December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

I would like you to enjoy this stunning rendetion of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" as told by my two-year-old daughter:

"'Twas the night before Christmas and all over the house, creatures were stirring - even a pigeon! And the pigeon was stirring in the kitchen. Then I saw a T-Rex and he said 'RAAAAAAAWR!' and then we went to the library. Santa came down the chimney and said 'Ho Ho Ho' and brought presents to the good girls and the pigeon and the T-Rex."
And with that, Johnny, the Mouse-ephant ornament and I would like to wish you a very merry Christmas! May you and your own pigeons have a safe one.

Watch out for those dinosaurs...

December 13, 2010

Christmas Gift Guide

The holiday season has once again descended upon us and, like every year before this, there are a few people on my list who are nearly impossible to buy for. Typically, I bide my time, intending to make the most amazing homemade gift that anyone has ever laid eyes on. And then, when Christmas Eve rolls around and I have nothing to show for it, I make a run to Walmart and find the "As Seen on TV" section instead. But this year, I was determined to get my materialism...ahem, I mean Christmas shopping...finished up early. And in my quest to find the perfect gift, I found some other ones that most definitely deserve an honorable mention. So without further ado, I bring you the Common Goddess Gift Guide 2010:

Jesus Toaster - Where do I even begin? This would be so much better if they didn't put that picture of Jesus on the outside of the toaster so that the burnt "design" was a surprise. How much fun would THAT be to serve to Aunt Matilda during your family Christmas brunch?

Backwards Clock - This would be a great choice for that person on your list who can never make it anywhere on time. Oh wait, I guess those people would need a REAL clock. Ok, this would be a great choice for those of you out there who enjoy waking up in the morning confused and stressed out. Note: This would not be a good gift choice if that person happens to be a schizophrenic.

Squirrel Feet Earrings - It is SO hard to find a pair of earrings to go with my squirrel skin coat. Thank goodness for Etsy!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Have you ever thought back to those classic books you've read and say "That was good...but it sure could have used some more zombies..."? Then you are in luck!

Road Kill Toys - Anyone who has children knows how hard it is to curb their temptation to scrape dead animals off of the road. Here is a way to indulge their morbid curiosity without getting maggots all over your carpet.

Bacon Soap - Does your husband or boyfriend hate to bathe for fear that they might wash away that heavenly bacon aroma that clung to them during their breakfast run to Hardee's? Let them lather up with this bacon-scented soap and you both can savor that down-home smell 24/7. And after a long day and a hot bacon-scented shower, you can all sit down as a family and navigate Weiner Wasteland as you play Mr. Bacon's Big Adventure.

Fetus Cookie Cutter - Who doesn't love eating fetuses? You can bake them up in any flavor for that soon-to-be mom on your Christmas list.

Rear Gear - There is nothing worse than an adorable puppy with an unsightly rear. So for the pet lover, I recommend these holiday butt covers. Because really, if you don't want someone to notice something the very BEST thing you can do is to slap a giant pink flower sticker over top if it.

December 9, 2010

My Apologies

To my small handful of readers;

You have my deepest apologies. I have been unable to muster any time, nor any wit, to devote to this blog. I have tried - Oh Lord have I tried - and the writing that came out had all the humor and excitement of Al Gore at a funeral procession. And I like you all too much to subject you to something so horrific.

But to summarize our life right now in a few lines:

** My daughter learned, thanks to a show even MORE boring than an Al Gore speech called "Dino Dan", what a Quetzocoatlus was. I'll give you a hint: It's a dinosaur. This show has become her new best friend, and heaven help anyone who try to change the channel mid-show. She also tried to tell me that there was a Longneckasaurus in our dining room, complete with sound effects. I have to admit, it was pretty convincing....

** I have determined that at the end of my son's medical journey, whenever that may be, I am going to promptly apply to be on the TV show "Mystery Diagnosis". It is quite possible that they may have to devote the entire hour to his case alone, since now the docs are performing tests just to rule out things that are just as statistically likely as Owen being struck by lightening while simultaneously winning the lottery. Oh, and he also decided to stop sleeping through the night in favor of thrashing, crying, and performing flying 2am headbutts against me and the wall.

** I made something today, IN THE KITCHEN. Sure, it only involved some cinnamon and Elmer's glue, and sure, the ornaments we made won't be for human consumption. But I MADE IT. Using real kitchen utensils.

** It's freaking cold here.

Ok, those were pretty boring highlights. But I swear, it's like my time just evaporates into thin air. One minute I'm getting breakfast ready and the next minute I'm reading "I Love You Stinky Face" just before tucking the kids in to bed and I have no recollection of the hours that passed inbetween.

Bear with me. If I can carve out an hour of time, I have quite a spectacular list of Christmas gifts for that hard-to-shop-for person in your life. I'd hold off on that jellyfish aquarium you've been contemplating, some of these products are nothing short of amazing.

Until then,
Common Goddess

November 30, 2010

One Year

A year ago last week I was sitting down at the Thanksgiving Day table, ready to shamelessly stuff my 10-months-pregnant face full of turkey, potatoes, and anything else that came within a few inches of my dinner plate. I knew, given the (hormonal) state I was in, that no one would dare question it or look down upon me for it. After all, I was eating for two, right? Besides, the very next day I was scheduled to have our second child surgically removed from me. That meant chicken broth and crackers, if I was lucky, so it only made sense that I needed to stockpile some Thanksgiving dinner in my gut to prepare myself for the long weekend.

And then Black Friday came - but instead of out shopping for $50 big screen TVs, I was settling into a hospital room, anxiously waiting to meet the son who would someday be begging for everything in that 2198281 page Toys 'R Us ad. He was unusually quiet that morning, zonked out on turkey no doubt, unaware that he was about to be unceremoniously removed from his warm cozy home. And at 9:40am on November 27th, 2009, out came Owen - all 10lbs, 3oz of him.

And now here we are, one year later. That fateful Friday seems almost a zillion light years ago, and yet - prepare yourself for a lame cliche - like it was just yesterday. I can hardly begin to describe what a roller coaster ride the past 365 days have been. And even though, thanks to Owen, I can drive an hour to the children's hospital blindfolded and backwards....and even though he cried when we tried to feed him cake and frosting...and even though some of his diapers smell like a dead zombie that has been marinating in the sun for a week...I still would never even consider trading him in. He is my sweet little blue-eyed troublemaker and I'm loving (almost) every minute of it.

"For a long time, there were only
your footprints and laughter
in our dreams;
and even from such small things,
we knew we could not wait
to love you forever."

November 18, 2010

My Daughter's Purse

It is always a bittersweet time when you see your children mature before your eyes. Recently, I've had the pleasure of watching my daughter display some very instinctual woman behavior, one so deeply ingrained in our history that many of us don't even acknowledge it. I'm not talking about a woman's natural compassion for others or our predisposition to the "caretaker" role. I'm not talking about a maternal instinct, an inborn cooking ability (which clearly skipped me anyway), or the desire to please the men-folk.

I'm talking about the tendency to put crap in our purses.

I'd like to submit a photo into evidence. I had to wait until my miniature hoarder had gone to bed so as not to upset her by going through her purse, but once I had established that she was, indeed, asleep, I laid out all the contents. Let's examine them one by one, shall we?
1. This goes back and forth between being a simple bouncy orange ball to being a fruit snack. Either way, it would come in handy in that long line at the post office.

2. This hot pink bracelet goes with every.single.outfit. How is that not full of win?

3. Got Milk? Sure do! We plan ahead in our family.

4. The circus elephant threw me for a loop, I won't lie.

5. A cup, useful for everything from storing your before-mentioned fruit snack in to pouring a glass of delicious milk. Oh, and sometimes it's a hat.

6. Ah, the number 3. This poor foam letter has more bites in it than a lame vampire novel and yet it's still hanging in there.

7. Johnny's skateboard, because the guy has to get around SOMEHOW.

8. A fork, always a good idea. You just never know where those ones at the restaurant have been.... Though I'm not sure I really know where this one has been, either. Hmm.

9. I'd like to claim that my daughter uses this to whip out mathematical equations in her free time, but really - she thinks it's a phone. Don't go and ruin it, ok?

10. A big thanks to Uncle Eli on this one. This is also a "phone", however, this phone only calls Mr. T. My daughter now uses such phrases as "Don't gimme no backtalk, sucka" and "Whaachoo talkin' 'bout, fool?"

11. She claims these glass are stylish, however I have my reservations.

12. This is Joe. He was discovered in the same mystery toy pile that produced Johnny, but Joe is more like the annoying little brother who always tags along.

13. It's a plate. It's makeup. It's a clock. It's Johnny's chair.

14. Typically, these are used in some sort of medical fashion. The blue one with the notch out can often be found shoved up someone's nose or measuring their ears during a checkup. The small orange one detects your heartbeat. Don't worry - everyone is safe when Dr. Lainey and her Magical Mystery Purse are present.

