Wednesday, December 31, 2008

If You Promise To Watch My Video, I Promise NOT To Sing Auld Lang Syne

As years go, 2008 was, like most years, good and bad. We try to focus on the good and move through the bad.

We started the year with Meredith as a crawling infant and we end it with a full fledged kid, running everywhere she goes. Jamie's severe nut allergy shows signs of waning and the doctor is cautiously optimistic that despite odds being against it, he may outgrow the allergy. Sabrina continues to be a voracious reader - the one trait she's inherited from me that doesn't drive me insane.

Like almost everyone else, we are worried about the economy and where it will take us. There was a Doris Day song my Grandma played for me when I was a little girl that said "Que Sera, Sera. Whatever Will Be Will Be." Good advice and only slightly less annoying a song than "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

And yet, words to live by.

2008 from Irishembi on Vimeo.

Friday, December 26, 2008

If You Own A Pair Of Testicles, Move Along, There's Nothing To See Here

I know you guys are all enlightened and crap these days. You've learned that it is possible to buy a box of tampons without having your balls shrivel and fall off. And even if the cashier has to do a price check, you are confident that nobody will mistakenly assume they are for you.

But when we actually start talking menstrual mechanics and er, specifics, you men still go all squiggly eyed and green around the gills and back nonchalantly yet quickly out of earshot.

Fair warning. I am about to overshare.

Yesterday we went to my Mom's and during dinner I suddenly felt that icky trickling sensation that any girl over the age of 13 knows means to head for the nearest bathroom immediately. Holding a purse over your butt if you have the misfortune to be wearing white pants at the time.

I visited the bathroom to confirm what I already knew. Aunt Flo and Uncle Red were visiting for Christmas and they're messy houseguests.

I am a confirmed Divacup convert, but said Divacup was residing at home being ecologically sound and completely useless in practical applications since it was in fact nowhere near my vagina. Therefore I found myself sadly lacking supplies. Did I mention my Mom is menopausal?

I immediately began to consider alternate uses for Pampers, size 4. However it was 3:00 in the afternoon, we were going to be there for quite a few more hours and Meredith hadn't pooped yet that day.

I felt using the one and only spare diaper for my own purposes was tempting the wrath of the Poop Gods.

I considered appropriating one of her towels but didn't think my Mom would appreciate my decidedly un-Martha Stewart transformation of wash rag to, well, RAG rag.

I ransacked the closet hoping I had left behind a not-so-sentimental piece of my adolescence, but came up with nothing except that cursed waxing kit.

I did however discover a package of Depends.

Seems the sneezing and peeing thing won't be improving with the passage of time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

They Say That The Grinch's Small Heart Grew Three Sizes That Day

This year:

  • I will not wait until 10:00 p.m. to wrap all the gifts (the train may have left the station on that one already).
  • I will not tell Dave to "hand me the damn scissors already!"
  • I will not tell the children "That's it! Santa's not coming!" (But it's sooooooo effective...okay, no, won't do it.)
  • I will not snap at everyone to hurry up and get dressed and/or stop playing around and/or leave the damn cat alone and/or go pee and/or get your butt in the car when it is time to visit the in-laws this evening.
  • I will not make anyone cry by "calling Santa" (really? that one's effective too.....alright, alright, joy of Christmas and all that).
  • I will not tell anyone in a slightly (extremely) irritated tone of voice to "sit still and be quiet!" while we read the Advent Book tonight.
  • I will not yell at anyone when they get out of bed for the fifth time because they are too excited to sleep just because I need to get those @#$%!*#ing presents wrapped.
  • I will not tell them to go back to bed at 7:00 a.m. because Santa hasn't been here yet. Instead I will drink coffee and smile. Okay scratch the smiling part. That comes AFTER the coffee.
  • I will enjoy my children's excitement, laughter, and re-live the magic of Christmas vicariously. It is short lived and should be treasured. With or without coffee.
  • Definitely with coffee
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

XOXOXO - Irishembi and family

Monday, December 22, 2008

December 1969

It was a cold December night. She was 24 years old and this was her third baby in four years. Her three year old son and four year old daughter were at home with her mother. She wondered if it was for real this time.

She had been to the hospital a week ago with leaking waters and labor pains, but this little one had decided it wasn't quite time yet. It would be the first of the many ways this child would be contrary.

Could she really do this? Did she have a choice? She remembered the first time she went into labor and she announced to everyone around that she had changed her mind and didn't want to have a baby anymore. They had all laughed about it later, but it seemed a pretty reasonable thought now.

Many people had urged her not to have this child.

Her first two labors had been almost more than she could withstand, each lasting well into two full days. No one would know whether her son and daughter were handicapped as a result of the difficult labors, or if it was something else. Something that would also happen to this child.

Her history of labor said it would be quite some time before the baby arrived and her husband wasn't doing anyone any good sitting around the waiting room smoking cigarettes. Might as well head off to work.

Instead the child, a baby girl, would arrive that afternoon before anyone, including the doctor, was ready. When the doctor came blustering in long after the little girl had been taken to the nursery and she had been cleaned up he asked cheerfully "Well, how did we do?"

She wondered where he got the "we" from.

Thirty-nine years later that little girl has her own three children, coincidentally a girl, followed by a boy, followed by another girl.

Happy labor day Mom.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

And......There Goes The Last Of My Christmas Cheer

I know my last few posts have been rather "cranky" in tone.

I'm not done yet.

Yesterday I was running errands in the pouring rain. December rain is the most depressing, soul-flattening rain ever experienced. I had just gone to the specialty pet store to try out a new food for the panty-muncher who seems to think that pooing on the carpet is now welcome behavior, when I spied a Starbucks nearby.

I like coffee and have even described myself as something of a coffee snob. I am particular about my coffee, but simplistic in my expectations. It has to be good, it has to be strong, and it has to be hot. You'd be surprised how hard it is to obtain the last expectation ever since the Darwin Award runner-up won millions of dollars from a fast food chain because she spilled it on her crotch and was shocked to find that it was actually HOT, like it says RIGHT THERE ON THE CUP!

But Starbucks takes coffee snob to a whole different level.

I walked in and eyed the menu board to see what was on tap so to speak. It said right there to "ask what we're brewing today!"

So I approached the 19 year old "barista" behind the counter and asked exactly that. To be precise I said "What hot coffee do you have available?"

She said "Do you mean hot coffee?"

Is there an echo in here?

When I assured her that by asking for hot coffee I did indeed mean hot coffee, she stated that they had Pike Place coffee and Christmas Blend. I'm familiar with Pike Place coffee as this is the coffee they always have available and I usually purchase, but was intrigued by the Christmas Blend. So I used my own personal barometer question by which I judge most coffee, "Is it a strong coffee blend?" She answered in the affirmative, so I asked if it was stronger than the Pike Place coffee.

"Um, it's a bold blend with spicy notes."

Well I'm relieved to hear that it's assertive enough to ask me out on a date and will probably wear a sexy outfit.

"But is it stronger than the Pike Place coffee?"

"Um, it might be."

Very helpful. I'll take the Pike Place as I'm not feeling adventurous today.

"OK, give me a medium cup of the Pike Place."

You almost heard the hush blow through the place and a slight gasp from the trendy couple browsing the Internet on their matching laptops at the nearby uncomfortable but oh-so-urbane bistro style postage stamp size cafe table.

"Um, did you mean a Grande?"

I, assuming in my unenlightened mind that Grande meant "large" because that is actually what GRANDE translates to, said, "No I mean a medium." And considering Starbucks has it's origins in Seattle, Washington, which last time I checked was in the continental United States and didn't in fact have any connection to Italy, I couldn't understand why the sizes were listed partially in Italian anyway.

The trendy couple shook their heads in disgust at my uncouth, and the 19 year old gave me a pitying glance as she plucked a Grande cup from the pile of paper cups and attempted to educate me. At which time I discovered that Venti is large - even though it actually translates to "twenty", Grande is medium, never mind that it actually means large, and Tall, in a remarkable stroke of contradictory genius, is a small.

Give me my damn coffee and let me slink out into the rain with the other unwashed masses.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Auditory Incontinence

This weekend I sat next to another Mom while our daughters played together at a birthday party. She's a stay-at-home-mom just like me. She is also one of Sabrina's Girl Scout Troop Leaders, coaches softball and basketball, active in the school's PTA, volunteers for several other school related functions, as well as our church. She made me tired just talking to her. Did I mention she has 4 kids? She's one of those Moms that you just want to hate, but she's so unbelievably sweet and kind on top of it all, you can't help but like her despite the fact that she'll volunteer for almost anything.

