Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Retrospective

January

February

March

April
May
June

July
August
September

October

November

December

Happy 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lucky Day!

I got an email a while back that I needed to return my old 1st Generation iPod Nano to Apple because the batteries were blowing up or something.  So I did a little research, learned that it was legit, put my serial number into the website, qualified for the return, and sent my iPod off to be replaced by a refurbished iPod.

I received the replacement today.

It's the brand new, 6th Generation Nano with twice as much memory as my original had.  SCORE!

Thanks, Apple!  You are a class act!

In other news, I decided I could no longer deal with the leftover Christmas chaos that was everywhere (the usual laundry pile up, new clothes waiting to be washed because of three kids with sensitive skin, gifts still in boxes waiting to find a home, toys EVERYWHERE, cookies and candy EVERYWHERE, etc.) and I went on a tear this morning.  I got a bunch of laundry done, cleaned our room and Jack's room, and put a heck of a lot of stuff away.  BJ cleaned the kitchen (what a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man!).  So I'm feeling much more sane now.  Am I the only one who goes a little insane when the house gets above a certain threshold of messiness?

We need to find a toy box for Jack's room.  We bought him an airplane themed bedroom (a lamp, a "ceiling sculpture" which is a mobile for big kids, wall decals, curtains, sheets) for Christmas, so I'm hoping to find (make? Hahaha...) something that will go along with the theme.  Add that to the list of things to Google, after I get done looking at Nano accessories (lanyard or watch?  Hmmmm...).  Oh hey, it looks like this:



...only we didn't get all the stuff because that would be ridiculous.  For one thing, crib bumpers aren't safe.  For another, he doesn't need a cutesy hanging thing for diapers, and babies don't need quilts and he doesn't sit in chairs...  But that gives you the general idea if you want to shop along at home and leave comments about an appropriate toy box that I should buy (with links, please!).

The dog is driving BJ insane.  I'm sitting here waiting for him to put her through a wall.  He's trying to read something and she's trying to eat his hands and feet.  If it weren't so damn cold I'd take her for a walk.  While I was editing just now, she unplugged the lamps in the living room. Seriously.

The kids need to go back to school.  Long breaks are ridiculous.  They get SO bored, even with major holidays and tons of new stuff involved.  I don't know what we're going to do this summer.  Summer break is the worst idea ever.  We had a playdate today, thank goodness.  I think we're going to take them bowling tomorrow afternoon.  It was awesome when the kids could take the dog for a walk, but sadly she's growing faster than they are, and it's no longer safe for anybody.

Grandpa Bob watched the kids last night so that BJ and I could go see the new Sherlock Holmes movie.  It was fun!  It had been a long time since we'd been on a date.

Ok, I have many things to Google, and a dog that needs some attention.  How are your winter holidays proceeding?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

It's past one in the morning and I'm too jazzed to sleep, because the kids are going to have so much fun tomorrow!

Merry Christmas, I hope you're jazzed about something too. Love to you all!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Jack's Birthday Party

We had a wonderful time at Jack's birthday party today, and then at Grandpa Bob's for an early family Christmas celebration.

My friend Monica, as she was leaving, remarked that her parents don't have siblings in this country, and that her husband's an only child and his mother's an only child, so they're not used to big family get-togethers.  It got me thinking, again, just how lucky our kids are to be so surrounded by so many people who really love them.  They have relationships with their aunts and uncles, as well as many great-aunts and uncles, second cousins, in-laws and out-laws.  There were many more people I would have loved to have seen today, even though our house would've burst at the seams.

I'll make no apologies for being inclusive when it comes to our family.  Sure, it would be easier to just have a family party with BJ and the kids and a little cake from the grocery store, but it's the times when we come together as a family to celebrate each other - to cheer each other on; to applaud each other; to bear witness to a milestone like a birth or a birthday, or a marriage or even a death - that shape and define our lives.  With each party, I'm teaching my kids, "Family matters."  I'm giving them deep, strong roots, so that they can grow tall and reach high.  Actually, I take that back, everyone who loves them is giving them those roots. I'm just the one sending out the invites and bringing the snacks.

I love celebrating my kids' birthdays with the same aunts and uncles that came to my birthdays growing up.  I love watching my kids play with their cousins and second cousins and twelfth cousins.  I hope that when they're grown, they'll still want their aunts and uncles to come and watch their great-nieces and great-nephews blow out their birthday candles.  Won't that be something?




Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday Jack

Dear Jack,


How is it possible that you're a year old already?  It's so hard to believe that a whole year has gone by.  But then I look at pictures of you when you were new, all covered with bruises and teeny tiny, and I look at pictures of you now, and I think, "How did he grow so much in one short year?"


December 18, 2010


December 15, 2011
You are such a sweet little boy, and everyone loves you.  We have a record number of people coming to your birthday party tomorrow.  I'm honestly not sure where we're going to put everyone.  It's going to be so much fun!

You love to smile and wave at people when we go out.  You flirt - it's the cutest thing - you go all eyelashes and dimples and grin and look down with this, "Aw, shucks," expression that melts hearts.  You don't "make strange" as one little old lady put it when I let her hold you.  You go to everyone, whether you know them or not, with a big smile and an open heart.  I think that says a lot about your personality, and the way you're going to be as you grow up.


Birthday Boy!
We gave you your presents just a little while ago.  A dump truck with blocks that's bigger than you are, a shape sorting bucket, and a Glow Worm.  We went easy, because Christmas is right around the corner, and because you're just as happy playing bowls on the kitchen floor as you are with toys.  We're (finally) decorating your room for Christmas, too.  We decided to go with an airplane theme.  I'm pretty sure you're going to love it.  You love to travel (lots of new people to flirt with in airports!).  We've gone on three plane trips this year (two to Florida and one to Louisiana) and you were awesome on all the flights.  


Rah Rahs!
You love your sisters so much.  No one can make you laugh they way they do.  When we went on trips without them (twice), you really missed them.  Whenever you heard kids, you'd smile and try to find them.  I could tell you were looking for your "Rah rahs."


