Thursday, July 31, 2008

A much better picture

Ok, the dress was still hideous, but I had supermodel hair.

I made a deal with the Devil in high school. I distinctly remember saying, "I don't understand why I have to get zits now. I'd rather get them when I'm, like, 30, and it doesn't matter."

Anyone who knew me then and has seen me lately knows that the prophecy has been fulfilled.

Note to my 17 year old self - it still matters when you're 30!!!!

Narg.

It's only 9:30 am and I've already vacuumed the whole downstairs (because Lucy stepped on a little piece of glass from a wine glass I broke two weeks ago, even though we've been running around barefoot in the house ever since. She's just lucky, I guess), and picked up a dead bird in the yard (eeeww... thanks kitty). Lucy and Jane are outside with the kids, and I'm going to run upstairs, sneak a shower, and see if I can make any progress on the Mountain of Laundry that I need to fold and put away before the natives get restless again.

I lead such a thrilling life.

I promise I'll quit with the vintage photos, now. But Mom sent that one last night, and I had to redeem the awful official dance picture of me in that same dress. I think it has inspired me to grow my hair out again. I have fantastic hair, when I remember not to mess with it. Note to self: no dye, no highlights, and dear God in heaven - no perms. Thou. Shalt. Not. Besides, it's a lot cooler in the summer to be able to put it into a pony tail or braid than it is to have this mid-length hair that I can't pull back.

BJ will be pleased. He likes my hair best when it's long. I think it speaks to his inner caveman... It's much easier to drag someone back to the cave when her hair is long.

Ok, seriously, time for me to go clean the cave. Ugh.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Child of the 90s

Barbie and I got to talking about JP, after I posted about him a couple weeks ago, and she sent me the following pictures. I couldn't help but share...

Homecoming, 1991:



Now that's a dress! I kind of miss the big shoulder, big hair look, and I hope it comes back. It's hard to believe that it was 17 years ago. What breaks my heart about this picture, besides the fact that I really miss my friend, of course, is that I thought that cute little body was SO fat. Seriously, those legs? I would kill for those legs. I guess you "don't know what you've got, til it's gone."

This was the Christmas dance the same year - by then we'd broken up, but we both wanted to go and we were still friends, so I borrowed a dress at the last minute and we went.

Not my best look, but still. It was a lot cuter without the stupid hat.

This one is from much later - 1997. That's BJ in the chair, in the white sweatshirt. JP has his arm around the blond girl whose name I don't remember. That's our friend, Bill, with the dark hair on the couch. He works for the State Department now and has lived overseas in unpronouncable locations several times. He's one of the smartest people I know (which is saying something, I hang out with a bunch of rocket scientists, for Pete's sake). The Asian girl sitting in front of the couch is Linda. She was brilliant and funny, her brother was the validictorian of our class (JP was the salutatorian). I have no idea what happened to them, but I'm sure they're doing fabulous things. Sitting on the floor is John, he lives in Chicago now. I can't remember the name of the guy with the glasses, either. BJ will remember. Was it Jeremy??

We had gone to the beach that day. This was right before BJ and I started dating. I had such a crush on him. In fact, I only took this picture so that I could have a picture of him! Shortly after this was taken, I ran out of excuses to go to Grammaland every weekend and had to confess that I had a huge crush on BJ.

How can 17 years go by in the blink of an eye?

Yesterday

Thanks so much, you all, for the kind words yesterday. After I posted that, I actually managed to get everyone dressed and to the park for a while. I chatted with Julie while the girls played in the doggie drinking fountain (basically a spigot about a foot off the ground - endless fun!).

Afterwards, we came home and had lunch. It took over two hours to get both kids down for nap. Something is seriously wrong with Claire lately. I don't know if it's teething or what, but the child who used to be an awesome sleeper has decided to take a page out of her sister's book. Yuck. I was up until midnight (after it took until 11:30 to get MG to bed) and then up again at 5:45 with Claire. Even BJ has insomnia lately. Maybe I need to put Benadryl into the furnace filter so it's just in the atmosphere around here...

After nap I invited Karen and her boys over to play outside in the sprinkler and with the new swingset. Her husband came for dinner, too. We just had carry out pizza and relaxed. Not a bad end to what started out as a really boring day! Except for that whole sleep thing, it turned into a really good day.

I'm working on a post in my head about Big Issues like life and death and major illness..... It's cooking. I'm hoping to have time to work on it before I go to Grammaland for the weekend. But today's my day to work (and Dawn's day to handle nap! Yay!) so I need to get rolling.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Underwhelming Enthusiasm

I'm sitting here trying to work up the energy to go upstairs, get a shower, get everyone dressed, and go to the park.

It's a beautiful day. We SHOULD go to the park. But it's just so much easier to sit here and watch Monsters, Inc. 10,000 times. I SHOULD go upstairs and fold 6 loads of laundry, but I don't really have it in me to do that, either.

I hate it when I get this way. I think I'm just taking my downtime now, while I can, since we're going to be going to Washington DC from the 5th to the 9th, and then MG's birthday party is on the 10th, and I'm going to be running from about the 3rd to the 11th of August. Knowing how much work all of that's going to be, I think my mind is just telling my body, "You'd better rest now, while you can, because the beginning of next month is going to be a sprint." Either that, or I need to up my Zoloft!!

One of the local movie theaters does kids' movies for $1 at 10:30 am all summer long. Do you think I've managed to get there? Not once.

The library's story time is at 10 am. I managed to get there once. When Justine was here and I had help, it was easier. I've gotten out of the habit of taking care of my own kids. How sad is that?

But it's going to be really hot - almost 90 - this afternoon, so I really should go. All I have to do is start moving, and it'll be ok. I know that.

So why am I still sitting here? *sigh*

What do you do when you just can't get rolling?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Speaking of Networking

If you ever need to get the screen repaired on your AT&T tilt because you slipped on your cat and threw it down the stairs, or whatever, I can't recommend Mobile Device Repair highly enough! The price was very reasonable, the communication was excellent, and they were fast. My phone came back today, and it looks great. Good as new!

Tell Matt I sent you!

Social Networking

I have a Facebook page and a Myspace page, but I rarely get on either unless someone else sends me something that I have to log in to see.

I'm prettybabies on Twitter. I am on there a little more often.

What social networking sites do you use?

Things That Make Me Snort

In spite of the fact that it's really helping me, BJ remains a skeptic when it comes to my visits to the "back quack."

I went again this morning, and he "adjusted" my neck and back, and then did acupuncture on my neck. I've always been curious about acupuncture, despite my acute aichmophobia (needle phobia - I just love big words!), so it was a very interesting morning. The needles just pinched a bit going in. It wasn't painful as long as I didn't move my head. It was boring, though, so I carefully got up and looked around the room at the various stuff on the walls.

After reading half a dozen posters about acupuncture and spines, I spied the doctor's diploma. His middle name is very distinctive, and is a name I recognized from BJ's geneaology. When he came back to take out the needles, I asked him if it was a family name. He said it was. I said, "Isn't that funny - my husband's grandmother was Mary B... They were from (small town near here where BJ's dad's farm is)."

"No kidding," he replied. "My family is from (small town 2 miles from small town where BJ's dad's farm is)."

BJ and the "back quack" are relatives! It's a small world, after all.

Unfortunately, I didn't get the family discount. When I told BJ, he just rolled his eyes.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

If I spent all this time running instead of reading I'd be a size 2

Thanks for all the awesome book recommendations! Right now I'm about halfway through Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. I'm honestly not that into it, but it gave me something to do during the 2+ hours it took to put the kids to bed tonight.

ARGH!

It drives me absolutely bonkers that they will lay down at Dawn's and take a two hour nap with no shenanigans - no reading, no snuggling, no "rub my back," or "rub my foot." They lay down, alone, on mats, and they sleep. At home we have to go through a circus act of bouncing and rocking and singing and shushing and reading and rubbing (and MG takes my fingers and shows me how she wants her back rubbed, because apparently I don't do it right anymore, until I say, "I am DONE, just go to SLEEP!"). Talked to Mom today and she says this is normal, and that they're not just doing it to drive me insane, but I'm not entirely convinced that I believe her.

