Sunday, May 30, 2010

Prayers, Please.

Prayers for Grandma, please.  Having surgery this morning for a broken leg. Darn!!

The Ass.

MOTH and I had a date in the living room last night.  Our kind of date.  We watched a movie after the kids were in bed.  Comedy.  Couples Retreat from ON DEMAND.  Cute flick, but this is the line that still has me chuckling.  It happens at the end of the movie, when each couple is being award an animal spirit to represent their relationship.

The Ass.
Stubborn and immovable, the mighty ass tirelessly bears the heavy burden of others.  But, when the ass is on the move, nothing can stop the ass. 
Be an ass for your marriage.
Be an ass for your children.
Be an ass for love.

See, I've told you all, friends and family, a million times . . . . I married an ass.  Now, I'm peppering his email with ass email & clip art.  I'm already searching for a craved wooden ass for his nightstand.

Friday, May 28, 2010

See Grandpa Roy: CHECK

Check.  As in, check that off the summer list.  I loaded the kids and headed south today.  Picked up a picnic, an old man & some cool refreshing beverages, paid a state park entrance fee.  That six bucks was well worth the fresh air, wiggle time and  photographic opportunities.  Ninety-one years looks pretty darn good on this old kodger.   It's not every day you get your picture taken with an old fart, so here's the proof . . . .

The missing phase . . .

From email . . . I'm told I missed a phase.  Ha.  My tiny toddler doesn't do this one, so it was easily overlooked, but I did leave out 'the flop'.  It's nestled right between concrete feet & going boneless .  . kind of a boneless floor version where some synapses work intermittantly and the feet kick.   I'm told some young folk bang their fists. 

Thanks, friend for the ray of light.  If there was ever a glass-half-full moment, it was when I read that email & realized my little darling wasn't face down on the greasy door mat of Wendy's kicking her feet and banging her fists, too!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Unprecedented. And THE PHASES.

Tonight, I had something happen to me that is positively unprecendented.  Never.  Never.  NEVER in my whole parenting life has this happened.  I'm absolutely gobsmacked.
Rewind for full story:

We're at the pool, killing time in the witching hours before dinner and the bedtime routine.  Kids are playing Monkey in the Middle, Mimi is happily singing into a noodle.  We spent a good hour of wet, wet wiggle time.  Then, loading the car and gearing towards dinner, Mimi says, "Mimi in back." 

Well, already having them all loaded, I responded, "Next time, Baby . . . I'll move your carseat back."

Low blood sugar coupled with post-swimming and just flat out not getting what she wanted.  Can any other parent smell a meltdown coming?  She starts crying. Crying is phase one.   Crying becomes screaming. Screaming is phase two.  Mimi can partially unbuckle her own carseat, so she's hanging out of the top buckle, leaning forward at a very sharp, belly-smashing angle. She's practically got herself cut in two. I saw this one coming, so she's also pissed off that I slapped a carabeener on her straps to help keep her in her seat.  By the time I'm pulling into Wendy's for the other kids, she's in full blown piss-fit mode.  Choking sobs between screams of "I sit back seat."   Choking sobs between screams is about where spoken words fly out the window.  That's phase three. 

Stupid, right.  But, so's the life of toddler-ness.  It was important to her.   Phase three, I think, is the point of no return.  Once a kid (mine included) gets to phase three, you have to decide (as the responsible adult) . . . who's gonna win this one?  If you choose the responsible party as the victor . . this is the point where you have to buckle up and hang on . . . because you're about to be frustrated.  Very, very frustrated.  And there will be nothing you can do in phases four and five except ride the wave.   If I have learned any one thing in the last decade of parenting, it is this:  Choose your battles.  Win the ones you pick.

Back to the story:  I pause and assess.  I have to win this one.  I have four other kids with me (one is a friend of Middle's).  In my arms, she's much better, but still has the back seat in the fore front of her brain.   As I set her down in the parking lot, phase four happens.  I've probably elluded to it before.  This is a short phase . . . the riverdance moment.  The little size 8's stomp up and down like she auditioning for Lord of the Dance.  Phase four only lasts for a brief time, but leads right into phase five.  It's the phase that MOTH calls "concrete feet."  It's the phase where her feet are suddenly rooted to the ground and her ankles are poured in concrete.   The knees hyperextend, the body leans forward.  She looks like the old York peppermint patty commercials where they l.e.a.n. forward at that precarious angle.  Arms become gorilla glued straight along the sides.  Stiff as a board.   For a kid, concrete feet is a show of their will.  It's a physical display of "I'm not moving, you'll have to come get me."

Concrete feet piggybacks into phase six, which I call "going boneless".  This is the part of the ordeal when despite concrete feet, you have to pick up and move forward, but as you lift the child onto hip level, the suddenly have no infrastructure.  Their legs are limp, head falls back, arms go dead.  It's like a tiny blackout, but for the purpose of repeating phase five, concrete feet.  The boneless phase can be so sudden that is sometimes takes you by surprise.  It actually feels (for a minute) like the small one isn't breathing.  You'll look at them in alarm, and just long enough to see them slide down your leg, land on the ground, still boneless, in a heap of child that looks like yours, but acts like a tiny demon. 

The tantrum part of it, especially if you are parenting in a public arena (like Wendy's) is a cycle of concrete feet and boneless baby with wails and intermittant words mixed in.   The holler changes.  Suddenly, the kid sounds like a cheerleader at the homecoming game.  Deep, gutteral, raw-throat hollering kicks in.  This is the phase where other adults around you start sweating and telling you things like, "Somebody's not happy."   Hmm.  Phase seven.

