Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Paintbrush+Power Drill=Baseball

It may be because my body is getting older, it may be because I don’t exercise enough, but after spending a few hours over the last couple of days painting the floor of the porch my body is feeling it. Not in the "I can’t move my legs and I’m going to be paralized for the rest of my life" kind of way, more in a "please don’t make me climb the stairs again" fearful sort of manner.

I finally purchased curtains for the bathroom. The blinds just weren’t cutting it for me anymore. So, I busted out the power tools to install the window hardware. I was feeling pretty manly until I had to drop my arms to pick up the phone. Then I just felt like a bowl of Jell-O; my arms were so wobbly that it took me a while to regain enough control over them to press the call button on the phone. But the curtain looks great! It is amazing what a piece of fabric hung over a window can do to make a room seem more homey and less gross.

The feelings of manliness must have gone to my head when I had the drill in my hands because while the baby was napping my son and I played baseball in the living room. With a foam bat and ball, granted, but I generally discourage this type of play in the house. We were both very careful and nothing was broken, which was good; I can just see myself trying to explain a smashed light fixture to my husband who is constantly told that outside toys don’t belong inside. I’ll have to do a lot of sewing and toilet scrubbing tomorrow to set my equilibrium to rights and regain my femininity.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Going to the Chapel

The kids went with us to their first ever wedding. The ceremony and the reception were at the same venue, so that was a blessing. It was an evening wedding and the children had already spent most of the day running around, being goofy and generally tiring themselves out. By the time we left the event I was exhausted from wrestling the baby, and my eyeballs were tuckered from roving around the hall trying to keep the toddler in my line of sight.

About five minutes into the ceremony, and for the rest of the night, the baby decided she didn’t really want to sit still after all. Anything we tried to give her to keep her occupied just wasn’t good enough. Her brother, on the other hand, was content to play with the folded name cards that indicated the table we were seated at for an absurd amount of time. He lined them up, stacked them and unstacked them. He ran around the dance floor and flirted with the pretty photographer; he insisted that she dance with him, and she did, all the while attempting to take pictures of him running in circles with his green linen napkin tucked into his shirt like a cape. The baby spider-crawled to the music while intermittently rubbing her eyes and crying from sheer exhaustion.

Other than watching my childhood friend get married, there were some other significant highlights. The baby let me eat about half of my meal while she sat semi-placidly on my lap. My son actually ate a good portion of his chicken fingers and fried potatoes; this surprised me because he has reached levels of fussiness when it comes to eating that have not been achieved previously by any other person and the chicken fingers were decidedly different from the chicken nuggets he’s used to and the potatoes were circular with a smiley face punched out of their middles. He also told us that he had to visit the bathroom no less than four times. This made me feel very proud; of myself of course for sticking with the whole potty training thing to the bitter end instead of giving up like I wanted to every day for about three months. Okay, okay- I was actually really proud of the little man for being such a big boy.

Overall, I would say that the evening was a success. My children not only provided entertainment for the people at our table, but also for most of the people in attendance. Nobody, including myself, threw themselves down on the floor in an all out tantrum; my son had a grand old time at the “party” and talked fondly of it the following day, and the baby was not stepped on as she tried to weave her way through and under the tables. No one screamed, “That’s mine!” or fought over red racecars or the pointy stegosaurus. Any evening that does not entail screaming or bleeding is a triumph in my opinion.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

We Like a Cookie!

Christmas in July

Today is one of those summer days where a ruthless rain has cooled things down and left a dreary and calm sort of day in its wake. About this time of year I have a craving for Christmas music, and on a day like this a person simply cannot ignore the desire to hear the strains of “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night”.

Sliding the CD into the player is simply the beginning of the cycle. For me the next step is cranking up the oven and turning out some delicious cookies. There is nothing that feels warm and fuzzier than to drop cookie dough onto the baking stone while the music of “Santa Baby” washes over. I suppose it could be the heat from the oven coupled with the fact that it still is summer time that causes me to feel oh-so-toasty-warm.

As long as the cloud-cover holds and the sun stays away the day will probably end with a nice comfort food style dinner of chili and rice. Nothing says, “Baby it’s Cold Outside” like a bowl of super-duper-special-yummy chili. And watching White Christmas; and eating cookies; and drinking coffee. I feel like I should have a present to open or something.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Welcome Home

Our camera is back home! It would seem that life has continued on without it.

