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Mom: “It’s 11:30. You should probably get up.”
Dad: “I have a cold. I’m trying to get better.”
Mom: “I don’t know that sleeping all day will make a cold any better.”
Dad: “There’s only one way to find out.”

We’re organizing Natalie’s jewelry with very little drama! We’ve stuck gold thumbtacks on a wall to hang her necklaces and we’re making headway among her other dresser items.

Natalie: “Mom, I promise there will never be a need to clean again.”
Natalie: “It’s not supposed to be funny.”
Mom: “Well, it is.”
Natalie: “It’s not supposed to be.”

^^^ “Mom thought up with it and I went along.”

Bath is nearly ready. Do you want bubbles? “No. Bubbles can be too, you know, interfering with what you’re doing inside.”

“Why is thirty such a common number, thirty?”

Natalie misses the stripes I had painted in the bathroom before going over them in the light minty green. She says we could paint red dots everywhere. “I do could it myself, in fact. As long as I could stand on the toilet at a time.”

Skyler is here for her first play date. “Natalie? No offense but Perry is so much smaller and cuter than I thought.”

Natalie: “We have to say ‘Good Boy’ to him all the time because he’s so spoiled.”

Natalie invites me outside where she’s playing with Skyler.
Natalie: “To have your comistics done.”
Mom: “Comistics?”
Natalie: “Your eyes, your cheeks…”
Mom: “Ah.”
Natalie: “If it’s not pronounced ‘comistics’ please tell me.”
Mom: “Cosmetics.”
But it’s not cosmetics. It’s sidewalk chalk.
Off I go to my doom.

The girls are having bagels. Natalie says Yes to toasting. “It doesn’t taste good without toasted.”

Pretend play with the Candyland set:
“Now. Let’s get back to our per-fect li-ives!”
“If we colored the whole entire world like this, it would just be a world of un-nice.”

Daddy is taking requests to play songs from The Wizard of Oz. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” says Natalie. “It’s like, a song to remember for your life.”

“I’m being very pressured. I have to practice my four times tables up to twelve by Thursday.”

Overheard during pretend play monologuing:
“Do I look like a butt? I’m sorry if I do, but I don’t.”

We’re fighting in this house. “A very little, but greatly sorted idea. I’ve been thinking, for only two seconds, but I do have a thought, that Mom can kiss one half of my face and Dad can kiss the other.”

“Dad? Can I please hug you so tight?”

A joke by Natalie.
Q: What do you call an apple that’s very cute?
A: Adorapple!

Natalie asked for whom I’d vote for Governor, and I told her.
Then she asked: “And for Governess?”

Cindy called to tell Natalie to go out and gaze at the moon, with the clouds rapidly moving across it. It’s beautiful. “Tell her you’re twirling on the lawn,” I call to her. “I’m twirling on the lawn right now,” she says, “From the beauty of the moon.”

New outfit from the Zulily vendors of fashion magick.
“I’m a schoolgirl!!”
“This outfit makes me feel like a kid!”
“Does this outfit make me look more like hippie, or rock?”
“I mean, look at me! It looks amazing! I’m glad we picked out red. Pink would have been, not so nice.”

Natalie can’t do the craft right now. “I’m busy sort of sleeping.”

Dad: “I can’t believe I have to make a speech in front of five hundred people.”
Natalie: “You could have declined.”

“I’d rather have a Daddy be sick at home, then go away feeling good.”

Mom: “Are you getting used to Upper El?”
Natalie: “Unh-uh. It’s the most horrible thing that’s ever happened to me. The only good thing about it is that when you see your friends, they treat you like royalty. That’s the only thing I like about it.” Those would be the friends still in Lower El. Poor girl.

Natalie said “I think they should go to court for that, but–BUT–they shouldn’t go to Judge Judy. She’s too cranky for Cindy.” And: “I envy her famousness, but I also hate her bossiness.”

October 3: Apparently Skyler has been Natalie’s new BF for almost the whole new school year, and I just found out tonight. So I ask if we should invite her over to play. “Maybe,” says Natalie. “She can be pretty offensive.”

Mom: “It’s in your nature.”
Natalie: “I see lots of nature, but none of it is me.”

October 4: We tried a new place today, the Country View Diner in Brunswick, on the way home from Maggie’s birthday party, since my Garmin POS – sorry, GPS – was confusing me and I wasn’t sure which way to go; and when you’re lost, the thing to do is eat. The eggs came out quick and the home fries were great. Natalie likes jelly on her toast, but it’s also delicious right from the container. “It’s a new hobby of mine. Eating–raw–jelly.” Later we showed the girl “Star Trek: Save The Whales” for the first time. So–double dumbass on you.

Natalie spends a significant amount of her time reassuring us she’s not trying to offend. “Good night. You’re the best person in the world except for Dad. Not offensive.”

October 7: I’m so tickled that we are still treated to the monologuing from another room, and I’m even more amused by tonight’s growling.

There’s supposed to be showering going on. The water in the bathroom seems to have stopped, but we do hear chatter. I go in to check. “I’m taking a playful bath first.”

Read this one carefully:
“You don’t look as cute in me as this hat. Right?”

Mom: “Nice speed on that cleanup.”
Natalie: “Thanks. Wait – sarcastic or not?”
Mom: “Not.”
Natalie: “Okay. Because sometimes when you use that tone, it sounds sarcastic. I don’t know why. Not trying to be mean.”

We were watching “Lunch Hour” which is about improving school lunch foods and combating childhood obesity. And Natalie says: “That would be good for Liesl’s family. They really only ever eat nutrition stuff.”

Natalie still wants to be an artist and says how amazing it will be doing crafts all day. “Imagine. It’d be doing creativity all day. I can’t believe someone came up with it.”

October 15: I’ve decided start asking Natalie if she’s asked any good questions in school each day. Today is the second day I’ve asked, and both times the answer was NO. I said perhaps Natalie will tomorrow. But she said: “School is for learning, not for asking questions.” WTF. I have failed. And maybe the school has too. :-(

I started playing Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Natalie said she wasn’t trying to hear it, but she could hear it. She tolerated about 40 seconds and ran down the hall. Closed her door.

This isn’t about Natalie. Mom said: “Oh no. Elizabeth Peña died. She was in Jacob’s Ladder and The Incredibles. This says she died after a brief illness.” And Dad answered: “Well…should we make a donation to the National Brief Illness Foundation?” Mom: “You’re a terrible person.” But really, it’s why I married him.

Tumbul weed,
Humbul weed,
falling into bed,
Many Dreams to
Dream about,
falling in your head

“I love crayons. They’re so artistic. Most of my friends say they’re not. But Grandpa says if you put them in the right hands, they really are.”

Q: What happens when a nose goes to school with a funny name?
A: It gets picked on!

October 22: I think Natalie just called her toy Abominable Snowman toy The Avomitable.

Playtime monologue:
“You’re over-reacting. Again.”
“I’m not over-reacting. I’m just being myself.”

“My father’s so illuminating. Right? Right?”

I dropped my camera…again.
Natalie: “Does it still work?”
Mom: …”Yes!”
Natalie: “Well…it’s good made.”
Mom: …”Yes. It’s good made.”
Natalie: “Although–I don’t think you’d make a good maid.”

Natalie: “Mom, can I go outside? Can I go outside?”
Mom: “Yes.”
Natalie: “Good. Cuz…jump-roping in the house, not one of my best decisions.”

“I’ve never had Lucky Charms. And I’ve heard really good rumors about them.”

We’re massively cleaning the girl’s room. “I can tell you’re stressed. I know how you feel. I’ve been feeling it for years.”

Still cleaning. Natalie swipes her fingers over the hair and dust clumps on a barrette to clear it. No, I say, that’s part of the problem. Why do you think that’s okay? “Because dust blends in. And dust is okay. It’ll just re-form.” I’ve told her about her choices. She can stay on top of things and not lie about putting things where they belong, OR she can deal with me going in there and making her life miserable for a few hours every once in a while.

I’m doing some more cleanup in the girl’s room and I asked for something to eat. I got delicious scrambled eggs and half a toasted bagel. So. Um. This just came out of my mouth: “You and me and sriracha forever, Joshie!”

At a restaurant Natalie referred to beef as “Unvegetarian meat. Super-unvegetarian meat.”

Natalie helped Daddy make Apple Tarte Tatin, and offered feedback too. “Number one, that looks amazing and awesome and yummy. And number two, you have GOT to clean that oven.”

