Friday, December 31, 2010

To End The Year...

I give you the cutest little chubby Buzz that ever was.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

So, I Guess I Should Tell You About Christmas, Huh?

The short version:  It was hectic, tiring, good, and I'm glad it's over.

Now, for the long version.

Remember how Jamie woke up sick the Wednesday before Christmas?  Well, he didn't get better.  We spent the next two days fighting the fever (with limited success) and I powered through cleaning and Christmas prep to get it finished within 40 min of my parents arrival on Thursday.  In the wee hours of Christmas Eve Jamie awoke with a spiking fever and was pretty inconsolable.  We gave him meds for the fever but they just didn't seem to want to work.  At 4 am we woke my parents to tell them we were leaving Liam in their care and heading to the ER with Jamie.

After a fairly short visit (and a doctor who used the word gestalt - remind me to blog about that sometime) we got the diagnosis - ear infection.  This was no surprise to us.  He was running a pretty good fever and had green snot pouring out his nose.  They gave us a dose of amoxicillin in the hospital and sent us home with a prescription for more.

We stumbled home to grab some extra sleep.

Christmas Eve is a bit of a blur for me.  It was Scot's birthday (Happy Birthday, love!) and we were supposed to go out for a nice lunch but that got cancelled because J-man was so sick and Scot didn't want to go out without him and me.  So, we got takeout from the Chinese place for everyone and ate at our house - which was fine.

Jamie continued to be difficult and unhappy most of the day.  I was hoping that after a full day of antibiotics, he'd wake up on Christmas and at least be a little happier.

After we got the kids in bed, we put together one of Jamie's gifts, got the gifts put under the tree, and the stockings stuffed (after I spent a frantic 20 minutes looking for the damn Santa Candy).

(PS - forgive my picture quality.  Most of them suck and I'm seriously considering getting a DSLR)

We got up Christmas morning with the kids and Liam raced to see what Santa had left.  He took one look at the loot, turned around and said, "This is the best Christmas EVER!"  He hadn't even opened a single gift yet.

We set about opening our stockings and I got breakfast prepped and in the oven.

So sinfully delicious.

After breakfast we got down to business with all the stuff under the tree.  Liam was a whirlwind and I missed a lot of what he was opening even though I was sitting next to him.  He seemed genuinely excited by just about every thing he got and the AT-AT was a big hit.

(that's a Trooper Blaster he's holding, I promise.)

Jamie, on the other hand, was difficult.  Nothing pleased him, we couldn't assemble toys fast enough, he was displeased when they didn't meet his standards.  He was all around a complete and utter crankpot that made my Christmas morning very difficult and stressful.  The toy we assembled for him the night before was a play kitchen from his Aunt and Uncle.

When the crying and pissed off toddler finally shattered my nerves entirely, I broke out the kitchen.  He immediately ignored the pile of wrapped gifts, stopped crying and started playing.

A Christmas Miracle!  The play kitchen saved Christmas.  

Eventually it was time for him to nap and us to clean up.  While he was asleep, we unwrapped all his gifts and assembled anything that needed it and got every toy out of its box.  I just couldn't take the shrieking of his unhappy waiting and he didn't care about the unwrapping part so we took care of it.

Then, I discovered that the ice cream cake I made for dessert had melted overnight because apparently leaving it outside in a snowstorm was not adequate to keep it frozen.  This is already going too long so I'll just say that I had extra ingredients in the house, managed to salvage the actual cake layers, and rebuilt the sucker 10 mins before I served it.  It was delicious.

In the afternoon, Scot's parents arrived and we did Round Three on the gifting.  Then I cooked supper with some help from my Mom (great gravy, Mom!) and we all had a lovely meal.  By that point I was so tired and worn out from early mornings, a cranky sick kid, and running non-stop for 2 days that I didn't even finish my meal.  But what I did eat was yummy.

Once the kids were in bed and Scot's parents headed home, I collapsed thankyouverymuch.  As did everyone else.

My parents were with us for 2.5 days and we had a nice visit despite all the craziness.  They got to see Liam do his thing at Tae Kwon-Do on Thursday and enjoyed being able to stuff stockings and get all the gifts out like they haven't done in years.  I could wish that Jamie wasn't feeling so crappy so they could have had more fun with him but it wasn't in the cards.  The antibiotics finally kicked in the day they left. Poo.  At least he's better now, though.  

I've spent the majority of this week taking it easy.  I got to see "Toy Story 3" and "Shrek Forever After" both of which I missed seeing in the theaters over the summer.  I read Anthony Bourdain's "Medium Raw" and a book called "Waiter Rant."  Thanks to Scot being home, I've gotten to sleep in on more than one morning.  It's the closest thing I've had to a vacation in years and I'm reveling in it.  Next week it's back to reality but this week is all about loafing.

I hope everyone's Christmas was wonderful, your Festivus was Merry, and the Airing of Grievances few and trivial!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

An Open Letter to the Parents of Pittsburgh

I have seen just about every abhorrent parental behavior whilst out and about with my children.  Chances are, so have you.  I've also probably perpetrated a couple of transgressions myself here or there.  I don't claim to be blameless.  Sometimes, I am that Mom dragging her kid screaming through a store on the way to the exit.

But, seriously, people, bathroom stuff belongs in the bathroom.

A couple of months ago I witnessed something that left my jaw on the floor.  I was at the local mall with the kids and I'd taken them to the mall playground to run out some of their beans.  I was keeping an eye on them from the sidelines when I noticed a couple with their approximately 3 year old girl child.  They played for a bit, ran around with the other kids, and then called their kid over to a corner of the play ground (located smack dab in the middle of the Mall) because they felt she must surely have to pee by this point.

They then whipped out a potty chair, lined it with a plastic bag, and had their kid pop a squat right there in the middle of the Mall.

Hand to God, I swear on a stack of Bibles that I witnessed this first hand.

This little girl finished up her business, pulled up her pants, and then headed back out to play.  Meanwhile, her parents tied up the plastic bag lining the potty chair and threw it in the trash.  Don't get me wrong, I understand that urine is sterile.  But damn, that is the very definition of GROSS.

I was horrified at the time but thought that, perhaps, I was witnessing an aberration.  A set of parents that just didn't realize how gross what they'd just done was.  That, just maybe, they were so focused on potty training they forgot where they were.

This week I was proven wrong.  Parents everywhere seem to have no care at all for their fellow human beings whilst out with their children.  Particularly when it comes to bathrooms, potty training, diapers, and the gross things contained therein.

On Monday we took the kids to the library.  We headed up to the children's section and the kids started looking at books and playing with the toys.  Another parent was there with his two children.  The younger of the two was probably approaching three and still in diapers (no judgment, there - Liam sure wasn't ready to start potty training until well after three).  He starts going on about how the kid has a poopy diaper and needs to be changed.  I figured he'd chase the kid down, carry him off to the bathroom, and deal with the problem.

Oh no.  He chose an alternative option.

Let me digress for a moment on the subject of toddler poo.  Any parent will tell you it's gross.  The second your kid is completely on table foods, you start changing the most disgusting diapers known to God and man.  Imagine having to have intimate knowledge of another adult's bowels.  That's what it's like.  It smells awful.  I could go on, but let's all try to keep our suppers down here.

Back to Dad and his little Dude.

He chased the kid down and changed his diaper RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LIBRARY.  My kids were running around while he was exposing the children's section to his kid's shit.  He got the kid's dirty, shit-covered diaper off and set it aside while he put the clean diaper on.  HE LEFT THE DIAPER OPEN.

