Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Little Bit of This, Little Bit of Nothing

I have every intention of rambling for the next 8 or 17 paragraphs, so never let it be said, you weren't warned.

This is what happens when your mom gets a new outfit for your doll that has been at the bottom of the toy box for the last 10 months:
Avee immediately began rocking her, handling her so gently and lovingly, cooing, etc. So incredibly darling. So Avee.

This is what happens to the pig that was the baby just seconds before:

Poor poor little peeg.

I was surprised to learn the Brittany Murphy died. I'm not a big fan of Hollywood and definitely have strong opinions about letting them run our society, buuuuuuuut, I've always been kind of partial to Brittany Murphy. Who knows what her private life was like, but I was always impressed in interviews and "spotlight" type things I saw of her. She seemed sensible, down to earth, kind of delightful. Anybody can be anything on camera, I'm aware of that. But she did seem genuine. And she also seemed to manage to keep the craziness of fame at bay. Regardless, 32 is much to young to die suddenly like that.

I already posted it on Facebook, but it's probably my favoritest thing that Bo has ever said.

J's younger brother Sam (18) is here visiting for the holidays. J, Sam, and Bo are three peas in a pod. So many similar mannerisms, expressions, intonation when they speak, etc. I love when I see J in Bo. So, here's Sam, the great exciting visitor and Bo will do anything to be with them, one of the boys.

Sam and J disappear into this bubble of totally boring and mostly over my head conversation when they get together. Really, I'm being nice when I say, "over my head" because in actuality, the topics are so insanely boring no sensible person would stick around and listen. But I'll just say "over my head" and hope J skims this part.

Well, Sam brought up the topic of a credit card and the minimum payments and the percentage rate for the interest that was being charged, and the balance, etc. I was mildly interested because Sam was referring to a high school girl who'd already gotten into debt. But then they sat at the computer and started doing mathematical equations and I think they figured the girl would have 57 gray hairs, 12 wrinkles, 3 dogs, a double mortgage and a used Subaru car payment before she had that card paid off.

That's where I checked out, and that's where Bo checked in. Trying to make sense of it all, and thinking he had it, he came over to me at the kitchen table and said, "Mom, look at the percentage I can hold my balance." And there he stood, so still, on one leg. So confident, so sure, so a part of the conversation. It took me about a second to catch what he'd done. And then I did everything within my power not to laugh until I couldn't breath anymore.

I saw me. The eighth of nine children, just desperate to be included, desperate to be acknowledged as smart. I saw me, an adult, clueless about the topic at hand but wanting to contribute, and doing my darndest to make sense of it all.

I cannot get over how darling and hilarious this was for me. Have I mentioned lately how thoroughly I adore this boy?

I have been a real grouch lately. One of the things I pat myself on the back about is that I'm a pretty even-keel person. Even J, who sees me, warts'n all, gets a pretty even-keel wife. He's grateful for that. And when he forgets to be, I remind. So, he's pretty much always grateful.

If I'm annoyed, or irritable, I usually get quiet until I'm over it. But the last two weeks, I've had a sinus pain, right above my right eye. It comes around 11:00-12 every morning, and lasts until about 5 or six every night. Some days it's so intense I can hardly keep my eyes open. Some days I take drugs and it takes the edge off, but still I'm not myself.

It's frustrating. It's painful. It's exhausting. And so I've become a grouch.

I heard myself snap at J several times over the weekend. I noticed that I just didn't want my kids near me. I was constantly telling everyone they were talking too loud. I couldn't figure out why Avee yelled, "I like peas!" at dinner, instead of talking normally. I had no oomph. I wanted to sleep, but wasn't necessarily tired-feeling.

Of course J got the brunt of it. But instead of saying, "Hey lady, pull yourself together!" he just kept being nice, picking up my slack, and making me feel like I'm the awesome wife and mother I usually am.

Then Sunday I felt a little better. J introduced me to his girlfriend Neti Pot and that helped a lot. But I wasn't 100% and I heard myself say something rude to J. I stopped short and apologized. I leaned against J and said, "I'm sorry I've been so grouchy today, I'm at least aware I've been a grouch today." J wrapped his arms around me and said quietly into my ear, "And yesterday? And the day before?"

HAHAHAHA! Funny guy. I was surprised for a couple of reasons. Surprised that I had been notably grouchy that long, and surprised that he brought it up. Guess it was pretty bad.

I still have the headache. In fact, I can feel it creeping up right now, but it's better and I'm nicer. Well, I think. J will have to give the final verdict on that one.

I try not to compare my kids. It's hard not to. I never let them hear me, but some of the differences are so funny to me. Yesterday as we were driving around, Avee noted that a part of the song we heard rhymed, "Moose and goose, they rhyme!"

I remembered that that was something they assessed in preschool and Kindergarten, so I thought I'd see how she did, now that she's halfway through preschool and has learned so much.
__________________________________________________
Avee, what rhymes with blue?

Supper?

Um, no. Rhyme means they sound the same. Different words, that sound the same. Like blue and shoe. So, what rhymes with house?

Cuhhhh...dim.... SLOPFEE!

Does house rhyme with slopfee? Does that sound the same to you?

Yes. And slopfee IS a word.

Okay, what rhymes with snow?

Willy!
__________________________________________________

I'll spare you the details of the next 10 minutes. I kept trying and it was to no avail. I don't worry about Avee. She gets what she needs to when she needs to. She is never lacking. Bo is like J, he likes to know everything about everything 27 years before it's ever even necessary to know. Bo was rhyming at three, so I kind of assumed at almost 5 Avee would know. Mark my words though, when it's assessment time, she will not come up lacking.

I'm ready for Christmas to be here. Today is Bo's last day of school and tomorrow is J's last day of work. YAY! I love having everyone home. I like to control and oppress them, and when they leave my house, it's difficult to do.

Merry Christmas Y'all!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Elves

Last year I read this post, loved the idea and immediately incorporated it into our Christmas celebration.

That was last year. This year, I couldn't be bothered. Unfortunately, I have a child who has the memory of a herd of elephants. (I just asked J, "what's something that has a good memory?" because I couldn't think of a simile on my own. These were his suggestions, almost in rapid fire: Steel trap, fox, CROW!?)
He's awesome.

So when Bo asked me what the Elves' problem was, and why they hadn't come, I let go of my scrooge-like attitude this year, and got some treats for the stockings.

But then I forgot, two days in a row because we were sick, and just remembering how to walk kept us busy. And then the third day, I remembered, but the house was truly a wreck.

I decided to go ahead and make up for the lost two days, but leave a warning. I mean, the Elves did. They wrote this letter:People who know me well, may be surprised that I have engaged in this sort of "deception". While I revel in the ability to nag my children via a different medium, I was the one, a year ago, trying to figure out how I could be "honest" with my children and tell them about Santa without them ruining it for other kids. And now look at me.

Say what you will about even considering telling my kids the truth, I still lean more toward that way, but Bo has totally and completely ruined me. He LOVES him some imaginary little people communication. And I am a sucker for his happiness.

He wrote this while I was at work:on the "flip over" side:
I laughed out loud at his generous offer of cookies that were given to us by a friend. Turns out, he was desperate for a "p.s." and that is what J supplied him with. I guess those Elves will enjoy themselves tonight!

Avee's response to all of this? At 3:25, a good 7 hours after Bo told her with excitement that the elves finally came, and a good six hours and 59 minutes after he revelled in his treat, Avee inhaled an entire chocolate covered marshmallow snowman. Never wondering where it came from, or how she got so lucky.

This my friends, is a comprehensive and nearly exact summarization of J and me, respectively.


Totally unrelated to the post, just because he's darling.

Monday, December 7, 2009

You're On My Toe

This morning I was showing Bo the lunch I was making for him. I have found that if I show him what is in it, he is more inclined to eat all of it at lunch time. It's sounds overly simplistic, I know. But I can't tell you how many times he's come home with a completely uneaten sandwich and has been genuinely surprised when I point it out to him. "I thought that was weird that you only packed me chips and a yogurt!"

For some reason, "under the chips, out of mind" really applies with him.

I show him his sandwich and remind him that if he continues to eat the healthy stuff first, he'll continue to get a treat in his lunch. As I do this, he gets unnecessarily close to me and stands on my big toe.

"You're on my toe."
"Make sure that turkey is good, last time it was crunchy and I know that isn't right."
"It's good turkey. You're on my toe."
Bo chuckles lightly.
"You're on my toe."
Bo leans closer to the turkey and smells it.
"You're still on my toe."

I have a weird tendency to like to watch how far something can go. I mean, I had just told the boy four times, quite clearly that he was standing on my toe and he made not even the slightest effort to move. I was curious.

"Do you see your shoe right there Bo? Notice that my toe is right under it?"

Slowly he lifts his shoe up and there sits my slightly squashed, now red, big toe.

