Playground Uprising

Sword Fighting

There are those among us who proclaim the perils of the sedative existence of a T.V. watching kiddo. These people are of course the folks who reside outside of the house of a boy who each day rolls up a legal size piece of paper and pops in Narnia in preparation for an all out epic battle of wills – likely concluding in an older boy grabbing his head and shrieking “Mom, Charlie is a sword fighting again.” And as I peak around the corner ~ the battle commences with jabs, and jolts, and leaps that could only make our one hundred and fifteen year old house feel like it just might not make it to the next century. Thus one not worry that these altercations are reserved for the T.V., I assure you that they rage at nap time as Charlie leaps upon his bed and peers into the mirrored wardrobe impressed by his dexterity, and in the grocery store as I ponder the advantages of fettuccine over rigatoni, and as one waits for our free Subaru oil change in the company of those who really just want to know the latest on the Casey Anthony trial.There are even little twinges of it as Charlie walks back down the aisle after attending children’s chapel, and though there are parts of me that are reluctant to claim the weapon wheeling bandit stalking the sanctuary ~ the one who corrected me yesterday when I said “Charlie, don’t you think it is a beautiful day?” To which he responded, “Mom that is something only princesses say ” ~but truth be known, I sure do love the gusto of boy who is willing to take on his world.


The Great Wolf Lodge: Toenails, and Bikini’s, and Wolves Oh My


I have not written on my blog for a while and though I have made lofty, yet sporadic attempts to rectify the situation – life just seems to get in the way. But – as all writers know there are experiences that run you over and just yell WRITE ME! I had one of those this weekend.

It began something like this:

“Mom I want to go to the Great Wolf Lodge for my birthday.” To which I responded, “Their closed.” “For how long?” “Until 2021 -which is around the year you turn 18 and can take yourself.” “Mom, – that is impossible- I just saw an advertisement on TV.” Curse all forms of technology. Think, Think, Think. “Well if we go to Hell and Swaller, I mean the Great Wolf Lodge, than that will have to count as your birthday party and you won’t get the opportunity to have lots of friends over to give you expensive plastic things that break.”  “I’m in.” “Call your grandparents.”  “No!” “How about the new neighbors that just moved in – perhaps they will take you.”  “No – mom you and dad have to take me.” “Damn!”

And so we did – and as we headed down 64 East I tried to convince myself that Hell and Swaller could not possibly be as awful as I remember – but this fleeting crash with optimism was quickly averted as we got off the “well marked” exit in attempt to follow “the signs” – that led us 5 miles down the road to an old gas station and an exasperated husband yelling “where the hell is this place” to an unassuming gas attendant that appeared to be counting his blessings that he did not have to accompany us into the darkness.

And as we arrived – we found that check-in time was at 4pm, but you can kindly come at 1pm and rent a locker in which to store your stuff. The locker only costs a week’s salary or an unborn child. We tried to offer Charlie, our second child, – but the temper tantrums dampened the sale. Fortunately for us – we were able to sweet talk the nice lady into letting us move into our “nonsmoking” – smoked fill room a bit early so that the boys could throw their clothes around the room, wrestle, and get their bathing suits on in anticipation of the water park.

Yes water park – because if you are going to spend 24 hours in hell what better way to capstone the experience than being wet and in a bathing suit with 300 other people that missed the memo that there is a certain age and a certain size in which bikini’s are no longer an inalienable right.

And after the germ infested water drained parents’ energy and good humor (ok we never had any of that) – we were off to dinner. A steal to be had at $18 a person – allowing you to feed the fam a nutritionally void meal for around $100. And don’t forget the plastic –no not utensils  – I mean the plastic wand, and plastic toy, and plastic tasting pastry that are all yours for the remaining part of your retirement.

And as the evening waned and we hopped on beds and big brothers practiced karate moves on little brothers – Mac comes out of a small body slam holding an unidentified, sasquatch like white thing and exclaiming – “look dad  I found  your toenail.”

Only that one wasn’t ours.

Next year I am sure the Great Wolf Lodge will be closed in October and we will no longer have access to any form of technology that connects us to the outside world.

Game Over
June 26, 2009, 2:14 pm
Filed under: Children, potty training, teaching, Uncategorized | Tags:


He’s two and a half. The economy’s downward spiral is not helped by our weekly purchase of diapers. AMVETS is now the proud owner of a pack and play. Our crib has gone down the road to a young woman who just had triplets (God bless her). We are moving into Big Boy territory and that terrain calls for underwear. It’s true. Ask anyone.

