Sunday, November 30, 2008

Books I'm Reading...

I've been slacking on my reading the past few days, but recently picked up a book called Endangered by Johann Christoph Arnold, and found a poem that I wanted to share with you...
child, though I am meant to teach you much,
what is it, in the end,
except that together we are
meant to be children
of the same Father,
and I must unlearn
all the adult structure
and the cumbering years
and you must teach me
to look at the earth and the heaven
with your fresh wonder.
~Jane Tyson Clement
I thought it was beautiful, and especially appropriate as we begin the Christmas season. For me, the best part of being a parent is seeing the world through a child's eyes again, through my kids.

I'm only about halfway into this book, but I'm finding excellent things to think about. It really addresses my fears about raising children in such a violent, unchildlike, unsafe world. I haven't gotten to any answers, yet, on how to insulate them, except to love them. If they know that I will walk with them through life, and help them to become who they're supposed to be, no matter what, maybe they'll be ok.

What's inspiring you today?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Ikea Fairy

I just got back from a trip to Ikea with my friend Karen and I am exhausted! Where do I sign up to have the Ikea fairy come to my house? I would love it if everything were small and European and organized around here. Unfortunately, it would cost eleventy trillion dollars to organize me, so I'm just going to have to settle for a large, American, disorganized home for now. But hey, at least after next week it won't be a large, American, LEAKY home - that's right, the roofers are coming early next week to fix the roof. Hallelujah! Let's hear it for 6 year warranties!

BJ's mom and brother stayed two nights with us. We had a really nice visit. Poor Brett, though. I'm afraid I gave him the impression that I always cook the way I do for Thanksgiving. Maybe I should say Poor Gina (his wife). I'm afraid he's returning home with unrealistic expectations!

Grandma Dinana might come stay with us for a little while, after Brett heads back to Arizona. It sure would be a help with Allison going home for the "winter" break. Let's all cross our fingers and hope that happens! Hooray for grandparents!

So, I'm off to play with my new Ikea toys. And to look for ideas for Karen's I-wanna-sell-this-tiny-house remodel of her galley kitchen. I'm thinking glass fronted cabinets and open shelving would make it feel a lot larger, as well as white beadboard cabinets (as opposed to the dark wood that's in there now). If anyone has suggestions, let me know in the comments!!

Did you all go shopping this weekend? What were your best finds?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Surprises!

Everyone arrived safely, including a couple of surprise guests! My father in law, who I thought was dining elsewhere, and my BROTHER IN LAW, who lives in Arizona!! We had NO idea he was coming! Max started barking in the yard, so I knew BJ's mom was here, and when I went to open the door I saw Brett through the window and seriously thought I was hallucinating. What a wonderful surprise! He got to meet Claire for the first time (last time he was home, I was pregnant with her, during Christmas of 2006) and share the meal with us.

BJ, his mom, and Brett are now at the new Bond film, and MG and C are playing quietly, and my mom, Pops, and brother have all gone home. It's a little too quiet.

What a wonderful day, though. Everything turned out just fine (the stuffing was a little dry, but not bad for a first attempt at non-Stove Top Stuffing). My MIL said that the rolls were the best she'd ever tasted! The pumpkin pie was perfectly set, the crust was divine. Everyone loved the Sweet Potato Casserole - even those who don't normally love sweet potatoes. THANKS PIONEER WOMAN!! BJ did not blow up the house with, or launch, or otherwise endanger anyone with the deep fried turkey (after all, he is a professional). Everything was better than I expected. Yay for planning!

As Mom was leaving she passed the torch and said, "You're in charge of holidays from now on." Now that I've had time to reflect, I'm not sure if that's a blessing or a curse! It was a lot of work, but it was fun, and I'm glad to have a minute to relax.

BJ even washed all the dishes. Is he a pod person or what?

I hope that all of your feasts were successful, too. What was the best surprise you got today?

Happy Thanksgiving

Today I'm thankful for my children. I'm thankful that they're healthy. I'm thankful that they are who they are. I'm thankful that I'm their mom.

I'm thankful for BJ, who works so hard to provide for our family. I'm thankful that he's a far better husband than I deserve. I'm thankful for his sense of humor and his wisdom. I'm thankful that he knows me so well and loves me anyway.

I'm thankful for our extended family, both the Scottish and Irish mafias, as well as BJ's slightly more normal clan. I'm missing those who are no longer here to celebrate with us, especially Aunt Carolyn. I'm thinking of her husband and her children and grandchildren, and hoping that their holidays aren't too difficult. I hope they feel her presence.

I'm thankful for the amazing circle of friends that surrounds us. Though we may not see you as often as we'd like to, whether due to distance or time, I hope you know that you're always in our hearts. I'm thankful for the technology that allows us to be close, even when we're far from each other.

And I'm thankful for all of the readers who don't even know me, but who take time out of your busy lives to peek into mine. I'm humbled and blessed by your comments, your e-mails, and your words of encouragement. Thank you for being a part of our family.

I hope today is full of laughter and amazing food for all of you. I hope that you have as much to be thankful for, this year, as we do.

Happy Thanksgiving! I gotta go cook...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hello? Babysitters??

Ok, seriously, where are my babysitters? I still have openings on December 6 (coughKellycough) and January 24. Between the grandmas Dinana and Denna, we've got the overnight on the 20th covered.

I really ought to be cooking. I'm going to make the potatoes and the pie today. Maybe I'll cut up the apple salad and the stuff for the stuffing if I get inspired, but that's only going to take 10 minutes on Thursday morning, so why bother? Our guest list has grown. In addition to the four of us, my brother might be coming, my MIL is coming, and my mom and step-dad are coming. BJ's dad is going to stop by, but he's not eating (LONG story).

I totally dropped the ball and forgot to send in the form for Mary Grace's school pictures on time. In my defense, it was due yesterday and she's in the Wed/Fri class, so I wasn't even there. If I had been, they totally would've gotten it. I sent it, apologetically, with BJ this morning to see if they'd take it late. Otherwise, we'll have one less picture of MG in the world. Oh, tragedy. I only have about 7000 on my harddrive, and they were practically free. The school pictures were pretty cute, though. Much more professional than the laser-background ones that I had growing up.

This morning she wanted me to make "scary pancakes" for breakfast. It took me a minute, but I finally realized that she meant pumpkin pancakes with chocolate chip faces like I made on Halloween. I searched the cabinets, but we're out of chocolate chips. "Do they have to be scary?" I asked. "Yes, Mommy, they have to be terrifying!" she replied.

Her other funny is more of a family inside joke, but I'll tell you anyway. My dad has all these phrases, some of which I didn't understand until adulthood, that he says all the time. For example, if you say something is "too loose," he'll inevitably reply "Lautrec." I didn't get that one until I saw Moulin Rouge (love that movie). "Ohhhh... It's a person!" I said to myself. Dur.

You can also make him hum, if you know the right phrase ("pounds of bananas..."). Some of them are philosophical, like, "It's always the last place you look..." which I interpreted, as a kid, as "It's always the last place you would look," so if I lost something I'd start looking in the strangest places - the freezer for toys, for example... Until I realized that it's always in the last place you look because when you find it you stop looking.

Well, one of the Dadisms is "See you by the pool." I don't really understand this one, either. Maybe it was in some obscure movie that he saw back in 1972... I don't know. When I called Mom to tell her this story, though, she remembered him saying it, and they split up like 20 years ago, so it has staying power, wherever it came from. So we were out yesterday and near Dad's apartment, and we drove by to see if he was around to join us for a root beer. I slowed down, didn't see his car, and said to Mary Grace, "It doesn't look like Grandpa's home. I wonder where he is?" and she said, "Maybe he's by the pool."

I cracked up (and called everyone). I mean, it's 30 degrees! I got this mental image of Dad standing by the pool, freezing, waiting to see people. HA! And in my entire life, I can only remember Dad being by an actual pool once (he had one at his house, growing up, but I wasn't there). It's just one of those things he says... But I guess, in Mary Grace's head, whenever he's not with us, he's "by the pool." Too funny.

Claire's reading my current issue of Cooking Light right now, and meowing at the cat in the Iams ad. Ha!

I honestly don't know what we ever laughed at before we had kids. Seriously, they are too funny!!

BJ worked late (again, 2nd night in a row) last night, and I had the kids fed, bathed, and in bed sleeping by 7:45!! It was bliss. I listened to a couple of Radiolabs and felt guilty about not cooking. Ha!

What are you laughing about today?

PS - Rob - I would totally send them to you if I thought that I could do it without violating shipping rules and regulations and a couple of child protection laws. :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Volunteers Requested

We need a babysitter for the kids in Grammaland on December 6 (party), and also on January 24th (wedding). Any volunteers?

Also, there's a possible overnight on 12/20, depending on Grandma Dinana's holiday travel plans. We'll be in Chicago that night. Since we've got Christmas with Gramma Susan on Friday the 19th, we'll already be in Grammaland.

E-mail me!

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Skirt Actually Flew Up

I started my holiday cooking today. I made pie crusts and froze them, unbaked, for the pumpkin pie. I made blue cranberry sauce (because it gets better as it sits, so 3 days should be just about the perfect amount of time for all of the flavors to meld perfectly). And I made my skirt fly up.