It seems like no matter how bad you feel, you always have a smile to share.  We got your one-year shots yesterday, and you slept for a record number of hours last night (you went to bed at 8 pm, then woke up at 9 something, and then slept until 6 am!), and even though you must have felt poorly, to do that, you were still cheerful yesterday for the whole day.  You're a tough little guy!  When your reflux is bothering you or you get plowed over by a sister or the puppy, you might fuss about it for a minute but you go right back to your usual sunny self really quickly.


Your favorite toy for playing is:  Mommy's rainbow mixing bowls - you push them around the kitchen and make a lot of wonderful noise

Your favorite toy for snuggling is: the puppy crib toy who sings and whose nose lights up 

Your favorite food is: banana

Your favorite book is: SMILE!  A book we got for keeping your sister's well-baby appointments.  It's just a bunch of baby faces smiling, but you smile right back at them.

Your favorite activity is: crawling

Your favorite place to go is: anywhere with lots of people

Your best friend is: your "Rah Rahs" (sisters)

Something new that you're doing: standing up on your own

Something you've mastered: flirting

Something people say about you: "Look at that curly hair!"

Something that you're saying is: shaking your head "no no no," the sign for "more," waving hello and goodbye, "Mama," "Dada," "Rah rah."

Something Dad and I are proud of you for: you are working really hard at being a better sleeper

Something surprising about you: you LOVE music, especially your magic song, "Magic," by Ben Folds


We love you so much, Jack!  It's hard to believe that my baby, my last baby, is already a whole year old.  Please don't grow up too fast.  But you can keep sleeping all night, if you want to, that was pretty nice.


Love,
Mommy





Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jack with Santa


And he's NOT screaming! That's a first!
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Karen and Jim's kids with our kids and Santa


Karen and I met when we were pregnant with Mary Grace and Owen. Then we were pregnant with Claire and Cameron at the same time. Then she skipped ahead and had Kade. Then we were pregnant with Jack and Laney at the same time. 7 kids in six years. It's the best kind of chaos when we get everyone together. I love them like they're my own.
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Claire and Santa

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Mary Grace and Santa

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sleep: Lack Thereof

Wow, I've neglected you all for almost a week.  That sounds about right.  After Jack basically stopped sleeping for more than an hour and a half at a time for the entire month of November, we decided that BJ will be the only parent on duty from 7 pm to 7 am.  We started this Monday night.

You can only imagine how much not-sleeping has been going on in this house ever since.  Because even though I'm not on duty, I'm laying awake feeling guilty while Jack cries, or while I wait for BJ to come back to bed.

I am getting more rest than I was, and my old personality is starting to come back, but it's going to take time.  It got so bad that the cashier the other day said, "Are you ok?" when she looked at me.  I said, "Yeah, I'm just tired."  It was 9 am.

I won't bore you with the rest of the details, but I just took this sleep quiz and got 44%.  I'm flunking sleep.

As you can imagine, this situation is not conducive to creativity.  We're still here, we're mostly fine.  We're getting ready for Christmas (a scaled-back, more reasonable version of Christmas, this year, which will hopefully prevent me from getting all crazy like I normally do).

I guess I'm not going to win that award for most compelling blogger this year.  Oh well.  Sometimes life gets in the way.  Right now I'm trying to keep Jack from eating toys while trying to inspire the girls to actually clean up their crap in the family room, so that maybe BJ and I can watch a movie tonight after the kids go to bed.  And I need to start dinner.  Fascinating stuff, here, internet.  How are you?

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'll Bet They're Crunchy

For several years I've subscribed to the Food Network's 12 days of cookies email, where for the first 12 days of December you get a cookie recipe a day, delivered straight to your inbox, for free.

Day 1 was interesting.  The email's subject line was "Ina Garten's Shortbread Cookies."  I was all, "Huh??" I clicked through and quickly scanned the ingredients list, looking for ingredients like blue cohosh and placenta.  It appeared to be a completely normal recipe, much to my surprise.  Then I realized...

I was thinking of Ina May Gaskin, famous midwife and homebirth advocate, not Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa.

Ina May Gaskin - probably makes terrible cookies

Ina Garten - probably didn't give birth on a farm
But if Ina May ever starts making cookies, I have the perfect cookie cutter for her!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

People of Walmart

No one should try to do Walmart with 3 kids without a Grandpa!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wintery Mix

It's been sraining, or maybe rowing?  Anyway, it's been raining and snowing most of the day here, and I was craving REAL hot cocoa - the kind made with milk and Hershey's cocoa and sugar and vanilla on the stove when I got home from a treacherous drive back from my friend Monica's house...

(I just have to stop, here, and tell you all how grateful I am for such wonderful friends who take such good care of me.  I have so many awesome women in my life who hold me up when I'm feeling weak, and who help me out in so many ways.  I hope I deserve all of you, and I hope that I manage to repay all your kindness, someday, when I'm getting sleep again...)

Anyway, the cocoa.  So I was making it, and I thought, "You know what this needs??" and I got crazy, or what passes for crazy when you're a 35 year old married mother of three, and I threw in a tablespoon of white chocolate chips and a tablespoon of semisweet chocolate chips.  I let those melt, and I topped my cup with whipped cream left over from Thanksgiving and a little cinnamon/sugar mix sprinkled on top.

Good heavens, it was almost as good as rum.

Baby just woke up...  *sigh*

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Post Thanksgiving Update

Sorry for the quietude, lately. It's been busy around here. We hosted Thanksgiving, but I outsourced nearly everything, including the cleaning!, and had lots of help so it was pretty stress-free.

The girls both spiked fevers the next day. Mary Grace really gave this virus her all, with an axillary temperature of 104(OMGWTFBBQ, indeed!!!). I've always taken axillary (armpit) temps because I figure that if they need the temp to be rectally accurate, they're probably in the hospital. You just add a degree - normal is 97.6. Well. That theory apparently falls apart somewhere around 103.

I called our doctor, who was on call this weekend, which never actually coincides with when we're sick, so that was a holiday miracle, and he said we could treat her at home. Blew my mind. I thought anything that high was a first class ticket to the ER.

