Three Kid Circus : 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

And For My Next Trick...

So, I spent a good portion of yesterday crying. That is a bad look for me. I admire people who can pull off 'dewy and tender' when they cry. I do a very good 'pathetic and blotchy.' So, yeah. Swollen red nose, puffy eyes, blotchy skin... NICE.

For the last week or so, I've had what apparently is a ganglion on my wrist, and I've been just wishing it away. My mom informed me that this is what the old timers called a Bible Bump. Huh?

"You know, a Bible Bump. When you got one, the doctor would have you lay your hand on a flat surface and they would whack it with the Bible," asserts my mom.

"Isn't that a job for the preacher?" I wondered.

The advice nurse tells me to rest it as much as possible (hah!) and to ice/heat it and take advil. Great. I can do the pills. I am not sure how I can rest it. I'm a slave to the blog, you know.

So, here I am, bumpy wrist, blotchy, tear streaked face, playing in the yard with the kids. My youngest makes a break for the ladder to our play tower. She's great at getting up the ladder, but has no common sense about staying away from the edge. In fact, she seems to be on a mission to see just how far she can go to the edge of the platform before she plummets to the ground below. This is the same child who loves to stand atop the slide and throw herself into a face first belly slide, squealing with joy as she collects grassy skidmarks down her front. Wahoo!

I decide that I don't want to play chicken with the baby tonight, and accelerate towards the ladder. Halfway to the ladder, I stepped in a hole in the grass and twisted my ankle abruptly. My vision immediately went black and I felt the urge to vomit. I shook my head, stumbled the last few steps, intercepted the now howling with indignation child, and hobbled towards the house, wondering what I had just done to myself.

With a huge thank you to TiVo, I clicked on a Dora, headed for the kitchen, downed a few advil and then took a look at my ankle. Nothing. Little swelling, that's it. Best I can figure, I must have sparked a pressure point when I twisted it, which caused the weird blackout/nausea.

Then I proceeded to break a bowl, spill a bag of crackers and drop-kick a juice box while I was packing lunches. There must be some sort of Chaos Moon or something.
After the hubs got home, and I was recounting my adventures with self-flagellation to him, he turned to our big Kindergarten girl and said "I better teach you how to call me at work if Mommy cold-cocks herself." Again, NICE.

Monday, August 30, 2004

And She's Off!

My oldest child, my big girl has started Kindergarten.

I'll spare you the details. Oh, wait, no. Why would I? It's MY blog, bwahahahaha! Go get a cup of coffee. Ready? Okay.

Last night after dinner, we got the kids through their bedtime routine, and then got them all tucked in bed. I kept my oldest up so we could read a few 'going to kindergarten' books together. Then she just wanted to snuggle. She was too excited to sleep, and kept popping up out of her bed, so we tucked her into our bed. I kept dreaming about cosleeping with her when she was tiny. She still smells like her baby self when she sleeps.

The alarm went off at 6, and I began to roust the kids so we wouldn't be a bunch of grump-butts when we had to leave. An hour later, everyone was dressed, had eaten breakfast, and the photo shoot began. "Show me your lunch box!" I demanded. "Smile! Stand by the gate. Act like you're walking. Look over your shoulder. Get your finger out of your nose. Don't give me that look! Come back here. Come back!"

We loaded the little'uns in the double stroller, and set out for the school. As we neared the campus, we saw parents and kids and strollers streaming in. I got honest to goodness butterflies. I recognized several moms from our preschool, and for some reason that put me at ease.

Outside the kindergarten classroom, there was a welcome sign and a handout. It was hilarious, written in very very simple language.

1) Say hello to the teacher.
2) Find your nametag.
3) Put down your lunch.
4) Circle your name on the big list.
5) Play at a table.

All around the room, there are panicked parents, running their finger down the list, focused with furrowed eyebrows. You could hear the thoughts: Said hello. Check! Nametags? Do we need nametags? Oh, the kid. Right. Lunch. Where do we put it? Where? OH MY GOD WHERE DO WE...oh, over there. Whew. WHAT'S THE BIG LIST? There are lists of kids names all over the walls! Which one do we choose? I don't see any circles!

I think this is when most of the parents started to cry. If we couldn't figure out these like, super basic instructions, how will our children do it? Mercifully, my daughter had already located the list, and made a heart around her name, because, you know, she likes hearts better, and was happily playing with several of her classmates.

The teacher rang the bell to let us know it was time to clear out. I had to drag my daughter away from the play kitchen to give her a hug and kiss. My husband gave her his hugs and kisses, and then we loaded the other two back into the stroller.

It was very bittersweet to see my husband standing in the doorway of the classroom, bouncing on his tiptoes trying to catch our daughter's eye for one last goodbye. She never looked up, and after five minutes, we left. We had a few tears on the way home, but were soon laughing when we asked my son what he was going to do without his sister all day. He said, in a very sarcastic tone, "I'm gonna play with all the toys by myself."

Unbelievable. My life has changed again. Walking away from that door was a moment that I'm sure will be imprinted on my mind forever. There'll probably be more tears for me today. I just saw my eaglet spread her wings and fly. Cue the crazy happy-sad crying. I puffy-heart my Clinque waterproof mascara.

Happy back-to-school!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Good Clean Fun

We've had temperatures in the high 90s for the last couple of days. In my region of Northern California, we rarely get this hot. Maybe a few weeks each summer. We don't have air conditioning, I know, boo hoo, no humidity, cry y'all a river. I'm a big baby. I like my weather mild.

We were sweltering, feeling lethargic and eating popsicles for lunch when my oldest came up with the perfect solution. Let's go swimming! This is a fabulous plan. We live in a homeowner's association, where our dues pay for a neighborhood pool. Let's throw on our suits and go!

The whole family is crashed out in the living room. I was sprawled on the couch with a kid laying in front of me and a kid in my "chicken nest." "Chicken Nest" refers to the space between your ankles and your butt when you are laying on your side with your knees bent. I don't know. Go, on, lay down on your side and try it now, you know you want to. Bend your knees, and notice that there is just enough room for a kid to sit wedged in there. Mine prefer to rest their heads on my butt. There you have it. The definition of "Chicken Nest." Probably there was a cute story associated with that, but I don't remember.

Moving along. My husband was lounging on the floor, and when I glanced over at my son, he was sound asleep with his popsicle pressed against his cheek. We decided to let him nap. (We did remove the popsicle and place him on his bed.) We passed a few more hours enduring the heat and engaging in unbelievable sloth.

Finally, it was time to swim. We changed into our swim suits, grabbed towels and headed out for the pool. The pool is, no joke, a 5 minute walk, but we are such pathetic shrinking daisies that we took the van.

The pool was crowded with families. We dumped our stuff and got into the water quickly. My oldest is getting to be quite proficient in the water. She swam underwater, and leaped from the side. At one point, she threw her arms around my neck and said, "Mommy, wanna see me be a mermaid?" I smiled at her. "Sure, honey."

"Okay, I'll be the bee-you-tee-ful mermaid, and you can be the Ugly Sea Witch and chase me." She said "ugly sea witch" in a gravelly voice with a snarl on her face and two claws raised menacingly at my face.

Yeah, great. Ugly sea witch. Not Queen of the Mermaids. Not Sea Temptress. Nope. Ugly Sea Witch for me. Yo ho freakin' ho. Pass the rum.

This reminds me: the Disney catalog had all their Halloween costumes in the last issue. What is up with the mom costumes? The mom costumes are all evil. See? I'm not kidding. All the mommy costumes are supposed to be the scary counterparts to their children's costumes. Unless you want to be a cow or a teapot, which is still frightening, in my esteemed opinion.

The daddy costumes were equally lame. Would any man willingly dress like Eeyore?

It just seems so unfair.

Laughing When You Want To Cry

I try to keep this blog light reading, because I find that seriousness doesn't suit me. I am one of those people who keeps on laughing, even when I want to cry. At times, I produce one of those odd, creaking, crazy sounding laughs. I even laugh WHILE I cry. Case in point, the Disneyland "Lion King" parade. Boo-hoo, ahahaha, sniff, wave, ahahaha. I'm a big ball of emotions.

I never understood the struggles of women who suffered from depression, until I had a baby. For the first time in my life, I felt 'off.' The maniac laughing took over and has buoyed me through the 20 hour days when every other sentence begins "Mommy, I need" and ends with "RIGHT NOW." I have called girlfriends from my closet, with my children standing outside the closet door chanting "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"

The feeling of being 'off' has been replaced by a feeling of 'Oh, yeah, I'm the mommy. It's different, but cool.' I am lucky that my transition to motherhood has been relatively uncomplicated. I don't acknowledge that enough.

I'm sending out all my good wishes to Heather and her family. I don't know her personally, but I admire her humor and wit, and now her strength.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Look Ma! No Hands!

Oh, okay, ladies. I'm in hysterics. I'm slightly buzzed from labeling backpacks and lunch boxes and coats with a big fat Sharpie, and your reponses to my Swiffer troubles are a riot.

That's it. I'm going to velcro the rest of those hospital issue maternity mattress sized pads on my kids' feet and have a glass of wine while I watch them skid around on the floor. Ahahaha.

Love the waist holster, Lu. I think I might just use the pull out faucet from the sink. Maybe, just maybe we can kill a few birds here and shower the kids at the same time? Now THAT is multi-tasking.

I Must Be Doing This Wrong

Will somebody please explain to me what the huge whoopin' deal is with the Swiffer? In particular, the Swiffer Wet-Jet. On the rave reviews of several of my online girlfriends, I caved and bought one at Target. So, yeah, it has a battery powered squirter. And it has a weird little scrubby pad thing on one side, and a giant maxi pad that adheres to the bottom. It even has wings! I'm not impressed. I squirt, I scrub, I give it a once over with the Kotex that ate Kansas. It just doesn't seem very thorough.