I, on the other hand, will never inspire that kind of hatred. Unless someone envies my lack of organizational skills and devil may care attitude toward housecleaning.

My one concession to volunteerism, is the school's emergency phone tree. I sign up for it every year. I've only been required to make phone calls twice now; once last year when the school district called a late 2 hour delay, when every other school district in the area was capable of detecting the 11 inches of snow at 5:00 a.m., and today when the school district decided to dismiss early for bad weather that apparently only they are aware of since my roads are dry as a bone and every other school district has completed a full school day.

I have been given an envelope containing a note card for each child in Sabrina's class. Each card is meant to have a list of 4 phone numbers and/or contacts for each child that can be reached in just such an emergency. It's not unusual that I have to call all 4 (or more) numbers in order to reach someone. Sometimes it is a someone that had no idea they were listed on this card, and have no idea why I am calling them. So while this particular act of volunteering occurs rarely, it takes up a significant amount of time and usually gives me a thundering headache when it does.

I had a simple message to deliver. "Hi, this is [-------------], I'm calling to let you know that [----- ------] Elementary is dismissing children at 2:55 p.m. today so [your child] will be home approximately a half-hour early."

This message is met with confusion (as it was by me, since there is no snow anywhere to be seen), annoyance, questions, and sometimes outright hostility. I guess they've never heard the saying "Don't shoot the messenger."

But the most annoying thing my call was met with today was......

.....music.

I may be about to display the fact that I am incredibly un-hip (not that this was EVER a secret), and quite possibly this practice has been around for some time.

But who came up with the brilliant idea to provide a service where people can force you to listen to a song of their choice while you wait for your call to be connected to their phone?

I do not want to wait three minutes just to be told you are not there anyway and leave a message and by the way "If you're a private caller or blocked your number, then un-block it cuz I ain't answering." This was an honest to goodness classy greeting I was met with. But I especially don't want to wait for that greeting while listening to rap for 2 minutes.

This happened three more times. I have nothing personal against rap musicians, or the other artists I was subjected to against my will. It's just not what I personally enjoy listening to.

Don't get me wrong. I love music. I have very eclectic tastes in music and there is very little that I won't listen to. But the point is, I like what I want to listen to not necessarily what you want to listen to. This is equally annoying as music blaring at me from a playlist when I open someone's facebook page or a blog where their playlist is set to auto-play. I appreciate everyone's right to their own musical tastes, but at 1:00 a.m. when Marilyn Manson blares through my speakers unexpectedly, well it's enough to make me pee my pants.

Sneezing makes me pee my pants, but at least that's self inflicted.

It's A Family Affair

How is it that a 4 year old boy can fill the toilet bowl with toilet paper, use two handfuls of wipies, smear the toilet seat with poo in the process,

And STILL manages to leave skid-marks in his underwear?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Because I Like To Share Exciting News

Taffy doesn't really seem to know she's a dog. Playing with Frisbees, or "fetch" is completely beneath her. She thinks sleeping all day is an admirable career choice. She's not eating food off the floor unless maybe it's hot dog. And licking humans to show affection? You can almost see her shudder delicately at the thought. In fact I've always said she's really more cat than dog. Considering her questionable lineage it's not completely out of the question that somewhere one of her ancestors did do the Wild Thing with a cat.
But she has one very annoying, very expensive, very dog-like behavior.

She suffers from something called Pica. This is just a fancy way to say Taffy likes to eat clothing. Specifically my clothing. Even more specifically, my underwear.

She's very discriminating when it comes to this behavior. The granny panties I buy from Wal-Mart in a package of 6 for $5.00? No, no, no, she would far prefer to eat the expensive ones that come from Victoria's Secret or Macy's if given a choice. Don't get me wrong, she will eat the El-Cheapos, but it's sort of like if you or I were given a choice of eating at McDonald's or The Four Seasons. She will eat the Hanes, but she will actually go digging through a closed laundry hamper for $15 panties.

Of which I no longer own any because I got tired of feeding them to the dog. And we like to pay the bills and buy groceries at least some of the time around here.

Every vet I've asked tells me this behavior is in response to some sort of anxiety or boredom. While it is true she only does it when she's alone - I've never once caught her in the act - I can't understand where boredom or anxiety would come into the picture. When you are waited on hand and foot, given everything you could possibly want, and rarely left alone, where exactly does boredom and/or anxiety occur? She sneaks into the basement to do it when nobody's watching.

It might be cheaper to buy her some Prozac.

Unfortunately for her, since she is not in fact a goat, this behavior is actually dangerous to her health. Most of the time she simply passes the cloth, as evidenced by the cheerful multi-colored piles in the yard (Yay! Decorative poop. Martha Stewart eat your heart out.). But on Thursday, since I've been more conscientious about keeping underwear out of her reach, she accepted a substitute and instead ate a dish towel.

Since we can neither afford to feed her underwear, nor pay $2,000 to have cloth removed from her intestinal tract, we have been worriedly watching her try to make something come out of her rear since then, to no avail.

This morning Dave called me to tell me he found a pile of poo on the living room carpet. Did you ever imagine this could be good news?

Me either.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Without A Net

In polite company I would be referred to as accident prone.

But since I don't get that kind of company, MY friends and family will tell you I am a complete and utter klutz.

When I was a child I had the dubious honor of having gotten more stitches than anyone else I knew. I may still hold the record but I haven't compared notes lately. I've had stitches in every body part imaginable (and I do mean EVERY) from my head to my toes including my armpit.

When I was a little girl and I would fall down and hurt myself, before the tears would start or before I asked for a band-aid, my first words were"Do I need to go to the hospital for stitches?" And inevitably the answer was "Yes." And did you know my Dad gets really touchy when the emergency room takes more time than he deems prudent to examine his daughter's arm she just sliced open? Thirty-three years later I think they still might have a restraining order and his picture posted somewhere in Children's Hospital.

It's one thing to be gravitationally challenged as I like to call it, but the sheer stupidity of the ways I manage to hurt myself amazes even me. I fell down my cellar stairs and broke my foot because I was too vain to stop wearing a pair of wedge heels that had already landed me on my butt many times previously. I've fallen down a hill in my brother's front yard for no apparent reason, with absolutely no alcohol in my system. People that were present that day will tell you one moment I was standing before them, then right before their eyes I was suddenly rolling down a hill, ass over teakettle. Last year I dislocated my big toe by catching it in my opposite pants leg.

People, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

I've noticed that I seem to go on jags of klutziness. In other words when it rains it pours. Yesterday I broke two different toes in two separate incidents, twenty minutes apart. I seem to have found my God-given talent and the Lord knows I don't squander it.

I'm continuing my streak. This morning I managed to get toothpaste in my eye.

Don't try this at home folks. I'm what you call a "professional."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Guilty Pleasure

I only do it when I'm alone.

I don't pursue it as often as I used to - who has the time? And it just doesn't feel as good as it used to. Really I'm just getting too old for it and I can't do it in front of the kids.

I was referring to watching "A Baby Story". What were you thinking?

When I became pregnant the first time, I watched the show obsessively. I probably could have told you the names of every Mom and baby that were on the show that year. I would discuss them in conversation as "The Smiths from New Jersey" or "The Jones family that live near Philly" and "did you see the one where the woman had a baby for her gay brother and his life partner?"

I wasn't kidding when I told you I was obsessed.

I was almost studying these programs, looking for a key or a clue to this mystery process I was going through. That tired old cliche about childbirth that "you can't explain it until you go through it" just didn't hold water for me. I was sure if I watched enough programs and read enough books and surfed enough websites I could get a handle on this. I wasn't afraid of labor pain at all. I was afraid of THE UNKNOWN.

So I made it my job to know everything I could about this process of birth.

If you've ever watched A Baby Story, and if you've ever actually had a baby, you know that the two are NOTHING alike. A Baby Story follows a pretty consistent formula (happy pregnant couple, a little grimacing from the Mom as labor begins, nice speedy epidural, a little "push push push c'mon you can do it!" and voila! pretty little approximately 8 pound baby boy/girl) and wraps it all up in a neat little 30 minute package.