I did my best to hold my breath and avert my eyes while I chased my toddler around and not to appear like I was trying to keep the kids away from some other kid's poop.  The diaper stunk up the whole area and made me want to gag.  My own kid's diapers make me want to gag.  This was some random stranger and that made it all the more disgusting.

Finally, this guy gets his kid back in his pants and shoes and deals with the nasty diaper.  And we all act like the egregious affront to polite society that just took place didn't really happen.

So, a little tip:  No one else wants to see that.  Family bathrooms  exist.  Take your kid there and deal with it.  If that grosses you out, try the back of your car.  There are options that don't include having your kid squat to piss in public or leaving a shitty diaper lying around for all to see and smell.

Thank you and Good Night.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Expect Santa To Bring Coal

Since he's already torturing us with illness, that bearded bastard.

I woke up Sunday feeling really nauseated.  I thought I had eaten bad food the night before and it was just one of those things that would pass quickly.  I gulped some anti-nausea meds we had in the house and waited for the feeling of imminent upchucking to pass.

When it did, I got dressed, left the kids home with Scot, and went to the grocery store to do the shopping.  I had it all planned out and I couldn't deviate from the schedule - too much to do.

What a mistake.

By the time I was done, I was aching all over and ready to collapse.  I came home, unloaded the food, put away the cold things, and flopped over in bed.  Scot had to care for the kids the rest of the day.  Sunday was the *only* day I had to give up to being sick.  Every other day before Christmas I needed to be functional so that I could finish prepping.

I spent the vast majority of Sunday in bed sleeping and reading.  I ate very little and choked down what liquids I could stand.  The body aches SUCKED.

Monday I was more functional.  Not 100% but I could watch the kids, Scot could head to work, and I could get some things done around the house in short bursts with lots of rest in between.  Tuesday was even closer to normal - just some random spaciness and dizziness to deal with.  Today, I'm fine.

Jamie, on the other hand, woke up with 102.2 fever.  Thanks a lot, Santa.  You could have kept that gift in that giant sack of yours.

In the hour and half between when he woke up and when I could call the doc, he dropped to 100.2.  Now I was confused.  I was going to take him to the doc to rule out an ear infection because he's been known to get them without any symptoms at all so I tend to worry that he has them and I don't know.  But at 100.2, it could be anything.

I called the nurses line at my pediatrician:  "We don't need to see him unless the fever persists for 72 hours."  Thanks for reciting to me what I already know.  But, it just so happens that 72 hours from now is CHRISTMAS DAY.  Grr.  We're left with watching him closely and hoping he's fine.

By waking up with a fever this morning, Jamie has also managed to screw me out of his two days at daycare this week.  He couldn't go today and he has to be fever free for 24 hours before he can go back, so he's not going tomorrow either.  I was really counting on those days to finish prepping for Christmas.  Now I have to do it with both kids underfoot which is infinitely more difficult.  Doable?  Oh sure.  Pain in my ass?  Assuredly.

So Santa?  This is not the Jolly Old Gentlemen I was expecting.  If this is your idea of a Merry Christmas, you've got another thing coming.  I'd call it Ho-ho-rrendous and you need to get those elves in line.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Sign, It Taunts Me

Every day the number ticks down and as it does my panic grows.

Eight days until Christmas and still a shit ton to do.  Pardon me, I have to hyperventilate in the corner for 10 minutes.  But that's all I can spare because I have things to do.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Photos

It's the time again, folks - time for Christmas pictures.  Once again, a look back:

Christmas 2005

Christmas 2006

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2009

This year we did some professional shots of both the boys and we got one of them together as well.  

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and Merry Festivus to one and all!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I *Will* Find The Person Responsible For This

Today was one of those days as a parent when I wished I had a magic wand.  It's not all that unusual a wish when raising little kids but often you wish for it just because you're tired of waging the battle it requires to turn savage children into civilized human beings.  Today it was because I couldn't take my kid's pain away and that sucks.

Jamie is working on teeth again.  I've known for about a week that he was getting one of his upper molars. It's been s-l-o-w-l-y pushing its way through his gum - have I mentioned lately that my kids teethe at a glacial pace? - but he's been increasingly cranky and inconsolable over the last several days.  He hasn't been eating normally and he's just fragile.  He cries and freaks out at the drop of a hat and then turns around and starts playing a game and giggling.  It's like watching Bipolar Childcare Theater.

Last night he refused to eat a single bite of dinner.  For Jamie, that is simply unheard of.  That kid has never met a meal he wouldn't try.  He refused PANCAKES of all things.  I saw him ignore a banana the other day and that's easily his favorite food.   In the wake of this, I finally pinned him down and got into his mouth to see what was happening.

It was so much worse than just a single molar.

He has BOTH bottom eyeteeth also coming, in differing degrees of being ready to break through.  Well.  No wonder he's been inconsolable.  Three teeth at once would make anyone cranky.

In light of that we've been laying on the Tylenol and Advil in alternating doses in an effort to keep the pain under some kind of control.  I've also been using Anbesol to numb those spots and give him some brief respite from the pain.

But today, no matter what I did or how I tried, things only kept getting worse.  He refused dinner again and ended up eating half an oreo and drinking a sippy of water.  He was screaming and crying and freaking out over the tiniest things.  He would come to me and climb into my lap while crying and when I got the tears to stop he would just moan.  He wanted nothing more than for me to take the pain away and was really mad that I wasn't fixing it.

And then I found another tooth.

I was numbing up the spots I knew about and found that his other upper molar is also coming through.  I nearly fainted dead away.

So, I finally knew why he'd been so difficult but I still couldn't fix it.  He'd had all the medication I could give him, and he was still refusing food and having meltdowns right and left.  Before I got him into bed, all he wanted to do was cuddle with me and moan.  In the end, all I could do was rock him, kiss him, and tuck him into bed.  And then go cry that I couldn't help him.

But if I ever meet the person or deity that decided to make him go through the agony of breaking four teeth at once, I am going to give them a hard kick to the donkey omelets.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Snowman or Duck?

You be the judge.

(as seen at the local grocery store)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Phipps Does It Again

The loyal readers of this blog (all three of you) know that we love to go to Phipps Conservatory.  On Sunday we were casting about trying to find something to do with the kids and we decided to head to Phipps since we hadn't seen the Christmas stuff yet.

Now, as usual, the place was gorgeously done up for the holidays but I am now convinced that there is someone working there - someone who plans out these displays - who has a sick sense of humor.  And I love it.

In the Serpentine Room, they had some snowman vignettes.  And they were . . . interesting.

Let us look at this closely.  Scarves on the bench?  Check.  Sticks for arms leaning against the bench?  Check.  Top hats and carrots?  In the steaming water.  Implication?  Frosty and his two snowy besties tried to climb in the hot tub with disastrous results.  When it dawned on me exactly what this little tableau was implying, I burst out laughing and immediately took a picture.

Same room, different tragedy.  Skis and poles akimbo.  Snowball head (complete with top hat and carrot) separated from the snowball body.  In this scenario we see that Frosty pulled a Sonny Bono and bit it on the ski slope.

It was just macabre.  Delightfully so.  :)  They were the Snowmen of Tragedy.