"Somebody's not happy" always amazes me.  (Cause, really?  I hadn't noticed.)   Or, "I'm sorry."   (Yeah, me too.)  Here's a good one:  "Do you think you should help her?"  (This actually happened tonight . . . my response . . "Uh, no.  She'll be fine.  She's learning."  My all time favorite bystander comment, regardless of tantrum or not is "Wow, you've got your hands full."  People say this to me if all the children have tiny halos glowing around their heads.  (My standard reply, by the way, is, "I know, and I left the triplets at home.")

Ok, back to unprecedented.  Tonight, at Wendy's, in the heat of the boneless-concrete feet cycle, a strange woman came to my child and plucked her up off the ground.  The mama in me says, "Whoa . . . whoa . . . I've got this."  Lady responds, "Oh, I just love children."  Mama Bear is coming out and I pop off, "I understand, I love children too.  Especially my own, which is why I'm teaching her how to behave in public places.  Please put her down."   For the record, for my disfunctionally bashful child to suddenly find herself nearly six feet in the air, teetering on a wedge heel the likes of which I've never seen, and wrapped up in a bright moo-moo and a hair weave, just gave her a whole new thing to holler about.    Note to strangers:  don't pick up strange kids.  Jay-zuz H. Christ.  Mind your own damn business.

On to more unprecedented.  Only a few good lung fulls of air and bellows later, some jackass offers my screaming child a friggin' balloon.  A latex balloon.  Perfect.  Listen, I'm fairly lax about alot of parenting things.  I let my kids eat popcorn before they really were supposed to.  Mimi chews bubble gum.  She does stairs and she rides a scooter.  When we are living dangerously, and in the safety of our flat back yard patio, without a helmet.  But balloons, I don't do well.  As a young nurse in my pediatric rotation, I took care of a two year old kid that had a balloon.  He was holding it up to his face, like kids do with balloons, and his jagged little teeth popped it.  He inhaled a chunk of balloon.  By the time paramedics transported him, he was brain dead.  Bringing him back to the living side resulted in a lifetime of around the clock care, tubes, drains and parents that stood at his bedside looking pale, nauseated and exhausted.   On a side note, in this specific situation, I'm deep into phase six-slash-seven of a full blown tantrum.  No balloon in the world is gonna fix this.  It could be a hot air balloon tied to the other side of a rainbow, loaded down with fine swiss chocolate and tightly packed non-sequential 10's and 20's.  The kid wants to ride in the back seat.  Your balloon ain't gonna do nuthin' for her.  Again,  Jay-zuz H. Christ.  Mind your own damn business.

The kids all pitched in to tote my load of kids meals out to the car.  I, of course, was toting a beat-red, eyes-swollen, throat -so- raw-it-might-close-shut boneless Mimi out.   Sheer exhausting was taking over, but I can't close a tantrum post without phase eight. My lucky number.  Reckoning and button pushing.   Every kid is different.  I know this because all of mine have been different.  But, every kid has a button to push.  Every kid has that one thing that makes them pause, breathe, listen.  This phase will fall on it's face without knowing the button.  Mimi's button is helping.  She helps with everything.  "I help you" comes out of her mouth dozens of times per day.  For Mimi, reckoning is "Are you having fun yelling like this?"  She always answers, "no".  "Are you getting what you want yelling like this?"  She always answers, "no."   "Do you want to help me?"  The answer is always a resounding, "YES!"

She gets to help when the tears are gone and she can look at me and hold eye contact.  Tonight, once she pulled it together, she fed the dogs and helped clear the table.  For Mimi, isolation doesn't work.  Time out in her room doesn't work.  Being alone escalates the situation or starts a whole 'nuther situation.

I'm rambling now, but did manage to get my unprecedented encounters out today.  And, my assessment of tantrum phases.  My presence is being requested.  They need more popcorn & Mimi needs to go to bed . . . . . Perhaps I'll follow up with more later . . . .

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lord, please give me the strength of stomach to continue to mop vomit from my offspring.
Please give me the strength of body to make it through another day with minimal sleep.

75% of the little darlings have had the amazing 18-hour vomitrocious bugaboo.  Only one to go.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday . . .

Today, I'm suffocating under a strange melancholy.  I've been super productive.  I gave a presentation this morning, had back to back meetings at school, where my children were portable and undenyable darlings.  They ran errands, cleaned classrooms, were nicely mannered & withstood an extra hour of stuff without whining, complaining or melting into puddles.   We had a great 'mommy and me' lunch.  We ran into a fellow mommy-of-four-girlfriend from many years ago.  It was great to reconnect.  More, it was great to just connect with someone who gets the busy part of 'all of these kids' and can leave the judgement and competiton at the door.  We spent part of their report card cash at PetSmart (it it PETSmart or PetSMART??) buying African Dwarf frogs.  We came home.  The kids are playing perfectly together today.  I'm wearing my accountant role. I'm moving piles from the left side of my computer to the right.  That's my system.  I booked a family vacation.  I found a dog-sitter.   I recorded checks, finalized a calendar, did a vet reference for an adoptive dog-family and ordered postcards for back-to-school social while prices are good. 

But . . .