The reality is, uh, different. If it were truly a reality show you'd see that the pregnant woman just spent 20 minutes screaming at her mate because he ate the last of the ice cream, burst into hysterical tears because the pharmacy closed before she could refill her heavy-duty extra-strength heartburn medication prescription, and just ate an entire box of Raisin Bran in an effort to poop just once this week. And please do NOT hand me that baby covered in gunk! Really it's okay. I'll wait 2 minutes while you clean him/her off.

That's strictly a hypothetical pregnant woman of course. Any resemblance to actual pregnant women is purely coincidental. I have no firsthand knowledge of any of that behavior and no I am not crossing my fingers behind my back.

It's hard to cross your fingers while you type.

But yesterday while the "baby" napped (she'll be two in February, how long do you think I can get away with calling her "the baby"?) and Jamie was content playing on the computer I decided to switch it on for old time's sake.

And when they did the close up on that newborn baby (cleaned and gunk-less of course) with his little befuddled face and his squinty eyes looking puzzled and wondering how the heck he got here, I remembered why I do this. Because I will never see a bewildered newborn look at me again, and it makes me a little sad.

Even if I am sitting on the couch yelling at the television.

BEWARE! You will NEVER. SLEEP. AGAIN!!!!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sixty-Seven Years Of Perfecting His Art

Today is my Dad's 67th birthday. That's hard to wrap my head around, mostly because it means I will turn 39 shortly. I calculate my parents' ages based on my age (and vice versa on the occasion that my feeble mind forgets my own age). I know that my Dad was 28 when I was born, so add 28 years to my age and Voila! I can pretend I knew all along how old he was going to be!

So I took two-thirds of my children to visit and wish him a Happy Birthday today. Sabrina has caught on to the fact this school thing is a bum rap and as she suspected we really do have fun while she's gone. And because I think it is a parent's right and privilege to torment their children, I might tell her there was cake and ice cream and balloons.

Or better yet, Hannah Montana made a surprise appearance.

The fact that my Dad once told Sabrina he was good friends with Billy Ray Cyrus might just lend a little credibility to this.

So now you know where I learned the fine art of teasing my children.

Happy Birthday to the Master.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Monsters - They're Not Just Eating Cookies Anymore

The other day when Meredith and I got up in the morning she accompanied me to the bathroom. This is a regular occurrence. In fact, I'm not certain my bladder can perform its duty without one or more pairs of eyes watching. You've heard of "shy bladder"? My bladder is an attention whore.

As I moved to wash my hands in the sink I said to Meredith in my usual happy sing-song-y voice that I use to narrate our day, "Did you see that little monster come up here to see us?"

I was referring of course to Hermione, AKA Kitten of Doom.

But Meredith responded by opening her eyes wide with fear and sidling up to my leg and latching on with a death grip, and quietly, but clearly said for the first time that I know of, "Scared."

I wasn't certain if it was the word "monster" that had caused this reaction or if it was possibly the actual kitten. God knows she scares me when my bare feet are exposed to her guerrilla warfare tactics.

Since my mind is like a steel sieve, by that evening I had opportunity to use the word monster with her again and find out. This time I was changing her diaper and she was happily chattering away and playing with a wipey. Again it was the cat that inspired me to say, "Here comes the little monster to see you!"

I didn't know a toddler could levitate off a changing table.

I did my best to point out the kitten, and she saw her, and acknowledged her, but frantically looked in all directions to see when and where this OTHER monster might be coming from.

I couldn't figure out exactly how she would have learned to associate the word monster with anything other than a friendly blue Muppet that devours cookies and the occasional letter of the day. And then I hearkened back to the days of Jamie's toddlerdom. When his big sister would regale him with tales at night of the monsters that lived under his bed and in his closet, ensuring chaos at bedtime and effectively procrastinating actual bedtime.

I must remember to thank Jamie for passing on the tradition of education in the art of nightmare induction.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Who Are You And What Have You Done With My Husband?

My husband is quite possibly the least romantic man on earth. He honestly cannot understand why someone would want jewelry as a gift. He says it's too expensive and it doesn't actually do anything. Flowers die so what's the point? And he doesn't dare buy me candy in case it's a diet week. Really hon, wouldn't you rather just have a nice new coffee-maker or a pair of gloves?

It's okay though. It's not like I didn't know this going into the game. The first year of our relationship he bought me a toaster oven for my birthday. A toaster oven. I was 25 years old at the time. I didn't ask for a toaster oven. I don't recall ever mentioning a toaster oven. I didn't really even cook back then.

When I gave him "the look" complete with one raised eyebrow over the discarded wrapping paper, he began to sense this "look" might be something to take note of for future reference, and that he just may have committed a faux pas of some sort. He made a quick stammering save by saying, "Wait - that's not all I got you," and pulled out a sweater. Since my birthday occurs three days before Christmas, and he made a hasty trip to the mall the next day, I'm pretty sure that sweater was originally meant as a Christmas gift, but I let it pass.

He could use a little sensitivity training also. While I was giving birth to our first child, somewhere around my 5,000th push, right around the time I was pretty sure my eyeballs would pop out of my body long before that baby would, he announced that he was "really tired and he was just going to go lie down over here," and pulled a blanket over himself and did.

Don't get me wrong, even though he doesn't value jewelry or flowers, he knows I do and sometimes he really gets it right. I got a lovely pair of diamond earrings for our 10 year anniversary this year, and he's always brought me flowers after the birth of each child (impromptu naps notwithstanding).

But yesterday morning, he not only took the baby and let me sleep in until 9:30 (NINE FREAKIN' THIRTY!!), he took the van out to wash it, and returned with these.
I suspect I'm being buttered up for Hunting Season, when I find myself a single parent for days on end, but I never, ever question sudden romantic gestures.

I love you too Dave.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ass, Bitten

So there I was all bragging about my wonderful, compliant, EASY kid.

Oh yes, she actually loves the breathing treatments. That dinosaur mask is toddler gold! She won't take it off! What? You mean your kid won't sit still for those treatments? You poor dear soul. Excuse me while I polish my superiority complex.

My initial instincts were correct. The kid doesn't think the breathing treatments are so cool. We're down to sitting on the toddler pinning her arms together for eight minutes.

Eight...........loooooooooong....................minutes.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. You go ahead and enjoy your turkey and stuffing.

I'll be over here eating Humble Pie.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sidekick To The Dog Of Dormancy

"Sabrina why are you wearing two different shoes?"

"I didn't have time to match. I was defending my feet against the Kitten of Doom."

This could be her new moniker if the whole sweet and feminine "Hermione" thing doesn't work out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Good Call

Despite the continued busy signal at the pediatrician's office, I decided it would be best to forge ahead and brave the pediatrician's office. Something in Meredith's cough was setting off my maternal antennae.

Turns out she has a double ear infection, but more importantly, she was wheezing a fair amount and will require breathing treatments. This involves a medication called Albuterol (normally used for asthma) blown into her face.

The last time she had these breathing treatments it didn't go so well, as chronicled by clicking here.

I realize she was only 6 months old at the time, but I figured if it was that difficult to pin her down and keep her still while she was basically a very cute pillow that had just learned to sit up, it would be next to impossible to convince her to do it now that she's a fully functional, walking, running and (back) talking small human with very defined opinions of what she will and will not (no how no way) do.

Those Irish eyes are smiling over the much coveted dinosaur mask. In fact, the only tantrums that have occurred came when I attempted to take the mask off.

All I can say is my kid is weird. Wonderful and delightful, but weird.

Vertical Hold

It's hard to believe but there were no remote controls in the 70's and 80's. Wait, I lied, there was one in our house. Before you become impressed with the advanced technology living in my childhood home, I will let you in on the secret of the very earliest remote control.

It was me.

My parents had a rule that if they called for me, wherever I was in the house or outside, I was expected to come and see what they wanted. It was a matter of respect.

Or in my Dad's case it was a matter of needing someone to see if the Steelers were playing on Channel 2 or 4 that day.

I still remember a day I was on the third level of our split-level house and he was in the bottom level Family Room. He began yelling for me and as I groaned and rolled off my bed, the yelling escalated into veritable bellows. I was certain I would find someone had entered the sliding glass doors from the back yard and was brutally beating him.

When I came charging into the room I found him in his usual position, reclining comfortably in his La-Z-Boy recliner (genuine Naugahyde - no FAKE Naugas for us! No sirree!).