Dad got my S.O.S. e-mail earlier, and though it was too late to come over and take the kids away, he did leave ice cream in the freezer (rocky road - excellent!) and promise to come over and make purple chicken for dinner tomorrow.

I am intrigued. Dad's cooking repertoire generally consists of peanut butter and microwave popcorn. I asked him how he gets the chicken to be purple, but he said it's a chef's secret. Google was no help.

To be honest, as long as I don't have to cook it, I don't care what color the chicken is!

I think I'm cranky because I've been having trouble sleeping. I've had to take Unisom the last two nights, because I just lay there, wide awake, looking at the ceiling until 1:30 or 2 am. The neck pain thing that I saw the chiropractor (or "back quack," if you're BJ) for isn't noticably worse at night, or when I'm lying down, so I don't know what my problem is. I get tired, but not sleepy. I don't make any sense, but thank God for Unisom otherwise I'd have been a real peach today. Can an overdose of zucchini make one sleepless?

Nighty night, internets. I hear the siren song of the Unisom, calling me upstairs. A big day of laundry and gymnastics tomorrow. It just doesn't get much more exciting than this!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I can haz books?

This is just going to be a quickie because it's been a really busy day and BJ and I are about to watch a movie... But I have over 50 credits at PaperBackSwap (see link over on the right and down a bit), and I wondered if anyone had read any good books lately. I have about a dozen in my to read pile, but I can't get into any of them. Wrong mood. I need a new author to fall in love with so I can work my way through his or her complete works (as I've done with Diana Gabaldon, Jodi Picoult, etc.).

So, what are you reading? Who do you love? What do you recommend? I think I need something funny and quirky, and romantic, but maybe a little dark... I need a little darkness in my books to balance out all the Berenstein Bears I'm made to read every day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Return of the Killer Zucchini

I went to the store before I took the kids to Dawn's, today, and stocked up on eggs, oil, flour, and foil pans. I came home prepared to, nay, excited about tackling the Great Zucchini Bread Bake of '08.

In the spirit of The Pioneer Woman, I now present, Zucchini Bread, an illustrated recipe....

I was unsure how to proceed, because I didn't know how many cups of zucchini I was dealing with. I decided to shred one and find out...



It was seven and a half cups. That meant I was dealing with 37.5 cups of zucchini. Each recipe calls for 2 cups, and yields 2 loaves. 37.5 divided by two, carry the one....

We're dealing with a crapton of zucchini bread.

I chose the recipe for Zucchini Bread IV on Allrecipes because I like Roman numerals, and because it had super reviews. (I just love it when people leave reviews that say something like, "I took out all the zucchini and added salmon and currants, because that's what I had on hand, and this didn't come out right at all!!")

I figured I could double the recipe and make 4 regular-sized loaves per batch, since I have a big ol' Kitchenaid Mixer. I love my Kitchenaid Mixer. If I were a Pioneer Woman, I would tell you to leave a comment and the randomly chosen winner would win a Kitchenaid Mixer.



I am not Pioneer Woman. That's why she is greatly beloved, and I am just a half-baked Mommyblogger. Maybe when I grow up I'll be able to afford to give away mixers... For now, you get a picture of the "cast of characters."

Anyway, step 1. Beat eggs until "light and frothy."

I hate ambiguous directions. I want something like "Beat eggs for 2 minutes on medium speed." Maybe it's because I'm an engineer's wife, but I don't know how to quantify "light and frothy."


I guess that's close enough.

Step 2: Get a call from your sister and talk to her, completely forgetting to take further pictures.

That's ok, no problem, I have 30 more cups of zucchini to practice with!

Step 2: Mix in sugar and oil. Do things out of order and add the vanilla first. If you want to be like me, refrain from measuring the vanilla.



Take a moment and feel overly-sensitive about lollypop thumbs.

Mix.


There's a ride at the fair that feels just like this.

Next step - combine flour, cinnamon, soda, baking powder, salt, and nuts.

Does anyone ever do this? What a waste of a clean bowl! I just dump everything in, saving the flour and nuts for last (because some of my farmers don't like nuts in their bread).



Doesn't that look awesome?

Here it is all mixed up:



Start to get a little worried about exactly how much zucchini you have left in the bowl. Count the remaining zucchini. Four. Be afraid.



Wonder about all the water in the bottom of the bowl.



Weird.

Wonder about my lollypop thumb.



Weird.

Add cinnamon (just guess, I won't tell).



All right! It's looking good - where are the pans?



Oh, wait, I forgot to add the flour.

At this point, I'm getting very nervous about how I'm going to fit 6 cups (remember, I doubled) in this mixer. I hold my breath (as if that will help).


Phew!

Fire your help...



Don't let her cute face fool you, she's a union organizer.

Fill the pans. This was batch 3, the chocolate walnut batch. My personal favorite.



The little loaves (and I made 15, so I'm somewhat of an expert) baked for 45 minutes at 325. The big ones (yield - 6 loaves, or one doubled batch), baked for an hour.

Get a little nervous about the amount of zucchini you still have, even though you've made 21 loaves of zucchini bread:



Decide to freeze it and confuse everyone with zucchini bread in January.

Freak out when you realize that it's not over yet!



Here are the big loaves:



Mmmmm!

Let's try it!



I'm only a little embarassed that we ate this for dinner. It was awesome! The recipe deserves all the great reviews.

Farm Co-Op

Great googly moogly, another question!!
ok so i found your blog through blogher and love it! Sorry i dont have a zucchini recipe. but i have a question how did you get your farm co-op started? I am trying to find one in my area and dont know how to start. Thanks
Julia
I love questions!! I'm so glad you're here Julia!

You don't say where you are, but I would start with Local Harvest. They have a very comprehensive list of farmers who sell to the public, and you can search by zip code. Also check Pick Your Own.

I found out about our farm co-op through good old fashioned networking. My friend Jenny joined last year. By the time I found out about it, we were too far into the season for me to buy in, so I joined this year.

The way mine works is two women who wanted to be farmers bought a farm south of town, and they sell "shares." $500 will get you produce every week for the entire summer, and it's all organic, local, in season, and amazing. I opted to split a share with someone, so I only paid $250 for the summer. Next year I'll probably opt for the whole share, but I didn't want to commit to too much (and to be honest, I'm having a hard time working the weirder stuff like Kale and Chard into our diets - most of that is going into the garbage. Recipes??).

If you have a Farmer's Market in your area, I would go there and start asking questions. If the people selling produce there don't co-op, they may know of someone who does. Also, you might try your local Extension Office and see if they know of anyone.

We also buy a 1/4 beef every winter from BJ's uncle, who farms about a half hour south of here. Instead of being raised in a factory and pumped full of drugs and antibiotics and hormones, our beef is raised in a pasture, eating grass and soaking up sunshine like God intended. It is the best beef on the planet, and if you can afford it (and have a big freezer) I can't recommend it highly enough! 1/4 of a beef is more than enough for our family for the year, and it costs around $350-$400. A lot of the cost depends on the butcher who cuts it up and packages it. I think his fee accounts for about half the price. It's still far, far cheaper and healthier than the meat at the grocery store, even when the grocery store has a sale.

If you happen to be local to me, I would be happy to put you in touch with the women who run my co-op, or with BJ's uncle.

Local food is so much better for you. A zucchini that came from your county is going to have more flavor and more nutrition than one that came from hundreds of miles away - they lose nutrients as they age, and once they're picked, it's a race to get them to you. Also, many produce items that have to be trucked in have to be picked early, so they don't fully ripen. How many times have you seen a display of green bananas at the grocery, for instance?

Local food is also better for the environment, because the food doesn't have to be trucked in from wherever - saving gas, reducing pollution, etc.

Local Food, it's What's For Dinner!

Now who's going to help me with all this zucchini bread??

Attack of the Killer Zucchini

I made the mistake, at last week's farmer's market, of admiring a HUGE zucchini that Nancy and Barb, the women who farm for our farm co-op had out on the table. "Wow," I said, "That's a big one!" Barb said that no one wanted the huge zucchinis that had come out of their garden, and I said, "Pshaw, that would make awesome zucchini bread!"

I stopped Wednesday to drop off a booklet from the CTIC farm tour (because I only grow weeds, what do I know about conservation and farming?!) to Nancy and Barb. They're trying to get certified organic, and I thought that putting them in touch with CTIC might be beneficial for all parties. Also, the booklet had info about the farms we visited, and they might be able to network with some of the farmers whose farms we saw.

