Tag Archives: criticism

{why i can’t have nice things} Urination edition.

3 Mar

“A weekly, or as close as I can get to weekly, ritual (who am I kidding that I think I can do this every week). Some photos – with or without tons of explanation – capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. A moment that makes me remember why exactly it is that I can’t have nice things (but someday will).”

**A twisted step-cousin twice-removed of www.soulemama.com‘s {this moment}.

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Upon returning home from work one evening last week, I was met in the driveway by my baying 50-pound beagle and three (screaming) adoring fans (read: my children). I’m not sure why they still do this, maybe they’re just psyched that I decide to come home every night. Who knows. So, after I signed some autographs, reviewed the day’s artwork, and kissed everyone, I left the boys to their own devices outside. I wended my way through the garage junk labyrinth. I passed by my husband who was heading out to assist in the grocery unloading (greeting with a solid and meaningful “high five”!) and I then proceeded to drop my pack mule–sized parcels onto the kitchen floor. Alone in my kitchen. Home.

I’m not certain that anything would prepare me for the words I then heard, right after that four second period of quiet respite in that kitchen. From the driveway, and directed towards either a. the kids, b. me, or c. Jesus, my husband asked/(hollered) the following question:

“Who pissed on the Blazer?!?”

On.

The Blazer.

Which is a vehicle.

Yes.

Who pissed on the Blazer.

Now, it’s hard to pick out the most disturbing part to this story. But I made a list so you, the readers, can pick. In no specific order (except for that first one):

1. Why anyone would pee on a vehicle. I mean, it’s the most blatantly obvious choice.

2. That someone had to ASK who, *exactly* peed on a vehicle. I mean, in most families, there’s probably always “that kid.” Like, “oh shit, Pete pissed on the Blazer again.” But in my family, anyone–everyone–was a suspect.

3. That there’s a lot of outside pissing going on, just in general up here.

4. That these were the first words spoken to/at me by my husband after I came home. I mean, we greeted–remember that high-five–but these were the first words.

5. That there became a hillbilly CSI-like episode out in my driveway; an episode complete with accusations, denials, close visual examination of the liquid, claims that it was just “pop,” and even…smelling.

I stayed in the kitchen for most of the action, and then headed towards my room. Alone. Whether it was because of shock, concession, or malaise, it’s not important. To be honest, I really didn’t care. Pissing on the Blazer. So what?

There is an understanding in my house. When things spiral out of control, I sometimes go into my room and sit quietly. It’s my proverbial, “count to 10.” When I check out for a few minutes and disappear, and after my kids figure this out and ask where I am, I simply respond (from behind the locked door), “I am in Maine.” Maine: a state that I’ve always wanted to visit. Where I’ve never been. Where I dreamed of going to college. Where my patron saint of 21st century motherhood lives. It’s my happy place. It’s where I pretend I am. It’s where all my kids are not crying and I’m wearing sweet Wellies to collect the chicken eggs while the fresh blueberry pies are baking. I am “in Maine.” It’s a simple mental exercise. It can be done anywhere, not just when sequestered in one’s room. They understand this.

So, things settled down. They always do. The piss on the Blazer was cleaned. I never followed up on who the guilty party was. I made myself a cup of tea. I am OK with things. I am OK with being me. I hung out and played with my kids in the family room. I smiled.

Music was played and we all were at peace with our world. And then, from out of the ashes of what could have been a horrible, terrible, no good night, Spider-Man serenaded me…all the way back to Maine.

Spider-Man also weaves webs of music...to torture people.

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{why i can’t have nice things} including (possibly) my kids’ fingers

31 Aug

“A weekly, or as close as I can get to weekly, ritual (who am I kidding that I think I can do this every week). Some photos – with or without tons of explanation – capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. A moment that makes me remember why exactly it is that I can’t have nice things (but someday will).”

**A twisted step-cousin twice-removed of www.soulemama.com‘s {this moment}.

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Hi! This is my new electric pencil sharpener, a fun new back-to-school “gift” I recently bought for my kids. (manual sharpeners are sooo 1st grade.)

