Friday, September 30, 2011


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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

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


Dear Jack,

You are only 9 months old. Knock it off.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

We made it

Can you believe we only had to stop twice on the way home? These kids are troopers!


BJ and I just changed a poopy diaper 630 feet in the air!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Welcome to what?

"Ok, kids, welcome to Missouri!"

Mary Grace, "Welcome to Misery?"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Claire's Belated First Day of School

Claire's first day of preschool happened almost a week ago, but we also got a puppy, and frankly it has been easier to snap a cute pic here and there with my iPhone and upload it this week than it has been to sit down and upload all the photos to the computer, then to Picasa Web Albums, and then to the blog.

My life is SOOOOO difficult. 

For the moment, though, Jack is painting himself with the residue of failure cheese curls and I've reached a fragile truce with Cujo Penny in between puppy spaz attacks, so here we go...

But hold on - it seems that at this very moment the universe is punishing me for being a negligent parent by causing my camera to lose its mind.  I just closed a dialogue box that said "catastrophic failure."  Um.... shi....

Dear Sony, 

I strongly dislike your PMB software, and I also strongly dislike the way the automatic archival works.  I do not need folders called "7-31-11 - 8-15-11" in my life.  They stress me out.

That is all,

The pictures are still on the camera, I just can't get them into the computer...

And now Jack has lost interest in the cheese curls.  He just unplugged the camera's USB from the computer.  Awesome.


Ok.  Toys.  And they uploaded.  Finally.  Good.  Here we go.

Claire's First Day of Preschool, a Sarcastic Retrospective

Obviously terrified, Claire begins the long, stressful journey to her classroom.

Notice how she clings to her mother, crying, "Please don't leave me!"  
I had to drag her by her feet through the door, kicking and screaming.

Claire is very wary of Mrs. P, who incidentally doesn't look happy to be there at all.

Claire has little interest in any of the toys in her new classroom.

Hostile natives arrive to investigate Claire's presence in the room.  
Claire adopts a defensive posture and fends off an attack.

"Oh get out of here, Mom, you big dope, I'm fine.  Why are you crying?  
Don't you have to go to work or something?  Sheesh.  Get lost!"

One of the hardest things about being a mother is that if you're doing it right, your kids will break your heart a thousand times by not needing you the way your ego wants them to need you.  And you'll end up crying in your nearly-empty minivan and singing "Sunrise, Sunset."  It's really undignified.  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pretty Princess



Don't let her fool you. She's half German Shepherd, half piranha. (Is that spelled properly? It looks completely wrong. Bitey little fish, right?)

Local Trolls

The girls were at school on Friday.  I had Jack in a brown shirt and jeans, inside of my blue sling, at the store.  An old lady comes up and says, "She looks tired," or some similarly passive-aggressive comment (the undertone being, "Shouldn't you be at home putting your baby down for a nap instead of here?") I mentioned that she was a he, and that yes he was tired but it wasn't quite nap time yet.

"He?  With those curls?  I don't know if I like that!" she said.

I sputtered something about keeping it cut short, but I wish I had kicked her in her stupid old teeth.

I find that people are much more apt to stay stupid things when I don't have the girls with me - they assume that he's my first, and that I don't know what I'm doing.  I remember getting a lot of stupid comments about MG, much more than I got with Claire because when Claire was a baby, I nearly always had both of them with me  (MG was never in school or on a playdate on her own, because she wasn't old enough to have her own little life, yet).

The crones of the world could really learn to be nicer to first time mothers, or those who appear to be first timers.

Leave your best, "What Amy should have said," in the comments.

(Mine, which I thought of in the car on the way to get the girls, was, "Well, that's ok, he thinks your hair is stupid, too.")

Friday, September 9, 2011

I Dressed Myself

I think I need to have buttons printed that say, "I dressed myself!"

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Oh. My. Dog.

WHAT was I thinking?

It's a lot like having twins, only I can't put Pampers on one, and I can't put the other one in a crate for 2 hours and leave.  They are similarly mobile and verbal, and they're both teething.