15. RAAWR! What? The girl likes dinosaurs.

16. The brush I find rather ironic, considering that 80% of the time she acts like having her hair brushed is the equivalent to having hot pokers shoved into her eye socket. She does, however, like to brush Owen's hair, which takes all of 2.7 seconds so I guess it has a use after all.

17. Anyone caught without one of these in their purse should be thrown in jail.

18. Johnny. Duh.

19. Hello Kitty bracelet. Let it be known that this has never actually been used *AS* a bracelet. Usually she tries to barter with it like money.

20. A Hostess treat, in the plastic form. Always useful in thwarting those snack attacks.

21. This is a birthday cake. Never try and correct that, let's get that straight first of all. Also, those are not nuts - they are candles. You are allowed to blow the candles out as she sings you happy birthday, and then you will never see the cake again.

22. This is traditionally how the cake is served, via measuring cup. Sometimes, though, it dispenses medicine. I truly love things that are multi-functional.

23. Lipstick. Occasionally, it's eye shadow, but you have to watch it with that one - she's a little aggressive.

There were also two Cheerios half stuck to the inside, however I was unsure how long they had been condemned to the bottom of the purse so they now live in the garbage can.

November 7, 2010

It's Begining to Look a Lot Like Christmas

In an effort to keep this blog on the lighter side I won't go into my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Halloween. For the first time in my 28 years of existence, I was quite happy to see that holiday come to a close. That did not mean, however, that I was prepared for what I would see the very next day.

I came home from work that evening, tired and anxious for a couple days' respite, and sat down in the dining room for a late dinner. Something I took a moment to analyze the room when what, to my wondering eyes should appear, but a Christmas tree sitting cozily in the corner. On November 1st. A FREAKIN' CHRISTMAS TREE!

I like Christmas, don't get me wrong. 'Tis the season, holly jolly and all of that, sure. But I just don't transition from spiders to Santas that quickly. I need time to rummage through the bags of clearanced Halloween candy, to get out my oversized fleece sweatshirts and my ridiculous cocoa mugs, and to indulge my inner fat kid on turkey and mashed potatoes. They aren't even selling egg nog yet, for crying out loud! They are, actually, already selling cartons of the delicious artery-blocking syrup. Right next to the leftover SweetTarts, no doubt.

I continued to stare at the tree, mesmorized by the 12 strands of colored lights that now glowed thanks to my husband's impatience and holiday enthusiasm. I looked at him, confused that somehow I may have dozed off and slept through the rest of November. Reading my confusion he offered "At least I waited until after Halloween...", as if the mere act of waiting was the equivalent of being beaten with a tree limb or having to give up the last Oreo.

He has been making pumpkin pies in a continuous stream now for about three weeks, so I should have seen this coming. We have boxes of ornaments and decorations enough for two houses, most of which end up out all at once. One by one I take some down and redistribute them until we have an tolerable number of singing Christmas trees and bell-ringing thingamajigs. And not only do we have all of the kid's gifts purchased (thanks Swagbucks!), but he has already assembled the toys in preparation for Christmas morning. I won't lie, I find that quite adorable. His desire to create some wonderful holiday memories with our kids is contagious, and seeing the kids squeal (and drool) in delight over the same miniature train that we've watched 29382948 times already this week does sort of warm my heart - even if it is about three weeks early.

So here's to 48 more days of Christmas music, twinkling lights, and tinsel-coated cat puke. If I disappear between now and then, I'm likely in an egg-nog induced coma.

PS, I hope I didn't ruin your manly image, honey. I know that, should the day ever come, Christmas decorations would take a back seat to a good 49ers game on TV.

November 3, 2010

Reason I Love Being a Mom #14

Reason I Love Being a Mom #14: Having my daughter tell me during bathtime that she needed to wash the "pirates". I played along, asking if we needed to clean their pet parrot, too. She looked at me as if I were insane, grabbed the bar of soap, and proceeded to wash her nether region. Arrr matey, it's PRIVATES, not pirates...

October 27, 2010

No, DON'T Take Off the Mask!

The other day my husband was watching a show that went behind-the-scenes of the movie "Halloween". As an avid horror movie fan, I was appalled. Not only should they never have made such a thing, but I'm pretty disappointed that my husband would even turn it on in my presence.

"Halloween" is probably one of my all-time favorite horror movies. It's a classic. I mean, who knew that a bright white William Shatner and a few notes on a synthesizer could be so terrifying? But it's all over the second you go behind-the-scenes and see the guy behind the mask. He looks like someone's goofy uncle who wears his shorts too tight and loves to tell knock-knock jokes. I'd be more afraid of him cornering me and giving me a noogie than stabbing me in the guts with a kitchen knife. And can you believe that this "real" Michael Myers was afraid to pull the phone cord too tight because he didn't want to hurt the actress? She kept complaining that the cord was too loose around her neck, and to pull tighter, but he refused. Talk about sending the horror factor right down the crapper...

And if THAT weren't bad enough, the couple from Paranormal Activity made an appearance on some awards show the other night. Wait, weren't you two possessed? Did the Demon release your souls long enough for you to accept an award on his behalf? Disappointing. What's next? The puppet from SAW making a cameo on Sesame Street? Jason on Larry King Live?

It's true that it's getting harder and harder to shock audiences these days. Between the violent video games and the political ads on TV it seems like blood and gore is mainstream. So you would think that the people in charge of creating these horror movie masterpieces would be a little bit more careful in divulging their dirty little secrets. While it's interesting to note when the director's cigarette smoke drifts into the frame, it sort of takes away from the edge-of-your-seat, white knuckle terror to know that someone is standing there having a casual smoke as this poor girl is being attacked. John Carpenter, take note.

I've been informed that my husband has also DVR'd "The Making of Nightmare on Elm Street". I suppose next they'll tell me that Freddie Kruger loves puppies and tuna salad sandwiches. Is nothing sacred?

October 25, 2010

Johnny's New Skateboard

Johnny is rockin' and rollin' on his new skatebo.....OH NO! Johnny! Watch out for that giant mutant donut!

October 20, 2010

My Ghost Story

Since it is getting to be that time of year, I decided I ought to share a ghost story. Get your Depends on and gather around the campfire kids, because unlike Paranormal Activity, these are actually REAL experiences had by yours truly. And I mean freaky-real. And I'm not lying. Are you on the edge of your seat yet?

One night when my daughter was about 6 months old (which would have been about two years ago, give or take) I was home alone with her and we were in the bathroom. It was late in the evening, just before bedtime, and I was giving her a bath before we called it a night. Suddenly, without warning, a rubber duck hit me in the face - ok, that wasn't a ghost, that was just Lainey. But immediately following the duck assault I was overcome by the smell of men's cologne. I don't mean a whiff, I mean it surrounded me in a cloud similar to one you'd find in a bar on college night. *Important Story Note: My husband does not wear cologne. He has scented deoderant but that's where his affiliation with Old Spice ends.*

Naturally, I was terrified by the sudden odorous onslaught and I immediately slammed the bathroom door shut and locked it, positive that there was a strange man in my house. I sat on the floor shaking, trying to determine what my strategy should be. Of course this particular bathtime found me without my cell phone (which was charging away happily downstairs), and the only other exit was out the 2nd story window. I could go MacGyver and fashion a zipline out of a wet towel and the electrical line that connected to our house. Wait, wet towel and electricity? Not to mention that this would require my daughter to cling to my back koala-bear style. Ok, scratch Plan A.

I could recreate the scene from Panic Room where she opens the door and runs for her phone before they get to her, but I did not have the benefit of 360 degree security cameras to aid me so unless I had a 2x4 and came out swingin' I wouldn't stand much of a chance. So much for Plan B.

I probably sat on the floor of that bathroom for at least an hour, deliberating on what to do. I did finally remove Lainey from the bathtub before she shriveled away into a tiny pink raisin, and with her sitting on my lap I decided to go through every drawer and cabinet in the bathroom just to make sure that the cologne wasn't something my husband had stashed away. This took up another half hour and turned up unsuccessful.

By this point my daughter was so beyond tired that her exhaustion-induced tantrum could have easily taken the place of a fancy security alarm. And I couldn't stay locked in there with Lainey in one hand and some spray can of cleaning foam in the other (to douse the intruders eyes with) I boldly left the bathroom and found....

.....absolutely nothing. My cats were snoozing comfortably on the sofa, my doors and windows were all intact, not a thing was out of place.

To this very day, I have no idea what exactly happened that night. But the smell of that cologne was so vivid that I would have no problem picking it out of a lineup even now.

I had sort of let that experience fall back into the recesses of my brain - until about two weeks ago, that is. Around 5am I was literally awoken from my sleep by yet another overwhelming smell - but this time, it was of a woman's perfume. *Important Story Note: I do not wear perfume. Not only do I find that most of them give me allergic headaches, but even if I did enjoy them I don't believe that wearing some to bed is proper protocol*. A quick (and slightly disoriented) scan of the room revealed no one. The bedroom door was not even so much as cracked. I could have checked the closet, but considering the obnoxious squeak of the closet door coupled with the fact that opening it would have sent a mountain of baby clothes down on the intruder, I determined it to be a non-issue. Both my husband and my children continued to snooze away happily, oblivious to the strange happenings. I sat in bed and watched the room, in the dark, for a long while before I eventually fell back asleep.

Two eerily different and yet freakishly similar experiences, with no explanation for either of them. I am nearly certain, after replaying both in my head eleventeen thousand times, that they must be spirit-related. Is it someone who used to live here? Is it my grandparents stopping by for a visit? If so, why did they choose a scent to make their presence known? Perhaps I may never know...but at least I can be thankful that they didn't take on demonic voices and throw me across the room.

*Unimportant Yet Spooky Story Note: As I sit here writing this, there is an owl hooting somewhere very close to my bedroom window.*

October 15, 2010

A Tale of Irony

It's me again, with another all-true bumper sticker tale.

I had just gotten off work and was heading across town to pick up some dinner when up ahead I saw the distinct red and blue flashing lights that signaled that my particular route to the pizza place was about to become a parking lot.

Sure enough, I began to idle when I noticed a small red car in the opposite lane trying to merge in front of the car behind me. The driver looked very aggitated, perhaps due to the terrible hair cut she had no doubt just received, and she must have assumed that no one could see her yellow blinker because she started to flail her arm in the air towards our lane in some type of crude caveman-style sign language. She may have even been grunting. I think she had been waiting to merge for almost one whole minute at this point, so I can understand her impatience. Unfortunately for her, the car behind me did not understand her signals and once our lane did start crawling again, his car remained permanently attached to my bumper. This made the lady in the red car furious, and in my rearview mirror I saw her face contort in what surely wasn't a verse of "Twinkle Twinkle" and then display another piece of sign language that nearly everybody understands...

Once we passed the sirens and were free to use two seperate lanes again, who should I see flying past me but the woman in the red car. As she disappears ahead of me, I notice a big sticker plastered on her foreign plastic bumper:
Probably not that, if I had to guess.

October 13, 2010

Johnny Meets Shrek

Johnny was so overwhelmed meeting both Shrek AND a real dinosaur in the same day that he fainted. Given the look on Shrek's face, I sure hope they don't eat him while he's unconscious....

October 12, 2010

Off to the Pumpkin...Graveyard?

It was a disturbingly beautiful day outside today, and since Halloween comes pretty close to surpassing Christmas as my favorite holiday of the year I naturally got all giddy at the thought of hitting the pumpkin patch.

Honestly, I'm not sure why I hold pumpkin picking in such high regard. Not only am I constantly disappointed in the selection, but my standard for the "perfect pumpkin" is set higher than that creepy Halloween fanatic who has a 30 foot black cat on top of their roof. Silly, really, considering that I have little to no actual pumpkin carving talent so having a flawless pumpkin is pretty much irrelevant. Not to mention that our grocery store's pumpkins are just as round, not to mention significantly cheaper, as any I'd find out in a field. Nonetheless, I take on my annual pumpkin quest with all the enthusiasm of a dog who has found a new fire hydrant.

We loaded the kids up and made our trip to Country Corner (even the name of the place made me gush like a keg of warm apple cider). When we arrived, I excitedly pulled out my camera and made a mental checklist as we headed towards the patch. Beautiful sunny day? Check. Adorable little red wagon? Check. Two happy and equally enthusiastic kids? Check. Perfect pumpkin? Er....Houston, we have a problem.

The second we walked into the patch, henceforth known as the pumpkin graveyard, I knew my perfect pumpkin picking was doomed. Everywhere lay casualties of rodents, sun, and in one corner full of oozing green pumpkins - an apparent nuclear holocaust. We weaved through the vines, desperately (ok, I was probably the only desperate one...) trying to find a pumpkin whose guts were still attached and on the inside. Halfway through my husband calls out "You know, we're probably going to have to just get some off of the shelves out front."

"NO!" my inner child screamed, "I don't want a 'grab a pumpkin from the shelf' memory, I want my warm and fuzzy pumpkin picking memory and I am NOT LEAVING HERE WITHOUT IT!" I tried not to let the cloud of panic and disappointment show as my daughter and I went from rotten pumpkin to rotten pumpkin. Apparently, she too already holds a high standard, as each one we came upon she declared "Not this one, this one is dirty!" Honestly, I would settle for dirt so long as it didn't have a giant gaping sinkhole...

And then I saw it. A tiny little thing, perhaps only 6 or 7 inches tall, sitting all alone. I immediately dispatched my daughter to retrieve it, and when I saw her pick it up I breathed a sigh of relief (because in order for her to pick it up it needs to be almost completely free of dirt particles). It was perfect. Small, but perfect. I breathed a sigh of relief.

We headed out of the graveyard, my daughter carrying her tiny pumpkin triumphantly. And yes, we did stop at the pumpkin shelves in order to get an equally perfect large pumpkin for me to mutilate with a knife - but that was ok, because in the end, I got what I wanted. I got my pumpkin picking memory.

(Ironically, my daughter dropped her pumpkin on the ride home - it may have a concussion and some mild bruising, but that won't stop us from covering it in fingerpaint tomorrow.)

October 10, 2010

Things I'm Too Old to Laugh At (But Do Anyway)

** The doctor who introduced himself as Dr. Gooey. Ok, I'm sure it isn't spelled just like that, but it SOUNDED just like that, which caused me to chuckle internally and miss the first minute or two of what he was saying.

** The signs that say "Slow Children at Play". Would it really cost that much to add a comma in there, folks?

** My daughter using a curse word. I know I should discourage it but darnit, nothing is cuter than the word "hell" coming out of a two-year-old mouth. At least I don't ask her to keep repeating herself like my husband does...

** The anesthesiologist who let out a not-so-dainty fart while trying to lower the bed rail on Owen's crib. She had the decency to say excuse me instead of trying to pretend like one of the machines collapsed, although that almost made it harder not to laugh.

** The 92-year-old woman I saw at Walmart wearing a Hannah Montana shirt. I was a little worried that the sparkles might interfere with her pacemaker somehow.

** The anectdote I heard recently about a woman who was sending off a business email to a bunch of clients. She signed off on the email "Regards", however, lamented the fact that the letter "G" and the letter "T" are a little too close on the keyboard. Honest - I laugh every single time I think of that story.

** The word masticate.

** And this:

October 8, 2010

Thanks a Lot, Paula Abdul

I turned on my XM station this morning as I was getting myself and the kids ready for the day when a song came on. It was an old Paula Abdul song, "Straight Up" late 80's awesomeness. I listened for a moment and realized that honestly, the girl never really could sing. She can dance, I'll give her that - and I'd be willing to bet that she can down a 40 in under two minutes flat. But sing? Notsomuch. And yet I distinctly remember being such a huge fan back in my grade school days, thinking that maybe if I teased my hair up into a gigantic wave and choreographed a dance near my hall locker, Keanu Reeves would be all mine.

I mentally scolded myself for ever enjoying such generic, talent-free music. I snickered, even, at the thought of the American Idol execs scanning through a list of musicians, finding Paula, and saying "That's IT! We want her!" What, was Bobo the Singing Groundhog busy that day?

After the referee rang the bell on my mental Abdul-bashing, I went about my day. It wasn't too long though before, seemingly out of nowhere, a song became lodged in my head. A song so horrible, so painful, that it makes Paula shine like a gold-encrusted turd.

Mambo Number 5.

I haven't heard this song in years, and let me tell you - those years were pure bliss. Clearly, this is a case of bad musical karma. Three hours later, it's still stuck in my head and I want to get down on my knees and apologize to the powers that be so that my soul might be released from the torture that is Lou Bega.

Paula, if you're reading - I'm sorry. You are still my homegirl. You may be zonked out on prescription medicines but you rock those sequins like nobody's business and besides, we share a birthday...that has to count for something, right? Could you please call off your musical revenge before I have nightmares about Angela, Pamela, Sandra, and Rita?

October 7, 2010

Dear Time Goblin...

Dear Time Goblin;

I've had a trying week. I know that you delight in the mischevious thieving of my minutes and hours, but I need them back. I woke up at 7 am, and right now it is just past midnight - yet I can assure you that my day did NOT have 17 hours in it. There is just. no. way. Perhaps you sprinkled blackout dust on me sometime midday when you thought I wouldn't notice, or maybe it was you who lured me into taking that "short" trip to Walmart that turned into a time warp. I'm still not done with the laundry I put in two hours ago - or was it three hours? 5? Really, it's starting to freak me out.

I need to vacuum before one of my children ends up on the show "Your Kid Ate What?". I need to go to the grocery store before we are forced to eat Ramen noodles and ketchup. I need to sleep. If you could find it in your cold, shriveling heart to spare me - even for just one day - I would appreciate it.

An Exasperated Common Goddess

September 28, 2010

They're Conspiring Against Us

I think our electronics are conspiring against us.

For a few months now we've been dealing with shorts in the overhead lights in our living room. Sometimes they'd work, sometimes they'd blink, sometimes they'd just go on vacation for a few days and leave us fumbling around in the dark. Finally, about a week ago, they lit up for the very last time and after choking on the repair estimate we decided that seeing your way through the living room is overrated. Candles and the sad little table lamp will have to do for the time being. (Note to self: Be more diligent about picking up stray toys and sharp blocks, because those make navigating the room in your bare feet infinitely more difficult).

Upon my departure to torture-land (also known as our hospital visit last week), it was decided that I would take a phone charger with me in case my phone takes it's last breath in the middle of some really important, life-altering conversation. What we didn't consider was that this would leave my husband with no phone charger, essentially rendering our plan pretty much useless. We HAD another charger at one point, but it decided to spontaneously combust a couple months back and we didn't see the need to replace it. Until now.

Then, the morning after we got back home, our laptop's mouse became the victim of an internal demon. The pointer sat, unmoving, in an eery paralysis despite our attempts to wake it up. Suddenly, without warning, it began to shoot across the screen violently. I half expected foam to start oozing out of the keyboard. And just as suddenly, it came to a rest, where it remained until we were forced to resurrect our old USB mouse. Ironically, the same thing happened to our last laptop - the one that has been shunned to the corner due to the reoccuring demonic possession and it's affiliation with Gateway (which may be one in the same).

Yesterday, as we struggled to use our external computer mouse in the presence of two curious and not-so-careful children, my husband noticed that his cell phone must have had a stroke sometime in the night. The buttons down the left side would not work. So if you have a phone number that involves a 1, 4, or 7, you are out of luck. Wait, you'd be out of luck anyway, because the "CALL" button is there, too. Guess we don't need that phone charger after all...

And if that weren't enough, even my daughter's toy cell phone refuses to ring any longer. It must have reached the end of it's (ridiculously short) plastic lifetime. Unfortunately, somewhere along the lines my daughter learned that the way to fix everything is to stick new batteries in it, and despite having watched Daddy do that very thing, she keeps asking. I'm tempted to throw it against the floor and crack it in half so at least she can SEE that it's broken, and not just think that we are too stupid to properly insert a battery.

I'm happy to report though that the television and the toaster are still functioning, so there is no need to panic just yet...

September 26, 2010

...But At Least I Got Free PopTarts

Last week was pretty much terrible. I'd like to think that there was a silver lining in it somewhere, but the closest thing I could find was the fact that I got a free package of strawberry PopTarts.
Let me start by informing those of you who aren't members of my family (so basically, my other two readers) that my son has been starting up again with some noisy wheezing and apnea spells. This is certainly a far cry from their predictions two months ago when they assured me he would "outgrow this" and that the reflux medication "should make a big difference". Well, he didn't and it didn't. So his ENT doctor decided he should be admitted to the children's hospital so they could do some testing and see what they would come up with. At this point, Owen's team included doctors from: GI, ENT, pulmonology, cardiology, surgery, and speech pathology. That's right, 6 specialists - not including the cycle of residents, on-call pediatricians, and student doctors. You'd think that with that many people working on the mystery, they could come to some sort of reasonable conclusion?

That sort of optimism was my first mistake.

September 15, 2010

World's Smallest Mohawk

Get Guiness on the phone - I did it! I FINALLY did it! It's taken over 9 months but my son finally had enough hair for me to fashion into the World's Smallest Mohawk.

September 14, 2010

Chicago: The REAL Story

It's true, Johnny did come with us to Chicago. He was discovered to have stowed away in my husband's pocket about halfway through the Shedd Aquarium. But really, our story starts out quite a bit earlier in the day - around 6:30am.

We managed to wake the kids up and get them dressed in under a half an hour, which is the closest you can actually get to miraculous without actually being biblical. The car ride worried me, because my son is notorious for being a poor sport when it comes to carseat riding. My daughter was easy - we bribed her with a donut and a promise of dolphins. My son? He slept. It was glorious.

We arrived at the aquarium in a shockingly short amount of time, given the traffic situation in Chicago and the surprising lack of construction work we encountered. Uncle Eli was joining us, and upon news of that Lainey's donut sugar rush kicked into high gear and she was - quite literally - spinning in circles in the lobby.

September 9, 2010

Johnny and the Windy City

Johnny (and the rest of the family) took a little overnight trip to Chicago this week. He was so excited, the smile never left his face! He had to sit through a long car ride first though:

But when we finally arrived, he couldn't believe the city view (though he had to take it all in quickly, before the treacherous winds blew him into Lake Michigan):

We headed inside the aquarium where Johnny met up with a weedy seadragon:

It had been a long day, so we decided to kick back at the hotel for the night:

The next day, we hit the Brookfield Zoo, where Johnny got to see a rhino:

AND an elephant:

Though I think, despite his happy demeanor, he was slightly disappointed that he was not tall enough to ride the carousel:

It was a great trip, one Johnny will not soon forget.

(PS, Lest you think I'm a terrible mom, I DID get some pictures of my children as well. But that is a longer post for a night when I actually have a few ounces of brainpower left.)

August 31, 2010

Oh, the Guilt...

It was a beautiful late summer day and I was heading outside to paint some window trim. I noticed a large, bright green insect crawling across the fresh black asphalt in the parking lot at work. It looked pretty neat so I walked over to get a closer look and was horrified by what I found. Sure, it was a praying mantis alright - a HEADLESS ONE! The head was on the ground and it's zombie body was walking around in circles. I contemplated stepping on it when my mother interjected "Leave it alone, maybe it still has a chance!" Now, in my own still-attached head, I knew this was impossible - things aren't meant to walk around headless outside of indie horror flicks. Besides being extremely creepy, it sure would make eating and seeing much more difficult. But despite that, I took her advice, hoping that nature would take it's course sooner than later.

Three hours later (!) I walk back to wash off my paint brush and who should I find still doing figure eights in the parking lot? At this point the creep factor had gone off the charts and I was torn. I could squish him, getting praying mantis juice all over my sneakers, and feel guilty about ending the life of such a neat looking creature. Or I could ignore it (somehow) and continue about my day, and feel guilty about extending the poor things' suffering.

Since when had I come to this? Not too many years ago, decisions came fairly easy to me. I didn't get into moral squabbles with myself over insects. If I wanted to do something, I did it. If I wanted to buy something, I bought it. There was no deliberation, there was no back-and-forth, there was no guilt. But ever since I had kids, my guilt-o-meter has gone into the red zone. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it isn't just about me anymore, or that I've become more maternal, or maybe I'm just getting old. But I feel guilty if my kids eat too much, or if they don't eat enough. I feel guilty for buying myself a new shirt, even if the kids have plenty of clothes already. I feel guilty about letting them watch TV. I feel guilty about not giving to charities enough. I feel guilty about throwing away an entire hamburger that may or may not survive a night in our fridge. I feel guilty about eating an oatmeal cookie at 10pm. I feel guilty that I bought a box of oatmeal cookies to begin with. I feel guilty when I see ASPCA commercials come on TV. I feel guilty when my daughter wants to run and play and dance at a morning hour that most human beings should never have to be awake to see. I feel guilty when I spend time to write a blog when that time should be spent with a vacuum and a dust cloth. I feel guilty over bugs.

In the end, I never did make a decision about the praying mantis. I was told that someone kicked him into the alley to let a car mercifully run over his robotic body, but I never saw him again. Which is probably for the better, because if I'd have been the one who crushed him with my tires I might not ever live it down...

Reason I Love Being a Mom #221

Reason I Love Being a Mom #221: Because there is no other place I'd rather be than curled up on the edge of the bed - teetering, in fact - thanks to a snuggly little bed hog that allows me nearly 6 whole inches of sleeping space in our king sized bed.

PS, No, I wasn't trying to suffocate him with green aluminum foil. That's just his giraffe lovey turned inside-out.

August 21, 2010

I'm Not a Hippie!

I was talking to a woman the other day about my son's amber teething necklace and a random assortment of other small talk when she says, "What are you, some kind of new-age hippie?" She then laughed as if she had just come up with a joke that would blow George Carlin out of the water. I, on the other hand, was not nearly as amused. Me, a hippie? A HIPPIE?!

Sure, I DO use cloth diapers for the sake of the environment and my budget. And yes, I clean with vinegar instead of chemicals and try to use rags and washcloths instead of paper towels whenever possible for the same reasons. And so what if I like to walk around barefoot, even when I'm outside? Most flipflops are just another method of Chinese torture to me. And honestly - who doesn't love a good granola bar once in a while? Perhaps the healing power of stones isn't everyone's cup of tea but I do believe the amber has made a difference with my son, at least on a small scale. And...ok....I DO implement gentle discipline, I wore my kids in wraps and back carriers, I cosleep, and I tend to ignore the CDC vaccination guidelines in favor of my own schedule. And I will freely admit that my favorite color is rainbow, because I believe in giving every color a fair shot, and that my favorite animated movie growing up was "The Last Unicorn". Peace is a pretty awesome thing, and will gladly honk at anyone with a big sign that says so. And, come to think, it sometimes does take me a day or two (or three) to find time to take a full shower....and when I wake up sometimes my hair does resemble a frizzy dreadfro (a cross between an afro and dreadlocks)....


Ok, ok, maybe she has a point. Maybe I AM a new-age hippie?

August 19, 2010

Freecycle Woes

When I first heard about Freecycle, I thought it seemed like a swell idea. I'm a frugal person, so anything with the word "free" attached to it draws me in like a moth to a flame. In fact, in my first week I scored an outdoor climber/slide - and that thing has been colored on, climbed up, jumped on, thrown at, broken, fixed, moved, slid down, rained on, snowed on, puked on, and peed on and it's still standing there in the corner of our yard, ready to take another beating.

Lately, however, I've found Freecycle to be rather sub par. Sure, I understand that things are free and therefore I don't expect them to be in mint condition - but spider infestations? Yellow stains? I'll pass, thanks. And I've already sent emails to two seperate people who have offered expired carseats. One didn't realize and said thank you, the other one shot me a snotty email back that said "That's why it's FREE." Silly me, I guess it's ok to endanger children as long as you don't charge someone to do it...

But to even find those things you have to sift through a hundred "WANTED" ads first...they should rename it Begcycle. For instance, someone recently was asking for a working 42" LCD TV, preferably a wall-mount. Seriously? I know there are some kind and generous people out there, but this almost surpasses Begcycle and goes right to Greedcycle.

On the bright side, no one emails me with an offer to send a certified check if I can hold their item and then arrange a dropoff with their mail-order wife at the airport, or sends me iPhone ads - so at least it has one-up on Craigslist.

August 18, 2010

From the Mouths of Babes

Here, I have compiled some snippets of actual conversations between my two year old and myself. Personally, I can't understand why anyone would pay to go see stand-up comedy - I have one working for free at my house, practically 24/7. Enjoy!

-- "Mommy, I have toots in my butt."
-- "I'm NOT a kangaroo, I'm a big girl."
-- "What do we do today? Let's catch the stars!"
-- "Does your car want to eat blueberries?"
-- "I don't want to say 'Arr Matey', I'm not a pirate anymore."
-- (I was building blocks with her and built a train, and showed it to her...with the same tone you would use to talk to a really slow person she says...) "That's not a train, mommy, that's some blocks."
-- "Let's go reaaaally FAST! Go high in the sky! And then we'll have lunch, ok?"
-- "I'm watching soccerball in Chinese."
-- "I love ants, and mommy, and Owen Edward, and TAMBOURINES!"
-- "My car likes raisins." (She managed to shove two raisins into a tiny Matchbox car window that took 5 minutes, a tweezer, and steady hands to remove).
-- "Does Owen want to go to the party in my tummy?" (Me - "No, that's silly!") "No mommy he is tasty. Sweet like candy!"
-- "I never get any birthday cake!" (Followed by a full-on pout)
-- "A lion says ROOOAAR! A monkey says hoohoohaha. Mommy says 'hi baby'."
-- "I can't eat my peas. I'm too little."

But one of the best one took place the other night, as I was tucking her in to bed. We had just finished the required two books and one song, and - as usual - I said 'I love you' and 'goodnight', to which she replied, "I wuv you too! Get out of here mommy, I'm tired."

August 13, 2010

The Idiot's Guide to Owen

I've had a lot of people ask me lately, "So what's wrong with your son?". Because he is such a complex little booger, I decided to type up some cliff notes - The Idiot's Guide to Owen, if you will. I'll have you know that I diagnosed at least three of these things prior to the doctors thanks to my extensive Googling. I'm confident that has earned me some type of honorary doctorate, however their club is pretty exclusive so this will have to serve as my official journal publication.

BIRTHDATE: 11/27/09

Let me start with a example. First, a healthy heart:And then, Owen's heart:Actually, it's not so much as his heart as it is his aorta...which is really a blood vessel that comes off of the heart...ok, scratch that diagram....

1) Vascular Ring - Owen presented with prolonged screaming fits and a tendancy to choke, gasp and gargle while eating. We were told over and over again that he was simply congested, and to run a humidifier. I attributed it to everything from milk intolerance, to disliking the outfit I had picked for him that day (in fact, I literally threw out a red hooded onesie that seemed particularly problematic). Turns out, Old Navy was not at fault - after some pressure on the doctors, a CT scan was ordered which uncovered the REAL culprit. His aorta actually curves the wrong direction (known as a Right Aortic Arch) and has forced some other things, like his trachea and esophagus, to get pushed out of the way. In addition, he was born with an extra blood vessel that was fused together with his aorta, forming a "vascular ring" that was literally squeezing his trachea and esophagus shut. The ring was surgically repaired in Feb 2010 at the tender age of 3 months

What they left alone at the time of that surgery was something called Kommerell's diverticulum which, thanks to the aforementioned ring, is basically large bulge, or balloon, in his aorta that was pressing on his esophagus. I'm guessing that doesn't feel too great and is why he spits out any solid foods as if it were rat poison. This portion of his anatomical discombobulation was surgically repaired on March 28th, 2011.

2) Bicuspid Aortic Valve - This never presented as anything, really, and was only found incidently during another scheduled echo of his heart. Much like the rubber thingys in your garbage disposal, your heart has three leaflets that open and close when blood flows in an out. Owen has only two (well, ok, he HAS three, but two have fused together so really there is one big one and one little one). Also, like the rubber thingys in your drain, stuff can collect on them and cause problems, which leads me to...

3) Aortic Valve Sclerosis - This is the "gunk" that accumulates on heart valves and then calcifies like leftover meatloaf in the back of our refrigerator.  Down the road, gunk build-up may cause his two valves (the big fused one and the little one) to work a little harder than necessary.

4) Heart Murmur - This is a result of the valve mentioned above. It was agreed that this was not significant enough for surgery right now but that they would follow Owen with regular echos to make sure his heart is functioning A.O.K until such time as he needs treatment.

5) VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) - Otherwise known as a hole in your heart. Owen's VSD is small, and located directly under his aortic valve - which thankfully is a place where it isn't causing much commotion. It will likely never close, but we hope it will never be a cause for concern either.


1) GERD - GastroesomethingIdon'tfeellikespellingout reflux disease. Technically, he's been diagnosed with this twice. The first time, he was held down while a scope was inserted up his nose and down his throat (SO much fun!) and they concluded that since they saw nothing, he must have reflux. I was still working on my honorary doctorate at this point, and therefore did not make the connection between "we found nothing" and "reflux". However, despite this, he was put on a medication for it - which he promptly threw up - over and over again. He was then put on another medication, which cost us not only an arm and a leg, but fingers and toes too. After no obvious improvement, he was taken off the medicine. Fast forward a few weeks, we held him down as they inserted another scope up his nose and down his throat (which he hated just as much as the first time) except at that point, his esophagus is inflammed, meaning he has silent reflux. Bad news: Silent reflux is worse, because instead of spewing it out he swallows it back down, allowing the acid to burn his throat twice. Good news: Less puke stains on my shirt. Back onto the ridiculously expensive medicine...  UPDATE:  As of Jan 2014, we have taken him off of the reflux medicine as it did not appear to be making any improvement and it is not a medicine you are intended to take for an extended period of time.  Off the medicine he is the same as he is off of it, so I'm not 100% sure I'm on board with this diagnosis still.

2) Laryngomalacia - This was found during that same delightful scope. He was presenting with a high-pitched gaspy noise, similar to one that you would make if you accidently sucked a marble down your windpipe (or at least I'm guessing). Due to the fact that he was a baby and didn 't understand the concept of "Please stop screaming even though we have this tube up your nose and down your throat", they had a hard time getting good pictures, but they did get enough to confirm the existence of this defect of his larynx. Basically, the top of his airway collapses slightly when he takes deep breaths in, causing a squeaking noise. This is compounded by the GERD, since the acid spew he coughs up aggravates his larynx even further. I've been assured that he will likely outgrow both of these things.   
UPDATE:  As of Jan 2014, this defect appears to have resolved itself.  Woot!

3)  Tracheobronchomalacia - Whew, that's a tough one, right?  It is believed that this rare abnormality is because of the vascular ring that compromised the development of his trachea during fetus-hood.  His airway is not as strong as most, so if airway gunk (not to be confused with calcified heart gunk) gets down into his trachea and lungs, it is a struggle for him to clear it out - sort of like using a spoon to bail a sinking boat.

3) Severe Food Aversion and/or Eating Disorder and/or something else - Owen has not ever consumed anything beyond a thin puree consistency. At over 3 years old he still relies heavily on medical formula to meet his nutritional needs. Prior to his second surgery, we assumed that part of his difficulty eating was because of the diverticulum blocking his esophagus. Post-surgery, he actually started taking an interest in real foods like granola bars, mashed potatoes, etc. But suddenly, that stopped, and now we are back to a daily struggle to get him to consume more than a few ounces of purees - let alone table foods like a normal kid his age should be doing. We have made visits to the University of Iowa Children's Hospital, Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and the Mayo Clinic, and Owen's case is just so unusual that they have nothing left to offer us except to keep an eye on him and hope that he overcomes these obstacles on his own.   
UPDATE:  I'm happy to say that as of Jan 2014 his eating has drastically improved.  He now eats some solid foods and no longer requires the medical formula we came to know and hate.  It's still an uphill battle most days but his openness to eating a more varied diet is improving daily.

4) PANDAS - This stands for "pediatric autoimmune neurological disorder associated with strep".  Around his 3rd birthday, Owen started showing some autistic characteristics.  He repeated things often and would become violently upset if you didn't repeat them back, he developed some strong OCD tendencies such as lining up toys and visiting the bathroom so many times that we may as well have just set up a tent in there.  He also had a motor tic of eye blinking which started to become so prominent that he did it every 3-4 seconds, all day long.  A visit to the pediatrician regarding these tics incidentally found him to have completely symptom-less strep throat - because, you know, nothing with Owen can be normal and straightforward.  A round of antibiotics and all of his behaviors disappeared.  Confused and intrigued, we visited a specialist who diagnosed him with PANDAS, saying that the strep bacteria actually triggers the bodies own immune system to attack part of the brain which is responsible for - you guessed it - motor and speech behavior.  So basically, his inflamed brain made him do it.

5) Genetics (yet to be determined) - This year, Owen was looked at by a team of geneticists at Mayo Clinic. He has a significant history for having some sort of genetic disorder or mutation, but nothing they could pin down. His basic genetic array test came back free of deletions or duplications, which essentially stunned the genetics team (and let me tell you, that's hard to do!).  So, they sent us away and told us to come back in a few years once more medical advances in genetics had been made so they could reevaluate him.  Yes, really.

So there you have Owen in a nutshell. There are so many people in the world who struggle with disease, deformities, and defects on a daily basis - and while Owen may be a complicated thing on the inside, he's a normal, happy boy otherwise and for that I consider us to be among the lucky. All the doctors, all the hospitals, all the office visits and phone calls haven't changed his smile one bit. Flesh, bone, and steel!

August 7, 2010

My Top 10 Most Unnecessary Baby Products

The amount of unnecessary baby gear out there astounds me. In no particular order, here are my Top 10 Unnecessary Baby Products, as pulled from the Babies 'R Us website:

Lillebaby EuroTote - I can see this being useful if I were forced to carry my infant on a dog sled team in the Antarctic. Anywhere else, and it looks like you shoved your child into your gym bag.

Especially For Baby Playard Netting - I hate mosquitoes as much as the next person, but this is a little extreme. Why not let your child enjoy being outside too instead of leaving them in this jumbo laundry hamper?

Walking Assistant - It's a wonder that anyone learned to walk before the development of this product. You COULD just hold on to your kid's hand, but then you'd miss out on having your own personal marionette.

Prince Lionheart Wash Pod - I heard great things about a similar product, but I just don't understand why it's any different than the 5 gallon bucket that people keep out in their garages.

Bebesounds NasalClear Aspirator - My child is scared of the vacuum when it's 10 feet away from her, I can't imagine how much fun it would be to try and shove THIS up her nose.

Diaper Genie II Elite - (I know this is a big baby registry classic, so I may be on my own on this one.) I try and eliminate the amount of trash I produce as much as possible, so the idea of saran-wrapping disposable diapers in yet another layer of plastic is a foreign concept to me. And it says it holds up to 30 diapers, as if that were a lot. It's not. Raise your hand if that thing looks like a lot of fun to empty and reload every day with a screaming newborn in one arm. Besides, when you have children who emit such noxious fumes as mine do, no plastic baggie is going to help anyway.

Safety 1st Little Men Working Potty - Hold on, this is a potty? If I can't even tell the difference, I wouldn't expect your two-year-old to.

Podee BPA Free Feeding Kit - I used to have one of these! Oh wait, that was a beer helmet...

Safety 1st Rear Window Shade - This product sucks. Actually, no, it DOESN'T suck - that's the whole problem. Unless you want to duct tape it to your window to protect your child from getting a black eye when the suction cups give way, I'd pass on this one.

KidKusion Large Driveway Sign - It's such a pain to have to go outside and watch your children play in the driveway by a busy street. Why not let this sign babysit for you?

Feel free to add on if you've encountered a baby product that had you scratching your head - I'd love to see what other wonderfully unecessary stuff I may be missing out on!

**Disclaimer: This is my own personal opinion and not meant to offend or insult anyone's parenting. I'm sure there is a time and place for each one of these products, except for the sun shade, because I've owned one and you really may as well just hit your kid in the head with a plastic object and save yourself the trouble.**

August 4, 2010

Reason I Love Being a Mom #36

Reason I Love Being a Mom #36: You can get great art for cheap. Take, for instance, this sculpture I acquired today. I believe it's called "Tower". I was asked if I would like to have it, followed by "Two dollars please!" Seriously, only two dollars? Who could pass up a deal like that? I know an investment when I see one, so I promptly dished out two one-dollar bills to which my daughter said "Thank You Sir" and crammed them into her piggy bank.

I also managed to sneak a picture of the artist's studio:

July 31, 2010

Just Call Me Supermom

So far this week, I have:

** Attempted potty training, with finally an inkling of success today... (Note to self: Do NOT run low on fruit snacks...)
** Convinced my daughter that her pacifier was "lost". And she actually bought it without a fight - I now have a paci-free toddler!
** Got my son to start napping in his OWN bed, consistently, without me having to pat his butt until my arm cramped up and felt like it would fall off.
** Took both kids grocery shopping, a feat I've only attempted once when my son was a newborn and I didn't know any better.
** Went to the zoo, despite the fact that it was so hot we may as well cooled off in a pit of burning lava.
** Played at Rocket Park for a good two hours until I had to drag my stubborn toddler's exhausted, sweaty body off of the slide and carry both squirmy and crabby kids (35lbs and 18lbs) for what felt like a mile back to my car.
** Taught my daughter the letters "A" and "B", to where she can consistently recognize them wherever we are. Next step: Get her to stop saying "Look mom, a Number A!"
** Also, apparently, taught her a curse word. Daddy dropped something and we were both quite surprised to hear a tiny voice say "What the h*ll?"
** Read the "ice cream train" book so many times that I can recite it upside down with one hand tied behind my back.
** Filled out daycare paperwork.
** Celebrated my son's 8th month of life.
** Spent 45 minutes at the imaging clinic for his heart echo, only to be told that Doogie Howser was not only uncomfortable doing an echo on a child so small, but that he had never, in fact, heard of my son's condition before. Thankfully he was honest and didn't make us sit there while he looked it up on Google, like the tech a couple months back did.
** Spent another 45 minutes driving over to another hospital to see another tech who actually looked as though she had graduated high school, and might also perhaps know what she's doing too.
** Spent yesterday, today, and probably tomorrow and Monday nervously awaiting the results as to whether or not my son still has any pronounced heart defects. I guess the cardiologists definition of 24 hours and mine vary slightly....
** Built close to 149 MegaBlok towers, only to have them destroyed by a little redheaded Godzilla.
** Picked up those same MegaBloks more times than I care to recall.
** Cleaned, laundered, scrubbed, cooked, chauffeured, bathed, rinsed, emptied, organized, washed, dusted, vacuumed, trashed, wiped, changed, and swept.

And still had time at the end of each day to reflect on how lovely it all is despite the everyday chaos.

July 26, 2010

Potty Learning, Take Three

After two previous unsuccessful attempts at potty learning, I decided that this time I wasn't going to wimp out. After all, I have a very intelligent, outspoken, emotionally in-tune daughter who is surely capable of such a simple biological task....right?

When I use the bathroom, she congratulates me in a flurry of jazz hands and insists on getting me a sticker for "going pee-pee in the potty!" And, much to my dismay, she will gladly run over and plop her bare butt down, hand outstretched, requesting the fruit snack that I give her for making a potty attempt. The second that delicious fruit snack hits her mouth, she's up and goes about her play. After doing this three times in a row in the span of half an hour, it slowly dawned on me that maybe I was the one being trained here. Clearly, it is not that my daughter doesn't understand the concept - she merely wants nothing to do with it. And when you think about it, who can really blame her? When you wear a diaper, you can just pee wherever you are. Playing with blocks? No problem! Watching a cartoon? Go ahead! Eating some yogurt? Pee away! Someone will come along and switch you out with a clean one soon enough.

I suppose this shouldn't come as any great shock. She is my daughter, and a redhead to boot, so stubborn independence is just a part of her genetic code. How to overcome it, however, is presenting me with quite a challenge. If I let her wear diapers, she pees in them and I have to change them - she wins. If I let her wear undies, she pees in them and I have to change them - she wins. If she goes naked, she holds it in until her eyeballs start to float and her knees are locked together and only during naptime will she release the floodgate - she wins. Fruit snacks, stickers, treats for trying - win, win, win.

Running water doesn't help, I could set that child's potty chair on the deck of Niagra Falls and she'd hold it in while singing a song titled "I Like Water". Giving her privacy doesn't help, because a nanosecond after I leave the bathroom she is already up and going through the drawers. Her potty chair has just become an overpriced storage bucket, as it currently houses two necklaces and a raisin from lunchtime. She is now pushing the size limits on the cloth diapers she wears, and the next size up disposables are labeled for elderly incontinence use.

It has turned into a battle of wills, and mom is losing. With any luck, we'll get this thing down before she goes to kindergarten - high school, at the latest.

July 21, 2010

My Bumper Sticker Soulmate

I was sitting at a stoplight today, singing along shamelessly to an 80's song that popped on to the radio, when I noticed some reading material on the bumper of the white pickup truck ahead of me. Generally speaking, I dislike bumper stickers. Not only has society failed to create one that actually looks appealing, but they often are some type of in-your-face advertising of a certain belief or political affiliation. I mean, come on - do I really care that you voted for Gore? Aren't you the least bit sorry you decreased the value of your car by tenfold in order to campaign for someone who lost and now lives amongst the polar bears? And heaven forbid you decide to remove one, the glue on those suckers is so strong I'm surprised NASA hasn't started using it to hold together their space shuttles.

But given the fact that I had happened upon the LONGEST LIGHT IN HISTORY, I decided to go ahead and indulge in the ones in front of me.

On the left, a bumper sticker that said: "Come Over to the Darkside. We Have Cookies."

On the right, another that said: "I would tell you to go to Hell, but I work there and I don't want to see you every day!"

And there was one above, on the back window, that said: "DON'T HIT KIDS. (No seriously, they have guns now.)"

After I finished snickering internally (I could have snickered out loud, I suppose, but that would have interrupted the chorus of "I Think We're Alone Now"), I decided that this person could probably become my new best friend. Suddenly the light changed, and I made the executive decision to take the outside lane in order to steal a glance at my potential bumper sticker soulmate. And I may have accomplished this, if I hadn't ended up down the road that had more orange cones than it did pavement. I was forced to back down, submit in line behind this truck, and eventually lose them on a left turn.

I may never know who this witty stranger is, but thank you for selflessly giving up the real estate on the back of your vehicle in order to bring a smile to my face. The gesture is much appreciated.

July 17, 2010

Memories From Blogs Past

I found my old blog the other day, and came across a wonderful little memory that took place almost exactly three years ago today:

And here I go, diving into uncharted territory. I am, officially, "with child", and the concept is simultaneously exciting, terrifying, mysterious, and altogether hard to wrap my brain around. I suppose I can read all the books and articles I want and still never quite understand what it will be like to be a mother - that is, until that (probably) cold day in February when I am confronted with it face to face. As hard as it will be to let my independence go, the thought of being able to start this new being from scratch and teach him or her everything from riding a bike to becoming a wonderful human being is such an amazing undertaking. I truly am looking forward to every moment of it. As you can see, this little human isn't much more than a blob that resembles Mr. Peanut without his tophat. Hey, we all gotta start somewhere. And you're welcome to start placing bets, however I think you should know that all but one person believes that this will be a girl. You have about 8 weeks until we know for sure!

(PS, If I talk to you between now and a couple weeks from now, please don't mention food. At all. It's a touchy subject, ok?)
And now, that blob has become a happy, healthy, and independent little two year old. One that loves to dance and sing. One that can light up a room just with her mere presence. One who stopped us in the middle of dinner tonight to announce that she had "toots in her butt". Oh, my wonderful daughter - we've come a long way!

July 16, 2010

The Daycare Hunt

(I have to say that my mom cautioned me not to put this up on my blog, in the event that one of the women mentioned might happen upon it and become offended. But, I'm doing it anyway because A) if they DO see it, maybe they will realize the ridiculousness of their choice of profession and B) because I'm a rebel.)

I'm returning to work in T-minus one month and counting. And since my daughter isn't nearly old enough to hold down the fort alone, we decided that some proper childcare was in order. I had the names of, like, two whole daycares - no big deal, right?

Well, first of all, I drastically underestimated my mom paranoia. The mere thought of leaving my children with a stranger sent me into near convulsions. What if they were the kind of creep that ends up on Dateline? What if they yelled at my kids and forced them to sit in a corner all day? What if....what if....they....MADE THEM EAT LUNCHABLES? :shudders: And after my first three encounters with "daycare providers", I realized that this task was a little like swimming across the Atlantic Ocean, except without a compass or nose plugs.

I was psyched about my first daycare interview. She lived no more than five blocks from me and seemed very nice on the phone. Because I was a newbie with the whole process, I opted not to bring the kids with me. Turns out, that was an EXCELLENT idea. Why? Well, for starters, I'm not sure that two more kids would have fit into her house. The entire space was the size of a public restroom, except not as clean. Her carpet could have passed for camoflauge thanks to the grey and green stains all over, and there was a cat on the sofa that was missing quite a large amount of fur above her tail. And twice, in the middle of her sentence, the woman belched without pausing OR excusing herself. Did I mention that I had to leave a breadcrumb trail through her front lawn just to find my way back to the car? I don't think it had seen a lawnmower in over three years. Next...

The following day, I catch wind of a daycare that was very focused on arts and crafts. Being a somewhat artsy person myself, I thought that sounded like a swell concept! So I picked up the phone and dialed. That was my first mistake. Twenty six minutes into the call - TWENTY SIX MINUTES - I had still not found out any information about this particular daycare. I sure heard a lot about homeopathic cancer remedies, and pottery, and Cocker Spaniels, though. I humored her until she got to the part about how in the past ten years, she had taken in a dozen homeless people. I'm definitely no expert, but I have a feeling that's the type of volunteer work that should be left to someone who does not also take in small children. Seems like a bad combo, is all I'm sayin'. So, I pretended like we lost our connection and hung up on her. Tactful? No. Successful? No. She emailed me twice and called me six more times, once leaving a message that consisted of a story about how she was helping a friend of hers move because she was being beaten by her landlord, and how landlord these days are nuts. Pot, meet kettle. I'm sure she would have gone on, but thankfully my voicemail cut her off. Next...

Another day, another interview. This one I had high hopes for. The house was nice, the yard was nice, there were no homeless people camping on their porch - so far, so good. The woman who ran the daycare was extremely nice, and I was able to look past her bleached 80's wave and see that she probably was a very good caregiver. Why did she have to go and ruin it? A conversation cropped up in which she mentioned that she had to drive two children home in the afternoon, which would require taking my kids with. I wouldn't have necessarily discounted her with that, however then she adds in that "there might be the occasional run to the grocery store too". FLAG. No thanks. I don't get to go to the store in the middle of my work shift, neither should you. Next...

At this point, I only had about one good prospect after a list of about 57. Hopelessness was starting to creep in, and I knew with only three more scheduled interviews the quality really had to pick up FAST or I'd be up the creek without a paddle. Thankfully, that's where Miss B comes in. I loved this place the moment I walked in, and not just because the carpet was all one color. I loved it because the kids had their names on their spots at the table. I loved it because there was no TV in sight. I loved it because two adorable kids were squished onto a ridiculously tiny sofa listening to her assistant read them a book. I loved it because it was what I had envisioned all along. Finally!

Despite the fact that I still had two more interviews, I called Miss B back a half hour after our visit and reserved our spots. I wasn't willing to risk losing out on this and having to settle for a cat with mange. And I hope, when the time comes, that my kids will feel comfortable and happy there and thus put my worried heart at ease.

July 13, 2010

I've Been Interviewed!

I did a fun little interview for a fellow blogger about my daughter's wonderful curly locks. If you have a few minutes to kill and want to read it, be my guest!

Curly Hairdo Ideas: Short Curly Toddler Hair

July 12, 2010

Document Disposal Service

I've been a little lazy lately, especially when it comes to blogging. Ok, it isn't so much lazy as it is tired and bombarded with projects of other sorts. Anyhow, my schedule has forced me to delegate certain tasks.

Take, for instance, important document disposal. You may think this type of thing is only needed for corporations with questionable recordkeeping or people who have something worth stealing, but how do you know there isn't someone stalking your electricity usage? Granted, the bills from six years ago may be a little excessive, but I found a solution. We found a couple people who are not only willing to take on such a tedious chore, but who actually ENJOY the entire process - from sorting, to feeding the paper, to throwing the shredded bits around like an indoor snowstorm:

I couldn't do a finer job myself, and with a hectic schedule such as mine, it's always good to go with people you can trust to get it done right. Besides, who doesn't like a little free labor?

July 6, 2010

Big Diner

My daughter opened her own business today, by the name of "Big Diner". She had barely so much as stumbled out of bed before she already had a plate with one single strawberry and a glass in hand. I asked her if I could share, which must have sparked something in her as she set her plate down, yelled "Coming right up!" and ran to her play kitchen where she produced a triangular block of cheese for me. After that came corn, more strawberries, pancakes, a round green block that I *think* she was trying to sell me as broccoli, tea, even more strawberries, a headband (she served it on my plate and called it necklace, so...yum!...?), and some birthday cake. This girl LOVES birthday cake, did you know that? Her most stunning creation was the hamburger birthday cake, which consisted of a hamburger bun with a slice of tomato and a cupcake piled on top. I mean, just look at this masterpiece:

I probably indulged in this wonderful treat at LEAST 139 times today. A green spatula was her serving utensil of choice, which only added to the uniqueness of this dish.

I also learned two important things about this new business endeavor:
1) "Big Diner" only serves breakfast. 10am? Breakfast. 8pm? Breakfast. Strawberries, headbands, hamburger cakes? It's all breakfast.
2) "Big Diner" uses the same plate over and over. Same glass of milk, too (which may actually have had real milk in it at one point). Perhaps a conversation about diner ettiquette is in order?

I can't wait to see what is on the menu for tomorrow!

June 30, 2010

Lipstick and Rat Poison

I wanted to extend a sincere thank you to TLC for airing such shows as "Toddlers & Tiaras" and "Your Kid Ate What?!". Nothing makes my parenting skills sparkle like a shiny pot of gold than a woman in cutoff short-shorts putting lipstick and fake nails on her toddler and yelling at the girl to "flirt with her eyes".

Even before I became a parent myself, I could name a whole list of things parents should do (or should NOT do) that are just plain common sense. Feed your kid, bathe your kid, don't dress your kid like Ru Paul. However, it was the less obvious things that murkied the waters a bit. What do you do when they cry? What gets baby puke/blood/jelly stains out of a white shirt? How do you answer their questions about sex without making them want to dry heave and hide in their room for a month? At the hospital they just send you and your new child on your way - no instructions, no direction, just a wave and a smile and a $50 charge for both added to your bill. The first few weeks is a crapshoot. Is she hungry? Does he have a dirty diaper? Did I shower yet this week? Eventually your parenting niche comes to the surface as you start getting used to having a kid hanging on you 24/7. Some parents become hyper sensitive, dressing their baby in bubble wrap and immediately feeling like a big pile of steaming failure when their child says "NO!" for the first time. Others gossip on the phone for an hour while their daughter, who has a track record of eating things that in no way resemble actual food, plays in a room full of rat poison.

I'd like to think that I'm the kind of mom who falls somewhere in the middle. I do not own any lipstick or short-shorts, cutoff or otherwise. My daughter can sing the chorus of a Miley Cyrus song, which I confess is an Epic Parenting Fail on my part, but her dancing is more "frantic gerbil" than it is "gentlemen's club". And as far as I know, the worst thing my kids have ingested is cat fur and a questionable piece of hotdog. No "D" batteries, no giant foam hearts. That isn't to say though that I'm one of the bubble-wrap toting moms (my last entry should be proof positive of that). I'd be dead of a heart attack three times over if I flew into a panic every time my daughter defied me or did something that might result in a scrape or a bruise. She is a redhead, after all.

For once it would be nice to see a show for the rest of us - no one eating clothes hangers, no one blowing kisses to the audience as they pole dance to "Baby Got Back", no Kate Gosselin (because who are they kidding, she is more drama than Desperate Housewives and Jersey Shores put together). Just normal parents with (relatively) normal kids. Heck, maybe I should volunteer. I know at least 8 people who would watch, which would already guarantee them a higher viewership than "Extreme Poodles". Whatcha think, TLC?

June 28, 2010

Reason I Love Being a Mom #81

Reason I Love Being a Mom #81: Because despite having bits of pavement lodged in her cheek, my beautiful little girl can still manage to flash me her trademark mischevious grin. Don't worry Lainey, I took care of the invisible rock that tripped you down the stairs...

June 27, 2010

The Big Clean

My husband and I have decided that after five years of living in this house, it might be a good idea to clean some of it. So we have undertaken a major home overhaul - no room is exempt, no unmarked bottle safe. Here is what we have accomplished thus far:

The Kitchen. Surprisingly, one of the easiest of all the rooms (I say, as someone who was barely involved in the cleaning of this particular room). This included dragging out every pot, every pan, every 3-year-old package of Ramen noodles - 18, to be exact - and then scrubbing the shelves down. I supervised most of this, coming in periodically to eat a snack and thus lessen the load for my husband...because that's the kind of nice wife I am. We also determined that we can no longer live with the faucet that's cracked and looks as though it was installed by a toddler. Therefore we made a trip to Lowe's and purchased a brand new and shiny stainless steel sink. I'll bet we'll be able to keep that clean for TWO WHOLE DAYS!

The Closet. Our bedroom has a walk-in closet that we have not been able to walk in to for a couple years. It is basically a clothing graveyard. There were shirts in there that we haven't seen since we moved in, a prehistoric towel, as well as two belts that neither of us recall purchasing and look as if they belonged to an 80's drag queen. In addition to the clothes, there was an entire plastic bin of books that was half-caved in due to crap being piled on top of it. Not that I have time to read anyway, but even if I did, I'm not sure why half of these books would have ever even made it to my possession. Who needs an entire book of doctor jokes? Not me. Six, SIX, entire boxes came out of that closet and went to Goodwill. Sadly, this accomplishment is lost due to the fact that we still cannot walk into our walk-in closet. Darn these old houses and their lack of storage...

The Basement. Don't even get me started! Half of our basement is "finished" (well, it has a ceiling, overhead lighting, and a pool table. We don't venture down there much except to scoop cat turds and do laundry, though...). Anyhow, we actually had an entire sofa buried underneath all of my art supplies. Whodathunk? And I finally decided to throw out the fake tree that I had purchased in hopes of making that room more "lively". Unfortunately, it did make it more lively - but not the way that I wanted. When I noticed entire colonies of spiders living amongst the leaves, I ran at lightening speed and used full force to pitch the tree as far into the yard as I could. Then I did the famous "GET IT OFF ME" dance for a few minutes before heading back downstairs to douse the corner with Windex and Febreeze (the only two chemical cleaners I possess), just to make sure that the invisible spider babies would not form some kind of vengeful army against me. My husband then vacuumed up a gazillion tiny pieces of cat litter and scrubbed the stairs.

The Sofa. We lifted up all of the sofa cushions to vacuum underneath. I found, in no particular order: three pens, a crayon, a hair tie, a pair of earrings I thought I had lost forever, an undistinguishable melted? piece of plastic, Goldfish crackers, a lonely Franken Berry, and only one measly penny. All that work, I would have hoped to have found at LEAST a quarter... Hmph.

The Bathroom. This one is still a work-in-progress. I started on it today during naptime, emptying out each of the four drawers in the vanity and wiping them down. When I went to return the items to their appropriate places, I made a couple shocking discoveries. 1) Each one of us would have to get some kind of life-threatening cut at least twice a day for the next four years to use up all of the BandAids and gauze pads we have accumulated. 2) We had a jar of Vicks VapoRub that expired in 1999. It still smelled potent, too. I'm not sure which one of those facts is worse...but either way, it lives in the trash can now. Also, we currently have seven brand new spare toothbrushes, five things of floss, as well as four samples of toothpaste and one of those flossers-on-a-stick. I swear we really aren't some dental hygiene freaks, we just have a dentist that leaves baskets of samples all around the office - it's like moths to a flame.

There is still work to be done, and I'd like to say that I feel really accomplished due to our three carloads of stuff that has now become Goodwill's problem, but I don't. We have SO MUCH STUFF that it's still overwhelming. But at least we can say that we tried, right?