Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bye-bye Range of the Deadly Gasses

We finally broke down and bought a new range, since our old one has been on the fritz for the last eighteen months. The last couple of times I used the oven, it pumped the smell of gas throughout the entire first floor. I don’t think that’s normal. Or safe. In nine days my new range will be here.

I have always loved perusing the gas ranges in the appliance department. Especially the really expensive ones that I won’t even be able to think about purchasing until after the book that I haven’t written yet hits the New York Times bestseller list. Or I win the lottery that I don’t play.

Of course the range we finally chose after deliberating for an hour was about two hundred dollars more than I wanted to spend. I have never shopped for a stove before, so I didn’t really know what to expect when we arrived at the store. I am really excited about a new feature that allows the parent to actually lock the oven door so that a small child who decides that he just can’t wait any longer for the cookies to be done won’t be able to do anything but wait for mommy anyway.

That element upped the price a bit. I did the math though, and I figured that preventing a child from scorching their body or melting their skin into little puddles was worth more than one hundred dollars. Piece of mind is priceless. And while we were at it, an extra fifty for a fifth burner didn’t seem so bad. Yes, I am the proud owner of a five-burner gas range.

The other cool thing about these newer gas stoves is that the bottom drawer is no longer the broiler, which means that I’ll have a smidgen of extra storage space. Now that’s something to get excited about!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dinosaurs Have to Go Too

This summer started the visits to the library with Daddy. I love the library. I love books. I love to read. I was just a little afraid to take our destructive children to a place filled with wonderful books that don’t belong to us and can be destroyed so easily.

Now every time I hear the sound of paper tearing I fly through the house in a panic to stop the crime and hope in the small section of my brain that is still functional through the terror that it is not a library book, but rather some innocuous shred of paper like a sales receipt or the grocery list or a book that already belongs to us that is old and has been through three or four children previously.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the children were content to sit apart from each other and read. The baby, however, likes to look at the same book as her brother and when two children are paging through the same book in opposite directions disaster is bound to ensue. And of course there are the small tears already in the book from someone else’s child that are exceedingly tempting to tug at.

One of the first books borrowed from the library was a lovely book about dinosaurs. On one of the pages amidst pictures of bones was a picture of fossilized dinosaur droppings. It would seem that the technical name for dino poop is rather cumbersome to the mouth of a two-year-old; so in my husband’s all-surpassing wisdom and foresight he decided to refer to it as “fossil poop.”

This a toddler can say. And Daddy thought it was funny. Everything sounds cute and adorable when spoken with the voice of the sweetest boy in the whole world, even “fossil poop.” So the words were spoken, and Daddy laughed; every time the phrase was uttered, Daddy chortled.

The little boy noticed that Daddy was amused. He’s quick that way. When he gets reprimanded for turning summersaults on the couch or squeezing his sister’s cheeks too hard he will look into Daddy’s eyes very gravely and say, “fossil poop,” like it is some sort of Get Out Of Jail Free card. It is the period at the end of nearly every sentence. All of his bowel movements are now big fossil poops. It’s beginning to get tiresome, like a bad joke. Try explaining that to a toddler who has gotten so much use out of it.

At least he can also identify almost every type of dinosaur, whale and shark. There has definitely been some real learning to punctuate the bad education. I’m really hoping that the fossil poop education stops here and that my sweet little boy doesn’t decide to hold a class in the church nursery one of these weeks.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Perhaps There's a Bit of Drama in Me as Well

I have been having some problems with fluid in my ears and today the doctor gave me a nasal spray to try. I am afraid of nasal sprays. I know, I know. It’s just that the thought of spraying fluid up one nostril while smooshing the other closed seems really, really scary.

Boogery liquid sloshing up my nasal passages and then careening down my throat like white water rapids just does not appeal to me. Neither does shooting medicine that burns or tingles up my nose. This is my punishment for being cruel to my husband whilst he was ill.

The doctor’s expression showed some incredulity when I disclosed my inexperience with sprays of the nasal sort. She did, however, assure me that this particular kind was very mild; there would be no nasty ejection of said spray from my mouth, no unpleasant taste, and the mist is exceedingly fine. Alrighty then. I’ll be brave. I’ll use the scary nasal spray.

