Monday, March 31, 2008

In like a lion, out like a junkyard dog

This is what March 1 looked like. Picturesque, but damn annoying.

Today is uglier. We have the piles of really old, really dirty snow. We have the garbage emerging from underneath said snow. We have mud and thunderstorms. We have brown, crushed, nasty-looking grass and plants.

But this afternoon, Jo saw a rose clinging to one of the bushes that line our front walk. She was thrilled. "Look! A rose is blooming already!" I hated to break it to her: That was an old, dried flower from last summer. Still, she saw the bright side. "It survived!"

I guess we all did.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Princess much?

Yesterday evening, Opie had a high fever and so was unusually content to lounge on the couch watching Noggin. (He's fine now.) Jo, disdaining the "baby shows," decamped to the backup TV in the basement. She proceeded to holler up the steps every few minutes with some desperate need or another. Finally, Jeff taught her how to use the intercom feature on the telephone so she could call him if she needed something.

Naturally, five minutes later she did. I heard his end (snicker) of the conversation: "You called me on the phone because you need me to wipe your butt?"

True story. And that is something nobody told us before we had kids.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Recorded for posterity

Okay, lest you get the wrong idea that I am particularly holy or brave, I will mention that on Easter Sunday, I spent an unseemly amount of time snickering when Jo, while attempting to read a menu, innocently asked what a "happy hour" was. Only she said "happy whore."

This reading and writing thing is delighting me daily. It has taken forever to get to this point. I was not previously aware that reading is a milestone akin to potty training, or sleeping through the night. It takes way longer than you think it will, progress comes in the tiniest of increments (and waxes and wanes daily), various experts are always ready with a quick-fix solution whether or not you need it, and you might feel compelled to exaggerate your child's progress.

Yesterday Jo was busily writing one of her random letters to no one. I reminded her that we promised to send Tacy a postcard. Without missing a beat she took another piece of paper, neatly wrote NOT NOW, and continued with what she was doing.

The postcard was worth the wait, though. She composed it tonight.

Dere Tasee
We liket your latdr we are sating a noow latdr becos you ask for
a now won
Love Jo
form Wiskosisn

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Togetherness Tour '08

So, the trip. It turns out that a full week of 24/7 kid care was a leeeetle bit hard for me. I am ashamed to admit that. But by the end of those 7 days I wasn't really the nicest mom in the world. It took a lot of effort to hold myself together. Part of the problem was that I overlapped our trip (me + kids) with my husband's business trip, so that when we arrived home there were no reinforcements waiting. Thank god the kids were exhausted enough to sleep very late that first morning at home.

We went to Washington, D.C., because it is halfway between the cities where my brother and his wife live and my sister lives. Coincidentally, one of my closest friends happened to be traveling there that same week. (I'm sorry I didn't have the strength--or child care--to coordinate any bloggy get-togethers.) And I thought -- D.C.! Tons to do! Public transportation!

Yes, true; tons to do. If your kids are into museums. By day 3 mine most certainly were not. And yes, public transportation. A half-mile from the hotel, so that before you are 20 minutes into your day out both kids are whining because whichever one's not in the stroller insists that he/she neeeeeeds to be in the stroller and by the way don't you have any snacks? (I always did, because that is my A#1 tip for traveling with children. Just keep feeding them.)

Since a certain someone has a history of vanishing from my grasp I brought a leash. Oh yes. My husband was horrified but I pointed out that he would be much more horrified if I came home with one less child than I started out with. It was a critical piece of equipment and I'm so glad I had it. Of course, Jo wanted to be the one to hold the handle which pretty well defeated the purpose, but we soldiered on.

Highlight: Left with two kids. Came home with same two!
Lowlight: Jo asking me "Why are you sad and mad?" (see camera, below).

Highlight: Letting the kids take a long, loud, messy, splashy bath in the hotel bathroom.
Lowlight: Going into a "family" bathroom at an airport, discovering it had been most recently used as a smokers' lounge.

Highlight: Jo wanted to take pictures of fossils and skeletons to show Daddy.
Lowlight: Lens now jammed on brand-new camera (she dropped it). Hence no photos accompanying this post.

Highlight: Snuggling in a king-sized bed with the kids.
Lowlight: Sharing a mattress with The Windmill and The Slurper--the noise of the thumb-sucking would absolutely wake the dead.

