Friday, February 27, 2009

The Credit Crisis for Dummies

This is a brilliant 11 minute video explaining how the current economic situation came to pass. I highly recommend taking the time to watch...

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Now, if only this smart guy would make another video with instructions on how to FIX what happened, in easy to understand language with visual aids!!

Another Milestone

Claire reached one of those milestones, today, that they really ought to put in the baby raising books, but don't.

We woke up this morning and she immediately held her hand over her ear, looked at me and said, "I hurt."

"YES!" I thought, "She has finally achieved the age at which she can tell me that something is wrong! Hooray!"

"But waitaminute! Something's wrong! Boo! I haven't even opened my eyes yet....."

It made for a busy morning. BJ worked all night last night (literally) so he was sleeping. I got the kids up and dressed and fed, got myself showered and dressed, called the doctor's office and got a last minute appointment, took MG to school, grabbed a $5 coffee - which is simply insane, took Claire to the doctor, got the diagnosis of infections in both ears and the prescription, went to the pharmacy, grabbed her prescription, then went home to clean the house up before Allison came, picked MG up from school, took the kids to the pet store (because there's exactly enough time to go home, take off our coats, put them back on, and leave again to get Allison, so we try to do quick outings between school and picking up Allison on Fridays), picked Allison off, dropped them off - leaving detailed instructions for Allison (that story's next) and went to work.

I did more before 1 pm today than I have done in the past two weeks. I'm beat.

Mary Grace is allergic to amoxicillin. Claire has never had it before. I gave Claire her first dose at about 11 am, then dropped Allison and the kids off around 12:30. I left home absolutely convinced that Allison was going to call me and say, "Claire wasn't breathing so I called an ambulance..." Fortunately, that didn't happen - MG only got hives when she had it, and C seems to have no symptoms so far (knock wood), but their Grandma Diana has had breathing difficulty from amoxicillin, so I am being extra-vigilant about it. It made it really hard to focus on work this afternoon. I made several really stupid errors at work... But I had to go. There were things that needed to be done today.

Speaking of work, interesting comment from Anonymous at 2:01 am on the Going Gray post... My mom is also self-employed. I wonder how much of the pressure on women to look young (and therefore, to not embrace their gray, as well as to do other things like Botox, face lifts, etc.) is a result of workplace pressure. How much of it is self-imposed? Is it that we're actually expected to unnaturally retain our youth, or that we think we're expected to unnaturaly retain our youth?

I guess it's just one more reason to be glad that we're self-employed. The list keeps getting longer. Just today, I added, "It's not a pain in the ass to get time off to take kids to doctor, and if my boss won't let me go, I get to make him go," and "Can go gray gracefully if I so choose," to the list.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Depression Cooking

Wasn't I just saying a couple of weeks ago that we have a lot to learn from the generation that lived through the Depression? I guess I'm not the only one who thinks so... Check this out:

How cute is she? I love her! But I'm not sure I'd love that pasta. What a gift to the world, to capture a voice like this. Beautiful. I can't wait to get the kids to bed so I can watch the rest of the episodes.

But the way she cuts potatoes makes me cringe! Granny! Don't cut your thumb off!!!

Busy posting day today... Hope I'm not annoying you!

Going Gray

Girl's Gone Child is talking about her mom's decision to let her hair go gray. Her mom plans to write a book about the experience. I wanted to share a picture of my beautiful mom, but couldn't figure out a way to put a link on her comments... so here she is!

Isn't she beautiful? She loves her hair, too. So GGC, tell your mom that looking this fabulous is what she has to look forward to.

I love it when Boomers embrace their true age, rather than trying to pretend that they're still teenagers, as so many of them do. It's so much classier! Power hair! RAWR!

My hair is expressing its solidarity too, GGC.

Carmel, IN - WTF???

I just found an infuriating website - Stimulus Watch. You can search through the projects submitted against the economic stimulus package by state, city, keyword, etc.

So, I started scrolling through Indiana, and couldn't help but notice that a HUGE amount of projects were for Carmel, Indiana.

The total cost of projects submitted for Indiana is $2,598,965,295.

The total cost of projects submitted for Carmel, Indiana is $428,450,000, or about 16.5%.

Now I understand that all of these projects are for road improvements, and I understand, being from 'round here, that the traffic in Carmel is a right mess. There's no sense in trying to drive anywhere on the north/northeast side of Indy between 7 and 10 am, and between 4 and 6 pm. You won't get anywhere fast. I get it.

But why is a relatively small (of 68,677 according to a special 2007 census), rich (the median income is approximately double the average median income of the rest of the state) city requesting such a gigantic percentage of Indiana's share of the stimulus package?

Surely Carmel, where the average home value is $254,458 (over double the Indiana average), has the tax base to fund its own stinking road projects.

This is the local equivalent of Beverly Hills asking for 16.5% of the money to help California. Carmel is one of the nicest cities in the state.

I thought this money was supposed to help people who need help. The more I learn about the nuts and bolts of the stimulus package, the more incensed I become. I understand that these projects are proposed, and not yet funded, but I still find this grossly irresponsible on the part of the Mayor of Carmel's office. Wouldn't this money be better spent in more needy areas of the state? How about Elkhart, where the unemployment rate is 17%? Or Marion, IN, where the unemployment rate was a staggering 11.3% as of December '08? Carmel's unemployment is 4.4%. I think they're ok. Selfish jerks.

When we get home later, I'm going to write a letter. I'll cc the Mayor of Carmel... Who should I send it to, though? The governor? The president? ACK!

I know this is a Mommyblog, and this is clearly not about the babies, but if we're going to saddle my children with an unpayable amount of debt, I would at least like to see that money go to worthy causes - to helping people in true need. It makes me insane that the rich are going to get richer, again, as always, and the poor are going to get screwed. As always. After all, Elkhart isn't on the list of Indiana cities requesting funds. Nor is South Bend. Maybe all the projects for that region are in Mishawaka? I don't know, but it's maddening. Mishawaka only (only!) requseted $38 million, or 1.4%. My head is going to explode.

Am I reading this wrong, or is it really this nauseating???

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I can't believe she went on Dr. Phil

Nadia Suleman, who I've written about before, is on Dr. Phil right now. I can not believe that she'd go on his show after all the things he's said about her! He must have offered some serious "help" (as in, money), although he insists that he did not purchase a house for her. Or maybe the poor woman hasn't had time to watch Dr. Phil lately. Probably both, actually.

Anyway, they are talking about why people are mad at her. She thinks it's because of the economy, that she's a scapegoat (a theory I also put forth in my previous post on the topic). He thinks it's because she risked the life of the only parent her other six kids have by transferring 6 embryos and continuing the pregnancy in spite of the serious risks to her life.

They're both wrong.

People are cheesed off because there are millions of people out there right now who have limited the size of their family because they can't afford to raise the number of kids they want to have on their own. They aren't taking assistance into account, because reasonable, responsible people don't put "government aid" in the "assets" column when they're figuring out their family's finances. Government aid is supposed to be for emergencies, for unforseeable situations. It's not supposed to be something you count on when you decide to knock yourself up (over and over and over again).