It's there always a but.  I'm bummed about something that's just outside my mental grasp.  It's been rattling around in my mind like nuts in a bucket for a couple of days now.  Can't . . . seem . . . to . . . . put . . . my . . . finger  . . . on . . . it.   Here's what I think it is:  it came to my attention that some bad things were said about me.   I think my feelings got hurt.  It may seem like I'm a super tough mommy, but the truth is . . . my super suit isn't made of the thickest skin.  I'm just as tender hearted as I was when I was four.  When people say things about me, my style, my house, my life, my size, my ass, my clothes, my kids . . . . my lil ole feelers get hurt.  I sort of retreat for a while.  I think lots of tender folks do.  I know that's what my kids do.  And then, once the sting has dissipated, we get pissy.   So, I'm kinda pissy.  I'm pissy that I've let it get to me.  And I'm pissy that I found out.  Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.  I'm pissy to have been compared to someone else in a style that shouldn't (and honestly, doesn't) matter.  I'm pissy at competition and that someone else's competitive nature and need to be on top has tromped me down. 

I'm also pissy about one other critical thing.  I'm making note of a new revelation.  I've made a discovery.  I don't know how to be a friend like this.  I don't know how to be a friend to a person like this.  And the question left hanging out there:  do I want to? 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The 1st day of Summer Break . . .

We had our first official day of summer break yesterday.  Official.  It's official.  Meaning:  summer is HERE for me and the youngin's AND  it's official.  I'm officially the momma of a 5th, 3rd & 1st grader.  We have a tradition in our house in the summer.  Everyone gets a new summer journal.  Last week, I picked up a journal for every kid.  Mimi is into birdies right now.  She's a birdwatcher extraordinaire.  So, hers has "tiny birdies" on it.  Robots and wide rules for Little.  Pink and purple with a cool pen holder & lots of pockets for Middle.  Mature, spiral bound blue floral for Big. 

Yesterday's prompt was:  "List or write about 5 things you want to do this summer."  It's the same prompt at the beginning of every summer.  It lets me to know to cross off the zoo if it's not at the top of the "want-to-do" list.  It's always interesting to see where the children's priorities lie.  I, for example, want to go on a cruise, lay on a beach, have a get away.  I can't help but wonder when that need to flee and break the routine of LIFE becomes important TO THEM.  For now, I reckon, just the break in routine from school, school, testing, lunch, recess, school is enought.  Here is the summary. 

Middle says:
1.  eat ice cream
2.  go swimming (alot, please)
3.  see a girlfriend that my kids call "Aunt Kris"
4.  play with waterballoons in the backyard
5.  go on the railway

Big, the overachiever who listed more than 5 and was very specific, says:
6.  both zoos (our local and the one in the capital)
7.  go see Grandpa Roy
8.  another vote for the cog railway
9.  watch movies:  Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and Shrek, The Final Chapter
10.  another vote for Aunt Kris
11.  visit a national park or monument, she listed Rocky Mountain, Dinosaur or Mesa Verde

Little says:
12.  play videogames
13.  get ready for 1st grade
15.  get a "wrkowt" in (soon to be 1st grade translation:  workout)
16.  build with legos
17.  play on the plasma car

Mimi says:
18.  go "eye-side" (momma translation:  go outside)
19.  "go at the zoo"  (cute:  she has 'to' and 'at' mixed up)
20.  see Abby (she calls my mom Abby, which is actually the name of her dog . . . so clearly confused on that too, but my mom finds it positively adorable, and now all the kids have begun calling her Abby)
21.  eat "pos-kulls"  (momma translation:  eat popsicles . . . gotta love otter pops new ALL juice ones)
22.  "swingslide"  (she says both very clearly, but mashes them together) 

And there you have it.  Day one of summer, and by the end of the day, we had done 16,17, 18, 21 and 22. Sweet.  And, in preparing for the rest, I put some movies in the netflix queue, scheduled a trip to see dad this week and made a date with another family to do the local zoo this week.   I'm putting the cog railway on our calendar on a day when MOTH can come, too.  Today, I'll feed them ice cream and might take them to the pool.  (Poool time depends on whether or not Mimi pukes on me again.  I realize that's another post, but 5 am came early and in a pool of toddler cough-vomit.  She shot her paci right across the room.)  That will take care of 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 19.  If I'm really crazy today, I'll turn on the Wii and ex off number 12, too.  Not bad, for 48 hours into summer break, right?

Friday, May 21, 2010

There's nothing worse . . .

To quote a friend, "There is NOTHING worst than early morning/middle of the night dog shit. The only thing that even comes close is waking up to the sound of the dog puking, then when you jump out of bed to let them out, you feel it squish between your toes."

This morning, I can match the "comes close".  Last night went like this:

8:00 pm Grey's Anatomy.  Attention all children:  Do NOT come to me unless you are vomiting or on fire.  I'll be right here until 10 pm.  Daddy is home.  Seek him out if you need a drink, a snuggle or someone to wipe your bottom or power suck the bad dreams out of your noggin.

10:20 pm  I'm still sitting in front of the news, dazed by the epic fiinale of Grey's.

11:00 pm  I'm desperate for sleep, but also want to read my book.

11:20 pm  Sleep

11:48 ;pm  Little at the side of the bed.  "Momma, I dropped the toilet paper in the potty." 
"It's okay,"  I tell him, "that's where it is supposed to go when you're done with it."
"No, mamma," he's telling me, "the WHOLE roll is in the potty."

Fearing a massive septic uprising in the middle of the night, I rise to fix and notice that MOTH isn't in bed yet.  "Good," I think.  "I hope he sees it and that no other potty-requiring emergency occurs before he extracts the Charmin."

11:52  Wrap Little in my arms, thinking MOTH will carry him back to bed when he comes up to bed AND take care of the glob of potty paper swimming in the can.