Oooh.  Good band name, that.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Halloween pumpkins + Christmas wreathes = Happy Hallochristmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oh, That's Where He Went

This is where I found Jamie the other day:

He was throwing the shoes out of the closet to make room for himself.  Doesn't he know we are a strictly "out and proud" kind of household?!  ;)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Return of Kipperbuckles, Part Deux

"Mommy?  When I get home from school today can you tell me if Jamie was good or bad?"

"Yes," I replied, "But why?"

"I want to know if Jamie was bad in front of Kipperbuckles."

Oh dear.  I had a feeling I knew where this was headed.  The last thing I wanted was Liam turning into more of a tiny police officer because he didn't want his brother to screw up his chance at good loot from Santa.

I explained to Liam that Jamie's behavior has no bearing on whether or not he got presents from Santa.  As long as he behaved, he would get stuff.  I asked him if that was what he was worried about.  My fears proved to be unfounded.

"No, I'm not worried about any of that stuff but I don't want Jamie to be without presents if we all get them."


I explained that Santa didn't expect the same kind of behavior out of Jamie that he expects out of Liam because Liam is 5 and Jamie isn't.  That being good for Jamie isn't about picking up his toys or not being rude because we're still trying to teach Jamie all of that.

"Oh good," he said.

The Return of Kipperbuckles

On a snowy 1st of December morning...

Kipperbuckles returned to our lives.
When we came downstairs this morning, I pointed him out to Liam and he got a look of excitement and wonder on his face.  "He's sitting on the gargoyle!" 

[runs to find his Dad]

"Daddy!  Kipperbuckles is back and he's sitting on the gargoyle!"

[comes running back to me]

"I didn't know he was coming today!"

WIN.  I wasn't sure how he was going to take it this year and I was half afraid he would be completely underwhelmed and see straight through our little gambit.  But no, Christmas wonder is alive and well and living on our mantlepiece.  I'm hoping that having Kipperbuckles around will help him toe the line as we approach the holidays.  I'm figuring we'll be good for about 3 weeks but that last week before Christmas ought to be . . . interesting.

We went out this morning to do the weekly grocery shopping and when we came home and were pulling in the driveway Liam piped up from the back seat, "Mommy, I miss Kipperbuckles."  My kid is super awesome.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

We had a very busy but good Thanksgiving this year.  This year's festivities began on Wednesday when we attended Liam's Thanksgiving puppet show that was put on by the kindergartners.  They did a really fabulous job and it was super cute.  Liam played a pilgrim using his Jamie The Pilgrim puppet and every time he had to do his part, it looked like his pilgrim was doing a hip hop dance routine.  We were giggling insanely.  It was awesome.

Since Jamie was at daycare that day, we took Liam out to lunch to celebrate and then came home and had a lazy afternoon.  Although I should have been cleaning, I spent most of the afternoon taking a nap.  Sometimes being lazy is the most wonderful thing ever.  Sleep rocks.

Thursday was Thanksgiving and we spent the day with Scot's family (Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother-in-law, Niece) and his Mom made a really wonderful dinner.  It was a lovely day.  Jamie was pretty fractious that day for reasons I'm still not sure of, but we made it through.  We invited people up to our house the next day, mostly so that the cousins could have a romp.

Friday morning I got up and did all the cleaning I should have done on Wednesday (oh look!  The cleaning found me!) and just as I was vacuuming the family room everyone arrived.  I escaped upstairs to get acquainted with the shower and some clean clothes.  We spent the day hanging out here while the kids played.  Liam and his cousin were playing tackle games that, while giggle-worthy, were almost on the inappropriate side of things - good thing the kids are only 4 and 5 years old.

Scot's Aunt came and joined us at our house for most of the day and it was wonderful to see her.  It's been quite awhile since we've seen her and she's always fun to have around.  That evening we all trooped off to dinner together and had a lovely time.

We made plans to take the older kids to see Tangled on Saturday so Scot stayed home with Jamie while Liam and I went off to meet everyone else.  We had lunch before hand and then headed to the show.  I bought everyone's tickets ahead of time and I'm glad I did so because the show was sold out.  We were lucky enough to get to the theater early and get great seats.  I liked the movie and thought it was a fun telling of the tale with fun songs.  Liam thought it was OK and a little scary in parts.  Towards the end he leaned over to me and said "I don't think we need to get this one on DVD, Mommy."

After the movie the kids got a ride on the carousel at the Mall while I stood around watching people at the food court.  I got to watch a big dude with a tiny little dog walk his dog INTO THE MALL and then allow it to POOP IN THE FOOD COURT.  He kept trying to pull it along to keep it from pooping and all he got for his trouble were poo balls all over the mall floor.  I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it.

I invited everyone up to our house in the evening for a fire and s'mores and we parted ways with that being the plan.  We had a few hours of quiet at home, got some supper and all that, and then everyone showed up again and I broke out the toasting forks and marshmallows.  It was nice to just sit quietly by the fire and take it easy.

I got to bed late last night but, in a miracle of gargantuan proportion, the kids slept in today and I didn't have to get up until 7:45.  I have spent most of the morning with my butt parked in a chair while the kids run around.  There is no rush.  There is no place to be.  There is nothing so urgent that it can't wait a little bit.  It's sheer and utter bliss and I'm enjoying it.  [raising coffee mug] Here's to a Sunday Morning Laze!

As always, at this time of year, we spend time giving thanks for all our blessings and while I'm thankful for all the usual things (friends, family, health, wealth, love, and life) I have two things in particular for which I'm thankful this year.  The first is the continuing good health of my friend's baby post-transplant.  She seems to be doing quite well and I'm so pleased that they are beginning to be able to find a new normal.  The second thing I'm thankful for is the news that after 4 years of waiting, a couple who we are close friends with have learned they've been matched with their adoptive daughter.  They've waited long and patiently and I'm so happy for them that they are finally getting to expand their family.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 26, 2010

70 Degrees and Sunny

A few days ago, it was gorgeous here in Pittsburgh.  In late November it was 70 degrees and sunny outside.  After his nap, Jamie insisted on going outside so off we went.

It's probably the last day this year we'll get that kind of weather so I'm glad he enjoyed it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


1.  The kids got their flu shots on Friday and oh the drama.  Liam was understandably nervous about it and it bothered him enough to wake him up in the middle of the night.  I worked it out with him with gentle words and lots of cuddles and some lost sleep on my part.  When we went to the doctor's office in the morning he did just as I asked and sat still while the nurse did her thing.  When it was over he said, "That didn't hurt at all, Mommy!  It was great!"


I'm glad it was better than he was anticipating it would be but I would have preferred to keep my sleep.  I did point out to him that next year he didn't have to be so scared.

Unfortunately, the kids then proceeded to spend the next 36 hours doing their very best to be their very worst.  I am honestly amazed that I did not spend those 36 hours screaming my fool head off at them.  Slowly, oh so slowly, I am learning patience.

2.  I raked up 20 bags of leaves this weekend.  TWENTY.  I have completed about half of the front yard.  I haven't even touched the back patio yet.  I hurt all over and my hands are covered in blisters.  I HATE RAKING LEAVES.  I detest it.  I abhor it.  I loathe it.  I despise it.  It is an abomination.  I am sure that the total number of bags I will rake will be 666 for this chore is The Beast and that is his number.

In other words, it is evil.