BJ and I make a very good living, and we have debated a lot about having a third child. We know that it will be more affordable to travel, provide lessons, provide fees for sports and activities, help with college, etc. if we stick with our two. We worry that we won't be able to provide the sort of life that we want to provide for our kids if we have one more.

We also worry about the environmental impact of larger families. It feels irresponsible, on a planet that's already strained, to have a large family. (To that, though, I say, "We're the sort of people who ought to be having all the kids we can... No one would complain if we populated the earth with the brilliant offspring of a rocket scientist!" right?)

And here's this woman who can't possibly provide for the six kids she has, and she has eight more. And people who have said, "Ok, I'd love to have 6 kids, but we can't afford it, so we're done with one kid," resent that she made that choice that they didn't feel they could make.

That's it. That's why people are mad. Because we can't all choose to have 14 kids, even though we might want to. Honestly, if money weren't a consideration at all, I would quit using birth control and have all the kids we could between now and menopause. We have fabulous kids. They're smart and beautiful and healthy and hilarious, and they're the lights of our lives. It would be such fun, as they grew older, to have a big loud house full of our children and their friends, our children and their spouses, our children and their children... But we can't do that. It would be irresponsible of us to rely on the government to help us raise our children. And, in spite of what she says, it appears that Nadia Suleman did go into this pregnancy with the intention to rely on government aid, and that's annoying. It makes people feel ripped off.

Of course, I can't believe anyone goes on Dr. Phil. I would love to know how she was compensated.

In other baby makin' news, my friend Kaity is in labor right now (she was induced) with her first child, a little girl who will be called Grace. Talking with Kaity over the past couple of weeks has really made me want another baby. I'm sure that holding little Grace is going to push me over the edge. Fortunately, I've caught the kids' virus, so I'll have to stay away until I'm well. Maybe by then I'll have steeled myself against that lovely new baby scent, and the way they feel when they're so tiny and new.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday's Odds and Ends

Day 7 of my confinement... Mary Grace finally got over the fever (but still has the cough) on Saturday. We went to a family event on Sunday, where Claire took it upon herself to spike a 102.5 degree fever. Claire and I stayed home yesterday, while BJ took MG to gymnastics. The girls and I stayed home today.

I've tried not to complain about it, because 1) there are plenty of people out there dealing with a lot worse than a random fever and a cough, and 2) whenever I mention that we're sick, again, people always say, "JEEZ, you guys are sick all the time!" I promise we're not any sicker than any other family with two toddlers. Remember that the kids don't have fully functioning immune systems yet. And, if current research is to be believed, it's actually good for their long-term health to be sick a lot (in other words, to be exposed to a lot and to learn to fight off a lot) now. They'll be less susceptible to allergies and whatnot, from what I understand, if I let them eat dirt and dog food now. Also, I complain a lot.

Speaking of dog food, apparently I'm a bad mother for letting Claire eat dog food a year ago. But it was so flipping funny that I'm going to post it again.

For the record, I did take it out of her mouth once she'd attempted to eat it. I don't believe she ever actually swallowed any dog food. I still love that song.

Mary Grace told me today that she is going to be "a doctor or a scientist" when she grows up. I guess my brainwashing experiment is an early success. If I can sustain it for the next 15 - 20 years, we're golden.

I did sneak out tonight to have dinner with an old friend, while BJ stayed home with the babies. It took me about half an hour to stop talking about the babies, but I eventually managed, and had a very nice time reminiscing about my happiest high school year. It's hard to believe that the year in question was seventeen years ago! Yikes. Won't be long before we'll be talking about how we walked to school, uphill both ways, etc.

I actually helped BJ write a part of a proposal for work today, in the midst of all the snotty noses and whatnot. I really need to get to the office to catch up on things. I haven't been to the office since Friday the 13th! I've worked (a bit) from home, but still. How do you moms who aren't married to the boss manage it? I would've been fired long ago if I weren't getting preferential treatment.

Fevers or not, I am declaring everyone "Better" tomorrow. I can't take this anymore.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm never going to win an Oscar

I'm never going to win an Oscar*, but I have my speech all written, just in case...

"Wow, I didn't expect this at all. I wish I could share it with every one of the women who were nominated in this category, because you are all amazing**. I am absolutely stunned by this honor." (Adorably wipe a tear, smile, take a deep breath, and say...)

"First, I would like to thank all my fans and the academy. Much love and gratitude to my friends, who have stood by me for so long, who know all my stories and still listen to me when I tell them for the dozenth time. I thank my family, especially my parents, who have always believed in me and fostered my creativity. Thank you for thinking I'm funny.*** Thank you for being my first audience. I am so grateful to my children, who have given me more material than I ever could've imagined.**** And most of all, I'd like to thank my husband BJ, who knew me when I had the horrible perm, and loves me anyway, and who lets me tell our stories to the world. Thank you."

Now all I need to do is find a gown. And a movie. And talent.

* Or a Nobel Prize, for that matter.
** Anne Hathaway, Reese Witherspoon, Queen Latifah, and Jennifer Aniston
*** Of course I'd win for a comedy, even though comedies never win.
**** A comedy I wrote, about my kids.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Social Media Overload

In one window - Tweetdeck - learning how to use it during a TwitterParty for #typeamom. I don't know what that means, but I faked it successfully for an hour. Following #typeamom and #BlogHer09 and #Caroline (the missing girl from Chicago, who was found tonight, alive!), as well as my friend feed and direct messages and @ replies. (I know, none of this makes sense to anyone over like 40, it's ok).

In the next window - Firefox - and my usual line up of websites - Gmail, Google Reader, Google Calendar, Facebook, and this blog.

All was going well, I was keeping up with most of the tweets. Then my mom chatted me. Ok, I can handle this. Gchat and Twitter, no big deal.

But then BJ chatted me in Facebook (he's sitting right next to me, by the way), and my brain exploded.

I left the TwitterParty, told BJ to behave, and stopped obsessively following everything. Now I'm chatting with Mom and writing this, while the Twitter Friend Feed doinks fruitlessly in the background. Manageable chaos.

Web 2.0 really ought to have a warning label.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Fever That Never Ends

Mary Grace has had a fever and a terrible cough since Tuesday. She coughed so hard last night that she threw up. I've kept her home from all activities (school, gymnastics, ballet) and canceled Allison all week.

Tonight I told BJ that I needed to get out of the house for a while, so I went to the store and picked up BW3s for dinner.

The girl at BW3s apologized for the long wait - I guess I got there right in the middle of their dinner rush. I said, "You won't believe this, but waiting here and reading the newspaper on my phone is the most fun I've had all week."

I feel like I'm in jail.