Bo says with some surprise, "Oh wow! Sorry! I didn't know."

"Really!? You didn't hear me tell you all those times that you were on my toe?"

"Oh yeah, I heard you. But I didn't know you really meant it. I just thought it was something people say, like, 'get off my back'. You're never really on someone's back when they say that you know."

I realized several things in that moment. 1. I was the dumb one in that situation. 2. I'm a little sad that my six year old is so well-versed with the phrase and meaning of "get off my back." 3. My boy is smart. 4. Now his little chuckle at "You're on my toe." is waaaaay funnier to me.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm Starting To Feel A Little Picked On Here...

Bo brought this home yesterday and a minute after I saw it, I had the phone in hand to call J. What I didn't realize was Bo was watching me like a hawk and said, "Don't call anyone and tell them about it Mom!" I don't know what he's being so touchy about, I didn't just bring home a picture of him towering over every person in his family. Like some kind of behemoth...


I sent a note to his teacher that said, "Next time, I think you need to include in the instructions, 'If you happen to have a mother that is big boned, and your father is not, please do not exaggerate it so much, it's offensive'." I'll let you know if my helpful suggestion is something she'll consider.

p.s. the upside, I totally turned down the cookies someone offered me repeatedly, last night at work. This image was way too fresh in my mind...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Where Did I Go Wrong?

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with my older sister who has three teenage daughters and lives in England. I was tired and just jabbering away while simultaneously refereeing the kids and twice she told me she was in hysterics over something I wrote and that I needed to keep a record of the things the kids are doing so I could eventually write a book and publish it.

Funny thing is, I have a blog. I pretty much already do that. And as funny as she thought these stories were, she still has no interest in reading my blog.

The last 24 hours of conversations I've had with Avee have made me laugh out loud over and over. I forget how once your child starts school and is under the influence of other people, even for just a couple of hours a day, new things you haven't taught or sometimes heard of start showing up in their conversations. I remember when it happened with Bo, I felt a tinge of sadness that he was no longer all mine, just mine. With Avee, I'm feeling a lot of things, some relief that someone else could potentially be blamed for her quirkiness, some fear of what comes out of her mouth, and complete wonder that so much personality comes in such a little package.

So, this post is going to be just a smattering of conversations. For posterity's sake.

My sister wrote: They've JUST discovered that it is tough love parents who create the productive, well behaved children it is NOT a poverty/wealth thing. I thought of you when I read that because you were agonizing once about whether you had been too tough on your kids. NOPE, you'd been perfect. And it is most effective if done in the first five years. I think there was actually an article in both the Saturday Telegraph and the Sunday Times (I guess that would be London?) The test they do on small kids to see how much impulse control they have is give them a marshmallow and tell them if they can wait five minutes, they can have two. Some kids have it crammed in the mouth before they've even finished the instruction.

Immediately I start thinking about how my kids would respond to such a test. All of them would do beautifully if they knew it was a test. But if it was just something I did randomly....

I know how it will go at my house.
Bo will do it without batting an eye. Then he'll say something like, "If I clean the table while I wait the five minutes, can I have five marshmallows?"
Avee will eye me suspiciously like it's a trick and then either say, "I don't want your stupid marshmallows" or "Give me 10 and I'll wait five minutes. But if you make me wait five minutes, I will smash these two marshmallows into your carpet." Danyo is too young. He'll eat them or throw them and slap me for suggesting he wait.


Later I told her about a recent incident with Avee regarding her appearance.

Avee is exploring her emotions lately. Some of it makes me very sad, and some of it makes me laugh and be amazed at her ability to express herself. Something she did last week, concerned me and made my heart ache. She was really quiet and her expression seemed thoughtful and troubled. I caught her lost in thought and I said, "How are you Aves, are you okay?"
She said No.
So I asked, "What are you feeling?"
She answered, "Stupid".
That startled me a little bit, but not as much as it could have, because that is her word of choice right now.
I asked why she felt stupid and she said, "Because I'm ugly and I hate my freckles."
She and her little best friend talk about who's cuter and who is dressed prettier a lot. Recently I've gotten after them and told them that they can't do that anymore. So hopefully that will take.
But I really don't know how to respond to image issues in my FOUR YEAR OLD.

I told her a few months ago that her freckles were angel kisses and when she was leaving heaven to come live with us, the angels loved her so much they didn't want to let her go, so they were hugging her and kissing her over and over. She seemed to like that idea and I didn't hear much about it again. Then a few weeks after I told her that, I heard her muttering, "I hate my freckles, I just wish Jesus had kept his hands to himself."

This is probably one of my most favorite Avee stories of all time. It's so typical her and me. My Pollyanna-esque efforts fall flat with my little sass-pants.

Last night we had just gotten back from our visit to Kansas City for Thanksgiving and since we spent the better portion of the day packing or driving, I laid down with her at bedtime. She talks a mile a minute and it's completely uninhibited, which I love. Typically during the day, she is very aware of my responses and will clam up if I ask too many questions or laugh at something she says. At night, she doesn't pay attention.

She asks me, "Why do you have to shave under your arms? Why do you have hair there? I don't."

"Well, you don't get it until you are bigger."

"Does Erica have hair under her arms?"

I pause to consider this. Erica is my size zero, 16 year old niece who spends part of her summer with us each year. In my mind, she's still losing baby teeth, so I had to think for a second. For some reason, instead of just saying yes or no, (because REALLY!? she's four, what's she gonna do--verify next times she's in England with Erica?) I answer, "I don't know for sure. Maybe."

And Avee asks, "Do fat people have hair under their arms?"

This makes me laugh. "Yes, fat people do."

"Oh, so skinny people don't have hair, but fat people do."

"What the?!"

"Well, you have to shave, and me and Erica don't. You're as big as this room, and me and Erica are skinny."

And theeeeeeeeeeeeeere goes my self-esteem.

Then today my friend picked her up from preschool and gave her lunch while I was running errands. When I came to get her my friend informed me, "So, Avee not only cooked the turkey for Thanksgiving, she also caught it for you as well."

I have NO idea where she came up with this. I wasn't even sure she had made the connection between animals we see or read about, being the same ones we eat. So I was certainly surprised by this recent fabrication. When Kim pressed Avee to tell the truth, Avee confessed that she didn't cook it after all. But she did still catch it.

When I asked her where she caught it she answered matter-of-factly and without missing a beat, "In a field."

Tonight I laid with her again in an effort to get her to fall asleep faster. It was a total bust. But I did get a couple of good laughs.

The evening started with her trying to kiss me like Cinderella. Ay yi yi. I put up with a lot (the armpit sniffing, etc) but I think I have to draw the line at open mouth kisses from my almost 5 year old daughter. Even as insistent as she was.

Then I started to sing, in an effort to just mellow her out. Two sentences into the song she sighs, "WHATever".

But I kept singing. About 30 seconds later she said, "Dude. Singing does not work Mom. Are you trying to sing me to sleep? Because it doesn't work. I don't even like how you sing."

It's a good thing I spent 27 years padding my self esteem before I started having kids because this girl would have shot it all to hell otherwise.

And it's a good thing she's so dang cute.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Magical Cleaning Skills

My husband is truly magical.

Here is why I am in awe of him right now.

It's about 4 in the afternoon. The kids are home from school, there are candy wrappers, smashed goldfish, and toys all over the living room floor.

I didn't do a blessed thing to keep the house clean or even remotely acceptable looking yesterday. I went grocery shopping last night (with three kids) and came home and left everything on the table but only put away the cold stuff before I headed upstairs to go to bed along with the kids. Then this morning the kids found the last of the Halloween candy.

So this morning, the house was a sty. Truly.

J poured the kids some cereal before he left for the day while I was in the shower. When I came downstairs, there were some beans spilled on the table. I asked, "Who spilled these beans?" Hahaha, I didn't even realize how funny that was until I just wrote it.

Avee totally outed J. "Daddy did. He said, 'what is this, what is this all about! this is ridiculous!' and he threw that stuff on the floor (motioning to the bags of groceries) and he threw your purse with the flowers on it against the wall---see it all the way over there?"

I laughed at Avee's almost un-emotive recount of J's actions. And I thought, wow, I didn't realize he'd be so annoyed, certainly isn't the first time I've been a lazy, ridiculous, slob. It was probably the massive pile of candy strewn throughout our living room that put him over the edge. Yeah, that was it.

I resolved to get the beans off the table and put the groceries away. Achievable goals, that's my motto.

Here's where the magical J part comes in....

The kids noticed me putting things away and Avee jumped up and got the dustpan and within seconds of her jumping up, Bo said, "Hey, let's clean up!"

At which point my head spun off my shoulders and landed in a pile of smarties and smashed ritz crackers on the floor.

Avee took the dustpan and scooted it all along the living room floor, which in turn captured everything, and the places she didn't get, Bo took a broom and swept it out into a pile.

