Friday, February 29, 2008

Things I would like to put on Claire's to-do list

1) Grow hair past awkward length
2) Develop a healthy fear of/respect for cat
3) Learn to ignore the temptation that is the dog
4) Figure out how to hold still for 20 seconds so I can have diaper changed
5) Understand gravity and how it relates to me, the stairs, and falling off of the bed.

Claire is going to be ONE in two weeks. Can you believe it? Gosh, when I think about how terrified we were last year at this time... I still have the scars on my feet from scratching them raw. I kept chanting to myself, "We were terrified when I was pregnant with Mary Grace, and on bed rest, and everything turned out fine, and this will too..." over and over. But wow, was I relieved when she proved me right.

It's funny, sometimes, how you don't realize how badly you want a baby until the pregnancy is threatened. I was really scared about being the mother of two kids under two. I wasn't sure I could handle it. But when it came down to it, when we thought we might lose her, I realized that she was already a part of our family from the beginning, and suddenly I couldn't imagine life without her. And now that she's talking, saying, "kitty kitty cat," and chasing Kona all over the house, climbing up the stairs in 5 seconds flat, signing and eating big girl food and getting to the point where she's more a little kid than a baby, I can't remember what I was ever so afraid of. Having two kids is infinitely more fun than having one. I love watching the two girls together. I love knowing that they'll have each other, to be best friends with as they grow.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

That's not what he meant...

This morning BJ was leaving for work, and Mary Grace said, "Where you goin', Dad?"

"I'm going to work, Mary Grace, so I can put eggs on your plate, and a roof over your head, and guys in your bed..."

She calls her stuffed animals "guys," of course the idea of actual guys in his daughter's bed is enough to make BJ turn purple with rage. I just laughed as he sputtered, "She knows what you meant."


Interesting notes from my friend Dr. Dave (a psychologist). I've googled and I can't find anything I understand on the subject, so we're just going to have to take his word for it, but he says that researchers have found neurons (brain cells) in human heart and intestinal tissue. So, he says, when people have said that you "think with your heart," or that you should "trust your gut," there's really something to that! Fascinating. He says that the neurons found are part of the autonomic nervous system - the system that controls unconscious processes like breathing, heart rate, and digestion, and that researches think that these cells might play a role in intuition. Isn't that amazing?

The other interesting thing we talked about is that the most recent research in child development shows that teaching a child to help is the most important thing you can teach her. Research shows that across all measurements - social, educational, emotional, etc. - kids who are raised to help others, and to enjoy helping others, do better than kids who aren't raised to help. It can be as simple as helping to clear the table, and other chores around the house, when they're small. Of course, as kids get older and more capable, you want to encourage them to help in more complex, more far reaching ways. He said, though, that if there is only one thing you plan to teach your kids, teaching them to help should be the thing you focus on.

Mary Grace already loves to feed Max. That's her "chore." She also likes to take the ketchup, butter, etc. back to the fridge from the dinner table. Without knowing about this research, BJ and I have taken to calling her our "big helper" (especially where Claire was concerned - we've had her "help" with diaper changes, etc. from the beginning so she wouldn't feel left out when Claire came along). I guess we're just instinctively uber-parents. Either that, or it proves that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

The other interesting thing we talked about was how long it takes this sort of research to filter down to actual parents - and he said that it takes 20 years! He said that he'll read articles in popular sources, like Parents Magazine, for example, that cite "research" and he will think, "We've known about that since the '80s." Isn't that sad? I wonder how long it takes in other disciplines for cutting edge research to filter down to popular practice. I know in aerospace it's a long time, because a lot of the latest stuff is classified (for obvious reasons). But in parenting, none of it should be classified. Maybe we need to figure out a way to speed up that process, so that interested parents, like us, can get a hold of this information before we're grandparents.

Although, to be honest, going with my heart and my gut has been working for me, so far. I guess now we know why.

(I'll keep looking for further information on both of these items, as soon as I figure out what to google.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

WFMW: Daytipper

So, I wanted to make sure that I got paid before I told you about this, because sometimes these things are scammy. This one, though, seems to be legit.

I made $42 writing tips on DayTipper. That's right, forty-two American dollars in my PayPal account!

All you need is a PayPal account and your own creativity. You submit a tip (500 words or less) on any one of a bunch of subjects (everything from Beauty to Wellness), and when they publish it, they give you $3.

It used to be "a penny for your thoughts." Inflation.

I have had 14 tips published, and I've got 20 more pending publication. That's $60 - for a total of $102, for writing brief (really brief, I can't say ANYTHING in 500 words!) paragraphs about stuff that I do all the time. I find myself going through my day thinking, "That would make a good tip," and then forgetting as soon as I sit down at the computer. But you're much smarter than that.

So, anyway, it's just like Works for Me Wednesday only it pays better. :)

Are you here for WFMW? Check out my other tips:

How to have fun with your kids in the snow.
How to save money when shopping online.
How to prevent frozen hands when sledding.
How to prevent disease with a handy new product (update, it worked - we never got sick!)
How to easily feed a crowd.
How to pack a smaller diaper bag.
How to make Mush McPuna.
How to organize your Christmas list.
How to breathe new life into your lamps with spray paint.
How to use calling cards to give the illusion that you have it all together.
How to use GCal (again) for menu planning.
How to save yourself time in the kitchen with a hot water tap.
How to tie your shoes if you have lollypop thumbs like me.
How to feel good about spending insane money at Christmas.
How to prevent dryer fires.
How to use Google Calendar to organize your family.
How to save a zillion dollars with the Magic Bullet.
How to quickly cool Mac & Cheese.
How to soothe a teething baby without whiskey - oops! I mean Tylenol.
How to do Time Outs correctly.
How to improvise a changing table.
How to get a baby and a toddler into the car.
How to keep your house decluttered with an old waitressing mantra.
How to find a great baby sling.
How to manage your grocery list online.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again soon!

Visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW tips!

An Interesting Question

I just received the following comment and thought I'd reply (since she doesn't have an e-mail address in her profile).
I know that you don't know me from Adam, but I found your blog while searching for tips on flying with kids. We will be moving in a few months and my husband is going a couple of weeks before me, which means I will be flying with my four children.....alone. When I saw your "church" tag I was curious. I guess my question is, do you not believe there is one true church. A church where, you know it is the one God has set up on the earth to be His church and that even if there are doctrines you don't "agree" with, maybe that is something you have to overcome and be teachable in that? And if you truely believe that doctrine is wrong, why would you go to that church?

I just can't image liking this church because it looks like a church, but liking this other one because you get paged during the service because your kids need you. I'm not trying to be rude, I'm truely curious.
First of all, no offense taken. I think it's an interesting question.

I guess the short answer is "no" - I don't believe that there's one true church. I think that if I were to think that the church I belonged to were the One True Church, I would be claiming more of a knowledge of God and His mind than I'm comfortable with claiming. There are so many different divisions of Christianity, and the differences between some of them are so minor. I am not qualified to decide that these groups are right and these groups are wrong. All I can do is follow my heart and my gut and make a decision that works for me and for my family. I figure that's why God gave me a heart and a gut!

I mean, don't you think it's a little arrogant to think that of all the billions of people in the world, and all the hundreds of different religions and different sects, you just happened to pick the "right" one?

I think there are a lot of paths, in other words, and that God probably doesn't get all hung up on the details (like pagers and music and what the church looks like!).

I was raised Methodist, for the most part, and my husband was raised Presbyterian. We went to the Pres. church for a while when I was a kid, too. The differences between the two are not hugely significant. It's not like one believes in Jesus and the other believes in Xenu. The main thing, for me, is that the Methodist church is more accepting of homosexuals, while the Presbyterian church isn't as accepting. It's not a binary difference, either - it isn't black and white. The M's are more accepting than the P's. It's not like the P's are out protesting at gay peoples' funerals or anything. It's a small doctrinal difference, not something that would affect our everyday life in the church.