When the time came for me to administer the fearful cure for all of my sinus maladies, I found myself in need of a hand to hold, some sort of emotional support. I considered my options. Little Sister was asleep and Big Brother kept running in and out of the room asking for cereal. If they witnessed me sticking something up my nose I would probably be in search of the needle nose pliers within minutes to remove some sort of entity from their nasal passages. I decided not to wait for Daddy because he would probably jump at his chance to make fun of me for being taken hostage by a smallish sort of white bottle with a ten-foot long applicator tip.

After carefully reading the instructions on “how to use this product and live to tell about it”, I took a very deep breath (possibly my last with functioning nostrils), willed my nerves to calm, tilted my head at the appropriate angle, inserted the scary tip of death into my right nostril and pumped.

My clenched eyeballs slowly opened. I hadn’t felt anything. No nasty monster had launched itself from the depths of the bottle. Did I do it right? I spritzed the other nostril. This wasn’t so bad! I have to do it every day for the next ten days? No problem.

Until tomorrow afternoon rolls around and I find that I need to psyche myself up for it all over again. Yep. There’s definitely going to be some “oh, oh, oh!” and also some cringing as my brain tells my thumb to “push up, push up, PUSH UP!” on the bottom of the bottle. Let’s not lie to ourselves.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Taming of the Toddler

I find it astounding that when a little girl is greeted by a stranger she will generally smile and bat her eyelashes; she will lean toward her mommy for protection and sometimes bury her face in mommy’s shoulder. A little boy, on the other hand, will assume his “tough” look, smack himself in the forehead, grunt, and mime falling over.

It’s all very ritualistic. I’m sure that there are little boys out there who smoosh their noses into mommy’s shoulder as well, but they usually revert to the slapstick act at some point during toddlerhood.

A little girl finds a washrag in the cupboard and will start to wipe down the cabinets. A little boy would throw it across the kitchen and marvel at the shape it takes before falling into a heap on the floor.

Some of my son’s best performances occur as we proceed through the checkout line at the grocery store. I’m not sure why. Maybe his imagination is on overload after being dragged down aisle after aisle of shiny tin cans with colorful labels and cereal boxes sporting Spider Man and Batman; perhaps he is just feeling the tension of suppressed testosterone after the food selections he plucks from the shelf and deposits into the shopping cart are denied.

Whatever the cause, the check out line routine always follows a similar path:

Cashier: “What’s up buddy?”
Instead of replying verbally, the child usually opts for the more civilized response: his mouth pops into a smile, his eyes get really wide, and then he makes a choking noise and rolls his eyes back into his head like he’s looking for spare change in his brain cavity.

Cashier: “Is that your sister?”
When these types of questions are asked it is important to remember that if one allows the conversation to be diverted to the sibling it may be difficult to regain. My son has found that a good way to reroute attention back to himself is to make some sort of strange noise and fall to the ground. This illustrates that he has passed into the realm of bigboydom and therefore commands respect and admiration.

At this point the cashier is usually focusing on the task at hand and is scanning the last of our items. Not easily daunted, the antics continue until the groceries are safely loaded into the cart and paid for, and the exit doors slide open to allow us access to the parking lot at which point the little man can no longer see the friendly cashier who smiled at him.

I’m not sure if I prefer the forehead smacking, strange noise making and falling over onto the germ-infested floor to the child actually engaging in conversation. A person never knows what a toddler will say. For the most part it would probably consist of talk about racecars, dinosaurs and maybe a running list of the items we placed into our cart, but there is always the chance that he would chat about things like “fossil poop” and people just don’t understand things like that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The OTHER Side of the Story

Remember this post? Well, the patient has decided to speak out against Unfair Treatment Of Sick Husbands (UTOSH) and stand up for the rights of couch-ridden men everywhere.

Seaweed: Beneficial Undersea Food Source Or Malificent Pelagic Killer?

This headline demonstrates that there are two perspectives to every story, a Yin an Yang, if you will, to every event. For example, a concentration camp Commandant might think that things are going quite smoothly for the inmates, and everything is running as purposed. For the inmate, however, that probably means regular beatings, sensory deprivation and a lousy menu, but what one side reports is going to be very different than what the other reports.