While the camera was away my husband had a brief moment of anxiety that the technician responsible for gutting our camera and righting whatever was wrong with it might come across the picture that my husband used for the startup screen.

*We would like to thank the people at Nikon for making this post possible; Grammy and Pop-pop for the use of their camera, which takes less-blurry natural light shots, during this difficult time; and the marketing folks associated with Nacho Libre who are responsible for releasing the DVD with a frighteningly freaky mask that begs to be worn by adult men who should be doing things like taking out the garbage instead of strutting around the house and taking pictures of themselves while wearing said mask.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Man of the House

My son has learned something from me: today he swaddled his sister’s baby-doll in a tiny blanket and cradled it in his arms. The blanket kept slipping out of place, so he put it over the doll’s face and smooshed it to his chest. I’m pretty sure the dolly couldn’t breath, but she didn’t fuss; she just laid there with her fluffy arms and legs sticking out like always. There is the possibility that her painted-on smile may have looked kind of frownie had it been visible while squashed against my little boy’s sternum.

Monday, July 21, 2008

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

It is seriously exciting to see one’s toddler dash to the bathroom, knocking over chairs and stepping on pets in the process, so that he can (hopefully) pull down his pants, climb up onto the toilet and go potty all by himself. The road to successful potty training has been hard and long, but we have almost made it.

Last week he decided to take his liberation from diapers to a new level when he shooed me from the bathroom with, “No, Mommy, go out,” and closed the door in my face. This makes me a little uncomfortable as I recently walked in on him trying to wring the roll of toilet paper out over the toilet bowl after it had fallen in or been thrown in.

Now comes the fun of public restrooms- the germiest places on earth. Teaching a child that there are certain places that are inappropriate to explore with his hands is always a challenge. I’m pretty sure the person in the stall next to us will be convinced of my senility after listening to me half-shriek half-cry instructions: “put both of your hands on my leg so that you don’t touch anything else” “don’t rub your eyes” “take your hands off of the toilet seat!” God help me.

Friday, July 18, 2008

You Know This Means War

For three or four glorious days it looked like my handiwork was keeping the crappy kitties away. Today the joker of the group decided it would be funny to poop directly onto one of my bamboo stakes. I may be perplexed as to how he managed it, but I am certainly far from amused. Very, very far from it. Immediate action: augment with toothpicks; next step: make a solution of chili powder, cayenne pepper, and water to douse the area. I am also thinking of installing some lovely low-growing needled evergreens. They are much pokier than tiny wooden spears that are used to pick up party wieners and cubes of cheese.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

To Thump or Not to Thump

I am a self-admitted melon-thumper. Last week I came across directions in a magazine on how to choose a ripe watermelon: look for a melon that feels heavy for its size and has a nice creamy spot to show for its time spent on the ground while basking in the sun. Nothing about putting one’s ear up to it and giving it a good whack to determine how hallow it sounds.

Armed with this new knowledge, I went to the grocery store and cautiously approached the watermelon crate. Having resolved in my mind not to thump any melons, I plucked one from its resting place. As soon as I picked it up I realized something: at nine o’clock at night, after a long day, all watermelons feel heavy. I’m not really sure if it felt heavy for its size because I don’t think that I understand what that means in the first place.

There did come a point when I had to fight off the urge to revert to my melon-thumping self. It helped that there was another lady picking through the crate at the time: she didn’t seem the type to understand my tendencies.

I felt vindicated, however, when I sliced into this particular melon and it was not up to par. Most people, I’m sure, would have felt the tug of disappointment when the rind was cut away to reveal tepid pink color instead of a dark juicy red. Not me. I now feel free to go back to happily whacking my watermelons. As long as there isn’t anyone watching. I like to thump those melons in private, and don’t appreciate being sniggered at.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Love Hurts Sometimes

The camera repair has been authorized. With taxes and shipping the grand total comes to one hundred and sixty five dollars. The thing better take pictures by itself now.

You Can't Put a Price Tag on Love

The Nikon people emailed me an estimate for the repair work needing to be done on my precious camera. So now I’m trying to decide if it would be more prudent to have the repair made or to use the $135 toward the purchase of a new camera; with the cost of shipping and the need to procure a new memory card, the total cost will probably be closer to the region of an even two hundred buckeronies.