Ibuprofen brought it down, but we have stayed close to home this weekend, only venturing out last night for more Christmas lights and dinner with Grandpa Bob. He and Grandpa Ben were here Friday, too, for all the virussy fun and bonus turkey.

Bonus turkey is what happens when I decide that we bought a small bird that was more JLo than Dolly, so the white meat was gone by Friday lunch, and the oil for the frying was about 4x the cost of the turkey, so what really makes sense is to buy another fresh turkey (on sale!!) and then ANOTHER turkey (for Christmas - 59 cents a pound!) and deep fry them both (well, we will do the Christmas one later, I froze it) to spread our oil costs out over 3 birds. So we had turkey again on Friday. I'm going to freeze some of it.

Finally, Penny somehow scratched her cornea, so she has antibiotics and a cone of shame. She is actually a lot more pleasant with the cone. If she steals a toy, she can't run under the chair or the table with it because the cone gets stuck. She's kind of depressed about it, so she sort of just lays around and looks pathetic most of the time, which is an improvement. We might keep the cone.

Hope your holidays were stress-free, healthy, and with just the right amount of shame and depression to keep everyone in line.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What the what?

My dad lives 6 houses down the street, which is AWESOME this time of year, because it's like having an extra fridge and an extra oven, as long as you don't mind a chilly walk in between houses.

Sunday night I awarded him temporary custody of our Thanksgiving turkey so it could thaw.

We deep fry our turkey (the first year we did this, I got a hilarious call from my sister, urging us not to deep fry the turkey.  I assured her that her rocket-scientist-brother-in-law was accustomed to dealing with much more hazardous chemicals on a regular basis, and not to worry.  It became clear over the course of the conversation that she thought we were going to deep fry the turkey inside the house.   This is why non-rocket-scientists should not deep fry turkies!) so it's essential that it is completely thawed.  If there's a frozen spot, you'll end up with explosive outgassing, as they say in rocket science, and that's bad.

Due to the mission critical nature of the proper thawing, I just sent my dad the following text:


Can you grope the turkey and make sure it's gonna be thawed for tomorrow?



Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sleepless

It's 4 am. 4/5 of us are awake. I am so tired of tired.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sleep, Part Deux

Since my last post I've been working really hard at getting Jack down for naps and bed at consistent times, based on this book that Monica recommended.  He gets up at 7, goes down for nap at 9:30, sleeps about 45 minutes, back down again at 1:30, sleeps around an hour and a half, and goes to bed at 7 pm.

I figure once he's sleeping consistently at consistent times, maybe I'll be able to work on having him fall asleep on his own instead of with so very much assistance from me and my magical Benadryl boobies.  Because right now, the kid can't sleep without the magic boobies, and he's waking up every 2 hours or so to remind me how very much he loves them.

I am so very tired.


It is exceptionally difficult to be consistent and still have any kind of a life.


A lot of people moan and groan when their kids give up naps, but I LOVE the freedom of not having to plan my day around someone's sleep, and not being stuck in the house for hour upon boring hour with an unconscious kid.  I have a lot of inertia - if we have to be home for nap until 3 pm, I have a hard time motivating to do anything after that.  BJ will be home in a couple hours.... I need to make dinner.... The internet is so damn interesting......

I told BJ that I feel like I do all the work of raising these kids, so that other people get to enjoy them, but I never get to enjoy them.

It'll get better.  It will get easier, I know.  I know they grow up and they get big and soon I won't even remember how hard and how banal it all was, because I'll be crying as he runs to catch the school bus for Kindergarten.  I know.

But right now it's really hard, and I'm really tired.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Needed: Nocturnal Nanny

Jack is still sick.  So am I.  So is BJ.  We've had to cancel all kinds of fun plans this week, with all kinds of fun people, and it's getting extremely old.  I skipped a good friend's baby shower, because I didn't want to risk giving the mom-to-be influenza (which is what I suspect this might be, given the duration and the symptoms, unless we just have two different virii - one head cold and one stomach bug - that we're passing around and around and around).

The last two nights, Jack has decided to be awake for HOURS in the middle of the night.  Friday night, he was up from like 11:30 to 2:30.  Bright eyed, bushy tailed, completely disinterested in sleep.  Last night it was more like 10:15 to 12:30.  Same thing.  Happy go lucky baby.

We haven't changed anything in the whole evening routine.  He's just not sleeping.  And although one would think that missing several hours of sleep would result in exceptionally good naps the next day, one would be sorely disappointed.

I googled, of course, and it seems that when a baby is starting to walk they tend to do this.  I'd imagine that it's some combination of learning to walk/not getting as much activity during they day because everyone is sick/being sick himself/painful ears?/possible teeth?/trying to drive Mommy and Daddy insane with sleep deprivation.

My friend Monica has been recommending The Sleep Lady, and I'm almost desperate enough to drop the $50 to get her ebook (Seriously?!?! Way to take advantage of desperate parents, Sleep Lady!  I'll bet you're laughing all the way to the bank!).  Monica's daughter is 2 weeks younger than Jack, she sleeps in her own crib from 7 pm - 7 am, and she does not require "nursing down" the way Jack does (and the girls did when they were babies).  I've seen it - they put her in her crib and she walks around for a minute, then lays down with her little tush in the air and goes to sleep.  It's like a miracle.

We need a miracle in this house.  After 7 years of sleep deprivation, I'm at the end of my fragile little rope.


Friday, November 4, 2011

I Need To Be More Specific

I had just ended a call with my friend Colleen, mother of 5, because I needed to locate Mary Grace.  I was pretty sure that she had taken the dog for a walk down to Grandpa's house, as I had instructed, but since she had been gone half an hour and I hadn't heard from her, Grandpa, or the dog, I figured I'd better look into it.  Meanwhile, Claire and Jack were playing in the living room.

When you talk to another mom, you expect to have the conversation interrupted, on both ends, by directions and redirections for the kids.  It just happens.  Small people can't be left unsupervised for more than 3 seconds at a time, and something about Mom being on the phone makes them (or at least mine) lose their tiny minds.

When my dad answered, I asked, "Is that Mary Grace I hear in the background?"