Can someone be harmed by running a low grade fever for four or five days? I called her doctor, to get the dose for Robitussin (which, it turned out, was on the bottle), and they said that it's "going around" and to bring her in if she isn't better in four or five days. Of course, that puts us at the weekend, so I figure I'll take her in Monday if she isn't better. She's improved, over Tuesday, but not well. Her cough is heartbreaking. Claire is coughing, too, but she doesn't have the fever. Weird. They seem to do ok if they sit quietly and watch movies, but if they jump around they start to cough.

Asthma? Pneumonia? Allergies? Cystic fibrosis? Bubonic plague?

Being alone with my paranoia and Google all day doesn't help.

I called Bumpa today to see if he'd come over and entertain me, but he'd gone to Grammaland. I tried to talk BJ into working from home today, but he laughed and ran out the door.

Please, entertain me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Someone To Take Care of Me Time

This one's for the guys. Girls, print it out and tuck it in your husband's lunch.

Hi guys,

Things haven't been easy for you, either, since your kids were born, have they? You look at your wife, and she's like a completely different person now, right? Her body has changed, her personality has changed, she's not fun anymore, and she often doesn't even seem to be listening to you when you speak, and she can't talk about anything but the kids. Am I right? And while she has the "mommyblogosphere" and La Leche League and her MOPS group and eleven friends who are going through the same thing, who can bitch and kvetch with her about how life has changed (and all the things you're doing wrong!) - you're pretty much doing it all on your own. Maybe you have one friend who understands, who can buy you a beer and say, "It'll get better, man." Of course, there will be hell to pay for stopping on the way home to have that beer, won't there?

Being a Dad is every bit as hard as being a Mom, and I think it's lonelier (because men and women socialize differently). A lot of you guys leaned on your wives for all of your emotional support before you had kids. And now that you have small kids, and she has lost her mind, you're all alone.

It's hard. And it's scary to think that the wife you loved before might be gone for good, isn't it?

Don't worry. I am here to help.

Now, keep in mind that my love language is "acts of service." According to Gary Chapman, there are five different love languages: acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, and physical touch. If you know that your wife is more of a "words of affirmation" girl than an "acts of service" girl, modify accordingly... But I know it's true for me, and a lot of my mom friends, that the thing that our husbands do that makes us feel most loved is when they HELP. I am being 100% honest when I say that I would rather have BJ do laundry than buy me diamonds.

The nice thing about love languages is that even if you're a "gifts" person, "acts of service" can make you feel loved, too. You don't just get one... And the language you "speak" can change over the course of your life, depending on your circumstances. Your main love language is the one that makes you feel most loved, but the other four can be received and interpreted correctly too. The good news is that we're all multilingual when it comes to love. But knowing which one really speaks to your wife will do you a world of good in your relationship.

Have I lost you? Are you thinking, "So what?" at this point. Hang in there.

Yesterday I wrote about "Me Time" and my theory that what we're really asking for when we ask for "me time" is "someone to take care of me time." As mothers, we spend our whole day taking care of our kids and our husbands. Often we're also taking care of our aging parents, too.

When you spend your whole day taking care of everyone else, you start to crave the safe and secure feelings that come from being taken care of, yourself. I think when your wife talks about getting more "me time," she is really asking you to take care of her for a little while.

So, what can you do? Here are some action items...
  • Clean up the dishes
  • Give her a backrub
  • Vacuum
  • Clean up after yourself
  • Stop at the store on the way home
  • Pick up carry out for supper on the way home
  • Do laundry
  • Clean the bathroom get the idea. Now, I'm not saying that you hae to do all of these things every day. I know you work hard all day, and that the last thing you want to do is clean all night. I understand that she's home all day and you're having a hard time figuring out what she's doing with all that time. I get it. Honestly, we don't know where the day goes, either. Especially in those early days with a newborn.

If your wife's love language is "Physical Touch," give the girl a backrub or a foot rub. If it's "Words of Affirmation," tell her what a great job she's doing every day. If it's "Quality Time" it's going to be hard for a while, because babies tend to suck up all of your time. Same with "Gifts" - they suck up all the money, too. But maybe you could bring home a treat - say a decaf latte from Starbucks every once in a while - for no reason. Remember that it doesn't have to be a grand gesture - you don't have to bring her a tennis bracelet every week. I want you to understand that the small gestures you make will speak very loudly and clearly to your wives.

And I promise that when you do one or two of these things for your wife, she will feel much more loving toward you. If you vacuum, she can use the time and energy that she was going to use on vacuuming to reconnect with you... if you know what I mean. And she will feel more motiviated to reconnect with you if she's not thinking about the other 7000 things she needs to do.

Yeah, guys, I know your love language is "physical touch." Big surprise.

So, let's make a deal - all of us parents of young children. The guys will try a little harder to help out, to speak our "love language" and to go out of their way, just a bit, to make us feel cared for. And we girls, we'll try a little bit harder to take care of you every once in a while.

Putting in that small effort sure beats ending up in divorce court, anyway. Give it a try this week, and let me know if anything changes in your relationship.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Myth of "Me Time"

We've already talked about the "together mom" myth. Today I want to tackle another idea that gets a lot of coverage in the momosphere.

"Me Time."

Someone is always asking for more "me time" from her life. Moms love to get together and lament their lack of "me time." But I'll tell you something... The last time BJ said, "Hey, I'll take the kids for a while, why don't you go do something for you," (which he does, occasionally, because he is a pod person) I had no idea what to do with myself.

Let's face facts, here. I wasn't the sort of girl who got regular manis and pedis pre-kids. I'm not suffering because I don't have time (or money) for them now. I have literally driven around in my car, stopped at the Starbucks, driven around some more, and ended up at Borders because it was the only place I could think of to go. And I was bored within about 10 minutes, and someone's kid was crying which made it hard to pretend that I didn't have kids waiting for me at home. I was thinking about all the things I needed to do at home (cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, putting away messes, cleaning the toy room, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning, laundry, etc.) and feeling guilty about wasting time at Borders with my foofoo coffee instead of ticking things off of my to-do list.

Guilt makes it hard to enjoy things.

Another time I went and got a massage for "me time." Didn't love it. In 12 years of being with BJ, I have come to like my back rubbed a certain way, and I don't really like to be touched by strangers or touching strangers to begin with, and it just gave me the creeps and left me feeling like I'd wasted a lot of money. I do like getting a facial, and have found a wonderful aesthetician (if you're local, e-mail me for a referral, because Kelly is a goddess), but it's not really practical to have two or three facials a week in the interest of "me time."

I have forgotten how to do "me time."

Or have I? Is "time for manis and pedis and aimless, non-goal-oriented shopping and foofoo coffee drinking" what we mean when we talk about "me time," or is it something else?

Does the request for "me time" have to do with time free of kids, or is it something more?

Here's what I think. When Moms want more "me time," what they're actually asking for is "someone to take care of me time."