Also, what the heck is up with Clorox wipes? I know I'm a pathetic housekeeper, but I went through 20 little stinky wipes to wipe my counters and cupboards down. That is an insane number of wipes. I used 20 more to do my closet sized bathroom.

The thing that's really cracking me up about the Swiffer is that my girlfriends who all love this thing are cloth diaper users. I know that they use cloth diapers for a million different reasons, all wonderful - better for baby and environment and budget yadda yadda yadda. But they are using the equivalent of a disposable diaper to wash their floor? And it doesn't even do a good job? I'm all for simplifying my cleaning. Is there a trick I'm missing?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Outlaws and Inlaws

Have mercy.

Let's just say that my relationship with my inlaws is uncomfortable. We don't know how to communicate, and the small talk always manages to fade quickly.

My father-in-law was a GI stationed in Korea when he met my future mother-in-law. After an long courtship, they married and produced two sons, both born in Korea. Fearing that the boys would be ostracized in their small, rural village for their American parentage, my MIL agreed to settle in America. This meant leaving an affluent (by rural Korean standards... They had servants) family behind, and moving into a mobile home park.

Just before his 5th birthday, my husband arrived in America. His mother was instructed to stop speaking Korean to the boys, so they do not speak or understand, beyond simple commands and run of the mill insults and swear words. My hubs grew up in the trailer park, and on our first date, announced "I'm basically white trash. My dad keeps the Christmas lights on the trailer year round." I thought he was kidding. Uh, nope.

We've had a year-long reprieve from inlaw visits. My MIL has needed false teeth for a year, and did not want to attend social gatherings. Army dentistry being what it is, and also stubborn old lady pride, we have dodged the inlaw entertaining bullet.

Last Sunday morning, we got the call. "Dis-a guhlandma. How ever-body? I got my teeth!" *note* I am not intending to make fun of anyone, including my MIL, except maybe a little bit. She really talks like this, although when she gets angry with me she speaks very clear, concise English with less ethnic stylizing. In fact, she's the Queen of Morose Messages. Every couple of weeks we get the "Dis-a guhlandma. Why nobody call me. I could dead. You wouldn't know."
So, yeah, we should call her more. Point taken. Uh, sorry. Off topic.

Anyway, the new teeth signal the Opening of the Inlaw Social Season. I always get myself worked into a frenzy over this, pretty much for nothing. Both the MIL and I have mellowed from my days as a pregnant newlywed. Sure, I still have to lock my bedroom door at night when she stays with us, because she likes to wander the house. When co-sleeping with my son, I woke with a start to find her trying to lift him out of my arms at 2 am. I don't care how much you love your MIL, you do NOT want her standing over your bed at 2 am.

My FIL likes barbecue, beer and science fiction. Oh, and he has a long beard that he has split into two pigtail type beards. And he loves baseball hats with slogans on them. About farting and things. We have a mutual standoffish relationship. I am polite, and he is not, but he thinks he is, so in my politeness, I pretend he is right.

We'll see if this is the inlaw season that makes me an outlaw.

Steve. Joe is no substitute.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Tooth Fairy Plays Favorites

The news has been pouring in from all my mama-peers. All around us, 5 year olds are starting to lose teeth. My big girl still has all her baby chompers in place, but she is eager to join the 'window in the smile' group.

This developmental milestone has kicked up dust all over town. What is the exchange rate for baby teeth these days? There seems to be a sliding scale. From my girlfriend whose husband left a $20 under the pillow by mistake, to the girlfriend who leaves a special charm for her daughter's charm bracelet... it seems like we should have a standardized chart.

The silver dollar seems to be the benchmark standard. I can go with that. I get those from the postal vending machines, and since I've gone postal quite a bit in the last year, I have a stash of Sacagawea dollars waiting for the happy day. If I can remember where the stash is, hmm.

Of course, in my own tooth losing days, I was an eager little monkey. I think our exchange rate was something like a quarter, which was good money for a 6 year old in '78. Really, though, the allure of the tooth fairy had more to do with her fairy dust. My sister and I shared a bedroom, and when one of us would lose a tooth, we would hatch elaborate schemes to catch the Tooth Fairy and get us some fairy dust so we could fly. We set booby-traps involving webs of string and strips of scotch tape on the floor. We tried staying awake in shifts. On one occasion my sister slept with the plumber's helper in her hand, determined to whack the fairy over the head so we could loot her.

I give my parents enormous credit for their willingness to keep the magic alive for so long, in the face of so much adversity.

I've got a lot of memories about losing teeth. I lost one of my upper front teeth the week before our second grade portrait shoot. My mom had commented on how cute she thought it was when a kid was missing both front teeth. Well, I loooooove being cute. My second tooth wasn't even remotely loose, but I fussed with it so aggressively that I essentially ripped it from my gums the morning of the picture. My face in that photo is priceless. I was beaming, in my spanking new outfit, with minimum wage photographer combed hair. (Do you remember those black plastic combs? How they made every hairstyle worse?) In the middle of my vacant upper gums, you can still see a little bit of gum dangling in the void. Ewwwww! But so cute, no?

My 5 year old is full of questions. Will it hurt? How does the fairy know? (We send up a beacon, a la Batman) I guess I'm ready.

What I'm not prepared for are those giant chompers in tiny faces. Man, this is when they go though that "my teeth are too huge for my face" phase. Also, they get really goofy, too. Or at least, I did.

All I'm saying is: if YOUR Tooth Fairy kicks down a C-note, swear your kid to secrecy. My Fairy is not that generous.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

But Will It Be Enough For Gold?

Our morning started out with a bang. Literally. My youngest child has mastered the art of crib rail pommel horse.

We've become accustomed to the sounds of rhythmic slapping noises coming from her room in the early hours. She's usually content to drag her sippy cup up and down the side bars of her crib, like a wee convict with a tin cup. Th-wap wap wap wap wap wap wap. Th-wap wap wap wap wap wap. Then she'll clutch a pair of bars, rattling them mercilessly. The final event involves smooshing her face into the space between bars.

The noises today involved grunting. I lay in bed, pretending I didn't hear what was going on, thinking that the hubs would be on diaper duty. Frantic grappling noises came next, followed by a huge "Aaaaaaaaargh!" That's Mama's baby all right.

Silence. And then "Bam!" Then silence. Then a very tiny "Ta-Daaaaa!"

I swung my legs out of bed as my son trotted to my bedside. "Mommy! I heard a kersplosion!"

As I reached the doorway, my 20 month old came trotting around the corner, arms outstretched. She announced "I down! I fine! Ta-Daaaaaa!"

I wonder if she stuck the landing?

Monday, August 23, 2004

Stream of Conciousness

My son, aka "Chuckie" is, as I've mentioned before, like a horror film doll. His eyes open with an audible POP! and he immediately begins talking. And talking. He says any old thing that comes to mind, and doesn't wait for an answer. No, no. He just keeps on keeping on.

Mother of the Universe (that's me) gets a little freakin' impatient lately. It wasn't 20 minutes into his morning soliloquy that I snapped "Stop talking, please! Eat your cake!" Yes, folks, I fed my son cake for breakfast. I come from the Marie Antoinette school of breakfasting - no bread for toast? No problem. Ahem.

Chuckie actually greeted me at the bedside with two boxes of macaroni and cheese. He shook them like maracas and did a crazy dance while saying "Mommy, can I have mac and cheese for breakfast? Mommy? Mac and cheese hey! Mac and cheese hey!" Now, don't be getting the idea that he stopped there. No, the rhythmic chanting continued as he followed me into the bathroom.

Whilst ensconced on my throne, my son said "Hey, Mommy, follow me. Into the kitchen. Mac and Cheese, macandcheesemacandcheese."

I calmly replied "Honey, Mommy's peeing."

Not missing a beat, the questioning began in earnest. "How fast can you pee?" I roll my eyes and say "As fast as it comes out, dude." He wrinkled up his nose and giggled. "Mommy, can you pee as fast as a raccoon?"

The hubs chimes in at this point. "How fast does a RACCOON pee?"

"As fast as a race car." We both started laughing. "Honey, race cars don't pee."

"Yeah, but if they get a hole in their gas tank, it would look like they were peeing, and if the gas is all gone, then they couldn't go. Hey! Mac and cheese!"

Oh. My. GOD.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Aspirations

My sister is an aspiring opera singer. She is also an accomplished pianist. For 17 years, she has run her own successful piano studio. She has endured children licking the entire circumference of her grand piano. She has survived students who don't practice, parents who expect miracles and people who 'forget' to pay. She has worked long and hard to reach her goal of making a living as a singer. This last week, she flew to New York and met with three agents. All are eager to work with her, and feel that she has a bright career ahead of her.

She returns today, and I am bursting with excitement. I want to hear all the gory details.

For most of my life, I have distinguished myself by NOT distinguishing myself. I'm the middle child, and I like to do what I want without attracting too much attention. Except blogging. I seem to crave buckets of approval for my blog. Anyway...

My sister and I are 18 months apart. We are polar opposites - she is dedicated, I am flighty. She loves to run. I love to watch other people run. Hah! She is sincere, whereas I am sarcastic. We are a great team. She is frightened of my life as a married mom of three, and I am wary of her life as a single musician, shooting for the stars.

When meeting acquaintances of my parents, I was always asked, "Are you the pianist?" and I would say "No, that's my sister." Black belt in Tae Kwon Do, opera singer, actress, girl who speaks 5 languages, Ms. Blah de blah 1991? Nope. You got the wrong girl. Then they would ask me, "What do YOU do?" Uh, I dunno. Now, I have a husband and children to wave around. Back in the day, it made for some awkward conversation.

This sounds bitter. I assure you it is not. I enjoy being a bit of an enigma. Or a dullard, take your pick. I just figure that if you are outside the spotlight, you can get away with murder.

When I first heard that my sister was traveling to New York City, I was so jealous. I entertained the fantasy of going along. It put me in mind of our trip around Japan when we were 16 and 14 years old. We spent three weeks in Osaka with a group of American students assembled and led by my fearless mom. At the conclusion of those three weeks, my mom took the rest of the kids home, and my sister and I went on a whirlwind tour of Japan.