"No, that's Penny," Dad said, and I let go of the breath I had unconsciously started to hold.

"Ok, I just wanted to check, since I hadn't heard anything," I said, as I noticed Claire doing the potty dance.  I didn't even pause as I told her to "GO TO THE BATHROOM RIGHT NOW."

"Right here in the kitchen?" Dad replied.

LOL, Dad, LOL.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Drugs Are Bad, Mmmkay?

Jack has an upper respiratory infection and a double ear infection.  On his post-visit summary, it said he could have Tylenol and Ibuprofen for pain and fever, and Robitussin or Robitussin-DM for his cough.  Awesome.  Except they didn't list any of the doses.  I asked for the Tylenol and Ibuprofen doses at the beginning of the visit, because he breached 20 pounds and I thought that was the level where they went up.  But I hadn't thought to ask for Robitussin.  The doctor didn't mention it.

So I did what I've always done since they took the doses off of the packages - I called the pharmacy.  "I'm sorry, Ma'am," she said, "I can't give out dosing information anymore."

Terrific.

I'm lucky to have insurance and to go to doctors who are part of a large network in my town - so I know that I can call the main number after business hours and talk to the on-call pediatrician.  I wonder what the 50 million Americans who don't have health insurance are supposed to do for their sick kids?  Guess?  How is that keeping children safe??

And I have had to wait up to an hour for a call back from the on-call doctor.  Time flies when you're having fun, but time slows to a snail's pace when you've got a sick screaming baby in the middle of the night.

Sure, I could do the math - 20 pounds of kid, X mg per pound, Y mg per teaspoon.  So you multiply 20 by X to get the amount they need, and divide that number by Y to get the number of teaspoons (or the fraction of teaspoons).  Right?  I get it.  But a frazzled parent with a screaming sick baby should not be forced to do algebra in the middle of the night.

I could also Google, but I don't think it's a very bright idea to trust my kids' livers to Dr. Google, do you?

I've heard various reasons why the dosing information has disappeared.  One explanation is that it's to prevent overdose.  I don't understand this logic at all.  "A bunch of parents gave their kids too much of this medicine, so rather than tell you how much is safe, we're going to make you guess/call around and wait up to an hour for an answer/do algebra."  Um, or you could tell me the safe amount, because I am a good parent, and the parents who suck are going to overdose their kid whether it's on the package or not.

I think the real reason is liability, and that seriously pisses me off.  Kids are suffering because companies don't want to risk getting sued when some moron with a 6th grade education misreads the label and gives her kid 1/4 cup instead of a 1/4 teaspoon.  The problem with our society is that somehow the drug manufacturer is liable for stupid parents' mistakes.


Look, kids get sick.  And my philosophy on medication has always been, "If I'd take medicine (Tylenol, etc.) for something similar (toothache, cold, etc.) then I'm going to give it to my baby if s/he has the same thing!"  I never had any plans to keep their bodies pure and free of medicine.  Medicine, when used properly, is an amazing benefit to being a modern parent.  Can you imagine what it must have been like for parents 100 years ago, before they had fever reducers, to watch their kids suffer and not be able to do anything for them?  Horrible!  I've heard parents of school aged kids say, proudly, "Oh, little Snowflake has never had any medication in his little life!"  Guess what, sister, there's no medal for that when your kid reaches age 18, and to me it sounds like little Snowflake has spent a lot of time needlessly suffering.

While we're overhauling this system, let's standardize the doses, ok?  If Jack gets 1/4 tsp of Robitussin, he should also take 1/4 tsp of Benadryl, 1/4 tsp of Tylenol, and 1/4 tsp of Ibuprofen.  And let's lose the whole tsp/ml/cc thing.  Pick one.  Stick to it.  For Pete's sake.  Better yet, let's make it by age - 1 cc for one year olds, 2 ccs for 2 year olds, 3 ccs for 3 year olds!  Or 1 tsp, I don't care, just pick one and be done with the conversions.

We've got to deal with this dosing stuff, because it's a real problem.  I have three kids.  I may be able to remember song lyrics to songs I haven't heard in 15 years, but I can't keep the doses for everything straight for all three kids.  Especially when they're constantly changing as the kids grow.  And if the currently available decongestants aren't safe for kids under 6, could someone please develop some that are safe?  Preferably today, if possible?


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo

It's November 1, which means today's the annual day I feel guilty about not writing a novel this month. It's a thing, for those of you who don't read too much internet like I do, where a bunch of people get together and try to write novels of significant length in a month.  I don't know why they chose November, because it's the second-busiest month of the year.  No one consulted me.  I have three kids and a puppy and a business.  It's just not time, for me.  Maybe next year.

How many more years can I keep saying that, before I run out of next years?

It's also NaBloPoMo, which means National Blog Posting Month - we're supposed to post at least once a day, every day, for the entire month of November.  Typically that's achievable, for me, but lately I've been kind of quiet, haven't I?  Everyone keeps getting sick.  I barely have time to brush my teeth.

Excuses, excuses.  But they won't be little, forever, right?  Someday.....

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

This was yesterday. Jack stayed home tonight in his jammies with a fever of 101.7. Send wine!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

There May Be Hope

Claire got sick to her stomach yesterday morning and spent most of the morning on the couch feeling poorly. Then this happened.


There may be hope for this dog*.

Also, this, just because he's adorable.


Mary Grace got to go to a birthday party at the zoo. She held a hedgehog and petted an armadillo. I didn't get photos, though. She has reached the age where parents don't stay for parties anymore. Sunrise, sunset, etc.

Pumpkin carving today.  I'm hoping to convince them that doing it with a Sharpie is as much fun.  Pumpkin guts are disgusting.

*Don't worry, Jen, we don't let her on the couch unless she's actively being therapeutic.  :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Home

I made it home yesterday afternoon just in time to watch my to-do list odometer flip from 999,999 to 1,000,000 things to do.  My to-do list is magic, because every time I check off one thing, two pop up to replace it.

Maybe I need to stop checking things off.

I have a sinus thing going on, so I have to blow my nose every 11 seconds.