"The television's rolling again. Fix it for me."

He'll never know how close he came to patricide.

Anyway, I've attempted to instill this same sense of respect in my own children. Unfortunately their father provides them with a seriously poor example. The man can sit and appear to not have heard a word I've said when I've repeated the same information three times. And when I pointedly say it a bit louder and in a way he cannot ignore (slapping upside the head can do wonders for the attention span) he says "I heard you the first time!"

So I've come to accept that I could be bleeding out from a head wound on the basement floor and the only one that might respond is the dog, assuming she wasn't already sleeping.

Yeah, I'm on my own with the head wound. The dog ain't coming either.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It Must Be A Day Ending In "Y"

You know it's bad when Meredith's newest phrase is "runny nose".

Meredith is sick. It's one of those low grade sick things that you sort of forget when it started, but you wake up one day and think, "Hmmmmm, that has been going on for awhile, now did that start this month or last month?"

Such is life with three small petri dishes.

I debated taking her to see the doctor this morning, but when I called the line was busy. As in busy signal, not put on hold to listen to a minimum of 20 minutes of admonitions to make an appointment for a flu shot, accompanied by the warning that my insurance may not cover all of my child's well-visits. No, that kind of busy I'm used to.

But a busy signal on a Monday morning at the pediatrician's office when they have several incoming phone lines is a Very Bad Sign.

Since we don't need to catch any new and interesting exotic viruses right now - we're doing just fine finding them on our own thank you very much - I made the decision to let it lie.

But my children have a habit of getting really sick on Sundays and holidays, therefore I'm guessing it would be prudent to take her before Thursday (Thanksgiving Holiday for my international readers). Otherwise I'll be stuck talking to the lady at the answering service who is really pissed off that she had to work today, and will flip a coin to decide if she will actually tell the on-call doctor that I called.

Screaming Earache Child + All Day Family Togetherness = Mom calling HER doctor to beg for tranquilizers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Important Distinction

Sabrina: (using her very best dramatic stage-cry) Mama! He hit me REALLY hard in the back!

Me: Jamie! We don't hit! Five minute time-out. Go to your room!

Jamie: But Mama!

Me: No "Buts"!

Jamie: (sobbing his way up the steps) But Mama! I need to tell you something!

Me: I don't want to hear any excuses Jamie. We don't hit!

Jamie: (with real tears running down his cheeks) But Mama! I didn't hit her! I punched her!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tears From A Stone

As a kid I remember my Mom crying. No, she wasn't sad and unhappy all the time. But she would cry when I was in a school play, she would cry when I graduated from eighth grade and then again from High School. She would cry watching movies, or commercials, or reading a book.

And it embarrassed me terribly. It just seemed so......mushy and weak. Don't get me wrong, I cried too. I cried when my boyfriend moved to Georgia when I was 15. I cried when another boy I thought loved me dated two other girls. I cried when my Grandfather died. I cried when I held my Grandma's hand and helped her to follow him 15 years later. I cried when I knew I would divorce my first husband. I cried when I almost lost my current husband to his demons.

But cry when you're happy? Or because of some movie? That's just not me.

I used to say I'm just not a crier. I can recognize the emotion of a movie or a play or a situation, and agree that yes, it's sad, or exciting, or poignant in some way. But crying just wasn't something that came naturally to me.

Until now.

Tonight alone I teared up watching a family tour their new home on Extreme Makeover. Then I quietly let tears run down my face while watching The Notebook. And then I got all snuffly and choked up over a Macy's Christmas commercial when the little girl puts her letter to Santa Claus in the big red mailbox.

I was never like this until I had children. Yes the pregnancy hormones definitely induced some extra crying, and we all know that post-partum sleepless nights are pretty much a recipe for huge gasping sobs complete with snot all over your face at some point.

But with each child, being quick to tears got a little easier. And lasted longer. And now I don't think it will go away.

I have a theory that children break you a little. When you're young you develop your "self" and that self becomes a shiny nacreous hard shell. It's pretty and it keeps you strong and whole.

And then the babies come and they put cracks in that shell. They soften you both physically and emotionally. And you find a new self. One that cries more. Because now you feel more. Because now a little bit of your heart lives in your children and walks outside your body.

I look forward to embarrassing my children with my tears.

The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears. ~ John Vance Cheney

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Don't Let The Cute Fool You

video

What you're not seeing in this video is when she decides to climb the water jug. The very smooth sided water jug that has a surface incompatible with sharp gripping claws. What results is an unintentional swim.

Followed immediately by the next logical step of rolling in her litter box. I'll leave the picture of clumping litter coated wet cat up to your imagination. Lets' just say she did not appreciate the ensuing bath that followed.

I've always liked cats. I still like cats. I've always maintained that cats hold a superior intelligence to dogs and most other domesticated pets. And some humans.

And then I acquire the exception to that belief.

As Dave pointed out, he "got the kitten too stupid to stay in the nest when Mama was out hunting food."

And like all kittens she's very playful and energetic.

And by "playful and energetic" I mean she attacks everyone's feet and hands by launching herself across the room like a flying puffball with cleverly concealed razor blades with which to slash any exposed skin.

And the poor dog just looks at me with a look that clearly says "It was bad enough when you started bringing all those squalling humans home. I'm way too old for this shit."

And yet, in spite of all that, I'm still charmed on the rare occasion she curls up on me with her little motor running and falls asleep.

Maybe she's not so dumb after all.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Saint Anthony's Tired - Find Your Own Crap

Last week some online friends and I were discussing how men (and children) are hopeless at searching for things. Their idea of searching for a lost item is to sit on the couch and say "Hon/Mom! Have you seen my ______?"

One of the women told a funny story about how her Mom always prayed to St. Anthony when she couldn't find something. One day her nephew was looking for a lost item and her sister advised him to pray to St. Anthony. He replied "St. Anthony is too busy looking for things at Grandma's house!"

St. Anthony spends a fair amount of time at my Mom's house. And I'm sure he's relieved my Grandma has passed because he was really never allowed to leave her house.

But my gripe about my "big kid" is that he will look for things. By literally tearing the entire house apart. He will pull things apart willy-nilly leaving destruction in his wake. He will empty drawers onto the floor. He will pull books out of shelves. He will take every paper in my filing system (that is carefully disguised as a pile of junk) and mix them up beyond retrieval.

And whatever he's looking for (9 times out of 10 it's the remote) usually turns up in a very obvious location like smack in the middle of the dining room table.

Right where he left it, because God and St. Anthony know nobody else is allowed to touch it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Selective Memory

Me: Jamie, today is a very important day today. For the first time in history an African-American has been elected President of the United States.

Jamie: I know! Sabrina told me. Obama!

Me: That's right. Some day when you are all grown up you will remember this day and you will tell your kids how your Mommy told you about President Obama in the morning before you left for Pre-School while you ate your Cheerios.

Jamie: No. I don't want to tell them about the Cheerios.

An Historic Day

Congratulations President-Elect Barack Obama.

Yes. We. Can.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

She Has Subtracted Ten Years Off My Life

Meredith was not napping.

As in screaming her displeasure with the very concept of napping. I let her think about it, and see the error of her ways for about 30 minutes at which time I checked on her and changed her diaper. It's a ploy she utilizes to get out of napping. She waits until she's in her crib before dropping a load. She knows I was traumatized by Jamie the Poop Painter and I will NOT ignore a poopy diaper.

What she didn't count on was me putting her BACK to bed after the diaper change. This infuriated her to the point of purple faced silent screaming. Followed closely by a return to the normal volume indignant wails. I patiently explained that everything would be just fine. It was naptime and if she just closed her eyes and rested I'd be right back when she woke up.

Toddlers aren't strong on logic.

I heard her fiddling with the door next to her crib and heard the door slam followed by a loud wail. I was afraid she had slammed her fingers in the door and ran upstairs just in time to see her through the door draped head first over the side of the crib trying to reach the doorknob.

Slower than slow motion but not slow enough for me to do anything about it, she fell head first to the floor.

To compound this she landed in front of a door that opens inward. I couldn't get in because she was lying in front of the door. I had to push her out of the way with the door to get at her.

She has a bruise and a lump on her head and is happily playing with and sucking on the ice packs I tried to apply to her head.

I am still shaking.

I need a drink.