Take my illness for example. My wife was not the one lying incapacitated on the sofa in a delerious visceral agony. She was not the one experiencing sensations in her bowels that would overwhelm a Roman Gladiator. What she saw was simply a grown man reduced to moaning, whining and griping, in short suffering to the uttermost, which is to the dispassionate and cold-hearted, a rather annoying thing to witness.

It's like trying to sleep at 3 a.m. only to be kept awake by a caterwauling feline in heat. Yes, the female cat is suffering, as the physiological processes accompanied with heat can be very painful. But who cares? It's 3 a.m. and the thing is making a noise like, well, like a cat in a blender. It's the same thing with me and my albeit brief bout with the exotic viral gastrointestinal attack. I was in unfathomable agony, which manifested itself in very vocal and immobilizing ways, and my wife, desensitized from years of caring for children, saw only an adult behaving in a childlike manner, and beheld yet another body to take care of. It's sad, really, because I have now fully recovered from my sickness of body, but it may take a long time indeed for my wife to recover from her sickness of soul.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Penguin for an Afternoon

It is funny and sad at the same time to watch a child stubbornly stick to something that simultaneously offers enjoyment and suffering. We were all at a party yesterday and there was a big pool. The little guy has only been in a pool large enough for him to float himself once before, and he was very anxious to have another go at it.

His Nana taught him a new trick this summer that involves bodies of water and any sticks or stones that may be scattered about in the general vicinity: these sorts of items make a pleasant kerplunk sound when tossed into said water. Thankfully no one but mommy and Nana saw the little boy lob a sizable landscaping stone into the crystal waters of the pool. It looked gynormous lying on the bottom of the pool, the sun and layers of water playing tricks on the eye. I was very relieved when the rock was back where it belonged, sunning itself by the side of the pool.

The baby required my attention initially, so a couple of his aunties took my son into the cold water. Even though the sun was warm the weather has been cooler the last couple of weeks, so the water temperature was less than ideal. After a person was actually able to submerge most of their body in the glacial water it wasn’t so bad.

Once the little guy was in the water, nothing, not the promise of cake or going down the fastest of all slides again, was enough to entice him back out. His body shook and his teeth clacked together. His lips turned blue while he alternately clung to an adult and drifted around in the big blue raft, the water wings bulging pointlessly from his arms. It was sad. But every enquiry to remove from the pool was answered with, “N-n-no, w-want t-t-to stay in da pool.” Or “ W-w-want t-to schwim,” his voice husky from the effort to speak. Chatter, chatter.

I love how children manage to enjoy everything. Even if the clouds momentarily hide the warmth of the sun, and the wind blows its cool breath across the swimming waters. They just grit their teeth (or clink them together) and have their fun anyway. Better to have a chilly swim than no swim at all. And my boy was so obviously having a good time that the icy liquid lapping around my shoulders and making the hair on my legs grow didn’t bother me that much either.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Shopaholics Anonymous

Having started a new job last week as an Audio/Visual Technician Apprentice, my husband found himself in need of a selection of tools and a tool bag to put them in. This thrilled him for two reasons: he likes tools and he likes to spend money. I’m not really sure why he enjoys the power of the purchase. Sure, when I spend money I get an adrenalin rush too, but mine is a result of the “how are we going to pay the bill this month?” shakes.

My husband comes home from a long tiring day on the job, walks in the door with a tired expression on his face that so resembles the look of a man sleeping on his feet, fumbles through dinner and then goes out to the hardware store in search of these much needed tools. When he returns home from his triumphant trip he is like a new man! Energetic, happy, satisfied. The transformation is really quite astounding.

Of course he doesn’t find shopping me with at all exciting. I think I hem and haw too much about how much everything costs, how nothing fits me, and do I really need this? I suppose my husband doesn’t find it too exhilarating to chase the toddler around and under clothing racks or keep him entertained while mommy compares the value and quality of garbage cans or cleaning products.

Both of us recently signed up for Facebook accounts. There are all of these neat applications that allow a person to send their friends gifts like Hatching Eggs and pots of flowers, coffee and different types of sushi. None of this stuff is real- it’s just images on the computer screen- but it makes a person feel as though they are interacting with another human being.