We spend all day responding to other peoples' needs (small, non-fluent, impatient, irrational people). We have to anticipate their needs, lest we risk a meltdown. We are responsible for their hunger, their thirst, their sleepiness, their entertainment, their feelings of being loved and cared for... And then our husband comes home (if we're lucky enough to have one) and we're responsible for listening to his day (his need for attention, to reconnect, etc.) getting dinner for the whole lot of them, cleaning up, getting the kids to bed, and, if the husbands are lucky, getting a little "couple time" in before we pass out.

It's a tall order, and there's not a lot of priority placed on meeting mom's needs in that agenda, unless we maybe get a bit of a foreplay backrub!! (Oh, hi Dad, are you still reading this? Hahah!)

I have learned, in the course of my 3.5 years as a parent of small, demanding children, to find ways of carving out small chunks of time for myself during the day.
  • Go to the mall or park with a book. Benignly neglect children as they play with the other kids. (By "benign neglect" I mean, keep an eye on them out of the corner of your eye, but don't push their swings and stuff... let them play on their own, they will live).
  • Trade free babysitting with another mom during the day, so you can do errands, etc. without kids in tow. (And see below for the added advantage of the playdate).
  • Go to the bookstore, grab a magazine on the way to the children's section. Benignly neglect children as they play with the train, etc. in the children's section.
  • At nap time, go for a long drive in the country. When the kids fall asleep, head back to civilization, get a foo foo coffee (hooray drive-thrus), sit in the car and read a book (or take your wifi enabled laptop and check your e-mail/write your novel in the Starbucks parking lot).
  • Nap with your kids, the laundry will keep. (Don't do this in combination with the rolling nap I outlined above... That's not safe!!)
  • Enlist the kids in the activities you enjoy. Now's the time to train them to be interesting to someone like yourself as they get older. What better way than to teach them your hobbies early?
  • Fence in your yard. Sit on the patio/deck/blanket on the grass with your book/magazine/e-mail/project while the kids play.
  • Have other kids over to your house. No, I'm not kidding. Playdates will entertain your kids, so you don't have to! I get the best cleaning done when my kids' friends come over.
  • Along the same lines, have another kid! In about 15 months, the egg you fertilize today will become a playmate for your little one!
  • Be a joiner - I look forward to the kids' gymnastics and ballet classes as much as they do, because I get a chance to visit with the other moms while they participate. Or, I can take a magazine/laptop/book with me.
  • McDonald's playplace, your local library during story time, etc. Find places in your community where you can get someone else (or something else, like tubes full of germs) to entertain your kids so you don't have to!
  • Join a Moms Club - I hear that MOPS has separate activities for the kids and the moms, so you get a little time where you're not entertaining and anticipating needs, but I guess you have to do a craft or something. I haven't looked too deeply into it.
  • When all else fails, or your stuck home sick like we are today, stick their butts in front of a video. I got the upstairs bathroom clean during an episode of Charlie and Lola this morning.
  • Find a spa/hair salon/nail salon/gym/etc. with child care. Again, e-mail me if you're local for referrals.
"But!" I hear you yell, "What about couple time?? Those only work during the day, and I'm not going to count a Big Mac and fries as a 'date' with my spouse!!" Here are my suggestions for finding couple time:
  • Find another couple with similarly aged children and trade babysitting with them once or twice a month.
  • Go to church and take advantage of the free babysitting. Hold hands and play footsie in the pews.
  • Exploit local relatives.
  • Contact your local high school or college and ask them to post a babysitting ad for you on their job board. Be sure to interview and get referrals and Google all candidates.
  • Ask non-local relatives to come and stay with your kids for a weekend so you can run away from home. They'll love the chance to spend time with your kids, your kids will love the attention and the variety in caregivers (and eating cookies for dinner and candy for breakfast and all the other naughty things grandparents, aunts, and uncles do) and you get to enjoy running away!
  • Travel to your nearest willing relative, drop the kids off, and then go to the nearest big city for the weekend... same idea as above.
  • Date-in. Put the kids to bed, send someone out for carryout and a rental movie, and snuggle on the couch.
And I'll tell you what, friends... If I've found some "me time" by day, I'm a lot more interested in finding "couple time" by night.

Here's the thing - when we've had couple time, BJ's a lot more willing and able to spend some of his time taking care of me - which is what I suspect the whole "me time" thing is really about to begin with. And I'm a lot more receptive to his gestures when we all have balance.

Also, because I'm a (mostly) stay at home mom, I try to remember that when he's working he is taking care of me, and us, by earning the money that keeps this family going. And that's definitely not nothing. Oprah once said something about, "Happiness is having an attitude of gratitude..." I really find that happiness in my marriage is all about gratitude. We're both working hard right now. It's hard on everyone. We're in it together. And if we remember that, we're both happier, and so are the kids.

How do you find the time for yourself and your spouse that you need?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oh the guilt...

Yesterday I took the kids to gymnastics as usual. Mary Grace played normally for the first hour we were there, but during her class started coming over to me and telling me that she "broke her whole body" or that she "hurt" her thumb or that she was going to throw up. She wanted to go home and watch movies. Since she had no fever, looked well, and had played normally for the first hour we were there, I told her to finish her class and then we'd go home and have lunch and watch movies. We ended up staying for open gym, because I collected four babies in buckets to watch while their moms played with older siblings. Mary Grace and Claire played with Kate. I talked to Sara. I figured that MG just wanted to watch movies, and was trying to skip out on class... Not that she was sick.

Then, of course, I told you how our evening went.

So I'm sure you can guess who woke up with a fever this morning (101). Of course she did. Of course. And now I see those requests to leave gymnastics differently. Maybe she really felt poorly and just couldn't communicate it to me. And I forced her to not only participate, but to participate in an activity that is physically demanding. It's not like it was art class, it was GYM.

Oh, the guilt.

Lots of Jello and tea and movies today, my girl. I'm sorry.

Monday, February 16, 2009

We Are Outmatched

We're being hardasses about the whole bedtime thing around here, because, frankly, I can't take it anymore. So, instead of laying with MG until she's sound asleep, then springing all the little bio-traps she's set for you (laying a strand of hair under your arm so that it'll pull when you try to stand up and wake her... so she can cry and beg you to stay), then laying there with MG until I'm sound asleep, we've been waiting until Claire's asleep, then I snuggle with her for a bit, and then we leave her in her room, and we go into our room (approximately 6 feet down the hall) and hang out and wait until she falls asleep, when we leap down the stairs shouting, "Hooray!" in a stage whisper.

So, that's where I am right now - it's 10 till 10, and she's in her room pouting, and has been since about 8:15, and we're in our room. We put away laundry, and now we're checking e-mail and watching Chuck.

MG came in a few minutes ago and said, "I can't find my dolphin!!!" and cried. I said, "He's probably in your bed, go look," but BJ, being a soft touch, went to help her find him.

He looked on the right side of her bed. It wasn't there. Then he looked on the left side.

Then MG rolled over.

She was hiding the dolphin behind her back.

