November 15, 2011

Ode to Owen

Owen, my child, so innocent and sweet,
why is it that you must puke when you eat?
Do you not care for tonight's entree?
Or was it too chunky to call a puree?
You really should try a cracker or two,
you might be surprised at what you can do!
You can "chomp chomp" your teeth and mash it to bits,
instead of screaming and throwing big fits.
Pick up a spoon, just like your big sissy,
and shovel it in! No need to be prissy.
I don't care if you're covered in cake,
most kids would be thrilled, for goodness sakes.
That kid in the booth there beside us is one,
and she's munching and crunching and having such fun.
You're missing out on the pizza and pie,
I know that you'd like it, just give it a try!
You were born with some things out of place,
and I'm sure you just wish that we'd give you some space.
But I am your mom, and as you may know,
that gives me the right to run this whole show.
Bananas, carrots, peanut butter and jelly,
I promise they all will feel good in your belly.
I can't guarantee that you will not gag,
and I'm sure that the feeling must be a real drag.
But even those times when you feel kind of yucky,
let's face it, kid, you are still pretty lucky.
You have a small army that's cheering for you,
and wishing to see you just bite down and chew.
We'll get there, someday, with a little hard work,
and maybe we'll celebrate with some Caribbean jerk!

November 4, 2011

Abandon Ship!

I can't help but notice that I've lost a couple subscribers recently, and that I've only received maybe one comment in the last few months and I won't lie - it sort of makes me feel like that kid in the junior high cafeteria that always smells like stale cigarettes and pork roast. You know, the one you kept scooching away from to avoid having to make awkward conversation? I suppose I can contribute this loss to the fact that subscribing to something that's only updated once every third full moon is probably not very exciting. Plus I never give away free stuff, besides the occasional pearl of "be careful what your kid shoves up their nose" wisdom. Actually, the longer I think about it, the more surprised I am that I have any subscribers at all. Man, I need a wine cooler...

The mental block I've had lately has become an enormous time sucker, causing me to spend hours searching Google for absolutely nothing in particular and then wondering where my entire night has gone. Granted, I can also blame a little of that on the constant stream of Law & Order: SVU episodes we have DVR'd. But honestly, I've just felt like I have had nothing noteworthy to write about. For example, the recent topics I considered blogging about (but ended up staring at Elliott Stabler instead) are as follows:

1) The family that got lost and called 911 from a corn maze. There were almost TOO MANY ways to make fun of this, and I just couldn't narrow it down enough to come up with a full, coherent blog.

2) Halloween in general. I had a little harder time celebrating Halloween this year, given the tragic ending of the holiday last year. Also, trick-or-treating lost it's fun with a toddler who didn't understand that you couldn't knock on every single door. After about the fourth house with it's light off, the throw-your-bucket-on-the-sidewalk-and-scream tantrums got old. I mean, it's not like the kid is going to eat any of those stale Tootsie Rolls, so who were we really doing this for anyway?

3) And speaking of not eating, that brings me to Owen. The giant feeding mystery wrapped up in a cute little toddler body. Seriously, kid, it won't kill you to munch on an animal cracker without yakking, I promise. We were told today that it is likely due to his anatomy and he will either A) outgrow it or B) live with it forever and have to learn how to deal. Basically, we will either win the lottery or we won't. The drastic differences between those two possible scenarios is not a heart-warming confidence booster, and the whole ordeal has been so frustrating that it's hard for me to write about it in the witty and satirical fashion that all three of you reading this have come to know and love.

4) The mullet I saw today. I never climbed on to the "Epic" bandwagon, but believe me when I say if ever there were a place and time to use the word epic, this woman's femullet would have been it. The party in the back continued all the way down to her waist in a lovely natural shade of brunette, yet the business in front was bleached and slicked back. If some dude from the cast of Baywatch had a baby with Michelle Duggar, you would have gotten this lady. It. Was. Awesome. I regret only that I did not have an inconspicuous view for which to take a cell phone picture.

However, in all of this grump and sigh, I do have a positive note to end on: My daughter's donation today to the University of Iowa Children's Hospital was spectacular. 20 Color Wonder sets, 20 Matchbox cars, $40 in iTunes gift cards, a stack of board and coloring books, and over 20 other toys and games will surely bring a smile to a few of those kids who - let's face it - have a lot bigger problems than what to blog about. I'm very proud of Lainey not only for helping me shop for toys that weren't going to end up in the bottom of her purse, but for being genuinely disappointed that she was not going to be personally handing out these toys to the kids themselves. It took 15 minutes and a package of M&M's to calm her down and convince her that the toys would, indeed, get handed out and that the kids would, indeed, have great big huge smiles on their faces. Lainey, you warm my heart.

And minus the two of you who abandoned ship, I do appreciate anyone who stops in to read what I have to write every so often. Say hi once in a while, would'ya? I already feel a little crazy as it is, the last thing I need is to start "talking" to myself...

October 18, 2011

A Lesson from Charmin

Today, I'd like to talk to you about toilet paper.

If you have watched TV at all in the past three years, chances are you have seen the Charmin commercials. You know, the one with the cartoon bears? The first time I ever saw this, I was a little horrified. But mostly I laughed, hard. I never realized that leaving pieces behind when you wiped was such an epidemic that it required it's own Public Service Announcement. And then three questions came immediately to my mind: A) Why don't the bears just use leaves like nature intended? B) What sort of mother would subject her offspring to such a humiliating full backside inspection? and most importantly... C) Who wipes so aggressively that they turn their toilet paper into sticky confetti bits in the first place?

I remember repeatedly scoffing at this commercial and it's ridiculous message. Every time I saw that little bear cub behind shaking at me on the screen, I couldn't help but wonder how someone would go about shredding toilet paper with nothing but their own two cheeks. But slowly, over the past few months, a humble enlightenment has come over me. You see, I have a three year old now. Anyone who has a three year old can just stop reading now, because you understand. However, if you do not, in fact, have a three year old, let me explain...

Three year olds are not gentle creatures. They run hard, they play hard, they scream hard, and apparently - they wipe hard. I never once equated my daughter with that obnoxious red bear, but then the pieces started to appear. At first there were just a couple white flecks on the ground. I didn't know what they were at first, so I just picked them up and disposed of them. But then those couple turned into a few, and then those few started showing up multiple times during the day. What ARE these little paper snowflakes? Do we have a bathroom fairy?

