Friday, December 28, 2007

Now You See It, Now You Don't

The Christmas tree ended its nearly two month stint in the living room today. I was excited about the getting the space back even though I knew it would most likely become the home of some of the larger new toy items. As it turns out, I got so used to seeing the artificial shrubbery there that the living room now looks a bit bland without it. I’ll re-adjust.

It took quite some time to disassemble the tree; I am now an ardent supporter of umbrella-style Christmas trees. You know, the kind that you hold by the post and kinda shake open. Those kinds of trees are much easier to get back into the box. And there is none of that standing around and de-fluffing each individual bough. Ugh. So many PVC needles fell off of the tree that I’m projecting it will be reduced to bare metal needle-less branches in five years.

Isn’t it funny how putting the Christmas tree up in preparation for the holiday is looked forward to while taking it down just seems like another chore? When putting it up there is Christmas music in the background, hot cocoa to drink, and if one can manage the lights without too much trouble a general feeling of goodwill prevails; by the time it comes down one more rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” would be one too many, black tea has replaced the much too sugary hot cocoa, and one just wants to get the job done as quickly as possible.

However, one must look at the bright side of things during these types of time-consuming, mind-numbing chores. My bright side was that although I had to remove each individual bough from the center post, I could just allow the strands of white lights to fall to the floor as the rows of branches were removed and simply unwind them from the post afterward and bundle them up for storage. Considering the fact that our tree was mashed into an un-navigable corner this was a good thing.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is going to be to find a way to turn the un-decorating into an event the whole family looks forward to. Lord only knows how I’m going to do that, but I am certainly going to give it a shot. Maybe I can find some misplaced holiday cheer mixed in with the cheerios and the four hundred and sixty-eight faux fir needles that found their way underneath the couch cushions.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

You Light Up My Life

This year we made it to our home church for Christmas Eve service. My favorite part of the service is always the end when the sanctuary is alight with only the congregant’s candles. I love to watch the glow spread from the front to the back of the room as each person receives the light and passes it on to the next. There is something magical in the simple symbolism.

However, this year as the flame reached our corner my peaceful smile was quickly replaced by a grin of suppressed hilarity. In an effort to put out the blazing pillar before him my son leaned over in my husband’s arms and started a furious attempt to extinguish the candle that they were sharing.

Having only reached the ripe age of two years old, some of his motor skills have yet to be fully developed. Blowing out candles in not something he has learned to do with finesse; what he does is more akin to spitting.

So when he leaned over to have a go at the flaming wick, his nose scrunched up, he pulled back his upper lip and out came a quick, smart: “Ffitt, ffitt, ffitt.” The little girl sitting a couple of rows in front of us who is one month older than my son held her own candle calmly and just watched it flicker. My husband’s little light had to be lit three times. And each time my son more excitedly tried to put it out.

When the proper time came for the candle to be extinguished we tried to no avail to show the little guy how to properly blow the flame out. He tried to mimic us, but unfortunately all that was produced was a longer “Ffffffffffftttt” at the end of which his eyes began to cross for determined concentration.

It was a Christmas miracle that the little guy didn’t hyperventilate and pass out with all of the “Ffitt”ing that he did. A few of the attempts were rather vigorous and I was afraid that I would lose my composure and laugh out loud in love for my little boy during the singing of “Silent Night,” but I managed to choke through it. This Christmas left me with many other wonderful memories, but of all the memories this one has to be the merriest.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Just Feeling Warm and Fuzzy All Around

The little guy’s stomach was gurgling last night. It must have sounded like a quack to him because he very seriously informed me that there was a duck in his shirt.

BoBeans has perfected his fake/forced cry. I picked up the baby the other night because she was fussy; this upset my son so he started with the waterworks. The poor kid just wanted some undivided mommy attention. At any rate, the baby thought that he was playing with her. Every time he would open his mouth to renew his wail she, in her naiveté, would mistake it for a laugh and would chuckle and squeal in return. The little Cheekers was having a ball, but my son grew very offended before attempting to drop the charade completely when he saw it wasn’t working. In an attempt to make up the baby reached for her brother’s head to stroke it; unfortunately she forgot herself and grabbed a tiny fistful of his hair. Thus the crying commenced again, a little more in earnest this time. More shrieking laughter; more forced tears.

The baby received a brand new toy for Christmas from a dear friend and it was so neat to watch them play with it together. Of course a six month old is only so coordinated: she would push it off of the tray on her walker and my son had to keep picking it up. My daughter makes this happy face where she scrunches her nose up and exhales through it in a sort of snort; the two of them “talked” back and forth in this snorting language, she dropped the toy, he picked it up, and they had a grand old time together smashing and exploring and organizing the monkeys in their plastic green grass hut.

Our family belongs to the genus of people that cannot help but resort to baby-talk when within two miles of a baby. Even the men do it. That includes my son. It is with a happy smile that I watch my little gentleman crouch down to his sister’s level and check on her with his own special brand of toddler baby talk, “Watcha doin’?” A baby talking baby-talk; if that’s not something to smile about, I don’t know what is.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

These Boots Aren't Made For Walkin'

Going to the pediatrician’s office is so exhausting. I have to take the kids twenty-five minutes west on an interstate highway to get there. Some times it takes twenty-five minutes, but there have been times it has taken over an hour.

Today we cruised the highway with minimal traffic and arrived a little early. The practice is on the fourth floor of a four-story building, so we always take the elevator. Elevators terrify my son. A stranger happening upon the sight is sure to get a chuckle. There I am, five-feet two-inches tall, carrying my baby girl while my two year old son, who is almost as tall as I am, stands on my feet and wraps his arms around my legs.

Like most pediatrician’s offices this time of year the feverish, coughing, runny nosed children are equal in numbers to those scheduled for regular checkups. This means we wait. And we wait. I try to look at the bright side and remember that I at least am waiting with a well child and not a sick one. This is the easy waiting because Blue’s Clues and Sesame Street help to entertain the kids.

It’s the waiting that takes place in the exam room that’s treacherous. By this time it has been a good two hours since the baby has nursed, so she is getting hungry. My son can only be read the same book so many times or drive his cars over the same terrain for so long before he has to resort to going through drawers and touching buttons while mommy frantically follows in the wake of would-be destruction.

Once the doctor appears (she’s always smiling and cheery- how does she do that?) the baby cries every time she’s touched, and the toddler either needs to be repeatedly snatched from in front of the door whenever the nurse is about to enter or told to stop rolling around on the floor.

During the descent back to the parking lot two gentlemen came aboard the elevator car. Before giving birth to my first baby I was employed for three years by a local hospital. They required all employees to attend concierge training which basically taught the new hires to be thoughtful and polite in case they didn’t already know how. What I am trying to say is that I had enter and exit an elevator last drummed into my brain; so when we reached street level I politely stood and waited for these gentlemen to exit the car. They politely stood and waited for me to exit.

Now I was in a bit of a conundrum. I couldn’t reach the door open button and, not sensing any bodies, the doors began to close. Sensing the imminent danger of another ride up and down the elevator shaft with my sweet boy crushing my feet with his toddler size eight shoes, my elasti-woman reflexes kicked in and my right leg instinctively propelled itself between the closing doors and the opposing doorjamb. I’m sure I looked like an idiot; I was perched on one leg with the other leg sticking straight out from of my body; I gripped an infant car seat in my left hand, had the diaper bag slung over my shoulder, and was blindly searching for my two-year-old’s hand with my own.

The elevator doors yielded to my apparent sudden urge to practice yoga and opened again forthwith. The one gentleman asked, “You got that?” with a very concerned edge in his voice; I’m quite sure he was having visions of the door closing on my leg and snapping it into two pieces. I mumbled something stupid like, “Mommies learn how to use all their limbs at once” in my hoarse cold-ridden voice. He probably didn’t understand a word I said, so I didn’t waste any time worrying about whether he thought I was touched in the head or not.

As if the day thus far hadn’t been strenuous enough we always follow up a visit to the doctor with a trip into the Target around the corner. Exactly a week before Christmas the parking lot was rife with motorists hunting and racing for parking spaces, and haphazardly dodging pedestrians in the crosswalk. I got scared and parked far away from the entrance.

My son clumped along next to the stroller in his big snow boots as we very, very slowly, slowly rambled through the aisles. Those boots really slow him down and the big puffy winter coat doesn’t help the speed factor very much. I think it took us an hour to look at a handful of items scattered throughout the store.

We were just about to enter the checkout aisle when the little man was taken by a fit of weariness and sat down on the floor. He couldn’t take another step. So he decided to lie down. In front of an oncoming shopping cart. Once the he regained the use of his legs we had a speedy checkout and managed to get to the car safely with our sack of… baby food? Yep. That’s the whole kit-n-caboodle: because that’s what mommies do- risk their lives to secure food for their babies.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Word "Housebroken" Literally Means the House Gets Broken

I walked into the living room to see my husband encouraging my son to leap from the ottoman onto the arrangement of couch pillows on the floor. My husband’s logic is that the kid will learn to do all of these things on his own, so therefore they may as well have a little bit of fun doing it together.

Scenario: Toddler jumps from ottoman onto couch pillows.

Daddy sees: Oh, boy! This is more fun than wrestling around on the floor! I can continue to not act my age!

Mommy sees: Having to rush toddler with broken arm to the hospital. Also foresees having to remind toddler that he cannot jump on Mrs. Smith’s couch, bed, chairs, etc; Mrs. Smith decides not to invite Mommy over anymore.

Scenario: Toddler is “swimming” in the bathtub.

Daddy sees: Opportunity to teach toddler a useful, perhaps lifesaving, skill.

Mommy sees: Water all over the bathroom floor, walls, toilet. Mommy slips in a puddle of water while carrying infant and falls. Mommy breaks her neck and being the only person in the house who can speak in complete sentences lies on her back in excruciating pain until after dark when Daddy gets home from work. Toddler shrivels up into a sickly prune and needs extensive therapy in order to return to his natural, pre-pruned state.