October 27: Natalie gets her first glasses. Oh, and cuts her own bangs. Very short.

Natalie is enjoying the microscope the tooth fairy got her back when she “lost” her first teeth by surgery. She’s astounded that the set of 100 slides only cost another $25 or so. “But they’re made of glass!” Then, almost reverently: “It’s amazing what money can do.”

I mentioned that Natalie needs a makeup lesson since she missed it last week for her eye appointment. I was talking about guitar. But Natalie is too young: “I don’t want to do makeup yet.”

Natalie is insecure about the glasses. “Perry, do I look different? In a bad way?”

I took some shots of the girl this morning and they suck.
Mom: “None of the pictures came out good.”
Natalie: “Well, that’s cuz you’re a photographer. So–you know.”
Mom: “What?”
Natalie: “They’re not photographers.”
Mom: “What?”
Natalie: “The people who took the pictures.”

The glasses do make a difference. “Everything is brighter. And darker.”

‘Why do they call it a diary if it sounds like diarrhea?”

The nine-year-old is riding her father like a pony.
“Faster! Faster all the while!”

Natalie doesn’t want to tell me about whether a kid in her class, Alison, knows a lot. “It would be almost like cyber-bullying, except without the phone.” Natalie’s motto should be “Unclear on the Concept”. Oh and Natalie also criticized me for having friends online. How does one explain how I know certain people are safe, but she can’t at her age? I did my best.

Natalie has a cosmology research project due in two weeks. She wants to put her findings on a “foamy” poster.
Mom: “What is it about the Milky Way that you want to focus on?”
Natalie: “Easy. Since I’m only in fourth…”
What a scholar.

Natalie was not satisfied with the ghoulish traffic on Halloween.
“Boring, boring. Singing the boring, boring song.”

Dad: “She needs to clean her room.”
Mom: “The room is a problem. It was a problem last night and it didn’t get solved.”
Natalie: “I solved it a teeny bit.”

When she grows up, Natalie wants to be an artist or work at Target. (It will likely HAVE to be both.) Daddy says he wanted to be a whale or a fire truck. He says he fundamentally misunderstood the sentence: “When you grow up, you can be anything you want to be.”

Dad’s parents’ friend Shelley sent Natalie a Shel Silverstein book for her upcoming birthday. I asked Natalie if she already has that book. “No. But I have longed for it.”


This is the best reconstruction I can manage for one morning’s gems, which followed my explanation of how vs. is spelled without a period between the v and the s:

“That was an accident. Sometimes when I’m not looking, and the pencil is flying around, it just hits the paper.”

Then I spelled verses vs. versus:

“I wasn’t nodding because I knew that. I was nodding because it sometimes it feels good to nod. Because my head feels too light and nodding makes it heavier. Nodding sometimes gives me a headache. And I need a headache. Having a light head doesn’t feel good. Like I don’t know enough. … …I’m not going to school today.”


“I remember everything from my childhood.”

Two Poems.
Perry demands four hands.
And that stands.

Perry demands four hands
With no sweat glands.

Daddy made congee. Natalie tried two grains of the rice from my finger. Then I told her it had sherry in it. “I can’t believe I had an alcoholic drink.”

Mom: “She probably doesn’t want one of her birthday presents first thing in the morning.”
Natalie: “What I want first for my birthday is a few kisses and a different outfit.”

Dad: “I didn’t look at the Primary results yet.”
Mom: “Zephyr Teachout did really well. Cuomo allegedly told someone he’d be disappointed if he got less then 70%, and last I looked, he got 60%. Teachout got 36%!”
Natalie: “To me, the Primary kids are 100% happy. Not happy. Unhappy, because they didn’t get any brownies.”
Dad: “We’re talking about the election Primary.”
Natalie: “I thought you were talking about the Primary kids. I didn’t know Primary could go farther than that.” (This, after I brought the girl to vote with me.)

Dad didn’t sleep much last night and he went to bed early. Since I said he didn’t feel well, Natalie brought one of the mixing bowls for vomiting. She’d like to keep it on the bed for him even though he’s not that kind of sick. “What if a giant monster comes and its weakness is metal bowls?” Right! “That’s why I keep so much stuff on my bed.” She explains that if any kind of monster comes, she’ll have different things to throw at it.

For one of her birthday presents, Cindy gave Natalie a disgusting bottle of Disney’s “Frozen” shampoo.
“One of the nicest shampoos I’ve ever scented.”

Natalie’s watching some educational young adult program about space exploration. Suddenly I get reamed out: “We sent robots to Pluto??! Why didn’t you tell me??”

“I’m 99% sure I’m going to be an artist when I grow up, and I’m 1% sure I’m going to design robots when I grow up. Because designing robots looks like fun, and I want to design a talking robot.”

When you do crazy stuff on the couch.

A mom’s lament: When will Natalie learn that nail polish doesn’t dry that quickly?


September 13, Natalie’s birthday party. Ana, Pam, Liesl, Elena, Kari, and Maggie came to the Gateway Diner, and then everyone but Maggie came to our house for a sleepover (but Pam didn’t make it that far). I overheard them talking about liking blood. They like the taste of blood.

Then…holy shit. Natalie’s crying and explaining to the girls sleeping in her room that her crying is normal because she cries every night because she’s growing up too fast. I said if you’re growing up too fast, at least you’re doing it with wonderful friends.

Then one of them reported that Natalie said if she dies she wants to be surrounded by her friends. She confirmed this. Ana asked to be buried, not cremated. I asked the girls to stop talking about this subject for tonight. But Liesl said Wait, wait, I just have to say that I want to be laid to rest in my mother’s bed because I love that bed and I slept there when I was a baby. I want to be watered every night to keep the flies off, she said. That was enough for me; I got the hell out of there.

From across the house I heard more upset from Natalie and a friend consoling her that she’s not a failure, that her only failure is calling herself a failure. Now they’re singing songs from Annie to buoy her.

I hadn’t predicted this.


In the morning after the sleepover, they “took a break” from picking up Natalie’s room and left the bird in there. They went out on the trampoline, with Perry barking his head off.


“Mom, I have two things for you. One’s a question, and the other one’s a question.”

Natalie’s class visited the Shaker Heritage Museum. Everyone knows the Shakers had rainbow unicorn kerchiefs and wore them proudly.

September 20: Starting my birthday by sleeping with a vomiting child? There’s no place I’d rather be. Hours later, Natalie’s feeling a bit better, playing in the tub to get refreshed. I suggest that she take a quick shower when she’s done. Okay, she says, but no hair. “No hair?” I ask. “No hair,” she says. “What would be the point?”

Natalie doesn’t know why people would bring a boy who’s allergic to dogs to the pet supply store. “Yeah, that’s just odd. In a weird way.”

“I want to show you the kind of art I want to show you.” – Mom

Mom: “Good night, Sweetheart.”
Natalie: “Nighty night.”
Mom: “You’re my everything.”
Natalie: “You’re my infinity. Of love.”

Natalie’s listening to The Roches sing how they better get out of New York before…”The what hits the what?

Natalie’s going to do a project on the Milky Way. We’re talking about the lack of oxygen on Mars and the gravity that keeps oxygen here for us to breathe. Natalie doesn’t think oxygen weighs anything, and I tell her oxygen is heavier than no oxygen. Natalie breathes out to see if releasing oxygen will make her feel lighter. I tell her there’s some oxygen in her breath, but much more carbon dioxide. She holds her breath in her hands. “I don’t feel lighterness.”

Natalie hopes I enjoy the art she just made me after a trip to Arlene’s Art Supply, thanks to a gift card from Elena. She bought good paper and good brushes. “Please treasure it. It’s the first thing I’ve ever by-myself framed.”

Natalie asks for help spelling “grapes”.
“Wait. After g-r-a, what happens?”

Mom: “I forgot to shake the cough syrup bottle.”
Natalie: “Just go like this.” *wiggle wiggle wiggle*

Thanks to the generosity of Heidi’s daughter Rachel, Natalie’s AG family has expanded from three to FIVE. Not to mention the clothes and furniture and fine china. Well-loved dollies are the BEST! But Natalie has a problem. She now has two sisters named Samantha. Will a dollie be renamed, or will we have a “This is my sister Samantha, and this is my other sister Samantha” situation? Stay tuned.

“Where do Peanuts come from? Where did Charles M. Schulz live?”
…”Because I want to know where the Peanuts took place.”

