Thursday, May 31, 2007

girls night out

I went out tonight. With other people. None of whom were under the age of 25. Unheard of.

We all had children in the same kindergarten class. Boys, girls, oldest, youngest, only -- our kids ran the gamut. But we had all become friends and were corraled by one of the moms and all went out together. It was a treat for all of us - we relished the fact that there were no little people that had to wait 45 minutes for a table, that there were no manners to be reminded of and no decisions to be made regarding what someone else wanted to eat. There was no one crawling under the table or laying down in the booth. There was no one licking the floor and no one cried. It was delicious.

We laughed, told stories, shared experiences. We worried about first grade teachers. We told on each others kids and told endearing stories about each others kids. We acted like grown-ups, for the most part, and giggled like schoolgirls only a little.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

the big bang

We're trying to grow out bangs. I can't see her eyes. It's making me crazy.

Weather woes


Was it really bad weather or just poor workmanship? We'll never know.


We got caught in a rainstorm this morning. We were supposed to meet friends at the park. The park near all the REALLY tall electric poles that supply electricity to practically the whole city. The sky was dark over us, and nearly black to our west. I was not concerned. I was sure it would all blow over. Because, honestly, it is practically June and this is Texas. It's just never this rainy. Ever.
Anyhow, we got to the park and I instructed the children that if they were to play, they also had to know if I told them it was time to leave that they were to run to the van without asking any question or any hesitation. Our friends called and said that they weren't coming, the weather was looking too ominous. We played a few more minutes, until I heard the distant thunder. It was time to call in the troops - I wasn't taking any chances with the city full of electricity overhead. I called, they came.
As soon as we hopped in the van, the rain started. No big, we were going to get dad a coffee and pick him up and go to the library. We got the coffee. It started to really rain. It started to pour. Thunder. Lightning. Can't see the road ahead of me. Oh, great -- large intersection with no traffic lights. We were only about two miles from home, but it felt like a lifetime.
Sarge called. You'll never believe what happened - the playstructure collapsed, he says. On the fence, I ask? No. On the house? No. Okay, I gotta go.
I told the kids that I couldn't talk to them, that I needed them to be quiet so I could concentrate. The baby started to talk - I have no idea what he said. The middle one shushed him, but then they started to argue.
Cloud to ground lightning not 100 feet from the van. Am driving depending on the tail lights of the guy in front of me. Water all over the road. I just wanted to be home so badly, but wanted to stop so badly - but there was no place to stop, safely. Hail falling on the van.
The light near home was working, thankfully. The road to my house was nearly covered in water. This is how flash floods happen, apparently -- the gutters just couldn't take all the water that was coming down. Garbage cans in the road.
Never been so glad to see my house, honestly, ever. The five feet to get from the car to the garage was just far enough for us all to be soaked. Our coffees made it safely home. Phwew!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

To be opened June 1, 2032

Dear Children,

I wrote this letter to you 25 years ago, when you were small and full of hope and dreams. We lived happily and simply in a house full of lots of love and laughter and a whole lot of chaos.

You all alternated between loving me desperately and loathing me just as much. Often were heard the words "I love you" for no reason at all. I always knew, however, that I wasn't being a good enough mom if I heard "I love you" too often, without a spurt of anger thrown in there, because a good mother always makes her children mad. Always.

I have so many hopes for you. I hope that between the writing of this letter and the opening of it, you have said, "when I am a parent, I would never do [insert ordinary motherly crime here] to my children." However, I hope that you've also said, "darnit, now I know why my mother did [ordinary motherly crime]" Because, Lord knows, I've done it a million times, in just the eight years I've been a mom.


I hope that we've seen all 50 states. You know that's a goal of ours, as a family. I hope that you've learned a little about this amazing country that we are blessed to live in. I know that we had so much fun camping and learning and planning our trips. I hope that your memories of each state are vivid and wonderful.

I hope that you are happy. I hope that you are fulfilled. I hope that you have achieved something that you always hoped for. I hope that you are loved by someone who loves you more than I do. Which will be extraordinary, because I loved you more than you know.


Love,

Mama


This post is a part of a group writing project over at mamablogga. Go check it out -- there's some fun stuff over there!

parenting without regret

Shortly after my oldest child was born, new neighbors moved in. Word spread around the neighborhood that their three year old was dying. Of cancer. It was in hushed tones, and no one had all the facts. The me of eight years ago was terrified and therefore hid from them. The me of today would have marched right up to their door, verified the facts and asked how I could help. But that's beside the point, now, I suppose.

With that knowledge, however, the mortality of my child came to light for me. And it scared the pants off me, knowing how much I loved him. So I decided then and there, that I would never regret anything that I did as a parent. That I would make each decision carefully with the knowledge that it might come to haunt me in my later years.

I know that I won't regret not having a bigger television. I know that I won't regret stopping folding laundry to sit with my child and snuggle. I won't regret not having a tidier house, in lieu of playing with them or encouraging them to use every color in the crayon box. I might regret telling them that pee will come out their eyes when they're in therapy when they're older, but I'm hoping they'll just get a good laugh out of it.

I parent my children so that I won't regret a day or a decision. I would hate for something to happen to one of us and then have us filled with too many "I wish I'd's... or If only I's..."

I thought I would cry...

The middle one wanted to come downstairs. So she used the age-old excuse that she needed to use the restroom.

It was time to come eat lunch, so I asked them to come downstairs to get their lunches, and instructed the middle one to take care of business before she began eating. She refused, saying that she didn't need to anymore. I told her I would wait until she went to give her the sandwich. She refused. I refused. It was a standoff.

I informed her that if she held it too long, that her eyes would turn yellow, and that the next time she cried that instead of tears, pee would come out. She was steadfast. The oldest one hopped up from the table and walked past, "really, mom? pee will come out your eyes?" He continued to walk past me toward the bathroom.

Apparently he'd been holding it, and he was now worried. And the middle one folded shortly thereafter, but I think that had more to do with me starting to eat her sandwich.

Monday, May 28, 2007

my baby boy

My youngest son is the kid that everyone likes. Each kid's mom in his class has told me, individually how much their kid likes him and how he's a topic of conversation at home. He's just that kid - he's funny and he's kind and he's just great.

He fell this morning, off of a wall that was about two feet high. Now, if you know our history, that actually should be cause for concern for me - he broke his humerus falling off a rocking chair when he was nearly one and then this past December he broke both bones in his forearm falling off the couch (was he pushed? we'll never really know the truth, I think). Anyhow, he splatted pretty well right on to the ground. The very kind people next to me gasped and reached for him even before I could, even though I think I was closer. They just reacted with more panic than I did. He jumped up before we could touch him, then he said "I'm okay!" The kind people next to us praised him for being big and brave.