My husband picked up a couple of movies that were on sale that he wanted for Christmas. The deal was that since they were intended as Christmas presents he was not to watch them until Christmas day. We were wrapping presents last evening and he informed me that although he knows which movies he is getting he would still like for them to be wrapped so that he can open them during the morning’s festivities. I shook my head and laughed at this, but it was really kind of sweet. Most little boys don’t grow up: they just get taller.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Oh, Joy!

It’s a good thing that I am comfortable with my husband; otherwise my new sweat pants may have stolen my heart because they are ever so delightfully comfy. On days that I do not have a bunch of things on my to-do list I revel in dressing as cozy as possible (if I have a lot to get done I seem to move much faster and feel more motivated when wearing jeans). I draw the line at pajamas, and only wear them around the house when I am sick.

Since the summertime I have had high hopes of finding a pair of cropped sweats on clearance because I find that full-length sweat pants often get too warm in a house void of a central cooling system. I was out at a department store the other day for a couple of stolen minutes when I found them. They may be hot pink and have the word “love” stamped across the rear end in lime green, but I couldn’t care less. Why? Because they love my butt and my butt loves them.

Besides, I don’t generally leave the house in sweat pants. But, oh, the rapturous joy! When I need to wash them I feel like Linus from Peanuts when his blanket needed washing. I suppose after a while, when they are no longer new, I shan’t feel the need to wear them all the time. If I should die in the meantime, please note that it is my wish to be buried in them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

R.I.P. Christmas Cookie

When presented with a be-sprinkled cookie a little girl may marvel at how tiny they are or admire the rainbow of color. She may try to separate them into small piles in order to determine exactly how many different colors there are. Or see if she could crunch just one between her teeth.

A boy probably wouldn’t do any of these things. Not for very long anyway. My BoBeans didn’t get past the word “ball.” There, on top of his cookie, were tiny balls. And what do little boys do with balls? They throw them. He tried, rather unsuccessfully, to throw them each individually. He looked to his right and said, “Catch!” to his Uncle Bob.

That didn’t work so well. It is hard to follow the trajectory of a sprinkle. So he resorted to flicking them all over. By the time my son was done mutilating the once beautiful Christmas cookie it looked as though the area around his booster seat was the Christmas Cookie Topping Burial Ground. The little guy was also nicely decked out in what appeared to be chocolate colored war paint.

We had a small Christmas gathering yesterday with a couple of our close and dear friends. Besides an abundance of cookies there was a smattering of other good and comforting foods along with coffee, tea, and eggnog.

When my son wasn’t mauling cookies he would pluck various other items off of a tray to sample. He would wander around nibbling a cracker for a little while and then decide he no longer wanted it, so he would replace the remnants to the exact spot on the tray from whence it came. There would be a row of agreeably placed crackers at the end of which was placed, ever so precisely, the aforesaid sculpted cracker.

They were so tastefully gnawed that they reminded me of modern art. I should have saved them to sell on Ebay. People have paid copious amounts of money to attain stranger things than chiseled party food.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

We Have the Biggest Bus in Town

My son’s toys talk now. His animals, cars and trucks. They talk to him; they talk to each other. It is really quite funny to watch! The little guy even does different voices for each of the toys as they “talk”. They usually say things like, “Come on! Let’s go!” or “Growl”. Today at lunch even his tortilla chips had a short discussion before hunger prevailed and they were silenced forever. I’m just relieved that all of his battery-operated toys have not squelched his imagination.

When we went to the store the other day I absent-mindedly pushed my shopping in front of a lady who was browsing to pass her. I forgot to excuse myself, so my two-year-old took the liberty to do it for me. The woman was so impressed by his manners that I figured mine could be excused on the grounds that he learned to do so from my example in the first place.

Little kids learn a lot by watching. I try to make sure my son isn’t in the room before I do things like stand on a chair to close the drapes because I know that as soon as I put the chair back he’ll have it halfway across the floor so as to climb on top of it in front of the window. I’m also leery about clipping the baby’s nail in front of him. I don’t really want him to try and do that any time soon.

All children go through a bossy stage. I can see it starting already when my son attempts to pass along my commands to one of our two cats. It appears that he believes himself to be rid of obligation to follow the instruction if someone else obeys it. If I tell him to come upstairs or to sit down he immediately forwards the message along to a cat and generally does not comply without distress if the cat is not made to respond as well.

A rather cherished past time in our family is to replace the standard words of any given song with our own. It may seem silly, but we enjoy it because we are all rather silly. My son has started dabbling in this by just adding things and not actually replacing any words yet. After he has heard or read (he has about one dozen books memorized) four or five bedtime stories he generally likes to sing “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.” By the time he falls asleep it is not uncommon for his bus to be loaded with the traditional wheels, wipers, money, babies and mommies, but also with cars, bears, hippos, and trains among other things. The cars on the bus go beep, beep, beep all through the town. That must be one BIG bus.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Current Top Three Injustices

It has come to my attention that my son gets reprimanded for things that either my husband or I do as well. This hardly seems fair in my estimation and I am currently looking for a way to remedy this situation.

On a daily basis my son is told to stop chewing his fingernails. I do not bother to tell him this, as I quickly realized that he is not even aware that he is doing it in the first place. I feel as though it is a fight not worth picking. However, it drives my husband insane when my son stands around and ruins his appetite by devouring his nails so all night long I hear, get your hands out of your mouth!!! :::Sigh::: Alas, both my husband and myself are guilty of occasional mindless gnawing. At least I don’t have to cut his little fingernails anymore.

My father has always been a boisterous person; so has my husband. I feel as though my little boy comes by his loudness naturally enough. There have been many days where I had to take a deep breath and will my headache to cease and desist. I’m pretty sure that the little man knows what I am asking of him when I ask him to speak more quietly, but I cannot be entirely sure as he has yet to quiet down by request. He generally does not stop the racket at my husband’s demand either. On top of the ruckus my poor sweetie-pie has to endure my sly grins as well because it cracks me up to see one din-maker rebuff the attempts of another at achieving decibels as yet unknown to man. Of course it is harder for me to smile when they are both going at it at the same time. I’m pretty sure that my eyes have bled in the past.

For the day’s last look into the injustice that runs rampant in my home we will explore the Daddy-is-home-so-I-will-smother-him-to-death phenomenon. For a little boy mommy is just not as much fun as daddy. Plain and simple. So when daddy comes home the protégé latches onto daddy and follows him around like a shadow. If the shadow does not have the attention of the great and powerful daddy for a few seconds here and there it tends to whine. A lot. I can understand daddy’s need to have a few minutes without the groping and the clutching. I really can.

Perhaps my husband and my son can attend a twelve step program together to help them better cope with their groping and clutching tendencies. Like father, like son and all of that.

Monday, December 3, 2007


My little girl strongly resembles me in looks, but I found that there are certain aspects of my personality where she mirrors me as well. She loves to eat. It is no secret to those close to me that I love food. Thankfully the metabolism that God has given me can hold up to occasional divergences into the land of Bad Eating.

The baby started on solid food a couple of weeks ago (solid as in pureed). Only in the last week or so has she figured out how to open her mouth for the spoon and actually swallow the majority of it. Previously she spent most of the mealtime licking her lips, sucking on her tongue and spitting the food all over herself and the surrounding area. Now that these fine motor skills are more or less finely tuned the act of eating holds some pleasure for her. At least it certainly appears to.

My daughter enjoys her repast in the comfort of her bouncy chair. By the time the bib is securely in place so as to absorb most of the mess that is sure to be made she knows what’s coming and starts to kick her legs with the thrill of it all. (When a kicky baby is settled into one of these chairs it turns into a kind of baby-catapult, so always make sure that the baby is properly restrained so that he or she will not go flying through the air until stopped by a solid object like a wall.) There she sits making baby noises and kicking in between mouthfuls of sweet potatoes. Her eyes get all wide when she sees the spoon coming toward her mouth; if mommy is too slow in getting it there the little girl will grab mommy’s wrist with both of her small hands and pull the food-laden spoon into her waiting mouth.

There is still a little bit that needs to be learned about the whole spoon-eating thing. Approximately every other time her lips close around the spoon she zerberts the mush all over her face and up her nose. I’ve decided that I prefer foods like pears and applesauce: they don’t stain quite as much.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What's Up, Dude?

The phone rang. My husband had just taken the kitchen trash out back to dump it into the garbage cans before hauling them to the curb for pickup the following afternoon. I was removing a steaming dish of cheese stuffed shells from the oven. Somehow I just knew that my son was going to choose this time as his first attempt to answer the phone.

A mother’s intuition is rarely wrong, so of course he picked up the phone on the first ring and pressed the pulsing green button. As I closed the stove and made a mad dash across the kitchen floor I heard the bleep of the talk button and heard him use his grown-up voice to say, “Hello?” The hello was quickly followed by a “yeah” and I made it into the dining room just in time to see him rest his elbows on the phone table and ask, in his mostly casually friendly voice, “What’s up?”

I took the phone from him to extend my own greeting. Of course the person on the other end was a telemarketing type in search of my husband (I had hoped it was a relative who could share in the mirth of the moment). She did not seem flustered or show any indication that she realized she had been talking to a two-year-old. If anything she was confused as to who I was and why I had commandeered the telephone.

The funniest thing about the whole situation is that my little boy tends to jibber-jabber on the phone instead of using real words and if he chooses to make use of his extensive vocabulary it is to tell the listener about his trucks or the latest video he has watched. He has never been the straight-to-the-point type on the telephone. What I wouldn’t give to have heard the other end of the conversation. At least he didn’t call the woman “Dude.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fast Food Dreaming

Driving in the rain is wretched. Especially at night. Not only can one’s eyes have considerable trouble locating the yellow line in all of that shiny wetness, but a lot of the other drivers on the road operate their vehicles like they’re in the movie Speed and cannot drive below sixty-five mph. Or whatever it was.