I think there's enough hate and nastiness in the world, and no one should create further hate and nastiness against two people who love each other, regardless of those peoples' genders. Perhaps I need to be "teachable" in that regard, I don't know. I can't imagine one day deciding to be less accepting than I am today of any group - whether they're gay, or they're a different race, or whatever. So, perhaps God and I are going to have to have a serious talk about my attitude toward gays one day. Let's assume that I'm wrong, that God thinks gays are bad bad bad, and that I shouldn't be accepting of them. So, here's how I imagine that conversation going:
God: Amy, you really screwed up on the gay thing. I am not amused.
Amy: Well, God, I did the best I could. I never hurt anybody. I wasn't gay myself. I didn't "promote" being gay in any way (unless you count watching Queer Eye). I just tried to love the people in my path as best I could, regardless of whether or not they were gay, and I'm sorry if that offends You.
God: Oh, whatever. Let's go get some ice cream.
Would I choose a church that required me to go out and preach against gays? No, because that would be in direct violation of my own beliefs, and the greater belief that I believe is at the core of Christianity, and that is Love. But can I deal with a church that may have a slightly different opinion on gays than I do, considering that I am not personally gay, so long as other aspects of that church are comfortable and in line with my own personal beliefs and interpretation of the Bible. Sure.

As for the appearance of the church, the music, etc. being important, you have to remember that we're choosing between two extremely similar churches, doctrinally. If churches were colors, it's not as though we're choosing between black and white, we're choosing between two very similar shades of gray. For both my husband and I, the "feel" of a church is important to us. We don't feel "churchy" in a big steel building with visible i-beams and rock and roll music. We don't feel like we've been to church in an atmosphere like that. You have to understand, these new buildings they're building around here are UGLY. They're built cheaply, and poorly. At the Methodist church we went to there's something wrong with the ceiling and it kept making noises throughout the service. It's very distracting, and it's hard to get into a reverent and spiritual frame of mind, for me, when I'm afraid the ceiling's going to cave in on my head. Although, it does give me something to pray about. "Please God, if the ceiling caves in, let me get out of here with my family!"

As for the preschool situation, the number of young families that belong, and other considerations I mentioned... You have to understand that the primary reason we're going to church is because of our kids. Both my husband and I believe in God, Jesus, and the whole Christian thing, but we've never regularly attended church on our own. The fact is that we've always had other stuff to do. (If I'm going to hell, it's probably for that more than the gay thing!!) However, we both feel that it's important to raise our kids with religion. For one thing, studies show that kids with a belief in a higher power who cares about them do better in life (resist peer pressure, don't do drugs, don't get pregnant at 14, etc.) than kids who don't believe in a caring higher power. For another, it gives them a group of peers outside of the group of peers at school - which may become important for them when they're older. Popularity in school matters less if you have a dozen close friends at church. I also want to get them into preschool, and I'm excited about the Pres. preschool program. The Methodist church doesn't have a preschool.

Maybe going to church for my kids will strengthen my own beliefs. I hope so. I'm kind of a Christmas/Easter Christian now (actually, the last few years I haven't even made those services regularly!).

So, I hope that answers your questions. Next time leave an e-mail! ;)

As for traveling with four kids - oh wow. That's beyond my area of expertise. I hope you found my post on traveling with a baby useful. You should talk to a teacher about how to handle field trips! I think that would be more similar to your situation than our trip with one!

Good luck,

Monday, February 25, 2008

How to do Two: Nap (and nursing)

I have been really excited about the response to my "How to do Two" series. I think other expectant second time moms are running into the same problem I did, which is that there just isn't a whole lot of information out there on the logistics of having two small children! I'm really pleased to be able to fill that gap.

One of the scariest parts of having two small children is that you think you will never sleep again. When you think this, you are actually right. Sorry. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you're hosed. You'll be up with the baby. Then you'll finally get the baby to sleep, and the big one will wake up. Then you'll get the big one to sleep, and the baby will wake up. Then you'll finally get them both to sleep, and your husband will be snoring. It's enough to make your hair turn white (or fall out altogether, if your hormones are anything like mine).

Your only defense is to nap. Remember all those times people told you to "sleep when the baby sleeps" with your first child? And you ignored them and knitted cute little booties and sweaters while your precious older child napped. Yeah, me neither. I've always been good at naps. I get it from my dad. But how do you nap with two?

I'm a big proponent of breastfeeding. I nursed MG while I was pregnant with Claire and after Claire was born - until she was 28 months old, actually. If I had had a brain in my head I would have weaned her when I was pregnant. Yes, La Leche League, you heard me. Sure, it's possible to tandem nurse. It's also possible, in a technical sense, to put your head in between the door and the wall and then slam the door 100 times. Just because someone can do something doesn't mean that she should.

I went to the LLL for advice, and frankly, I found it lacking. They made me feel like the Worst Mother Ever for wanting to wean MG before she self-weaned (honest to God, if I let her she would nurse until she went to college). They made it competitive. You thought the guilt to nurse to begin with was intense, and it paled in comparison to this. Ugh-ly.

I half-heartedly tried to wean her a few times while I was pregnant, and I secretly hoped that my milk would dry up and she'd self-wean (it did, she didn't). Then when I had Claire her little life was so upheaved that I didn't want to take that away from her too, and we ended up tandem nursing for 9 months. (In other words, my body was supporting two kids for 18 months - 9 of pregnant with C, nursing MG, and 9 of nursing them both. I have been pregnant, nursing, or both since November of 2004!!!).

Here's how that worked - I determined which breast was the better producer and I only nursed Claire on that side. I nursed MG on the other side. If I felt like Claire didn't have enough, it was nice to be able to nurse her on MG's side for back up.

Yes, it is possible to nurse two children. After all, for most of human history mothers of twins didn't have any choice. You will be thirsty all the time. You will need lots of lotion and chapstick, because you will feel dehydrated constantly. It's like living in your own personal Arizona. You will eat like a horse. You probably won't lose any weight (after burning 1000 calories a day nursing for 9 months, I do not have any idea why I'm still the size I am. It just doesn't make sense). If you nurse while you're pregnant, there will be times when your nipples hurt as badly as they did when you first started nursing #1, if not worse. You will have days, nursing two, when you totally feel like a dairy cow.

However, tandem nursing did make nap really easy. I would lie on "Claire's side" (my left) and nurse Claire. Then MG would lie kind of on top of me, and nurse "the tops." When Claire fell asleep I would pop her off, then I'd roll over to face MG and get her to sleep, too. And since I was pretty well trapped with both of them sleeping on either side of me, I'd generally fall asleep with them, and we'd all get a good nap in.

Now that MG is weaned (glory, hallelujah!) we do pretty much the same thing, except MG doesn't nurse. I lay on my side, Claire nurses, and MG lays on my side. She likes it when I rub her back. She also likes to have her feet rubbed, which annoys the crud out of BJ but is actually easier for me. Then, when Claire falls asleep, I turn over and MG lays on my arm and we go to sleep, too.

MG is down to the 0 - 1 naps a day range, and Claire is transitioning from two a day to one a day. We try to do this for the big nap of the day, whenever we can, which is generally the one after lunch.

Of course, if you're blessed with children who sleep like normal people (that is, you put them in their beds with a kiss, they lay down, and they go to sleep) you won't have to do all of these foolish things, but if, like me, your kids need to be coaxed to sleep... this is the way to do it.

PSA Monday

Via Aunt Kathryn comes a chilling YouTube PSA about kitchen safety. I come from a long, long line of firefighters, and I never thought to use a wet dishtowel on a fire. I always figured I'd use baking soda or the pan lid if I had a kitchen fire.

Actually, I have had several minor kitchen fires, although thankfully none of them have involved grease. Did you know that spaghetti, when dry, burns like crazy? Yeah, neither did I, until some of it spilled out of the box and onto the burner. And if you use Minute Rice to make a rice bag, rather than regular rice, it starts a lovely microwave fire. And back when I was a bad kid and smoked, I set my hair on fire once in Amanda's car.