I love my camera even though natural light shots tend to be a little blurry and the camera sometimes has a hard time focusing. The time it takes for the camera to power-up is excessive at times as well. But generally it takes great shots, and I know how to operate almost all of the functions. There are certain things about my grandparents’ camera that work better than mine, but I don’t know if that is enough to entice me into the new-camera-market.

Shopping for these types of products is overwhelming for me. I spend hours researching and reading reviews, only to buy a product that isn’t right for me. What kind of batteries does the camera take? Do I need to spend an extra fifty dollars to buy it/them separately? And then the camera dies a couple of years from now anyway. What to do, what to do. Spend the money on a piece of equipment I know and can (mostly) depend on, or buy a new bottom of the line camera (with twice as many mega pixels)?

Sigh. These are the questions that plague me. They just don’t make things like they used to. Whoever “they” are. “They” have gotten quite enough money out of me for one year with all of the replacement of technology that has been going on around here. Which reminds me: we still haven’t gone stove shopping. Because of the level of importance I put on my camera, my oven falls a little bit lower on the list. That may mean that I’m a slightly negligent person. Possible range explosion, or no camera… hmmm. Maybe I just like to live dangerously. Or maybe I’m just dumb.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Kitty Kabob

It is too soon to tell if my booby-trapped garden will keep the cats away. The good news is that the little army of spikes blends well into the mulch and don’t cause themselves to be an eyesore; the bad news is that they blend well into the mulch. What I mean to say is that I was out there re-arranging the skewers in a sparsely pointed area and I speared myself in the flip-flop.

The first night I found myself straining to hear the howl of a cat caught by surprise as I lay in bed. That sounds cruel, I know, but I cannot stress enough how sick I am of cleaning the great outdoor litter box that was once my garden. I didn’t hear anything other than the rain beating upon the pavement and the howl of the wind through the trees.

During the second night I forsook my straining ears with a small amount of guilt at the maniacal laughter that bubbled up in my throat at the thought of a yelping heiny-poked kitty cat. My husband thought I was being cruel and he all of a sudden expressed some concern over the poor feline’s paw pads. I certainly do not condone cruelty to animals (both of our pet cats were once strays); but I also do not sanction cruelty towards people, and I really feel as though these creatures are being unkind to me by defecating on my plants.

There was a little bit of mulch displaced this morning. I didn’t notice any feces, however, and there weren’t large quantities of brightly colored flies buzzing around. As the budget allows, I will continue to fill the space with pretty smelling flowers and small shrubs. I am hoping that this will not only improve the appearance of the bed, but also shrink the amount of space left for the evacuation of bodily fluids by our friendly neighborhood pestilence propagators.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

We Just Might Make It

So far, so good: no ear infections or concussions have developed and my husband has not been struck by tetanus.

Feral Felines

There are certain things that should just not be allowed. Like the constant defecating of the neighborhood stray cats in my front garden area. The nice lady across the street feeds these nasty menacing creatures and then they slink over to our side of the street to relieve their bowels. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you; don’t poop on the property that nourishes you; don’t pee on the pants that bring tasty morsels. Or something like that. Almost daily for the last couple of weeks there have been flies buzzing about a newly sodden area looking for a moistly-warm spot to lay their yucky little eggs or whatever it is that nasty green flies lay.

The front landscaping is only about a month old and is still under construction. We have planted two beds so far and the one is a lovely mounded area with daylilies and an Arborvitae and it hasn’t been touched. The other spot contains mostly pachysandra and a stickly looking tree that my husband bought from a stranger for two dollars. A portion of this section seems to be ideal for mangy kitties to bury their doo-doo. I do not enjoy removing feces from my yard, but today was the kicker. It would seem that I missed some a couple of days ago because when I went to get rid of it the area was writhing with maggots. I have never before seen a baby-fly nursery and I am very impressed with myself for finishing the task without vomiting.

I found a long list of things to try in an online forum. This afternoon I stuck bamboo skewers in the ground at intervals. Hopefully there will be enough pointiness to discourage any crouching and pooping. Next time I go to the grocery store I am going to purchase a large container of super dusty black pepper to spread atop the mulch. I may also try some of the more pleasant suggestions, like planting lavender, but if I notice any cats roaming the area with a limp and a sneeze I’ll know they were using the public toilet in my front yard.

