Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pity Potty

I don't want to offend the potty gods by jinxing this, but on Day 6 of the Great Underwear Experiment, things are going better than expected. A week ago, we visited Molly's new preschool and talked to her old preschool teacher, who said "Just put her in underwear." We'd tried underwear a couple of weeks ago, but after one accident, Molly asked for a diaper again and I thought, OK, too soon. But Molly's teacher said, no, if Molly's asking for diapers she's ready for underwear. She also said that two of the little girls in her class were already in underwear. So, you know, she shamed us into it.

But damn if it didn't work. At least so far. The first day was kind of... challenging. We went through 7 pairs of underwear by late afternoon. It was messy. But it got better and better. Yesterday we were down to 3 pairs. Today, she stayed in one pair ALL DAY LONG. It was magical. She stayed dry through her nap. She was a potty rock star.

So, we'll see if this keeps up, but I have to give big ups to Molly's teacher. Maybe it's too easy, I don't know. If it does work, we'll have done it without the help of the "It's Potty Time" video, a time-honored classic that caused Emma (and Matt and me) nightmares for years. A bonus, for sure.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Props to Andrea McArdle

Last weekend, it was all "Annie!" all the time. And this week, we're having a hard time letting go. So we're pretty much all still belting out "It's the Hard-Knock Life" and "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile," on a moment's notice. Sam and Em were, respectively, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Miss Hannigan in the Children's Theater of Madison Summer Drama School production of "Annie!" And they were knock-em-out fabulous. I'm not even kidding. And yes, sure, I'm biased. They're my beautiful, talented children. But all of that aside, as my beautiful, talented children can tell you, I can also be unreasonably harsh and critical, even when things are pretty good. So I would tell you lovely folks, all of you who may actually at some point be reading my blog (and thank you, btw), the honest unvarnished truth. If they were cute, and ok, but really, it's just a kids' summer drama production and, well, it was fun and fine, but whatever--I'd tell you.

Honest to god, it was amazing. Not just Sam and Em, either. Everyone was amazing. The sets were great. The costumes were gorgeous. The staging and choreography was truly fantastic (even the numbers--and there were lots--that my kids WEREN'T in :-) ) Honestly, it was incredible. Even more incredible when you realize that the kids were assigned their parts exactly TWO WEEKS before opening night, so they had 10 working days to get the whole production together. I wish you all could have seen them. And I wish I had a video--but no one was allowed to tape it, so no record exists. You'll have to take my word.

Emma was scary as the drunken orphanage-runner Miss Hannigan. I can't tell you how many people came up to me and said "I didn't think she could do it. Sweet little Emma, she's always so quiet... I had no idea she could be so mean--or so LOUD!" And all I could say to that is, you haven't talked to Sam, have you? He could tell you just how mean and loud his sister can be...

Miss Hannigan a.k.a. Carol Burnett

Miss Hannigan a.k.a. Emma

For his part, Sam had his heart set on being FDR, even over bigger parts. And I have to say it was the perfect role for him. He spent the past 3 weeks watching Fireside Chats on YouTube and telling the folks at Whole Foods "You have nothing to feah but feah itself."

Sadly, Emma is smiling in all the pictures I took after the show. She didn't smile during the show. Believe me.

Sam also wrote a monologue in the character of FDR in the year 1933. He performed during the show just before the start of Act Two (one of several monologues and skits). I wanted to preserve the performance in some form, and since I don't have a recording of the show, I am reprinting Sam's monologue here, in its entirety:

Hello, my name is Franklin D. Roosevelt, known to most of you as FDR, and I am dead. However, I have come back to life for just two days. But I will not take this time for granted, no. What I will do is I will tell you things that you possibly didn’t know about me. Such as did you know that I am the only president to appear in a musical? I didn’t think so. Another fact is that I join JFK and LBJ as the only presidents known mainly by their initials. And not just the only one not to half to deal with the Vietnam War, and not just the only one that doesn’t have a J somewhere in their initials, but also the only one born in the 1800s. Did you know that in no other year than 1933, I survived an assassination attempt that missed me but unfortunately hit and killed Chicago mayor Anton Cermcurk (small shrug)? Did you know that when I was a boy, my family and me went to visit at that time President Grover Cleveland, who personally told me never to become president. Grover, God love yah, but you coulda chosen anyone else in my family, you had to choose me. Did you know that in order of Presidents, such as George Washington 1 John Addams 2, I am thirty two. Joining James Madison, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Regan as presidents who’s number orders are factors of 4. (Bodyguard whispers into my ear) Barack Obama? Who’s he? Whatever, and Barack Obama. And lastly did you know that I am the first president who could have his mother vote for him. Thanks Mom, and thank you.

