Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oh Sure, I Can Laugh NOW

So I took a vote - very unofficial, and involving pretty much just my mom and two sisters - and we decided that the following post is one of our favorites.  Mainly because enough time has passed that we can all laugh about it now. 

At the time, not so much... 

But I wrote it very early on in my blogging "career" (a term I use very, VERY loosely), and the girls and I thought that some of you newer readers might get a kick out of the story.  And hey, if it makes you laugh, do me a favor and leave a comment letting me know!

Just Say No (7/15/08)

Sometimes I think I must look one of those characters on Bugs Bunny. I suppose I'm addressing a specific audience here, but if you're a Loony Tunes fan, you'll know what I'm talking about. I think salespeople look at me and see a giant "Sucker" where my head should be. That, or they see me hauling my four kids from one place to the next and think, "Here is a woman who needs my product! Look at that dull skin!" Or, "Look at her rough and uneven nails!" Or "She looks like a candidate for the latest in-home water filtration system!"

OK, maybe I'm not a sucker. I've only purchased one skin care system, three nail care sets (they were made out of products from the Dead Sea!), and - hooray for me - I do not currently own a $6,000 water filtration system (although now I drink my tap water with a certain level of informed concern). I do, however, possess what those in the home sales business call a "yes face." I can say this with confidence, since I have made two forays into the home sales business myself - once as a beauty consultant and once as a jeweler. (By the way, please call me if you are interested in purchasing a ten-year old make-up kit or $300 worth of discontinued jewelry.)

A "yes face" is that one person in the crowd who makes eye contact with, and smiles at a sales person - which is apparently something I do when I'm walking by the Dead Sea kiosk on my way to the Food Court. I also do this when I answer my front door, because I just can't say no to the earnest appeals of small children selling wrapping paper for choir, or high school kids selling magazines to pay for football camp. Or to the vacuum guy who is trying to win a week-long, all-expense paid trip for himself and one guest to New Orleans.

This latest seller showed up on my doorstep recently to offer a free carpet cleaning of any room in the house. It was 6:00 in the evening, Tyler had just walked in the door, the baby was still in his carseat, and the kids were starving. "Perfect," I said, as two of the girls wrestled over a toy behind me. "One of the twins took her diaper off during nap time and got poop on the floor. Won't you please come in?" Somehow he got a glimpse of my yes face, because he wasted no time lugging his enormous vacuum cleaner and a box of cleaning supplies into my living room.

As the girls battled over which episode of Clifford they wanted to watch, and Tyler tried to figure out how to boil a pot of water for spaghetti, Joe* set up his machine and jumped right into his spiel. Five minutes in, I could tell it was going to be a long spiel. This vacuum doesn't just suck dirt out of the carpet; it inflates pool floats, cleans lampshades, mattresses, and walls, shampoos carpet, and details your car. I asked Joe if it could fold laundry and babysit, but he was staring at Evie sitting on the chair behind me.

"Um, I think she just had an accident."

Sure enough, there was Evie, sitting in a puddle on my upholstered chair.

I tried to be nonchalant, but it took an effort to mask my horror. "Why don't we test out how good that machine really is, Joe?"

While he went to work on the puddle, I took Evie to the bathroom and changed her clothes. Being that we're in the midst of her potty training, I slipped her into a fresh set of panties and shorts and reminded her that "Pee-pee goes in the potty, not in your pants." Meanwhile, Joe had decided that his vacuum cleaner probably wasn't as effective as a good old-fashioned washing machine, so I came back, stripped the cover off the chair, and plopped Evie down. "Where were we?" I asked.

Just then, Emily strolled into the room sans panties and shorts. It seems that Evie had inspired a demonstration. But Emily, having properly completed her toilet duties, couldn't figure out how to put her pants back on. Not to be left out, Ella then pulled her pants off and ran into the bathroom.

"Um, I'll be right back," I said. "I think the girls need a little help getting their clothes back on."

While I was standing in the bathroom, trying my best to explain inappropriate nudity to my daughters, I heard Joe call from the living room. "Ma'am, I think she just had another accident!"

Sure enough, Evie - whose bladder can apparently more liquid than a small horse - had once again gone pee-pee on the chair. And on the ottoman. And on the hardwood floor. At this point, unable to hide my horror, I actually screamed. Not words - just one really loud, frustrated scream. Unfortunately, the noise woke up Ty, who had been dozing in the Pack 'n Play during the chaos of Joe's increasingly lengthy presentation. I sent Evie with Tyler to get cleaned up (again), and picked up Ty to comfort him. Of course, he was not to be outdone by his sisters, and immediately unloaded a better portion of his dinner bottle onto the rug.

"Do you think we can get that spot out, too?" I asked Joe, as two naked children streaked by.

"I can try," he replied.

While he went to work on the spots and Tyler and the kids ate dinner, I tried to push this now excruciatingly slow demonstration along. But Joe was not about to lose a sale. (And really, who could blame him at this point? He was still stuck with cleaning the girls' poop-stained floor.) He pulled out all the stops and did a side-by-side comparison of his vacuum to my newly-acquired (and very expensive) machine. Tyler just gave me "the look", and headed out for his tennis workout. Since we've been married for eight years, I recognized "the look" to mean: DO NOT SPEND ANY MONEY. I knew I was now set on a collision course with Joe's hard sell.

I have to give the man credit. He asked all the right questions, pushed all the right emotional buttons, and wheeled and dealed with his "non-negotiable" - but really negotiable - price. He kept reminding me of how much easier his machine would make my life. (Had he really been in my house for the last 2 hours???) I could hear my "no, thank you" getting fainter as he pushed harder. I knew that I was a desperate woman when I considered compromising my marriage, and handing him $1600 to leave. But once again, we were interrupted by my children.

The sound of breaking glass shattered any prospect Joe had of selling me a vacuum cleaner. As I shot up the stairs, I knew exactly what had happened - the heavy mirror over the girls' dresser had fallen off the wall and crashed to the floor. Even as I ran my sub-par vacuum cleaner over the mess of wood and glass, Joe packed up his box and headed for the door. (But not before he graciously helped me move the broken frame to the garage.) Call it gratitude, but I told him that my neighbor was in the market for a vacuum and sent him next door with renewed hope for a profitable night.

When Tyler came home from tennis, we had a brief chat about inviting sales people into our home. We've probably had this conversation before, but I'm pretty sure that this time it's going to stick. The next time someone shows up on my front porch with something to sell, my face is going to have "no" written all over it. Unless of course they have a machine that folds laundry and babysits.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oh, the Pain

A few weeks ago, I was at the doctor's office getting my blood drawn for some lab work.  After draining two or three pints of my blood, the nurse slapped some tape over the wound.

Then she stabbed me in the arm.

"OW.  That hurt!  I mean, that really, REALLY hurt."

The nurse withdrew the ice pick she'd plunged into my arm.  "Sorry."

I don't think she was all that sorry, but I didn't say anything.  I'm not a sissy when it comes to needles.  Anyone who knows me knows of my extensive history with the medical community.  I walked back to the waiting room, contemplating my new found sympathy for our well-immunized children and trying not to swing my throbbing arm.

The shot was part of a test to examine my body's response to stress.  Ironic, to say the least.  But I had to wait 30 minutes for another blood draw, so I made myself comfortable and texted my husband something to the effect of "OMG - PAIN."

The next thing I remember is seeing shoes out of the corner of my eye as I lay face-down on the floor.

The shoes informed me that paramedics were on their way and not to move in case my neck was broken.

"Does your neck hurt?"

"No, but my face does.  Can I roll over?"

They carefully rolled me on my back, and put my legs in the air.  Ten minutes later, the paramedics still weren't there and my feet were numb from the lack of circulation.

"I can't feel my feet."

There was a flurry of activity as doctors and nurses rushed to carry out the CYA emergency plan.  "DON'T MOVE.  We're getting you a neck brace and the paramedics are bringing a board."

"Could we maybe just put my feet down?"

The paramedics finally arrived and taped my head down to a board, then heaved me on to a stretcher.

"Are you in any pain?"

"Just my face.  Do I really need to go to the ER?"

Evidently, I shouldn't have questioned procedure.  I also shouldn't have asked why they were loading me into an ambulance when the ER was directly across the parking lot.  After a lengthy .3 mile drive (which included turning the ambulance around), I was wheeled into the ER.  The paramedics signed me over to a nurse and left.  As did the nurse, who left my head taped securely to the stretcher.