Our living room is carpeted. We own a vacuum. The kids hate cleaning.

These are all facts.

But somehow, J got them to practically fight over who got to clean up. But that's the other part that is magical, they didn't fight, they totally worked together, of their own volition.

I don't know how he does that. But something about dustpanning the carpet on your hands and knees is fun, whereas vacuuming upright and quickly, is a chore worth whining about.

I do not get it. But I love it.

This isn't the first time he's done this either. A year or so ago I was struggling to get the kids to do anything I said and could not for the LIFE of me get them to clean up. We were both exhausted and it was almost worth just doing it ourselves, but knew that wasn't the best way to handle it. I was practically losing my voice with all the nagging when J reached over, picked up a flashlight that was supposed to be put away and said, "When I shine this light on something, you put it away."

The two kids fought over who got to clean up the most.

I could list a jillion reasons I love J, he truly is the best of the best.

Today, his magical ways of getting kids to clean up is at the top of the list.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Better'n Knock Knock Jokes

Saturday morning I was still conked out on my bed when Bo climbed up into the bed and snuggled up against me. He's still a snuggler, but doesn't initiate much during waking hours, and usually gets beat to the punch by Danyo and Avee during my "conked out" hours.

I had forgotten how hilarious and unaware he can be when he's the first awake.

I am certain I was open mouthed, stream of drool, guttural snoring and he puts his mouth to my ear and whispers, "What does the Witch say when she's cold?"

Because I am a mother, and because since the day he was born six and a half years ago I have been compelled to respond to him no matter my state or coherency, I grunt, "Huh."

"Brrrrrrr-eeeeeeeeew!" Complete with a shiver and triumphant grin.

It didn't registered. I later remembered it being about llamas and soup.

Soon after, he offered another joke about a cow and what it says.

Again, I don't recall it.

So later, when we're all awake and lounging on our bed, I ask him to tell me the jokes again, so I can remember them. He is on a Cow Joke roll. And I have to say, where it lacks in actual humor, he makes up for it in sheer brilliance.

What did the cow say when he was sick?
I have the fluuuuuuuuuuuu.
What is the cows favorite thing to do?
Go to the moooooooooooovie.
What did the cow say before he went to school?
I can't find my shoooooooooooooe.
What is the cow's favorite thing to eat?
Steeeeeeeeeeeeeew.
What did the cow say when he was sick, and it wasn't the flu?
I have crooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuup.

So, of course J and I add our two cents on bovine humor.

J, as always, wins the award for most....eh, you can come up with your own adjective, my adjective is mean and inappropriate among some crowds.

"What did the German cow looking for religious minorities say?"
Where are the jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeews.

We probably spent 20 minutes doing this. (I know, right!?)

Then, Bo's jokes got less careful. More creative, but less thought out on the delivery.

And finally when he asked, "What did the cow say about going to the zoo? I like the zoooooooooooo." We first laughed and made fun of him, and then pointed out that he had given away the cleverness of an answer, in the question.

So J says to him, "See, it's a good joke, you just have to say, where does the cow go to see lots of animals?"

And in all earnestness, Bo answered, "Africa?"

Monday, November 16, 2009

My BFF The Telmarketer

Uh. Mah. Gosh!!!

I had forgotten how ridiculous and frustrating and obnoxious tele-center people can be.

I had a fraudulent charge through Paypal about a month ago. I was advised to change any cards, passwords, etc that I had on my computer.

So I called about our credit card. They said they'd send another.

That was October 22nd, I haven't received it. I don't use the card, so I didn't notice it had been that long. But once I realized, it made me nervous that we had a card floating around out there, waiting to be used.

So I called to let them know it wasn't received and decided I'd just like it cancelled altogether.

You would think I was asking for the first born male of the Eastern European who took my call.
She would not close my account. Everything I said, she responded with, "I'm sorry you are having this problem, please can I have your social security number."

I honestly started wondering if the number on the back of the first canceled card was actually a scam number.

She, after 17 minutes, apparently wasn't authorized to pull the plug on the card, and transferred me to Jason.

Jason and me ain't friends. I hung up on him. Which, generally, is an impolite and juvenile thing to do. But I could not stop the madness with logic and reasoning, so I did what I had to.

I understand that these people have a job to do, and most of the time, they are just doing their job. I always try to take that into account, be patient, and not blame my frustration on the person.

But he would not close my account. Would not.

I said about 5 times, "I would like for you to close my account. I don't want to verify my address so you can send me another card, I don't want to tell you my mother's maiden name for the 5th time, I don't want to hear about how my card can be turned into a bomb shelter should I need it and how all of that is free to me. I just want you to cancel my card. Please."

He would then say, "As I said Mrs Nobody, it takes a few moments."

Finally I snapped, "How long is a moment in your world, because it has now been 15 minutes since you said that last!!!!"

I think he may have even said, "I'm not the enemy here, Nobody."

But I could have made that up.

He kept talking, telling me about all the benefits of my platinum card. Finally I just started saying every three seconds, "Please close my card. Please close my card. Please close my card."

Finally he read the disclosure, asked me if I had any questions, and when I said I didn't, started to reiterate what the disclosure said.

"You really aren't reiterating are you? I've been on the phone for 43 minutes trying to close this card, and you're REITERATING!?!?!?!"

I think he thought I was calling him a name.

Then he just got nasty. There are few things I hate more in this world, than people who are being nasty, cloaking it in polite words.

"Mrs. Nobody. Ma'am. I am trying to help you to understand."

That's when I said, "UNDERSTAND THIS SUCKAH!!!" Click.


No I didn't.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Iowa Visitors

So, I live in Iowa. Which is pretty much the middle of nowhere. Our town isn't so remote, but considering there's no Costco within 100 miles and only one place to get Pho, it's remote by my definitions.

I've lived in cooler places, so that is why it's just a little amazing and kind of wonderful that we've had the visitors we've had. Several friends have come here while they're passing through (I love those visits) and some others have come just to see us. Code Yellow Mom and I have been friends since my freshman year of college, and she was our first visitor to fly all the way to the middle of nowhere just to visit us. It was a slice o' heaven.

Last month, Klin and her family passed through and stopped to visit. It was so wonderful to see her again, and have that nice little treat of a visit to brighten our week. My opinion remains, Klin is wonderful, and her family is too. They didn't stay nearly long enough, and we were right in the middle of a family brawl making a cake when they came, and because making a cake at my house cannot be a simple task, it wasn't done in time for them to enjoy.

Who walks away from cake though, seriously?

I love Klin. She's solid. She's real. She works hard at the things that matter the most and the things that make a difference. She is married to a really great guy, and I'm glad I've gotten to visit with them both just a little bit more.

I think Klin was hoping for a little more entertainment from my kids, but alas, she was greeted by the norm---which involved some fighting, a little hyperactivity, and a lot of showing off for her attention. She made me feel happy how quickly she just loved my little family. Everyone needs a friend like that.

Maybe if you're lucky, she has friends in a town near you. :) Thanks for coming Klin, you made my month!

Last week another blog friend came to visit me. She left yesterday and we're all just a little more sad. Okay, I am, the kids miss her, but they can easily be bought off by Dora's yelling and Boots' prancing. I'm not so easy.

No Cool Story flew in on Friday afternoon. She claims she "finally got permission" to visit. But really, I just couldn't bear to ask a person to fly all the way to Iowa to visit. It's Iowa for crying out loud!

I'm sorry for any of you people reading this who hold a deep and abiding love for the state of Iowa. No offense, really.

The visit was truly a wonderful one for me. There was no real agenda, and it was fun to spend our days together.

I met NCS almost 3 years ago and we became fast friends. She's heard me say pretty much every manner of crazy thing to my kids, over the phone. "We don't put queso on our heads" or "don't sit on my head when I'm trying to talk on the phone", among many other things. Plus, as most of you who have read this blog now, I blog about my kids a lot. Which is...magical.

So, as she sat in my living room, she looked around and said, "So, I get to see where all the magic happens."

I laughed and said, "I'm usually sitting there when we're on the phone, here's where most of Bo's brilliant conversations happen...." blah blah blah.

Later that night when J was home I was repeating the conversation to him. "It was so funny, when NCS got here she said, "I want to see where all the magic happens!" I waited for his laugh but I saw something else, more along the lines of surprise, shock, flash across his face. I looked over at NCS, and she had a terribly uncomfortable look on her face. And then she cleared her throat somewhat nervously and said, "Um, I meant like, with the kids, and all their adventures."

Suddenly, in my head, I heard what I had said aloud to J, and how there was no context given when I said it and it made sense why there wasn't the response I had anticipated.

And then I laughed. And I couldn't stop laughing. There are moments in life when I wish I could freeze the moment and capture an expression, a response, a smile, a feeling. NCS's expression when I said that, is one of them. For the record, I laughed way harder and way longer than either of them did. For some reason, my stupidity wasn't as entertaining to them.