3.  I made apple pie today.  Homemade crust, northern spy apples - the whole shebang.  Om nom nom.

4.  Jamie believes in safety first.

5.  Pittsburgh has its own lexicon.  After living here for 10 years, I am still learning new and interesting jargon.  Just this week I learned about "dippy eggs."  (That's over easy to the rest of us.)  Well, I ran across this at a local Dunkin' Donuts this week and, well, only in Pittsburgh would someone do this:
"Caution: Wet Slippy Floor"

6.  It bears repeating:  Raking leaves is the devil's chore.

7.  I'm going to go eat pie now.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Santa and The Magic of Giving

I believed in Santa Claus until I was 11 years old.  I'm sure I must have had people in school tell me that he wasn't real, but I refused to believe them.  My parents, bless them, played with it for all those years, never once letting on that they were playing the role.

Then, one late fall day, I was in the car with my mother and she was listening to the radio.  I wasn't listening all that closely to what was being said and I was daydreaming as I stared out the window.  But the words "Santa Claus" made my ears perk up and I realized the DJ's were discussing the non-existence of said figure.  I didn't believe my peers when they tried to tell me I was wrong, but hearing it on the radio was something different.  Those people I went to school with couldn't possibly be trusted and I was sure that they were pulling a prank on me.  I was positive they were doing it just to make me look like a fool.  But when I heard it from the DJ's, it suddenly clicked.  They were right!  Santa wasn't real!

I turned to my mother (who *must* have been expecting it) and said, "Mom, you're Santa Claus aren't you?"

I could tell she was trying not to laugh a bit at my indignation but she said, "Yes, honey, we are.  But that's not really the point of Santa Claus is it?  It's not about the presents, it's about how giving is a good thing and we should give to others instead of always taking for ourselves."

My parents had taught this lesson to us from the time I can remember.  We worked with our church during the holiday season preparing food and gift baskets for the needy in our community and we did it at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  After those baskets were prepped, we'd go with Mom and Dad and deliver them to the families that needed them.  It was eye-opening.  We were never privileged as far as our income was concerned, but we always had what we needed and even lots of things we wanted.  We never had to wonder about where our next meal was coming from because Mom and Dad were sure to provide.  We walked into homes where that wasn't the case and it made me realize that not everyone had it the way we did in a way that words simply couldn't do.

So, when Mom told me that Santa wasn't about presents, I could understand what she was trying to point out to me.  I felt a little foolish for believing the lie for so long but in the end I became proud of the fact that I was so old before I found out.

Now that I have my own kids, I wonder how long the magic of Santa's visit will last.  Kids grow up so fast these days - surely the kids will find out before they hit double digits.  Liam will be 6 in February and he's in school now.  There's bound to be some kid that comes to him with the news that Santa isn't real.  How long will it be before that happens?  What do I say to him if he comes asking about it?

In the meantime, I know that I'm safe for at least this year.  Kipperbuckles is soon to make his reappearance and Liam is already asking me if he's been good that day because he wants presents from Santa.  Pretty soon I'm going to have to introduce him to the notion that it's just as important to give as to receive.

I have a twitter friend, Burgh Baby, and she loves to play Santa for kids in need.  She's running her Christmas Crazy fundraiser again this year to benefit a local women's shelter and Toys for Tots.  I gave a donation both last year and this year because of those lessons my parents taught me.  The same lessons I hope to teach my children.  She's very near her goal and if you could spare a dollar or two, I know that she will use it to make a lot of kids really happy this Christmas.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

From Ridiculous to Completely Absurd

I was complaining a couple of weeks ago about the stupidity of the school schedule during parent-teacher conferences and I should have kept my fat trap shut because it has only gotten worse.  I'm starting to think that whoever does the scheduling for my district is on some really good drugs.  I wish they'd share because then this might make sense to me.

The entire month of November is screwed up.  We will not have a single normal week for the whole month.  It started during that first week with parent-teacher conferences.  By day three of that schedule, I thought I was going to fall over in a heap.  Everything felt so hectic.

The week after that we had our regularly scheduled once-a-month early dismissal Friday.  I *hate* early dismissal days.  Lunch is always super rushed because I have to shove it in really fast.  Liam has to be at school at 11:30 and he gets home at 1:30 - so he's there right when he should be eating lunch but kindergarten doesn't get a lunch break so the kids just have to make do with early or late lunch at home and the regular snack at school.  It just throws the whole day for a loop and I can't stand it.

That same week, Scot and I went to see Ben Folds which fell on a Thursday night - a night we would normally have been at the dojang.  Since that wasn't going to work out, we took Liam to a class on Saturday morning to make up the class.

This week, Open House fell on a Tuesday.  Again, this is a TKD night.  So, once again, we had to skip class and we'll make it up on Saturday morning.

Next week is the real kick in the jewels, though.  First, there's no school Thursday and Friday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  Second, the entire kindergarten is putting on a Thanksgiving puppet show on Wednesday.  It's being held at 10:15 am and that means that all afternoon session students have to attend the morning session instead.  I thought that meant a change in schedule on Wednesday only.  Oh, how very wrong I was.  In order for them to practice for the show, all sessions of kindergarten (that's 40 kids, folks) must attend morning kindergarten ALL THREE DAYS next week.  I think I may just stab something.

I don't understand how the kids can be learning a damned thing with all these short days, schedule changes, days given over to show preparation, etc, etc, etc.  There have been days when they've only been in the classroom for 45 minutes.  WHAT IS THE POINT?!  Couldn't they have spread some of this stuff out a little bit more?  It's already beyond annoying to me that our district insists on half-day kindergarten in the first place, but cutting down on instructional time even further - and for an entire month - makes me stabbity.

I've said before that Liam is a creature of habit and routine is his saving grace.  When routines are off, he has trouble adjusting.  We do our best to help him through it and prepare him for upcoming changes, but we still end up with a kid in tears.  On Saturday, while I was trying to get him ready for TKD, he broke down into tears about going.  He loves going to TKD and to see him resisting to the point of tears was so unusual.  When I asked him about it, he eventually came out with the fact that he is used to going at night instead of in the morning and that he was scared of not knowing anyone.  Translation:  I don't like this change in my routine, Mom.  I worked through it with him and reassured him that there would be people there that he knew and he calmed down and by the time class was over, he was bouncy and happy.

Yesterday he cried and whined that he didn't want to go to school.  Normally the kid is pushing me out the door, bouncing up and down, completely revved up to go to school.  Yesterday he was upset, sullen, and all out rude to me.  Obviously, I made him go and he was happy when he got home, but I have no idea how things went in the classroom yesterday.

The holidays are always a rough time of year anyway - with all the excitement and family plans and whatever else.  But now school is pitching in and helping to make things so much worse.  Anyone else have a kid like Liam?  How do you prepare them for things like this?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Open House

And the school commitments just keep rolling along...

Last night was Open House.  Liam was super, super excited to go and show us all around.  I thought the poor kid was going to vibrate right through the walls.  The truth is that we probably could have been in and out in about 15 minutes flat.  I was a little shocked at how little there was for us to do.  I have no recollection of open houses when I was a kid.

Anyway, I knew going into the evening that Liam had made a pilgrim and an Indian to hang in the hallway outside of his classroom.  His teacher told me that he had decorated his pilgrim to look like Jamie and named him "Jamie the Pilgrim."  All together now, "awwwwwwwwww!"  I had to get pictures.

Some thoughts:
1) Yep, he got the red hair right - I think it was the only redheaded pilgrim in the bunch.
2) The pig-like nose is hilarious to me.  He insists on drawing all noses that way and it's particularly appropriate for what a porker Jamie is.
3) When Scot heard it had been decorated "just like" Jamie, his comment was "What?  With devil horns and everything?"  HA!

