Comes With Chips

A couple of weeks ago Caroline rather breathlessly announced that she and her friend K were going to start a band.

"I'm going to be the singer."


"And he's the drummer." (Of course he is. Aren't they always?)

"Great," I said.

After a pause that stretched on while Caroline stood there, blinking at me, I asked, "And?"

"Well the thing is... and you should know, you should know that we're going to do a lot of Scottish songs, so you'll like that... ."


"Well, could you loan me the money so I can buy him a drum set?"

Short answer - no.

Longer answer - from now until the end of days, the answer to the question "Mom, could you loan me money so that I can buy [person] a drum set?" is always going to be no. Always.

Anyway, the boy's birthday party is this weekend and she agreed that a Pokemon gift pack would be an appropriate present without even mentioning bongos, so I suspect that the band might be breaking up. Probably for the best.


Allow me to give you a piece of unsolicited advice. If you ever succumb to your daughter's year-long campaign to get a bird just go ahead and get two. Because you will INEVITABLY wind up with two.



Crivens and his new best friend, Waily. 

Honestly, I couldn't stand it. Caroline would go to school and Crivens would just... sit there. He wouldn't chirp. He wouldn't play. He just stared into space and looked as if he was thinking about the bell jar. It was so depressing. So one day I went to the pet store and got a small quarantine cage and... another bird.


The family processed this addition in their own ways

[Steve -resignation; Caroline - joy; Edward - interest; Patrick - nauseated incredulity

Patrick doesn't care for the parakeets. In fact, when a section of his back reddened during recent allergy testing, Patrick said, "Which one is it? Is it birds? Oh god please say it's birds." It wasn't birds. And it wasn't an actual reaction. Patrick has no allergies. He might have some immune issues but we're still looking into that and, besides, that's another story.]

and now we are a two bird family.

They play. They groom each other. Waily taught Crivens how to use the swing; Crivens taught Waily that I'm not trying to poison them when I feed them lettuce. It's all very jolly and while it is true that they NEVER SHUT UP OH MY GOD THE SCREECHING I think our house is the better for having them.

That said, I still wish she had agreed to a damned guinea pig. I hear guinea pigs are quiet.

Oh! Speaking of which, just this week Caroline came home and told me that her friend Y's guinea pigs died on Monday.

"Oh how sad," I said. Then, "Wait. What? Both of them?"

"Yes," said Caroline as she reached for the black crayon and started a condolence card.

"Both of Y's guinea pigs died yesterday morning? At the same time?"


"Oh," I repeated. "How sad."

Now, I know I've been listening to a lot of Agatha Christie lately, but doesn't it seem highly irregular to you that two guinea pigs dropped dead on the same day? I suspect foul play.


Audiobooks! I knew there was something I have been meaning to talk to you about.

The children and I just finished the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. At least, we finished as many as we could because there is still one unpublished book left. I hate it when I do that. I try to only get series (serieses?) that are completed but this time I failed and it is especially annoying because nothing, ever, gets resolved or answered in the first five books. It became a running joke with us: the book would end and we'd all look at each other and say, "Hold on. It's over? But what about mysteries one through twenty? Who are Penny's parents? Why were the children left in the woods? What's the deal with the room in the attic? How will Bertha the ostrich get back to Africa? SIBERIA?????" And so on.

That said, it is a charming series and wonderfully narrated. I'd recommend for grade school kids, although Patrick and I were able to enjoy it because it is very well-written and witty. Her ability to work with leit motif is unparalleled.

Right now we are about to finish London Eye Mystery, which I picked up as something to tide us over between series. It's... ok. I dislike the narrator and found his attempt to convey Asperger's by being sorta... gummy-mouthed borderline offensive. We have about half an hour left so it's possible it all comes together in a brilliant kaleidoscope of plot, but at this point I'm not holding my breath. There is so much to be resolved and so little time left that Patrick and I are worried that the ending can only be either banal (mystery solved and it's all ok, folks!) or tragic (oh dear, a corpse.) I'll let you know.

I'm trying to decide on our next series and would welcome suggestions. We have another massive road trip coming up (what can I say, I love Canada) and we need something really good. I am contemplating the Lockwood & Co books but would like to know: 1) if the series is finished and 2) if it might be too dark for the twins. Or me. Hunger Games killed me and I wasn't too happy by the end of Bartimaeus either.

What about Eragon? Worth it?

Please advise.

Updated to add: Ohhhhhhh! She DID manage to wrap up the London Eye Mystery after all. I stand corrected.

