Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where'd Tuesday Go?

I just folded enough laundry to make me wish that my family paid by the pound. Sheesh! And I'm still not finished, there's a load in the dryer, a load in the washer, and all the sheets yet to wash. I even have to do the guest room sheets, which I totally never do wash every time we have a houseguest because BJ's aunt is staying with us this weekend. I can't finish the laundry tonight, anyway, because everyone's gone to bed except me.

You know you've been slackadaisical when you've gotten to the point where you must do laundry again, because the kids are wearing last year's pants that no longer fit, and your husband is wearing t-shirts from college again, and yet you still haven't managed to put away the clothes from the last time you got to the point where you must have done laundry. If everyone would just live out of the baskets, it would be much easier.

I didn't even get a chance to tell you that my bonus sister, Jill, and her husband, Brian, had their baby, Alex, yesterday!! He was born at 6 pm. According to my bonus mom, Jill's water broke and she went to work before going to the hospital.


I thought I was hardcore for having gone to work when Claire was 2 days old (oh hush, sanctimommies, I took her with me - someone had to run payroll!!).

Jill wins.

Speaking of money, and babies, has anyone had a baby while being insured by Anthem? If so, do you know how much your total out of pocket cost was for the prenatal, labor, and delivery? I've apparently been spoiled by my previous HMO - it was $500 for everything. I think now it will be the max out-of-pocket limit according to our policy, and I think the lowest we can get that is $2000.


Should I put a Paypal button up to help fund the next Pretty Baby? Hahaha!

It's probably already been done.

Speaking of pretty babies, I would love to post pictures of Alex, but I haven't got any yet (ahem! Brian. Part of Dad's job is to distribute pictures within 24 hours of the birth. This is why God invented Facebook. Slacker! :) ). I hear he has lots of hair, and a little bit of jaundice. We shall see...

Monday, September 28, 2009

In Which I Break My Own Rule...

Normally I try not to write about anything that I wouldn't want to see in our local paper. However, I have an issue here that I have to discuss - if only to get my thoughts out of my head.

Claire has turned two.

Oh, I know she turned two back in March, but she has officially reached the "terrible twos." We can pinpoint the moment it happened (on Saturday evening at Uncle Brandon's). Ever since, it's been like invasion of the body snatchers here at the PB house. I feel like that Folgers Crystals guy is going to jump out at any moment and say, "We have secretly replaced the normally sunny, easy-going Claire with a very noisy ball of tiny, impotent rage - let's see if anyone notices!"

She can't just ask for things - she has to whine. Or scream. Or whiningly scream. Or screamingly whine. My formerly easy, compliant child has suddenly become a holy terror. I do not know what to do with her.

We went out for dinner with BJ's dad and step-mom last night. Of course Claire took the opportunity to be a raging brat. We thought she was just tired, but she started in with it again the moment she got out of bed this morning.

Mary Grace never did this to me. She's always maintained a baseline level of fussiness, but she didn't do this everything-sucks-and-no-one-is-doing-what-I-want-so-they-shall-be-made-miserable thing. Or maybe she did, but at the time Claire was only 6 or 9 months old, so I was too busy and too tired to notice? I don't know...

But I notice it now, and I don't know what to do with her. She's obviously frustrated. She's miserable. I'm miserable. I want to put her in a box and send her to Grammaland.

I know, it's just a phase. We'll get through it. I need to bring my A-parenting game and weather it with her, but it just drives me nuts that everything has to be so damn difficult! Things were just starting to get easy.

This morning at MOPS I held a 4 month old baby so her mom could do the craft, and she (the baby) was so quiet. All I had to do was hold her and pat her back, and shift her position when she got bunched up, and she was so happy. It made me realize that while I don't miss most of the first-year stuff - the spit up and the sleeplessness and the worry and the endless wardrobe changes, I do miss being able to make everything ok again simply by holding my girls and patting their backs. I miss the simplicity of it - babies cry because they're wet, hungry, or tired. They don't care what's on TV or whose turn it is to go first or whether or not they got the same thing as the other one.

I won't miss this phase when it's over, and I hope it's over really soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's the Little Things

I just picked the kids up from Uncle Brandon's house. Claire was asleep within moments of getting in the car. I looked back and Mary Grace was gently stroking Claire's hair. Awwwww!


Mary Grace has a real thing for catalogs. She abused the birthday catalog from Birthday Express, dreaming of a thousand different parties she could have, prior to her Wizard of Oz birthday. Since then, she's become obsessed with the Halloween Costume catalog from Costume Express.

She got a copy of it about a month ago, and looked at it so much and so often that it fell apart (after repeated applications of packing tape to try to strengthen its feeble pages). Well, a new one came in today's mail, so I saved it for her. We just got home, and I showed it to her before I took a sleeping Claire up to her bed. When I came down, she was so excited to have found the Scooby Doo costumes, as well as a (very cool, actually) Wall-E costume that would be "perfect for Claire" (her words).

After showing me the costumes, she hugged me and said, "Thanks for the catalog, Mom. You're the best mother I could ever dream of having!"

Double awwww... all in about 10 minutes. I can't remember why I wanted a day to myself, now. (I did get my nails done, though, and that was kind of fabulous).

