Body parts

As it’s Halloween tomorrow, it seems as appropriate a time as any to discuss the body parts we have hidden around our house.

I saw my best friend this weekend and we compared our collections. Her son has teeth, scabs, and a black fingernail in his stash. My daughter has lovingly kept her own black fingernail in a little box that she trots out on special occasions. Last week, my son got four permanent teeth removed in preparation for braces and was sent home with a plastic tooth-shaped box crammed full with the teeth, giant bloody roots and all. And somewhere in our house is the treasure above all treasures, the jewel in the crown, the pièce de résistance

When my oldest son was a newborn, we anxiously waited for his umbilical cord to fall off. We gingerly swabbed at it for weeks with rubbing alcohol. We fretted that he’d go off to college with the stump still dangling from his belly. I was delirious with joy the day it finally came off. As a joke, I hid it in a velvet jewelry box and wrapped it up as a gift for my husband. I felt really guilty when he looked genuinely touched as he opened the box, but because I’m kind of a jerk, I felt totally gratified when he gasped in horror when he opened the lid to reveal the gnarly, wizened, black stump. Having had my fun, I put it away and completely forgot about it for years. One day, I was cleaning out a drawer and found the box. Out of idle curiosity, I opened it and almost peed myself when I saw the shriveled, monkey-paw-like stump inside. 

(No pictures today, because that would be in poor taste, obviously).

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Prince Rupert’s Drops

My husband recently became fascinated with Prince Rupert’s Drops, named after the German prince who first brought them to England to present to the King in the mid-1600s.

The drops form when molten glass is dropped into cold water. The resulting shape looks like a tadpole and has curious physical properties. The outer part of the bulb hardens more quickly than the inner part of the bulb. As the interior portion cools, an incredible amount of contraction and compression takes place. As a result, the bulb end of the shape is so strong that even the hardest hammer blows won’t cause the glass to shatter. If the slightest tip of the tail, however, is broken off, the entire structure explodes into powder.

“It’s a good analogy for a certain personality type,” my husband said as he concluded his explanation.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“On the one hand, they’re extremely solid and stubborn, but at the same time really brittle and explosive.”

“What are you trying to say?” I asked suspiciously. “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?!

Check out this video:

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Speaking of jeans…

Yesterday’s post was inspired by my daughter. This is her wearing her first pair of jeans. It was the first and last pair of jeans she would wear for the next eight years of her life:

When she got old enough to express her own clothing preferences, she became a strictly yoga pants kind of girl. Last weekend when we were out and about getting some things for my oldest son, (who outgrows his clothes approximately every two weeks), she told me she wanted to give jeans another try. Here she is modeling her second pair of jeans:

Sassy, no?

Happy Weekend, Everyone!


When we were children and my parents still hadn’t been in America very long, there were certain cultural short circuits that had to be sorted out. Some customs of the country were so foreign as to seem outlandish to my parents. Sleepovers, for example, made no sense at all to them. When we’d ask if we could spend the night at a friend’s house their faces would register astonishment. They would ask, “Why would you do that? What’s wrong with your own bed at home?” Trick or Treating was another concept they found bizarre. They were mortified by the idea that their children would dress up in costumes to go begging door to door for candy.  And then there was the issue of  jeans. For many years this particular article of clothing did not exist in our wardrobes, because my parents insisted that it would be disrespectful to our teachers to wear jeans to school.

They finally realized that the dress code was different in the States, when they had their first parent teacher conference with my little brother Teddy’s kindergarten teacher. Teddy’s teacher had a long shaggy beard, he often tucked a daisy into his grey mane behind his ear, and he always wore a pair of denim overalls to school. Faced with this incontrovertible evidence, my parents had to concede that wearing jeans to school would be acceptable. It still wasn’t smooth sailing, by any means. My mom decided that rather than buying jeans, she would make them for us. She threw herself wholeheartedly into the project. She even used red thread along the seams and to stitch artful, free-form designs on the back pockets. To give you an idea of how successful we thought this particular DIY experiment was, we would choose to wear our velvet upholstery pantsuit ensembles rather than the homemade jeans.

One day the inconceivable happened. This man, my father, aka the Easter Island Head:


…emerged from his room wearing a pair of jeans. For a moment the earth stood still. We all stared, blinking, dumbfounded, our mouths agape. And then my sister broke the silence when she started singing under her breath, “Here comes Wrangler. He’s one tough customer. He knows what he likes, when he sees it.”

I’m an overachiever

I hate to brag, but I’m going to give myself some props for some things that I do better than most people. I wrote about one of those rare talents yesterday, when I revealed how I can get telemarketers so mad by being nice to them that they hang up on me. And then there are certain driving maneuvers…the three point turn, for instance?…I pretty much kill it. Three points are for average people. Me? I do it in seventeen. I would imagine it’s pretty breathtaking to watch, though perhaps not quite as breathtaking as watching me dance. Jaws literally drop when I start busting a move. I’m guessing there aren’t many others in the world who can actually get people to weep when they dance like I can.

In case you’re feeling really jealous of me right now, let me make you feel better by telling you that there are some areas of my life where I struggle. Punctuality, for example, has never been my strong suit. Lately, circumstances have conspired against me, making the task of getting my daughter to school on time even more of a challenge than usual. We used to cross a rickety, one-lane wooden bridge on our way there. They’ve recently closed it and are rebuilding it. In a year’s time when they’ve finished the work, it won’t feel like you should be driving over it in a covered wagon. In the meantime, unfortunately, the detour we now have to take makes the drive to school five minutes longer. As we all know, five minutes in the morning is equivalent to at least half an hour during the rest of the day. (Have I mentioned that I’m also really amazing at math)?

This morning I was driving my daughter to school and it became clear that we were going to be late. When I announced this fact out loud, she heaved a sigh.

“Hey, it’s not that bad. This is the first time we’ve been late all week!” I said.

And then I realized it was Tuesday.

I’m on a roll.