Do Not Read This Unless You Are Over 18

"Vote early and vote often," is a quote attributed to three different Chicagoans; Al Capone, Mayor Richard Daley, or Mayor William Thompson. None of whom had a stellar ethical recommendation. And all of whom did their best to tamper with the election process to their own benefit.

Let's hope we've gotten those kinks worked out since 2000, er, I mean the first half of the 20th century.

Vote your conscience and vote for whoever you believe in. And may the best man win. They say Americans get the President they deserve.

I hope we deserve better this time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Someday In Therapy She'll STILL Blame Me For Everything

I am on day three of getting up at an hour that involves a 3 or 4. In a past life the only time I would see that hour on a clock would involve copious amounts of tequila.

Nobody was serving tequila in my bedroom last night.

In general I follow the principles of what is called Attachment Parenting. If you Google that please ignore that weird video of the woman cheering because her kid did a poo on the floor at Wal-Mart.

Mostly it just means that I feel there is nothing wrong with attending to your child's needs in a way that is comfortable to both of you. I breastfeed my kids on demand (ignore that video of the woman nursing her seven year old too - I don't do that either), I will let them sleep in my bed, I carry them around as much as they want when they are babies, and most of all, I don't subscribe to the "Cry It Out" or "CIO" method to get my kids to sleep.

And since Meredith's crib is in my bedroom she'd basically be crying it out right there in my left ear anyway.

So instead we're practicing the CIO method for Mommies.

I cry while she doesn't sleep.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Morning Sermon

Jamie: Mama, God loves us even though he's invisible.

Me: Yes honey that's true.

Jamie: I know that because he used to babysit us before we were born and we got our grown-ups. Because someone had to take care of us then.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Pitter Patter Of Little Feet Is Highly Overrated At 5:00 A.M.

Last night the kids were up a little later than normal with the trick-or-treating activities, friends visiting, and being just slightly hopped up on massive amounts of sugar and trans fats.

I think my kids are defective. It seems the later they go to bed the earlier they wake up.

Meredith woke up at 3:30 a.m. last night. I managed to ignore her until 4:00 a.m. At 5:00 a.m. I gave up and brought her to bed with me but she refused to go back to sleep. We have both been awake since 3:30 a.m. She is as stubborn as her mother.

At 6:00 a.m. Dave got up so I carried her downstairs and said "HERE. She's all yours. I need some sleep."

Jamie came in at 6:30 a.m. RIGHT when I had fallen asleep to tell me his nose was stuffy. I told him to go downstairs and tell Daddy. But since he knows the rule is he's supposed to stay in bed until 7:00 a.m. he didn't want to. So I told him fine go back to bed then. But his nose was stuffy and he didn't want to go back to bed.

I might have roared a little.

Dave came in at 7:00 a.m. to change Meredith because she pooped. Never mind that there is a full compliment of diaper changing accessories in my bag downstairs.

Sabrina came in at 7:30 a.m. to tell me the cat scratched her really hard (I think we might really have to get rid of her - this is becoming more of a problem).

I roared some more.

At 7:45 a.m. Dave told me to get up because he was going to clean someone's gutters at 9:00 a.m.

My roaring has turned into a weak growl.

Donations of Starbucks or Seattle's Best are always welcome. Just don't let my children anywhere near it. God knows they don't need the help.

Friday, October 31, 2008

No Birds Were Harmed In The Making Of This Costume (But Some PVC May Have Suffered A Little)

Meredith may never wear an original costume. I have so many left over from both Jamie and Sabrina that she's covered for life. This year she will be either a frog or Tigger, depending which one fits best tonight.

Have you noticed how cheaply made the costumes are and the ever increasing prices for said poorly made costumes? At least when I was a kid the cheap costumes were actually CHEAP.

Do you recall the circa 1975 store bought costumes? A long thin sheet of plastic with the body of Princess Leia, or Mickey Mouse, or Darth Vader printed on one side and the character's rear view printed on the other. With a hole in the middle to stick your head through. To complete the look you had a plastic mask with a elastic band around the back of your head. And if your mask got ripped (which it always did) it had WICKED sharp edges with which to slice your face or poke out your eyeball. Good thing you weren't actually using your eyes to see where you were going.

These masks had holes cut out for your eyes, nostrils and mouth. Rarely did these holes actually line up with your eyes, nose, or mouth, thus ensuring hordes of children stumbling around the street in the dark.

And to top it off, if you lived in Pittsburgh, your Mom probably made you wear your coat over the costume anyway. So really just a bunch of kids in winter coats with brightly printed badly designed plastic covering their eyes tripping over the curbs and steps.

The costume of this type that stands out most in my mind is a Tweety Bird costume.
I'm not even sure it was my costume. It may have been one of my cousins' or possibly a neighbor's.

But for some reason I can still see this (sort of scary now that I'm looking at a photo of it) mask and smell the cheap plastic costume in my mind.

I wonder which costume my children will recall from the depths of their memory some day.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dusting Off My Soapbox


Am I the only one disturbed by this ad? Never mind the adult dressed as a condescending frog.

Why shouldn't kids want to look at and actually READ the book about frogs?

And why do kids need a little electronic pen to read a book to them? Isn't that what parents are for? Will we now need an electronic device just to READ for Pete's sake?

I have nothing against Spongebob personally. I'm sure he's a really nice sponge and all, other than that laugh that makes my brain feel like it's just been rubbed against a metal cheese grater. But can't my kids (and my poor shredded brain) have a break from him for a nanosecond? Could we possibly just read Goodnight Moon? Or Guess How Much I Love You? Or even Harry Potter? Does it ALWAYS have to be about television, even when it's not television?

Excuse me while I go read Where's Spot by Eric Hill for the bajillionth time today.

I'll never get sick of it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Speaking Of Genetics

Have you ever had a sinus headache where you seriously consider taking one of those melon baller thingies and shoving it up your nose so you could scrape out some of your brains?

Yeah it's like that.

For two weeks.

I couldn't possibly inherit the fast-metabolism-eat-anything-you-want-pretty-much-until-you're-40 gene from my Dad. Instead I was blessed with his sinuses.

I'll be back when my brains shrink back to their normal size.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mea Culpa

I'm lame. I know. I leave you with a barely original entry consisting of one word descriptions for things most of you probably couldn't give two hoots about (and why exactly would anyone WANT a hoot anyway?).

And now I am off to be a guest blogger over at "Discover Boo". So come visit me over there! Boo's one of my best friends and if you haven't already, you should read her blog too!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

One Word Challenge

Saw this on a friend's blog (Hi Dani!) and thought it was fun and I'd give it a go since I seem to be a bit dry on the blogging juices today. It's a slight variation on that tired old email someone sends to me at least once a month where you fill in the answers and forward to all your other friends that are also tired of getting THAT email.

Doesn't stop me from forwarding it on though does it?

Your hair? dirty

Your mother? complicated

Your father? safe

Your favorite thing (not including people)? sleep (this seems to be a common theme amongst the Mamas)

Your dream last night? funny

Your dream/goal? longevity

Your favorite drink? coffee

The room you're in? kitchen

Your ex? disappeared

Your hobby? books

Your fear? loss

Where do you want to be in 6 years? elsewhere

Where were you last night? here

What you're not? skinny

Muffins? blueberry

One of your wish list items? house

Time? short

Where you grew up? Bethel

The last thing you did? Wii

Favorite weather? crisp

What are you wearing? frumpy

Favorite book? Avalon

Your TV? average

Your pet? new

Your computer? Dell

Your mood? relieved

Missing someone? Melissa

Your car? Odyssey

Something you're not wearing? socks

Favorite store? Target

Love someone? many

Favorite color/shade? yellow

Last thing you ate? grahams

Your life? full

Your friends? loyal

What are you thinking right now? KITTEN!

What are you doing at this moment? BITTEN!

Your summer? excellent

Your relationship status? married

What do you do when you can't sleep? read

When is the last time you laughed? today

Last time you cried? Saturday

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Idiom Source Discovery

Last night while giving Jamie a bath:

JAMIE: Mama this water is as warm as bath water.

ME: That's because it is bath water honey.

JAMIE: Oh. That makes sense then.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wrong Species

As you have already seen, my softhearted (and softheaded) husband brought home a 3-4 week old kitten he found yesterday. The dust has settled and I am no longer trying to decide if I want to cuddle a kitten more than I want to wring Dave's neck.