I was off by a day...

I finished my book last night. If work, the kids, and a migraine hadn't interfered, I would certainly have been done by Thursday. It was good. Not my favorite of the series, but it was good. Reading a book that's seventh in a series is kind of like seeing old friends again. Unfortunately, I won't get to see them again until the next book comes out - probably when Claire is in first grade.

That kind of puts it in perspective.

At least I'll have more uninterrupted time to read then than I had this time!

In addition to reading too much, I've been getting us ready for our upcoming trip to Florida (for which we have a house sitter so don't even think about taking the opportunity to rob us blind. Besides, we're taking all the good stuff with us). Did you know you can use Priceline for rental cars? I got a full sized car for $25 a day (plus $70 for the week's worth of goofy taxes and fees and whatnot). Not too bad! Next time I'll try $20 a day.

BJ's taking the kids to Brandon's with him today, and I'm going to go shopping. I need to get some stuff for myself, and I have a coupon for Kohl's. I guess it's going to be hot while we're in Florida, which is nice because we'll get another chance to wear our summer clothes.

I have thoughts about that article I posted yesterday, but I'm still digesting the book. I think I'm going to (slowly) read through the whole series again. I know there's stuff I missed because it's been several years since I've read the preceding books. Normally I don't read the same thing over and over, but these books have lots of layers, reoccurring characters, and foreshadowing. I know I'll catch more of it if I give it another read.

However, I won't read it with the urgency I've been reading it with the first time, so I'll still have time to post, check on my Facebook Mafia, and keep up with my Google reader which currently has over 500 unread items. We won't even discuss the state of Chez Austin. It's a little scary.

What are you up to this weekend?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Still Reading...

I'm still deep in my book (about halfway through - I'd be done if I didn't have to work, eat, or sleep). Meanwhile, I want to know what you think of this article.

I'll write what I think later. Click through, then come back and leave a comment!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I'm going to be away from my computer for a while, because this:

is going to be arriving shortly!!! If you haven't read any of Diana Gabaldon's books, you really should. They're my favorite. Start with Outlander. I'd love to summarize them, or give you an idea of what they're about, but they're really indescribable.

Here's the Amazon review of Outlander:
Amazon.com Review
In Outlander, a 600-page time-travel romance, strong-willed and sensual Claire Randall leads a double life with a husband in one century, and a lover in another. Torn between fidelity and desire, she struggles to understand the pure intent of her heart. But don't let the number of pages and the Scottish dialect scare you. It's one of the fastest reads you'll have in your library.

While on her second honeymoon in the British Isles, Claire touches a boulder that hurls her back in time to the forbidden Castle Leoch with the MacKenzie clan. Not understanding the forces that brought her there, she becomes ensnared in life-threatening situations with a Scots warrior named James Fraser. But it isn't all spies and drudgery that she must endure. For amid her new surroundings and the terrors she faces, she is lured into love and passion like she's never known before.

An Echo In the Bone is the seventh tome in the series. I'm so excited to read it that I actually downloaded the Kindle preview so that I could start it this morning before UPS arrives with my copy. It's 832 pages, so I should be finished by Thursday. The last new one came out when MG was a baby. I've been waiting for this day for a long time!

I'm tempted to reread the series before I start the newest one, but it would take a couple of weeks, and I'm too anxious. Last time I read the new one, then reread the series afterward. I always find new information and details that didn't stand out in my last read when I reread these books. The scope of them is just incredible. And the steamy scenes are really steamy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Le Sigh

I'd love to post, but I'm busy arguing with someone on Facebook who thinks that the government is trying to kill people with the H1N1 virus and/or the H1N1 vaccine.


I just called her "paranoid." Probably not the most productive debate technique, but come on.

MOPS was fun - I went to the craft committee meeting and decorated a plastic basket for books (or something - maybe hair bows!). It was really nice to sit and talk to other moms for a couple hours and not to have to worry about entertaining the kids.

I need to come up with a really good gift for the woman who does the mom's time out program, because she's practically raising Claire. I'd like to get her something special for Christmas. Any suggestions?

After MOPS I came home and cleaned like crazy - did the kitchen, vaccuumed, and mopped the floors. It was rather impressive. then Allison came, so I went to work, got enough done to make it worth going, came home, had dinner, put the kids to bed, and BJ and I are watching TV and being annoyed with Facebook.

What's up with you?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Need Another Weekend

I need another weekend to recover from my weekend. Good grief!

On Saturday we drove two hours to attend the Wizard of Oz festival in Chesterton, Indiana. When we got there, we walked to an uncrowded place along the parade route to wait, and I started talking with the woman next to us. She asked how old our kids were and I said "Four and two," and she said that hers were also four and two, and pointed to the two kids next to her who were also four. Then I heard a familiar voice say, "...and you know them..." It was my cousin Timmy (who I still call Timmy, even though he's 34). So much for my clever disguise (big sunglasses) that would prevent me from being recognized by anyone in Chesterton (ex-boyfriends). Thankfully, the only person we ran into was my cousin, and I even felt brave enough to take off the (completely useless as a disguise) sunglasses after a while. I mean, really, it's been 15+ years.