There's something earthy and satisfying about making bread. I love to take a bunch of ingredients that, alone, taste awful, and make something incredible. I love the way the dough feels, I love the way the house smells, I love everything about making bread. Yet I only do it about twice a year...

So when I lost my mind and decided that I had to make everything from scratch for T-day, I decided to try Pioneer Woman's yeast rolls.

The recipe makes enough to feed a ranch full of cowboys, so I thought I'd better make a test batch tonight for dinner, you know, just to be cautious. After all, if they were terrible (yeah, right), I still have time to thaw some Rhodes rolls, right?

And being the astute fan girl that I am, somewhere in the process I realized that the dough was exactly the same as the amazing cinnamon rolls I made last Christmas.

So, I took 1/4 of the dough and made rolls for dinner. I took 1/4 and kept it back in the fridge to make rolls on Thursday, and I took 1/2 and made cinnamon rolls.

I wish you could smell my house right now. Oh. My. God.

I ate four of the rolls. Just to be sure, you know, that they would be ok for the Big Day.

They are to die for.

You still have time. They are simple to make, it's really just a lot of waiting on the yeast. Go get the stuff tonight, make the dough tomorrow, keep it in the fridge, and they'll be ready for you to bake on Thursday. Then you can fall in love with a dinner roll, too. I don't know about you, but I am never going to be the same.

I have tried several of her recipes, and Ree never fails me. If you aren't a loyal follower yet, you should be.

Thanks PDub!!

(Tomorrow I'm going to make the potatoes, I think, both sweet and mashed... And probably the pie. It depends on how much energy I have tomorrow afternoon. I may still be coming down off of these rolls...)

Miscellaneous Cuteness

I have a little speaker for my iPod so the kids can play their tunes on it without trying to eat my iPod. Dad was over, and Claire wanted "Mahna Mahna" (big surprise there). Dad told her, "I don't know how to work it, Claire," and she handed it to him and said, quite clearly, "TRY!"

***

Mary Grace is playing dress up today. I wanted her to wear her princess dress over her jammies, because it's cold and damp today and I don't want her to freeze. She said, "But Mommy, I can just pretend that I'm warm." She's got me there.

Same dress up outfit has a yellow "crown" that is made of fabric. Mary Grace calls it the "cheese crown." It really does look like slices of Kraft Singles on a piece of elastic...

***

Claire's language is going nuts - she's learning new words every day. Some of them are real stumpers. For instance, "Charlie and Lola" are now "Chola." Mickey Mouse is "Mick Mou." Goodnight Moon is "Night Moo."

***

Mary Grace and Claire are playing dolls. Claire says to Mary Grace, "Hi Mama," to Mary Grace in a tone that made it clear that she was playing pretend.

***

Whenever I come in, I say, "Hi Baby!" Claire has started saying, "Hi Baby!" to me when I come in.

***

Whenever we go to the gym, whether it's time for her class or not, Claire says, "I want play!"

***

I have 10,000 pounds of laundry to do today, plus I need to start cooking for Thanksgiving (today I'm going to make the rolls and the pie crusts, and possibly the cranberry sauce). It's a good thing it's cold, wet, and rainy outside. Perfect baking weather.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Do You Have a Favorite?

A friend, who shall remain anonymous, and I had a conversation about having more than one child. She's doing "two under two" too, and her second child is just 5 months old. She asked me, half expecting me to think she was a horrible person, if I have a favorite child.

Immediately, I knew where she was coming from. A five month old is a demanding creature, and other than a few smiles, they give little in return. Meanwhile, Mom feels so guilty that she can't spend the time she wants to, the time she used to, with her oldest child. She misses the oldest, and it's easy to begin to resent the younger child. It's easy to think that you love the younger child less.

"You've known your oldest longer..." I said, and watched relief wash over her. "When your youngest is 2, and you have known him as long as you've known your oldest, you'll feel the same way for your youngest that you do for your oldest right now."

I was listening to a podcast I recently found (thanks Brandon!!) called Radiolab, and they were talking about the self. They hypothesized that who you are is really an unfolding narrative that you tell yourself - you are a story. And so, if you tell yourself that you love one child more, or that you are a bad mother for loving one child more than the other, or even that it's necessary to quantify and measure the amount of love you feel for each child and keep it even - you will make that your truth. You'll obsess over it, and you'll drive yourself crazy trying to keep everything even, lest someone find out how horrible you are for having a favorite to begin with...

Don't tell yourself that story. It's normal to have moments when you like one kid more than another. One will drive you crazy while the other is being a perfect angel. One will be in a phase while the other is having an easy period. But don't confuse "like" with "love." Like is what you feel when they're easy, when they're calm, when they've done something extraordinary, when you're so proud of them you don't know if your heart can take it... Love, I think, is different. Love is what keeps you from losing your mind when they're throwing up on you for the seventh time. Love is what prevents you from giving in to a tantrum, even though you know it would be easier to just give in, because you want them to be good people when they grow up.

"Like" is easy. If I make you cookies, rub your feet, and give you $100, you're probably going to like me. But if I take your cookies, make you step on my toys, and cost you money, and you take care of me anyway? That's love.

We love our kids the same. Very few of us take care of our children to different standards - I'm sure there's some sick person in the world who treats one of her kids like Richie Rich and the other like dirt, but most of us sane people take equal care of our kids - if one gets PB&J, the other gets PB&J. We stay up late taking care of both (or all) of them when they're sick. We do equal amounts of laundry. Love is what we dip into so that we have the strength to do the work of parenting. Love is how we get up and find out why they're crying, quiet them, and go back to bed, even when we haven't slept, ourselves.

Anybody can do "like." And I think "like" comes and goes, it ebbs and flows. But love is constant. Since it's Sunday, I'm going to go all Biblical, and say:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13)
Did you know that in some translations, they use the word "charity" instead of love? When I think of charity, I think of selflessly doing something for someone else. That's what love is. Selflessly doing things for someone else, patiently and kindly, and so on... And it doesn't end. And you can't quantify it or compare it.

It's ok for the "like" to ebb and flow. The love underneath is strong enough to endure.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite?

Friday, November 21, 2008

So it begins...

I think I've done a fairly good job of keeping the holiday stress low this year. You might remember that I kind of lose my mind between Halloween and New Years every year. So far, so good.

But it really starts this weekend. I have to get everything ready for our Thanksgiving meal, I still have no idea who is coming and who isn't (ahem). I have to start getting the house clean. And when I tried to start a little Christmas shopping, someone told me that he's "just not in the mood yet."

The mood doesn't strike this particular person until about 3 pm Christmas Eve, unfortunately, which drives me a little insane. I'd rather have all of our holiday shopping done before Thanksgiving.

The calendar is already starting to fill up for December. I know that we're going to be making at least 4 separate trips to Grammaland before Christmas, probably 5 before New Years. With two small kids, a huge dog, and a business to run, that gets a little overwhelming. Allison will, of course, be headed home for the break, too, so there goes my childcare. Thank God for the Mommy's Time Out program at preschool - I plan to do a lot between 9 and 11:30 on Wednesdays and Fridays.

It seems like we've increased our commitments exponentially this fall, between preschool and having both the girls in gymnastics, regular playdates, my work, and everything else... well, time is flying, and I'm not sure how I'm going to manage it all.

Do you other moms feel like you're responsible for everyone else and their happiness during the holidays? I sure do... I feel like if the food isn't exactly right, if the gifts aren't exactly right, then I'll ruin the holiday for someone. It's a lot of pressure. I haven't noticed this tendency in the dads I know. I'm trying to just relax and have fun, for the kids' sake, and to tell my inner Martha to go jump. They're going to remember whether Mom was a stressball or a relaxed, happy, fun person a lot more than they'll remember what they got or what they ate.

We have close friends who got married in their early 20s, and who told their families, "We aren't leaving our house on holidays - if you want to see us or the kids, you come here..." I wish I could do that. We tried one year, and everything was off. No one ended up having much fun - us included - so we're back to doing the circuit and running around like crazy people for the next month and a half.

On the one hand, we're blessed to have so many people (many of whom are reading this right now) who want to see us and spend time with us during the holidays. On the other hand, I don't think everyone always appreciates how difficult it is to do what we end up doing every year with two small kids, a big dog, and a business. (All the end of the year tax stuff? Yeah, that starts soon, too...)

I guess what I'm saying is, if I don't get you The Perfect Gift this year, don't let it ruin your holidays. If my baked goods are burnt around the edges or, God forbid, have a long curly hair in them from one of my helpers, please don't judge. Remember that I'm doing my best... And that it wouldn't kill you to come down here once in a while. Last I checked, the interstate actually did flow in both a northerly and a southerly direction.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ballet

Sorry for the quiet day yesterday! I spent the entire day trying to make this video for you, and it turns out that I still screwed up the titles and captioning. Oh well, you'll get the general idea. Besides, you're here to see my lovely kids, not my mad Windows Movie Maker skillz.



Working today... More later. Perhaps a corrected version of the above video, if I get the cookies made for preschool quickly this afternoon...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I love Leno

One of the few features of BJ's absence is that I get to watch WHATEVER I WANT on TV (which is often "nothing" but that's another post). Last night I had Leno on, and he told the funniest joke.