I yelled at the kids tonight because they were misbehaving at bedtime, and it took an hour and a half to put Jack to bed, but only 20 minutes after I finally broke down and gave him Tylenol.

We met with our life insurance guy today, and I think he is trying to sell us way too much insurance.  As in, well over seven figures worth of insurance.  How many kids do you have, and how much life insurance do you have?  How did you arrive at that number?

According to the same insurance guy, if we want to have enough money to put all of our kids through a state school, like Purdue or Indiana University, we have to start saving $2000 a month.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

If I had an extra $2000 a month lying around, I wouldn't live in this house.

We're absolutely screwed if they want to go to Notre Dame or some Ivy League thing.

I don't understand how we're ever going to be able to make college happen, ever.

I have already started teaching the kids that if they get (and use) a full ride scholarship to any university, Mommy will buy them a car.  (No fair getting a full ride to State U, but then deciding that you want to go to Princeton, Prettybabies.  That will not count.)

Mary Grace has already chosen a pink "hug bug" as her car of choice.

Her first report card, ever, came home today and it was excellent, so only 51 excellent report cards to go.  (That doesn't sound like much - 13 years of school, 4 report cards a year, 52 report cards over the course of K-12).

I don't honestly know why I'm posting one sentence at a time today, it just seems like the thing to do.

My throat REALLY hurts.  Whiskey is good for that, right?

We had breakfast for dinner tonight.  Bacon, scrambled eggs/omelets, and pancakes.  The pancakes were "dessert."

We also got the stuff to make caramel apples with Karen and her kids on Friday, but I couldn't find the sticks.

I can't believe I suggested an activity as sticky as caramel apples as a thing to do with 7 kids under age 6.

I think this sinus thing has gotten into my brain.

Talk to me about report cards, caramel apples, and life insurance in the comments.  I'm going to bed.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stuck

I was supposed to be home by dinner time tonight. There was fog in Texas, though, so we are still waiting on our flight - it was supposed to leave at 10:30 and now we're scheduled to go at 2:35.

Spending six hours in an airport with a baby is as much fun as it sounds.

I'm going to miss my connecting flight in Tampa.

Thankfully we have family all over, and my mom has a condo near there, so we aren't homeless tonight. Amanda offered to come back for me but it's a 3 hour round trip from her house to the airport, and 3 of those in 2 days is too much to ask of someone who has a 200+ page report due this week.

I've had a great time, but I'm really ready to get home, and I hate this airport right now. People are extremely friendly in Indiana, and I'm spoiled. I miss home, where men see a woman with a baby and they offer her a seat in a crowded gate area. Southern hospitality apparently doesn't have a ticket, so it's not allowed past security.

Jack is finally napping, extremely late, but better late than never.

It could always be a lot worse. Entertain me with your worst travel disasters in the comments!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What the what?

I've flown with my kids dozens of times, and have never needed any documentation for them (with the obvious exception of MG's passport when we went to France). So I was shocked when the ticketing agent asked me for Jack's immunization records or birth certificate to verify his age before she would let me fly today!

"I flew out of here on Southwest 2 weeks ago with him, and we didn't need that," I told her. I quit arguing and started making calls when she told me it was a $10000 fine if TSA asked me for proof of his age and I couldn't produce something. "But neither of those things have his picture. How will you know that it's really his?!" I sputtered.

"Ma'am, if you choose to give us false documentation there isn't much I can do... This is for your protection, they've really been cracking down, probably because of all the abductions..." she trailed off ominously and I thought of the Free Range Kids blog.

"No, I can get his shot records if you can take a fax," I said, deciding not to quote the stats about crime being at a 48 year low. I called the doctor's office and got the records faxed, and we were sent on.

At security I asked, and the three TSA agents I spoke with had never heard of such a thing.

And they couldn't hold Jack while I put my shoes back on because they're not allowed to touch babies.

*sigh*

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Third Trip in 10 Months!

Tomorrow Jack and I will be leaving on his third trip on an airplane since he was born.  We are headed to Louisiana to see my dear friend Amanda from college.  I'm grateful that he's not old enough to remember the stories we'll tell, because I know there will be lots of reminiscing.

I'm also grateful that he has proven to be an excellent flyer.  And I'm a light packer.  We should be in good shape.

It's funny how you change with each kid.  I didn't take Mary Grace anywhere alone until she was 15 months old and we went to Texas to see a friend.  I took Claire to Amanda's wedding when she was 9 months old. I first flew with Jack when he was 4 or 5 months old and we went to Disneyworld.  I guess I only get partial credit for that one, since we met BJ and the girls there.  My point, though, is that I never would have dreamed of taking Mary Grace anywhere when she was that little.  We could barely make it to Grammaland at that age, because she screamed in the car.  My hearing must not be as good, because that sort of thing just doesn't phase me anymore.

Sorry ye ol' blog has been light on content lately.  We've been idiotically busy.  Good friends are moving to Russia any time now (Fulbright fellowship) and we've been seeing them as much as possible, we've had tons of playdates and activities with friends and school, I've been trying to keep my head above water at work, and the meds that the doctor gave me for my shoulder put me in a coma by 9 pm most nights, so my usual blogging time is spent dreaming, instead.

The shoulder is improving, as is my cold.  We're hanging in there.  Jack had a weird rash all over his chest and tummy tonight, but the internet told me not to freak out, so I'm not freaking out.  Thanks, Dr. Google!

Since I don't have any great stories, I will leave you with a recipe for Chicken Stew that I made today in the crock pot - it was especially yummy on a cold, wet, miserable day:

Coat 1-1/2 pounds of chicken (more or less) in 1/4 cup of flour.  Put in crock pot.  Add one bag of frozen stew veggies (mine, from Kroger, had onion, carrot, celery, and potatoes) and one can of chicken broth.  Cook 6-8 hours on low (3-4 on high).  30 minutes before serving, stir in one bag of frozen peas and 1/2 a container of Philly Chive and Onion spread.  Easy peasy, and really really good!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Shoulder

It is with great relief that I tell you that I did not screw up my rotator cuff (although, this is the year to do it, I've already met my deductible).  I strained my trapezius.  Dr. M gave me flexeril and vicodin.  Party at Amy's!  I took a flexeril last night when I got home around 5 pm, and thought, "This isn't doing anything."  I made dinner, cleaned up, etc. etc. all with the same amount of pain that I'd been having.  Then I went to lay down with Jack at 8 pm and I slept in my clothes until 7 am.  I woke up a couple times in the night with Jack, but never enough that it seemed like a good idea to put pajamas on.