That's when my sweet boy reached for me, his mama. I picked him up and he lost it. He sobbed silently, so as not to appear less than brave. He'd scraped his bottom, and it really hurt, but he didn't want anyone else to know. He sobbed while I held him tight. He gathered his wits about him and then was able to look up from my shoulder. I asked him if he wanted to get down and he shook his head. I continued to relish the moment of sweet snuggling. He finally was able to get down when he was ready and allowed me to check for blood when we got home. There was only a little, but he said, "See? I was right! There WAS blood!"

memorial day

I was so pleasantly surprised by the fact that there was no parking to be had at our local Memorial Day celebration. I've never been so excited about parking a ways off and walking.

You see, I was worried that no one would show up. I was worried that too many people were off enjoying their long weekend without remembering why it has been given to us. I was so proud to see lots of young children watching the flags go all the way up, then come halfway down again. I was proud to see lots of young children listening to the national anthem and climbing in the military vehicles. I was proud to see all those people respecting those who have fought and died for our freedoms we so easily take for granted.

I will now step off my soapbox and drag myself to McDonald's. I promised the kids that the first day of summer vacation that dad wasn't around we'd go there. They don't want the food, just the Shrek toys. Dad doesn't want the food either - that's why we had to wait until he was at work.

Ah, the freedom.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

following me around like a puppy dog.

Well, she is a dog.

But seriously, she won't stop following me around. Everywhere I go, she's underfoot. I can't decide if she's grateful that I finally took her to the vet and got her seventeen different medications or if she's trying to make sure she knows where I am at all times so she can plot her revenge for the countless medications I'm shoving down her throat, the drops in her ears, drops in her eyes and showers she's getting.

She feels so much better, though, and she looks better. And, well, she could have rolled around in garbage and still smelled better than she did. But she wags her tail again. And honestly, you don't know how much you care about a dog until she won't wag her tail when you look her in the eye and talk to her.

Oh, dear, I'm old.

My son thinks a record player has a big horn on it where the music comes out. I guess I should be grateful that he even knows what one is. And that it involves a needle.

I'll never forget, about seven years ago, when a neighbor's son got in my old car and looked around and asked what the knob on the door was for. Um, rolling down the window? Are you serious?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Leaps of faith

Around March of 2005, my sons were taking eight different prescription medications daily. My oldest was on a nose spray, a profilactic antibiotic, and two different allergy medications. My baby was taking Nexium, for reflux, allergy medication and two different breathing treatments, a steriod and a rescue medication. We have decent medical insurance, but between their everyday medications, doctor visits and the illnesses that all those medications were supposed to prevent but weren't, it was really taking it's toll on me, emotionally and financially. In a good month, we were spending $200 for medications and doctor visits. On a bad month, it was easily double that.

The allergist that my oldest son was seeing wasn't doing me any good. My final straw was when, despite all the medications he was on, his allergies were still causing nasal misery and sinus trouble, which led to ear infections. He suggested an additional antibiotic and an oral steroid, because he wasn't really sure what the problem was. I wanted to know how we were going to know which one was going to work the next time we had this problem, and he shrugged his shoulders, and suggested that we deal with that when the time came. I left his office in tears, and filled neither prescription. I'd had enough.

I decided that the medications weren't doing us any good. They seemed to be stabs in the dark - the ordinary things weren't working for my kids, and they were just adding more and more medications. It was a huge leap for me to eschew traditional medication, because it's just not who I am. Doctors are there to help us, and they are to be trusted. They know more than I do. They'd been to school for years and years. I have a wonderful relationship with my childrens' pediatrician - we'd been seeing him since my oldest child was born.

However, it was time to trust myself, trust my instincts and trust how well I know my children. It was for them that I took the leap that I took, because I wanted the best for them, which sometimes means going outside of one's comfort zone.

I stopped all non-essential medications, which meant all the ones for my oldest, the steroid breathing treatment for the youngest and his allergy medication. I kept him on the Nexium and the rescue breathing treatments when he needed them.

I threw away a good bit of the food in my pantry. Gone were the things that had high-fructose corn syrup as the first ingredients, and gone were the things that had artificial flavorings and colorings. We joined an organic produce co-op, where we picked up 25 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables every two weeks. We bought lots more on the inbetween weeks. I found a multivitamin that didn't have artificial flavorings and colorings. The oldest one started taking a tablespoon of raw local honey every evening, which he loved! Eventually I added acidopholus, which was the ticket to getting the baby off Nexium, and we added Vitamin C.

I'm not religious about our changes - my kids drink soda when we go out to eat. They have lollipops from the dry cleaners. We don't eat as many fruits and veggies as we did two years ago, but they still eat more than they did before that. My littlest one likes carrot juice. They all love when this time of year comes around and we can make fresh fruit smoothies from strawberries and mangoes and oranges. Strawberries are their favorite dessert.

Honestly, though, we don't go to the doctor very often any more. In fact, the last few times we went were for a well checkup in March and for a broken arm in December. And I don't remember before that. This, from a woman who once introduced her husband to her pediatrician as "the other man in my life."

housekeeping


Just a few random things that don't deserve a post on their own:


An apology. I'm so sorry to the people who are googling "how to take apart a dryer" and are coming up with this address. I'm completely useless, unless you have a Kenmore. Then, I can maybe tell you how I did it, but I'm sure I'll forget a few steps. But anyhow, good luck to you all, and I hope your dryer works as well as mine does now. It's not hard, I promise!


Second, my kid was in the second grade spelling bee, and it rocked. He placed fifth, but it was so fun. The girl who won totally could have spelled Sarge under the table, and he's a really good speller. She had so much poise and confidence, that you could tell from the beginning that she was going to win. Our kid misspelled "centimeter."

Third, I just got a balloon out of a light fixture that's been there for almost a year. I know, I shouldn't even be proud of myself for that, but it involved lots of untangling and a really tall ladder. And I hate heights. I really, really hate them. Unfortunately, my husband hates them more, so it's on me. But it was totally worth it to not have the purple princess balloon hanging from the entryway fixture!

For the birds


Last summer, we made birdhouses from old license plates and some scraps of wood. We researched how big the hole should be for the birds in the area and where it should be placed and where the perch should be, and all the important details. The kids painted them in their own style and we hung them, hopefully, in our backyard.

So here we are, midst of spring, and we have habitants for the girl's birdhouse (she has all sorts of theories as to why hers was chosen - mostly she thinks that birds like pink).


So now, we throw our dryer lint out to the birds, so their nest will be soft. We will put out the bird feeder, so that the birds won't go hungry. The kids all love having the birds living in our backyards.

But, seriously, those birds are REALLY loud. And my birdhouses have a serious design flaw -- there's no trapdoor to clean them when the birds have moved out. Fortunately, my dog's too old and lazy to chase birds anymore, because that would have been BAD.


But, I'm going to focus on the good, because, honestly, it's pretty cool having the birds live in our birdhouses. Maybe they'll even convince their friends to move in next door!

Friday, May 25, 2007

When does school start again?

Seriously, I never thought I'd be that woman. You know, the one who can't wait for her kids to go back to school? I always thought that was so horrible, that the summer was a time to enjoy your kids and enjoy being around them and having time together.

If today was any indication of what summer's going to be like, I'm ready for school to start up again! Tomorrow!

