every morning to accompany me on the drive to her older sisters’ school.)

    When the “night before” finally arrived, she was bathed and brushed and in bed by 8:30, with her alarm set, uniform laid out and a pile of school-themed books picked out as bedtime stories. Of course, we read The Kissing Hand, and I almost made it to the “I love you” without crying. Her sisters and I put kisses in her hands, and she gave us some of her own. Poppy presented her with her very first Twist-Erase mechanical pencil, a requirement for all students in this household. (Remember, Poppy is an engineer, and is highly OCD about mechanical pencils. I can’t stand them. Mechanical pencils, that is.)




    kissing hand


    She had a hard time falling asleep, despite having gotten up early and despite having swum all day at her grandparents’ house. I had an even harder time of it, and literally watched the clock change hour by hour, until finally 7 a.m. came and there was no more postponing it.

    The day had come.

    Why did this have to go so fast? Why does this have to be so hard for us moms? I know it’s hard for dads, too, but I think it’s a different kind of sadness. For them, it’s hard watching their kids grow older, which means they’re growing older, too. For me, that’s a component as well, but it’s more about letting go of and missing this little person that’s been attached to me, day after day, all day long for five whole years.

    Her teacher understands this apparently, as when we met her on Open House night a few days before school was to start, she looked at my teary eyes and handed me an envelope that said “Open at 9 a.m. Monday morning.” Sensing it was probably something that was going to make me even sadder, I decided not to wait and opened it right away when we got home that night. I’m glad I did that.

    Inside was a tissue, a cotton ball, an herbal tea bag and a poem that put the tissue to good use. Here’s what it said:

    The First Day of Kindergarten

    I know it was hard for you to leave today
    And know your child must stay.
    You have been with her for five years now
    And have been a loving guide,
    But now alas, the time has come
    To leave her at my side.
    Just know that as you drive away
    And tears down your cheek may flow
    I’ll love her as I would my own
    And help her learn and grow.
    For as a parent, I too know
    How quickly the years do pass
    Not so long ago, it was my turn
    to take my children to class.
    So please put your mind at ease
    And cry those tears no more
    For I will love her and take her in
    When you leave my door.

    And beneath that, she wrote, “Thank you for entrusting your child to me. I will try to do my very best to be your child’s guide in learning and exploring this bright new experience in Kindergarten. Enjoy the nice cup of tea. Put up your feet and relax. Then hold the cotton ball in your hand. The softness will help you recall the spirit of your child.”

    Of course, the floodgates burst, right there on the kitchen rug. Twin B came to comfort me, and I handed her the poem. She read it and shed a tear or two of her own, passed it on to her sister to read, who tearfully passed it on to her father, who got a bit misty himself. Luckily, Little Miss was oblivious to all of this, happily chattering about her new school, without a worry in the world. I’m so grateful for that. I will take care of all the worrying and nervousness. And I do a great job of it, too.

    I worry that she’ll get hurt or sick at school, or that she’ll get her feelings hurt, or that she’ll feel awkward or lonely on the playground, or that she’ll feel uncomfortable about using the school bathroom. I worry that she won’t be able to poke her straw through her juice box, or open her string cheese by herself at lunch.

    She is the baby of the family, and as such, always has four of us looking out for her, doing things for her, telling her what to do or what not to do. And yet, this child is extraordinarily independent. She loves nothing more than to shut her bedroom door and play with her dolls, talk to her Disney Princesses and Polly Pockets, listen to music, read a book or color.

    So I knew she’d be fine after we said goodbye on that first day. In fact, when we discussed it earlier, she said, “How about if you just say goodbye at the door and then leave, OK? But make it a quick goodbye because I don’t want to be late.”

    And that’s pretty much what we did. All four of us. Poppy took the day off for the occasion, and we all walked her to her classroom, the very same classroom that we had tearfully dropped her older sisters off seven years ago. I was stronger than I thought I’d be, even with the flood of those memories coming back.

