Monday, March 31, 2008

The long awaited playdate pictures

Owen and Claire, racing...
Mary Grace and Sidney. Sidney's 12. Guess who thought she was a big girl, just like Sidney?
Tammy, Purity, Cameron, and Karen. Look at all that food! For a PLAY DATE! Like I said, I'm waiting for the lobsters to come from Maine before I can host.
Mary Grace with her new BFF, and Devon, who was nice enough to share his Guitar Hero video game with me.

Feed me, Seymour!

After a weekend of neglect, I went into the office with MG before bedtime to water our plants, and behold!!!

It's ALIVE!

The tomatoes are closest to the camera, and the zucchini are toward the back. The zucchini seeds were huge, so it makes sense that our little zucchini seedlings are more substantial than our tomato seedlings. I am so excited. And if all 25 zucchini plants and all 25 tomato plants survive this little experiment, I am going to be able to feed our whole town.

She is cute and enthusiastic, and I'm very glad we decided to do this. It's giving me hope that maybe I've overcome my black thumbs. Maybe the process of raising children makes raising plants look a lot less complicated and intimidating. Who knows?

In other news, The New Sonic Has Arrived!!! And it was decidedly average. As usual, the anticipation of the new thing was actually more enjoyable than the arrival of the new thing. MG and I had blue coconut cream slushes today. They were good. I think they're better in Florida, though, because it's hot there (having a frozen drink when it's only 55 outside is just silly), and because when I am at the Sonic in Florida, I'm in Florida. Oh well... Maybe I need to branch out and find my new signature drink. The cherry limeade sounds intriguing, and is a definite possibility for our next visit, now that I have the blue coconut cream slushie out of my system. What's your favorite Sonic drink?

Stay tuned - I've got a couple pictures to post...
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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Get OUT!

As part of our ongoing Two Under Two series, I need to share the comment I just left over at ParentDish on getting out of the house with two under two. Here's the original post:
I used to think it was such a challenge to get out the door with one kid -- now I realize just how good I had it. One toddler, what's the big deal? Make sure he doesn't have a load in his diaper, throw a sippy cup full of juice in your purse and you're good to go.

Now, of course, going anywhere with an older kid and a 7-week-old is a Very Big Deal indeed. There's the strategic baby-feeding, where you try and get him to eat close enough to your departure time that he doesn't get hungry again two seconds into the outing, but not SO close that he spits up all over the carseat. You have to consider what you're going to do with him if you plan to leave the car -- haul the carseat? Put him in a carrier? -- and dress him accordingly. His pooping schedule is totally unpredictable so you'd best be packing at least one diaper change, and maybe an extra outfit if things go Horribly Awry, and a blanket or two, and a bottle (for our bottle-feeding kid, anyway), and some burp rags, and . . .

It can be tempting to just pre-emptively give up and stay home, at least I often feel that way. There was a brief respite in Seattle's unpleasant "spring" weather this afternoon and my husband and I decided to take Riley to a nearby playground. Ten minutes into our baby-prepping, while holding a cranky baby who was hungry but taking forever to make it through a feeding, JB sighed with frustration and said forget it, he'd stay home with Dylan and I could take Riley by myself. I said dude I feel your pain but if we don't soldier through this kind of crap we will NEVER GO ANYWHERE AS A FAMILY. I said it in all caps, just like that.

Eventually we made it out the door, and all four of us hung out at the playground. For about five minutes, anyway, until the wind and rain picked up and I took Dylan back to the car to wait while Riley and his dad hit the swings.

You do what you have to do, right? This stage doesn't last forever, so people remind me. For those of you with more than one rugrat, did you find it challenging to step back into some of the more pain-in-the-butt baby routines, or was it easier the second time around?
Advanced prep is the key. Keep everything you can in the car. When mine were really little (19 months and newborn, on up until the big one was two) I kept a bag of diapers for each kid in the car. I also kept a spare outfit for each kid in the car (at least until we got past that blowout phase with the baby, at about 6 months, when their poops firm up with solid food). That way, you only have to carry the baby to the car (hold the big one's hand).

This is how I do it at my house... I get myself ready first. I put everything we're going to need (including sippy cups, my bag - which is a combo purse/diaper bag for both kids, keys, phone, etc.) on the table by the door. Then I get the big one ready - change diaper, shoes, coat (I do the shoes and coat on the changing table, so she doesn't have a chance to run off). Grab the little one, diaper her, coat on. Walk by the table, grab the stuff, go. I hold the big one's hand, carry the little one, tell the big one to get in while I strap the baby in, then walk around and strap in the big one. I've got it down to a 10 minute process, after a year of practice. You will too. (Oh my, she was so little in that video! I can't believe how much she's changed!)

My car (ok, it's a minivan, but I haven't accepted that, yet, so I call it "my car") is insane, though, I have toys, food, books, blankets, carriers, etc. etc. etc. Everything you could imagine - even a first aid kit and a roll of paper towels. I am Prepared with a capital P. The stroller and slings stay in the car, always, unless I am using them inside. If we go for a walk, we get the stroller out of the car and return it to the car when we're done. That way it is always there when I need it, one less thing to deal with.

I'm doing a series of posts on having Two Under Two at my blog - please come check it out for tips. The main thing is this: it will get easier when the weather gets warm. It will get easier still as the little one gains head control. Don't stay home all day. How sad. You can do it. What is there to be afraid of? What's the worst thing that could happen? Someone spazzes in public? So what? Tantrums happen. Get over yourself. Ask for help - people are a lot nicer than you think. Find a little old lady and say, "Hey, I need to deal with this spazzing toddler, can you stand here and mind the baby for a minute, and I'll be back in a flash..." then go put the toddler in your car, bring it around to the door, flip your hazards on, load the baby, kiss the old lady, and you're good. It'll be better next time. The only thing that helps you improve your technique is practice.

I can't imagine sitting home all day. I would lose my effing mind.

***

The bit about staying home all day was in reply to a previous comment, where someone said, "People kept asking me why I didn't get out of the house more with my toddler and my baby. I wanted to kick them. I tried it on my own *once.* That was enough for me. We drove to the Y so they could go to mini-care and I could workout. Baby was fine, but heavy to carry in her seat. Toddler had a meltdown about something or other and had to be CARRIED back to the car. OMG. Hell on earth to try to carry a workout bag, a diaper bag, a car seat and a toddler. So I stayed inside the house from then on."

You know what, the first batch of homemade brownies I made sucked. They were overcooked on the edges, and I tried to melt chocolate chips on top, but they stuck to the top of the brownies, and made an awful mess... And when the chocolate hardened you could've broken a tooth. But I tried a second time, and a third, and eventually I started to figure it out and I got it right, and now I make really excellent brownies. We learn by doing, so DO! You can do it!

Weekends go too fast...

I know I'm awful about posting on the weekends. It's because I'm usually off doing stuff with BJ & the kids so that I'll have something to write about for the rest of the week.

Friday I had a big freak out over my will (as in, Last Will and Testament). I have been very Calm and Grown Up and Mature and Objective and Responsible on the subject of my possible untimely demise, and what would happen to the kids if something happened to BJ and me, but once we got mine signed and notarized and mailed back, for some reason I just couldn't hold it in anymore. I called Mom and cried, "What if something happens to me? They won't even remember me! All they'll have left is a blog!"