"Hello?  Hello?  Is anyone there?  I think I need a bathroom."

Eventually, a doctor appeared.  "Does your neck hurt?"

"No, just my face."

"Oh good.  Your neck's not broken."  He took off the tape and rolled me onto a bed.

"What about my face?"

I guess he didn't hear me, because after glancing at my chart, he informed me that I'd passed out due to my fear of needles.

"But I'm not afraid of needles."

"Well, it seems you are.  Next time you get blood drawn, make sure you lay down."

He signed my discharge papers and headed off to impart more brilliant medical advice to the pregnant lady down the hall.  Two hours later, I was released to go home.  Tyler handed me my keys and some money for the parking garage.

"My face is killing me."

"Maybe you should take some Advil when you get home."

I was kind of bummed.  You'd think with all of the hoopla, I'd get something more than discharge papers and an Advil.  I thought I deserved something big after all the fuss.

So did the paramedics.

I got an ambulance bill for $772 today.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stage Fright

I have a terrible case of stage fright that may require therapy.

Serious.  Therapy.

Not that I have a problem being in front of people.  Put me on a stage?  You'll need one of those Bugs Bunny hooks to drag me off.  Hand me a microphone?  You're going to need to put some serious Ultimate Fighter moves on me if you plan to shut me up.  Clearly, I'm not afraid of actually being on a stage.

It's my son who has me breaking into a cold sweat and popping the Pepto pills.

Last year, all four kids were together at the same pre-school, getting ready to perform in the same adorable Christmas program.  Granted, the Thanksgiving program they'd been in just a few weeks before wasn't a stellar success.  My Indian Princess did great and the two little Pilgrims were sweet, but Ty the Turkey stood up on the stage and acted like... well, a turkey.  But for some reason, I thought the Christmas program would be different.  All four kids were going to be on the stage together: a perfect, once-in-a-lifetime, Christmas photo op.

Mom and I started planning weeks before the actual program, sewing these adorable green Christmas jumpers for the girls and Rudolf-themed overalls for Ty.  I was convinced that a sanctuary full of parents would be watching my kids on the stage (in a sea of 400 ), commenting on the creative mother who helped coordinate such cuteness.

I was half right.

Ty spent the entire time lying on the bottom riser screaming  "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" at the top of his lungs and kicking at any teacher who came near him.

I spent the entire performance slumped down in my pew, crying.

People probably thought I was upset about Ty's performance.  But I was really crying because after the show, I had to take that screaming child home with me - for an entire Christmas break.

I thought Ty would do better in front of an audience this year.  He's much more amenable to school now that he's three, and he loves singing in the car.  And at the dinner table.  And in the bathtub.  So at Grandparent's Day last week, I assumed he'd be fine.

Granted, the morning didn't start off great.  He wanted to wear his Superman costume to school and wouldn't hear of taking it off.  I was in the middle of typing out a sign to pin to his cape - "I dressed myself this morning" - when he finally decided to change.  Still, we were late to school.  When I dropped him off in class, he clung to my leg and cried.  It did not bode well.

Sitting in the sanctuary, I tried to think of all the worst case scenarios and their subsequent solutions.  (Pretty much every solution consisted of me pointing my finger and asking, "Whose kid is that?")  Meanwhile, the director was working the audience to find out which grandparent had traveled the farthest for Grandparent's Day.  Michigan and Ohio were the clear winners.

As it turns out, I didn't need to worry about Ty's performance on the stage.  The minute he saw me, he hurled himself into my lap and refused to budge.  An audience full of grandparents enjoyed this:

Ty's grandmothers got this:

That's a fake smile, but at least I'm not crying.  All I could think was, "I'm just relieved nobody had to fly in from Michigan to see this."

I also had some Pepto in my tummy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Where Fish Go to Die

Last December, a friend of mine bought the twins a fish for their birthday.  The girls were totally stoked and named their new friend Sally.  My husband, on the other hand, was less enthused and couldn't believe that my friend would buy our kids a pet without asking us first.

"She asked me a few weeks ago.  You know how much the girls love animals.  I told her it was a fantastic idea."

I am an idiot.

Sally was in our home roughly 4 hours before Ty found - and dumped - a year's worth of fish food into Sally's tank.  I'm not sure how much the little pink fish had eaten by the time I found her, but she wasn't really pink anymore and her stomach was completely distended.  She was still trying to choke down - or spit out - one last pellet.

It was obvious from the way Sally kept floating to the surface that she was going to die.  I scooped her into a plastic cup and cleaned her tank in preparation for the new fish I'd clearly be buying the next day.  Then I told the girls to say goodbye to Sally.


After this convincing argument from my 5-year olds, I decided to dispose of the body after the kids went to sleep.  Of course, I forgot all about poor Sally once they were in bed and I was pouring my second glass of wine.

Lucky for Sally.

It turns out she survived the night's gluttonous orgy and managed to live for another 8 months before I found her once again floating at the top of her tank.  This time, I think she starved to death.  I'm pretty sure the twins stopped feeding her regularly after Month 4.

Sally's funeral was held the morning I found her, just before I sent the kids off to school.  The twins cried and said their goodbye's to Sally as I dropped her into the toilet.  Then, holding hands, they reached over and flushed the handle together.  Their teacher later showed me the journal pages they colored that morning: one showed a little pink fish floating at the top of her tank, while the other - also showing a pink fish - was scribbled over in black.

An art therapist I ain't, but my little girls were clearly grieving.  So I did what any (idiot) mother would do and bought them two more goldfish.

Lilly made it three days and Sally Two survived for four.  Emily shed a few tears over Lily, but Evie skipped Sally Two's funeral in favor of breakfast.  That weekend, however, we were back at PetSmart.  This time, the girls picked out a large, male beta.  He seemed healthy enough to me, living in that little plastic container, so we took him home.  Along the way, the girls argued over names.  They ruled out Sally, on account of him being a boy, and asked me for ideas.  I suggested Max, Alfred, or Red.

"He's not really red, Mommy," Emily explained.  "He's more reddish."

Reddish lasted about two weeks... I think.  I couldn't say for sure, because I thought he was dead at one point, but then noticed his gills fluttering.  The next day, he looked like he was trying to swim.  The day after that, he was definitely dead, but I left him floating there for a few extra days just in case, and then flushed him while the girls were at school.  It's been nearly a month, and they still haven't noticed he's gone.

Not that there won't be at least one more fish funeral in our future.  Ella - not to be left out when we bought Reddish - talked me into a goldfish named Sarah.  Sarah's hanging in there, but last night I noticed an inordinate amount of food floating in her tank.

"Ella, who fed Sarah so much food today?"

"Oh, I did, Mom.  I went ahead and fed her extra so she'd have something to eat for breakfast."

Ella will not grieve quietly.  I might need to plan something a bit more dramatic than the small, dignified funerals we've been having.  Does anyone know where I can hire mourners for a fish burial?

Maybe I'll Google it just in case.  Sarah's looking a little peaked today.

Friday, October 21, 2011

TMI: Now in Pink

It used to be that October was about pumpkins, and leaves, and adorable costumed children out panhandling for candy.

Now it's about boobs.

Don't get me wrong. I am all in favor of raising breast cancer awareness. I'm alarmed by the number of women in my own personal life who have or are continuing to battle breast cancer. I'm just not in favor of all the pink. Pink ribbons and yogurt lids are one thing. But big, burly men chasing a pigskin down the field in pink shoes? I'm not sure sure it says, "Do your monthly self breast exam," so much as it says, "Tackle me, I'm wearing girl's shoes."

Personally - and this isWAY oversharing - those monthly exams don't take me very long. There's just not that much ground to cover.

I confess that I've tried to compensate for my lack of endowment once or twice in life. At first, I used those silicon inserts you can stuff in your bra. You know, the ones that look like chicken cutlets but are marketed as "Curves?" But then I started dating my future husband, and as things got serious, it felt like I was living a lie. I tried weaning myself off by wearing them every other date for awhile, and then just once or twice a month. Eventually, they disappeared. I never did ask the hubby what he thought of my incredible shrinking breasts, but I suspect he was a bit surprised. And possibly disappointed.

