Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Few Bits of Business

Good news. You can now use to subscribe to
Actual Unretouched Photo at the new site. (My personal new site, not to be confused with the other new site, which will be announced later.)

Also, I have my reciprocal blogroll up on the new website, so if you could add that URL to your blogroll (in addition to this one), I would appreciate it.

Finally, we are no longer forbidden access to the new website.

Oh, and one last thing. The lilacs are in bloom.
And we all rejoice.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


I know, I know. My new website has forbidden us all to enter. I have no idea why, but my tech guy will be back in town Monday and hopefully he'll wave his magic wand and fix all my problems. Well, at least he'll fix my website problems.

If ever there were a time to swear, this would be it, but alas, I do not swear, except for Christian cursewords like "shoot" and "darn" and "gosh."

Shoot. That darn website!

Friday, April 28, 2006

A Simple Rant

FileZilla and Wordpress make me want to scoop my brain out like a half a cantaloupe and fling it at the walls. Would it kill the writers of technical information to, oh, I don't know . . . assume we don't speak geek and USE PLAIN ENGLISH!!?!

That's all. Carry on.

Bummer For Her

I may not have a book published yet, but at least I haven't had a book published and then pulled off the shelves because I plagiarized like her.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Farewell, Dear Tulip

Oh, Tulip, I hardly knew you and now you lie trampled on the ground, broken down in the prime of your life, never to bloom again. Well, until next spring, that is.

At least I still have you, my lone back yard tulip. Be strong! I will remind the boys to watch their step while they swing their bamboo sticks magical swords, less they pop your head off, too.

* * *

Here are the things that irritated me so much today that I yelled like a lunatic:

1) One of my 13-year olds spilled a box of one thousand toothpicks into a kitchen drawer in his quest to get one toothpick. He left the box askew and the drawer open.

2) My daughter accidentally peed on the freshly shampooed carpet.

I may have overreacted because I've been the sole parent in charge for three solid days now, plus two days last weekend and last night I didn't go to bed until 1:00 a.m. because I am foolish. Saturday, when my husband returns, I'm out of here!

Lest I snap off someone's head, just like that poor tulip.

Do Me A Favor

I bought a domain name: The site is not ready quite yet for its unveiling, but will you add it to your blogroll? Or bookmark it or add it to your Favorites or consider having it tatt o o ed on your elbow so we don't lose one another? (But don't delete your link here just yet. Just add the other one, too.)

Bossy Near Seattle

[Updated: Thanks for pointing out that my RSS feed doesn't seem to work yet. I'll fix that ASAP, hopefully today.]


Hey, you may or may not realize that if you're on my blogroll, I read your blogs as often as possible. I try to read them every day, using as an indicator that unread posts are waiting for me. (If you don't use Bloglines, you should. What a time-saver!)

On Monday mornings, I try to comment on every blog I come across.

But lately, oh, these past few days, I haven't had time and I'm so behind on the life and times of you blogging-friends. But I will be catching up, gradually, as things settle down around here.

And thank you, everyone, for being so incredibly kind and generous. But I'd like to suggest that you all have your eyes checked.

Ha ha.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Yes, as it turns out, I do have a face. And when I wear lipstick you can even see my lips. When I was twenty-eight, I remember a forty-something mom telling me how her lip-color had faded with the years. I thought that odd, but what do you know? It happened to me, too. Without lipstick, no lips.

So, you're saying to yourself, how did Mel come up with that photograph so quickly? You see, I am never ever in the family photographs for two reasons. One, I am always the photographer. Two, I am fat.

But you see, being fat has opened doors, which is ironic in so many ways. For instance, I have thought to myself, Self, you need to get yourself in shape so you can go to that writer's conference next year and kick-start your writing career! And I've thought, If only I weren't so fat, so many more opportunities would fall into my (no-longer ample) lap. And I've looked at Heather B. Armstrong's blog, "Dooce," and thought, Well, of course she's making money blogging. She's skinny.

See how irrational we chubby fluffy pudgy chunky fat girls can be? The internet is a wonderful thing, too, because no one has to see our outside and we can bypass those feelings of embarrassment and self-disgust and just put forward our best selves, the inner parts of us. I have been dismissed sometimes because being fat is like wearing a force field which makes you invisible to the human eye. Sometimes, this is good. Who wants to be hounded by the paparazzi, after all?

So, I'm fat. And my being fat has indirectly led me to this particular blogging job which has requested a photo.

And I have no photographs of myself. So, knowing that I'd need a photograph for my new blogging job, I decided I would spruce myself up and get myself to a photography studio as soon as possible so they could work their magic and hopefully, employ some airbrushing techniques to remove my double-chin and possibly fifty pounds. Which wouldn't be possible for days, weeks, months . . . who knows? Because, as the detail-retaining among you will remember, my husband is out of town, hanging out with his college buddies in Las Vegas. Yes, the pastor is on the loose in Vegas!