Timmy (sorry) and I had a nice chat during the parade. His daughters (twins about 6 months older than MG) had fun playing with our kids. After the parade, we got separated by the crowd, but I got a chance to see him and say goodbye later.

I failed to get a picture of my kids with Timmy's kids. This is Glinda.

I don't want to sound like a stage mother, but Mary Grace was totally robbed of her rightful place as winner of the 4 - 6 year old Dorothy look-alike contest. There were so many little Dorothys and Glindas and witches, I'm not sure how the judges could've possibly looked at all of them. Frankly their eyes had glazed over by the time they got to the end of the endless line of Dorothys, where we were.

Clicking her heels and being judged.

I'm just glad that none of the kids in the too-short store-bought Dorothy costumes won. The girl two spaces ahead of MG in line's given name was Tinkerbell.

People, we really need to rope it in with the crazy names. Tinkerbell? Seriously?? Where is that child ever going to find a job, except maybe Disneyworld?

We ate lunch at the festival, and the kids did the bouncy house and the inflatable slide. Most of the festival was crafts, and I don't have much use for crafts. They just make me feel inferior. Mary Grace wanted a Dorothy doll, but they were 30 bucks and they had bad, creepy faux-porcelain plastic faces. Instead we have commissioned Gramma Denna to make her a Dorothy doll for Christmas.

We also got a chance to look at The Flower Cart's new shop, with about 120 of our closest friends. I couldn't really appreciate it because there were just too many people, but I liked what I saw. You might remember that they did the flowers for my sister's wedding last year. If you're near Chesterton, it's definitely worth checking out. They do such cool stuff.

So after the Dorothy contest and having a minor hissy fit over the creepy dolls, we walked back to the car. Claire was so beat that she fell asleep in her daddy's arms on the way back to the car. We drove home, changed clothes, let Max out, then went to the campground where my aunt Julie, uncle Gary, and their kids Curtis and Craig were camping for the weekend.

Craig was so excited to see us, he fell out of his hammock.

Shortly after we got there, uncle Doug called and said he was on the road, passing by town, and asked if we wanted to have dinner. I said, "Well, we're with your sister..." and so we ended up all of us having dinner together at the campground, which was a lot of fun!

Claire and Curtis got swinging really hard on the hammock, and Claire just laughed and laughed.

We also played at the playground (which is really nice in the local state park, if you live near me and you haven't been over there yet). None of those pictures turned out.

The girls thought the bunk beds in the camper were super cool.

After dinner, we made s'mores by the fire. Claire fell asleep in my arms, this time, and we headed home late.

Then today Bumpa came over for breakfast (French toast and sausage!), then we headed to the local art fair by the river.

The kids liked the playground best.

We didn't see anything that we couldn't live without, so we headed to Best Buy and Barnes & Noble and the mall. I picked out some fall clothes for the girls, and then MG decided she needed to use the restroom, so the girls and I went thataway. By the time we got back out, Bumpa had bought their clothes for them! Thanks again Bumpa!! We got a pretzel, played at the play place, and rode the carousel.

Some punk of a kid was giving the girls a hard time at the play place. Claire was hilarious. She kept shaking her finger at him and saying, "Big trouble!" He tried to hit my kids, and said to Claire, "I'm five, I'm bigger than you so you gotta do what I say!" I walked over and said, "I'm thirty three, I'm bigger than you, so be nice to my kids!" His dad was sitting there with headphones on, being oblivious. We didn't let him spoil our good time, though, and Claire held her own for the rest of the time we were there.

Now we're home, and writing this blog post has taken all of my remaining energy. BJ just went to get a pizza. My feet hurt, my legs hurt, my back hurts... I'm calling it "basic training" for our trip to Florida next month.

Tomorrow I've got MOPS in the morning with Casey, then work in the afternoon. School Tuesday, School and Ballet Wednesday, and School Thursday and BJ and I have a date in the evening to go to an awards dinner at the local university. Work Friday. Is it too early to hope for a good snowstorm to come snow us in so I can take a break? All this fun is a lot of work!

I think, with this post, I've used up my picture allowance for the month.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I spent most of the day in a state of high anxiety because several people from high school had cryptic Facebook messages about how they were "shocked" and "sad" and their "thoughts are with the family..." but no one would say who had died.

It didn't turn out to be someone I knew well, although I did know her way back when. I think she was in my high school psychology class junior or senior year. It's very sad. It's always sad when a young person, a young mother, dies.

We're so fragile. We hold onto this life by a slender thread. One tiny thing goes wrong - your heart beats the wrong rhythm, a blood vessel in your brain weakens, a car on your block spins out of control, and you're gone - your children are left motherless, your husband left a widower, alone and grieving, in the blink of an eye.

Tragedy is always one heartbeat away.

And somehow most of the time we are able to put that knowledge aside and go on about our lives, pay our bills and clean our toilets and not think about the fact that this could be that moment when our whole life changes - or stops. Could we exist at all if we saw every possibility? Could we function if we thought, "It could be any time! It could be NOW!" as we went about our days?