I'll admit, it was partially my fault. I did the most horrible thing a mother could do. I should whisper it so no one knows.

I made up a list of daily and weekly chores they are to do all summer long.

I know, I know, it was cruel and inhuman. They are going to have to make their beds. And brush their teeth. And get dressed. And, worst of all, twice a week, they are going to have to clean up their toys. I know! Two times! Every week!

Seriously, you would think that I was pulling out the hairs on their head one at a time. I can't wait for tomorrow morning, so we can start all over again.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's the last day of school. Let's have hot chocolate!

Seriously. As soon as the final bell rang for school, the skies opened up and rain POURED down, like it only can in the south. Like not enough space in between the drops (can you even call them drops when they're that big?) to breathe.

And, because I'm brilliant, we had walked to school to pick them up and so we needed to walk home. Cue the thunder. And lightning. Yeah, we waited. And waited.

The rain got to a lesser level of gallons per second per square inch, so we ran-ish home. Hello, stinky dog, meet the family of drowned rats that now lives here. The oldest gets in the garage and says, "that was fun!" I turn to look at him with my perfected look of death for whining the whole way home and just in time he said, "NOT!"

I'm thinking that my grandchildren will hear about this one. "Don't you complain, your grandma made us walk five miles home in the thunder and lightning and pouring rain on the last day of school EVERY YEAR. She was so mean to us - you kids have it made!"

So they had hot chocolate after we all changed our clothes. Because it's only fitting that this was the year that we ate a watermelon out of our garden on a snow day. It's a full circle kind of thing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Power.

I can now stop traffic. It's not my fabulous good looks or my fancy car (though people usually do try to stay out of it's way - they're rightfully afraid that something may fall off at any given time). It's even better. Believe me.

There's a new traffic light in my area that I get to use. It's one of those that's usually green for one direction of traffic, until someone shows up at the lesser used side street. I'm the gal showing up at the lesser used side street. So, as soon as I show up, wave my magic princess wand and say "I want to turn left" the lights for the other guys, traveling right along, turn red. And they all must stop, just so I can go do the Very Important Things that I do.

It's my first step toward world domination. I'm plotting the next step now. Oh, wait. I think I heard someone calling me to wipe their bottom. World domination will have to wait.

glimpses of the future, part 2

In the middle of the night, I heard footsteps coming toward me. Not the scary, "go get your gun, honey" kind, but the guessing which child is coming kind.

It was the girl. She whispered, "Mama, I just want to be with you for a little bit." And she crawled up next to me, snuggled up and fell asleep.

Life is good.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

glimpses of the future

This morning, I went to wake my five year old daughter and was greeted like this:

"Mom, you need to sign my permission slip right now, because I think you're too lazy"

And then, just a little bit later, she says "Ohmigosh, what happened here?" panicked, pointing to a small red piece of broken plastic. I replied, "oh, what it that?" Disgusted, she scoffed, "ugh, mom, of course you know. Don't ask that." "Baby, I really don't know what that is." Stomps up the stairs with important piece of red plastic in her hand.

She's been crying easily lately. Over things that would ordinarily not make her cry. She answers questions with questions, and she's generally horrified by my parental behavior. I know she's devastated that Thursday is the last day of school, but I'm not good at these guessing games. Give me a "I'm sad about...." anyday over this miserable emotional rollercoaster that we're on.

I think my per-pre-pre-teenage daughter is already giving me an ulcer. How old is it again when you're supposed to appreciate your mother? Surely I won't have to wait until she's thirty until she likes me again - I don't think I have the stomach for that.

Festive festivals!

I participated in a Festival this week! The easy kind, that doesn't involve dressing up and jousting! One of my favorite bloggers, Get Rich Slowly, is the host of this week's Festival of Frugality! I love exclamation points!

Anyhow, it's a fun list of frugal living tips, and I submitted my post on the fun that exists in my laundry room. Check it out here! See if you can find me!

"Bless your heart"

That's southern for "I pity you."

I do not like it when people bless my heart. I had so many people say that to me after my last child was born. There were three children under the age of four, and the littlest one was sick. A lot. And people clearly pitied me. And I don't like to be pitied - it implies weakness. Either that or it implies I'm an idiot for not figuring out birth control and health insurance. Whatever.

The problem is that it is always well-meaning. And you can't be mad when someone says it to you. But I always am, but then feel guilty for being mad. It's a vicious circle, I tell you.

Monday, May 21, 2007

On potty training

I thought I was pretty good at potty training. Like enough to be patting myself on the back and thinking I had it in the bag. Again, one of those things I wish I never said.

My first was potty trained at just about two, maybe a little later. It was right before his sister was born. He had it all figured out, and then he even potty trained himself at night, where he'd get up and go at night when he needed to. Of course, that was right after his sister was born, and he never would get up at the same time as she did in the middle of the night, but I digress.

The second said, just as she was 2-1/2, "I want to wear one more diaper, and that's the wast." So she did. And she was potty trained. Just like that. She wore pullups for some ordinary amount of time and then slept through the night with no accidents. Easy peasy.

I was so confident with the third. I mean, honestly, I got through the first two with nearly no trouble. A little bribery, a lot of practice and patience - I was sure I was now qualified to write a book on how to perfectly potty train your child.

HA. HA. HA.

Seriously, he's nearly 4-1/2 and I'm starting to think I'll be sending him to college in a Pull-up.

I started when he was about two. We purchased underwear. We made a big deal out of it. We sat on the potty in front of the TV. We gave candy liberally. He even got to give a piece to his siblings when he went and THEY gave him praise. We let him go in his underwear and feel the wet. We let him sit in the underwear until he got uncomfortable. He didn't - it just would dry and he'd be on his merry way. We quit.

I started again after he was 2-1/2. We did all the same. We pottied every thirty minutes. We didn't leave the house. We gave treats. Stickers. He ran around naked. He peed on my carpet. We quit.

We tried again after his third birthday. I was so tired. We gave candy. We went every thirty minutes. We stayed home. We brought changes of clothes everywhere. We threatened returning to "baby" diapers. We let him sit in his wet underwear. We made him change his pants when they were wet. We cried. We wailed. He peed in his underwear. He didn't care. We kept at it.

We're long past his fourth birthday, and we have a very tentative hold on this potty training thing. He finally got to where he cared about being wet and stinking like pee, and being a little embarrassed when he did it at school. My stock response of "oh, honey, it's okay, let's just change your pants" did me no good, as he'd just repeat, exasperated "but mommy said it was OKAAAAY!" Oh. That's not quite what I meant.

I do take the blame for inconsistency, but oh, my, goodness, I'm also aware of the fact that I'm proud mother of the Laziest Boy in America. He'd much prefer to watch the end of his show with wet pants than to pause it, get up, go to the bathroom, not 20 yards away and restart his show. MY GOSH! He can pause his show! It's not like the olden days of 2004 when we didn't have that capability!

And don't get me started on night time. Because I'm not going there for a Really Long Time. Ever, really. I'll send him to college with a suitcase full of Depends if I have to.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

"honey, the dryer smells like fire. Is that bad?"