His Indian is sporting the same pig nose.

Last, they had a project they had done about what they were thankful for.  I would have expected something to see something like "Star Wars" or "Lego Star Wars" or "Star Wars books."  I was wrong.

Good to know, kiddo.  I'll hold off on turning her out of the house for peeing in your room.

After we toured his classroom we went to check out the snack table.  Liam stood there telling everyone "My Mom baked THOSE ONES [point, point] and they're really good!"  Scot said we should have made him a name tag that said "Liam, Pastry Pimper."  Maybe I've managed to regain my Cari Crocker title.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cari Crocker No Longer

Long ago a friend of Scot's dubbed me "Cari Crocker" because I love to bake and I'm pretty good at it (if I do say so myself).  The moniker stuck and when I get my bake on, it inevitably comes up.

I may have to resign my position after yesterday's mishap.

At the beginning of the school year I volunteered to be a baker for various school events that needed baked goods.  Well, Open House is tonight and Thursday night so (among many others) I was asked to provide some cookies.  I thought "Great!  I'll whip up some chocolate chip cookies, send the requisite 3 dozen to school, and have a few left over for us."

Yesterday afternoon, while Jamie was napping, I got to work.  I normally use the Toll House recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag and the only thing I change is to use all brown sugar instead of a mix of white and brown.  I threw the softened butter in my mixer, grabbed the 3/4 cup measure out of the drawer, and proceeded to measure 1.5 cups of brown sugar into the bowl.  I then started creaming the butter and sugar.

While that was churning away, I pulled out a separate bowl to measure out the dry ingredients.  When I looked for the 1 cup measure for the flour, I got confused because I couldn't find it.

Then a horrible thought occurred to me and I turned to look more closely at the cup I had used to measure the sugar.

1 cup.  Oh damn.

So instead of using 1.5 cups of sugar, I had put in 2 full cups.  At that point I was too far in to go back, I didn't know how to adjust other proportions to fix it, and I didn't have the ingredients to start over.  Moreover, Jamie was taking a monster nap and I was not about to wake him up so that I could go to the store for more.

I chose to push forward and hope for the best during baking.  I tasted the dough before I baked it and it tasted just fine.  I hoped that if they baked OK I could salvage them.

It was not to be.  The first batch came out of the oven as flat as roadkill.  They barely had enough integrity to maintain cookie shape.  They went in the trash.

The second batch were no better despite the fact that I baked them for slightly less time.  They were a tiny bit puffier but they were raw in the middle.  It was clear to me that these cookies were not going to work out.

I tossed the second batch in the trash along with the rest of the dough.  Then I tried to figure out what I was going to do.  Scot offered to stop for replacement ingredients on his way home from work so I could bake later in the evening.  It wasn't ideal but it was looking like my only option.

Then I realized I had another recipe I could use for which I almost always have all the ingredients in the house.  I looked at the recipe and I had everything except the required 2 cups of flour.  I called a neighbor and she generously gave me some flour.  I whipped up those cookies (being careful this time about how I measured!) and ended up with exactly 3 dozen cookies for Open House tonight.

Crisis averted.

For someone who can make pies and cakes and cookies of all kinds, this was a colossally stupid mistake.  Cari Crocker?  Maybe not so much.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Holiday Craze Is Almost Upon Us

This week I say good bye to normality until January.  Yes, I hear you back there in the peanut gallery asking me when I ever was normal.  Good point.

Anyway, this week we have Open House at school - for which I have to bake - and that means changing our TKD schedule since it falls on a night we'd normally be at the dojang.  I'm going to be madly trying to really keep on top of the house because next week my sister-in-law and her family will be in town for Thanksgiving.  They're not staying with us but if they come over, I'd like the house not to be a complete pit.

Next week, there's no school at the end of the week for either of the kids and on Wednesday the kindergarten is putting on a Thanksgiving puppet show in the morning.  That means that Liam will have to get ready for school in the morning instead of going in the afternoon - a complete change in the normal schedule.  He's already expressed difficulty with the constant change of routine lately (the school schedule this month is beyond ridiculous) so we're going to have to navigate these waters as carefully as possible.  Liam does best when he has routines and schedules he can count on being the same from day to day and this time of year generally messes with that.

After Thanksgiving, the Christmas insanity starts in earnest.  I have baking, decorating, cleaning (more than usual), shopping, wrapping, and hosting to do.  The good news is that we have almost totally completed our Christmas shopping.  We have a couple of people left on the list to finish and it would probably be good if I shopped for Scot but otherwise, we're sitting pretty on that score.

[taking a deep breath]

[diving into the next 6 weeks in 3. . . 2 . . . 1]

Sunday, November 14, 2010

School Pictures

When I was a kid school pictures were such a stressful time.  I remember thinking that I had to get it just right or I was going to end up with a horrible picture and be the butt of everyone's jokes - even more so than usual.  I remember sitting down with the photographer and having just a single click of the camera to get it right.  It felt like so much pressure.

Back in September, Liam had picture day at school and it happened to fall on a day when Jamie was in daycare so I was able to volunteer to help out.  Watching the photographer work with the kids was so different than what I remember.  Digital cameras are a wonder because instead of having just a single frame of film to get it right, the photographer took 3 or 4 shots of each child.  He'd have them smile, he'd have them make a silly face (and take a picture of it), and while they were giggling, he'd get another shot or two of something more natural.  He was quick and efficient but still managed to get a few options.

I have been waiting and waiting for the pictures to come in and I have been eaten alive with curiosity as to how they would turn out.  They finally came home from school this week and the verdict is they came out fantastic.  It was so much better than I remember any of my school photos looking.

So, here's Spud, in all his kindergarten glory.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Intolerance Makes Me Stabby

Today, while I was at the dojang for Tae Kwon-Do with Liam, an incident occurred that really cheesed me off.

During a discussion among a few parents that started about health care reform and then ranged to bad presidents, impeachment, and waterboarding, the opinion was put forward that "Islam is the religion of 'convert or be killed.'"

For those of you that don't know, I've lived in a predominantly Muslim country and been friends with everyday Muslim people.  I am not ignorant of the religion and it absolutely sends smoke out my ears to hear opinions like this one.  I've heard it since the 9/11 attacks and it is ignorant, racist, and ridiculous.

I cannot sit silent when I hear such things.

"Actually," I replied, "that is not what Islam teaches.  I have lived in an Islamic country and that is not what the Koran teaches."

Then I stood up and walked out.

It generally seems to be the case that people who spout such opinions like to conveniently forget a few things.  First of all, Christians can't claim a peaceful history.  Have these people ever heard of the Crusades?  The forcible retaking of Spain?  The Inquisition?  The history of Christianity has been just as bloody, if not more so, so there is no high horse on which to sit on that account.

Also, Christians have just as many fundamentalist nutjobs as any other religion.  That is essentially what Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups are.  Hatred is not what mainstream Islam preaches, teaches, or practices.  If any of the people claiming that Islam is a religion of "convert or die" took an even cursory look at the Koran they would be disabused of their opinions in short order.