We had hosted 15 exchange students from Japan over the years, and my mom had arranged for us to spend time with each of them. We were treated like visiting royalty. We traveled by planes, trains and automobiles. We discovered that our different abilities served us well, when we teamed together. I could understand Japanese, and she could put the words together to communicate.

It was on this trip that we gave each other the affectionate monikers "Dumb-ass" (me) and "Bitch-face." We went to Australia's gold coast the following summer, and it was DA and BF, part two. Honestly, watching that Amazing Race, I have fantasies of DA and BF RIDE AGAIN! We could be dominant, man. Except that it always seems to come down to a foot race at the end, and well, I don't like to run. Or bungee jump, and that seems to be a factor, too. Hmm.

A girlfriend told me the other day that if my life was a reality series, she'd be hooked. Why? What is so interesting? I actually live in fear that one day, my mom is going to make good on her threats to sign me up for a makeover show on a daytime talk show or the local news channel. I would probably be the best show ever, but hey! Don't get any ideas, yo.

In the same vein, I have long suspected that a round of finishing school would have been a good idea for me. I don't want to ooze pretensions, but I'm a little shaky on social graces.

"I taught you all that stuff," says my mom, indignantly.

"I know, I know."

On the recommendation of a friend of a friend, I got myself a series of DVDs that are supposed to teach me the basics of Grace, Beauty and Elegance. I made it about 10 minutes into the one about proper speech before I slapped the couch and yelled uncle. It's narrated by a woman whose perfect diction seems robotic. And then they have this soft-core footage of a woman practicing her vocal exercises in the shower while languidly washing herself. Huh?

I'm sure the information is good, and I will soldier on. If nothing else, it will make excellent comedy fodder, in which I mock all that is Graceful, Beautiful and Elegant.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

The Scream in Crayon


A portrait of your friendly ringmaster, as seen through the eyes of my oldest child. Posted by Hello

That 2 AM Jazz

I've been up all night. Again. My youngest cried and grunted and waved her butt in the air for 9 straight hours. I'm thinking she's got some unresolved poo issues. Not only that, but every time I would get her settled down, my son would hunt us down and try to climb in my lap. This would trigger another butt wiggling screaming jag from the baby. Around and around and around we go...

UPDATE 8-21: Sometimes when shit happens, it's a good thing. This is one of those times. Whew!

Each of my kids has a lullaby that seems to be 'their' song. My oldest got "La La Lu," My son got "Castle of Dromore," and my youngest got "I Will." I've been singing these songs, interspersed with many others since moments after they were born. We're a bunch of singing fools in this family.

So I found myself at 2 o'clock in the morning, holding an arching, screeching baby, carelessly singing a medley of lullabies. And what I realized is: I don't remember the words, and I don't know if I ever did. I basically scat sing with a few legit lyrics thrown in willy-nilly. Hah!

My favorite scat lullaby has to be "Nightingale's Lullaby" from the Celtic Twilight something or other CD.

I looked up the real lyrics this morning, and had a huge laugh. I was missing over 75% of the actual words, and had embellished nicely, for going on 3 years. I present the real lyrics below. I'm not even going to admit what I usually sing.


CASTLE OF DROMORE

The October winds lament around,the castle of Dromore
Yet peace is in her lofty halls, my loving treasure store
Though autumn leaves may droop and die, a bud of spring are you
Sing hushabye loo, low loo, low lan
Hushabye loo, low loo
Dread spirits all of black water, Clan Owen's wild banshee
Bring no ill wind to him nor us, my helpless babe and me
And Holy Mary pitying us to Heaven for grace doth sue
Sing hushabye loo, low loo, low lan
Hushabye loo, low loo
Take time to thrive, my ray of hope, in the garden of Dromore
Take heed, young eaglet, till thy wings are feathered fit to soar
A little rest and then the world is full of work to do
A little rest and then the world is full of work to do
Sing hushabye loo, low loo, low lanHushabye loo, low loo

La La Lu

La la lu
La la lu
Oh, my little star sweeper
I'll sweep the stardust for you
La la lu
La la lu
Little soft fluffy sleeper
Here comes a pink cloud for you
La la lu
La la lu
Little wandering angel
Fold up your wings, close your eyes
La la lu
La la lu
La la lu
And may love be your keeper
La la lu
La la lu
La la lu
Spoken:
There now, little star sweeper
Dream On

I Will

Who knows how long I've loved you?
You know I love you still
Will I wait a lonely lifetime?
If you want me to, I will
For (and) if I ever saw you
I didn't catch your name
But it never really mattered
I will always feel the same
Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we're together
Love you when we're apart
And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
For (and) the things you do endear you to me
You know I will
I will
Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we're together
Love you when we're apart
And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
For (and) the things you do endear you to me
Oh, you know I will

Nightingale's Lullaby- Julie Last

The sun's going down in the deep blue sea
So close your eyes, go to sleep
I will wrap all the milk stars around you
So dream and your dreams will come true.

You can ride past the wind as a champion mare
Over the woods, lighter than air
You can fly to the moon as a great white swan
And back you will be before dawn.

A nightingale's lullaby bends in the wind
Messing your hair, drinks the tears from your pillow
So sleep now, sweet dreams, my love

I may be older but I am not wise
I'm still a child's grown up disguise
I never can tell you what you want to know
You will find out as you go.

Now the sun's disappeared in the deep blue sea
Eyes are closed, sleep so deep
The milk stars are wrapped all around you
So dream, and your dreams will come true.


Friday, August 20, 2004

I'm In The Mood For Love

Blame it on the wine. Or on the strawberries and whipped cream. The husband and I were feeling a little amorous last night.

We snuggled while we sipped our wine. We played footsie and I got my backrub. Things were looking, uh, up. Canoodling was on the agenda.

"Mama!" called my oldest.

"Sssh! Maybe she'll go back to sleep," said my husband, sotto voce.

"MY PANTS ARE WET! WAAAAAH!" came the cry from behind our locked door.

"Hold that thought," I said with a sultry glance over my shoulder. I grabbed a beach towel and a clean pair of pajamas, and got my daughter calmed down, dry and back in bed. Whew!

As I turned the lock on our bedroom door, I heard a plaintive wail building from the baby's room. Oh, no.

Oh, yes.

"Sssh! Maybe SHE'LL go back to sleep," said my husband. Hope springs eternal in Husbandland.


"You're so good at getting her to settle, babe. You try," I whispered. He stood up and moments later reappeared with my howling youngest, who had bubbling green snot and a full diaper. A new diaper, new pajamas, a face washing and a dose of decongestant later, she passed out on my husband's shoulder. He quickly returned her to the crib and jogged back to our room.

"So, where were we?" he winked. At this point, I had passed over the good wine buzz, and was feeling deflated. As my husband reached to foot of the bed, we heard the dog scratching on our bedroom door. "Go away, Donna!" we both ordered in a stage whisper.

We sat side by side on the end of the mattress, straining our ears into the quiet of our house. After a tense minute, my husband turned to give me a kiss. With our lips mere millimeters apart, we started to laugh. And we kept laughing, through my son's midnight quest for water, my baby's second and third waking of the night. I guess this is what they call Natural Family Planning.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Forget Peace, I Just Want Quiet

Indulge me as I take another walk down memory lane...

Back when I was the "girlfriend," a word pronounced with a lilting tone, unlike "wife" which is your basic grunt, we spent a lot of time visiting friends. One couple had a precocious four year old daughter, and her mom would tell me "she was so naughty today!" and I would, as a stupid childless person, say "Oh, no. That's because she's so intelligent/charming/takes after her mommy! She's really an ANGEL." I honestly thought that was what the mom wanted to hear.

Now, inside my head, I was thinking "If MY future children EVER and I do mean EVER embarrass me like that, I would DIE!" Did you hear that cracking whip sound? Parenting Gods, incoming.

In my friend's head, she confessed that she was thinking, "Stupid, stupid, just wait until you have your own little angels. Bwahahahahahahaha!"

This is the same friend who later had twins, shortly before the birth of my oldest. During one harried phone call (Can't she just ask those kids to play quietly? My kids will respect an adult phone conversation. Zap! Incoming!) she blurted out, "I wouldn't let my oldest hold a marker without my close attention. I'd let the twins play with steak knives if they would just be quiet for a minute."

That is as funny today as it was then. for different reasons. Then, with a young baby who existed solely to charm the pants off of her doting parents, I was amused in a "too bad for you, crazy woman!" way. Now, with three kids who seem to exist solely to mete out the wrath of the Parenting Gods, I understand. Totally.

We had one of THOSE days today. Things were broken. A war broke out between Pretty Ponies and Dinosaurs. Gallons were spilled. Baguettes were wielded as swords. The final straw involved a brand new box of laundry soap being doused liberally with water. That weightlifter battle cry I mentioned in an earlier post? Scream along with me. Aaaaaaaaaaargh!

I was so beside myself that I burst out in tears, fumbled for the right words to make the lack of levity in my heart well known to the offenders, and ended up grabbing the sling, the stroller and the kids and making a high speed dash around the block. (hup hup hup hup hey!) It burned off a little tension, but the naughties never ceased. They're fighting colds, so they are ill enough to feel cranky, and well enough to be naughty. Here's hoping that they wake up nice tomorrow. I don't know if we'll make it through another one like today.

The kids have finally settled down, and I am fried. I think I'll hit the hubs (said with a grunt, hah!) up for a back rub. Time to crack open a bottle of Merlot and watch some Olympics with the man who helped create these little monkeys.



Kindergarten Countdown

As my oldest reminds me daily, the life altering, rite of passage - Kindergarten is almost upon us. She's full of anticipation, and is certain of her success in the slightly larger world that is school. Her confidence is inspiring.