My Curves didn't come out of their box again until a few years into marriage. As the new JV cheer leading coach at my school, I was forced to attend the compulsory first-of-the-year pool party. The thought of all of those cute, teeny-bopper girls in their cute, teeny-bopper bikinis was too much for my pride, and - I  confess - I decided to break out the silicon again.

Too bad my bathing suit didn't offer the support for a B-cup, because when the varsity coach's son took a tumble into the pool, I dove in after him. Twenty minutes later, I realized that my boobs had shifted south - to my hips.

That was the last anyone saw of my Curves.

Once I trashed the cutlets, I decided to find enhancement with a bit more self-support. Enter the water bra. Looks real. Feels real. Comes with straps.

I pretty much lived in my water bra until I wore it to the Bon Jovi concert a few years ago. Just before the show, my sister-in-law leaned over to ask if I was hot.

"No. Why?"

She pointed to the giant sweat patch under my arm. It turns out my bra had sprung a leak. I spent the rest of the night living on the prayer that I could hide my deflated left breast.

So these days, I stick to basic padded bras to give me the boost I need. Although, having experienced the pride and the subsequent fall of pursuing cleavage, I'd probably skip the padding at this point. Unfortunately, they don't make non-padded bras in my size.

Unless I'm willing to wear a training bra.

Which this month, are only available in pink.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lunch Money

One of the things I love most about my girls being in school all day is knowing that I am no longer responsible for what they eat at lunch. 

I mean, I am, but I'm not.  I pack three lunches every night and send the girls off to school every morning confident that I'm providing a healthy, balanced meal for my kids.  But I don't have to watch them to see if they eat it.  If they want to eat dessert first, they can.  I don't care.  If Evie wants to eat all of her lunch, and half of Emily's, she can.  I'm okay if she's okay.  If Ella wants to complain to her neighbor that she doesn't like yogurt, or chips, or bananas, she can.  Because I'm not there to hear it.

But since the first day of school, the girls have been begging me to join them in the lunchroom.  After all, other kids gets to see their moms at lunch - and sit up on stage at the parent tables - so why shouldn't they get to as well?  (OK, I'm pretty sure they were more more excited about sitting on the stage than actually eating with me, but whatever...)

So one morning a few weeks ago, I finally broke down and announced to the girls that I'd be joining them.  The only problem was, I didn't have any lunch fixings at home, or the margin in my day to hit the grocery store for food.

"Don't worry, girls.  I'll bring you something special for lunch today.  But it'll be a surprise!"  To all of us.

Fifteen minutes before I was supposed to be at the school, I whipped through a Chick-fil-a drive-thru and picked up 3 packs of chicken, 3 cups of fruit, and 3 milks.  Since the school offers ice cream at lunch, I figured I would top off the feast with an ice cream treat. 

Mom of the Year.  That's me.

When I arrived at the school, though, I realized that I had NO idea where to go or what to do.  I asked the woman sitting at a desk near the front door if she knew the what the check-in procedures were. 

"I need to scan your driver's license.  Are you in our system yet?"

"Um, I'm not sure."

"Then you probably aren't, so I'll need to take a picture for your visitor badge."

"Oh, okay.  Where's the cam..."  Click.  "Never mind."

"So here's your  visitor badge.  It has your picture on it, as well as a bar code for you to scan when you're ready to check out."

I was about to ask if the Secret Service had been by recently to review the school's security measures, but was interrupted when the woman pointed to my rather conspicuous Chick-fil-a bag.

"Are you not aware of our school's Wellness Policy?  We don't allow parents to bring any fast food into the school lunch room.  We're trying to promote a healthy environment for our kids.  Plus, we don't want anyone getting jealous that your kids got something different to eat."


"Gosh, I had no idea.  I'm, um, not sure what to do, though.  Lunch is starting now and this is the only food I have for my kids.  Could you tell me what's being served in the cafeteria today?  Maybe I could just buy their lunch in there."

"We're offering a choice of corn dogs, nachos, or PB&J.  We also have ice cream available for an additional fee."

I rarely speak my snarky thoughts aloud, but I literally had to bite my tongue on this one.  It was pretty obvious to me that the "Wellness Policy" could just as easily been called the "Give Us Your Lunch Money Policy."  Forget the bullies on the playground.  Clearly, I was going to have to watch out for the lunch ladies. 

"Um, you know what?  Is is possible for me to sneak this in just one time?  I've already spent money on all this food, and what with the economy being what it is..."

These days, it's never a bad idea to play the Economy Card.  The security guard front-desk-lady actually let me in, with a reminder not to bring fast food bags again.

You know what?  I won't.

Next time I'll transfer the nuggets and fruit into plain brown lunch sacks.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Does It Need To Be This Hard?

I love those "demotivational" posters by  It must be my snarky sense of humor, because they always make me laugh.

Especially this one.
(I expected times like this - but I never thought they'd be so bad, so long, and so frequent.)

Yeah, that pretty much sums up where I'm at these days.  Sure, I knew there would be challenges in raising four children so close in age.  But is it really supposed to be this hard?

1.  Ty still isn't potty trained! 

He manages to get his liquids in the right place at the right time... most of the time. 

Except for yesterday, when he peed once at school. 

And twice on my clean kitchen floor.

But the real challenge is getting him to make a sit-down deposit.  Most days, he poops in his pants, takes off his pants, puts the offensive matter in the toilet, cleans himself up, and puts on a clean set of cloths... by himself.  I keep trying to convince him to cut the middle man, but so far, he hasn't taken my advice.

Although today he did he poop in the yard, pull up his pants, and skip clean-up altogether. 

I didn't realize what he'd done at first, but I also knew for absolute certain that we don't own a dog.  Ty confessed while I was scooping up the fly-covered pile.

2.  Since we're talking about potty troubles, I might as well tell you that Ella wets the bed pretty much every night.

Ty might be able to manage his liquids for the most part, but Ella can't.  Or doesn't.  I haven't really decided which it is, yet.  All I know is that I've been washing sheets a minimum of four mornings a week for over three years now.

The problem is, Ella - like Ty - tries to clean up the mess on her own.  She strips off her wet clothes and crawls into someone else's bed (sans proper undergarments) and falls back to sleep.  Suffice it to say that no mattress has been left unscathed.

Including mine.

3.  My children whine.  A LOT.

I know, I know.  All kids whine.  But people who've spent extensive amounts of time with my children?  Well, let's just say that they're all quite diligent when it comes to birth control.  In fact, I'm thinking about renting the kids out to our local schools. 

Talk about "scared straight."

Although I still can't figure out why they whine so much.  It's not like I ever cave to their demands.  I suppose that I do torture them rather frequently... by making them eat my homemade buttermilk pancakes...

... or telling them to wear socks...

Oh, the horror.


I could probably spend plenty of time listing out more of my pitiful complaints, but honestly, I'm tired.  I need to get some sleep.  I suspect I will face a lot more challenges tomorrow which will require my perseverance.

(The courage to ignore the obvious wisdom of turning back.)

Or not.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Fun" Run

Ella is my quirky kid.

Let me give you a moment to act surprised.

It's not that she's weird.  Ella just has her little peculiarities, and she makes sure that everybody knows them.  She knows what she likes... and more importantly, she knows what she doesn't like. 

She doesn't like ice cream because it's too cold.  Same with popsicles.  She won't drink juice, flavored milk, lemonade, soda, smoothies, slushies, or anything other than skim milk and water.  Period.  Lunchmeat is off-limits, as is spaghetti.  Goldfish crackers are the devil.  She won't eat potatoes beyond the "French fried" variety.  And if there is rice on her plate, she will cry.

Her quirks aren't just limited to food, though.  Ella is an exceptional athlete and loves to play sports.  Once upon a time she especially liked soccer, so I signed her up for a season.  But Ella didn't play much, because at the beginning of the first game the team had to run through a pitifully skimpy wall of streamers.  And then people clapped.

Ella doesn't like it when people clap - and the streamers totally freaked her out.  Her soccer career pretty much ended before the game began.

All this to say that, last week, when Ella came home all excited about her school's annual fundraiser, I was a bit surprised.  The school's Boosterthon program is one of those lap-running deals.  You know, where the parents pledge money to the school for making a pack of kids run around the field for an hour and you don't even get a roll of wrapping paper out it?  But Ella was super-excited and ready to get started.

