Thanksgiving Archive

Today started predictably enough. Hearing my daughter’s voice, I arose from my slumber and opened my eyes to see a ball of spittle, precariously suspended by a single thread of saliva, superimposed on my daughter’s cheeky grin.

I whisked my head sideways to avoid the looming fate. The spittle plopped on my pillow and I made a mental note to myself to change the pillowslip.

I’ll probably forget.

I dispatch Kaelyn to check on the state  of her brother’s rooms. She is distracted by our ginger tom, Blaster. He submits to her earnest affections and I make myself a cup of freshly ground coffee with our Rancilio.


I step outside to check on the state of things.

And stand on a dead rat.

“Eurghhh! Don’t touch that cat”, I yell back at the house. I hop from one foot to another sloshing my coffee in the process. Other than the dead rodent, things appear largely to be in order.

I make a mental note to pack away the last of the Halloween decorations including the RIP sign on the front porch.





I browse the online version of the New York Times before the kids start clamoring for breakfast. From “Our ‘Mommy’ Problem”:

“Motherhood is no longer viewed as simply a relationship with your children, a role you play at home and at school, or even a hallowed institution. Motherhood has been elevated – or perhaps demoted to the realm of lifestyle, an all encompassing identity with demands and expectations that eclipse everything else in a woman’s life”.

I laugh at this:

“The current culture demands that every mother be all in, all the time. My sister-in-law told me about a mom at her kid’s elementary school who took the basic school T-shirt that everyone got and painstakingly created a beaded fringe at the bottom, replete with cinched waist and perfectly cuffed sleeves. All of the other little girls gathered around, screeching variations of “I want the same thing!” Incredibly enough, instead of laughing in their unrealistic faces the way our parents might have, all the adults started mumbling, “Yes, O.K., we can do that, sure, I’ll learn a challenging new craft, no problem. Tonight, of course. We’ll do it tonight.” This made my sister-in-law, who was already late for work, want to teach a few people the artisanal craft of rearranging someone’s face using only your bare hands. We are outclassed at every turn. We are outspent and out-helicoptered and outnumbered. It used to be good enough just to keep your house from being coated in a thin layer of dog hair and human feces. No longer.”

And this:

“FORTY years ago, my mother and her two friends drank coffee, ate homemade cherry pie and chain-smoked their way through lively debates over whether a popular author was daringly frank or a chauvinist, while their children were expected to play nicely outside and rarely interrupt. Today, all three mothers might instead be engaged in some elaborate craft project, with each woman stopping the conversation every few seconds to open a little jar of paint or to help glue on some tiny eyes.”


I slap my head with the palm of my hand.

My son’s third grade class was given a craft project to decorate a paper scarecrow.

A MONTH ago! It’s still outstanding due to a combination of procrastination and lack of motivation.
I’m sorry, but most third grade boys are scarcely capable of coloring inside the lines let alone being able to deploy the skills required to kit out a paper scarecrow using the suggested fabric and ‘other materials’.
The paper scarecrow has sat in the Homework tray for a month whilst every two days I cajole my third grader to start on his ‘Scarecrow Project’. Occasionally I weakly email my son’s teacher to say, “It’ll be in this week”.
We can’t not complete this homework project. They’ll be graded on it for their first semester report card. On one hand this is outrageous. It’s a freaking art project.

On the other hand I can see it helping teach valuable project management skills.
And cutting and pasting strengthens finger muscles for ELA (English Language Arts) This Common Core Standards jargon is everywhere these days. In my day it was known as Reading Writing and Art. Separate subjects.

The jury is out on Common Core but the curriculum has a Kumon like feel about it. There is endless repetition with fractionally different examples and mastery of one topic before proceeding to the next. Great to prevent gaps in knowledge and monitor the progress of the child’s learning but quick learners can get bored having to explain why they ‘know’ something.

“But I just KNOW,” is the oft heard phrase at our Homework table. “This SUCKS”, is another common phrase.

common core

I’ve noticed the teachers adapt their teaching style to compensate. Some allow for extra credit. Others drop everything and take the kids to the playing field for real life examples.

Regardless of the veracity of the curriculum; I realize the writing is on the wall. There is going to to be some cutting and pasting and employment of Project Management Skills. Today.

“I’m too busy to decorate a Scarecrow!” I mutter. Five children does give cause to to fill one’s day in. But I’m resigned. I  get my cutting and pasting tools out. I ransack my brain for ideas.

Quite frankly I feel defeated. Several days earlier I had looked into my son’s classroom to see what the finished product might look like. What a mistake that was! It would appear there are a lot of third graders capable of turning out perfectly decorated; blinged up paper scarecrows.
I’m dubious that a Third Grader could reliably place buttons let alone sharpie on a well appointed lop-sided scarecrow smile.

And I’ll eat my hat if my son’s classmates hemmed the  denim material adorning some of the scarecrows as dungarees.