Natalie got her hair blown out at the mall. She likes it, but…
“How can people live like this?”
“How do straight-haired people live with these weirdo bangs?”
“I think I look better with straight hair. I’ll never wet my hair again.”
“I’m a seven-year-old. No one’ll even recognize me.”

Natalie: “Mom, you really need to go on the treadmill again.”
Mom: “Yes, you’re right.”
Natalie: “Aren’t you going to thank me for noticing?”

We explain what preservatives are.
Natalie: “Not interesting. To me.”
Dad: “Well, you asked.”
Natalie: “I didn’t know it was going to be non-interesting.”

On the way to the WHMS Fall Family Fun Day yesterday, we talked about bringing a bird to the reptile table. But a bird is not a reptile.
Dad: “They’re just birds.”
Mom: “A bird is an avian.”
Natalie: “Athian? So it doesn’t believe in god?”

Overheard from Natalie to Daddy: “I told you I would never lick you again for a while.

“Mom, I’m having gas pain medicine.”


After the discussion topic wended its way into overly wet kisses, Natalie said she finds my mother…annoying…sometimes. She wanted to know if I do too. (Sometimes?) I assured her that I do, and she expressed surprise, although surely she’s witnessed our difficult relationship. Natalie still feels anger and sadness about that last visit, when Grandma was happy to see Natalie but only wanted to watch the Food Channel all day.

I tried to frame this in the most reasonable, positive way possible. I said brain problems are as real as other physical problems that don’t allow people to do things they’d rather be doing. Grandma has mental health problems that sometimes prevent her from being fully present and loving in Natalie’s presence. But she is full of love. And everyone has different gifts to give. We talked about the differences between Natalie’s four grandparents. Three can’t get on the floor and play. One is ready for anything and lots of fun, even jumping on the trampoline. One loves to paint. Another will play cards. All four love to cuddle and talk and read. Natalie pointed out that Daddy’s parents took us on a cruise. Yes, I said – these are their gifts. They’re all different.

Natalie understood. But she said some people’s gifts leave you unsatisfied. I hugged her.


Natalie clipped a flower barrette to Perry’s ear hair.
Mom: “You’re awful. You and Cindy, you’re both awful.”
Natalie: “Hey, don’t call me awful. I’m cute. Am I not?”

Natalie says Daddy goes around with two weapons: his hands and his feet. I add the head to the list – some people do a head butt. “Ew! I don’t wanna go head to butt.”

“I don’t LIKE being teached things.”
Yes…see Exhibit A ^^^

Natalie wants to know what we think she should be when she grows up, because she’s not much of an artist. I tell her there’s no need to worry about that right now and that there’s plenty of time to discover new interests. It’s why I sent her to WHMS: it’s a great place to explore. But there’s nothing more to explore at school, she complains: “I know every inch of that school. There’s nothing more. I’ve been in every corner.”

Natalie watches Jennifer Hudson singing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”
“Is that girl singing in English, or Chinese or something? I can’t understand a word she says.”

We’re playing a simple alphabet game, just coming up with words in alphabetical order. “Alphabetical. Biscuit. Carnival. Dimension. Exclamation. Fart. Geometric. Hideous. No, Hydrogeometric.” Hydrogeometric? I don’t think that’s a word. “It’s not? I thought that meant small geometry. Like small to look at, but big to learn.” (But as it turns out, it IS a word.)

A picture of rhinos mating. He’s putting his penis in her, and shooting sperm into her vagina, and if a sperm meets up with her egg, she’ll have a rhino baby. “So everyone is full of sperm?” No. The sperm only go in the vagina and uterus. “So you have sperm in you right now?” Um. The sperm don’t stay forever. They wash out. You know, gravity and all. “So–there’s sperms on the floor?!” No. There are no sperm on the floor. “There are sperms on this blanket?” Hey look, a squirrel.

The JWs came to the door while I wasn’t here. I lamented that, because I would have invited them in for lemonade and tough questions. Natalie wants to know why. So I can waste their time, I said, and because it’s fun to debate people like that. Why, she asks. “Because…because I like arguing,” I say. Says she: “Maybe you should go to the argument clinic.” MONTY PYTHON REFERENCE FTW!

Natalie’s having a cow because I’m planning to re-set my yellow engagement diamond into a new band. She thinks everyone in the family should be in agreement for that to happen. “Having your mom switch her wedding ring is very disappointing.”

“Why is it that I have a special relationship with Dad, but I’m always with you?” We reached the Troy YMCA for a guest-pass swimming safety lesson with Maggie. Natalie was surprised at the building. “Oh. I never knew it was so…untall. I thought the YCDA was very very very tall.”

“I build up knots during the day, so taking them out is a little bit useless. Don’t you think?”

Someone is having a tough time getting up this morning… “I’m sorry. But every bone in my body is connected. And they haven’t gotten used to moving a lot yet.”

Mom: “You can use these as scrap paper if you want, but a lot of them have writing on both sides.”
Natalie: “That’s all riiight. I can not mind that.”


Natalie’s peach-colored Target Circo brand sweats have a hole. And lots of paint dribbles. And dirt stains. She wonders if she should iron a patch on them. Listen, I say: Those pants were about six dollars. I don’t care what you do with them. Patch them, cut the legs off and make them into shorts, wear them as-is, throw them out. (That generates a gasp of horror and a dramatic pants-clutching.)

Next she makes me swing the pants with her like a jump rope. She tries to jump while we’re both swinging the “rope” and it’s a spectacular failure.

Then she has an epiphany. She drapes the unchanged pants over herself, one leg over each should, like a rich person having a gin after tennis. “Mom, Dad, look at this! It’s made out of pants.” Yes, yes it is. “Do you like it?” Sure. Why not. “I think it’s fashionable. Don’t you?” I don’t know. “Why not? You’re the expert in this house.” HAHAHAHAHAHA

“I’m dancin’ to mah toothbrush…Toothbrush Song!!”


“Dad, on my birthday, if I have a birthday party, can you specialize in doing balloons?”

I offer to play “Royals” but Natalie declines. Don’t you like Lorde? I do, I say. “I do too, but I just don’t want to hear it at the moment. I’m just off her songs at the day.”

“I’m the queen of baby blankets.”

“Cindy, can I see your earrings of today? Ohhhh, they’re so peacelike!”

During a bedtime cuddle, Natalie showed Daddy how Vanellope from Wreck-It Ralph is a superhero with super powers. She has the Power of Lip Gloss. Then Natalie lifted the doll’s hoodie to show that her second power comes from the speaker on her belly. But she has a third power: The Power of Privates. Natalie pulled the doll’s pants down and bent Vanellope over. “There’s a big hole in her butt.”

“Fine” by Natalie
What an apple, oh so fine
But oh no–it’s made of…….twine!

“I paid for a couple of stuff myself.”

I’m on the treadmill…with the laptop mounted. “Wait. …Mom is exercising?!” Sigh… She runs to Daddy and whispers something. I make a guess: “You’re proud of me?” “Yes,” she says. “You already look skinnier. You’re looking skinnier and skinnier. You’re already more of an exerciser. Well, maybe no more of one. But you are one.” I stopped the treadmill at 17:46 and 111 calories burned. Natalie came up to me, put a hand on my lower back and my belly, gently moved her hands ever so slightly, and pronounced me “ship-shape.”

Natalie’s not wild for my kisses. “Your lips are crunchy.”

Mom: “Too many books on the bed.” It’s the Bad Kitty books.
Natalie: “The books are on the bed ’cause I like that series! … …There’s no point in laughing at me!”

Mom: “Why aren’t you eating?”
Natalie: (singsong) “Because…it’s my hobby…to go away from stuff I’m supposed to be doing.”
Later she mentioned the hobby again. I said she better not talk about that hobby any more, otherwise my hobby might be punishing. Then we snapped Z’s at each other. Mine were better.

“‘Y’all’ isn’t a world.”

“This balloon will protect me from all diseases of Mom. ‘Mom’ plus ‘Showers’ equals No Thanks.”

Natalie asked why boys aren’t allowed to wear dresses in this country. I said they are technically allowed, but not by social convention. (Had to explain social convention vs. law.) But it’s getting better, especially in some parts of the country. It’s not great yet, but it’s definitely better than it used to be. This made her happy. “Then Dad can wear dresses!”


Remember Emily, who broke Natalie’s heart by moving to California? Remember how they tried to Skype a few times, and it just didn’t feel right? Remember how they’ve done much better as pen pals, writing little sparkly BFF letters back and forth?