"All you have to do is get online and type in your pledges - and we get prizes!  I want the scooter."

I looked through her Boosterthon information.  To get the scooter, Ella needed to get someone to pledge $50 per lap run.  According to the brochure, the average kid runs 25-35 laps.

I told Ella to ask Santa for a scooter and pledged to give her and each twin a flat donation of $5.00.  (I also signed the grandparents up for $5.00 a piece, but they don't know that yet.)

Since today was the actual Boosterthon Fun Run, Ella and her sisters woke up extra early this morning to make sure they were dressed and ready for the day's events.  After convincing Evie that jeans were not the best choice, fixing 3 heads of hair, eating breakfast, missing the school bus, and forgetting lunch bags, we were on our way to school.

"You're coming to the Fun Run, right Mommy?  Parents are supposed to come."

Out of a sense of mommy-guilt and against what I now know was my better judgement, I promised the girls I'd be there.  I even arrived early to make sure I didn't miss anything, and was sitting in the front row for the "opening ceremony." 

Luckily, there were no streamers.  There was, however, a full-sized tunnel.

As the kids ran through the inflatable tube, class by class, onto the field, I overheard the parent next to me comment, "What's going on in there?"

I moved in for a closer look at the crying child curled up in the fetal position.  Streams of kids were running past her out the other end of the tunnel.

"Oh gee, I don't know.  Um, maybe I should go check."

The minute Ella saw me, she plastered her sobbing body to my legs and begged me to take her home.  "PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT ME!!!!!!!   I DON'T WANT PEOPLE LOOKING AT ME!!!!!!!!!!"

It took awhile to convince her that people would probably stop looking at her if she just quit screaming and joined the ginormous mass of children on the field.  When she was finally calmed down, I decided it would be better to stand by the Kindergarten track and out of Ella's line of sight.  I didn't want to risk upsetting her again. 

Emily and Evie were delighted to see me and waved excitedly until a buzzer sounded the start of the race... at which point they were trampled by the mass of children behind them.

By Lap 3, they were sticky and sweaty and done with waving.  They pushed their way through the sea of kids, like salmon swimming upstream, and flopped down next to me.  Emily was whining, "I want to stay here with you, Mommy," while Evie gave voice - albeit screechier - to the question I was thinking: "Why are we doing this?!?"

One miserable hour later, I asked the twins' teacher to peel the girls off me, blew a surreptitious kiss in Ella's direction, and headed towards the car with a screaming 3-year old boy in my arms.  He was upset because he didn't get to run through a tunnel. 

The woman who'd been sitting near me earlier try to stop us and ask my name, but I pretended not to hear her.  I didn't want her telling her friends about "that crazy mom with the out-of-control kids."  Or at least, I didn't want her giving them my name.  I value my anonymity, especially where my kids are involved.

I guess Ella's not the only one with quirks.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus

School is in session now and three of my four children are attending the local elementary school. Every day. For 8 hours a day.

Uh, yeah. Can I get a "Wa Hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"?

So you'd think with the sudden abundance of free time, I'd be blogging daily. After all, I have a 3-page list of stories to share with you 11 followers, and I hate the thought of my faithful few checking this site every day for something new, only to find the same, stale, August edition.

Unfortunately, despite the glorious freedom of the 5-day school week, it takes me about 7 of my 8 daily hours to recover from the trauma of the bus stop. I spend the final hour alternating between washing the breakfast dishes and curling up in the corner whispering, "They're coming... they're coming... they're coming..."

Maybe we didn't get the whole bus thing started off on the right foot. If you read this post, you know that my kids are notorious for making bad first impressions. The countywide "Bus Round-Up" - a practice ride for the kindergartners and their parents - was no exception. For starters, I made the mistake of giving the girls' driver, Ms. Janice, a jar of attempted homemade preserves.... and our names.

"Hi! This is Emily, this is Evie, and I'm their mom."

We were about half-way through the ride when Evie told me that her tummy hurt. I tried to ignore her greenish complexion and told her she'd feel better in a few minutes.

Which she did, right after she stepped off the bus and puked on the sidewalk.

"Oh, is Emily alright? Or is that Evie?" Ms. Janice asked.

I muttered a response, wiped down my child as best I could, and bee-lined for the door as Ms. Janice surveyed the mess we'd left behind. It must have triggered something in her mind, because she suddenly hollered, "Oh by the way, thanks for the jam!"


Not that I needed that delightful first impression to make my children memorable. During these first several weeks of school, Emily and Evie have alternated with what I've come to think of as "terror tantrums." There is no rhyme or reason to a terror tantrum. Maybe Emily accidentally packed her pink pony instead of her purple one. Maybe Evie ran out of time to finish her third round of breakfast . Whatever the cause, the result is always the same: me chasing a shrieking child down the street, dragging her back to the bus, and allowing Ms. Janice to peel her off of me while the flailing child cries hysterically, "I DON'T WANT TO RIDE ON THE BUS!!!"

At this point, I have to mention that we have several lovely Indian women in our neighborhood, and that while the other parents simply watch their child load and then walk away, these particular mothers wait until the bus actually pulls out to leave. Which means that they have witnessed every one of the terror tantrums - usually with their jaws hanging somewhere down around their knees.

I'm dying to know the parenting secrets of India...

Not that my children are the only ones giving the family a bad rap. I'm more than capable of accomplishing that on my own. Just yesterday, I was late getting to the bus stop and Ms. Janice was forced to relinquish care of my children to one of several kind neighbors. My neighbor was a little surprised, my children were more than traumatized, and I was totally embarrassed.

So today, when I nearly missed the bus again, I was forced to kick off my shoes and sprint down the street screaming, "I'm here! I'm here! Don't leave yet, I'm here!!!"

You know that song about the wheels on the bus going 'round and 'round? There should probably be a verse in there somewhere about the crazy lady chasing it down the street.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nose Job

"Mommy, you made me hurt my nose!"

This is what Ty yelled out as I was making a left-hand turn into traffic this afternoon.

"Was your finger in your nose?"


"Then hurting your nose is your fault, not mine."

I'm trying to get my children to accept a little more responsibility for their actions this summer. Namely, I'm tired of taking all of the blame for their boo-boos and blunders. From now on, unless I actually stick a finger up my child's nose, intentionally slam a door in one's face, or toss the banana peel on my kitchen floor that causes one to slip, I'm not taking the rap for any ouchies. Because if I've learned anything from motherhood, I can't "make" my children do anything.

But I have to ask, What is the deal with three-year olds and noses? Nostrils are to pre-schoolers what electric sockets are to toddlers: Hey, there's a hole here! I wonder what can I fill it with...

When Emily was three years old, she stuck a tea cup up her nose. Yup, a tea cup. My mom and I were sitting at the kitchen table when Emily's twin sister Evie walked jibber-jabbering up to us. It was tough to tell just what she was chattering on about. "Wait," Mom finally interrupted. "Did she just say something about a tea cup in Emily's nose?"

I thought her translation was rather unlikely until I saw Mom race for the basement door. "There are tea cups in the doll house downstairs!"

Sure enough, when we found her, Emily had a teeny, tiny yellow tea cup in her nose.

"How did it get up there, Emily?"

"I was hiding it from Evie," she replied, big crocodile tears rolling down her cheeks.

It was a good hiding spot. She was certainly successful in keeping the tea cup from Evie's grasping hands. Not to mention my grasping tweezers. I finally broke down and drove her to the nearest Urgent Care. The doctor who retrieved the tea cup asked if I would like it back. I told him no thanks.

Two short years later, Ty shoved a pink plastic bead up his nose.

On date night.

As we were walking out the door.

Fortunately, the wife of the couple we were double-dating with that night is a PA. She met us at her Urgent Care down the street and, bypassing the paper work, strapped my boy down and got that bead out in about 2.6 seconds. She's the mother of 3 young boys and there was no way she was missing date night. This time, though, I kept the bead. I'm hoping it will remind me to keep small items out of the reach of small children... with small noses.

I can't stop the fingers, though. These days, Ty keeps a finger parked in his nose every time he gets tired. Sometimes he falls asleep with it in there. See?

Of course, this means I'd better take my turns a little slower. I wouldn't want to "make" the kid hurt his nose. I can't really force him take responsibility for being a sleep-picker now, can I?