"Did you hear the rumor that Obama might choose Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state? No kidding. Poor Hillary. She was this close to being the leader of the free world, and now she's getting offered a secretarial job..." *rimshot*

(The other feature is that I can blog when I should be working... Heee!)

Hallelujah!

Molly's out of surgery and in recovery! SO relieved!!!

Another Busy Tuesday

I'm back at work, finally. I was so glad to see Allison this morning I almost cried. I probably would've, if I hadn't been on the phone. The kids are home with her, and I'm at my very, very quiet office, where things are quiet and under control, and there are no butts or noses to wipe. Did I mention that it's quiet? Blessedly quiet?

I love my kids, I really do, but they make a gawdawful racket. Three days of near-constant racket makes my nerves a little jangly.

We made cookies yesterday, though, that was fun except for when Claire slipped off of the stool and gave herself a bloody lip. Then we went to gymnastics and to McDonald's with Karen and her family for dinner. Talk about a gawdawful racket! Some of those kids are just too freakin' big to be in those tubes, too. I had to give several hairy eyeballs - especially to the girl who made Owen cry. She was twice his size. Narg!!

Reports indicate that Tev and her brother are doing fine. You might remember that Tev's brother went into renal failure, and Tev gave him one of her kidneys. I am not sure how he's going to top that Christmas present in the future.

Little Molly's surgery got pushed back to today. The last update says she's in surgery now, and things are going smoothly. I trust that all the news coming north today will be good news. I'll keep you posted.

I hope all your news is good, today, too. What's going on in your world?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Guiltily Loving the Economic Downturn

A guy just knocked at my door, completely out of the blue, and asked if I wanted the yard raked. "Yeah!" I replied, "How much?" $20! Too good to be true.

"We can also mow and do the gutters," he said.

"Really? How much for the entire yard, and all the gutters?"

SEVENTY FIVE DOLLARS!

I feel terrible, knowing that these guys are probably down on their luck, maybe high school kids who can't find a decent job right now, or college kids. Why else would they be out in the cold, going door to door, cleaning up peoples' yards? They can't be much older than 22. And I feel like I'm completely taking advantage of them... But $75! That's an amazing deal. We have a large, corner yard, and a lot of trees.

I offered them coffee or cocoa. And if you live near me and you need your yard cleaned up, holler at me and I'll refer them over to your house. Poor guys...

Don't worry, I'll give 'em a good tip.

Beat the Pizza

With BJ out of town, I'm not really inspired to make dinner. Last night, after a boring (COLD) day at home, we ordered pizza. The girls had strewn toys all over the house, so I invented a new game...

"Let's play 'beat the pizza,'" I said, in my most excited voice. "Let's see if we can get the living room and the kitchen cleaned up before the pizza gets here!!" So we ran around, cleaning up toys and yelling "Hurry! Hurry!" Even Claire got into the act. It was kind of fun.

We finished picking up in record time, and I saw that they'd gotten all the "guys" out of the bin in the corner and thrown them all over the toy room.

"You know," I said to Mary Grace, "we have a lot of guys that we don't really play with anymore. Wouldn't it be nice to choose some to give to children who don't have any toys to love, so that they could be happy for Christmas?"

"Yes Mommy!"

"Ok, let me go get a bag..."

I really expected it to be a fight, because Mary Grace LOVES her guys... But she was so generous. She really looked at each one carefully, and said things like, "I don't really love this one, but someone else will love him!" and "This one will be nice for a boy who doesn't have a dinosaur..." I was so impressed with her. No tears. No arguing. In fact, I was the one saying, "My Aunt Carolyn made that one for you - we can't give him away," and "No, honey, let's keep the ones with names..."

We filled up two garbage bags with "guys" and BJ and I are trying to figure out somewhere (a hospital, a shelter?) where she can take them and actually give them to kids. Any suggestions?

Later, long after I had put them to bed, I was lying in bed myself, freezing and missing BJ. About 10 minutes after I got in bed, I heard a door open and footsteps. When she got to my door and realized that I was awake, I heard Mary Grace start to cry. She knew that if I was still awake, I'd put her back in her own bed.

"C'mere honey," I said. She stayed in the hall. "Mary Grace, come get in bed..." She headed back for her room. I sat up. "No, honey, come get in MY bed."

"Really?" she sniffed.

"Yeah, I'm cold and I need a snuggle. Come here."

We cuddled up together. Her warm little perfect body pressed tight against my big cold imperfect one. She rolled around for a minute, trying to get comfortable.

"I was really lonely. I'm glad you came in," I said to her.

"I love you, Mommy," she said, sighing, and settling into sleep, her little arm wrapped around me.

Yeah, rules are made to be broken. Especially late on a chilly fall night.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Whoopsie Daisies

So I made BJ miss his flight to California yesterday. When they emailed the itinerary, it looked like this:

Indianapolis (IND) to Denver (DEN) 11/15/084:09 pm - 4:56 pm United 5948 Operated

And we both looked at it and saw that 4:56 and thought that was the departure time. Neither of us saw the 4:09 sitting there by the date. Talk about a couple of rocket surgeons!! Dur.

So, after $150 to change the ticket, $15 to check his bag, and $39 to sit in the exit row, he was on his way to California via 3 planes (to Chicago, to San Francisco, to final destination in California), and he arrived sometime in the wee hours. He didn't even get to San Francisco until 12:30 am our time. Poor baby.

Thank goodness he isn't fighting the cold the girls have been fighting for a month, or his ears would've probably exploded somewhere over the Rocky Mountains.

Dad came over last night to help me with the kids. Claire took a really late nap, so she didn't go to bed for me until 10:45! Brat! There go my plans to declutter while BJ's gone. Maybe I'll make some progress today. I woke up with a headache, so we're skipping church. It's really too cold to go anywhere, anyway.

See you in April.

If you have any old boxes lying around, and you're going to be out and about today, bring 'em over. I have big plans to get rid of half of BJ's crap while he's not around to complain. He's crazy, though. He saves boxes for electronics we got years ago, just in case he has to send them ... somewhere ... for repairs! Um... I've never heard the rule that you have to send things in the original box to get fixed, and I've always taken things to the packaging store and let them deal with boxes, etc. - let them store the boxes, instead of me!! But, whatever. He's 2000 miles away and can't complain.

Moo wah ha ha!

In other news, I went to Curves for the first time yesterday and got my a** handed to me by a bunch of little old ladies. Seriously. I had a misconception, that Curves was a cute little "gym" for old women who couldn't really work out (sorry, Grandma Diana! I know you're buff, but I figured you were the exception to the rule...) I was WRONG about Curves. Those machines are real machines. They're pneumatic, so they provide resistance when you push and when you pull, so you work out twice as fast. I was sweating and red and panting and all these grannies were talking to each other and had perfect makeup and were looking at me like, "Poor little dear..." It was humiliating.

I can't wait to go back Tuesday.

I'm down 15 pounds. That's almost a whole Claire!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hey, wow! Rock the Vote Again!

If you didn't get your fill of voting earlier this month, you can vote on something we all agree on right here!

Apparently Divine Caroline is having a "Love This Site" contest! And while I don't expect to actually win, it would do my little heart good to have more than two votes. So, go register and vote for me, because you know I'm your favorite.

Amy's First Vlog

video

Something from the Comments

Ryan recently commented on an old post... He said:
My wife and I have a beautiful daughter that is now 11 months. We just found out that we are going to have another baby in July 2009. We really just want to know if it is actually possible to do.

We are very blessed to have 1 and now two.

I think we are just freaking out about money, time with each other, time with our daughter and raising two babies.

I guess what I am asking for is just positive advice. Thank you RYAN
Oh, do I remember that feeling... My oldest, Mary Grace, was 11 months when we found out that we were expecting Claire. I walked out of the bathroom after taking the test, rested my head against the wall and said to my husband, "Oh, dude, it's positive."

I don't ever call BJ "dude."

It was overwhelming. You just figured out how to do the parent thing. You just got to the point where life is starting to resemble your pre-baby "normal," and now you're starting over.

Ugh.

Fear not, Ryan! I am totally here for you.

First, read back through my archives. I've written a lot on having "two under two" and I've labeled it. I also recently found another blog called Baby Bunching that talks about closely spaced kids. They've got good stuff (and I'm going to be featured there tomorrow, so we must all show them much love and click their ads because I want to drive excellent traffic to them so they will feature me often and send their readers here to click my ads - that's how this blogosphere thing works...).

I hope most of what you read here will be positive. Like all parents, I have good days and days when I think "who are all these children and why are they calling me Mommy??" But honestly, now that my kids are 3 years 3 months and 20 months, I LOVE having them close in age and I wouldn't have it any other way...

You specifically mentioned money. There are a lot of ways that you can save. I think that if I had it all to do over again, I'd do cloth diapers. They're better for the environment, and they're reusable. It's a large initial outlay, but in the long run I think they're less expensive. We use Pampers (we've tried off brands, but none of them work as well...) and it is expensive. I try to use coupons, but I am singularly horrible at coupons.

Try to use coupons. Not only can you save on stuff for the kids, you can save on stuff for you, and bring your overall grocery expenses down.