Back to school resonates with me, even now. The new clothes. The worries about who your classmates will be. The enticing aroma of new Crayolas and binder paper. The life and death decision of lunch box selection. The promise that THIS year will be better than the last. New Year's Eve has nothing on Labor Day Weekend for new beginnings.

My first day of Kindergarten is still fresh in my mind. I got sent home early, with a black eye.

I had been trying to make friends with all the kids, "Hi! I'm Jenny! Hey, come here, kid! I'm JENNY. You wanna play with me? No? Okay. Hey, kid! I'm Jenny. Jenny. Hey, kid!" and wasn't meeting with much success. In a fit of exasperation, I decided to climb UP the slide, showing off in an attempt to impress. Halfway up the silver pathway to Kindergarten Superstardom, I took a Converse All-Star to the eye from a little boy with green teeth and an evil glint in his eye.

After the collision, I slid down, landing with an abrupt thump on the tanbark. The kid who kicked me whizzed over, with a "Nyah, nah."

Temporarily stunned, I stood up and brushed myself off. The Kindergarten teacher rushed to my side, and began fussing. "Oh, no! Oh, are you okay? We better get you to the nurse!" Box office gold, my friends. All the kids wanted to get a look at my eye, which was now swelling righteously. I mustered a whimper, and leaned into the teacher as I limped theatrically from the playground.

I got to hold a milk-carton ice pack on my face, and my mom picked me up and took me out to ice cream. Instead of souring my school experience, it remains one of my favorite silly memories.

Anyway, I sincerely hope that my daughter is able to embrace the good and laugh at the bad in the school world. She probably won't have to resort to stunts to get the attention and friendship she craves. But if she does, I've got a few pointers for her.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Child's Eye View

There are few lights less flattering than the glare of my bathroom light at 5 am. I leaned on the counter with my elbows while I splashed cold water on my face. Glancing up at my dripping reflection, I cringed. I need another hour or two of sleep before I look human. As I flipped the switch, I felt a warm body against my legs. My son had appeared beside me. He wrapped his arms around my thighs and pressed his face into my belly.

"Hi, buddy," I said. He beamed up at me with his sleep flushed face and purred, "Mommy, you're gorgeous."

My self-deprecating side (or self-defecating as my mom, Queen of Picturesque Speech says) wants to deny these accolades. The rest of me wants to bask in the sunshine of my child's adoration.

Kids have a special filter on their vision. It's Cybil Sheppard lighting for the cold, hard world. Dust particles swirling in afternoon sunbeams become dancing fairies. Every trip to the toilet becomes an event worthy of a song and dance.

I am reminded of a shower I shared with my oldest while I was pregnant with my youngest. In the confines of our shower, surrounded by steam, she beamed up at me and patted my butt. I said, "Mommy has a big butt, huh?"

"It's GREAT," she said. Hey, who am I to argue? Minutes later, she performed an original tune in my honor, called "Big Fat Butt, Big Fat Belly." I had been referring to my pregnant shape as "Mr. Kool-Aid body." Sheesh. It took my toddler less than a minute to make me feel worthy of rhyme and song.

Unconditional love is a gorgeous thing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Guilty As Charged

Got the hubs out the door for his trip, and called in the dancing boys! Woooo!

Just kidding. I actually don't care for dancing boys, unless they are entertaining my toddlers.

My parents decided to take the two older kids on a trip to the beach today, which left me with just the 20 month old. I will be so happy when she's two so I can stop using the month. I've run out of fingers and toes.

Now, I will never be one to insinuate that a single child is a breeze (because I was overwhelmed with just one wee bairn) but it was almost peaceful. We read books, played hide and seek, snuggled while she napped, fed each other cheerios - we enjoyed the heck out of each other.

My older two had a great time with the grandparents. They ran all over the beach, found shells, lay in the surf, and encrusted themselves from head to toe in salt and sand. Both kids got the undivided attention they crave. Aside from my son puking on the windy roads that lead to the coast, it sounds like a perfect outing.

My son has a flair for the dramatic, and he's taken to telling my mom, every chance he gets, that he "never wants to go home! Can I stay here forever, Grandma?" Oh! And he says I yell all the time. My mom sounded a bit concerned as she brought this up to me, and gave me the good advice that I need to stop yelling.

Let the excuses begin. I've been feeling like I'm on death watch for the last year. It's been Def-Con 4 and I guess I just can't unwind enough to where I speak normally any more. I start with a bark, and adjust down depending on the situation. I know it, and my kids know it, and they are telling people that I yell at them. All the time. Granted, they don't mention WHY I yell, or that THEY might have anything to do with it.

But they are all right. I need to chill. No one has fatally injured themselves on my watch, and the little stuff, like emptying a gallon of milk onto the carpet or kicking out the front window screens, happens when I'm not being super attentive. Perhaps blogging is the reason why I have a steam cleaner that never gets put away. Ahahahaha

My mom was right on the money when she said that I only have another year or so to make memories for my kids as a kind and fun mom, before they are out to school and I'm just the broad who picks them up and denies them purchases of hoochie Bratz dolls and embarrasses them in front of their friends.

Trepidation

It seemed innocent a few months ago. We got a glossy flyer in the mail, heralding the upcoming children's show season at our regional arts center. "Buy your season tickets!" it said. "Family fun for all!"

After a flurry of discussion with my hubs, we decided that we would give it a whirl. We have a stack of tickets, one show a month, starting in October, until June 2005. It was too great of a deal to pass up.

I was sorting old photos yesterday, and came across the Ringling Bros. circus photos from last year. First of all, let me tell you this: Don't waste your money. It was just awful. Guess how much cotton candy costs? TEN BUCKS. That's right. For spun sugar. It all came flooding back to me. My children were more interested in examining the dark recesses of their seat bottoms with their $15 limited edition souvenir flashlight things than watching dancing elephants. The pictures don't show children enthralled with clowns and trapeze artists. They show kids on their knees with flashlights, inspecting what looks to be the remnants of someone else's ten dollar cotton candy.

A year has gone by, but I'm thinking we may have jumped the gun on the theater tickets. The shows are supposed to be geared for children 3-12, so we might be in the clear, but I'm still worried that we are going to spend lots of quality time in the lobby.

I registered my son for preschool this week. He starts in October. I'm still not sure he's ready. I spoke to the teachers about his 97% success ratio on the potty, and they said that peer pressure was just the ticket. This seems suspect to me, because I was assured that my oldest, the nose-picker, would be cured by the preschool social strata, and instead found herself the leader of a whole little tribe of gold-diggers. Mercy.

Kindergarten is two weeks away, and I'm getting nervous. And judging from the 'tidbits' my oldest has volunteered to perfect strangers, I have every right. My favorite was when she parked herself next to the mother of one of her fellow preschoolers and announced "Daddy hurt his back trying to wash his butt in the shower." Ahahahaha. The mom held it together nicely. I laughed all the way home. I cringe to think what she'll be saying about me.

The hubster is off to Chicago for the night, so I better go get him packed.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Magnus, the Magnificent

Apparently, moments after Nick Jr. began broadcasting Lazy Town, scores of horny housewives hit the internet, looking for more Magnus. Here you go, ladies: link to a photo of the hottie.

Oh, I could be wrong. They could have been interested in his, uh, acting. Anyway, my wee little post on Mr. Scheving got lots of hits today.


All in our places with bright shiny faces

Alright. Monday. Woo.

After a round of musical beds that ended with me, all three kids and the dog in a twin bed, I'm a little stiff and sore. The coffee was too strong this morning, and I'm all twitchy. What is a girl to do?

Oh, I know. It's the premiere of Lazy Town. I betcha dancing along with Magnus and the gang will cure what ails me. I, er, the kids have been having a great time on Nickjr.com putting dear Sportacus through his paces in the Get Your Move On game. Yeah, baby.

The crabs have survived the night, as well as a few swan dives off of the kitchen table. I've put them high in the pantry so they can gather their strength for round two. I am having trouble convincing my oldest that hermit crabs don't need to live in the Pretty Pony palace. She is the puppet master, and is exceedingly frustrated that the crabs are uninterested in navigating the obstacle course that she made from left over Taco Bell condiment packages and spoons.

When we first adopted the dog, she spent hours setting up 'agility courses' to put the dog through her paces. The dog is also uninterested. My oldest also announced that we should enter her in the Eukanuba Tournament of Champions. When I explained that she wasn't a pure breed, and wasn't particularly attractive or well behaved, my daughter wasn't buying it. She said, "We will train her, and she will be a champion." Ahahahaha. I love the can-do attitude, even if she's irrational.

Come to think of it, she gets that from me. I've never thought for a minute that I couldn't accomplish anything I set my mind to. I also tend to fervor when I hit on something great. This frenzied excitement is accompanied by my expert testimony to friends and family, and generally lasts a couple of weeks.

Witnesseth:

Flylady. Love her. Get 700 email a day from her. Is my house clean? No. Babysteps, right, right. It's a new day, and perhaps THIS is the day that I will set my timer and lace my shoes. Or maybe tomorrow. It gives me great confidence to know Flylady's system works, and should I choose to follow it, I will be organized and successful and svelte. Oh wait, svelte falls under the next one. (Hilarious. Spell checker suggested "Flailed" in place of "Flylady." It knows me at my core.)

Fat Fallacy. Love it. My friend Sara is the success story on the site right now. Big picture of buttery english muffin on the book cover, with the words "FAT IS NOT THE ENEMY" on the back. Cutie pie Doctor. Now THAT'S my type of diet. Seriously good information. If only I could master using a teaspoon instead of a mixing spoon when measuring out my dinner portions. Again, I just know that when I get with the program, I'll be on a one way trip to babedom. I just gotta finish up these chips before they go stale.

The Clean Team. In my next life, I'm going to marry Jeff Campbell. He's so enthusiastic about cleaning. Sigh. I bought his whole cleaning system. Even the apron. Bought everyone his books, and currently have "Clutter Control" sitting in the middle of a heap of crap on my desk. Maybe in my first 5 minute Flylady room rescue, I'll rescue it.