Really, for someone who comes from a long line of firemen, I've had more than my share of minor fires.

Here's the rest of the text from Kathryn's e-mail, which contains more helpful info:

I never realized that a wet dishcloth can be a one size fits all lid to cover a fire in a pan! At the Fire Fighting Training school they would demonstrate this with a deep fat fryer set on the fire field. An instructor would don a fire suit and using an 8 oz cup at the end of a 10 foot pole toss water onto the grease fire. The results got the attention of the students.

The water, being heavier than oil, sinks to the bottom where it instantly becomes superheated. The explosive force of the steam blows the burning oil up and out. On the open field, it became a thirty foot high fireball that resembled a nuclear blast. Inside the confines of a kitchen, the fireball hits the ceiling and fills the entire room.

Also, do not throw sugar or flour on a grease fire. One cup creates the explosive force of two sticks of dynamite. This is a powerful message----watch the video and don't forget what you see. Tell your whole family about this video. Or better yet, send this to them.

(or just send them to your friendly neighborhood blog!)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My new favorite picture of Claire

Don't you just want to pinch her cheeks?
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Sunday Snapshots

The Lineup.

The fort that BJ and the kids built out of the couch this morning. Then BJ used it as a shelter from which to launch "guys" at me while I was sitting at my computer. Grandpa Bob had the excellent idea to take one of the medicine syringes from the infant Motrin, fill it with water, and sneak up on BJ. I got him square in the face. It was hilarious. He took his defeat manfully.

Then I went upstairs and got the two crib mattresses (not pictured) to add to the fort. It was a fun morning.

MG and Claire in matchy suits, making lunch.
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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Oh nuts...

Remember when I was talking about churches, and one of the main advantages to the presbyterian one was that they had a really good preschool program.

I just read the info online, and since MG's birthday is 8/10, and the cut off for the 3 year old preschool is 8/1, she won't be eligible for preschool until NEXT FALL.

Nevermind the fact that she knows her ABCs, can count to 20 and back to 1, knows all the words to all the songs in the kid universe... 10 days. 10 stupid days.

Am I going to be one of "those" parents if I try to get a waiver of some kind?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hey Purity! Here's the recipe!!

So, I guess the yucky cookies weren't so yucky after all! Purity wanted the recipe for the yucky frosting, so here it is (from Allrecipes, where I got it)...


  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • food coloring (optional)


In a large bowl, cream together the confectioners' sugar and shortening until smooth. Gradually mix in the milk and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth and stiff, about 5 minutes. Color with food coloring if desired.

It's a funny recipe because at first the powdered sugar and the shortening start to bead up, like you're making a pie crust or something, and you're thinking, "Oh crap, what did I do??" so you go back and read the directions, and you think, "Geez, how did I screw up two ingredients?" and you start to feel really stupid. Then, you beat it some more and you think, "Has anyone ever tried baking frosting? What would happen?" and you put that thought aside because now is not the time to experiment! Then you figure, "Oh, what the hell, I have 4 different bottles of vanilla open right now, what's one teaspoon?" so you toss that in (oh yes I do, I have Pure Vanilla Extract, artificial vanilla, Madagascar bourbon vanilla, and oops, that fourth one was coconut extract... Anyway...) And the vanilla seems to perk things up a little bit. It doesn't stop looking like a pie crust, per se, but it sort of improves in a non-descript kind of a way. So you get kind of ballsy, and you dispense with recipe entirely, and you throw in some milk, and BAM! Suddenly it's frosting (because you didn't think to turn off the mixer before splashing in the milk, which is why the cabinets have tiny white splotches, but it makes it much more dramatic). You get a little drunk with your own cooking prowess, so you splash in a little more, and it looks even more like frosting! Then you think about putting in a bit more, but you decide not to push your luck, because you never know when your frosting is going to stop being frosting and start being the least healthy flavored milk ever. And there you have it.

We have been worrying a lot about phthalates (say that three times fast!) and hormones in food and other cancer causing/not-sufficiently-tested/gonna make the PB's all sickly and funky type things. I checked some of the products we've been using on the kids at Skin Deep and was a little put out to find that they ranked in the "moderately nasty" category (as opposed to the "not all that nasty" category and the "OMG you put that on your kid?" category).

We decided to switch to California Baby because all of their products had low "hazard scores" and because I do not have enough neurons still firing to remember that we use Brand A lotion, Brand 2 shampoo, Brand X conditioner, and Brand 7 detangler. I read somewhere once, too, probably on the back of a box of Proactive (which totally didn't work so don't waste your money) that products are designed to be used together, so you don't want to use soap from one line and lotion from another. I agree, that sounds like total B.S. to me, too, but then we're back to the whole memory issue, and the complimentary smell issue (I don't want their shampoo to smell like lavender and their lotion to smell like feet, for example. If they're going to smell like feet, at least they should be feet feet and not lavender feet). Also, California Baby products are readily available at Target and do not contain label rants, unlike some other soaps that I considered.

$30 later we have a bathroom full of Organic Free Range Baby Bath Products which were not tested on Animals and are Guaranteed Not to Cause Polar Bear Homelessness, Global Warming, or Eczema (assuming that you can actually spell Eczema, which I can't). Both of the PBs have beautiful skin, so my prediction is that they'll both break out in major hives of some kind when we start using this stuff, and we'll be back to the Toxic, yet Wholesome, Gerber Giggles and Grins Sweet Pea and Feet scented Body Wash/Shampoo and Lotion by the end of the week.

I also switched to Organic Milk because BJ heard something on NPR about kids going into early puberty because of all the hormones in their food, and I said, "Yeah, especially the milk," and he said, "Well, what should we be doing about that?" and I said, "I don't know, drinking organic milk, but it's like twice the price!" and he gave me that look that says, "Are you really going to let $3 a gallon stand between our precious babies and normal puberty?" so I bought the organic milk.

Next week they're going to come out with some study that says organic milk causes warts. I guarantee it.

All of this clean living, and I'm still sick as hell, which SUCKS because I'm missing my sister Jill's birthday party in St. Louis tomorrow. I have this horrible barky cough, though, and I can not attempt a road trip with the PBs unless I am in peak condition. Therefore, I will be home, "sick in bed on two chairs" as Dad would say, and BJ is going to take MG to see her Grandpa Ben and some of her cousins.

Claire and I will nap. More updates as they become available. If I can type with all the hives and the eczema, that is...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How to do Two: Bath Time

Well, don't I feel like Polly Popular? Wow!

Another Amy (can you believe that my mom thought "Amy" was a unique name when she named me??) mentioned bath time. I've got this down to a fine science. Allow me to elaborate.

The key to a successful bath is preparation. You want to have every single thing you're going to need in the bathroom with you, so that you don't have to leave your kids for a second. Yeah, sometimes I listen to Oprah, because sometimes she's right. Our local channel had these horrible PSAs on last summer about drowning, and they said that babies don't make a sound when they drown - they don't fight at all, they just slip under the water, try to breathe, and drown. Needless to say, this is NOT one of those theories that I am willing to test, so I never, ever, ever leave my kids unsupervised in the tub.

So, how do I bathe the two of them by myself? I get their jammies, towels, clean diapers, and lotion and take it all into the bathroom with me. Then I run the bath (Claire has just started to stand at the edge of the tub and throw the toys in). I take the bigger kid's clothes off first, and put her in the tub. Then I take the little one's clothes off and put her in. I pile the clothes up on the floor and try to remember to stick them in the hamper later. The dirty diapers (pray God that they're just wet, otherwise you're going to need the wipes that you forgot to bring in with you!) go in the bathroom trash.

I hold on to the little one (Claire) and get her clean while the big one (Mary Grace) plays with the tub toys. Then I pull Claire out, dry her off right there on the bath mat, put her lotion on, put her clean diaper on, and put her jammies on. Then she can crawl around our very small bathroom (she generally stands up at the side of the tub and laughs at her sister) while I wash the big one. When the big one is all clean, I pull her out, get her lotioned, dressed, etc. Then we all leave the bathroom together.