Friday, July 29, 2011

First Impressions

Here in my Georgia county, school is starting in a mere 12 days, 17 hours, and 42 minutes - give or take a few on the minutes. I doubt anyone is shocked by my attention to detail. I suspect that 90% of the mommies out there are counting down the hours to that first, official day of school - and that the remaining 10% who say they aren't are lying.

But while I'm excited to be settled back down into the routine of a school year, I'm pretty nervous about the girls' first day in a new school. After all, our family isn't exactly known for making the best first impressions. Just a few short years ago, I was trying to get Emily and Evie enrolled in a local pre-school program. Ella was already a student there, and most of the teachers knew our situation - that I had a three-year old, 2 two-year olds, and a new baby. I was desperate to secure spots for two kids in a program notorious for its long waiting list.

As I stood in the school hallway pleading my case to the pre-school director, Ella dragged her baby brother up and down the carpeted hall in an attempt to keep the kid who couldn't crawl yet "out of trouble." Although she had the 5-month old by his feet, I was actually more distracted by Evie whining at me for a treat. As the director turned to bribe Evie with a handful of M&M's, I glanced over at Emily, who had a finger half way up her nose. Before I could react, she walked over to the director with an offering. "Here," she said, handing Ms. J the booger.

Honestly, I'm still shocked we ever got the twins into Ms. J's program, but one week before school started, I got the call that they were accepted. I didn't think the girls had made a particularly good first impression, but thought perhaps the director was used to such things. Or she felt sorry for me. Or she was so scarred by the experience that she had completely blocked Emily's little "gift" from her mind. Whatever her reason, I was delighted to send my three girls to school that first day.

The girls, however, were not so delighted. As I pulled up to the front of the carpool line to unload my kids, the twins started shrieking. I have no idea what set them off, but they were clearly not about to get out of the van. Quicker than I would've thought possible, they launched themselves over the back seat and into the trunk. Ella, who was already unloading from the car, waved over her shoulder and shouted a goodbye. The teachers assisting with carpool just stood there with their mouths hanging open while Emily and Evie clung to each other in the trunk of the car and screamed.

I stammered out something to the effect of, "Um, let me just pull up a little ways," drove my car forward, and put it in park. With the rest of the carpool parents looking on, I opened my trunk and pried two sobbing children out of the back while trying to calm them with things like, "You're going to have such a good time at school with your teacher Ms. N!" I doubt the other parents - whose kids were also enrolled with Ms. N - were feeling as confident after observing the two newest class additions.

Still, I worked very hard to overcome those rocky first impressions, and I feel like these last few years of pre-school could be termed a success for our family. Ty is even going to be in Ms. N's class this year - despite his reputation as the Terror of the Two-Year Olds. However, Ella and her sisters are moving on to public school to begin 1st Grade and Kindergarten, and I feel like I'm starting all over again - and sadly, I'm already behind the 8-Ball.

It turns out that there is a Kindergarten "Round-Up" the spring before the rising kindergartners actually start school. I did not know that - until the day before Round-Up. I was way behind on laundry and ended up dressing the twins in a couple of old t-shirts and some jean shorts. While I was fixing Emily's hair, Evie wandered into the bathroom with blue marker all over her mouth and shirt... PERMANENT blue marker. Already late, she had to go as is - marker and all.

While signing the girls in for their classroom tour, one of the teacher aides said, "Aw, you have twins! My goodness, how do you tell them apart?"

"Well, Evie has a little birthmark by her left eye."

"Which one is she?

"The blue one."



I'm not giving up hope, though, that we can make a decent first impression when the school year starts. For one thing, what are the chances that a teacher's aide will remember one blue-faced child amidst a sea of new kindergartners? Better yet, the girls will be riding the bus this year. The last time I checked, buses don't have trunks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Can I Get on Some Sort of Payment Plan?

2 adorable orange kittens delivered to the children on Christmas morning?


7 months' supply of wet food, dry food, and kitty litter for the adorable orange kittens?


Replacing the kitchen faucet after a freak accident caused by one of the adorable orange kittens?


Emergency surgery after one of the adorable orange kittens ate a piece of string so long the surgeon had to follow it down the length of her digestive tract - tongue to bum?


Eating the words, "Honey I think we should get the kids these adorable orange kittens for Christmas. They won't cost us a thing!"?


Pretty sure I'll be paying for those the rest of my life!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

More Trials, More Tribulations

It's been thirty days since I wrote this post, documenting a complete inability to potty train my son. Thirty days of wet pants. Thirty days of extra laundry. Thirty days of abused rugs. Thirty days of tears - a few of his, but mostly mine.

But since misery loves company, I thought it was time to share... my misery.

Day 15

I quit potty training yesterday. Just gave FLAT. OUT. UP. Ty's back in diapers and hardly notices the difference, since his Pull-Up, like his big boy underwear, has Cars characters on it. That boy is just all about Cars.

The problem is, time is ticking away. Ty can't go to pre-school until he's potty trained. And Mommy really need him to go to pre-school.

Day 20

My mom thinks maybe I gave up too soon. She said this while watching my son change his own diaper. Maybe she's right. What if I was just one day away from diaper freedom and I threw in the towel? I'm going to do some more research. Maybe there's a radical new training method I missed.

Day 21

Research sucks.

Day 22

Mom thinks Ty needs some visual motivation for his efforts. I showed her my empty bag of M&M's, but she thinks the boy might need something BIGGER. Her friend's friend's daughter's kid was apparently difficult to potty train, but was eventually motivated by seeing a big, wrapped present dangling over the potty. I think the method is called "Present for Pee-Pee," or something like that. I'm willing to try anything at this point.

Day 23

Mom and I went shopping tonight to try and find the perfect Present for Pee-Pee. We figure that the key is, it needs to be BIG. We finally settled on a T-ball set and bought some Cars paper to wrap it in. If a big package wrapped in Cars paper doesn't work, nothing will.

As we were heading to the check-out line, we veered off to the book section to see if there was any additional potty research we'd missed. We found a children's book called The Potty Book for Boys. It comes with flushing toilet sound effects. Basically, if your child isn't afraid of the sound of a flushing potty before pushing that book button, he'll be totally freaked out after. That is one seriously scary flush. I think Ty has enough issues, so we just went with the T-ball set.

Day 24

Ella is so excited about Ty's present, she can't shut up about it. She and the twins are dying to find out what's inside. They keep dragging their brother to the bathroom every 3 minutes and making him stand in front of the potty with his Congressman out. They're all getting pretty frustrated with Ty's lack of progress. The last time they were in there, Ella said, "Come on Ty. This is your moment, boy. Make it count!"

Day 25

I think the Congressman has stage fright. The girls are no longer allowed in the bathroom with their little brother.

Day 31

"Present for Pee-Pee" has not been a stellar success. Every time Ty wets his pants, I ask him, "Don't you want to open your BIG present, Ty? You have to put your pee-pee in the potty if you want to open your BIG present!" He usually replies, "I'll open it tomorrow, Mommy."

Day 33

I threw away my bathroom rug today. Ty informed me that, "It's not tomorrow yet, Mom."

Day 35

At the beginning of this process, I was worried about getting Ty potty-trained in time for pre-school. Now I'm starting to worry that he might not make it in time for the 6th grade. I mean, middle-schoolers can be brutal!

Day 37

"Present for Pee-pee" is now plural. So far, Ty has been promised the following: the Cars-wrapped T-ball set, a shopping trip with Daddy, ice cream with Mommy, an overnight visit to Grandma's house, and a spend-the-day at Nana's house. If I didn't know better, I'd say this kid is negotiating for the deed to the house. It may come to that.

Day 38

I had a dream last night. Ty was 16 and asking to borrow the car. I told him, "Yes. So long as you make pee-pee in the potty first."

Day 39

It's tough love time. I've been way too accommodating to this kid, and now it's no longer Mr. Nice Mom. The gloves are off. From now on, he cleans up his own mess on the floor and gets hosed down in a cold shower every time I find him sitting in wet pants. Ty hates the shower.

I know this is going to work. In fact, I'm so confident this is going to work that I'm calling the carpet cleaners and making an appointment. Ty has tinkled on every floor of this house except the stairs and my germophobic brain is starting to shut down.

Day 40

Ty took six showers yesterday. This morning, he walked upstairs with his hands on his face and announced he'd had an accident. "It's okay, Mommy," he said, as he peeked out between his fingers. "I'll just cover my eyes while you hose me down!"

