~for our family and friends~

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Unexpected Words from my Daughter

Today Maggie and I were working on her "homework." Speech therapy is a new program that we've picked up this year and I've labeled it as "school" and hype it up so she knows it's something positive and normal. Something that all her friends do. Right?

Our conversation during her homework awakened a new sense for me of who Maggie is.

Maggie (saddling my lap and hugging my sternum): Mom, you're the best for helping me with my homework.
Me (wait, when did she come up with a sentence like that, so mature, so self-aware?): Awww, I love you, Maggie.

A little later…

Maggie (looking down and thoughtful): I'm not very good at school.
Me (WHY would she think that?!): Of course you are good at school, honey!
Maggie (the sincerity in her voice slowing my heart rate): Well, I'm not very good at homework.
Me: Maggie, school is about learning something new, something that you don't already know. Homework is practicing and you are very good at it! When kids go to school, they are all learning something new, just like you.
Maggie: Yeah, but I'm not very good at it.
Me (recycling the same encouragement)
Maggie: Well, sometimes homework makes me MAD.
Me (recognizing that my baby bird is sensitive and TOTALLY aware of positive and negative reactions to her "homework" and realizing that this is going to be a careful tightrope to walk.) I know, but I love doing homework with you.

A little later upstairs while I'm trying to exit the stage and leave her to bed…

Maggie: Mom, do you want to tell me a story about yourself?
Me: Ah…(thinking that's a brilliant strategy, M, how can I say no to that?)…yes, I can tell you a story. (I start weighing whether I should tell her about the time my dad saved me from drowning or wondering if that would give her any ideas about jumping into swimming pools and expecting to be saved)…ah…(still blanking)…let me tell you about my cat, Gray. [story given]
Maggie: Would you like me to tell you a story about myself?
Me: (brilliant strategist, this one)… yes, I would love to hear that.
Maggie: (story summary: Maggie was chased, a few times, by a monster, then someone saved her.)

Finally making my escape from M's room, closed the door, and…

Maggie: Good night (said loudly through door)
Me: Good night, Maggie.
Maggie: Thank you (her standard, self-imposed, formal bedtime response)
Me: You're welcome (wondering when she decided to thank me for this. And thinking back on when she told me how much she liked the rings and necklace I got her. Somehow knowing that the necklace her dad got her for Valentine's was really from me. And she has me completely whipped).

Of no small note, Jack's repeated and emphatic kisses on my cheeks amplified both of his bedtime songs in the dark, after which he insisted on a pack of four stuffed animals (bear, woof woof, fox, kitty cat) to stand guard in his crib before I could shut the door. Previously today, (and unrelated to bed), Jack and Maggie's trained response of "I do" when I ask if they want something has morphed into an if-looks-could-kill stare down:

Me: Who wants grapes?
Jack (raising hand as if in school): I do!
Maggie (taunting a challenge and quizzically staring at Jack): "no, I DO."
Jack (producing a significant scowl, half smile and pout for Maggie): "I DO" said slowly, clearly, and loudly.
Maggie (launched even louder): "NO, I DO."
Jack (begin punching motion and crescendo-d speech):  "I DO" with tonality that drops into a slightly quiet, darker, deadly-certain place in Jack's voice range, sort of like he's saying "I DO" and I'll take you out if you do, too.

Since Jack is only one, yet in on the joke, it obviously belies a sensitive and centered human being who is wise beyond his years. Of course that's the Rampton…er… I mean the Grandma Elgie in him. Hat tipped, Monseigneur Jack Park.

Good night my darlings, my lovely ones. And you too, Bill.


Captain's Log, Stardate 200707.24--(POST FROM 2007, PUBLISHED 2016)
This week Bill and I house-sat, (can you house-sat something? Is that past tense for house-sit?), my brother and sister-in law's house. Their home is hidden on a wooded acre lot which they bought for the property, so until they can do more, they're camping in a one-story rambler with hobo and black widow spider traps in all the sliding glass doors. The radon barometer in the basement is saying "green," but Bill and I aren't sure if that means "green" it's okay or "green" it's toxic air. We slept in the room with the radon reducer, just to keep an eye on it, and I saved Bill from certain death when he almost stepped on a gigantic black spider well-concealed in the white/gray carpet. House sitting can be a bit nerve racking.

Thursday morning, July 24th: Bill and I are sleeping like babies in the radon room, (hopefully not BECAUSE of the radon room), and we hear voices starting towards us from down the hall. Bill, the hero he is, jumps out of bed in his white pajamas to face the intruders. He bursts out of the room yelling "HELLO!!!???" with a shake in his voice, which is sure to scare them away. I stay in bed hoping that it would go away. Soon I hear Bill speaking softly to the strangers and he comes back in the room with a relieved smile. My brother had scheduled some cleaning people to come that morning, and forgot to tell us. Fortunately, Bill had come out swinging. They scared us as much as we scared them, so we apologized and moved around each other for the rest of the morning.

