Three Kid Circus : 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Fantasy Life

I woke up feeling spunky this morning. It happens from time to time. I have dreams where I'm a butt-kicking femme fatale. I envision myself in form-fitting leather, with seriously good hair and one-liners that become part of the pop culture lexicon. My boots never get scuffed, and bad guys flee before me.

Then I wake up and catch a glimpse at my 30-something face, and it shocks me. I just don't feel the way I look. It's not that I feel unattractive, or disappointed when my bleary-eyed reflection peers back at me. I'm just not the dynamo that lives in my dreams. I look like a mom.

A few days ago, I had a juicy conversation with a dear friend. We have always turned to each other for honest and sometimes whiny commentary on topics that I don't like to discuss with most people. All the 'impolite' topics: weight, exercise, fashion mistakes, accountings of how cool we used to be in days gone by.

"I want to go to a professional makeup artist and get lessons, " I said. "I think I'm using the wrong colors, because I always look old and tired."

"Maybe you're just old and tired," she deadpanned. We laughed and laughed, because it's so true. But I still want the makeup lesson.

My sister holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She really does kick butt, and she tells me that Charlie's Angels and Jennifer Garner are great at theatrical butt-kicking. It's all smoke and mirrors. They train for months to look like they could, and are filmed with special effects and great music.

This sounds like what a lot of celebrity moms have going on. I've read several articles recently that detail the rigorous schedule that moms in the public eye must adhere to in order to regain their figure and not damage their working reputation. They enlist a whole compliment of nannies, personal trainers, chefs, personal assistants to keep them on track. I am certain that they work hard, for hours and hours a day.

I wouldn't trade my life for that, even if I did look like a robo-babe. I require a certain amount of sloth in my day. I loved the first few months at home with my babies. If I had to entrust them to a caregiver so that I could get into the gym for 4 hours a day, it would have violated that sacred time. Besides, genetics being what they are, I'm never going to be Catherine Zeta-Jones. I'm not even sure Catherine is herself.

I do like to fantasize about my life through the camera lens:

Electronica music begins as soon as my eyes open, creating intrigue while I make my way down the lego strewn hall to the coffee maker. The lighting is flattering. I execute a sexy karate kick in my silk nightie with matching robe to close the fridge. In the background, I hear a primal scream. The music shifts to a pulsing techno as I race to investigate. It's a diaper disaster. Out come the gloves and the evidence bags.

Cut, cut, cut. Mommy has to make breakfast.

Friday, July 30, 2004

A slice of Americana

It's County Fair time again. The hubster took a day off from work and we set out for our annual jaunt around the fairgrounds.

Back in the days before we had kids, it was a simple matter of pulling on a cute outfit and stopping at an ATM. We would hold hands, drink margaritas, bet two dollars at the racetrack, people watch and eat our way through the vendors. The hubs and I love fair food. If it's fried and/or on a stick, we've probably tried it.

We're both really bad at making plans. We call ourselves spontaneous. Our friends and family think we're lazy and disorganized. Be that as it may, we seldom have our plans straight until we are minutes from our scheduled departure.

I KNOW we are supposed to get cash and gas the night before. We should lay out our outfits, pack diaper bags and check the camera for batteries and film. We always seem to be running around like chickens with our heads cut off the morning of an event.

Kids add a whole new dimension to trying to get out of the house. After trying to get the kids to eat something of substance before we leave, we brush teeth and hair and proceed to the Sunblock Event.

Ever seen a greased pig catching contest? I haven't but I can tell you I would win. As soon as that white goo comes out of the tube, the kids scatter like buckshot. As soon as you get one arm greased up, that kid takes off and you snag the next one who races by. Everyone engages in high-pitched squealing and squirming. It takes about 15 minutes to slather everyone completely and then we award bonus points for amount of times Mommy's outfit has been tagged with sunscreen.

After quickly stuffing the kids into outfits and changing any pieces of my own outfit that have white smears, we move onto the Diaper Bag Challenge.

After 5 years of packing for all manner of day trips, I've gotten pretty good at packing just enough for our specific needs. 2 extra diapers for the baby, an extra pair of big boy pants, shorts and a pull-up for my son and extra t-shirts for all three. The sunblock, some bandaids and the digital camera. Ummm... I think that's it.

Okay, Final Jeopardy Round. Everyone has shoes. Check! Sweatshirts? Check! Everyone has peed. Check! Everyone is... wait. Why are the knees of my son's pants muddy? My husband acts sheepish, since the escape to the wet grass happened on his watch. Okay. New pants. Check! Out to the car!

My husband secures the kids into their seats while I make sure the dog has food and water. She's trembling, in a heap by the garage door. Sigh. Buh-bye, Donna.

A quick stop at the ATM and we're on our way. Woo hoo!

The fair was the same as always. Same vendors, same midway. We arrived just after the fairgrounds opened, and enjoyed a relatively smooth stroll around the entire fair. We petted animals in the petting zoo. We saw the sheep and cows and horses. We ate cotton candy before anything else.

In years past, the kids could have cared less about the midway, with its rides and games. We could get by with a few bucks worth of ride tickets for a spin on the carousel and call it a day. We've crossed some sort of level of awareness this year with our oldest, because she was ALL about the rides from the minute we got there.

I pulled rank on my husband and made him ride in the whirling dragon, on the carousel and in the kiddy roller coaster. I kept the baby occupied and took pictures and shouted "Whee!" every time they passed me.

"Whee! I'm eating all the cotton candy! Whee! Smile for Mommy!" I sound like an overgrown cheerleader. Yay, team!

A high point came at the ping-pong in the glass bowls game. My little guy won a stuffed dog. $8 and some quick negotiation between my husband and the carnie put a stuffed dog in the hands of my oldest, too. Everyone came away happy.

My son is a delicate soul, and when he gets tired, he's tantrum-prone. About 3 hours into our adventure, he hit the wall. He HATED the kiddy roller coaster. He was screaming "Off!" the whole time, and I felt bad for putting him on. Then, for the finale, we took them to the Dinosaur Jump House, where he learned that his sister could go in, but he was ONE INCH too short.