Highlight: Homewood Suites, you rock. Spacious, nicely furnished, complimentary huge breakfast and dinner, friendly staff ... who looked the other way when I had three extra people sleeping my room (sister, brother, sister-in-law).
Lowlight: Caving in and allowing the kids to have root beer with dinner one night. One, having downed about 8 ounces in 6 minutes, turned instantly manic, bouncing in the booth, darting over to the window, and crawling under the table. The other one turned insomniac and couldn't fall asleep until 10:30 p.m. (there went my sanity-saving "alone time" for that night).

Highlight: No work, cooking, cleaning, or other household responsibilities.
Lowlight: Every single poopy diaper was my job.

Sightseeing highlight (kids): A panda scratching its butt; the "pee cup" in the Skylab Orbital Workshop; poisonous frogs.

Sightseeing highlight (mom): A mini college reunion with 5 close friends (including the ex), one spouse (his), and 6 little kids, who, with an assist from the TV, entertained themselves well enough that the adults actually had time to talk and catch up.

Overall? Not sure I'd do that again. But getting to see family and old friends meant a lot, and even the concentrated kid time was almost always fun. I kind of like those two kids. I'm glad I brought both of them back with me after all.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Almost April? No way.

I cannot believe that it is March 25 already. I feel like I have missed the entire month and do you know why? Because it is still winter. Equinox, schmequinox--we still have icy patches on our driveway, hulking piles of old snow littering our yard, and fresh flakes falling daily.

If only the Zula Patrol could whoosh in and save us. In one of four episodes we recently reviewed, one of the Patrollers uses a Weather-Matic machine to change the weather at the twist of a dial. Sigh... a girl can dream.

And a girl can learn a lot about weather, actually, from this collection of episodes of the PBS kids' science show. Get the full review at The Full Mommy.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The first day of the week

Last night was my friend's baptism and confirmation. I really don't think I have ever been prouder of someone who isn't a member of my immediate family. Her bravery and faith were breathtaking. She never wants to be the center of attention, but elected to do a full immersion baptism (betcha didn't know we Catholics even did that... I didn't!). It's unusual enough that when Father invited her, me, her family and friends to proceed to the baptismal font, he also invited the entire congregation to gather around as well. (Then he joked that he'd try not to fall in with her.)

She wore a bathing suit covered by a short robe, which she kept on as she knelt in the font. Her family was there, including her two little boys, her in-laws, and her sister; as her sponsor, I stood by her side. The rest of the RCIA candidates and catechists watched, along with a few hundred other parishioners, a deacon, several altar servers. Can you imagine the strength it took, to decide to do this, to want to do this? It was a privilege to observe it, and even more so to have my own small role to play in it.

After it was over she beamed with the joy of it, and the relief; her four-year-old piped, "Mommy, I am so proud of you!" and we all smiled because we were too. The rest of the Mass passed by in a rush and afterward, it seemed that everyone who'd been in the pews stopped to congratulate her and to welcome her. It's an Easter I won't easily forget.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A total tease

I'm back home.

Much more to say but for now, I point you to my latest Full Mommy review--of the DVD that did, in fact, get me through some of the hairier moments of this trip. I mean, produce a brand-new Bob the Builder DVD and you are bound to buy yourself a little bit of time and maybe even a few words of thanks to boot.

(It didn't, however, earn me the title "Best Mom Ever." That I got when I offered up ice cream for dinner in the Detroit airport. Bribery will get you everywhere.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Haiku Friday: Hiatus edition

The vectors of germ
and I are hitting the skies
tomorrow -- look out

Yes, it was daunting yesterday when 50% of the household was puking, the dog had a seizure, and I started feeling that telltale dry throat that always portends a vicious cold.

But the tickets are purchased, the hotel is booked, the aunts and uncles and friends (even an ex-boyfriend!) are waiting, so we are off tomorrow.

I'll be gone until next week but I am leaving you with three movies still to be identified (now with hints--get on that!). And over at the Full Mommy, you can read another travel story: My review of a brand-new water resort.

And please I beg you
Don't post too much while I'm gone
Spring break for us all!

Haiku Friday

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

This meme brought to you by Pre-Vacation Panic Week

**Updated below with hints

I am going out of town next week with the small ones (and no husband, lord give me strength). Therefore this week, am racing around like a hamster who just drank a couple of Red Bulls. Yay vacation, but the week before and the week after suck.

So this meme I saw at Lara's is just what I need tonight. Escapist, easy, requires audience participation.

1. Pick 15 of your favorite movies (this shall not be regarded as the definitive list of my favorite movies -- but I do love them all).
2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie.
3. Post them here for everyone to guess.
4. Strike out each quote when someone guesses correctly in the comments, and note who correctly identified the film.
5. NO Googling or using IMDb search functions (you're on the honor system here).

