The Wonder of It All

Due to Day School policy, I had to keep Bun home on Wednesday, too. Since we were both cabin feverish, I decided to take her down to the Three Rivers Arts Festival for a picnic. We’d get outside, but still have minimal person-to-person contact.

I parked over in the lot across from Station Square, and we took the T downtown. It was the best $2.50 I ever spent (when did transfers become a $1??). I thought Bun would be a little frightened; she’s not crazy about loud noises. But she was captivated. She looked at all the people; she stared out the window. When we went underground, she goggled. “Tunnel, mama?” she asked.

We picked a place to picnic on the lawn in Point State Park. Bun looked all around, and when the band started, she moved closer, pb&j firmly in hand. She stared at that stage as if she had to memorize it.

NOMAD is not the type of music I usually listen to, but they certainly were an enjoyable live band at a noon on a Wednesday. And, hey, one of their covers was Keith Urban, but another was Crowded House. So that was just fine.

It did finally get too loud — I’ve noticed Bun is far more sensitive to noise since ear tubes.

We wandered down to the fountain at the Point. We didn’t get as far as the confluence spot where DearDR proposed, though. Bun was distracted by the sprinklers first, then the ducks.

We took the T back to Station Square. I wish I had the image of the look on her face when the trolley emerged from underground: all round eyes and ‘o’ mouth. “It’s daytime!” she exclaimed.

It was tough being a SAHM again, even briefly. But that T ride with Bun made it worthwhile.

Another Successful South Side Outing

I miss the South Side for a lot of reasons: the convenience, all the stuff to do, easy access to just about anything, the people, the ethnic food.

Of course, after living there for 15 years, including nine months with a baby, I know it’s no place to raise a young’un (or two).

Thank goodness we’re only a few minutes away.

Monkey’s Zoo Pictures

Not zoo pictures of monkeys.

Monkey dug her camera up as we were making our way out of the zoo. We went “backwards” through it on Friday, starting at the Kids’ Kingdom. I think she did a pretty good job — even better, it’s so interesting to see what she thought was worth taking pictures of. I helped her with the first two because the sun was so bright she couldn’t see the digital display; she took the rest completely on her own.

(That’s the tiger. Right up close to the glass. As was Monkey.)

Zoo Pictures

The zoo was fun — challenging with two kids on my own, especially since one of the two was Bun, who goes left when I say right. But completely worth it.

Oh, and more than one concession stand being open would have been nice. I did not pack enough food, which is unusual!

Monkey requested I take this photo of the robin. Yeah, at the zoo.

Action shot!


Patience pays off!

I need a Bun-sized one of these.


On the way home we visited WonderSIL and my new nephew at the hospital — another boy, another red head. And then I — all by myself — drove to The Church Brew Works for dinner with the Burgh Moms.

I have to admit, I am disappointed in the Church’s current beer selection. But my dinner was delicious, and the company was stellar!

Let the Three-Day Weekend Begin

Bun climbed out of her bed this morning. When DearDR went to get her, she said, “I want up out of my bed.”

DearDR pointed out, “You climbed out of your bed already.”

“I climbed out,” I heard Bun say over the monitor. “I a big girl now.”

Heaven defend us. She’s right. I have two big girls now.

I guess it’s time for a new bed.


Today’s agenda: Go to zoo. See new nephew. Dinner with Burgh Moms (and a dad, I think). It’s going to be a good one.

Weekend Letters

Dear Monkey:

If you think I was enjoying myself scrubbing the bathroom instead of playing with you outside on an improbably gorgeous autumn day in October in Pittsburgh, please reconsider.

It’s just that your dad tore up part of the disgusting rug in that bathroom (advice: never, ever, move into a house or apartment with a rug in the bathroom), but only part of it. And I decided to hire a babysitter so I could finish the job.

I’m grateful that you wanted to help me. But between the chemicals I was using to thoroughly disinfect the space and the clear detridus of I don’t know how many years accumulated under and on the edge of said rug, that room was not safe for you. It wasn’t really that safe for me, but my system is stronger.

Plus, “help” in the toddler lexicon is different from “help” in an adult lexicon. For example, on Saturday, you “helped” me clean the dishes by stirring a potful of water (“I’m making an apple cake!”) on one side of our divided sink while on the other I rinsed dishes and loaded them in the dishwasher. You often help me in the kitchen by doing arts and crafts while I put dishes away or cook. I can’t imagine how you were going to help me in the bathroom. Possibly by brushing your teeth and drinking a lot of dixie-cupfuls of water.

So for you to have come in after your walk with the babysitter, come see me covered in crap, and, when I told you to please go back downstairs, say, “You’re breaking my heart” was equal parts exasperating and amusing. I hope you will excuse my reaction.