When will the guy in the passing lane learn that if he crashes his car it will take him so much longer to get to his destination if he has to take a detour to the hospital first? Lord help him if he causes any harm to come to either of my children as a result of his idiotic driving. Mommies can be pretty scary when it comes to protecting their young; they become possessed with a super-human strength that enables them to leap tall buildings in a single bound and bend steel with their bare hands.

My son has learned how to turn on the Christmas tree lights. He probably saw me do it one time. It has become the first order of his day: wake up, go downstairs, turn on the Christmas tree lights. That is why his bedroom doorway is gated at night. At least when the little man was in our bed we always knew what he was up to. We knew that he was not rummaging through the refrigerator; we also knew that he wasn’t playing John the Baptist and baptizing his reading materials in the toilet water.

I have often wondered what babies dream about. Shortly after birth an infant can be observed to be smiling while asleep. My two year old must have been dreaming about fried food yesterday because not long after having lunch with my one of my sisters at a local Red Robin where there is never a shortage of steak fries he awoke partially from his nap to say, “French fries?” in that slurry dream speech.

Kids are weird. One never knows what will spew forth from the mouth of a child. My son started calling my sister’s cat “Uncle Bella.” Not just “Bella” or “Bella kitty.” No. He refers to the feline as his uncle. Maybe it was the grease from all of those steak fries talking.

Friday, November 23, 2007

All I Want for Christmas is to Lose the Ten Pounds I Gained on Thanksgiving

I believe I am losing my endurance when it comes to marathon eating. On Thanksgiving Day I squeeze a small portion of everything onto my dinner plate. This may not sound like a whole ton of food, but one must consider the bounty of an average Thanksgiving in the home of my parents.

Our table consists of traditional items like turkey, bread, homemade cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and stuffing; in addition there is also broccoli with cheese sauce, creamed pearl onions, green beans, corn, glazed carrots and sweet potatoes. Just in case we feel the need to whet our appetites stuffed mushrooms, fig and goat cheese spread, and celery with pimento cream cheese are also available for sampling along with a port wine cheese ball.

All of this for my immediate family of six, my husband and our two babies. Whew! My grandparents join us for dessert: pumpkin and apple pies supplemented this year with cutout butter cookies and iced pumpkin cake.

So, there I am with all of my food touching: the cranberry sauce atop my turkey and the cheese sauce flowing over into my sweet potatoes. When I was younger I found myself able to eat multiple helping of everything throughout the day, but now I’m lucky if I can eat dessert and still manage to be breathing at the end of the night. We customarily end the holiday by playing a game together. This probably started as an attempt to burn some calories by means of good old-fashioned belly laughter.

My prayer this Thanksgiving is that I won’t ever find myself nine months pregnant on this holiday of over-eating because by that time in a pregnancy the mommy is reduced to portions resembling a tablespoon in size as a result of the baby taking up every centimeter of available space and pushing mommy’s stomach up into her throat. Every year in my delirium I vow that I shall not eat again until the following Thanksgiving Day. I always seem to forget that by lunch time on Friday when I attempt to recreate my dinner plate with leftovers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Do You Want Batteries With That?

My husband and I are in the process of choosing gifts to buy for our two little ones this Christmas. I have had a blast looking at toys that I remember from my childhood! It is hard for me to get interested in any of these newer toys because I just want to re-buy everything I used to own as a kid.

My son loves cars. And trucks. And buses. Oh, and did I mention cars? Anything else gets a smaller amount of playtime. I’m afraid to buy him the things I have such fond memories of because I’m liable to get mad if he doesn’t love them as much as I did! My baby loves to touch and look at anything within her reach, so maybe I’ll just get something for her that she’ll be able to play with in a couple of months, or years. At least she’s likely to be interested in it!

Toys were so much simpler when I was little. Not so many flashing lights; not so many dead batteries to replace. Toys like: the Chatter Phone, the GloWorm, and the Fun 2 Imagine Cash Register. (Fun to imagine- in other words, it doesn’t have twenty-five buttons to push that all produce ear-splitting sounds and music). I used to love the Sit ‘N Spin. The thought of sitting and spinning now makes me sick to my stomach, but when I was a kid it was the best! My three sisters and I all loved our bed tents too. Yessiree. Pound Puppy bed tents. So cool.

Perhaps it is because I had a happy childhood that I feel like my kids cannot possibly have a memorable childhood without these particular items. I am sure that as they grow up they will remember certain toys of their own with a smile and want to pass those on to their children. At least my mom kept our blue Going to Grandma’s suitcases. I think she may have had an ulterior motive with that one.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Barbarians, cavemen, and toddlers. Oh, my!

This is not the first time that I have discussed my son’s eating habits. He is a picky eater; he will eat cat litter and dirt; he will put his hands in his mouth when they are covered in sidewalk chalk; and he occasionally indulges in the delicacy of a Crayola crayon. If a particular food is considered healthy, chances are he won’t even try it.

There are only three safe bets when it comes to foods that he won’t refuse: carbohydrates (cereal, pancakes, bread, crackers, pretzels, cookies, chips, french fries, etc.), cucumbers, and Tyson brand chicken nuggets. The list of foods that he will usually eat is not much longer: hot dogs, ice cream, pb&j, grilled cheese, spaghetti, pizza, and watermelon. We can sit him down to dinner when he is starving and he will sit there for hours without touching his food if he decides he doesn’t want to eat it.

What I have yet to share is the way in which he eats the food he deems worthy enough to chew and swallow. Let’s start with pancakes. My son raises this breakfast staple to his mouth with his index finger and thumb; he then proceeds to crumble teeny tiny pieces of it into his mouth. These teeny tiny pieces go places other than his mouth as well: all over the floor, his bib, under his bib, his pants, on the booster seat, etc. :::deep breath:::

When it comes to cucumbers, the boy chews through to the seeds and eats them, leaving a “u” shaped ring of cucumber behind. No seedless cucumbers in our house, thank you very much.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and grilled cheese also have their own special way of being devoured. First the two pieces of bread must be pulled apart. Once that has been accomplished my little boy impales the insides of the sandwich onto his index finger and eats it. After the bread is sufficiently deformed and disfigured he consumes that as well in a manner similar to pancakes.

One would think he could handle finger foods such as Cheerios and crackers. However, due to my son’s experimental eating habits (i.e. lifting the bowl to his mouth and darting out his tongue like a toad) it is not uncommon to find a dozen Cheerios or whole crackers underneath his rear end and also under the opposite end of the table.

So not only must I wipe his hands and face, his chair and between all of his fingers, I am also obliged to clean out his hair, brush off his clothes and vacuum the whole house. :::sigh::: The only reason I even bother to vacuum at all is that I don’t want to have to go to the hospital after stepping on a petrified crumb in order to have said crumb surgically removed from the bottom of my foot.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What I Learned about Bats

I feel like I’m back in grade school writing a paper: “What I learned about Bats”. As with any crises there is always The Aftermath, where one regroups, reflects, and resolves on a plan of action to smother any reoccurrence of said crises: the three R’s of crises management, as it were.

Because I do not generally possess large amounts of free time, I spent only a few minutes the morning following our escapade with the bat (see “Things that go BUMP in the night”) to look up some basic facts about these mammals.

Here is what I learned:

· Bats are not rodents, but are more closely associated with the shrew. Shrews, unlike rodents, have five toes instead of four.
· Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight.
· Their fangs are so small and sharp that it can be difficult to locate a bite even when one is known to have occurred.
· Signs of rabies in a bat may include crawling along the ground or aggressiveness. Infected persons may not show signs of rabies for upwards of one month or, in rare cases, as long as one year.
· Bat droppings (or guano) can play host to a fungus which, when the spores are inhaled, can cause a lung infection called Histoplasmosis in humans.
· A bat needs only an area about one-half of an inch high to squeeze into your child’s bedroom.

To justify myself in not worrying about the interloper I called the pediatrician’s office. The nurse laughed so heartily at me while I imparted to him of the basic details of the previous night that he started to cough. Actually, I think he may have had a cold and that probably contributed more to the coughing than the laughter. At any rate, I felt myself absolved to continue in my worry-free state of mind in reference to the bat.

The Internet is a great fountain of knowledge when it comes to identifying animal feces. After reviewing a few pictures, I made a quick circuit of the house and even ventured into the attic to look for droppings. I believe I am becoming somewhat of an expert on recognizing all sorts of creature waste (see “In other news…”). I shall list that among my other life accomplishments.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My husband's version of "Things that go BUMP in the night"

Here is what REALLY happened
By Sean

Earlier, my wife posted in her blog what I'll call a lovely little fable regarding the infiltration and subsequent savage attack upon my home, children and person by a ferocious mutant bat. In this story, there were charming and amusing details outlining how I bumbled about mostly in terror and by virtue of an accident managed to exorcise said bat. Women have this tendency to understate details of traumatic events in order to keep a grounded sense of reality, ignoring the outlandish aspects of the truth because acknowledging that such abject horrors exist would be a threat to her sanity.

Here is what REALLY happened...

10:45 PM: I am laying in bed, about to slip into a well-deserved and justified sleep after a hard day's work. I hear a murmured voice from down the hall, my wife, trying to converse with me in her usual manner- from thirty feet away, facing the opposite direction and with at least two walls in between. I wait for her to, inevitably, repeat herself.

11:08 PM: "Honey, there's a bat in here." She annunciates and speaks at an appropriate volume. I spring out of bed and charge down the hall to where my children sleep. "Help, help, Oh Help!" My wife whimpers at me. I say, "Get the children and get out of here!" and step into the room. The beast is circling around the ceiling in a menacing way, it's vast leathery wings more akin to an Andean condor than a common brown bat. It's wingbeats sound like a thick carpet being shaken out, and it's loveless black eyes shimmer, each one the size of a marble. Green liquid, which I can only assume is venom, glistens on it's bared fangs.

11:09 PM: My wife, forsaking her children, flees the room.