    It wasn’t until the first bell rang and all the kids  lined up with their giant backpacks on their tiny backs that I started to cry. Our Little Miss just looked so tiny standing there, even tinier than the rest of the tiny ones. When the second bell rang, she jumped out of line and ran to her father, cheerfully saying, “Bye, Poppy! I love you!” Because of the throng of paparazzi parents shouting and waving to their kids, I could only reach her hand. I gave it a squeeze and said, “Have a good day, sweetie!” And then we watched her go in. And I cried. Like, almost the ugly cry. A mom next to me looked at me and sympathetically said, “Oh, it’s OK!” and patted my arm. This poor mom, probably sad herself and comforting her own child, now has to worry about comforting me? I was so choked up, I couldn’t even respond to her. I hope she doesn’t think I’m rude.


    bye poppy


    As the four of us walked back to the car in the searing heat, it felt so strange. Someone was definitely missing. That feeling got even stronger when I glanced at her empty booster seat when we got into the car.

    After we got home, we all got busy. Poppy made espresso, the twins got busy making the homemade pink cupcakes they’d been planning to make Little Miss for an after-school surprise, and I wrote this blog post, while my eyes got some kind of repetitive-motion injury from looking at the clock so many times.

    Because Little Miss turned five only a week ago, and because she had never been in a preschool setting, and because I think a six-and-a-half-hour day is ridiculously long for a little person like herself, I’ve opted to pick her up early after lunch for now. Of all three kindergarten classes, there’s only one other mom doing this that I know of. (I was really pulling for the half-day kindergarten measure to pass in our district but I won’t get political here.) The school is supportive but I think not thrilled about this, and I know neither will Little Miss be, once she finds out what she’s missing: free choice, buddy reading, specials (art, music, P.E., Spanish), and naptime, in which they all rest on beach towels on the icky floor. (Poppy calls this “Lice Time.”)

    We’re taking it day by day but my guess is she’ll be going full-time sooner than I wanted.

    We arrived after lunch to pick her up. Shortly after I signed her out, she burst through the office door, holding her teacher’s hand and said, “I met a girl and I asked her to play Tag and she said, ‘No, let’s play Hide ‘N’ Seek instead!’ so I did!” We don’t know this girl’s name, but Poppy branded her Miss Bossy for the remainder of the day.

    I looked at her peanut-butter-and-jelly-streaked face and her sweaty, disheveled pigtails and saw the same pure joy and excitement that I saw in her sisters’ faces every time they came home from school in those days. (Middle school is a little different. Unfortunately.)

    She had a great day.

    end of day


    Of course, we all bombarded her with questions that she couldn’t keep up with, and when we got to the car, I said to everyone, “You guys, one at a time, let’s not bombard her with questions; let’s let her tell us about her day as she feels like it.”

    Me, two seconds later: “Did you eat all your lunch? Were you able to open your drink and your string cheese? Did you have snack time? Did you use the bathroom? Did you wash your hands before lunch? Who did you play with?”

    Immediately upon coming home, she went to the bathroom (no, she didn’t go at school) and wanted to take a shower. Then her sisters surprised her with the pink cupcakes, inspired by her current favorite book, Pinkalicious. (Thank you, Kennah!)

    Bit by bit over the next several hours, we got more information from her about her day, especially when grandparents and aunts called to see how her day went. We learned that:
    • She dropped her granola bar at snacktime and was starving by lunchtime.
    • She dropped her string cheese somewhere and didn’t eat it “cuz it touched the dirty floor,” even though it was still in the package when it was dropped.
    • Someone named “Crab Box” helped her open her drink and read her the note I put in her lunch box.
    • A boy hit his head on the playground.
    • A girl in her class had really fancy shoes on.
    • A boy tried to sit in the teacher’s chair before storytime.
    • She got to help do the calendar with a zebra pointer.
    • A girl asked her what kind of berries the champagne grapes she was eating were.
    • Her teacher read The Kissing Hand to the class.
    • They made raccoon masks.
    • A girl at her table has really red eyes, “not pretty red, like a crayon, but red, like she cries all day.” (She whispered this part in my ear.)

    When bedtime finally came, she was so wound up and excited and could not stop talking. But for me, that was relaxing. It reassured me that she did not get sick or hurt at school, nobody hurt her feelings, she didn’t feel lonely or sad and she had help at lunchtime.

    It was a good day.