Then one night as I was helping my daughter get ready for bed, I watched her shred that paper faster than an Enron executive, and it dawned on me. She IS that little cub on the Charmin commercial! The sandpaper butt is not a myth afterall. And before I could stop myself, I did a visual check of her behind to make sure she had not, in fact, left any pieces behind. And it was right then that I realized I had come full-circle. I had gone from a person who snorted out loud at the thought of toilet paper dingleberries to a parent who takes toilet paper strength very seriously.

Such are the joys of parenthood. Charmin, you have my apologies.

September 29, 2011

Bear in Underwear

You may probably think that I went out of my way to come up with a clever and humorous title for this post, but it's really just the name of a book. Yes, a real book. And not just any book, but Owen's favorite book.


For those of you who haven't read this classic, allow me to summarize for you: A bear is playing hide-and-seek with some creepy woodland creatures with gigantic eyes when he decides that his friends suck at hiding and that he wants to omnomnom on some cheeseburgers. On his way to eat cheeseburgers, he trips over a backpack and decides to steal it. He makes it back home, where his wild animal posse greets him (I thought they were playing hide-and-seek?) and decide to bully him into sharing the backpacks contents. But we aren't talking about iPods or school books, we are talking about underwear. The backpack is full of underwear. Dirty underwear, girly underwear, itchy underwear. My first thought would have been to call Benson and Stabler, because finding a bunch of used underwear in the woods has been the premise of more than one episode of Law & Order: SVU. However, the bear instead decides to try each pair on. If that weren't creepy enough, his forest friends decide to join in the fun, leading to an awkward underwear scene which is quite possibly illegal to view in some states. But in the end, bear is happy, because his tighty whitey's look "DY-NO-MITE!".

Owen is enthralled by this story. He literally giggles when the underwear come spilling out of the backpack. Considering that Owen has never worn a pair of underwear, and I'm not even sure he knows what they are, the fact that he giggles at this just proves that men are simply predisposed to bathroom humor and Adam Sandler movies. And he isn't the only one - apparently, "Bear in Underwear" was so popular that it inspired sequels such as "Bear in PINK Underwear" and "Bear in Long Underwear".

So hit up your local Borders before they lock the doors, you may be able to score yourself a cheap copy. Just be forewarned that on about page six there is a very clear illustration of naked bear buttocks. You know, in case you are sensitive to that sort of thing...

(An older photo of Owen enjoying his book - this was taken about 6 months ago, just to further prove how much of a staple this book is in our household):

September 22, 2011

Confessions of a Common Goddess

I confess that I am addicted to Q-tips. I could very likely win a prize for having the cleanest ears in the world - or at very least, the cleanest ones on the block. I think my obsession stemmed from a traumatic episode of "Untold Stories of the ER". I would elaborate, but I'd hate for you to run out to the store and buy up all of my Q-tips.

I confess that I swell with pride when I throw some egg noodles and chicken into a pan and stick it in the oven. As you may well already know, I am at least three light years away from being Rachel Ray, so I have to take my kitchen accomplishments when I can.

I confess that even though my cats are among the most lazy animals ever to have walked this Earth, I still feel safe when they are near me. The logical side of me knows that if an intruder ever came in my cats would either A) yawn, B) get startled and fall off the couch, or C) rub up against them hoping for food, but I still can't help but feel comforted by their presence.

I confess that I have an unhealthy fear that all spiders can actually leap into the air, Michael Jordan-style.

I confess that I have never seen Star Wars, have no desire to ever see Star Wars, and could not care less how un-American this might make me.

I confess that I also have never seen the TV show "Glee". Go ahead and take my social security card away.

I confess that I miss the days when you could just wear plain 'ole jeans without them being the skinny or pajama kind. Seriously, those are just...unnatural. People aren't meant to look like they are walking on tooth picks. And men wearing skinny jeans? Wrong on many levels. The only plus is the entertaining mental image of them getting stuck trying to take them off - Ross and the leather pants, anyone?

I confess that I am not nearly as witty and articulate in person. My brain has to write and rewrite things numerous times to achieve something that is, in my mind, acceptable for posting. In person, it would be more like, "Wow, that was really swell!"

I confess that I wish more people used the word swell, because I think it is...well...really swell.

I confess that I just saw a car commercial that involved dancing robots and hamsters wearing parachute pants, and it made me really sad for the state of our country.

I confess that I convince myself to buy junk food at the store to use as treats for my daughter, only to hide them and then eat them myself once the kids are in bed. Along the same lines, I confess that giving my son vanilla wafers to "play" with during mealtimes should be a crime, since they always end up getting smashed and broken. Each time I vacuum up pieces of vanilla wafer, a small part of me dies inside.

I confess that I just got up and ate three vanilla wafers because my last confession made me hungry for them.

I confess that I go to Walmart once a week, and I'm not the least bit ashamed by this fact. Every single time I go down the clearance aisle hoping to discover some diamond nestled among the dog crap. And I almost always grab at least two things that I never intended on buying upon walking in to the store. Yes, I confess I'm a Walmart sucker.

I confess that I started this blog to avoid having to wash bottles, because I would rather scrub a toilet out with a toothbrush, blindfolded, while listening to Michael Bolton, than wash bottles by hand. But, my son deserves to eat out of something that doesn't have crusty vanilla formula stuck to the inside, so that's all the confessions you get for right now.

September 13, 2011

What An Itch!

What's more annoying than sitting next to that guy on an airplane who blows his nose 187 times? Mosquitoes, that's what.

We were out at the park last night, enjoying a warm late summer breeze and totally minding our own business, when out of the blue I felt a tiny presence on my ankle and looked to find that it was being sucked dry by a little winged vampire. I'm more allergic to them than most, so the left side of my foot now looks like I've contracted some grotesque skin disease. And if the inability to wear my sandals for fear of being labeled a social outcast isn't enough, this mosquito bite also just happens to be at the right level for my work shoes to rub against. All day long. Just to give you an idea how wonderful this felt today, imagine wearing your grandmother's wool sweater outside in 90 degree weather. Now imagine it's full of fleas. Now take that feeling, condense it onto a small section of your ankle, and multiply it by 10.