This parenting thing is so much harder, emotionally, than I ever thought it could be. I was a worrier before, and now I have kids and I have to worry three times as much - once for me, and once for each kid. It's just awful. But, I got it out of my system, and the kids are covered if something happens. And because I'm a magical thinker, now that we've got something in writing I can rest easy that nothing will happen. It's always the stuff you never see coming that happens, right? Not the stuff you've prepared for. Well, we're prepared, now, so nothing can happen. I could probably walk right out in front of a bus and escape unscathed. Not that I'm going to try it, of course...

BJ had to work a lot this weekend, so on Saturday morning the girls and I had a playdate! Purity has forever raised the bar on playdate snacks - she had about a dozen different kinds of fresh, cut up fruit, cinnamon rolls, mimosas (!!!), two kinds of juice, and prettier china than I would ever think of letting my kids eat from at home. I told her that we'd have to wait on my turn at hosting, because my lobsters were backordered. Seriously, it was a heck of a spread. And who doesn't love a little happy hour with her playdate? (Answer: me, unfortunately, because if I drink before dinner I end up sick all day, but it was totally the thought that counted!!).

After the playdate (pictures TBP because my camera is out in the car and my shoes are upstairs and the half a glass of wine I've had has removed all my get up and go), the girls and I went to the Bed Bath and Beyond in search of an allergen barrier mattress pad for MG's bed. Every time I lay down on it, I start wheezing and getting all asthma-y. Not normal. Normally I use my inhaler a few times a year, and I've needed it several nights in a row. God only knows what's in the stupid thing, probably someone's old used odor eaters and cigarette butts instead of springs and coils. Just my luck, that's what I get for shopping the price rather than the quality. But, I figure a good mattress pad will save us. Well, the only one they had was $100, and I'll be damned if I'm going to spend half of what we spent on the mattress (which I swear to you is surprisingly comfortable, in spite of the fact that it was totally cheap) on a mattress pad. I'll wrap it in Saran Wrap first.

So, we didn't find the mattress pad, but we found a new cutting board (I only had one, and it was getting to be a gigantic PITA, so now the old one is for meat and the new one is for veg and I'm kosher) and a cute little goldfish dispenser for MG, and this awesome popcorn set that was $10 but came with a $20 gift card to the Indiana Popcorn Company, where you can buy chocolate covered popcorn, and while I have not yet gone back to buy the rest of their stock so that I can acquire vast quantities of chocolate covered popcorn, the though has crossed my mind... (Please note that my birthday is in approximately two weeks, and something along the lines of a Chocolate Lovers Variety Pack would not go unnoticed by your favorite blogger).

Right. So after dorking around at BB&B I decided that we would, in fact, go to Grammaland to see Gramma Denna. She didn't have a wedding to do, but she was home for the Sunday wedding, and so we got to hang out with her and Uncle Chuck all evening. Unfortunately, Gramma Denna and Mommy sat up way too late talking and drinking wine. I am a bit on the beaten side today.

Claire's at that magic age where she literally is doing something new every 24 hours. Today she figured out how to go down a staircase backwards so she won't kill herself. She went down the steps at Gramma's twice (and they're a challenge, because there are two landings and they double back, so you have to pivot). She was so proud of herself.

We drove home and then went to Target and Lowe's and blah blah blah I was tired and my feet hurt so we got a bucket of chicken on the way home and that was that. The only thing worth mentioning is that the girls were sitting in the back holding hands in the car on the way to Target. How cute is that? Anyone who is worried about having a second child, read that again. That, right there, is the reason why having two kids is awesome. They love each other so much.

The kiddos are in bed, I am having a glass of wine, and that was our weekend, folks. How was yours?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Remember this guy?

I was going through all our other YouTube videos (after posting the one below, which is Must See PBTV, and I saw this one again:



It's so hard to believe that the little guy in that video has, in less than a year, grown to be bigger than Claire (it's not just the perspective in the picture, he outweighs her by a pound!)

 


Wow.

We have a playdate with him, his brother Owen, his mom, Tammy, Purity, and Purity's kids tomorrow. Should be fun, and I bet I'll have lots more pictures.
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Breaking News!!!

(deet dee deet deet dee deet...)
Come to Mommy...

The new Sonic opens Monday! The new Sonic opens Monday!

Not that, you know, I'm going to be lining up in the drive-thru the moment they open to get my blue slushy coconut thingie, mind you, I'm just saying.

We got lunch at the Mickey D's on the way to the office, today. I figured it would keep the kids occupied while I did my thing, because BJ was out at the lab and not there to help. They were terrific, and I got everything done that I needed to. Then we ran out to the lab to deliver a check, and by the time we got there, the kids were asleep. So, I drove across town and parked in the parking lot of our next destination while they napped. I checked my e-mail and listened to a couple of podcasts and relaxed, which was really, really nice.

I took them to the new "Cookie Cutters" hair place today. We had a little drama:

I can't drive 55!!!

Put another buck in the therapy jar.

It's owned by the same person who owns the ice cream shop over there, too, so when you get a hair cut (which you should only do if you have a coupon, because it costs the earth, and I have a couple if you need them, so call me) you can take your coupon over and get a free kid's ice cream. Mary Grace orders food by color, so she wanted blue, which was cotton candy (disgusting) with M&Ms in it. Claire got pink with M&Ms and ate two bites. Mommy, on the other hand, got cheesecake ice cream with cherry pie filling and graham cracker crumbs. Mmmmmm...

So, Chuck E. Cheese's is right there, and we had to walk past it twice, so we had no choice but to stop and play some SkeeBall and stuff...

After that we went to Big Lots (I'm not sure why, but I felt called to Big Lots. I didn't find anything fabulous, though). Then we went to the take & bake pizza place, grabbed pizza, and came home. BJ's cutting it right now. Mmmmm...

So, all in all, it was a high calorie day, but it was fun, and MG's hair looks totally cute now. More Shirley Temple, less Richard Simmons. Claire's bangs are out of her eyes, too, which I'm sure she appreciates. I'll tell you what, though, it's a good thing I had a coupon, because if I had spent $20 on the 12 snips that they did on Claire's hair, I would've been ticked.

Although, they did about $50 worth of screaming, each, so it was a bargain.

Great Moments in Parenting

A couple of days ago we were getting ready to leave, and MG wanted to take my so-tacky-it's-cute purple polka dotted purse. I said that was fine, but I wanted to shorten the strap on it so that she wouldn't trip and break her face. I tried explaining this, but I guess I was in too much of a hurry, because she didn't understand. When I took it from her, she hit me and said, "Mommy, you piss me off!"

*sigh*

It took every ounce of my parental self-control (which I obviously lack, if she's heard this phrase enough to use it correctly) to not laugh. I sent her upstairs to get her shoes so I could call my mom and laugh hysterically.

The other Great Moment recently was when we were in the car on the big highway headed up to Grammaland. Someone in front of me did something stupid, and I had to brake hard. I didn't say anything, but from the backseat we heard MG say, "Shit!"

BJ points out that it's worse that she wasn't just mimicking me in the moment - that she's heard that word so often in that same circumstance that she knows what it means and that you use it when you're braking.