I realize I’m a reluctant victim of the “All In”, Parenting Syndrome as per the “Our ‘Mommy’ Problem” Blog Post. Instead of handing my son some crayons and telling him to get drawing,  I am doing his art project for him. To the best of my meagre ability.  I don’t want my son to have the only crayon drawn Scarecrow on the classroom wall and be awarded a ‘2’ for a grade.

The worst of this whole business is that I don’t have the craft skill of some of the other Mom’s. I tell myself that I’ll be learning valuable project management skills and set to work.

Axel insists that the dungarees be white. “That’s so lame I mutter”. Everyone knows Scarecrow dungarees are denim or burlap. But I guess my son has to have some input into the project so I can look his teacher in the eye.

I make a paper dungaree template. For the shirt I  cut up an old pair of swim shorts from GAP. They are three seasons old and have a hole in the crotch. It’s about time they were retired despite the temptation to pass them onto my youngest to get another swim season from them.

I make a fatal mistake and get my son to draw in the eyes and the smile.

Scarecrow gets a thin smile and three eyes.

My husband wanders past and says “that’s so cute”, about my Scarecrow. I feel vindicated. My scarecrow may not be the most polished but Hubby thinks it’s cute. Which means he thinks I’m cute. Possibly. I’m wearing my gardening clothes; cutoffs, the aforesaid hat and a deranged smile as I pick through buttons for the final touches.

I place the hat I’ve stolen from a scarecrow in a neighboring garden. It’s not the first time I’ve turned to criminal acts in the name of Motherhood. Like Mob Bosses, we do what we have to do.  As “Our ‘Mommy’ Problems” blog post notes; the perception of “Motherhood” can me erroneous and appearances can be misleading. We are people with the Mommy overlay. We have different strengths and weaknesses to meet the pressures coming from every direction.

I may not know how to hem denim but I know how to pilfer.

I throw a handful of leaves on the paper dungarees and take a picture of the finished product.

Paper Scarecrow


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It’s day four of our Thanksgiving festivities. My five little angels have had too many hours on their I pads. Alas, late nights have no effect on how long children sleep on for in the morning.

Today I woke up early being whipped with black liquorice.
And it wasn’t my husband getting creative.  At the end of the piece of liquorice was my four year old daughter Kaelyn.

“Umrgh”, I say.
“Mommy been naughty”, says Kaelyn.
She was right on the mark as far as my behavior over Thanksgiving. Too many late nights and too many indulgences. Some triggered by excitement and some by the need to keep Bad Mommy at bay. More about that later.
Kaelyn whips me again on the forehead and I leap out of bed. Unfortunately my knee connects with the glass of wine left beside the bed.
“Fuck”, says Oldest Son, helpfully. “Language”, I roar. Most of the contents of the wine glass dumps into one of a pair of my favorite black Cole Haan riding boots. The rest of the beverage sprays over the immediate floor beside our bed.
This was not the disaster it might have been. The carpet beside my bed is protected year round by foot deep layer of  old newspapers, children’s art and stale bagel chips. Unlike the carpet on the other side of the bed.
If there was a crumb on my husband’s side, it would be lonely.
More evidence of bad behavior on my part.
Kaelyn whips me again.
I turn away and pick up the sodden boot.
Scull”, says oldest son helpfully.
“Where do you learn these concepts”, as I push past him to drain the boot in the bathtub. “You said you drank out of a boot once”, says Oldest Son.

“I can’t imagine why I would have told you that”, I say as my mind flashes back to College days.
You were trying to sound cool when you were talking to an old friend”, said the blankets.
“Who put that fucking glass of wine there”? I ask my husband.

“You did”. He adds helpfully, “You muttered something about ‘one for the road’ and slopped most of it down the hallway on your way to bed”.
I smile sweetly down at the Talking Blankets. “I guess I didn’t need it then”, I say.
I inform him that we have a full day ahead, culminating in dinner out.
“Sore throat”, he mutters and turns back into Blanket Man.
Kaelyn gets two sticks of black liquorice and wiggles them on her forehead. “Eyebrows”, she says.

DSC_0024 1
“Where do you learn these concepts, sweetie”? I ask idly.
We give hubby another half hour sleep. I endeavor to dress five ragamuffins in suitable garb for a Nutcracker morning tea at our Country Club. My efforts are to no avail and I find it more frustrating than playing “Whack-a-mole”. I brush one little boy’s hair and notice someone else has it spiked back up. I give one child suitable garb and turn around to find another wearing the Minecraft t-shirt that got us in breach of Dress Code last time.
Oh the ignominy of eating on the Club patio and not by choice.

All’s well that ends well. Bad Grumpy Mommy makes an appearance later but I banish her with lemon tart that I liberate off an empty table at the Club into my handbag for such a purpose. We made it to the Nutcracker Tea in reasonable dress and later I take the older boys to the local performance of The Nutcracker at the Lesher Centre for the Arts, Walnut Creek. The Contra Costa Ballet performs the well known Christmas Story and I get that first touch of Christmas magic this season. The costumes are incredible and the dancers are very accomplished. Oldest Son now wants to do ballet.
“Practice your piano and watch your language”, I say. “Then we can talk about ballet”.


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