Here goes. I'll start you off with an easy one.

HINTS: Of the remaining films, one is a documentary, one is British, and one features a soundtrack that I've mentioned previously here on ye olde blog. Go to it!

1. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Lady M, surely a Princess Bride in her day, gets this one.

2. I'll be typing for England!

3. Also, you'll find a pair of safety glasses and some earplugs under your seats. Please feel free to use them.

4. I don't want to play the gender card right now. You want to play a card, let's play the "let's not die" card. mothergoosemouse had no trouble Finding Nemo.

5. Well, I would say that I'm just drifting. Here in the pool. Magpie's been musing since long before she was a Graduate.

6. Then after about 15 minutes, you're spit out into a ditch on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike! Jennifer tells us that living under the ponderosas is nothing like Being John Malkovich.

7. A pot. A pot belly. Pot bellies are sexy. Everything I know about Teresa is pure Pulp Fiction.

8. Ladies and gentlemen, when you look at this gorgeous couple, it's no wonder they're a household name all over the world like... bacon and eggs. Dancer Lara gets this one--I'm sure she's done her share of Singin' in the Rain.

9. Nobody said it. This time it's all me. Life isn't like in the movies. Life... is much harder. Call 911! A child is born at the Cinema Paradiso!

10. I'm not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Lou. Heather knows that the zebras in Fargo are probably cool.

11. I really love Rudy. He is totally enamored of me. I mean, I've had other men love me before, but not for six months in a row. Even for young Lara, Sixteen Candles are no longer enough.

12. No! I'm madly in love with you and it's not because of your brains or your personality. Maggie is the Little Miss Sunshine in Cat's so-called life.

13. We are so lucky. We are so lucky to have been raised amongst catalogs. There's no doubt that mothergoosemouse is one of the Best in Show.

14. Harry, there's enough C-4 on this thing to put a hole in the world! Once again, Lara is the Speed-iest one to get the answer.

15. I don't think it really helped me, in my love live; my nascent love life. I think that having won something like that could be regarded as being a significant liability.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Look out! Bad skeletons!

Potential nightmares my children described this evening:
  • Eyes poked by lions
  • Bad skeletons
  • A fun pony ride taking a turn for the worse when the pony goes to a "bad store"

And then they fell asleep. Still both in the same room, every night. It is absolutely one of the most adorable moments of parenthood I've experienced thus far.

Night night!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Happy birthday Barbie

In honor of Barbie's birthday today, I am reposting my favorite Barbie picture ever and relinking the story that goes with it. Cheers!

Ken wigs over the beautiful babes

Friday, March 07, 2008

Blast me back to the pioneer days

Recently my mom mentioned that she still has my boxed set of Little House on the Prairie books, and noted that soon I'd be able to begin reading them to Jo.

I can't wait! When I was 8 or 9 (and probably 10 or 12 too) I'd start with Little House in the Big Woods and continue right through to The First Four Years without stopping. Then I'd go back to the Big Woods and start all over again. My set came in a yellow cardboard box and all the spines of the books were yellow too, with cover art and interior illustrations by Garth Williams. The set looked so impressive there on my bookshelf.

I remember watching the TV show, too, but it was the books that really enthralled me. I even got to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum. I still remember I had a souvenir mug that I took to school for show and tell. I wrapped it carefully in a dishtowel for the walk, but I still dropped and broke it--a terrible loss.

There are legitimate concerns about the depictions of Native Americans in the books. I hope that I can use them to start discussions about racism and the way people feel about those who are different. I still believe that the books are an incredible window into American history. And they are a pleasure to read, which is more than I can say for many of the other books I slog through for the sake of my kids (Magic Tree House, anyone? For the love of god, Mary Pope Osborne ... you are writing for beginning readers. Why must you litter the page with sentence fragments?). I know I'll smile when I see that big yellow box on my daughter's bookshelf.

Inspired by today's blog blast on behalf of Highlights High Five (which I reviewed yesterday). Write your own post by midnight PST--that still gives you four hours!--for a chance to win a subscription to the magazine.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

One two three four ... High Five!

OK, I know I'm mixing my children's media here, but that song is an earworm if I ever heard one.

What I'm really talking about over at The Full Mommy today is the new, younger-kid edition of Highlights magazine, called Highlights High Five. It may not have any dopey morality tales (and who knows--today's Goofus & Gallant are probably more subtle than they were a generation ago), but it does have a ton of fun features for kids ages 2-6.