You need to take a good hard look at whether or not daycare is cost effective, if you are both currently working. Look at how much it costs for whoever makes less money to work (gas, clothes, lunches, daycare, etc.) and how much it would cost for that parent to stay home (salary) and see if you can make it work on one salary.

Maybe one of you can work part time, or you could work one shift and she could work another, so that one of you is always home. I know a couple families where Dad works nights and Mom works days. Do you have family members who can watch your kids for less than a traditional day care center? Can you split a shift with a friend - I know of two sisters who both work in a hospital, and they both have sons near the same age. One works Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the other works Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and they watch each others' kids when they're off. There are lots of creative solutions to the daycare dilemma... It depends a lot on what career you're in and how flexible your bosses are, etc., but it can be done. In our situation, we're self-employed, so I took the kids with me to work for the first 6 or 8 months, then we have a sitter from the nearby university who watches them in our home for 10 - 15 hours a week. Once your kid starts crawling, the "take the baby to work" thing is pretty much over, unless you happen to work in a daycare center (another creative solution!). You just won't get anything done, and it's frustrating for everyone.

If you want to e-mail me at prbabies@gmail.com with specifics, I can try to help you find a solution that will work for your family. I'm no expert, but I am creative, and sometimes it's easier to see solutions when it's not your own problem.

Most of the traditional "how to save money" advice applies... Clip coupons, eat out less (like you'll have time anyway!), shop second hand stores - especially for baby clothes, trade babysitting with a friend instead of paying a sitter (still trying to get my friends on board with this one!! Ahem...), exploit your family for free sitting, etc.

You didn't mention your feeding choice for your first child, but breastfeeding is free. I tandem nursed (nursed MG through my pregnancy and for 9 months I nursed both of them) and I hated every minute of it. Ok, that's a little harsh, but it was really hard. If I could go back, I would've weaned MG while I was pregnant. I had a lot of pain nursing her when I was pregnant, and I felt like a dairy cow for the better part of a year (still do - I've been pregnant, nursing, or both for 4 solid years this month. Yikes).

I made my own babyfood most of the time with both kids (the Magic Bullet blender made it easy to just smush up some of whatever we were eating for the baby). That's another good way to save some money.

As far as time with each other, don't forget that babies sleep (most of the time.... MG is the exception that proves the rule). If you get the kids to bed at 8, you've got a good couple of hours to spend with each other. One of our favorite things to do, especially when the kids were even smaller, is to get take out from a restaurant and bring it home. That way, we can enjoy the benefits of going out (someone else cooks, minimal cleanup if you eat out of the takeout boxes) without dealing with having two small kids in a restaurant! Now that Claire (our youngest) is 20 months old, we actually have the ability to go out like real grownups. Not that we do, often, but we can. We usually end up going out with other people. It's not that we don't like each other, it just tends to work out that way. Again, exploit relatives for babysitting. If you don't have a local grandparent, you really need to get one. Beg, steal, or borrow someone who loves your kids and will take excellent care of them and give them treats so that you and your wife can go out.

As far as time with your daughter goes, you can spend time with her without her being the only kid present. The time you spend together as a family of four will be just as special to her as the one on one time. She'll be so young when the baby comes, after a couple weeks she won't really remember what life was like pre-baby, and it'll be normal for her to have to share you guys with her sibling. It's good for her to have to share you guys. A lot of people suggest that young kids deal better with the addition of a sibling than older kids do.

Don't forget that she won't really be a baby anymore by the time your second child comes along. She'll be almost two. She'll be talking, walking, eating real food, going on playdates, maybe even starting preschool* soon. She'll actually be a big help. MG, from the beginning, has LOVED to help with her sister. She fetches diapers for me and throws out the old ones (Claire, at 20 months, is starting to throw things away too, so I am sure that I'm not misremembering). They play together (closely supervised at first, but less so as they get older and more trustworthy). I remember in the beginning I'd put Claire in the bouncy seat on the floor of the bathroom while I took a shower, and MG would talk to her and sing to her and entertain her. It wasn't like when MG was little and I'd try to shower, and she'd scream the whole time because she was lonely.

* If not preschool, look for a Mommy's Time Out program. Our church runs one where you can drop off a kid for 2.5 hours for $6 during the day. I do this with Claire about once every two weeks, while MG is at preschool, so that I can have time for myself where I'm not supposed to go to work. BLISS. Worth every cent of the $6, for sure.

Do your best to get them on a nap schedule that allows for a break for mom (or whoever stays home) during the day. When Claire was smaller she took a morning nap and an afternoon nap, and MG would nap at the same time during the afternoon nap (and we had quality time together during morning nap). Now that Claire is down to one nap, they both nap after lunch. MG takes a nap every second day, so we still have that quality time on the off days when she won't sleep.

I just asked BJ what advice he would give you, and he said, "Relax, it's not nearly as hard as it is the first time. You have 100% more experience than you had before. He also says 'don't do cloth diapers.'" I think he's right on the first thing, anyway. I have really enjoyed being a second time parent more. With your first, people are CONSTANTLY giving you advice, and you don't have enough of your own experience to say, "No thanks, our way works just fine..." so you feel like you have to listen to everyone, and everyone's advice conflicts with everyone else's, and you feel a lot like you're trying to navigate a brand new area with twelve different maps, and none of the maps are the same. Now, when people give me advice (or the stink eye) I can point to my oldest and say, "She's doing fabulously and we are doing the same stuff, so chances are great the Claire will be fabulous too."

It's not as hard as you think it's going to be, and it's a lot more fun than you can possibly imagine. Congratulations on your new baby!! You are going to be just fine. And in your darkest hours, think of my friend Casey - her two younger children are only 13 months apart!! Or my aunt Gayle, who had Bridget, then 10 months later had Alex, then 10 months later had Chris. WOW. They're grown and have kids of their own, now, and she still hasn't recovered!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Museum Encore

I decided to take the kids back to the Children's Museum yesterday. It is a lot more tiring now that Claire can walk, and therefore the two of them can go two different directions.




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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Poop Smeared Up My Arm Again

This is one of those posts that Claire is going to hate me for when she's older. I don't care. We'll be even.

Last week I told you that she had an ear infection, right? My kids don't do ear infections the usual way. The only clear symptom that a cold has settled in their ears is that they scream like we're killing them when we try to change their diapers. The best I can figure, they feel like they're falling. It's kind of nice, because at least they're not screaming in excruciating pain, but it sucks for one thing.

Diaper changes.

Claire has finished her Z-pack, so I'm about out of patience for these shenanigans. Here's how it goes. I smell her need for a diaper change. I dread and avoid for a good 5 minutes, until the "I'm a horrible mommies" start to set in. Then, if BJ's not around for me to trick into changing it, ("Claire wants you...") I make peace with the inevitable.

She starts crying before we even get to the changing area (in the laundry room). The changing pad may as well be made of lava, with the way she screams when any part of her body touches it. Finally I manage to wrestle her into the supine position with a combination of ju jitsu, WWF moves, and grit. She prefers an aural attack at this point. Neighbors are dialing 9 and 1 at this point, and they have their fingers hovering over the second 1.

Claire will relax long enough for me to think that the fight is over, but, and this gets me every. single. time... as soon as I get the diaper off and make a preliminary swipe at the (now well mashed) contents, Claire pulls a ninja move called the flip and tuck. She rotates her entire body, against all the strength in my upper left arm, and tucks her knees under her, so that she's sunny side up.

This is not the preferred position for diaper changing.

This is also one of those things that no one covered in the parenting classes.

Anyway, at this point we're both yelling - Claire, still, because she's got a bad case of the bed spins, and me, because I have poo smeared up my right arm.

Oh, I wish I were exaggerating.

I wipe away what I can from this angle, lulling her into a false sense of security. Then, when I have no choice but to flip her over and clean her undercarriage, she pulls a yoga move I like to call The Hysterical Starfish. Without ceasing to scream, she sticks her arms and legs out as stiffly and immovably as possible.

At this point, I'm truly concerned that I'm going to drop her. She's 21 pounds of screaming, wriggling, filthy fury, and did I mention that I still have poop on my arm? So, I put her back in the prone position, and lift her legs. She's so stiff with fury that I am able to clean her the rest of the way, make a decent attempt at getting the diaper in the right place, and get her pants back on.

Then she screams at me for 10 more minutes and we have to nurse about it. But at least at this point I can ignore her until I've washed my arms.

WFMW: Treating a Cold

Is it cold and flu season already? Seriously? I still haven't recovered from last winter.

I'm a total whiner when it comes to being sick, but having a sick family is 1000 times worse. Now that "they" have taken away all medication for kids under 6 (because a bunch of stupid parents didn't know how to READ LABELS and calculate CORRECT doses, I might add...) we have to get creative in treating our sniffly, sick kids.

Here are my best tips and tricks:

1) Vapo-Rub - Johnson's and Vicks each make a baby formula of Vapo-Rub that no one has tried to take away yet. Smear it on their little chests at night so that they can sleep if they're snuffly.

2) Hot tea with honey - Apparently "they" have decided that kids can't have honey until they're 2 years old now. Whatever. Claire had already started drinking tea with honey by the time the doctor shared the new recommendation with me, so I'm playing fast and loose with this one and giving it to her anyway. She's 20 months old, for Pete's sake. I make half a cup of tea, add the honey, and then fill the cup with cold water. It's warm, not hot, but it seems to soothe scratchy throats and stuffy noses.