12:46 am.  Middle at the side of the bed.  "Mom, I don't feel good."
"What kind of not good, honey . . . Are you gonna hurl?"
She can only muster a nod as she takes off at Mach 7 for the toilet.  In the last hour, I've been asleep, so I missed the Charmin extraction. It seems like a good idea to pray.  Otherwise, I'm waking MOTH up to play plumber while I wear my nursing hat with Barfy McUpchuck.  The good news is:  (a) MOTH did carry little back to bed, so I didn't have to creep over him to get to Barfy; (b) MOTH indeed did notice and extract the Charmin (I'm thinking, 'whew! as I'm watching chicken and corn come forth).  The bad news is:  she missed. 

1:06 am.  Round two is out.  The spots on the carpet are cleaned up,  towels in the a pile for the laundry, bathtub cleaned out to provide a bigger target, pillow bed made on the floor by my side, chuck bucket nestled snugly in the crook of Middle's arm.  Cool rag on forehead.

1:40 am.  "Mom, I need you."  Repeat above, minus the Charmin & miss.

2:08 am.  "Mom, I need you."  Repeat above.

2:50 am.  "Momma?"  Repeat\ above.

3:15 am.  "Mommy . . it HURTS!!" Repeat above.

Then came two glorious hours of rest.  Until . . .

5:32 am.  "Momma, Tana pooped."
"What?"  And as I peer over I think to myself, Tana is a 30 pound dog.  How did she produce a 30 pound shit?  I say, "No, that wasn't Tana . . . couldn't be."
Middle says, "Yea, I saw it . . she totally farted that big one out."
The smell has me going now.  I'm waking MOTH (he did, after all, get to sleep though the events of Barfy last night).  Hmm.  Mimi is between us.  Little is cuddled up on his side.  We're all up now, the kids are looking at the massive pile of crap.  Barfy is headed back for the potty.  I'm searching for pet cleaner & old towels.  Tana is now hiding in the kitchen.   MOTH is pretty much pacing around cursing. 

Here's the crucial husband-wife exchange for a post-puke-filled night. 
He says, "She's sick now, too?" 
I say, "What do you mean, TOO?"
He says, "Wasn't Little up?"
I say, "No, Little was tucked in beside you . . . sleeping apparently."
He say, "Well, she just got up around 5, right."
And this is the point where time frame doesn't matter, replaying events really isn't that fun and the only thought left in my head is:  it's a damn good thing there's two of us.  One for the night shift.  One for the morning shift.  One for the kid shits.  One for the dog shits.

Hours later, Barfy is still hurling.  She's half sick OF being sick and half sick AT being sick.  This day would have earned her Perfect Attendance, and yearbook signing was today.  She's been saving all of her "good kid" tickets so she can put them in the drawing the last day of school thereby increasing her chances of winning the stuffed school mascot. 

I have that funny feeling in my face.  Like my nose is confused with my eyes which can't remember what I ate.  Truth is, I haven't eaten much.  Because the rancid scent of dog shit is in the back of my throat, as if I ate it.  Obviously, I didn't but it's stuck there from breathing it in . . . .

So, friends . . . how's your day going?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dear CB,

Today, I tried (and I think I was successful) in opening up the comment feature so you do not have to log in with a gmail account to leave a comment.  Could you please try to leave a comment & see if you get an error message?


We interrupt this program . . .

to bring you a special alert.  Stop what you are doing.  Now.  Go buy this book and read it immediately. 

It's been a while since I read a GOOD book.  No, I've read plenty of good books.  But a totally new, fresh, different idea book.  Something an unique as Harry Potter, as in love as the Twilight Series . . . .

And this is a good one . . . book one of a trilogy (book three isn't out yet), so it could keep even an avid reader going for a couple of weeks  . . .

Egg-a-naut Model #092799

This morning, Mimi and I went for a long walk.  Primary purpose:  view the egg-a-naut launch this morning & support Big's maiden space mission.  

Shall I explain?  Twas a 4th grade project.  Join the Space Program.  Create a vessel that will protect your egg-a-naut (ie:  a raw egg) when it is dropped off the roof of the school.  Name your egg-a-naut.  Dress your egg-a-naut.  Create a model number and mission statement.  Develop a plan for safe atmospheric entry and return to the ground.    Follow a whole bunch of other rules the highlights of which are:  limit the vessel to 6 inches x 6 inches.  No parachutes.  No flotation devices or balloons.

So, Big's been working on her egg-a-naut.  Naming the pilot was good for all sorts of good egg jokes.  I think Sunny Side-A-Bacon won in the end.   Yesterday's test launch was successful, but it's really hard to duplicate that kind of fall.  The top of the school building is HIGH. 

Fast forward to this morning.  They split the fourth grade classes in a competion against each other.  Class with most survivors wins.  Two classes at a time.  One of the teachers goes up on the roof, uses a bullhorn to announce which egg-a-nauts are launching while the kids watch & cheer from below. 

Over 120 Egg-a-nauts launched this morning.  Survival rate was about 70%.  That's high.  Some were really cool.  One kid wrapped his in twinkies.  A girl from our neighborhood sacrificed a nerf football, carved out a spot for her traveler & strapped it back together.  One was packed in peanut butter.  One was padded with water balloons.  There were some awesome, innovative ideas!!

Here's the launch of Big's Egg-a-naut . . . . (hers is the small one on reader's left)

Followed by the celebration . . . . it survived!!

And this picture of Mimi sitting with Big and all of her friends was just too cute not to post . . . .

The Story of Arnold

Second Graders had a unique final project this year.  They were assigned an African Animal, given a research guide and told, "do a presentation".  

Middle came home with her assignment and said, "my animal stinks."  
"Is it a warthog?", I asked. 
"Is it the very rare and seclusive African dwarf skunk?", I asked. 
"No." (With a Maa-aaa-ooom!!)