The kitten won but only barely.

I am a new nursing mother again. I am well equipped to cope with this job having done it three times before. And pretty much like a human baby, Hermione is a moving, breathing, (loudly) mewing appetite. However I have found there are some crucial differences between species.

I find those films where they show a dog nursing a kitten, or a cat nursing a squirrel absolutely adorable. I'm all for inter-species fostering, but I have to draw the line somewhere. Kittens teeth are like little needles. Ain't coming anywhere near me with those things!

Furthermore, I will never ever complain about changing a diaper again. Did you know that you have to rub their little bums to make them go? I was growing concerned by Hermione's lack of, er, solid waste so I called the kitty pediatrician (A.K.A. our vet). I was told to vigorously stimulate her bottom with a warm wet towel.

Apparently cats lick their kitten's booty until it makes them do their thing.

I'm sorry but THERE I draw the line.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Apparently I DO Need A Hole In The Head

Meet Miss Hermione Cheezball

Visiting hours at the asylum are from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., but Doctors feel it best that I delay visitation until my meds kick in.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Do You Think This Was How It All Began For Ralph Lauren?

Jamie is a pretty normal four year old boy. He likes to play rough. He leaps and climbs and rolls and jumps and he seems to have a knack for getting dirty. But he does it all while impeccably dressed.

Don't get me wrong. He's not one of those foppish young boys that wears suits and little ties. But he does appreciate a nice pair of dress shoes. Or any shoes for that matter. He flatly refuses to be without shoes and socks at all times that he is not actually in bed. Sandals are even beneath him. And he will sometimes refuse to wear shoes that he deems too dirty or old looking.

His favorite thing to wear is one of his "handsome shirts." Handsome shirts are generally short sleeve polos or collared rugby shirts. He would wear one every day if I allowed it.
And for the most part I allow it. What my children wear is mostly up to the them as long as it is temperature appropriate. I learned early to pick my battles and clothing choice was one I was willing to forfeit.

But he also appreciates girls' clothing. No, no, no, he doesn't WEAR it. Dave's pretty tolerant, but I think even he might be bothered if I sent Jamie to school in a dress. But he's always ready with a compliment - or critique - of what I or his sisters are wearing. And it's genuinely insightful and accurate.

The day last year when his older sister came home from school and Jamie earnestly asked, "Sabrina did your friends like your new capri pants?" I thought this really isn't normal three year old boy behavior.

My girls on the other hand?

Well they inherited the "What Not To Wear" gene directly from their mother.
















Saturday, September 20, 2008

I'll Take My Adoring Fans Wherever I Can Find Them

Last night I was driving to my friend Kate's house for what we call a "Mommy Playdate". This involves sitting around after our children are in bed and chattering away for a few hours. Depending on the diet status we do this either eating ice cream or sipping water.

She's currently about 6 months pregnant and I'm in that "Eat everything you can before you start the new diet" phase so last night involved ice cream. Two different kinds.

On my way there I was sitting at a red light on the Homestead High Level Bridge (sorry I just can't wrap my head around ever calling it the "Homestead Grays Bridge") overlooking The Waterfront. I was absolutely absorbed in an exceptionally stupid commercial for a local grocery store and probably had a look on my face that could only be described as slightly stupid, complete with vacant eyes and slack jaw.

I was vaguely aware of being able to hear a voice outside my window but didn't really register what the voice was saying or where it was coming from. I just assumed it was someone's conversation from another vehicle.

As the light turned green and I started to drift forward and re-focus my brain the voice penetrated my consciousness and I turned and realized it was a man in the passenger seat of a pick-up truck next to me on the bridge.

And he was leaning out the window talking to....me? With a look on his face that was either admiring or drunk.

Considering it was Friday night, and I was basically wearing pajamas, no makeup, and driving a minivan?

I'm putting my money on drunk.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm Irishembi And I Approve This Message

I watched this video over at blurbomat.com today (thanks Blurb).

I do not wish to engage in a political debate via my blog. And I have so far mostly resisted the urge to express any political leanings on here.

And I can't even say that I regard Barack Obama with the same messianistic fervor that he seems to have inspired in some people.

But of the candidates available, well, as one of my friends expressed, "I'd vote for a three-toed sloth if he (or she) was running against McCain." There's just not enough lipstick in the world to make him look appealing.

Yesterday my daughter's pediatrician pointed out that he used to manage the entire pediatric practice for some years. And that pediatric practice had a budget similar to the town of Wasilla. So he mused that maybe that qualified him to be (Vice) President? Admittedly he can't see Russia from his back yard so maybe not.

Let's make a start at fixing what's broken. Four more years of the same is not the answer. With or without lipstick.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You Say Po-Tay-To, I Say Po-Tah-To. You Say Mumbai, I Say Bombay.

I changed my phone service last month in an effort to decrease our monthly bills. I removed long distance service and voice mail. By my calculation this should save me approximately $15 a month. I've had this decreased service since the beginning of September, so I was a little annoyed when I received my (paperless - just doing my part for the environment) bill and I was still being billed for my old services.

I called Verizon and did battle with the bodiless voice that insists she can help me even after repeated requests to speak to an actual person. She even sound mildly miffed when she repeated that she's perfectly capable of handling my request.

I should have stuck with computer girl. She probably was more qualified to help me than the actual person with the bad attitude and negative intelligence quotient.

As soon as I got to the part where I explained I had made changes to my service online, she immediately interrupted me mid-sentence saying "You need Online Services. CLICK (transfer, cue Muzak)"

The slightly more pleasant girl at Online Services told me I needed the Billing Office. When I explained that the Billing Office had transferred me to her she apologized and explained that they have no control over billing issues and that she would have to transfer me back.

And why was I not surprised when I reached the Billing Office yet again to hear that, No. I really needed to talk to Online Services.

In an effort to avoid being the human ping-pong ball for the day I insisted that SHE talk to the Online Services Department while I waited. When she returned she told me that it was taken care of, but somehow I just didn't feel reassured, so I asked her to go ahead and transfer me back to Online Service just so I could verify.

At which point I got to talk to Sandeep. Sandeep was a very nice guy. And I'm sure that if I were required to answer incoming phone calls from India, I could never speak Hindi with the same proficiency that he spoke English. But the fact remains it was very difficult for me to understand his heavily accented English.

I needn't have worried. He didn't appear to understand my English at all. In contrast to the customer service reps in the local office he was completely charming and utterly accommodating. He told me that I was absolutely speaking to the right person. He would be happy to fix whatever was wrong with my Internet Service (even though I needed help with my phone service). He said I had a beautiful name. He even went on to compliment my laugh.

I'm pretty sure we set a date to get married in there somewhere too.

I don't think he ever actually understood what my problem was, but he gave me a credit of $20 on my next bill for no reason whatsoever other than he couldn't understand what it was I did want.

Does that make me a mail-order bride?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Live And Active Cultures

My children like to play hide and seek. They hide their sippy cups. They hide them under the couch and the table. They put them in the dollhouse. They toss them in the toy box. I've even found them between the screen door and the storm door.

But when the sippy cup has milk in it they go all out. They like to hide them in the most remote places to ensure ample curdling time.

One time someone hid one under the toy box up against the baseboard heater.

Heat really encourages those live cultures! Except these weren't the cultures Yoplait had in mind. The result is a foul smelling cross between cheese and toxic waste.

Sometimes it's best to not even open those sippy cups and just write that one off.

Besides, my HazMat suit is still at the cleaners after that Tupperware in the back of the fridge incident.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

For Jeannette

When I was in High School I was a bit of an anomaly. I could mingle just as easily with the nerds, jocks, band geeks, and hoods. Except the cheerleaders. They didn't like me. But then again, they didn't like ANYBODY. Not even each other really.

But at heart, my core group of friends was generally the studious over-achieving geeks. Sadly I mostly related to them on the geek level and not so much the studious and over-achieving. And since I had wonderful geek friends I had access to these cool things called computers that hardly anyone had. And since some of my friends were of the extra-nerdy variety, one of them had this doohickey called a "modem" on his computer that enabled you to talk to other people by typing little green letters on a black screen.

At the time I wondered why the heck you would want to talk to people on the computer when you could just as easily call them on the phone. Well the obvious reason (according to my friend Eric) was you could talk to people you didn't know.

And why in the world would I want to do that?