New Post Every Sometimes

Some time last week - or maybe it was the week before - I read an article on procrastination in the Washington Post which in turn lead me to this post from the Wait but Why site (whose subtitle by the way is: new post every sometimes; which I am totally going to homage) and despite the fact that I initially just skimmed the cartoons, I could not have been more struck by it if it had been holy writ. Seriously. It was as if I had just been putting the finishing touches on a sign for Ye Olde Gomorrah Cupcakery (So Good They're Sinful) when someone handed me a stack of stone tablets detailing the lure of the Instant Gratification Monkey and the pitfalls of the Dark Playground and I fell to my knees, chastened and gobsmacked.

[I'll give you a minute to go read the posts, or at least look at all the cartoons.

Finished? Heh. Panic Monster.]


It. Was. All. So. True.

It's not that I don't want to write. I do. I like writing. And I particularly like writing to you. But somehow - hand to my heart - I sat down to type a sprightly 850 words last week only to spend three hours reading wikipedia entries on the children of George III after I wasted most of an afternoon poking around the life of the Marquis de Lafayette; who in turn had only come up because it crossed my mind that it might be a good idea to research and then compose a musical based upon the life of Aaron Burr (but I guess this has sort of been done already?) As much as I enjoy writing, I apparently enjoy the immediate gratification of chewing on my thumb while pondering the many miseries of long dead English royals even more.

So every day I wake up with the best creative intentions and every day my spiral into the numbing void of clickbait articles is filled with guilt, anxiety, self-hatred, and dread. Or, as Homer admitted after he ate an entire pan of brownies: I'm feeling a lot of shame right now. 

But, you know, the book of a thousand pages starts with a single letter et cetera.

So, hi, how are you?

I'm fine except my thumb has been acting up a bit and my dentist has asked to see me again in two weeks while hinting darkly at a root canal. The internet says a root canal is actually a good thing because it takes the pain away but the internet says a lot of stupid things.

Caroline wound up doing her science project on sugar crystals, mostly because Patrick finally said: enough - all of your ideas are going to get you suspended if not expelled; so just make rock candy and be done with it. We spend a lot of time reminding Patrick that he's also a punk kid and not in a position of any authority whatsoever over the twins but I have to admit he had a point.

When Edward was evaluated in December the neuropyschologist diagnosed him with dysgraphia and ADHD (heavy on the A; zero H.) The dysgraphia made complete sense to us but I was a little, meh, shrug, maybe, on the idea of an attention disorder. I mean, sure, if you tell Edward to go upstairs, get his pajamas and then come back downstairs for a bath it is possible he might actually go upstairs; but you can forget about the pajamas (he would) and he is just as likely to wind up on the porch in his snowpants playing badminton. But in our house this is normal. Sure we have our freak outlier in the form of Caroline who always knows exactly what is going on and where and why but the rest of us? There is myself (see above re. descendants of the wee bit German lairdie) and Steve who snaps "You know I'll never remember this! Text me!" when I ask him to get a tomato AND an onion when he calls me from the produce section of the grocery store. As for Patrick... well I suspect Patrick is perfectly capable of doing X Y and then Z when asked and in order, but we'll never know because in his heart Patrick is a born subversive.

[Case in point: Patrick recently came up with the idea of a comfort tuba and suggested that I send a note to his school asking that he be allowed to play the tuba - HE DOES NOT ACTUALLY KNOW HOW TO PLAY THE TUBA - as a stress reliever following exams.

"I'll play very quietly," he assured me, "since other kids might still be working on their tests." 

And don't even get me started on his imaginary exchange student, Oslo.]

Where was I?

Oh right. Edward. Attention issues. Question mark.

So the neuropsych put the ADHD in her report and I said, well, sure, ok, whatever but told the school that I was skeptical. His teacher - now that I think about it - looked at me with gentle pity and when it came up again during his IEP meeting the school psychologist shared the following story.

While she was administering a test to Edward he asked to be excused to go to the bathroom. She said, of course. When ten minutes elapsed and he failed to return to her room she went to look for him. After first checking the hall and the bathroom, she went to Edward's classroom where she found him at his desk working on a project. Apparently he had gone to the bathroom and then forgotten all about the testing. Finding himself outside a bathroom in a different part of the school with no idea how he had gotten there, he must've blinked a few times and then gone to locate his teacher.

Every time I think about it I laugh. While being tested for attention issues... he forgot he was being tested for attention issues. One can only assume that his Instant Gratification Monkey was at the wheel.