So while my shoulder may not feel any better, at least I'm rested.

Time to get everybody ready for school...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Home

We made it home, in spite of the fact that we started the day by going to the wrong airport.

I've done something horrible to my right shoulder and I have a doctor's appointment that will probably interfere with my ability to pick up both kids and the dog tomorrow. Oh, and the dog has worms, which is AWESOME. So after I get her I need to take a fecal sample to our vet. Did I mention that BJ is going to be gone out of town on business for about 12 hours tomorrow? Hahahahahahahahaha.

I can't even reach the radio and AC buttons in my car, much less lift anything. How am I going to parent three kids alone tomorrow?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Long Walk on the Beach

BJ wants me to point out that he is wearing the sling, he isn't in the Mr. Beach Dad pageant or anything.

Weddings

Dear Jack,

Yesterday I danced with you at a wedding for the first time, and I had this moment where my current self and my future self must have thought about each other at the same time, because all of a sudden you were a grown man, and we were dancing together at your wedding, and in a heartbeat I was back to the present, with fresh tears in my eyes.

Don't grow up too fast, my darling son.

Love,
Mommy

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Flying

This kid is definitely his Grandpa Ben and Grandmother Diana's boy. They're both pilots, and he LOVES to fly. Long day of travel today. We have a few hours at MCO before we fly to Panama City. We should arrive at the location of the wedding, St. George's Island, around bedtime.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Comments

Some pathetic person who has nothing better to do with his or her time than leave rude comments on my blog has forced me to turn off anonymous commenting for the time being.

I don't care what this idiot has to say, but it really bothers people I care about, and I won't have that.

For now, you're going to have to put your name behind your thoughts if you want to share them on my blog.  That should take care of the problem.  Sorry for the inconvenience.




We Win At Parenting

Since school started, I've been feeling a TON of guilt because other mothers will wait at the bus stop with their children for the bus, while I stay in my jammies in my house and watch (off and on) from my front window.  The bus drops off in my front yard.  The kids play out there all the time.  I see no reason to supervise.  Besides, I can count on the other parents to protect all the kids if something bizarre happens, right?

Wrong, as it turns out.

BJ and I were standing in the front window (we were breaking down a gate to pack into the giant bag that happened to be on the couch) while the girls were waiting for the bus (Claire likes to hang out with MG.  She hasn't tried to get on the bus, herself, yet.)  All of a sudden I saw kids scatter into my front yard, which was odd.  Then I saw a HUGE dog.

"There's a dog out there. Go.  GO!"  I said to BJ, who was more dressed than I was at the moment.

Hide yo' kids, hide yo' wife!

He ran out there like a superhero and caught the dog (who turned out to be a big doof of a lab, probably 80-100 pounds, friendly but full of energy.  He's currently awaiting his owners in the back yard).  I grabbed my robe and a leash, then brought Penny in so he could put the dog in our yard.

The other parents, a married couple, stood there and did nothing!

What is the frigging point of standing out there every morning if you're not going to bother to protect your kids when the opportunity arises??

After the bus came, I took a shower, and had a chance to mull things over a bit.  When I got out I said to BJ,  "You know, I'm feeling some very primal feelings toward you right now.  You protected the offspring from threat while lesser men stood idly by....  It's very sexy!"  I said.

We may have to do daily reenactments.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Faith in Little Old Ladies: Restored. Humanity? Not so much...

While picking Mary Grace up from Daisy Scouts, today, I got into a conversation with a lovely little old lady (LoL) who was picking up her granddaughter.  Jack was dancing around on a folding chair, delighted with his own ability to pull himself up to standing, then bounce around a bit, then make Mommy squawk and freak out when he tried to dive off of the chair in a random direction (lather, rinse, repeat).

"You know," she said, "when a baby is that happy, you can tell that he gets lots and lots of love at home."

Ok, LoLs of the world, I forgive you for the comment about the curls.

I will NOT, however, be forgiving the denizens of Goodwill.  Ever.

So I was looking for a muumuu.  "Why why?" you might ask, and rightfully so.  Because, because I am attending a wedding on Saturday, and that was the suggested attire.

NoNo
The only place I could think of to find a muumuu was Goodwill, so off we went.  Indeed, they had a few, but they were all in regrettable patterns, and if I'm going to wear something with less shape than a bean bag chair, it had better at least be made out of cute fabric in flattering colors.

I'm standing in the aisle, looking through the dresses, and a woman is talking to Jack, who is in the cart beside me.

"Oh, aren't you a precious boy?  Aren't you happy?  Are you having fun shopping with GRANDMA today?"

That sound you hear is someone scratching the needle off of the record in my head.

I just turned to her and said, "Really?" and swore never to set foot in Goodwill again.

(The muumuu is a no no, anyway, particularly when one is nursing.  I will be wearing a skirt and top, instead, thank you very much.)


The Comments Section

Boooooobz. (via List of the Day)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Imagination Station

I've lived here for 13 years, and I always thought that the Imagination Station was inside the semi trailer outside, so being mildly claustrophobic, I never took the kids. Turns out that the trailer is just a sign, and the Station itself is actually in the brick building behind the trailer.

Duh.

Jack has licked the whole place, so we will certainly be sick by Tuesday, which is AWESOME because we are flying Thursday.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Stairs

While I was at the grocery store tonight I got a text from BJ that Jack had climbed up the entire staircase - 13 stairs! - by himself. Of course, BJ was right behind him, but he said that Jack only would have fallen once if he hadn't been there. It's just cruel that the second, third, etc. kids get mobile so much faster than the oldest children do. Do you think the Duggar kids can walk straight out of the womb? When I'm in charge, kids won't be able to walk until they have the sense not to hurt themselves. (Yes, I'm aware that this means there would be people in their 20s, 30s, and beyond who were still crawling - I'm ok with that). Also, kids shouldn't get teeth until they can say, "Mother, may I please have a Tylenol?" and calculate their own dose based on their weight without a calculator. Everyone can just eat soup until then.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hell to the No

At the dentist for MG's first filling...