Is it just me, or is that rather advanced and deceptive for a preschooler?? If she's this sneaky now, imagine what our lives are going to be like in 10 years. Oh my.

...and then my mom got a webcam and nothing was ever accomplished again

Wow, this has been a big weekend. We went to see Seussical on Friday, then the kids went to Uncle Brandon's Saturday night and BJ and I had our Big Valentine's Date (we had drinks with friends, then went to dinner at Mountain Jack's, then came home and watched Rocket Science (cute, appropriate as we were both in Debate) and Eagle Eye (suspenseful!)), then today Jen and her kids came down and we had a big playdate. We did McDonald's for lunch, then came back to my house and hung out, made dinner, and hung out some more.

I'll tell you what, I can't wait until my kids are 6 years old, because Vincent is actually HELPFUL, which would be a really nice change from having to do everything all the time.

Also, Claire got stuck in the germ tubes at McDonald's. She never goes past the first part, ever. Well, today she got ambitious, got all the way to the top, and got stuck. I had to send big kids in after her. It was quite silly.

But then my mom got a webcam, and nothing was ever accomplished again. I got out the puppets, and, well, you kind of had to be there, but we'll just say that Elmo was heavily involved, and I'm glad that Gmail doesn't archive video chat.

Also, I have a lot of puppets.

When Mom and Mimi have had a couple of glasses of wine, they think I'm hilarious, which just encourages me.

So anyway, another busy day tomorrow, so I'm going to go get some sleep while I can.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day... do me a favor!

My friend Casey is competing to win a role on the TV show Bones. She's a real working actress. If you listen to the radio around here, you have probably heard her doing voice-overs on commercials.

Obviously, opportunities to act are few and far between in Indiana.

The contest is on - each participant makes a video of herself reading the lines from the script, and then people come and vote, and the producers of the show will pick a winner from the 5 people with the most votes.

In other words, we need to get Casey into the top 5. Right now she's 8th.

Here's what I want you to do... Go to, create a profile for yourself (they don't spam) under "join today" and log in. Then search for "Cassandra" and click on Cassandra S., West Lafayette, IN's profile. When you get to her profile, scroll down until you see "Land a Role on Bones" and click on "Vote for me now!" That will take you to her audition video. Scroll down one more time until you see the green "vote now" checkmark, and click the check.

That's it. And if you remember to do it every day for the next 9 days, I'm sure Casey will win. It's so close. She's been in and out of the top five all month.

Let's show my friend lots and lots of LOVE this Valentine's day by helping her achieve her dream! Thanks, everyone!

Friday, February 13, 2009

You Guys Rock

Lovin' the comments... Keep 'em coming.

Some random thoughts:

1) Chicagogoeble is a chick, Wright, ya sexist. :)

2) Wright should not be encouraged, Chicagogoeble!

3) If we put Wright and Cate in the same room together, the resulting explosion would probably tear apart the very fabric of the universe. Like matter and anti-matter. Of all the people I know, I'd say that you two are the most polarly opposite, philosophically. Therefore, we should call Cate, "Lefty," as Wright is already aptly named (directionally, anyway).

4) I love my fascinating, diverse, extremely intelligent group of friends!! I don't know why all of you braniacs hang around with dopey ol' me.

5) Wright, if Keynesian economics work so well, why are things as bad as most living people can ever remember them being in our economic history NOW, when we're at war? Shouldn't that military consuming machine be running at full throttle, pumping tons of money into the economy, enough to offset the mortgage crisis, etc.?

6) I was prepared for the "Dr Phil..." post to devolve into an abortion debate. I never saw the political debate coming.

7) I am totally pissed off at Arby's. They have ceased to produce the Southwest Chicken Salad, which was, quite possibly, the best salad in the history of fast food. Bastards.

8) I have no idea what dilifag means.

9) Mary Grace had her Valentine's day party at school, and when we got home she was so sweet about sharing her candy and her cards with Claire that it almost made me cry. (I have to put SOMETHING about the kids in this post...)

10) I need to get to work!

It's my lucky day!

I was born on the 13th (Tuesday) so I've always kept 13 as my lucky number.

Unfortunately it doesn't seem to affect movie theaters. The two movies we wanted to see tomorrow (Inkheart or Fanboys) are not showing anywhere near here! Boo!!! Stupid local movie theater monopoly!! So have any of you seen any good movies in the theater lately? We were thinking about "He's Just Not That Into You," but that doesn't seem very Valentine-y.

We have several movies here to watch, so chances are good that we'll go out for a drink with our friends Karen and Jim, because it's Jim's birthday, then head to dinner, then come home. The projection and sound quality are better at home, anyway, thanks to my geek. The popcorn and snacks are also cheaper. Not that we'll need either after going out for supper.

If anyone has another suggestion for what we could do with our night of freedom, leave a comment. (No, we haven't had kids so long that I've forgotten the obvious answer to that question... I was thinking more of things we could do that we could discuss on Ye Ol' Family Blog).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I am Going Straight to Hell

I changed my mind

Loving your comments about yesterday's post. They've given me lots of things to think about.

Then I found this picture today, and I found myself unable to think for a good minute before my synapses came back online... Ok, I can't copy it over here so you'll have to CLICK HERE, and make sure you haven't got anything in your mouth - I don't want you to choke or spit coffee all over your keyboard. Ready? Click.

I changed my mind - anyone who would let that happen to her body is obviously certifiably insane. Take the keys and lock her up, lock her up, lock her up. Great googly moogly.

The good news is that seeing that pictures should make Kaity and Karen, who are both in their last trimesters of pregnancy, feel much better! And svelte.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dr. Phil needs to STFU

(And if you don't know what STFU means, I'm not going to be the one to tell you.)

I've given a lot of thought to my reaction to the mother of the Octuplets (plus the 6 kids she has at home), Nadia Suleman.

I get really cranky when anyone tries to compel a woman to do anything with her uterus, whether it's additive (as in the case of compelling a woman to complete a pregnancy that is unwanted, or is not likely to result in a live mother and a live baby) or subtractive (as in the case of China and their one-child policy). I don't think that, as Dr. Phil suggested a few minutes ago on his show, there should be legal limits on how many embryos a fertility doctor is allowed to implant. The Law can't know all the subtleties in every situation, and the medical community has standards and practices that address these issues, which are a lot easier to change than The Law. This system works. Decisions about fertility treatments should, like ALL decisions about medical care, be made in private, between a woman and her doctor.

When we start legislating what women can and can't do with their uteri, we get on that slippery slope that makes me very, very uncomfortable. Plus, the idea that women aren't smart enough or responsible enough to manage their own health (with the help of the doctors of their choice), that we need laws to think for us because we aren't able to think for ourselves or make our own decisions, offends the hell out of me.

The first test tube baby was born in 1978. In the 31 intervening years, only a few dozen cases of high-order multiple births have occurred (note that many of the examples on that site predate reproductive assistance). Clearly it is rare that the industry hasn't policed itself, with regard to high order multiples.