Catastrophic. He threw himself face down on the pavement, wailing like his heart was breaking. "Diiiiiiiiiiiii-nooooooooooooo." I scooped him up and took him off to a bench for some quiet Mommy and boy-boy time. He was so fried. After we got our oldest back out of the damn Dino jumpy thing, we bought both big kids a giant inflatable toy of their choice and made a run for it.

Actually, if we could have timed it better, we could have dominated. The fair had a screaming contest, stroller derby and greased pig catch scheduled for this afternoon.

Back at the van, the kids belted in and giant inflatables secured, we breathed a sigh of relief. It's a far cry from the leisurely days we used to pass at the fair. A day outing to the fair is more like an endurance sport with bi-polar teammates. But they say they had fun, and the hubs and I think that WE did, too. We will call it a success. Looking back in a few years, I'm sure our photos will seem like a perfect slice of Americana.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

How would YOU feel?

I find myself awake before the sun again this morning.  Hopefully, sleep has washed away some of the angst that has been swirling around my house.  Yesterday was a rough day for all of us.

I have ordered some ridiculously expensive sleeping bags for the kids, to be presented to Their Royal Highnesses on my son's birthday in September.  One is a Unicorn, the other a Dinosaur.  I hope someone will remind them how truly spoiled I tried to make them, when they complain as teenagers that I will not buy them a BMW. 

The day got off to a rip-roaring start when our Mail Carrier pulled up in front of the house.  We usually don't see her until the afternoon, but we had a package today.  Oh, no.  Virtually all packages are met with glee by my oldest.  She assumes that 1) it's for her and  2) now is as good a time as ever to open it. 

Since she was an infant, I have bought almost everything online and had it shipped.  I greet packages with glee, too.  It feels like Christmas morning.  I can't fault her for being excited...but I have to figure out a way to get gifts for the kids past her.

Since the adoption of our dog, Donna, we've kept a padlock on the latch when she's out in the yard, so that she doesn't take herself for a walk if the gate is opened by a delivery person or girl scout.  We installed a loud bell on the gate, so if the gate doesn't budge, they can ring the bell and we'll corral the dog.

This has been working great, since the kids can't escape (yet), the dog is secure and solicitors are generally not bold enough to ring the bell.  Even better, the delivery people know that they can leave the package outside the fence and give us a quick 'clang.'  I can easily retrieve it when the kids are otherwise occupied, and avoid the "Oooh, mommy!  A present for MEEEEEE."

Yesterday, we all heard the bell.  The mail-lady didn't want to just leave the box, because mail is frequently stolen in our area.  I was hissing through the fence "Just leave it just leave it" as my oldest rounded the corner of the yard.  The mail-lady didn't take the hint, and sang out "You've got a PACK-age!"  With that, my 5 year old accelerated to my side and began bouncing up and down.  "A pack-age, a pack-age!"

Urg.  So I shoo her away, collar the dog, retrieve the package, thank the mail-lady and push the gate closed.   The dog took off down the fence line to woof at some kids, while my daughter snatched at the box with outstretched arms.  "What's in there, mommy?  Is it for me?  Let's open it!" 

I move at light speed through the front door and jettison the package onto my bed.  I try to make it out of my room and shut the door, but the kids have caught up.  "Mommy, I wanna see in the box.  What's in there, Mommy?  Mommy.  Mommy, open it."  

I try a stall tactic.  "It's nothing, really.  Just some silly stuff Daddy wanted.  You know, golf stuff. Nothing fun for kids."

She tries again: "Let's see it, Mommy.  Let's wrap it for Daddy so he'll be surprised!"
Okay, this isn't going well.  "Honey, it's too lumpy to wrap."

Now she's getting agitated.  "I can DO it Mommy.  Let's open it up.  I wanna see it.  I WANNA SEE IT."  The baby and my son lose interest, but the 5 year old has locked onto the target.
Quick!  Bait and switch!  "Honey, do you want to see your Halloween costume?"

"Nooooooo!  I want the box open.  Please, Mommy."  At this point, I make a miscalculation.  I decide to level with her.  "Sweetheart, that box has birthday surprises in it.  Not for Daddy, for you kids.  I don't want to ruin the surprise, so I can't show it to you.  You'll see it on your brother's birthday."  This only served to rachet up the excitement factor by 1000 and restart the pleading in earnest.

After 20 minutes of whining, pleading and arguments worthy of a trial attorney, I marched the entire box out into the garage and shoved it high on a shelf, and locked the garage door.

The floodgates opened.  "Waaaaaaaaah!  Mommy!  How would YOU feel if I had a present for YOU and I wouldn't give it to you?  How would YOU feel if I told you it was for Daddy's birthday?  Mommy!  Waaaaaaaah!  I'm going to stay in my room forEVER and I'm NOT coming out.  Waaaaaaah!"

Having her confined to her room didn't sound like a negative, but I tried to be calm and fair.  "Honey, what about Christmas?  We like Christmas surprises..." 

"Waaaaaaaah!  No!  I HATE surprises!  Christmas STINKS!"

Great.  Okay.  Deep, cleansing breath.  I wade back in.  "I understand how you feel, but I'm not going to ruin the surprise."  She put her hands on her hips, and turned her blotchy face towards mine.  She blinked hard a few times, got a few crocodile tears running and said, "Mommy, you just show me NOW, and I'll ACT surprised later."  Nice try, but no.

And so began the soundtrack of my day.  "Waaaaaaah!  How would YOU feel?"  This lasted 5 hours, with intermittent breaks (like the mudpie fest) and left me hanging onto the tattered shreds of my sanity.  Just when we seemed to be over it, she would wind up like an air raid siren and we would begin again.  That girl of mine is persistent.

Knock wood, today, because we haven't had any mention of it.   And I'm celebrating because I managed to get through it without screaming back.  The kicker is only half of the order arrived in that box, and the other will arrive at some unknown time in the future.  I'm going to make a sign for the fence that says "Ring the bell and run like hell.  Surprise-hating 5 year old on premise."  




Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Faulty merchandise

Get ready for this:  According to the package for the Fisher Price Piddling Doll... she's fitted with a magnet and so is her potty, so "There's No Mess!"  She's only supposed to go when she's "Firmly pressed against the back of the potty." 