Yes, this means that the little one gets a much shorter bath than the big one, but she's not complaining, yet, so who cares?

As with most "two under two" skills, the key is preparation.

All this is much easier, of course, when Daddy's home, because he can supervise the bath while I fold laundry. Then I come and get Claire when she's done, he finishes up with MG, and then we put them both down for bed at the same time.

Any other two under two questions?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How to do Two

Recently at Parent Dish, Linda has been blessed with her second child. It has been a lot of fun to read her thoughts as she moved through her third trimester, and begins to adjust to her new life now that her second child is here.

When I found myself rather unexpectedly pregnant with Claire, I did a lot of searching for information on what it's like to have "two under two." I didn't find much. Since Jenny B. is expecting her second, and I'm sure there are other moms out there who are frantically searching for info on "two kids under two years old," I thought I'd start a series on various tips and coping strategies that I've picked up along the way. Not that I'm any kind of expert or anything, but they're both still smiling, so that has to count for something.

Tip #1 - Diapers

Change diapers at the same time. If you don't, you'll feel like you are changing diapers all freakin' day. When the new baby is little, obviously she's going to go through more diapers than the older one, but if you check the older one at the same time, and change her, too, if she needs it, you'll save your sanity.

Tip #2 - How to Get Around

Find a baby carrier you love and use it. Yes, this is going to require some cash. Sorry. See if your friends have a couple you can try before you buy. Mary Grace liked the Baby Bjorn. Claire and I love the Adjustable Pouch from Kangaroo Korner. Different babies like different styles. I'd probably go with an Ergo if I were buying one now. Experiment, find one, and then don't leave home without it.

When you go shopping, never go anywhere without carts. It's just a bad idea. If you must go somewhere without carts, take your stroller. I have a double stroller, and I thought I'd really like it, but I honestly don't use it as much as I thought I would. It seems that one always wants to be held, anyway, and since the single is so much easier to manage, I end up taking it. I can still fit both the kids in the single, too, in a pinch by reclining the seat and setting Claire in the back (real safe, huh?) or sitting Claire on top of the parent tray (oh, chill, I hold on tight). Generally, though, Claire is in the sling and MG is in the stroller, or MG is walking and Claire is in the stroller. I'll bet the double sees more use as they both get bigger and Claire is too heavy to carry all the time.

Anyway, when you go to the store, you get the older kid out and put her in the cart/stroller first. Then you get the smaller kid out and put her in the carrier. When you get back to the car, you do the reverse. You put the smaller kid in the car first, then you take the bigger kid out of the cart/stroller and put her in the car (and then you put your groceries in the car).

This may seem intuitive to some of you, but it baffled me until I got my "method" down. The reason you do it this way is because you can't lift the toddler safely when you've got the little one in the carrier. My method also minimizes the littler one's exposure to the weather. Older and larger kids are better able to deal with temperature extremes, because they have more fat and more body mass.

But what about when you get home? Oprah (who doesn't have kids, I remind you) had a whole show with a bunch of horror stories about what happened when mothers and fathers left their kids alone in the car for 10 seconds and all hell broke loose. She would say, "Never, ever, ever leave a kid alone in the car, not even for a second!"

Well, until Oprah shows up to watch your kids for you, what's a mom to do? And if you have a dog, too, like we do, you're doubly hosed. You're not supposed to ever, ever leave the kids alone in the car. You're not supposed to ever, ever leave the kids alone together. And you're not supposed to ever, ever leave the kids alone with the dog. But those groceries aren't going to carry themselves in, and you can't always go to the store when Dad's home. It's like that riddle where you have to get the hunter, the fox, and the chicken across the river, but you can't leave this one with that one, and blah blah...

Here's what you do - you carry the baby in first (sorry, Oprah, the older kid's just going to have to avoid setting the car on fire for 30 seconds). You put the baby in the high chair with a snack or a toy, and you put the dog outside (either in the yard or on a tie out, whatever you've got). Then you bring the big one in and put her in the playyard (if tolerated) or at the table with a snack (which is what I always did with MG). Then you carry the groceries in as fast as you can, in as few trips as possible, and pray that no one chokes herself, or chokes her sister, or sets the house on fire or gets eaten by the dog or gets kidnapped by gypsies while you're running between the minivan and the door. And you feel pretty stupid doing it, too, but you know that if anything hideous happens you're going to die of guilt and Oprah is going to show up at your house and say, "I told you so!"

MG is reliable enough, now, that I can get her out first and send her towards the door while I get Claire out. I don't have to worry about her running into the street or anything at this point. She's trained. Which brings me to tip #3...

Tip #3 - Train Them While You're Pregnant

There comes a natural point in your pregnancy, at about 6 months in, when it becomes impossible to carry a toddler for more than 3 seconds without severe back, hip, and leg pain. God did this on purpose, because you're forced to put the kid down and let him or her learn to walk with you like a civilized creature, rather than running around like a crazy person. Use this time.

When I was pregnant with Claire I took MG to the park and we would "practice listening." She'd get too far away, and I'd say, "Mary Grace! Practice coming back!" and I'd squat down and open my arms wide. (I must have looked so stupid...) She would come careening across the park and practically knock me flat, and then I'd lavish praise on her little head because she came when she was called. It didn't take long before all I had to say was "Practice!" and she'd come running. I also taught her to put her hand on one spot and not let go until I told her it was ok. This is handy in parking lots.

By the time Claire was born, MG didn't expect to be carried and held anymore, which was good because I didn't have enough hands to carry her and hold her while carrying and holding Claire (although I have, in emergencies, carried the two of them several city blocks. I really do not
understand why I'm not a size 2).

Tip #4 - Training Wheels

When Mom left and Mom-in-Law left and BJ had to go back to work, I was a nervous wreck about being left home alone with the two kids, outnumbered, and with no back up. Fortunately, my friend Jenny B (the one who is pregnant with her #2), was available to come over and be my training wheels. I didn't let her do anything (poor thing was probably bored stiff), but she was there, with her son, to provide emotional support, and so I knew that she was there if I needed help. It worked out so well. By the end of the two days, I felt confident that I could go it alone. Her presence was a nice way to transition into doing it by myself. If you have a stay-at-home-mom friend who would be willing to come over and watch you fumble around for a day or two while you find your groove, I highly recommend it.

Ok, that's enough Two Under Two tips for now. If you have any specific questions or tips, leave 'em in the comments!

Just click it

By special request... Amanda knows I'm a virtual internet celebrity, and she asked me to post this link so that my legions of adoring fans would click through, then click the big purple button to feed puppies and kitties...

The Animal Rescue Site

They're corporately sponsored. All you have to do is click the big purple button. Easy peasy.

In other news, yesterday at 4:05 pm, some kind soul from Murray State University in Kentucky was my 15,000th visitor to this blog. 15,000 since May of last year. I am awed and humbled. I wish I could have all of you over for yucky cookies and hot tea with honey.

I finally caved and went to see Dr. Joel today. My whole head is infected. Left eye, both ears, throat, sinussesses. It's not pretty. Grandpa watched the girlies this afternoon while I drifted in and out of consciousness. When I finally got up he said, "Now I know why you have kids when you're young!" and went to lie down, himself.

Mary Grace has been painting. I'll post pictures when they're dry and I can get good pictures of them. I think she has an excellent grasp of color theory for a 2 year old.

Thanks for reading. It means a lot to me.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Doesn't quite get it

Grandpa Bob, Claire, and Mary Grace are playing hide and seek. Mary Grace is supposed to hide, and Grandpa and Claire are going to find her.

I help MG hide under a blanket behind the chair in the toy room, but she won't cover up her face. She's sitting there grinning while Grandpa pretends to look for her. "Is she under the animals? No. Is she in the basket? No..."