ENJO. I love my Enjo products. I really really love them. Look at all the happy people on their website cleaning with Enjo. It's super fun! I tried to have an Enjo party but all of my friends love their swiffers and clorox wipes and other disposable cleaning products. No matter, I will soldier on with my eco-friendly cleaning (and blithely continue to use disposable diapers, bwahahahaha). Hypocrisy reigns at the Three Kid Circus.

I should point out that we are a Human Circus. Like Cirque Du Soleil, without the good music. We don't hold no truck with abusing animals. Unless we are 'training' them to do obstacle courses and such.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Was YOUR day Apple-riffic?

For once, I have nothing to complain about. We had a wonderful day.

We woke to balmy, perfect weather. The kids were a little crazy this morning, but with the promise of attending the Gravenstein Apple Fair, we were able to keep things moving in a forward direction.

While we were getting everyone dressed, we watched Olympic women's weightlifting. Wow. Those women are amazing athletes, and I am inspired to revisit Krista and get my butt in gear. I really loved the fact that one of the women gave a loud Aaaargh! before stepping on stage. I'm going to start doing that before endurance events. Get all three kids in the van? Aaaaaargh! Unload a trunk full of groceries? Aaaaaargh! Giant load of clothes out of the dryer to be folded? Aaaaaargh! I am in love with this concept.

So, all the kids dressed, diaper bag packed, sunblock on... we headed out. We got into the fair, got some apple fritters, got some corn dogs, got some garlic fries... yeah, yeah, it's THAT kind of fair. We enjoyed the vocal performance of our local "Love Choir" which, from what I can tell, is composed of 30 or so grown up people who really like to sing. They all got up on the stage and belted out popular tunes from the 60s, en masse, with lots of enthusiasm and little regard for the tune. Out of the shower, and onto the stage! Woooo! Seriously, they were so into it that you had to love it.

The kids were well behaved the whole time. We petted a baby porcupine (spiny!) and saw bees (buzzy!). My son has taken to adding words to other endings. He kept saying, "Mom, this is Apple-tastic!" and my favorite "this is apple-licious." He gets it from me, thankyuhverramuch.

By one o'clock, the kids were pooped, and we made our final stop at the ping pong toss game to Win A Hermit Crab! We have had many of these sad sack critters, and they have all eventually crawled out of their shell and died, like so many ice locked arctic explorers. Although we didn't win one (I was secretly saying Yes! Crabtastic!) the kids were so bummed that Daddy bought them each a Hermit Crab. The menagerie just keeps gettin' bigger. Those crab people are making out like bandits. Bandits!

We rushed home, and I headed out to the surprise baby shower for a dear friend. She is the cutest pregnant person, and it was a low-key, fun party. I feel really human. Downright adult even. It has turned out to be an Apple-riffic day.


Saturday, August 14, 2004

Olympic Commentary

Hands down, one of my favorite activities during the Olympics is watching the athletes and putting in my two cents on their performances.

Diving is a really good one. It's really fun to say "Oooh, too bad, that backsplash is going to cost her. She's got to improve her entry angle." Another favorite is the vault event in gymnastics. "Stick that landing! That wasn't fully rotated."




Raging Hormones

I don't know what it is, but since giving birth, I'm a cry baby. I get choked up all the time, sometimes appropriately, but usually not.

What seems to really get the waterworks going is triumphant music...the national anthem, boo hoo! Play ball! Then there's fireworks. Oh! And parades. Something about a procession brings a lump to my throat and I have to choke back my tears so I don't look like an idiot. Like Linda Richman, I get farklempt and allow the good folks around me to "talk amongst yourselves."

Nothing says "I'm having a great time!" like crying during the Disneyland Parade of Stars, and then again during the nightly fireworks.

With my penchant for irrational emotional displays, the opening ceremonies for the Olympics were downright wet. The comet at the very beginning brought the lump to my throat and by the time we got to the Parade of Nations or whatever its called, I was weeping. The lighting of the flame put me over the edge. I feel hung over this morning.

I had to laugh at myself. I was literally moved to tears by the entrance of Angola? Why were people dressed like statues and a boy in a paper boat so moving? It's not because I'm an athlete, or because I'm super patriotic. It's really odd.

I wish you all a good morning. Let the Games begin. *wiping tears* But first let me drink my coffee.


Friday, August 13, 2004

Bad to the Bone

I've got a bit of a potty mouth. I try to keep it under wraps, but occasionally I let fly with a few choice expletives. I'm not proud of it, but sometimes it's just the way I need to express something.

Most notably, I do it when I'm rehashing on the telephone with my dear friend. We like to pretend we are cutting edge. She comes up with lots of hilarious sayings. I stick to good old profanity, mixed with hip hop slang that I pick up from my friend PW, (that's Pee-Dub, folks) who assures me that her verbal stylings are authentic and truly "ghetto."

It's not surprising that some of my uh, verbal indiscretions have been regurgitated by my wee ones. I act shocked and scandalized, and bust forth in the Voice Of God:

"Civilized people do not use that language! Children DO NOT use that word. Ever."

Then I go hide in the closet and laugh. I just know I'm going to end up in the principal's office some day, forced to explain how and why my child was able to use swear words in the proper context. Mercy. Anyhoo, I rarely treat the outside world to potentially offensive language.

So, one day I take the kids to the park. We're on the playground, whee! Lots of sand being eaten, lots of yelling kids. I am pushing my youngest in the swing, and holler at my oldest. "You've got sand on your butt!" and make a swiping motion. I turned back to give my swinger a push, and got stared down by another mother.

I smiled, noting that her face did not change. My oldest was feigning deafness, and I gave it another shot. "Wipe the sand off your butt!"

The staring mother now fixed her face into a snarl and descended on me. "We do NOT use that word."

I was genuinely confused. "What word?"

"Bee You Tee Tee. Its foul." She bristled at having to spell it out.

Resisting the urge to laugh, I rearranged my face into an earnest expression and asked "Oh, I didn't know. What are we allowed to say?"

She rolled her eyes and said "Bottom."

Ah! I tried to explain. "But, it is a butt, you know short for buttocks. Not bottom-tocks."

She, I kid you not, held her hand up in my face and said, "I will not listen to your foul language."

She hauled her kid off the swing and shot me a dirty look. "Hey," I called to my oldest. Get your sandy ASS over here, swing's free."

I'm just incorrigible.


Thursday, August 12, 2004

Showing Up the Husband

Just call me the fix-it Goddess. Actually, what happened was not exactly fixing.

We've owned our home for 4 years now. It's a basic tract home, built in the late 70s, a year after asbestos went out of style, and a good 40 years after quality construction became obsolete. Our entire home leans north with the warm and south with the cold. It's a bizarre seasonal change, much like daylight savings time. You wake up one day, and it's just different.

My two oldest kids have learned that you have to grab the door handle to any interior room on the N/S axis and twist hard while simultaneously applying a hip thrust to the door to get it to open in winter. In summer, they swing easier, but we all still do the hip thing out of habit.

A side effect of this is that our front door is loose on it's hinges, and unless we keep the deadbolt thrown, a good jolt will open the door. Donna the dog is some sort of terrier/basenji mix. She's a jumper. We don't have a doggie door, and since the kids have long since kicked out the screens on our front windows (subject for another post), when the windows are open, the dog enters and exits the house like a gazelle. A favorite pastime is sitting on the couch, chucking a ball out the window and watching Donna leap in and out of the house.

Donna has also recently figured out that if she takes the front door at a run, she might just knock it open. I keep it deadbolted unless the kids are in the yard, and it makes me leap a mile into the air every time the dog sprints into the house with a BANG.

On my recent burst of exercise enthusiasm, I purchased a mini trampoline, which I love. It's like jumping on your parent's bed when you were 5. I do pikes and kicks. I do spins. I yip, although quietly. The darn thing is too small to do a proper butt bounce, but believe me, if I could, I would. I turn on TiVo'd Queer Eye and boing away.

At issue is the foundation of our living room. I have to be very careful about placing the mini-tramp, because there are several spots in the room that cause the entire contents of the room to quake when you so much as shift from one cheek to the other on the couch. Merry rebounding threatens to upset the television armoire.

Recently, our TV has displayed degrading signals. Ghosting, acting strange. My husband, who suspects that my children sit in front of the TV ALL DAY accuses me of causing this strange disfunction. "No," I protest. "No, we only watch an hour a day, really." I've really got to work on that.

Right at the start of my hubs' beloved Giants game, the kids were monkeying around, rolling and flailing. Suddenly, the picture goes haywire. It was very I Love Lucy there for a minute. I was trying to deny excess TV usage, my husband is trying to see if all the channels are bad, the kids are whooping and leaping. The hubs collapses on the couch, remote falling dully from his slack hand. The kids tear off to remove the lightbulbs from all the fixtures in the house, and I stand there chewing my lip. Woe, woe... wait, whoa!

I stride to the TV and give it a resounding whack on the top. Instantly, the picture improves. Another whack, and we've got crystal clear reception. I turn to my mechanical engineer husband and with both hands on my hips, I try to keep the snarky grin off my face as I remind him to try not to wiggle too much.

Must've been all the jumping around that knocked something loose inside. I don't know what made me smack the top of the set. It was like one of those hereditary instincts, something built into the genetic code. But I'll tell you, my husband looked at me with a mixture of pure jealousy and awe, and I did my best Fonzi swagger back into the kitchen. I am so cool.


Who is this geared for?

Oh, okay. I just saw a preview on Nick Jr. for the new show "Lazy Town."

I don't know about you all, but this superhero looks like he's just for Mommies. Yeow. He even has a groovy little accent. And the actor's name is Magnus Scheving. Sha-ving, indeed.

And I was blathering on about no spandex. Sheesh.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Confession time

The dorkiness continues.

I adore children's television programming. Let's just ignore the fact that I watch WAY too much of it.