Score one for the kids, because we have foiled yet another "mess-less" marketing ploy.  I'm thinking maybe this is why it was on clearance.  Heeeey- maybe I can get my kids employed as product testers for all the tip-less, spill-free, unbreakable and otherwise eternity-rated products.   

In other faulty merchandise news:  My mom's stress test went well, and they did not uncover any problems with her heart.  They've upped her blood pressure medicine, and it seems to be working.  She's also feisty as all get out, so I think she's on the road back from freak-out land.  Thanks for all the good wishes. We'll need them again as her mammogram appointment gets closer.

My blisters have finally healed after the donut debacle of last week.  I get to spend the afternoon cleaning muddy handprints off of the exterior of my home.  The two oldest must have felt territorial this morning, because they mixed up a mud pie and proceeded to mark every surface they could reach. 

I knew I was in trouble when I saw my son waving at me with his little "toodle-loo" wave and tear off around the corner of the house.  That is a big BIG sign that I need to intervene.  My two oldest are only 17 months apart, and function like the dynamic duo.  That wave was supposed to reassure me that all was well.   His mud splattered hands were a giveaway though.  I slowly set my coffee cup down on the counter, and walked as serenely to the front door as I could.

Oh, crud.  Every 6 inches of siding there was a muddy paw print.  The recycling and yard waste containers were tagged.  The doors, the windows, the swingset, the fence.  They were both beaming at me.  Mommy!  We made paw prints! 

Luckily they wash off with the hose, and it's all outside.  It's my bad luck for not watching them carefully.  I was loading the dishwasher and feeding the baby.  Playing outside is better than allowing them watching yet another show on Nick Jr, right?  Why oh why didn't I get a fastidious kid?  Probably because the Parenting Gods are siding with my mom, again. :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Just like a real toddler

I'll admit it freely.  I am a potty training wuss. 

My youngest is 19 months.  She's been carrying around the bjorn potty for a month.  She's watched the Once Upon a Potty video a zillion times.  You would think that I would have learned after the first two kids.  The Potty video instructs kids NOT to empty the potty onto their head.  My wunderkinds take this as a challenge. 

Someone once told me that kids under a certain age don't hear the word 'no' and 'don't'.  You say Don't jump on the couch!  They hear "Jump on the couch! (WAHOO!)  Seems to be true in my house.

Okay, back to potty training.  Today we took a victory lap at Target, in celebration of our successful trip to the DMV.  That's right.  I'm a briber.  Thing number 700 on the pre-kids list of THINGS I WILL NEVER DO.  I suggest to all newly pregnant women that they keep one of these lists.  It's great comedy a few years down the road. 

The oldest wanted a Pretty Pony.  My son wanted something in a Brachidactyl.  I know my dinos, and there is no such thing.  But whatever.  My youngest is the only one of my kids to have any interest in baby dolls.  She loves to be a little mother.  Actually, now that I think about it, she loves to bring the dolls to me for me to give them gok-gok (her word for nursing.)  I rock them and pat them while she beams at me.  Maybe she thinks it's funny to watch me play with dolls.  Hmmm...

We cruised the doll aisle, and I saw a likely winner.  The Potty Training Doll by Fisher Price.  She's made from that groovy vanilla smelling vinyl and comes with her own dolly sized potty.  Aha!  We can act it out and praise the dolly!  What a fabulous learning tool!

On the way home from Target, the baby fell asleep.  The two big kids abandoned their new toys for the chance to make the doll pee.   After force feeding the doll and filling the potty a few times, I took it away and dried off the floor and cushions where they had been playing.  When the baby woke up, we showed her the doll, explained that she used the big girl potty and gave her the sippy cup to feed her 'baby'.

Four hours later, and I'm still finding wet spots.  The doll, rather than sedately using her potty, has been piddling all over the house.  Yo!  Fisher Price!  Let's fit this thing with a microchip that only releases the water when her plastic butt is firmly planted on the potty, eh?  How hard could it be to do that?

My potty training aids have once again abandoned me in my hour of need.  Instead of a helpful tool to show my toddler the joys of using the big girl potty, I've gained another kid with bladder control issues.  It's so realistic I could scream.

That's it.  I'm inventing the Potty Lock Electronic Peeing Doll.  I'll be rich.  Can't you just see it in the Right Start or Sensational Beginnings catalog?

An Epic Poem

It's been a month my license has been gone
The day it disappeared escapes recall
Oh woe is me!  I have searched high and low
Through pockets, van and household I did crawl.

The dawning realization caused me angst
To load the van and take the kids with me
An epic undertaking rife with fear
Alas, we go today to D.M.V.

With trembling hands and quaking legs I stride
Aware of darting glances and protests
Like Chinese Acrobats with children slung
Suspended from my stroller frame and chest

The children three are rapidly subdued
That Voice of God thing really calms the hive
Behold!  Our number is next in the queue
We might just make it out of here alive

I answer questions, sign my name and more
The kids are hanging from the center stile
Get down you little monkeys or I'll cry
Oooh, kids! Look, can you see a crocodile?

The lady with the camera wants to chat
Just take the flippin' photo and begone!
Count one, two, three we're leaving! So, let's GO!
Back to the van and so, I end my song.

*thank yuh verra much*


Monday, July 26, 2004

Somebody slap me

It has dawned on me that most mothers feel slightly crazy.  A random sampling of 'blogs had me in stitches... Almost every mother included the actual word "crazy" in their summary. Now, why is that?  You'd think that there was a mental health epidemic.  Are we a bunch of drama queens and martyrs?  Are we truly imbalanced enough to earn the C-word?

In my case, yes. 

I had a discussion with the hubs the other day.  We were comparing notes on how our lives have changed since the birth of our children.

Hubs:  Still works in same field.  Still drives same car.  Still has same friends.  Still plays video games and has poker night.  Still makes plans based on himself.

Me: Totally new 'job'.  Now driving mini-van.  Whole roster of new friendships, largely based on kids who play nicely with mine.  Rarely a moment to myself, let alone escapist fun with friends.  All plans are contingent on naps, tantrums, laundry status and other obligations.

Hmmm.  I'm not saying my life has been affected more than his.  Oh, wait.  Yes.  Yes I am.  Am I resentful?  Sometimes.