The email that came yesterday, though, asked for a picture now. Right now. As in hurry-up-send-a-picture-before-we-change-our-minds-right-now.

And there I am, wearing a shirt with gummy remains of a Triscuit smeared on my shoulder and not a drop of makeup on my pale face and no chance of leaving my house. I made a half-hearted attempt to locate an existing picture of myself, but knew deep in my heart that I don't have one I can tolerate. And using my old college picture or the one of me was a three year old simply would not do.

At lunch-time, I have a forty-five minute baby-free window because one baby leaves for a lunch break with his mom and the other hasn't yet arrived. I sprang into action. I smeared on carefully applied make-up, fluffed up my hair and put on a clean shirt. Baby number two arrived just as I finished glossing up my lips. I'm sure the baby's dad was shocked to see me in that condition, but what can you do? You can't always be a frumpy housewife, I guess.

I had one 13-year old keep an eye on the baby and my daughter, while I went outside with my other 13-year old. I dragged over a ladder, stood my son in front of the laurel hedge, and positioned the camera just so. Then I changed places with my son. I had him step up the ladder a few rungs so he'd be looking down on me, so I could tilt my face slightly up and thus, through the magic of posing, eliminate a chin. Hey, when you don't have special lighting and your own personal airbrusher, you get creative. (From now on, whenever I know there will be cameras, like at family reunions or holiday events, I am taking my 6-foot aluminum ladder with me, because, as it turns out, I don't look too bad if you are three feet above me and I'm looking up.)

He took about ten shots and I chose the one you see to the right as the best one.

And now you know the truth. I'm a fat blogger. I hope we can still be friends.

I'm kidding! Of course, you'll still be my friend. Because here's the best part about having a fat friend: you look thinner standing next to her.

Now, ten points to the person who comes up with an utterly delightful title for a blog chronicling the diet of a fat housewife. Okay, a hundred points.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Telephone Conversations, Interrupted

My daughter is three and a half and obsessed with the telephone. If you call my house, you will have to talk to her, which I know is a very annoying requirement and one I never understood before I had children when I would telephone my friends and be forced to speak to their little hooligans. But, now I know. The child will not be denied her phone time.

Tonight, she was speaking on one of her many pretend cell phones (the pink one) and she said, "Oh, I can't come to your party." Pause. "I have babies here." Pause. "And I can't drive."

Then she asked, "Daddy, did you see the dinosaur in the forest? Did it bite you? Did it bite your head or your toes or your legs?"

Apparently, he indicated that the dinosaur bit him on the head.

And then the imaginary conversation ended.

Earlier in the day, I made a telephone call to New York, New York . . . while my daughter was busy playing on the other computer. (She's very competent and probably she'll be fluent in html before long.) I had to leave a message, though.

And, of course, later, the woman from New York returned my call and so I hurried upstairs in a desperate bid for privacy and quietness with the phone in one hand and the paperwork in the other and closed the door to my bedroom (with no lock on its door, drat!) and the bathroom. We were having a rational conversation when my daughter came stomping upstairs, talking to me, insisting on my full attention, and finally, crying, as I rushed away from her in a effort to finish my conversation.

Later, I attempted another telephone call to an East coast blogger (Barbara Curtis), because I needed some advice and reassurance and, of course, although I left my daughter safely upstairs, happily chatting with her daddy, she appeared at my elbow, whining and then sobbing while I tried to talk. Then, the other three year old woke up and he started whimpering about his runny nose and about being hungry . . . then my 8-year old walked by and motioned some unintelligible question at me . . . and finally, I had to say good-bye before my head exploded and my eyeballs popped out.

I have to say, I miss the days of long, uninterrupted telephone conversations. And I'd like to know why having a telephone pressed to my right ear reminds the children of their urgent needs and desires that only I can fulfill.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Waving Tentacles

I joined Netflix and received one movie which sat in the ever-present paper pile on the kitchen counter for six weeks. Then I cancelled my account and sent it back.

I love to watch movies, but at home I am constantly distracted. For instance, just now, at 10:33 p.m., I had to step into my boys' room and scold them for horsing around and admonish them to GO TO SLEEP! If I were emotionally involved in an intricate movie plot right now and pesky kids interrupted me, the continuity of the movie would be lost and I would be annoyed.

So, I admit it to myself. I just don't like to watch movies at home. Netflix, for all its convenience, doesn't work for me. It cost me a $9.99 membership to know that for sure.

* * *

I know this post is a little sketchy, a tad bit boring, but I had a nervous break-down today contemplating my impending status as a paid Mom Blogger. My mind keeps wandering off in eight directions like an octopus out of water and consequently, all my snippets of ideas have scattered. Some things are going to change around here, which freaks me out. Any rational person is resistant to change on some level, right? Even good change?