If you're looking for me, I'll be the one with her foot in the bucket full of Cortizone.

August 24, 2011

"I Don't Know"

Today I bring you a little tale of irony. About a month or so ago, my son Owen was referred to the Early Intervention program for his behavioral feeding issues and his speech delay. Side Rant: For some ridiculous reason, even though he acts like eating food is the most awful torture that any human being should have to endure, they would not consider him a candidate until he was behind in his speech as well. (So if your child physically cannot eat, but they possess the language skills to say "I'm not eating that crud", apparently your child is SOL). Anyhow, in order to even qualify for the speech part of it, it was required that he be greater than 30% delayed. The only thing I've heard come out of his mouth since he was born 21 months ago have been screeches, grunts, and "Ooooh!", so I thought we had this evaluation in the bag.

This morning, the therapist comes by and unloads some toys on the floor and we begin to discuss Owen's strengths and weaknesses. Naturally, our discussion orbits around his communication and I explain to her his speech pattern, or lack thereof. She jots down some notes, rambles off some psychological mumbo jumbo, and pulls out a floor puzzle for Owen to use as a weapon....uh, I mean, to test his critical thinking. It was a simple puzzle - circle peg on one side, square peg on the other, triangle in the middle. All Owen had to do was put them back in the correct spot. He did an amazing job the first go-round when they were all lined up perfectly where they should be. Then the therapist took the pieces out and mixed them up and set them in front of Owen. He stared at them for a few moments, trying to figure out what he was supposed to do with them and if he really even wanted to humor us any longer. Or perhaps he was deciding which one of the pegs to throw at the cat. The therapist points to the space where the triangle should go and says to Owen, "What goes here?"

Owen paused, looked down at the sad little empty spot, and said "I don't know."

Don't get me wrong, I was THRILLED that he said something remotely understandable. But his timing, during an evaluation geared to help him with a significant SPEECH delay, was impeccable. Thankfully, the therapist registered my surprise and said "You didn't expect that, did you?" Understatement of the year. I would have predicted the earthquake in Virginia before I predicted a full, logical sentence out of my son. And, as you can probably guess, he has not said another thing since the therapist left our house this morning.

Motherhood is always full of surprises.

August 16, 2011

The Clumsy Dragon

This blog is brought to you by my daughter, Lainey, and her imaginative storytelling (as well as her creative ability to stall bedtime at all costs). I would like to title this story "Pink the Clumsy Dragon." Enjoy.
Once upon a time there was a dragon named Pink. And one day she was playing outside in her garden and she fell down and she got a boo boo on her hand and her face and her eyes and her nose and her elbow. So she went inside and said to her mom to get her some bandages for all her boo boos. And then Pink went back outside and tripped over a log. And there was a bee, and the bee flew down and started to eat the dragon because he landed on her arm and the bee said "I'm gonna eat you!" and Pink the dragon said "No don't eat me! Shoo fly!" and she chased the bee away. And bees like honey and they eat it and they buzz around like this "BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ". And then Pink was running away and she hit her arm and she said "OW OW OW!" and ran around and had to get a bandage on her arm. And they lived happily ever after...THE END.

Get this kid a publisher.

July 30, 2011

Arachnophobia

This morning I was awoken by the pitter-patter of tiny feet - except this time, the feet belonged to my cat instead of my children, and those feet weren't running down the hallway, they were trying to knead my face like a 5-day-old lump of dough. The only time I am woken in this manner is when my cats are out of food, so I knew if I didn't get up and feed them soon they would swarm me on the stairs or cough up a hairball on my work clothes.

So I shuffled to the basement, dished them up a hefty serving of the best dry food crap money can buy, and headed over to the sink with their water dish. As I grasped the handle of the faucet, my finger got caught in a cobweb - no big deal, it's a basement, it's to be expected, right? What I didn't expect, though, was to see a spider the size of Mongolia racing towards my hand at top speed. Suddenly, every fear I have had since my first viewing of "Arachnophobia" was playing out in real life. Thankfully, I maintained my bladder control and yanked my hand back quicker than you can say "GETITOFFME". As I did, it spun around and raced back to the firey pit from whence it came, obviously not in the mood to take on this giant wuss and her big bowl full of water.

*Shudders*

That experience alone is enough for me to have nightmares for a week... But this evening, as I was heading back down to the basement to switch out a load of laundry, I saw a dark black object scampering across the floor. Could it be? Is it the same man-eating spider I encountered earlier? I watched carefully as it crossed the floor, afraid to move in fear that it would make a flying leap towards me. But as it began to come more into view, pure horror washed over me. This was definitely not the spider I saw earlier, oh no - this was Bubba, his giant older cousin. He was no Mongolia, he was the entire continent of Asia. This is the kind of spider that eats those other spiders as a mid-morning snack. Obviously, given the fact that I haven't seen one of these in my basement in nearly a year, I should take these two sightings as proof that they are forming some sort of arachnoid militia and plan to invade the second I close my eyes tonight.

Sleep is overrated, right?

July 20, 2011

Just When I Couldn't Get Any Weirder...

Sometimes it's hard for me to imagine that there is a level of weird that exists out there beyond my daily "norm", but I think I went there today. First though, I have to air a confession. I have never - ever - made rice krispie treats. Not when I was a kid, not in college when it's all I could afford to eat, not even now when it's practically written in to the parenting manual. I sure do love them, don't get me wrong, but even the complex "melt marshmallow and stir in krispies" recipe goes over my head. If you're one of my fairweather readers, you may already know about my crippling kitchen ineptness...

Anyhow, as I was in the store today I was overcome with the desire to bond with my daughter over some krispie treats, so I scooped up a bag of marshmallows and dropped them in my cart. I was feeling pretty good about myself and my clearly superior parenting as I checked out and got the kids home in time for bed (ok, ok, I did venture to WalMart at 7pm, so that was a slight parenting fail on my part...bear with me). After they were tucked in, I hopped on to the internet to Google rice krispie recipes (yes, really - I told you, it's a foreign language to me). And the more I thought about that white, gooey marshmallowy sweetness, the more I concluded that if I stole one or two as a late night snack, it really wouldn't be the end of the world. Right?