I whine to friends that "I used to be fun.  I never said 'no' or left the house in the same clothes I've been wearing all week before I had children."  I regularly answer the question "How are you?"  with  "I'm crazed."  Do people want to hear this?  I don't think so.   

So, if we are all nuts, what does it?  Lack of sleep?  Probably not, because I used to stay up all night dancing and drinking, with no need to proclaim myself crazy.  Responsibility?  Probably closer to the root, but many of us manage jobs, homes, schedules without the C-word.

Did motherhood transform me from a normal, linear thinking woman into a mess?    Actually, no.  I was all over the road before (see drinking/dancing above) and although I worked, I was never an exemplary employee.  I'm a lousy housekeeper, and a world class procrastinator.  What motherhood did was bring a renewed sense of purpose to the daily grind.   I do these things for my family. 

Is my family grateful?  Like most services, you don't know how good you have it until it's gone.  I only hear about it when I drop the ball.  I'm sure they appreciate the work I do behind the scenes.  I don't want to be the mom who actually feels the need to say "you don't have any idea how hard I work for you, you ungrateful little wretches." 

I wish I liked to do laundry.  I wish there was great fulfillment in putting a meal on the table.  I try to do these things with love.  I just don't FEEL the love.  It is still a chore. 

My latest panic is the start of Kindergarten.  I have a month to acclimate myself.  For the first time in six years, I will have to be somewhere each morning at 8 am.  And back again at 1:30.  I get to do this with my partners in procrastination, who don't like to eat breakfast until 10 am, who prefer being nudists to all forms of clothing... and add to that the insider tip from a friend that THE MOMS CHECK EACH OTHER OUT TO SEE IF YOU ARE TOGETHER OR NOT.  

What?  I'm going to be judged? My inner diva says *let them judge* but the outer mommy says *I am going to affect my children's social status if I show up in a flannel shirt and sweatpants.*
Somebody slap me.  I'm over-thinking this.    See, more proof that I am, indeed, crazy.  


Sunday, July 25, 2004

Green Eyed Monster

Its been over 5 years now that I've been a mother.  Well, just over 6 if you count the pregnant part, too.  So, 6 years that I have had a constant, adoring audience.  This is generally good for my ego, but there are times that you would love to take a pee in private. 

While I was dropping my oldest off for preschool last Wednesday, there were several other gleeful moms comparing notes on what they would be doing for the 2 1/2 hours that their children were in class.  They were all apparently kid-free: one was going for a massage, another was meeting her husband for a late lunch, a third was off for a workout and manicure at the gym. 

I kissed my oldest good-bye on the cheek, since she decided it's not cool to kiss on the lips in front of your friends.  That was a rough one.  She waffles on it, usually kisses me hello on the lips, but my heart made a noise like a shattering glass when she made that proclamation the first time.

One of the kid-free moms turned around and smiled at me.  I was standing there with a sleeping 18 month old in the sling, who is looking angelic and drooling all over me, and holding the hand of a limp as a noodle 4 year old, who has collapsed under protest when I refused to purchase Cheetos from the vending machine in the lobby.  The KF mom said, kindly "No break for you, eh?"

She meant it well, and I took it in the spirit intended.  I'm positive that her child in preschool is her youngest, and she's been exactly where I am now.  But, ooooh, I was so JEALOUS!  I can't envision the day where I leave my baby at school for a few hours and have both the time and the money to pamper myself.  I want to simultaneously be there RIGHT NOW and to have the day never come. 

We made it out to the car after I caved and bought some cheetos.  I saw those other moms jumping into their minivans and SUVs, off for a grown-up afternoon.  We went to Target and cruised around for an hour.  It was fun for all three of us.  When it comes down to it, I don't want to rush away from these baby years.  I know they grow up so fast that you can get whiplash trying to watch. 

There are moms out there who manage to take time for themselves on a frequent basis.  I haven't mastered that.  Anyway, I suspect that midway through a massage, I'd be missing my babies.  Or I'd be asleep.  Hah!  I could arrange to do these things, too.  But I am really happy to go to Target with the little kids, too.

My day will come.  I hope that I will be able to embrace it.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Knock, knock...

My almost 4 year old has rediscovered knock-knock jokes.  We're all about humor here, so okay.  But he tells them with a manic glee that is unnerving.  Then you add the fact that he tells jokes like:

Knock, knock. 
Who's there?
Peas. 
Peas Who?
Peas on the roof.  (followed by hysterical laughing)

Sometimes, he gets so excited he skips the middle, and cuts right to the punchline.

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
PEANUT BUTTER NUT BAR!  Bwahahahahahahaha

Is this truly funny?  Well, in a word, yes.  Maybe it's his timing, or the sheer ridiculousness of it all, but after a few rounds, he has me rolling.  

Friday, July 23, 2004

Scissors and Paperclips

Speaking of my mom:

One of her unique talents is the art of the mixed metaphor.  She manages to get her meaning across, and sometimes the resulting phrase is hilarious. 

"You've buttered your bread, so go lie in it."

She's also big on settling scores.  When I was about 8 years old, she snarled "I hope you have three children exactly like yourself."   Funny how things work out.  If I had three like me, we'd all be sleeping in until 10 am.  Nope, I got one kid exactly like my Mom.  Some sort of karmic twist, I'd say.

My oldest has inherited her Grandma's flair with mixed metaphors.  She also has an unnatural level of intuition that freaks us all out a bit.  She looks like my husband, but when she plants her hand on her hip and gives me the business, it's all Grandma. 

My favorite mix-up is still happening.  If her legs fall asleep, she calls it "scissors and paperclips" instead of the more traditional "pins and needles."  I corrected her a few times, but it appears that any office products will do.  Staples and binder clips, anyone?  After a few attempts to fix her, I just decided that it was her way, and its okay with me.



Borrowing Trouble

My mom is a renowned drama queen, a pessimist (although she denies that) and occasional hypochondriac.  Maybe that's not fair to say.  She just tends to jump to the worst conclusion possible.  This has been a source of much huffing and eye-rolling for me and my siblings.  
"Oh, MOM... I'm CAREFUL.  Stop WORRYING!" My sister, brother and I have always felt that her worrying and stewing over the minutiae of our lives was unfounded.  We have been largely untouched by tragedy in our 30+ years.  No major accidents.  No broken bones.  No addictions, no teen pregnancies, no abductions or serious illnesses.