Something about this experience provides for that need in my husband to shop. He will spend an hour perusing his options and sending everyone he knows Narwhal eggs or snow globes with raspberries in them. I find his conduct a little bizarre, but it makes him cheerful so I guess it’s okay. And it’s much easier on the pocketbook.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The King of Drama Takes Ill

Now that my husband is safely out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I feel that it is safe to share of my journey by his side. It is commonly known that the average man reverts back to infancy when he feels a case of the sniffles coming on. He becomes unable to complete simple tasks, like taking himself to the bathroom or pouring himself a glass of juice.

My husband is the kind of man that if given warning of the impending disease, he would probably bust out the craft supplies and make a sign to drape across his prone form that proclaimed “The End is Near” instead of just laying on the couch all day whining and bemoaning the approaching doom. Every time the kids get sick I find myself begging God to let the illness pass by my husband.

This time Daddy got sick first and there was no warning. The poor soul awoke to his alarm clock and declared that he had not slept for two seconds together the entire night and that he felt positively horrible. This being only his third day on a new job he decided that there was nothing for it but to drag his weary body from the comfort of his covers and get ready for work. With very great effort he managed to dress himself and be out of the door within the minute his ride called to say he was parked out front.

Less than three hours later his ride was back out front to drop off my stomach virus stricken husband. Coming through the door, he plowed his way through us to dive onto the couch and issue the decree that he was very, very sick and delirious, and that anyone who touched, climbed on, or otherwise bothered him would be sentenced to death.

Somewhere between the front door and the couch the small amount of pity that I had been able to accumulate had vanished, and the feeble man was fated to an afternoon of being cared for by a cranky nurse.

His condition quickly deteriorated from a typical stomach virus to something called a “nerve virus.” I had never encountered this type of sickness before, but I can tell you from experience that one of the symptoms that the inflicted claims to have is paralysis of the legs. There seems to be a momentary reprieve that enables the patient to arise if the doorbell rings while the nurse is upstairs with the children.

By the early afternoon the general whininess and level of complaint had increased in pitch to match the new self-diagnoses of “ameobic dysentery” in conjunction with a “very high fever” of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit. I was surprised when only Tylenol was requested instead of a high dosage of morphine.

Shortly after this I was struck with amnesia, due to the stress of it all, and remember very little of the remaining period of illness. I can say for sure that I was not thrown up upon like I was only a few days later, nor was I required to do any nasty cleaning up. I did have to suffer, along with the rest of the household, through some unidentifiable odors however. My husband was quick to reassure me that the stench was his decomposing body tissue, and that I should for the sake of heaven take pity on him, during this, his final hour.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Over at My House We Have Sickness and... Stressness?

It is never a pleasant thing for either party when a toddler empties the contents of his stomach on mommy’s lap first thing in the morning. The poor child doesn’t understand what is happening, although he can attest to the fact that corn on the cob feels better going down than it does coming up. He’s not quite sure why mommy says it’s okay to keep “gagging” into her lap, but since she says that he should, he does. Over and over, until his belly (which must be larger than a person would think) is completely empty.

Mommy has a moment of panic where she is not sure how to get up from the couch without the contents of her impromptu bucket sloshing onto the floor. Thankfully the baby is still asleep so she cannot try to force her way into this scenario and suddenly decide to take up finger-painting or do any it-looks-like-a-puddle splashing. The thought of said baby waking up and wanting to participate in the clean up propels mommy into action.

In fear of another vomit episode mommy decides it is best to skip her shower until daddy gets home, so that the toddler needs not be left alone for any length of time. That is why, when twelve o’clock noon rolls around mommy is only in green sweats and a pink t-shirt, most of her hair back in a pony tail while small pieces frizz out and stick up around the temples, looking like an unkempt frazzled young mother who is in no position to be caring for small children.

Most days this doesn’t bother mommy, as looks can be deceiving and there is generally no one looking. On this day, however, mommy turns her back to the baby for a few moments to vacuum the kitchen. Most mommies have a hawk-like sense of hearing that magically develops within a few hours of bringing the baby home from the hospital. Over the noise of the vacuum it isn’t long before mommy hears the beep-beep of the phone buttons being pressed incessantly. Mommy arrives on the scene in seconds and stretches out her hand for the baby to relinquish the phone.