Friday, July 11, 2008

They Call Me Mommy

Last weekend, my husband stepped on an old nail and it bit into his foot; now his jaw is bothering him. The baby has had a cold all week, and will occasionally paw at her left ear. Tonight my son took a spectacular dive off of the curb with his forehead and grew a lump the size of a golf ball.

I fear that my life the next few days will consist of watching for signs of concussion in the toddler, ear infection in the baby and tetanus in the man who seems to enjoy causing me extra stress by going up into the attic without shoes on so that he can impale his heel with any available implement of sharpness.

Can’t a mother get any rest in this house? I can only imagine the level of non-rest in a home where there are more than two children (and a husband). When it comes to large families, I am quite sure that there is always someone getting sick, spilling Cheerios all over the couch or attempting to leap tall buildings in a single bound; I would think that getting one’s turn in the bathroom would be a monumental undertaking, forgetting a child at the grocery store the norm, and someone somewhere would always be bleeding.

Yes, motherhood is not for the faint of heart or the queasy. A mother must be strong, able to handle constant decision-making and, above all, she must learn how to spot all of the symptoms of every disease that ever befell mankind in the history of the world. The next time you ask your mother a question and she looks at you blankly it is not because she is getting old or stupid, but more likely it is because she has more information stored in her head than a number even exists for and it takes time to sort through it all to find the answer.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

These Spaghettios Smell Sooo Gooood

The kids and I were eating lunch and I heard a strange snarffling noise coming from the direction of my son’s chair. He is still fighting with some nasal congestion, so I thought he was just trying to inhale some of his boogies back into his brain. I turned in his direction to ask if he needed a tissue and admonish him once again that the proper direction for boogers to go is out (into a tissue) and not into his ear canal. One would think that I would have learned long ago that assuming anything, especially when it comes to toddlers, is a huge mistake. The little man had his spoon, loaded with Spaghettios, up to his nose and was endeavoring to suck them into his nasal passages using nothing but the brute force of his powers of inhalation. Somehow, I think that squishy processed pasta would be worse for the inner working of a person’s olfactory system than slimy germy bacteria.

Grammy and Pop-pop to the Rescue!

My grandparents have come to my rescue by offering me the use of their camera until mine is safely returned. I don’t have the software I need to download the photos from the camera onto the computer, so I still will not be posting pictures as of right now. At least my life has returned to a certain level of normalcy.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Woe is Me

My camera is off to Melville, New York, swaddled in bubble wrap with a note attached pleading with a person I have never met to please, please fix it quickly and send my camera back to my so that I can get on with my life. The whole ordeal has me quite agitated. I have become like a person obsessed. Every time a child sticks a finger up its nose, I find myself woeful over a lost picture; a sweetly sleeping baby with a smile teasing the corners of her mouth sends me into fit of wretchedness at a snapshot squandered. I am positive that my little girl will take her first steps while our beloved camera is sitting on a shelf somewhere in Melville waiting its turn to be tweaked and tuned. I suppose I shall have to bust out the half-dead video camera more often. Hopefully the still camera will be back home before the video camera decides to quit on us. There is just too much cuteness around here for our exhausted electronic recording devices to keep up with.

Monday, July 7, 2008

We're Under Attack by the Boogie Monster

We’re all sick. Again. There has been a lot of illness this year, and I really don’t get it. The kids aren’t in daycare, and the only interactions they have with other nose-picking, finger-licking kids are the occasional visit to the park and their almost-weekly romp in the nursery at church.

At this point I’m extremely thankful that it is only a moderate cold. However, I am a little concerned about the yellowish snot that I’ve been sucking out of the baby’s nose with the aspirator. There are few things more pathetic than holding down a screaming, flailing child in order to extract disease and pestilence out of their nose. I’m having flashbacks about the ear infections that plagued the entire family during the month of February.

It is July, though, and I am of the mind that children should be laying on the couch exhausted from running around the yard and playing in the sandbox for hours, not because some horrible germs are scurrying about their nasal passages and having races up and down their esophagus.