In particular, I'm a big closet fan of those song and dance shows. You know, like The Wiggles. I also have a soft spot for Steven Burns late of Blues Clues and of course, the faboo Kratt Bros. I mean, they're cute, great with kids, and REALLY enthusiastic (and you can't tell me that doesn't translate to other areas *wink wink*).

Lately, I've been obsessing on Hi-5 which is a silly skit/musical number show featuring five unbelievably perky young adult performers. Each week there's a new theme, and my kids know all the words and moves. So do I.

I like to pretend I'm 'exercising' with the kids, you know, so it's not just watching TV. I have been overheard telling people that the Wiggly Time video is actually a great workout. Really, the deal is: I love a catchy tune, and a corny routine as much as your average 3 year old. Just like the Solid Gold routines of my formative years, but without the spandex and sexy moves. I sing and dance along with abandon and pretend it's because I'm a good mom.

Mall Mania

It's my oldest's last day of preschool, ever. I've been procrastinating about what to give her teachers as a thank you gift, especially since we are re-upping and enrolling my soon to be 4 year old son in October. I did gift certificates to Starbucks before Winter Break, which was well received. Is it tacky to do the same thing again?

Obviously, some sort of shopping mission is on the schedule today. We'll go fast, shop hard and return to base before the mall knows what hit 'em. We're well known around our local mall. In a fit of "I'm still hip, doncha know" while pregnant with my son, I bought a leopard print baby sling. I never ponied up for a double stroller. I have a monstrous bike trailer/double stroller, but it won't clear most doorways, let alone aisles in stores. Not that my yahoos will stay seated anyway. Restraints, for the most part, bring out the Houdini in my kids.

Picture this. I have a regular, single stroller with a basket beneath it. I put my son in the stroller, my oldest stands on the basket facing forward, and I wear my youngest in the leopard sling. We are like the Peking Acrobats. Hup hup hup hup *Pose* Hey!

When we come rolling into the mall, it's like those old spaghetti westerns. Shop keepers rush to flip over the 'closed' signs as we pass by. Other shoppers hurry out of our path, throwing worried glances over their shoulders. I half expect to be challenged to a showdown with the Sheriff. "You best get them chillen out of this here mall by sundown, stranger."

There is no such thing as browsing with my herd. I plan each stop of our journey, punctuating with trips to the bathroom and reminders that children who behave get to play with the trains at the toy store. This has backfired on me the last few times. The Parenting Gods recall a time in my smug parent days where I uttered "I can't believe that child is whining and demanding that toy. That mom is a doormat."

Well, lay me down and walk all over me, honey. I have bought the most ridiculous things just to clear the store without a band of villagers chasing me with pitchforks. After an epic, face down, flailing and wailing tantrum by my two big kids at the end of a train-play session the last time around, I have decided never again. I will entice with ice cream.

We also have to go to the library to return books. This is one of those places that make my kids go apeshit. We stand in front of the library for 'the lecture.'

"What are the rules?" I demand. "No running, no jumping, no screaming," the kids chant obediently. "We are clear on this?" I fix them with the old hairy eyeball. "Yes, Mommy," they singsong.

We've been improving. We can usually get the return books on the counter and spend a few minutes browsing the children's section. Waiting in line to check out the books is where it becomes difficult. Someone always has to pee. Someone needs a drink. Someone decides to sing the alphabet song. We've been shushed rather forcefully by the reference librarian. Everyone is relieved when we manage to get everyone back onto the stroller (hup hup hup hup *pose* hey!) and out the door.

Honestly, I don't know if other moms struggle like this. It dawned on me, just now, that my son probably thinks its normal to talk and talk and talk with no one listening, because I have a constant hiss of words streaming from my mouth in public places. "Keep your hands to yourself. Get your feet off the wheels. Don't. No. Please come here. Now, please." I'm so busy correcting my kids that I don't notice if other moms are doing the same thing.

I took one of those internet quizzes a while back - something about your parenting style. It said I was high strung. This gave me pause. I am generally laid back - my house is far from perfect, I don't feel like I'm expecting too much from my kids or myself. From the time that I discovered that my first born would only eat Cheerios if they were scattered on the ground like chicken feed, my visions of idyllic motherhood have gone out the window. Maybe I need to put my head up and stop hissing.

Or maybe I need to buy everything online. Yeah!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Parenting, then and now

Parenting by the seat of my pants has become second nature. I had a great conversation yesterday with a friend about how we have evolved as mothers.

When I began my parenting journey, it was with all the self-righteousness I could muster. I was ready. I was confident. I read the right books, took the right classes, I was good to go. My birthplan was a five page manifesto, with every eventuality I could imagine mapped out, with what I decided was the proper course of action to be taken by my medical team. That's right, MY medical team, because clearly, I would be the only woman on earth giving birth.

Surrendering myself to childbirth was a great lesson in humility. Having abandoned my birthplan in the car upon arrival, I proceeded to ask for most of the things that I had deemed unnecessary. As I held my newborn, I had to laugh about my cockiness. I had signed up for the biggest, baddest roller coaster in the park, and didn't think that maybe eating a full value meal complete with curly fries while waiting in line was a bad idea. Blaaaaaaah! That moment defined the parenting experience for me, thus far.

Not that it's been all bad. I've had brilliant moments. Transcendent successes. Despite a horrid start, I overcame pain and infection to triumph as a breastfeeding dynamo. I was sticking it to the formula companies. Take that, you evil sabateurs!

When my first baby walked at just under eight months, I was elated. Here was superior proof of my mothering. I made all my own baby food, from organic produce. No byproducts would besmirch the lips of my tiny darling. I was cooking crazy amounts of broccoli and freezing it in cocktail ice cube trays. I fed her sweet-potato pureed with tofu. I was HARD CORE. Not one cookie passed her lips until she was over 18 months. (Unless my mom slipped her one, which I can fully believe. I was really crazy.)

I videotaped hours and hours of my child, from the lima bean baby to the toddler with the precision pigtails. What strikes me about these early videos is my voice in the background. I was so perky and cutesy. Bleh. "Look at mommy! Oooh! Such a biiiiig girl. Do your trick! Show mommy! Yay!" This is also the time in my life where I asserted that "NO child of mine will perform like a trained monkey." Well, note to me, because I have it all on tape.

I would love to have the hundreds of dollars I spent on miscellaneous baby gear at the Right Start. If it said "educational" or "parent's choice award" somewhere on the packaging, I bought it. I had professional portraits taken once a month, and mailed them out to friends and relatives. I FILLED OUT HER BABY BOOK.

I was horrified when visiting a friend with twin two year olds. She held my innocent baby close enough for them to breathe on her, and I wanted to snatch her away and run for it. I passed judgment on other mothers, albeit in my head. I was critical of obnoxious children and their clueless parents. I was sad for those women who seemed weary and tired, uninteresting in the darling story their child was chirping.

And then I had another baby. And another. And suddenly I realize that I've become those moms I used to scoff at. Actually, I'm probably worse. The burning desire to win a blue ribbon for superior mothering is gone, replaced by the mild surprise that despite my parenting fumbles and lack of blueprints, we're not only surviving, but thriving.

My 20 month old can order her own Happy Meal. I have failed utterly at convincing my children that play time can be quiet and doesn't need to involve destruction. My visions of tidy baskets filled with educational toys have been eclipsed by an explosion of Polly Pocket rubber clothes. My son talks and talks and talks. I am weary, wary and worried. I am full of expectations, frustration and sheer joy at the unpredictable beings I share my life with.

Recent videos are narrated with "Put your tongue away. Back away from the camera. Get off of your sister. Hey, you guys, come on. Stop with the faces. GET YOUR FINGER OUT OF YOUR NOSE!"

I have a whole spate of friends who will deliver their second child this year. In my wicked, know-it-all core, I curl my lip and bark out a derisive laugh when they cheerfully recount the preparations they have taken to prepare for their new arrival. But it's not in my nature to be a naysayer. I hope their transformation to mother of more than one will be as wonderful as mine.

You know you've earned respect amongst your peers when you get a phone call saying "Don't take this the wrong way, but I figured you would know if bird poop is poisonous to ingest..." followed later that afternoon by "Why is my daughter having potty accidents when we are out of the house again?" If it's poop or misbehavior related, I'm the go-to girl. Seen it, done it, cleaned it up. At least twice.

One thing I know for certain: I may not be the best mother out there. I'm not going to win any sainted mother awards. But I'm going to have some rich comedy material for years to come.

Monday, August 09, 2004

True Identity

My 20 month old received her first pair of boots from my mom yesterday. Not just any, boots, mind you - pink cowboy boots with silver stars. This gave my inner cowgirl a thrill, and she seemed pretty darn pleased. She pranced around, giddy at the sight of her twinkin' toes.

Once we got home, she asked me to take them off. I placed them on the hall bench at bedtime.

I waddled into the kitchen this morning with my usual trail of ducklings, and as we passed the bench, the baby grabbed the boots. She wouldn't let me put them on her feet. She wanted them on her arms, where she waved them around like she was conducting an orchestra while singing,

"Winkle, winkle, STAR, wunner ARE, uppa-bubba-HIGH, mmmmmm SKY!" This was followed by an instrumental version, consisting of growling the tune while banging the boots on the cupboards.

(We're still working on the lyrics, obviously. We're thinking American Idol 2018.)

I really need a pair of pink cowboy boots with silver stars. Sometimes you just want to let the world know who you are without saying a word. I can't think of a better piece of apparel that would tell it like it is:

Unbowed by fashion convention.
Likes shiny things.
Values humor above all.
Secretly gallops and slaps hip when no one is looking.
Basically, a dork.
Prone to emitting "Wahoo!" as a multipurpose response.

Of course, I'm sure I'll never get them. Just like I'll never get a tattoo that doesn't wash off or place a bumper sticker on my car. Spend a few minutes with me and decide for yourself whether I'm "SEXY" or that "IT'S ALL ABOUT ME"... no need to rely on my tshirt's opinion.