Since becoming a mother, I've found all sorts of reasons to worry.  Holding my first born, a few hours after her birth, it dawned on me that I am now responsible for the health and well being of a little person.  Now with three little people, I have lots of little worries, and a few big ones.  I still feel optimistic (but then, so does my mom.  Hmmm...) 

Back to my mom.  This morning, she called me and told me that the results of her recent thermography scan were not good.  There are several major hotspots in one breast, and several minor ones in the other.  She's got a mammogram scheduled for next month.  She has recently begun treatment for high blood pressure and suffered a bad reaction to a new thyroid medicine.  Over the last 15 years, she's had numerous episodes where her vision becomes temporarily impaired.  She has migranes.  She has chest pains.  She is scheduled for a stress test next week.

She is scared, as am I.  My gut reaction has always said "She's fine.  She's FINE.  It's just her worry talking."  This time, I'm not so confident.  Whatever comes of these tests, we'll tackle as a family.  It's another set of worries on her heavy load.

When I was a teenager, my mom lost a good friend to breast cancer.  It was a traumatic loss for her, and she vowed that she would rather die quickly from the cancer than suffer the indignities of chemo.  This incensed me, selfish teenager that I was.  Wouldn't she rather fight it? 

We talked about that this morning.  She tells me that she's met so many cancer survivors now, and heard about so many alternative treatments that she realizes that people don't just lay down and die now. 

I don't believe in borrowing trouble.  There is no official diagnosis here, just a nagging worry.  My mom is incredibly intuitive, another skill that caused exasperation for my siblings.  She could smell a lie before you even tried it out on her.  I am hoping that this time she is way off the mark.

I feel awkward writing about this.  I'm not even sure how I feel about it.  I tried to put a positive spin on it this morning, but I'm not able to detach from it.

I guess this is when worry becomes a prayer.  She'll be fine.  She'll be FINE.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

A family memory for the ages

I've been working very diligently to reform my lazy eating habits, and to regain a daily exercise habit after this most recent bout of illness.  It's been going well.  I'm back to 99% of normal, and have completed my workouts and eaten my veggies and drank my water and even remembered my vitamin. 

I'm a night person, and I have tremendous difficulty getting to sleep before midnight.  In the last months of my pregnancy with my youngest, I was so swollen and exhausted by the end of the day that my sole activity for the evening consisted of watching the entire lineup of FoodTV programming.  My kids fell asleep nightly to the dulcet tones of Emeril shouting about pork fat and bamming.  I learned more about people who collect weird food memorabilia and the manufacturers of all manner of packaged foods than any one person should ever know.

Since the birth of my daughter, I rarely watch.  I don't know.  Three kids who don't eat much (they aren't picky, they just seem to exist on two bites of whatever) and a husband who considers boxed mac and cheese with hot dogs cut up in it gourmet eating made me question whether I needed to watch anymore.

Last night, I lay in my bed trying to drift off.  I turned on the Food Network, and watched Alton Brown make homemade donuts.  It was like someone flipped a switch in my brain.  I would impress my children with homemade donuts.  I envisioned them kissing me with sticky lips, and basking in the glory of super-cool mommyness.  I would wake at 5 and start the dough, and allow them to help me cut out the rounds.  We would gather around the table and ice them together.  It would be a family memory for the ages.

I leaped from the bed to the computer and downloaded the recipe.  My husband grunted something about it being 11 pm and why the *%$&)(*!  am I printing something.  No, no.  I will not endure a party pooper.  I am on my way to June Cleaver perfection.  I make a mental note to wear my pearls, as I drift off to dreamland.

Morning arrives, and as I make my way to the kitchen, I notice that it is 6:30, and I've somehow missed my tee time at the Kitchen-Aid.  Never mind.  I fix the recipe to the side of the fridge with a flourish, pour myself a cup of coffee, and begin to gather ingredients.

Part of what I love about cooking shows is the fact that all of the ingredients are usually pre-measured, in darling little glass ramekins, and the chef just merrily tosses them together.  The other thing I love is the dirty dishes that get tucked under the counter.  It has long been my contention that I have all the makings of a master chef, but I need a busboy, dish washer and a couple of sous-chefs to prepare my ingredients and mop my brow.

I get a good handful of flour on the floor, but manage to get everything in the mixer and turn it on.  Yes!  We're back on track.  Take THAT Krispy Kreme!

I transfer the dough to an oiled bowl to rise, and tuck it in the oven with the light on.  I then proceed to the living room, and break up a fight over who had the anteater first.  Then I get a round of sippy cups, and announce my delightful plans to the children.  The baby wanders off to remove every VHS tape from the drawers of our entertainment center.  The other two are excited and ready. 

"Let's cut them out now, Mommy!  Can I do the rolling pin, Mommy?  Why can't we do it NOW, Mommy?  Can I taste the dough, Mommy?"  Oh, man.  Sous-chefs aren't supposed to give orders or make silly requests.  I shake my head a bit to clear it, and then take the kids to the kitchen to show them how the dough is not doubled yet.  They are sure it would be just fine.   Quick, diversionary tactics!  Let's get our rolling surface ready and sprinkled with flour. 

What was I thinking?  5 seconds later, EVERY surface in the kitchen has a fine layer of white powder, including me and the kids, who are beaming with delight.  I clearly am winning points, but it's taking every ounce of strength for me to not order them out of the kitchen in a rage of indignation.

I get a rag and clean off hands and faces, and mercifully, I have used quick yeast.  Lo and behold, it has risen.

After punching down and rolling out the dough, I find myself micro-managing the cutting of the circles.  "No!  Close together!  No!  Like this!  I'll show you again..."  Aaaaaah!  I didn't picture this degree of frustration last night.  But the donuts, and the adoration of my kids will be worth it.

While the donuts are rising for a second time, I get the oil ready and station the children on chairs across the kitchen island where they can see but are in no danger from splattering oil.  Sensing the lack of danger, they abandon me to fry up the donuts, while they engage in a game that involves lots of yelling and pretend falling.