So, in short, no. I don't think that laws need to be changed in order to prevent this happening again.

A lot of people have called Ms. Suleman's decision making skills into question, including Dr. Phil who asserted (without ever having met her, I might add) that she had a "real problem" making decisions, and that she couldn't possibly understand what she has done.

I don't think that's necessarily true. I think that the fact that these are the longest-surviving octuplets in US history says a lot about the prenatal and medical care that Ms. Suleman must have obtained for herself and her children during pregnancy. So, she's capable of caring for herself and her children at that level, at least.

I think it's entirely possible, even likely, that Ms. Suleman is a deeply religious person who would have believed that "selective reduction" meant murdering her children. I have to admit that if I were to get pregnant with high order multiples, I would have a very, very difficult time doing selective reduction, myself. It would feel like Sophie's choice to me, and how could I choose which of my children gets to live and which dies? I think (although who really knows until she's in that situation!) I would probably imperil myself (a pregnancy like that is completed at great risk to the mother) to give my children a shot at life, and I would try to find a way to raise them - knowing that it would be extraordinarily hard, but also knowing that my own struggle was less important than my child's life, or my children's lives.

And I'm pro-choice. So I can see how the decision to selectively reduce would be even more devastating for someone who is pro-life (I don't know Ms. Suleman's stance on that particular issue, but I'm assuming that she's pro-life, given what I know about her religion and her family).

I understand the outrage of the taxpayers in California who don't want their tax dollars to go to support a "litter" of children that a single, unemployed mother couldn't possibly afford. But I think that Ms. Suleman is simply a scapegoat - everyone feels frustrated when they perceive that their tax dollars are being spent wastefully, but since we can't really vent our collective spleens at Congress (after all, look at CSPAN's ratings, that makes for boring television) we instead are parading this poor woman and her family in front of the media circus and venting our frustration at the wasted dollars in her direction. I read today that if they took the dollars in the bailout that they're currently kicking around Washington and paid it in $1 bills, laid end to end those bills would reach 87% of the average distance from the Earth to the Sun, or 7 light-minutes long. The distance that light travels over a period of 7 minutes, in other words. That's freakin' FAR people. That's a LONG string of dollar bills, so let's have a little perspective. Even if Ms. Suleman diapers all 14 of her children with hundred dollar bills and feeds them caviar and Crystal champagne at every meal, she's going to have a hard time spending the tiniest fraction of that amount of money. If you're pissed about wasted tax dollars, aim that east toward D.C., not west toward a single mom in California.

I also understand the frustration of the infertile community, a community whose Venn diagram crosses the Mommyblogger community with regularity. Infertile couples, particularly infertile women, face a lot of criticism from people who don't understand their choices already ("Why not just adopt?" being a frequent refrain), and women having octuplets and whining on TV about how they always wanted a brother or a sister, well, that's not going to help the public understand the infertile point of view, is it?

You know who I feel sorry for? Ms. Suleman's parents. Their only daughter is making choices that are going to affect their lives in a huge way. They have no hope of retiring, not with 14 grandchildren to help care for. And they won't be able to live with themselves if they turn their backs on their daughter and their grandkids, so they're stuck. And Ms. Suleman is saying that her decision to pursue extreme parenthood was their fault - if they'd just given her the sibling she always wanted, she would've been whole and not needed to have all these babies. That's got to sting.

I get really squirmy, though, when people say things like, "A single woman has no right to have that many kids!" or "If she's receiving government assistance (which apparently, she gets for 3 of her kids who have disabilities - it's not like it's food stamps, it's more like Social Security... but still, assistance), she shouldn't be allowed to have kids!" because I don't hold with the idea of any person or group of people saying, "You can have kids, but you can't." That's called eugenics, and Hitler was a big fan.

Let's say that women on public assistance can't have kids. Then what? Do we force women who are on welfare to have an abortion if they accidentally get pregnant? Or what if we make it illegal for single women to seek reproductive assistance to have one child? Two? After 3 kids? Four? Five? Where's the line? Who decides? Should women have to pass some kind of sanity test before they become parents? Who gets to decide what's on the test? I can say with certainty, having done it twice now, that no sane person would sit down and logically decide to have kids - they don't sleep, they cost a fortune, they strain your marriage (if you're in one), they strain your other relationships, they smell bad, they excrete a variety of foul and colorful substances... But the decision to have kids is rarely a logical one. You can't reason with the heart, or the instincts.

If this woman had a husband, one with sufficient earning potential, then she and her 14 kids would be applauded. She'd be trotted out by the pro-life people as a shining example of the kind of courage and selflessness that all mothers should have when faced with an unexpected pregnancy - and who would ever expect EIGHT babies? It doesn't get more unexpected than that, whether it's planned or not. She'd have a TV show like the Duggars.

Instead, she's getting beaten up on every channel. And I, frankly, feel sorry for her. She had been implanted with 6 embryos before, and those procedures had resulted in single pregnancies. She hit the pregnancy jackpot, this time, and I really do believe that it was unintentional (after watching part of her NBC interview). If I were better at math, I'd figure out the odds against six embryos implanting and two of them splitting into twins, but I'm a writer, not a mather, so I'll leave that to someone with a bigger calculator.

Do I think that she knew what she was signing on for when she declined selective reduction? No, probably not. But when I was pregnant with Mary Grace, I didn't know what I'd signed on for, either. I don't think that means, necessarily, that she has poor judgment or that she has "problems with decision making" as Dr. Phil asserted. Do I think that her life is going to be easy? Heck, no. Even if she gets money from every media outlet and every company wanting the advertising mojo in the world, she's still those kids' only parent, and she's going to have to give and give and give of herself for the rest of her life in a way that, frankly, I can't imagine. There will never be a minute's peace in her house until all of her kids are grown and gone, and even then, she'll probably end up raising at least one grandchild of her own (statistically, anyway). Am I going to give her any money? Nope. She's set up a website for donations, but I'm not interested, frankly. There are other causes that I care about more, and if I had money to give right now, I'd give to them.

But do I think that she deserves to be beaten up in the media? No (although she's probably bringing it upon herself, to a certain extent, agreeing to all these interviews and hiring publicists and stuff). Do I think that the laws need to change? No. Do I think the doctor needs to lose his license? Probably not, if the medical board in California reviews the records and he didn't violate any of their rules, then I see no reason why he should be punished.

I just hope that she can do what she hopes to do. I hope she can keep all of those kids fed and cared for. I hope she gets a lot of help and support from her family and her church, because she's sure going to need it. And I hope they keep an eye on her, because seriously - 14 small kids? That's a nervous breakdown waiting to happen.

But I don't begrudge her her choices, because I wouldn't want her to begrudge me mine.

Claire Says....

Last night as we sat down for dinner, Claire said, "I want s'more." "More what, Claire?" I asked, looking at her full plate. She pointed at the brown sugar I'd put out for the mashed sweet potatoes and said, "More sand!"


Blankets is pronounced "blank-uh-lets."