Turns out, it's an impala (aka, dumb-ole-deer). 

So, I ask the girl, "Okay, what can you do to make it fun?  It's not a giant paper so do a fun project & learn something cool about it.  I'm sure there is SOMETHING cool about this dumb-ole-deer."    Later, she says to me, "I want to make an impala."  

I dismiss her mildly with, "Mmm-hmm.  Out of what?"

She says she doesn't know yet, but it's going to be awesome.  The next day she says, "I've always wanted to do paper mache."

"Really?", I'm thinking . . but honestly scratching the back of my mind to the solar system I made in my days of elementary school & thinking, 'it wasn't that bad, right?'

So, off she goes to make an impala.  She googles the process and starts building a form.  So in love she falls with the impala that she names him Arnold before he's even formed.   She's hanging out the recycle bin, ass and feet kicking in the air, talking to the bottom of the bin . . . 'this will make a good leg.'

About one hour, one roll of masking tape, some newspaper & papertowel and a WHOLE bunch of duct tape later, she has a form.  Meet Arnold.  Phase One.

That's a syrup bottle.  And a chopped off two-liter soda bottle for the neck.  A cold medicine cardboard box for one ear.  The other is the ear box is from lemonade airborne.  Dreft bottle for the chest is glued to an apple juice jug on the bum-side.  Gatorade bottles on the legs taped to toilet paper tubes in the back, paper towel tubes in the front.

We made paper mache.  I helped with this part.  It requires boiling water and more hands are helpful.  (See recipe at the bottom for future crafting adventures.)

Insert adorable photo of crafter-slash-project-do-er with blossoming project.  The BEST part of this series of pictures were the numerous (on the order of 80) pictures SHE took of the animal form doing numerous activities like climbing stairs, watching TV & meeting her stuffed animals.   Also cute were the many, many pictures she tried to take via outstrecthed arm of herself with Arnold the Impala.

Sunday morning, I awoke to a strange sound. A ball . . . rolling? No rattleling. I was trying to figure it out before I opened my eyes. Is that a leapster? The iPad? A tin can? The TV. I finally opened my eyes to see what it was and there is Middle, standing next to the bed shaking a bottle of spray paint. "Oh, good, you're awake," she says, "Can I paint Arnold yet?"

"Honey," I say, "It's 6:14 am.  Most parents wouldn't let their kid come near that toxic stuff.  Do you know that daddy had to show his ID just to purchase it??  You, sweet girl, must AT LEAST wait until 9 am to paint Arnold . . . Mommy needs coffee."

Sidenote:  things change in the world of parenting when kids can (1) read; (2) tell time; and (3) count money.  That's a separate post.  Suffice it to say that at 9:02, she was shaking that can of paint again and heading for the front door.

With Arnold's fresh coat of buckskin satin drying in the sun, she crafted up a makeshift Impala family album, used double the amount of really necessary stickers, an entire glue stick and a the rest of my color print cartridge finding pictures of impalas doing dumb-ole-deer activities online.  She practiced her schpeel, put the finishing paint touches on Arnold and headed to school with him tucked under her arm on Monday morning. 

Here's the finished product, who has (at least for now) a temporary home on the bookshelf in the living room. 

I'd be amiss in my parenting if I didn't say that she did learn something cool about impalas.  They are the only hoofed animal that groom each other.  And they have a black "m" on their butts.  Middle thought that was for "mm-pala".  Actually, ticks are attracted to that warmer, darker fur and it's location is conveniently located right inside tick-picking range.  It allows them to preen ticks off their butt before the get sick & die of disease.  Snazzy, right. Baby impalas can hide in wooded areas & survive. 

Bravo, Middle (and Arnold)

Recipe for paper mache:
Bring 2 cups of water to boil.  In a separate bowl, add 1/2 cup of all purpose flour to 2 cups of cold water.  Mix well.  Add to the boiling water and bring the entire concoction to boil again.  Establish a good rolling boil, then remove from heat.  Add 3 tbsp of sugar.  Mix well.  Let cool.  Drag strips of torn newspaper through the mixture.  Pass them between two fingers to remove excess mache & apply to form.  Allow to cool & harden.  Then paint or decorate.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A makeshift parade

 Really.  Isn't that just cute?  There are seven girls here, all in a semi-marching-band-like formation.  These are the wonderful daughters of Swiss Miss, who is the sister of my neighbor Frankie.   On the day before departure, it's become a tradition (can we call it that yet?) to have one last jump on the trampoline, play one last game of kickball, and (for J, the oldest), hang out with Moose one last time.  The trek between our houses is . . uh, three doors . . . but I find this photo adorable in the simple snapshot kind of way.   Leading the pack are J, on the left & A, middle daughter of Swiss Miss.  In the middle row are Big & V, the youngest of the swiss darlings.  Flower child is tucked between them in the stripey hoody.  Bringing up the rear is Middle and Mimi . . . .

Sunday, May 16, 2010

That Kind of Contagious Beauty . . .

Gorgeous, right.  I have two in my yard and they are nearly in full bloom.  Full, beautiful, gorgeous bloom.  They are breathtaking.  The kind of beautiful that makes you stop walking on the sidewalk.   The kind of beauty that you have to stand beside, gaze upon and take long visual drinks in.  They are fragrant and the color is bold and bursts into the most glorious contrast against a clear spring sky.  And their beauty is contagious.  It's the kind of feeling that makes me feel wam inside and gorgeous on the inside.    I'd like to bottle that feeling so I could spritz my bosom and uncap a tiny piece of paradise at will.   They are fabulous.  Just fabulous!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Da Boyz

The Pilot Cousin came to town for a family reunion and celebration of Grandma's 100th birthday.  Little fell in love.  My youngin's have limited experience with cousins.  Wait, let me rephrase that.  Very limited.  Practically none.  The cool factor is high with our Pilot Cousin. 

