Wednesday, June 24, 2009


It's been one of those weeks this week.

OK, it's one of those weeks every week.

But this week seems particularly insane, despite the regular help I'm getting from Miss Amanda, my summer sitter. (Although around here she's "Miss A-Panda." Cute, right?) We love our Miss A-Panda. Well, except for when we're hitting her. Or locking her in a room, as the case may be.

Wait, though. Don't call the cops on me yet. These abuses are all courtesy of my almost 5-year old, Ella. For reasons I still haven't figured out, she decided to beat up on sweet Miss A-Panda - and lock her in a room - while I was out running errands with my mom the other day. Miss A-Panda, being the smart girl that she is, quickly popped the lock and picked up the phone to call the woman with the naughty stick Ella's mom.

Fortunately, I was almost home. Fortunately, too, I had a few minutes to vent to my mom about Ella's bad attitude, because she was able to calm me down and gently remind me that I've been through A LOT of stages with these kiddos. This is just one more stage, she told me. And she's right. Although the Hitting and Being a General Pill Stage? I'm over it. I can't wait for it to go the way of these other annoying stages that, praise God, eventually passed:

1. Worst Morning Sickness EVER Stage

I know, I know. You probably think that you had the worst morning sickness ever, and you're probably right - because morning sickness is THE MOST MISERABLE FEELING IN THE WORLD, regardless of your personal sickness level. But even my OB agrees that my level was off the charts: like a 19 out of a possible 10. During the course of my three (successful) pregnancies, I was hospitalized 14 times for excessive vomiting. During the twins' pregnancy, which very nearly killed me, I lost weight faster than my babies could gain; I looked like an orange stuck on toothpicks. Those times when I was temporarily discharged from the hospital, I had a home nurse monitoring me, a Zofran pump pumping anti-nausea medicine into my leg, and a PICC line in my arm delivering fluids and TPN. It was not my favorite stage ever.

I have plenty of gross / disgusting / kinda funny stories about my 25+ months' experience with hyperemesis (i.e. morning sickness on crack), which I'll probably write about at some point; but my point in writing about it now is simply to say: I didn't die. I thought at times I was going to, but I didn't. I survived, it's over, and I have four healthy and surprising chubby children to show for it. We made it.

2. Now My Baby Is Throwing Up Stage

The irony is that the next stage still had everything to do with digestive functions... just not my own. The Now My Baby Is Throwing Up Stage (better known within the medical community as acid reflux) was a different experience with each child. Emily and Evie had it, but I didn't really notice because I was too busy feeding, burping, bathing, changing, swaddling, and rocking them to really care about the spit-up all over my clothes. Ty had it as well, but he was what the pediatrician called a "happy spitter." In other words, I was covered in baby goo but Ty never fussed. Go figure.

Then there was Ella.

Ella was NOT a happy spitter. She was not a happy baby. In fact, members of my family can testify that Ella didn't stop crying for three months after we brought her home. My hubby's grandmother called it colic. I called it pure agony.

Even once the crying stopped diminished, the projectile vomiting continued for another three months. Plenty of people, who got used to seeing me regularly in semi-soggy clothes, asked why I didn't just use a burp cloth. At which point I'd pull three or more mushy, sodden burp clothes out of my diaper bag and ask, "Why?" It eventually got to the point where my sister could find me in a store simply by following the trail of baby vomit. How's that for birth control?

3. Make The Screaming Stop Stage

Ella made such a quick transition from spitting to screaming that I never really had a chance to celebrate the end of the Now My Baby Is Throwing Up Stage. We jumped right in, feet first, to the Make The Screaming Stop Stage.

Now again, I'm sure you think that your kid gets pretty loud. And he or she probably does pull off a good scream now and again. But Ella could shatter glass with her scream. No kidding, we could've taken out the whole crystal section at Macy's with one blood-curdling yell. It got to the point where I couldn't leave the house because she screamed ALL THE TIME.

Eventually, I got so desperate that I called a world-renowned counseling center, held the phone up to Ella, and after a few screams begged the man on the other end to tell me what I could do to make her stop. He told me to buy ear plugs and wait for the stage to pass. Easy for him to say, but in reality I had no choice... so that's what I did. And praise God, it finally passed - just about the time we found out I was pregnant with twins.