As I write this, Claire is sitting in one of my lower kitchen cabinets. BJ walked in the room and didn't realize she was there until she opened the door and said, "I in here."


Her term of endearment for everyone is "Wawa." She says, "Here ya go, Wawa!" to everyone. It is so cute.


Last night as I was combing MG's hair, and MG was screaming, Claire came over and said, "Hers ok?"


Of course, I've already told you that she calls my dad, "Bumpa."


She calls Mary Grace, "Ister." She can say "Mary Grace," sort of, but she prefers to call her "Ister."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Current Events with MG

Mommy: I want to talk to you about something. There's a lady in California who had 8 babies all at one time. What do you think about that?

MG: I want to see the new babies when I go there. That's cool Mommy. That's cool. I want to go there and see the 8 babies.

Mommy: Don't you think it would be a lot of work, though?

MG: Um, no, it won't be a lot of work there.

Mommy: Do you think Mommy should have 8 babies all at once?

MG: Yes! Yes! How about 10 babies!? You should have 10 babies! I can't wait for my 10 babies. How 'bout you have 10?

Mommy: Ok, but who's going to change their diapers?

MG: You are! All at the same time! They can be with Claire together.

Mommy: Don't you think that would be a lot of work?

MG: Yes!

Mommy: Do you think that it would cost a lot of money to have 8 babies?

MG: No it won't!

Mommy: How much do you think it would cost?

MG: 10 to get 10 babies.

Mommy: So it's like Kroger - 10 for $10?

MG: When your ten babies want their diaper changed, you have to do one and two and three and four...

Mommy: Do you think 8 babies would sleep very much?

MG: Yes. Because Claire would share her bed with them.

Mommy: What if they cried?

MG: Well, they won't. They won't.

Mommy: What do you think they're going to do for fun?

MG: Well, I don't know. I think they will play.

Mommy: Toys for 8 babies would cost a lot of money. Where would they get toys?

MG: From their Mommy. How 'bout I can have one baby with a purple suit.

Mommy: You don't want the other seven babies?

MG: Five comes after four, silly.

Mommy: What do you think about the elections in Israel?

MG: That's good.

Mommy: Did you watch President Obama on TV tonight?

MG: No, I didn't.

Mommy: Why not?

MG: Because it's too annoying.

Mommy: What do you think about the weather? Do you like the weather lately?

MG: No, it's freakin' me out. I want to skate. I need to practice. I need tickets. Could you get tickets?

Mommy: We have tickets to go see Seussical this weekend.

MG: Who is Seussical?

Mommy: It's a musical about Dr. Seuss. Does that sound fun?

MG: Yeah, now would you turn on Olivia for me?

Hello Monday

I am really looking forward to Valentine's day for the first time in my life.

I've had a Valentine for the past decade, plus, so it hasn't just been sour grapes on my part. Valentine's day has just never been that big a deal for me. We've had nice times on Valentine's day, including a memorable night at the Japanese Hibachi restaurant where we were seated with a bunch of kids who were on their way to a dance, and it snowed 6 inches while we were eating. We laughed a lot, and when we all left (together) we got into a snowball fight in the parking lot. Good times. But Valentine's day is not the kind of holiday that I've ever looked forward to with breathless anticipation...

Until this year.

This year, the kids are going to spend the night at their Uncle Brandon's. Mary Grace has asked me every single morning since we told her, about a week ago, whether or not today is Valentine's day because she is so excited to go spend the night with Lucy and Jane. BJ and I are going out for dinner at a restaurant that takes reservations and lacks a children's menu. Then we're going to go to a movie (probably Inkheart, unless Fan Boys happens to open here by then).

We're able to sneak away for a real date every couple of months. In fact, we just went to a wedding on January 24 together, and the kids stayed with my cousin Kelly and aunt Kathryn...

Here's photographic evidence:

Look at how relaxed we are! That's what we look like when we're not chasing children. And the glow in my cheeks is what happens when I'm about four glasses deep in the Cabernet.

Life is a Cabernet, old chum. Life is a Cabernet.

Anyway... This Saturday I plan on wearing that red dress, getting deep into the Cabernet again, and feeling like a person instead of a mommy for a night. I can hardly wait!

Between now and then, though, there's a lot to do. MG is student of the day at school on Wednesday, so we have to take snack and show and tell. They have a party on Friday for Valentine's day, so we have to contribute something for that as well, and we have to make Valentines for the 16 kids in her class. I need to get to Walmart today for groceries and supplies (but Claire's still sick, so I'm not sure how we're going to pull that off). I probably also need an idea for the Valentines... Surely there will be something cute at Wally World. I need to get the application filled out for next year's preschool. I need to work Tuesday and Friday... It seems like about a million years before the weekend, with all the stuff I need to cram in.

But the anticipation is part of the fun.

I just hope this cold goes away by Saturday.

Bumpa's on his way over to watch the kids while I go to Wally World (YAY!) so that'll help with the to-do list. I need to make a quick list.

What are your plans for the week?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Make Your Own Fun

When you're stuck at home because everyone has a cold, sometimes you get bored and have to make your own fun. One of my favorite things to do is to call people, put the cordless phone on "speaker," and hand it to one of the kids, then listen as the person I called tries to figure out what's going on. It never fails to crack me up.

Victim: Hello?
Claire: Hel-LO!
Victim: Amy?
Claire: Jumpolee! Jumpolee?
Victim: Mary Grace, is that you?
Claire: Knock knock!
Victim: Who's there?
Claire: Broccoli!
Victim: Hi Claire! Broccoli who?
Mary Grace: I went to the museum and to the McDonald's to play in the tubes, and when I am four I am going to go to the Eiffelberg Tower.
Victim: Claire?
Mary Grace: No, this is Mary Grace...
Victim: Hi Mary Grace, how are you?
Claire: Jumpolee! Jumpolee! JUMPOLEE!!!
Victim: Is that Claire?
Mary Grace: Sometimes I like to read books and sometimes I like to play trains and tomorrow it's going to be summer and we're going to go to the beach.
Victim: I don't think it's going to be summer tom...
Claire: Broccoli! Broccoli! BROC CO LEEEE!!!
Victim: Where's your mommy?
Mary Grace: Last year when I was little, my mom and my sister and Lucy and Jane and Justine and I went to the beach and we got sand all OVER!
Claire: Max! Sit down!
Victim: Ok, can I talk to Mommy now?
Mary Grace: Want to hear my new song? (sings loudly and unintelligibly)
Claire: (sings even more loudly and unintelligibly)

See how much fun that is? I think you need to get yourself a kid so that you can play this game with your friends and relatives too!

In other news, it took me until 10:50 to get the kids to bed tonight, so I'm going to google the recipe for a hot toddy (I made mine with lots of tea instead of a little hot water, Scotch, because that's what I have on hand, lemon and honey... Just needed the proportions).