Another noteworthy event, Danyo started talking within minutes of NCS's arrival and did not stop. It was a little unreal to me. Here was this kid who just the day before, when he wanted something would come up to me and say, "Mom. Mom. Mom." When I asked him what he wanted he'd just start to whisper, "Mom. Moooooooooom. Mom!" We have had that exact conversation at least 100 times. I could never get him to communicate properly.

Just now he came up to me and said, "Mom. Waddo. Heyoh. Mmmm, moh waddo. Get some"
Do you know how amazing this is!?! The funny thing is, he literally did start when NCS got there, and then did.not.stop that night. I honestly thought I was in danger of telling him to stop talking!

He immediately liked NCS and quickly fell in love. Her 3rd night here he was headed up the stairs for bed when I called out, "Danyo, how about a kiss?" He turned around and looked at NCS and said, "I'm gonna give her a kiss." Now, he didn't really say it like that, but it was very clear to all of us that that is why he was saying. After kissing her, he headed back up the stairs. "Hey Danyo, what about me?" He shook his head and kept walking away. Someone said, "Give mommy a kiss Danyo" and he turned with his hands out questioningly, looking around, "Wheyoh?"

Yeah, uh, he couldn't see me. Because I'm so tiny.

It's hard for me to truly capture the essence of this visit. NCS is so easy to be with, she let me nag her about eating breakfast, she read to Danyo, had long conversations with Bo about the cycle of...what was it, dirt? mountains? I can't remember. I got bored and walked away. Avee would run up to her during the day and give a spontaneous hug. For a few days she included a sweet, "I like you" or "your shirt is soft" and then it turned to "I love you". Avee can be a hard nut to crack, so that was pretty interesting to see.
We laughed. We cried. We made fun of people. Oh wait, just I did that. She'd say, "Aye Nobody...." and remind me to act my age and not my shoe size. Didn't work, as you can see.

We had Pho. We watched my favorite movie "Scarlet Pimpernel" which Code Yellow Mom introduced me to 15 years ago. NCS was TOTALLY skeptical and I think even tried to make up a story about having already seen it. I didn't buy it. But she was not convinced by the 1982 cover and French Revolution getup that it would be worth her time. It was. :)

She got to see firsthand some of the hilarious things I see and hear with these kids. One morning we picked up Avee and her little best friend Ella from preschool. I was outside of the van talking to Avee's teacher when this happened.
Avee: Ella, we can't talk about being prettier than each other anymore, my mom said we can't do that, so don't do it anymore.
Ella: Okay
Avee: And I don't like your shoes you're wearing.
Ella: Oh. You can borrow them sometime!

These two are hilarious together and these kinds of conversation are not rare.

She got to see how incredibly easy going and sweet Danyo is. He gets excited about little things, he adores Avee, he's always up for some hugs and kisses, etc.

But when he loses it, BOY he loses it. At Target I put away a 17 dollar talking Dora book, and to be honest, I did think he was done looking at it, and that I could get away with it. So not the case. He cried and yelled all the way to the checkout. I finally put him down because I was worn out from trying to contain him. I mistakenly thought he wouldn't go far from me because he's just that kind of kid. Oh no. We ran all the way through the store, wailing about the book, trying to find it again. I followed at a distance just to see what he'd do. He never stopped, never looked back, and when he finally realized he wasn't going to find the book on his own and turned and kicked me in the shin and shouted some Danyo-spletives at me.

The weather was amazing the day she got here. Like, 70's. We hung her coat up and didn't think of it again until Tuesday when it was a little more brisk. She grabbed her coat from the closet as we were headed off to Target. As she was putting it on I heard her say, "Wow, how did I get snot on my coat. I must have been crying."
On the drive, I looked over at her fingertips barely peeking out from the bottom of her sleeves. I thought to myself, "I guess that's what happens when you are tiny, some things are just big on you."

When we got out of the van she pulled a receipt out of her coat pocket. I thought to myself, "I thought I was the only one who had random receipts in every article of clothing I own.

Inside the store, I was examining some grapes, asking if they were seedless, and I could hear NCS nearby, rustling around with her coat.
"I'm missing a button! There's some more snot!"

And then, "Nobody...hey, Nobody!"

"Yes?"

"Um. Do you have a coat like this?"

"Yeah, I do actually....ohhhhhh. Hahahahahahaha!"

Yeah, that was MY snot. MY missing button. MY "petite" coat swallowing her arms and hands in the sleeves.

It's pretty funny to me how long it took for us to figure out. I mean, to NCS's credit, she DID figure it out. I just kept seeing and hearing all these clues that it was mine, but I never realized.

The visit was too short but I'll try not to dwell on that because it really was wonderful, and I should dwell on that, right?

The moral of the story is: You should come visit me. I'll build you a cake and let you wear my snot covered coat.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Acronyms

Avee just discovered an entire bag of candy/cookies/treats yet unexplored. It's gonna be a good day! For starters, I don't have to make snacks or lunch because they will be gorging all morning...

On Friday I went to Bo's Halloween parade and class party. While there, another mother overheard me say Bo's name and said, "Oh! That's Bo! So he's the one who goes to tag with my son." I smiled and said, "Oh, they play tag together at recess?"

She stared at me for a nearly uncomfortable number of seconds, shook her head slightly as though to erase the picture of stupidity from her mind and said, "No, TAG, Talented And Gifted."

Then I laughed and almost said, "Oh yeah, he gets that from me."

But I didn't because I had no knowledge of Bo going to TAG, so she was either wrong, or I was seriously in the dark.

"I didn't realize Bo was in TAG. Isn't that something I would know about?"
"Not necessarily," she says, "You might just find out when report cards come home."

I thought this was odd. To be honest, I was sure the other mother was misinformed. Especially since her little Talented And Gifted was standing there with both of his legs in one leg of his costume and was sucking on his entire fist.

I thought of asking his teacher, but decided not to be the grossly misinformed busy-body parent who thinks her own nose picking, wall-licking baby is a genius.

On the way home I had some one on one time with Bo and asked him about it. I didn't use the word "TAG" because I didn't want him going to school and saying, "My mom wants to know if I'm in TAG" or something else. Contrary to prevalent evidence, I do have some pride.

I asked him if he ever went to another teacher's classroom to learn things. No.
Did he ever go somewhere else doing the day with just Billy and Jane? No.
Was he learning different things than the rest of his class at any point in his day? No.

I probably asked 2-3 more ways after that. I do have a track record of very poor communicating skills with Bo. For some reason, we tend to speak different languages on some matters.

Fast forward to Monday afternoon.

I was putting some books on the shelf when I noticed his library book that had been due that day. I turned to Bo and said, "Oh man Bo, I'm sorry, I forgot today was library day and you didn't have your library book to turn in."

I waited for his usual response to my regular blunders in his life. An immediate crumbling of his face, a pathetic whimper and a harsh accusation about my general abilities and constant attempts to ruin his life.

There was none of that. He barely acknowledged my apology. I offered more sympathy, "Did you just have to sit while everyone checked out a book?"

"Naw, it's okay Mom. I just went to Mrs. ______'s room instead, and I really like it there."
"Oh is that where you go if you forget your library books?"
"No. I just go there with Billy and Jane during library time."
"What do you do there?"
"Just stuff to get smarter."

I sat there staring at my little bundle of talented and gifted. First of all, he's been three times. Second of all, the two names he's mentioned were the two names I specifically asked him about on Friday when I interrogated him. Third of all, HE'S BEEN THERE THREE TIMES!!!!

I just started laughing. He asked me what was so funny. I said, "Do you remember me asking you on Friday if you went to any classes with ____ and _____. Do you remember me asking if you ever went anywhere to learn other things without your whole class? Do you remember this conversation?"

"Yeeeeeaaaaaaah, but...but, you didn't say Jane you said....uhhhh...."

"It's okay Bo, it's not a big deal. But it sounds to me like you should go to FAD, Forgetful and Dopey instead of TAG."

He thought it was funny at first, but not as funny as I thought it was. And I realized a tiny bit too late that as the mother, the adult, the mature one in the relationship, perhaps I shouldn't have done that. But boy oh BOY did it make me laugh.

A few minutes later Avee walked up to me, clearly distressed and moving her hands all over her torso in an effort to comfort herself. I thought it looked funny, but couldn't figure out what she was doing.
"Mom, I just squished myself."

I couldn't even get the words out for the laughing, but I was curious about what part of herself she squished.

Her whole body.

She had been sitting in a child size camping chair and it suddenly folded up, with her in it.

I love that rather than a chair folding or breaking, she squished herself.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Brought To You By Sick Kids And Insomnia

I always have insomnia when I'm pregnant. During my third pregnancy, I came to terms with it and just accepted it and it wasn't so bad.