So – two weeks ago on an obligatory Target run I found myself spouting, “Charlie – how about we look at underwear. How cool would that be?” “NO” And so the story should have ended there. But in my mind I am thinking “GAME ON.”

Think….. think … “Charlie – I bet if you went potty I could spot you a M&M.” Never mind that just last night I shared with my graduate students the perils of extrinsic rewards.

The red head is not impressed. “NO.” Hmmmm, Hmmmmm – “Well the economy is slowly coming around – I bet I could score you a whole bag.” “NO.”

He looks at me with a “this woman is obviously not riding my wave so let me break it down for her” kinda look.

“Mom, I wear diapers. I am not wearing underwear. No. No. No. No” (Now close your eyes and imagine the red head stomping with hands on his hips and a noncompliance eye). All children have gifts. Mine is extremely verbal and he never loses an occasion to use it against me.

“Greg – he is not ready. We cannot rush these things.” I say over dinner using my calm educator’s voice, but inside I know that I am a “my schedule kinda girl” and whooooo hooooo we are jumping on the underwear train.

Later that night Charlie and I pick out several books and climb into bed. We have the terrible trio – Wheels on the Bus, Machines at Work, and Big & Little. He has meticulously picked each book out with an anticipatory grin that says “yes I know I pick these same books out every night, and yes I will continue to have you read them to me though the year 2011 – which by my calculations is the precise year I will entertain wearing underwear and at a minimum it is going to cost you a crate of M&Ms.”

Well Little Mama had some trick of her own – and as we closed the cover to the last book – I pulled one last treasure from under the bed. POTTY TIME. “No, no, no, mama I DO NOT LIKE POTTYS THEY GO IN THE GARBAGE TRUCK.” “Oh silly boy, this book is not for you – I am just itching for a read and you can listen to if you want.” Score one for mom. Sure enough the little man snuggles up with me and as I victoriously read the last page in which Michael pees on the potty, Charlie gleefully says – “Look mommy it is our family, there is you, daddy, and look there – Mac (aka big brother) is on the potty peeing. Good for Mac.

Game over!

January 23, 2008, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Children, diet, Family


“So, Mac ~what is your favorite thing to eat?” Dr. X inquires as she walks into the exam room for the five-year old check-up.

 “McDonalds,” the boy offers boldly – assured he has gotten this test question RIGHT. Because, just that afternoon, after being subjected to yet another kindergarten readiness screening, I offered up the golden arches as a reward for a job DONE, not thinking our lunch scheme would enter into the afternoon interrogation. After all, I am a vegetarian and try to stay away from the slaughter – so  McDonalds drive -byes happen approximately three times a year – as a buy off for not yelling at or in the barbers, a reward for brotherly love, or when a minor hurricane  has shut down ALL other establishments offering food. A point I am too tired to offer up as Dr. X records a F next to “parent provides family with daily nutritious meals.” A fact further confirmed as she digs deeper and questions, “So Mac what type of green things do you have in your house?” And I am thinking, redemption, we have this baby in the bag – cause we gots spinach and endamame and green bean and peas – just falling out of the refrigerator. A homely image Mac fails to pull up as he replies– “Oh yes – I really like those green limes my daddy put in his DRINKS (extra emphasis on s) every single night.” Suppose  I should start joining daddy more often.  

Forgive Those That Have Sinned Against Me Today
October 15, 2007, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Children, church, Family, parenthood, parenting