I field a phone call, and manage to cook the first three donuts with no mishaps.  Yes!  I knew I could do this!  The next three cook in like 15 seconds, so I adjust the heat down a bit.  My 18 month old wanders into the line of fire, so I scoop her up and rush her back to the safety of the living room.  Shoot!  The next three are really really crisp. 

The phone rings, and I drop my donut turning fork.  I have been using the handle to lift them out, so naturally when I reach down to pick up the fork, I burn my hand.  I stick my throbbing hand into the sink and turn on the cold water.  I am now adding dough and retrieving cooked donuts with a slotted spoon, all with my non-dominant hand.  In another moment of brilliance, I airmail a donut hole into the pot, and am rewarded with a searing pain on my OTHER hand.  Great. 

Two hands in the sink, 4 donuts in the pot, a toddler on the final approach and my mother on my answering machine saying "Are you there?  Are you there?  Pick up the phone.  Pick it up.  Pick. It. Up."

For the record, the donuts were very good, but I decided to eliminate the frosting step because of the mess I already had to contend with, and because my hands were stinging.  The kids didn't seem to care.  They ate them, even the extra crispy ones.  They think I'm cool, but I suspect it was because I was *so funny* hooting and jumping around with my burned hands, covered with flour.

I'm thinking this is some sort of sign that I should stick with healthy food and leave the donuts to Krispy Kreme from now on.

 


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Hot, Hot, Hot

I've recently taken a liking to Indian Pop music.

We finally saw Bend It Like Beckham a few weeks ago, and I loved it.  The music was great, so I bought the soundtrack.  Yeah, I know, we're 20 years after the movie release date, but  we have to wait for most things until they come out on DVD and usually until they are a "week" release at Blockbuster, since we are oh-so bad at returning on time.  Netflix, I know, I know.

I am currently stuck on a rotation of Nick Jr.'s Greatest Hits, the Disney Princess Songs and Songs from The Land Before Time in the car.  I'm a sucker for hearing the kids sing along with their favorite songs.  My son's stentorian tones and stern disapproval should anyone else chime in when he's busting out a solo are truly hilarious.

Since they were tiny babies, we have exposed them to all sorts of music, and like most kids, they enjoy things with strong rhythm.  We've done lots of Latin, they love Sturm und Drang classical music, reggae and ska.  We had a really good couple of weeks when my dear friend in New Zealand sent us a CD by ESG "A South Bronx Tale".  That one is still getting heavy rotation.

In fact, all three kids have unique forms of dance/self-expression that just oozes out their pores and starts their little butts wagging as soon as they hear a regular beat.  They just can't surpress the urge to start flailing around.  My 5 year old does lots of posing and ballet moves.  My 4 year old prefers flapping and running in circles, alternating with growling and stalking his sisters like a dinosaur.  The 18 month old holds one arm out stiffly to the side and shakes her butt, or jumps up and down.   Par-tay! 

Back to the soundtrack.  We've found a winner!  I love the ethnic flavor, and the unique instrumentation.  There is actually a Hindi language cover of Hot, Hot, Hot which has spawned a new family joke.  Any given moment, you can ask one of the kids: "How you feelin'?"  And they will answer "hot hot hot."  Even the 18 mo old, although she says "ha ha ha" which is funny, too.

Not sure there is a point to this.  It is just good to get some new music, and I really like the fact that it puts me in mind of exotic ports of call and bright colors, as opposed to the blah, homeowner's association approved house colors and faded green lawns of our neighborhood. 

I need a vacation.  But I'll settle for watching the kids get down to ethnic pop music and dinner at an Indian restaurant, sometime soon.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

A shout-out to the ladies

I've been struck again and again by the courage of the women who surround me.  We go through our lives like warriors.  I was watching a behind the scenes show about Steve and Terry Irwin, and yes, they are cracked.  But it struck me when Terry said that being a mother made her not only willing to die for her children, but willing to kill, if necessary.  
 
From my littlest women, to the seasoned professionals, mothers or not, I feel buoyed by support and understanding.    
 
To the woman who is taking control and rebuilding a new life for herself and her daughters:  thank you.
 
To the woman who has been given an angel and meets each new day with hope and faith: thank you.
 
To the woman who is struggling to make ends meet and yet enriches her children with love and laughter: thank you.
 
To the woman who took a leap of faith, traveling around the world to give love a chance: thank you.
 
To the woman who has unflagging joy in her husband and children, and never seems to get tired: thank you.
 
To the woman who charms me with her steady stream of big ideas and boundless energy: thank you.
 
To the woman who interrupts our phone conversation to get another sippy cup or listen to the rambling needs of a little one: thank you. 
 
To the woman who dreams bigger, and works harder than anyone else: thank you.
 
To the woman who brought me into the world, and helped me form my sense of self: thank you.
 
To the (many) women who listen when I need to talk, who talk when I need to listen, who give freely of themselves to me and so many others... You are my heroes!
 
It struck me this morning that I have never once felt that I am on this road alone.  Since the birth of my oldest, I have rarely faced a challenge that I couldn't put a face on.  Sure, we're still all learning.  We make mistakes, and we have wild successes that no one else could duplicate.  The pool of knowledge and the trials-and-errors of the women in my life have been my not-so-secret strength.
 
I am lucky beyond belief to have so many women in my life.  THANK YOU, ALL OF YOU.
 


 


Monday, July 19, 2004

Back in the saddle again...

We woke to overcast skies this morning... Surprisingly all three kids slept like rocks last night.  We all seem to rest well when the fog rolls in.  It will burn off in an hour or so.  I like it.
 
Despite my lingering congestion, I'm determined to get back on my exercise routine.  I've been doing some basic freeweight exercises for months, and recently added a mini-trampoline for variety.  It hasn't done much for my weight, but stamina-wise and strength-wise I'm impressed. 

Even better, summer preschool begins today after a month-long hiatus.  Mercy.  I know, I know, I feel blessed to have intelligent, active, opinionated children.  I feel blessed to be able to be an at-home parent to them.  But my 5 year old is DRIVING ME NUTS.  I suspect there is some truth to what my mom has always said:
 
Kids are wired to drive you crazy at the times when they need you to let them grow.
 