    Like Mrs. Raccoon says to her little Chester in The Kissing Hand, “Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do,” she told him gently. “Even if they seem strange and scary at first. But you will love school once you start.”

    And I know I will, too.


  5. Letting Go of My Little Larva

    July 9, 2010 by Wendy

    Earlier this year, when winter turned into spring, I decided to give Little Miss a lesson on life cycles.

    You see, instead of sending her to preschool at age 3 and 4, I had kept her home, where I taught her the early stages of the three R’s, plus things like life cycles and a whole lot more. (I think, anyway. We’ll see when she gets tested in the fall.) The reasons for keeping her home were many, but the main one was, I admit, purely selfish. As my last baby, I wanted to keep her home with me as long as possible. Having seen her older sisters sail at supersonic speed from kindergarten to middle school, I am all too aware of how fast it goes. And I am all too aware of the feeling that once they start school, you lose a huge part of them as they’re sucked into schedules, routines, homework, projects, contagious viruses, a whole new social group—all of which are pretty much out of your control.

    I will be losing my Little Miss exactly one month from today to the public education system.

    My mother-in-law once told me that you start letting go of them a little each day from the minute they’re born. (This from a woman whose two out of three grown children live within 20 minutes of her, but whatever.) That was hard to imagine back in the days when I was their only source of nutrition for the first six months of their lives, and then as their only “beverage” for another year beyond that. That didn’t feel much like I was “letting go,” especially when it was two at a time.

    I miss those days.

    But that’s just the way it goes. It’s the circle of life. (Go ahead, sing The Lion King theme song here if you must.)

    Oh, yes, back to teaching the life cycle. So I ordered one of those butterfly kits and a frog habitat, in which you have to send away for the larvae and the tadpoles. While we waited for our “babies” to arrive, we went to the library and got lots of books on life cycles, butterflies and tadpoles.

    A couple weeks later, our “babies” all arrived on the same day in our mailbox: two tadpoles and six butterfly larvae. The tadpoles were easy. They just needed to put in some spring water, fed every other day and observed for signs of changing into frogs. The butterfly larvae were even easier. They just hung upside down in the little cup for about two weeks, each one slowly forming into a chrysalis. At that point, we observed more closely and actually got to witness four of the six emerge from their cocoons and unroll themselves into butterflies. As soon as they’re “born,” you feed them some orange slices and sugar water for a few days.

    And then you let them go.

    And it is beyond sad as you watch your child say goodbye to their beautiful Monarch friends, and you explain over and over why they have to be let go. And then you wonder why you ever did this project when it brings so much pain, especially when you’ve done it before with older children and heard the same wails and saw the same agonizing tears.

    This is what it looked like, from the beginning to the end:








    kiss goodbye


    getting ready

    getting ready2




    So by now, you must see where I’m going with this post. Yep, the old butterfly-gets-its-wings metaphor.

    In college, for an English class assignment, I wrote an allegorical poem about leaving home, and I used a butterfly as a metaphor. My professor wrote “Cliche!” and “Overused!” in big fat red ink all over it. Gah! I cringe when I think of that awful poem. At the time, I was offended, but oh, how right he was. How could I have not seen that back then? Did I really think that was a good poem? And here I am again with the butterfly metaphor. But I don’t care. No one’s grading this, and right now, with my Little Miss one month away from starting kindergarten, it couldn’t be more appropriate.

    How did this happen so quickly? Please excuse the use of yet another cliche, but it literally seems like I just had her. I can picture myself lying in that hospital bed, doing that final push despite my case of sudden-onset reflux. And then the doctor held her up and I saw her little girl parts and I realized then that despite the fact that I’d been saying I didn’t care what we were having, that I really, really did want another daughter.

    And she was perfect. Her proud father kept saying her head was shaped like a trapezoid, but I never saw that. Not even in pictures to this day. In fact, she came out so clean, so pink, so chubby, and just so everything a baby should be. And I loved her immediately and deeply.

    We got home from the hospital and settled into our easy, snuggly routine. And then I blinked my eyes and it was time for her to start kindergarten. Yes, really, just like that.

    That’s how fast these almost-five years have gone. (She turns 5 exactly one week before the first day of school.)