Furthermore, despite many terrorists' association with a religion few in this country take the time to understand, there are grievances that go far beyond a basic difference in belief system.  Our government has done things over a long span of time to upset these people and it is only natural for them to be disgruntled by that.  It in no way excuses terrorist action as retaliation but given the history is it really any wonder?  Many people want to act like the United States is innocent and we need to understand that we are not and that we have our part in the way things have transpired.  Again, there is still no excuse for things like 9/11 but we would make far greater progress to making peace if we could understand and accept our own culpability.

We were a country founded on the tenet of religious freedom but too many of us say "freedom of religion" and mean "freedom of MY religion."  We must respect one another, learn from one another, and build upon our commonalities instead of dwelling on our differences.  Beyond that, we must reject the notion of religious persecution wherever we come across it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

To Quote My Husband, "Ben Folds RAWKS!"

When the children are not around, we are lovers of Ben Folds in this house.  He has a tendency to use adult language in his songs, particularly his more recent stuff, so we haven't really exposed the kids to it.  Of course this means that I haven't even heard the last two albums he's released and only know a bit of the album before those.  But, hey, that's ok - I still like his stuff.

Last night, Scot and I left the kids with Grandma and trooped off to Club Zoo to see Ben live.  I am 34 years old and I had never in my life stepped foot in a nightclub.  Luckily, there was quite an age range at the show so I didn't really feel out of place.  However, being that it was a club show, there was no such thing as seats.  Standing for nearly five hours nearly crippled me.

That said, Ben puts on an awesome show.  He interacts with the audience and truly gets his rock on.  Scot and I kept saying that his piano tuner must hate him because of the way he beats on that thing.  In the same breath he is a truly talented keyboardist. 

He played old favorites like "Army," "Kate," "Zak and Sara," "Rockin' The Suburbs," and "Still Fighting It" as well as about half of the brand new album.  He made up a song on the spot about tambourine soloists (you read that correctly) that was bluesy and hilarious. 

With each tour, Ben picks a song to cover during concerts.  At one time it was Elton John's "Tiny Dancer."  Well, for this tour they had trouble choosing a song so they decided to go to iTunes and see what the #1 song on iTunes was at that moment - that would be their cover song.  The song was "Sleazy" by Ke$ha.  Because I hate Ke$ha, I had not heard the song but it was awesome listening to Ben perform it.  I came home and looked up the song and I can only say that Ben Folds covering Ke$ha is far, far, far superior to anything Ke$ha herself can do.

We've been trying to get to a Ben Folds show for years now and we finally made it last night.  I have a feeling it won't be our last because it was fun and raucous and hilarious and amazing all wrapped up in one really awesome concert. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vive la différence!

Liam has always been a crappy sleeper.  He went through a period during his infancy where he took 3 30 minute naps a day and was up at least 3 times overnight.  We sleep trained at 7 months.  He didn't sleep through the night until well after he turned 4 years old (it was after Jamie arrived).  We must adhere to a strict schedule with him.  Nap time was always sacrosanct and if you missed the tiny little nap window you were screwed.  Bedtime was also inviolate because going to bed late meant crappy (crappier?) sleep.  Try to wear him out so he would sleep?  Guaranteed up-6-times night.  We went through a phase where Liam hit the floor at 5:30 am every single day.  Being so incredibly strict about sleep bought us nights in which we were "only" up twice - with a 3 year old.  He fights sleep tooth and nail and I can count on one hand the number of times that he has voluntarily said he's tired and wants to go to bed.  We are only now capable of monkeying with his bedtime slightly.

Jamie is the antithesis of this - at least once he decided to give up the colic and we got his reflux under control.  He reliably took 2 naps a day, both of them at least 90 minutes long.  He goes to bed and sleeps all night - he has done so since he was 11 months old.  He now takes one nap a day that is generally 90 to 120 minutes long. 

What's more amazing to me is that from the time he's been able to walk, Jamie will run to the stairs if you say "Jamie, are you ready to go take your nap?"  He runs towards sleep, not away.

So today I was blown away when I was upstairs grabbing something and Jamie followed me up the stairs, ran into his room, and pointed emphatically at his crib.

"Do you want to take a nap, Jamie?"

 [vigorous head nod]

"I'm sorry honey, we have to leave in a few minutes to take your brother to school.  You can take a nap as soon as we get home."

Then, we headed back downstairs.  I had at least 20 minutes until I needed to leave to get Liam to school and Jamie ran around finding his shoes, his hat, Liam's backpack, Liam's shoes, and throwing them all at me in an effort to get us all to hurry up, dammit!  Let's get brother to school so I can take a damn nap, Mom!

Not only does the kid want to sleep but at less than 2 years of age, he's got reason enough to figure out that if we have to take Liam to school before he can take a nap then let's get this wagon train moving and get out the door!  Liam blew me away with his smarts (and still does), Jamie is actively scaring me with how much he understands.

I have said for years that I wanted my second child to be three things:  a sleeper, an eater, and an easy teether.  I got two - the sleeping and the eating.  To quote Meatloaf, "Two out of three ain't bad."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I'm Calling This A Time Change Miracle

If you know me or have read this blog, you know I hate time change.  If you're new around these parts, let me 'splain:  I hate time change.  No, actually I despise it.

When I went to bed last night I was dreading what the morning would bring.  Not only were we gaining an hour of sleep - meaning the kids would be hitting the floor at the very butt crack of dawn - but Jamie went to bed by 6:30 pm because he was melting down from being tired and worn out.  He's fighting a slight cold and he played at Grandma's for most of the day yesterday so he was practically begging to go to bed by then.  However, with a bedtime that early on time change night I was fearing the worst.

We told Liam before he went to bed that there was extra time to sleep last night and that if he woke up before the rest of us he should play in his room quietly until we got up.  I wasn't holding out a lot of hope, but it was worth a shot.  Usually when we ask him to do this, I get asked "Mommy, is it morning yet?" two or three times before I finally give up and get out of bed.

In a happy twist of fate, THE CHILDREN SLEPT IN.  Jamie didn't wake up until 7:15 am.  That's 8:15, by the old time.  He never sleeps in that late and certainly not on nights that he's gone to bed early.  That means the kid got almost 13 hours of sleep last night.  Straight.  He never woke up overnight.  When I got up with Jamie, Liam came out of his room fully dressed - right down to his socks.  He was up a bit earlier than the rest of us (I heard him hit the bathroom) but he did exactly as we asked and played quietly until we got up.

I hope to God this doesn't bite us in the butt with a crappy night of sleep tonight because this was perhaps the most awesome fall time change I've been through since the arrival of Liam.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Parent-Teacher Conferences and the Schedule From Hell

This week was completely insane.  It was parent-teacher conference week and the schedule they had us on was bizarre.

Afternoon kindergarten on a normal day runs from 12:35 until 3:15.  When Liam first started school, I thought this meant we needed to be at school for drop off no later than 12:25 so that the kids could get unloaded and then into the classroom by 12:35 to start their day.  I also thought that since they were not released from school until 3:15 that the bus would not arrive until, at earliest, 3:30.

I was wrong.

Drop off begins at 12:35 on the nose.  My child steps off the bus at our stop (which is admittedly the 3rd stop on the route) at 3:15.  This means that they do not really get down to the teaching until 12:45 and they knock off around 3:00 so that the kids can get their stuff and get on their buses.  He gets around 2 hours of instructional time a day.

You can imagine how I felt when, for three days this week, he had to be at school at 11 am and was home at 12:30.  He was barely at school long enough to turn around twice and take a pee before it was back on the bus to come home.  It was ridiculous.  I don't even know how they can get away with calling that a "full" day of school - they might as well have not gone at all.