So, a couple of months ago, our dryer smelled like it was on fire. And, of course, I'd just been reading and hearing about stories about people whose houses caught fire from their dryer. So I panicked. And started air-drying everything.

For a family of five, air-drying everything takes planning and organization, in which I have very few skills. But I took on the challenge, because I was paralyzed with indecision as to what to do about our dryer. It wasn't terribly old, but I hated to call out a repairman, who would cost me money and it was chancy whether or not it was fixable, and I just didn't know anyone reputable.

So I set up my drying rack, my fan and my hangers. After a week or so, it became apparent that I was going to have to eventually wash the children's sheets and blankets, so I set up a clothesline in my backyard (I'm sure the neighbors cringed at that - and I wonder if that has anything to do with the long-term vacancy in the houses around us? Hmm.) But, alas, I was saving the environment and money all at the same time, and it was perfect clothes-drying weather.

It got to where I was used to hanging everything, and the children stopped complaining about crunchy clothes. So I waited for my electric bill, while I drooled over the fancy front loading washers and dryers. Because it would eventually save me money, right? And because they used less electricity, right? And because I NEED a matched set, right?

I got my electric bill. It had dropped $40! I was stunned! Only three years of that, and I'd saved up for my new washer and dryer set.

Suddenly, I got cheap. Really cheap (who, me?). I decided to take my dryer apart. I had nothing to lose - already it was dead to me, so I might as well take it apart and see if I could possibly fix it, and if not, I could just take it to the dump in parts rather than whole.

I did my research on how to take apart my particular model. Not joking, I think I removed every removable part. I found beads from the socks that my daughter wore three years ago, I found sequins and glitter from her clothes. I vacuumed, I cleaned, I sweated, and I put it all back together. With no spare parts.

Suddenly, for a net gain of $40, I had a working dryer. I had gained a new skill, confidence and a clothesline. And even though those front-loaders still make me swoon, my set looks better to me than it ever has. And I got to brag to my husband about how amazing and wonderful I am.

how does this happen?


12 loads of laundry, all washed, folded and put away. And still, there's a stack of unmatched socks. In only a week? What will happen next week? And where are all those socks?

Five things I learned camping this weekend

  1. Four year olds do not have snooze buttons.
  2. My oldest son is a cover hog.
  3. I should never leave my oldest son in charge of blowing up the air mattress that I'll be sleeping on. He claims he had a hard time closing it off, so it lost a lot of air, and I pretty much sank to the ground. And had a boy on each side of me rolling into me all night long.
  4. My daughter can keep up with the boys. Among ten boys, she was the only girl, and she rocked.
  5. Never bring a first aid kit or jumper cables to a cub scout campout. It’s like bringing coal to Newcastle.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

wishes

I wish for a minivan with self-vacuuming floors. Or just one with no nooks. Or crannies.

why I love camping

Because conversations like this don't happen when you sleep inside:

Me: Doesn't God know that we're sleeping outside?

Daughter, eyes BIG: Oh, mommy, He knows.

adventures

We camped last night. In our backyard. I was so determined that we were NOT going to sleep in the house. Because only wimps do that. And besides, my kids are seasoned campers.

We grilled, we made ice cream and we toasted marshmallows over our fire pit. Grown ups talked, enjoyed each other's company. Kids ran around wild, in and out of the tent, on swings, near the fire (great idea, mom!) and generally made us grateful that we don't have many close neighbors right now. And, we hoped that no one good was househunting for the vacant houses around us.

After dark, kids who weren't staying the night went home, dad went inside to sleep (because he's smarter than me, thinking that sleeping in a tent with four kids is brilliant) pajamas were put on, ghost stories were told (which, apparently, when you are eight, involve lots of bathroom humor and not a lot of scariness), and children were hushed. The baby fell asleep first, my oldest second, his friend finally fell asleep, then it was just me and my daughter, who hates sleeping - always has.

Then it started to rain. Because we can bring rain to the most arid desert. Simply by trying to sleep outside. I put on the rain fly, because I was determined to make it through the night outside. I put the dog inside, because she's the biggest wimp ever, and I can't believe that she even attempted to sleep outside. But the rain kept coming. And coming.

Because I'm a wimp, and because I made a decision with input from a five year old (who wanted to sleep in her bed even before it started raining), I woke everyone else up and shooed them inside. The baby wouldn't wake up, so I carried him. Got everyone settled and crawled in my warm bed, next to my warm husband. We only made it two hours in the tent.

The oldest came up to me this morning and said, "mom, how did we all end up inside?" I guess I didn't quite wake him up.

We're going to camp again tonight. Because I'm brilliant.

Friday, May 18, 2007

room mom coup


Because I made the teacher cry. And the other moms. Should I tell them that I totally stole the idea from my sister? Because she'd already made a teacher cry?

things I wish I'd never said

Back when I had fewer children, and the ones I had were younger, I made the mistake of speaking in absolutes. But now, I've learned that as soon as you speak in absolutes, that it seals your fate. God is listening, and wants to be sure that you regret judging another mother for her actions.

For example, when my oldest son was in preschool, he was the only child in the class without older siblings. He was quite innocent in his knowledge of worldly (by that I mean elementary school) things. Like Batman. Spiderman. Spongebob. Anything non-PBS, really. My mistake came in the form of this thought, "oh, my, I can NOT believe that these parents let their little three years olds watch this kind of garbage. They should not be exposed to such things!" Or something judge-y and ridiculous like that.

Fast forward four years. I find out that six year olds will flat out refuse to watch Barney and will wear you down so badly that you find that Spongebob is actually really funny. And that the younger siblings are drawn in like moths to a light. And that I'm tired, and I don't care if my three year old wants to be Batman for Halloween.

But then, my three year old is in a preschool class with a bunch of kids who don't have older siblings and he teaches them all kinds of things I wish he didn't know, and their parents are horrified by me!

But, I'm not sure they've learned the rules yet. And you better believe that I'm keeping my mouth shut about obnoxious teenagers. And preteens who wear inappropriate clothing. Because I don't want to seal THAT deal.

the little one said

"mom, are we going to the pool today? because I want to get my fingers to look like raisins again."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

overheard

The baby had bedhead this morning. The middle one says "you have villain hair."

That was the same child who, after watching too many cartoons, obviously, said, "there's a boy in my class who loves me, but he's never had heart-out-eyes at me"

Neuroses

I have a fear. I actually only care a little that it's an irrational fear. I take that back - I don't care at all.

I won't dress my daughter in a bright blue swimsuit. I've gone so far as to purchase one and then return it, because I forget for a moment, then I become terrified again.

"Reason for return?"

"I think if I dress my daughter in that suit that she'll drown."

*awkward silence*

You see, about three years ago, I had a dream. A nightmare. One of those convoluted long dreams where twelve different things happen and nothing makes sense when you wake. But the main part is seared in my memory, never to be forgotten.

