Thursday, April 30, 2009
Most cases of fun on my children's part come about because of a serious case of dumbness on my part. Case in point, today I took Emma out to run some errands. (Around here that usually means a trip to the BX. For you "non-military" types think Wal-Mart, but with less stuff.)

While I was looking for shipping tape, Emma spotted some Dora bracelet party favors so I agreed (read: caved) and got them for her. As I put one on her wrist, I noticed that the bracelet had a locket-type decoration on it and it looked like it opened. After fiddling with it for a minute, I slid open the top and inside was a pink, greasy, strawberry (I think) smelling lip balm (read: substance).

Now you are probably thinking here that this is where I went wrong. That you would just not tell her about the lip balm because you can foresee all the things that might happen if she discovered it. Well, yeah, you are probably right, but this is where dumb took over and rapidly became fun.

I was trying to mail some books for PaperbackSwap. Mailing anything here requires a PhD in Postal Sciences because there are so many forms and mailing methods so I was in deep concentration when Emma starts "piping up" with some "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"s. This is when it all fell apart. I opted to distract her by showing her the lip balm.

The good thing was that discovering the lip balm did keep her quiet while I answered all the questions and worked on my mailing project. The bad thing was after about a minute I realized that most of the people at the post office were pointing and laughing. When I looked around I saw why. Emma's face, hands, and arms were absolutely covered in pink lip balm. Not only had see smeared the lip balm on her mouth (not exactly on her lips even), but also over her eyes, cheeks, and hair. The air reaked of cheap, "Made in China" (and we all know what that means), lip balm substance.

So my options were to abandon the mailing project, cry, become overcome with embarrassment, or let it continue and pretend I didn't notice. Which one do you think I picked?
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
For a long time it's really bothered me that I'm never in any of the family photos. I have to make sure that I ask for my photo to be taken to document that I was present, but that's about it. One photo of me at the Great Wall of China, one photo of me in Saipan with the kids, one photo of me holding my newborn babies. If I don't ask, I don't even get that one photo.

I think this is a fairly typical "Mommy Syndrome" really, but it still bothers me. My kids won't be cute forever. I can't possibly be beautiful and loving forever. So, what gives?

Then I realized, it is because I was there. In a weird way my absence is a symbol of how much I get to see. I get to see Jack climbing the Great Wall and Emma's first trip to the beach. I get to be present at the birthdays and the preschool graduations. I get to live it, for better or worse. While it's nice to have the photos, I wouldn't trade them for getting to be there. Not for a minute.

Lucky me!
Apparently, not too much in the washer, but when it gets to the dryer it is a washing disaster.
Today as my kids were peacefully playing with my friend's, similarly aged, but slightly younger kids, it occurred to me that the peace we were enjoying (relative to play date peace, of course) was the result of an arranged marriage, of sorts. At least, an arranged friendship. And it is a beautiful thing.

When my son, Jack, who at nearly 6 is the oldest of the 4 kids, and my friend's oldest, whom I will call Wesley, (4 1/2 years old) first started playing together I wouldn't exactly say it was love at first sight.

My son is crazy in an "in your face" kind of way. (No idea where he gets it. Such a puzzle.) Wesley, more retiring. In fact, Jack spent a substantial amount of time unintentionally (most of the time, anyway) intimidating Wesley to tears. It would take about 20 minutes for them to warm up to each other. They would play for another 20 minutes and then the following conversation would typically occur:

J: Hey, W. Let's play Transformers.
W: But I don't like Transformers.
J: Come on, W. I want to.
W: But I don't like Transformers.
J: Why?
W: I just don't. Let's play kitty.
J: Yeah, let's play exploding kitty.
W: But I don't like that game.

And so it goes.

The problem was that my friend, Amy (assumed name), and I really hit it off. We wanted to hang out even if it killed us (or the kids). So we commiserated over the yelling and blood shed. Challenging, but worth it. (I think.)

But after a while, the pecking order was established though a variety of hazing incidents. Jack realized that Wesley is really a creative, imaginative soul like himself. And, Wesley seems to understand, most of the time, that Jack doesn't mean (much) harm and sometimes he has some really "good" ideas. (Such as riding the elevator alone and writing their names on the wall in marker.) Not only that, but they both have younger, "annoying" siblings upon whom they can "gang up" at their cooperative leisure.

So after months of playing, with mixed results, Jack and Wesley seem to have established a warm, loving friendship born of minimal respect, joint dislikes, and maximum irritation. Just like any budding marriage.

Now the conversations are much more like this:

W: Let's play kitty;
J: OK. But let's play exploding kitty.
W: All right, but you can be the kitty.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
In March, I posted about how to explain the common obstacles of military base living to your kids. Since then, a few more tips have come about and I want to make sure I share them with you so you can put them to good use.
  • "We're not allowed to take the strollers by the Patriot missles. We'll have to go around."
  • "No, the Giant Voice isn't God. It's just a recording."
  • "Which way is north? Well, you see those missiles over there. See where they are pointing? That's north."
  • "That guy down there? Which one the one with the gun or the one with the binoculars? Oh, he's just looking for someone....and him? He's just playing sniper today."
  • "Oh! Don't those explosions make it sound a bit like a bowling alley in here."
  • "I don't know why that guy is lying in the middle of the street. Perhaps he's looking for bugs."