Or maybe it was let them go.  
 
Whatever.  I'm ready for kindergarten, which starts August 30th.  I know she's ready.  I'm also sure I'll mark the change in our lives with a few tears and some sentimental musings.  How did these 5 years pass so quickly?  It seems like a cliche' but it does bewilder me.  The fact is;  my 5 year old is capable of expressing thoughts like "I don't want to buy any products from companies where the people who work there have little girls that they are supporting because then those parents will buy them Pretty Ponies and I want to have all the Pretty Ponies so let's only buy stuff from companies that only have little boys at home, okay?"
 
I think we need to work on less TV.
 
My son will be 4 soon, and I'm thinking about enrolling him in preschool this fall.  He's ready, I think, but I can't get him reliable on the potty training.  Oh, how I hate potty training.  I can give them all the reasons in the world that they can and should use the toilet, but it seems he doesn't care if he 'has an accident' and my patience is wearing thin. 
 
If it was a control issue, or a rebellion issue or something quantifiable, at least I would feel there was an angle to attack.  But how do you convince a kid that pooping al fresco is not okay, even if you *like* the feel of air on your hiney.  Oh, it's so gross!  I've explained about germs, ranted about civilized folk, swooned, made him pick it up each time...
 
Oooh, maybe we need to stop watching Animal Planet.  Voila'!  An angle!  Steve Irwin, thy name is mud!  Ahahahaha
 
Anyhoo, it's Monday, and I have laundry to tackle, lunch to make and pack and have yet to get in a good session of hair tossing :)
 
Onward and upwards! 
 



Sunday, July 18, 2004

The Mane Event

I'm cracking myself up. 
 
Last weekend, in the grips of a very blah mood, I decided I needed a change.  Nothing huge.  I could have been happy with a new lipstick. 
 
As it happened, I had been laying on the couch in ratty sweatpants with my waist length hair pulled back in a ratty ponytail.  Not a kind look for anyone, but it was really grossing me out.  So, I decided NO MORE!  I WILL HAVE CUTE HAIR! 
 
My hair is thick and has a subtle wave to it... it doesn't curl, but it has great lift.  So, basically, I have no complaints about my hair, except it was really long, and I had exhausted the snarly ponytail look. 
 
A quick check online convinced me that I had plenty to donate to the Locks of Love and still have a decent bit to work with, so I showered, left the kids in my husband's semi-able hands and marched into our neighborhood Great Clips.   They do the Lock of Love haircuts for free, so I figured even if it sucked, I could get rid of the length for a good cause, and pay someone else to fix the butchery :)
 
I got to watch 10 men get their hair cut before it was my turn, and it was hilarious.  They just sit down and buzz buzz buzz snip snip snip they are done.  3 minutes, maybe 4.  And they had no input.  Just 'clean me up' or 'not too short.'  My hair stylist confirmed my suspicion that 90% of their business is men. 
 
So, they had given me this style book full of all these really bizarre asymmetrical cuts, or bangs that covered both eyes completely, and all sorts of, uh, interesting looks.  I'm just not an alternative hairstyle/70 products and 45 minutes girl.   When it was my turn, the stylist said "So, did you find a good look?"  I had to laugh.  
 
I gave her my whole self-deprecating shpeil about my head (being round like someone traced a coffee can)  and about my thick, short neck, and instructed her to make me look about 18, with a swanlike neck.  Ahahahahaha.  She didn't think I was so funny.  She made some comment about how I've clearly spent most of my life making jokes about my appearance and that she hoped that this haircut would be a start of all sorts of new, great things.  Ooof!  That was a well-intentioned body blow.  Kind of took the wind outta my sails for a minute.
 
I plopped my butt in the chair, and 2 minutes later, I was 12 inches and 2 pounds lighter.  While she processed my donation forms, I was doing mini head tosses and feeling silly.  It felt so good!  She got to work cutting some flippy layers , and tried valiantly to keep from rolling her eyes as I kept the requests coming.  I still want to be able to pull it back into a ponytail.  I don't want to use products.  I don't want her to touch my bangs, blah blah blah.
 
15 minutes later, I had SUPER CUTE hair, just what I would have wanted if they had it in the crazyhair book of horrors.  For FREE.  WOOOOOO!
 
Since then (it's been a whole week) I've spent lots of time flipping my head around, and I keep finding myself in front of mirrors, tucking and untucking, mussing and smoothing, and in general primping.  It's so not like me.  I keep saying to myself (and select family and friends) oooooh! I'm having a good hair day!  Maybe that stylist/psychologist was right, and it's sunny days from here on out. 
 
Okay, it's just now dawned on me why I wanted a blog.  Because it's ALLLLLLLLLLL ABOUT MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!  
 



Saturday, July 17, 2004

The Parenting Gods Strike Back

Donna the Dog had her way, and I did not shop.  Ahahahaha, I'm such a wuss.  Maybe I'll go today.
 
We had a stimulating day, a visit to grandma's house and a new park, in an effort to wear them out.  My 5 year old is getting to be such a big girl, and so bright.  It is slightly stunning to hear the thoughts that spring from her head.  We were driving along behind a dumptruck full of soil, that had a grey tarp pulled tight over the mound.  She said "Mom, where are they taking that elephant?"  I didn't understand for a minute, but when I looked up at the truck, she was right.  It looked just like the back of an elephant.    The vision of a 5 year old is a rare gift.  It's such a treat to be handed a pair of magical kid glasses every now and again, to see the elephant where there was only a tarp covered pile of dirt.
 
We made it home, had a great afternoon with very little discord, and got to bed at a reasonable 9pm.  Even I was in bed by 10pm, which is unusual.
 
Apparently, the thanks for the sleep offering to the Parenting Gods was insufficient.
 
My youngest woke with a song in her heart and a spring in her step.  At 1:30 am.  I couldn't be mad at her, she's too stinkin' cute and was just thrilled to be alive and have my undivided attention.  Or, I guess, what passes for attention.  I sprawled on the couch, with a comforter and every 30 minutes turned on another TiVo'd nickjr program. 
 