3) Chicken soup - Canned chicken soup is for the birds. Make your own. Use broth or bouillon, a piece of cut up chicken (or a can, in a pinch), some mixed veg from the freezer, and some egg noodles. It seriously doesn't take any more time to make than a can of soup, and it tastes SO much better. I add garlic and a bit of crushed red pepper to mine, which really helps the stuffies.

4) Use wipes on the nose - Kleenex is great (buy the extra soft for sick kiddos), but once their noses are all chapped and nasty, try using baby wipes instead, or a wet washcloth. It's soothing to the skin. Also, put some Vaseline on their faces (cheeks and under the nose, particularly) to prevent that chapped face look that is so common this time of year.

5) Tylenol/Ibuprofen - Hallelujah, these are still "ok" to use. I give a dose of Tylenol, then 3 hours later give ibuprofen, then 3 hours later give Tylenol, and so on, for maximum discomfort relief. If my kids still have livers by the time they're 10, it'll be a miracle, but my doctor said it was the way to do it...

6) Robitussin - I'm bad. I ignore recommendations. Fortunately, so does my doctor. Robitussin thickens up the mucus and helps them cough it up. Give it to them during the day. Be sure to call your doctor for the correct dose.

7) Benadryl - yeah, I know. No meds under 6. Blah blah blah. The people who said that don't have kids under 6. Call your doctor and get the dose for your child by weight (not age) and dope their little behinds up so you can sleep at night.

8) How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon - this book includes a line about getting sick "in a pail" and after eleventy trillion readings, MG now at least attempts to aim her puke for the pail.

9) Beach towels - who wants to do a million loads of laundry and care for sick kids? Put a towel under their head and shoulders in the bed, so if they miss the pail, you might be able to save the sheets if you act fast.

10) Vicks Early Defense - We used this a lot last winter, whenever we went to the museum, the library, the doctor's office, or any other germy place, and it really seemed to help keep us healthy.

11) Rest and hydrate - pop the kiddos in front of a movie with their tissues, their "pail," and their tea (or ginger ale) and let them veg. Now is not the time to be running around. Stay home as a public service to others, and relax your rules about television watching until everyone feels better.

12) Enlist help - if you're sick too (God forbid) find a sympathetic relative to come help you out. My mother in law came and helped out last time we were really sick, so we're going to take extra good care of her when she's old. I'm just sayin'. :)

Those are my best tips for caring for sick kiddos... Please leave yours in the comments!!

Visit Shannon over at Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for me Wednesday tips!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Synchronicity

So remember when I told you that my friend was giving her brother a kidney, and that my other friend's baby needs open heart surgery...? No? Well, click the word remember and refresh your memory.

Anyway, both of the surgeries are going to be in Indianapolis on the same day - November 17. How weird is that?

I hope you'll all join me in directing prayers in that general direction that day.

Gotta run. Busy days. This week on the calendar has so many different colored squares, you'd think that the kids attacked it with finger paints. Crazy.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Crazed Parents Destroy Plastic Carousel

Local Mall, 5:14 pm

Area residents are living in fear tonight due to a group of rogue parents who have allegedly been rampaging through town, destroying plastic ride on carousels, animals, and race cars.

"75 cents for 30 seconds? What kind of (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) bull (expletive deleted) is that?" said one unidentified father of 4, as he smashed the head of a plastic dog in with a bat, "Don't they know that we're in a recession?"

The riot allegedly began when a local three year old, whose identity is being withheld, demanded to ride on the carousel "one more time." Her cries ignited the rage of other nearby toddlers, who also began to demand rides on the carousel. Parents, at the end of their ropes, began at that time to enter the nearby Dick's Sporting Goods store. They debated the merits of wood vs. aluminum, calmly waited in line, paid for their baseball bats, and returned to the carousel. Only then did the riot ensue.

"You know, I haven't been to Rack Room Shoes in 4 years, because I don't want to walk by this (expletive deleted) thing?" said one mother as she hurled a piece of the plastic horse through the window of Rack Room Shoes.

"The music," whack, "just," whack, "won't," whack, "stop," said another woman, who appeared to be a grandmother, as she beat at the top of the carousel. Maddeningly, it continued to chirp perky, kid-taunting music at her as she impotently beat on the plastic. A father came up behind her, took the bat out of her hand, bashed in the music box, and returned the bat to her.

One parent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, "Look, it wasn't so bad when it was just one obscure plastic car with a little plastic dog in a remote corner of the mall... But now, everywhere you look, there are plastic pieces of crap designed to separate parents from their money, 75 cents or a dollar at a time. The kids go NUTS for this stuff. It's like crack, and they know we'll keep pumping in the quarters to shut them up. It's like a tax on people who bring kids to the mall, and this is the Boston Tea Party," the anonymous informant said before being swept away in the frenzy, which was headed for the grocery store to "take out" those annoying race car shaped carts.

"I hate those (expletive deleted) things!" screamed a mother of 2.

The parents built a bon fire in the parking lot of the grocery store and burned the carts, while their children looked on in silence. A seven year old said, "Maybe asking for a sixth ride was pushing things a bit far..." as his father stripped naked and danced circles around the pyre, screaming, "Who wants my quarters now, beeyatch?"

Local police were reluctant to intervene, fearing for the safety of the children involved. "Besides," said Officer Scott Smith, "I have 3 kids too. I hate those frigging things. If I weren't on the job, I'd go out there and help 'em."

We're Doing Something Right

At the mall playplace killing time and letting the kids run right now... A boy was growling (?!?) at MG. "Stop growling at me!" she said. "I'm just playing," he protested. "Well I don't like it," she said.

That was half an hour ago, and he hasn't growled once.

At the fieldtrip on Friday, a boy kept getting in another girl's face. Another mom said, "I don't think she wants you in her space," but the boy ignored her. MG inserted herself between them, hands on hips, and said, "She said she doesn't want you in her space!!"

Atta girl!

Shiny Happy Pretty Babies Holding Hands

Mary Grace is on a hunger strike because I wouldn't make her pancakes for breakfast (we're out of mix and making them from scratch on a Monday when I'm on a diet is a little above and beyond the call). I offered Cheerios and raisin toast (it's all about choices, right?) and she demanded pancakes, then went all Ghandi on me... She's sitting "criss cross applesauce*" on the floor, refusing to eat, and muttering in an accent. It's a little creepy.

I really need to find a replacement battery charger (and a spare battery couldn't hurt) for my Canon SD600 Powershot Camera. You wouldn't think that it would be so tough, right? Well, I spent 45 minutes calling Best Buy on Friday without getting an answer. I would call, select 3 to speak to customer service (or 4 to try the Geek Squad, after I got a little desperate) and it would ring and ring and ring and eventually hang up.

So I have to pack the babies in the car today, in the cold, and go to Bed Bath and Beyond to get a friend a shower gift, then to Best Buy to find a replacement battery, but it's so cold outside and it's so cozy in my jammies... I just can't motivate.

I got a couple of cute shots of MG on my cell phone at gymnastics last week, but it's a 74 step process to get them off of my cell phone and onto my computer, and I just don't have the patience today. Maybe I'll look for a card reader, too, while I'm at BB, because it takes Micro SD and it would be nice to just pop it out of the camera and into the computer. I've got pictures on there that are almost a year old that have never seen the light of day because it's a pain in the neck (and I think it costs money on my cell phone bill) to send them to myself.

Is there such a thing as a PCMCIA card reader that takes multiple sizes of SD cards? That would be cool.

So, yeah, shopping today. Shopping, and it probably won't be illustrated. Maybe I'll take the kids to the play area at the mall, so that they can burn off some energy. MG has gymnastics tonight, that'll help, too. I'll take a book and see if I can read a page or two in between trips out of the play area to retrieve Claire, who will be trying to snag free rides on the carousel.

Saturday we met Gramma Susan at Fair Oaks for lunch. If you haven't been there, yet, you really need to go. It's a lot of fun. It was nice to have a chance to catch up. Then when we got home BJ and the kids went to Uncle Brandon's while I caught up on my sleep after a night with Mimi - she and I were up until 4:30 am Friday night!!

(By the way, I left my coat in Grammaland, so if anyone is travelling from there to or through here in the next couple of days and could return it to me, that would be super. It's at Mimi's house.)

Yesterday was kind of a lazy Sunday. We went to the new member class at the Pres. church, then out for lunch, and then BJ's head started to hurt so we came home. I took a nap with MG, and we kind of lazed around, watching Ella Enchanted and watching the kids play. Ella Enchanted was kind of a cute movie. A little over MG's head, but it had pretty dresses and dancing, so she was fine. I didn't even make dinner - the kids had PB&J and BJ had something out of the microwave. We did manage to give the kids a bath and get them to bed at a decent hour. Sometimes after running and running and running, you just need a day like that.

But you don't need two days like that, so I'd better get a move on. How was your weekend?