It's kind of like I've been singing in the chorus all this time, happy to be somewhat anonymous, blending in with the other voices and now, I'm going to step forward, grab a microphone and sing a solo. And everyone will be looking at me and I'll just have to dredge up a grim smile and look over their heads at the back wall while I sing so I don't die of embarrassment and make a fool of myself.

So, the freak-out subsided and I focused my worry instead on getting a decent photograph of myself, which would be easier if I were still twenty and didn't have these circles under my eyes.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Boys (and one girl) in the Backyard

Like shepherds without sheep, they wander the back yard, walking with staff-like sticks in hand, discussing important matters. I can't hear them. I would love to eavesdrop, but when I open the door, they stop and stare at me.

This afternoon, the sun shone and even my daughter scampered outside to play in the warmth--in her Carter's pajamas with the zipper and built-in feet and floral-patterned boots. She holds her own with the boys, scooting along on their skateboards and swerving to avoid swinging sticks. I sat indoors, feeling the pressure of Pacific Northwest guilt . . . for when the sun shines here, it is mandatory to go outside immediately, for you never know when the next thirty-day stretch of rain might begin.

But I stayed indoors anyway, savoring the semi-quiet.

My husband is home again, but will leave in less than forty-eight hours for a reunion, of sorts, with his best college buddies. He will have a fantastic time and I will be fine, knowing that he owes me and next spring, I'll be enjoying paybacks.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

More Proof That My Kids Are Having a Happy Childhood

 Today, my mother and I forced the children delighted the children with a trip to Tacoma to watch the Daffodil Parade. Parking spot? Perfect. Transit train? Convenient. Spot on the curb? Delightful. Weather? Chilly, but sunny. Daffodils? Yellow. Fingers? Cold.

I think everyone had fun, despite the grumbling from the teenagers ("I am NOT going!" "What? We have to waste a whole Saturday?!"). My three year old insisted on wearing a cute summer outfit, shorts and sleeveless top. I said, "Hey, it might be cold. You should wear long sleeves and long pants like me. See?" and she replied, "That's okay. I'll just wear this jacket." She tucked her legs up and into her jacket, which is possible when you are a lanky three-year old.

My mother, ever resourceful, brought a can of Pringles for each child. They thought this was a very fine idea, indeed. (They did not eat all the chips, though.) My mom said, "I brought a can for everyone so there would be no fighting."

When I was a very young child, my grandmother and my mother would take us to the parade each year. My mother said today that she remembers us in strollers and under umbrellas. This year, we continue the tradition, though the kids won't understand the importance of that for many years to come when they drag their reluctant-I'd-rather-watch-television-and-dig-holes-in-the-backyard kids to the same parade. Posted by Picasa

What Boys Will Do

 This is the hole in the ground super-cool bike ramp constructed by three eager and imaginative boys. I'm guessing if I said, "Go dig a giant hole in the back yard," I would have had a mutiny, but this? One hundred percent pure fun. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 20, 2006

On Writing and the Silent Treatment

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote my first story, a ten-page epic in neat printing about a romance between Tom Thumb and Thumbelina. I received a Certificate of Achievement from Miss Brittingham, my third-grade teacher, for Writing Stories and I won first place.

Fast-forward a bit to my college years. While I was a fierce and loyal correspondent (the kind who writes letters, not the kind who reports from the Middle East), I didn't consider myself a Writer. But I wrote, mostly in a daily journal. And then somehow, (I can't remember how now brown cow), I joined the staff of the campus newspaper.

I was supposed to write a column about the music department, but I never actually did. Instead, I wrote essays about whatever happened to flutter through my brain. And the newspaper published them.

I wasn't very impressed with myself, though, because the newspaper was a rinky-dink operation at a rinky-dink school and big-whoop-de-doo. Then someone from the publishing department of the Assemblies of God (my denomination at the time) contacted me and asked permission to reprint one of my articles, a piece called, "Life Without Elbows." And they paid me.

I was a published writer, much to my shock.

Fast-forward a few more years. Having viewed my byline and tasted the satisfaction of publication, I longed to Be A Writer. I bought a Writer's Market. While we waited for a birth-mother to choose us, to make us parents, I puttered around at the computer and sent off queries. I went to a writer's conference in Oregon. I submitted stuff. I received rejections. I sent out more queries. And got more rejections.

Birth-mothers? Rejecting me.
Publishers? Rejecting me.
I took it personally.

I chronicled all of this in my journals, painstakingly recording in ballpoint ink my anguish and the failures and angst, the wholehearted brand of angst requiring extra time and devotion. I picked up a couple of assignments for very small publications, received checks for minuscule amounts, accumulated more rejections, both professionally and personally, kicked myself for being a failure, sobbed on the bathroom floor, and then became a mother to twin baby boys.