I was incredibly proud of both of 'em. Lemme tell ya.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Most of the pictures on this blog end up being pics of Molly. But these are some pictures we took of Emma outside our house last weekend. I needed to share a couple.

Emma starts high school in the fall. I know, right?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Second Famiversary: July 7, 2009

Not sure when this happened, when this tiny little baby turned into this big grown up funny young person. But on July 7th we marked the second anniversary of our trip to Ethiopia to pick up Molly Fanaye. She likes to tell the story: "Nannies pourin'." "We saw you first minute." And finally, "Handprint on the wall."

Here are the pictures that complete the story she tells:

Courtyard of the CHSFS Care Center, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 7, 2007. Fanaye age 7 months

Madison, Wisconsin, July 10, 2009. Molly Fanaye age 2 years, 7 months.

Every day I ask how I got so lucky. We love you so much baby girl.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Summer is really a glorious time. Although 4 + weeks in, I'm still getting used to not getting up to go to work in the morning. Actually, that's not really it. After the first three days or so, my brain had totally adjusted to not getting up and going in to work in the morning. I went in the Tuesday after school let out to clean out my room, and that was that. I'm pretty sure that I left something big and important under a table, but can't think what it might be, so whatevs. Next year, I'm moving to a new school, a new grade, a new part-time schedule. It's all really good: the I'll be at my "home" school so I'll be close to home, and I'm hoping that there will continue to be a spot for me there so that I'll still be there in three years when Molly starts school. But even though it's exciting, it's also really weird. Especially the not-teaching-kindergarten part. I think I'm in denial right now. After I left, I think my brain shut off, because it's been very hard to remember that I ever WAS a teacher, much less what I might've actually taught anyone.

Weird, how quickly we readjust. Four weeks really isn't that long, yet it seems like forever since school ended. And at the same time, summer feels like it's flying. It's mid-July. So I keep reminding myself, "it's only July..." The upside of having a state government that's controlled by the bozos in the Wisconsin Dells, and who set the start of the school year for Sept. 1, meaning that the school year seems to last FOREVER (and those last few weeks really did seem to go on and on and on) is that we have ALL of August off, which is a psychological bonus right about now.

But the summer was accounted for before it started, and I have tons to do: About a million cleaning projects around the house, more every day as our cats have decided that every place EXCEPT the litter box is an appropriate place to pee. Work for KU. And now that all three kids are home all day, we have to organize excursions or we get a repeat of today: by noon, we were all home, done with errands and Sam's morning enrichment class, watching Demi Lovato on "Sonny with a Chance." I think my brain turned to pudding.

Oh, and I think I'm launching a new website for highschoolers. I'll keep you posted.

So in the meantime, we marked the second anniversary of bringing Molly home, which really deserves its own post, so I won't belabor it here. Emma's already been to DC with her eighth grade class. Sam's already finished his little league season. And Sammy and Em have already rehearsed and performed in their summer drama school production of "Annie!" which was honest-to-god-absolutely-phenomenal-and-I'm-not-just-saying-that-because-I'm-their-mother. I'm thrilled that the kids take after me with their affinity for drama and total lack of interest in team sports.

But that deserves its own post, too. So more later.

Molly and I have been hanging for the last month or so, and that's been really cool. She's exhausting, my little girl, but so smart and sweet, and especially when her brother and sister weren't around and she had me to herself, very fun and very dear. Molly has had no trouble adjusting to summer. Here's Molly, getting ready to head out to drop off Sam and Em and head to Whole Foods on a hazy, humid summer day in Madison:

Like Navin Johnson in The Jerk: "All I need is this lamp, and my thermos, and this pumpkin, and my dog..."

Ready for a summer outing in Wisconsin.

Molly loves the splash park and she rides her trike like Danica Patrick. We've also been watching "Cinderella" on an endless loop, along with many many episodes of "The Muppet Show" on DVD. And I say it again: the 70s were a very strange time.