"I think I'm right here!" she says.


Grandpa and Claire are hiding in the recliner under a blanket. MG finds them and says, "Grandpa, that is not a place for hiding, it is a place for sitting."

She's got skills

Guess who just climbed the entire staircase like she'd been doing it her whole life.

She's so proud of herself, too, I almost feel guilty putting the baby gate across the bottom. But, you know what? I am too sick to chase her up the stairs all day. So until she masters down, without a gravity assist, her little life is just going to have to be frustrating. Sorry Claire.

Looooooooong Night, part 2

Oh. My. God.

As if it isn't bad enough that I'm getting no sleep, the cruel, cruel universe saw fit to give me a 102.5 fever last night (I was freezing!!!). Cute. Really cute.

I'm fine. Breastmilk really does cure pink eye (but it's not easy to get it in there. My aim just isn't that good). I think I have a minor throat infection of some kind. It's still sore, but nothing like last night.

Last night? Last night sucked. Last night was one of those nights when you lay there looking at your child's ceiling at 3:00 am thinking, "Why did I want these kids, again?" Last night was one of those nights when you start thinking back to all the Looney Toons you watched as a kid and wondering if the rubber mallet to the head really would make Mary E. Coyote see stars and pass out. Last night was one of those nights when you curse at the darkness because your 2.5 year old has slept through the night so few times that you can count them on one hand, and you think, "This was NOT in the brochure."

It's a good thing I love her so much, or I might be tempted to sell her on eBay.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Looooooooong Night

Well, we got MG to go to sleep in her new "biggle" bed, which was a good start. It was certainly more comfortable for me to sit in the bed next to her to hold her hand, instead of sitting in the glider. It was also nice for reading bedtime stories. Very snuggly.

She woke up, as she always does, at 2:30 and came into our room. Per Dr. Dave, I said, "You can't come in my bed, but let's go lay together in your bed." She cried a bit (it didn't help that I had to go to the bathroom, so I had to delay getting back in bed), but eventually accepted this without too much hysteria and we laid down in her bed. I fell asleep.

Then Claire woke up, so I had to return to the big bed (where Claire sleeps after she wakes up the first time, because I'm not going to do laps of the upstairs all night). Then MG woke up so I went back to her biggle bed. She fussed quite a bit that time about wanting to lay in the big bed, etc. but eventually she calmed down and was just about to go to sleep when Claire woke up again. I had to get BJ up to lay down with MG, because MG was still awake. She accepted this quietly, though, and went back to sleep.

Claire woke up another time or two before we finally got up for the day at 9 am. I also woke up when BJ and Mary Grace got up, but I don't remember what time that was.

Is it any wonder why I'm cranky? Apart from the going back and forth to the kids' room, I get up this often every stinking night. Usually I just roll over, instead of switching beds, but still. Ugh.

And I'm coming down with something. I have pink eye (my left eye was glued shut this morning. Yuck.) and a sore throat. Good thing we didn't go to Chicago this weekend.

The fact that she was ok with BJ coming to bed with her gives me hope that maybe, maybe, he will put himself in charge of Mary Grace in the night, and I can focus on Claire, which would cut my night wakings down by half. Dr. Dave says it is going to take 2 weeks to a month before she (Mary Grace) sleeps all night in her own bed, if we're consistent. We'll see.

I'm going to go take a nap with Claire. I'm exhausted.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Big Girl Bed

Well, we found a twin sized bed at Menards (yes, random... and if you need to build a frame for it, they've got the lumber, too) for $262.88, which is about what I wanted to pay for a twin bed. We didn't need to get a frame, headboard, or footboard yet, since she's so small, that would just put her that much further off of the ground when she falls out of it. For now, the foundation (which makes it sound like bed underwear) can sit on the ground. It was a Serta or Sealy - some brand we'd heard of - so it will hopefully last a couple years. She doesn't weigh anything at all, so there's really no reason for it not to.

She had a really good time sitting in it and arranging her guys. She went to sleep without as much bitching and kvetching as usual, too, so we may be on to something, here.

I went and got yellow sheets (because all the linens in the nursery are yellow) and a really super soft white blanket at Target. I tried to find a Mickey Mouse comforter, but no luck. Ideally, I would be able to find a Mickey Mouse in outer space comforter, which would tie in with the stars/rockets/planets theme we've got going on in the nursery. If the Mickey Mouse in outer space comforter were done in greens, blues, purples and yellows, so it would match the colors already in there, I would be in seventh heaven. If you happen to see something like this, let me know at prbabies (at) gmail (dot) com.

I wish I were crafty. I wish I could whip up a pattern for a picture of Mickey et. al. getting into a rocket on Mars, and quilt it up in all my spare time. In my next life, I'm going to get good at all that stuff. My mom and her sister can do all that stuff, and my grandma could, my great aunt has more fabric in her house than most fabric stores, and their mother, my great-grandmother, could do all of it, too. I have clearly dropped the genetic ball, here.

I'm going to keep looking for the perfect Mickey blanket. Cross your fingers that you-know-who sleeps through the night in her new bed! Good night!


Does anyone have a gently use twin or full sized mattress that they want to get rid of? It's time to move MG out of the toddler bed (not sure what we were thinking, buying a toddler bed in the first place. It would've been smarter to skip that step and go straight to twin/full) and into a real bed, so that we can lay down with her and convince her to stay in said twin/full bed in the middle of the night when she's trying to come into our bed.

We were thinking about going up to Ikea today, but planning a trip of that magnitude at midnight the night before was a little too much for BJ, who prefers to plan his spontaneity.

I'm looking online, and finding various options. Any good recommendations for where to buy one, if no one has one to give/sell us?

BJ and I went out for V-day dinner last night, just the two of us, and we didn't talk about work or the kids! We talked about politics and current events and the kinds of things people talk about when they're out on a date, and it was marvelous. It's so nice to know that the people we each married are still inside of us, somewhere, just waiting for the opportunity to drop the Mommy and Daddy roles for a while. Sometimes, in between the time outs and the endless kids music and the Mickey Mouse and the naps and the baths, it's hard to remember that we weren't always parents, and that these kids didn't always consume our every waking minute.

Friday, February 15, 2008

She's a hoot!

I was washing the dishes this morning when I glanced over at the dining room table, where I have my laptop, to see Mary Grace typing away. "What are you doing?" I asked. "Mommy, I'm blogging."

She's been confusing her pronouns lately, so I've been talking to her about who's a boy and who's a girl, who's a sister and who's a brother, and so on.

"Do you think Mickey is a boy or a girl?" I asked.
"Actually, Mommy, I think Mickey is a mouse."

Can't argue with that logic.

She found a pair of chopsticks in the silverware drawer. They became her "magic wand." She pronounces "wand" with an o. Magic wond.

Yes, she still says "to-mah-to" and "I cahn't," as though she's British.

This kid just cracks me up.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

I guess I'm going to have to stop making heart shaped things now, because Valentine's day is almost over (not that Mary Grace cares, she's still wishing people a Merry Christmas, but I don't think this is something I should actively encourage). Time to get out the shamrocks, I guess. I was at Walmart the other day, and they already had them out.

Since when does St. Patrick's Day require a full month and a week of pre-planning? Seriously. How hard is it to put a few drops of green food coloring into your beer? Get really fancy and stick a corned beef in the crock pot. It's seriously like 10 minutes of prep time, at the outside, including shopping, Walmart, let's get over it, already.

Anyway, we spent a fantastic day at the museum with Jenny and her monkeys. They'd never been there before, so I felt kind of like the magic fairy making room after room of magical things appear before their eyes. They were excited over the ramp to the front door, and I said, "Oh, just wait, you ain't seen nothin' yet..."

Then we came home and Vincent and Grandpa Bob (who they called Grandpa Bob in that wonderful, unquestioning way kids do, even though they hadn't ever met him) roughhoused and laughed and were generally a couple of turkeys. Mary Grace and Jade had fun, too. Claire was so tired, the poor little midget, but she tried so hard to keep up with the bigger kids. When Dad went to bed a few minutes ago, he said, "Thanks for bringing me some kids my own age to play with tonight!" He's so funny...

