Where The Pumpkins Are

October 23, 2013 at 11:45 pm | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop, Photo Tuesday | 18 Comments
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Which one should we choose?

Wearing sandals in October.

Weighty pumpkins.

Wheeeeee!

Wonderstruck.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” — George Eliot

Are you wedded to autumn like Eliot (and me) or to another season? Have you made your annual pumpkin-patch pilgrimage yet? Are your Halloween costumes ready to go??

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W is for wheeeeee! and wonderstruck and wedded to autumn. See more W’s at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

And Then She Was 7

October 16, 2013 at 8:13 am | Posted in Lollipop | 21 Comments
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She’s been 7 for three days.

This girl, the one missing her front top teeth. The one who loves sequins almost as much as she loves rabbits. The one who graduated to chapter books when I wasn’t looking.

She roller skates. She backstrokes. She rides her bike, the one with the sparkly purple streamers, without training wheels.

She pirouettes.

She’s wise to this blog thing and suggested I write about “that funny growl Bun makes when he’s cranky, which is a lot, Mommy.”

She has a slight addiction to funny cat videos on YouTube.

She digs in the dirt. She makes her own mud. Her fingernails are a mess. She doesn’t care.

She does this thing now where she rolls her eyes and sighs when she’s exasperated. There’s usually an “aye yai yai” to go with it and, occasionally, a sassy hand-on-the-hip gesture.

She read a book on global warming this summer and decided to start an environmental club. There are 15 members and counting. So far, they’ve planted bean seeds, cleaned up the neighborhood park, and made nature collages. For the next meeting, she’s planning an autumn-focused sing-a-long and maybe some choreography.

She leaves me purple sticky notes on the kitchen counter with reminders like, “Please fix my bird’s wobbly beek” and “I prefer grape jelly for my luntch.”

When she grows up, she wants to run a store called Love Bunnies. She’s got a business plan partially drafted, complete with a social media component. She’ll sell real bunnies, stuffed bunnies, bunny clothes, bunny food, bunny snacks, bunny toys, and bunny bling. There may be a line of bunny ballet slippers. She will oversee things, and Giggles will be her minion. They are both okay with this arrangement.

Last week, she researched bats on the computer and wrote a nonfiction book about them because she had a little time before swim lessons. There may have been a glossary.

Last month, she got an award at school for, among other things, “general awesomeness.”

She’s 7. She’s amazing. And she’s mine.

I think I’ll celebrate with some choreography.

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V is for she’s growing up so very fast, it’s giving me vertigo. See more V’s at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

Truth #2

October 3, 2013 at 7:16 am | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop, Photo Tuesday | 16 Comments
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Time.

Training wheels (or lack thereof).

Tricycle.

Tenderness.

Tabletop.

“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.” — Alexander Woollcott

Are the leaves and acorns falling off the trees where you are? What’s your learning-to-ride-a-bike story? And have you patted a fluffy bunny lately?

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T is for truth and training wheels and tenderness. See more T’s at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

Sea Asides

September 26, 2013 at 8:03 am | Posted in Bun, Family, Giggles, Lollipop | 16 Comments
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“Long before we saw the sea, its spray was on our lips, and showered salt rain upon us.” — Charles Dickens

When’s the last time you felt that lovely salty rain? Where’s the oddest place you found sand? And what’s the best treasure you brought home?

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S is for sea and sand and shells. See more S’s at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

His Fair Share

July 26, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Posted in Bun, Haiku Friday | 9 Comments
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Haiku Friday: His Fair Share

He won’t share his cars
or french fries or magic seeds
or sometimes his hugs.

He won’t share the book
about Bill’s dump truck or the
Sparkly dinosaur.

He won’t share pennies
or the hole puncher or rocks
or roly polies.

But broccoli and peas
and sneezes and fevers? These
are given freely.

What are your children eager to share? What are you eager to return? And are you in the throes of a summer cold, too?

Will Work for Chocolate

July 15, 2013 at 7:00 am | Posted in Family, Me, Serial Commas | 17 Comments
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OBJECTIVE
Raise three kind, creative, patient, helpful, empathetic children while maintaining my sanity, marriage, and hidden cache of chocolate.

SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS

  • 7+ years of experience growing, birthing, and raising children.
  • Expertise in multi-tasking, resource allocation, conflict management, customer service, program development, scheduling, chauffeuring, and train-track assembly.