I'm all about bringing people together.

"I wish I'd called you," Barb said, "No one wants the huge zucchini, and I thought you would be able to use them for bread!"

I love zucchini, so I eagerly agreed to stop by the farmer's market across the river on Thursday to pick up the giants that no one wanted, and I promised Nancy and Barb a loaf of zucchini bread.

I picked up the 5 killer zucchini yesterday. I am going to be making zucchini bread for the rest of my life. Check these out!

The harvest required special equipment!

I need to keep these away from Mary Grace, or she'll name them and put them to bed! Clearly they miss their mommies.

Ok, I kid, they're not quite that big, but look at this unphotoshopped picture, and tell me that I'm not going to be making zucchini bread until the end of time. I have five of these!

I've had babies that were smaller.

Send me your best zucchini recipes, it's a zucchini emergency!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Today's Quote from Mary Grace

"Mommy, I like your shirt. It's nifty!"

Do you ever get that feeling?

I just sent the Evite invitation for MG's birthday party, and I have that terrible, "I'm forgetting someone..." feeling. I've also had problems with Evite in the past, so if you think you should have gotten one, and you didn't, please e-mail me!! prbabies@gmail.com

Kids are Weird

Mary Grace has started adopting and anthropomorphizing the strangest things. Like pancakes. And Tic Tacs. She'll carry them around and call them babies. She talks to them and puts them to bed. No, I am not thrilled about finding "sleeping" pancakes in the couch, nor am I a fan of being yelled at for "waking them up."

I still haven't found the Tic Tacs.

What really kills me is that all of her little "babies" are "sad" because they "want their mommies." HUH? I am with these kids all but 10 - 15 hours a week. When does she have time to be sad because she wants her mommy? She barely has time to miss me, except when she's asleep. The pancakes, Tic Tacs, suckers, etc. all either "sad" or "scared." It makes me feel like I'm doing something to screw her up emotionally, and I don't even know what it is. It would make sense if they missed their daddies, because Daddy works a lot and is often gone from the house. I don't think that would be as troubling, at least, not for me!! But what's up with the mommy thing?

Stories about how your kids did the same thing and turned out just fine would be greatly appreciated.

In other news, I've started another blog, called This is Not a Political Blog, where I'm going to talk about things unrelated to the babies, so that I can stop upsetting my sensitive (sorry, I mean "compassionate!") relatives. If you're here for pretty pictures of pretty babies, don't click through. If you care what I think about everything else, give it a try. Of course, there are only two posts up right now... But I have lots of opinions about lots of things that you're not supposed to talk about at dinner parties, and that's where I'm going to put them from now on.

Everybody happy, now? Well, everybody except the pancakes. They're still lonely, and apparently they don't want to stay in the freezer because they miss their mommies.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Legacy of Food

It occurred to me today that if I really want this blog to be a historical record for my kids, I should work a little harder at teaching them where they come from. A big part of my memories of growing up involve food. Nothing makes me happier than making a recipe for my kids that my mom made for us, and that her mom made for her and her siblings, and so on. Even though we tease Dad and his family about the Welsh Cookies (which are like hard, dry little pancakes with raisins, and can barely be called a cookie with a straight face), I know his side of the family is the same. BJ's family doesn't seem quite as "into" food as my family, but maybe I just haven't been around long enough for them to entrust me with their treasured family recipes. Hard to say.

Anyway I thought I'd start a new series, in which I share recipes that have been passed down to me through the generations. Maybe it will inspire my mom, grandma, and aunts to dig out their oldest recipe books and send me the rest of their old recipes. One of these days, I want to put together a book with photos of the grandma that the recipe came from, a little biography or story, and a recipe on each page. If I didn't have all these babies, I could probably do that in time for my sister's wedding and present her with a copy to make her cry, but no one should hold her breath... My act is just not that together.

Without further ado, here is my Great-Grandma Shank's recipe for peanut butter cookies.

1 C shortening
1 C white sugar
1 C brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 C peanut butter
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
2-1/2 C flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder

Mix all, make balls, press with fork, bake at 350 for 14 minutes.

By the way, now that you're in possession of this recipe, we're officially family.

I got the idea from 101 Cookbooks tonight, by the way, and their article on peanut butter cookies. If you make them be sure to write and tell me what you think (prbabies@gmail.com).

Night of the Living Babies

The kids go to a sitter (Dawn, who rocks) from 11:30 - 4:30 on Wednesdays and Fridays so that I can eat in peace for a change and maybe get a manicure I can go to work. Today when I picked them up, I was informed that MG hadn't had a nap, and that Claire had only had about 45 minutes.

Uh oh.

We got in the car and MG was demanding Tic Tacs. I gave her two and Claire two (I know, choking hazard, blah blah, try telling her that!) and then pulled out of the spot.

"I want fwee, Mommy! I want one to keep! I want one to keep in my hand!!!" she shrieked.

"You can't have anymore if you're going to scream. I'm driving the car right now, and if you can be calm until we get there, you can have another one."

***insert meltdown here***

"If you put your foot on your sister one more time, we can't go to the fair."

***foot on sister***

"Ok, fine. We aren't going. You are NOT making good choices."

***turns car around***

***insert escalation of meltdown here***

{unintelligible screaming}

I called BJ to update him on our plans and left Karen, our date for the fair, an apologetic voicemail punctuated by screaming. She screamed all through town. My ears were bleeding by the time we got home (around 4:50). I marched her little butt straight upstairs and put her to bed.

BJ hates it when I let them nap late, because it screws up bedtime, but I was not going to be screamed at and held hostage by her sleep deprivation for the 3 hours until bedtime.

I brought Claire back downstairs. She wanted to nurse. Over and over. I would nurse her, then put her down and she would spaz. Finally I sat down at the computer with her nursing to read my blogs for a minute. When I looked down, she was asleep.

Crap.

They are going to be up all freaking night.

Can you say


I knew you could!

WFMW: Older kids

My kids are little, almost 3 and 16 months, and during the day the only way I can get 10 minutes of peace is to turn on Playhouse Disney, and even then they want something ("Look Mommy!!!") every 11 seconds.

This summer I have been blessed with Justine, 15, Lucy, 12, and Jane, 8. They have been coming over (Justine's gone home to France this morning... Sniff...) regularly to play with the kids.

What have I gotten done? Oh my gosh, a ton. I cleaned out cabinets and got rid of a bunch of stuff, so that I can actually put all the debris that was on top of the fridge and the microwave into cabinets, instead. As a result, the entire kitchen looks cleaner than it did before. I've read entire books. I've kept up with the laundry. I've cleaned with chemicals - something I normally save for naptime because I don't want Claire to try to taste the Comet (it makes your face turn green...). I've been able to drink my coffee in peace and relax with my blogs while the big kids were outside entertaining the heck out of my little kids.

It has been bliss.

If you have little kids, I highly recommend that you beg, steal, or borrow a teenager (or preteen) for a couple of days a week while they're out of school. A lot of parents with older kids have trouble finding care in the summer - they're too old for daycare (and it costs a fortune) but they're too young to be left on their own 40 or 45 hours a week. Be their hero and volunteer to "help them out" by taking their kids a couple days a week. We'll just keep it our little secret that their kids are going to be doing all the work while you enjoy a calm summer. Actually, their parents probably know, because their kids were young once. Everyone wins - the big kids have fun and build babysitting skills, the little kids have playmates, the mom gets a much deserved break. And if you have two littles, like I do, you can do outings that normally would be difficult or dangerous on your own (like the pool) with the simple addition of a responsible teenager.

The only problem is I have no idea how I'm going to cope when all these big kids go back to school!!

Visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW ideas! And click on the tag "WFMW" over there -----> for more of my WFMW tips!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday's Outing


(LOL Horse - I can haz carrots?)


Look at my big brave girl!


Look at my little brave girl!


We had a fun day!

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Mawwage

Well, every marriage has its issues, and now you know what one of ours is.

The management would like to request that if Homer is going to leave epic comments, that he should get his own blog!

I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader whether I mean Homer, as in the Odyssey, or Homer as in the Simpson. D'oh!