We ordered dinner in (which was smart because everyone else in the country went out tonight), and the kids played and laughed and we talked and laughed and it was so much fun. It's really too bad that they live all the way up in Grammaland, because we have a blast when we all get together.

BJ and I have reservations at a fancy pants restaurant tomorrow, and Grandpa Bob is going to watch the kids. However, having seen the way they acted tonight, I might leave Claire in charge!

Happy Valentine's Day, BJ. I wouldn't want to raise this family with anyone else. You are my heart. You make me strive to be the best version of myself that I can be. I love you, and I am so lucky to be able to spend all my days, both heart shaped and not, with you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cabin Fever

I woke up this morning and it was still winter.

It has been winter here for about 900 years. It has been winter for so long that I'm pretty certain that the weather will never be warm again. Ever. I am going to be stuck in this house for the rest of my life with these kids, who will never age, and it will never be warm enough to go outside and run them around the block so that they'll take a freakin' nap already, ever, ever again. Ever. Because it's February 13th, and I am completely Over It. Snow is cute on Christmas. It's fun when there's a good hard blizzard. But this piddly 2 inches is just a nuisance, and it isn't funny anymore. If we don't get some nice weather soon, I am going to have to do something drastic. I'll set all our trees on fire and then go out in shorts and a t-shirt and roast marshmallows. When the neighbors ask me what I'm doing, setting all the trees on fire, I'll say, "Working on my tan!" like it's obvious and look at them like they're stupid.

Mary Grace is in a Phase. It doesn't help that she's giving up her nap. Some days she needs it, some days she doesn't, and she can't send me an e-mail or a text message like a civilized person. Oh no. I have to guess whether today is a nap day or a not a nap day. Guess what, kiddo? Today is a nap day for me! Go to sleep already.

If I fail to put her down for a nap on a nap day, chaos ensues, with lots of screaming and crying and hissy fits over freaking everything, including such controversial topics as cheese (as in, there is NOT enough Big Cheese on ANYTHING), milk (as in, this chocolate milk isn't chocolate enough), and toys (as in, all of the toys belong to Mary Grace, even Claire's toys, because Claire is Mary Grace's toy, and if your toy comes with toys, the toy's toys are your toys, and duh Mommy, why isn't that obvious??).

On the other hand, if I try to put her down for a nap on a non-nap day, I end up laying upstairs with her, wrestling with Claire to try to keep her quiet (and not succeeding at all, which is why she hasn't had her afternoon nap today, yet, either), for a good hour, hour and a half before I finally see the light (that it isn't going to happen) and I give in and bring them back downstairs where I can ignore them while I blog. Meanwhile, in the 60 - 90 minutes that I've been saying, "Shhhh..." and singing Twinkle Star, I have become dehydrated, extremely sleepy, and not a little bit cranky.

Sometimes I am able to get her down for a nap, and only at 11:30 pm, when her little brown eyes are wiiiiide open, do I realize that oops, today was a non-nap day, and no one sent me a telegram. Damnit.

But back to the phase. Part of her owning Claire is that she gets to decide what toys Claire can and can't have at any given time. And it just so happens that whatever toy Claire happens to have in her hand at any given moment, even if it is a cheap assed lead paint Happy Meal toy that she carelessly tossed aside microseconds after receiving it in her transfats extravaganza of a "meal" and hasn't looked at since, is the toy she will absolutely die if she doesn't get her hands on it right this very second oh my God.

She has been spending a lot of time in time out.

She has also been hitting, spitting, and licking. I totally can't figure out the licking. It's like she's gone feral or something. And she is way, way too attached to me. BJ says that her level of attachment is no different than it ever has been, but I swear to you it feels as though she would cheerfully fuse her body to mine if I gave her half a chance. She's just not happy unless she's touching me. And she has no boundaries. None. And she gets mad at ME when I say, "Mary Grace, it is not appropriate to stick your hands down Mommy's pants."

And since it's been winter for 900 years, her hands are really cold.

Can you say "cabin fever"? I knew you could.

PS - obviously marketing isn't my forte because no one (Brandon, Heather, Karen, Tammy, Other Heather, Jenny, Michelle....) stopped by for one of my yucky Valentine's cookies, which means I'm going to have to take them to Karen's office and foist them upon her employees, who will graciously tell me that they're not yucky right before they spit them into the office recycling.

Today's project: Pretzels

Currently, in my oven, there sits a large bowl full of dough that, hopefully, is happily doubling as we speak. Assuming that the yeast wasn't dead, we will be making soft pretzels for today's Valentine's themed treat.

Why? Because they look like a hug.

I never used to understand how a bunch of adults (teachers) could get so excited about a bunch of Hallmark holidays. Now I understand - holidays, and the associated crafts and whatnot, break up the monotony of the regular days. You can only draw so many Mickey Mouse heads before you're all like, "For the love of God, already, I need an excuse to draw hearts!" You know? So, I've embraced the whole Hallmark-Holiday-Themed-Activity-Goodness (see yesterday's cookies, above). I even have Valentine's day clings on the window in the screen door. Because, you know, that's how I roll.

And I'm really looking forward to covering my pretzel with Nutella. Mmmmm....

In other news, Claire is defying gravity these days by climbing everything. She is such a monkey. It's not going to be any time at all before she's walking. I'm resisting the urge to tie her feet together!!

I just showed MG that Youtube video of Defying Gravity, and now we have to go watch the whole show...


We made cookies tonight (see above). They taste like slightly sweet crackers with a lot of shortening on top of them, but they look just lovely!

If you want to stop by for a yucky Valentine's cookie tomorrow, you're welcome to! I have about 2 dozen.

The last couple of batches of cookies I've made have sucked. I always roll cut outs too thin. Must work on that...

MG did a lot more licking of icing and M&Ms than actual decorating. How does one teach a two year old that you don't lick the cookies you're decorating, you're only allowed to lick your own cookie? I guess it's one of those lessons that must be repeated over and over and over.

I have a feeling that none of you will be stopping by for cookies tomorrow. Talk about a ringing endorsement!! I promise I threw away all the licked ones. But they're still yucky. Oh well. Stop by anyway. We'll have coffee, instead.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

WFMW: Play in the Snow

Is anyone else extremely ready for spring? I am SO sick of being stuck in the house with these kids, I could just pull out my hair. Seriously.

The other day we put some food coloring and water (just a touch of food coloring) into a couple of squirt bottles and went outside with MG (2.5 years old) to "paint" the snow. She had a blast, we had a blast, and it looked really pretty when the snow started to melt. We got a new batch of snow today, so we're going to try some different bottles tomorrow. I'm thinking that a nice variety of sprayers (like Windex bottles) and squirters (like sports bottles) would be lovely.

If you want to make it educational you could always talk about how yellow and blue make green and red and blue make purple and blah blah blah, but I was really just happy to get out of the house and remain ignorant of color theory.

Are you here for WFMW? Check out my other tips:

How to save money when shopping online.
How to prevent frozen hands when sledding.
How to prevent disease with a handy new product (update, it worked - we never got sick!)
How to easily feed a crowd.
How to pack a smaller diaper bag.
How to make Mush McPuna.
How to organize your Christmas list.
How to breathe new life into your lamps with spray paint.
How to use calling cards to give the illusion that you have it all together.
How to use GCal (again) for menu planning.
How to save yourself time in the kitchen with a hot water tap.
How to tie your shoes if you have lollypop thumbs like me.
How to feel good about spending insane money at Christmas.
How to prevent dryer fires.
How to use Google Calendar to organize your family.
How to save a zillion dollars with the Magic Bullet.
How to quickly cool Mac & Cheese.
How to soothe a teething baby without whiskey - oops! I mean Tylenol.
How to do Time Outs correctly.
How to improvise a changing table.
How to get a baby and a toddler into the car.
How to keep your house decluttered with an old waitressing mantra.
How to find a great baby sling.
How to manage your grocery list online.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again soon!

Visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW tips!

Monday, February 11, 2008

If I Had A Million Dollars

SeeqPod - Playable Search

"I'd build a tree fort in our yard. You could help, it wouldn't be that hard... We'd have to take out a third mortgage......."

Issue based voting

I may have to vote for John McCain now that I've seen this picture, because he was totally hot when he was younger.


Aw, Jeez...

So then I totally forgot to tell you the story about the car. This is what happens when I write in 2 minute increments.

We've been having trouble with the transmission in the van. Sometimes it just doesn't want to come out of park, so you have to sit there and doink around with it until it decides that it's ready to go. I think it has to do with the remote starter... Anyway, BJ got in to drive and he couldn't get it out of Park. After several attempts, I said, "Let me try," so we switched seats and I tried, unsuccessfully, to get the car into reverse.

After several attempts I stopped, closed my eyes, and said, "Listen, Lord. If you want us in church today, you need to do something about this." I opened my eyes and tried again, and the car slid perfectly into reverse.


And on the eighth day He put the car in gear...

So, as I've mentioned, we've been looking for a church to call home. This has been an ongoing discussion ever since we got married, but BJ and I haven't put a lot of energy into it, for a variety of reasons, until now. I'm really proud of us that we've made it to church 2 weeks in a row (BJ has made it 3 weeks, but Claire was sick that first morning...)

He has been to the traditional service at St. Andrew UMC, and we've both been to the contemporary service. We went to the early service this week at Covenant Presbyterian, which was kind of a fusion service, they did rock and roll and hymns on the organ. Something for everyone.

I was raised Methodist, and believe the same things the M's believe, for the most part. I have some major doctrinal differences with the P's, actually, but they're not such that they would interfere with my feeling comfortable in a P church. Mainly, the thing I like about Methodists is that the doors are open to everyone, while the P's have some issues with homosexuals, etc. that I disagree with. But, since I'm not homosexual, I could put that aside if the rest of the church atmosphere is agreeable.

So, doctrinally, I like the Methodist church. It's a little smaller (but not small), and the people were very welcoming. There were only 3 other kids in MG's age group, and there's no preschool program that I know of. We know one other family who goes there. They have a brand new church which is fairly close to our house.

On the other hand, Covenant is so close to our house that we could easily walk in nice weather. It's bigger, and the people were nice, but it would be a lot easier to get lost in the crowd, there (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). They have a preschool program, which is something I'm very interested in getting MG into this fall, and I think the continuity of going to church and school at the same place would be good for her. There are a bunch of kids her age - dozens, actually, although they weren't all there Sunday, of course. The church is older and rather labyrinthine, but it feels like a church, which is important to me. It seems that both of their services are mixed contemporary and traditional, so we'd have to put up with the rock and roll, but at least that means we could sleep in without penalty. They also have pagers for the parents, so if your kid freaks out they can call you out of the service to come and fix her. I like that. We know two other families who go to Covenant, including our doctor, which would be kind of cool.

BJ wants me to see the traditional service at St. Andrew before we decide. I'm kind of leaning toward Covenant, though, mainly because of the other kids and the preschool program. The main reason to go to church is because we think it's good for the kids, and I think they'll get more out of it if there are lots of children there to be friends with.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Pictures

Of all the thousands of pictures I've taken of Mary Grace, I think this one captures her personality the best. Big hair, big smile, big jump.

I ditzed around with the "fixes" in Picasa to get the coloring on this one. I'm not sure if I like the way the colors came out, but I think it's a super cute picture. She's such a Daddy's girl.

Same funky color editing on this one. I'm always careful to save a copy before I start fooling around with my pictures, so I don't ruin them!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 9, 2008


It's hard to keep the PB's entertained when it's cold outside. We were at the park nearly every day that we could be over the summer and fall, and winter has been hard on us. Lately our favorite game has been, "Getchoo!" I'll hold Claire up at MG's height, and run around the house after MG saying, "I'm going to getchoo!" A variant is MG holding up her hands like she is going to tickle Claire and saying, "I'm going to ....... getchoo, getchoo, getchoo!" as she tickles her chin. The longer the to....... lasts, the bigger the giggles.

We played at the mall playplace today. I crawled around after them, saying, "I'm going to getchoo!" Some of the other kids who were there even got in on it.

So, we knew exactly what Claire meant tonight when she stood up with her hands on the hearth, looked at us with an impish grin, and said, "Getchoo!"

Friday, February 8, 2008

Well, that was expensive...

So much for the money we were going to "save" this month by not making a payment on BJ's car(s). $300 later and his is fixed. It was some car thing... He says the crank shaft position sensor was bad. I have no idea what that means, but it costs about half that. The other half was some gasket thingies that needed to be replaced.

It could've been way worse, though, so I am grateful that it was only $300. And our wonderful neighbor, Morris gave us a break on the labor, so it really could've been a lot worse.


Hopefully that will be the end of that silliness.

Poor MG has the worst diaper rash I have ever, ever seen. I suspect that the antibiotics caused it (because bad diaper rash can be caused by yeast, and yeast tends to get all out of whack when you take antibiotics - antifungal cream that you'd use on athlete's foot often will knock out a really tenacious (thanks Mom!) diaper rash). I called the doctor's office and asked if I could give her Diflucan, which is what one takes to prevent the other sort of yeast infection, but they said no. They were supposed to call back with a prescription or something to help her, but I didn't hear from them before the end of the day.

She was so dear... I was changing her and it really hurt, and she was trying so hard to be brave, but she said, "Oh, Mommy, oh shoot!" It was cute, even though it broke my heart. BJ was standing right there, so I was glad she didn't say "shit," even though I would've totally understood if she had.

I'm going to make her my magic oatmeal bath tonight (assuming that I can find my Magic Bullet, although I have a mortar and pestle I could use if I can't). It's equal parts oatmeal, ground fine so it doesn't clog the pipes, powdered milk, and baking soda. The oatmeal soothes, the powdered milk moisturizes, and the baking soda softens the water.

I tried to explain to her that now would be an excellent time to become potty trained, because big girl britches would be a lot easier on her bottom than diapers, but she is having none of it. We'll see if her tune changes when the Mickey Mouse panties I ordered for her show up.

I made her a big smoothie today, too, with lots of yogurt, so hopefully the good bacteria will help, too.

It's so hard when they're sick. I'm so grateful that my kids' illnesses are things that can be fixed with yogurt, oatmeal baths, and antibiotics. If it's this hard when it's a teeny tiny problem, I can't imagine how agonizing it must be when it's a big problem.

(Don't forget to check out my mom's new blog! She's doing so great with all this high tech stuff!)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Oh nuts

BJ's car, the one that has 64 miles on it since he bought it... the one he has had for about a week? Yeah, it broke down on him on the way home. He flashed his brights at someone who pulled out in front of him, and the engine quit. He coasted into KFC's parking lot and called me.

Fortunately I remembered that we'd just signed up for AAA before he called the towing company, so the tow to the body shop where our neighbor works was only $10. We'll see, tomorrow, what's wrong and how much it's going to cost us. Ugh.

We'd been arguing over what we were going to do with our tax rebate when/if we get it. I think the universe has decided for us.

Picture stolen from

Strange Days

You know, when you're home all damn day most of the time you see stuff... Stuff that you'd never notice if you were at work, instead.

First it was the whole business with the feds. Now this...

This morning Max got loose. This is nothing new. Max could sail right over the fence like she was running a steeplechase, if she so chose, but she hasn't figured that out yet, so don't tell her. Typically Max gets loose when the gates are accidentally left open, or when she sneaks out as I'm trying to get babies and bags and groceries and whatnot in and out of the house. She generally comes back if we open up the car and tell her we're going for a ride. She just wants to go make friends with all the other dogs in the 'hood.