I still wrote, but only in letters and journals. It turned out that as a mother, I had no time to nourish my angst about writing, no idle moments to worry about whether I'd ever Be A Writer. Once or twice a year, I'd receive an assignment, send back my work and get a check for $90. Sometimes, I'd read a terrible novel and think, I could do better than that. And then I'd read something fantastic and I'd think, I could never write like that. I was equal parts optimism and despair.

Eventually, I gave away my Writer's Market. I stopped querying magazines. I set aside the whole writing thing. I had no time, no clear thoughts beyond, "Will they ever stop waking up at 5:45 a.m.?"

The years rushed by in fits and starts and then, lo and behold, my last baby stopped being a baby. I began to ask myself, Self, what should I be when I grow up? I settled on earning money, imagined having a Real Career, an identity beyond being someone's wife and someone's mother. And I hatched a plan to become a nurse.

I made my list and checked it twice. I realized it would be wise to wait another year before beginning this venture. And as weeks slipped by, I realized I didn't really want to go to school. I didn't really want to go to work. I didn't really want a boss, a schedule . . . but I wanted a handy answer to the question, "So, what do you do?" I wanted health benefits and dental insurance and a decent paycheck with my name on it.

But at what price? What would I have to give up to become Nurse Mel? Time with my young daughter and growing sons? Schooling my kids at home? Being available to help my husband during times when his schedule is erratic and demanding? The flexibility to play on sunny afternoons and to spend weekends with my family?

Just as my youngest child grows more independent, would I close the door on those long-coveted hours of solitude and blocks of time in which to write? Would I exchange my chance to write (with no guaranteed of success) for employment as a nurse with its steady paycheck?

I'm pragmatic and the silly idea of turning away from a sure thing to pursue what will most likely turn out to be an unsure thing pinches at my brain. I am sensible, low-maintenance, with an abundance of common sense. And it doesn't make any sense to pursue a far-fetched dream.

(Especially when you are me and you respond to arguments and adversity with the silent treatment. Try it. Make me mad and I'll stop speaking to you. Maybe forever. I know! It's a terrible character flaw and, being aware, I fight against it. But now I realize that when the universe argued with me through all those rejection slips, I decided to give it--the universe, writing, dreaming,the whole kit and caboodle--the silent treatment. Fine! Reject me? I'll reject you!)

I should become a nurse. Clearly. But when would I write? And could I abandon the idea of focusing on writing entirely? Should I cut loose the dream of writing like child releases a party balloon into the far blue sky?

One night, my husband and I chatted. I told him I worried about schooling and scheduling and working. He listened to me fret. And then he said, "You know, I'm a pastor. Sometimes, I think about going to school and becoming something else, but the truth is, I'm a pastor. You are a writer. You could go to school and become a nurse--and I would support you in that--but you are a writer. Even if it means we never have a new car, you should not make a decision based on the money."

He gave me permission to be what I am. And then I gave myself permission, too. I set aside the thought of going to nursing school and let myself think of pursuing writing professionally. I never mentioned it here because, really, how embarrassing is it to say, "I changed my mind. I'm abandoning my plans. I'm insane," when you were all so nice and encouraging and supportive?

And what if I fail? I suffer periods of self-doubt and eye-rolling. I comfort myself in those moments of massive anxiety with the assurance that I could still go to school--the door is ajar--starting next year, and work out the details and weave together a life that wouldn't leave too many strings dangling. Maybe. I could.

Meanwhile, I write here. Blogging has been a directional sign for me, a way to keep on the road towards writing professionally. The daily discipline of writing, the practice of choosing words, the craft of stringing them together brings me great satisfaction. I've been surprised by the joy of this medium.

Not long ago, I had a tiff with a good friend. I responded with my typical, "Fine! You are dead to me!" maturity, which was working for me, sort of. Then she emailed me and said, "Hey, what's up?" and I said nothing. The words were too big to fit into my mouth and I couldn't speak them.

She asked again. I spit out a tiny word. I might have never responded and missed out on the pleasure of a repaired friendship. The silent treatment could have been the demise of that pocket of my heart. (I am indebted to her.)

Meanwhile, an opportunity arose to blog for money. Knowing that twenty-eight million blogs exist, I snorted into my Diet Coke with Lime and closed that email. As if! Me! I've been stamped "REJECT," remember? I gave it the old silent treatment. But the suggestion spoke again. And a snippet of a voice inside my head said, "Why not you? Remember, you are a writer. You admitted it."

So I gathered my wits, wrote some samples, sent my application and waited for a response with the expectation one has playing the Lotto. One week passed. Another week. An email arrived: "We received a particularly strong batch of applications for this position and our choice was a difficult one . . . " That's right. It was not me.

(Boo, hiss, climb under the desk and weep.)