Oh, and he tinkled on the stairs.

Day 41

I sent the girls away for a weekend at Nana's. It's my last-ditch attempt at training Ty before throwing in the towel - or any more of my rugs - again. My husband and I decided that perhaps Ty is just too overwhelmed by the size of an adult potty. And our little potty isn't very (ahem) "boy-proof" so we drove to the store to pick out a new one.

They sell a Cars potty.

It has a stick shift and everything. Really. Ty can sit on his throne and push the stick forward (and his Congressman down). It makes a revving sound when he pushes it - the stick, not the Congressman - and I'm telling you that the kid is going to LOVE it!

Day 42

WE HAVE A DEPOSIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ty insisted on keeping his new potty in his room last night. At 6:30 this morning, I heard him yelling for me, "Mommy! I went pee-pee on the potty!" I have to admit that I did NOT go running into his room. I've heard that announcement before, only to have my hopes dashed and another rug ruined. But he did it - and he went sprinting nude down the hallway as soon as I opened his door yelling, "I'm going to open my present now!!!"

Needless to say, my husband was playing T-ball with the boy at 6:35 this morning. After 7:00, we started calling the grandparents. Nana said something to the effect of, "Wow - just think if you'd bought that Cars potty a few weeks ago!"

They didn't sell Cars potties a few weeks ago. It's brand new on the market.

I HAVE to believe that, anyway.

Day 43

Ty can only go potty if the toilet has a stick shift. I'm going to have to teach him to drive an automatic before pre-school starts.


Six weeks and counting...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Out of the Box

I'm about to cop to a level of nerdiness I've tried not to reveal before. You see, when I was thirteen, I had a friend with the most beautiful doll and the most amazing collection of doll accessories I'd ever seen. She was a 1940's catalogue doll named Molly - from the American Girl collection - and even though I was well past the age of actually playing with dolls, I coveted the Molly doll. But it was my little sister Julie who got her for Christmas that year; my other younger sister got the Victorian-era Samantha doll. I can't remember what I got, but I'm sure it was something much more age-appropriate than a doll.

I'm dating myself here, but in my day there was only one other American Girl doll available for purchase - a pioneer girl named Kirsten. Not wanting the same doll as my sisters, I found myself obsessing over the rather pricey pioneer. Eventually - at now fourteen years old - I spent the bulk of my babysitting savings to buy my very own American Girl doll. The rationale? "My sisters will have these beautiful dolls to pass on to their daughters one day and my daughter will feel left out!"

Ugh. I am such a nerd.

And God has a sense of humor, as I became the owner of one American Girl doll... and the mother of three daughters.

I had no idea at fourteen how enormously popular American Girl dolls would become. The catalogue is now a store and restaurant, Samantha and Kirsten are officially "retired," and I've lost count of how many historical dolls and friends are currently on the market. Plus, there's an entire collection of "My" AG dolls that you can pick from to match your child's skin, hair, and eye color. You can even purchase doll-sized ice skates, glasses, and head gear. No joke.

I wasn't sure any of my girls would be excited about a 20-year old doll that isn't even sold in stores anymore, but when Ella started asking for her own American Girl doll this past Christmas, I saw an opportunity. Kirsten looked so much like Ella, with her wavy, dirty blond hair and blue eyes. And since Kirsten's previous owner was too -ahem - old to play with dolls when she bought her, Kirsten looked brand new. I asked my mom to dig the doll out of storage and wrap her up for Ella to open Christmas Eve.

I was so excited about this 20-year gift-in-the-making, I could hardly wait for Ella to open her present. But I also wanted her to know how special the doll was. Yes, Ella could change her into whatever kind of doll she wanted, and even give her a new name, but this was my Kirsten doll - the one I had purchased especially for my daughter long before she was ever born.

I may have over-anticipated the moment.

Ella opened the box, gasped at the beautiful doll inside, and then... put the lid back on the box.

"I love my American Girl doll, Mommy. Thank you!"

"You can take her out of the box if you'd like, Ella."

"No, that's okay."

Ella carried her box around the entire night, cradling it in her arms the way most little girls would cradle the doll inside. When asked what her favorite gift was, she hugged her box tight and said, "My American Girl doll."

"Her name is Kirsten, Ella. You can name her something else though, if you'd like."

But Ella stuck with "my American Girl doll," and while her sisters and brother played with their new gifts, Ella sat with the box in her lap and a big smile on her face. It was - in the words of my sister - one of the saddest things we'd ever seen. Ella had no idea what to do with the gift inside her box.

I think this is what we Christians do with Jesus. He's an amazing gift - one that God the Father prepared and specially wrapped just for us. If we enter into the relationship with Jesus that the Father intended for us, the results are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22). But more often than not, we accept the gift and keep the lid on the box. "I'm happy with my gift of eternal life, God, but I think I'll just keep the other stuff tucked in this box."

Ella is making progress, though. After a week or so in the box, Kirsten finally made an appearace. For the past several months, she's been parked on the bookshelf where Ella can see her. But lately I've noticed Kirsten participating in more of the girls' playtime. She's even had her shoes off once or twice.

This Thursday is Ella's 7th birthday, and her grandmothers and I are taking her to the American Girl store for shopping and lunch. I'm taking a big risk, but Kirsten is coming with us. I think Ella might be ready to change her doll's clothes.

Or at least take a peek at them in their box.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Last year, our neighborhood organized its first - and what appears this year to be its last - 4th of July parade. The idea was to get the neighborhood kids together to decorate their bikes and "parade" up to the swim and tennis clubhouse for a pool party and cookout. Sounds like a fun, all-American time, right?
Of course, what seemed like a great idea at the time quickly turned into an all-American family disaster. For starters, my compulsive perfectionism kicked in and I decided that our family was going to have the best-looking bikes in the parade. Of course, it kicked in mere hours before the parade was supposed to start, and it didn't receive any kind of financial blessing from my wallet. I ended up driving myself and four small children to the local Party City, where I tormented us all by looking at - but not buying - any of the really cool patriotic stuff. No, in the end my wallet forced me to settle for some red, white, and blue crepe paper, a bag of balloons, a package of cardboard stars, and three paper tiaras. Meh. It also cost me a year's worth of sanity to successfully drag four children in and out of a store that stocks more candy than Willy Wonka's factory.

By the time we got home, I was fried, and the parade was less than an hour away. The kids wanted to help decorate their bikes, but lost interest when they realized there was no painting involved. While they headed into the air-conditioned house in search of snacks, my parents and I - armed with a roll of Scotch tape - attempted to decorate 3 bikes and a wagon in 95+ degree heat. Apparently, Scotch tape loses it's adhesive qualities upwards of 94 degrees, so we were pretty much hosed. Plus, Ty wandered into the garage at one point and completely freaked out at the idea of having balloons attached to his wagon. In the end, he agreed to 3 small cardboard stars dangling off the back of his ride - and nothing else.

Meanwhile, the parade participants were congregating at the base of our driveway. Wagons draped in patriotic bunting, motorized riding toys strung with red, white and blue lights, and bikes so patriotic you couldn't find the Made in China sticker on them lined the street. As my girls rode down to take their places in the pack, Ty ripped off one of his stars, the last of Ella's balloons popped, and Emily's crepe paper unwound from her handle bars. I think a little of my compulsive perfectionism just up and died right then.

But the piece de resistance was Evie, who was having a tough time even pedaling her bike. Sweat was pouring down her red, overheated face as she strained to get her bike up the hill.

"Why are we doing this?"

"It's supposed to be fun, Evie."


I doubt Evie would've made it to the next mailbox, except that just then she spotted a neighbor tossing lolly pops into the crowd.

"Are they throwing candy???"

I have to say, I've never seen Evie ride a bike so fast in her life - she was off like a shot, with my mom and me jogging just to keep up with her. By the time the parade reached the pool, she and Emily had two suckers in their mouths and three in each hand. Ty, too, had quite a stockpile going in his pitifully unpatriotic wagon. Only Ella was unhappy. Apparently, she missed out on a cupcake somewhere along the parade route.

The adults all opted at this point to skip the pool party and cookout and head home to enjoy a just-family gathering at the house. The Lolly Pop Brigade was gone, so it took a whole lot longer to get the kids home from the pool than it took them to get there, but we eventually made it home, where we grilled some burgers and dogs, and then played one of the great, all-American outdoor games - Duck, Duck, Goose.