First of all, where are you learning these things, these emotional words for heartbreak and love? Do Daddy and I say them to you? Are you picking them up from the four-year-olds at day school? Are you sneaking Hannah Montana at Bella’s house?

Secondly, given a choice, I would have left the bathroom exactly as it was for a couple more weeks, and gone outside, into the sunshine and air with you. But Nonna and Pap-pap are coming to visit, and my lack of effective housekeeping shames me. I had to do something.

Believe me, I want to spend my time on weekends with you and your sister. You are amazing and adorable and sweet and exasperating, and I love you so much it creates an ache sometimes from my throat to my stomach. But part of me loving you is going to work, and cleaning our dirty house, and taking you to the grocery store with me.

Please, don’t break my heart by telling me I’m breaking yours when I can’t come play with you. Time is precious and fleeting. But sometimes, I gotta clean the bathroom. Okay?

Your Momma

Dear Babysitter,

I understand that you are 14 years old. And texting to a 14 year old is like breathing. But your job, the job for which I am paying you, is to entertain and play with my child. Oh, and also to keep her out of my hair.

I am unsure of how to approach this with you. My kids like you a lot; my husband and I like that you literally live across the street so we can watch you go home at the end of your shift. If I tell you to leave your phone at home, it is likely that you will decline to work for us any longer. I hesitate to tell your parents to ask you to keep the phone at home — you could be texting with your mother for all I know. I would feel like I was tattling on you.

But, honey, it is not acceptable to me that you sit texting on the couch, while my broken-hearted three-year-old plays lackadaisically with her toys. It was nice of you to do arts and crafts with her — at my suggestion. And also to take her for a walk — also at my suggestion. But you’re going to have to do a little bit more if you decide to pursue babysitting as a means of earning cash. At this point, I would hesitate to recommend you for another job. Your two weaknesses are your inability to straighten up when you are done with the kids, and this whole non-stop texting thing while letting my kids entertain themselves. You need to be a teensy bit more engaged with them. I am hoping that when I talk to my husband about this, he will guide me to an effective way of communicating with you. (He’s good like that.)

Or maybe I will just buy you one of these, although such a step seems a tad heavy-handed.

In the meantime, I remain, your sole employer,
red pen mama

Now What?

Because the weather has been spectacular in the evenings, and because all this week I have somehow managed to feed my children and myself (hint: cook lots on the weekend) AND get the kitchen cleaned up before 6 p.m., we been taking long rambling walks around my neighborhood.

The primary benefit of these constitutionals has been that my kids pass out at bedtime. Bun sleeps straight through, meaning if she loses her binky in the middle of the night, she has been too exhausted to notice. Monkey is back to her room, with a night light, the door open, and a gate up, and she is so tired, I think she falls asleep before she can plan her escape.

Secondary benefits include exercise for me, and meeting new people, like the family down the street with two girls (7 and 5) and a 2-year-old boy.

Some evenings, we stroll up to the church and convent, where they have a prayer labyrinth (by most standards, a dinky one, but still). The kids race around it while I pace slowly, usually as of late, thinking of Gabriel.

Other times, we walk down the street that branches off of ours. Over the past few months, I’ve been meeting my neighbors (finally, after three years — I’m not good at meeting new people). The couple at the bottom of the hill has a dog that the kids like to pet. There are lots of kids around, ranging in age from Bun at 19 months to a couple of young teenagers. They all hang out, play in one yard or another. I have met some of the parents, and after their initial shyness (well, Bun’s has been ongoing; she is the youngest by almost a whole year) the girls usually join in the activity. (Bun will pretty much do anything Monkey does.)

One of the children is Monkey’s new friend whom I wrote about here. I’ll just call him 7. Two nights ago, 7 was grounded, so we didn’t get to see him, but last night he was allowed out, and his sister, Bun, Monkey, 7, and I walked up to what they referred to as “the maze”.

As we trailed back toward home, 7 wanted to know if he could come over and play. I said no as it was bath time for the girls. So we were saying goodbye where 7’s street and our street met.

You would have thought Monkey was going to be separated from 7 for years and years instead of a day or so. She lagged, she pouted, she sighed; she even walked with him a little way down his street. As we walked up the hill toward our house, she kept turning around and waving. “‘Bye, 7!” she would call forlornly.

Shoulders slumping, she followed Bun and me. Heaving a great sigh, she told me, “I miss him.” She told me this a couple of times. I assured her we would probably see 7 in the next day or two.

Then she announced, “Mommy, I love him!” in a voice throbbing with emotion. Like the emotion a 15-year-old has when she’s been told she can’t see her 20-year-old boyfriend. I wasn’t expecting to hear that voice until she was at least verging on puberty.

I have no clue as to how to deal with a lovesick 3-year-old.

I can’t wait until the phase where she thinks boys are disgusting creatures with cooties. She will go through that phase, right?

Or (I ask again), should I send DearDR for that gun?