But it went on, "Your application stood out as one of the very best and we think your voice would be a great addition . . ."

SAY WHAT? From a Snoopy Certification of Achievement to this . . . and maybe more. I'm stunned. I am now a professional blogger. (The universe and I are on speaking terms again.)

Details to follow.

(This blog will remain the same. Have no fear. I'm guessing it'll be a few more weeks before I have more information.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Four Paragraphs = Nothing

I've been sitting here for a good three or four minutes, half-listening to "American Idol" and half-pondering what to say. I thought about writing about divorce and how my parents' divorce affected me. I considered discussing how my viewpoints about prisons has shifted over the years. I racked my brain for some amusing anecdote about my children. I scratched my head, bounced my knee, chewed the inside of my cheek and came to no conclusions.

I might have told you that my husband will be out of town this weekend and most of next week . . . and that I volunteered to babysit my 11-year old niece and 8-year old nephew for three or four days. I could have rambled on and on about how I intend to survive these days alone, with no adult backup (movies and novels and 94% fat-free popcorn, mostly).

(Oh, and there goes cute Ace, booted off American Idol. I have never voted, not once, nor do I ever plan to vote. But he is a cute boy.)

But I can't really think of anything to say.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Two for the Price of One, Lucky Me

First, an admission. I'm not big on Easter baskets and I've never mentioned the mythical Easter bunny to my children, not even to blackmail them into behaving better. A couple of years ago, I forgot to give the children their chocolate Easter bunnies and over a year passed before I removed the stale chocolates and threw them in the trash. No one noticed or remarked.

This year, I prepared ahead of time. I gathered four baskets, suspended small stuffed bunnies in plush eggs from each handle, nestled paper Easter grass into the baskets and place a chocolate bunny and some lollipops in each one. Then I stashed them in the front closet, right behind the vacuum cleaner.

And that's where they remain.

They children never noticed on Sunday--which could be because the younger children had candy from the church Easter egg hunt and one of the twins was ill. Today, two days after Easter, my daughter remembered the chocolate Easter bunny one of the baby's moms gave her. First, I gave her the dismembered bunny head (she nibbled one bite) and later, handed over the whole bunny body which rests in peace on the coffee table, looking like a cadaver picked over by a vulture.

My son noticed and said, "HEY! You didn't give us our chocolate Easter bunnies!" His indignant attitude annoyed me, so I just said, "Huh." And he carried on a little, but I thought, I can't, I won't present Easter baskets now because then she will have two chocolate bunnies and really, now is a bad time. Maybe later. Plus, I won't reward his stinky behavior.

Tomorrow, maybe, I'll get out those baskets, but please, Son, don't ask me again or I'll have to leave them in the closet.

* * *

My daughter has had an uneasy relationship with nap time. When she was a year old, she boycotted nap time for four straight months. Oh, she might doze in my arms while I nursed her, but if I shifted in my chair or placed her in her crib, she screamed as if a swarm of bees flew into her diaper. She'd be awake for twelve hours and sleep for twelve hours.

Then, she napped again. And so it went for some time until she stopped napping again. I began laying down with her on my bed and she'd fall asleep, quite against her will. For a long stretch, I may have napped more than she did, but the day came when she started napping alone again.

Lately, though, she has stopped napping. Sometimes, she falls asleep inadvertently, but mostly, no naps.

I do, however, insist on a quiet time. The rest of the kids take naps and while they do, she lies on my bed and watches PBS. She's allowed to come downstairs when Clifford the Big Red Dog ends.

Today she did not want to abide by our agreement. I had to insist. She shrieked and stomped and snot ran down her darling little face, but I stood firm. In fact, I plopped her into her crib and went downstairs for two minute intervals, returning upstairs to ask, "Do you want to watch The Berenstain Bears now? And when she'd shout, "I WANT TO GO DOWNSTAIRS!" I'd say, "Do you want to stay in your crib or watch t.v.?" and when she'd scream, "I WANT TO GO DOWNSTAIRS!" again, I'd close the door and return downstairs for two minutes.

This battle of wills lasted approximately twenty minutes, when she decided she did want to watch t.v. after all.

After dinner, I took her to the local park and she frolicked for almost forty-five minutes before I told her it was time to go. She walked to the van, no complaints, then climbed in and passed her car seat and sat in her brother's seat. I pointed out that she needed to sit in her car seat. She refused.

I insisted.
She refused.
I insisted.
She refused.
I explained, then exited the van, locked the doors and walked thirty feet away where I sat on a bench for one minute exactly before returning and insisting she sit in her car seat.

She refused.
I insisted.
She refused.
I returned to the bench where I watched her pound the van windows and scream like she was being burned alive inside the van.
I waited two minutes, then returned.

At one point, I forced her into her car seat ("You may get into your seat by yourself or I will put you in your seat.") but she unbuckled her belt and stood up, sobbing wildly.