    Of course, I’ve been through this before, with the twins. And yes, that was doubly painful. But kindergarten was only half-days back then, so it was a teensy bit easier. It was when they started full-time 1st grade that I really had my breakdown. But being pregnant with another little one at the time made it a bit easier, and I started to enjoy my “me” time that year, knowing it would be my last for a while.

    But this time, it’s different. I knew all along how fast it was going to go, which is why I tried to make the most of each day we had together, and why I kept her home with me. But just because you realize it, doesn’t mean time slows down. I wish it worked that way.

    And by the way, those two tadpoles I mentioned we sent away for in February? They were supposed to turn into frogs in two weeks. It is now almost six months later and they’re still tadpoles. One of them hasn’t grown a bit, and neither are even close to losing their tails or growing legs. I even emailed the company to find out what’s the deal.

    If only our children could be more like the tadpoles.

    When I think about how fast my girls have grown and are growing, I get like a hot flash, a lump in my throat and a stabbing pain in the gut, especially when I realize that with the twins turning 12 later this month and starting 7th grade in the fall, it means they’re only going to be home with us for another six years before they go off to college.

    Go away, lump, hot flash and stabbing pain, go away!

    I get that same hot flashy, lumpy, stabbing-pain-in-the-gut feeling when I imagine the first day of kindergarten one month from today. I’m dreading it more than anyone could know. I’m dreading it as much as I’m already dreading the walk back to the car after we leave her older sisters in their dorm rooms at college.

    But I can’t go there right now. That’s an entirely different post. Heck, that’s an entirely different blog.

    If you look at those last few pictures of Little Miss after having kissed her butterflies goodbye and letting them go, you’ll get an idea of what I will be looking like at 9 a.m. one month from today. And the day after that. And probably the day after that. And then, after a few more days like that, I’m sure I will enjoy the few hours I’ll have to myself to “get my groove back.” I’m looking forward to the day when I look at the clock and go, “Oh, man, it’s time to pick them up already?”

    But until then, I’m holding on to my little larvae.

    P.S. If by some chance a bald and probably retired college professor who looks like Paul Shaffer happens upon this blog, please refrain from writing “Cliche!” or “Overused!” in the comment box. I already know it is and I don’t care.

  6. Girls, Girls, Girls

    June 1, 2010 by Wendy

    Sometimes I feel bad for my husband, living in the all-female, estrogen-soaked household that he does. Last night happened to be one of those times, maybe because our evening bike ride had to be cut short after encountering a pack of javelinas and four squealing, shrieking girls wanted to high-tail it home. (In fact, our bike rides always seem to be cut short, due to some fear one of us girls develops out in the middle of nowhere, where he likes to go. That being said, I don’t think coyotes, bobcats, snakes and the dark are unreasonable fears at all when you live in the desert.)

    Anyway, I told him that he should start taking more time to pursue his hobbies, and do more “guy” stuff, like hunting, fishing or going to the shooting range. Sometimes a guy just wants to sit around and talk about trucks, and that’s just not a need I’m capable of filling. Politics, I’ll do (on a good day), but trucks, no way.

    “When? When am I going to find the time to do those kind of things?” he asked.

    “Well, I don’t know, you have to make the time,” I said.

    So about an hour or so after this discussion, he offered to put Little Miss to bed. A few minutes later, I went in to say good night, and this is what I found:


    It looks like he’s snuggled up in bed with her, reading the captivating tale of Cinderella’s Palace, right?  Only this is what I heard when I walked in:

    “Do not mix alkaline, standard (carbon zinc), or rechargeable (nickel-cadmium) batteries. Do not recharge non-rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable batteries are to be removed from the sound module before being recharged. Rechargeable batteries are to only to be charged under adult supervision. This product uses…”

    And then I figured out what he was doing. Bored out of his mind from all the princess tales he’s read night after night, daughter after daughter over the years, he decided to get creative. And read the inside cover of the page. You know, the copyright page. Only this book was one of those that had those musical buttons on it, thus all the battery talk.

    And Little Miss was listening with rapt attention! Especially when he got to the part about the book/device being compliant with FCC rules and regulations.

    Happening upon this scene reinforced my belief that he really needs more guy time and less “princess” time. But that isn’t quite what I meant.