And I would have agreed with that sentiment up until a few years ago. Oh, email was cool, and I love the ability to look up any question, no matter how bizarre, and get 5,000,000 different answers of varying credibility at the end of a few keystrokes.

But a few years ago while pregnant with my third child I joined a message board forum with several other women that had babies due at the same time. And from that forum I have formed friendships with people every bit as real and meaningful as the ones I have with people I can shake hands with or hug.

It still amazes me that without this form of communication there are people I would never in a million years have talked to, as they live halfway around the world from me. Nonetheless these people, particularly friends in Australia, South Africa, New York, and coincidentally Pittsburgh, know more about my life than my husband in some cases. We have supported each other through births, marriages, deaths, and divorce. Not a day goes by that I don't "talk" to one of these women.

So it was with great sadness that I learned that my friend in South Africa lost her Mom today to her battle with emphysema. And the news hit me as hard as if it had been one of my family members. Because in essence, it was.

And that's the downside of this friendship. No matter how much I long to, I cannot hold or hug her. I cannot feel her tears on my shoulder or offer to watch her young son while she grieves.

But I know that she knows that I am with her in spirit through it all.


In Memory of Heather Moira McClelland Kirk
24th January, 1943 - 11th September, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

At Least He Won't Put It On The Walls

Jamie's pre-school offers a scholarship program. It's not a tough scholarship to obtain. He doesn't have to maintain a perfect grade point average. He doesn't even have to display exceptional mastery of bathroom skills. We just have to demonstrate that we are relatively poor. Finally something we can achieve!

In exchange for this scholarship, our family is required to perform 10 hours of volunteer service.

Yeah, I'm chuckling at the "our family" thing too.

Most of the time I've performed these volunteer hours at Jamie's pre-school by cutting out art projects, helping to assemble the newsletter, stuffing envelopes, and selling hoagies. But at the end of last year they asked if a parent of a child returning in the Fall would be willing to take home Rainbow, the class fish, for the summer.

Rainbow is a five year old Veil Tail Betta with red fins and a blue/green iridescent body. Five is considered a senior citizen as far as most fish of my experience are concerned, so I was a bit nervous that I might be the class parent to deliver the bad news that Rainbow had gone to the big toilet in the sky to meet his maker. But on the contrary, Rainbow thrived while he was here. I was told he barely ate, and really preferred to eat only every other day. He developed a voracious appetite living here, because every evening like clockwork he would rise to the top of his bowl and demand food.

But on Monday Jamie started school so we packed Rainbow up in his best Tupperware traveling case and delivered him back to his home. Now I've had fish before, and while they're not exactly affectionate, they generally display personality traits and quirks just like any other creature. And you get accustomed to those quirks.

Strangely enough I found myself........missing....a....fish.

Jamie has christened our new addition to the family "Hot Tamale."

Am I completely out of my mind for signing on for cleaning up yet ANOTHER creature's poop?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I Don't Think Betty Ford Can Help Us

My cousin Colleen recently blogged about her son's......appreciation...for Tylenol in this entry. I'm so relieved to find that my Aunt, the retired nurse, believes that children should get Tylenol on "General Principle". I've subscribed to this school of thought since Sabrina was born.

We have our own dirty little Tylenol addiction around here. Sabrina, AKA The Sleepless Wonder, was the original 'Nol addict.

Put yourself in my shoes. Very little sleeping was going on, and we knew teething was happening (she started popping those little suckers at 3 months). And you just never know when a cold might be coming on. And what if something hurts and she can't tell us? Maybe that fall on her well-padded butt did sting a bit. And surely when she banged her noggin into the table for the umpteenth time it must leave her with a bit of a headache. And hey, maybe Tylenol can PREVENT fevers.

Well I personally wasn't taking any chances that a little discomfort would keep her awake just in case she was inclined to sleep.

But we knew it was time to enroll her in a 12 step program when she was 2 years old and before bed one night she said in her most dramatic breathy can-barely-stand-it voice, "Mama I think I feel a little fever coming on. I think I might need a little Tylenol."

She has been in recovery ever since but just the other day as I changed Meredith's diaper and commented her little bit of diaper rash looked a little sore, she perked up and smiled at me and chirped "Ty-nol!"

They do say these things run in families don't they?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Luckily I'm Not Fond Of French Manicures

I worked with a girl years ago who was exceptionally perky. Strangely enough we got along well; I think she was the counter-balance to my natural tendency toward grumpiness. But she annoyed the heck out of our other co-workers. I remember when she got pregnant and a woman we worked with (who shared my tendency toward the crabby side) said rather snidely, "Just wait til she gets a little shit under that French manicure at 3 a.m. and we'll see how cheery she is then."

I didn't have any kids of my own at the time, but just nodded my head and agreed like I knew what she was talking about.

But the truth is, I had no idea what awaited me.

For those of you with weak stomachs or those of you that don't share my Beavis and Butthead-like amusement with poop stories, be warned. This one is chock-full of the brown stuff.

Meredith's diaper digging the other day reminded me of a habit of Jamie's I had tried very hard to forget. I've met another person whose son practiced this habit. And I read countless stories about it online in my desperate search for reassurance that my son was not totally abnormal and not destined to be a serial killer or that kid that eats his boogers (or worse).

I would put Jamie down for an afternoon nap around 1:00 every day. He would go into his crib willingly enough and I'd hear him happily chattering away to his animals or singing little songs to himself. Then he'd get quiet.

But in Jamie's case, silence was not golden. Silence was often brown.

Jamie not only removed and examined the contents of his diaper. He was artistic with it. A regular PicASSo. I'm all for artistic expression, but that was not the finger painting I had in mind.

The tricky thing was, if he got quiet and was honestly simply getting ready to fall asleep, and I checked on him too soon, he would pop up like a Jack-in-the-Box upon seeing me peeking in the door, and refuse to go to sleep.

But waiting too long before I checked on him meant his crib and walls displayed almost as much talent as this kid's. Except Jamie's palette was limited to one color.

Jamie loved getting a bath and was deliriously happy when he was unceremoniously dumped into the tub for a complete scrubbing. I began to wonder if he was wiping poo on his walls just so he could get a bath. So I began plopping him in the shower. What can I say? The boy adapted and learned to like showers.

I read everything I could find on how to handle this disgusting behavior. Mostly I encountered articles about monkeys flinging poo. And while I often compared Jamie to a monkey, being as he wasn't, in fact, a young simian, they weren't particularly helpful with the behavior modification.

I read about the possible psychological causes. The possibility that he was angry or stressed or depressed came up in several online articles. Seeing as he was laughing gleefully most of the time he was poop painting, I didn't put much stock in these explanations.

I'm not sure where I finally came across this solution, but as usual, the simplest solution proved to be the best. No need for psychological evaluation, extensive therapy or lengthy conversations with a 2 year old about his reasons for smearing poo everywhere.

Just separate the boy from the poop. Put his pajamas on backwards with the zipper in the back. And thank God Jamie's many talents did not extend towards Houdini-like abilities.

In the end I found a little extra shit under my fingernails made no improvement in my mood to be certain.

Fortunately I wasn't that cheerful to begin with.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Because Wheaties Are Never This Misleading

Dave was in charge of breakfast this Labor Day holiday morning. I am the cold cereal breakfast parent, so the kids look forward to days when Dave is home and puts forth more effort than I can muster up before noon.

Coco Wheats were on the menu this morning. It's cereal, it's warm, and it's CHOCOLATE! FOR BREAKFAST! So they get a hot breakfast and get to feel like they're breaking the rules. I just sip my coffee and pretend to disapprove.

I took advantage of Meredith being strapped into her booster seat eating her Coco Wheats and began to tackle the mess we sometimes call the kitchen. We try to uncover the counters every so often just to prove we have them.

She had been yelling "Done!" at me for a few minutes when I finally went over and swiped at the mess she had made of her hands and face with a damp paper towel. As I lifted her out of her seat I realized she had also made a stinky diaper deposit so I carried her upstairs to clean off her bottom half.

When I began to change her I noticed she was messy down her legs and made a mental note to clean her booster seat when I got downstairs. Then I thought back to the brown mess I had wiped off her hands and took a sniff at her fingers.