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Hab a Code

This is a public service announcement:

If you ever have a cold, and you feel yourself about to sneeze, and you think, "Gee, my left nostril is pretty clear, I'm going to hold it shut when I sneeze and see if I can clear the right nostril..." stop immediately and smack yourself.

What will actually happen is you will wonder for a couple of hours whether or not you still have eardrums. Your eyes will pop out, too, but thankfully be held in by the strength of your eyelids. It will not clear your right nostril, and, in fact, your left nostril will immediately clog up in sympathy with the rest of your now-highly-pressurized head.

Don't say I didn't warn you. I can't believe it took me 32 years to figure this one out.

Toy Storage

The toys are taking over everything. I'm online looking for good ideas for toy storage. Suggestions welcome!!

The kids and I have a cold, so we canceled everything and we're taking it easy today. Mary Grace is mad that I won't let her play with a tape measure. 10,000 toys, and they want to play with tape measures, pots and pans, etc. She's upstairs slamming doors to express her disapproval, and since I'm ignoring her, she's going to stand on the stairs and scream at me.


I guess I should probably go take care of that. Anyway, please leave great ideas in the comments, before I just lose it and throw everything out onto the lawn.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stories Everywhere

Mary Grace is doing a new language study at the university. Since Claire does better in the waiting room (where there are toys) than in the observation room (where I can watch what MG's doing on the closed-circuit television), we stay in the waiting room for the hour it takes MG to complete the study. (The researcher says that she is a very hard worker, by the way, and that she is very focused on the tasks at hand, and doesn't require as much redirection as expected for her age... Cool, huh?)

I took my book with me today, but I never got a chance to open it. The first woman I talked to was there for speech therapy with her daughter, and her 3 year old son who weighed 45 pounds was giving her a hard time. He was a TANK, and I was thinking how exhausting it would be to lug a kid that size around all day. We had a nice little chat about the various illnesses that have gone around this winter (I'm coming down with a cold), and the weather.

Then another woman came in, with another 3 year old boy. He was more average sized. She, however, was not an average mom. She had him when she was 49 years old! Yes, this poor woman was 52, dealing with a toddler. Her only other child, another son, is 26. And apparently her husband is no help - she said that he's a 400 pound corrections officer, and she treats her and her son more like inmates than family, and it really sounded like she was going to leave him soon.

Can you imagine being a single mother of a toddler in your fifties?

She left, after her husband called and gave her a hard time because her son was giving her a hard time about leaving (he would rather have stayed to play with the toys than go home with his dad, and from what I heard, I can't blame him). Then I struck up a conversation with an 81 year old woman. She had three children, one of whom had been killed at age 21 (in the 1970s) in a stone crusher - apparently it had clogged and he and another guy went in to unclog it, while someone in the control room, unaware that there were people inside, turned it back on. They were both killed. I asked about her husband, they had met after he returned from World War II, he was 17 years older than she was. She told me that after the war ended everyone went to Indianapolis to celebrate in the streets, but it was raining, and their paper shoes disintegrated in the rain.

Paper shoes?

"Oh yes, there was no leather to be had. Everything went to the soldiers. We made our shoes out of layers of paper. They worked pretty well, until they got wet!" she laughed.

"It must be hard for you to listen to people my age whine and complain about the economy and how bad things are right now, when you've had paper shoes and lived through real hard times," I said. "I'll bet you just want to smack us!"

"Honey, people your age have no idea," she said. "I've eaten things you would never eat - ground hog and squirrel - because I had to. I would eat them again, if I had to. But people your age, you wouldn't eat squirrel."

"We wouldn't have the first clue how to catch them!" I said.

"No, the hard times are going to get worse, and people my age will be all right, but I worry about you young folks."

"We could learn a lot from your generation," I agreed. "We're soft. Everything we've ever needed has been available, on the shelves in stores, and if we don't have the money we put it on a credit card!"

"I don't hold with credit cards," she said. "Once someone gives you money, they own you."

We chatted a bit more. She said that her grandfather had fought in the Revolutionary War. Of course she meant the Civil War, she was a bit confused. I never did find out why she was there.

Maybe simply to remind me that there are stories all around us, not just between the covers of books, if we care to hear them.

After she left, I turned to the man (my age) who had entered the waiting room as she and I were talking. "It seems to be my day for stories - I spoke to a woman who had a baby when she was nearly 50, and then to that lady, who really should write a book... What's your story?"

He didn't have one - he was just waiting for the results of his hearing screen. Mary Grace was back, anyway, and it was time to go to lunch.

People tell me the darndest things - things they'd probably never tell their friends or their therapists - in passing conversations. I guess it's sort of a gift. I really don't think of myself as a particularly good listener, but there's something about me that makes people share things with me. Is it my face? Is it my voice? Are they trying to get in my book? Or is it simply that I ask?

What's your story?

Shhh! Mommy's Reading

Jennifer at Playgroups are No Place for Children kindly sent me the first book in the Twilight series, and now I'm on the fourth. This could explain several things - 1) why my house is a mess, 2) why I haven't posted, 3) why I have 302 items in my feed reader to read and 10 e-mails to reply to, 4) why I have a headache.

Reading 2000 pages in less than a week will do that to you.

But reading is distracting me from the other thing I want to do, which you know about if you need to, and you don't need to know about if you don't (or if you're one of my kids reading this in the distant future)... so it's good.

I need to get the kids dressed, though, and take them to MG's new language study at the University. I forgot about it last week. I was reading. Whoops. I think missing appointments due to reading is indicative of a problem, don't you?

The good news is that I'm in the last part of the last book, so things should return to normal around here very shortly.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I'm at the office right now (shhh... don't tell BJ) but I realized that I haven't posted since Sunday, and if I don't I'm going to start getting e-mails, so here I am.

Hi. What's new?

The status around here is quo. Claire's getting her two year molars, which is about as much fun as you'd expect. Mary Grace is in an annoying phase and I find myself wanting to wring her neck more often than I'm comfortable with. It's a lot of boundary pushing and baby talk and crying and whining, oh God the whining. I don't give in, but it's very difficult to live with. We've been sending her to her room lately, rather than listening to her cry over the stupidest things... Ugh. She's a total drama queen.

Anyone who knew me as a child is laughing right now. It's SO not funny. And if you don't stop I'm going to stomp off and slam a door! Hee...

For example, this morning when I dropped off Allison and the kids, Mary Grace cried and clung to me. She hasn't done that since she was one year old - literally. It's like she's regressing, and I honestly don't know what to do about it. She loves Allison. Allison has been a part of our lives since MG turned one. There's no reason for her to cry and whine and cling to me. I just don't get it. She doesn't make any sense.

Just thinking about it makes me need to go find some chocolate. I'm working today, and enjoying the peace and quiet at the office. My dad's bringing dinner over tonight, which will be fun. Maybe I can sneak away while he plays with the kids - think he'd notice? Or, a better question, how far do you think BJ and I could get before he notices?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Check us out!

Click the link above and take a look at pages 119 through the end.