    Oh, well. At least Little Miss is now aware of the dangers of mixing carbon-zinc and nickel-cadmium batteries.

  7. What a Difference a Word Makes

    May 22, 2010 by Wendy

    Yesterday, while we were sitting in the car waiting for BK to finish pumping the gas, Little Miss said, “Mommy, remember the God talk the other night?”

    “The God talk?” I asked, trying to remember what she was referring to.

    “Yeah, you know, the one where you said you forgave God for Poppy?”

    Whaaaaat?” I asked, amid the peals of laughter from the other girls. “I forgave God for Poppy?”

    “Yeah, remember, at the end of my prayer the other night, you said “I forgive God for Poppy.”

    “Ohhhhh,” I said, suddenly remembering the conversation. After her bedtime prayer, I often ask her if she wants to add anything, like what she’s thankful for, sorry for or asking for. After one too many nights of “Thank you for my Barbies,” or “I would like more toys,” I tried to steer her in the direction of less material things, like being thankful for her sisters, her parents, her grandparents, her home and food on the table. As an example, I told her things I was thankful for, which of course, included Poppy.

    “No, I said I thank God for Poppy, not forgive Him for him,” I clarified, just as Poppy opened the car door and asked what was so funny.

    “Oh, nothing, we’re just forgiving God for you,” I said.

    “Oh,” he said, nonplussed, but I explained the situation anyway.

    It was a good lesson on what a difference one word can make.

  8. The (Priceless?) Magic of Disney

    May 10, 2010 by Wendy

    Last week, we went to Disneyland, where Little Miss experienced what had to be, so far, the best day of her whole 4-year-old life. Or so I thought.

    Like just about every other little girl around this age, she is deeply entrenched in the “princess” phase, her room overflowing with Disney princess Barbie dolls, plush Disney dolls, princess costumes, hair accessories, sheets, etc.

    Although this wasn’t her first Disneyland trip, it would be the first she would really remember, and we wanted to make it extra memorable. So prior to the trip, I booked her a surprise appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, an adorable little salon and gift shop (of course!) located within the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle.

    On the morning of the appointment, she had no idea what was in store for her, other than that there was a surprise and that she got to wear her pink fairy costume into the park that day.

    When we arrived and checked her in, I explained to her what was going to happen. I’m not even sure it registered with her, as she was pretty enthralled with her surroundings. (Picture the Disney Store on steriods—well, female hormones, I guess, as it was a sea of pink and jewels and princess everything.) Here’s how happy such a store makes a man, especially a father of three daughters:


    As soon as Little Miss got seated into her salon chair, the “fairy godmothers”  began bustling about her, applying makeup, styling her hair, sprinkling her with “pixie dust,” affixing cotton-candy-colored extensions (her choice) and placing a giant jeweled ring on her finger:





    She loved it, as the rest of us watched the transformation from a bench meant for the admirers. Though her “stepsisters” (as the Disneyland photographer called them) were happy for her, they seemed a little bored and anxious to hit the big-girl rides:


    When she was all made up, sprayed and glittered, the “fairy godmothers” unveiled the mirror, which was hidden during the process. The look on her face when she first saw her princess-ified self was priceless:

    first look

    Afterward, while she and the rest of the family went on Dumbo, one of her favorite rides, I stood in line for more than an hour at the Princess Fantasy Faire, where some of the A-list princesses are on hand for a private meet and greet. This was the moment she had been waiting for, and they arrived from the unexplainable mass chaos of the Dumbo line just in time:




    She was so happy and giddy and delighted, exactly what any little girl in her Disney Princess light-up shoes would be. The day was certain to be imprinted in her memory forever. Or so I thought.

    Later that night, as we sat on the crowded sidewalk awaiting the fireworks show, I asked her if it was the best day of her life.

    “Yes,” she replied, with that sweet, dreamy look on her face, no doubt recalling the events of the day.

    And then, she leaned out of her stroller with outstretched arms, and said, “Mommy?”

    “Yes?” I said.

    “Thank you for that frozen strawberry lemonade you bought me today,” she said as she hugged me tightly.