*sigh*

Oh, and Claire dropped something the other day, and she said, "Shit," too. So, I guess that makes me a completely shitty mother. Ha.

Frankly, I plan to adopt Uncle Brandon's philosophy when it comes to swearing, which is, loosely, "I don't care if you use those words, because they're just words, so long as you don't use them around people and in situations where someone else will be offended. That means you don't say them in church or at school, in court, around little old ladies, and most importantly, you don't use them around your other parent!"

Thursday, March 27, 2008

In a meeting



I've been working way too much lately. So has Claire.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Notes from a playdate

We had a super playdate today. It made me realize that I am a total internet addict, though, and I need to write down the links I promised to share before they leak out of the sieve that is my memory...

First of all, the cool iPod thing. (For those of you who weren't at the playdate, it's a speaker that you plug your iPod into, then you zip the iPod up inside and you can let your baby/toddler cart it around and sing her songs without having to worry that she's going to chew on your iPod and destroy it). Best of all, it was FREE. It's $10, with free shipping, and if you use Google Checkout for the first time, you get a $10 credit. Hello, free. And we use it all the time. It clips nicely onto the stroller. Heh, I pimped my ride... Just follow the instructions on Buy.com, and e-mail me if you have any trouble.

Second, is PaperBackSwap. Y'all, I have saved at least $400 with PBS. You post the books you don't want, and then people request them for you, and you send them via media mail (which is like $2.13 or something insanely cheap), and then when they receive it you get a credit which you can use to request a book for free from someone else. You can even add money to your account, then print postage directly from your computer, saving you a trip to the post office. It ROCKS. If you are willing to wait to get the books you want, it's a great way to save money. I would've spent $1000 on these books if I'd bought them new. ($400 assumes the used book price, but I rarely make it down to the Half Price Bookstore). Please click on the ad on the right (beneath the BlogHer ad) so that I get "credit" for referring you if you're interested in signing up.

See, now the mind colander is leaking and I can't remember what the third thing was. That's what happens when you're a mom. Oh well!

OH! The Pepsi Points. If you look inside the caps, or inside your 12 and 24 packs, there are points which you can redeem for song downloads at Amazon.com. Just go to www.pepsistuff.com. That's how we got all our Choo Choo Soul songs to put on our iPod to play on our speaker thing while Mommy reads books and blogs. Hahaha...

(Just in case you're wondering, I type 100 words per minute, so that's how I make time to blog, and I read while I'm nursing Claire. Oh, and my house is a complete disaster area. :) )

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Two Under Two: I need YOU!

I've mentioned this to some of you, but here is the official announcement:

I am writing a book about having two kids under two.

I have 9 pages of outline, which should be at least 100 pages when I flesh it out and tell all the stories I want to tell along with the bare bones of the outline. I already have 14 pages of actual text written.

This is the farthest I have ever gotten into anything I've written on my own (without a professor and a due date looming).

So, Karen, Jenny M., Jenny B, ChicMama, Katy, and Abrar - you're already getting copies of the outline via e-mail. I want you to turn on the tracking in your copy of word (tools -> track changes or Ctrl+shift+e) and fill in the blanks. Put in things you think I'm missing, personal anecdotes, stories, examples, hints, tips, suggestions, product recommendations, etc. etc. etc. If anyone else wants to take a whack at my outline, email me at prbabies@gmail.com (this means you, Abrar, because I don't have your e-mail address!!) and I will send it to you, too. The more the merrier!!

I've gotten such an overwhelming response to the Two Under Two posts. I really think that I'm being led to write this book.

I'll keep you posted!

Fashion Goddess


This is the reason why my Kohl's charge has a lot of miles on it.

Couldn't you just eat this little outfit with a spoon?

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I do this every time...

Stupid gardening. I have $100 worth of stuff in my virtual cart at burpee.com, I'm researching grow lights, and I'm thinking insane things like, "I could put raised beds along the cul-de-sac side of our yard, which would keep Max out of them (because it's outside the fence) and I could grow all of our food for the next year!!"

Nevermind the fact that I know nothing about canning or preserving (nor do I have anywhere to store a ton of canned and/or preserved food). Nevermind that I can't even grow flowers, much less food that won't kill us. Nevermind that I'm pretty sure it would look totally stupid to have a garden on that side of the house. Nevermind that I don't even really think I like gardening very much (Hello. Bugs.)... I just can't have a couple of stupid tomato plants. I have to have an expensive, overwhelming project that I'm going to hate in a month when it's too much work. Then I'm going to have an eyesore when the whole thing dies (after attracting every critter in a 30 mile radius, of course), and goes to seed.

No, Amy. No, no, no. Thou shalt not. Just be happy with your 25 stupid cherry tomato plants and your 25 stupid zucchini plants that you're starting from seed. Only half of those will live to get planted outside (if that). And only half of those will survive, leaving you with a reasonable number of actual plants (6 or 7) to get actual tomatoes and zucchinis from. Do NOT start some factory-farm-in-the-city operation that is going to make you hate life all summer long. Because you do this every time (see also: the guitar you never play, the sewing machine you never use, the paints that were never opened, the multiple containers of scrapbooking crap that's collecting dust...). Buying the stuff and dreaming about what you could do is what you're good at. Actual implementation is not your bag. Chill.

I got a packet of flower seeds for the front, a packet of herbs to do a manageable 3 foot container herb garden, and the aforementioned tomatoes and zucchinis, and IF all goes well this year, and IF it doesn't all die immediately, and IF I don't hate life until the first frost when I can quit babying the garden already (because, really, I need something else to take care of...), then maybe we'll think about expanding my little garden empire in 2009. However, this is not the year of the giant garden. I must show some self-restraint (for a change).

This is the year of the manageable garden, and the year of not screwing myself over.

Spring Project

As soon as I feel like getting shoes and coats on, we're going to Menards to buy seeds to start our container garden plants.

I was going to do the farm co-op, but they doubled their prices on me from 2007 to 2008. Just my luck. Technically we could afford it, but if I'm going to spend $500 a year on produce, it's going to be cleaned, cooked, and served by someone else.

So I've been reading about "square foot gardening" and container gardening and I think we're going to do some tomatoes and zucchini in the back yard. Maybe I'll do a container of herbs, too. Depends on what I find at Menards, seed wise.

Those of you who know me are laughing right now, because I have two black thumbs. I can't grow plants. Not at all. My house is where plants come to die. I have even cited this as evidence why I shouldn't be allowed to have kids... I mean, if I can't keep a fern alive, how am I going to keep kids alive. See, the problem is that plants don't cry when they want something. Kids do.

Does anyone know of a variety of crying tomatoes?

So, stay tuned to see how our garden grows. If nothing else, it'll be something to keep us busy a few times a week...

(Please leave any and all gardening tips in the comments - I need all the help I can get!!)

Monday, March 24, 2008

She sleeps!

So, I had to pick up a prescription refill today, and as long as we were out I figured I'd make it an outing and take the kids to the library. MG played with all the kids while Claire did her best to maim herself (falling off stairs, getting run over by rocking horse, etc.).
You can't see it at this angle, but the sign on the left says, "Parents! Keep your kids off the stairs!"

The sign doesn't say how one is supposed to do this.