A different parent, the kind who keeps a wooden spoon in her purse, would have beat her scrawny little butt at this point, but I don't spank anymore. I was determined to outlast this thirty-two pound human being. Outwit, outsmart and outlast.

We did this for, oh, about thirty minutes, before she decided she wanted me to hold her. (To that point, all she'd said was, "I WANT TO SIT IN THE OTHER SEAT!") I held her, explained where she needed to sit so we could go home and she agreed.

I put her in her seat, buckled her up and sped home while she worked herself into a lathered frenzy, yelling all the way home, "I WANT TO SIT IN THE OTHER SEAT! MOMMY! I WANT TO SIT IN THE OTHER SEAT!"

When we were within sight of our house, she unbuckled and clambered out of her car seat. Fine. When I parked, she refused to leave the van, so I carried her out. She struggled to get down, so I strode into the house, telling my husband, "She's throwing a fit." She trailed after me, weeping.

I put on her pajamas.
She stopped crying.
We rocked and watched Spongebob together.
And finally, bedtime.

I hope that tomorrow she remembers that she cannot win. I am a formidable foe and I cannot be beat. I am fortified with eleven vitamins and minerals and Diet Coke with Lime. Beware.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I Found Your Missing Sock

Last night, while folding laundry, I came across a sock which does not belong to anyone in my family. How can this happen? I pondered these things in my heart. I thought perhaps I had solved the age-old riddle: where do single socks go when they disappear? Perhaps they are teleported from your dryer to mine. This is not the first time a random sock has appeared in my house. [Cue ominous music.]

Teleportation. That must be it. Mystery solved.

Until this morning, when I found this. The matching sock. Which I never purchased. This pair of socks is a obviously a set of intruders, interlopers, maybe even spies. But from whence did they come?

I cannot comment further due to the ongoing investigation.

Reporting live from Washington State, this is Mel, Queen of Socks, signing out.

Viruses, French Women, Pregnant Stars, Cellulite and Diet Coke All Tied Neatly Into A Bow

I think my teenage twins are faking their illness. I am a skeptic at heart, a trait which won me a few enemies on AOL message boards, but I am trying to overcome my disbelief and play along with them. I am certain that one of my twins was ill yesterday, but today he seems okay. His brother, quick to sense an opportunity to avoid doing schoolwork, cries out, "Oh my stomach hurts!" whenever I look at him cross-eyed. So, I say nothing.

Tomorrow, they take the
Washington State Assessment of Student Learning, otherwise known as the "WASL," and/or "A Big Waste of Time." Testing (even for school-at-home students, because we are affiliated with the public school and not traditional homeschoolers) will take place over the course of six days, which means I have six fewer days in which to shove the knowledge they are supposed to acquire down their throats. Oh wait. That didn't sound very educationally enlightened, did it?

Yesterday at church I heard that two of the children I babysit were home (on Easter Sunday!) throwing up. The three and a half year old boy and the almost-seventeen month old boy both caught my daughter's stomach virus. I am frustrated by this because I am so careful to wash my hands (while I sing the ABC's) and in fact, my fingers are cracked and sore from the constant washing. But all my efforts are for naught . . . the viruses transmit as if I've been splashing everyone with toilet water and teaching them all to wipe their snot on their neighbor's crackers. So, my house is empty today, courtesy of the virus that has caused working parents to stay home for a day with their sick offspring. (I only rejoice in my quiet house, not the illnesses. Really.)

I have to say that this day has been gloriously quiet, aside from my chatterbox daughter's never-ending requests for something to eat. Today she has asked for a waffle with syrup, saltine crackers ("square crackers"), granola bar, apple with no skin, Cheez-its ("orange crackers"), Cheerios, cookies, oatmeal, fish sticks, ice cream, and grapes. She hasn't eaten all these things, and, in fact, I've begun to think of her as my personal petite French woman, who eats only three bites and thus, maintains her sleek and lean thirty-two pound figure.

So, in between fetching snacks, I've worked on laundry, cleared out my bill basket, (that wicker holding tank for paperwork and bills), sent off the taxes (woo-hoo, a $40 tax return, whatever shall we do with our windfall?) and our estimated quarterly taxes (what fun to write a check directly to the government four times a year) and finished writing an actual letter to put in an actual envelope with a real live stamp.

And now, a random thought about famous people.

Katie Holmes and Angelina Jolie--I couldn't care less about their pregnancies, nor their births. Do I want to see a paparazzi-stolen photograph of their post-baby bellies all jiggly like jello and criss-crossed with road-map patterned stretch marks? Uh . . . no? Okay, well, only a little so I can compare my own baby-ravaged body and feel a kinship with them. Admit it. You do, too. (You were also excited to see the headline reading "Cellulite of the Stars," on that magazine by the check-out lane and admit it, you looked at the pictures of skinny bottoms clad in bikinis and were secretly pleased to see the tell-tale ripples of cellulite. Or perhaps I'm projecting again.)

As for newborn celebrity baby photos? I don't care. No one does. We just want to see the postpartum mother and gasp at how good she looks while hoping she looks horrible. That's the truth. All babies look the same three days after they are born (except for your beautiful baby).

The teens just came out to fix themselves a snack. Yeah, they're real sick.

(And now? A true confession. I have a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke with Lime in my refrigerator and I'm going to go drink more of it. Right now. A girl has to have a vice and that's mine.)

I Must Insist You Read This

Mopsy over at Lifenut writes beautifully about dealing with pregnancy fears after miscarriage. Go. Read. Savor.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Posted by Picasa Here she is right before she ate a Hershey's kiss and dribbled chocolate down the front of her Easter dress, which, of course, I purchased for $15.99 last year at Marshall's on clearance and fully intended to resell on eBay to finance next year's Easter couture.

The children all looked pretty good, at least for ten minutes until the boys' shirt came untucked and the knees of the pants became muddy during the post-church service Easter egg hunt. I couldn't help being pleased with my savvy shopping skills--they were outfitted entirely in clothing purchased on clearance at Marshall's, (aka My Favorite Store) and Value Village. Every item looked new and carried an satisfactory label (Ralph Lauren, Dockers, The Gap).

After church, I finished cooking dinner and my mother surprised me by bringing my grandmother (now 100-years old and counting) as a guest. We had a lovely meal, except that one of my teenagers (I have teenagers now!) has the beginning symptoms of the virus and preferred to sleep than eat. He's headachey, lethargic and on the brink of throwing up.

And two of the little ones I watch were home on this Easter Sunday vomiting. And with uncharacteristic optimism I had thought maybe no one else would get sick.

Oh, and my daughter woke up with a stuffy nose this week. If it's not one thing, it's another.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter!

Today, we did this . . .

. . . and this.

That is all I have energy to report. Carry on and have a great Easter . . . and I hope you aren't like the woman I saw at Target at 9:30 p.m. who was trying in vain to find food color because Easter egg dye was sold out all over town.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Pow! Wow! How! Now! Mow!?

My daughter is learning what letters are in her name and what letters are in mine. She has the Leapfrog refrigerator magnets which recently returned to the refrigerator following a hiatus due to a spate of annoying flinging of the alphabet around the kitchen. So, an old toy becomes new and lately, we spell our names all day.

Alas, only one copy of each letter is included in the set, so while she can spell her name, I can't really spell my name: M-O-M because there's only one M. Being resourceful, though, I simply turned the W upside down. My daughter, being not only cute, but also bright, caught me, though, and refused to let the W lie on its back like a turtle. She flipped it back to its proper position.

And that's how I became Mow. That's right, Mow, rhymes with Cow. And Pow. How Now Brown Mow? Pow! Wow! If you ask her, she will tell you that my name is spelled M-O-W.

And in other news, last night, my daughter slept all night and so did I. And today? The carpet cleaner came, I taught my boys Shakespeare and I bought thirteen balloons . . . for tomorrow is the day I become the mother of teenagers. Wow, Mow, How Now?!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Root Beer Man

My left eye won't stop twitching which is a sign that I have not had enough beauty sleep. I'm all squinty and head-achey and lethargic, deaf to the pleas of my chores to "Pick me! Pick me!"

This picture shows what happens when you leave an almost-13 year old boy to do his literature assessment without direct supervision. You see the eye holes he cut out with scissors? I ought to count that as an art project and take credit somehow.

At 3:00 a.m., I was roused from a deep sleep by my husband who heard the cries of my 3-year old. She needed to use the bathroom and then, of course, have a bath, because don't we all want that extra special clean feeling after we use the toilet? She cried that her tummy hurt.

Yesterday afternoon, she was in the bath right after she asked for some medicine. She has an aversion to medicine of all kinds, so I knew she must be desperate.

I came downstairs and found some anti-nausea medicine (similar to something someone posted here the other day--the main ingredient is fructose) and brought her a teaspoon. She looked at it suspiciously and sipped a microscopic amount and announced she was done. I left the little cup on the edge of the tub, thinking maybe she'd reconsider.

Later, when I checked on her, the cup was floating in the water. I said, "Oh, did you drink it?" She said, "No. I don't like red medicine. I only like pink." And so she dumped it in the tub and bathed in it, instead.

But back to last night/this morning. She was back in bed at 3:40 a.m. Then awake at 4:30 a.m. At 5:40 a.m., when I heard her cry out again, I said to my husband, "Will you check on her?" My head was weighted to the pillow like a stone and I simply couldn't move. I think he gave her pretzels and saltines and turned on a video for her. At some point, she came into bed with us and we all slept until 7:00 a.m. when she woke up, asked for a drink, begged to get up, then said, "Just one more minute," and fell to sleep again.