She got out, this time, because the back gate had been left open. So, I called our power company to complain. The very kind woman put a note in my file that said "PLS B SURE G8 SHUT W/ TWISTIE" which, I'm sure, will make complete sense to the meter reader, assuming he speaks txt. I hung up, feeling vindicated.

Then Max started to bark. The meter readers were next door. I went out to chew them out soundly for endangering my dog. Fortunately, before I commenced with the chewing, I realized that they were coming toward my house. "Have you been to my house, yet?" I asked.

"No," they replied.

"That's odd," I said. "I just got off the phone with the power company - I called to complain that you'd left the gate open."

"No, ma'am, you have a remote meter - we don't go in your yard."

"No kidding," I said.

"You know, there's a house down that cul-de-sac, and the door's standing wide open. I didn't want to go in or anything, but I was going to report it..."

"Don't worry, I'll take care of it," I said. "Thanks."

{Expletive deleted}. That's the nice neighbor's house. Actually, a lot of our neighbors are nice, but this one in particular rescued Max when she got out a couple years ago, and brought her home. We had bought her a nice leash for her dog as a thank you gift.

So, I called the police, expecting them to come and find carnage of some kind. When they got here, they checked the house and nothing was amiss inside. They said they'd check the neighborhood, but it looked like someone had just forgotten to lock the door. Phew.

But it seems like a pretty big coinkeydink, that my gate was standing open (even though no one has a reason to be in my yard - the gas meter is outside the fence), and a neighbor's front door was wide open, just a street away. (This, my friends, is how a normal person like myself turns into the neighborhood busy body, though. All I need is a house coat, ugly slippers, a couple dozen cats, and a pair of binoculars that I use for "birdwatching.")

I e-mailed the neighborhood watch's distribution list, and told everyone to be alert. I am getting a little tired of the drama, though, I'll tell you. I think it might be time to move.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Really funny videos!

Ok, you guys have probably all seen these already, but they made Dad and I laugh, so I had to share.

I think I have those in the correct historical order. Hee!

WFMW: Coupon Codes

I don't have just one retailer that I love, although I buy a disproportionate amount from Amazon. However, before I buy anything from anywhere, I open up a second browser and do a quick Google for "coupon code" and the name of the site I'm shopping on. I've saved a ton of money doing this!

Are you here for WFMW? Check out my other tips:

How to prevent frozen hands when sledding.
How to prevent disease with a handy new product (update, it worked - we never got sick!)
How to easily feed a crowd.
How to pack a smaller diaper bag.
How to make Mush McPuna.
How to organize your Christmas list.
How to breathe new life into your lamps with spray paint.
How to use calling cards to give the illusion that you have it all together.
How to use GCal (again) for menu planning.
How to save yourself time in the kitchen with a hot water tap.
How to tie your shoes if you have lollypop thumbs like me.
How to feel good about spending insane money at Christmas.
How to prevent dryer fires.
How to use Google Calendar to organize your family.
How to save a zillion dollars with the Magic Bullet.
How to quickly cool Mac & Cheese.
How to soothe a teething baby without whiskey - oops! I mean Tylenol.
How to do Time Outs correctly.
How to improvise a changing table.
How to get a baby and a toddler into the car.
How to keep your house decluttered with an old waitressing mantra.
How to find a great baby sling.
How to manage your grocery list online.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again soon!

Visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW tips!

If Martha Stewart and MacGyver had a kid...

We realized, from playing in the yard, that MG freaks right out if her hands get cold. When she fell forward and caught herself on her hands in our back yard, she immediately wanted to come inside and wash them. It's just one of her things. She also hates being sticky. Anyway, when BJ suggested sledding, I immediately thought, "What are we going to do if her hands get cold?" I didn't want the experience ruined for her if she fell, and I didn't want to listen to her cry until we could get her to a sink with warm water... So, here's what I did.

Have I told you about rice bags/rice socks before? I made mine out of an old terrycloth dishtowel, but you can also use a (clean!!) tube sock, or whatever fabric you have handy. Just make a pouch, fill it up with rice (real rice, not Minute Rice, unless you want to set your microwave on fire. Literally. I've done this.) and then nuke it for a few minutes until it's a nice temperature (check frequently). Then you have a nice warm, moist heat for a variety of purposes.

So, I took my rice bag, which is the size of a small throw pillow, tossed it in the microwave until it was steaming hot, put it in an insulated shopping bag, and we were ready to go. I just left it in the back of the van, in case we needed it. We didn't. But we would have, if it hadn't been there.

You can also use rice bags for sinus infections - the warm heat loosens up all the gunk in your head and soothes the ache, pulled muscles and sore backs, coping with contractions (if you have time for such fussiness when you're in labor - I don't - I barely have time to get to where the doctor is and make sure he's present and accounted for), warming up the cold spot in the bed where your feet go (this is especially nice on a cold winter night!), warming up the crib before you put the baby in it so that the shock of the cold mattress doesn't wake her up, and as a tactile toy for a little one (Claire likes to smoosh mine).

Are you here for WFMW? Check out my other tips:

How to prevent disease with a handy new product (update, it worked - we never got sick!)
How to easily feed a crowd.
How to pack a smaller diaper bag.
How to make Mush McPuna.
How to organize your Christmas list.
How to breathe new life into your lamps with spray paint.
How to use calling cards to give the illusion that you have it all together.
How to use GCal (again) for menu planning.
How to save yourself time in the kitchen with a hot water tap.
How to tie your shoes if you have lollypop thumbs like me.
How to feel good about spending insane money at Christmas.
How to prevent dryer fires.
How to use Google Calendar to organize your family.
How to save a zillion dollars with the Magic Bullet.
How to quickly cool Mac & Cheese.
How to soothe a teething baby without whiskey - oops! I mean Tylenol.
How to do Time Outs correctly.
How to improvise a changing table.
How to get a baby and a toddler into the car.
How to keep your house decluttered with an old waitressing mantra.
How to find a great baby sling.
How to manage your grocery list online.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again soon!

Visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW tips!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The letter I'm sending to my HMO....

February 5, 2008

To Whom It May Concern:

About a year ago, I took my daughter to Dr. M for her 18 month well-baby visit and walked out of his office with rotavirus. When I figured out what had happened (and after we all stopped vomiting on each other) I called to request that the toys be removed from the waiting and exam rooms at the doctors’ offices, because they spread germs.

Nothing happened for a very long time, and then today I took my kids to the doctor, and all of the “typhoid toys” as I called them, were gone! The rug was still there, with the letters and the animals, and the books are there, but the blocks and other things that get chewed on had been removed.

Now, my husband will tell you that it’s bad practice to listen to me, because it just encourages me, but I am very pleased and promise not to let it go to my head. Thank you very much for taking my concerns into consideration.

While I’m writing, I would just like to state for the record how happy we are with our doctors. Dr. Joel M is our family doctor, and he is wonderful. We have a great rapport with him. He has known our kids since before they were born, and really has a longitudinal perspective on our health as a family. He really listens to us, which is something I value in a physician. Dr. Scott S is my OB/GYN, and while I don’t see him as often as I see Dr. M, I have been unfailingly happy with his care, too. He catches great babies!

Doctors don’t work in a vacuum, and I have been extremely happy with both of the teams that support Dr. M and Dr. S. Annette, who is Dr. M's triage nurse, and Linda, who is Dr. S's, are absolutely terrific. They always listen to my concerns and give excellent advice on what to do. I never feel like they have me make unnecessary appointments. Even the front desk personnel (especially Kathy at Dr. M's office) and the nurses who check us in are fantastic. I’ve really gotten to know all of them, and I am always greeted warmly and professionally, and treated with caring and respect.

In short, I am extremely happy with our health care team, and I wish that I could keep each one of them forever. Thank you for hiring such terrific people. Please don't hesitate to share my letter with them.

And really, thanks for listening about the toys. It means a lot to me, and should make a big difference to a lot of local families.