Of course not. In order to function we have to put that knowledge of our own mortality, of the mortality of people we love, out of our heads most of the time. But it's hard to ignore when someone, particularly someone your own age, dies suddenly and randomly.

It's hard to ignore right now.

(If you're a Grammaland High School grad, you can friend me on Facebook or e-mail me for more information... I hate to be cryptic, too, but this isn't my story to tell here. If you're reading this on Facebook and it seems redundant, please know that my personal blog auto-feeds to Facebook, so this was originally posted at http://prettybabies.blogspot.com).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sit Down!

Kanye your site at http://kanyelicio.us/ - and after the "s/" in that address, type in your full URL including the http:// part. So mine is:

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

In response to my own challenge the other day in that ranty post that we're not going to talk about anymore, I applied to be a crisis counselor at the local crisis line. Unfortunately, we're going to be traveling during their training session this fall, and you can't miss a class because you don't want some guy to call up and say, "I'm going to end it all!" and you say, "I'm sorry, can you hold for like, four hours until my shift is over, because I missed that class and I have NO IDEA what to say to you."

Actually, come to think of it, that might not be the worst strategy. I'll have to suggest it when I take the winter training class.

Instead, I signed up for MOPS - Moms of Pre-Schoolers - which, while it may sound like a social club, actually will probably end up being more of an opportunity to take casseroles to women with new babies. I suck at casseroles, so I may take pizzas, instead. But it sounds nice, and it actually fits into our schedule for the first time ever this semester, so I thought I'd go for it.

So you see, I am effing doing effing something... Whether it's talking Area People off of ledges or taking casserolespizzas to families in need, more something will be being done by yours truly shortly.

Unfortunately, effing doing effing things leaves less time for blogging.

Last night we took the kids miniature golfing. It was hilarious! Both of them "played" by walking around with the club in one hand, the ball in the other. They'd walk over to the little cup, and drop the ball in, and say, "YAY!" Then they would completely get in our way as BJ and I tried to actually golf, in miniature.

At one point, Claire had dropped her ball in the cup and was returning to us, when she happened to notice that there was music on. She stopped everything and started to do a little dance, in the middle of the hole, while her daddy and I were repeating, "C'mere Claire, get off the green, Claire, stand on the rocks, Claire, come stand on the sidewalk, Claire... Claire... Claire!" She got tired of us and turned her back, so she was facing the hole again, and did this hilarious little booty shake, as if to say, "You can't understand, Mom and Dad, the music... It moves me..."

Sometimes, it all just got to be too much for her, and she sat down in the middle of the green.


Mary Grace was a doll baby, too. We've been doing a star chart at home - when I catch them being good or kind, I give them a star. When we accumulate seven stars, we get a treat. Well, they just happened to hit seven stars that night, so we called our outing their "treat." In reality, BJ and I wanted to go practice swinging at softballs before the big game that we ended up forfeiting today... So we went to Denny's for dinner, then headed to the Putt Putt place, swung at $5 worth of softballs, then played mini-golf (and got a discount because the lady working the counter's middle name is Mary and she has a sister named Claire, and because MG got pinched by the gate of the batting cage, and BJ got a blister, and she said that she felt bad that her Putt Putt was beating us up - she was really sweet). After mini-golf, we got ice cream. Before we even left the Putt Putt Palace, Mary Grace was saying, "Thank you for bringing me here. This has been a very special day." She must have said it a dozen times. It was really sweet.

It also made me think, "You ain't seen nothin' yet, kiddo!" (Parents - is it impossible to impress your kids with Putt Putt once you've been to the Kingdom of Magic? I'm concerned.)

I think it'll be all right - Disney can't do this:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Used To Like People

I used to like people. I really did. I loved sitting down with people and talking about ideas and philosophies - I was on the goddamn debate team in high school (and if you haven't already noticed, this one is NOT going in the baby book!). I made a point of casting a wide net, and making friends who were different from me, because I thought they were interesting. How boring would life be if we all agreed on everything, if we were all the same?

I don't like people anymore. No, seriously, I am sick to fucking death of people and their politics. And people can't seem to talk about anything BUT politics these days, and I have had it. Had. It.

This morning, a friend's Facebook status got BJ and I going, to the point that we were scaring Claire because we were debating so vehemently. And this evening when I got downstairs from putting the kids to bed, a completely different person was baiting me via chat.

I can't talk to half my family anymore without getting into it (and no, D.C.M. you weren't the straw that broke the camel's back this time, and you were most pleasant and non-political the last time I saw you, so stand down!). I can't talk to 49% of my friends anymore without hearing Glenn Beck's talking points. I can't get on Facebook without seeing someone's Flickr stream from their latest Teabagging (and for the record, eeew! I don't think that means what you think it means). I can't even talk to my own husband about anything that may be relevant on a national scale without risking someone sleeping on the couch.

It has got to stop.

I don't know everything. I can't solve the economic crisis, fix the national debt, improve our relations with Iran and North Korea, get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan safely and without lasting consequences, and in my spare time fix education, the infrastructure, the space program, and every other thing that's wrong with this country and this planet. I wouldn't even know where to start, which is why I choose to be a fucking BOOKKEEPER instead of a politician.