Not to say that she actually watched these shows.  No, she was crawling around on the floor, meowing like a cat.  Then, she found the magnet for our tot-lock system and started banging it against the window.  Then she chased the dog around the kitchen floor.  Then she stood on her tiptoes in front of me, chanting wuuuuuuuun, tooooooooooo, freeeeeeeeee, foooooe... all the way up to 10!  Wow, I hadn't realized she was doing that yet.
 
Anyway, I'm laying there, one eye open, one eye closed, and feeling very picked upon, when dawn broke.  What a glorious sunrise.  It was red and pink and the whole yard had a golden glow to it.  I'm standing there at the window with my not-such-a-baby in my arms, smelling her morning smell and watching the sun creep over the horizon.  It was a sacred moment, just me, my baby, and the knowledge that I have another day on this earth to start fresh. 
 
And I think to myself: what a wonderful world... oh, yeah. - Louis Armstrong  

Friday, July 16, 2004

The dog attempts to thwart my Sidewalk Sale aspirations

Today is the first day of Coddingtown Mall's annual sidewalk sale.  But I'll come back to that.
 
The dog decided to prance up and down on the bed, practically on top of my head, while licking my face at 2 am.  I assumed she wanted out, so I stumbled to the door and opened it.  She promptly laid down at my feet and just looked at me.   Ooooh-kay.    So I check her food and water bowls.  She's got kibble, she's got water.  I dunno.
 
So I head back to bed.  The dog is following me like a shadow, and trips me as we near the door to the bedroom.  I fall, spewing half formed vengeful oaths, and manage to wake both the baby and my 5 year old.  Great.  The dog darts into the big kids' room and parks on my son's bed, apparently delighted with herself.
 
I gather up the baby, who is now chanting "mama!mama!mama!mama!" and my oldest, and shoo them into my bed, where my husband starts snoring like a buzzsaw.  We all settle down, and then I hear shuffling footsteps, announcing the arrival of my son.  He crawls up next to Daddy.  Co sleeping with babies is great.  Leggy toddlers with chest colds, not so much. 
 
Clinging to my 6 inches of the mattress edge, I hear the rhythmic clinking of the dog's tags as she leaps onto the foot of our bed and snuggles in.   Six in the bed, and the little one said: I'm crowded...
 
We passed the few remaining hours before dawn in a tangle of bodies, and as I savored my first cup of coffee, I scanned the newspaper and discovered it is sidewalk sale day at the mall.  I love this sale, as they have really strange things that didn't sell in their season, and really great deals on lots of things. 
 
The strenuous nature of shopping en masse leaves me feeling weak in the knees.  The darn dog, who suffers from separation anxiety somehow knew that I would be less apt to leave her alone for a few hours if I was not well-rested.  I will not be denied!  
 
I will be bold.  I will be strong.  I will go early and plan my escape route.  I will...shop.
 
 



Thursday, July 15, 2004

The groceries are coming! The groceries are coming!

I woke up to beautiful, clear blue skies this morning. All three kids are still asleep, and I'm feeling great.

We've all been sick for going on two weeks, and I finally got a full night's sleep for the first time in a month. I'm going to putting a big offering on the altar of the Parenting Gods today.

Just a brief rave about the lovely people at Safeway.com... I love grocery delivery. I love ordering online. I love it. I LOVE IT! When getting the kids dressed and into the car can take an act of congress, not to mention spending an hour or more shifting kids into assorted positions in the cart in order to accomodate the food, it's more than worth the $4.95 delivery charge.

The thing about having the food come directly to my house, though, is that my kids and my dog get whipped into a frenzy when the truck pulls up. Our long-suffering regular delivery guy "Jack" plasters an "I'm smiling so I don't scream in terror" smile on his face as he enters the front gate.

Donna the dog is territorial, so we have to put her in the bedroom, where unfortunately, she can still see Jack unloading the groceries, so she is barking and howling the whole time.

The kids act like rioting prisoners who have spotted a hole in the fence. It baffles me. We have to put a lock on the gate to keep the kids from trying to escape on grocery day. I guess they sense a distraction... I swear that they do not try to break and run EXCEPT when Jack is trying to push $300 worth of groceries through my gate.

Once we successfully retrieve the kids from the driveway, and get the lock on the gate latch, they enjoy standing on top of the play structure and heckling poor Jack while he works. Oh, not unkind heckling, more like "Jack! I'm wearing big boy pants!" and "Jack! Wanna go down the slide? Jack? Hey! Jack!"

I have to say my favorite, time-honored grocery day tradition involves standing in the doorway, or darting underfoot as the big folks are trying to move the groceries down the entry hall and into the kitchen. It's akin to shooting river rapids, or crossing a mine field. One minute, you are sashaying towards the kitchen, with 4 plastic bags full of canned beans draped from your appendages. The next, you have been bodychecked into the wall by a rampaging 18 month old, who decided that she wanted to see if she could cross the tracks before the train got there.

Poor Jack.



Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I need a bigger breadmaker

8:45 am on a Wednesday, and I've been listening to tantrums over my apparent lack of foresight for going on three hours.

My almost 4 year old son has decided that he WILL have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And he WILL have it NOW.

In our family, this is not an unusual breakfast, and I'd be delighted to oblige, but we've got no bread. What? No bread? A mother of three kids, five and under who allowed her family bread stash to lapse?

Oh, the guilt.

Actually, I bought a darling, wee little breadmaker that makes a darling, wee little loaf in *just 45 minutes* in an attempt to provide my family with fresh, hot, healthy bread. Let me tell you, *just 45 minutes* is a freakin' eternity when SOMEONE wants a PB&J at 5 am. And darling, wee little loafs have no place in a family of 5.

I'm not a morning person, so the act of stumbling out to the coffee pot is a herculean task. Measuring precise amounts of wet and dry ingredients with bleary eyes and a wailing toddler face down on the floor, while hissing "sssh! sshhhh! you're going to wake your sisters!" through clenched teeth is an unpleasant way to start the day.




Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Cue the music...

Woo hoo! My own blog!

Okay, I've wanted to have a blog for a while now. What will I do with it? Ahahahaha

I intend to use this as a sanity saving forum for my own amusement.

I guess that's my mission statement.

Okay, off to make breakfast for the yahoos.