Get the full scoop over at the The Full Mommy -- including details on the craft that kept my kids busy for more than an hour. If you want in on that action, Parent Bloggers Network is holding a blog blast tomorrow, and they're giving away 5 subscriptions.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Almost crossed another item off the Mommy Checklist

he heard you were coming so he baked a cakeWhen I arrived at child care yesterday to pick up the kids everyone was in a tizzy. I had been out getting my thrice-yearly haircut/highlights and the batteries on my cell phone were dead--where is that charger anyway?--so when the director tried to call me, she couldn't reach me.

So the first words I heard were "there was an accident but he's okay." We went to Opie's classroom and he was his usual smiley, chirpy self. He immediately noticed my haircut. "You got a haircut Mommy! Looks pwetty!" Why yes son, and no more grays! You would never have known there'd been an incident except for the fact that a patch of his own hair, plus the back of one of his ears, was all bloody.

Just a half-hour before, a toy had fallen off a low shelf and gashed open my boy's scalp. It looked nasty but I could see that he was recovering fine. No concussion, no lingering pain, and he was both brilliant and sensitive enough to compliment my hair! Most grown, uninjured men can't manage that.

Among the daycare team recommendations for follow-up were divided. Two votes for "take him for stitches" and two for "he'll be fine." We had to hustle out the door for Jo's gymnastics class; it was her final one for the session otherwise I might've skipped it. There I consulted two more moms, friends whose kids are also in the class. Another split decision.

With the score tied 3-3, I called the after-hours nurse when we got home. Guess what she said? "It's up to you whether you want to take him in." Thanks so much. Finally she offered to page the doctor.

At last, a definitive answer! No office visit, no stitches, not even a bandage. This morning he has a cruddy-looking scab but it's entirely hidden under his hair.

Minor crisis, averted.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Booooop ... crash ... bang

The only thing more annoying than watching someone else play a video game is being forced to listen to someone else play a video game.

That is all.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

How not to spend a Saturday morning

I recently took Jo on a little overnight trip (more on this to come soon at The Full Mommy). At one of the shops we visited, I let her pick out a toy for Opie and one for herself. She chose a make-your-own-mermaid craft kit (she loves craft kits--another thing we totally do not have in common).

So from the moment she woke up Saturday she begged to do this thing. Finally we reached a point where Daddy was snowblowing (again), Opie was busy watching "the frog show," and we could concentrate on the sirena.

On the outside of the box: Photos showing a 4-step process, and an age recommendation of 4 years and up.

On the inside of the box: Directions listing FIFTY-TWO steps from start to finish. FIFTY! TWO! About three of which could be performed by my 5-year-old. Basically she watched me gluing itty bitty sequins to my fingers the mermaid's hair, threading atom-sized beads onto invisible fishing wire, and trying not to curse.

Also, do you think she has cast even the most cursory glance at the doll now that is completely besequinned, betailed and bejeweled? I think not.


I just finished watching "Ace of Cakes." Ever seen it? Ever wonder why they deliver the cakes by tossing them in the back of a van with no protective wrapping whatsoever? This drives me insane.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

As luck would have it

Sometimes people confuse true luck with winning things. While I don’t deny that it’s good fortune to win a lot of contests, prizes or money, I don’t consider this the really GOOD luck.

The really good luck is something that I possess. I don’t often win contests (although I do occasionally). It isn’t often that I get something for nothing. But I’m rich anyway.

Here’s why I’m lucky:

I never had to really study much in school. I could often get an “A” in a class without much effort.

I took risks with my safety in college and lived to tell the tale.

Just when I was about to resign myself to never finding someone to spend my life with, I was asked to be a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding and met my husband.

Even though I had several risk factors for infertility I was able to get pregnant and have children.

My children have been born healthy and continue to be healthy for the most part.

I have a nice home and many of the things that I want . . . and all of the things that I NEED.

My family supports me in whatever I try to do.

Things just seem to work out for me. Much as I worry about things, everything generally turns out fine.

It may be great to win a lot of money and prizes, (and I certainly wouldn’t turn any of it down!) but if I had to choose one, I’ll choose my type of luck every time.

Heather is mom to 2 young children and is currently baking baby #3. When she’s not counting her blessings she’s writing about life’s minor irritations at her blog Cool Zebras, where you can find the wonderful Mayberry today. To read how lucky the rest of the blog exchange participants are, please click here.