It's rather remarkable, actually, that in 7 years of marriage, plus 4 years of dating, plus 10 years of knowing each other before that, we've only found two or three issues on which we really vehemently disagree. We're fortunate that in our situation, they're more philosophical than practical, so I'll just leave that there...

Erin, I'm really sorry that you aren't pregnant (and I'm exciting that you're working on a little brother or sister!!). But the feelings that you're experiencing aren't the same feelings that a woman experiencing an unexpected pregnancy (or an unexpected pregnancy scare) would have. Of course. I didn't mean to lump all pro-lifers into the clinic bombing group. But it bothers me that the pro-life group, in general, is trying to impose its moral/religious perspective onto every woman, regardless of her beliefs. Even if the Bible said, "Life begins at conception. Period. Love, God," that wouldn't end the argument, because not everyone believes in the Bible.

Since there is no clear medical answer (after all, a blastocyst can't live outside of the womb - it's a parasitic relationship), we must leave it up to each individual woman to make her choices, because it's her body, and if she doesn't want, and therefore doesn't take care of that little parasite, the consequences can be disastrous. I used to work with kids who had been born with fetal alcohol syndrome, drug addiction, etc. It wasn't pretty. Would those kids have preferred to not exist? I can't answer that. I can tell you that in the situation they were in - institutionalized and living in the most restrictive environment possible, their lives didn't have much happiness. They didn't have much liberty. They will never be able to live on their own, or take care of themselves. It was very sad.

Personally, I could never choose an abortion, but that doesn't mean that I feel qualified to make that decision for all 160 million or so American women. BJ thinks that since we've agreed, as a society, that murder is unacceptable, that it's no big deal to extend the same right to life to a fetus. I disagree. I think that the difference is that a fetus affects my right to liberty in a way that another fully-grown person can't, because it is inside my body for 9 months. Someone's rights have to take precedence over someone else's in that situation, and I believe that my rights, as a fully independent human adult take precedence over the rights of a not-yet-independent human. I don't think that late-term abortions should be done lightly, nor do I think that they are done, generally, unless the mother's life is seriously at risk. I think once the fetus has a heartbeat, you have a different set of circumstances entirely.

Oh we could go around and around about this... But I would never hate you (Erin, or BJ) for disagreeing with me. I have some pretty wild world views, and if I hated everyone who disagreed with me, I'd be a really lonely girl. The ability - the responsibility, even - to disagree is a part of living in a free, democratic society. And as an alumna of the Grammaland High School Debate Team (see the big "L" in the middle of my forehead?) I can promise you that I love a good debate!

In other news....... We are going up to Grammaland today to ride horses with Jenny! We may also hit the candy factory, or the County Fair, depending on the weather and how hot and stinky we are.

It's Justine's last day with us. She and Tim and Fran are headed to France tomorrow for Tim's sister's wedding. I'm trying to think of a place where I can hide Justine until after Tim and Fran leave, so I can keep her. If there are any tall skinny blond teenagers out there who would like to impersonate Justine and take an indefinitely long trip to France, so that she can stay here, e-mail me!! We're really going to miss her. I'm glad that we're able to have a fun outing on her last day. Pictures to come.

Monday, July 21, 2008

For Uncle Doug and Cousin Brian

You two are going to love this...

I am going to have to have a little rant right now, even though this is not a political blog, about your president's latest stunt to redefine birth control.

I have a real problem with this. As much as I love my pretty babies, the years of my life during which I was not ready to be a mother are far more numerous than the years in which I have been ready to be a mother. Even though I was as pure as the driven snow when I wore white at my wedding (hi Dad!), there were several years during which BJ and I were unprepared (financially, emotionally) to have children. I took the pill during that time. Does Mr. Bush really, truly believe that I "aborted" all of the babies who may or may not have been conceived during that time (because not only does the pill prevent ovulation, it may also prevent the errant blastocyst that may have accidentally been fertilized from being implanted)?

I know I've been on kind of a Pink kick, lately, but here's a song that sort of sums up my feelings on this administration:



Go ahead and hit play so you have a little background music for the rant. Background music is always good during rants. Just ask Dennis Miller.

Lest you think I'm picking a nit, here's the part that's got me all fired up:
Abortion, according to the proposal, is defined as "any of the various procedures – including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action – that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation."
(the text outside the quotes is from One News Now.)

Let me get this straight... There are over 45 million people in this country without health insurance. There are 37 million people in this country living in poverty (poverty level for a family of four is $19,307 a year, by the way. I'm fairly sure that I spend that just on diapers). 13 million of those people are children. (cite) And instead of using his power and authority to help those people, he is taking measures which will inevitably lead to the creation of more people!! That just doesn't make any mathematical sense. Our problem in this country is NOT that we have too few people. But you'd never know that if you listen to the religious fanatics who are, disturbingly, running the show.

Bush himself only has two daughters - twins. Are we really to believe that he and Laura only had sex one blessedly procreative time? If so, well, she has better taste than I thought!

Unless Bush wants a nation of Duggars, birth control needs to remain accessible and legal. This redefinition is just the first step down a slippery road to taking away all of women's reproductive rights.

"What kind of father would take his own daughters' rights away?" indeed.

So, what's the big deal? Why are women's reproductive rights important?

I'm glad you asked.

Let's define our terms. I looked to the Center for Reproductive Rights for a concise definition:

What are reproductive rights?
Reproductive rights, the foundation for women's self-determination over their bodies and sexual lives, are critical to women's equality and to ensuring global progress toward just and democratic societies. These rights include:

  • The right to a full range of safe and affordable contraception
  • The right to safe, accessible and legal abortion
  • The right to safe and healthy pregnancies
  • The right to comprehensive reproductive health care services provided free of discrimination, coercion and violence
  • The right to equal access to reproductive health care for women facing social and economic barriers
  • The right to be free from practices that harm women and girls (such as female genital mutilation)
  • The right to a private and confidential doctor-patient relationship
(This is me talking, again. Quote's over). For one thing, pregnancy and childbirth are not to be taken lightly. Not only is it a heavy responsibility to bring a new life into the world, it is often a great risk. Women die. Babies die. It is not a situation to be entered into lightly. How dare the government try to compel me to risk my life? Oh, wait, that's kind of their business, lately, isn't it? Well, they can't just draft all sexually active women. As far as I know, stop-loss notwithstanding, all the men and women in Iraq signed up to risk their lives. I didn't sign up, just by virtue of being born with a uterus, to fight in Bush's War on Reproductive Freedom. Keep your laws out of my body.

There are women for whom an unintended pregnancy would be the equivalent of a death sentence. These women have been pregnant before and have had near-fatal complications. Would Mr. Bush compel them to risk their lives because of his own moral stance against birth control? What if he succeeds in redefining birth control? Would these women and their doctors have to go to court to prove that they "deserve" birth control? How is that in the interests of medical privacy? Our legal system is costly, and is already overburdened. Are we really going to criminalize birth control, and further burden the system? Are we going to end up with jails full of women who wanted the Pill, and the doctors who tried to provide it to them?

The way Bush is trying to go about this is sickening. He's trying to limit government funding to agencies that provide birth control services to women by requiring them to employ (or not discriminate against) practitioners who refuse, based on their own morals, to distribute birth control or perform abortions. So, the first women to be affected would be the women who use government funded medical care - those who are the poorest of us, those who have the least access to medical care to begin with.

Ok, Religious Right. We get it. Planned Parenthood gets federal funding for "killing babies", and that really pisses you off. So you kill doctors and bomb clinics and hold protest rallies outside of PP (when I swear to God I was just there to get the pill, the pill that I was going to use so that my husband didn't get me pregnant, and if I had to mockingly hand you pamphlets on menopause and do a little interpretive dance while you were singing hymns and if I had to get in your face a bit while you got in the face of the other girls who were there to get birth control pills, or to see the only doctors they could afford, well, sue me. After all, they're doing as many abortions at my local PP as they do at my local Dairy Queen - as in zero - so maybe we should all move the protests and the anti-protests to DQ, because at least then we could have Blizzards).