* That's what they call what we used to call "Indian Style" at school, now. Apparenlty Indian style is no longer PC. I'm still waiting for a verdict from the PC Police on whether or not saying "Dots or feathers?" to clarify whether someone is talking about people from the subcontinent of India or Native Americans is PC.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

People Who Piss Me Off

Does this guy look nuts, or what?

He's the meanyhead who kicked me off of SparkPeople. Twice.

If you were my friend on SP, and you're not anymore, it's because SP_Coach_Dean thinks I'm too "disrespectful" to him to be allowed to exist in SparkyLand.

He has a degree in "behavioral psych" supposedly, but I'm pretty sure he graduated from the Dr. Phil School of Pithy Statements and Meaningless Platitudes.

Ok, that was "disrespectful" but seriously, up until this point, I have been a freaking saint. The strongest language I used was "baloney." I know, I spelled it wrong. I did deserve to be deleted for that. It's "bologna." But c'mon - I use stronger language than that at church!

Seriously - look deeply into his eyes and tell me that he's not trying to get you to drink the Koolaid.

I'm not going to use any of the social features on SP anymore, because of Mr. Doing-His-Best-Impression-Of-Charles-Manson up there. I'm still going to count calories in and calories burned, but I'll save my rants for here... I have plenty of people to argue with in real life, I don't need to go looking for more.

Just wanted the 15 people I recruited to know, I didn't delete you... He deleted me. If you still want to be buddies, you can e-mail me anytime (about anything) at prbabies@gmail.com.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thousands of Fabulous Prizes

Christmas Giveaway Sleigh 120x240

Check it out!!

Fragile

On Tuesday, my friend thought her daughter (who is less than 6 months old) needed a heart transplant. After yesterday's doctor's appointment, it turns out that she only ("only," ha!) needs open heart surgery to repair a hole in her heart. While open heart surgery is a Very Big Deal, it's much less of a big deal than a heart transplant. (And my friend, the mom, was still at work and functioning on Tuesday, preparing to take the rest of the week off to consult with doctors. I was amazed by her strength and her ability to be calm in the midst of what must have been a personal hell).

I received an e-mail from a family friend, this morning, saying that her brother's kidney transplant has been scheduled for this month. With all of the insurance problems they're having, they didn't expect to have anything happen before the end of the year. The family friend who sent the email is the donor, and I have so much respect for her selflessness. Of course, I'd give my brother (or sister) a kidney, too, but she has been so graceful about the whole thing - never doubting for a minute that that's what she would do, celebrating when she was a match, not expressing any concern for herself at all, even though the operation is more dangerous for her than it is for him.

The wait for a kidney from a cadaver is 5 - 7 years in the Chicago area.

That's 5 - 7 years of dialysis - which involves going to a clinic 2 - 4 times a week and sitting, hooked to machines, for around 4 hours while your blood is cleaned of toxins that will kill you if they're not removed. It's wonderful that such technology exists, but spending 8 - 16 hours a week doing that does NOT sound like fun, and isn't really compatible with high quality of life. It's also extremely expensive.

In light of all of this, I ask you to become an organ donor. My dad had a bumper sticker a long time ago that said something like, "Don't take your organs to heaven with you, heaven knows we need them here."

***

My problems seem very small by comparison, but I went to the doc yesterday and I'm back on the Z. 25 mg for two weeks, then if I feel like I need to, I can up to 50 mg for two weeks, then we're going to see what's up. Thanks for all the concern and support.

Here's a question for the ages, why would the insurance cover the 100 mg pills but not the 50?? Stupid insurance... They're getting a strongly worded phone call today.

Speaking of phones, my battery ran out, so if you've tried to call me in the last 18 hours or so and haven't been able to reach me, that's why... Hopefully it'll survive the field trip today.

13 pounds. :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Want To Be Beige

I wish I could be beige. I wish I didn't have opinions. Opinions just get me in trouble, most of the time. Nobody listens. Nobody wants to hear what anyone else has to say. People talk and talk and talk - on blogs, on message boards, on TV, on talk radio, but all of them only want to hear two words in return... and those two words are "You're right."

I admit, I'm guilty of it too. Being right feels good. But I really do try, at least, when I talk to people or read what they've written, to set aside my own thoughts and really HEAR what they have to say. I try to find the truth in even the most ignorant statement - if nothing else because that's generally the best place to start arguing with them from. I try to quiet my mind and listen to what someone's saying, instead of planning my next attack and hoping they'll shut up before I forget what I'm about to say. God knows, I generally don't succeed at this for long, but I try.

But having opinions - no, having convictions, which I apparently have more than my fair share of - is a real liability. Because people just don't want to hear them, unless they agree with me to begin with, and then what's the point of talking to each other about it? It just pisses people off when I won't back down. Then it gets ugly. Then it starts to hurt.

I finally get it. After 32 years of beating my head against every. available. wall. I get it.

I am going to practice beigitude. I am going to smile and be vapid and say things like, "Do you really think so?" and "Gosh, that's interesting!" and "Have another cookie!" instead of trying to show people (often with their own "truths") that they're wrong. I am going to say, "What do you think?" and I am going to say, "I can see both sides," when asked for my opinion (which happens rarely). When asked directly, I'll breathe, "Gee, I don't know, what do you think?" bat my eyes and flash my cleavage.

And when no one is looking, I'm going to do my own thing anyway, because after all the talk talk talk and bullshit lies and bullshit, everyone's just waiting for me to screw up so that they can give me a big fat I TOLD YOU SO anyway... At least if that's going to happen, I'll have screwed up based on my own truths, rather than having accepted and acted upon someone else's.

I got kicked off of Sparkpeople today after getting into a political discussion on a political message board within the group where I was trying to explain the difference between calling a person ignorant and calling the person's beliefs ignorant (the belief in question being that Obama is the antichrist). I tried to explain that going around proclaiming that sort of thing makes all Christians, myself included, look bad.

Screw them. Screw message boards. Screw opinions, my own included. What difference does it make, any of it? It's all 1s and 0s, as they used to say at AFCA. In the end, after all of them have worn their fingers down to tiny nubs typing vitriol and ignorant bullshit at each other - what have we solved - NOTHING.

I wonder if there would have been more people out in the streets protesting the atrocious things that have happened in this country over the past few years if we weren't all chained to our computers, operating under the illusion that any of this makes any damn difference to anyone. Perhaps the internet is the ultimate tool for crowd control.

It's all 1s and 0s.

It's not even real.

I am going on break (from PB, e-mail, reading blogs, all of it).

I'll be back in a few days.

I am not in a good place.

I need to unplug, unwind, and uncolor myself.

I feel like I've been fighting for years.

I can't fight anymore.

I need to get beige.

Dragging it Back

Ok, this is a MOMMYblog, not a POLITICAL blog, so let's bring it back on topic.

Amy's Top 5 Songs for Her Next Labor Mix CD/Playlist, by stages:


#5 for the moment you realize you're in labor (if it isn't your first kid)
Here It Goes Again - Ok Go
"Oh here we go, here it goes, here it goes again. Ah here it goes again. I shoulda known should known shoulda known again. Ah here it goes again!"

#4 for early labor
Bring Me Some Water - Joan Osborn, Melissa Ethridge
"When will this aching pass/When will this night be through/I want to hear the breaking glass/I only feel the steel of the red hot truth..."

#3 for the ride to the hospital
I Want To Be Sedated, the Ramones
"Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go, I wanna be sedated! Ow ow ow ow, oh ow ow ow ow! I wanna be sedated!"

#2 for transition
I Will Survive - but get the Cake version, not the Gloria Gaynor version
"...I have all my love to give I will survive, I will survive, hey hey!"

#1 for pushing
Push It! Salt N' Peppa -
"Oooh baby baby, buh-baby baby! Ooh baby baby!"

(no, this is not a pregnancy announcement, I just like to plan ahead...)

What are your best labor songs?

What My Friends Around the World Are Saying To Americans Today

From South Africa - Well done America! I am so proud of you. The world just breathed a huge sigh of relief. Welcome back to the village.

From Canada - Hurrah for going forward! Congratulations to my American friends (the rest of us thank you from the bottom of our hearts).

From Canada - (I) woke up this morning feeling like it was Christmas. Still can't get over the amazing news. Thank you, American voters.

From New Zealand -
(I) was skeptical (I'd) actually see it happen in (my) lifetime, but glad that (I) did.

From Canada, before it was called for Obama -
You gonna pull this off, America? I sure hope so, because like I said, I can't take you all in if you all suddenly decide to move to Canada.

We're still waiting to hear from Germany, France, and Britain. I'm guessing they're still sleeping it off. :)

Lest We Forget

My bonus mom, Susan, wrote this to her granddaughter, my niece, Jasmin, four years ago. She gave me permission to share it with you. We must remember how historic this is. We must never forget. And we must silence those who would have us return to a time when yesterday would not have been possible. Yes, we can.


Dear Jasmin, January 2004

Today, many businesses and schools celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. I have been thinking of how things were as I was growing up, and wanted to share some of them with you. Many things have changed in regard to civil rights, but I still see many incidences of discrimination today. I wanted you to know some of the changes I’ve seen over the years. I’ve never understood why many people seem to have a need to look down on others, or not treat others with kindness. It saddens me.