11:11 PM: The vicious bat, having not killed anything yet, is growing agitated. It lunges for one of my children, its massive bat ears (each one as big as my hand) twitch with fury. I swipe at it bare-fisted, all the while shouting for my wife, my helpmeet, to come and save the children. The bat flees the bedroom, nearly impaling me with it's wing-talons and I chase it down the stairs, glimpsing as I pass my wife in the office where she has opened the window, presumably to hurl herself out in terror. "NO!" I say, "I have it right where I want it! Save the children!" She complies.

11:12 PM: Silence. Downstairs, the darkness is deep. The beast hides, awaiting me, knowing I will come, sensing the courage in my heart, as one's nemesis always has a sixth sense about these things. I descend.

11:14 PM: I discover the beast in the kitchen, as I turn on the light it dives from the ceiling, belching out a great fountain of orange fire from its nostrils. I fall to the ground, several times, barely avoiding the scorching flames, razor-sharp talons, and poisonous jaws.

11:15 PM: I have an idea, and flee for the camera.

11:17 PM: Back in the kitchen, the winged demon is wreaking havoc, thawing out our meat with it's flaming breath and making unwanted toast. I attempt to flash blind it with the camera.

11:18 PM: My wife has come downstairs, and again I catch her at the front door trying to make good her escape. Again she has left our children to the fate of the bat. I command her upstairs.

11:24 PM: For several long minutes, the bat and I are locked in combat. We grapple as Jacob and the angel did, destroying furniture, shattering picture frames and making a terrible racket.

11:29 PM: Exhausted, I summon my last ounce of strength and hurl the bat away from me. I cast down my enemy and smite his ruin upon the chaise lounge. The frenzied beast drags its heaving bulk out the front door and again takes wing. I slam the door shut in time to see the creature swoop down and snatch a Siberian Husky from a neighbor's backyard. It soars away into the night, carrying its prey with it.

11:31 PM: All is well and peaceful.

As you can see, the truth is very different from the cute little tale you were earlier told. I may bear the bodily scars of the feral attack and the emotional scars of a wife who abandons us all in our time of need, but rest assured that I will still love her, and continue to protect her from the vile minions of darkness.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Things that go BUMP in the night

My baby girl was fussing around ten-thirty last evening. She never fusses at this time of the night. On this rare occasion I can say that I am absolutely thrilled that she kept me up. I can also say without pause that, for what it’s worth, I am glad my husband was home from his men’s group at church earlier than normal.

After I nursed her I was settling her back into her crib when I heard one of the cats pawing at the window blinds in the dark.

Argh,” I thought as I tucked the blanket under the baby’s legs to keep her warm, “when will those dumb cats learn to leave the blinds alone!”

The cat must have gotten bored quickly because I heard him start to play with the piece of Styrofoam on the floor that my son had pilfered from the box belonging to the new microwave. I turned to leave the room and head back to my own when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a dark shape hovering near the window and heard the unmistakable sound of wings in flight. Turns out the cats were not in the room with me after all; the sounds I had heard were courtesy of another animal.

I groaned. “You have got to be kidding me! Seriously? A BAT?!”

And then I did what any good mother would do: I ducked. No, I did not gather my children together and haul them to safety; nor did I drape myself over their bodies to protect them from this horrible apparition. I ducked. Allow me to defend myself by stating two semi-obvious facts: I did not wish to wake them only to have them become frightened, and I did not believe them to be in any immediate peril because bats don’t tend to be aggressive creatures. Oh, and this one was, to my estimation, clearly not rabid.

I continued to crouch as the bat swooped and glided around the room looking for a stable place to land, all the while making those kissy/squeaky Styrofoam noises that bats make. I began to consider how I should go about the process of bat-removal. There was the distinct possibility that if I alerted my husband to the bat’s presence he would freak. (My husband would freak, not the bat.) I had visions in my head of my husband blindly running around in circles until he dashed into a wall and knocked himself out.

Trying to sound perfectly calm so as to engender calmness in my husband, I called out, “Honey, can you come here? There’s a bat in the kids’ bedroom.” I had to call several times before he dragged himself out of bed to walk down the hall. (I later asked him why it took so long for him to come to my aid. He replied that he believed me to be joking. ‘Cause, yeah, any mother would want to wake her sleeping children up so she could have an excuse to begin the ritual all over again by shouting about some imaginary bat).

He plodded to their doorway, looked over the gate and gazed stupidly at me. “What are you talking about?” he asked, with a look of concern that undeniably indicated that he thought I had gone mad at long last.

The bat took flight again, squelching my husband’s concern for my mental faculties while at the same time making his concern for his own well being much more imminent. He feels the same way about bats as he does about bugs. Cue the freak-out music, please.

It was then I decided that I could not remain in my hunkered position forever, so amid his shouts of “get the kids out of there!” and “save yourselves!” and the standard “what should I do, what should I do?” that I arose with my arms about my face and head and clambered over the safety gate into the hallway. Probably because things with wings always surround a light in the outside darkness, my first inclination was to start turning on lights in order to draw it away from my sleeping babies.

I quickly flipped the hall switch and the office light switch, illuminating half of the upstairs; then I opened the office window and lifted the screen. The bat darted out of their room all right, but it missed the office doorway and went down the stairs instead. It alighted on some blue ribbon from which hangs a framed photograph of our first portrait as a family of three.

Now that the creature seemed less of an immediate threat my husband started to bark orders. My son had woken up what with all of the shouting and shrieking, so I was commanded to stay with the children while my husband, brave soul that he is, dealt with the bat.

I found it impossible to remain upstairs. With the level of noise emanating up through the floor I was afraid that the bat had somehow discovered that it could arm-wrestle my husband to the floor: it sounded to me as though my fearless protector was shouting and thumping the equivalent of “uncle” in some strange and foreign tongue indicating that he needed urgent help. Either that or he was performing an Indian bat-ridding dance. Either way I didn’t want to miss it.

It must have been the latter because when I arrived on the scene my husband was not pinned to the floor. He must have forgotten one of the critical steps in his dance though, as the bat was still present- circling around and around the ceiling fan in the kitchen. Actually, what my husband was doing was taking pictures! And ducking. I don’t think the bat liked the flash very much.

Once again the fearless ridder-of-things-black-and-yucky commanded me to go upstairs and tend to the children. I made a quick detour to turn on the porch light and open the front door. There continued to be much shouting, stomping, and falling over while I waited with the babies for the battle of the wills to be over downstairs. Eventually my husband threw himself to the floor one last time (he claims the animal was attacking him), and the bat became tired of all the shouting and extricated himself from the house by means of the front door I had left open.

Needless to say, a number of books were read and songs sung before everyone was sufficiently tired enough to go back to sleep. The only injury sustained during the whole ordeal was a broken toenail that my husband acquired during one of his spectacular dives to the floor. Hopefully that blue throw rug I stuffed behind the attic door will prevent any other nighttime creatures from penetrating into our living space. Hopefully.

Monday, November 12, 2007

You can have my truck, but you can't have my hugs!

To watch a child become more independent is bittersweet. This past weekend my son stayed in the church nursery all by himself for the hour our pastor delivered his sermon. Anytime we tried to do this in the past it failed miserably: he would become hysterical.

He has never been in a daycare situation before, so I am sure he felt insecure about whether his needs would be met if neither his mommy nor daddy were with him. Being touched by other children would upset him greatly; another kid could snatch his toy and he would be fine, but if he were hugged he’d freak out! If another child started to cry or became agitated it would send my son to the roof! He’s very sensitive like that.

Over the last few weeks I have watched him grow more confident and show a healthy interest in playing with other children. It was time to try the nursery again. This time he settled in quickly; he explained to his new little friend that her doll was wearing a “shirt”, and then he began to drive some trucks up and down the table. When I told him that I was going to go back upstairs with Daddy he looked at me briefly and continued with his game. I stood outside of the nursery door for a couple of minutes watching him play: he didn’t look around for me once. His number did not appear on the LCD screen during the whole sermon and I am told that he was totally fine. When we went downstairs to collect him he didn’t even throw himself at my feet and say, “oh, Mother, how good of you to come for me. I missed you so!” He just looked at me with an expression that said, “oh, there’s Mommy, I knew she was around here somewhere. I think I’ll go find another truck to play with.”

While part of me is excited to be able to listen to our pastor teach here and there as the baby allows when she doesn’t need to nurse, part of me is wondering where I left the portion of my little boy that was stuck in “I NEED MOMMY AROUND ALL THE TIME WHEN STRANGERS ARE PRESENT” mode.

It is important to me that my children grow into healthy adults with their bag full of marbles, so I guess I’ll just have to cope. My son recently entered the “I love to give Mommy kisses” stage. That helps.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The loves of my life

There is something enchanting about being a mommy. For that first tender year of life mommy is the center of the universe. I love when friends and family hold my little girl: mainly because she squeals with excitement each and every time I look in her direction or speak to her! Even when she is lounging around in her bouncy chair she follows me with her eyes, turning her head to keep me in her line of sight. As babies get older and grow into toddlers the delight over mommy dims a little, but mommy is still the one they run to when a boo-boo needs kissing. One of my cherished memories is of my son playing with a friend while his family was visiting with us in our home; as I peeked around the corner to check on them my son pointed toward me, with a huge smile on his face, and told his friend, “that’s momma!” in the most adoring manner. Moments like that make everything else about being a mommy so worth it.

Friday, November 9, 2007

And so, technology dies.

After the invention of cell phones many of us wondered how in the heck we got along without them. We could now call the friend we were meeting at the mall instead of walking around for hours trying to locate them because they thought you were going to meet at the store entrance into the mall while you were under the impression that you were gathering at the store entrance to the parking lot. Instead of dropping by unannounced to visit a pal you could now phone first to make sure that you wouldn’t be interrupting anything, or to verify that you would not be going fifteen minutes out of your way just to find their car gone and no one at home. And, of course, they offer a certain amount of security when lost or having car troubles.

Microwaves are a similarly wonderful piece of technology. They are not the best for making scintillating home-cooked sit down dinners, but boy are they great to heat up leftovers or fix a quick snack. The amount of time to boil water for one cup of tea or to pop popcorn is greatly diminished with a microwave when compared to a stovetop. This sort of operation generally dirties fewer dishes as well.