It also messed with our lunch schedule and I was having to feed him a snack before school and lunch when he came home.  It completely threw him for a loop because he was totally unused to doing things this way.  Liam is not one to take to such schedule changes with ease.

On Wednesday, the schedule was even more crazy.  He went to school at 11:00, came home at 12:30, had 20 minutes to shove down lunch, and then we turned around and went back to school so that we could do his conference.  My neighbor and I scheduled on the same day so that we could tag team it with the childcare.  After the conference, we went to the book fair.  Then, we finally made it home.  It made for a strange day.

The good news is that he got a good report from his teacher and he's doing well in school.  I could go on and on and bore you with the details of his assessment but so far he's landing somewhere in the middle of the pack - albeit on the higher end of middle.  He's doing what he should be and that's what I'm looking for.

I'm really hoping that by the time Jamie goes to school, they'll have found a better way to go about scheduling conferences because this schedule was just dumb.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

So, Yeah, There Was An Election


I admit, yesterday was disappointing for me.  I went to bed last night knowing that The House of Reps had gone Red, the Senate was still in play, and that the good citizens of PA had just voted Tom Corbett in as Governor.  I had nightmares last night about the idea of bequeathing this screwed up country on to my children and OH MY GOD, what had I done by having them!?

Then I got up this morning and found out that Pat Toomey won the senate race in PA (when I had gone to bed, Sestak was winning) and to top it all off, the only person I voted for that won his race was Jason Altmire.  Voting for him in the first place turned my stomach.  It was not even the best of two bad choices but the ok-kinda-sorta-not-as-bad-as-the-other-guy choice.  I did my duty.  I voted.  And I felt defeated by the end of the day.

Lots of people have had a lot to say about what went down.  I think, so far, the best I've read came from Red Pen Mama over here (with the exception that I'm a little pissed at Obama over a few things that have nothing to do with how fast the economy is or is not recovering).  For me, about the best I can say is that the huge majority needed to do things like repeal Health Care Reform simply doesn't exist, especially with the Senate still nominally Democratic.

That said, I would like to see the Republicans fix the economy, replace several million jobs, balance the budget, do it all without raising taxes, and accomplish it within the space of the next 18 months.  This has been the large part of their rhetoric this campaign season - that Obama didn't deliver on his promises and it's all his fault things aren't perfect yet - so, now that they've gotten the victory they've striven so hard for it's time for them to walk the walk they've been talking so loudly.

I won't hold my breath.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hodgepodge: Halloween Edition

1.  It's possible that we have finally broken the Halloween curse in our house.  Almost every year since Liam's birth, Halloween has been cursed.  Only the first one was relatively normal.  When he was 9 months old, he sat out with me a for a little bit but that was it.  After that it was bedtime.  When he was 21 months old, it rained so hard we couldn't possibly go trick-or-treating.  Also, Scot got rear-ended on his way home from work that night.  When he was 2.5, he did half the street and then it was time for bed.  When he was 3.5, he flat out refused to go trick-or-treating.  When he was 4.5, he spent the entire night before Halloween puking all night long.  We gave our bowl of candy to the neighbor to hand out and stayed in.  This year finally seemed to work out.  I handed out candy while Scot took the kids.  Scot came home with Jamie after about 30 minutes and Liam stayed with the group of kids and adults that were working the neighborhood.  He came home an hour later with a such a haul he said "Mommy!  It's so heavy I can't even lift it!"


2.  Speaking of scores, when did Halloween candy go so upscale?  I thought I was being a good house by buying the good candy (no dum-dums, tootsie rolls, or bit o' honeys here!) and giving out at least 2 pieces per kid.  Apparently that's the chintzy way to go about things, these days.  Liam got more than one full treat bag in his candy.  How much time and money do these people have that they are handing out whole bags of treats to each kid?!  He also got several full size candy bars, including a Dove bar.  Now, what 5 year old is going to appreciate that one?  I'm pretty sure that's going to make its way into Mommy's emergency stash.  Also?  Not a single dum dum sucker.  No tootsie rolls.  Nary a bit o' honey.

3.  He did get one thing that is making me shake my head.  Let's call it the Christian Tootsie Roll (because it's a piece of poop).  He was given a fake piece of money in the amount of $1,000,000.00.  On the front it says things like "Department of Eternal Affairs" and "All Saints Eve, October 31."  Then, on the back, in small letters around the edge, it says the following:

The million dollar question:  Will you go to Heaven?  Here's a quick test.  Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God's name in vain?  Jesus said "Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."  Have you looked with lust?  Will you be guilty on Judgment Day?  If you have done those things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer-at-heart.  The Bible warns that if you are guilty you will end up in Hell.  That's not God's will.  He sent his Son  to suffer and die on the cross for you.  Jesus took your punishment upon Himself.  "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  Then he rose from the dead and defeated death.  Please repent (turn from sin) today and trust in Jesus, and God will grant you everlasting life.  Then read your Bible daily and obey it.

My problems with the Christian Tootsie Roll are numerous.  First of all, I don't think most kids know what lust is.  And what if they're looking at a man in lust?  Is that OK?  Also, don't you dare tell my kid how God sees him.  How are you to know what God thinks?  Are you God?  Running around in righteous indignation about sin makes you just as bad as the sin you keep pointing out.  See you in Hell with my kid.  Furthermore, stop threatening my kid with Hell just because you think Halloween is a sinful, awful, pagan holiday.  It is, but if you don't like it, don't participate.  

I'm just glad Liam can't read well enough yet to understand what the Christian Tootsie Roll is trying to shame him about.  I'll be shredding that little bit of propaganda toute suite. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

In Which I Play Ma Ingalls

Like just about every person out there that does laundry, I hate how much I spend on laundry detergent.  I hated it more when we bought a high efficiency washer and had to pay more for the special detergent.  Even buying in bulk at Costco (with coupons!) was still expensive.  Considering how much laundry I do, I was annoyed at this.

People, I do a lot of laundry.

Two or three months ago I ran across a recipe for making your own detergent and all reports were that it worked well and left your laundry smelling clean and fresh.  I was hooked, I had to try it.  Unfortunately, I had a vat of Tide to get through before I could try it.

I finally got to do so this week.  So, first, the recipe.  Here's what you need:

1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap, finely grated (the whole bar)
1 cup Super Washing Soda (this is not baking soda)
1 cup Borax

Thoroughly mix together all ingredients in a container.  Use 1 tablespoon for a regular size load, 2 tablespoons for a large/heavily soiled load.

It's safe for high efficiency washers because it doesn't produce a lot of suds.  One batch of detergent will last for months because of how little you use per load.  When you consider that I spent around $10 for all the ingredients and that the box of borax and the box of washing soda were fairly large and will last me through several more rounds of soap making, this beats Tide hands down.  Also, I switched to dryer sheets instead of liquid fabric softener and the combination of cheap homemade soap and cheap dryer sheets has cut my laundry budget down by two-thirds.

Even better, I did my first load of laundry with it and I couldn't be happier - the clothes are clean and smell lovely and fresh.

Give it a try - see what you think!