 My mother’s fire alarm went off this morning at 2am and again at 4am and just for good measure gave one last boom about 7am. I am just finding out about this last one because it triggered neighboring bathrobes drawn by inquiring noses to fill firemen in on “my mother’s situation,” the one that has taken her away from her non-burning house for the last six months. So upon getting the call from who Mac refers to as “our local community helper” I casted on the pearl necklace, in anticipation for the mad dash to church upon my return from my begrudged excursion to wonderland. In return flight from my “deactivate the fire alarm and unclog the toilet (an added bonus) mission” which brought forth memories of an equaling blaring and disturbed childhood, I attempted to radio the troops and bribe them to suit up for battle. Such plans however were debunked as I spilled coffee on myself while banging on the steering wheel while pleading with a tapped out cell phone. Though never fear … because when I entered the house to retrieve my clan dad assured me that he had done “everything” and I was relieved until slowly puzzling together that “everything” did not include bathroom runs, or belt buckles, or tucked shirts, or explosive diapers, or small details such as shoes. So I did the only thing a good wife could do and yelled obscenities and stomped my feet and sent the two oldest and baddest boys out the door and down the alley to drop one off at the nursery before the other could arrive at the pew to pray for his transgressions … while I battled the nuclear fallout that no good nursery volunteer should have to be exposed. With that treasure complete, I made my own way to the church just in time to sit down next to a boy and his dad that somehow misinterpreted the phrase “take mac to the nursery.” So we wiggled and jiggled and enjoyed communion on a level that made one minister gasp aloud and required hand wipes on the returning trip down the aisle (don’t ask). And then we were home and then we were not … finding our way to the soccer field and then in a blink of the eye it was dark, as if justifying the earlier metaphor, and a dad and a boy were saying their prayers and thanking Jesus for our blessings to which Mac concluded, “And please oh please Jesus forgive ALL of the PEOPLE who have SINNED against ME today.” And so now we are cleansed … already to begin anew.

October 10, 2007, 6:37 pm
Filed under: academia, Children, parenthood, parenting


In the past ten minutes I have written several e-mails, eaten a bag of 100 calorie popcorn (a snack I give the grandest of accolades), and chatted with several student passer byes – and if I had to write down a list of everything I have learned over this passage of time – the list would be –let us say SHORT.  But flash back …. to yesterday … in a car with two boys .… just beginning to figure out their world  … and suddenly the informational input is  startlingly expansive.  For your viewing pleasure a breakdown: 4:30        LM  (little man) Mom, if I tell you something will you be mad.                DS – (hoping he did not make an innocent bystander bleed) It’s unlikely.LM – Well today I was good. In fact I did more gooder than bad but you see there was that one thing when I was sitting in circle time and said butt.. you see we sit too long … it is a struggle (wow good word / he is a genius with a potty mouth) and that might be ok for your college but it makes me say butt (good to know)DS –(suppress laughter and adopt an authoritative tone) Butt is not a school word (as if to imply perhaps it is a good dinner time word or night time reflection) 4:33        LM- It is so hot in this car that I think I am going to pass out.DS – Well it is October and the air condition is on and so maybe you would prefer to walk (we are on our way to dinner with family).                LM- No that will take me 50 days and  I will miss dessert. 4:37        DS – So what was your job today at school?LM – Well I was the calendar person and it is February (Well no but at least he got one of the 12 ) and I got to call on people and I didn’t call on Sheri because she took my sticker and I am thinking of disinviting her to my birthday party  (good point … I will call her mom and revoke the invite when we get home).                DS – So what is the best job?                LM – Well the caboose mom. That is what Tate says (who is a complete juvenile delinquent) because you can stand in the back and make faces and nobody can yell at you and the caboose is the butt and butts are funny (ahhhhh a reoccurring theme emerges). 4:39        DS- OOOOH good song (cranking it up and singing quite loudly in toneless harmony).LM- Mom, you should not sing like that because it doesn’t sound good (mind your own business… at least I can brush my own teeth) and you are not a rock star (newsflash).                DS- (sounding just a wee bit insulted) What do you mean I am not a rock star?                LM – You know a rock star has concerts and you teach kids at college. Now that is some content coverage.     

ON …Randy Pausch: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Have you heard of Randy Pausch? Regardless of your answer stop reading NOW and go to:

Glad you are back … more upstanding and hopeful than but an hour ago.

“The brick walls are there to stop the people that don’t want it badly enough … they are there to stop the other people.” An inclusive person by nature, I love Dr. Pausch’s version of other, as if the margins and the constitutions just might not apply to us. Perhaps we are more and meant for bigger – perhaps the graduate school rejections and fruit instead of chips in the lunch bag were all preparing us for something just a bit smarter: a belief in revision. A timely sentiment as the semester, well on its way, has me questioning my daily leave from of a block builder and magazine eater as I trot up 95 to teach my second family of approximately one-hundred, 20 year olds – soon to be transformative teachers and I pray they will set forth on the Pausch path… and as you await their arrival, their push for change – enjoy your families and your life and in Dr. Pausch’s words “keep having fun.”

** Here is the link to the Wall Street Journal article (the one my dear husband brought home to me) that first brought me in:

** And this is Dr. Pausch’s webpage: