Monday, December 13, 2010

Life changing advice, really. Where's his blog?
Thursday, December 9, 2010
This one is short and sweet, but VERY important to your family's ability to afford food....

Make sure that your children understand that OnDemand movies COST MONEY before they are old enough to find OnDemand on their own.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Emma is a bad sleeper. Waking up multiple times a night is more common than sleeping through. She's been in a wake-up phase recently and usually once I'm "on to her" I can get some reprieve by telling her at bedtime I am nearby, but will not come unless it is important. I make her repeat that she will not call me if she wakes up. Usually, this makes a small amount of difference.

So last night, as I was kissing her good night, I reminded her that I wouldn't be coming in. She agreed and said "only if I'm sick." "That's right. I'll come if you got sick and needed me to give you medicine or something." "OK, Mommy. Night night."

Then, at 1:32 AM, I'm pulled from a rare deep sleep by Emma yelling "Mommy, I think I'm going to be sick!"

I leap out of bed before I'm even awake and rush to her room to find her all cozy in bed waiting for me.

She repeated herself and said, "Mommy, I think a drink would make me feel better."

In a daze, I handed her the cup that was FULL BESIDE HER BED, told her that she was naughty, and went back to bed where I tossed and turned for the next 2 hours until I finally passed out.

Looking back on it now, I should have spiked her drink.
Monday, December 6, 2010
After several unreasonable early morning requests in lieu of sleep in my cozy bed, I lost my temper with Emma this morning and told her, "Don't drive me! I'm not a bus!"

I was worried that she wouldn't get the point. It was a somewhat abstract reference. My worry didn't last long because it was until about 10 minutes later when...

EMMA: Mommy, please can I be the boss?
ME: Of course, you can pretend to be the boss. You can play whatever you want.
EMMA: No! I want to be the real boss!
Sunday, December 5, 2010 Air Freshener War.

Bet you are wondering what that is, aren't you?

Well, for your future reference, an Air Freshener War is when you are on the phone trying to work out a complicated technical problem with your hosting server (a problem which requires the technical support rep to use phrases, such as "we call this a hail mary attempt" and "when was the last time you did a database backup?") and your attention-deprived children who have  become bored waiting for your undivided attention discover two room air fresheners. The war part is pretty self-explanatory.

The result is also self-explanatory.

The nausea is unexpected.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Well, Hell just froze over and I'm officially an adult. All in one day! Middle-age-ish came to slap me hard in the face today when Jack's friend, I'll call him Waldo, came over to play after school.

When I sat down on the couch to take a breath and sit in peaceful cartoon bliss for a moment while the kids sucked on their Incredible Hulk Popsicles and chomped on their Swedish Fish (courtesy of Costco!), my big fat butt hit the "off" button on the remote and the TV was torn asunder. The complaining took mere seconds to errupt.

In the stress of the moment, I couldn't get the remote on the right setting to turn it back on. (We have one of these. Surely, it should be obvious why immediate gratification was a little delayed since I do not possess a PhD in remote science.) After taming my dismay with a few unhappy grunts, Waldo pipes up....

"It's ok. A lot of ladies have that problem when they get old."

The best part was that, when what he said finally sunk in, I told him I was going to tell his mother what he said. At which point, he said "No, don't! My mom will kill me!"

Well, you know what they say....payback's a bitch.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
When left to their own devices children will create their own functional microchosm. It took my kids less than an hour to come to this point.

After a busy Thanksgiving, I was taking a little time out in my bed reading and listening to the kids play. I knew my time was up when I hear the following conversation:

JACK: Hey, Emma. Let's go outside.
JACK: We can play deer hunter. You are the deer and I am the hunter.

Sounds of back door opening.

JACK: I'll shoot you. When you get hit, you lie down. OK?
JACK: Now, run! Fast!

Isn't there some book about that?  If not, I'm gonna write it.
Monday, November 8, 2010
If you are new to my blog, this little story should clue you in to what I'm up against on a daily basis.

A few nights ago, I was reading to the kids from a series that I enjoyed when I was growing up, The Mr. Men series by Roger Hargreaves. Since I was a kid, the series has expanded quite a bit to include the "Little Miss" stories. Basically, each story has a simply drawn character called "Mr." or now "Little Miss" Something. The "something" describes a characteristic or personality trait, such as "Happy", "Mean", etc. and the stories tell about an experience each character has based on his/her character trait (or flaw, in some cases). These are low-end British classics that many of the Brits in my generation were read as children, but I digress.

So there we were reading Little Miss Magic which is about a character who has magic powers through which everything she wants to happen does. In the story, she uses the power for good and to accomplish some basic tasks, such as "toast" makes her bread toast or "boil" makes her kettle boil.

At the end of the story, Emma (4-years old) stood up and realized she couldn't go where she wanted to because my legs were in her way. She yelled, "Move!" and, in surprise, I moved my legs. (Normally, I would demand that she say "please" no matter how rude she is being. After all, I am perfect.)

Anyway, after quickly moving my legs, she announced, "That's magic!" and walked away.

Imagine the insight I got from that little encounter. God help me!
Monday, October 25, 2010
As I stuck the meat thermometer in the london broil last night, Emma pops up and asks me what I'm doing. I explained that I was checking to see if the meat was hot enough to eat. To which Emma asked, "is he sick?"
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
One of the very best parts of being a parent is that you get to say all the cool things that you never thought you'd ever say. You get to mix up words that were never meant to occupy the same sentence and you might even get to have a laugh while you're at it.

Who wouldn't laugh if you could spend you whole day saying things like:
  • The rhinoceros can come, but the giraffee and the lion have to stay behind to have a bath.
  • Oh, hello Mr. Spiderman. Would you like to have some tea?
  • Get down from the roof before it collapses.
  • Not everyone wants to be shot at from a car. It wouldn't be fun for them unless they had a gun of their own. Right?
  • If Barbie was pregnant with hamsters, she would definitely make a great circus act.
This is all fine and good until it comes back to bite in the proverbial a%@. Like today, for example, when my 7-year old said, "Mommy, let's dial down the crazy for a minute. OK? I am trying to say something." I mean really, what can you say to that?
Friday, September 10, 2010
For those of you who think I'm too "soft" as a parent, this will help you reconsider.

3:00 AM Monday

EMMA: Mommeeeee!
ME: (Snort. Groan. Slobber.) What?
EMMA: Mommy, can you tickle my back?
ME: No.

See, I told you!
Monday, August 23, 2010
ME: Where's Bubbles?
EMMA: Eating Goldfish.
ME: Where?
EMMA: In the bag?
ME: Don't put Bubbles in the Goldfish bag.
EMMA: Why?
ME: She might poop on them.
EMMA: I don't care.
ME: Well, do you want to eat goldfish covered in hamster poop?
EMMA: Maybe. I don't know.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
After two spectacular weeks at the beach, we came home last night, relaxed, went to bed, and woke up this morning blissfully unaware of what the morning would bring. Lucky me was going to get the morning "off" because my husband is visiting and was going to take the kids to have breakfast at the ILs.

At least, that was what was supposed to happen. I was getting the kids dressed and ready to go when I went downstairs to the family room (where our 3 hamster cages are kept) looking for my daughter's shoes. I suspected they would be beside (and hopefully not in) the cages.

Unfortunately, the shoes were not beside (or in) the cages and, for that matter, neither were the hamsters. After spinning around to pin both children in my sights, I made the assessment that the only visible hamster present was "Bubbles" (the remaining baby hamster from our recent hamster stash). Bubbles was in the tender loving care of the kids, but the other two "grown-up" hamsters, Sugar and Rose, were nowhere to be seen.

The conversation went a little something like this:

SON: Um, I don't know.
DAUGHTER: Me either.
SON: Um, yeah. Sugar wanted to play in the fire truck.
ME: And, where is Sugar playing now?
SON: I don't know.
ME: And Rose?
SON: Well, she wanted to drive Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
ME: Where was the last place you saw Sugar?
SON: He was driving the fire truck.
ME: What about Rose?
SON: In my room. I think.

A that was the beginning of the Great Hamster Chase. We spent about 30 minutes looking for the little critters cuties, but to no avail. When it was clear that we were getting nowhere fast, my husband made the brilliant suggestion that he take the kids out and I can sit in each room with the power-off and listen for them. And there went my morning "off".

The kids were piled in to the car and I was left lurking around each room of the house looking for hamsters. The good news is Sugar was found mysteriously on top of the train table. The bad news is Rose is still MIA.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
I am so glad I chose tonight to start family dinners back at the kitchen table. I've missed the time with my kids. Just getting to enjoy their company and hear all the cool things they have to say.

On a related note, I got to use a garbage disposal for the first time in more than 3 years.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Honestly, even though I know I haven't updated my blog in FOREVER,  I really can't believe it hasn't been longer. It has been so long, in fact, that my browser doesn't even autofill my blog when I start to type it out which makes me think I should really just rename the darn thing.

I'm starting to go through a "it's just too difficult to type phase" and a few times recently it's really irked me. Like the name "Lloyd", for example. Why, why, why, does it have to have 2 Ls? Then, that awkward "yd" construction at the end. I would be more tolerant of it if it was just spelled phonetically...Loyud. Loyud.....much better.

Which brings me to the very important, never to be ignored, parenting tip of the day: So, when naming your child spend a little extra time emphasizing phonetics and a little less time being fancy. Please. I beg of you, remember the type-factor.

Anyway, on to the update. Since we last met, life has exploded (or maybe vomited is more like it) all over the neighborhood. Right after the Wiggles...I mean, Barenaked Ladies concert, I was riding high. So what if my rented walls were crumbling asbestos dust and lead paint all over my pretty bamboo display and so what if my rented 80-year old garage door collapsed on my head or the 20 koi in my fish pond up and died in a dramatic, yet stinky, display one night. I was willing to suck it up. Never planning to move again. And, then...

Apparently I lost my mind, again, and decided to buy my animal-crazed kids (who are allergic to cats and dogs) an easy to care for pet. Hamsters. Two kids, of course, means two hamsters. And, like the sensible pet buyer, I made sure that I had two boy hamsters. (Looking back now, I think I should have just sprung for a box of animal crackers. Or two.)

Then, 3 short blissful weeks later, I am disturbed from my Facebook reverie by incessant squeaking. I ignored it for as long as I could, but finally decided that I was going to "put an end to all that racket". Upon peering in the cage, I see three pink fingers wiggling around in the cage. Once I double checked that I didn't lose a finger or three, I realized that they were, in fact, baby hamsters. What!?!?!

Today, 4 weeks later, I have finally got a final count on the actual number of hamsters we have bred. Nine! Nine little pooping, peeing, squeaking, fluffy little bundles of joy running around a cage made for one.

But back to the house...

After realizing that the house I was living in was about to collapse and that the homeowners were not interested in anything but the money they were getting for rent, I sort of, kind of entertained the idea of moving. Twenty-four hours later, I have a contract on a house. Huh?!?!? Damn hamsters.

Then, I thought, well, this would be a good time to the year long purge of my belongings. This bright idea ended up with me giving away-among other things-all of my books, winter clothes (all of them!), and winter bedding. As it is so hot right now, I can't imagine ever needing those things again. I'm now hoping for a long, hot winter.

After an elaborate moving plan, that involved hiring some teenagers, a friend who is a human dynamo, 2 trucks, and lots of plastic storage bins in a three-phase moving process, I was able to move everything to the new house with as little packing material as possible. Phases one and two was up to me (and my team of well-qualified 14 and 15-year olds...including the former governor of Virginia's lovely daughter) and phase three was up to the military.

It was going so well that I thought I might completely skip the phase of moving where I break out in to hives. Turns out, I only need to see a professional mover and smell just a whiff of a single moving box and it triggers the most horrendous allergic/stress response. Thank God I keep an excellent supply of Benedryl on hand for just about every occasion.

So we moved. Again. Two kids, 11 hamsters, myself, a case of Benedryl, and 10,000 lbs of my most important things. Damn hamsters.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Last night I went to see the Barenaked Ladies in REAL LIFE!!! I love BNL and have been waiting to see them for years since the last two attempts I made to see them flamed out in the execution phase.

It was a great show despite the 90+ degrees it was, but about halfway through the show I was distracted by a thought for about 10 minutes. The thought? Probably a question that many people as themselves when they see a concert..."What was the last concert I saw?"

I sat there racking my brain for the answer when it suddenly came in to focus. The last concert I saw was...The Wiggles when I was pregnant with Emma.

I was shocked (and slightly embarrassed)! The Wiggles? Really. Oh, how far I have fallen. The fact that I even list the Wiggles as a concert on my lengthy list of concert experiences seems a bit sad. That I enjoyed them, a bit pathetic. Even more sadly, I've seen them twice. (An honor shared only by George Thorogood, the Temptations, and Billy Joel.)

And when I realized that it really was The Wiggles, I found myself looking around to see if anyone could tell what I was thinking. Checked to make sure I was dancing and going-on as a grown adult at a concert. How could I ever be the same? Thank God, I apparently made a good real concert-poser and disguised my sordid past well.

I actually went through a mental "compare and contrast" process between BNL and the Wiggles. Turns out, in essence, the two weren't all that dissimilar. Both concerts were lively performances by skilled musicians who possess a level of musical intelligence of which I have only dreamed. The main difference was that the Wiggles started at 3 pm.

I wonder if they would ever consider doing a show together. BNL does have a really excellent children's album.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Depressing, but true. Turns out I was WAY off on the sock poll. Substantially more participants surveyed (a shocking 83%)  thought that it was more important for socks to be clean on the outside than on the inside.

Since I was the only person who voted for "clean on the inside", it appears I'm in the need of a major paradigm shift in my "beauty's only skin deep" philosophy. Crap...I guess it's time to start showering at the beginning of the day. (Or just make a bunch of new friends...that might be easier, actually.)
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Forget WD40. Here are some ways to use your favorite cooking spray for more than cooking. I prefer PAM original flavor because the smell of the olive oil one is too strong.

  • To remove rust
  • To get gum out of hair
  • To untangle knots in hair
  • To lubricate stuck parts on disused tools, such as wrenches
  • To treat the hinge on a squeaky door
  • To remove wax (crayon) from smooth surfaces
  • To unstick items stuck in locks (both keys and food products, such as gum)
  • To soften extremely dry patches of skin or to prevent chapping
  • To remove stickers from windows
  • To remove Bandaids from skin

Let me know if you know any other off-label uses.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
As I was cruising the isles at Target the other day, I stumbled upon this little pearl of brilliance...

Small enough to pop in the diaper bag or glove box. Convenient enough for the stressed-out parents' quick boxes. The only thing it doesn't come with is a straw! (Don't worry, I already e-mailed Target about that oversight. I think it will be fixed on the next production run.)

The other thing I don't understand was that I couldn't find it in the baby products isle.

Interesting question though, do you think the wine is packaged by Juicy Juice? Bet that was an interesting meeting to go to.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
For a while now, I've been having this conversation regularly.

CHILD: Who's coming?
ME: No one. I can't hear you very well though. I'm vacuuming.

I finally had the conversation in enough details that I figured out what the heck is going on. (Yes, I'm a little slow.)