This gorgeous little girl ran up to me, with MG's hand in hers, and said, "Hi, my name is Annie. I'm from Korea!" and she totally didn't believe me when I said, "This is Mary Grace. Her Aunt Jill is from Korea." She just looked at me like, "Stupid woman probably thinks that Korea is in Illinois...." and walked away.
Wherefore art thou, Annie from Korea?

After the library, we walked past the new shops that are going in across the street (a bakery, a Mexican place, and a noodle place, whatever that means...), then walked back up the side of the street where the Global Grocery is. I've been in there a couple times, and I'd met Mohammad and Abrar - the owners - and their gorgeous little girl Safia, before. They're expecting a baby boy this summer (I swear, every baby being born this summer is a boy). She's enrolled Safia at the Montessori by my house, and I invited them to stop by and try my baby carriers. Of course, I referred her to my ongoing "two under two" series, since Safia will turn two the month after the baby's born.

It takes so little to thrill the kids at this age. It's too bad it won't last. Soon they'll want cell phones.

On a whim, I invited Karen, Owen, and Cameron to come over for supper. Now I know what it would be like to have two sets of twins - MG and Owen are 3 weeks apart, and Claire is 4 months older than (and smaller than!) Cameron. It was kind of a nuthouse for a couple of hours, but it was a lot of fun!
"Awww... Do you have to leave so soon? I just found your toys!"

We got the girlies upstairs after they left, gave them a bath, got their jammies on, and MG was asleep before the end of Horton Hears a Who. I e-mailed Karen and said, "Can you guys come over every night?"

It's too bad that I don't have the energy to do this many things every day. Maybe she'd sleep. Claire was the tough customer tonight. I don't know if she was overstimulated or what. She's sleeping restlessly, too, so I'd better go sleep while I can.

Thanks for a fun day, everyone!

Please don't look at the dishes

One of Mary Grace's new favorite activities is playing in a sink full of bubbles. This is strange on many levels. First of all, she doesn't like bubbles in the bath, but she likes them in the sink. Second, this is an activity that closely resembles housework, and I happen to know that she inherited her aversion to housework from me, so why would she be voluntarily doing something that looks so much like washing dishes? Third, when she plays in the sink her hands get really clean, and we all know that toddlers aren't happy if they aren't sticky and/or filthy and/or germy.

So, today she dragged the pink chair over to the sink, in an effort to convince me that it was no big deal at all to fill it up with bubbles for her. I obliged, but didn't bother to return the chair to its home when I replaced it with the safer, taller blue chair. You can guess what happened as soon as I turned my back for three seconds...

OOPS.

And, of course, being the crap mother that I am, instead of plucking Claire from the jaws of danger, I grab the camera.


She is such a monkey. And she wants so badly to be just like her big sister.

I made the best French toast this morning out of the cherry cobbler bread I got for yesterday's dinner. It was amazing. Hence the dishes. Sweet mother of calories, it was good.

The experimental glaze on last night's ham was okay. Not as astonishingly good as I expected it to be. I used pineapple juice concentrate, a little bit of maple flavoring, brown sugar, some salt, minced crystalized ginger, and ground cloves. I think it would've been better if I'd used crushed pineapple instead of pineapple juice. The ginger was nice, but it needed some more. It kind of got lost in all the other flavors. Oh well, maybe next year.

Thanks for the really sweet comments on yesterday's post. You make me smile. I am working on the book, actually. You know, in all my free time. Thank God I type 100 words per minute, or nothing would ever get done around here.
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Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Rest of the Story

We all know that Ray Kroc was the guy who found the McDonald brothers restaurant and turned it into the global empire that it is today, but what most of us don't know is the (completely fictional) tale of how the McDonald brothers got the idea to open the first McDonald's in the first place.

It all started with their mother. Hattie McDonald was from the Old Country. She spoke with a brogue, loved the bagpipes, and was as good a cook as the British Isles ever produced. She would lovingly prepare the haggis and other traditional fare for the brothers Mac every day. Her Sunday meals were elaborate enough for the Queen herself. Her holiday dinners were spectacular.

But poor old Hattie McDonald, as she was the mother of sons, her efforts were never fully appreciated. For her boys would sooner hoover up a meal in eleven seconds than linger over the subtle flavors and textures that Old Mrs. McDonald had so lovingly prepared. Her husband, alas, was no help. He would simply belch, say, "Boys will be boys," and retire to the couch with his belt unbuckled for a nap, while Hattie would spend as many hours in the cleaning as she had in the cooking, feeling very unappreciated and taken advantage of.

And so one fine summer Sunday, Hattie had finally had it. She looked about her kitchen and said, "Enough! I will no longer slave in the kitchen for these ungrateful heathens. If they are going to eat in eleven flat seconds, then I shall cook in eleven flat seconds, and we'll see if they like it!"

Poor Hattie just wanted a little appreciation. She just wanted someone to say, "Gee, Ma, this is a fine haggis you've made for us today!" or even, "This parritch just keeps getting better and better, Mother dear!"

Hattie pounded out some ground beef as thin as you please, and fried it up in a pan. She cut up some potatoes and fried them in oil. And to top it all off, she served the "meal" on old newspapers, instead of on her dear departed great grandmother's china.

Hattie's plan was that the brothers McDonald would hate this hurried up meal, and would finally come to appreciate all of the loving attention that she had been paying them with her food, all these long years.

Alas, we know that it wasn't meant to be. The brothers McDonald loved the meal. What's more, they saw the potential for a fair living, if not an empire, in those paper wrapped sandwiches. Then Ray Kroc came along, and the rest, as they say, is history...

But what happened to poor old Hattie? Did she stick her head in her gas oven? Did she cut herself while slicing the haggis and bleed to death? Did she leap off of the first set of golden arches to her demise?

We may never know, friends. Because I made all of this up entirely. But it is exactly the kind of thing that runs through my head as I'm spending an hour cleaning dishes from a meal that I spent four hours preparing, and that my family has hoovered up in eleven flat seconds.


Haggis picture courtesy of sausages.co.uk. The preceding tale was fiction, and any resemblance to any person or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Except for Ray Kroc and the McDonald brothers, because they really existed, but I don't believe that their mother's name was Hattie, or that she committed suicide.

Happy Easter!!!

It's too late to write with any kind of narrative coherence, so you are getting a numbered list tonight. Sorry kids.

1) It just confuses everyone (including your husband) when you don't "do" Santa but you have to go to Walmart at 11 pm on Saturday night before Easter because you have to get Easter baskets for the kids.

2) It's stupid to try to do an outdoor egg hunt in this state, where it will be 40 degrees and raining tomorrow. This is also the reason why cute dresses and sandals don't happen in this house - because we would still have to wear them with our winter coats. Wearing spring dresses with sandals and winter coats is just foolish.

3) I really need to get my winter coat cleaned, because it has macaroni and cheese all over it.

4) There are not enough hiding places in the living room for 48 plastic eggs.

5) The cat is having way too much fun batting around 48 plastic eggs.

6) Now I won't be able to find them, either.

7) I'm making experimental ham tomorrow. Instead of using water in the pan when I heat it up, I'm going to use frozen pineapple juice concentrate. I'm not sure what will happen.

8) This may be where the new Family Tradition of eating Chinese food on Easter starts.

9) I was going to get little pastel colored Gideon sized Bibles to go in the kids' baskets, as a nod to the whole Real Reason (tm) why tomorrow's a holiday.