Let's just say it wasn't very chocolatey.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Alternative Uses For Bubble Solution

  1. Provides an effective non-toxic lubricant for tightening or loosening nuts and bolts or other mechanical fittings.
  2. Can be applied to fingers to remove a ring that is too tight or has become stuck due to swelling of the hands.
  3. Can be used to detect leaks of inflatable items, such as pool toys or beach balls. Apply solution and bubbles will appear wherever the hole is located allowing air to escape.
  4. Can also be used to detect any possible leaks from gas pipes or fittings, such as the type used for a gas grill or a gas clothes dryer. In similar manner as above, apply to fitting and check for bubbles, indicating a gas leak.
  5. When given to a four year old to pour all over the front steps, for maximum effect, allow his father (who thinks bubble solution will "dry up") to supervise. One hour later it will create a spectacularly colorful bruise on my ass. But not nearly as large and colorful as the one to my ego as my neighbors watch me fly ungracefully on said posterior for no apparent reason.

Tomorrow we will cover alternative uses for bubble gum, including emergency leak patching, and impromptu hair fixative for the baby.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Like Jimmies On A Sundae

"Jimmies" is a Pittsburgh-ese term. At least I think it is. The waitress at Friendly's in Myrtle Beach looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language when I requested them for Jamie's ice cream sundae.

Jimmies are "sprinkles" - those little wax covered sugary things that come in rainbow colors (and indeterminate flavor) or black/brown chocolate flavor that always make the item in question look vaguely like it is covered in ants.

And yet. A soft serve ice cream cone just isn't complete without them.

Early in the summer I absentmindedly swiped at Jamie's face with a baby wipe in a futile attempt to remove some of the grime that always seems to emerge regardless of if he's been rolling in the dirt or sitting quietly on the couch.

I noticed a few spots were more stubborn than others. On closer inspection, I marveled, "Jamie! You've got freckles!"

He'd never had them before you see. This face that I've looked at every single day of his life, all 1509 of those days, has grown, but remained essentially the same baby soft, apple cheeked, pointy chinned face.

Until now.

How very lucky I am to be witness to something as simple as the arrival of his first freckles. We can only hope I won't wax as poetic over his first pimple. And if he takes after his Daddy I may not live long enough to see his first chest hair.

But his freckles only serve as the sprinkled topping on the sweetest boy I could ever ask for.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Privacy Not Included

I wasn't a terribly shy or extremely modest person before I became a Mom. At least I don't think so. It's hard to remember who I was B.K. (Before Kids) sometimes. But now that I have children I have no shame whatsoever.

Children have no desire for privacy therefore they don't see why I should want any. Anyone who can yodel "COME WIPE MY BUM!" at the top of their lungs loud enough that it reaches me in the basement from the bathroom on the second floor just isn't interested in bathroom etiquette.

I've shared these bathroom stories with friends over the years. They always laugh and chuckle and nod, but I think most of them chalk it up to my typical use of exaggeration to tell a good story.

So it was with much delight that I received this email from my best friend Melissa a few weeks ago. Melissa had her first baby shortly after I had my third, and her lovely daughter Leone has entered that delightful stage of toddlerdom where closed doors are not an option.

"Wanted to let you know that all these years when I thought I’d really appreciated what you were on about when you wished you could have a pee in private…..I THOUGHT you meant that it was because you had one or more little people in there with you…What I didn’t realize until lately was that THEY WANT TO LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN TOO!!"

Welcome to my world my dearest old friend. I've been waiting for you to get here for the longest time.

But now I'm pretty sure I've achieved the pinnacle of public displays of urination.

We took the kids to Idlewild Park on Friday. It's a local amusement park in Ligonier, PA and we try to get there once a year. It's a one hour drive so we always take pajamas with us and get everyone changed before we head home so we can put everyone straight to bed.

I took the two girls into the public restroom in the parking lot so I could change Meredith's diaper and Sabrina and I could use the facilities. Meredith was still in the stroller when we entered the bathroom, and I figured this would nicely solve the problem of how to keep her contained while I used the facilities.

But Sabrina decided to use the large handicapped stall and was still in it when I needed to go. I couldn't leave Meredith alone while I went in the stall and of course the stroller wouldn't fit in the stall with me. The stall door will just have to stay open and I'll use the stroller as a shield of sorts.

As I sat down, I realized I was in a stall, with the door wide open, in a brightly back lit public bathroom, in full view of the dark parking lot. Not unlike peeing on stage in the spotlight of a dark theater. But there is a point of no return so to speak once you get started. And of course three people came in as I sat there grinning weakly and hoping they too were Moms.

Did you hear that? That was the last shred of my dignity hitting the floor.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

If You See A Green Guy Wearing Sandals, Tell Him We Need To Talk


These are all of Meredith's shoes that currently fit.

Cute shoes right? So what's wrong with this picture?

Well when I say "all" I do mean ALL.

I have not been able to locate mates for these shoes for about three months. Those sandals have done her loads of good this summer haven't they?

How can these shoes go so completely missing? You read how small my house is. There just aren't that many places to get lost here. The only plausible explanation I can come up with is that either aliens have given up abducting humans and performing sexual experimentation on them and are now just really into shoes, or there is a crack in the space/time continuum located somewhere in between my kitchen and living room.

When my husband and I began living together in 1995, he would frequently lose ONE of his shoes. Since I'm positive I read a headline in the Weekly World News right around then that a woman in the Midwest gave birth to an alien infant, the aliens weren't collecting shoe samples yet. And we lived in an apartment so that shoots down the wrinkle in time theory.

I think I'll have to just accept that it's genetic.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Suspicious Ingredients

"I like fish Mama. Are shrimp fish?"

Yes.

"Oh. I don't like shrimp. I like hot dogs! Are hot dogs fish?"

No.

"Yeah that's right. They're dogs."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Like Trying To Put A Bikini On A Pig

We have a small house. No really. It's REALLY REALLY small. Dust mites are moving out because they're feeling a bit cramped.

When Dave and I bought this house a small house was okay. It was just the two of us. And while I had this vague idea that there might be children some day, I think I just figured - kids. Small people. How much room can they take up?

If you already have a child, I'll pause while you finish snorting your beverage out of your nose. If you have no kids (yet) consider this fair warning.

Children.......expand.

It starts in infancy. Who knew baby stuff could take up so much room? As they grow and change, the toys and gear get bigger and more plentiful. And that's only for ONE child.

We have a 1,088 square foot, two bedroom home. Five people live here. Two full grown adults and three small to medium-sized children. You do the math.

But, the housing market being what it is, and our finances being what they are (can you call them finances when they don't exist?) we're stuck here for awhile.

So the obvious temporary solution was bunk beds. Perfect right? I know I always wanted them as a kid. How cool is it to sleep 5 feet in the air?

Bunk beds are a slightly different experience as a Mom. Eventually those sheets need to be changed. Suddenly 5 feet in the air doesn't seem so cool.

If you are at all familiar with me, you know I am gravitationally challenged. In other words, I fall down a lot. Trying to balance on the bottom bunk holding on with one hand to put the sheets on the top bunk, making brief brave attempts to use both hands before tipping backwards just seems like tempting fate.

Then again me, 5 feet in the air trying to do anything, is a bad idea. But of the two this seemed the option most likely to achieve a made bed and an intact skull.

Have you ever tried to make a bed while you're sitting on it? Go ahead. Try it. I'll wait. It's sort of like trying to put your pants on standing up without lifting your feet.

After wrestling and cursing the first corner on I moved to the next corner, at which time the first corner promptly popped off. This involved more cursing and wrestling and trying to hold the next corner on with my foot while stretching across to the far side corner. Screw the top sheet. What is the point of it anyway?

I finally finished the bed after 30 minutes of sweating, teaching Jamie 5 new words he should not, but will, promptly repeat, and only smacking my head once. In my world, we call that success.

While I was up there I noticed the boldly lettered warning label stating "CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF SIX SHOULD NOT BE PERMITTED ON THE TOP BUNK."

I'm off to type my letter of recommendation to the manufacturer for new wording for the label.

PERSONS OVER THE AGE OF THIRTY-FIVE SHOULD NEVER EVER (YES IT SEEMS COOL NOW BUT YOU WILL REGRET BUYING THIS) UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BE PERMITTED ON THE TOP BUNK.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Sometimes A Toilet Beats Out Brad Pitt

"Mama I was having a really good dream and I accidentally wet the bed in my sleep."

What were you dreaming?

"I was dreaming about being on the toilet."