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She's a beauty, ain't she?

As you might see if you’ve got an eye for these sort of things, It’s an X-ACTO brand. It’s also missing the shaving receptacle cover (3 days into ownership–not bad). The other morning, I walked into the kitchen, froze, and then gasped with horror. There, there at the breakfast table was one of my older kids gently guiding my 3-year-old’s fingertip into the sharpening tube (or whatever the hell it’s called).

X-ACTLY where it should not be.

No fingers were lost/maimed in the making of this post, but I see a Group W Bench in one of these kids’ future.

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The author re-enacting the events of the breakfast incident.

{why i can’t have nice things} inventory edition: the dangerous item repository

23 Mar

“A weekly, or as close as I can get to weekly, ritual (who am I kidding that I think I can do this every week). Some photos – with or without tons of explanation – capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. A moment that makes me remember why exactly it is that I can’t have nice things (but someday will).”

**A twisted step-cousin twice-removed of www.soulemama.com‘s {this moment}.

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My Uncle Bill was an intrepid traveler, and (still is) a brilliant photographer. A true prodigal son, I don’t remember his absenses from my Grandma Rizzo’s house, but rather his quiet homecomings. He carried a satchel with him everywhere he went, prior to this being the norm of many men today. He recently told me that every so often, he would dump out the contents of his bag and take a photo of whatever was in there. Everything. He said this photo was almost more telling than a journal entry or any story of where he had been. I thought this was a brilliant idea. I’ve decided to use Uncle Bill’s time capture methodology in different ways. I think you should try it, too. It could be with your purse, your diaper bag, your junk drawer, your backpack, or anything that becomes a collection point for stuff. Today, I would like to use this methodology for: The Dangerous Item Repository.

On a fairly regular basis, we have to confiscate things from our kids. Most times, these items are (relatively) benign and relegated to the top of the refrigerator or on top of our mantle. A completed Star Wars Lego winged vehicle? Sure put that on top of the fridge for safe keeping. Alexei Kovalev bobble head dolls? Yeah, better put those on the mantle before the 3-year-old rips poor Kovy’s head off. (Note: Let’s just come right out and say it: a bobble head is basically just taunting us to decapitate it.) But then, there are things taken from our children that just can’t be hidden in plain sight.

Out of fear.

This is when we utilize the Dangerous Item Repository: the top of an old  locker in our garage, right off of the kitchen.

With spring around the corner, and the hope of cleaning our garage, I’ve been thinking about these messes that accumulate. So it is with those words, that I present to you today’s {why i can’t have nice things}: things taken and hidden from my beautiful children (due to the nefarious use of items by said children):

1. A child’s golf club

2. A paint roller with dried up paint on it

3. A cap gun with caps (enclosed in Ziploc bag)

4. A lighter

5. A hose attachment

6. Enamel paint jars

7. A 3-lb weight

8. A large, prickly stick

9. A lead pipe

10. A ball-peen hammer

Now, if I could just figure out where I hid that mallet…

{why i can’t have nice things} industrial masking tape

6 Mar

“A weekly, or as close as I can get to weekly, ritual (who am I kidding that I think I can do this every week). Some photos – with or without tons of explanation – capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. A moment that makes me remember why exactly it is that I can’t have nice things (but someday will).”

**A twisted step-cousin twice-removed of www.soulemama.com‘s {this moment}.

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I had a really great history professor one semester in college. He taught History of the American Revolution and he was so great, that he actually wore blazers with large, deliberate patches sewn over his elbows. And he was gloriously disheveled. This professor was a huge proponent of questioning history. Or rather, instead of reading an historian’s record of events, he advocated deliberating the significance of historical events using first person accounts and primary source materials. For example, instead of reading a recent narrative about how American Colonists were all riled up by British tyranny, he made us read The Stamp Act. This methodology really changed my way of thinking. Not just about history, but life in general. Namely, there are two sides to every story–and then, the truth.