But after thieving three delicious little pillows of sugar from the bag, I decided that eating them plain just wouldn't do. They needed to be CAMPFIRE marshmallows. The crispy-on-the-outside-gooey-on-the-inside-let's-sing-a-song-and-tell-ghost-stories kind. But how?

A LIGHTER, that's how! I retrieved my honorary incense lighter from it's typical resting place and settled down on the sofa with it, along with my marshmallows crammed onto the end of a butter knife. And I proceeded to set them on fire as the show "My Strange Addiction" played on in the background - ironic, don't you think? I haven't had toasted marshmallows in years, and despite the fact that I broke my lighter and burned the tip of my finger trying to keep the flame lit long enough for that perfect crispy shell, I enjoyed three of the best campfire marshmallows this side of Cub Scouts.

[After proof reading this whole thing, I'm a little embarrassed at just how weird it makes me seem. However, I spent half an hour writing it and since I have so little free time anymore I refuse to call it a loss.]

Side note: I also realized that in my cloud of parental superiority at the store, I actually forgot the Rice Krispies for which to make my rice krispie treats. I'm guessing they are a rather important ingredient. So unless I happen to remember on my next store outing (slim chance), there may be more campfire marshmallows in my future.

Side note #2: Despite being ridiculously anal about spelling, every. single. time. I typed out "marshmallows" in this blog, I spelled it "marshmellows" and was autocorrected. Never has an "A" been more unwelcome, I say.

July 6, 2011

Mornings, How I Loathe Thee

I don't know about you, but I am not a morning person. I would be much happier overall if the hours between 5am and 7am (ok ok, even 8am...) didn't exist - or at least that I was lucky enough to sleep through them, blissfully unaware. My daughter, however, is not very accommodating. She has developed this bad habit of waking when the sun comes up. Example conversation between Lainey and myself:

Lainey: "Mommy! MOOOOOOOMMMY!"
Me: "glurffbp"
Lainey: "Moooooooooooooooooommmy!"
Me: [inaudible grumbling from underneath my pillow] "Go back to sleep Lainey, it's not time to get up yet."
Lainey: "It IS time to get up! It's morning!"
Me: "No, not yet....it's too early."
Lainey: "But mommy, moooooooooooooommy, mooooooooooooommmy, the sun is out!"

Curse you, early sunrise. However, she recently discovered that instead of hollering out to me she could just go ahead and get up and let herself out of her room. Want to know how I found this out? It's ok, I'll tell you anyway...one morning I opened my eyes, disoriented and panicked at the thought of having woken up on my own, with no little person yelling out my name or kneeing me in the crotch. I shot out of bed and checked Lainey's room - empty. This is not good. I then checked the bathroom - empty, with a toilet so clogged with tissue it was about to become a miniature Niagra Falls and a pair of 3-year-old girl sized underwear lying in the middle of the floor. I then ran downstairs to find my child sitting happily on the couch, naked, with the TV on (oh, apparently she learned how to do that, too...), watching Law & Order.

Clearly, we need a better system.

So my great idea was to invest in an alarm clock for her, something I could set to a certain time and that when the alarm went off, that meant she could get up and come out of her room. Genius, right? So one day we trotted off to Target in search of the perfect clock. She was so excited, her very own clock! You would have thought the child was getting a pony (which honestly, I would have considered if it would give me an extra half hour of sleep in the mornings...). We get to the aisle with the clocks and before I could even take a reasonable survey of them she exclaims "THIS ONE! It's perfect!" and was holding up a bright pink (of course) Hello Kitty clock that was twice as expensive (of course) as all of the other ones. She loved that clock so much, and I did promise it to her, so I gave in. She was on cloud nine, hugging the clock all the way to the register...to the car...she even asked if it could sit with her while she ate lunch. I started to think that this idea might really work after all!

Naturally, we did a practice run and set the alarm to go off to make sure it was working - and suffice to say that I believe that clock would have woken up the Pope all the way over in the Vatican. Then my husband says something that had never occurred to me... "So does that mean if she actually sleeps in, it's going to wake her up anyway?". NO. No No No. That can't happen, what person in their right mind would want to wake a child who is sleeping contentedly? That's like putting your bare arm into a lion's den. This discussion then led to, "If you can hear this thing ringing in outer space, doesn't that mean it's going to wake up Owen too?" This isn't looking good, Kitty. So we did what every good parent would do in this situation - we took the batteries out and explained to her that the clock was broken. And then returned it when she wasn't around.

I suppose now is the time that I should really hunker down and teach my daughter how to read a clock. And if that doesn't work....how to pour a bowl of cereal and turn the TV to Nick Jr.

June 28, 2011

Art With Heart

I'm stopping in for a little friendly spam! My daughter's Etsy site, Cowboy Ballerina, has a new mission - "Art With Heart". All of the proceeds from her shop go directly to help offset the medical bills and ongoing therapy costs for her little brother, Owen.

Lainey is a wonderful painter, even at 3 years old, and with all the rain we've gotten lately she has had plenty of time to perfect her skill indoors with an old brush and a rainbow of different colors. Please take a look at her site, and pass it along to anyone else who might enjoy the musings of an imaginative little toddler. Thank you very much!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/cowboyballerina

Here is Monet and Picasso as they might have looked in their younger years:

June 8, 2011

Steak For a Buck

If you ever have a few minutes of free time and you live near a dollar store, I highly recommend you take a moment to stop in. There are some fan-freakin'-tastic deals to be found between the walls of one of these fine establishments. Take, for instance...


That's right, STEAK. FOR $1. Folks, grab 'em while you can. They are in the back of the store, past the BPA cups and the styrofoam kitchen knives. I hope they are in the cooler next to the taquitos, but for $1 I cannot make any promises regarding their refrigeration status.

And once you've got your plastic knives and $1 steaks, head on over to the toy area and pick up something for the kids. My suggestion is to find something educational, perhaps something that would stem a conversation with Little Jimmy about where dinosaurs came from...


Maybe, just maybe, you could do a whole dinosaur science project with Little Jimmy. You're in luck! The dollar store has a fine craft section as well. You can pick up the pencils, paper, and even....


