Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Lauren and Lindsay, October 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Too much already figured out

We started giving Lauren an allowance several weeks ago. She has a chore list, and earns 25 cents per completed chore, with the potential of earning just over $10 per week. A far cry from the dollar I earned at age 6.

Of the $10, a dollar goes to the charity of her choice. This week, it is going to UNiCEF. Last week, she put it in her offering envelope for church. She has also put money into the school food drive for our district's needy families for their Thanksgiving dinner.

Half goes into her Orange Savings account, which is earning a paltry 3% interest these days.

The other half, she can spend as she chooses, this week she bought a bag of candy corn (kandy korn?) and a Littlest Pet Shop toy.

This conversation ensued about her spending money...

"Mom, can I really spend my money on whatever I want?"

"Sure. You can buy a box of Fruit Loops (not a cereal we usually get) or a candy bar if you want. Or save it up a few weeks and buy a DS game...whatever you want..."


"Yep. The only two things you can't buy with it are cigarettes and beer."


"Because cigarettes are very bad for you..."

"Yes, I know that..."

"And the State of New Jersey says you are too young to drink beer."

"Yes. But you said I get to spend my savings money when I am in college."

"Yep. You can use it to help you buy a car, or maybe pay for stuff you need at school..."

"Well, then I will use it to buy beer."

Yes, I guess you will.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


On Tuesdays, we sort at the thrift shop. Though it is a lot of work, it is tremendously rewarding to leave two hours after we arrived as we stand back to observe neatly organized toys and racks full of clothes. It seems to be my job, besides to oversee the children's section, to encourage. I cheer on, and always applaud at the end of our time - Look how much we accomplished! - because otherwise, it's work never done.

Juliana also volunteers at the thrift shop. I don't know how old she is. My guess is probably in her 70s. Her job, besides to stock the women's racks, is to keep things light. She often will put a crazy outfit over her clothes and model it on her petite frame. "What do you think, girls?" she'll say, tossing a scarf over her shoulder with a flourish. "Is it me?"

"Gorgeous, Juliana."

"I'm so glad. And now, it is time for my cigarette break..."

At church, she always comes over to my family during the passing of the peace, she squeezes my hand in her cool palm. "Are you coming on Tuesday?"

"I hope so," I always reply.


There is something about Juliana: her slight frame, her coiffed hair, or her girlish silliness that reminds me of another, much younger Juliana. Who it warms my heart to think of as an old woman still making people laugh with her spontaneous sense of humor.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


We have a metal basket in our front hall for shoes. It works out well - it's very unusual Chez Stoll to have to hunt down shoes.

Lindsay took off her sneakers when we got home from dropping off Lauren at school this morning. "Put your sneakers in the shoe basket," I reminded her.

"Yes. I know. And I put my socks in the sock basket."

The sock basket? "Ok." I replied.

When I went back into the living room, I passed the shoe bin and noticed her sneakers neatly placed on top. She'd also neatly placed her socks on the top of the dirty laundry. The sock basket.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lauren playing soccer

Her feet don't even touch the ground when she runs, see? I think she is running sprints between the sidelines here...

More Lindsay

"No hitting, Lindsay."

"Sorry, Mommy."

"If you can't stop hitting, you're going to get a time out. Do you want a time out?"

"No, thanks."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

According to Lindsay

"Did you want a snack?"

"Yes, I'm hungry. Please get a bee-ah."

"You want a banana?"

"Yes. I need a bee-ah, please."

"Ok. Do you want to eat it like a monkey?"

"No. I want to eat it like a tiger."

I blinked. Like a tiger? Whole, skin and all? I didn't suggest this aloud. "How does a tiger eat a banana?"

"Cut up on a plate."


Thursday, October 09, 2008

With the webcam

Turning this over in my mind

When I was 19, I worked for a professor babysitting his two kids. His son was 6, and his daughter was 8. Every day, I took the T out to the suburbs, picked them up from school, walked them home, gave them a snack and helped them with their homework.

I smoked back then, something that didn't come up until some time later because they hadn't asked. It didn't smoke in front of their kids. I think it came up because I'd left something in their car, and they returned to the train station where I was having a cigarette while waiting on the T back into the city. They were unhappy about it...and I recall after I left the job after a year, that the posting for the next sitter said "nonsmokers only".

When I met the sitter who watches my girls, since one of her jobs was to feed them dinner, I let her know that we don't do food punishments or rewards in our house. If the kids don't want to eat something, they aren't made to. If there is dessert, they get it regardless of how much dinner they ate. I explained the reasons why, and she said it wasn't something she'd thought about before.

As she was leaving on Tuesday evening, she mentioned in passing that she was on her way to the gym. "Wow, it's late" I replied. "I like working out in the morning.'

"Yeah, I worked out this morning."


"I'm trying to fit into this dress I bought for a wedding. I have to lose 15 pounds in 3 weeks, so I am going to the gym twice a day."

I think my jaw dropped. I realized I hadn't seen until that moment under her "college wear" - loose-fitting jeans and hoodie, that she had lost quite a bit of weight since last I saw her. I guess even if I had noticed, it's been a few months.

I replied quickly that I'd just dropped off a couple of dresses I'd worn before I was pregnant to formal affairs at the church thrift shop, and I was sure if she went in with $5 she could buy one of them which would cheaply and easily be altered to fit her in 3 weeks time. She smiled politely but it was clear that she was still heading for the gym.

There's a normalcy of this behavior. Plenty of women who I know lose huge amounts of weight to look good in a dress or wedding pictures or whatever. This sort of behavior is praised. I tried not to sound like the professor's wife, but I was entirely at a loss for words.