    Wow. That’s what she remembered from the day? I didn’t even need to say anything, as Twin A’s response said it all:

    “Do you know how much money you could’ve saved?” she said to us, between peals of laughter. “How much was that lemonade, like $3.75? You could’ve just spent $3.75 and she’d be just as happy!”

    As if that weren’t bad enough, when the trip was over and we asked her what her favorite ride was, she said “the carousel.”

    The carousel? We could just go to our local mall and ride that for a $1 token!

    Still, I prefer to look at it this way:

    • Daily admission to Disneyland: $62.
    • Salon makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: $55-ish.
    • Frozen strawberry lemonade: $3.75.
    • The look on her face all day long: Priceless.

    Which just goes to prove, you can’t put a price on the magic of Disney.

    Well, not until the Disney Visa statements start rolling in, that is.

  9. Welcome to Hollywood?

    January 28, 2010 by Wendy

    Yesterday, Little Miss asked me if she can try out for American Idol when she gets bigger. I told her, of course, if that’s what she wants to do. (And if it’s still on the air when that time comes.)

    Last night, she asked her father the same question. I think he gave her about the same answer I did.

    This morning, she picked out her audition outfit:


    Welcome to Hollywood? Not if I can help it!

  10. “Why are our kids are so weird?”

    January 19, 2010 by Wendy

    OK, this little story is too bizarre to not blog about.

    So, first, a little background:

    I hate scorpions. Hate them. Like, when I see them in the house, I want to call them names. (Well, I do call them names, but only when no one else is around, and I’m not afraid to admit that I have, on occasion, flipped them off.) Luckily, we rarely get them in the house, but when we do, it’s an event. Out come the camera, a jar to put it in, and of course, the shrieks and screams. (My younger sister hates them too, so whenever we get them in our houses, we always send each other a picture, I don’t know why.)

    So the other day, right after BK got home from work and was being followed by the incessantly chatty Twin A telling him about her day, she was standing with him at the bathroom sink when she noticed it. A big, fat scorpion, right where I would be standing brushing my teeth just a few hours later.

    We hadn’t seen one in a long time, and ironically, the day before, my mother-in-law gave me a bottle of her homemade anti-scorpion spray, a concoction of boiled orange oil or something. I just sprayed our exterior doorways with it that day, so either it doesn’t work or it drove them in.

    So Twin A ran and got me out of the kitchen, I got the camera, Twin B got the Flip cam. For perspective, I found a nearby quarter and gingerly threw it down next to the little jerk (that’s one of my nice names) and took this picture:


    I’m not sure what’s grosser—the scorpion or the hair all over the bathroom floor I noticed in this close-up photo. (I vacuumed the next day.) Anyway, my hero BK bravely slapped an empty peanut butter jar over it (we save them for this very reason) and then slid a piece of paper underneath that before flipping it over. He’s an expert at this technique. I am not. Once, when he wasn’t home, I found one crawling up the wall of the girls’ playroom—the ones that can climb walls, by the the way, are the most deadly, venomous bark scorpion. I got as far as putting the jar over it but didn’t think ahead about bringing a piece of paper or cardboard with me, and it took about 15 minutes for one of the girls to locate one, and then I got too scared to pull the jar off the wall. After about a half-hour of this, my arm was aching and shaking so badly that I just had to make myself do it. No more than 5 minutes later, BK walked in the door. Of course, I acted all brave and like it was no big deal when I told him what just happened.

    OK, so back to the other night, and here’s where it gets weird. He puts it in the jar, puts a lid on it and Little Miss wants to hold it.

    “Ewwww!” the twins and I say in unison. Making it worse, she was in shorts and had no qualms about holding the thing against her bare legs:


    I know it was in a jar, but still. That was just creepy. She just kept staring at it and talking to it, even though I kept saying, “Ewww, put that down! Take it outside!” as I’m trying to make dinner amid the chaos. The weird thing is, well, besides the fact that our daughter was talking to a scorpion, that the girl enthralled with it is our  girliest girl. She’s all about princesses, Barbies, hairstyles and beautiful singers, not deadly, venomous desert creatures! This is the girl who screams and turns ghostly white if a fly lands on her arm or there’s a spider in her bathroom.