SKILLS

  • Successfully completes numerous tasks simultaneously, including talking on the phone, digging a red Matchbox car out of my purse, wiping someone’s nose, and cutting off sandwich crusts (after washing my hands, of course).
  • Arbitrates disputes over who ate whose Cheerios, who squished whose roly poly, who isn’t sharing the paper-towel-tube telescope, and who pulled the dog’s ear first.
  • Teaches manners to otherwise caveman-like children who resist learning to pee in the potty, share their toys, and color on the paper (and only the paper).
  • Utilizes educational resources including television, computers, and video games to prepare children for school.
  • Possesses uncanny knack for knowing location of missing household items including left red rainboot, yellow cupcake eraser, favorite stuffed bunny, froggy sippy cup, and library book due tomorrow.
  • Treats boo-boos from keeto bites and cat scratches to goose eggs and stubbed pinky toes.
  • Manages four laundry baskets, three toilets, 56 markers, 56 marker lids, and one husband.
  • Able to overcome a variety of obstacles, including sleep deprivation, wasp nests, and refusals to eat broccoli or anything green for that matter.

AWARDS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • Clean floors if you don’t look too closely.
  • Record WWF score once of 114 points for the word “zouk,” obtained while children were feeding Play-Doh pizza to the dog.
  • Children who sleep through the night in their own beds. Mostly.
  • Recipient of lifetime supply of rainbow drawings.

EDUCATION

Are you hiring? What skills are on your mothering resume? And would you like to be paid in Cookies & Creme Hershey Kisses, too?

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I is for “I’m an innovator in my industry.” See more I’s at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

Here and There

July 7, 2013 at 10:03 am | Posted in Transylvania | 7 Comments
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Exactly 377 days ago, we flew over an ocean, over highways and skyscrapers, over cookie-cutter subdivisions with manicured lawns and pH-balanced pools, and landed on American soil. We put our driver’s licenses back in the slightly-too-small front slots of our wallets and relegated our Romanian identity cards to a souvenir box in the closet.

We were home. No longer expats. No longer foreigners in a foreign land.

Red, White, and Blue.

But, strangely, we found ourselves on unfamiliar ground: wide swaths of glorious, sole-burning asphalt offering up more parking spots than could ever be filled, except on the Biggest One-Day Shopping Event of the Year! Places (plural) to buy milk or batteries or pipe cleaners or whatever else we might need at 1:30 in the morning. Air conditioning. Clothes dryers. Cheetos.

Welcome home indeed.

Now, just over a year later, we’re repatriated. Completely.

I haven’t eaten cabbage in a year. Or smelled it. I lie awake at night willing dusty synapses to re-engage so that I can remember the Romanian words for “snow” and “strawberry” and “cable package.” I bake without rationing my chocolate chips. And it no longer feels right to kiss a friend’s cheek when I see her in the grocery store.

But I also keep a 10-bani coin in my wallet. I automatically say “Opa!” when Bun trips over his shoe and face-plants on the sidewalk. I prefer fizzy water, slightly warm with no ice, to the ice-cold still variety. And I tuck my children into bed with a whispered noapte bună.

Red, Yellow, and Blue.

All of it — the memories that have long since been deleted from my mental hard-drive alongside the ones indelibly imprinted there — makes my heart seize up as if I were navigating the roundabout in Mănăştur on my way to Cora.

Did we really live abroad for a year? In Romania? Did we really call taxis, order pizza (with corn and ketchup), and get used to frozen hair? Did we really break two bones, have two surgeries, and navigate health-care systems in four different languages? Did we really pick cherries and apples and blackberries and eat them, right then and there? And when did we stop noticing our perpetually vermilion thumbs?

If we really, truly did all of that — and I know we did; I’m still sorting through the 6,000 photos that document it — why has it been so easy to come home? To fall back into this land of the free public bathrooms and home of the brave parents who trudge to Walmart in the middle of the night for baby Tylenol, animal crackers, and a Red Bull?

A year there, a year back here. I wanted it to be hard. I needed it to be. Because if it wasn’t, how could our year abroad have meant anything?

I’m secretly and desperately afraid all I really have to show for it is some lovely handcrafted pottery. And an immense appreciation for Mark Zuckerberg, who makes it possible for me to stay in touch with friends from places like Sibiu and Alba Iulia.