Again, I hope this provides a useful service. If you have questions or need suggestions for handling your unique situation, please let me know.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Today I made the mistake of thinking I could tackle the job of cleaning out my "All Purpose Bag" (APB). As soon as I started, I remembered why I don't do it more regularly. Usually, I wait until a sippy cup leaks or a half-eaten cereal bar falls apart at the bottom of the bag, but I had some time (not enough) and the motivation (too much) and I thought I could get the job done. In the end, all I was able to do before being so rudely interrupted by my parenting responsibilities was to pull out 5 items.

The items were:
  • A Clinique lipstick with Emma-sized finger dents all over it
  • A half-eaten cereal bar impaled on a small, wire bristled hair brush (We'll just call that one item.)
  • A dried out dandelion wad
  • Mud covered, crusty, boy-sized socks
  • A blue, Crayola crayon with teeth marks
Anyway, I thought it might be fun to have a little sharing time. So, grab your APB, close your eyes, and pull out the first 5 things you touch. Tell me what's inside.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Recently, I've been wishing I had a super power. Perhaps it's the laundry piled up all over the floor or the body lotion wiped on the windows or just the desire to feel powerful for at least a few moments in a generally powerless life. But it got me thinking...which one, of all the possible super powers, would be the most useful?
  • Invisibility (to hide from all the demands)
  • Super speed (to run away...far, far away)
  • Super strength (to pick up super-sized laundry piles and the couch when I need to vacuum)
  • Invincibility (so that I don't get hurt when games turn bad)
  • Super volume (to make myself heard over all the whining)
  • Super selective hearing (to tune out all the whining excepting certain decibels)
  • OCD (to clean and feel satisfied by it)
  • Wings or other ability to fly (That one definitely sounds like the most fun, but might not solve too many of my concerns.)
All have their pluses and minuses and, like the Super Friends, one super power really isn't enough. I really need a few so that they can complement each other. After all, even Superman had a problem with Kryptonite.

What do you think? Help me decide.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I don't even need to blog today. Just read this (courtesy of Anna).

I blogged on similar concerns last year, if you are interested.

Had a couple of food science discoveries today....

  1. Over-ripe, but still safe-to-eat bananas left in backpacks take approximately 3 weeks to liquefy. If treated carefully, the skin will not rupture and will contain the liquefied banana. Banana daiquiri, anyone?
  2. Fresh milk left in a sippy cup for 9 days will end up having the consistency and smell of cheese. End product not taste tested.
  3. Fresh juice left in a sippy cup for 9 days will have the consistency of jello and smell of grain alcohol. Make your own Jello shots. End product not taste (or safety) tested.
  4. Starburst jelly beans submerged in muddy water take approximately 2 hours to disolve.
  5. Sticky rice left on clothes and put through the laundry (washer and dryer) will adhere to clothes forever...better than Super Glue.
  6. Apple hand lotion does not taste like apple butter on toast. (Nor does it taste like chicken.)
  7. Jello pudding makes excellent window paint. (Comes in various colors.)
  8. Fossilized block cheddar makes an excellent crayon substitute, especially on walls.
  9. Frozen peas that are left to dry out on the floor can be quickly reconstituted and fortified in muddy water.
  10. There is no such thing as too old to find palatable in the eyes of a toddler.
If I can learn all this in one day, imagine what I'll learn by the end of the year.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
We're all hyped-up on Easter candy at my house. After a fun day of reasonable games of egg hunting, candy, and other Easter fare, you'd think they'd be all tapped out. But, no. Any experienced parent will tell you that sugar and excitement don't mix well. (Not as well as, say, a gin and tonic or strawberries and cream.)

So, here I am listening to 2 brilliantly contrived, really, really annoying games.
  1. The Round-and-Round game
  2. The Cry Like a Baby game

The Round-and-Round game is just like it sounds. Running round and round and round and round the coffee table saying "Look, Mommy. I'm running round and round" at each turn around the coffee table. "Look, Mommy. I'm running round and round." Look, Mommy. I'm running round and round." "Look, Mommy. I'm running round and round." You get the picture.

Now, that is bad, but the Cry Like a Baby game is by far the worst. The game is also quite simple. Cry like a baby. The kid who can cry the loudest wins! Points are given for volume, pitch, and realism.

It's times like this when I reflect back on the ill-fated, overly romantic decision to have a second child, I seem to remember that part of that decision was the dream that one day they could play together.

Well, apparently, I'd had too much gin and tonic that day and I think I must have somehow also incorporated the idea of peace in to those play times. Never did I picture the Cry Like a Baby game. Never. It's bad enough to hear a baby crying for real...just imagine the repercussions of crying as a GAME!

So I'd also like to take minute to thank the Easter Bunny for his/her delivery this year. It is greatly appreciated and deeply meaningful that he/she thought of us.