She ate through the zipper on her crate, so I had to send BJ to Walmart to get another one.

The vet's instructions (new vet in the practice, couldn't get in to see the old one soon enough) today were COMPLETELY unclear with regards to poop samples and parasites.  I think they may have lost the poop sample I took in this morning prior to our appointment, which is uncool.  No one should have to do that twice.  Poor BJ.  So now I'm paranoid that the puppy is giving the kids worms (because new vet mentioned it at least 4 times - way to help with my anxiety, doc!).

Oh, and when they tried to put us in room 2 today, the same room we were in when we found out Max was dying, I started bawling.

I am such a grown up.

It rained all day, and the only thing worse than house breaking is house breaking when it's raining.

And my Twitter account got hacked.

How was YOUR day?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Pet's Ten Commandments

I found this among the adoption papers for Penny.  I thought it was good enough to share.

A Pet's Ten Commandments by Stan Rawlinson

1.  My life is likely to last 10-15 years.  Any separation from you is likely to be painful.

2.  Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3.  Place your trust in me.  It is crucial for my well-being.

4.  Don't be angry with me for long and don't lock me up as punishment.  You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.

5.  Talk to me.  Even if I don't understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.

6.  Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.

7.  Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet I choose not to bite you.

8.  Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me.  Perhaps I'm not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old and weak.

9.  Please take care of me when I grow old.  You, too, will grow old.

10.  On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please.  Never say you can't bear to watch.  Don't make me face this alone.  Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so.



Confidential to Rocko - poop, baby, poop!  You can do it, buddy.  And for God's sake, quit eating rocks.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Newest Pretty Baby

I'll bet you didn't even know we were expecting! Here is our newest pretty baby. She came with the name Jessie, but we might change it to Penny, or Rose, or Little Lady, depending on who wins. She's a German Shepherd mix. She and her brother and her mom were surrendered to a kill shelter in Illinois, and the outstanding group Magnificent Mutts rescued them. Her brother went home yesterday to live with a 9 year old boy and his family, and she came home to us today. Hooray for happy tales (tails?)!

If you're nearby and you're looking for a new dog, I can't recommend Magnificent Mutts (out of Hillside, IL) enough. They've been wonderful to work with.

The girls are madly in love.  They've been very good with her - keeping an eye on her in the house, giving her treats, playing with her, and taking her for walks  They're going to be excellent dog-moms someday.

When Max died, I felt like our house lost its soul. It was so strange to come back to an empty, quiet house. Aside from when I lived in the dorms, this has been the longest I've ever lived without a pet. We've missed Max so much, and I have missed the security of having a dog more than I ever thought I would. I'll happily trade clean floors for the peace of mind that comes with knowing that someone with keen hearing and sharp teeth is looking out for us. Of course, she won't be much of a home security system for a few months.  I think she'll be between 50 and 60 pounds when she's grown (heh, that's what they told us about Max, too, and she topped out at 90!).

So many people have cautioned me that we can't replace Max, and I know that, I really do. But there are so many great things about Shepherds, and so many great things about mutts, I can't imagine having any other kind of dog. My last three cars have all been Hondas. I tend to stick with what works, once I find it.  It's honestly a coincidence that she looks so much like Max.  I had already agreed to her before I saw a picture, based on the description of her from the lady with the rescue organization.

She asserted her individuality tonight when I gave her a pill (I think it's a dewormer - it gave her terrible gas!) in peanut butter, and she refused to take it.  It was as if she was telling me, "I'm a new dog, Mom, and your old tricks won't necessarily fly."  Tomorrow we'll try cheese.

I know that Max would be glad that we're welcoming a new dog into our family - particularly because she doesn't have to put up with her.  Max was never much of a dog-lover.  She greatly preferred the company of people.

She's been sleeping on my legs as I've written this post.  It would be very cozy if she would quit farting.