Nine-thirty last night found me in the midst of an attempt to will the microwave to heat some leftovers as I had yet to eat any form of dinner. The appliance had warmed up leftover chili for my husband hours before and also a bit of leftover noodles for my son. The baby was in her crib sound asleep with a tummy full of milk. I alone was starving! I found myself unable to channel my Jedi mind-powers properly for lack of food; the microwave gave one final sputter and touted its triumph over my hungry stomach by refusing to abide by my attempt to force it into submission by repeatedly jabbing the Quick Min button.

In my desperation I had to resort to boiling water on the stove for some good old-fashioned macaroni and cheese in a box because I had already had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that day and on top of that I had a hankerin’ for hot food. What should have taken two minutes turned into about twenty minutes of listening to my belly grumble before I was able to eat.

Ah, the things we take for granted. If, dear reader, you have yet to acquire the sniffles as the cold weather sets in thank the Lord above for a chap-less nose, and give your microwave a pat on the back so that it will not decide to give its notice and force you to stand over the stove with a tissue coiled up your nose stirring chicken soup when the time to be sick does come.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm so confused!

When I was a little girl my music collection consisted of Sunday school songs and other assorted Christian tapes for little people. I really enjoyed listening to them. My son has about half a dozen Veggie Tales’ compact discs, and an equal number of discs containing the more standard nursery rhymes.

As I listened along with him when he was a newborn it quickly came to my attention that other than the customary “Pat-a-Cake” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” I knew few of the others. How mortifying! Here I was, a grown adult, hearing many of these nursery rhyme classics for the very first time!

The really wonderful part of all of this was that my son and I were able to sit with each other and have a “first-time” experience together while choosing favorites. What makes my situation truly hilarious is that there were a few songs whose lyrics were new to me while their melodies were familiar because they were the same as some of the church songs that I grew up with. At times I feel like an individual who has grown up in a bilingual home: I begin with one set of lyrics and inevitably end with another. For example, just last night I began a rousing chorus of “The Old Gray Mare” and ended with some lovely lines from “I’m in the Lord’s Army”. Now that’s something one doesn’t hear everyday.

And then there’s my husband. He thinks he can just arbitrarily change whatever words he chooses whenever he chooses. If someone were to ask my son if he knows how to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” he may not deign to sing that, but he sure knows the words to “The Itsy Bitsy Lobster”.

My husband was recently asked how a lobster managed to squeeze into the water-spout; he replied that he did not realize the spider was inside the spout, and had always been under the impression that the spider climbed up the outside of the spout. Regardless of the fact that the spider is washed out in the song, I would still like to know how a lobster finds himself able to climb a vertical pipe in the first place.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

O Christmas Tree

With the thought that the next couple of weeks leading up to Thanksgiving will quickly be over, it occurred to me that we do not have a normal sized (artificial) Christmas tree for our new house. After a stroll down holiday lane in the local craft store it became pretty obvious that we would have to rob a bank in order to buy one brand spankin’ new. Evidently my husband was already on task because he came home from work on Saturday, the same day of my excursion to the craft store, with a tree. He found it at the Goodwill for a mere $25. This was a considerable deal what with the going rate of artificial trees. A comparable fir would have set us back somewhere in the ballpark of $199.

Informed that we needed to make sure all of the pieces were accounted for, we set to work assembling our new treasure. We fluffed and we set and we straightened branches. As the Douglas fir grew before our eyes I quickly became aware that this wonderful tree would not fit into the wonderful-tree-designated-area. How wide is this tree? I asked my husband. Five and a half feet, came his reply. Sure, that’ll fit into a space three feet wide.

The poor man was so excited about finally being able to celebrate Christmas with a seven foot tree instead of the three foot tree that we’ve been decorating since we got married five years ago that I really tried to maintain my Christmas cheer through the whole ordeal (I think someone needs to sing a Christmas carol). I really couldn’t say how many branches I stuck into that tree; neither can I begin to account for the number of times the fir stuck me; nor can I remember how many times I told my son that, no, he could not climb the tree. But, suddenly, there it was, towering over the whole living room like a jolly green giant. A guest entering the house through the front door would think they had stumbled into Narnia with the way the tree loomed over and in front of the entryway.

My husband insisted, and rightly so, that it would be asinine to take the tree down just to put it up again in three weeks. (The tradition in the family is to put the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving). I’m not claustrophobic, but I just knew that I couldn’t live in my shrunken living space for two whole months with the limbs hugging the light from the windows. So, I came up with a plan: we needed to prune the monster and coax it peacefully into the corner designated to be its residence. I set to work removing a branch here and there from the mechanism as my husband half slid, half squashed the tree into submission in the corner.

It worked. From one angle it appears as though some thing took a rather large bite out of the boughs, but from another it simply look as if it is growing around the couch. We had to temporarily relocate some of the kid’s toys and it’s nearly impossible to close the curtains properly, but I’m sure we are the first people on the street and maybe in the whole city to put up a Christmas tree.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Santa has something for everyone on your list

My girlfriend and I took the kids to the mall yesterday to walk around and so that my son could look at the Christmas trees. This is becoming a favorite past time of his already. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the little mall elves had put up the huge mall tree already. The little man did not like this one as much as the smaller trees in the department stores because this one had a rope around it making it off-limits to small hands.

He is at the age where the days of walking past the toy store without going in are over. I enjoy watching him explore all of the different toys. This may cease to be enjoyable if he reaches the temper-throwing stage because he cannot take everything he sees home with him, but right now all he wants to do is browse and mash buttons. Kids these days must be born with a button-seeking sensor; he can locate a push button in no time flat.

We spend most of our time in the car/truck aisle. Yesterday was no exception. If this is any indication of what to expect when holiday shopping this year I am a little frightened: in between the fire engines and the racecars sat a jeep with two bobble-headed hunters sitting in it. How did I know they were hunters, you may ask? It was a pretty safe guess for the reason that both were sporting orange vests. However, the dead buck roped to the hood of the vehicle was what clinched it for me. A jab to the button started a song (for the life of me I can’t remember what it was) to which the hunters’ heads bobbled and their mouths snapped open and shut as if in song. Once the lifeless deer lifted its head and joined in the song the toy completed its journey into the part of my brain that registers the ridiculous.

What will those builders of toys think of next? If toys like this can be made my husband would quickly rise to the top of the field if he were employed as a Toy-Thinker-Upper. So, dear shopper, keep your eyes peeled for strange and unexpected playthings this holiday season as you comb a toy store near you for that one-of-a-kind Christmas present.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Apparently, dirt can get anywhere.

My vacuum cleaner has been sucking up dirt, dust, and messes for about four years now. The dirt sensor does not work so well anymore; I just thought that perhaps my floors were incapable of becoming clean enough for the sensor to turn from red to green. I learned something today: it is wise to occasionally check the underneath of the carpet head for dust/dirt buildup. I am sure at some point my mother imparted this wisdom to me, but I had forgotten it.

To some this may seem like common sense. If it is then there must be a block on vacuum cleaners in my common sense faculties. Things like: don’t provoke bears, the underwear goes underneath the pants, and wearing a cape does not make one capable of flight are common sense.

I think that I removed about a pound of compacted yuck from the cleaner head. Some of it was so stuck I had to use my fingernails to scrape it off. :::shudder::: At least I got a chuckle out of imagining my husband trying to complete this task. Whenever he inhales dry air or touches something dry or dusty his throat begins to uncontrollably produce what can only be referred to as a complex bird call/squawking sound. Repeatedly. It appears to be a type of gag because he claims it renders him unable to breathe. This can happen when he sits in front of a heating vent or touches a wool sweater, among other things. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life.

Hopefully my vacuum cleaner will be back to full operating capacity now. Who would have thought that tools specifically designed to clean would need to be cleaned themselves?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails

I don’t remember
what I did
as a little girl
when I played
outside in the yard.

I’m pretty sure
that I didn’t
run though the mulch,
throw sticks around,
or fall in the dirt.

I can’t recall whipping
the bubble wand around
like a saber,
or putting my chalk-covered
hands in my mouth.

I doubt that I squashed
any ants
with my thumb or maimed
any spiders
crawling along.

I probably played
house or played
school or
sat under a big
leafy tree.

Perhaps I played
hopscotch or skipped
or jumped rope,
but I rarely skinned
both of my knees.

Maybe the reason that I can’t
recollect exactly what it is I have done
is because it just isn’t
as fun or as memorable
as the things that I just didn’t do.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The new Swan Lake

Here we are again. The dawn of winter is upon us: in a few short days it will be November. The cold weather requires much preparation to go out of doors with little faces, heads and legs. We shall call the following paragraph, “the Psychotic Ballet of Preparation for an Average Winter Outing.”

Firstly, one must decide if one has sufficient energy to attempt such a trial. If one decides in the negative then all one must do is to find a safe place to sip hot cocoa so as not to be consistently jostled causing one to spill the steaming beverage on oneself or the kiddos. If, however, one decides to embark upon the journey it is always wise to defer it until all children are possessed of a full tummy. This will make the excursion much more pleasant for all involved, and dramatically reduce the amount of whining. One should also make sure that all babies have dry, clean diapers. This is done for two reasons: in hopes that they will not need to be changed during the outing; and also because wet diapers are uncomfortable at any time, especially when they become wet and cold. The next order of business would be to check that mommy’s bag is properly stocked with all of the necessities: munchies for the toddler, wipes, diapers, extra clothes in case of a diaper malfunction, wallet, keys, cell phone, sippy cup, etc. Now comes the “bundling up” that is a well loved past time with all mommies. Shoes/boots, coat, hat, scarf, mittens. Repeat as required until all little people are properly dressed. Do not skip any steps or one may suffer the remarks of strangers who wonder loudly as to why the baby doesn’t have her head covered. At this time one or all of the kids may have decided it would be a good time to poop. Since it would be a wretched idea to take the baby out in this condition, however tempting it may be, one must undress, change, and re-dress the child. It is now time to wrestle the transformed marshmallow offspring into the vehicle. Please note that it can be difficult for the toddler to get to the car without falling over at least once due to the restriction of the winter clothing ensemble. Once everyone is settled into their car seats and smothered with blankets to ward off the cold it is time to adjust the heat and put the car into drive (it may be wise to warm up the car ahead of time).