The kids have been asking me what we're doing for this year's 4th of July festivities. Evie is particularly interested in whether or not we'll be riding our bikes while "people throw candy at us." The answer is, "Uh, NO." I think I'll be content with a repeat of Part 2 of last year's celebration - a good, all-American cookout with family, and perhaps a game or two. Maybe we'll step it up a bit and try something a little more advanced - like Freeze Tag.

Best of all, there will be no decorations involved!

Friday, June 24, 2011

When She Grows Up

If you ask Ella today what she wants to be when she grows up, she'll probably answer with Standard Little Girl Answer No. 1: a dancer. However, most adults can rarely make an occupational claim to their childhood fantasies. Were that the case for me, I'd be the "ballerina-pilot" I once aspired to in my elementary school days - taxiing down the runway in my tutu and celebrating safe landings with a swan-like bow. Of course, these days Delta would probably charge my passengers extra for the pirouettes and I'd eventually be out of a job.

Given that our early career plans are so often subject to change, I've been thinking about some alternate options for my almost seven-year old. One option I suppose could be "chef," since she's expressed interest in owning a restaurant someday. Of course, when I asked her what she wanted to serve, she replied, "Macaroni and cheese, pizza, and eggs." I admit that I haven't been able to serve much else to Miss Picky Palate, so I do have some - pardon the pun - reservations regarding this particular endeavor.

Another option could be meteorologist. Ella is fanatical about checking the weather on my phone every day. Which is a good thing, since I usually can't tell what the weather is going to be like until I stick my head outside. But Ella is quite confident in her meteorologic analysis. Once, while heading to a pool party in the middle of a monsoon, she announced to me that, "It won't be raining at the pool, Mommy. I checked the weather and it's going to be sunny and hot." The way I see it, Ella's just as good as our local weatherman, so I might just be able to get this kid a job without sending her to college!

Recently, I've also had to consider the possibility of opera singer - thanks to my dad, who showed Ella a YouTube video featuring Susan Boyle. The girl now sings in operatic style about everything: the color of her shoes, the state of her room, and the unfairness of life - specifically hers. It takes me to the days when, as a 6-month old baby, she had the power to shatter glass with her piercing screams. Back then, the pediatrician suggested I buy ear plugs. Guess who's getting the last laugh now, Doc. Someday, my little girl could be on stage reaching the octaves Mariah Carey only hits in her dreams!

My greatest fear, though, is that Ella will grow up to be a politician - because let me tell you, that little girl can LIE. Just tonight, I was questioning the kids about some stickers I found on the hallway banister. No big deal; I just wanted to remind everyone that we have stickers on nearly every surface in this house, and to please stop decorating my house with stickers. But it was quickly obvious to my husband and me that someone wasn't telling the truth. Fingers were pointing and eyes were welling up with tears, but we just weren't getting to the bottom of the situation - until I noticed Ella calmly eating her dinner and sipping on her water, looking as if she hadn't a care in the world. This is not standard issue behavior for my drama queen.

When asked "whodunit?" she calmly pointed a finger at Evie. When asked again, she pointed at Ty. After a few more minutes of prodding, she gave us the reliable Washington, "You know. I don't really remember if it was me or not," routine. Eventually, she was sent to her room and punished appropriately - not for the stickers, but for the lies.

Frankly, the whole evening weighs heavily on me. Ella is to me, by far, the most challenging of my children to parent, in part because she is the exact opposite of me. Not in the sin of lying (unfortunately, that is an area I CAN relate to) but in the way she carries her heart. I tend to be one who wallows in guilt and self-pity - the ugly stepsisters of a contrite spirit. But more often than not, Ella blames her bad choices on me, her sisters, or the imaginary "naughty bugs" in her room. Things are rarely, if ever, her fault.

Knowing this doesn't ever, for one fraction of a second, diminish the crazy, overwhelming love I have for my child. She is a treasure, and a gift from God - one that I wish came with an instruction manual I could study. But she didn't come with a manual. So the challenge for me, since Day 1 with this child, has been to study her. To explore her heart. To figure out her passions. To discover what speaks to her. Ultimately, my purpose as her mom is to show her the heart of God, and watch her revel in the crazy, overwhelming love of her Heavenly Dad.

Yes, my child lies. Yup, it's one of those Ten Commandments we're not supposed to break. Yes, I suppose if I'm being honest myself, it bothers me that the child I've worked so hard to "raise right" can be so flagrant in her sin. But motherhood isn't so much about me as it is the little girl I'm raising to adulthood. I don't know what she's going to be when she grows up, but if I study hard - if I get her heart - she'll have a growing relationship with the God Who loves her. And she won't be afraid to speak that truth to others.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Back to You, Al

As a mom, I spend the majority of my days focused on the following tasks: 1) keeping the children alive; 2) putting away all of their crap stuff; and 3) answering their tireless litany of questions. Unfortunately, there was something leaking out of Ty's ear this morning when I got him up, so Task #1 became the primary focus of my day. It took a major effort to herd my children to the Urgent Care down the street, but by 10:30 we were all checked in and parked in front of their wall-mounted flat screen - which was tuned to The Weather Channel. Clearly, the Urgent Care isn't used to herds of small children. Therefore, enter the litany of questions...

Why are we here?

How long do we have to wait for the doctor?

Why do they have a TV?

What are they doing on the TV?

Is that the weather man?

What's his name?

Why is he talking about the weather?

Is that a tornado?

What's a tornado?

What's a twister?

Why is a twister the same as a tornado?

Can a tornado pick up a person?

Can it pick up a car?

Can it pick up a house?

Is that tornado going to come to our house?

Where will we go if a tornado comes to our house?

But what if it does?

But what if it does?

Are you going to go in the closet, too?

Can we sleep in the closet?

Where is that tornado?

What is 'Braska?

OK, where is 'Braska?

Why did Grandma and Grandpa live in 'Braska?

Did they live in Mexico, too?

What is that red thing over Mexico?

What is a hurricane?

Is it like a tornado?

When can we go to Mexico?

Will the hurricane get us if we go to Mexico?

Why do they have rain on that map of Georigia if it's not raining now?

What day is today?

What day is tomorrow?

When is tomorrow?

So will it rain tomorrow?

What are we going to do tomorrow?

But what if it rains?

Will the rain make a flood?

What is a flood?

Did the ark really have all of the animals in it?

What about the dinosaurs?

Did the dinosaurs get on the ark?

Why not?

Were dinosaurs disgusting?

Did they stomp people flat?

Is God going to send another flood?

But why did He pick a rainbow?

Can I see a rainbow today?

Hey, who's that lady talking on the TV now?

Why is that her name?

Did her daddy give her that name?

Why is there a fire on the TV?

Are those helicopters?

If a fire comes to our house, will we get to see a helicopter?

But what if a fire does come to our house?

But what if one does?

But what if one does?

Oh, Mommy! That lady just said Ty's name! Are you coming?



Honestly, I'm still pretty focused on Task #1 thanks to Ty's monstrous ear infection. I'm just going to be kicking my other major tasks to the curb for the day. Unless my husband is willing to pick up the crap stuff and Al Roker's ready to field some questions...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Trials and Tribulations of Training Ty

I hate potty training. I hate, hate, HATE potty training. Ella - no joke - took 18 MONTHS to potty train thanks to an early, miscalculated battle of the wills. Don't ask - I'm totally scarred by the whole experience and still not ready to talk about it. Thankfully, Emily and Evie made up for that debacle by knocking their training out in a DAY. In the process, they also taught Ella where Numbers 1 and 2 belong.
Now it's time to take on Ty. Technically this is my third round with him, but I understand boys to be different (yes, in addition to the obvious), so I'm letting him take his time getting used to the whole idea. However, the boy has been changing his own diapers for a few weeks now. Should I take that as a sign that the window of opportunity is finally wide open???

Day 1


It's Round 3, so I've learned a few things. First of all, I'm going in armed with the following: a step stool on which he can stand (past experiences indicate a standing preference), Lysol wipes (because of the standing), a container of Cheerios (maybe I'll use fewer wipes if he has something to "aim" for?), and half a bag of M & M's to use as a reward for all successful, er, deposits.