Now, I'm not pregnant, but all three kids have gotten sick in the last 5 days and I'm sleeping like we have a newborn or like I'm pregnant. Right now, Avee has the flu and croup. She's had croup several times and every time except once, we've managed it at home. One time she just couldn't get air in so I took her to the doctor, he couldn't get her oxygen level up and so he sent us to the ER. Since I know the breathing thing can go either way really fast, I decided to get her help early in the game. She was visibly struggling to get air.

I won't gripe about how I had to ask four times for them to check her oxygen level. Because while I haven't had very good experiences with doctors here, I don't think all doctors are like this, and I have several friends who are doctors or married to doctors and I feel guilty when people start bashing doctors as a whole. But since this is my blog....

I stated when I first got there that I was sure she had the flu and she clearly had croup and I just wasn't sure she was getting enough air. They swabbed her for the flu. It came back positive. They checked her ears, her throat and her lungs. And said she had croup. Each diagnosis, I asked for her oxygen level to be checked. Finally, as we were being finished up and I was handed FOUR prescriptions, I asked for the fourth time, "Please, could you check her oxygen level before we go? She's got a history of being unable to breath with croup, this is the only reason I brought her here."

Sure enough, it was low. She got a breathing treatment and it seems like that helped a lot. She perked up about 2-3 hours later, her fever broke, and besides sounding like the 77 year old hacking, cat lady around the corner, she seems fine.

However, Danyo climbed on me last night with a blazing fever. For some reason he doesn't get that- dark outside--zonked out, unresponsive parents--sleeping siblings means NOT TIME TO PLAY AND SOLILOQUIZE. He also has the seal bark cough of croup.

Here's where my aforementioned insomnia comes in. I wasn't really awake when he was in our bed. It was after he elbowed J in the face and J kicked him out of our bed, that I had the insomnia.

But WHILE Danyo was in our bed....well, a little background. Recently, I finished watching Ugly Betty, all three seasons on DVD. I loved it. I think out of like, nearly 70 episodes, there was one that I wasn't totally in love with. I'm all caught up and can watch it weekly on tv now. But, having watched all those episodes in the last month, it's kind of stuck in my brain. If you don't know the premise of Ugly Betty, she is a "plain" Queens girl who works for a high fashion magazine in NYC. Well, there's lots of intrigue and plotting and scheming and backstabbing and colluding, in this show. That, is apparently what was in my mind.

So, while Danyo is in my bed rolling over me, hitting me with his empty water bottle, trying to get me to turn on the tv---I am working it into what's already going on in my head. I so desperately want to sleep, peacefully and uninterrupted. I want it so badly, that I decide to work out an alliance with Danyo and I will let him have the position of feature editor, WITH that exclusive interview I managed to score, if he will just get his squishy diaper off of my face, and let me sleep peacefully.

I tried this approach for probably 2-3 hours. That coveted sleep was so close I could taste it---when I hear J say, "What is going on here, Danyo, what are you doing--get in your bed!"

Then I woke up. I explained to J that Danyo was sick, and Danyo cried at me for two minutes about what Daddy said to him. I finally got up, changed his diaper and put him back to bed. In time for about an hour and a half more sleep.

Only, I couldn't go to sleep. I couldn't turn my brain off. I was amused by my combination of Danyo harrassing me in the middle of the night, and Ugly Betty.

I was going to blog about it in the morning. And I had the funniest line, I couldn't wait to write in my blog.

This was it: "This is why I don't drink. I can't even hold my TV on DVD, can you imagine how I'd be with liquor?"

Isn't that the most hilarious thing you've ever read?! When I'm in those dark hours before sunlight and I can't turn off my brain I am funny, witty, articulate, never caught off guard, have the best comebacks, etc, etc, etc.

Lucky for you, TODAY I remembered my clever clever line.

What do you think? More insomnia inspired posts, or should I invest in some sleeping pills?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Remember When

You were young and being popular was such a wonderful dream?

If you were, you loved it, and if you weren't, you aspired to it?

You just wanted to be picked first, invited everywhere, confided in the most, sought after on the playground regularly, and surrounded by people who loved and adored you?

You wanted someone to sit with lunch to swap your mom's homemade uber-fiber oatmeal, rasin, carrot, sunflower seed "cookie" for your friend's uber-processed negative-health benefits Oreo?

You wanted someone to pair up with to do out-loud reading or times tables. Someone to sit under the table with you and let you try to pierce your ear with a dull safety pin because your totally unhip parents wouldn't let you get it done the right way?

You dreamed of overnight parties to be smooshed into a room with 8 other girls who giggled and talked and crowded you?

Sigh.

All I wanted today was to be totally unpopular and left alone, and ignored to lay on the couch reading a book. Alone. Where no one liked me and wanted to lay on me or fought over the squishy comfortable parts of me to lean against. I didn't want to look at anyone's cute outfit, hear about someone's favorite part of the show, or respond to the 52 offers of kisses. I only wanted to buckle myself in. I wanted to only find my own shoes...

Why oh why do I have to be so popular in my own home?

I wish I was a lonely outcast.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In Which I Think It's A Good Idea To Sit Down And Blog

One of the things I loooooooooove hearing out of my six year old's mouth is, "This one time, on Family Guy...."
This morning's recap was about Peter saying "That's baloney!" I felt my entire body tense up as I waited for Bo to repeat what he'd heard. Fortunately his grandmother even says that, so, no damage control necessary there. But J's still totally fired. I asked Bo when he watched it (because I am like a cross between a ferocious mother bear and a hawk when I hear Family Guy, South Park, or even Simpson's playing when the kids are awake). Bo answered, "October 18th, ha ha, maybe the 17th, I can't remember exactly." Not sure if I need him to be more specific or less. Either way, he cracked me up.

Yesterday was a "I don't want to be awake" day. I wasn't tired, per say, as much as I was lacking the will to function even one tiny bit. To my credit, I got two kids dressed and to school on time, one of them bearing snacks for her entire preschool. That, is awesomeness personified. Thankyouverymuch.

I came back home and put on Danyo's new best friend "Dora Dora" and snuggled under a blanket on the couch. I've been trying to read the same book for the last 3 weeks. I'm now on page 117. J has read 4 books in the interim, waiting patiently for me to finish this one and read "Catching Fire" so he can talk to someone about it. I'm passive aggressively punishing him for being able to read books that fast while I either can't tune out the kids, or can't stay awake long enough.

At 11:15 my friend knocked on the door. I stumbled off the couch in a stupor and opened the door. She apologized to me. That's how good I looked. It pretty much made me laugh the rest of the day that I, a mother of three, who should not have been sleeping on the couch ANYWAY, elicited an apology from an 11:15 visitor. I have nice friends.

In the past, when I've gotten blogstipated, I've just gone with it and waited for it to go away and haven't stressed. It usually only lasted a week or two.

We're going on about 5 months now. I don't really know what to do about it. I realized that I'm not exactly at my best lately, and I tend to not blog about the humdrum stuff. Also, I realized that Bo's school was a significant source of fodder for me last school year, and it's not this year. He has another really wonderful teacher and I've done as much as I can to eliminate his exposure to paras who were raised under the Nazi regime. Bo is doing really well school.

Actually, that leads me to a thought I've had recently. Last year when Bo was repeatedly being singled out and punished for either being a victim or for something that wasn't worth even noticing, two different people suggested that Bo's hair color might factor into his treatment.

It had never even occurred to me. Ever. And it was two people who's opinion and ideas I respect a lot. It actually made things make more sense. Maybe she thinks he's a problem child because she has a prejudgment on redhaired boys. Who knows? I certainly think some kids look like troublemakers more than others. I'm usually right though. :)

Anyway, last week I went to the YMCA to get my hospital discount attributed to my account. The YMCA lady was totally rude and tried to disregard me a couple of times to no avail. First I asked about the hospital discount and she said, "Yeah, but you need to have your badge." I had assumed I'd need to show a badge or a paystub, so I brought my badge. Because I knew where that was. She said it as though I wouldn't have brought it, and we were done.

So, I let her help another person and then said, "I have my badge right here, is there anything else you need?" She looks at the badge and says, "I don't know if that's going to work." I laughed when she said that. It was so blatantly stupid and lazy. She didn't want to deal with me, so she was contradicting herself to make it happen. As I laughed, out loud, I said, "You're kidding right---it's the badge you just said I needed!" Right then a friend who was sitting in the waiting area said hello and I turned to talk to him. I related my experience to him and then said, "She's always been unfriendly to me though, you'd think if you're going to work at the YMCA front desk, you'd make a little effort to be a people person."

Of course, I NEVER think it's about me. It's sort of what makes me totally cool. I'm never responsible for other people's stupidity. I'm rarely responsible for my own.

And my friend, jokingly I'm sure, suggested maybe she didn't like redheads. It was funny, but it got me thinking. Maybe there ARE more people out there with prejudices like that, than I ever considered.