This ballet, as we have called it, can take an average of seventy-five to ninety minutes. All of this to run to the grocery store because one is out of milk.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Frame hanging 101

Picture hanging isn’t so much an art as it is a pain in the rear. No matter how much thought goes into the process it is either hung too high, too low, a little to the left, or far too much to the right. The amount of time and energy that goes into the process does not determine the perfection of the final position. Lord help me if there is more than one picture to rest in the same space. To blindly whack at a nail with ones eyes closed inevitably produces a result closer to the desired one. To add to the nonsense, the presence of plaster walls enhances the level of fun: one never knows if it will hold up at the point of entry. Various episodes have seen the use of rulers, measuring tapes, impromptu diagrams made of masking tape, levels, pencils, etc. My husband recently made fun of the procedure used to hang frames in his workplace. While there is some silliness behind the reason so much fuss goes into it, I am willing to bet that all of those pictures are a tribute to masterful hanging. I really don’t care if I look like a fool and have to hang from a trapeze in order to do it right. Perhaps the community college should add this to their list of non-credit courses: right in there with cake decorating and computer applications.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The get-rich-not-so-quick plan

Yes, if I didn’t have kids I’d be a bazillionaire. Well, not quite. But I’d sure own more pairs of shoes! In desperation to get out of the house one more time without having to bundle everyone up in coats the kids and I went to Babies R Us to buy diapers. Exciting, no? Actually, there is an element of excitement for me: my husband takes my car to work most days because his car is a gas-guzzler, so most days I find myself stranded at home.

After I looked at the newspaper this morning and the flat, yellow sun peeked out at me from behind a fake, flat cloud with a declaration that the day would be a warm seventy-seven degrees I decided that I needed to have my car for the day. I hoped against hope that one of my friends would be available on short notice, but everyone had appointments, or previous engagements, or had to work. Thus the plan to venture out to buy diapers was formulated.

So there we were, my son sitting in the front of the cart, my daughter snuggled up in her carrier stowed away in the basket, two boxes of diapers- one for each child- stuffed on the metal rack beneath the cart, on our way to select the baby’s first boxes of cereal. We decided on one box each of rice and oatmeal. Okay, on to bedding. The kids needed more sheets, and lucky me!, the Gerber sheets were on sale! Before selecting the sale item I looked around to see if I could purchase sheets made in the good old US of A. Not so much. My options were India, China and Pakistan. I opted for the on-sale made in India sheets. At the register I handed the lady the two boxes of cereal, two fitted sheets, and hoisted the two boxes of diapers onto the counter before surrendering my coupons. (On a side note- I have found Babies R Us to be the best place to buy diapers because they have fantastic coupons every couple of months). The good news: I saved $17.80 between the sale and my coupons. The bad news: my total still came to $76.74.

But wait, we’re not done yet! My son still needs shoes. Next stop: Payless Shoesource. It’s loads of fun to buckle everyone back into the car just to drive across the street. This time the baby went into the stroller and my son got to wear his “backpack.” Really it’s a leash. It’s new. My husband hates it. But my son gets to look like he’s piggybacking a monkey around while I don’t have to be afraid that he will try to run into the street to play with the life-size fire engine. The benefits far outweigh the negatives. Case closed. We just won’t utilize the monkey when we are out with daddy.

After perusing through the Christmas trees in the department store we made our way out into the mall to the shoe store. The monkey came in handy here because the little man kept attempting to run back to Christmas tree land. Once his shoe size was determined by the shoe-sizer thingy we had to select two pair of shoes for him because with sales these days you have to spend money to save money. Go figure. The good news: I saved $7.00 between the sale and a coupon. The semi-bad news: I still spent $20.99.

To recap, the day’s total came to $97.73 for diapers the kids will poop in and shoes they will grow out of in no time at all. I’m dreading the snow boot shopping. I peeked at a tag while at Payless; I’ll need to have my head examined if I acquiesce to spend $29.99 on a pair of kids’ boots. I don’t even spend that much on shoes for myself. And I stopped growing out of my shoes years ago.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Say, "cheese!"

After my first baby was born I began to understand a little bit better why God requires us to go through things that are painful even though to us in our finite minds it seems totally pointless. Every couple of months up until the time they are eighteen to twenty-four months old babies receive numerous vaccinations. It hurts and they cry, but it could be so much worse in the long run for them to be spared the momentary discomfort.

During our last visit to the doctor I inquired about a shot that my son had not received yet. My husband was not expecting this, so when the doctor offered to give it during this visit the husband started to look a bit queasy. Dear old Daddy informed me that our son had been told he was not getting any shots that day and that we could not in good conscience allow him to be stuck. In other words, Daddy had not mentally prepared himself for both babies to get stuck in the same day: needles make him excessively uneasy. Truth be told, my brave little man hardly cried at all; it has been about seven months since he was last vaccinated and I believe he forgot to be scared and upset.

This happened to be the same day that my four-month-old daughter decided to roll over. Being a stay-at-home mom is great because it enables me to be present to watch my children learn new skills. Usually. I totally missed the first, and second, and third, and fourth back-to-stomach maneuvers. If I sat and stared at her so as not to miss it again she would just stare back and start to talk at me, totally disinterested in showing me her new trick.

Speaking of new tricks, my two year old has successfully utilized the potty three whole times in the last week. It is not an easy task to convince a little boy to sit still for any length of time. Especially when it involves something as un-fun as going to the bathroom. However, I have managed to bribe him with string cheese. After sitting on the toilet, pee or no pee, he triumphantly declares that he would like some, “cheese?” Whatever works.

I have found that what doesn’t work is to talk on the phone while potty training. The person on the other end of the line may not want to hear things like, “don’t touch that!” or “put that toilet paper back in the toilet!” Of course if one wants to be discreet there is always the alternate non-verbal method to communicate these things to the child: flailing, head-shaking, eye signals, etc. Bear in mind that to effectively continue the phone conversation while implementing the non-verbal method requires one to be skilled in the art of multi-tasking. For all involved it is probably best to keep the telephone out of the bathroom and simply focus on generating some excitement about the forthcoming cheese.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The incredible shrinking pants!

Breastfeeding is an excellent excuse for eating just one more piece of bread, one more helping of lasagna, or one more serving of dessert. When pregnant a woman needs approximately three to five hundred extra calories per day; when breastfeeding she needs about three to five hundred more per day than when she is pregnant. Notice that the wave of thought never goes to: gee, I’m breastfeeding, so therefore I can have another helping of salad! Yippee! It seems to me that an increase in calorie intake equals extra room for carbohydrates and chocolate!

I gained very little weight with this last pregnancy and most of it came off quickly. There remains that last five pounds, however, that clings tenaciously to my midsection. The jeans that I purchased right before I found out I was pregnant with my littlest baby are still difficult to wear. There is plenty ‘o room in the waist, but they are terribly tight in the posterior which causes my still-larger rump to go numb. Yep. It’s actually rather painful. Only one pair out of the four I own stay up without a belt or without making my tuckus ache. (By the way, spell check doesn’t like the word: tuckus).

What a vicious cycle: get hungry + eat = have numb cheeks + cry from pain = stress eat. One would think the numbness would deter a person from eating, but in reality it probably exacerbates the problem. Maybe I should just buy some new jeans. First, I need to change my pants before both legs go numb and I fall down.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Have yourself a (Hallo)weeny little Christmas

I have graduated to a new level of mommydom. My husband had the day off, so we took the kids to McDonald’s to let the little guy play in the dirty germ-infested play land thingy. My sweet little baby girl isn’t even old enough to sit up by herself, so she happily stayed with us while my two-year-old son played. I’m glad he had fun because I found it difficult to be relaxed while he was in the depths of the twisty blue stairs where I couldn’t see him. At least he’s a talker. Being able to hear his voice allowed me some consolation that he wasn’t scared or hurt. He did well, and I must say it was encouraging to see the caliber of niceness that the other children possessed.

The day was beautiful, so naturally we decided to go to the mall and walk around. Inside. Go figure. Anyway, I wanted to see the Christmas trees. I know that Halloween hasn’t passed yet, but as soon as we have some chilly days my mind instantly darts ahead to mistletoe and Bing Crosby.

We arrived and hustled through the doors of the department store and there they were. The Christmas trees. Green ones, and pink ones, and white ones! Oh, my! Right across from the Grim Reaper. A big, fluffy balloon of a Reaper. He towered over a tree dressed for the Nutcracker ballet in a menacing kind of way. So festive.

My little man did not even notice the long, white knuckly fingers of the skeletal Halloween decorations he was so intent on the happily sparkling trees. He jogged from tree to tree taking it all in. Daddy tried to show him some wooden ornaments in the shape of a star. My son had the same thought about those that I did. He said, “pretzels”; I thought that they looked like glued together pretzels too.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Deliver me unto Christmas!

It feels good to know that one’s child is bought and paid for. Until today there was one bill from my delivery that I was waiting for… and waiting for… and waiting for. I don’t like the feeling of being indebted to anyone especially when it means that the anesthesiologist owns stock in my little girl. So, yay!, she’s all mine!

It strikes me as funny- the word “delivery”. To be delivered. Who decided to call it that? I have been delivered. It reminds me of Matthew 6:13: deliver us from evil. Or it reminds me of pizza: deliver us some evil (carbohydrates and lots o’ cheese). Is it a big sigh of relief to be delivered from the burden of huffing and puffing for forty-five minutes to climb the stairs; or to be delivered from feeling one’s stomach growling inside of the throat were it ended up after the growing baby shoved up it there; to be delivered from an overactive sense of smell? I like being pregnant. Perhaps someone who feels deathly ill for the whole nine months would be better able to understand the implications of the word. :::shrug::: I just think it’s funny because, really, one hasn’t been delivered from something at all, but delivered unto something: motherhood.