I still haven't figured out how to refer to his boys parts, though. Peter? Snooper? Wiener? The anatomically correct term? Usually, I'm the kind of mom who goes for the latter. However, my children are famous for speaking inappropriately in the most public of places. Great for the blog and all, but I'm not really sure I want to arm him with that information just yet. Oh well, something to think about...

Day 2

I seem to have forgotten something in all of my preparations.

Big Boy Underwear.

The boy has it in his head that he can't go pee-pee on the potty if he's still sporting a diaper. I suppose that makes sense, so I dropped the girls off at VBS this morning and took Ty on a very special outing to his second-favorite store. ("Lobby Lobby" ranks number 1. I'm simultaneously delighted and horrified...) Wal-Mart seemed like my best bet for success, because Ty was very specific about asking for Cars 2 underwear. I wasn't sure anyone was making Cars 2 underwear, but silly me, the movie is being released in 18 days so of course the local Wal-Mart is stocking Cars 2 underwear. As well as original Cars underwear. And Thomas the Train underwear. It was an emotionally-charged 20-minute decision, but Ty finally went with his first choice. I have to applaud him, because usually your first instinct is right on, don't you think?

We went out to the van and cracked those bad boys open because 1) I might as well start now, right? and 2) Ty was going to scream for Cars 2 underwear all the way home if we didn't. Of course, we didn't go right home because I had to pick the girls up from VBS and - of course - they all wanted to play on the playground. I asked Ty if he needed to go potty. He responded with an emphatic "NO." Three minutes later, Ty was swinging in a swing when I noticed a trickle running down his leg and a rather large puddle beneath him.

If you frequent our pre-school playground, don't use the red swing until we've had a good rain.

If you don't live in Georgia, no worries.

Day 3

Nothing to report other than several more puddles and a handful of drowned Cheerios.

Day 4

See Day 3.
Day 5

See Day 3.

Day 6

See Day 3

Day 7

If drowning Cheerios was a crime, I'd get the chair. I'm pretty sure we've gone through half a box of our Honey Nut stash in the last week. Did you know that it takes approximately 1 hour for a Cheerio to completely disintegrate in toilet water? Of course, this isn't so much experiment as observation. But if the pre-school decides to do a science fair next year, I've got a fantastic idea.

Day 8

I will throw a ticker-tape parade for this kid if he puts one thing - ANY. THING. - in the potty. I will not, however, give him an M & M, as I have regretfully consumed one or two bagsseveral bags.

Also, on a completely different note, I will not be weighing in at Weight Watchers this week.

Day 9

Ty still hasn't made one single deposit in the potty... and it turns out that a 7-pack of Cars 2 underwear doesn't go as far as one might think. I've done 23 loads of laundry this week.

By the way, if you're over at my house anytime soon, stay away from the rug in the sun room. And the playroom. And the family room. Just a suggestion...

Day 10

This kid really has an affinity for rugs. I swear, it's like training a puppy. Would DeFACS frown on me for sticking Ty's face in the puddles and swatting his nose with a newspaper?

Ha ha, I'm just kidding! I haven't done that.


Day 11

Inspiration struck me while watching the news today. Ty's still making Number 1 on the rug, but I think I finally have an appropriate name for his boy parts. In light of recent Washington events, what do you think of "The Congressman?" I think it makes a real statement myself.

Day 12

Ty and the Congressman finally managed to make pee-pee on the potty.

No, he really did go... ON the potty.

Sure enough, Ty finished his "stand here with the Congressman in hand and try" routine, pulled up his pants, then closed the potty lid, stood on top of the potty, and relieved his bursting bladder - wait for it - ON TOP OF THE CLOSED POTTY. Of course when I heard him yell, "I went pee-pee on the potty, Mommy!" I went sprinting to the bathroom with the ticker tape ready, only to find him standing on the lid and soaked down to his shoes. And the puddle beneath him? Just like a homing pigeon, it was headed straight for - you guessed it - the rug.

Day 13

Ty is on a mission to christen every rug in the county. I'd like to offer specific apologies to my mom, the girls at the gym, and my chiropractor. And also to my daughters, who were in the bathtub when their little brother bi-passed the Cheerios and aimed for them instead.

That was NOT the shower Mommy had intended for you, girls.

Day 14

Congressman Weiner resigned today. So did I.
the whole bag
a bag of M & M's

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Exhibit A

Can I make a confession? Sometimes I'm overconfident in my role as a communicator. Not so much in the role of daughter, wife, or mother - but as someone who likes words (and uses them a lot) I feel pretty good about my ability to communicate with people. Which is probably why I tend to OVER-communicate when it comes to my own children. I've just always wanted my kids to feel like they can ask me anything, and count on receiving honest and sincere answers.

If you've been a parent for more than 45 minutes, you know that this is a bad, BAD parenting technique.

Allow me to share with you a bit yesterday's conversation with Ella and Evie:

Where do babies come from?

(Oops! Don't hit the brakes...) Um, what did you ask, Ella?

Where. Do. Babies. Come. From?

Oh. Well, you know the answer to that, right? When a mommy and a daddy love each other very much, and God decides they are ready, He puts a baby in the mommy's tummy. (That's a good, honest answer that ought to make her happy.)

I know God puts it in your tummy, but HOW does He put it in your tummy?

Um... Uh... (Stall! STALL!!!! Maybe she'll forget what she asked.)




Yes, Ella?

HOW does God put a baby in your tummy?

Oh. Well... (OK, what was that one answer you heard someone suggest that one time? Just go with that. And make it snappy.)



(Crud.) I said, 'Mommies and daddies give each other a special hug, and when they hug it makes a baby.'

Oh! Like Daddy hugs me?

(Oy.) Not exactly.

I hugged Luke one time. Do I have a baby in my tummy?

(Ack!) NO!

(Oh wait, stay calm. You're a cool, honest mom.) I mean, no - it's a very, very special hug and you only hug like that when you're a mommy and daddy and you're ready to have a baby.

Does the daddy pick the mommy up when he hugs her?

(I suppose laughing now would be inappropriate.) Uhhh... I guess he can.

I saw Daddy pick you up one time. He likes to wrestle with you, too.

Yeah... (I'm going to KILL him.)

I like hugs.

I know you do. I, uh, like hugs too. (Wrap this up.) But no special hugs until you're all grown up, okay girls?


And hey - no growing up too fast! You kids are getting so big! I can't believe how tall you're all getting!!

Don't worry, Mommy. We won't grow up too fast, because we don't want you to get old. Because then you're going to die, right?

Right, Mommy?

(Dear Lord, this parachute is actually a knapsack.) Yes, Evie, I'm going to die.

But don't worry, Mommy! When you die, you're going to heaven, right?

Uh, right. Yes, someday Mommy will go to heaven. (I'm halfway to dying right now...)

Will you see Gigi in heaven?

Yep, Gigi will be there. (Stick to great-grandma. Please.)

Because everybody who dies goes to heaven, right Mommy?

(Ugh.) Well... everybody who knows Jesus will go to heaven. (Please, PLEASE stop there. I'm so not ready to explain the concepts of heaven and hell to a five-year old.)

Yeah, I know who Jesus is. We talk about Him at church all the time. He did all kinds of cool stuff.

(Deep breath. You don't want to miss this opportunity!) Well, yes He did, Ella. But it's not just about knowing Who He is. It's important to actually ask Jesus to come and live in your heart.

I did that, Mommy!!

Yep, you sure did, Evie. Do you remember when you prayed with Mommy and Daddy and asked Jesus into your heart? That was a very special day. (The BEST.)

I asked Jesus into my heart too, Mommy.

You did, Ella? When? (And how did I miss that?)

Just now. I said it really fast in my head so you couldn't hear me. I'm ready to go to heaven now!

(Ugh. Where is our exit?!?) Well Ella, we don't just ask Jesus to live in our hearts so we can go to heaven. We ask Him into our hearts so that He'll forgive us for our sins and help us to make wise choices.

Yeah, I pray for Jesus to help me obey.

That's great, Ella! (I just wish you wouldn't talk down your shirt when you're praying. This whole 'Jesus-lives-in-my-heart' thing is too hard to explain to a literal-minded 6 year old.)

It's doesn't work, though. Naughty Jesus!

(Okay, forget it. There's the exit anyway.) Hey, who wants to get a treat?!