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 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 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

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.