We were at a pool party, and I lost track of my middle child. I hunted for her everywhere, asked everyone where she was, and finally, I looked down. There was my daughter at the bottom of the pool, hair floating gently, peacefully even. Wearing a bright blue swimsuit. And, because it was a dream, I was paralyzed. I couldn't move. I couldn't save my beautiful daughter wearing a fun bright blue swimsuit.

So, for some odd reason, I think my dream won't happen if I don't let her wear a bright blue swimsuit.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

poop stories

While walking to school with two second graders and a kindergartener, you can imagine how often the talk turns to indelicate subjects. Not led astray at all by their chaperone, you can be sure.

For some reason, I was reminded of a story about my oldest. So I told them.

When he was a little tiny baby, we were visiting my In-laws. He was having some quality time with his Papaw, while Granny and I were in the other room.

"Granny!" came the shout from Papaw, "come help me!"

She went running, not sure what she was going to find. She came out, barely able to speak, tears running down her cheeks. If you've never seen anyone near death from laughing so hard, this was it.

"He....pooped....all....over....Papaw"

But, the best part, was that her first instinct was not to change the baby's diaper. It was not to help her husband. It wasn't to get a wet cloth to rescue her couch.

Her first reaction was that she needed to get her camera for photographic evidence. Of her husband covered in baby poop.

said this morning

The oldest one was not wanting to get out of bed this morning. I was helping the other two get dressed, when I heard from down the hall

"Hey, mom, which side of the bed is the wrong side of the bed?"

"Which side are you planning on getting out on?"

"I don't know. I'm going to lay here and decide."

He finally decided to get out at the end of the bed, so as not to influence the day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

the sound of silence

I got out of the shower - it was eerily silent.

I went in the living area - they had turned it on, chosen a show without arguing and were watching silently

I served them their dinners - they ate silently - they didn't even complain about what was served.



Oh, I REALLY love pool season!

manners (or lack thereof)

I was at a meeting this morning. It was a group consisting entirely of women, I think all were mothers. It was one of those meetings that you had to be at, in order to get something done as a group at a later date. There was a heirarchy there of people in charge. I was a worker-bee, but was eager to get in, get the job done and get out.

I was so disappointed. It was a gab-fest. While the people in charge were trying to speak to the group, there were several conversations going on around me, and as far as I could tell, all were unrelated to the subject matter. They were not hushed conversations. They were being held in ordinary met-you-in-the-grocery-store voices.

THEN, some of the chatty women had the nerve to ask the women in charge to repeat themselves! Because they couldn't hear! Because they were too busy talking about how potty training was going!

Monday, May 14, 2007

On compost

I have a compost heap in my yard. When we moved a year ago, I moved my compost heap. Didn't just move the bin, moved the compost. So, I'm pretty obsessed with it -- I've always wanted to make compost.

It took me several years to convince my husband that compost was a good thing. He was so sure that we'd have rats and mice and stink and gross rotting things in our yard. I did my research, I waited, I researched more, and then I came up with a plan. A real plan. I knew how to do it, and I was ready, and had the research to assuage all his worries. With the promise that I'd get rid of it if it smelled, he reluctantly allowed my pile in his arena.

I currently have a love/hate relationship with said pile. It's now several piles, as I have a bunch of finished, gorgeous compost that I can't use. Why can I not use it, you ask? Because the ants have moved in. Seriously covered in ants. Of the fire variety. They found it after it finished, so it was no longer too hot for them. And I don't think there's any question about how I feel about ants.

There are now things growing in the ant-infested piles. Serendipitous, though, because I now have mystery tomatoes growing in there, and cantaloupe, or zucchini, I'm not sure which. I'll let you know. When something grows. If I'm not too scared to reach my hands in there.

There is, however, something magical about compost. I put our shredded junk mail in there. I put all of our vegetable kitchen scraps in there. I put weeds in there. Clearly, I put tomatoes and zucchini and cantaloupe in there. And, somehow, magically, it all rots without smelling bad and turns into this gorgeous dark brown earth. And then I'm in love again, ants or not.

But I have been feeling a little creepy-crawly since I came inside. I've found myself slapping at the imaginary ants crawling all over me. The kids think it's funny.

spoke too soon

Apparently the little one is now good at keeping surprises. He's managed to keep his mouth shut now on two occasions that I would have expected him to blab. This could be bad.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day




The perfect Mother's Day, involves no decision-making on my part. It involves no disciplining, and certainly no cooking. Oh, and sleeping in.




Today was the perfect Mother's Day.

spring rain


Because when you're a kid, there's nothing better in the world than getting outside and splashing in the puddles.


Darn those well drained streets, though, because our puddles weren't very big. The little one still managed to be soaking wet. They found dirt to make a soft landing for when they splashed, they used pebbles to make campfires and grass clippings for a soft bed. It took a while, but they did discover how fun it is to splash an unsuspecting sibling.
Life is good.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ant Watch: 2007

The ants were mad. Really mad. We'd taken their home by force. We built a large structure on their land, and they were not happy about us not allowing them to at least share the space.

They came by the thousands. From corners, from nooks and crannies, from gaps in the caulking. I filled the weep holes, I used diatomaceous earth in the weep holes, around the exterior of the house, I put down diatomaceous earth inside the house and sprayed orange oil.

The ants laughed.

I squished, we vacuumed. The children were only allowed to eat at specified times of the day and I followed them with a broom. My son dropped his snot covered shirt (that an entire post on it's own...) on the bathroom floor before a shower, and there were thousands of ants eating holes in it within the hour. We had them coming out of the carpet. I vacuumed, I did laundry constantly, I cleaned constantly (which was more stressful to me than the ants - I hate cleaning.).

The ants laughed and invited their friends.

My sweet, patient husband, kept up the the fruitless organic ant control. He begged me to reconsider. But the baby's asthma, I insisted. And the beneficial bugs! We can't kill the bugs we need! He kept suggesting, I kept insisting. But then, I dreamt about ants. I dreamt that they were coming out of the carpet. I felt like every time I laid down to sleep, they were covering me, crawling on me. In the middle of the night, I would throw back the covers, turn on all the lights and scour the bed and the carpet in the bedroom. I was exhausted, and the ants were winning.

They found the pantry, they made their way up the stairs. We postponed a family vacation, because I had visions of the house being two inches deep with ants when we returned. I was ready to cancel the vacation, when my husband finally found a crack in my hard skull and convinced me that we NEEDED Amdro. He needed it, he needed my sanity back, and he didn't want to see another living ant, ever. So, he bought some, and used it. All. Then, he bought more. And some ant bait for the interior of the house.

So we went on vacation. And prayed the ants would be gone.

God bless chemicals. And poison.

*******

In the last few days, we've seen some ants. And I thought that if we could nip it in the bud, the orange oil might work. But it's far too wet for Diatomaceous Earth. And we have some leftover Amdro.

This year, it won't take nearly as long for me to jump off the organic bandwagon. But just for ants.

Please, please, don't talk about my dad like that!

I have a client in her seventies, a divorcee. I made the mistake of telling her that my father is nearly all Irish.

Oh, my gosh, she lit up. With a gleam in her eye, she said, "ohhh, does he have dark hair?"