A.  He's older, therefore, cool.
B.  He flys airplanes.
C.  He drives cars and boats.
D.  He builds with legos.
E.  He plays.  He plays hard & is a good kid-watcher. 
F.  He came for a cousin sleepover.  Ahhh.  Little was in heaven.
G.  He's from far away, which makes him a complete novelty.
H.  He's learning to speak Japanese.

Sidestory:  In the middle of sleepover night, Little snuck up to my room.  Stage-whisper peppered with moderate panic:  "MOM, I can't find MY cousin!!"   Groggy me . . . . "Go look downstairs.  Find the biggest, warmest thing and sleep next to it.  Go."  And in the morning, they were snuggled up like bugs in a rug, Little's favorite stuffed turtle nested between their noggins.  There's always room for Woodchip!!

And, this story came out after Pilot Cousin was gone.  Little had a the guiltiest grin on his face.  He's about to lose a front tooth and it's sticking out at a precarious angle anyway.  He looks kinda goofy and unkept right now, and when a silly grin comes around, that one hillbilly buck-tooth just looks so FUNNY!  So, guilty grin on.  I had to ask, "What up, Bud?"  He says, "Mom, when Pilot Cousin was here, he gave me some stuff to attract chicks."  "Really?", I say.  "Yea, I was helping him pack his bag for the airport and he had this bottle of stuff and he let me put some on my chest right here (motioning to the infinite nothingness between two very tiny, flat, pastel boy-nipples)."   "Awesome,"  I concur.  "The chicks are gonna be all over me tomorrow at school." (Satisfied nod now.)

That's MOTH in the blue.  Hmm.  Handsome.

My favorites . . .

Aside from the gift of motherhood, these babes are the best part of my 'married' family.
J, on the left, is funny, loud & has great kids that my children adore.
B, in the flowers, is funny, louder than J, and the best open-ended question asker I have ever met.
CB, in the peach is my MOTH's twin.  She's Auntie extraordinaire.  **SMOOCH**
BA, on the end, is funny, lounder that J and rivels B, a kickin' singer & overall fabulous!!

They all beat my pants off at Scrabble.  I'm not even brave enough to sit at the same table for card games!!  Truly, (and not just because you might be reading) . . . you guys rock! 


Before I was a Mom

I get this email every year around this time.  I like it, even if it's cheesy.

Before I was a Mom . . .

I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.

I didn't worry whether or not  my plants were poisonous.

I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom . . .

I had never been puked on, pooped on, chewed on, peed on.

I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.

I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom . . .

I never held down a screaming child  so doctors could do tests.

Or give shots.

I never looked into teary eyes and cried.

I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.

I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom . . .

I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put her down.

I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.

I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.

I never knew that I could love someone so much.

I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom . . .

I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.

I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.

I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child.

I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.

Before I was a Mom . . .

I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.

I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment,

Or the satisfaction of being a Mom.

I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much,

Before I was a Mom.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The End of Strings

This week's activities included one really important and ceremonious event for Big:  The End of Strings.   Big's been playing violin for about two years.  After this long, I still don't know why.  She suddenly wanted to play violin.  And she would not stop talking about it.  I recall it being around fall.  That Christmas, she asked Santa for a violin.  Of course, because she's a great kid, Santa delivered a shiny violin with a tightly strung bow in a slick black case.  Months later, we found a teacher and she began lessons.  When she was old enough, she began playing with the school orchestra.  This year, she played up with the fifth grade orchestra.   She plays well.  It doesn't hurt my ears and her recitals have filled me with a pride I never imagined.  I'm not musical.  At all.  My version of music is pressing play on my iPod, and I truly admire the skill required to play and read music.  Playing and instrument and speaking a language . . . two things I've always wanted to do. 

Anway, with the end of violin now present, I snapped these photos.  "Why?", she wanted to know.  I told her it was important for me to commemorate the moment.  I told her she looked pretty and I loved her shirt.  But also, in one of my most current daydreams (maybe more of a wistful flash forward), when she gets a scholarship to play volleyball at some NCAA college and ESPN needs footage from her younger years, I'll have this to hold over her head and embarrass her.  Nice, right?


This isn't a very GOOD post, but I'm making it anyway becasue the photos are worth a gazillion pounds of pure Swiss chocolate. 

Breakfast is bliss around this place.  I love breakfast.  And no, I'm not much of a breakfast fan.  I prefer a smoothie or some sort of weight control shake. Sometimes fruit.  Sometime yogurt.  But I'm not much for a huge breakfast.  However, I LOVE the idea of breakfast.  Making breakfast for my brood of angry butterflies makes me feel maternal, centered and whole.   I adore sending them out the door with their bodies pumped full of healthy stuff and their brains in sponge-mode.  When I close my eyes and think about a time, a scent, a scenario that makes me really, genuinely happy, it's the scent of maple syrup on a kid.  (I know, I know, don't burst my bubble . . . I know that's a symptom of urine disease & some odd, infrequent poisoning . . . the registed nurse in me won't quit, but that's another post.  Please, allow me my bliss.)   Smelling maple syrup at our house isn't a symptom of urine disease.  Usually, it's dribble that has soaked into the front of their jammy shirts or is a web of sticky yum-yum caught in their locks.  It's a side effect of a damn fine breakfast.  It's the smell that goes with a full, happy tummy . . . . .