Natalie did not know that today Emily came to NYC on August 22 her Mom’s business trip and would be in Albany through Tuesday. They were to meet up at Hoffman’s Playland, where I considered having an AED ready in case Natalie needed resuscitation upon their reacquaintance.

The funny part is that Natalie said in the morning that she has had enough of playdates lately.

At the end of the weekend, Emily went home to California, and Natalie was bereft. But this time it’s different. She knows two things now: Emily loves and misses Natalie. And they’ll see each other again.


Natalie told Daddy she got up at 7:32. Oh, you slept through the night, he said. No, she said, she was actually up at five. “I got up and licked a melatonin.”

Cleaning one’s room under authoritative guidance, such fun.
Mom: “Room’s getting nicer, isn’t it.”
Natalie, splayed on floor: “And stomach’s getting crampier.”
And Leon’s getting larger!

Natalie kisses Perry on his snout. “I proposed. Will you marry me?” I tell her Perry said YES! “Our wedding date is in two weeks. …Not. I can’t marry you at this age.”

On August 28, we hung out with Cindy and Patrick, Natalie’s teachers for the next three years, at the school’s Meet and Greet. Natalie outfitted her first locker, which is on the end of a row, with a mirror and a little dry erase board. She’s anxious and uncertain, as usual for a big transition, but she’ll do fine and settle in as she always does. She found a sweet peace bookshelf with buddha statues, which she loves. And, purposefully or not, the school split up a three-girl power clique that had caused drama in Natalie’s previous class. I am so happy.

Natalie is working on her comic book – something her father did as a kid – and her award-winning movie writer grandpa is helping her. I am so full of love and kvell that I might burst.

We’re the weird twins, we’re the weird twins, killing the world of fashion
We’re the weird twins, we’re the weird twins, killing the world of fashion
– Natalie and Ana

Natalie: “Fashion’s dead with us in town.”


Getting There:
“I guess I like airplane stations more than train stations.”

Between flights:
Dad: “We’re free for an hour.”
Natalie: “I’m un-feeling free. I feel trapped with you, Dad. And you, Mom.”

“It’ll be really tough to go on a cruise for two weeks.”

“Tunnels are really cool, but they make me feel…unsecure.”

Natalie GASPS. “I just noticed. You can count to any even number, starting with two.”

Mom: “What do you suppose KoffeeHaus means?”
Natalie: “Coffee, but like a mousse?”

There’s a building on the water. What’s it for?
“Probably for people who don’t know English, and want to be teached English.”

On the ship:
“No. I don’t like anything that is over the heat of noodles. And that looks like it’s over the heat of noodles. Anything that is over the temperature of noodles that have been sitting out for two minutes is not for me.”

On her first ship meal, mango sorbet and a separate bowl of M+Ms and Reese’s Pieces (of which she had very little because she was about to be quite ill):
“I’ve only had it once. But I’ve never had Cruise Mango Sorbet. If there’s New York City pizza, and it’s different from normal pizza, then sorbet must be different on a cruise.”

Mom: “How many meringues should we bring to Dad?”
Natalie: “Zero. It’ll help you keep your compliment.”
Mom: “I already complimented him that he’s skinny.”
Natalie: “The good kind of skinny. Manly skinny.”

“Since you guys are in the Captain’s Club, don’t you get to sit at the Captain, and eat at his dinner table?”

Highlights magazine: “Try to find all the clocks I circled. Digital or un-digital.”


In the whirlpool:
Mom: “You’re so good.”
Natalie: “I’m only good in the whirlpool.”

Mom says she’s DONE following some behavior of Natalie’s. Natalie says she should get a massage. “Then you won’t have the doneness.”

“You seem like much of a swimmer.”

On the deck:
On Time Out – “That’s not so bad. As long as they don’t have to be naked.”

“This night is so pretty. All the people are taking pictures, and being beautiful.”

“Well, I’m getting a headache already. On how overwhelming this cruise is. So far.”

“Blehh. I don’t want to take Drama-Mine. I don’t want drama.”

Natalie has to try the pullout couch bed. “Just have to try it. Ooh – it’s nice and hard, just like my real bed.”


In the stateroom:
“My hair is not as knotty than usual. I just tested.”

In the spa, looking out at all the red roofs in Warnemunde:
“Ugh. I’m so tired of red.” Red roofs? “Yeah. So much red everywhere. Poor German people.”

In the hall:
Mom: “Ah, the smell of turpentine.”
Natalie: “More like the smell of stink.”

“Mom, you better bring your camera. Not to take pictures of me, but of the amazingness.”
“Don’t you get that they’re amazing? Haven’t you ever had this?”


A classmate, Eleanor, needs to lose some weight. Natalie has an idea to help.
“Do you think we could give away our treadmill for a day or two?”

“Hold me like it’s your life.”

Natalie: “Can I have this cookie?”
Mom: “Yes, half.”
Natalie explains why she needed it: “I just want my tooth to get used to having things bitten down on. Not for the sweet.”

After Mom did a semi-surprise, much-needed front tooth extraction in the shower:
“It’s going to ruin my body, there’s so much blood.”
“I have so much blood, my body will never be right.”

“I was too coward to eat where I should. So I’m a coward. And it’s not good to be a coward, so I’m kind of a bad person.”

Using a hand-held balloon pump:
“I want mouth refreshener with some new air.”


Natalie woke up on the ship to a Matrioshka doll t-shirt from the Tooth Fairy.
“Where do you think the Tooth Fairy got it? China, or a real place?”

“Why don’t they just make a New Yorky road? Even though it’s a free massage. Ew.”

“Is Pennsylvania shaped like a pencil?” No. “Then why is it called Pencilvania?”

On the tour bus: “Why are you taking notes? Look around.”

Mom: “Want some gum?”
Natalie: “Is it Trendint?”

Trying on a sailor hat in the outdoor museum gift shop: “I AM cute.”

After finding Euro coins on the ground:
“I once found a quarter duggen in the ground in the soccer field at school.”

Giving kisses to Dad, back in our stateroom after the tour:
“And last, but not un-not least, I mean, unlast but least, mwa.”

Mom: “Don’t sigh at me.”
Natalie: “I didn’t. I just needed a big breath.”


Natalie: “Do olives grow with the holes in them?”
Mom: “No, they take the pits out.”
Natalie: “Very fashionable.”

To Ksenia, our tour guide:
“Well if you want to go to an English-speaking continent, go to New York.”


Four of the ice cubes are stuck. “It’s like they’re a maniac. Mmmm. Maniacly stuck.”

“Mom, do you know any Findish?”

“So, guys, what’s the big talk in Finland? What’s the gossip?”


“But I always wear clean underwear. When I’m wearing underwear.”

Getting ready for dinner:
“And be prepared for anything. You want to look cute when you’re in trouble, don’t you?”

“What’s a banana? Is it like apple, but banana instead?”


Natalie wants Dad to grow his beard.
“Yes. Just the beard. And all you have to do every day is wet it and put it into an evil triangle.”

We’re watching Star Wars again. Natalie asks why it’s called “A New Hope.” I tell her Luke is the new hope. “I thought it was Luke destroying the big building. You know, the bad moon thingie? I forget what it’s called.”

Me: “How did the droids just cross the corridor without getting shot?”
Natalie: “It’s a fictional thing, Mom. No one can really survive that.”

“It’s a me-college.” A collage. Jesus.

Natalie wants to know if there are drones flying over our country. I assure her there are not, and that soon there may be, but mostly for commercial purposes – like Amazon dropping packages over your house. But if they start flying robot planes to watch us, it might be time to move to another country. Natalie worriedly wants to know which country. Canada, maybe, or France, I say. “But I don’t know how to speak Canadan.” True.

We didn’t have glow sticks when we were kids.
“Woww. How did you live? Really tough.”

Natalie is enjoying my belly as a pillow.
Natalie: “Mom, I’m sorry to say this, but when you die–“
Me: “You want to keep my stomach as a pillow?”
Natalie: “Let me keep your stomach and make it into a waterbed for my baby.”

We had such a lovely evening on July 5. While Daddy was Skyping around 8:15, I surprised Natalie by opening her door and asking if she wanted to go out with me for pancakes. Since we were going to her favorite diner, and her bedtime is supposed to be 8:30, this was a real treat. A few minutes after we ordered our food, Daddy showed up for surprise #2. He’d only been guessing where we’d gone. On the way home, we had to pull over to watch unexpected fireworks for surprise #3, and Daddy had bought some Perry’s ice cream for surprise #4. Not bad.
During the fireworks, I heard a sigh. I asked Natalie if she was bored. “No. I was sighing of the beauty.” Oh, okay. “Some sighs are good, some sighs are bad. Like, some people sigh when they’re going to say, ‘Will you marry me?’ It’s mostly boys asking girls to marry them, right?”
I noted how some of the upward fireworks squiggles look like sperm. Natalie reminded me how she used to think that boy sperm had black ties and girl sperm had pink bows. “And they had little phony smiles.” Yes, that’s how they charm the bouncer.