It's like all these internet quizzes. We all take them. Do I think they tell me anything valuable, or are truly revealing? Heck, no. What country are you? What 80s rock band? What is your flirting style? Are we searching for affirmation of who we are, or looking for new ways to define ourselves?

"Why yes, I'm Ireland. Also, I'm a coy cutie, with a Def Leppard streak." I would love to know if anyone puts this information to good use. It is just another symptom of my flair for wasting time on the internet.





Saturday, August 07, 2004

What day is this? Where am I?

I'm ready for the hubs to come home now. I've lost track of all time. Even the little things are out of whack. Night and day seem to have melted like some freaky twilight. I have served strange meals, at strange times, to children who don't seem to know that two o'clock in the morning is the WRONG time to be awake. We are clearly not right.

"Silly fool," you say? "Just keep putting them back in bed, as many times as it takes." Sounds great. But we're resigned co-sleepers from way back. We start the kids off each evening in their own beds, but the 3 am migration and subsequent family bonding has me stiff and sore each morning.

Oh, sure. You'll hear me testifying on the beauty of a king sized mattress, glory hallelujah! I pontificate on the benefits of extended breastfeeding, of baby-wearing and most things AP. However, I spent the wee hours of the morning in the company of a 20 month old child who had places to go, people to see and very specific things she wanted to watch on TV, "Now. NOW!" and I'm exhausted.

It dawned on me that my youngest hasn't nursed in a few days. I think we're done. It was a non-event, like so many of the milestones I've crossed with this last baby of mine. Suddenly, she's got a mouth full of teeth, an opinion on everything and the beginnings of the vocabulary to get it all said. She just hasn't asked to nurse, and I just haven't offered.

I had big plans for the final nursing. The bittersweet pangs, the last time seeing my child at my breast, with her pudgy hand resting in my cleavage. I thought I'd utter something profound, to mark the occasion, perhaps a sentimental verse. I planned to have a bonfire with my well-worn nursing bras.

I'm actually relieved to have missed the moment. Sentimental moments tend to feel contrived. I shed a few tears writing this, but there is pride in completion, too. I actually had a child self-wean. Woooo! Score one for my crunchy alter-ego.

121 weeks pregnant. 53 months nursing. A child entering kindergarten, one entering preschool (if I can get him to stop crapping his pants) and one now weaned. When you bust all the numbers out, it's pretty impressive. These little statistics are thriving, and I'm so scattered that I need to blog it as it happens to keep it straight.

I am SO going to celebrate this rest-stop in my mothering road trip. Its all good.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Never Made Employee of the Month

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I've mentioned that I'm a lousy employee. Working for The Man generally involves regular schedules and pantyhose or a polyester uniform. I know the Japanese have entire fetish books dedicated to food service uniforms, but they made me itch. Poly-blend pants don't flatter, if you know what I mean.

Over the years, there have been many memorable moments in my illustrious quest for a paycheck. Flirting with the cute boys from Foot Locker with a glob of chocolate chip on the side of my nose while slinging cookies for Mrs Fields. Selling a costume to the man of my teenage dreams while dressed like Bozo the Clown at a Halloween kiosk. The boss who honestly thought my name was Cindy, and made a point of using it every time he passed my desk. "Well, hell-low Cindy." Yeah, hello, jackass. I have a sign ON MY DESK that has real name on it.

I've held some of the stupidest jobs ever. Cooking hot dogs on a used car lot for customers during a big sale? Check. Worked as a greeter at the same lot... yeah, that's right. I was so cool. "Hello, folks, I'm a nice young lady, and I'm not trying to sell you anything, but if you'll kindly tell me what y'all are here for, I will fetch a salesperson down here to harass you."

I was a telemarketer for a month. We were supposed to be selling tickets for some sort of fundraiser, and we were calling from the white pages in the phone book. Guess who got the page with 100 'Dick' listings? God, I almost wet myself trying to keep it cool. "Good evening, Mr. Dick. Uh, hello, is this the Dick residence?"

Hands down, the worst incident had to be during my stint as a bank teller. I'm barely five feet tall, and I sat on a high stool at my teller window. It was lunch hour during the holidays, and customers were getting really cranky. We had a policy that if you waited in line for more than five minutes, the bank would give you five bucks.

I had just run out of fives when this disgusting man steps to the counter. He was dirty and stinky and pulled a few wadded up bills out of a pocket. He held a filthy finger up at me and proceeded to pull the collar of his tshirt up to his nose and emptied both sinus cavities.

I'm sitting there horrified as he allows his shirt to drop back against his skin. I choke back my revulsion and say "Deposit?" in a perky voice. He grunts "I been in line like twenty minutes. I want my fiver."

"Why certainly, sir," I chirp and lean down to my bottom cupboard to look for another banded stack of five dollar bills. As I straightened up, I misjudged the edge of my counter. I whacked the back of my head with a resounding boom that apparently echoed throughout the branch. I didn't get the full effect, since I plummeted from the stool like I was dead.

I was out cold, laying splayed on the floor. When I came around, I realized that I had just knocked myself cold and no one noticed a thing. I sat up, looked around at my fellow bank slaves, and they were so busy being grossed out by my customer (he was now digging for gold and making hairball noises) that they didn't see my spectacular idiocy. Even my customer seemed unconcerned.

Turns out he was just there for the five bucks, he didn't even have an account with us. I gave it to him anyway, then bummed a couple of tylenol and headed out to buy a new pair of pantyhose, because yes, I managed to snag mine on the cabinet on my way down.

I pretty much decided I didn't want to be in banking after that. It just didn't feel right.


Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Verdict Is In

Under threat of VERY LONG TIMEOUTS and with the promise of French fries after the appointment, we embarked on our visit to the doctor. I seriously think there is some sort of frenzy inducing noise or smell that only my son can detect, which exists in places where hushed conversation and cranky people abound. Damn. We enter the building and he goes nuts. He's swinging on the ropes. He's jumping up and down on one foot. He races to the germ-filled sick kid toy quarantine area and LAYS HIS FACE down on the magnetic play table.

I'm trying to keep my cool, the receptionist is feeling chatty and taking her sweet time swiping and stamping and gathering. I must have looked like a kid who has to go to the bathroom really bad, because I was sort of hopping up and down, making "you. get. over. here. now." faces at my son, who is blissfully blathering on and on about something to the waiting room at large. They called us almost immediately, and I shepherded all the kids back to the exam room.

The two girls were great. The boy was all over the road. He spun in circles. He kicked off his shoes, he climbed on all the chairs. He talked and talked and talked. After a brief exam and a conversation with the doctor, I watched my son yank open the door, run down the hall to the nurses' station, perform a crazy dance that involved patting his hip and stomping to much laughter and applause, and then disappear around the corner into the scary play area. Mercy.

Dr. Hot Hot Hot says we've got good tonsils and adnoids, no worries there. He wants us to try a decongestant before bed, and nasal steroids in the morning for a while. Hooray! A plan of action. Of course, drugging him morning and night sounds like a plan I would have come up with during one of my blacker moods. I was thinking along the lines of tranquilizer darts and a blow gun, but we'll try the nasal spray first.

Stupid Hand Trick

Do this with me:

Touch your pinky, ring finger, pointer and thumb to a flat surface, and then extend your middle finger straight out.

This, my friends, is what my oldest calls "Longneck Hand."

Kinda looks like a dinosaur, doesn't it?

Chatterbug

We've got a doctor's appointment today for my son. I'm actually thrilled that we are going. He's been such a pain in the butt lately that I am at my wit's end.

Since his late infancy, he's been a lousy sleeper. Actually, he naps most days, and sleeps most nights, but I suspect that he doesn't get enough REM sleep. He flips and he flops. He snores and he grunts. Add that to his fixation on touching the skin tag on my neck, and you get a co-sleeping nightmare.

He wakes with a start each morning. He's like one of those horror movie dolls. His eyes pop open and he starts chattering. "Brontosaurus was the largest dinosaur of the all. He had didn't have a crest on his head. That is the Brachiosaur, right, Mommy? He ate all the leaves in the tops of the trees and made the ground shake when he walked. Mommy? They also called him an Apatosaurus. Mommy, are you a Maiasaura? Was I an egg? Is that silly, Mommy? Mommy?"

I lay there until I can't pretend to be asleep anymore, and then he follows me out to the kitchen, chattering all the way. "Can we have donuts for breakfast, Mommy? Dinosaurs like donuts, right, Mommy? What are you getting there? Does coffee taste good? Can I color? Listen, Mommy! I'm going to tell you the alphabet...(screaming) Aaaaay! Beeeee! Seeeee! Deeeee!"

Lately, I've noticed that midway through one of his monologues, he's usually worked up enough drool that he has to wipe. That, and his epic tantrums lead me to think there is an underlying cause to his 'issues.'

Our pediatrician is great. Dr. Hauptman (or as the kids say "Dr. Hot") is attentive and knowledgeable. I am hopeful that he will help me get a plan of action to help my son get some rest, so he is able to deal with the little disappointments that life dishes out without an outburst.

In other family news, the hubster is off for a business trip for the next few days. We packed the few garments he needed and the 50 different toiletries. He's so funny. He has a whole monologue that we go through every time he has to pack. "Alright, I get in the shower and use the soap, the shampoo and the conditioner. Then I use the shaving cream and the razor. Then deodorant. Hmm, okay, then I use this lotion on my face. Then I brush my teeth. Then floss. Okay..." on and on and on. Why does he have to say this out loud?

I take the bad rap of being the genetic source of my son's rambling verbal stylings. But gee, I think there's another family member who displays this same tendency. Hmm...

It's always interesting when he's gone. I won't dare say it's fun, but the days flow together because we are missing the daily departure and arrival of Daddy. We eat microwave popcorn for breakfast, never have a second of sports on the TV and pretty much relax as much as we can, since about 12 hours into it, I start to get crazy.