The Zoo

I went to the zoo today . . . . with 129 kindergarten kids.   I rode the bus.  It was fun.  Exhausting, but fun.  I love field trips.  This trip, I had an easy bunch.  Five kids.  Three boys, two girls.  The girls were like siamese twins.  Half-way through the day, I stopped looking for them individually, and began to look for a pink-slash-grey coat blob.  They were connected at the hip.  And the boys.

Ah, boys run.  They have energy.  They fall alot.  In a zoo like ours, with so many things to see, it's actually the natural boulders that they love.  Climbing, jumping, walking, hopping.  They like to walk on curbs, drag their hands over fences & poke their heads through rails.  They drag their feet, flop around, make machine gun sounds and roar and growl at sleeping animals.  It's a boy thing.  They are all cut from a similar cloth.  After lunch, I actually caught them all scratching & adjusting their "tenders" (as mine calls his), all within the same five minute span.  One tried to pee though the giraffe enclosure.   Several other moms chuckled when I said, "Ah-ahh, zip up, buddy . . this ain't the place!!"

Point:  The zoo is fun.
Point:  One more zoo field trip next week.

And, quotes of the day from the precious minds of six-year-olds.

Little, "Don't disturb the porcupine.  You don't want him to pork you."
Little, "Let's move on, Team, this hippo has bit the dust."   Then, to the rest of the onlookers, "Don't look in this one . . . he's dead, dead, dead.  Gonzo."
Another kid in my group, "Those ponies stink."
And a reply, "Uh, yea.  You'd stink too if you walked around in your poop all day."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oh, to be laughed at . . . .

That's all I have to say. 

Oh, to be laughed at.  


I put it out there to the universe.  I sympathize.  I empathize.  I'm a real-live flesh and blood mommy.  I put my horrors and struggles out there.  And I got laughed at. 

Har-humph.  I'm going to bed.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tantrums 101

I think I need to revisit the chapter on tantrums.  Because, apparently, the tantrum fairy has arrived. 

I tried . . . made a valliant effort, actually, to upload a video of Mimi at her finest.  Apparently, not even the parameters of blogger can allow for such screaming fits.  Anyway, picture a tantrum.  And then muliply that by about 912.  Then square that.  That would be Mimi's volume at fit-pitching-high.  Take the inverse of that, and you have my patience.   Well, perhaps it's not THAT bad.  But, I have to say.

Holy shit.  This kid can pitch one hell of a fit.  And she can keep it going for a . . . long . . . time.  Since these, um, uprisings began about two weeks ago, I've been scratching my memory for how the other kids did this stage.  I know it wasn't like this.  I remember Little pitching a fit.  A fit.  That's one.  Middle and Big were not much for fits or tantrums.  Generally speaking, the big three kids were really even-keeled.  I could always reason with them. I could have talked them off of a cliff by pushing the right button.  Little, for example,  would have done backflips for a peppermint patty. 

Mimi, however, has a fuse that is about one-sixteenth of an inch long.  She's not exactly the master communicator, with her broken, pacifier laden speech.  I try to imagine the frustration of being as bright as she appears to be with a spoken word that is so limited.   I'm certain it would make me holler too.   Even with understanding in her corner, she has a stubborn streak that is Grand Canyon wide.  You need an example, I know you do.   She's fickle in her affection. Sometimes, I am her be-all and end-all.  Other times, she's velcro attached to daddy's knees.  Murphy's law indicates that when she wants daddy, he's surely doing surgery into the wee hours of the morning or simply unavailable.  Likewise, when she wants me, I'm not around.  The other simply will not do!  Last week, despite both our presence, she wanted me to take her pants off at bathtime.  Daddy would not do.  We've been working on this as a team, and I could hear him talking her through it, "Babe, ya gotta take what you can get."  "Daddy can do this for you."   (Insert praise for being world's finest and most patient father in that moment.)  Frustration began and a fit started brewing.   Honery and stubborn little piss that she can be, she sat there hollering and put her pants BACK ON, so that I could then remove them.  Seriously. 

The point.  Right. 

Well, I have two points. 

Point number one.  I'm doing this stage, too. 

Point number two.  Frankie says I should write a book.  So, fellow moms, please pass this along.  Parenting in the 21st century comes with technological advances that work to our advantage.  The very video I attempted to upload to blogger moments ago has become my one of my strongest disciplinary friends.  In the video, Mimi was melting down in the garage.  I simply grabbed my iphone and started videotaping her.  And then played it back for her.  She stopped crying immediately.  In the days since, she watched that video several times over, each time, more concern showing on her face for the little stranger on camera.   We've done alot of talking about what that looks like, what SHE looks like and sounds like . . . such a different image from most photographs of herself that SHE sees.  In most shots, she's posed and pretty  . . smiling and looking adorable.  In most videos, she's doing something adorable like hugging the dog or skating through the kitchen with paper plates taped to her slippers.  This video was horrifying to her.  Using it and talking about it with her has worked to my advantage.  I can almost successfully circumvent a mild-flavored-fit by mentioning the little girl in the video.  Eek. 

Creative disclaimer, because I'm JUST a mom (the very phrase I despise), no authority on parenting:  Yes, I realize it might backfire.  I know that another kid (maybe mine as early as this afternoon) might like the attention and scream in order to be videotaped . . . . but it's a thought.  It's out there.  And in this instance, it's working . . . . . at least for now.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Mother's Day . . . .

Mother's Day is suddenly such an introspective day for me.  I stand in awe of things I never understood about my own mother.  Likewise, I see things emerging in me that I never thought I was capable of executing . . . . . so . . .