The thing is that you don't get to choose where your tax dollars go. My tax dollars are funding a war that has killed thousands of Iraqi civilians, but I can't just write the IRS a note saying, "Yeah, hey, you can't have any more of my Benjamins until you knock it the yuck off in Iraq, capiche?" because they will put me in jail. My tax dollars occasionally go toward killing someone via the death penalty, something else that I don't support, but I can't opt out of that contribution, either. And, as much as I would love to, I can't withdraw my tax dollars from paying the salaries of the clowns who are in office right now, either. Or for paying their pensions (including health insurance that would give the average uninsured American orgasms) for the rest of their lives. Or for paying for their free postage. Or anything else. I may not agree with it, but paying taxes doesn't mean that you have to agree with every single use of "your" money. Sometimes people disagree, and so long as it doesn't infringe upon your own personal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit, you have to back off.

That's the thing - my taking the pill doesn't infringe upon anyone else's rights. A blastocyst is not an anyone. Potential to become doesn't make one something. My mom always told me I could grow up to be president - that doesn't mean that you should play Hail to the Chief whenever I walk in a room.

But if W. could grow up to be president, maybe she was right. "He's come a long way from whiskey and cocaine."

We ought to be worried about taking care of the people we've already got on this overcrowded planet. We ought to stop trying to impose our own religious position on people who may or may not share it. We ought to practice a little bit more self-control, and a little bit less other-control. We ought to impeach the m*****f***er already. It's only fair, considering that he's f***ing with mothers. (rimshot)

Because seriously, seriously, I don't know if this democracy can stand another 182 days.

And now that I've incurred the wrath of my republican brethern (or maybe unclern and cousinern) I'm going to go read the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights before they're revoked entirely. I swear to you, it's going to take 80 years to undo what Mr. Bush has done in 8. Thank God he has spent so much time on vacation, or he could've really hosed things up.

(The presence of links to other blogs on this blog does not imply that they agree with me on politics or women's reproductive rights or anything else, even though they totally should because I am right.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I owe you a call...

If I haven't called you lately, and I should've, it's not because I don't love you anymore. It's because I broke my phone, and I'm not going to bother to reprogram the cheapo interim phone that I got to tide me over until my real phone is fixed. Consequently, I haven't called anyone whose phone number I don't have memorized, lately. The phone numbers I have memorized are the ones that haven't changed in at least 20 years, or the ones that spell something (Mimi's last four digits are BOOB!).

So you see, I still love you. I'm just technologically challenged.

Hopefully I'll have my phone fixed by the end of this week, and I'll be back to leaving really irritating messages on your answering machine. In the meantime, I still have my crappy interim phone, so you can still call me.....

Biting

Mary Grace bit Claire on the foot this morning so hard that she drew blood. I am PISSED. She got a 3 minute time-out, I bit her back (for demonstration purposes - to show her that it doesn't feel good, I certainly didn't draw blood), and I took away the TV for the day. Honest to God, there are days when I wish we believed in spanking. Seems to me that telling her to go out in the yard and cut a switch would deter future biting.

It is so hard, having the age difference that we have between the kids. If they were twins, they'd be roughly equal in size, and they could sort it out for themselves. But Mary Grace is about 50% bigger than Claire, and a lot stronger and more coordinated. She could really hurt Claire (exhibit A: blood on her foot where she bit her), and there's not much I can do to prevent it. Sure, I can try to catch her in the act, but these things happen fast. I was sitting right there when she bit, and didn't realize that it had happen until Claire screamed. All I can do is give her time outs and consequences, and when Claire is crying and bleeding, 3 minutes on the step and taking away TV for a day doesn't seem like enough.

Honestly, deep in the dark recesses of my heart, I am looking forward to the day when Claire is big enough to give her a taste of her own medicine. Of course, I'll punish Claire when it finally happens, but in my head I'll be thinking, "It's about time!"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Another Kids' Song that Doesn't Suck

Cute!!

Another Saturday Night and I Ain't Got Nobody...

BJ is going to Brandon's house tonight, which is totally fair since Brandon and I went out and did some wine tasting last night. We had such a good time. We went to the fancy place downtown, whose name has something to do with corn, for you locals, and got an appetizer (a pumpkin flower stuffed with crab and some other stuff, then fried in tempura batter, on a bed of southwestern coleslaw - it was weird, and really good. I'm going to have to take my mom there, because she likes weird, good food, but we'll need a sitter because it is not a good place for prettybabies). We had two glasses of white wine with the appetizer and bread, then we got two chocolate desserts and two glasses of red wine, and we split everything. It was a lot of fun. Two nights in one week where I could be out without the kids - I'm getting spoiled!

I'm hoping that Jenny will have her somewhat annual wine tasting party again this fall, so Brandon can be my date. BJ doesn't drink, so a wine tasting for him is about as much fun as an art show is for a blind person. I've gone stag in the past, but I think Brandon will really enjoy himself. Hopefully Jenny won't mind if I bring my back up husband.

I just need to pause in the narrative here, for a moment, and express my complete and undying hatred for the "Higglytown Heroes."

Anyway, I am extremely spoiled, because not only did I get to go out last night, BJ also let me sleep in and made waffles for breakfast this morning. Woah! I love being married.

We have several entertainment options tonight, while he's at Brandon's. There's a festival downtown called Dancing in the Streets, with lots of bands and food, but there's also lots of beer, and I'm concerned that it might be too adult for the kids. There's also the county fair, which starts today, but I'd rather wait until all four of us can go to that. I'll probably end up just hanging out at home, maybe cleaning up so I can find my Entertainment book (isn't that an odd thing to lose?), and letting the kids watch movies. It's hot and sticky already, and it isn't even noon, so the idea of going out and exposing my sunburn to more sun, again, doesn't thrill me.

In other news, I am going to be quoted in a book. Apparently I said some pretty profound things (three, to be exact) in an online forum, and one of the participants is assembling a book of several hundred of the profound things that people said. The three quotes of mine that he asked permission to use are:
See, it's easier to just let everyone make their own choices. Then you have so much time free with which to run your own life...

The sum of your experience does not equal the sum of the diversity in the world.

and, my favorite:
I mean, you'd be irritable, too, if someone were trying to cut open your skull with a dull axe.
The first one is one of my guiding principles for life. I do a terrible job of following it, because I freely dispense advice and, yes, judgment on a regular basis. However, as I get older, particularly as I grow as a parent, I am getting better at living by it. I used to see other peoples' choices, if they differed from mine, as a condemnation of my choices. Now I'm beginning to realize that every choice someone makes is its own unique choice based on their own unique circumstances... and if someone chooses differently than I have, well, they must have a good reason that I don't have. And, generally, they aren't making their choice in order to condemn what I've done. They're just doing the best they can for themself, in their unique situation, that is completely different from my situation.

Of course, some religious guy just knocked on the door wanting to give us pamphlets, and caused Max to bark while Claire is sleeping, which is totally uncool. My soul is not available for saving during nap time. However, he must have a good reason why he thinks we're heathens (could be my profound lack of landscaping - I hear only heathens suck at gardening), and maybe his kids are grown and don't nap, so instead of cursing the very ground he walks on, I'll just smile and nod and hope that he never ever comes back.

Anyway, the idea that anyone thinks anything I've said (much less three things!) is worthy of publication and being put in print for all posterity is extremely flattering. I can die, now, knowing that I will live on. 60 of my words will be enshrined for all time, even if the book is called Contradictory Statements!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Funnier than I am

Oh my God, you guys, have you seen this????

(Thanks, Mimi, for the link!!)

Not one of the cool kids

Everyone is at BlogHer in San Francisco this week, except me. *sigh* Maybe next year. Last year it was in Chicago, and I could've gone easily, but I wasn't into blogging very much, and it didn't occur to me to go. I am so jealous of all the fun the cool kids are having without me! Boo hoo...

I'm having fun, though. I got to meet my new nephew and visit with his mom a little bit down in Indy the other night. It was nice to be able to go without my babies, so that I could really listen and focus and not worry about them getting snot all over the baby. He is so cute. Almost as cute as my kids, and I don't say that about just anyone!