4. Diaper Removal Stage

The twins, of course, brought with them their own unique stages. What I had learned from parenting Ella was inadequate when I tackled their new, double-your-trouble phases. Like the Diaper Removal Stage.

This stage started shortly before Ty was born, and continued for a good six months. At first I wasn't too concerned, since the girls were still in their cribs and the damage was contained. I just put onesies on over their diapers and assumed that the problem was solved. And it was until they moved into their big girl beds - at which point they teamed up to unsnap one another's onesies, rip off their diapers and leave poopy-butt imprints on every piece of furniture, bedding, and window pane in the room.

It wasn't a pretty stage. I would've been well-served to strip the carpet and bedding from their rooms, paint the walls chocolate brown, and call it a day. But I persisted in fighting the battle, even wrapping their diapers in strapping tape before bedtime. Did you know that a child's tummy shrinks during the night, and that come day the taped-up diapers can just slide right off? If you do, you're smarter than I was because strapping tape did not exactly solve our problem. Nothing did. Eventually, I think the girls just got tired of painting the windows and walls with their poo and moved on to another stage, because it too has passed.

For now, anyway - since Ty is starting to get more curious about the mechanical workings of his disposable diaper. I'll have to cross my fingers and buy some onesies. But even if he does hit the Diaper Removal Stage, I know that it too will pass. As will - God willing - the Picky Eater Stage, the Arguing With Every Word That Comes From Mommy's Mouth Stage, and the Still Going Pee-pee In My Night-time Diaper Stage. And of course the Hitting and General Pill Stage. Surely it too will pass. Right?

Lord, I hope so.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Five Minutes on 285

There are two things you need to know as you read the following conversation:

1) 285 is a twelve-lane interstate of terror that goes around the city of Atlanta. I HATE driving on this road even at the calmest of times.

2) Even though I have four children in my mini-van at any given time, Ella is the dominant voice I hear - because the twins are usually playing quietly in the back and because Ty is - well, Ty.


"OK, guys. We have a long drive home, and it's rush hour traffic. I need everybody to be sweet and quiet so Mommy can concentrate. OK, Ella?"

"OK Mommy, we will... Mommy what is traffic?"

"Um, traffic just means that there are lots of cars all going the same way, really slow."


"Mommy you're driving too fast."

"No, I'm not. It's fine"

"Holy cow, Mommy! Watch out for that car!"

"Honey, it's fine. This is just traffic."

"What's traffic, Mommy?"

"I told you: Lots of cars, going really slow."

"Oh. Mommy, how did Nana give me this puzzle?"

"Huh? Oh, I don't know how. Didn't she just hand it to you?"

"Oh. Yeah. But WHY did she give me this puzzle?"

"I guess she thought you'd like it."


"What's wrong?!?"

" PIECE!!!!!!!!! Stop the car, Mommy!!! STOP!!!!!!"

"I can't, Ella. I'm driving!"

"I... WANT... MY... PUZZLE... PIECE...! MY... PUZZLE... PI... oh, I found it, Mommy! It was under my leg. Hee, hee. Isn't that silly, Mommy?"

"Hilarious, Ella. Now just work on your puzzle. I'm trying to drive, and there's a lot of traffic."

"OK, Mommy. What's traffic?"

"Lots of cars. Driving slow."

"Are you going slow?"


"You're not going too fast?"


"Is the policeman going to get you?"


"Because you're not driving too fast?"


"Why is your car beep-beeping?"

"Because that car almost hit us."

"Is that car going too fast?"


"Is the policeman going to take him away? Mom? Mommy? MOMMY!?!"


"Can I listen to my CD?"

"You can listen to Bob and Larry's Backyard Party, since it's already in the CD player."

"NOOOOOOOOO!!! I don't like that CD!!! I want a different CD, Mommy!!!"

"I can't reach another CD, Ella. I'm driving."

"But... I... want... my... blue... Veggie... Tales... C... D............."


"Emily, what's wrong?! Ella, stop crying so I can hear Emily!"

"I the baby, Mommy. I pretend the baby."

"Oh, are you and Evie playing Mommy - Baby?"