I know that I believe that we can do better. We can do better for our children by improving the schools, we can do better for the weakest and sickest and poorest among us through national health care, and that maybe if we sit down and talk to people we can figure out some of the answers to some of the really hard questions that face us, as a society.

I voted for the person who, I thought, agreed with me. And he was elected. And I truly believe that he is doing the best he can in the face of unprecedented cynicism and obstruction.

I am not prepared to debate you, or you or you or you, and especially not you on every nuance of the president's latest speech, on every one of the four dozen things Rush Limbaugh is pissed off about today, and on every Fox News article you've read. I am not going to engage with you anymore on matters of opinion or politics. I am no longer going to get angry when I see signs that say things like "What's the difference between the zoo and the White House? The zoo has an African Lion and the White House has a Lyin' African." Because if the president can rise above that kind of trash, then so can I. He doesn't let it get to him, and I won't let it get to me, either.

But I will say this, before I go to full radio silence on the subject of politics for the next 3 to 7 years - we are not going to accomplish anything by name calling. We are not going to solve any problems by calling our leader every name from Anarchist to Zoroastrian (particularly when you don't understand what the names you're calling actually mean!). We are not going to serve anyone's best interests by yelling "You Lie!" in the middle of an address to Congress.

You may not have voted for him, you may not even like him, but show some respect.

And be careful of the company you keep - because if you align yourself with the haters and the racists and those who would rather shout about problems than try to fix them, you are at great risk of becoming one of them.

That is all.

I am finished.

Otherwise, I may find myself without friends, family, and a husband before this is all said and done, and no one wants that.

If you try to discuss matters of politics with me, in the future, I am going to simply reply, "I don't talk about politics." Instead of constantly bitching and moaning and fighting about things, I'm going to do something, and I would encourage you to do the same. And by do something, I don't mean pout like a baby and hold signs about how awful the president is - I mean get off your computer and fucking do fucking something - volunteer, read to a class (preferably not anything published by Fox News), organize a fundraiser for a disease that needs curing, be on the school board, go to a local government meeting, organize a neighborhood watch... Do SOMETHING.

Because it's very easy, and very cowardly, to sit at a keyboard, from the safety of the blue glow of your monitor, and pick on people whose views might differ from your own. It's easy to change your Facebook status to reflect that you support x or y cause. It's easy to blog about what's wrong. But it is NOT easy to be part of the solution.

We have enough problems.

I have enough problems.

Thankfully, debating with my friends and family is no longer one of them.

I don't talk about politics.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Don't Talk To Your Kids About 9/11/01

Every year around this time, I see a dozen blog posts and magazine articles on "How to talk to your kids about 9/11." No, really. A Google Search reveals 19,500,000 articles. No kidding.

Here's the thing. If your kids are approximately the ages of my kids (4 and 2.5 - born in 2005 and 2007) I can sum up all 19,500,000 of those articles in one word.


9/11 was the defining moment of this decade, the same way that Kennedy's assassination defined the 1960s. My parents' generation remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing when Kennedy was assassinated, the same way I remember every detail of 9/11, from the smell of the air to the weather to the conversations I had in class that day.

But stop a minute and think about how you felt to hear your parents talk about the Kennedy assassination when you were a kid... Did you understand? Did you really get it, or was it just a bit of trivia for you to take to history class? I know that when my parents talked to me about it, I felt sad that they were sad about it. I know that they tried to convey what that day was like to me, but they couldn't.

It was their tragedy, not mine.

And if your kid was born in 1995 or later, 9/11 is not his tragedy. (I'm figuring kids who were six when it happened were in school, so they may have some memory of it).

He isn't going to "get it."

So don't burden him with it.

Now, of course, if you knew someone who was killed that day, of course you're going to talk about that person, just like you would if they'd died in a car accident or of a heart attack. Of course, if you live in New York or D.C., and reminders of what happened are going to be all around, you're going to have to talk about what happened. Of course, if your child's school does some sort of memorial service or moment of silence, they're going to have questions, and it's probably a good idea to prepare them in advance. I strongly encourage you to keep it as brief as possible. "A really sad thing happened 8 years ago today that affected a lot of people, and when things like that happen, people like to remember with a (memorial service), (moment of silence), (flag at half staff), (etc.)."

I do not think that you should go into the politics or the particulars, even with an older child. As we generally do when it comes to the sex talk, I think you should answer their questions directly and briefly, only give them the information they're asking for, and distract them with ice cream as soon as possible.

But if your kids are young, like mine, and if you live in the midwest, as we do, I am giving you permission to not talk about it. Turn off the TV and pretend it never happened. We live in such a Dr. Phil society, where everyone has to "talk everything out," and "express their feelings" and "get closure" and all of that b.s. I know there's more than one parent out there who feels like she should tell her young children what happened. But don't. Resist the little Dr. Phil in your head telling you that you have to verbally vomit every thought that enters your head. Some things are better left unsaid. Your young kids don't need this information, not yet.

Because you know when they'll remember the conversation? Right after they've closed the door of the airplane on your flight to your vacation.

What do you think? Am I completely wrong? How old are your kids, and how are you handling this discussion with them today? Let me have it in the comments...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Family, Food, and Language

When I was a kid, we were so poor my mama had to stretch a box of macaroni and cheese.