"We would prefer that you wait for her out here."

Inside I'm thinking, "I would prefer not to have to find a new dentist."

But I said very calmly, "We can't come back with her?" as I prepared to say, "Ok, then, we're leaving!" if the answer was yes.

"One of you can," she said. So I stood down. BJ is with her. When I took Claire to the bathroom just now I heard Mary Grace cry out, "Ow! Ouch!!!" and I instantly got a headache. It is taking a great deal of willpower to keep myself in this lobby.

Being a mom is hard. And I'll bet getting my teeth cleaned with a headache is gonna suck.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This Post Will Change Your Life

I cut up a whole bunch of onion the other day, because my aunt and my sister and I are doing a food swap, and I made 6 batches of quiche and 6 batches of chicken soup to swap with 4 other families (I get to keep two of mine).  On the way home from Grammaland, I got to thinking...

I hate cutting onion.

And then I thought, "Cooked onions don't make me cry.  It's too bad I can't precook the onion and then cut it."

Then I thought, "Hey, why not?"

Somebody else's microwave (Wikimedia Commons)
So I peeled the skin off of the half onion I was putting into tonight's soup (it's cold, wet, and rainy - perfect night for soup), and I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds.

I was a bit relieved when it didn't explode.

I took it out and it still had that eye-burning thing going on, so I put it in for another 30 seconds.

15 would have been perfect.

I let it cool while I was cutting up everything else, then I cut it up and threw it in the soup without crying!

Just be careful, it makes the onion super slippery.

You're welcome.


Monday, September 26, 2011

My Kids Don't Get Business Trips

Kid at Car Dealership: What's his name?

MG: His name is John Paul, but we call him Jack.

Claire: John Paul is hard for me to say.

MG: We named him John Paul because Mommy and Daddy had a friend named John Paul, but he passed away.

Kid: Your daddy?

MG: No, John Paul.

Claire: Our daddy went away and he's not coming back, but I'm barely sad because he gets to live in a hotel.

Whenever we get back from a trip, Claire gets all mad that we live in a boring house, and not a fun hotel like Eloise.

Apparently when I told Claire that Daddy wasn't coming back tonight, she didn't hear the word 'tonight.'

It's hard, being 4.

Don't Leave Home Without It

BJ is in the middle of the business trip from hell.

He left for the airport Saturday, and I left for Grammaland about half an hour later. (Sorry I didn't get to see you while I was there, anyone I missed, it was a busy trip, as you'll read, here...). I got about halfway there when I got a call from BJ.

"I am such a jackass," he said.  "I left my wallet at home."

He had gotten to the security line before he realized that his wallet was gone.
"No, sir, we don't see your wallet anywhere."
I called several people who have keys to our house, before I got in touch with our neighbor, Chelle, who was home and was able to run over and check the house for his wallet.  I wasn't sure what I would do if she found it, since I was an hour and a half away from the airport, and BJ's flight was in 45 minutes, but step one was Find The Wallet.

She searched everywhere - it wasn't in the house.  BJ searched his car, and I searched mine.  It was nowhere.  That's when I began to suspect that it had been stolen.

I've been on the phone ever since.

Of course it was Saturday, so no one was at the bank, but I called them and reported the cards stolen to the voicemail, and begged them to call me back ASAP.  I stopped at my mom's office, hacked into BJ's email to find the hotel and car information, called the bank's voicemail again, because I knew I had a bad connection the first time, then I called the hotel to check him in with my ID.  I had to fax my ID to them, and my credit card to their billing department so that he could eat when he got there.

I called my Bonus Mom and got my stepbrother's number, because he lives in LA.  I didn't even get the whole story out before he said, "What can I do to help?"  I asked him to loan BJ a couple hundred bucks, and to pick him up at the airport and take him to the hotel (no license = no rental car).  He did, thank goodness, and so at least I knew he wouldn't be living in the airport until his return flight.  (Thanks again, Jason!!!)

Did you know that you can fly without ID?  True story.  But they ask you a bunch of questions about your home (like your phone number) and your family (they asked him my date of birth) and they get really snarky if your wife is calling you with questions about whether or not to cancel the credit cards in the middle of the interview.  What I want to know is how the heck does the TSA know my date of birth, and why don't they ever send a card?

BJ was in such a hurry to catch his plane, he left his car keys with the TSA.  *sigh*  He has already called them, though, and they're holding them for him.  And I have his spare set in case they get lost between now and then, so I might be driving to Indy in the middle of the night tomorrow night with the kids to get him.  AWESOME.

My aunt Kathryn and I went grocery shopping Saturday night (we're doing a meal swap, and the reason I was up there was to cook with her - 6 quiches and 6 batches of chicken noodle soup from scratch).  My credit card declined the first time I ran it at Aldi, and my heart fell out of my chest and flopped around on the floor.  "They cleaned me out!" I cried.  The cashier had me run it again, though, and it worked.  Turns out that Aldi only takes Debit cards.  Whoops.

On the way home from the store, the bank finally called me back and verified that the bad guys hadn't stolen all of our money (yay!).  I'm sure the bad guy was quite happy with the $100 in cash that BJ had on him.

Kathryn had the terrific idea to send BJ his passport via FedEx, so he'd have ID.  (He needs to meet with defense contractors, and can't enter their facilities without ID).  And I realized that I had a work credit card at the office that I could send to him.  However, there wasn't much I could do yesterday, since it was Sunday and I was in Grammaland, so I made soup, instead.  Today I went to the office as soon as I got MG on the bus, and we faxed a copy of BJ's passport to him, then got the spare credit card.  While we were there I locked my keys in my office, because I'm a bonehead, but Kayla the client services rep was there and opened it right back up for me with her Master key.