But shouldn’t there be more?

Does home ever feel too “easy”? Where is your farthest-away Facebook friend? And do you know that smell I’m talking about, that cooked-cabbage-or-possibly-a-child-with-gas smell??

Day Dreams

June 15, 2013 at 2:35 am | Posted in Bun, Family, Giggles, Lollipop, Photo Tuesday | 14 Comments
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“If you want sweet dreams, you’ve got to live a sweet life.” — Barbara Kingsolver

What makes your life sweet? What’s your favorite Barbara Kingsolver book? And what fancy hair trick (à la French braids) can you do?

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D is for dreams. See more Ds at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

Our Summer Crush

June 7, 2013 at 8:43 am | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop | 16 Comments
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Three kids. One mom. One house. One week. Only 79 days of summer vacation to go. But who’s counting? (Me, me, me!)

Here’s a recap of our first week of vacation:

Trips to Target: 1
Icees: 3
Scoops of ice cream: 13
Trips to splash park: 1
Goose eggs acquired at splash park: 1
Number of times swimsuits laundered: 5
Water-bottle refills: Oh, who can remember?
Containers of yogurt consumed: 19
Items lost: 1 dress, 1 hat, 1 stuffed bunny, 1 temporary tattoo
Items found: 1 jacket, 1 flag pin, 7 bottle caps
Books checked out from library: 15
Episodes of Curious George watched: I plead the 5th.
Lunches at Daddy’s office: 1
Tantrums while lunching at Daddy’s office: 4
Number of homemade muffins delivered to the fire station down the street: 23
Firehouse tours: 1
Ice-cream factory tours: 1
M&Ms smashed into ice-cream-factory floor: 7
Scraped knees: 5
Band-aids applied: 3
Summer reading logs in progress: 4
Tubes of sunscreen used: 1 1/2
Roly polies collected: 9

What’s your summer been like so far? Are the heat and the boredom crushing you, too? And how many roly polies are living in a jar on your coffee table?

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C is for summer crush. See more Cs at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

The Trouble with Treasures

May 15, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop | 21 Comments
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We collect things. (And by “we,” I mean everyone in my house under age 6.)

It borders on obsession. (And by “obsession,” I mean, well, obsession.)

Treasure map.

Rocks. Sticks. Seeds. Acorns. Leaves. Pamphlets from the doctor’s office. Bits of ribbon. Bits of bark. Paper scraps. Glue-sticks lids. Old keys. Lollipop wrappers. Junk mail. Junk-mail envelopes. Broken pencils. Barbie hairbrushes. Pony hairbrushes. Full Tic Tac boxes. Empty Tic Tac boxes. Full Tic Tac boxes that mysteriously become empty Tic Tac boxes. Bouncy balls. Straws. Take-out menus. Subscription cards from inside magazines. Flower petals. Yogurt lids (washed, of course … okay, mostly washed). Found coins. Business cards. Buttons. Toilet-paper rolls. Little circles from inside the hole punch.

The kiddos collect by day. And I discard by night.

With secrecy, stealth, nonchalance, and not a single ounce of Mommy guilt. Because, otherwise, I would be overrun by detritus, miscellany, and things that decay.

Occasionally, my ever-zealous Giggles will find one of his treasures that I thought I had tucked out of sight in the recycle bin — the cellophane address window from the weed service advertisement, for example.

The day’s bounty.

“Mooooooooooooooooom! I was saaaaaaaaaaaaaving this. It’s important! Who. Threw. It. Away??” His words flick through the air like darts.

I do what any self-respecting mother who values clutter-free space and aims to minimize the time she spends vacuuming each day. I lie.

“I have no idea, sweetheart.”

And after he’s in bed, I sneak in and tuck his animal blankie up around his chin. I put his favorite stuffed mouse on his pillow next to him. I brush the soft blond tendrils from his forehead.

And with one deft, nearly invisible swipe, I take his treasure from wherever he’s re-hidden it. And I throw it away. Again.

Because there’s more treasure waiting to be discovered tomorrow. And the next day … and the next day … and the next day …

Do you expect to see your kids on Hoarders one day? How do you handle “treasure”? And what did you collect as a child?

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Z is for my zealous hoarders. See more Zs at Jenny’s on Thursday.

Jenny Matlock

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