Most recently, I believe using this primary source methodology would benefit anyone reading about parenting and childcare. Listen, parenting is difficult and completely lawless at times–no one’s going to tell you otherwise. But that’s like saying that the endocrine system is complicated. No shit. I’m not here to tell you how hard parenting is. I’m not going to tell you that it’s difficult. I’m not going to try to compare discipline to the pancreas. Or teaching proper aim into the toilet to the thyroid. I’m just going to give you pictures and first person accounts and you can form your own opinions.

Case in point: the “it’s too quiet what are they doing wrong?” scenario. There is an eerie quiet that overcomes a home some evenings, when a parent’s mind wanders and believes that a child has either a. escaped or b. is doing something very, very bad. I will tell you, the quiet is almost always due to the latter. Alright, one time Baby Anthony did escape–from his own 3rd birthday party, no less–but we found him very shortly after the jailbreak, safe and sound down by the swing set at around 9:00 p.m. in the pitch black night. Who ever thinks the BIRTHDAY BOY will run away from his party? Apparently, not us.

Last night, my husband and I were hypnotized by the evening quiet. A brief, beautiful, perfect moment of…nothing. No yelping. No hitting. No wrestling. No hollering. Nothing. And then…I tensed up. What were they doing? Oh sure, there have been textbook family nights when the quiet was actually because of a game played without biting of a participant or a partner Lego project (Sciullo & Sciullo Engineers, Inc) completed without a punch. Rare, but it has happened. One time, the twins worked together to build a Lego vessel model they designed to be used to remediate the oil spill in the Gulf. But, last night, I didn’t even hear the brrrrshh of sorting through a Lego bin. Nope, what broke the eerie quiet was the harsh, screaming sound of tape being ripped from it’s roll by the footful. And screams. And giggles. And various beating sounds.

Today’s {why i can’t have nice things} is brought to you by industrial masking tape. Oh sure, it can be used to trim out paint work, but why use it for good when it can be used for…taping your hands like boxers do and beating each other about the face.

Perhaps there will be a college course on the Sciullo boys someday, just print out this blog for some source material. Also, they asked me if I would tie them together like conjoined twins to see how those type of twins “fight.”

Help.

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{why i can’t have nice things} inaugural post

18 Feb

“A weekly, or as close as I can get to weekly, ritual (who am I kidding that I think I can do this every week). Some photos – with or without tons of explanation – capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. A moment that makes me remember why exactly it is that I can’t have nice things (but someday will).”

**A twisted step-cousin twice-removed of www.soulemama.com‘s {this moment}.

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Recently, I have been professing my love for Amanda Soule to anyone who will listen. She is an expert and (seemingly) effortless blogger, wife, book author, back yard ice rink maker, crafter, baker, mother, photographer, pregnant person, decorator, knitter…seriously, she is all these things. For real. She is the perfect fusion of the very best parts of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Martha Stewart, Louise Dickinson Rich, and St. Ann. While I can honestly say that I’ve never wanted to be someone other than me…if I absolutely had to choose someone with whom to trade lives, I mean absolutely had to choose, it would be with Amanda Soule (or a member of the Go-Go’s circa 1982; tossup).

Of course, I don’t know Mrs. Soule–holdup, who are we kidding? In my mind I think of her as…Amanda–but I’ve been thinking about Amanda a lot lately. Sometimes late at night my mind starts racing and I think I am failing at something (or everything). Like parenting, or organizing my dog’s vaccine records, or folding fitted sheets, or how’s my Netflix queue?, or should we try to read something other than Walter the Farting Dog before bedtime?…and I’m like, “Boy, I bet Amanda Soule has this stuff down.” In the last few weeks I’ve made some broad and sweeping assumptions and a few wild ass suppositions about my new hero. I’d like to share them with you:

  • I don’t think Amanda Soule raises her voice a lot. (Only when shouting for her family to come in from making an igloo in the back woods to enjoy some healthy beef barley soup paired with rustic sourdough bread fresh from the brick hearth.)
  • I bet that she eats a LOT of leafy greens and hardly *ever* eats Swedish fishies. Well, unless celebrating Sveriges nationaldag and within the confines of a candy smörgåsbord laid upon a vintage robin’s egg blue side table. Peppered with lots of penny candy.(Hello? Can you say Charleston Chew?)
  • I would imagine that she has decoupaged something in the last four days. And she has also probably actively included her (very well-behaved) children in this activity, donning their oilcloth art smocks that were hanging from assigned hooks in the crackle-painted art cubbie.
  • I am certain that all of her kids’ belongings are labeled with cute little hand-embroidered tags. And everything smells like fresh-picked cotton.
  • I think she can make her own soap. It is branded with her initials. And when you use it on your face, you hear that sound that’s played when someone smiles in a toothpaste commercial.
  • I imagine that if I ever visited Amanda for a weekend, there would be a little package wrapped in plain brown paper waiting for me on my front doorstep when I got home. Inside that package would be the following: a.) hand-written recipes of all the meals we shared together at the large family dining table made of wide-planked barn-wood salvaged from her family’s homestead in the Berkshires b.) four (4) dozen Moravian ginger cookies c.) a tasteful little chapbook of some photos of our weekend held in by archive quality photo corners d.) a crocheted coffee cup cozy with a stylized deer antler motif stitched into it and e.) the rest of my Valium prescription that I had accidentally forgotten on the night table of her guest room.

Now, as much as I admire Amanda Soule and wish that I could be more like her, the simple truth is: I am not Amanda Soule. Try as I might, I just don’t think I am crafty enough, nice enough or–well–*good* enough. Now, maybe this is crazy talk. Maybe I have been hoodwinked by her photos, taken with the most astute aperture settings that would make a photo of a dog humping a throw pillow look charming. And maybe, just maybe, I’m just wearing the wrong boots to feed my chickens. Certainly a candy apple red pair of wellies might put a little jaunt in my step and bring out the healthy pink glow in my cheeks. And seriously, if I planned all my meals in a journal covered in vintage apron fabric tied with a ric rac bow, I might be off to a better start.

But again, no, I am not Amanda Soule. I am, oftentimes and more than I would like to be, the *exact opposite* of who I think Amanda Soule might be. I am disheveled, unorganized, not pregnant, have a penchant for wearing camouflage clothing, improbably overcome with tasks that never seem to be completed, unskilled at using the manual setting of my camera to soften the pictures of my kids picking their noses, and–let’s put it on the table–pretty loud.

However, I still turn to her for inspiration. Every week at http://www.soulemama.com Amanda Soule uploads a photo entitled {this moment}. As she explains it, {this moment} is “A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.” She beckons her readers to try to capture their own moment and to share that moment. How lovely!

I tried to do this, I really did. But what ended up happening, was that I was trying too hard. Out of 100 moments I captured, maybe one was “simple, special, or extraordinary” but it was very rarely my favorite moment of the week, and was usually precluded from posting due to, oh just as an example, capturing a child drop-kicking his brother while wearing a helmet and three-times-too-big gardening gloves in some sort of unintentional nod to hobo fighting. More often than not, my would-be moments were out of focus, borderline offensive, touting potentially dangerous activities, inordinately physical in nature, and sometimes downright tactless.

Remember, there are very valid reasons that I (kind of affectionately and jokingly just so I don’t cry) refer to my three young sons as dingoes.

However, these are MY moments. I think that Amanda would approve of me simply trying to capture a piece of my life…and that I am. While I’m sure we are very different, we both share a love of our family and a desire to create a better space for them. So in that spirit, I bring you my weekly post titled {why i can’t have nice things}:

“A weekly, or as close as I can get to weekly, ritual (who am I kidding that I think I can do this every week). A single photo – with or without tons of explanation – capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. A moment that makes me remember why exactly it is that I can’t have nice things (but someday will).”

So for the inaugural post, I bring you, the homemade mallet we had to confiscate from one of our 7-year-old twins this week. My husband and I have absolutely no idea where it came from, it is most obviously hand-hewn, and one kid was using it to (attempt to) hit another kid with. Look for next week’s {why i can’t have nice things}, there might just be an anvil headlining in it.

I heart you Amanda Soule, but I still do struggle believing that you are real.

 

 

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