My son asked to listen to Christmas music this morning. It must be genetic. I must have passed along the genes for my holiday passion. People who have been jaded really just have a hard time grasping why I am so keen on this time of year. I get so excited I could just throw up. Honestly, I do. The decorating, the twinkling lights, the “baby it’s cold outside” snuggling! OH YAY! Just thinking about it makes me feel some nausea coming on! I think the part of the holidays that really takes top prize is that for two whole days (Thanksgiving and Christmas) everyone stops the rush, rush, rush and just spends time together. (Of course, ironically, there is a lot of rush, rush, rushing that leads up to it).

So be warned: there will be a lot of mushy, sweet, and drippy holiday talk coming from me over the next couple of months. After that don’t be surprised if I get a little cranky. Once Christmas is over the wintertime just becomes cold and yucky; no more twinkling lights and gingerbread men- just dead trees.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Are you going to eat that? Part 2

Bill Cosby was right when he declared that all kids have brain damage. Why else would my two-year-old son behave the way he does? He will sit at the table with a plate of scrambled eggs and resolve not to eat them. He will sit there for hours, half starved, while the circles underneath his eyes grow darker and darker from hunger, and yet he will still persist in his refusal to eat the fluffy yellow eggs. This we call stubbornness. It is the fact that when released from his booster seat he thinks nothing of picking up dirt from the floor and putting that in his mouth: this we call brain damage. No, thank you, I don’t believe I’ll eat my eggs today, but if you can find me a nice fresh piece of cat litter I’ll just have that instead. YUCK! Of course, once something like that enters the mouth it is almost impossible to get it back out again. That fact, however, does nothing to discourage me from trying to retrieve the muck from my son’s mouth. So, at numerous times on any given day one can observe me doing just that. The command, “give that to mommy!” causes my toddler to look up at me from the top of his eyeballs and stick out his tongue. It amazes me that although he is quite adept at placing things into his mouth and taking out thing that are good for him, like peas, he has not yet mastered the technique of removing dirt from his mouth. So out comes the tongue which he proceeds to wipe on my outstretch palm in an effort to get rid of the offending non-food. To the untrained non-parenting eye I’m sure it just looks like I enjoy having my little boy lick my hand, but there is a difference between a lick and a tongue just resting on the hand after becoming immobilized by dirt-germs. This is usually about the time I decide that it would not be good for my son’s body to digest the ick so I put my slobbery hand into his mouth in hopes of being able to remove it myself. This works, at best, an average of two out of fifty-four times. About the same number of times I actually succeed in getting him to eat his eggs.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Glamour queen- that's me!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being a mommy is soooo glamorous! To start with one has nine whole months in which to get fat, stretched out, and be-pimpled. In an attempt to keep the growing baby nice and toasty warm the body starts to sprout an attractive extra supply of dark hair over the belly to mingle with the bazillion stretch marks that herald that the end is approaching and if one’s middle were to stretch anymore the baby would proceed to exit the womb where one’s belly button used to be.

Indeed, there will probably never be a time in which one has so much indigestion, nausea, and sciatica. One either wants to eat everything or nothing at all. This is the time when the husband realizes that the woman he married is a human being after all as she begins to burp and, yes, even break wind. Of course the man usually wears a shocked and disgusted expression at this exhibition of bodily functions. :::Gasp::: How he can have the nerve be grossed out is beyond my level of reasoning since a wife can remind her husband to excuse himself upward of two dozen times a day.

Not to be forgotten, all of this fun eventually culminates in the real pleasure of pregnancy: delivery. What more can a woman ask for than to have her restricted area stared at by not only the doctor, but the nurse, medical student, nursing student, resident, various members of her family, the guy paving the sidewalk, the flower delivery person, the whole housekeeping department, a handful of volunteers, and the coffee guy… Well, one gets the idea. Oh, joy! During the time it takes the offended bodily regions to recover from the beating, there is always the thrill of tinkling when one sneezes to look forward to.

And then, ahhh, home at last! Home is where one finds that the name, mommy, is synonymous with poop checker/butt sniffer. Home is where (at least one hopes it’s home) a mommy finds herself cleaning up number two off of the baby’s chair, the carpet, and rinsing it out of the baby’s clothes; giving impromptu baths, and doing unscheduled laundry. Of course these events can be blamed on diaper malfunctions at times, but the result is still similar: clean up, wash out, bathe, launder. Home is where one can find burp diapers stashed in key places- tucked into the couch cushions, placed on the table, next to the bed, under the bed, in the refrigerator, in the toy box, on a hook in the hallway- in preparation for the moment when the baby decides to show his or her affection toward mommy for the thirty minute feeding by throwing up all over her.

At any rate, it’s the only job I know of where one gets paid in hugs, kisses and “I love you”s; where the little people look for mommy to make their boo-boo’s better, and need mommy around to hold hands when sick. A piece of advice: if someone other than a little person offers to pay for services in hugs or kisses it would be wise to decline. Giving free advice is something else that mommies do.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

In other news...

The funny thing about living in a city is that when one finds animal poop in the yard the immediate thought is that someone, other than the animal responsible for the said poopy, put it there. If one lived in the country that probably would not be a viable concern.

But, alas, I do not live in the country. So when the stinky stuff showed up in the back yard the alternatives for its appearance were discussed: considering the trajectory it seemed unlikely that it had been tossed there by a prankster youth (or perhaps a better word would be hoodlum); it also did not seem plausible that someone would mess with the spring loaded latch to allow their dog access to the yard. It was with much joy that these verdicts were embraced. The fact that the mulch had been dug in alluded to the possible presence of a grub-digging skunk.

What makes all of this rather amusing is the fact that mommy needs to know exactly what her precious toddler, who won’t eat green beans but will eat dirt, is being exposed to. Please tell me, who other than a mommy would spend half and hour looking up pictures of skunk, squirrel, raccoon, and hedgehog droppings? I don’t know if I was more pleased or disappointed that pencil drawings far outnumbered actual photographs. (It’s not easy to identify anything from a crude pencil sketch).

Anyway, my son had a very animated discussion with his shadow on the stair landing today. He shouted, flailed, and gestured. It was really quite something. At first I thought he was trying to re-create his amazing fall down the stairs from last week. My little boy can’t just trip and fall down the stairs like a normal human being, he had to do it while playing with a big, black garbage bag. Where did he get the bag? He was “helping” me sort through baby clothes from the attic when I momentarily lost track of him and he swiped the empty garbage bag. No, I doubt he tripped over the cat: just his impromptu black cape.

Back to the whole issue of bodily waste, in case anyone missed the small blurb in the police section a few weeks back, a female suspect escaped a cop, or security guard, while running by defecating and throwing it at the guy. So if anyone forgets his or her mace at home and needs to fend off an attacker, get a clue and just go poo.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hello? Is anybody in there?

There are days when I don’t feel like doing anything. There are days when I have too much to do. But mostly there are days when I would be satisfied with just being able to get a couple things done around the house without one million interruptions! It is probably a good thing that I enjoy puzzles. Oh, look! Here is a piece with laundry on it; and here is a piece with dirty dishes on it; another where someone needs to be fed; and another where I need to be fed; and is that a dirty diaper?

I traveled into the depths of the basement today to find that I had never put the load of wash from, like, Tuesday into the dryer. It wasn’t moldy, but it didn’t smell like roses either. I had to go back upstairs to find out why the baby was crying. After settling her down, I rewashed the clean clothes, then colored with my son for a bit, before going back downstairs to put the clothes into the dryer with not one, but three dryer sheets. It didn’t help. They still don’t smell like roses. In between I had to go outside and pick up after the garbage men, yell at the toddler for coloring on the window, change some diapers, do the dishes, give the boy a snack, nurse the baby, clean the bathroom… and then put the said laundry away, of course.

The idea is that once this puzzle is complete it will look like a clean, organized house with happy children. The reality is that is usually looks like Mommy just sat around all day drinking tea while the toddler ran around like a tornado tearing up the house and making a general mess of things. Not only that, but I think that some of my puzzle pieces are bent on the edges because they don’t even fit together properly most of the time.

Having the second child has really threatened my ability to remain sane. I forget everything! I have always believed that leaving oneself notes for future reference is a great tool. But my future for referencing those notes is getting shorter and shorter and shorter… apparently I need to write a note to remind myself to put the laundry in the dryer thirty minutes after I put it in the washer. If it weren’t for my husband running out of clean underwear I probably wouldn’t remember to wash the clothes in the first place!

Friday, September 21, 2007

The agony of alone time

I got some time to myself the other night. Translation: I went to the grocery store. Good times. It probably would have been much easier to just make it a girl’s night and take the baby with me, but I was determined to have some alone time. So after I put the baby down for the night, I got in the car and buckled in not three people but just myself. All the way to the store I kept glancing into the backseat out of habit to make sure everyone was okay back there.

Not being a really big fan of grocery shopping, I arrived at the store and immediately went into “quick” mode. As I rocketed through the produce section, I came to my senses and realized that, hey, I might not be sitting in the bookstore with a latte but I should slow down and smell the roses. Or in this case some nice fresh scallions. I said to myself, “Isn’t this great?! Nobody is shouting at, or climbing on, me!”

Even though I knew that my sweet little girl was tucked in for the night and that my husband is mostly capable of taking care of my little man for an hour (as long as there are not any poopy diapers involved) I felt a little anxiety that they were not within arm’s reach. How my husband can go out for hours in the evening after being gone all day at work, I do not know. From the cereal aisle all the way to the frozen foods I kept wondering, “what if someone needs me?” That thought was immediately followed by, “why do I do this to myself?” The whole time I was at the grocery store I just wanted to go home. What is wrong with me?