10) ...then I remembered that they can't read, so I got bunnies.

11) The people who work midnights at Walmart get paid the same, no matter how many people they do or do not move through their line. Consequently, they do not have the same burning desire to move my items quickly across the scanner that I wish they had. I thought I was going to be there until shift change at 6 am.

12) When you go to Walmart in the middle of the night, they never, ever have size 5 Pampers Cruisers in a box. How many times has this happened to me? I will tell you. Three. Have you ever been to Walmart and found that they were out of something? No. These are things that only happen to me. At midnight.

13) I slept late this morning, and now my body doesn't understand that it's time to sleep again, so I'm sleepy but wired. It's uncomfortable.

14) I may just stay up and eat all the candy before the kids get up. Then I'll have to go BACK to Walmart at 5 am for more candy, AND I'll be buzzing on chocolate.

15) I need to investigate using melatonin to help MG sleep better. A friend of mine is using it with her 3 year old with great success. Any thoughts? Of course I'll ask our doctor, and talk BJ into it before hand, but it is something I'm interested in investigating.

16) It annoys me when I use words like "investigating" twice in one bullet point.

* Those weren't bullet points.

17) Once you get past ten, it's hard to know where to stop.

18) I should've quit with 16.

19) Now I'm really stuck...

20) Oh wow, it is obviously past my bedtime. Where's the benedryl?

21) I totally forgot to complain about the couple who had their 4 or 5 year old and their 1 year old at Walmart at midnight. People? Are you kidding?? And they weren't just getting some emergency thing that they ran out of - like little Morton's asthma inhaler or something. They were doing major grocery and clothes shopping. They spent $150! At midnight! At Walmart!! What is wrong with people? Are they a whole family of insomniacs? Do the kids pull the midnight shift at the preschool? What is going on??

22) Ok, now I'm being all judgmental AND overpunctuating AND inappropriately using capital letters. Nighty night.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Claire's Talking

Claire's budding vocabulary now includes the phrase, "Whazzat?" (translation: what's that). She says it often and honestly seems to want an answer. If you don't reply, or if you name the wrong object she will repeat herself.

It's too funny.

We're in the car on our way home from Grammaland. More later...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Too busy having fun to post....


Claire, Amelia, and Mary Grace after a busy day at the Children's Museum.

More later...
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Babies and the Big Screen

We took the girlies to see Horton Hears a Who tonight. The book is better, but isn't it always? Seriously, though, I thought they did a good job of stretching a 10 minute book into a 1:30 movie. There were some giggles for the parents. It wasn't too scary (Vlad Vladikoff could've been toned down, but he didn't seem to bother MG). Claire fell asleep. My favorite part was when Horton was chasing Vlad, and he was running up the mountain, and MG said, "Look at him go!"

She talked a little too loudly sometimes, but I did too, so what can I say? All in all, MG was very good. I think we'll be doing the free matinées on weekends when they're toddler-appropriate. I picked up the schedule while we were there.

Did you know that you get a discount at the theater with a AAA membership? I'm telling you, between the Speedway gas card where you get 4% off and the AAA discounts elsewhere, and the one tow we've already used, I think our membership has already paid for itself.

Speaking of memberships, we're headed to the Children's Museum with Heather and Amelia tomorrow. When I was talking to MG about it, she called Amelia "Melly," which I think is a great nickname for her.

So, if anyone's stalking us, now you know where we'll be.

I have a headache, so good night, folks.

Did you sell Claire?

So, with all the spots on MG lately, I haven't said a whole lot about Claire. Claire is hilarious. She is the size of your average 8 month old, but she's doing 1 year old things - like pushing things and walking behind them - and it is so bizarre to see such a little baby doing that! She is cruising like a champ, and will get the memo any minute now that she can let go and walk on her own.

And then I am hosed.

She loves to take a bath. I guess it's because she's a Pisces. I think she would happily stay in the bath 24 hours a day if we would let her. When we run the faucet to fill the tub, she'll stand at the side and very deliberately throw the toys in. She picks one up, throws it in, watches it carefully until it stops moving, then bends down, gets another one, repeat. It's really funny to watch. I will have to get it on video for you.

Her other cute new trick is that if you're holding her and you say, "Awwwww..." she'll put her head down on your shoulder and pat you.

Baby hugs are the best.

Remember the old Cosby bit with the go-kart songs? Nah nah nah nah nah nah naaaaaahhh... (listen at about 1:10 if you don't know what I mean). Well, my parents would say that when we were riding our big wheels, etc. long before we had any idea what they were talking about. So, of course, when Claire is pushing her toys around and walking, or crawling up the stairs, I've been singing, "Nah nah nah nah nah nah naaaaaaahhh..." to her. And now when she goes up the stairs, she says, "Nah nah nah!" It's hilarious.

I'll have to get that on video, too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Don't Listen to Grandma Dinana

Grandma Dinana does not want me posting her medical advice all over the internet. She is afraid that someone will read the other post about hives and end up sicker or deader because they didn't think their hives were an allergy. She does not want to be responsible for putting information out in the world that could cause someone to ignore their symptoms (like hives) and fail to get treatment. Bad karma, that.

Remember kids, the only medical advice you should take from the internet is: Don't take medical advice from the internet. And while we're at it, especially don't take medical advice from me, because WebMD and a few hundred episodes of ER are no substitute for medical school, regardless of what I actually believe (which is that I'm a better doctor than most doctors).

If you have hives, it is probably bad, and you should get treated. What are you doing googling "hives" when you should be in the car, on the way to your medical professional of choice? Google can't save you now! Run, don't walk, to the nearest doctor. Show them your spots, and then decide what to do. If you must take advice from this blog (which is a parenting blog and not at all a medical blog) on the subject of hives, I advise you to take a benadryl and then drive yourself to the doctor. Try not to fall asleep at the wheel. Benadryl knocks me out.

WFMW: Shortcuts.com

FINALLY, they've done what they should've done when loyalty cards came out - they've made it possible to "clip" coupons with your store card, so you don't have to deal with paper coupons anymore. (Requires registration and a store loyalty card to use).

Of course, the number of coupons on Shortcuts.com is limited right now, and the number of stores is limited too. However, couldn't hurt to sign up if you live near me and shop at the Payless, or if you are in another area they serve. Hopefully they'll add more stores in the future, and more coupons!

By the way, I submitted another tip to Daytipper today, and it's dropped from $3 a tip to $1. I can't help but feel that this is my fault. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted, and $1 is still $1. What is it they say? Count your pennies and the dollars will follow?

Here for Works for me Wednesday? Check out some of my greatest hits...

How to teach your baby to use a straw.
How to make money with Daytipper.
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!

Caution! Genetics at Work

Well, I took MG to the doctor yesterday to talk about her polka dots, and he said, "You know, it was probably the antibiotic. Give her another dose when you get home and see what happens."

I don't like doing science on my kid.

He did give me some "non-drowsy antihistamine" to give her instead of Benedryl. So far every adult I've mentioned it to has said, "What's the point of that?"

So, I called first thing this morning, and they're going to figure out what we should do (keep giving her the amoxicillin and lots of Benedryl? Switch to something else? Quit altogether because when he looked at her ear yesterday it was all better? Amputate?).