Natalie’s still up. She’s getting an ice cube to suck in a washcloth. “It just drains my heart. It just kind of makes my heart feel cold, and when it makes my heart feel cold, it makes me feel like it’s nighttime, and it makes me go to sleep. Get it?”

I’m trying to go to bed and shut down the house, but poor Natalie is still awake and wants to keep Perry with her. “I need a furry friend to go to sleep. I’m just having birthdayophobia. I just can’t decide what to do for my birthday. I’m thinking maybe Ciccotti Center.”

Natalie purposefully barreled into me on the grass at The Crossings and grinned like a maniac. “I fell you over.”

We heard a LOT of screeching on the phone from Natalie’s room on July 22. Natalie explained:
“Ana said her father was tap-dancing in his underwear. She said he’s soo hairy, you could fit a billion people in it. Like, if you made a blanket of it, you could fit a billion people under it. She might be exaggerating, but she’s probably right.”

We’re talking about self-reflection and the pros & cons of re-living the moments when we’ve been wronged and have wronged others. We need to feel bad about our bad behavior, because otherwise, what would we all be doing? “We’d all be punching each other,” says Natalie. Right! “We’d all be huffing and puffing each others’ houses down.” Exactly.

Isn’t your room easier to pick up after the last major cleaning and purging? I ask. No, says the girl, because without all the mess, the room lacks all those places to cheat by hiding things.

Pam and Natalie are upstairs playing with Zoltan the Fortune Teller.
Natalie: “Yay! My fears are real.”
Pam: “What?”
Natalie: “It says my fears are real that my friend Liesl wants to live with me.”
Two minutes later: “Hooray! Liesl decided not to live with me!”
…”I won’t live with Liesl!”

“Mom, that red shirt is outstandingly beautiful! It’s amazing! Do they have that in kid size?” It’s a layered sleeveless rayon top for work. From BJ’s. Where I got a whole bunch of clothing today, and it all fit without benefit of a dressing room. I think it’s finally time to take a deep breath and give in to Truth. My name is Laura, and I will never fit into classy clothes. I am a middle-aged table-top threads lady. I’m fat enough, I’m flat enough, and doggone it, people, Like me!

Too many crackers.
Mom: “Go get some vegetable.”
Natalie: “Or fruit?”
Mom: “No. Vegetable.”
Natalie: “But that has NATURAL sugar, not REAL sugar.”

Natalie doesn’t like sad songs unless they’re big and joyful. (Schadenfreude?)

“Mom, can you look up the most famous country in the world?” She amended it to “popular” when I teased her on the word “famous.” And it turns out that France seems to be the most popular destination.

Natalie is telling someone on the phone about the cruise. “I’ve never been on the subway here, but I went on a plain old train in Russia. And it was fun to stand up when it stopped. …And it was 200 Euros, which is 300 in Human…not Human, I mean American dollars. …I can’t tell the name, because it was in Russian and I can’t write in…I can’t write European writing. …No no no no no, I don’t want to be bald. …I have more than a thousand dollars, but THAT is for COLLEGE. …I asked my grandparents how much the cruise was. And they actually told me. It was a thousand and fifty dollars.”

Natalie tossed a washcloth across the table.
Mom: “Do that again and you’ll be invited to leave for the night.”
Natalie: “Invited…which I’ll RSVP ‘no’.”

Natalie: “Can you convince Mom not to want me to eat this slimy stuff?”
Dad: “I can’t convince Mommy to do ANYTHING.”
Natalie: “Will you at least try? It’s for my life. I might get sick with this stuff.”
So much for Trader Joe’s pad see ew. To be fair, it was extra slimy this night. I went to do the dishes. She had said she’d finished. I asked if there was any green left on the plate. I got a definitive “no.” Boy, was that untrue. Why doesn’t she secretly throw out her scraps like a normal kid?

Mom: “People are loving her picture.”
Natalie: “Whose picture?”
Mom: “Yours.”
Natalie: “Let me see. Was what me doing?”

We’re making dream catchers. “I have my own technique. Everyone has their own technique…doesn’t — they?” Uh – right. “I do my own technique, okay? So don’t try to blame my technique on being its own technique.”

We took the training wheels off and had a driveway session. Realizing Natalie needs a new bike, we went to Toys Я Us. There were lots of little kid bikes… …muttered the girl: “Where are the grown-er…?”

“Why is Riley so perfect-made? She just shines at the right time. And she has a big booom. (Gesture suggesting a curved beak.) And she likes to bite you.”

The Pottery Place.
Natalie: “Why can’t we go to Painting Pottery?”
Mom: “We’ve gone a lot. It’s a lot for a bowl or a horse that doesn’t get used. It’s expensive; that’s why I don’t want to do it.”
Natalie: “The more the merrier. Pottery is expensive. It’s special.”

Mom: “I smell it.”
Natalie: “I don’t. I think my nose needs repairing.”

Biking is like a religion to people who love it, I said They feel strongly about it. “I don’t feel strongly. I feel tired.” I laughed at this one, and Natalie wanted to know why. “What, wordplay?” Yes. “Thank you. I’m trying to get good at grownup stuff.”

New power toothbrush. “The other one was running out of goodness. It used to do so many things.”

Natalie’s wearing sweats I bought ages ago at Target but hadn’t fit until now. I’m so glad! I say, and that sparks a rant o’ gibberish. “I’m glad as well…I guess. I guess I’m glad. Why would I be glad? They’re just pants. In some countries, they’re naked, but wear clothing in the shower. They’re not that popular, wearing pants.”

Natalie wants me to put Lizzy’s sweater on Perry. I refuse in order to save Perry’s dignity. She wants to know what dignity is. I say it’s not making someone look like a fool. “Oh, he doesn’t look like a fool. He looks like a fluff. He looks like a ball of fluff.”

Kid wants to know about the equator since its the hottest place on earth. I say it’s not necessarily, and I look up other places. Trouble starts when I read about Death Valley. “That means I’ll die there. It has death in its name.”

The second I get home, Natalie’s making something out of soda bottles and drafting me. She’s got everything arranged. “I’m going to get the basics done, but we’re all going to pitch in to decorate it.” I’m tired.

I don’t like the lime in my cabbage salad. Since Daddy gave Natalie plain dry cabbage, she’s safe from the horror. “I don’t taste lime. I taste potato tots.”

“In a jippy.” What? “In a jippy. Jipsy. Jipsy.”

Offputting Haiku by Natalie (Mom’s title)
(This was from school: “A long time ago, when it was April. ‘Cause April was National Poetry Month.”)

Six littel ponys
Runing around a big tree
The tree falls oh no

DaD is playing the
Bango wich thow(n?) dose not sound good
It is not my fult

Mom taks pichurs all
the time now im Blind oh no
now it is her fult

Natalie thinks this $1 bill must be really old. I ask her what year it says. “I don’t know, but this one’s not even our president right now.” Oh god.

Natalie was playing with her shopping cart full of fake food. Dad didn’t hear what led up to the conversation she was having with herself, but he was able to report this much:
“What are you doing?”
“No, WHAT are you doing?”
“That’s what I’m doing! I’m doing FINE!”

We think “fighting for peace” is odd. “Yeah, ’cause then you’re not putting on peace. If they want peace, why don’t they just act peace? Some people can’t hold their peace in.”

“Stroking his teddybearness always helps. Stroke his teddybearness, or it won’t work.”

Natalie was gushing and moaning about Perry’s amazing paws. Daddy technically doesn’t like Perry, but to be amiable, he agreed that they’re very good paws. But Natalie knew better. “You’re not as dazzled by them as I am.”

Mom snaps an awesome picture of Natalie wearing her sorting hat while watching the sorting hat decide the children’s fate at Hogwart’s.
Natalie: “Don’t post it.”
Mom: “Could I pay you to post it?”
Natalie: “How much?”
Mom: “Fifty cents!”
Natalie: “”
Mom: “A quarter!”
Natalie: “Okay.”
I don’t know if I won or lost!