Yes, it is easier to complete the errand alone. There is no sitting my son in the shopping cart and squashing my daughter into the sling. No shouting at anyone to stop pulling cans off of the shelves and to keep their hands inside the cart at all times. But is it really worth it? As long as I don’t linger over the crackers comparing prices for too long and cause my son to go into convulsions at the lack of movement it probably isn’t. Although it is nice to pick out an ice cream flavor without having to consult the husband!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The dance of death

It is with much confidence I say that God was in a particularly humorous mood the day he created my husband. While there are so many things that I can relate to reinforce my claim, today I will focus on just one.

The man loves the outdoors. He revels in hiking and camping. He enjoys working in the garden. As much as I love flowers and gardens, I am not one for the actual planting part unless I have gloves on. The reason being that there are so many frighteningly strange things that live in dirt. Living creatures that never see the light of day tend to look like something straight out of a Stephen King story. Not to mention the worms and beetles and stuff. None of this gets Sean ruffled (now if he sees a bee that’s another thing altogether as he was attacked by some wasps while fetching his ball from their nest as a child). Correct me if I’m wrong, but there are usually bugs involved when hiking or camping as well.

This morning while my son and I were at breakfast a rather stricken looking Sean appeared in the dining room to announce that a house centipede had made a wrong turn somewhere and had ended up in our bathroom. I can’t help but start to giggle at this bit of info because I know what’s going to happen. In my husband’s world bugs become a totally different entity once they cross the threshold into our home. Outside he can touch them, kill them, or pretty much ignore them; inside they become an instrument of extreme fear and loathing. And shrieking. Lots of shrieking. The difference between my husband and me is that I pretty much dislike bugs anywhere I find them. However, I am usually able to maintain my cool when dealing with them.

So off we go, into the bathroom where the scary bug is. The poor thing is huddled in the shadow of the doorframe because house centipedes are like allergic to light or something. As soon as he sees it, Sean turns into a nervous wreck; he starts to squirm and ask in a whiny voice what should be done to get rid of this disgusting invader. And then comes the aforementioned shrieking because he feels bugs crawling on him. Now, in all fairness to the poor man house centipedes are exceedingly horrid: they have what are the equivalent of knees joints because their legs are so long.

The tricky thing with these insects is that they are fast. So one can’t blink when the time comes to duel to the death. (Luckily Sean has yet to be killed by one of these monsters, although a few have escaped from his clutches). Not able to think of anything else, I suggest that he knock it onto the floor and smack it with a shoe (while I stand there and offer moral support). I hand him the shoe which he slips onto his right foot for extra accuracy. With a folded up napkin he swats at the enemy, knocks it onto the floor, and proceeds to stomp on it while screaming some sort of karate-sounding syllables. At this I can’t help but loose my composure and start to chortle uncontrollably.

Ah, yes. It is something to see a tall, muscular, brave sort of man lose his nerve at the sight of a bug indoors. Bring on the gross and graphic zombie movies, but leave the insects outside please. In the end, I believe it is the shrieking, screaming, and karate moves that really finishes off those bugs. I suppose that’s why my knight wears that shining armor- to keep the ants out of his pants. God love him: I know I do.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Foiled again!

Whatever happened to the good old days when one was actually greeted by a real live person on the other end of the telephone wire? Not only do most companies have automated menus, some of them are now voice operated. These systems are certainly not made with mothers in mind.

I am the proud owner of a rather loud toddler. He walks around being as loud as he pleases with no apparent motive. I suppose it’s fun. Perhaps he is being paid by some branch of the government (Toddlers Against Real Food, or TARF, for example) to conduct experiments concerning the actual level of sound/volume one must reach in order to effectively cease to hear any incoming noise. At any rate, the little man has come equipped with all of the nuances of being a child. That being said, when mommy picks up the phone that means the time has come to run around, be loud, and see what his little fingers can get into that was previously off-limits before mommy made the foolish decision to make a phone call.

The march of progress must go on; mommies must make calls; and toddlers must shout. Such is the nature of the universe. So today when I dialed the insurance company the “operator” picked up and began to ask a series of questions to determine where in “her” directory to route my call. Now, these menus are very sensitive to sound so that when a feeble elderly lady calls it can pick up on her far, far away voice and direct it appropriately. (Although everyone knows the little old lady is usually so confused by this technology that she continues to say, “hello… hello?” because she thinks that she actually has a living being on the other end. She remembers the good old days even better than us young folk do). As I was saying, these menus are extremely sensitive.

Robotic voice: “How can I assist you? Please say: claims, benefits, eligibility…”

Toddler: “Yell, yell, yell!”

Mommy: “Claims.”

You can see from the above illustration that the nice operator has very little chance of hearing the tiny eight-point font mommy over the bold-faced sixteen-point toddler. The result is that the robot will either ask you to repeat yourself or it will direct your call somewhere you don’t want it to, i.e. the staff lavatory. In an effort to victoriously complete this call I resort to glaring at the child in an attempt to communicate that I would like him to stop this rendition of “I Like to Hike” immediately. He doesn’t seem to get it because I am still lost inside the Cigna menu, and he is singing even louder. Next I try to lock myself in the bathroom. But after about two seconds I realize that I may not be able to hear him anymore, but I can’t see my little angel either. (For those of you without babies, this is not a good thing for so many reasons that I will not go into at this time.) After making some progress into the depths of the menu-labyrinth and locating my child, I try to smother the mouthpiece so I can instruct my little man to please get down off of the table. I eventually realize that it may be easier to chat with an actual person. After making myself clear to the automated menu, I am successfully transferred to an “associate,” and eventually complete the call.

The poor woman probably thought I was shouting at her; but I, eight-point font mommy, had triumphed. At least this time. Who knows what the future has in store for the next time I am cornered, two to one, by a shouting toddler and an automated menu.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Are you going to eat that?

Boys are SO SCARY! People who don't believe that boys are born boys and girls are born girls probably do not have small children. The other day my son was ripping small pieces off of his peanut butter sandwich, not to eat them, but to stick them up his nose. Oh, yes. As charming as that is, another new trick is to stick his little index finger into the corners of the window sill that cannot be completely cleaned no matter how hard I try, and suck the dirt off of his finger with a quick *pop* as he pulls it out of his mouth. Just in case any of you are wondering- this makes me insane! Perhaps I need to develop a new love for art in order to appreciate the milk-murals that he likes to create on his placemat, or the couch, or wherever there is a surface on which to shake milk out of his cup and smear it into swirls and spirals. Yummy. Which reminds me: anything found on the floor is free gain for food, no matter if it should be ingested or not. At least he hasn't tried to eat any of the bugs that he has maimed while out in the back yard. All that aside, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my boy. Who else can sing "Old MacDonald had a Farm" at the top of their lungs the way he does; he knows his alphabet, shapes, and colors; he refers to anything cross-shaped, including the letter "t," as "Jesus"; and he really honestly and truly loves his mommy. He's so great. I just hope that I can hold onto my sanity long enough to enjoy every minute of being mommy to such an amazing little boy.

Friday, August 24, 2007

It's curtains for you!

I have been on a rampage the last week or so. Anyone who has tried to shop for curtains on a budget can understand the stress of this seemingly impossible endeavor. My poor children had to watch from afar in the land of neglect while dear old mom spent all of her spare minutes surfing the internet in search of the illusive designer curtain at discounted prices. If such an animal exists I certainly did not find it. What I found instead were headaches, disappointments, and frustration. I think the rest of my family found that last one too. Except toward me instead of the man who decided it was okay to sell one striped window panel for $69.99 hardware not included.

After hours of surfing and multiple trips to Target and JcPenney I came to grips with purchasing plain-colored tab top panels. Even though they were nothing even close to my original dream curtains there was something satisfying in buying eight curtain panels for fewer than eighty dollars (for those of you wondering, it’s hard to buy even four panels for this price). I had high and foolish hopes that this would put to rest the curtain demons that had been hounding the part of my soul that cares about curtains, and that I would no longer be dreaming about panels, valences, and sheers and could get back to dreaming of things more pleasant. Like Alan Rickman’s voice.

I had read warnings from fellow curtain hunters in the reviews posted on Target’s website about the variance of panel lengths from one package to the next. This complaint seemed relatively common, so why I thought I could escape without experiencing it I don’t know. Perhaps in my delirium I felt impervious to the attack of the curtain-making machine they have hidden somewhere in Pakistan that makes these curtains. How wrong I was. After having washed and dried (according to the product directions) the four burgundy panels for my large living room window it has become painfully obvious that two of these curtains are now three inches shorter than the remaining two. I knew they were a teeny bit shorter before they went into the wash, but I was tired of Target at this point. (I believe if I see another red and white bulls-eye I may go into hysterics). So at any rate, I decided I could live with it. But three inches? That’s another story; don’t ask me what I am going to do about it because I honestly do not know. Yes, I could cross my fingers and exchange them for another package of potentially mismatched panels. But even then they could turn out to be like the favorite pair of jeans that are fine for the first one-hundred washes only to be foiled by the infamous one-hundred and first washing that renders them no longer capable of buttoning. Thankfully the four green panels slated for the dining room miraculously came out the same length they went into the machine.

As a small child I think I had good instincts about curtain shopping. I hated it. My mother was operating on an even tighter budget than I am and any time she wanted to look at curtains we all groaned because we knew it would take all day, and we would be given no food or affection, nor would we be allowed any sleep during the trip. With glazed eyes we would nod like crazed lunatics, “Yes, yes, we love those curtains! They are the most perfect curtains ever conceived of by man! Please buy them! Buy anything, something! We must be given access to toilet facilities and nourishment!” It really was a most horrendous experience. Of course I now understand that it was horrible for my mother too. On top of the curtain-shopping stress she also had the “I’m-shopping-with-four-children” stress to add to it.

So, in closing, I would like to thank the makers of fine chocolate for helping me through this (not that I have any fine chocolate to consume); and, more importantly, my husband, who promised not to seek a legal separation during this time of hardship and stress; but who has instead poured his energy into resisting the urge to throttle me at the mere mention of the “c” word.