Ok, not really... But my mom did make tuna casserole from Kraft Dinner (for all you Canadians) often. When my dad came over the other night to watch the kids so that BJ and I could have dinner with a new friend, I asked what he wanted, and joked, "Mush McPuna?"

Mush McPuna, for those of you not related to me, is a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese, plus some extra elbow macaroni, plus a can of cream of mushroom soup, plus a can of tuna, plus some frozen peas. Instead of adding the butter and milk as you would if you were making the Mac and Cheese according to the package, you omit the butter and add a soup can's worth of milk. So, cook the noodles and peas, drain, add the cheese sauce powder, the soup, the milk, and the drained tuna. Voila. If you're feeling fancy you can crumble potato chips on top of it.

Dad said, "Sure! I haven't had that in years!!" But I don't eat tuna anymore (due to a bad food poisoning experience - don't eat those tuna pouches. This has been a public service address. You're welcome), and I don't keep cream of mushroom soup in the house (BJ hates mushrooms, even the tiny fake ones in cream of mushroom soup), and I didn't have any peas.

Instead I made it with diced, cooked chicken breast, cream of celery soup, and frozen broccoli.

"Chuck McPockley."

I was thinking about posting all this today while I was re-heating some Chuck McPockley for lunch. The kids wouldn't eat it, so they got PB&J, Goldfish Pretzels, and apple smash.

Apple smash is apple sauce, for those of you who aren't related to Claire (or haven't heard her call it apple smash, yet).

I started thinking about how food and language are such integral parts of family. I thought about how language, particularly language about food, defines a family to a small, probably insignificant but still a little interesting extent. I mean, it's not like the Pretty Babies family is its own culture with its own food that's as separate from your family as Indian food is from Japanese food... Not quite. But still, there are little Us-isms that set us apart.

My step-mom makes orange bow-knots, especially at Easter but often for Christmas or Thanksgiving, too. BJ's step-mom's entire family puts chicken and noodles on their mashed potatoes, and they eat sugar cream pie and take it very seriously. My dad eats cold pizza for breakfast, and popcorn is his favorite (only?) vegetable. My mom and my aunts make great-grandma Shank's peanut butter cookies at Christmas. BJ's mom drinks coffee with dinner, and her mom does, too.

When BJ and I got married, I asked his mom for her meatloaf recipe, I think because I wanted to learn to speak his language, and cook in a way that said "family" to him - even if I didn't realize it at the time. But he still won't eat my Mush McPuna - those pesky mushrooms!

Together, though, we're creating our own little nation - our own heritage for our kids to carry forward. We're adopting the best traditions from each of our families, and we're adding our own weird little touches, like apple smash and Chuck McPockley.

What foods and food related words mean "family" to you?


We had such a busy day yesterday! School in the morning, then ballet in the afternoon, then we came home and I cleaned like a crazy person - I got about 8 and a half things on my list accomplished. Not bad, considering that trying to clean with kids in the house is like trying to nail Jello to the wall. My uncle Doug was in town for an extremely boring seminar, but he ended his day on a high note by coming over to play with the pretty babies and joining us for dinner at Noodles. Dad stopped by for a bit, too. We got home from dinner just after 8:00, so we took the kids upstairs for bed.

That's when things got weird.

Mary Grace wanted her back scratched, instead of rubbed like she normally wants. After our usual 5 minutes, we went in our room and put away the seven loads of laundry I mentioned yesterday. Well, maybe 5 and a half, because I couldn't put the kids' clothes away with them in their room. Mary Grace was still up at 10 pm, so I gave her a melatonin (doctor approved, haters, so don't talk to me about drugging my kid!). She came out at 10:30 (!!! That never happens - melatonin usually knocks her out in 15 - 20 minutes!) and said that she was itchy. That's when we noticed the hives all over her body.

I called my friend Casey right away because her daughter is in MG's class, and she had an itchy rash yesterday. I made sure that Casey was sure that Christine's spots were bites (which she was - Casey suspects a particularly bitey spider) because I thought, for a minute, that it might be something contagious (chicken pox? I don't know... But two itchy kids in a class of 20, it made me suspicious! Fortunately I knew Casey would still be up, because she's a night owl like me. She answered by saying, "What are you doing up?")

Mary Grace didn't eat anything weird or new yesterday. I have no idea what could possibly have caused her hives. I did buy Wisk detergent, instead of my usual All Free & Clear, because I had a coupon. I suppose she could be reacting to the change in detergent. I guess I won't put all the clothes I washed yesterday away, until I see whether or not today's clothes break her out. I'll just have to wash them all over again in our usual detergent if that happens.

We gave her a hit of Benadryl and put Benadryl cream on the itchiest spots. It still took her until about 11 pm to fall asleep, though, poor kid.

This morning we had school, but I didn't want to wake her up early after such a rough night. Instead I let her sleep, and she got up at 9 on her own. I asked her if she wanted to go to school, but she said no. It's probably a good thing, because her behavior has been pretty crummy so far this morning. There has been a lot of fighting, so I'm sure she would've been delightful at school.