Dear Children,

Before you were conceived, I wanted you.
Before you were born, I loved you.
When you were born, I saw your faces and knew I was in love.
Before you were an hour old, I knew I would die for you.
To this day, I will.
I have children I love more than life.
This is true for my wonderful son and all of my daughters.
Thanks for being the children I wanted before I even knew that I did.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

“Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”

Unknown Author

There's a big-ass dog on my back.

Oh, nevermind, it's okay. 
It's just Middle, hiking home with her stuffed animal.  Stuffies were welcome last week at Friday's "read and feed".  She took Polka Dot and plenty of popcorn.

Caption this photo


Little is an expert.

Defined:  Echidnas (pronounced /ɨˈkɪdnə/), also known as spiny anteaters,[2] belong to the family Tachyglossidae in the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. There are four extant species, which, together with the Platypus, are the only surviving members of that order and are the only extant mammals that lay eggs.[3] Although their diet consists largely of ants and termites, they are only distantly related to the true anteaters of the Americas. They live in New Guinea and Australia. The echidnas are named after a monster in ancient Greek mythology. (source: )



And now, honest confession:  Little, this post is for you.  Someday, when you read this entry as a page in a printed journal, it will make you laugh or smile.  Hopefully that will over-ride the emotion you felt when we HAD to throw away "pokey-man".   He's been living with us for almost eight weeks.  He is shriveling and drying up.  Because of the extreme shrinkage, his quills no longer stay in his body.  Quill litter has become a hazard . . . . (see wound between toes on my left foot).  He's forming funky eyes that have cloudy cataracts.  Some people would call that mold.  Either way, it's time for Pokey to go to Kindergarten Project Heaven.   He was a good echidna and I hope that someday, you can visit Australia to see a real live one, too.  And, to circumvent the questions sure to follow:  yes, I might buy your plane ticket.  And sure, I'd love to come along. 


Ute Peacemaker

It's the big day for Big at school.  All 129 fourth graders come in costume, dressed as their character.  They create a museum of live characters and stand before their required visual display.  As other students from the school parade by and press their "button", they recite their 1-2 minutes "schpeel" on their character.

She was a beautiful Chipeta.   And, bonus . . . she was well prepared, didn't stay up late to finish, made her own costume, wrote her own paper & did her own visual display.  It was apparent which students dipped into parent pocketbooks to rent costumes, and which students had the benefit of a parent aide.   Her project was genuine & she did a great job!!  MOTH & I are so proud!!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I'm Busy.

I'm busy.  It's that time of the year.  My family is running.  Literally, running from event to event, passing like ships in the night. 

The changing of the executive board with our local PTA is happening.  And that's busy all by itself.  Changing positions, wrapping up a year, and beginning anew with fresh, inexperienced faces is a job all of it's own.  Nevermind the soccer and the volleyball.  Nevemind the orchestra concert, the 4th grade social studies project that has several stages & parts.  Nevermind the 2nd grade end of the year African animal project  and the paper mache impala that is under construction on the patio.  Nevermind the finishing touches on the ultimate father's day present.  Yes, it's coming early, but I wanted to be able to use it all summer.  Shhh.  It's still a secret.    Then there is kindergarten's field trip to the zoo (want to chaperone a group of boys? and don't forget to send in your white t-shirt), 4th grade and the railway (want to chaperone a group of girls?), a walking trip to 7-11 for slurpees (want to walk with us?), a field day at a local park (can you supply hot dogs or a grill?), a field day at school (can PTA make snow cones?) and the orchestra concert (does your black dress shirt still fit?).  

And work.  I had to upgrade software, so I'm still learning ins and outs of a new program.  And, a new system is under construction for the nurses.  It sounds great and I'm so glad I'm not heading that up.   I need to finish April's papework, need to send new invoices, need to apply payments & make a trip to the bank. 

My list is a mile long and growing every day.  Right now, the sounds in my house are:

"Mom, can you help me bead this?  The fringe is too thick and I can't get it to work."
"Mom, I need to do my Z-homework . . . do zig-zags have points like mountains or are the curvy like humps?
"Mom, is the next batch of paper mache cool?  And, his leg is crooked & he keeps falling over."
Mimi is stringing words together with a long pause between. "A . . . . snack . . . please . . . mom . . . scoot . . . . me in."

The good news about being busy is that I've simply been too busy to stress about family stuff on the weekends. 

The bad news is that being busy has forced me to set aside my cold-slash-allergies-slash-bronchitis.  Ugh!  Claritin take me away!!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

One Hundred Years Young

Hooray . . . A round of applause for the centenarian, please.   Have you ever known anyone a hundred years old?  My grandfather made it into his nineties . . . my father is there now.  In nursing school, I was a companion to a little lady that was 101.  I took care of a man in the nursing home that was almost 100.  But, being 100 is a huge novelty.  It's a wow event.  A HUGE wow event. 

Today is great grandma's 100th birthday.  Yeah!! Candles, flowers and cake please!!  After a morning packed with soccer, we went to see "Mills", as my kids still call her.  She still lives in a "compartment", though different from the 1st one.   We sat and chatted for a bit . . . . and seized the opportunity to take pictures with a truly great woman . . . one hundred years of great woman.  

Mimi was most willing to keep taking more and more and MORE pictures with Mills . . . . but here is one of my favorites for it captures a moment all of my kids have shared with Mills:  Her wheels.  She has given them rides on her wheels since Big was but a toddler.  Many visits, they fought over who got the first ride & who got to push whom.  Today, there was no contest.  Mimi got the wheels & Little was very busy using her cane as a light sabre . . . 

Happy Birthday, Grandma!! We love you!!