BJ's mom also is sensitive to antibiotics. She told me that hives aren't a true allergy, they're a side effect. I was worried that the hives would somehow lead to breathing problems, maybe with repeated exposures (in fact, I debated about whether or not to follow the doctor's instructions at all), but if they're two different reactions, I don't have to worry about that anymore. (Edited to add - be sure to read this post if you have read this paragraph).

I guess it's better than chicken pox. And my faith in vaccines is restored. It's so interesting to see pieces of our parents in our kids (even if it is annoying things like hives).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Good news all around

Well, the spots are gone. When I got her dressed this morning, I could only find one, instead of the dozens that she had last night. I'm waiting to hear back from the doctor's office, whether they still want us to come in this afternoon, and whether or not we should continue the antibiotics.

I didn't say so in my original post, but I was so worried that they were going to say it was fleas or lice! Jenny posted a comment with a bunch of different rash illnesses that kids get. A surprising number of them start with conjunctivitis, which she had a little touch of last week (Thursday night, when the fever came on so suddenly). I'll have to remind the doctor of that when they call. She also has had high (102.5ish) fevers in the evenings. But I swear to God she was fine before the party, and she'd been on antibiotics for 24 hours, so I thought we were in the clear. If all the people we know come down with whatever she's got, I'm going to feel SO guilty!!

Anyway, the spots are gone, that's good news #1. The other good news is that I got her into the preschool I wanted to get her into today. She'll start in September. Their cut-off date is September 1, so I didn't even need to worry about a waiver. They have a 3 year old program, a 4 year old program, and a pre-kindergarten program for kids who aren't quite ready for kindergarten when it comes around. The Pre-K program is a 4-half-days a week program. So, we'll have lots of options. I'm really excited, but I can't believe my baby is going to go to school this fall. That blows my mind. Before I know it, she'll be getting her Ph.D.

A Pox Upon Us?

Under the heading of, "things she'll kill me for sharing with the world when she's a teenager," MG pooped in the tub last night. So, we pulled the kids out, and they were exhausted and freezing so I just said, "Oh hell, it's just a little poop," cleaned them up as best I could with wipes, put their jammies on, and started putting them to bed (while BJ cleaned up the mess, God love him).

MG was really itchy while I was trying to get her to sleep. I actually scolded her (hello, Guilt! Are you back again?) because she wouldn't lie still. I figured that there was a little soap left on her, or that her scalp itched because she hasn't had her hair washed in a couple days.

I finally got her to sleep around 10:15, and she was back up at 12 am, crying and a little hysterical. Now, she still isn't sleeping through the night (I know!), but usually she just calmly comes and sneaks into our bed, because she's learned that if she wakes me up I take her back to her room. So the crying was weird.

BJ took her back to her bed while I finished getting Claire back to sleep (she had gotten up before MG, and was almost out again). She continued to cry, "I need my mommy!" This is also unusual. Usually she'll register a token protest if Daddy takes her back to bed instead of Mommy, but this went on, and on, and on...

I finally went in there and the 3 of us laid down together. "Mommy, rub my back!" she said, as she hitched up her nightie. She likes "skin to skin" contact. After rubbing her sides for a few moments, I noticed that she felt bumpy. BJ had dozed off by this time, so I woke him up and made him turn on the light (she would've spazzed if I'd gotten up, and he would've been awakened anyway, so I saved us the spazzing by preemptively waking him up). I could see bumps all over her side. "Go get my dad!" I said, thinking, "Oh my God, she's having an allergic reaction to her antibiotic!"

Dad came up right away (it is so convenient having a nurse in the house!) and said, "It looks like chicken pox." It's not blistered (yet?) but it's raised and red. He said the pattern wasn't what you'd expect for an allergy or hives, and that antibiotic allergies are usually respiratory. He went to the pharmacy for us to get benedryl and calamine lotion, and I kept her awake by telling her about what TV was like when I was a kid. Have you ever tried to explain The Flintstones? It sounds completely insane.

I asked Dad to be sure to get the correct dose for a 30 pound kid. Apparently the pharmacist said, "Oh, we can't even recommend that for kids under 6 anymore. Now, if you'd asked before, the dose for a 30 pound kid used to be half a teaspoon, but I can't tell you that now. Sorry," wink wink.

I would like to invite the person or people who decided that a few stupid parents overdosing their kids was sufficient reason to take all cold medicines away from all parents of children under 6 to see me in hell!

Anyway, the benedryl that is Not Recommended but extremely effective knocked her out like a prize fighter and she even slept all night! This morning I called the doctor's office and said, "Did I decline to have MG vaccinated for chicken pox back when I'd never had a sick kid and didn't know any better?" and they said, "No, she had the vaccine, and she's not due for another dose until kindergarten..." and I explained what was going on, and that she was on antibiotics, and the nurse advised me to hold off on giving her any more antibiotic until she's been seen, just in case.

So, that's that. Either she's allergic to antibiotics or she has chicken pox. I guess that even someone who is vaccinated can get chicken pox, but it's usually a mild case. The chicken pox vaccine is live virus, and Claire got that vaccine on Friday, so it seems to me that if she caught it from a weakened strain (in the vaccine) and if she has had the vaccine, she shouldn't get a bad case, right? I'm waiting to call the mommies of all the kids who were here on Sunday until I know what we're dealing with. No sense freaking Karen and Jenny out by saying, "Owen, Cameron, and Monty were exposed to chicken pox..." if it's an allergy, right? They have plenty of time to lay in supplies of black market benedryl and calamine lotion, if it is chicken pox. Hell, I'll even deliver. That's the kind of friend I am. I may give your kids disease, but I will do whatever I can to help you through it!

Monday, March 17, 2008

It's Video Day

Yeah, I know, I'm kind of phoning it in today with all these videos, but this one goes out to all my peeps who are teachers. Word.

This is amazing!

I love Mental Floss - it is one of my favorite websites. This video blew my mind this morning:



When they started talking about Lou Gehrig's disease, I knew I had to share. Isn't technology amazing? The creativity that the scientists and engineers of the world show when trying to improve life for everyone just astonishes me and humbles me.

I wonder what the State of the Art will be when the PBs are my age. It boggles my mind.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Blog Party - Door Prize Winner

Remember last week when we had the Big Blog Party? Well, tonight we chose the winner of our door prize... A $20 Amazon.com Gift Card... Take a look!

Party Pics 2


Finally got the hang of this cake thing.


Claire's friend Monty, who also likes cake.


There you go, big girl!

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Party Pics


Note the feet...


Cute suit, huh?


Cake! The carrot is because she's teething, and it was cold and hard to chew on.


Somebody really likes cake!
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Looks like the party's over...

Boy am I tired! Wow. But I think everyone had a good time. Poor Claire's teeth were giving her a hassle, and Uncle Chuck no-showed!, but otherwise it was a lot of fun.

I'm too tired to be humorous. We're getting take out for dinner. I think we'll all be asleep by 8 pm.

Thanks, again, everyone!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Preschool

We tried out that new church about a month ago, the Presbyterian one, and since we haven't been back yet (due to a combination of major and minor illnesses, travel, and laziness) they called this afternoon to say, "Whassup?"

I mentioned that we were very interested in their preschool programs, because MG was going to be three in the fall...