Claire, Jack, and I went to Walmart while BJ waited for the FedEx location near the hotel to open, so he could see if he can have something shipped to him there (he has to check out of his hotel before it will arrive).  It was $94.94 to send it with guaranteed-by-8:30am delivery.  Ouch.

After that, we went home to drop off the groceries.  Then we went to the Police Department to report his wallet stolen.  They wouldn't talk to me, though, so I had to call the Indianapolis Police Department, and they transferred me to the Airport Police Department (who knew?).  The guy I was talking to kept calling it "lost," even though I'm sure it was "stolen."  Whatever.  He gave me a case number, which I then used to write to the credit bureaus to report BJ "at risk" for identity theft.  I called the BMV to report his driver license stolen, because the APD guy told me to, but they wouldn't take a report (they said there was nothing they could do about it).

When I got home, I made the girls lunch, then I sent a letter to Trans Union with the Case ID number telling them to put a fraud freeze on our account.  Happily, their website said to contact one of the three credit monitoring agencies, and once the freeze went through they'd notify the other two on our behalf.  Aren't they cooperative?

I still need to call the FTC.  Not sure why, but Trans Union's website said to call them, so I will.

Is there anything else I'm forgetting?

It doesn't sound like much, all written out like this, but it has been so stressful knowing he's out there with only $200 and no ID or credit card.  It's as bad as the time he got really, really sick with food poisoning on a business trip, and he was all alone, and I couldn't get the woman at the front desk of the hotel to take him a Sprite or anything.

BJ didn't get the memo that I'd given the hotel my credit card number, so for dinner on Saturday night he had airplane peanuts.  That's what he had for lunch Saturday, too.  Poor baby.  I could have smacked the hotel manager for not making it clear to BJ that he can charge whatever he needs to his room while he's there.

He texted me from his class Sunday morning and said, "Free breakfast!" I replied, "Stuff your pockets!"


So here's Amy's Travel Tip Of The Week:  When you travel, put half your cash and a credit card in a location separate from your main purse/wallet so that you're not completely screwed when you get where you're going and you realize that some jerk has lifted your purse/wallet.  I think we're also going to get state issued ID cards (which look just like driver licenses, but aren't) so that we can keep those separate, too, so we don't have to take the spooky TSA quiz if this ever happens again.  When we're home, we can just keep them in the safe with the rest of our documents (that way we don't have to carry our passports when we travel within the US, because those are a bitch to replace if they get lost/stolen).

What really sucks is that BJ is totally the kind of person who would have bought the thief lunch if he had just said, "Hey, I'm in a bind, can you help?" (I've seen him do this SO many times), but instead some asshole just helped himself to our hard earned money, and has made a hell of a lot of work for me.  I am so pissed.

However, *deep breath*, I am grateful that it was a pickpocket and not a mugger with a gun.  I'm grateful that BJ arrived in LA safely, if a little hungry, and that his passport and his credit card will get to him tomorrow morning.  I'm grateful that my stepbrother lives in LA, and he was so willing to help.  I'm grateful that our friend John took BJ out for dinner last night. I'm grateful that we have cell phones and fax machines and the internet at our fingertips, to help us deal with things like this far more efficiently than we could have without technology.  I'm glad that we have enough money to cover the loss.  I'm glad that we have helpful friends and relatives who have helped me remember all the things that needed to be taken care of to protect us from further theft.

It has been a lot of work, but it could have been a lot worse.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Oh Claire...

We were in the van, driving from the Strange Fruit show (which was indeed strange - check out the YouTube video), on the way to get pizza to take over to Karen's house.  Claire threw a plastic bird at Mary Grace, and Mary Grace started crying.

Mommy:  "Claire!  That was NOT very nice.  I have tried really hard to plan a nice day for you guys, and you're being VERY ungrateful with this behavior.  You do not have the right to hurt someone else's body...." etc. etc. etc. for several minutes, until I ran out of steam.

Claire:  "See, Mary Grace, this is why I want to go live with Mimi."

Strange Fruit

At Purdue for a free show featuring Strange Fruit from Australia.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Toddlers and Tiaras

The mom-blogger sphere can do amazing things.  We've taken on major news outlets, celebrities, airlines, retail establishments, restaurants...  We've helped our fellow parents in times of great need.  We've drawn attention to injustice and stupidity, and we got that ridiculous t-shirt that said, "I'm too cute to do my homework..." pulled from J.C. Penney.

This is a call to arms.  It's time that we go to bat for the little girls who are being exploited by their parents and by TLC on the program Toddlers and Tiaras.

I'm going to refer you to Redefine Girly where I just read the most brilliant blog post I've read all week, and I read a LOT of blog posts, for the details.  In summary, though:
The toxic culture of the pageant world, the judging of beauty, is confusing to young children who have not yet reached the emotional-intellectual milestones of understanding reality and competition. These little girls become infantilized women as their parents and coaches do whatever it takes to win that crown and of course, the money. The time alone spent prepping for pageants robs girls of their childhood, time that should be spent learning and playing and socializing with friends. Teaching young girls a very narrow version of beauty, transforming their bodies so that their beauty can be measured and judged, or to use their sexualized bodies to earn money for the family is disgusting. I take great offense to this. When you add to this the chemically dangerous spray tans, butt glue, nail glue, eyelash glue, hairspray, and cosmetics applied to these tiny, developing bodies, it is not a stretch to say these pageant programs are both emotionally and physically abusive.  
Can I get an "Amen!"?

The whole letter is just brilliant.  Now is the time for us moms and dads who think to retweet and share and like the crap out of it, so that TLC will take notice and stop exploiting and sexualizing little girls for its own financial gain.

Because seriously, this little girl:


...deserves better than this.  We can do better than this for our girls.  All the pretty babies deserve a childhood.  This isn't childhood, this is objectification at its worst.

Come on, TLC.  Do better.

(PS - what the hell is butt glue??!!)


Grandpa, Bearing Gifts

Daisy Scouts

It's a shame that adult meetings aren't this much fun. I can't remember the last time I traced myself on paper and colored in my clothes.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stairs

Dear Jack,

You are only 9 months old. Knock it off.

Love,
Mom