...the GULE.

Run, don't walk. These deals are too amazing to pass up.

June 2, 2011

There Goes My Award...

My blog has been neglected for a while, due to a triple threat of prior pending obligations, creativity block, and pure laziness. And I'm saddened to inform you, my loyal readers, that in addition to missing out on the "Most Exciting Blog Content" award, I have also been taken out of the running for the "Mother of the Year" award. You see somehow, during my absence, my precious, beautiful, sweet angel daughter has turned into a....into....a three year old. Sure, she's technically been three years old since February. But she hasn't really BEEN a three year old until recently. Let me give you some examples.

Example #1: One day, not too long ago, we were enjoying a nice morning at the park. Lainey had found a little girl willing to indulge in her "I'm a monster I'mmmonnagetyou!" routine and they began to chase each other up and down the equipment. The other little girl was slightly older, and was there with an woman - I believe her grandmother - who looked to be a combination of bored and suicidal, only looking up for moments at a time to utter an "uh huh" when the child yelled something her direction. The girls were having a ball, giggling and running and sliding and jumping. Suddenly, my little angel stops from on top of the slide when she realized that the other girl hadn't followed her up the stairs. She pivots around and in a very serious tone she shouts "Come on, loser!" Ironically, the grandmother found this humorous.

Example #2: Last week, as I stood in the checkout line at Walmart (which, by the way, is a rock-solid guarantee you will be left behind in the event of a rapture - I'm really upset that I missed out on a great opportunity to poke fun at THAT "event") my same innocent little girl looks up at the cashier and says with a mischievous grin - "Get lost, FREAK!"

Example #3: My children were playing with some blocks on the living room floor. Owen decided it would be infinitely funny to play Godzilla on all the towers we had built, including Lainey's. My sweet daughter swooped up a wooden block and tossed it square at Owen's head. I sternly said "LAINEY!" to catch her attention but before I could scold her she grabbed up another block, handed it to me and said "I'm sorry, mama, here - you can hit him too."

This is the same girl who instructed me "Stop speaking, I'm trying to be mad at you." The same girl who told her brother "I'm tired of you Owen, it's time for your nap." The same girl who has said "Grandma, you frustrate me."

But luckily, it's also the same girl who runs up to me randomly, arms wide open for a hug, and proclaims "I love you soooo much!". Therefore all is forgiven.

May 8, 2011

Dandelions and Jelly Kisses

On Mother's Day, I didn't wish for flowers. I didn't wish for candy, chocolate, or cake. I didn't wish for store-bought poems, or a dinner out with the other 13523413543 mothers who didn't have to cook tonight. I don't need any clothes, underwear, robes, or slippers.

What I got today was a hand-picked dandelion, a kiss from one face covered in dirt and jelly and another face moist with spit and/or snot, and an abstract crayon drawing that featured two smiley faces. And you know what? It was perfect.

There are days that I get frustrated because I cannot clean my kids fast enough before they fall down and eat a mouth full of grass all over again. And there are days I feel like if I hear "Show me this!" or "Look at that!" one more time I might lock myself in the bathroom until they reach puberty. And heaven help me - it's MAY! - enough with the Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie.

But in all of this I see something... I see innocence and curiosity. I see compassion, love, warmth, and understanding. I see creativity and expression. I see a passion for life that is so unique to toddlers. And it's when I recognize those things in my two beautiful children that I realize, hey!, this is what being a mother is all about.

Lainey and Owen, you are my stars and my moon. Thank you for bringing your spilled milk, wet kisses, jazz hands and high-pitched screeches into my life. The world, MY world, is a better place because of you two.

And to my own mother, who is my most loyal reader - and truly, one of my most loyal supporters all around: I work with you, day in and day out, and yet despite this I still look forward every day to coming in and sharing conversation with you. Sometimes it's about war, sometimes it's sharing a laugh at Lainey's latest quotation, sometimes it's commiserating over the gross overuse of the words "and then...so." I know that you, just like every other mom on the planet, worry about things you did too much of or didn't do enough of when we were growing up. But neither of your kids are in jail, and we didn't grow up to be politicians, so you clearly did something right. You gave us love, support, and encouragement, tinfoil ornaments and camping adventures, and those things far outweigh the number of cans of Spagettios we have collectively consumed in our lifetimes. To paraphrase the great Mother Teresa - "We can do no great things, only small things with great love." Thank you for always showing us great love.

Happy Mother's Day to me, to my mother, and to every other woman out there whose life has been redefined by the little (sticky/poopy/giggly/furry/lively/slobbery) things only a mom can appreciate.

May 3, 2011

Monster Bug Wars

This sounds like a totally toddler-friendly TV show, right? Right?!

We stumbled upon this show a week or two ago by accident as my husband was flipping through channels. He paused, watching a few minutes as a giant man-eating cricket got into a fight with a tarantula. Me? I was grossed out. Nothing would make me want to change the channel faster than a spider with hair on it's legs. This show, courtesy of the Science Channel, pits two disgusting creepy crawly things against each other and some random people debate who is going to win and why. And they do it in such disturbing detail that it will make you simultaneously itch and have waking nightmares.

Suddenly, I hear a little voice from the sofa saying "Look at the spider mommy!" I turn around to find that my innocent little three-year-old daughter - who had been coloring obliviously at the dining room table - had cuddled up on the sofa, absolutely riveted by this epic battle. Complete with bug ooze. Horrified, I tell my husband to change the channel that very second before my daughter curls up into a ball and refuses to go to sleep for fear that a giant cricket might be lurking under her bed. He does, and a sudden cry of protest comes up from the little redhead on the sofa. "NOOOO, I want the bug show! BUG SHOOOOOOOW!"

My husband, who found some humor in this turn of events, puts the show back on, and she started giggling like it was Christmas morning and this was her big disgusting and hairy present. "They're going to fight! I think the spider will win!" **giggle** "Did you see him JUMP?" **giggle**

Who IS this child, anyway? Clearly, despite having been surgically removed from my womb, she is no child of mine...

Thankfully, the show was almost over and I thought that was the end of that. Until she asked for it again. And again. And then the next night, and the next night. "I don't WANT Dora, I want the BUG SHOOOOW!"