For a look back at other posts related to our run-ins with bacteria this year, click on the label "sick" below.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Lamentation of a Camera-less Mommy

I am camera-less for an undetermined amount of time. That word- undetermined- scares the wits out of me. The camera had some trouble reading the memory card from time to time; then all of a sudden it decided that the thousands of pictures we take every couple of months was just too much for it to handle and it gave its notice by displaying the words “system failure 10” on the LCD screen. The camera would have been three years old next month. Of course these things happen on holidays when help-desks everywhere are closed. I have the faultiest memory ever, and I rely heavily on still pictures to preserve all of those once-in-a-lifetime moments that happen multiple times a day at our house. A dull sense of all-pervading dread settles on me when I see one of the kids about to do something funny or contort their features into a funny face: I feel as though they should put all cuteness and silliness on hold until I have the means to take snapshots again. At one point the strain became too great and I decided that I needed to bake homemade brownies to facilitate some stress eating. They didn’t last too long.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Master Menace and Miss Mischief

I needed a baby sitter last night. Unfortunately for my sister, she was available and I could drop the kids off at her place on my way to where I needed to go. One hour and a half passed from the time I left her apartment until the time I got back. In that short amount of time my dear sister’s face had gone from the normal I’ve-had-a-stressful-day-at-work look to the worn and lined face of a veteran mother.

I was afraid to ask if the children had behaved. The terrible two’s are upon us in full force and my son can hardly stay out of trouble for more than two or three minutes at a time; his little sister, climber-extraordinaire, is a spider monkey that picks up and tastes anything in her path. It would seem that neither of the kids had given their auntie an easy time of it.

My son thought that it would be foolish to waste an opportunity to practice his stunts, and he stood on an empty box that proceeded to collapse under his weight and pitch him face-first over the arm of the couch and into the small corner shelf. He is now sporting a bruisy looking cut on the left side of his face. He opened and closed doors, riffled through the fridge and did somersaults on the furniture.

His little sister occupied her time by nibbling on crayons and drinking out of her brother’s cup in an attempt to catch his cold. That was a successful venture, as her nose is now completely stopped up with boogers.

My sister’s weary expression got me wondering: if she looks like that after a short time, what must my husband see in my face when he gets home from work after a long day? I’m beginning to understand why he sometimes takes a hesitant glance at me upon arriving home and then begin to edge his way toward the door with the look of a frightened animal on his face. It’s possible that the lack of makeup and my wild hair are responsible for this effect on his countenance, but I’m betting it’s the crazed look in my eye that sends him scuttling for the way out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How to Divert Your Foe

Since the dawn of time, mankind has used exclamatory pointing as a way to divert an adversary’s attention. Phrases like, “Look over there!” and “What is THAT?” are commonly used in conjunction with a person’s extended index finger. I recently saw this phenomenon exhibited by my son. He has had no prior training to prepare him for this exercise, nor has he found himself on the receiving end of such conduct; therefore, I can only assume that this mechanism is built-in and is part of our inherent human composition.

Nana’s and Granddad’s house affords too many pleasures to bother with mealtimes, so neither of the children eat well when we visit for the day. Our latest visit to her house was no exception. At dinner, my son was seated on Nana’s lap while Nana desperately tried to get the child to eat something that resembled an actual meal. He wriggled; he squirmed. He was in constant motion in his attempt to dislodge himself from her lap. To get down from the table and be able to wreak general havoc and mayhem by riding his too-small bicycle around in never ending circles was his only aim. This was no time for eating! It was a time for claiming the Guinness Book of World Records’ title for the highest number of orbits made around a six-foot long table on a four-wheeled non-motored vehicle.

The little guy continued on with his struggle for freedom by trying to slide from Nana’s clutches like a wet, slippery egg. Suddenly, the child stalled his escape efforts slightly, pointed to a blue paper butterfly on the wall-lamp, and said, “Look at the butterfly!” Without loosening her grip, Nana agreed with his observation. He writhed a little more and descried with further emphasis, “It’s a butterfly!” Again indicating the direction in which he wished her to look.

A rush of realization swept over my mother’s features, and she began to quake with laughter: the toddler was not merely communicating what was in his line of sight- he was trying to trick her into shifting her focus from him and place it elsewhere so that he could make a break for it. At that point, my son’s attempts at escape were almost achieved; not because of his diversion tactic, but because Nana’s teary-eyed chortle was causing her to lose her grip on the struggling boy. The next time someone tries to make me eat fried monkey’s eyeballs, I’m going to take the cue from my son, point over their shoulder and exclaim, “Look at the flying buffalo!” and hide those eyeballs in my napkin where they can’t stare at me anymore.