"You'd better call right away, to get her on the waiting list," she said.

"Waiting list?"

"Oh yeah, the preschool is in demand. My kids didn't go there, because we didn't live in this area. No, the preschool where my kids went, you called to get them on the waiting list the day you got home from the hospital from giving birth! In fact, you should really put Claire on the list, too."

Are you freaking kidding me?

People, these aren't college admissions. It's preschool. I have to believe that one faith-based finger painting and play-dough eating program is going to be pretty similar to another. I mean, assuming that we're not talking about the difference between a preschool where the kids play and learn vs. one where the kids are beaten and do slave labor... It's preschool, for cryin' out loud. They're practically babies.

Do people honestly believe that if they don't get their kids into the "right" preschool, they won't go to the "right" college or get the "right" job? Do they worry so much about this that it starts the day their kid is born? What is that doing to the kids?

Is it like this everywhere? I mean, I had heard, "Oh, get on the waiting list for the lab school at the university right away..." because I knew that everyone in town thought that it was The Best, and blah blah blah, but you know what? I'm not paying more than it cost me for a semester of college (literally) for a semester of preschool, folks. Not gonna happen. No amount of money is going to change the fact that they're going to finger paint and eat clay. The clay tastes just as bad at the cheap preschool. And I refuse to believe that I have to send the kids to the "right" preschool so that they can network with the other kids who will be going to the "right" college, etc. They have the rest of their lives to be in the rat race. Let them eat paint!

Maybe I'm overconfident because I know my kids are brilliant (no, really, they are. I don't talk about it often because I don't want to brag - hence the name of the blog, ha - but MG is 31 months old and she knows the planets. In order.), so I know that they're going to do well in life even if I never send them to school at all. I firmly believe that I could "unschool" these kids and they'd turn out fine (not that I will. Mommy needs to get back to work). So, maybe I have the luxury of saying, "Oh, preschool doesn't matter..." But maybe when you look at your kid, and his eyes are a little too close together, you say, "Yeah, junior, you're going to need all the help you can get, I'd better get you into the Harvard Preschool Program ASAP. It could be your only chance." (See also: George W. Bush)

That's the only reasonable explanation I can come up with for this sort of behavior. What's the preschool scene like where you live? Is it a throw down at registration for kindergarten too? What am I in for? Are there any other 3 year waiting lists looming in my future that I need to know about? After all, "rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?" (Thanks W.)


picture stolen from netministry.com via Google Images

The Show Must Go On

Well, MG has an ear infection (not contagious, and even if she was she's been on antibiotics for 24 hours) and Claire is fussy due to teeth, but the house is clean and Mimi's bringing the cake, so the party will go on.

I've got my iPod all loaded with Kid Tunes (Nosrus Tap, Choo Choo Soul, etc.), and we can't wait to see you!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pepsi Points

By the way, we've been using Grandpa Bob's Pepsi Points to buy Choo Choo Soul's music for the kids on Amazon, so if you drink Pepsi and you're not interested in your points, and you want to e-mail them to me for MG's music collection, I'm sure it would make her feel better.

I just need the ten digit code. Not the lids or the cardboard from the 24 pack or anything.

Thanks in advance!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stormfront

It was like watching a storm come in. Everything was calm. Then her eye got gooey. Then she started whining a lot. She said her throat made her "sad." We took her temperature and it was 102. It came on in less than an hour - in the time it took me to get dinner on the table, she came down sick. This was after an afternoon playing in the sunshine outside, taking Max for a walk, pulling Claire in the wagon. She was fine - better than fine! She was great. And now she isn't. How does it happen so fast?

She's tucked into bed, upstairs, with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Daddy, watching Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas.

Fortunately we already had a doctor's appointment scheduled for tomorrow. Claire's having her 12 month well-baby visit, and MG's having her ear re-checked after last month's infection.

The birthday party might be postponed. Stay tuned for the latest news.

Claire's One Year Checklist

Your favorite toy for playing is: The Fridge Phonics alphabet magnets

Your favorite toy for snuggling is: Moses the doll

Your favorite food is: Mac & Cheese

Your favorite song is: Evermore

Your favorite activity is: walking with someone holding onto your hands

Your favorite place to go is: the Children's Museum

Your best friend is: Mary Grace

Something new that you're doing: "cruising" along the furniture

Something you've mastered: crawling up the stairs

Something people say about you: "What a beautiful baby!" and "She's so little!"

Something that you're saying is: Dada, Mama, kitty kitty, good dog

Something Dad and I are proud of you for: You are so easy-going and calm. Nothing ruffles you. You take everything in stride, even when you get mad or hurt.

Something surprising about you: Your hair is straight! We really expected it to curl, considering that curly hair is dominant, but I guess your sister got all the curls in the family. Different is beautiful, though, and you're lucky that I don't have to comb out the knots every day.

Your nicknames: Claire Bear, Puddin'

Thinking like a kid instead of like a Mom

Oops.

We got Claire's birthday present on Sunday, and went ahead and gave it to her early (mainly because I absolutely hate waiting to give people presents, and once I have purchased a present I want to give it to the recipient right away, regardless of what day it is. I have no self control).


Claire didn't seem to mind.


This super-fun play structure folds down into two regular sized tote bags. How cool is that? We were going to get one of those big plastic Little Tykes playhouses, but we don't have room for it inside, and BJ said, "We're going to have to be careful of spiders if we leave it outside," which completely ruined the appeal for me. He's right, though. Our house is in a woodsy area, and our spiders are the size of small animals. Making the inside of the playhouse spider proof would require a ton of extremely toxic chemicals, and since we're trying to be all organic that would just be silly. This one, though, will fold down to nothing and provide hours of indoor, spider free entertainment. And if we really want to, there's no reason why we can't take it outside (maybe on a tarp) on a sunny day.

So, why did I call this "thinking like a kid instead of like a Mom"? One word. Balls.

The set came with 50 "magic" balls. There's nothing magical about them, they're just plastic. Well, right next to it on the shelf at Toys R Them they had a bag of 250 more balls. "50 doesn't seem like much fun," I said, "Let's get the bag of extra balls, too."

300 balls. In my house. Being thrown. Being "juggled." Rolling. Under the couch. On the bed, on the floor, on a towel by the door, in the tub, in the car... Oh wait, this is a family blog...

The kid in me said, "WOO HOO! Balls! The more the merrier!" The Mom in me didn't even think, "Amy, you are going to be cleaning these balls up every day from now until your kids go to college." I really need to learn to start thinking like a mom.

I just wish I could figure out why they've turned Max into a space alien.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CLAIRE!!!
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

*sigh*

We went from thinking we were going to get a $7500 refund this year to owing $400.

*sigh*

Being self-employed rots. However, we have owed $20,000 before, so I guess, all in all, it's a pretty good year.

I really hate this time of year. A lot. We're going to have to have a lot more Pretty Babies in order to off-set our tax liability. It's as good a reason as any, right?

WFMW: Teach your baby to use a straw

Is this stupid or what? It drove me nuts when Mary Grace was little that she couldn't figure out how to use a straw. I figured (correctly) that life would be SO much easier when we could quit taking sippy cups with us everywhere because straws are readily available and easier to use. But try as I did to explain to her how to do it, (including such helpful instructions as, "Nurse it!" Upon hearing this she looked at me like I was completely out of my mind). Here's how we finally figured it out.

