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.


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

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.