I nodded.

"Ohhh, does he have blue eyes?"

Again I nodded, wincing.

"Oh," she said, clasping her hands together, nearly giddy, "That just makes my knees weak. I think it's just so handsome."

"Um. Yeah. I'm, um, sure my mom, um, thinks so, too."

Ugh, I think I need to go wash my eyes.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

habits

We had a discussion in the car today about bad habits.

The oldest one admitted that he has a bad habit of picking his nose. The middle one, trying to sympathize, says "some boogers are spicy, but then they melt in your mouth"

dad: 0, tupperware cupboard:1

Dad makes lunches in this house. The kids know when I've done it, because there is always something missing. Like a drink. Or a sandwich. Or something silly like that.

When I make lunches, I fill them with reusable containers, you know, to save the world and all (oh, come on, you know it's because I'm so cheap). But Sarge will NOT go near the tupperware cupboard. He doesn't even like to put anything away in there, because he knows that when you open the cupboard, you have to open the door, throw the item in there really quick and then slam the door shut, in order to not have an avalanche in the kitchen. It's really hard to be that quick, so you know if you open that cupboard that you'll have to spend an hour cleaning that stuff up. He would really like to throw everything out in that section of the kitchen.

But today, the disaster of all disasters happened. We ran out of sandwich baggies. So, I first suggested using plastic wrap. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth and lots of banging and muttering and growling. It was so bad that he decided that the lesser of two evils was the dreaded cupboard. Yeah. Because everything fell out. There was more muttering, growling and banging. I decided that the best thing for our marriage was to just stay away. And to buy sandwich baggies tomorrow.

The good news is the lunches were made. And nothing was forgotten.

that time of the year

It's the time of year when gifts need to be purchased. With the end of school, mother's day and father's day, it's the time of year when I am forced to take my children out shopping. The worst kind of shopping, it's browsing with the intention of buying something. Anything.

However, I am so stinking proud of my kids right now. For teacher appreciation week, I do a gift from me, usually in the form of a gift card, but then the kids also get to pick something out. Because, let's be honest, a gift card to Starbuck's doesn't take a whole lot of thought or creativity.

The oldest, for his gifted teacher, picked a book of logic puzzles, because she loves them. So we went to a store where he had to explain what he wanted and then choose from the options given. Then, for his second grade teacher, he wanted chocolate, lots of it. And the Kindergartener wanted to get some chocolate and an apple, so she'd have something yummy and something healthy. So we chose both.

Then, the best part, the cards. They were each told to make a card for their teacher. Markers, crayons and a blank piece of paper and they came up with the most personality-filled cards you've ever seen. They are the kind of cards that scream out their little personalities, and will bring back (hopefully fond) memories for each teacher of who they are.

I am terrible at buying gifts for gift's sake. I don't like it. I can wander the mall or stores for hours, only to come home frustrated and empty-handed. I have spent three weeks shopping for a gift for someone special, and have been near tears several times, just because I can only find things that are good enough, not just right. It's now two weeks past her birthday, and I'm quite certain she thinks that we don't love her or have forgotten about her. Quite the contrary, even though the "hey, we've done NOTHING for your birthday" doesn't really get that sentiment across.

I do much better when I come across something for someone with no holiday in mind. I LOVE "just thinking of you" gifts or cards or even moments. They are so much more special than buying a gift because the calendar tells you to. I have high hopes for my children though. They seem to do much better than I do when the calendar tells them to pick something special for someone they love.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

barbies

The barbies in my house have a problem. They are always naked. It's not for lack of clothing, I promise you that I personally have made sure that there are plenty of clothing choices for the Barbies. They can all be dressed up for a swanky party at one time, or they can be dressed to hang around the Barbie house or drive in the Barbie car or go shoe shopping (if mommy would only take the time to set it up). BUT, they can't keep their clothes on.

It's not to impress Ken, because there's only one of those in our house, and technically he's the one married to the creepy pregnant Midge (whose belly just pops off and -- voila! -- she's wearing regular clothes again! No interim clothes for Midge!). I understand, that sometimes, when they want to swim in their Barbie pool, there aren't enough swim suits to go around, so some have to skinny dip, but honestly, you can't fit more than five or six Barbies in there without it getting more than just a little weird.

I used to chalk it up to the fact that the little fingers couldn't manipulate the teeny tiny clothes, but that's not an issue anymore. I'm just so surprised that a girl who has it all is never dressed to impress. I mean, really, she even has a dog that eats treats, poops them out and then can retreive the poop with her fancy pooper-scooper and return it to the treat bin. I mean, she could even manage to make dog poo clean up look glamorous, if only she would put her stinkin' clothes on!

ergh.

brain function at all time low. please help. trapped in car running errands with three noisy children for two hours. they seem to enjoy noise for noises sake. send reinforcements.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

the meaning of life.

We're here to learn manners for when we get to heaven.

The eight year old figured it out. I'll call the philosophers and tell them that they can rest, their job has been done.

surprises

We are the worst secret-keepers in the whole world. All five of us. Oh, heck, the dog probably couldn't even keep a secret.

I should correct that. Surprises. We've told the kids to never keep a secret, because keeping secrets isn't usually a good thing. But surprises are good.

We're not good at surprises. At all. Before we had kids, my husband and I could never wait until Christmas to exchange gifts. We were so proud of ourselves the year before we were parents, because we waited all the way until the 22nd. And the gifts were wrapped. We thought we were going to make such responsible parents - surely the next year we could make it to the 25th, right?

Unfortunately, we're teaching our children by our example. They try, but they're terrible. The little one came home from pre-school today and whispered to me that he'd made a father's day gift and used his footprints. And that it was a surprise and I shouldn't tell daddy. I promised I wouldn't. About an hour later, we were working on a project, and he said something, right in front of daddy about making his footprints. I whispered to him that I thought it was a surprise, and we weren't to tell daddy. He bashfully looked down and mumbled, "I told him."

Not even and hour.

The older ones are getting better. If they take a shopping trip for a birthday or Christmas, I might try to get it out of them, but the older two are stoic. It's a surprise, they say, we can't tell you. Giggles and mad hiding in obvious places ensue.

But usually at bedtime, a time when insecurities are revealed and questions are asked where privacy can be expected and confidences kept, they'll tell.

five year old, on heaven

Waiting on the swings, for someone to come push them:

youngest: what if daddy pushes us to space?

middle: heaven is higher than space. I want daddy to push us to heaven.

Monday, May 7, 2007

ten times twenty

"I'm smarter than you. You don't even know what ten times twenty is! Ha, ha, ha" says the eight year old.

A moment passes. The five year old comes to me, whispering in my ear, "mommy, what's ten times twenty?"

"200"

She yells upstairs, "I do too know what it is, because I AM smart. It's 200. Ha, ha, ha"

"mommy told you"

"nuh uh, I'm smart."

"then fine, what's ten times forty?"