I mean, people with mustaches make me nervous. Who's to say redheads don't do that to other people? What do you think? Do you think any unfavorable interaction I've had with someone my entire life is because of my hair color?

I wonder if there's some minority victim fund I could draw from. My life is hard guys.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"I Loved Her First"

I posted this first, two and a half years ago in March of 2007.
This is how I'm feeling lately....


Today I was driving in my car
And a song came on the radio
A man was singing about his little girl
That he was now giving away as a bride

“I loved her first” he sang,
About the day that she was born
And tears streamed down my face
As I thought of my own daughter at home

My morning was spent changing and dressing her
And doing her hair fourteen times
Followed by a battle to get buckled in her car seat
Just to hear her wail “no way mom!” two dozen times

Later she wanted me to hold her
But my body ached from the child I carry inside
Nothing I did seem to make her happy
And it was hard not to be annoyed by her whines

But alone in my car an hour later
My tears flowed uncontrollably
So that I had to pull over my car
And let them fall as I sat there alone.

Two short years ago she was the child I carried inside
Who made me too uncomfortable to hold my son
Every night she jabbed my ribs to say hello
Starting early to make her presence known

Then a tiny bundle of pink wrinkly skin
With the most sparse head of red hair
We all fell in love with her immediately
And I didn’t remember my heart before she was in it.

Eye contact, smiling, rolling, giggling, crawling, climbing.
Walking, climbing, singing, talking, signing, climbing.
Giggles, running, greeting, climbing, complaining.
Laughing, hugging, testing, climbing, and she can do it herself.

Every little thing she does, I get to be a witness to.
Kicking a ball, tasting lemons, loving her brother.
Suddenly two years are gone and I sit on the side of the road,
Crying about my two year old becoming an adult bride.

Will I forget to cherish the moments that lead there?
Will I accidentally get caught up in the trivial things,
And forget to notice the woman she’s becoming?
Will remembering I loved her first feel like I missed too much?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I Can't Be Perfect ALL The Time!

Sometimes it takes the absence of something, to realize what you have. I realized the other night that J is always right there being supportive and not laughing at my stupidity. Infrequent as it may be.

Until Friday night.

Any of you who know Bo or have read this blog for a while, may have noticed he has the tendency to obsess over things. Spiderman, numbers, Mario Kart, Barack Obama, Pokemon, and now it's Harry Potter. His every thought is consumed by thoughts of HP and all the characters. If he watches the movies, he's following along in the books, finding which chapter in the book they are on. He asks specific questions about characters or storylines that I'm fairly certain even JK Rowling didn't think about. He reported on Obama's speech to the elementary schools that "JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter". That is all he recalled for me. He lives, breathes, dreams, and wishes he could eat it. That's how he rolls.

On Friday Bo and Avee had some friends over and their mom stayed to visit as well. As the kids were running around the house like wild animals Bo was chasing after the sweet girls, yelling, "avada kedavra!" at them.

A small part of me didn't care. Another small part of me was bothered that my son was "pretending" to kill people. And there was a good part of me that thought I was being dumb to even let it register. And another tiny part of me worried bit that it would bother my friend that he was doing this to her girls.

So I told him not to do it anymore. And yes, I felt a little sheepish telling my 6 year old "We don't do death curses in our home". I even had to tell him more than once.

I thought about it a lot throughout the evening, wondering if the logical part of my brain (you're being dumb Nobody) was right or wondering if the "My kids must always appear perfect" part of my brain was right.

So that night, as J and I were getting ready for bed, I brought it up. That's what marriage is for, right? Sounding boards, feedback, insights...

I said, "Bo was doing the avada kedavra curse today and I told him not to do it. I'm not sure if I really care, and I kind of felt dumb thinking it mattered...."

I heard J stifling laughter. He's not a very good stifler.

"Well," says I, "I don't really want him running around 'pretend killing' other kids---"

J interrupted, "WHAT!? He did it in front of the muggles!!!?"

And that's when I knew what the absence of support felt like, and how regularly J doesn't let me feel stupid.

There are just some things you can't fake.

Friday, October 2, 2009

In Which I Belabor My Wake Up Time. And Other Nonsense.

***I posted this yesterday. Danyo deleted it. He may have done us all a favor. But I'm persistent, so I posted again. Bring it Danyo.***

Yesterday afternoon Avee had a half birthday celebration. She's been harrassing me for about 2 months for a party. Normally I don't give into that kind of pressure, but I remembered Bo being very excited about his age and getting older, right around this time. His 4 and a half mark happened to fall exactly on Thanksgiving, so basically he got a HUGE party with tons of pie. Avee wanted to have cake and watch a movie for 8 minutes. Those were her specifications. Poor sweet girl has no idea how long 8 minutes are. You know, it just occurred to me, maybe she means 8 minutes in bull riding time. That would make a lot of sense.

Anyway, yesterday there were 9 kids here total. How did that happen? I don't know. Fortunately they are all good kids, (like I'd say any different, their moms know about this blog!) and only one of them was a neighbor kid who heard me say cake and wormed his way in.

After dropping off some of her friends, Avee and I discussed dinner plans. By "discussed" I mean, she didn't like what I had in mind and screamed "Mack a woe knee and cheeeeeeeeeeeese" at me all the way home.

Clearly she was tired. She had been sick the two days before, so I figured she was still recovering.

She got sent to her room when the screams turned into questions like, "Do you want me to hit you!?" and "Do you want me to slam your hand in the door?!"

She fell asleep. At 5:15.

So guess who's been up and bright eyed since 5:02 this morning? I woke up to her crouched by my bed, big, bright, happy face, smiling she said, "Danyo's alseep on the floor, isn't that 'laywious!?

Yes. It's hilarious. Go to bed.

"Oh yeah, I'm also SO SCARED."

No you aren't, go back to your bed.

"Oh, I fuhgot. Hee hee!"

Now it's 9:45 in the morning and I've been awake waaaaaaaaay too long for it to only be 9:45 in the morning.

Avee's friend is here this morning. Avee bragged to her that she was going to rub two sticks (that were in fact, laying on my living room floor) together and make fire.

Ella yelled, "NOOOOOO! Yaw mom will have to call 9-1-1!!!!"

Why is that so funny to me? Probably because I have been up since 5 AM.

Today I have so many things I'd like to get done. I know a lot of people say things like that frequently. I'm not one of those people. I'm very happy to settle in mediocrity and underachieving. I never make lists, I rarely accomplish what I set out to in a day, and I almost always don't care. I am the antithesis of my very best friends in this way. They are list-making hyper achievers.

But today, I have a list and some things really have to be accomplished. Like "Buy pretzels and juice and napkins" and "Take pretzels and juice and napkins to Avee's preschool".

Other than that, I'm pretty sure nothing else will get done. Because it's a rainy day and I bought a whole bunch of different herbal teas yesterday (it's like I knew!) and Ugly Betty Netflix.

And I got up at 5 AM.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why I Don't Want Danyo Doing My PR

I was telling my cousin the other day, that as much as I know it's a dumb way to think, I can't help falling into the trap of believing my kids are a walking advertisement for me and my parenting. I'd say "us and our parenting" but memories of J laughing uncontrollably at Avee when she stole a beanbag by way of her undies comes to mind....

My cousin, who knows me very well said, "I'm really surprised, I wouldn't have thought you would be that way."

Sometimes I can get my head clear, and just let it go. But other times I find myself harping on Bo incessantly or mortified when Avee loudly exclaims her love of my armpits. Well, smelling them. See, now that didn't make it any better.

Every finger up the nose, every dirty fingernail, every loudly exclaimed, "Oh cwap!", every blank stare of incomprehension, every unreturned library book, every squirmy child in church....is like a C- or even a D on my report card of life.

But why? These kids CAME this way! I had no idea how much of a concerted effort it took to keep kids from being disgusting, socially inappropriate, weirdos. I thought that kind of stuff was learned behavior. Turns out, being normal is learned. Who knew?

It is one of my goals to let go of this societal or self-imposed pressure to present perfection. It's almost laughable that I even have this is as a goal. For myself, personally, I feel no such pressure---but when it comes to my kids, I want them to be a walking neon sign touting my exemplary parenting.

With that said:

Danyo just may be the death of me.

Bo was born smiling and used to crain his neck, reach his body in unnatural ways to make eye contact and smile at people. He LOVED people. Still does. Yesterday at the church potluck he sat a table away from us, chatting away with all the kids from one family, and another adult in a different family. He didn't want us, need us, and was in heaven surrounded by lots of people.

Avee has spent the better portion of her life, staring boldy at people, silently daring them to tell her how cute she is. Yesterday she was doing an Avee-version of a handstand. During one of them, her elbows must have given out because she faceplanted. I saw the whole thing and while I kept my expression the same, I was fully prepared to comfort her wounded pride and possibly, nose. She sprung up, swung around to anyone who might have seen and declared, "That was AWESOME, only I can do that!" She, aware of the public, wants to please them.