My earliest memory of civil rights activities was when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I had gone shopping with my mother in Charleston, WV. We were in the Diamond Department Store. There was a coffee shop on the first floor and a cafeteria on the fifth floor. We were looking around on the first floor and I noticed that there were a number of African Americans sitting at tables in the coffee shop, but they were not eating (we called them Negroes at that time). I remember thinking it was not fair that a person could not eat where they wanted just because their skin was more tan in color than mine, so I went over and sat with them. When my mother discovered where I was, she came to “fetch” me away.

I remember my grandmother talking about how nice her mailman was. He had a degree in engineering, but was unable to work in his field because he was black. She was sad for him. Blacks had to live in separate neighborhoods, usually in substandard conditions. They could not eat in the same restaurants, swim in public pools, or use the same bathrooms.

The year before I was born, Blacks could not vote in primary elections. The year I was born, they could not travel across states in the same bus as Whites. Later that was changed, but if they did ride in the same buses, they had to sit in the back and then give up their seat if a white person needed it. I was 10 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. That event accelerated the civil rights movement.

It wasn’t until I was nine years old that segregation in schools was ruled by the Supreme Court to be illegal. Many states didn’t comply with this law until years later and many casualties. There were white schools and black schools, but the black schools didn’t have as many books and their materials were usually substandard. There were black colleges, because the students weren’t allowed to attend other schools. There was a black college in Dunbar, WV, which was about 8 miles from where I lived. As a matter of fact, the first black student I ever went to school with was a girl my own age, NJ. This was in Junior High school. Her parents paid to have her go to our school, since black families still weren’t living in white neighborhoods. She was the only black student in the whole school. I remember a friend and I went shopping in town (that was before malls). We met NJ there and decided to go have lunch. This was about 1959 or 1960. Anyway, we went to a local diner that had wonderful hot roast beef sandwiches. We sat down and waited and waited. Many people came and went, but no one served us. NJ said it was because she was black. I was appalled and insisted we just stay.

Each summer while I was growing up, we would go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for a family vacation. Usually there were several families we knew who would meet there for a week or two. It would take us two days to travel to the beach, so we had to stop along the way to spend the night. I remember talking with my friend NJ and discovering that the motels wouldn’t let blacks stay there, so if they traveled, which was rare, they would have to make arrangements with a black church in another area to see if one of the families in their congregation could let them spend the night. They could also not eat in “white” restaurants, or use “white” bathrooms. Often the “black” bathrooms were clear across town. The world was a much different place at that time. As for the beach, blacks could not swim in white sections. However, the only sections left for them to use were the worst stretches of beach that no one else wanted to use.

I remember that the first summer I was in college, Pat, my future sister-in-law and I went to Myrtle Beach, SC to work. We started working as waitresses at a Howard Johnson restaurant. I remember the manager told us that laws had been passed that blacks could legally eat at “white” restaurants and that if any came into that restaurant, we were to serve them on paper plates and “get them out as soon as we could.” We went to another restaurant to work, but it was very similar in attitude. The next summer, I took a bus from Charleston, WV to Richmond, VA to visit friends. When I arrived, I went into a restaurant in the bus terminal to get some coffee and wait for my friend. It turned out that I was in the “black” restaurant because Virginia still had segregated restaurants, bathrooms, etc. I was stunned, but stayed where I was.

Until I was about 19, blacks had to pay a poll tax to vote. Because many could not afford this tax, it kept them from voting. This was a legal way to discriminate at that time. That was one of the things that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to change. His way to change was through peaceful demonstrations. This has always proved to be the most effective means to bring about change, and the poll tax was eventually eliminated. Dr. King gained a lot of respect among people by taking his peaceful approach. In my experience, usually violence brings about more violence.

It wasn’t until I was about 23 that the Supreme Court passed a law saying people could not discriminate when renting or selling a house. Even though there was a law, the practice to discriminate with housing continued. When I was 37, I was living in Indiana. There was a practice among realtors where they would only show houses in certain areas to blacks. The same applied to securing home mortgages. I was taking a couple of classes at a nearby university and was asked to help. We would call a realtor or apartment complex and set up appointments. Next I was to go alone to talk with them about buying or renting. Usually they were anxious for me to come. I then had to tell them that first I would like my “husband” to look at it as well. Then, the professor would send an African American man to come with me to see the place. When we arrived, which was usually within a half hour, the realtor or manager of the apartment facility would say that the place had already been taken. This was in the Fall of 1982, I believe.

Discrimination was not just about blacks, however. The discrimination against women was even more subtle. It was not until I was 15 that a law was passed that said that if a man and woman were doing the same job, they should have the same pay. Before that, women always were paid a fraction of the salary of men for doing the same thing. It wasn’t until I was 19 that the Supreme Court eliminated job and school discrimination against women. Before that, it was ok for someone not to hire you, or for a college not to accept your application, just because you were a woman, even if you were more qualified than a man. Basically, women were encouraged to either be teachers, social workers, nurses, or secretaries. The other jobs were “men’s” jobs. A few women were able to break through this barrier, but this was very rare. Sometimes, if their husband owned a business, they would help, or take over after he died. There were exceptions to this, of course, but it was not the norm for women to pursue a “man’s” career. They weren’t regarded as terribly feminine if they did. As a matter of fact, I remember my father saying that the reason he was sending me to college was to “meet a good man” and “settle down and raise a family.” My brothers went so they could get good jobs. It was just a different world then.

I think it is important for your generation to know that it hasn’t been long since many people began having the same right to eat where they want, or attend a school of their choice, as well as to be able to live in their choice of neighborhoods. I want people to remember the past so that the mistakes made will not be repeated in the future. Your generation has many advantages that were not available to mine. Hopefully, you and your children will benefit from the efforts of people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others.


Love,
Gramma

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hail to the Chief!

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

You did it! After two years, it's finally over... Open the champagne and celebrate tonight. We're celebrating with you.

Then spend the next 75 days preparing, because it's going to be a fight to bring this country back on track.

We believe in you. Don't let us down.

It isn't over. It has just begun.

Congratulations,
and may God Bless America,
Amy

Halloween

Finally, the long awaited Halloween pictures!





This Is It!

I don't care who you vote for, just

VOTE!

so that this thing can be over and we can all move on.

I burned my lip on my free coffee this morning. Let's hope that it wasn't prophetic.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Battleground Yard...

Schitzophrenic Comments

Well, well, well!

Hi. This is the "Bill" you wrote about. I will help alleviate your anguish a little. I have no intention of killing Obama. I meant it as a term similar to Obamacide. There is a sketch with Tim Kazurinsky on SNL early in the 80's where he used "-cide" for various things. If you drank too much beer it would be "brewicide". Get it...a joke. I was not attempting to get people to come to my side. If a letter to the editor sways your vote you should not be voting.

Tim Kazurinsky - wasn't he the unibomber? I didn't know he got is start on SNL. Well, regardless, perhaps it would have been clearer, Bill, if you'd picked a "joke" that wasn't 30 years old. (I'm KIDDING, it was Ted Kaczynski... It's a JOKE.)

Letters to the Editor don't sway my vote. They do, however, make me think about moving.

I voted for Kerry last time and Nader (God I wish I could take that one back) the time before.

Who'd you vote for when Roosevelt ran? Who was on Saturday Night Live back then?

You rant and whine like a child. I was surprised to see you are 32.
Oh wait a minute - I rant and whine? I used citations and quotes and facts in my post. I quoted the Bible (which the other letter writer was arguing from) without stating whether or not I believe in it, and argued him into the ground with his own evidence!

You used... sarcasm.

I guess if I rant and whine like a child, you rant and whine like a 14 year old girl. One with PMS.

PS - Insulting people? Again, not a good way to bring people to your side... I'm just sayin'. (And I'm not trying to bring you to my side, because regardless of what you do with your vote, we're all going to be playing Hail to the Chief for my guy on Wednesday, so I can just have fun and poke you with a stick... Just to be clear...)

You give liberals a bad rap like that wacko who thinks Obama is the anti-Christ gives Republicans a bad name.

I still can't figure out which you are.

I called him ObaMessiah because so many people think he will magically fix things.
You never mentioned my one real point and my other joke. The joke was that all the celebrities who cannot run their own life support him as if politics is the one place where they make sensible decisions.
I try really hard to only mention jokes that are funny.

My one true point, and if you don't have kids or work with them you may not understand it...
Um, Bill - click around a bit. I have two kids and I went to school to be a teacher. During school I worked with special needs kids at a school for kids with behavioral disorders and mental retardation. I have LOTS of experience with kids, and the most difficult populations of kids to work with, at that.

was that for him to sit and listen to a religious man make outrageous claims against America and whites is bad. To be a "leader" in the community and appear to endorse it (or maybe he was pandering for the church member's votes) is even worse. To do all of the above and subject your children's minds to that kind of nonsense is the worst thing a parent can do.
What church do you go to, Bill? After all, we're practically neighbors. I haven't found one, in 32 years, where I can agree with every last word that comes out of the leaders' mouths. If a church so agreeable exists here, where nothing is ever said that you disagree with, well I'd like to give it a try. I'll bet the minister farts rainbows...

PS - I've worked with abused kids, neglected kids, kids who were sold into prostitution at age 7, 8, and 9 years old to support their parents' drug habits (I only wish I were exaggerating). Taking the kids to church is "the worst thing a parent can do"?? I wish I lived in a world where that were true, I really do.