ME: I'm going to tidy up you room.
DAUGHTER: My animals?
ME: Yes.
DAUGHTER: My books?
ME: Yes.
DAUGHTER: My ponies?
ME: Yes.
DAUGHTER: Even the big ones?
ME: Yes.


DAUGHTER: Who's coming?
ME: No one.
DAUGHTER: (disappointed) Oh.

(Insert the Ah-ha! moment here.)

ME: What!? Do you think that every time I clean someone is coming over?

Some people can be so stupid.

Don't forget to vote in my sock poll on the right.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The juice box is for scale.
Since I've been tossing tips left and right these days (well, at least once to the left right left right left), I thought I would delve in to a problem I alluded to on Facebook not so long ago. I really thought I might be able to get a straight answer for once, but not a single person took a stand to help me out. Shocking as that may be to most of you, I've decided to try again.

Due to the sheer quantity of laundry that I have to do, it should go without saying that I have no desire to make the job bigger than it already is. We all know how much I love the topic of laundry and I have an honest to God laundry dilemma. So here's about socks.

I hate the fact that socks are an item if clothing that only gets clean on one side. And that is at best, really, because most of the socks I wash are already balled up to such a degree that I'm pretty sure no water actually penetrates the dirty, stinky, knotted lump that is tossed with nary a care in to the machine. Socks are dirty from both the feet in them and the environment around them. Pretty disgusting really.

So what do I do? I want to wash my socks according to some reasonable standard that I can feel confident represents the average laundry aficionado's efforts. I don't want my kids to be any dirty (or any cleaner really 'cause that's just too much work) than the kids sitting next to them in class.

I will not wash them twice. Nor will I bleach them every time I put wash them. Half the time they are stuck down the leg of some one's jeans anyway.

What I want to know it more important that socks are clean on the inside or on the outside?

To answer this question, I'm posting a poll and asking you to vote. If you have extra tips, you are also welcome to post them in the comments as always. At the end of the week, where the votes were cast and will (probably) just do that.

Please note that all votes are anonymous (unless you make a comment, of course). Let me know what you think. Go ahead, sock it to me...(sorry, couldn't resist).
Saturday, March 27, 2010

SON: I'm ok.


SON: I'm still ok.
ME: What are you going?
SON: Nothing.


SON: Don't come in here.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Over the past couple of weeks, I picked up one of my periodic past times of climbing the proverbial family tree. I tend to get really wrapped up in it for a few weeks and then reach a wall through which I cannot break and give up for a while until I'm moved to pick it up again and the cycle continues. Every time I get a bit further or have a new piece of information to add.

This time has been no different and I'm preparing to put it all away again, but not before I had one last poke around Ancestry dot com. (Yeah, I just think it's funny that we're not starting to write out "dot com". Hee hee.) I stumbled upon a gimmick feature that allows people to search for "famous relatives" and I was sucked right in.

I thought the most efficient way to search the entire family tree for "famous relative" was to search for the "famous relatives" of my kids. So I clicked on my son and clicked "Find famous relatives". Of course, we come from a stellar line of genetic prowess and a lengthy (and eclectic) list of famous relatives spews forth onto the screen.

The list included:
  • 2 prime ministers
  • 1 first lady
  • 3 presidents (including Nixon, unfortunately!)
  • a Mayflower passenger
  • a financier and banker
  • a physicist
  • the founder of General Motors
  • several inventors
  • "Wild Bill" Hickock
  • John Steinbeck
  • Robert Frost
  • John Glenn
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Samuel Morse (of Morse Code fame)
  • Elizabeth Browning
  • Aldous Huxley
  • Audrey Hepburn
  • A quite a few more
As you can probably imagine, I'm feeling pretty well-connected at this point. I'm pulling out the old address book and working on adding some new contacts. Then, I thought, hmmmm. I wonder which people belong to which side of the family. 

So, I click on my name and click "Find famous relatives" and guess what? I'm not even related to the British people on the list. What?!?! Maybe I picked the wrong person, I thought to myself. So I clicked again. Again, nothing! None of them. I'm not related to anyone famous. In fact, the screen pointed this fact out with brutal honesty..."You have no famous relatives." Thanks a lot.

I guess this means that my husband married beneath him and my kids are just too good for me. In fact, I guess this means I've just polluted the family gene pool. Great. Just what I needed to hear.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Generally, I think that most kids are ok. Some may take a step or two in the wrong direction at times, but for the most part, they mean well enough. Even mine.

Well, I've finally met the kid who has shifted my paradigm about 179 degrees from where it was. I don't think it will take me long for it to shift that last degree either.

It's a bit ironic since I posted recently about bullying, but my son has recently encountered the playground bully. He's not even in third grade! He's in first grade, like my son. That fancy "blacktop day" plan didn't work very well, did it? Big shock there!

Anyway, this charming little character kicked my son in the stomach while I watched a few weeks ago. My son, of course, completely collapsed in tears and I came to his aid. I took my son over to the other child and asked him why he just kicked my son in the stomach. The bully replied, "'Cause I felt like it." I asked the boy to apologize and he refused.

This wasn't the end of the conversation. I don't really feel like providing all the gory details, but I actually caught myself saying, "Young man, that is not an acceptable way to speak to an adult!" (Yes, I really said EXACTLY those words.)