Isn't it interesting how babies in your own family are always cuter than babies from other peoples' families? Is it just me? Or do other peoples' kids never quite look as lovely to you as kids in your own family? I think it's evolution, personally, and the fact that they resemble people you already love, so you feel an instant recognition and kinship with kids in your own family. Even though I'm not related to him by blood, I feel this with my new little nephew. I felt it with my niece and nephew (BJ's brother's kids) too. They looked like my kids (Dylan has the same hair as Mary Grace, and Mary Grace and Cassidy have almost the same face), and I felt an instant bond with them. I noticed it more when I saw them after I'd had my kids than I did before I had my kids. I think it probably changed the way I interact with them a little bit, too, from the first time I met them (before MG was born) to the second (when I was pregnant with Claire). The second time I felt a lot more responsible for them... I'm not sure if that makes any sense, but I felt more free to correct, and more free to play with them the second time. I felt like they were mine in a way that I didn't the first time. Am I just talking random nonsense, or have you experienced something like this, too?

Yesterday we did the "farm tour" and, as far as I know, since I left early, it was a huge success. I got home around 2, and Justine and the girlies and I went swimming at the Municipal Pool. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the pool in my town is amazing! It's huge, it's clean, it's cheap, and there are two baby pools (one is 1 foot deep, the other goes from 2 feet deep to 3 feet deep) so I can take the girlies on my own!! We had a really good time, and on the way to take Justine home, MG passed out in the car. Awesome. Swimming is good for wearing the prettybabies out!

Wore me out, too. I fell asleep last night while I was putting MG to bed. Whoops.

I think I'm finally caught up with all my blogs, but I've been neglecting my e-mail. Sorry. And I owe several people phone calls. I had planned to take care of all that after the kids were in bed last night, but I was unconscious. I had a lovely dream about our friend John Paul, who died in February of 2006, just before his 30th birthday. The song "Who Knew" by Pink makes me think of him, and I heard it yesterday. Even the video - they're at the fair and one of the best dates that JP and I ever had was when we went to the Grammaland County Fair and watched "The Glow" - they light up a bunch of hot air balloons at night. It's so pretty, and we had so much fun... 'Course, in the video the guy dies of a drug overdose, and that's not at all what happened to JP. JP died of hypothermia and drowning under mysterious circumstances (why was he there? How could he drown, he was on the swim team in high school! Why did he take off his clothes and get in the water when it was so cold outside? My personal theory is that he was trying to help someone else - maybe he thought he saw someone struggling in the water, or maybe there was an animal that was in trouble, and he got stuck and couldn't get back to shore, but we won't know in this life) so the part when she sings, "What happened?" just makes me cry. Anyway, in the dream he was gone. He could visit me, but no one else could see him. I was trying to convince everyone in the dream that he's still around, and that he's ok. I remember holding his mom by the shoulders and saying, in the dream, "He still loves you. Love never dies." His mom died before he did, though, so I don't know what that was all about.

The other part of the song that speaks to me is where she sings, "But time makes it harder, I wish I could remember..." I feel exactly that way. My memory is terrible, and it fades over time. I can't find a picture of him anywhere, and I'm starting to lose the details of his face.

Sometimes I think that my dreams really are visits from him. I've had similar dreams about my grandparents, too. Sometimes I think I'm just crazy. Allison DuBois, the one from Medium, wrote a book called, "We Are Their Heaven," and she said that these dreams really are communication from the dead. I guess if anyone would know, it would be her. Just one of the many questions I want answered when I die, about 100 years from now, hopefully.

Wow, this took a turn for the depressing. Sorry about that. It's just on my mind today. Maybe if I write it all out, I can let it go.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Roasting Myself, part Deux

My beautiful friend Karen is hosting a farm tour for the conservation group she works for, which means that she's got bus loads of farmers and farming enthusiasts, like people who work for the EPA and whatnot, coming to Indy to go on a tour of several farms in our area. This is a huge event for her organization, and one of her key people is about 13 months pregnant... So I volunteered to help.

I'm headed down to Indy tonight to help out with the prep work, and then tomorrow morning we're going to load everyone on buses and drive them all over the countryside looking at compost (nope, I'm not kidding) and other exciting stuff. They're going to be working from 8 am - 8 pm, but I'm bailing on them and heading home between noon and 1 pm tomorrow, because I'm a lightweight.

Of COURSE it's going to be a million degrees tomorrow. I'm so sunburned I can't wear a bra, already, and I'm going to be out all day in the heat and the sun, loading buses and dragging coolers and helping. Yikes!

I have two different kinds of Solarcaine in my bag, and a whole bottle of ibuprofen. Oh, and sunscreen - sunscreen that I can spray on my back by myself, if necessary.

So, I'm going to add insult to injury tomorrow. I'll post then, if I can still type!

Fried!

In spite of the profound lack of volunteers (c'mon, people, why aren't you waiting by your computers all day, waiting to answer my call for assistance??) we went to the Indiana Dunes yesterday and had a blast! I'm completely sunburned all over my back, and the girls are less so, but a little pink. Justine is also fried, and poor freckled Lucy looked like a freckled tomato when I dropped her off. Jane didn't look quite so burned, but she has a less freckly complexion than her sister.

It was 90 and humid, but we were fine in the 60 degree water. It was cold going in, but really nice once we got used to the temperature. It was a little creepy, knowing that a young boy had drowned at a neighboring beach the day before, and that he had not yet been found. But the lake was nice and calm, and we were very safe - we stayed together, and we didn't go in too deep. Lucy and I talked about it, a bit, and I said, "You know, there's risk in everything you do. There was risk in driving up here. But you can't just hide in your house all the time. You could get hurt there, anyway! You just have to be smart and be safe, and take precautions, and be aware of the dangers in everything you do..." I never know with older kids (she's almost 12) whether I'm saying the right thing or not. I don't want to scare them, but sometimes I don't know what's developmentally appropriate to tell them, either. It's much easier with kids 3 and under - those I have experience living with. I feel like I understand how their minds work. Still, Lucy's a smart kid and she didn't seem disturbed by the things I said, so I hope I did ok.

Anyway, enough of that sad talk, here are the pictures.





Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Need a Volunteer

I need someone in Grammaland to play hooky today and come to the beach with all these girlies and me. Preferred candidates will be better swimmers than I am. We're going to leave the house within the next half hour or so, and we'll be on the road for an hour and a half, so if you're available, call my cell phone.

(Jenny - we'll still come up next week, but Justine is going back to France and I don't want her to miss the Dunes).

(I just tried to spell Dunes with two o's. HUH?)

Monday, July 14, 2008

In Which I Realize that What I Really Need is Five Kids

OMG, does anyone know where I can adopt a few teenagers? I got a nap with Claire, while Justine, Lucy, and Jane played with MG. Now all 5 of them are on a walk with Max, little ones in the wagon, big ones fighting over who gets to pull, and I'm sitting in the shade in my backyard, drinking ice water and enjoying the peace and quiet.

Who knew?

While it might have been slightly more difficult, labor wise (maybe 5 hours, instead of my original 3 hours, 45 minutes) maybe I should've just waited until Mary Grace was 15 to give birth. Big kids are so self-sufficient! They just need me to drive and buy snacks and make lunch. Piece of cake!

I'd better not get used to this, or I will be so hosed when Justine goes home and Lucy and Jane go back to school.

In Which I Jinx Myself

I have hesitated to say anything, but Claire has slept through the night in her own crib for the past 3 nights. The first night, I thought, "Fluke." The second? "Coincidence." The third? "OMG, this is a trend, now I will post about it and it will never, ever happen again."

The girls are happily playing outside. Laundry is spinning. Shopping is accomplished. We're ready to leave for gymnastics in about 40 minutes. Busy day, but it's fun to have all these girlies around. I feel like Miss Hannigan. "Little girls, little girls, everywhere I look..." Hahaha... Maybe that will be my new parenting model - WWMHD? (What Would Miss Hannigan Do, of course).

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Night, and All's Well

I'm feeling much better, thanks to all of you who have checked up on me. BJ let me get lots and lots of rest this weekend, and the kids cooperated, and I keep on keepin' on.

We actually had a very nice day, today. BJ's step-great-uncle Charles turned 90. He's the patriarch of the fantastic family we have down on the farm. We arrived late to a lunch at the church, then went to Keith and Karen's house for cake and more of an "open house" set up. I just can't tell you how wonderful these folks are - they are the kindest, most welcoming group of people I've ever met. We get together several times a year. They're just fantastic.

