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.