Apparently my fears of her being traumatized forever were unfounded. And yet again I am reminded that whatever I thought I knew about raising little girls was all wrong. We did, however, decide that this sort of death and destruction - despite being on a miniature scale - was not appropriate viewing for her and we eased her on to "A Bug's Life" instead. Thank goodness for me, because if I had to watch another furry spider wage war I probably would throw up in my mouth a little bit...

PS, In case you wondered, the cricket won. Easily.

April 17, 2011

Once Upon A Time...

Once upon a time there was a dragon named Harriet. But sometimes named Pink. And this dragon was, of course, pink. But also sometimes she was purple. And sometimes pink with purple polkadots...

My daughter has become obsessed with "dragon stories". Every night, before bed, she insists that I scrape out whatever little creativity I have at the end of a long day and mash it together into the form of a story, about a dragon. Named Harriet. Or Pink. Let me tell ya, this was really fun when I first thought up the idea (yes, it's my fault, I brought this on myself). I had a whole slew of potential dragon predicaments ready and waiting to be unleashed on my innocent and easily entertained three year old. However, as the days...and weeks...and months passed I realize that coming up with new stories every.single.day has become downright challenging.

Take, for instance, Harriet's adventure this evening. Tonight Harriet (the PINK dragon) went to a birthday party, and had some cake. That's it. No magical fairies with gold wands, no epic sword fight amongst the guests, just a party. People showed up, they opened presents, they had some cake. And it was VANILLA cake, of all things. Obviously, my once-amazing story telling ability has begun to wither away. Unfortunately I'm not the only one who has noticed; Lainey looked a little glazed over during the whole story, almost as if she had created a new dragon world in her head that was much more exciting than the lame birthday story her mom came up with. And this is a girl who puts voices to her own FINGERS when she has no other toys, for crying out loud - to bore her is almost criminal.

I really need to get back on my game, before Lainey fires me from my story-telling duties or worse....makes me start reading Fox in Socks again (I can't do it, I just can't. You created some marvelous stories, Dr. Seuss, but I curse the day you put ink to paper with this one.) I only have a finite amount of time before my kids cast me into the shadows of the uncool, just like training wheels and Kenny G. So my "dragon story suggestion box" is officially open and looking for ideas, no matter how ridiculous or unbelievable the plot. I refuse to be the boring old mom, at least not for another 10 years or so...

March 29, 2011

A Letter to Owen

Dear Owen,

I know waking up in this place is confusing, and scary. I know that having a tube jammed in your mouth, one in your nose, one in your back, two in your side, and one in your nether regions is uncomfortable - to say the least. I know you would rather be at home, putting little toy cars in the kitchen drawers or fighting with Lainey over the toy cell phone. I know you hate those doctors in white coats. I know that you hurt, I see your pain.

But I also know how tough you are, and what a strong spirit you possess. I know that when you squeeze my hand, you are telling me that you are ok. I know that someday before too long you will be playing outside, scraping your knees, and kicking around a soccer ball like every other little adventurous boy does. I know that you have the will to fight through this.

I know that you have one or two angels watching over you right now, and many many many others here on Earth thinking about you daily. I know you cannot comprehend that, and the truth is that it overwhelms me too. But I know with the amount of love and support surrounding you, you can overcome anything.

I want YOU to know that your mommy and daddy love you, very very much. I want YOU to know that we chose to put you through this in order to better your life. I want YOU to know that it's ok to be scared, and it's ok to cry. But I want YOU to know that you will never ever be alone in this, and that we will deal with whatever comes our way.

With love, always,
Mommy

March 24, 2011

Spam

We all get spam mail. If you're one of the lucky, you may only get 34238 a day. But have you ever taken the time to really read the subject lines of these? Some can really have some entertainment value - especially if you are bored and the next closest option is watching a rerun of "This Old House". Here are a few I've selected from my spam folder this week:

"Anne Hathaway lose weight Free Sample - Ivanka Trump Has A Baby Bump"
(Common Goddess Cram Random Things In Headline, No One Cares)

"__T_A_R_A__ - I KNOW YOUR FUTURE FROM:3/26/2011 and BEYOND!"
(Thank GOODNESS you are here Tara, but I can't help but wonder why you don't know my future in the next two days? Is there a great ESP blackout that I need to be aware of?)

"!!CONGRATULATIONS!! - Someone sent you the new iPad 2"
(Woot! That was very nice of someone!)

"News 1 Daily - We found work at home Opportunities that may shock you!"
(Let me guess - snake charmers? Baked goods tester? If it's selling ceramic unicorns online I'll be very disappointed....)

"Online Income - Make $9K a week with this easy system"
(Easy = Costs a lot of money out of pocket.)

"Smoke Shack - tell us what you smoke"
(I can't think of a worse name for something than Smoke Shack. Except maybe Dress Barn.)

"IT REALLY WORKS - Summer's coming - Safely lose 20-25 pounds in 1 month!"
(I'm not sure that "safely" and "lose 20-25lbs in 1 month" should really be together in the same sentence.)

"ZOLOFT ATTORNEY - Attachments Zoloft Settlements"
(I hate when those pesky names get in the way - apparently, Abe Whiffledorf felt the same way and decided to just go with "Zoloft Attorney" instead. Also, he may want to be more cautious on who he's sending these settlement checks out to.)

"Ready - What are you waiting for?"
(A Redbox flick and a mojito.)

"heidi - lets do this tonight"
(I'm intrigued, Heidi. Are we busting out of prison? Ordering falafels? TPing the crabby old teachers house down the street? I really need more details before I change out of my PJs.)

"Sample enlargement - Porn stars secret"
(PSSST - Ok, don't tell anyone, but I have their REAL secret. You ready? *Show up, get naked*. But don't tell anyone you heard it from me, ok?)

"MyFavoriteFoods - What is the KFC Double Down?"
(I'm going to go with "a rapid cholesterol delivery system".)

"Large Pizza - Free Large Specialty Pizza Voucher: 3/20/2011"
(NOW we're talking!)

"ashley - dont wait another day"
(Great advice! Unless you mean to vacuum, in which case...meh. I think I will.)

"Incentive - Do you think Charlie Sheen is crazy? Tiger Blood!!!"
(WINNING! Wait - what's my incentive?)