"Yes. But I want you to be the Mommy and I'll get in your tummy again and then I'll come out."

"Oh honey, I can't play Mommy - Baby right now. Besides, I don't think I can get you back in my tummy, Emily."

"But I was in your tummy first, Mommy. Wasn't I in your tummy first?"

"Yes, Ella. You were in my tummy first."

"How did I get in your tummy, Mommy?"

"Um, God put you there."

"HOW did God put me in your tummy?"

"Hey Ella, do you want to listen to your blue Veggie Tales CD?"

"No, I want to sing."

"Oh, OK. That sounds like a great idea."

"Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree. How lovely have you been..."

"Ella, do you want to sing a different song?"


"Ella, maybe you could sing a little quieter. Mommy's trying to concentrate."

"Because there's traffic?"


"Oh. Mommy, what's traffic?"

"Just keep singing, Ella."

"OK, Mommy."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

It' Party Time!

Three days and counting before the official first birthday!

Were you around for that first tentative blog post? Probably not. I was so afraid of "putting myself out there" that I didn't even tell my husband what I was doing until I'd written several posts. Even then, it was my sister-in-law who kicked my blogging butt out of the closet when she outed me to the world on her blog. If it wasn't for her, I'd probably still be blogging in secret.

Wow. Aren't you lucky?

Of course, the birthday isn't until June 10. Yes, I rolled out my birthday gift / blog makeover a little early. And then I left town. And left you with nothing to read.


I suppose I should feel bad, but I don't. I'm back now. And before I get into my little party contest, I have to tell you that the kids and I had a great week at the beach - as evidenced by the amazing pictures Andrea shot (with comments by me):

Here's a shot all three girls on the beach, about 1.2 seconds before that wave out there washed up to their knees. No, we didn't take the "during" shot - we were all too busy running. Then we were drying eyes. And Emily's panties...

Here's Ella. She's beautiful, isn't she? My hubby can't even look at this picture. Of course, what he doesn't know is that Andrea shot 45 pictures prior to this. My big girl CANNOT hold still to save her life. She yells "cheese" as she's running away, "cheese" as she's squinting into the sun, and "cheese" as she's bending over to pick sand out of her toes. The only reason we managed to get this shot is because I was standing behind the camera saying, "DON'T smile, Ella. Whatever you do, DON'T look at me and smile." Funny how my oldest child can't help but disobey...

Then there's Emily. Thinking I'd learned my lesson with Ella, I told her the same thing: "DON'T smile, whatever you do." You know what she did? She obeyed! We have a whole selection of pictures of her staring blankly at the camera. It turns out it works better for Miss Emily if I just say, "OK, look at the camera and smile pretty!" And then just walk away.

Here's Evie. My happy girl always smiles, but for some reason this is my favorite shot of her. It's a more classic "Emily look" (and if the pictures weren't labeled, I'd probably get them mixed up), but here Evie is looking at her reflection in the lens. Precious...

And then there's "Ty-Ty, Sugar Pie," as big sister Ella calls him. No, Andrea didn't have any difficulty getting this shot. Nope. No story here. Just my sweet, happy boy.


Well enough about our trip to the beach, which - did I mention? - was glorious. I've got a party to prepare. And you've got some work to do.

Hopefully you noticed that the name of my blog is no longer "Surviving 4." Put Me in the Zoo, by Robert Lopshire, is one of my kids' favorite books. When I was trying to come up with a new blog name, it was the first idea I came up with. Because, well, I live with five monkeys. (C'mon - of course I'm going to count my husband!) Plus, it was a lot easier to come up with a blog design in a zoo theme.

In honor of the birthday and the name change, I'm giving away a copy of Lopshire's Put Me in the Zoo.

And in case you already have the book, you don't have kids, or you're still waiting for grand kids, I'm also throwing in a $10 gift certificate to Ella's favorite store.

(Actually no. Her favorite store is the Home Depot. So it's really her second-favorite store.)

All you have to do is leave a comment at the end of this blog, telling me the name of your favorite children's book. That's it! On Wednesday, I'll pick a name (randomly, I promise) from the list and announce the winner on my blog. (Note: If you leave an anonymous comment, make sure you write your name in the actual comment somewhere, so I know who you are!)

Have fun and good luck!