"400," I whisper

"I heard you, mom, you cheater!"

on voting

I voted today in a city council election. Nothing new, nothing exciting. BUT, apparently, I am now SO old that I know two of the people who are running for city council. Like had conversations with them that had nothing to do with city politics, or politics at all, for that matter. And, I've heard of two of the other ones. Thankfully, I've not even heard of the other two, because I think that would put me over the edge.

I guess I should go pick out a cemetary plot now.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

things remembered, things forgotten

Once, when I was much younger, I was working with someone who had become a friend of mine. She was a heavy girl. We were joking around one day, laughing, and I said to her "you big fat liar!" As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I wanted to shove them back in. It was a remark, a common thing I might say to someone, but to her, it had to hurt so badly. And I didn't mean it that way, AT ALL. She was my friend, and I could have cared less how much she weighed or if she had seven eyeballs. She and I were friends long past that thoughtless comment, but I can't ever forget that I said that. Never.

However, I was in conversation with someone who I like very much and we only see each other twice, maybe three times a year, as our husbands are co-workers. She mentioned that her husband's brother had been killed in a motorcycle accident. I immediately inquired about it and asked how come I didn't know that, like, "oh my goodness, you would think that I would have heard about it" She looked at me like I was crazy. "Don't you remember, you took care of our nephew right after his father had been killed and we were working out custody issues?" was the jist of the response. I took care of that sweet boy for nearly two weeks, helped this family out in a huge time of need, and I'd completely forgotten.

We helped another friend of my husband's out after he'd been badly injured. Every time his wife and I are in the same room, she finds a way to bring up how much we helped them. I forget, until she reminds me. It's clearly something that she thinks about often, but it doesn't even cross my mind. We did what we should have done in the situation, and we moved forward. If we were in the position that she and her husband were in, I am confident she would be the first to come forward and help.

But, how is it that I can't find it in me to forgive myself for a thoughtless comment, and get mad at myself about it ten years later, but can't remember doing something good for someone not even two years later?

Issues

I have some. Seriously. Shocking, right?

Mostly, they are issues relating to the fact that I am probably the least organized person to ever walk the face of the earth. I'm pretty sure I'd still be in my twenties if I could have all the time back that I've spent looking for my keys.

So, today, because the best man in the whole world did ALL the laundry in the house yesterday, I was freed up to clean other things. So I started with my desk, also known as The Dumping Ground. I scraped everything off into a laundry basket and promised myself I'd put everything where it belongs without doing anything else. Which meant that I had to actually take the insurance card and put it in the minivan, not wander around the house with it until I misplaced it AGAIN. And, I wasn't supposed to sit down and write that last post. And I filed things. And I now have an "action items" box.

So, my desk is clear, and has little dust on it. The issue is that instead of just being satisfied with a visible desk, I got so excited that I scraped an entire section of kitchen counter into that laundry basket. And I dusted it and wiped it and shined it. But now I'm tired of putting things where they belong. And I have a laundry basket full of papers and rubber bands and pennies that I don't feel like cleaning out. I'd really rather cream my eight year old in Othello. Or play Go Fish.

Except that I'll need that laundry basket soon, because even though all the clothes were clean yesterday, it won't be long before the mounds need to be tamed again.

letters in the mail

A few days ago, the oldest was desperate to go to the community pool. Never mind that it was seventy degrees outside, and the pool was probably fifty. He REALLY wanted to go. I kept saying no, and explaining that whining and begging has never caused me to reconsider a "no" answer. To no avail.

Finally, I thought he'd given up, when he was quiet for a while, then asked to go get the mail. Of course he may go get the mail. He promptly returned with the stack, and as I thumbed through, it, I discovered a folded sheet of paper tucked into my stack. It read:


Dear Mrs. X,

You, by law must take your kid to the pool.

Sincerly,

the CGA

Aparently, the CGA is the Governing Agency over my oldest child, and therefore his mother. I expect to be fined in the next week or so for disobeying the orders of the CGA.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

gifts given

When my oldest child was about 18 months old, a little boy at a client's house gave him a sack full of matchbox cars that he didn't want anymore. They boy was probably about eight, and probably gave him all the broken and worn out cars. I wish I could remember the house and the boy, but I just can't. I'd like to thank him.

My son had struck a gold mine. He loved those broken and worn out cars. I think we went out that evening and purchased more, because he loved them so much. We have had countless "set-ups" and hundreds of hours of entertainment from matchbox cars. They used to be the thing that we would take away for naughty behavior. Or at least, the thing that we would threaten, because they were so precious, that he would almost always shape up with that threat hanging over him. I think we only had to take them away once or twice, and I credit them with helping to mostly end his temper tantrums when he was much younger.

I'd dare say we have a thousand little cars. The favorites rotate fairly frequently. It's still a treat for him to get a new car or a new set of cars. And, he hasn't upgraded much - he still loves the $1 cars. As I was leaving this morning to run errands, he asked me to wait. He shuffled in the top drawer of his dresser for a few moments, then produced a dollar. "Mommy, if you go to Wal-Mart today, please buy the forest ranger car that Daddy told me about yesterday."

You see, Daddy and I and the youngest had been at the brand-spankin new Walmart the day prior and we'd peeked in the toy section and we'd seen this car, noticed it, and handled it and returned it to the shelf. The little one didn't care about it. He wanted Spiderman and Batman and Superman toys. Daddy mentioned it in passing to the oldest one later that day, and he wanted it, knowing that it would become the new cherished toy.

I can only imagine the set-ups that would occur. I wonder what other cars he would find appropriate for the set-up with the Forest Ranger car. I think he already knows. And, I think I'll probably go to Wal-Mart this week. But, I have a feeling that I can use this. I wonder what I want him to do for me this week. Make his bed every day? Do homework without whining? Oh, my, the possibilities...

unexpected sacrifices I forgot (because I sacrificed my mind, obviously)

Shopping for breakable items. Because, for the love of Pete, please don't take your little ones down that aisle! My littlest one has a habit, of when I'm shopping too slowly, or for uninteresting items, of reaching his little arms out as far as humanly possible. Which often means he's touching everything on the shelves. Which is very dangerous while walking down the breakable goods aisle.

And, further, since you can't shop for breakable items, this kind of works out, because you end up having to give up caring about anything that you already own that's breakable. Because they get broken. And then you have to decide to be mad or not. But I always, always, in the grand scheme of things, care more for my kid than my breakable. At Christmas this year, my oldest son dropped a ball on a Christmas plate. I loved that Christmas plate, but I couldn't stay mad, because my son's face looked more broken than the plate.

Friday, May 4, 2007

mispronunciations

From the oldest, actually. One of the dangers of being able to read words that you've not heard outloud.

Hunk-a-hana. The holiday celebrated in the winter, complete with dreidels and muscular men.

Pedestranians. People who walk are apparently foreign to the boy.

unexpected sacrifices

Parenting is not easy. You have to give up so many things, especially when your children are young. Things that you don't even realize that you will have to give up.