One of the things decorating the walls was a newspaper article. Apparently Charles' daughter's husband is a descendent of the longest-surviving soldier of the Revolutionary War. He lived to be 114. The article was so funny, it said that he was mad about not being able to fight in the Civil War, because he was 100 years old.

We have a busy day tomorrow. In addition to Justine, Lucy and Jane are coming to spend the day with us. Lucy's almost 12 and Jane is almost 8, and they're the daughters of Brandon - BJ college roommate, our best man, and my new wine drinking buddy starting Friday. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all these girls, but I guess we'll think of something. Maybe they'll entertain my girlies while I get the housework done...

A girl can dream.

We have gymnastics at noon, and my kids are going to need a nap after that, so if we're going to do something fun, we'll need to do it in the morning. I'm starting to feel like a camp counselor! I'll probably just send them all outside so that I can clean. It's a thrill a minute at the Prettybaby house.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday - blah

I have food poisoning (I'll spare you the details). I have never met a family that gets sick as often as we do. Clearly I need to do something differently, but what? I wash my hands constantly. Maybe I need to be better about washing the kids' hands. I have no idea.

It's pouring, and the roof is leaking. Again. Ugh. The roofer wanted $5000. I don't have $5000. Oh, and we need $2000 worth of new carpet. And we've already taken out a home improvement loan. I am having very negative, illegal impulses toward my house right now (don't worry, it's actually too wet to burn down). I don't know why I keep getting these quotes fo things I know we can't afford - like someone is just going to take pity on me and say, "Don't worry, Amy, I'll fix the leak and recarpet your downstairs for $250. Because you're nice, and because I love your blog." What really sucks is that we've already fixed the roof, but the fix didn't work. I hate being a homeowner.

The birthday party we were supposed to go to at the park has been rained out, so we're having cake and ice cream at the birthday boy's house, instead. I still haven't bought a gift. I think I'm going to give him a card and a check for his college fund. He's a second child, so he gets all the good hand me downs from his older brother, and he's 1 year old. They need new toys about as much as we do. His Mom and I try to do "clutter-free" gifts for each other, because neither of us have room in our small houses for more stuff. I bought a flower-arranging class for the two of us for her birthday, she took us for manis and pedis for mine. So, college funds are clutter free, right? I thought about a savings bond, but apparently it takes 3 weeks to get those, and you can't get them at our bank, anyway. When I found out that it took 3 weeks, I started thinking about a check. Maybe a check and a book, just so he has something to open. A board book called "Auntie Amy Gives You Checks Because She Doesn't Plan Ahead, but You'll Be Grateful When You Are 18 and Go To College, so Quit Crying, Already!"

I google image searched "bad day" and saw a bunch of funny cartoons, but this is a family blog, so I'll just let YOU google, too, and pick your favorite illustration. I like the outhouse one.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What should I put in my diaper bag?

I check SiteMeter to see how people are finding me every couple of days. One of the most frequent searches I see is "pack diaper bag" or "diaper bag contents" or "what should I pack in my diaper bag?"

I am here for you, Parents of the Internet. I am here.

The answer depends a lot on the age of your baby/ies, how many of them there are, where you're going, how long you'll be there, and what you'll be doing.

For everyday outings, though, to the store and whatnot, you need the following, minimum, no matter what the age:
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Drinks
  • Distractions
Let's go point by point...

Diapers

With two kids in them, I tote around a lot of diapers. A lot. The best rule of thumb I've found is to take 2 diapers for every 4 hours you plan to be gone (minimum number of diapers per kid = 2). I use a gallon sized Ziplock bag to keep them from getting all bunched up in the bottom of my bag. I can also squeeze out the air, so they take up less space.

I always take too many diapers for overnight trips. When you take a full package, they're nice and compact and squashed together, and you don't have to worry about running out.

Wipes

You can never have too many wipes. They're not just for butts. (That should totally be their slogan - "Pampers Wipes! Not just for butts!") They are handy for wiping hands and faces, cleaning up spills, cooling off a hot kid, cooling off a hot mama, and about ten zillion other things. Trouble is that pre-moistened wipes get heavy. A brick of wipes weighs as much as, well, as much as a brick.

I carry a "diaper bag sized" hard case in my bag, with 10 - 20 wipes crammed in it (I refill mine) and then I keep a full sized box of wipes in the car, because you never know... You just never know.

Drinks

I don't know what it's like where you are, but it's hot and muggy in Indiana. Maybe it's just my kids, but nothing gets them fussy faster than being thirsty. If we stopped at McDonald's for a chocolate milk or a pop every time my kids get thirsty, we would rapidly go broke. I don't leave home without sippy cups. It's cheaper. It's environmentally friendlier. It keeps my kids from losing their tiny minds. I will take a quick trip without diapers, say to the pharmacy when they've just been changed, but I never go anywhere without sippy cups. I even keep extras (those thin plastic take and toss ones are a good choice for this) in the car, because it's cheaper to buy one big drink and divide it than it is to buy a bunch of little drinks. And Claire hasn't quite mastered the cup and straw.

Distractions

Kids have very little patience for waiting in line, running errands, and grocery shopping. That's why every good diaper bag has a few distractions in it. Crayons are good. I keep a bunch of Happy Meal toys (espeically those with wheels) in mine - they're small, they're light, and no one is going to need therapy if we lose them. My kids also love Tic Tacs, so I've been keeping those in the bag lately (I'm aware that they're a choking hazard, but if it buys Mommy 3 minutes of peace before Claire starts saying, "Mo! Mo!!" then it's all good). Mommy's iPod is also a good distraction. One of my Tweets today was that the kids' song to Mommy's song ratio on my iPod is about 7:1. That makes me feel so old. It's good to rotate your distractions regularly, because no kid is going to be entertained by the same Hot Wheels Happy Meal toy for 3 days in a row.

Snacks are also a good distraction. Keep it healthy with the individual boxes of raisins. We also like the fruit snacks that come in packages of 10, even though they're not fruit. 100 calorie packs are the big thing, lately, and they're just about right for a kid-sized snack, too.

"It can't be that simple!" I hear you say. "This bag I bought has 10,000 compartments - I can't just need four things!"

Well, of course, if you're bottle feeding, you'll need the bottle stuff. If you're going to be gone during a meal, you'll need food and/or utensils. Maybe a bib.

And some of the pockets can be for your stuff, eliminating the need to carry a baby, a diaper bag, and a separate purse.

But I promise, that's all you really need, if you have a car.

I keep everything, and I do mean everything, in big plastic totes in my car. I have extra toys, books, a first aid kit, infant and child formula medications, bungee cords, sun screen, emergency food, a small fire extinguisher, and about 10,000 other miscellaneous things. I would rather trek back to the car to grab something I need, occasionally, than become a hunchback from carrying everything I could possibly ever need all the time.

That said, there are things that I've found that are handy to have on hand, if you still have room in your bag (or car):
  • "Feminine products" (I stick mine in the Ziplock with the diapers)
  • Handy Sacks - you can find these at Walmart in the check out lane, they're blue, it's a little bag, about the size of a graham cracker, that has plastic bags inside it. These are really handy for stinky diapers
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A small tube of sunscreen (or buy a big one and get a refillable travel sized container, save money, less waste, cheaper)
  • Off makes insect repellant wipes. Those have come in handy.
  • A small notebook or Post-It Notes and pen to combat Mommy-brain
  • Kleenex
  • A baby nail trimmer (because sometimes they fall asleep in the car seat, and you can get 'em while they're unconscious and avoid all the screaming)
  • Orajel, or whatever you use for teething pain
  • A nail file (no MacGyver use, here, I just always seem to need one)
  • A nasal aspirator (or nose-sucker), if your baby is small and/or stuffy (we got caught without one of these, once, and while I'm not going to tell you what I did to fix the situation, I can pretty much guarantee that you don't want to kiss me on the mouth ever again
  • An umbrella
  • A sling (oh, I loved my slings, and I am so sad that Claire has outgrown them. They were so easy and so handy and so cozy)
  • A camera (I traded in my DSLR for a pocket-sized point and shoot so that I can have it with me all the time)
  • Cell phone (is there anyone left who doesn't have a cell phone? Certainly none of the parents I know!)
  • Wallet
  • Keys
  • Spare keys because kids love to play with keys but you don't want them to play with your real keys because they tend to drop them down sewers so give them all those anonymous keys that every junk drawer has, on a pretty keychain, and just calmly wave bye-bye if they go down the hole
  • Address book/PDA/etc. our phone company puts out a small yellow-pages-only phone book that is so handy - it lives in my car
  • List of emergency numbers (if you don't have an address book/PDA, at least write down all the important numbers in your life and carry it with you, so that if something happens, you don't have to rely on your memory when you're under stress)
  • Medical info. Mary Grace is allergic to amoxicillin, for example. That's pretty easy to remember, even with Mommy brain, but if you have more than one allergy to remember, maybe you should write them down. You know. Just in case. Check these out for the emergency numbers/medical info. I think they're so cute, and you can make your own.
See, the bag's starting to get heavy now. It's getting silly. What you ought to do is keep most of this stuff in the car (except for the big four) to begin with, and if you find that you're constantly running out to the car to get something, stick it in your bag. If you have something in your bag that you never use, stick it in your car.