This kid made me almost lose control of my rational behavior. I couldn't believe the things this little person was saying to me, a (sometimes) grown-up. After channeling my anger into a calm, but pointed discussion with the 7-year old's inattentive, adult babysitter, she ended-up taking him home thinking. We left and, although I was angry, I realized that I probably wouldn't recognize the kid if I saw him again.

As we were leaving, my 3-year old daughter reminded me that this is the same punk child that punched her over the winter one day after the school let out. I'd forgotten, but she is correct. It is the same punk child. Then I just got mad all over again.

I've never had that happen. Usually, when a kid gets caught and is confronted, they just apologize and that's the end of it.I'm not proud to say that I actually had an argument with this kid. I reminded my son what he needed to do if he had another problem with this kid and followed-up on it, but otherwise let it go until today.

I took the kids to my daughter's preschool's "Family Fun Night". The preschool is run out of the church I go to and it's a good place. There's was lots of noise and chaos. All in all, a "good" time. Then the cakewalk began and all the kids dashed to get in line.

The kids and I are standing in line waiting for our turn when I see my son pale suddenly. I thought he was going to be sick. I asked him if he was ok and he pointed to the kid that had just pushed him out his place in line.

When I glanced over, I saw it. It was the delinquent first grader again! We made eye contact and he recognized me right away, but instead of refocusing on something else (an indication that he might have felt chastized as a result of our previous encounters), he made a point of boring a hole in my brain with his eyeballs. A true sociopathic stare. Only once in my entire life have I met someone like that before and that person was a criminal of the worst kind. It was frightening.

What makes such a young boy be so fundamentally flawed? So depressing because the answers to that question can't be good.

Anyway, my goal here is mostly to tell a venting story. I don't really have a point at all. I was completely floored by the encounter and, to be quite honest, more than a little bit frightened by it. At least now I'm armed with the kid's name and a pretty good plan in place should other encounter occur....that should help, right?

Sunday, March 21, 2010
After spending some time recently in the bliss of potty training paradise, I'm now back in Hell. As I thrillingly announced a few months ago, we are were finally done with diapers. Day and night under control. Now, not so much.

In fact, now I'm not even potty training a child, but a child who is acting like a puppy with an attitude problem. I'm sure it is related to the stress of a recent move, but still! Suddenly, I'm running around with a mop and bucket after a child who refuses to keep a diaper on. She even "forgot" that she had to "go potty" while sitting on her dear uncle's lap last night. He was very gracious, but it is definitely one for the family history books. "Remember the time when...."

And then, I get to read all about the parenting prowess of other kindly friends. Perfect. Apparently, I am not all that afterall. But I guess that is not really a big surprise. Sad that it takes a feral child to clear that up. WWTD? (What would Tarzan do?)
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
One of my favorite things to do these days is to listen to my budding three-year old lyricist working on her portfolio. While she's not quite the next Hal David, she does come up with some interesting stuff. Here's a sample of her next big hit.

Don't get splinters
In your eyes
Because it will hurt
A lot
And it's spring
Beautiful spring
The grass is green
The flowers are sweeeeeeeet
And you'll have to
Go to the doctor
The buterflies are everywhere
They fly on my head
The grass is green
The flowers are sweeeeeeet
And the doctor is not
Monday, March 15, 2010
For the first time since 2004, I’m living in a place that observes a biannual time change and I am not happy about it. Not having to bother with the time change was such a luxury. It did mean that summer days were not quite as long, but with two small children, bedtime in daylight is not an event to savor anyway. (Even though I personally like long summer evenings.)

The part I’m dreading the most is Monday morning. Sleep is in short supply already at my house in my bedroom and when my body thinks it is 6:46 am and the clock says it is 7:46 am, it makes for a very bad Monday.

See, they try to trick you by changing the clocks on a Saturday night. Probably under the sage advice that a one-hour time change only requires a one-day grace period. (Same for jet lag…one day per house of jet lag.) But we all know we don’t have to really make the change until Monday morning so it is completely pointless.

This time around, my kids magically knew to wake-up an hour early. No time change lag for them which is not surprising since they don’t seem to get jet lag either. Then today (Monday), they slept late as if to taunt me. Turns out I was right. It made for a very bad Monday.
In honor of my favorite bloggess, I wanted to bid a fond farewell to the one that got me started (Stories From Korea), by hooking you up with three of my favorite SFK posts.
In the future, check out Anna's new blog, The Woman with a Dead Cat in Her Purse. I'm sure it will shake the blogging world to its cat loving core.
Monday, March 8, 2010
I can't remember the last time I actually attempted to offer up useful information, but let's give it a try. This one is about one of my favorite parenting topics....laundry.

Years ago, I read a tip in on of those "you would be organized if only you..." books. I liked it and immediately implemented it. It works great.

However, while I was overseas, I lost both my mind and my ability to get a grip on my laundry pile by temporarily forgetting to use this tip. I'm back on the wagon again and am soooooo glad I am.

After all the ramp up, it is actually really easy.

Step 1:

Buy three (optional 4) hampers for each person in the household who can manage to follow through. Small children's clothes can just be added to the adult hampers.