For example, when you are thinking of having a baby, you know they don't sleep through the night, and you're pretty sure that you won't be taking many more tropical vacations, at least not for a few years. And that's okay. You can handle that. At least I was so sure I could (because I went on SO MANY tropical vacations before I had kids, yeah, that's it)

But what you don't realize you'll have to give up is almost worse. You have to give up conversations. And rational thought. Full sentences. One might attempt to have lunch with a friend and her toddler, and expect to have time to catch up. But, really, you can't catch up with a friend, or even have much of a conversation with her, without shirking your parental duties. Because demands for milk are made, or forks are flung or toddler runs off to hide under a nearby table. You can choose to ignore that behavior and continue the conversation with your friend, or choose to take care of the demanding creature. And, if you choose to ignore the behavior, you are then faced with having to ignore the dirty looks of the other diners. And the judgmental stares.

The telephone. That, too, is a thing of the past. As soon as you begin to speak on the phone, the small people who have been ignoring you and playing quietly for any amount of time, will suddenly and urgently need your attention. They begin to ask, then demand, then yell, then scream and throw a tantrum. Again, you can choose to ignore the behavior or deal with it. If the behavior is ignored, don't think for a minute that the person on the other end can't hear the yelling and hollering. Because they can. And, God help you if it's a person without children. You know that as soon as they get off the phone, they are going to tell the person in the room with them, "my children will NEVER act like that." (which, by the way, is the kiss of death. Don't ever say that about before you have children, because whatever it is you promise they won't do, God makes sure that they do. In the most embarassing of moments.)

Privacy. Especially in the bathroom. This, apparently, will continue long into your life as a parent, because my mother claims that as soon as she'd like a moment to herself, her children call her. So even though we may be miles and miles apart, her grown children are still not giving her any privacy. So, all those things that used to only happen behind closed doors don't anymore. And sometimes the doors are opened in public restrooms. Or announced to all the other people in the public restroom. Because mothers also get to give up all sense of modesty. And decorum.

But, you'll find that no one tells you these things until after you are pregnant. Or maybe if they do, you just can't hear. Because your womb is yelling at you too loudly.

confidence

My husband does the crossword in pen. If that isn't a sure sign of confidence, I don't know what is.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

green children

My children were given balloons at an event. I am NOT a big fan of balloons -- in fact, that last statement is a huge understatement. My children are acutely aware of that fact.

So the rules were set - they were to hold their balloons in the car until we got home. Under no circumstances were they to beat their siblings over the head with the balloons. Of course, the proceeded to hold their balloons for about two minutes of the trip, as instructed, and then began to yell and holler and beat each other over the heads with the balloons. What more could be expected?

So I took their balloons, to be returned when we got home. I thought I was being generous. They cried, they hollered, they fussed, they wailed and gnashed their teeth. They were devastated. I was tired. I didn't really want to listen to the histrionics. So I opened the window to the car and let the balloons go. They sobbed and were generally devastated. But then, the ultimate accusation came from the backseat.

"MOM, you littered!"

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

"we need to meet about your child"

Ever heard those words? Oh, how they struck my heart in such a way that all sorts of horrible things pass through my head.

"ma'am, I think your son is going to be a serial killer"

"ma'am, I think we need to talk about alternative schooling for your children"

"ma'am, let's talk about medication."

Seriously, these were all thoughts that I considered were going to be the opening of the conversation that the school counselor called me to. The thing was, she scheduled the meeting for a week away, then rescheduled for another week later. She should know not to do that to a horribly paranoid mother -- I had two weeks to imagine what we were going to meet about! I entertained all sorts of horror about that meeting, figuring that if I prepared myself for the worst, then I would be ready for whatever she threw at me.

I was in no way prepared for what she said to me.

"I think you might be pushing your son too hard, academically"

But, not knowing what she was going to say at the first of the meeting, and my nervous diarreah of the mouth got ahold of me, I started patting myself on the back to her "Yes, we've actually really been working hard at actually doing our homework this year, and actually turning it in." "I know, aren't I such a great mom this year? because last year we never did homework. At all."

When she told me why she wanted to meet, I thought I was going to fall off my chair. But then I wanted to ask her if we were talking about the same child. And then, I wanted to laugh my head off. "Ummm, ma'am, I cannot stop this child from learning. He soaks in every bit of information that passes in front of him. He taught himself to read - I had absolutely nothing to do with it. I can't take credit for a moment of it. I answer his questions - he asks, I answer. I provide books, he reads what he chooses. He's never seen a flash card. I promise."

I spent the rest of the meeting backpedalling, trying to prove to her what a horrible mother I really am, how I have nothing to do with the child's incredible base of knowledge. I was NOT expecting to be touting what a great a slacker I am.

teachers live at school, right?

As we were leaving Subway after dinner yesterday, heading to another endless meeting, we happened upon a kindergarten teacher at my children's school. She was on her way in.

The teacher spoke to the middle child, whom she knew by name. They spoke for only a moment, to exchange pleasantries and the like. As we walked away, my child said to me, "that was weird!"

overheard

While I was waiting for my children to be released from school, there were some older children also waiting.

Child 1: Oh, there's a roly poly.

Child 2: Is it dead?

Child 1: Oh, here's another one!

Child 2: Is it dead?

STOMP

Child 2: Oh, it's dead.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

rescued

My mother-in-law has rescued us so many times since we've had children. I was unable to appreciate it fully until the third child came around.

The first time she rescued us was when the second child arrived two weeks early. It was fortunate that I went into labor in the morning, so I was able to drop off the oldest child at a friend's house at a reasonable hour. The baby was born before dinner, so Sarge was able to pick up the oldest in the evening and spend the night at home with him while I was in the hospital with the new baby. My mother-in-law came the next morning, so I wouldn't have to be alone in the hospital anymore, to take care of the older child.

The next time she rescued us was a little more dire. Sarge had just had the ol' snip-snip, and was promised three days on the couch, with me at his service to bring frozen peas and anything else he needed, as well as all childcare. He was under the impression he would have absolutely NOTHING to do for at least three days - I had every intention of giving that to him. Until about 36 hours after his surgery, I called him from the doctor's office. They were going to admit the baby to the hospital, he had RSV. I needed him to come get the older two children, who weren't very old at all. Poor thing, he hobbled to the hospital and took the children, but he called his mother first. She was there in the morning, so that he could resume his duties on the couch and I could take care of the baby, just seven weeks old. It was a longer recovery, mostly due to the twice that he had to lift the middle child, I think, and all the walking he had to do. She really rescued us then.

The third time, the baby's hospitalization was planned, and I had told her that we didn't NEED her, but that we would welcome her help. She never hesitated. She planned her trip to be here as long as we needed. In fact, it was four years ago, today. The baby was not quite four months old, and he needed surgery to repair his dual inguinal hernia. It was a quick surgery, but it was nice to be able to be with my husband while the surgeons had our baby. And to spend the day not worrying about anything but taking care of the littlest one.

I didn't appreciate her enough for a really long time. She would be there for us in a minute if we needed her. I didn't know that, and didn't know how wonderful it is to have someone in your life that would drop everything for you. It's a wonderful gift, having someone like that in your life.