She's just exhausted. At least the hives are gone (knock wood).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

To Do List

In order of how I remembered them:

Things I Need To Do:
Put away seven loads of laundry
Vacuum upstairs
Clean upstairs bathroom
Vacuum downstairs
Clean the toy room (ugh)
Clean the kitchen, bathroom, and toyroom floors
Pull weeds
Empty dishwasher & reload with breakfast dishes
Wash sheets
Clean out fridge
Defrost freezer
Make grocery list, go through coupons
Grocery shopping
Take MG to Ballet
Go to work tomorrow (see alternate neverending list of things that need to be done at work)
Declutter the shelf over there that is groaning under the weight of all my crap
Clean out the car
Get a hair cut
Sort some toys out to take to Goodwill because, seriously, the toy room is out of control
Wash the insides of all the window sills and the patio door sills because they are nasty

Things I've Already Done:
Clean downstairs bathroom (except floor)
Wash laundry
Gotten health insurance quotes
Gone to work (today)

Things I Want To Do:
Surf Internet
Play with the kids
Go out for coffee with Casey
Make a List of Things To Do that includes the Things I've Already Done so I can check them
off and feel like I've accomplished something, even though most of it happened yesterday
Hire someone to clean the house

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Random Tuesday

This is Mary Grace's favorite YouTube video:

I have no idea how we found it originally, but she loves it and could watch it over and over for hours and never get bored.

In other news, Claire got bit by a mosquito on the bridge of her nose, and now she looks like this guy:

All right, technically her hair isn't that long, but the bridge of her nose is swollen, and has been for days, and she looks weird in a way that sets off my "something is WRONG" mom alarm. I get a little jolt of anxiety every time I look at her, until I realize, "Oh, it's just the mosquito bite, it's fine..."

It's a little tiring.

Otherwise, not much is new here. Did you all have a nice holiday weekend?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Back to Reality

I can't even tell you how good it feels to be back into our normal routine this fall. Allison is coming Monday and Friday afternoon, and the kids have school on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I'm spending time at the office every weekday - which is something that hasn't happened since before we had kids (and BJ will say it didn't really happen often then, either).

After Claire spent 2.5 hours crying, "I wanna go school!" on Mary Grace's first day, I decided that it would be best to take her to the drop off program every day while MG is in school. I'd originally only planned to abuse use the drop off program twice a week, but she has such a good time, I figured I'd just keep taking her every day. It's only $6.50 for 2.5 hours of feeling like a big girl - what a bargain!

The downside of all this contact with other kids is that Claire and I are battling another cold. Yes, we just got over the one we had two weeks ago, and barely. Hopefully we're already over the worst of it. We have a party at the park for our buddy Owen this afternoon, so we'll just kill the germs with sunshine and Purell and hope for the best. Because seriously, I can't take another week of being locked in the house. Not when I've had a taste of "back to normal."

It seems like MG inherited BJ's immune system, and Claire got mine. Poor Claire. I don't get seriously sick, but I seem to pick up every little bug that goes around, and so does she. Mary Grace, on the other hand, is just like her dad - she doesn't get sick as often, but when she does she gets it bad - as in a 103.5 degree fever from a cold bad.

I need to be reminded next summer that it's better for all of us if we don't have 100 days of no structure between May and August. I didn't used to think I was the sort of person who thrived on routine... then I had kids. The more we get up and rolling, and the more we have stuff to do, the better we all do, myself included. So, don't let me forget next summer, ok?

Of course, just after we get a taste of our routine, Labor Day hits. I'm not sure whose idea it was to park Labor Day right after the start of school, but it seems to me that it would be better to move it later into September. What's the point of having a break when no one really needs a break yet?

Speaking of breaks, I hereby predict that we're going to have a wild winter. With the mild summer we've had in Indiana, I'm guessing that we're going to spend a lot of time snowed in, particularly in January and February. I'm one of those weirdos who likes being snowed in - we have a fireplace and I like to bake, and I can't think of anything nicer than having BJ at home on some random Wednesday, while the kids and I make cookies and snowmen. The kids are both big enough, finally, to enjoy the snow. Last year I worried that Claire was too little to communicate when she got too cold, but this year I know she'll be able to tell me. I feel like I should lay in some baking supplies now, so that we'll have them when it happens. I can just buy a lot of extras when everything goes on sale near Christmas.

Put in your orders for cookies and bread soon - supplies are limited, offer not valid in Vermont...

Has your life improved considerably since school started? What are you looking forward to this fall and winter?

Thursday, September 3, 2009


My friend Casey has a nine year old daughter who is enrolled in the same school system that my kids will eventually attend. The other day, her daughter brought home a permission slip from school which, if signed, would authorize the school to vaccinate her child.

I understand that there are plenty of kids in this country who do not get adequate medical care. I get it. But I also get uncomfortable when I think of my kids getting medical care at school.

I can think of about a thousand potential scenarios in which this would be a problem. What if I send my kids to school with their immunization records in August, but take them to our family doctor to get, say, flu shots in September. The school, not knowing this, then gives everyone flu shots in October. Then my kids have gotten a double dose. I don't know that that's safe. I don't want to find out!