You don't mention it because everything I said is true and if you deny that you only fool yourself and the only way to make yourself feel better about that is for you to hang out with people like yourself who also think the king is wearing clothes and ignore me pointing out that he does not.

After reading this run-on sentence three times to try to figure out what the heck you're talking about, I can only conclude that you think anyone who disagrees with you is fooling herself and therefore doesn't hang out with people who disagree...

Have you met my husband? He likes McCain so much that he's voted for him in elections where he wasn't even running. Fully half of my extended family is pro-McCain, and I haven't disowned them (yet). And the damn election is tomorrow, so chances are good that we'll all survive it with the family in one piece (or at least the same number of pieces it was in when this whole thing started...).

You sure make a lot of assumptions about people... I can only assume, myself, that you're doing the same about Obama - hanging your vote on one relatively minor issue (the issue of his church affiliation) rather than looking at the big picture. Maybe if you embiggened your mind, and tried to see the big picture (which is what National Politics is all about, really, it's a big picture game...) you would see things differently.

There are several reasons I am not voting for Obama. I think he screwed Hillary over. I would have voted for her more than him. His economic plan is horrible and it changes with the constituents he talking to at the moment. He has NO experience. I could handle him being VP for awhile. Lastly, I think he is a bad parent and a lost person who has no real identity and we are trying to get rid of one of those guys now.

Bill you have the right to vote for or not vote for whoever you want. You even have the right to send ridiculous letters to the J&C if you feel that's necessary. But along with that right, you have the responsibility to be made fun of by people like myself. It's part of the social contract.

I'm curious as to whether or not you voted in the primary - after all, Obama didn't "screw Hillary over" - he won. And just like every American Democrat, you had the opportunity to make your preference known. Staying bitter about the fact that he beat her 6 months later, well, why don't you just go have a good pout? Because seriously, the rest of us have moved on...

Last thing, you take this whole thing too serious. That is sad because you aren't even enjoying an election where your candidate is setting history and mopping the floor with his opponent. Relax and enjoy what we have waited 8 years for...telling the Republicans goodbye.

Hip hip hooray! See? We're like 10 pages in, and I still have no idea who you support. I guess it's none of my business, except you kind of made it a point of discussion with your letter and then by showing up here... But whatever. It doesn't matter. IT'S ALMOST OVER, and that's all that matters, today. That's a good enough reason to dance a jig.

Hey, Bill, it's been fun. Thanks for being a good sport... And don't worry, my husband and my uncles are going to leap to your defense, here, momentarily.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This Stupid Election

I am so ready for it to be over. So. Effing. Ready. It's a good thing this is a family blog, because I could use much stronger language than that.

I was reading the Letters to the Editor in our local newspaper today, and I just can't let these slide without making a comment....

Here's a link, lest you think I'm kidding.
Christians: Vote for Obama to bring end

Never before have true Christians had such an opportunity to participate directly in Biblical prophecy than with the upcoming election.

Voting for Barack Obama, believed by many to be the anti-Christ, will hasten the end times and the establishment of God's kingdom on Earth. Therefore, Christians who vote for John McCain are actually working against God's plan for our salvation.

I call on each true Christian to vote for Barack Obama and then joyously await the return of Jesus, our Savior.

Rick Meyer

...and, my personal favorite...

How Obama will save our country

The One has arrived. ObaMessiah will fix it all. I committed Obamacide and you should too.

Some question how a good father could sit in church with his two young daughters as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright condemned America and whites. Not me.

ObaMessiah used his superpowers to create earmuffs for his young impressionable daughters so that they did not hear. As a true leader, would he denounce those comments only after people were shocked to find what he listened to with his kids every week?

We need the ObaMessiah now. We don't have time to wait for him to gain experience and a voting record. He is obviously qualified. Look at everyone who supports him -- the rock stars, actors and even Oprah. These are solid people who have a good grasp of what it takes to lead a successful life and run a country. He knows foreign relations because he went to Iraq once. I know how to fly a plane because I rode in one ... twice.

Keep on focusing on Sarah Palin's inexperience and forget that ObaMessiah has less and will be president.

ObaMessiah knows how to redistribute your wealth because you have been doing a poor job.

ObaMessiah will:

  • Fly like Superman instead of using Air Force One.
  • Live in the clouds while the poor stay in the White House.
  • Fill our gas tanks with hope to achieve superior mileage.
  • Heal the sick as a health care plan.
  • Let his halo power 1,000 solar panels.
  • Have his angels fight our wars.

    Bill Ross

  • I can't believe I live anywhere near these two ignorant men.

    First of all, gentlemen, let's get our line straight, ok? Either he's the anti-christ, or he's the ObaMessiah. You can't have it both ways (just like he can't be both a radical Muslim and a radical Christian - you have to pick one).

    And let's not forget what Thomas Carlyle said about sarcasm, shall we?
    Sarcasm I now see to be, in general, the language of the devil; for which reason I have long since as good as renounced it.
    I am really sick to death of these radical end-times Christian types. They're probably the same jerks who keep coming to my door, Bible in hand, during nap time - PLEASE NOTE: I am not available for conversion between the hours of 12 pm and 3 pm, because if you knock on my door and make my dog bark and wake up my kids, you will have the opportunity to meet your God a lot sooner than you'd planned. Kapiche? (This happened AGAIN today, I slammed the door in their faces. If these baby wakers are going to be in heaven, I'd rather be in hell, thanks.)

    Anyway, the End Times. Right. Don't they realize that every single group of people since, oh, One A.D. has believed that the world was going to end in their lifetime? They've all been wrong. Statistically, the chances are EXCELLENT that you're wrong too. So relax and let my babies nap, already.

    Obama is not the anti-christ. Let's entertain, for a moment, your own philosophy. From Wikipedia:
    This one Antichrist is spoken of in more detail by Paul in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2. [9] Paul uses the term man of sin to describe what John identifies as the Antichrist.[10] Paul writes that this Man of Sin (sometimes translated son of perdition) will possess a number of characteristics. These include "sitting in the temple", opposing himself against anything that is worshiped, claiming divine authority,[11] working all kinds of counterfeit miracles and signs,[12] and doing all kinds of evil.[13] Paul notes that "the mystery of lawlessness"[14] (though not the Man of Sin himself) was working in secret already during his day and will continue to function until being destroyed on the Last Day.[15] His identity is to be revealed after that which is restraining him is removed.[9][15]
    Obama isn't sitting in a temple. As far as I know, he's currently sitting at his grandmother's death bed. He hasn't opposed anything that is worshipped - in fact, he himself has spent decades worshipping the Christian God darn near every Sunday himself. He does not claim divine authority. He does not work miracles and signs, whether counterfeit or otherwise, and, so far as I know, he hasn't done any more evil than anyone else in Washington. He is certainly not working in secret.

    So can we DROP the whole "anti-christ" bit already? It just makes you look ignorant, and makes all of the normal Christians in the world (of which I have personally met at least 3) look ignorant along with you. Let's take it a step farther - let's stop using all words that we do not know/understand the meaning of (see also: socialist) for the duration of the election.

    If your Sky Wizard is telling you to vote for McCain, that's fine. Some people I greatly respect like McCain, and will or have already voted for him. Fine. Fine fine fine. But let's not bring the whole religious bullcrap argument about the anti-christ into this anymore, all right? Because I do not want to have to listen to it for the next four to eight years if he wins.

    On to the second letter - I'm amazed the paper even printed the term "Obamacide" because that sounds a lot like "patricide" (the killing of one's father) or "matricide" (the killing of one's mother) and would therefore be translated, literally, to "the killing of Obama." I know the law is pretty clear regarding death threats against the president - I'm not sure what it says about the threat of death against a presidential candidate, but it's splitting a mighty fine hair, in my opinion.

    Maybe Bill Ross just wants to have the thickest FBI file of all his friends.

    Look, Bill... Can I call ya Bill? I know a lot of Obama supporters, and not a single one of them thinks he's the Messiah. In fact, most of us think that he's just a regular guy, like us, who wants to make a big difference to regular people, like us. The only people I have heard say anything about Obama being the Messiah are sarcastic jerks like yourself, who think that you can make us feel foolish enough to vote for your guy.

    Here's a hint - implying that people are stupid is not a good way to get them to come over to your side.

    We like Obama because we think he wants to bring positive changes that will help us. Period. We may like his stance on Iraq, or his stance on national health care, or his position on women's rights, or his position on education... It doesn't really matter. Not one single person that I have read or heard has said, "I'm voting for Obama because he's the Messiah!!!" Only people like you, who are voting for McCain, think that's what we think. I, personally, find it insulting, and wish that you would just shut your pie hole.

    Look, I will be happy on some levels and unhappy on other levels with either candidate. I am going to vote for the candidate who would, in my opinion, be best for my family and for our country. So quit being insulting, quit being sarcastic, and for God's sake, quit being internally inconsistent, because I don't think I can take much more of this garbage. Ok?

    I seriously just want to go to sleep and not wake up until Wednesday.

    Let's all just pray that this election is a landslide, either way, so that it is definitively OVER as soon as possible.