I was just proud of Bill for showing off his white pajamas.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cutting Socks

It is 12:19 am and Lucy and I have spent another riveting Friday night watching "Mobile Home Disasters" on CMT, followed by Lucy fretting about the apartment while I study. And it was Lucy's fretting that actually inspired me to write something tonight.

I have a test on the "Killer App" in my information systems class on Tuesday. Its a pretty interesting book, for any geek interested in IS and business. Of course the test has been on the syllabus all semester, but I didn't try to buy it until two weeks ago. Imagine my surprise when the university bookstore didn't have it in stock and Barnes and Noble told me it was out of print. I ended up buying it from Amazon and paid three times as much as normal to get it in time for my test. Well, it hasn't shown up and now I have been reading it on the internet, which is awful.

Word to the wise never ever decide to read textbooks online.

So, while I am reading and intently attempting to improve myself through higher education Lucy began to pontificate on the extreme psychological power of socks.

Men, listen up. Women apparently, through millennium of evolution, or intelligent design - take your pick, have developed a deep and rewarding relationship with their socks that we, as men, can only hope to match.

Women can establish their entire sense, well maybe a significant portion,
of self worth on the current state of their stockings. This seemingly innocuous garment determines whether a woman greets her day with passion, gusto, and energy or with frumpy disdain.

Imagine, if you will, a potent phallic symbol such as a really awesome guitar or brand new baseball bat. Just holding it makes you feel powerful, you know you could hit something really hard or look like you have some desirable musical talent. We, as men, use these things to tell other people that we are better then they are.

Women use socks to assure themselves that they are everything they hope to be. Nobody in their right mind pays any attention to the socks of another person for more than a micro second, and in these cases it is usually when they are mismatched. But to a woman's psyche knowing they have a killer pair of knee-highs on elevates their self worth to the upper echelons of social standing. Because socks are the one pointless aspect of fashion, having the right socks means that your world is complete. You have accomplished everything else and now you only have to worry about what makes you especially special.

This fascinating relationship between women and footwear became clear to me as Lucy described in detail the immense joy she found in destroying old socks. Every morning for weeks she had dreaded opening her drawer to find a rotting supply of saggy, holey, worn-out socks. Her whole day would be ruined because of the incessant reminder of her failure as a woman due to this embarrassing aspect of her wardrobe.

As she sat next to me cutting up old socks into cleaning rags her eyes would twinkle, the corners of her mouth would be raised in maniacal smile, and the potent fumes of estrogen seemed to intoxicate her. She told me with triumph that tomorrow she would be able to face her day happily.

And I am proud of her. Who wouldn't salute their spouse for accomplishing something important to them.

But here is the kicker.

I freaking bought her brand new socks 7 months ago!!! THEY ARE STILL IN THE PACKAGING.

Women are the most confusing creatures on the planet.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


We went to a football themed wedding tonight. It was at the U football stadium and pictures of football players were every where. We waited in line for half an hour surrounded by the greatest football moments in the university's history. The most impressive was the photo of the fans with their chests painted in support of their team: UT!S. They misspelled UTES!, forgeting the most important letter...the vowel. And they will be remembered for all times as the football fans that can't spell their own school mascot.
After I felt that I had successfully mocked our school's pathetic English department in front of my English major wife I went on to explain my "wedding philosophy": I don't want to ever run into anybody and say "hey didn't we meet at that wedding?' at which point Lucy turned around and asked the complete stranger behind us if he was a physician. They began to talk and I left the line and went to eat the refreshments.
They had nice little bite size key lime pies that were too hard to get out their pie pans. And a fountain that peed punch. After I thought about the peeing fountain I decided to go with the water.
I brought Lucy a pie back once I felt that there was no way the physician conversation could still be going on. I arrived and the guy who might have been the physician said "wow little pies!!" and I complained that the line still hadn't moved.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Lucy says eating at night isn't good because eating in the morning is better. Well Bill says he is hungry NOW!!! Bill also says that wives should make quesadillas for their husbands when it is past 10 pm.

We went to Home Depot today, that place is big, you can get lost. They have enough materials to build a whole neighborhood. Lucy was afraid she was too good looking to be in the store and some one might take her, so she made Bill hold her hand the entire time. Which wasn't so bad. (emphasis on the "so").

Any way, when we got home from the amazing home depot, which is one of our favorite date activities by the way, Lucy was afraid of the aspestos in the floor. IN THE FLOOR!! She refuses to sweep because it will "Put asbestos in the air and make us die young." How young I ask. "Like fifty" she says. "I dont want to die when I am fifty!"

Well let me tell you something, if you are fifty you are O-L-D old. Your life is pretty much over and you have to eat dinner at four in the afternoon.