I used to have these big bursts of energy, and do psycho amounts of cleaning after the kids dropped off to sleep, but these days I just try to keep my brain in my head and my tongue set on G-rated phrases.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Be careful what you wish for

So, yesterday I was going on about the inspiration to play imaginatively. I seem to get a twisted version of my wishes when I am not specific enough.

*Bares teeth and shakes fist at Parenting Gods*

Starting about one in the morning, the imaginations in my family kicked into overdrive. First my oldest woke up and stumbled into our room. She was half asleep, but was adamant that there was something looking in her window. She saw something, and it freaked her out, and she wasn't going to calm down until we checked it out, and let her sleep with us.

The hubs made his way into the big kids' room. The shade on their window stops about 6" from the window sill, leaving a narrow strip of window visible. I have got to get that replaced. He lifted the shade the rest of the way, gave the yard a thorough visual inspection, and then came back to our bed to reassure her, only to find her sawing logs. We scooted her into the middle of the mattress, and lay back down.

I should add here that the dog, Donna, is hypersensitive to noises outside our home. She is in constant motion through the night, patrolling the house and responding before I do to any kid disturbance. If we had a peeping tom or other uninvited guest, she would make sure everyone was awake and aware. I don't know if she would actually scare someone away, or be an effective protector, but we would at least have a heads-up. I would never leave a door or window unlocked, a sad commentary on the state of the world, but I figure it's better to be safe than sorry.

About five minutes after I finally fell asleep again, I heard shuffling feet enter our room. What now? "Mommy, I saw something in the closet," says my son. Really. Hmm. I grab the Monster Spray (a hair misting bottle, with plain ole water) and head for the closet. As I face down the closet opening, my son stands behind me, arms wrapped tight around my thighs and face pressed into my butt. I glance down at him, and he's got his face scrunched up, with one eye squinting at the closet. A couple of squirts, and I assure my son that nothing could have survived the Monster Spray, and motion him back to his bed.

He pivots on his heel and sprints to my bed. He wedges himself between my daughter and my husband and I decide to not care, since they are all on the hubs' side of the bed, and I can still lay down. Within minutes all three of them are snoring, and I'm watching the minutes change on the digital clock. 1:53. 1:54. 1:55.

"Mama! Mama! Down, Mama! Mamamamamamama Down! Down!" bursts out of the baby's room. Mumbling incoherently, I make my way to her room. She's standing in the crib, and begins to bounce up and down joyfully as I enter. "MA-ma! MA-ma!" punctuates each jump.

I notice my husband didn't draw her shade last night when he put her in the crib. The yard looks all silvery. I turn around to grab a blanket for the baby, and as I turn back, I see an old woman in the window, looking shocked. I stumble back, banging my back into the crib rail and step on a squeaky toy. IT'S MY OWN REFLECTION IN THE GLASS. Great. Apparently, I look about sixty at this time of morning. Luckily, I didn't scream, but it really scared me for a minute.

I got the baby a sippy cup of milk and she settled back down. I collapsed back in my bed at 3:00, and found myself unable to go back to sleep. I got up for good at 4:30 to enjoy the quiet house for a while. I forget what it's like to hear my own thoughts sometimes, and a good dose of silence is a good thing.

The moral of this story is: Imagination, smagination. I need some sleep, because I'm seeing things and my reflection looks like an old woman.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Demolition Derby

And, we're off! The race to keep one step ahead of the kids is on.

We've been awake for a couple of hours, and so far so good. I've managed to slurp down a cup of coffee, get everyone dressed and breakfast made. Of course, it was summarily rejected, and a short list of optional menu items deemed unappealing. This is what happens when you attempt to make donuts at home one stinkin' time. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS! It will sabotage Cheerios, yogurt and scrambled eggs forever.

I've chased the big kids outside to play. We've exceeded our AMA-recommended television limit already today, and I am already hanging on by a fingernail. The late night, unfinished bowl of popcorn abandoned by my husband has already been upended on the floor and duly vacuumed. The Little Tykes shovel full of gravel that my son carried into the kitchen and dumped has been swept up and returned to the yard. My action plan has dissolved into a reaction plan.

I'm exhausted from running a triage ward of a home. I don't know how other moms do it. I feel like I've been juggling a chainsaw, a water balloon and an apple. You have to keep going, because if you lose your concentration, you're either missing a limb or cleaning up another mess.

What do you do with kids who can up-end the couch? Kids that are wild, creative, with imaginary rivers to cross and mountains to climb? I alternate between frustration and enjoyment. I shoo them off of the furniture and direct them outside to the swing set. Once they are outside, I spend my time restricting the scope of their play, killjoy that I am.

"NO, no, get out of the Japanese maple. Climb on your swing set."

"No, no, turn off the hose. You can use this mixing bowl for a lake. Just bury it in the gravel like this. Stop glaring at me. No. You cannot run water into the ground just so you can have a river. Would you like me to help you? No. Fine."

"It's 8 am, please stop screaming. I know you are escaping from Sharp Tooth, but do it quietly."

I'm sure the neighbors just LOVE us.

I always envisioned romping with my children, enjoying their imaginative play and wanting to participate. I do, sometimes, but I am so weary that I don't have a lot of joy in it. I remember being 7 0r 8 and having a great time creating characters and acting out stories with my sister. We reinacted stories, formed clubs with neighborhood kids, and probably drove my mom crazy.

I want to rekindle my playful spirit, before my children are too 'cool' to play with Mom. When all is said and done, I don't want to look back at these years as the slave-labor years. I want to remember laughing until my sides hurt, and eating popsicles on the grass. I sure as hell don't want to remember gravel on the floor at 7 am, or the fact that I too often squash creative play by flicking on the TV in the hopes that all will be quiet for 20 minutes. Thank goodness for Mommy Brain.

I have a nagging suspicion that my little destructos want me to be fun too. I say "not now" and "we'll do it later/this afternoon/after preschool/tomorrow" while I check email, pay bills, and try to get the house in order. I know it all has to be done, but I could restructure my day so that the kids don't have to ask for my attention so often.

I grew up on the books of Eloise Wilkin. The pretty mommies and handsome daddies, clearly defined gender roles and apparently bliss make me feel like a shmuck. Did those Baby Dears ever poop on the linoleum? Did those pretty mommies ever curse like a sailor on a really bad day? What were they taking? Can I get some of that?

With a little bit of luck, a lot of laughing and maybe a cocktail or too, I think I can get back on track. My house probably won't be Wilkin clean, and you are not going to find me in pearls, with a apron tied neatly over my dress as I cook a seven course meal for children who are obediently tiding their room before my husband arrives home. But I can enjoy these years, and take the time to really play.

Monday, August 02, 2004

It was all just a dream

Last night, I woke up with my pulse racing, drenched in sweat. As my heart returned to normal and my body relaxed slowly, I had to laugh about my nightmare.

It was a rainy evening, at home with the kids. My husband was working late. I got everyone dinner, and was settling down to read a book to the kids when my husband arrived home. He said "Did you go Trick-or-Treating at the Mall?" I was struck dumb, and looked at him blankly. "It's Halloween, and it's raining. You didn't take the kids around in the neighborhood in the rain, did you?"

I dreamed I forgot about Halloween. *Shriek*

This comes on the heels of purchasing adorable but pricy costumes off of eBay for my yahoos. Another pre-kid vow was to make unique, special costumes for my children for Halloween each year. Oh, right. I can't even find a free minute to sew on a button. I'm SO not going to be able to whip out a costume. Unless they want to be a ghost or a hobo. I am not sure a hobo is politically correct.

I tried the costumes on the kids last night, and they loved them. They are all going to be dinosaurs. At least, that's the plan now. I'm sure once my kindergartener gets into school, she'll want to be a pretty princess or something. But for now, she still likes growling and escaping from 'sharp tooth.' As I was zipping them up, my daughter looks me up and down and says, "Mommy, what are you going to be?"

"I haven't really thought about it," I replied. "What do you think?"

"You're a perfect witch," said my helpful child.

Yeah, great. I'll pretend she means a cool Harry Potter witch, but I think she meant wart on the nose, snaggle toothed wicked witch, since she hasn't read HP yet. I'm afraid to ask.




Sunday, August 01, 2004

Blackberry Days

My married home is a mere seven miles from my childhood home. While navigating the country roads that link my present with my past, memories flow over and around me.

The blanket of fog still rests lightly on the West County ridges. The blackberry bushes along the roadside are heavy with berries. For the first time in a week, I am alone. I turn off the radio and open the window to enjoy the silence and the moist, cool air. Here and there along the roadside, I pass local families in colorful outfits, buckets swinging from berry stained fingers. Happy shouts of discovery echo in my ears. "Look at the size of this one! It's the biggest berry ever!"

It's been years since I stood on tiptoe, carefully reaching past thorns and scratchy leaves to capture the fattest, juiciest berry on the bush. The thought of sun-warmed berry, bursting on my tongue banishes all cynical thoughts. One of life's simplest pleasures, there for the picking in a roadside ditch.

I want to wear a red kerchief over my hair. I want to carry a white pail and feel the early morning mist. I want to revel in the smell of the earth, and see my fingertips turn purple. I want to watch the faces of my children when they eat a sour berry by mistake. I feel the laughter welling up inside me, imagining puckered faces and crinkled noses.

Of course, the worried mom in me wonders if the berries have been tainted with pesticides. We used to give a cursory, dirt removing blow and pop over-ripe berries into our mouths right there on the side of the road. I don't know if I could allow my children to do that. Could I?

After arriving at my parents' house, I discover that the blackberry bushes that drape over the top of their fence are ridiculous with fruit. I can let go of my worries and my children can discover the quiet joy of berries, fresh off the vine. I am wrapped in contentment.

Although we quantify our lives with achievements and important dates, the warm berries and the cold noses are the true measure of our lives. That smooth beach rock kept on a windowsill, the autumn leaves pressed in a book, these are the small souvenirs of a life lived well.