Natalie: “Perry just burped.”
Mom: “”Aw. Then I love him even more.”
Natalie: (sigh) “Sometimes I wonder about you, Mom.”

First viewing of The Empire Strikes Back.
Han has just kissed Leia: “Oh no no come on please no.”
Vader says he’s Luke’s father: “Uh. Whuh. No way.”
Almost at the end: “Scary movies sometimes make me need to go pee. And I need to go pee.”
“Why is Darth Vader so weird?”

Mom: “Did you feed Flippy tonight?”
Natalie: “Ohh…no.”
Mom: “I’m not happy about that. You’re going to feed him first thing in the morning. I’m not lying down with you; I’m just kissing you goodnight.”
Natalie: “What? Did you say something about a fish or something?”
Mom: “Yes. I asked if you fed Flippy tonight.”
Natalie: “Oh. Yes. I did. Sorry, I was just drowsing off.”

“I’d rather be Darth Vader’s son than be alone on the couch doing nothing.”

Natalie to Ana on the phone, regarding the class play:
“You broke a leg, but didn’t literally break a leg. We broke an air leg.”

Mad Libs in the car.
Natalie: “Give me a verb ending in -ing.”
Mom: “Um…verbing?”
Natalie: “I need a gerund.”
Daddy is agog.

“I need the nouniest noun ever nouned a noun.”

Mom: “I need a city.”
Natalie: “New York State.”

No one is agog.

We’re going to watch Return of the Jedi in a few minutes. Natalie can’t wait ANOTHER MINUTE to find out if Vader is really Luke’s father. She thinks he was lying to get Luke to come to him, so he could kill him.
Mom: “Could be. But maybe, if Darth Vader really is Luke’s father, he wants him to come to the Dark Side, to be powerful and help him stay in power. He didn’t seem to want to kill Luke.”
Natalie: “Well then, why were they both doing lightsavers, and trying to kill each other then?”
Mom: “Well…there is that.”
Natalie: “Babababababa, I won, I got the point.”

I have to use a baby wipe on Natalie’s neck to remove the cheap necklace metal stain. Natalie wishes I would wipe her more gently. She demonstrates and I do it back for her. “Wow. Feels so cloudy. But clear. Cloudy clear. Foggy.”

Mom: “Do you think you have enough books on the bed?”
Natalie shakes her head: “I want my room to be made of them. Made of open books.”

Natalie on compassion toward others:
“…Or I just leave them alone. So they can have time alone and make a force field of happiness.” Where did that idea come from? “I made that up a couple of weeks ago.”

Last day of school! “I think I’m in the doldrums.” She’s been reading The Phantom Tollbooth.

Mommy: “Daddy, we should have cauliflower some time next week.”
Natalie: “Oh no. Ohh no. You’ll ruin my life if you do that.”

I guess we’ve overcoddled the child. She made toast for herself in the morning and was shocked to burn herself trying to take it out of the toaster. She hadn’t known that it heats up the bread without cooling it off for you to remove it. She said she’s never using a toaster again. I said she wouldn’t be having much toast in her life. She said Daddy would make it for her.

I’m dressed for the Pride Parade, with my colorful earrings and my rainbow necklace. “Do I look gay enough?” I ask my family. Says Natalie, admiringly: “You look more gay than ever.”

I encouraged Natalie to give a few of her parade goodies to a little girl at Ramona’s Cafe. After she did it, she started getting this beatific look on her face. She said it felt really good to share. Later she said she was feeling so good to be generous. We kvelled and talked about how the giver gets something too. Later I told Daddy how lovely it was that Natalie was feeling the generous. “I think it’s ‘feel the generosity’.” Aw, she’s generous with the grammar critique too. Just like her Mommy.

Mom told Daddy: “There were an awful lot of churches in the parade.”
And Natalie said: “Heyy. Anything can support gay. And anyone.”

Natalie is explaining something to Perry about exploding into a Supernova or a Just Plain Nova.

It’s late, after bedtime, and Natalie hadn’t said goodnight to me before going to her room. I knocked and opened her door, and she came running to greet and hug me. I asked if she ran because she was hiding something she didn’t want me to see. She admitted as much: there were toys on the bed. I told Natalie that grownups are smarter than she thinks, and that I know when she’s trying to hide something, and I thanked her for telling the truth. I shook her hand. “Can we shake with the other hand, even though its not traditional? Just, this shoulder still hurts. From this morning.”

I’m told that dress-up clothes strewn all over the room is called “Fashion All Over The Place.”

I sing a line written by The Simpsons’ Kirk Van Houten: “Can I borrow a feeling?”
Natalie doesn’t know the reference. “Yeah. What feeling do you want?”

Natalie had Dadspa’s help gluing magnets to decorated bottle caps which she intends to sell. “Be careful. They’re magnetized, and these magnets are super super super magnety.” Natalie couldn’t find gems to glue in there. I reminded her that she has tons of beads. “Mom. I don’t want to make them TOO creative!”

“I want you to have that beauty. I want you to have that beauty of niceyness.”

“I hate blinking. I hate missing out on stuff.”

I try to reassure the child, yet again, that we need bees to survive. “I know, but they don’t have to sting. And they could always look like a cartoony bee.”

Natalie: “I remembered to turn off the bathroom light.”
Dad: “Very good.”
Natalie: “I should get a nickel for every time I do it.”
Mom: “Hell no! It’s something we expect you to do.”
Natalie: “Yeah, but I almost never do it. What?! I almost never turn off the light. …Stop laughing. It’s not funny.”

Lizzy spent a few days at Pam’s house after Natalie left her there accidentally. Natalie couldn’t stand waiting any longer, and Daddy brought her to retrieve the little one, whom Pam reports was crying the whole time. Natalie was grateful to have her back. She trashed her room and claimed that was the result of Lizzy’s welcome-back spa. She gave her a welcome-back party: “It’s not a party if you don’t teach someone to do the saltsa.” But Lizzy fell on a craft which subsequently needed re-re-gluing, and as punishment, Lizzy had to ride her bike. She doesn’t like riding her bike. Tonight Dad brought Lizzy to Natalie in bed. “Aww, Lizzy. Fella.” “…Fella?” asked Dad. “Lizzy actually likes being called Fella,” said Natalie.

I turn the bathroom lights off as Natalie is finishing her shower. There’s still plenty of natural light. “Why do you always do this to me? I feel like I’m a ghost.”

I introduced some Monty Python tonight which the girl enjoyed, but now it’s time for toothbrushing and bed.
Natalie: “I want to watch The Spanish Inquidixity. The Spanish Inquidixity! …Is it Spanish Inquidixity?”
Mom: “It might as well be.”

A bully in ParaNorman says “D-E-D dead!” I make sure to tell Natalie that’s not the right spelling. She says: “D-I-E-D dead.” No, that’s ‘died’, I say. It’s D-E-A-D. “Well, at least I got some kind of word.”

“Ow! You scratched my lumpygum. The lumpygum is where my grownup teeth are supposed to be.”

Strong contender for Quote of the Year comes from a discussion about Hamlet and his famous quote:
Mom: “Do you know about Hamlet? He believes his uncle killed his father and got with his mother, and he’s really depressed and angry.”
Natalie: “Yeah.”
Mom: “And he’s thinking about death and he says: To be or not to be: that is the question.”
Natalie: “I thought it was: ‘You killed my father. Prepare to die.'”

Taco Tuesdays, both ways. “I don’t like it as much as the hard ones. It’s not my thing. You’ll be hearing me say that a lot, about broccoli.”

Dad says Adirondack Basement has not answered his calls. Natalie says she does NOT want to go back there. The rides were scary and there were spider webs everywhere. Um, that’s Adirondack Extreme, not Basement, I say. Well, she still doesn’t like it. The rides were too high. “I thought I was going to die.” That’s why they call it extreme, I tell her. “It doesn’t have to be THAT extreme!”

“I’m bad at everything except at being bad.”

At the end of “Book Report” from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Linus says “Amen.”
Natalie wants to know why he says “Ah, Man!”

June 25: A big moment happened at about 8:37PM. Natalie lost her first tooth naturally. (The first four, on the bottom, only came out in surgery.) She’s having some drama. “How will I ever eat again??” Pain, tears, more tears…Orajel’s your best friend, I’m telling you, I said. “No it’s not. My best friend was having that tooth.” Okay. “This HAS been one of the worst days ever except for Emily leaving my life.” She burned her finger in cooking camp, and now this.