Step 2:

Label each hamper with the following labels in Sharpie:

1. White, Off-Whites, Pastels, Light Greys, Khaki
2. Darks, Navy, Green, Brown, Denim
3. Reds, Purples, Oranges, and Bright Yellows
4. (OPTIONAL) Bedding and towels

Now my husband, always asks about those colors in the "grey" area of the color spectrum. That is why you can't just label them white, dark, and brights. You have to specify each grey area or it will not work.

Step 3:

Then, all you have to do is explain to everyone who is going to use the system that they take off their clothes and place them in the correct hamper according to the color.

Step 4:

From here, how you do the laundry is optional, but I like to attack a color a day. So I can announce to everyone, "bring down your darks hamper and I will wash it today." Makes sorting easy going in to the washer and out of the dryer. And you will finally find you have enough hampers to handle all the clothes.

Hope this is helpful!
Saturday, March 6, 2010
At first I thought I blew this one. Not a big surprise really when you consider my overall skill or lack thereof; then, upon reflection, I think I was just able to start an early lesson in feminist history. In the words of Monk, here's what happened...

I was rushing to get ready the other day when Emma came up to me and said, "When I grow-up, I'm going to be a fairy."

In a very atypical response, I said, "That would be fun, but you have to be born a fairy to be a fairy."

Emma burst into tears. I wanted to kick myself. Why would I disagree when I usually play along? Who knows?

Nice work, Mommy.

Then, as I always do when I devastate my children's dreams, I started thinking (read: "justifying") about my actions and I realized that it is important to know that everyone is different. Some people can fly around with disproportionately small wings, others can, well, not.

We can't all be fairies. Like it or not, there is a glass ceiling and it is never too soon to learn about how it works. At least half of the population will not break through this ceiling to become a real live fairy. And, if they do manage to break through, they will probably lose a lot of blood, get shoddy medical care, and die before their time. So really, I'm just saving my daughter from a fate worse than death and giving her a lesson in what it means to be a woman in this day and age. Go, me!
Friday, March 5, 2010
This morning on the way to school Jack, who is in first grade, announced that it was "black top day" today. Like a fool, I asked what that meant and he explained that black top day was when the first graders had to play on the playground black top so that the third graders could play on the playground equipment (slides, swings, etc.)

A little confused, I felt relief, at first. I was glad that someone had created a procedure to minimize bullying during recess. Then, upon reflection, I was just confused. Wait a second, I thought. We're talking about first and third graders here. What the....

When did elementary school become so risky and hard to manage that a few playground monitors can't keep up with the bad guys on the playground? What happened to hoping for the best and training them for the worst? (e.g Tell a teacher if someone does something you don't like.)

I don't want my child to be bullied or to bully someone else, but how are they ever going to learn to handle bullying if they don't have exposure to it while the bullying is on a first/third grade level. I don't want Jack's first encounter with a mean kids to be on the bus as the child pummels him to a pulp. I want him to get used to setting boundaries now!

Not only that, but isn't this also the time when children should be required to be together so that they can start taking care of each other? If we segregate them, aren't we giving the third graders more power? Aren't we just telling them, hey, look at how much we fear what you can do?

Come on, people! Let's be reasonable. Isn't there a better way to teach kids about life while also keeping them safe?
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Emma adores her big brother and he knows it. Jack spends far too much of his time recently expertly taking advantage of his god-like status with Emma. Usually, it goes something like this:

JACK: Emma, let's see if Tom and Jerry is on Cartoon Network.
EMMA: Ok. Yeah!
JACK: Oh, look it's not Tom and Jerry, but it is Chowder! Yeah! We love this show!

This is followed by Jack excitedly jumping around until Emma catches the wave herself and forgets that she really wanted to see Tom and Jerry in the first place.

Note the expert use of the word "We" and the fact that he roped her in to changing the channel by luring her with her favorite show.

Another conversation I hear regularly usually starts with hushed discussion in a nearby room.

JACK: Emma, do you want a Twix?
EMMA: Ok. Yeah!
JACK: Me, too. Go ask Mommy if we can have some.
EMMA: Ok...Mommy....

Another variant of this discussion is:

JACK: Emma, do you want to go to Toys R Us?
EMMA: Ok. Yeah!
JACK: Me, too. Go ask Mommy if we can.
EMMA: Ok...Mommy....

Emma can also be used as a courier service.

JACK: Emma, do you want a paci?
EMMA: Yes.
JACK: There's one on the floor in my room.
JACK: When you are in there, can you bring me Marmalade (Jack's lovey)?
EMMA: Sure!

I feel really sorry for Emma some times as she is clearly being used to serve Jack's Greater Plan. However, I think I feel more sorry for Jack when Emma finally figures it all out. I think I'd better get my earplugs ready for that day.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Let me preface this by saying that I have (one of) the best babysitters. I've been quite lucky with sitters for my kids and my current one is not an exception. Thus far, she has never once been unavailable to sit. She is 18, has reliable transport, is CPR/First Aid trained and certified AND she also went through a background check prior to her name being referred to me. So all in all, I can't complain if she doesn't take the kids dinner plates to the sink after she puts them to bed.

Now, on to the real reason for this post.

