Monthly Archives: July 2011

If Walls Could Talk

In recent days, I have become a professional at packing, taping, and stacking boxes. I had been feeling really smug about my packing efficiency quotient (PEQ), but then I started packing up the kitchen. Dishes are a real pain, you guys. All the wrapping. And pots are no picnic either, mostly because of the handles. They’re so pointy and poke-y and unbendable.

It’s been hard, too, to pack with the kids around, so most of the packing has been taking place at night. Except when Benjamin got out a suitcase one busy morning last week and started stuffing his clothes into it.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Packing up my clothes so we can move to the new house, Mama!”

“Good job! Except we don’t need to pack up your clothes yet, because we’re not going for another week or so.”

“But I’m so excited to live there!”

“Me too, sweetie!”

“But…Mama? I think our old house is going to really miss us.”

“So you think that the house has feelings like we do, and it will feel sad when we’re not here anymore?”

“Yeah. I think it’s going to feel really, really sad.”

I know what he means. I was going to explain to him that houses aren’t living things with feelings, but I didn’t. Because when I was a little girl, I felt exactly the same way. I remember riding in the back of my parents’ car as they drove it to the dealership to trade it in, lying on the seat, tightly hugging the upholstery (this was, of course, before seat belt laws). As though I was bidding farewell to a dear loved one, tears streamed down my cheeks as I whispered, “We loved you, car. Thank you, car. I’ll miss you, car. You were a good, good car.”

Such a little drama queen! Now we know where Ellie gets it.

Anyway, I told him that story, and I added that even though I was sad to leave our old car, we got a nice new car that was great, and that the old car ended up taking care of another family. I said that our house was going to take care of some new people, too.

“So the house won’t be lonely,” I said, “because there will be new people here to keep it company. Does that make you feel better?”

“No, it doesn’t. Because it will still miss us.”

Again, I couldn’t argue, even though I’m a “grown-up” now and should “know better.” Sure, I could’ve explained that he was simply projecting his own feelings on the house as a convenient way to avoid difficult emotions, blah blah blah. But he’s five, and also, I’m not entirely convinced myself that the house won’t miss us.

So I said that we could do things like drive by the house and wave, and open the window and yell, “I miss you, house!” I said we could talk about the house any time, and that he could have some pictures of the house in his new room.

“Really? That would be great!” he said. “Then I won’t forget how it was here.”

I won’t forget how it was here, either. I won’t forget moving in with The Daddy, youthful and childless, thrilled to start a new life with a garage AND space for a guest room and home office. The elaborate Christmas Eve dinners I tried to cook in my miniscule kitchen to impress my new in-laws.  Laughing on the big back deck with my girlfriends. Renovating the bedroom 7 months pregnant. Kissing my newborns’ cheeks in the big chair in the family room. Avoiding the squeaky floorboard in the nursery in the middle of the night. The way I felt instantly comforted, walking through the door after a long day.

What Benjamin will eventually understand is that those feelings and memories have almost nothing to do with the house. Someday, maybe very soon, he’ll understand that home is wherever we all are – wherever we’re laughing, singing, playing, squabbling, cooking, sleeping, dreaming.

Regardless: We loved you, house. Thank you, house. We’ll miss you, house. You were a good, good house.


Buy One…Get Three Free!

I’ve started several posts recently, but my brain activity is too random and unfocused to string sentences together. If you cracked open my skull to look for brains, you would find only a disorganized swirly jumble of the the following words:

New house PACKING sod and sprinklers ONE MILLION DOLLARS mortgage approval furniture chocolate LIGHT FIXTURES puppy fence Benjamin caramel doctor appointments PUPPY moving truck new socks CLOSING DATE Ellie’s molars cheese sticks grocery list BLINDS AND TOWEL BARS The Daddy’s birthday water meter township taxes PAINT COLORS appliances carpet cleaner rental agreement and a small sign that reads BRAINS NO LONGER LIVE HERE.

The good news is, our garage sale went really well, far better than I had expected. True, setting up the thing was miserable; I was out there for hours, hemming and hawing and moving things around, but in the end it was pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself. I had things set up in zones – there was a baby stuff zone, a toy zone, a mysterious manly hardware-type-stuff zone, a clothing zone, etc. I held the sale with my friend, and we felt quite smug on Friday morning when we had an initial rush of customers. But then it rained. We managed to entertain ourselves by buying each other’s stuff, which isn’t really the best way to optimize earnings. Then we got hungry, so we spent the rest of the morning’s profits on having lunch delivered. We couldn’t go inside and MAKE lunch, silly – what if a herd of demanding customers came?

In my garage sale ad, I had said that if you came to the sale and told me a joke, I’d give you a discount. People were intrigued by this offer, and I heard quite a few jokes. Quality varied, however, and I’ve forgotten most of them. One was about an elderly couple sharing a single pair of dentures at a restaurant – I remember that one. The best were the jokes that kids told me, because I could tell they had practiced on the way over. Ellie likes to tell this old standard, with a twist all her own that she thought up at the playground:

“Mama, why did the chicken cross the road?”
“Why, Ellie?”
“To get to the other SLIDE!”
*collapses in giggles*

See there, how my mind just wanders off topic, willy nilly? We were talking about the garage sale, and now I’m telling you about Ellie writing her own jokes. I’ve really got to keep it together. Speaking of keeping it together, did you hear about the leper who laughed his head off? (Yeah, I remembered THAT one.)