But next year, I'm not buying a calendar, watching, TV, or shopping in the hopes that I will never know when it's coming round and round again.

Oh, swell. It looks like they are moving on to the Throw the Uncapped Free-from-the-Community Egg Hunt Highlighter at Each Other Naked game. Gotta run.

Saturday, April 11, 2009
Child 1: Let's play "Baby".
Child 2: OK, I'm the Daddy and you're the Mommy.
Child 1: They are the babies.
Child 2: OK, I'll get the guns.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Yesterday, I accidentally lost my brand-spanking new iPod Touch down the side of the couch. This is an unexpectedly perilous place in my house not only because of the bits of old food and such, but also because there is an upholstery nail/staple that is not properly tapped in. (Found that out the hard way. Lots of blood and gore a little too close to the wrist for my taste. Generally, I want to be the one in charge of slitting my wrists; not have it happen in some kind of freak accident.). But I digress.

Anyway, I couldn't get my hand far enough inside my couch to retrieve the iPod, so I had to turn the couch over and pull off the lining from underneath. While I was there, I found an interesting and surprisingly (to me, anyway) large collection of detris both in the couch and underneath it.

Here is a list of items recovered from under my couch (I'll leave in the couch for another post):
  • 1 Twizzler (fossilized)
  • 6 plastic balls (various colors)
  • 3 pacifiers under the couch/3 pacifiers in the couch (but that's for the other list)
  • 31 Cheerios (stale)
  • 1 Twix (minus caramel and chocolate top/plus teethmarks)
  • 5 Lego men (2 without heads, 1 without arms)
  • 27 Lego pieces of varying sizes
  • 2 sets of ear bud headphones (all without the padding that fits inside the ear and makes the comfortable courtesy of Emma who likes you pull them off and use them like gum.)
  • 3 thumb drives (all missing caps)
  • 1 camera case
  • 4 remotes (ah, there they are!)
  • 1 light saber (blue)
  • 2 books
  • 1 cordless telephone handset
  • 3 clumps of Play Doh (dried)
  • 6 Crayola Washable crayons
  • 5 wooden blocks
  • 1 sippy cup with old milk (don't quite know how that fit)
  • 1 laptop
  • 8 misc. snack wrappers
  • 1 empty water bottle
  • 1 Cloisonne egg
  • 1 knife
  • 1 spoon
  • 1 fork
  • 1 side plate
  • 2 napkins (balled up)
  • 2 DVDs (sans cases)
  • large distribution of crushed Salt and Vinegar Pringles (various sizes, stale)
  • 1 slice of red apple (dehydrated)
Talk about a slice of life. Yikes! You know, it really wasn't that long ago that I vacuumed under there. (Yes, really!)
Thursday, April 2, 2009
It's recently been brought to my attention that I talk to myself...A LOT. I knew that my brain was always having "conversation", but I didn't realize that I was actually vocalizing these conversations. One day, I was talking to my husband and wasn't getting the impression he was listening. I asked him if he was and he actually said, "Oh, I thought you were talking to yourself again." Again? Huh?

Between you and me, on the privacy of my own blog, this is more than a little alarming because I often think about the things I wish I could say to people if I were braver and less sensitive to the feelings of others. I always wish I were good at the witty or pointed retort so sometimes I practice with myself in preparation for the next time someone affronts my unusually gentle persona.

Perhaps I really am losing my mind. In some ways, I think that might be a comfort. No more hiding behind the illusion of competence and normalcy. I don't think there is another personality emerging and I believe that I'm beyond the years of schizophrenia onset, but I'm starting to wonder if I need to at least name my conversational alter-ego so that people don't really think I'm crazy.

I do spend a ridiculous amount of time alone or at least in the absence of other adult conversationalists. As much as I love my children, they just can't debate the methods of removing the grease stain from my favorite shirt or why the floor is so dirty when I just cleaned it or even why the third season of "Big Love" has not been released yet on iTunes.

Perhaps what I'm really dealing with is the fact that I've not slept properly in more than 5 years, my neurons aren't firing as sharply as in my pre-parenting life, and, let's face it, I'm the best chance of meaningful conversation I've got on a daily basis (afterall, I'm really quite agreeable and supportive) when most of the day my only other option is the sometimes completely rational tirads of a two and a half-year old's mind.

My big fear now is that I will be talking to myself on the elevator and someone will turn to me and say, "Excuse me? I didn't hear you." So, if you see me, just pretend that you don't hear me. It's really not worth your time trying to get in on the conversation. My new imaginary friend, Talula, can handle it.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Upon delivering my daughter's breakfast this morning, we had the following conversation:

Me: "Et voila, ma cherie...Your breakfast."
Daughter: "Koala Tom and Jerry you, too, Mommy."
Hit "Mommy Rock Bottom" this afternoon so I thought I'd "carefully" adapt a little John Donne to make myself feel better.

Mommy be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore Mommy, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And Mommy you can be more; Mommy, thou shalt not die (today at least).

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