"Sarah691 - Saw your pic. I think you dated my girlfriend."
(I pretty much doubt that, Sarah. But so what if I did? Let it go, man, let it go.)

"CSI Programs - CSI and Forensics employment is available"
(It just so happens that I am a die-hard Law & Order: SVU fan, so I'm practically qualified. I assume that's why I was chosen for such employment, thank goodness for their rigorous background check.)

March 11, 2011

Well That Was Awkward...

Tonight was the eagerly anticipated pizza night in our house, so having to make a pit stop on the way home was already putting a cramp in my evening. I left work and hurried to Walgreens to pick up a couple necessities. Thankfully, there is one on almost literally every corner. This particular Walgreens was pretty hoppin' for a Friday night, and I weaved in and out of people to get back to the first aid section. You see, my son's feeding tube had become dislodged last night and I needed to get it back in place. And to get it back in place, I needed to lubricate it. I needed....a lubricant.

Oh. Right. I'm in the wrong section.

I sheepishly made my way to the "correct" section, where I tried to scan the shelves nonchalantly - all the while imagining I was somewhere more enjoyable, like at the dentist. I spotted what I needed, a generic box of lubricating jelly, and stuffed it under my armpit before anyone could point and laugh at me. As much as I wanted to, I suppose it's a little awkward to offer up an explanation to the woman at the counter, so my Plan B was to avoid eye contact and fidget uncomfortably.

Armed with my Plan, I head to the register when I suddenly remembered the second item I needed to purchase. I made a quick side-step over to the makeup, grabbed my favorite eyeliner that I was nearly out of, and scored a place in the checkout line. As I stood surveying the candy and lip balm, I looked down at my hands and horror washed over me when I realized what I was holding.

Lubricant and eye liner.

I suddenly felt like every set of eyes in the entire store were staring at me, wondering which street corner I was going to be working at this lovely Friday evening. After turning an unnatural shade of red, I politely dismissed myself from line and returned my items to their shelves so fast you would have thought they were made of searing hot lava.

And then I went home, emptyhanded, and had some pizza.

(As it turns out, water is all I really needed to lubricate an NG tube. THAT sure would have been a useful bit of info...)

February 27, 2011

Awesome - Party of Two

There are some things in this world that just cannot function alone. I mean really, what is peanut butter without jelly? Bill Clinton without Hillary? The Oscars without bad wardrobe selections?

And then there are those things that are nothing short of awesome all by themselves - dogs, E-Trade commercials, Donald Trump's hair.

But what happens if you take two little pieces of awesome and combine them together? Prepare to have your mind blown:
OREO STUFFED CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES.

You read that right. Despite the fact that I literally gained 6.4 pounds just looking at that picture I still have the desire to put my kitchen ineptness aside and make an attempt at recreating these little bits of heaven. I figure - even if I screw up the recipe, in the end it's still cookie dough and Oreos. How could I possibly loose?

You know you want some.

February 26, 2011

Three-Year-Old Humor

It's been a while since I shared some of my 3-year-old daughter's one-liners. Man, this kid is hilarious. Enjoy!

"Oh look! It's just a little poop. I think he's swimming in there! Have fun little fella!"

Lainey: "Mommy, I want to go to the zoo."
Me: "We can't go to the zoo honey, the animals don't come out when there is snow on the ground."
Lainey (after a long pause): "But polar bears like the snow."

"Did you know that 'gracias' means hungry in Chinese?"

Lainey: "Cats have tails."
Me: "Do kids have tails?"
Lainey: "No mom, kids have butts."

"We have to be very very quiet so that we don't wake up the clowns."

"My favorite color is orange and purple. And blue. And red. And this submarine! WEEEE!"

(as she is sitting on the potty) "Ahhhh, this is the life."

(as she is sitting on the potty yet again...seems like she comes up with her best material on the John) "Stay calm mommy, it's just poop."

February 6, 2011

Speaking of Halftime Shows...

....The Black Eyed Peas? Really?

A) Even if Fergie really could sing - which, given the performance I saw tonight, would be like Steve Buscemi winning a beauty contest - that still wouldn't excuse her outfit. She looked like a robot prostitute from the year 2145.

B) I hope no one watching this had any sort of seizure disorder. The possibility of a wardrobe malfunction was pretty obvious, only this time it would involve electrocution. Luckily, no Peas nor any of their bizarre LightBrite dancers were harmed in the making of this halftime show.

Music aside, the Superbowl commercials still carried their usual amount of entertainment value. My daughter insisted on playing "doctor" and shoving a fake thermometer in my mouth during about half of them, but out of the ones I did see the Best Buy ad was a clear winner. "What's a Bieber?" "I don't know - it kind of looks like a girl." Who knew that a simple commercial could sum up my own feelings so completely? However, Betty White still reigns surpreme in my Unofficial Superbowl Commercial Hall of Fame.

Oh, and also there was some football that was played and someone won and all that, too.

Patience Is a Virtue

Have I ever mentioned that patience is NOT one of my virtues?

Approximately 2.63 light years ago (ok, it *may* have only been 17 days...) we submitted my son's complete medical history - all 124893 pages of it - to a doctor in Chicago. But he isn't just ANY doctor, he is THE doctor. A pediatric cardio-thoracic surgeon that has not only performed operations on patients like Owen, but has gone on to write articles about it. And even though these articles were written in a medical foreign language that required me to Google every other word, in the end we determined that if anyone was going to give us an answer as to whether or not Owen will need this surgery it will be this guy.

But it has been over two weeks and my sanity is running thin. My cell phone has been glued to me, afraid that the mere act of using the bathroom might find me in the middle of wiping when *the* call came in. Toilet flushing in the background = awkward first impression. Numerous times daily I imagine that I hear Men At Work singing "Who Can It Be Now?" - frightening enough by itself - but considering that this is the ring tone on my phone it has become downright haunting. I get a little reprieve on the weekends, because everyone KNOWS that specialists don't work Saturdays or Sundays (or even numbered days...or anytime after 2pm...).