Since the episode at the start of the year, mommy’s paranoia has kept the phone in high places like countertops. The toddler quickly lost interest in playing with it and mommy started to slack off. The other repercussion of that incident is that mommy always punches the redial button to see what, if any, number was dialed. Today the screen flashes with “11”.

“Whew,” mommy thinks, “That was a close one.”

And then the phone rings.

Mommy knows only too well that it is standard procedure for a dispatcher to return any 911 call that connects, and that it is protocol for them send a police officer by.

Mommy feels that, for the first time in her life, she would be glad to hear a telemarketer’s voice on the other end of the line, anyone, as long as she can pick up the phone without hearing the greeting of an emergency dispatcher.

Alas, the baby had defied some perceived odds and dialed 911. And not just once, apparently. The dispatcher is very kind to mommy and the policeman that responds to the call is a handsome young man whose six-month-old, it turns out, called 911 himself in a moment of mischief and boredom. Mommy is so overjoyed at the kindness of the officer that she forgets she is standing out on the porch talking to a policeman while wearing her junk clothes with no bra on and her hair sticking out wildly from her head, holding a baby that is still in her p.j.’s because she may come down with the death virus and start puking at any moment, and what’s the sense of dressing her? To complete the vagabond look the usually clean porch is littered with two pairs of daddy’s work shoes and the toddler’s bicycle. At least mommy remembered to brush her teeth.

Mommy is not sure if ten out of ten experts agree or not, but she feels pretty expert-ish at times and according to her statistics if your kid hasn’t called 911 yet look out, because two out of two kids are doing it.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Some of Us Have It: Some of Us Don't

Reaching a height of just under five-feet and two-inches tall, I am what my father would call “vertically challenged”. This really isn’t a problem except when I need new pants (or I try to dance with my much-taller husband of six-foot-three). I hate shopping for pants. I can go to store after store after store and not find anything that fits. Or I do find something that fits, take one look at the price tag, and start to see little spots of light that require me to locate a chair ASAP so that I don’t fall over and hit my head on a nearby display table. I refuse to pay more for jeans than I do for my electric bill.

Then there is my husband. I don’t know if it is simply because he is a man, or if he asked God to give him a special gene that enables him to find pants on clearance wherever he goes. It really is infuriating. We generally only have to go to one store for him to be able to locate his size on a clearance rack where everything is an extra such-and-such percent off already reduced prices; even if the table has one lonely pair of jeans on it, chances are they’ll be just right.

I suppose I really shouldn’t complain for two reasons: one, it doesn’t require a ten-hour shopping marathon to get what we came for; and two, it sure is nice to pay ten bucks for a pair of sixty-dollar Dockers. This last week he purchased one pair of jeans and two pairs of Dockers for a grand total of $26.39. The point still stands, however, that by the time I find blue jeans for myself I am practically delirious from lack of hydration and my mental facilities are on the fritz from mission-failure-itis. As of right now, all of my pants need a belt to stay up, and some of them have holes in them and torn pockets. Nevertheless, I am going to keep wearing them until they are only strips of fabric hanging from my waist and it comes down to buying new pants or being arrested for indecent exposure. Nothing but the threat of jail could coax me into the torture that is pants shopping.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tricks of the Trade

It doesn't take much to entertain a little boy.

Chasing him in circles with a Triceratops made out of a paper bag and plate will do.

So will letting him run around the house with his hands and feet inside of Daddy's socks.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Quick-Mess Solution

When a Mommy has a baby that can climb a chair so quickly and efficiently, she cannot turn her back for two minutes without some sort of disaster occurring; because in that two minutes the toddler may just push a chair up to the counter top where there are fun things to play with like a toaster, a coffee maker with a fun button that lights up when in the "on" position, cups full of liquid, some freshly washed utensils in a dish drain, and a tub full of Italian ice that may or may not be good for eating after becoming a plaything.

While Mommy is busy wiping down the counter, the cabinets, and the floor, perhaps it would be a good time to dump the cats' dish of water and pat-pat in that. Maybe their food is good for eating too.