Then there's Little D. When he suspects someone might address him or even look at him, he snarls. The other day he stood at the door like a guard dog and growled at the UPS man for putting his hands inside our house to hand me a package. At the store he points at people menacingly and yells, "NO! STOP!" and a few other unintelligible things that I'm certain are expletives.

Last night I told him to be quiet and lay down. He barked, "Ut up!"

We have a rule in our house. It's an unspoken one, but it's there. The rule is, you have to be smarter or more well-spoken than the person you are bossing around.

He broke that rule. Whatsmore, we don't say shut up. Really, ever. I suspect Avee mutters it in defiance when sent to her room, and that's where he's learned it.

When I didn't "ut up" right away, and insisted that he lay down, he scrambled for his bottle of water and aimed the top of it at me like a gun. Um, what?!

In the privacy of our own home, I have a hard time keeping a straight face. This kid still has chubby cheeks. He can say about 8 words clearly. He's mastered the little puppy dog look with his eyes. He's a little small for his age. The combination is all very entertaining for me.

But put this naughty little cherub out in public, and I'll be mortified.

It doesn't help that he is fascinated with trucks, has the classic impediment when saying "truck" and loves to yell every time he sees one.

Between that and Avee's mispronunciation of the word fog, I think Bo's convinced we're all going to hell (or the skills room).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Confessions of a _________________

Hi Guys.

I really want to be a blogger again. Regularly, I try to drum up some action in my noggin, and as you can see, it doesn't happen.

There are so many things that seem to get in the way of my blogging. Big and important and time-consuming things like:
French Fries
16th Century Historical Fictions
Ugly Betty on DVD
Sleeping
My hawt husband
Danyo the Dictator of keyboards

Those are the biggest things I can come up with off the top of my head.

Since I got married and started having children, always in the back of my mind has been the goal and desire to go back to school for a Masters or PhD. I mull it over and talk it out with J regularly.

Except lately, I haven't. I realized I was letting apathy creep into my body. I would be content just puttering around eating PBJs and taking naps. To be perfectly honest, I can hardly think of anything better right now....

This realization set some other realizations into motion and I think it might be safe to say I have let myself go. Some of you who live near me might contest the implied "recentness" of that sentence. It may be more accurate to say "I've been gone".

I do love french fries though.

I guess I'm telling you this so you know that it's not just my blog I'm neglecting. It's also my dreams, my ambitions, my leg hairs, and periodically, my children.

I'm gonna get on that.

In other news. My kids are still awesome and funny and I love them. Yay!

Today I went shopping with Danyo. Just Danyo. It was so nice because when he was screaming and threatening to jump head first out of the cart and scatching at my face for buckling him in, I didn't have to deal with anyone ramming the cart into other people, or displays, or tell anyone I'm not paying $3 for a couple of ritz crackers and pre-cut turkey and cheese, or apologize for running over Avee for the third time because she slid across the floor (purposely) under the wheels of the cart (accidentally). It's so nice shopping with just one.

Anywho, I got him a big ol' plastic cart full of beach toys for $3. Beach toys always come in handy in Iowa. I also bought him a pack of pens. AND a pin wheel thing. That was 50 cents, if you are interested.

Guess what he held the entire time, at the checkout I had to pry from his hands, in the car he sang to it and about it, and has now gone down for a nap, snuggling it.

If you guessed the Great Value Canola Oil Cooking Spray, you are a genius.

The one constant with my kids is, they are all weird.

That's all I have to say about that.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Of Apple Trees and Parent Teacher Conferences

Today I signed up for Avee's little preschool Parent-Teacher conference.
I remembered so vividly longing for one with Bo's preschool. I wanted to hear the words, "Your boy is a genius". I wanted them telling me they'd never seen a child with such brilliance, and that it was obvious he got it from me. I wanted them to tell me he was perfect, and we were doing everything right.

The preschool he went to didn't have their conferences until March or so. There they told me, "He's really quite bright. He can't tie his shoes, he can't hop on one leg 4 times in a row, we love him, he's pretty much like every other kid in our class."

That sort of knocked me back to reality. I forget sometimes that we all think our kids are adorable geniuses with the great potential to be walking advertisements for our parenting prowess.

So, here it is, not quite two years later, and I'm going to a conference for Avee in a week. The funny thing is...

Before I went to Bo's, I could have recited every little thing they would tell me.
He loves letters and numbers. He plays alone a lot. He gets along with everyone, but doesn't single out any one person as a friend. He has a great sense of humor. He cannot keep his hands to himself. He really hates those kids up the road who stole his scooter 6 months ago...

I know that boy. Backward and forward. I know what will delight him. I know what will amuse him. I know what will hurt his feelings. I know what he loves. I know what makes his lower lip tremble. I know he'd choose an American Flag birthday cake over a balloon or rainbow one (although, a rainbow one would be a close second). I know that 90% of his waking thoughts right now are about Harry Potter and Professor Flitwick, and Snape, and Voldermort. The other 10% are "how can I get more junk food" and "How can I annoy Avee the most."

And then there's Avee.

I wonder WHAT in the HECK her teachers are going to tell me. She's sweet? That's generic. She insists that the Y at the end of her name goes in the middle? Hardly a character definition. She wants to be a princess? When it suits her.

I truly pride myself on what I know about that girl. When I find the right angle to get her to eat her food, or wear a more seasonally appropriate outfit, I literally feel like I've won an Olympic gold medal. I've figured her out, if only for a brief moment.

I barely know what makes her tick. I don't know what motivates her impulsive and frequent bear hugs and "I love you so much mom's" through clenched teeth. Clenched with so much love. I don't know why she won't stop crying sometimes when she gets upset. I don't know how she manages to be so forgiving and loving with Danyo. I don't know if she really thinks she is his mom. I don't know if she knows any numbers past 13. I don't know if she really doesn't know the letter "J" exists. I don't know why sometimes she sneaks upstairs and puts on diapers. Or why sleeping in her old toddler bed thrills her. I don't understand her obsession with the word "butt". I don't know a lot about this girl. The truth is, I don't understand her. She is a mystery. Sometimes she seems so easy to understand, predictable even. But whenever I really start thinking I have a handle, I'm almost always mistaken.

As I'm thinking about these things on my ride home, I realize....

I've pretty much summed up J's experience of being married to me. It's all so very clear in my head, but I'm afraid my apple, Avee, hasn't fallen far from this tree.

I'm sorry J. For what you have to work with, you are amazing.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Just A Peek Into The Chaos That Is My Mind

Just now I sat down to post and opened up a comment box in my previous post to do it.
This is how I have been operating of late.

This morning I was trying to persuade Avee to go with me to check out the preschool she is going to tomorrow. She assured me that she already knew they had ponies, and that was enough for her to know she'd like it.

I listed off some other things she could see if she went with me, knowing full well her mind was made up and she wasn't interested.

Suddenly she interrupted my list and said, "Wait! Is breakfast included?!"

It's rare that people can get such a hearty guffaw from me like that. Especially teeny little four year old people.

Danyo hurt his toe in June (pretty badly), had to have a hold drilled in the toenail to relieve pressure, toenail eventually fell off, etc. A week and a half ago he re-injured it.

If you meet Danyo today he will show you his toe. He stills says very few words. But "toe" and "ouch" are two we hear every day.

I do not tire of hearing him complain about his toe (it does not hurt him anymore, it's just the memory of two painful injuries on the SAME toe that has affected him the most) because I am just like him. And I know his need to let everyone hear about his suffering.

Bo has been playing outside with a 3-year-old since he got out of school today. This is the same boy who has sought out older kids from the moment he could walk. He even exclaimed today, "Sebi's a pretty nice kid!" I wish I could teach him how very much it is in his control how nice or not nice kids are. The not-nice ones don't get the pleasure of his company. The nice ones do. That might be very Nobody-esque though, I've always thought of my presence as some sort of reward for the masses. Where did I get that idea?

First grade seems to be going well for the little guy. He's kind of obsessed with food, always saying he's hungry when he's not. I don't know what that's all about. J thinks it coincides with the departure of his best friend Caleb. I think J's going all psychoanalytical on me and that's MY JOB. He may be right. Caleb's family leaving left a hole in all our hearts. I'm filling mine with Oreos and french fries. Oh wait, that's what Bo is trying to do, only I keep telling him he can't. That's not very nice of me.

I noticed a lot of discussion throughout Facebook about Obama's speech to schools. I'm not entirely sure I ever actually formed a complete opinion on the matter. I think there's some mistrust with Obama, even with people who voted for him, particularly with his speech-giving. He is an excellent public speaker. He's rousing, and and he taps into just the right rhetoric that gets to people. Myself included, with the exception of his channeling Bob the Builder during his campaign. That just made me laugh. But so far, there hasn't been a whole lot to back up all that good tawkin'. For me, that somewhat lent itself to some skepticism. Turns out he was just going to say to our children, what we should be saying, and preaching, and living ourselves. In some ways it makes me sad that such a basic idea has to be the grand message our president gives. How come 'Merican's have gotten so lazy when it comes to taking care of our children? If you are reading this, I don't mean you. Clearly you are a superb parent.