Anyway: Things didn’t really pick up until the second day. Shoppers were confused by my off-the-wall strategy, which was to agree to whatever price they suggested, then lower it and throw in extra stuff. It would go like this:

“How much for this stroller?”
“What do I have it marked at…$15?”
“Yeah. Will you take $10?”
“Absolutely! And I’ll throw in that baby blanket too.”
“Oh…well, thanks! I’m also thinking about this baby gym.”
“Sure thing! I’ll give you the stroller, blanket, and baby gym for $7.”
“So I get all three things for $7? I thought we started at $10???”
“We sure did…tell all your friends!”

I considered it a volume discount. My goal was to get the stuff out of my garage, and for the most part it worked. Despite my pre-sale angst, I really liked holding the sale.  I got to sit outside all day and chat with interesting people who told me jokes. AND I made around $350, even with my loosey goosey “sales strategy.”

One thing that surprised me was that none of my kids’ Halloween costumes went. I was selling them for two dollars. TWO DOLLARS. These are nice costumes, too – I don’t skimp on Halloween. For example, look at this picture of Benjamin in his very first costume when he was four months old:


You said, “Awwww!” didn’t you? If you didn’t, you’re dead inside and should seek counseling immediately. But really, TWO DOLLARS.  How is it possible that no one bought this freakin’ adorable fish costume? On the first day I was cool about it, but on the second day, I started pleading with people to please, PLEASE, think of Halloween, think of the children, get an early start, don’t you know anyone who needs a costume for their baby or young child? Perhaps the crazed look in my eye drove them away. One lady humored me and tried to contact her friend by both phone and text, but alas, no luck. Her “friend” intently ignored her, which in my opinion is her loss. Hmph.

Anyway, want a fish costume? $2. And if you buy two, I’ll give you both for $1. And I’ll throw in a waffle iron and a subwoofer. Tell all your friends!


Five Is a Magic Number

On Thursday, my favorite Benjamin in the whole wide world turned five.

He’d been waiting impatiently for this day, counting down the months, the weeks, the days, the hours. I’m not sure what magical thing he thought would occur when he turned five, but whatever it was, it seemed very, very important to arrive at the day and revel in it.

The night before, he had told me how he’d like his day to go, and we followed as closely to his recommended schedule as we could:

6:00 a.m.: Begins the arduous chore of getting the rest of the family to vacate their beds. Family is reluctant.

6:30 a.m.: Enthusiastically opens presents with bleary-eyed family. Attempts to ride awesome new Transformer bike around tiny dining room. Amazingly, nothing ends up broken or damaged, other than Mama’s nerves.

6:45 a.m.: The Daddy struggles to free the Sentinel Prime transformer from his high-security packaging, valiantly battling tie-downs with dull kitchen shears. Benjamin declares that this is “the best birthday ever.”

7:00 a.m.: Ellie starts sobbing that she doesn’t have any princess presents for “her” birthday. Any and all attempts to explain that her birthday isn’t until December are met with pouty indignation and intermittent heaving sobs. Benjamin’s repeated reminders of the proprietary nature of the day do nothing to soothe her egocentric crisis.

8:00 a.m.: Breakfast at IHOP! Ellie spills coffee cream all over her and Mama. Ben eats his entire breakfast plus 30% of everyone else’s breakfast. The kids aren’t producing more than an average level of mayhem in the categories of volume or activity, so I ignore the foul looks from the elderly couple at a nearby table. Or maybe that’s just how their faces have frozen after years of sour moods? I make a mental note to perform hourly checks of my own facial expression status to avoid ending up this way.

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Time at Grandma’s to avoid boring parental errands.

2:15 p.m.: The Daddy takes Benjamin to see the new Transformers movie.
Mama attempts to renew plates at DMV, but is turned away due to statewide computer failure. Simultaneously thrilled and disappointed.

4:30: Mama and Benjamin pick up the cake!

5:30: First (outside) ride on bike. Benjamin is gleeful. Unfortunately the glee causes the listening section of the brain to shut down completely, resulting in an unfortunate crash.

5:45: Back on the bike.

6:30: BLTs for dinner (Benjamin’s favorite), followed by the SUPERDUPERAMAZING TRANSFORMERS CAKE!


FYI, the blue and black frosting looked really cool, but tasted like battery acid mixed with rat poop. Not that I’ve ever tasted that combination, or even one of the components by itself, but you got the picture, right? HORRIBLE. But Benjamin loved it, and that’s the important thing.

The funniest things he said:

“So I’m five now. Why isn’t my voice lower?”


“When I blew out my candle, I wished for always having a loving family.”

“Oh, Benjamin, that’s so sweet! I love that wish. And you will always have that – we love you so much, and we always will.”

“AND THEN I wished for all the Transformers in the world!”

At least he knew which wish to tell me first. That’s a clear sign he’s developing the kind of emotional manipulation skills that he’ll need to survive in the world.

I couldn’t be more proud of my sweet, sweet five-year-old boy.