"But Amy," you cry, "I live in the big city! I walk everywhere! I don't have a car to use as a giant diaper bag!!"

Well, ok, you're hosed. You're just going to have to suck it up and carry the industrial sized duffel bag diaper bag. Maybe you should make like a flight attendant and get one of those wheely suitcases. At the very least, you want to get a good stroller that has a bin underneath for carrying stuff, otherwise you're going to break your back. I take the stroller along all the time, but the kids are rarely in it. I use it like a grocery cart, to haul all our crap. I'd rather carry my kids than my junk, right? And if we have a stroller with us, I always know where everything is. And it has cup holders. I have the Graco Travel System thing (with the infant bucket and the stroller) and it has served me well through two kids, and I love it.

The good thing about being in the city is that there is always a drug store or something nearby, so you don't necessarily have to have everything on hand that you would need for a walk through the desert or something.

What am I forgetting? What do you have in your diaper bag?

Eat Out Much?

I hate hate hate cooking in the summer. It's hot enough in the house, and then turn on the oven to 400 degrees for an hour? No thanks. I would rather just sit here and sweat and be hungry. (One would think that I would lose weight in the summer, then, right? One would be wrong. Apparently my metabolism has gone abroad for the summer.)

Restaurant.com must feel my pain, because right now if you buy a $25 gift certificate, which is normally priced at just $10 (already a super deal!) and you put in the code DELICIOUS when you check out through July 13, you can get a $25 gift certificate for $5. Half price. Or 1/5 price, actually. That's 80% off.

There's one restaurant in particular in Grammaland that my mom goes to at least once a week, if not more, for Tapas.

Poor Carlos. I think telling my mom about this may put him out of business.

Thanks iMommies for the tip!!

*****
The chaos continues in Prettybabyland. BJ has been working a ton, which is hard on me. Justine has been a big help. Her goal was to improve her English on this trip. Mary Grace is helping her with this by forcing her to read Berenstein Bears books over and over and over. Better her than me!

We had a busy day of running errands today. I bought a gift for my new nephew, Blake. Dropped some mail off at Grandpa Bob's (under the door, Dad, don't forget to look). Dropped off a gift at my friend Jenny's for her new baby, Miles (on your doorknob, Jenny, don't forget to look). Went to the big park in the middle for a bit, came home for lunch, took a nap (Justine watched MG while Claire and I slept! Woo hoo!). Got up. Played outside. Addressed the invitations for Mimi's bridal shower (in your mailbox by Monday, half the free world, don't forget to look!). Went to the grocery store. Went through Taco Bell because we were too hungry to wait for dinner to cook (and it's too darn hot). Their new Mango Strawberry Smoothie thing rocks. Came home. Here we are.

My life is a thrill a minute. I don't know why Hollywood hasn't called me to get the movie rights.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Welcome to the World, Blake!

My bonus-sister, Saundra, was safely delivered of a baby boy this afternoon. Welcome to the world, pretty baby boy! I can't wait to meet you! You and your cousins are going to have a big time. They've got a lot of neat tricks to teach you.

I need an electric fence

I'm sitting on our patio, enjoying the fact that the kids played with the new playhouse for 10 minutes all by themselves. Then I look up and Mary Grace is letting herself out of the backyard fence.

How much do you think a residential electric fence would cost, because, seriously, Mommy hasn't read her blogs All Stinkin' Day.

I cleaned the toy room this morning and weeded out all the toys we've outgrown or lost crucial pieces to (of course, nothing you gave us! All of the toys from you are in acrylic boxes, and we only get them out under the strictest of clean room conditions, ensuring that they are available to be loved for generations to come). I ended up with an entire laundry basket full of mainly Happy Meal toys, and other stuff that the kids no longer play with (teethers, Sassy stuff, the works). It feels great to have that done. We've been meaning to tackle it for a while.

I took Justine and the kids to Dawn's, then my aunt Julie brought down the playhouse for the kids, we had lunch, I went to work, yelled at the Department of Workforce Development (collective IQ = eleven) for a couple of hours, wrote the governor a letter about how the DWD sucks, picked up the kids, and came home.

I am beat! On the way through campus after I picked up the kids, MG said, "Mommy! Let's go to the new Noodle restaurant that's best in the whole world and get noodles! Please Mommy!" and since I knew what she meant and I didn't really feel like making supper, anyway, that's where we're headed. Right after BJ finishes changing the horrible poopy diaper that I tricked him into changing. Hee...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

WFMW: Mommy's Music

I love some of the music we play for the kids. Sandra Boynton's stuff is all brilliant and funny, and Barenaked Ladies, Cake, and They Might Be Giants have all jumped on the preschool music scene.

But sometimes Mommy needs a break from the ABCs and 123s. Sometimes Mommy is going to have to have a very stiff drink if she has to listen to one more round of "La la la la Lemon," and that is not a good idea when one is on a long car trip to Grammaland.

So, here's my secret. I put the kids' music on the CD player (because they're too small for headphones, but the day is coming soon when I can stick ear buds on those little goofballs and listen to my stuff), flip the speakers to the rear, and then stick ONE earbud of my iPod in so I can listen to podcasts. I figure that podcasts don't need to be in stereo any more than AM radio does, so I'm not missing anything by only listening to it in mono. It leaves my other ear free to referee whatever happens to be going on in the backseat, or to hear traffic noise, sirens, etc. I don't crank it, either, so even if I used both earbuds (which I don't) I'd still be able to hear what was going on around me.

I can also listen to my own music (you know, the kind with the occasional cuss word) or to audio books this way. I figure it's safer than talking on the cell phone...

Not having to listen to The Penguin's Lament for the eleventymillionth time Works for Me! Visit Rocks In My Dryer for more WFMW tips!

Duuuuuudddeee...



I watch a lot of videos online from the various blogs I read and whatnot, but this is the best laugh I have had in a long, loooong time. Watch it first, then keep reading.

Ok, you have to wonder what is going through that dog's head, don't you? I mean, dogs don't understand zero gravity. I love how he floats up between the pilot and co-pilot, as if to say, "Um, guys... Little help here?" I'm literally laughing so hard I can hardly type. And I love how he rises up in the back at the beginning. Oh Lord, I have to go watch it again.

So tell me what you think is going through Anti-Gravity Dog's wee little head. Best caption gets a biscuit and a scratch behind the ears, along with a "Who's a good commenter?"

Additional bonus points for the best song to accompany the video. The best I can come up with is "There's a bad pooch on the rise..." What have you got?

Thanks Aunt Kathryn and Ian for the link!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

I broke my phone

Just now, after spending YEARS putting the kids to bed, I was coming down the stairs in the dark and I slipped on the cat (The Cat Must Die!), throwing my cell phone down the remaining 6 or 8 stairs and breaking it.

DAMNIT.

It was a really nice phone, too. I loved it.

It broke the screen, but the phone still boots up like the internal stuff is ok. Anyone know if that can be fixed? AT&T is closed, so I can't call them and cry.

Will stop first thing in the morning, though, because I have to drive to Grammaland in the morning. Don't want to be on the interstate without a phone. Bad plan.

What kind of a dumbassed cat sleeps on the stairs? For crying out loud.

Free, to good home. One cat. Black. Stupid. Prefers a home without stairs.