First step - get something tasty and put it in a cup. Put a straw in it and hold your finger over the top end of the straw, so that the liquid stays inside the straw. Dribble it into the baby's mouth by lifting your finger off of the end of the straw. Repeat.

Now you've taught your baby that good things come from straws.

Second step - do the exact same thing except don't remove your finger. Make her work for it. She'll have to suck on it to get the good stuff.

Third step - gradually start lowering the straw so that instead of being above her mouth, it's even with her mouth, then below her mouth.

Finally, stick the end of the straw that formerly had your finger on it into the Coke apple juice. The baby should suck and get the root beer milk with no further trouble!

It may take several applications before this works, but it worked for me!

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

How to make money with Daytipper.
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.

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

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm just full of questions today... (Big Families)

BJ makes good money. He's an engineer. We are doing just fine, financially, except for the fact that we got bad tax advice once upon a time (being self-employed can really stink sometimes) and so we're playing catch-up because of that debt. And we bought this moderately oldish house that has ended up costing a lot to repair, but we're doing that gradually. Otherwise, though, it's not like we're trying to support ourselves on minimum wage. We're very firmly middle class, I'd say.

Here's my question - how do people afford to have huge families? I was just reading a blog where a woman is pregnant with her TWELFTH kid. I can't even spell 12th! I mean, I think that's right, but I'm not positive. How does that work, financially? How do you plan to pay for college? Weddings? Or do you just plan to say, "We have 11 other kids, tough cookies, do it yourself, babe," when it comes up?

It can't just be a simple matter of cooking at home and not going out much. It can't be even eating beans and rice, using cloth diapers, recycling clothes, having a cow to make your own milk and a chicken to lay your eggs. I mean, we could have all of those things and I still don't think we could afford 10 more kids. And like I said, BJ makes good money. We're not loaded, but we do ok. What am I missing? How do huge families do it? Are you all independently wealthy? Do your husbands all make $300,000 a year (I could do it on $300K)? Did you inherit a huge amount of money and say, "You know, we could retire and spend the rest of our lives traveling on this $10,000,000, but instead let's have 12 kids!"?

We're in negotiations about our family size, and one thing that always comes up is money (although to be honest, other than diapers, Claire hasn't increased our cost of living by much yet). I really want to know, because I think having a huge family would be fun, if I could figure out how not to lay awake at night wondering how I'm going to feed them all.

Problem Solving

I seriously want to know the answer to this question - when do children typically develop problem solving abilities? What age? Because yesterday we were at Dairy Queen having ice cream, gazing longingly at the park across the street (which was covered in snow).

"I can't wait until the weather is warm and we can go to the park again," I said.
"Yeah!" said MG.
"And maybe this summer we'll take a tent and some sleeping bags and we'll go camping! We can make a fire and roast marshmallows and sleep outside under the stars," I said.
"Wow!" said MG.
"Maybe Uncle Chuck and Basha will come with us," Basha's his dog, "They love to go camping."
"And Grandma!" suggested MG.
"Well, honey, Grandma isn't very much into camping. She really likes wine, and wine is very heavy to carry when you're camping." I said this purely to get a chuckle out of BJ.
"Mommy, maybe Grandma could leave her wine at home, and then she could go camping with us!"

Is it just me, or is she not supposed to be able to do that yet?

It's almost like I'm psychic

I am a pretty frequent commenter over at Parent Dish. On Saturday, Linda posed the question, "When was the last time you were up all night with sick kids?" In my comment, I said...
I don't want to think about being up in the middle of the night with my kids, because if I think, "Wow, we haven't done that in a while..." they'll be up puking tonight. You can bank on it.
Sure enough, last night I was up at 3 am with Claire. She has come down with some kind of cold, she had a low grade fever, and her eye was stuck shut this morning.

I really hate being right, sometimes. At least there was no puking.

At the same time, it reminded me that I need to add the following to my two under two series....

Two Under Two and the Flu

I'm using "the flu" in the old school sense - the stomach virus sense. Technically, I guess I mean gastroenteritis, but that's really hard to spell and it doesn't rhyme.

Few things strike fear into the heart of a Mommy like the sound of retching. At the first "bleuchhhhh..." you begin to write off everything you had planned to accomplish for the rest of the week. As time goes on, you begin to forget what it was like to have healthy kids, and start to wonder if it is some kind of SuperVirus that you will never get rid of. You think of taking the kids to the doctor, but realize that they're just going to charge you $20 to tell you that there's nothing they can do (or worse, depending on your insurance), so you skip it, but you feel like a terrible mother and wonder if maybe it isn't the flu... Maybe they have something awful, like leukemia, and just as you start to really panic and pick up the phone to dial the doctor to make an appointment, you start to throw up yourself. The good news is that your kid doesn't have leukemia, but the bad news? You've got two under two and the flu, too.

So, what do you do with two under two and the flu, when you have the flu, too? (ok, enough Dr. Seuss).

Here is my sage advice... Ready?

Go to bed.

Seriously, you are going to accomplish nothing. Everyone feels like dirt. Pile yourself and your two babies into the bed. Take the following:
  • an "emesis basin" (or, in our case, a stainless steel mixing bowl to hurl into)
  • any children's books that you have memorized, so that you can "read" to your child while she turns the pages, eliminating the need to open your eyes
  • videos, or the TV remote - now is not the time to have opinions about children and television. You're in survival mode, sister. Use any tools you have, including the boob tube
  • Sprite or 7-Up, at room temperature is fine, and a glass or sippy for everyone
  • suckers to get the nasty taste out of mouths after puke
  • a box if Saltines
  • beach towels
Huh? Beach towels? Yeah, seriously. Put a beach towel down across your bed so that it is under the head and shoulders of all parties who are puking. That way, when someone hurls and you miss it (and you will miss it), you have a chance at catching it on the towel and not having to wash all the sheets and blankets. Last time we had the flu, we would just get everything washed and put back together, and someone would hurl again. I did laundry constantly for something awful like four days.

If you have a mother or mother-in-law who can come down and help you, beg. Offer her money if necessary. Last time we had the flu, BJ was on a business trip and his mom came down to save me. Of course, she came down with it, too, but by then I was feeling better so it all worked out.

One thing that you don't want to do is put any kind of medicine on the nightstand with all your other supplies, because those child proof packages aren't child proof, they are child resistant, which is a completely different thing. If you're half passed out and in a fever-induced stupor, you may not notice that Junior has eaten his way through a whole bottle of Tylenol until it's too late, so don't take the chance. I've heard that you're actually supposed to keep all medication - both prescription and non-prescription - under lock and key, but that seems pretty extreme to me. For now, we're just keeping them well out of reach. You'll just have to get up every 4 - 6 hours or so.

So, that's my advice. Lower your standards, go to bed, and don't get up until you're feeling better. If one kid starts to feel better before the rest of you, bring in some quiet toys and shut the bedroom door - let her play on the floor (and watch videos) until everyone catches up. Mary Grace has been a big fan of my iPod lately, and that would be a good idea if your older child is the one who's better. Let her groove to her tunes (I have a "Kid Tunes" playlist on mine) while you recoup.

Be well!!