    Later that night, the twins and I were snuggled up on the couch watching American Idol. For some reason, Little Miss thinks that I am her sole property and no one but her should be sitting next to me. So she starts with the sad protruding bottom lip, then the tears, and then “Why are you guys sitting by Mommy? I get to sit next to Mommy!”

    “I don’t see the girls all day long,” I said. “You get me all to yourself all day, so now it’s their turn,” I say.

    Then the crying really starts, making us miss half the “Pants on the Ground” song.

    I call BK into the room and ask him to sit with her, telling her, “Poppy wants to sit with you, he hasn’t seen you all day!”

    He scooped her up and started playing with her, but she wasn’t having it. She got up, took one longing glance at the girls and I on the couch, and then took off. A minute later, she came wandering back in, sad-faced and sniffly—with the scorpion jar cradled in her arm. She hopped back up into BK’s lap, sniffling and hugging that jar like it was a teddy bear.

    It was all so disturbing yet hilarious yet crazy yet heartbreakingly sad all at the same time. “That’s soooo pathetic!” I said, as the twins and BK were practically convulsing with hysterical laughter. I wish I had snapped a picture, but I was just too weirded out to think about getting the camera.

    By the next day, Little Miss gave it a name: Scorpia, and declared it a girl. When it came time to go pick up the twins from school, Little Miss insisted that Scorpia come along for the ride.

    “NO WAY!” was my first response. The thought of driving around with that thing gave me the heebie-jeebies.

    “But Scorpia is my friend, and I will be sad to leave her home all alone,” she pleaded with her sweet big blue eyes.

    “Fine,” I agreed, super reluctantly. That sweet face makes me such a pushover.

    I screwed the lid onto that peanut butter jar as tightly as I could and handed it to her. “Do NOT, under any cirucmstances, loosen this lid, and don’t shake it around,” I told her sternly, although why I cared if it got shaken up, I don’t know.

    “OK, but can you carry her because I have my Barbie and I can’t carry her, too,” said Little Miss as we walked out to the garage.

    “Fine,” I again said in my exasperated tone.

    I buckled her (the child, not Scorpia) into her seat and handed her the jar for our journey.

    Then she says, “Can you take her up front with you because my Barbie will be scared of her and I don’t want her to be scared, so you should bring her up front with you, OK?”

    You’ve got to be kidding me.

    “Fine,” I said, setting the jar into the console next to the drink-holder cups, hoping that it wouldn’t roll onto my flip-flopped feet and freak me out while I was driving.

    When I got to the school pickup line, I texted BK, “OK, we need a dog. The scorpion now has a name and someone insisted we bring her to pickup.” I attached this picture:

    scorpia car

    I could not believe I was driving around with a scorpion in my car. Scorpia, by the way, was looking a little sluggish in her airtight jar. But I gave her a shake, and yep, she was still alive. Dang.

    Later that night, the girls were watching Mulan, and this is how I found Little Miss:


    “Why are our kids so weird?” I whispered to BK as I pointed her out. (We say this kind of a lot. He just said it on Sunday at church, when we noticed that Twin B had a stack of coins all bundled up in yarn to put in the collection basket. When I nudged BK and pointed it out, he whispered, “Why are our kids so weird?”)

    When I told my mom the scorpion story, she said, “You guys need a dog.” It’s true, we do need a dog, and we’ve been in discussions about it for the past two years, but that’s an entirely different blog post.

    Later that night, I noticed that Scorpia had been placed on one of the walls in the dining room. She had become part of the decor, right along with our granite and Venetian plaster. Everyone is going to want to jump on this trend:


    “Um, that’s not staying there,” I said when I noticed. But then when I gave the jar another shake, I also noticed that Scorpia didn’t react. Scorpia had passed.

    “Good, now can we throw her away?” I said, probably a little too callously.

    “No!” shouted an on-the-verge-of-tears Little Miss. “Can we bury her in the back yard?”

    “Oh, sure, because I have nothing better to do than to have a scorpion funeral,” I said.

    “Can we? Can we have a funior for her? What’s a funior?” said Little Miss.

    That was four days ago. She still has not been properly interred. Garbage day is Monday.

    I’m thinking services will be held Monday courtesy of Waste Management. In lieu of flowers, we are accepting donations of  jars.