Tonight I got invited out on a "girls night out" for dinner and drinks at a local pub. I was again lucky enough that it was Saturday and my sitter was available. She arrived promptly at 6:30 and the kids flocked to her sides. All was good.

I rushed off to get dressed and "put on my face" (I store it in formaldehyde in my bathroom medicine cabinet). I was ready to pop out the door, said an emotional "see ya" to the kids, and headed for my coat. Fifteen minutes later I was still looking for the damn thing and it isn't like I have many places to look. I knew that I had brought it in from the car with me earlier, but where the heck was it!?

Finally, I gave up, grabbed a non-coat alternative, and left. By this point, I was running late and dashed out in a hurry.

To make a short story even longer, I had a lovely parenting-free evening. Conversation flowed like conversation...of 4 tired mothers trying to make it until 9 o'clock. Breast feeding. Potty training. School. Husbands. All the great non-parenting-related stuff. I'd had a long day so I decided to call it a night and head home after a few hours.

I pulled up in the driveway only to find a homeless person asleep on my front lawn. In a big heap. A little surprised, I got out of the car and approached the homeless person...uh....heap of coat. On the ground for hours since I must have dropped it on the way in earlier.

In my defense, I did after all have 3 coats, one large mommy-sized handbag, 4 Target bags, 3 Chic-Fil-A bags, 4 empty juice boxes, and a bag of potting soil in my arms when I came in.So I can't possibly see how I didn't notice it falling by the wayside somewhere along the tromp up the hill to the front door. A normal person would never have let that happen, would they?

Anyway, I picked up the coat, dusted it off, and went inside to send the sitter home. When I came in I showed her the coat and said, "Guess where I found my coat!" She said, "Was it in the car?" I replied, "No. It was on the front lawn." "Oh," she said, "I saw that when I came in."
Friday, February 26, 2010
Oh, boy. I've been waiting nearly 7 years for this question. I've been reading, researching, and reflecting on this question so much that I could testify as an expert in any court in the country and today I was up to bat. Now, I bet I know to which question I am referring, but you would be wrong. Compared to this question, that question is a walk in the proverbial park.

We just finished our pleasant Friday afternoon diversion to Emma's ballet class and a swim at the pool followed by a trip through the McD's drive thru. As we're heading home, there is contemplative silence interrupted only by the snuffling and slurping sounds associated with Happy Meals. Suddenly, Jack pipes up.

"Mommy? Where does chicken come from?"
"Uh, um, chicken."
"Well, how do chickens lay chicken?"

Shit. All that research for nothing. I gave it my all and now what? Am I really going to have to explain where we get chicken? That we eat? Perhaps I can turn it into a "chicken or the egg" discussison. No, that would be wrong. Better that he learn it now and from me than in some other more shocking way....

"Uh, um, well, I can tell you, but I don't think you would like it?" And, I don't think you'd ever eat again.

Pause. More contemplative silence.

"Um, no. Never mind. I don't want to know." Damn. I chickened out. Can't believe I chickened out. Oh, well, maybe next time.
"Are you sure?" Please, please, please.
"Yes, I don't want to know."
"OK, well, let me know if you change your mind."

Whew! Dodged that bullet. Please, God, don't ask me where beef comes from.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Conversations at my house right now are a bit like some new-fangled method of torture/resistance training. They go a little something like this....

JACK: Mommy, make sure you tell them I want a 6-piece nuggets Happy Meal, not a 4-piece.
ME: I will, Jack.
JACK: Mommy, what happens if they give me 8?


ME: Come on', guys, we're going to be late for school.
JACK: What happens if we are not late?

Or...the most common to be use in just about all situations where a parental demand is made, such as:

ME: Be careful not to get that Sharpie on the dining room table?
JACK: What happens if I do it by accident?


ME: Don't hit Emma on the head with that.
JACK: What happens if I do it by accident?


JACK: (sitting in the driver's seat of my car) Mommy, what does "D" mean?
ME: It means "Drive" and it you move the stick to "D" the car drives. Don't ever touch that stick.
JACK: What happens if I do it by accident?

You get the picture.

I've heard about these things, but until now have not really borne witness to the true "developmental phase" as advertised in the books. We've had the occasional annoying or weird phase, but they are not as complex or persistent. This one is like his brain turns off and the compulsion to ask the question wins out.

The frustrating thing is that there is no way to answer these questions because they just lead to more questions. Most of which begin with "what happens if". It is truly a vicious cycle. When I speak, I get this wrenching panic because I never know what will happen next. It's starting to wear me down. (And, I didn't have much further to go in the wearing down department really.)

The other thing is that I'm starting to become afraid that I'm not helping him develop whatever skill he is trying to develop because I'm so annoyed by it. What is I say the wrong thing and cripple his critical thinking skills forever? There goes college. There goes the high-paying job that will keep me in my retirement.