UPDATE: (11/29/10) I've been using the soap for about a month now.  I'm just about to run out of the first batch I made - I think I ran out faster that most folks because, no lie, I do 7 loads of laundry a week on average.  So, I got something around 30 loads of laundry out of the batch of soap and I was using the larger measurement on several occasions.  Anyway, it's working pretty well and I'm going to stick with it.  I have found that I do have to be more careful about pre-treating the kids clothes for any stains they have than I have done in the past (I used to be religious about it and then I got to a point where I just threw things in the washer with no pretreatment).  But a little bit of extra work is worth the money I'm saving.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Little Helper

Jamie loves to help us feed the dog.  Whenever he hears me get out the dog food, this is what happens - notice that he has to take a taste just to double check that it's dog food and not human food.

Happy Blogiversary!

My little fledgling blog has lasted a whole year.  Wowsers!  Thanks for reading.  :) 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Telling It Like It Is

I am lucky.  I am fortunate enough to be able to stay home with my children and for us to have a very nice life on just Scot's salary.  The budget could be looser, certainly, but everyone has those problems.  I made the choice to stay home because we could afford it and because I wanted to be there for my kids when they were infants.  Infancy with Liam turned into 6 years at home full time.

I don't regret this.  I think it was the right choice for our family.  I also don't look down on families in which both parents work - whether by choice or necessity.  I firmly believe that what is right for my family is only right for my family.  I also understand that there are lots of women out there who work full time that would love nothing more than to be in my shoes.

But, dude, it is HARD.

I love my kids like crazy.  Like every other parent around, I would do anything for them.  But just because I love them does not mean that I like them 100% of the time.  I am tired of people saying that stay at home parenting isn't work or that it's the most fabulous, wonderful, incredible, fulfilling thing in the world.  How could I possibly not love spending every waking moment with my kids? 

I don't love that I never get a day off.  No sick time.  No vacation.  No mental health days.  I envy parents who get to go to work and be adults for 8 hours out of the day without a million interruptions.  They have the luxury of peeing in private!  *gasp*  I have fantasies about leaving my family behind for a weekend and just going away by myself.

I don't love that I almost never get a moment's peace.  There is always someone who needs something from me.  I can't even really relax when the kids are in bed because if they wake up, I'm back on duty.  I live and die by the noises on the baby monitor. 

Related to that, I don't love that I can never leave work at work.  My home is my work and it's always staring me in the face.  There's always another room that needs to be cleaned.  There's always another chore that needs to be done.  There's always more leaves that need to be raked or more bills that need to be paid or more laundry that needs to be folded.  I can never escape it.  What's worse is that if I do manage to finish it all, the kids immediately undo what I've done and I have to start over.

I don't love how little patience I have.  I want to be more patient with my children but when Jamie is squealing like a deranged dolphin and Liam is informing me of some obscure Star Wars fact for the eleventy billionth time all while I'm trying to make a meal I just want to scream at them.  Sadly, I often do.

I don't love how little time I have to devote to anything for me.  I don't scrapbook anymore.  I don't do card making anymore.  I can't find the time for doctor's appointments for myself or getting new glasses or getting back to Weight Watchers (hello, 40 pounds that won't go away).  There is no money and especially no time for me to do these things.  I can't even keep up with my grooming habits - my eyebrows are OUT OF CONTROL.

Yesterday, for the first time in well over a week, I had everyone out of the house at the same time and a two and a half hour window in which to do something.  I managed to scrub my kitchen clean and dismantle the toy tornado in the family room before I had to go pick up Liam at the bus stop.  It took me a mere 90 minutes to accomplish something that would have taken me at least 3 hours with the children around.

I don't love that.

There are great things about being home, too.  I got to see all the firsts - first rolling over, first smile, first crawl, first steps, first words - all of that.  I'm sure Scot was disappointed to miss some of those things.  I wouldn't trade those moments at all, but that doesn't mean they always make up for all the crap I deal with.

What bothers me most is that so many women refuse to acknowledge that it can be like this.  Everyone wants me to say "oh it's just so wonderful to be with them and know them this way!" and yes, that is a good thing, but to never admit to a bad day is ludicrous.  Everybody still buys into the perfect 50's era homemaker with her perfect outfits and perfect house and perfect pearls and if you admit that you fall down on the job when it comes to those kinds of expectations, you kind of get the stink eye.

I wish I could be more like my neighbors.  They have consistently clean houses and nicely manicured lawns and yards.  I have neither of those things.  I don't know how they do it.  I wish I could.  Outwardly I blame it on the fact that their children are older than mine by a good bit but inwardly I call myself lazy.

I know there are women that manage to do it all - have a clean house, cook meals on a regular basis, work full time, and make time for their husbands.  I wish I knew their secrets.  I wish I could live up to their example.  In the same breath I wish I could let myself off that hook.  I wish all women would give themselves a break from the crazy high expectations we have for ourselves.  I wish we wouldn't assume that we have to be responsible for everything.  Unfortunately, many of us do and I am, sadly, among them.

Those of you out there that work full time and possibly envy those of us who stay home - just know that from the other side, your life looks just as appealing to me as mine does to you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Think This Could Be Soccer's Death Knell

"Mom, I don't want to go play."

We were sitting at the side of the soccer field and I was trying to coax him into getting on the field to warm up and get started on drills.  He wasn't very enthusiastic about it.

This is the first week he's been difficult about it and of course he picks the week that I was Snack Mom so we had to stay the whole time.  Eventually, I got him out on the field and he started working on his drills.  When those were done we moved on to the game.  During water breaks he would ask me "How much longer, Mom?"

The kid did not want to be there.  Frankly, I understood because I didn't want to be there either.

Soccer was an experiment.  He asked to play so we signed him up.  I figured U-6 was a good way to get introduced since it was really low pressure on the kids - at least as far as the coaches are concerned.  The parents are another story.   However, it's fairly obvious to me that it's not sticking the way that Tae-Kwon Do is.

When he goes to TKD, he's excited, he loves it, he always asks me when the next class is.  He can barely stand still while I'm tying his dobak and belt.  Watching him in class is a joy because he tries so hard and gives it his all.  The grin that splits that kid's face when he's sparring is really amazing.

The same cannot be said for soccer.  He runs around at the back of the pack, rarely putting in the effort required to keep up.  It's not because he's tired - soccer is at 10 am on Saturday.  When he does get the ball, it's only if he's at the front not surrounded by other kids.  Once they catch up to him, he backs off the ball and lets anyone who wants it, have it.  It's like he just doesn't care enough about it to translate the aggressiveness he uses during sparring into the aggressiveness required on the soccer field.

And that's OK with me.

The whole point here was to try it out.  We did that and he didn't really like it.  It's clear that he's much more interested in Tae-Kwon Do and much more willing to put up with whatever he has to put up with in order to go.  Given this, I doubt we'll even be going to the last two weeks of soccer.  You may think that makes him (and by extension, Scot and I) a quitter but I don't see it that way.  He's unhappy going.  We're unhappy going.  What's the point of making the whole family unhappy by continuing?  We're teaching him the importance of living up to your commitments with Tae-Kwon Do.  We've told him we signed a contract for a year and that he has to complete that year.  We've told him that we will have to pay the money whether or not he goes and that he agreed to do it for a whole year before he can decide to quit, if that's what he wants.  To me, this is the real place to teach this because the time and money commitments are so much greater.  Soccer?  Not so much.  Maybe it's the laid back, non-formalized nature of it that makes me feel that way.  I'm not sure.  I just know that it doesn't seem worth all the hassle if he's not that into it.

When soccer rolls around next week, I'll ask him what he wants to do.  If he wants to go, I'll take him.  If he doesn't, we'll stay home.