Oh man, I need to give it up. This blogging business just isn't flowing for me right now.

Glad you could join me for the ride.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Bloggers I Met

In the back of my mind, for the past month and a half has been a post on my trip to Utah. Now it's getting to the point where referring to my nearly 2 month old vacation is just lame.

On the other hand, I've never really objected to being lame before, have I?

In July, I took my three kids, my 16 year old niece and her best friend, to Utah. Having my niece and her friend proved to be invaluable. They were wonderful at putting out the little fires and I could focus on driving and not speeding. I messed that up a little bit in the middle of Kansas. But really, has anyone ever made it through Kansas without getting a ticket? The last time I got a ticket was almost exactly 7 years ago on our honeymoon, heading back to St. Louis.

Anyway.

We visited lots of people and had a grand time. But I want to mention three bloggy friends I got to meet up with. One for the first time, and two are ollllllllld news 'round here. :)

First was Yvonne. I met her last year at a blogger party and I liked her immediately, and REALLY liked her by the end of our weekend. But there were a lot of people and not a whole lot of one on one time with anyone.

So, I was looking forward to getting to sit and chat with just her. Granted, Bo and Avee were there, stealing a little of my thunder, but whatever. They do that ALL the time. When we finally parted ways, I thought we had talked for about 45 minutes. It was uh---over two hours. And still it wasn't long enough, but my kids were climbing trees and threatening to wet their pants and whatnot. We talked nonstop. She is funny and wise and kind and insightful and one of those people who when you talk to, you feel like they are your biggest fan. And then you realize they make EVERYONE feel that way. Which is a really cool way to be, if you ask me.

She let me show off Bo talking about geometry. And didn't roll her eyes once. She's just that classy, people. And she saw Avee in full-Avee form. Climbing trees in a dress and making everyone around us leap to their feet to save her. She never needs saving though.

It was a definite highlight of my Utah visit. Thanks for taking the time, Yvonne. Hmm, I hope she reads this blog...

The next day I met Sister Pottymouth for lunch. I don't know if she was nervous meeting me for the first time, but I realized as I was driving to meet her that I wasn't one ounce nervous, just really, really, excited. And she did not disappoint. I have to say, she's a total hottie in real life, and I didn't expect that. Not because I'd seen pictures that were contrary, I just wasn't expecting that kind of hotness from someone named "Pottymouth". :) She also just had a baby a year ago, and me, I had a baby TWO years ago and still look like I'm pregnant, and that showers are just beyond my grasp. Maybe I was so enamored with her writing, I never paid attention to anything else.

She gave me a cute little handmade bag filled with goodies for the kids. I was just really struck by the thoughtfulness of this. One of the goodies was play-dough. Another was a rocket/slingshot Spiderman. I'm thinking perhaps Sister Pottymouth had something against me before she even met me. On the other hand, the kids thought the flying Spiderman on the trip home was HIIIIILAAAAAARIOUS.

We also talked nonstop. Danyo was with me on this visit. He's a totally obnoxious lunch date and it was frustrating for me, and I was sweating like a pig within 12 minutes of meeting SP, but she didn't point and laugh once. At least not that I saw. She was very good with Danyo and I guess he was appreciative because after about 15 minutes of being a terd, he just stopped and was totally delightful for the rest of the time. That NEVER happens. I believe he was the one that rounded out the visit with a good ol' poop. Between the three of us, it was bound to happen, I guess.

Sister Pottymouth made me want to move back to Utah. I think we would be fantastic IRL friends. I could show up at her house for lunch, she could make me lunch...the possibilities really are endless. I really like her. She was easy to talk to, funny, engaging, and picked a REALLY yummy lunch place. Her first three kids are all boy, and the youngest boy is just a little younger than Bo. She's sorta been there, done that, on the parenting boys front---as far as I'm concerned. It was good to talk to her about some things Bo says or does---I live to hear the words, "that's pretty normal". Sadly, she didn't assure me of that much when I talked about myself. I look forward to more visits with SP. And lunch too.

We also shared a brief round of "It's a Small World" which I always enjoy. She knows, by way of her husband, my friends Rob and Mary Ann.

Then I was out one day running some errands when Lil' Ms. Klin sent me a text, and it turns out, I wasn't very far from her house at all. Our visit was quick, but still a breath of fresh air. Klin is a "take you as you are" kind of girl. I love them kinds of peeps. She's also a therapist, and I think this kind of attribute is especially useful in being a good therapist. I guess the therapist part of that is, "Take you as you are" and then "help you be even better".

I have no doubt, if I had turned up and been all clepto at her house, she would have still been kind and happy to see me, but probably would have engaged in a little more "help you be even better" action.

Don't worry I didn't steal. Much.

I got to meet three of her children, and her husband.

Klin does foster care and I have all kinds of respect and admiration for people who do that. Her having foster children wasn't new to me, meeting two of her children and one of her foster children, I was just reminded of how cool I think she is. While I was standing in her home, it struck me how cool her husband was too. I think it's generally more natural and "easy" for a woman to be nurturing and have that desire to take care of children who are in need. But I think it takes a pretty great guy to be involved and supportive and provide that good home life for those kids. Is that sexist? I meant it to be a compliment.

Danyo got his kitty fix. He calls all animals "Daddy". It reminds me of how Bo used to call all cheese by-products and Jesus, "Cheese." There is no end to the amusement it provides me.

The visit was quick, but wonderful. Klin is good people. I'm gonna grow up to be just like her. She also loaded Danyo up with some goldfish crackers and sent some treats for Bo and Avee. Bo and Avee don't even know her, but they looooooooooove her.

And this doesn't even touch the the rest of the awesomeness of my trip, but I always like to read/hear about new bloggers (or even "old" ones I already read), so I thought I'd share.

The End.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Everything That I Do

Avee is sobbing hysterically on the couch. I'm tough, but not so callous that I haven't tried to comfort her. 4 times. I've been punched 6 times. So I'm going to let the plastic hanger she's trapped her legs in, console her.

I took Bo and Avee to run a few errands, the last of which was the post office. I hate the post office. With a passion greater than these words can convey. I hate their prices, I hate their lines, I hate how 9 out of 10 of the employees aren't friendly because they don't have to be, and I hate their lines. Oops. Already said that.

So anyway, Bo and Avee have been delightful errand companions and I'm thinking this mothering gig just might be something I can do. As I approach the counter and plunk my stuff down, I hear the employee two stations over gasp. I turn and she's pointing in my direction and says, "Honey, you need to get down from there right now." I turn around, and there's pretty little Avee perched on the counter, happy as can be. I laughed that just two seconds before, she had been hanging on my legs, and suddenly, there she was 4 feet off the ground. I also laughed that a child dangling her little legs a few feet off the ground had made the worker gasp and insist Avee get down immediately.

I don't think she should climb on counters, just out of basic respect for public property, that's not what we do at post offices, etc. But acting like she was in mortal danger was a little much for me.

Apparently my little giggle was too much for Avee.

A couple of minutes afterward, I looked down to see Avee hiding her face and periodically flinging her arm out to hit in mine and Bo's general direction.

I seize the moment to show what a good, kind, attentive, caring, and intuitive mother I am. I pick Avee up and say gently, "No one is mad at you, it's okay---we just can't climb on things in the post office, this isn't a place for climbing." By "we" I meant "you" because I generally don't climb anything anymore.

So I get about 3/4 of the way through that brilliant little parenting moment and Avee slugs me and squirms from my arms. That's the other thing I hate about the post office. I couldn't really kick her in the kidneys like I wanted to, and I couldn't address the issue in any way because I still had to pay for the dang packages.

She nailed me a couple of more times in the thigh before I was done.

I dragged her out the door by her hair arm and gave her a whatfor outside the door.

I don't care how mad you are, or who you are mad at, you do not hit, it is not okay for you to hit me!

That's really how a parent. In unrealistic definitives through gritted teeth. If you must know.

In turn, Avee flung herself against the post office window I had just seen being cleaned as we walked in. There's a nice body print on it now.

Halfway home, with her wailing and me counting backwards from a million, to keep my cool, I think to ask her why she's so sad.

It's then that I learn that it was because of my teeny, tiny, millisecond laugh as I hoisted her off the counter.

Oh PUHLEEEEEEEEEASE!

Now I can't laugh? Is everything I do going to constantly be under scrutiny. We don't say shut up, we don't say stupid, we don't say butt. And NOW we don't laugh at funny little girls. At least not at the post office.

Bossy little dramatic girls make me want to fling myself at stupid post office windows.

We don't say stupid.