Natalie wanted a soft breakfast. Daddy suggested letting cereal sit in the milk for a minute. “Okay. I just want to go easy on my tooth. Not my tooth. Didn’t you want to do that when you were a kid? Let it go easy on a day?”

Mom: “Is that what you’re wearing today?”
Natalie: “Maybe not the pants. Those were just night comforting pants.”

Natalie says I have to put on pants to go to work.
“For once I’m true about something.”

“Daddy, do you think there are any disadvantages on drawing or computering instead of acting in movies?”
“You could spend a living playing with dolls.”
“Mom, can you look up books that don’t have movies to go with them?”

I’m making stereotypical toothless mouth and tongue movements. “Do you have a brain problem to do that? I have not met a man who could do that. Or a woman. Do that all day at work.”

Natalie’s helping me clean. We’re going through the mess on the drop-off and getting rid of expired coupons. I give her a nickel to put in the change bowl. She starts saying something vague about whether it’s expired. Coins don’t expire, I tell her. “I thought coins expire after a hundred thousand years or so.” There weren’t any coins then. “What about a thousand years ago?” Those can’t be used now, but they’re worth way more. “Where are the ex-pie-ration thingies?” You mean the coupons? “Yeah.”

“This is fun! Trying to find ex-pie-ration dates.”

“The sky had never seemed so sky; the world had never seemed so world.” Neil Gaiman, Coraline
“It just looks so…The sky looks like sky and the world looks like world today.” Natalie, Coraline fan

“I just get kind of fussy if I don’t eat for a while.”

Don’t juge a
man’s aperance,
But his hart

“Finally, I’m wearing an actual sassy girl outfit.”

Mom: “Birds are nothing if not funny.”
Natalie: “And Riley is funny if not nothing.”

Daddy served After Eight Cake. “Happy Friday!”
Natalie: “There’s a holiday called Good Friday. I think this is a good Friday.”

When I tell the kid to clean her room, and then I walk by and she immediately closes the door, I call shenanigans. Sight unseen.

The kids are doing “Once on This Island.”
“Which looks more islandy? This, this, or this?”

Daddy is reading aloud. Natalie just heard that Voldemort probably transferred some of his powers when he gave Harry his scar.
“Uhhhhhhh. I could faint if I was older.”

Daddy: “Why didn’t you eat your bagel at lunch?”
Natalie: “Ohh…it just is not to my liking. It can be not to my liking.”

Breaking News: Natalie’s friend Emily from camp loves death, ex-boyfriend stuff, and parts of the body. “She’s creepy. But fun. And cute.” That’s your friend at Drama Camp? “Yup. She is drama. She belongs there. Don’t you think she belongs there?” Yes. Yes I do. Natalie says Emily made something and said: “This is my ex-boyfriend’s head.” Emily is NINE.

Mom: “If you want some donut tonight, then I’d say no maple syrup on that waffle.”
Natalie: “Okay. It’s just, maple syrup makes me tempted. That’s the problem.”

Natalie’s decorating her lemonade stand.
Natalie: “How do you spell ‘lemon’?”
Mom: “How do you think it’s spelled?”
Natalie: “Um, I have, I guess, no idea. It starts with l…m…a-d-e?”

Natalie’s school’s bumper sticker on my car is cracked and wrinkled. “Once that one kills out, you better put a new one in its place.”

“I don’t like when I have short hair. How did I live the coldness?”

“I can tell tonight is going to be a very unsleepable night. Because I’m going to have stage fright.” Tomorrow’s the school preview of Once on This Island.

Natalie: “It’s nine-oh-ten.”
Mom: “Did you just said it’s nine-oh-ten? Did I just say ‘did you just said’?”
Dad: “Yes.”
Natalie: “I understand you. I underSTANDED you.” Grins.

I sang three words of “One Small Girl” from Natalie’s show. Natalie was surprised. “You’ve really been listening, for once.”

“Tomorrow’s going to be very fun. But very stage fright.”

“You’re going to love Once on This Island even though there are some pretty intense parts.”

Mom: “I’m happy because Natalie is being bitten by the theater bug.”
Natalie: “I’m being bit by the stomach bug.”
Mom: “We understand. The theater bug goes hand in hand with the stomach bug. Everyone has the fright. But once they’ve been on stage, people keep going back.”
Natalie: “I feel like I would throw myself up. I’d eat myself and throw myself up.”

Gave the girl some Three Stooges on the morning of May 10. “I don’t see the funny of it.” Oh no. “I think I’m too young.” This is very concerning. I just heard a little chuckle from the other room. Phewf.

“I’m in bisnis” – Placard for drawing on Daddy’s face

Natalie had some yard gymnastics time. She began to put on some kind of Mother Nature ego show, singing about her power to make things happen on the earth. She began before the earth, millions of years ago. (I know, I know.) She makes the grass grow and the wind blow. She makes things do opposites: grow and shrink… “Negatives and positives. Opposites and…things that are not opposite. I haven’t made up that word yet.”

Natalie’s trying to read the “Free of” list on the almond milk: “lacoastey, caristial, peanuts, castian, gluten, eggs, standard fat, and MSG.”

“What are they called – wind mowers? Wind blowers?” Windmills.

Natalie’s class did a reading play on the water cycle as a lesson. Natalie read the script to me and explained which parts she had. She was Water Vapor #2. And “I was rain in Rah-day-nee-wah.” That’s Rwanda. “Pazikstan.” Pakistan.

Daddy made a fabulous dessert. Too fabulous. “Can we save the rest of mine for some day else? It’s so rich.”

May 17: Vaguely hostile gibberish, directed at Daddy:
“Time for a hug. With the stupid little love in you.”

Natalie and Pam discuss Ana.
Pam: “She’s really nice.”
Natalie: “Yeah. …You should see her after she eats candy.”
Pam: “She’s my doppleganger. Do you know what a doppleganger is?”
Natalie: “No.”
Pam: “It’s a person who walks the earth who looks just like you.”

Natalie and Pam do pretend play. Natalie married, then divorced Prince Liam…no, Prince Liam, Queen Natalie’s first husband’s son…she’ll only allow Princess Pam to marry someone to whom she’s been related…I don’t know what the hell they’re pretending now.

Daddy: “Okay, time to brush teeth.”
Natalie: “But I’ve heard that you are handsome. So I must stay with the handsomeness, and marry you. But we can’t have a baby.”

We’re choosing camp session themes at WHMS. Natalie likes one called Save the Planet. “I’m really trying to save the earth. So I really need to learn a lot about that.”

Natalie is not very interested in touring the Capitol. She doesn’t want to work in the government, so why would she want to go there? I explain that it’s every citizen’s duty to know how their government works so that they are not ignorant and know how to try to make change. We need to know who to write to, who to call. “I know who to call,” she says. “My parents, every few weeks when I’m a grownup.” She looks at me. “Every day? Every hour?” No. No!

“How do you LIVE with being a grownup? There’s SO much responsiBILity. I don’t know how you keep track of it all.”

“Why does a lawn mower, when it lawns the yard, leave some grass?”

I’m getting verklempt over Natalie’s outfit for the class play. She wrote some words on her shirt in permanent marker and did an uncharacteristically neat job, and for some reason I started tearing up. “Oh, oh, my baby!” I said. Natalie laughed. “Ha ha, my grownup!” She did several poses in the outfit. “I wanna do that every time I get a really cool outfit that you tear up in.”

Daddy:”It’s time for bed.”
Natalie: “I’m waiting for reading.”
Daddy: “Reading?! It’s an hour past your bedtime.”
Natalie: “Mf. I don’t really care.”
(You had to be there.)

New exclamation: “Oh my golly baloney!”

Natalie does not want to be over 50, like Daddy is. “I’m sorry that I don’t like your age, but, I kind of don’t want to be your age. It doesn’t feel like a girl age.”

Natalie: “They need to approve the feeling of chalk.”
Mom: “They do?”
Natalie: “Mm hm. Very much. Very much.”

I kiss Natalie’s cheek and am overcome with the smell of her skin. “I’m nuts for you,” I whisper. “I’m nuts for you too,” she says. “But I hold it in.”