I am a stubborn and impatient redhead, I will not deny that. But when you are waiting for a call that could possibly change the course of your child's life, every moment feels even longer and more agonizing than this year's Superbowl Halftime Show. No matter what the answer is, I just want a call. Just one little call. I'd even settle for a robotic message that simply says "yes" or "no".

Patience is a virtue? Clearly whoever coined that phrase has not dealt with a specialist...

January 25, 2011

Special of the Day

Being the almost-three-year-old that she is, Lainey's tastes are ever changing. Her passion for shoving things into her toolbox and/or purse remains the same, however a new fondness for dinosaurs has emerged in the last few months. Much to the dismay of Johnny.

Johnny has spent a lot of time recently at the bottom of one of those aforementioned purses, disregarded in favor of a Spinosaurus who, apparently, enjoys salads. But today, Johnny took a stand. He offered himself up as a "Special of Day" in hopes of being reunited with his best friend Lainey.


Judging by the fact that he was still laying there after I returned home from work, I'd say that the "Special" was not well-received. It's a sad, sad day for poor Johnny. Keep smiling, buddy, don't lose hope yet...

January 20, 2011

For Your Viewing Pleasure...

Did a little reorganization of my computer and found a couple oldies but goodies for your viewing pleasure. First one is some spectacular dance moves, the second is Owen VS. Brobee. Enjoy!

video
video

January 12, 2011

Worst. Prize. Ever.

Last Saturday was my husband's company's (belated) Christmas party, and they held it at a bowling alley. To most people, that would probably be lame, but for me - it was nothing short of awesome. I am pretty much terrible at bowling, but I find it oddly entertaining to try, not to mention that they turned on the blacklights so the laces on my stylish blue-and-red bowling shoes glowed. How is that not great? Plus there was free food.

About halfway through the night, someone got up on the microphone and starting giving away prizes. The catch was that they just called your name, and you had to go up and get a box wrapped up in Christmas paper so that you didn't really know what it was that you won. They called my husband's name while I was standing in line for my watered-down soda and he came back with a box that looked like it could fit a small child inside. Naturally, I got really excited - big boxes mean great prizes, right?

I held my breath as he tore open the paper to find...a....a.....

Turkey fryer.

Now I don't want to come off as ungrateful, it really was nice to win something. But somewhere the cooking Gods are having quite a laugh over this. I'm sure it's a wonderful piece of equipment, and in the right hands I'm sure it can fry a mean turkey. But I can't possibly think of a worse couple of people to own such a thing - except maybe vegans.

On the positive side, I scored an unprecendented 158 in bowling and I didn't even spill anything on myself this time.

January 7, 2011

Avon Calling

Yesterday we made a scheduled trip up to the University of Iowa Children's Hospital for another exciting round of barium swallows and waiting room boredom. I spent the good majority of the day moving from one uncomfortable leather chair to another, trying to secure the best possible people-watching seat that I could. You see, Owen's first appointment ended at 10:30, and his second was not until 1:00 (which really means 3:45 in "doctor time"), so we certainly had some time to kill.

I knew that the boy needed a nap, and the last thing I wanted was for him to conk out just as the doctor comes in the room to poke and prod him. So I settled into a torn double-seater in the lobby just outside the cafeteria - prime viewing, I figured - and got him comfortable enough to doze off. Then I took inventory of my surroundings.

Across from me sat an older man, perhaps in his late 60's, reading a magazine. His attire consisted of loafers, a plaid shirt, and giant red suspenders that had to be at least 3" thick with the word "COCKHUTT" written lengthwise down them. Feel free to make your own judgements.

Next to me was some guy in scrubs who looked like he was about 12 years old reading a book that had close to 2100 pages in it. And either he received a page or he had to go pee really bad, because all of a sudden Doogie Howser shot up out of the chair and took off at warp speed down the hallway.

And then, diagonal from me, were two women. One of them had one of those voices that was just loud enough to be heard, but not understood, with just enough of the Fran Drescher nasal tone to make you want to shoot yourself. She was a bigger woman who seemed to put her entire upper body into this conversation. The second woman just sat next to her, silent, perhaps too scared to move lest she get pummeled by her friend's tree branch-like arm. They seemed like an odd pairing, and from the bits and pieces I could make out such as "online" and "invoices" I decided that they were conducting some sort of business right here in the hospital cafeteria lobby.

I was going to guess drugs or hoagie sandwiches when all of a sudden, the loud one got up and gathered up some papers, signaling the end of their partnership. And just when I thought I had to find someone new to focus on, this woman comes barreling towards me like a herd of rhinoceroses.

Before I could say a word, she plopped down on the seat beside me and said "Have you ever tried Avon's Lotus Shield Shampoo?"

OH NO! It's...it's....an AVON LADY.

And here I was, trapped, sleeping baby in my arms. Well played, Avon Lady, well played. She rambled on for a moment about some Avon product and how it was made out of the teardrops of unicorns or some other such nonsense before asking me if I had ever tried Avon products before. Thankfully, despite the mind-numbing boredom that had consumed me in the lobby, I managed to reply that not only did I use Avon, but one of my best friends was an Avon rep.

I smirked internally, thinking surely that was enough to chase away this lady and to finish out my people-watching in peace.

"So what are you guys here for?"

OH NO! It's...it's....SMALL TALK WITH AN AVON LADY.

Could this get any worse? I couldn't believe that this woman had the gall to try and sell me shampoo in a hospital waiting area, let alone pry into our personal health status. Part of me wanted to tell her that I had a contagious skin rash and then ask to shake her hand. I still had 45 minutes left to kill and I really didn't want to give up my great people-watching spot, can you blame a girl?

But just as I decided to give her the bare minimum of information, her Avon-sense must have triggered an alarm that there was another woman nearby unattended that she could attempt to sell product too and she quickly dismissed herself.

And I breathed a huge sigh of relief, as well as a tiny curse word under my breath. I honestly can't think of a more inappropriate place to try and sell makeup aside from maybe your own grandmother's funeral. What was that woman thinking?

January 1, 2011

Project 365

In my endless pursuit of things that will eat up all my time and eventually dwindle into oblivion, I have decided that slacking on one blog wasn't enough for me: I have created another one. But this one is different. Instead of listening to me ramble, I am going to let my pictures do the talking. Join me on my photo journey, won't you?

Common Goddess 365