She is not a replacement, but she's a very welcome addition.  Our house feels like home again.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

S is for Sunrise

You may have noticed that I was a wee bit on the grumpy side today.

It all started last night.  Jack took three incredibly long naps yesterday.  He must be getting ready to do calculus or something really monumental, because he slept more than he was awake.

Until 11 pm, when he woke ALL the way up.  For three hours.

Yes, I was up with my darling child and his brand new fun-to-grind front teeth until 2 am.

I finally crawled to bed and fell asleep, then Mary Grace came down.  It felt like it was immediately after I fell asleep.

"What time is it?" I asked.

"I don't know."

"What does the clock say?"


"Go back to bed."

I'm pretty sure S is for "5."  Or possibly "Sunrise."  Or "holyS*** it's early!"

Regardless, no one should wake up at S.

I tried, today.  I really did.  After we got MG on the bus, Claire, Jack and I got dressed and we went to the bank, then to McDonald's for breakfast (Claire wanted cinnamon rolls).  On the way out, as we were crossing the parking lot, this woman came BARRELING into the parking lot, she must have been doing 30. I had to push Claire back out of the way.  "SLOW DOWN" I yelled.

Then as I was backing out, some other idiot in a truck came screaming into the parking lot and didn't bother to stop, even though I was 2/3 of the way out of my spot before he turned in.  He got the Hoosier Salute and a little bit of reality-TV style arm action.

We were late for Claire's preschool open house because somehow I'd put it on the calendar for 9 - 10:30 instead of 9 - 10.  It's ok, we know the drill from last year.  But it wasn't the best way to start the year.  I promise I'll do better next week, Mrs. P and Mrs. D!

We made it through the grocery store with no fussing, which is a monumental accomplishment.  A nice lady even let us go ahead of her when a new line opened up.  We managed to get the frozen stuff put away and get to the school on time to get MG.

Home.  Lunch.  And then, somehow, it all fell apart.

I will spare you the gory details, but I ended up yelling at some poor customer service rep from Bank of America because they bought our mortgage from Huntington and they don't have a branch here, so I can't talk to real people, and it's just SO unfair and stupid, and I don't WANT to deal with them because when I get a late fee which was totally not my fault and I took care of it last month, immediately after they called me and said I'd mistakenly paid the wrong amount, but there's no real person to go talk to unless I go to flippin' Oklahoma or something, and just take the $45 off of my bill, lady, before I go postal, all right?

The kids were screaming in the background, I was crying.  It was not pretty.

She was like, "Step away from the knife drawer, woman.  I'll take it off."

Being insane saved me $45 today, so there's that.

Then Monica saw my angsty blog post and she was like, "Bring all the little children unto meeee!" and she even offered to keep them while I went and did something, but I had already been shopping so I couldn't think of anything to do, so I stayed and we laughed and it was all ok again.

Jack fell asleep on the way home, and I dropped the kids off at Grandpa's so I could sneak in a little nap before dinner.  BJ handled almost all of bedtime.  I'm about to go get some ice cream.  It's going to be ok.

Mama said there'd be days like this.  *sigh*

Looking forward to a long weekend, here.  How 'bout you?


Sometimes it's hard to feel loved...

when BJ is so busy at work that he's getting about 5 hours of sleep a night because he's working constantly...

when Mary Grace is at school without us all morning and comes home with this big old attitude...

when Claire spends the whole morning whining that she wants to go live in Grammaland...

when Jack half gnaws off half of my boob because he's in the middle of the world's most annoying growth spurt...

when the kids seem to be at each others' throats constantly...

when most of my extended family and most of my friends live far away (but thank goodness for those of you who DO live here - don't know what I'd do without you, don't want to find out).

I'm glad it's almost the weekend, because we have lost that lovin' feelin' at the house of Pretty Babies, and I'm hopeful that spending some time together this weekend will help us get it back.  I wonder if I can talk BJ into actually taking Labor Day off.

How do you reconnect with your family?  Do you have big plans for the holiday weekend?