May 24: Natalie is still not interested in Star Wars. Daddy describes the characters. “Isn’t there a big black one that’s bad?” Yes, that’s Darth Vader. We talk about the breathing apparatus. “That sounds so scary. Why can’t he be rainbow colored?” She wants glitter, too…And she AGREED TO WATCH IT! We’re watching, we’re watching, on the eve of the 37th anniversary of the release of Star Wars in theaters!!
“Where are the lightsavers?”
The jawas zap R2-D2. “I knew those were bad eyes.”
R2-D2’s message has just played for Ben and Luke, who look at each other. “Pregnant pause.” Tee hee.
Owen and Beru are dead. “Do they really have to die in the movie?” No. “Do they just go offstage?” Yes.
C-3PO to RD-D2: “You watch your language.” Says Natalie: “He doesn’t have much of a language.”
Natalie is frustrated. She says Darth needs to die in this one. Now she’s talking to Obi Wan. “Just kill him when he’s not expecting it, why don’tcha. Just kill him when he doesn’t expect it.”

It’s over, the Death Star has been destroyed!
Natalie’s impressions:

“I think they should have been married. They’re perfect.”
“It’s not my favorite, but I like it, but it’s still not my favorite.”

“I think I was too young for this. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Mom: “Go back and brush again. You’re supposed to brush for two minutes.”
Natalie: “You brush your teeth super fast.”
Mom: “Yes, and look how many cavities I get.”
Natalie: “You don’t get any cavities.”
Mom: “Yes I do.”
Natalie: “No you don’t.”
Mom: “I just had a cavity filled a few weeks ago.”
Natalie: “Well, why don’t you tell me these things?”

“Welcome to Natalie’s Super Spa. I can do anything you want. Except do nothing at all.” The headbands come out. “I think these will all be cutes.” I end up with metallic baby blue lips and a pink leopard headband. Luckily for Daddy, the Super Spa continues. “You look so unusual with sparkle.” I help out with some blush and a headband. “Oh my god, that looks so handsome. He’s going to the ball or something.”

“I am the mayo…INFINITY.”

“I don’t understand how Spanish people understand Spanish. They’re all speaking Spanish. I can’t understand anything.” We were watching Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time, and those were Nazis speaking.

At Ramona’s Cafe, I made the girls eat some broccoli along with the french toast, because that’s the kind of harridan I am. Elly’s was cooked, like a normal person’s, while Natalie’s was cold as per her preference. Elly said her mom WANTS her to have the syrup on the french toast. I laughed at her and said eat your broccoli. Elly ate her broccoli first and finished off her french toast with lightning speed. Natalie was slower because the french toast was hot. “Anything warmer than french fries, and foof. I make a fuss.” Then I had to listen to how old Daddy and Cindy and I look. Elly was amazed that Natalie’s dad is 55: “To me he looks like he’s in his teens. You look like you’re in your forties.” Thanks, kid. “You look like you’re in your fifties.” Time to shut up, now.

The girls made a fairy house at The Radix Center.
Natalie: “Fairies do NOT like human makings.”
Elly: “Wow. You do know a lot about fairies.”

“Sometimes I’m never happy and never sad. Like somewhere in between. I don’t know what to call that. I guess maybe just ‘human’.”

Would You Rather
Mom: “Would you rather…go to school in your underwear, or kiss all the boys in your class in front of everyone?”
Natalie: “AAAGGHH. I’d…rather kiss all the boys. BUT I WON’T.”

Mom: “I’m going to take a shower.”
Natalie: “Good idea.”

Natalie: “Mom. Look up how many molecules there are on Earth.”
Daddy: “Oh, I would think there are at least…36.”
Mom: “Please. There’s at least a few dozen.”
Daddy: “Oh, well…38.”
Natalie: “I think it’s at least, um, more than a billion? I think Dad is totally offhand.”

Hearing random words from the kid’s shower: “…permanently.” “…will fly away.”

“Please don’t smile and marvel at my hair. It doesn’t look good.”

“How can people love me with such a weird voice?”

Mom: “Mommy loves.”
Natalie: “Natalie–gives you regards.”

Mom: “What are your hopes for the last couple of weeks of school?”
Natalie: “No fighting at recess for once.”
Dad: “That’s a great goal.” :-/

“Scratching a dog’s bottom neck right here calms them down.”

“Mom, is Darth Vader Jewish?”

I think that license plate is from Maryland. “Maryland? Maryland is not a name.”

School field trip a while back: “I got to dress up in clothes from a long time ago, like when the women used to work for the men.”

Mom: “How was the diner for you tonight?”
Natalie: “Um…medium. Not my favorite. Too much you talking. Not enough me talking.”

“My body’s not letting me eat so I’ll be ready for Ana’s birthday party. It’s not my outside fault. It’s not my thinking fault. It’s my inside fault.”

Daddy: “Very nice of you to make Mommy’s coffee for her.”
Natalie: “Well, I try.”

I get some help decorating my eggs with sriracha. I lick some off my finger.
Natalie: “Uhh! How can you like that stuff? So spicy.”
Mom: “I didn’t used to. Tastes change.”
Natalie: “Kind of. But not with tomato. If you’re born not liking them, you don’t.”

April 21:
Natalie burped. This is not a problem for me, but Daddy commented on it, so I said: “Yeah. Don’t be disgusting at the table,” and I showed her the food in my mouth. Then Daddy rammed his finger up his nose. Natalie claimed high ground. “I’m actually being distinguished instead of picking my nose or showing the stuff in my mouth.” Distinguished seems to be the word of the week. Then she waxed poetic about how good it feels right after a burp. “You get half a moment of freshness, and then it goes away. Like snow in the winter.”

Natalie’s wearing her full school outfit, a dress with pants underneath, for a bike ride around the block. I tell Daddy how she did a great, very well-controlled slow fall off her bike.
Natalie: “You’re scaring me.”
Mom: “The only thing to be scared of is messing up your dress. Next time you ride your bike, wear pants.”
Natalie: “I am wearing pants.”
Mom: “Natalie. What did I mean?”
Natalie: “Not to wear a dress.”
Mom: “Did you know what I meant?”
Natalie: “…Yeah.”
Mom: “Then why did you have to correct me?”
Natalie: “It was a second-hand thought.”

April 22:
“I’m going to go out with the umbrella. I just feel like I need some fresh daylight. And, it’s day right now, so, good timing, right? Bye. See ya.”

April 24:
Dad: “Where’s the pencil that was in here?”
Natalie: “It’s here. Sorry. I didn’t know it meant much to you.”

Natalie: “Can we have a no-hair day?”
Mom: “No.”
Natalie: “Why?”
Mom: “Because your hair is messy.”
Natalie: “Why?”
Mom: “Because you slept on it in bed.”
Natalie: “Why?”
Mom: “Because it was nighttime.”
Natalie: “Why?”
Mom: “Because the earth is spinning and careening through space.”
Natalie: “Why?”
Mom: “Because of the Big Bang.”
Natalie: “Why?”
Mom: “We don’t know.”

Natalie: “I hate these mornings.”
Mom: “The ones where you get up?”
Natalie: “Yeah. I hate these ones and I love the other ones. I have so much to do, and you’re kind of pressuring me.”

April 25:
Dad sings some of Bert’s chimney gibberish from Mary Poppins.
Natalie: “That’s weird.”
Mom: “Your mom and dad are weird. Get used to it.”
Natalie: “But I don’t want to get used to it. If I get used to it, I’ll get used to it. And I don’t want to get used to it.”
She’s in for a rough ride.

April 26:
Mom is playing with a slinky. “Ooh, cool. Your job should be doing that in front of a stage.” #easily impressed

“Is there any way we can prevent the global from warming, of, and stuff?”

Natalie loves having a Fake Aunt.
Dad: “Yes. Everyone needs a Cindy.”
Natalie: “No. Not everyone deserves one.”

I wore my biker jacket. Natalie hadn’t seen it on me for a while, I guess, because she was blown away. “I love your coat. You look so fancy.”

April 27:
Mom: “Keep whining. See what happens.”
Natalie (whinily/weepingly): “Well, you can’t stop the whine until someone makes you laugh.”

April 28:
I’m taking more trampoline pics so Natalie will have a better Harry Potter flying pic which Daddy can photoshop onto a Quiddich background. She looks at some of my close-up glamour shots. “Oh. I was thinking of more impressive of myself.” Then, while flipping: “I’m saying: Slam like silk through a needle. It gives you so much power.”

On the phone with Grandma Dotty:
“Well, I love YOU so much that you’ll never guess too. …Mm hm…Oh, I think so….Noo…Mom gives me ten extra minutes because I let her take pictures of my hair…No, I let her make a deal with ME.”

April 29:
The kids are supposed to wear tacky pants and white shirts to theater rehearsal on Thursday. Natalie says ‘tacky’ means tan.

Daddy: “No one could ever make another Natalie.”
Natalie: “Yes you could. In a factory – in your penis.


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