So now I'm wrecked with anxiety about the guilt of potential parental failure. Why does parenting have to be so damn complicated?
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
JACK: Mommeeee. I'm hungry.
ME: We're going home right now. We'll eat when we get there. (Note: Home is 1.5 miles away.)
JACK: But I can't wait!
ME: I don't have anything, Jack. You'll have to wait.
JACK: Do you have anything in you bag?
ME: Let me look.....yes! Pretzels.
JACK: Nuh-un.
ME: Oreos?
JACK: Noooooo-wuh.
ME: Goldfish?
JACK: I don't want Goldfish.
ME: Gum?
ME: Fruit roll up?
ME: Well, that's it.
JACK: But I'm hungry and I can't wait.
GRANDPA: Jack, Mommy is not a supermarket.

Boy, wish I'd heard that sooner. I just renewed my contracts with my suppliers.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
ME: Jack, don't forget you have to finish your homework before you go to school this morning.
JACK: But I don't want to.
ME: Well, you have to.
JACK: But I'm tired.
ME: Well, after you take a nap, you can finish it. Would you like me to tuck you in?
JACK: No! I don't want to.
ME: Jack, homework is part of your job. Just be thankful you don't have to work in a factory.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Or it might as well be in my house. My son has recently discovered Pop Tarts. (Especially the S'mores flavored ones.) Yuck! I'm not exactly sure how he discovered them, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he saw a commerical on either Nick or Cartoon Network.

Since we moved back from the relative English-language television dead zone of Korea, the kids have been exposed to "Real American" TV for the first time in their lives. (My son was young enough before we left that we only let him see Disney and PBS.) The commericals are killing me. Pop Tarts are just one of the horrible by-products of commericalized life.

It's one thing to be exposed consistently from a young age so that, by the time it matters, commericals are ignored (for the most part), but my kids are sucking it up like SpongeBob Squarepants-shaped sponges because commericals are like mini-tv shows to them. If I have to hear "Mommy! Look Zhu Zhu Pets!" or "Mommy, look they make a kid-sized Snuggies!" or "Mommy, you could really use that when brushing your teeth" or "Mommy, can we make some brownies?" or "Mommy, can I have some Lucky Charms?"one more time, I might be forced to do something reckless and buy it. And I don't want to go there.

You can bet they are NOT going to watch the Super Bowl? The Super Bowl commercials will probably lead me down the road to bankruptcy. My heart is strong, but my will is fading fast. Help me!!!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Somewhere, somehow, sometime in the past couple of months, I've completely lost my voice. My blogging voice, that is. Sadly for those who have to live with me, the actual voice is in rare form.

Part of the problem is that my beloved laptop was murdered (involuntary homicide) at the hands of my three-year old back in November and you would not believe how hard it is to get a new one these days.

My tech-savvy, genius brother helped me get one for an unbelievable deal. Then the mouse button (essential to computing these days) broke. Just the left one, not the right one. So I sent it back and dug out my VERY old Dell Insiprion 700m from 2005. Slow as the drip through my leaky roof, but it worked and I thought that it would work until my computer made it back to the company for the exchange. And it might have, except it took nearly two weeks to make it from Richmond to California; then, the transaction was placed in digital purgatory because they were sold out and were waiting for more to fill the order. Three weeks later, no computer and an unexplained refund. No advanced notice whatsoever.

That very same day, my old Dell spoke its last words ("Fatal Error; Dumping hard drive." on the blue screen of death) and breathed its last breath. Which is a good thing because after I heard its last words, all I wanted to do was haul it firmly across the room.

So, there I was, no computer, but I did have an iPhone. Do you have any idea how hard it is to buy a computer using the internet on an iPhone? It wasn't easy. At all. And I'm still not sure I've ordered the right thing. (Probably an Apple conspiracy. I bet if I were buying a Mac it would be easy-peasy.) But, that's ok, I said to myself. It'll be here in a couple of weeks and I have my iPhone to check my e-mail and maintain a healthy dose of Facebook.

Oh, I'm so naive. My computer was due to arrive in my humble abode by February 1st. On February 1st, I got an e-mail saying my shipment would be delayed. The new expected arrival date is the 8th. Now I'm just going to believe it when I see it.

By now you are probably wondering how I am blogging with no computer? Well, in a sheer act of desperation and a certain level of panic about what will happen if my children touch my new computer after what will be about three months of down-time, we bought a netbook that I can use until the new laptop arrives and the kids can fight over after that. Yeah, me! I'm online again.

The problem, you ask? Well, it turns out that I have nothing to say.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
I just realized that I have not updated the blog since the new year! 2010 is here and I've not welcomed it officially. So, I shall do so now with some reflections on resolution.

Please be kind enough to excuse me for a rare moment of waxing (and probably wanning) philosophic. (I know you mostly stop by this channel to make yourself feel better about your own parenting and to give thanks that you are not my children. But, bear with me.)

Resolution is an interesting word. With the beginning of each new year, we make promises to ourselves (or others) that we will do something to improve ourselves and our lives, but I think that we also forget that resolution also brings closure. Also appropriate for year-end philosophizing.

To me, this year has been more about resolution in the latter sense than about resolution in the former. To start, this year has been one of the most difficult years I've had to live and I hope to never have to do it again, but despite that I have also found a huge amount of resolution as well. I've found that finding resolution is so important in finding peace in our lives and the ability to resolve to move on.

So, resolution to me, especially this year, is proving to be both an end and a beginning. And I resolve not to resolve anything yet.

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