I also remember being pulled out of class in eighth grade (so does BJ, so this really happened, in spite of my horrible memory! That's why I write everything down now... I have CRS!) to get a shot for.... something. It was one of those air gun injections. I remember lining up, getting the shot in the cafeteria, and then feeling really dizzy and sick and unable to get up the two huge flights of stairs to return to class. I know I sat on the stairs for a while, and there were no teachers around to help me. Eventually I sucked it up and either went to the nurse or back to class. But there are a load of "what ifs" in my head - what if I'd passed out? What if I'd had a bad reaction to the shot, say an allergy or something, and no one had been there to help me?

I don't remember if my mom was aware of the fact that we would be getting shots that day, or if she signed anything. I do remember being surprised that we were getting shots that day.

I'm still a little traumatized by the scoliosis screenings that were done throughout my school years, too. It's so demeaning to have to take off your shirt and bend over so that the school nurse can examine you, particularly during puberty when your body is changing and developing at a rate that is completely different from your peers. My feeling is that if it isn't something I would want done to everyone in my office building as an adult, chances are that it's not something my kids will want to do during school.

Vision and hearing screenings are one thing - you do them completely clothed, and the outcome can have a direct affect on the quality of your school work. I have yet to figure out, though, how my having or not having scoliosis would have impacted my math grade. Further, I know loads and loads of people who wear glasses. In all my life, I have only known one person with scoliosis, and I'm fairly certain that she knew about it because her doctor checked - not because of screenings at school!

For all of the medical stuff I would rather take them to our family doctor who has been treating us since before they were born, and who I trust! I realize that I am privileged to have a family doctor and the money to take them to him with, of course, and I'm glad that there are screenings and vaccines available to kids whose families aren't so privileged... But couldn't they be done at the county health department instead of at school? After all, the schools have a hard enough time squeezing all the academics our kids need into the school year - is it necessary to remove them from class for medical screenings? Is it even ethical or safe to do so?

So, parents of older kids, talk to me about school-based medical care. Have you opted out of in-school vaccines or screenings? Have you caught flack from the school for doing so? Do you believe that in-school vaccines and scoliosis screenings and lice screenings (God help you if they find any - right there in front of everyone! I would die!) are appropriate, or are the schools usurping parental responsibilities and control? Would you allow your child to get shots in school, or do you already? Why or why not? Am I overthinking this?

Along the same vein, I've been posting on Facebook about the Swine Flu vaccine. There was a video of a guy who turned out to be a conspiracy theorist talking about thimerosol (the stuff they thought caused autism) in the Swine Flu vaccine. I also read an article that said that another potential Swine Flu Vaccine ingredient, called Squalene, might be responsible for Gulf War Syndrome. Here's a link to that article, which seems rational and reasonable. Her main point is "talk to your doctor." Below is the video, which I do not endorse, but merely post for the sake of discussion:

Again, it turns out that the "expert" in the video is kind of a nutjob. For one thing, they have NOT proven that Thimerosol causes autism, but he says that it has been proven. For another thing, check out his Wikipedia entry (thanks to my FB friend Bill for the link!).

My favorite quote so far about the Swine Flu was from my friend John, whose last name is Hogg, and who said this, in response to my question, "Are you worried about Swine Flu?" (I can't find the actual FB quote, so I'm doing this from memory - apologies to John if I misquote you!)
"If Lou Gehrig can die from Lou Gehrig's disease, you bet your a** that I'm worried about Swine flu. But I'm not half as worried as my neighbors, the Honenones!"
(Get it? H1N1s? HAHAHA! I have the funniest friends!!)

Talk to me about Swine Flu. Are you getting your kids and yourselves vaccinated? Why or why not? To be honest, I am completely on the fence. I was very unconcerned about the whole Swine Flu thing until BJ said that he wanted the kids and me to get the vaccine as a precaution (in case I become pregnant this fall/winter). Then I got worried. Because if he's worried, I am really worried. BJ doesn't tend to fall prey to the fear-mongering of the media. He takes a very reasonable, rational approach to almost everything, so if he's concerned, I'm off the rails.

On the other hand, though, if the vaccine has scary ingredients... Yikes. I just do not know. I don't know how anyone who isn't a doctor can make a good choice. The media seems to operate under the assumption that it isn't doing its job if we aren't all terrified. I don't know who to believe, aside from our doctor, and I doubt that he has an hour to debate with me about the pros and cons!

Generally, I'll just ask him if he's having his own kids vaccinated. If the answer is yes, I go along (his kids are all around the same age as ours). I did, however, refuse the Vitamin K shot and the Hep B shot at birth (my kids aren't allowed to have sex or do IV drugs until they're at LEAST 6 months old, so we didn't worry about Hepatitis B!). I'm also planning on refusing the post-birth shot of pitocin next time. They give it to you to help your uterus contract and stop bleeding. I had it with MG, but not with Claire. Well, guess which kid I had trouble breastfeeding, and which one I didn't have trouble with. I just read this article this morning which makes me suspect that the pitocin (oxytocin - same thing) was the culprit for my feeding difficulties with MG.

I wish I'd gone to medical school. It would make a lot of this a lot easier.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009