I woke with a start at 8:10 a.m. and rushed to shower and get my son off to school. My older boys' school day has been haphazard because my daughter has wanted me to hold her constantly and because my head has come loose from its neck and is dangling precariously by a frayed ligament.

But tonight, my colorist will arrive and vanquish my roots and mow my boys' raggedy hair.

This probably wasn't such a great week to give up caffeine. Although Root Beer Man is cute and all, I really need Diet Coke Man to swoop in here and pour me an icy 32-ounce glass. Posted by Picasa

Meme of the Weird

Because Jody asked, I am doing a "Weird Meme." Apparently, I am supposed to unveil my soul and tell you six weird things about me. And then I am supposed to trust that you will all still like me in the morning.

So, here goes:

1) I was a college sophomore before I realized that basketball had strategy and game plans. I thought it was a free-for-all, even on a professional level. I never heard the term "March Madness" until I was twenty-three.

2) I didn't have my first date and my first kiss until I was in college.

3) I've never been hospitalized, except when I was a baby and had an umbilical hernia repair. My mother had another baby by then, so she dropped me off and left me during the surgery and overnight because she had no choice. I was a year old.

4) I hate watching DVDs/videos at home. I even joined Netflix, thinking that would be convenient, but no, I haven't even watched the first movie they sent three or four weeks ago because I hate watching movies at home.

5) I read the newspaper and magazines in sequence, front to back. I fold over the page to keep my place in magazines. I never skip around.

6) I rarely listen to music at home. It's too loud here and I can't stand competing sounds.

That was surprisingly difficult to do . . . and I have decided I'm not all that weird, because I even bored myself writing that. My apologies to the blogosphere.

And because I am lame, I'm not tagging anyone . . . but feel free to tag yourself and let us know in the comments and I'll put a link to your blog right here:

Stephanie plays along at her blog, Adventures in Babywearing;

So does Kris over at
Kris's Korner of the World;

And here's Robin at her blog, A Little Bit of Me.

Look! Mary at Mary on a Mission posted about her weirdness, too.

Sue at Susie's Space adds her six cents, too.

[ space reserved for links to blogs playing along ]

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Nothing, Really

My daughter is still not entirely well. She woke up crying at 1:30 a.m. last night and followed a trip to the toilet with a bath. A BATH at 1:30 a.m. Today was a hodge-podge of happy-happy and sad-very-very-sad.

So, this was a long day. I'm terribly behind on my blog-reading and my head aches with that lack-of-sleep pain.

But tomorrow, I'll be back and better than ever. Or at least, better than today. Or, truthfully, at least back, if not better.

(Oh, and the van? The 1987 Chevy Astro van . . . died today in an intersection while my husband was driving home from the YMCA with my son. He managed to restart it, but ack!)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What's Hiding In Your Purse?

When he finally went through her purse while she showered, he found what he expected: a cell phone she'd hidden from him. And in that cell phone was the telephone number of a man and telephone numbers for a divorce lawyer or two.

Think what you will about that, but I suppose that you never really understand a marriage unless you are in the middle of it. (And maybe not even then.) From my vantage point, I see a live grenade about to explode in the living room at the feet of their three children. I cannot believe anyone would pull the pin and throw an explosive device into her own family, but it happens all the time. I wish I could stop it, stop her, warn her, but I know she'd never listen because she'd say I don't understand.

And I know that I can't possibly understand the dynamics in anyone else's marriage. Not really. Not completely.

But I do know what I hide in my purse. And I want to know what you hide in your purse.

(Reese's Pieces or chocolate. What? You expected maybe a handgun?)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Illegal Immigrants and Vomit, Unrelated

The news reported that 20,000 people marched the streets of Seattle today, demanding their rights as illegal immigrants. What a great country we live in when you can be in violation of the law, yet demand your rights. From the U.S. Constitution: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the privileges and immunities we enjoy in this country are extended to its citizens. Yet, isn't it remarkable that thousands upon thousands of people who have no legal right to be here take advantage of our magnificent freedom of speech? I love this.

Well, enough of that. What follows is a discussion of bodily fluids and if you are squeamish, you may want to look away.

Last night, 10:45 p.m., cries from my daughter's room. I hurry upstairs--she's had a cold, remember, a mild one, but lately, bad dreams have plagued her. One involved a spider eating a bumblebee, which was traumatic for all concerned. I expected to pat her on the head, offer a trip to the potty and sleep tight.

Alas, it was not to be. I opened the door to find her distressed and gooky because her tummy ache had turned into a vomit-fest. I ran bathwater, stripped her crib, remade the crib, dried off the girl, dressed her in fresh pajamas, rocked her and put her to bed.

Then I repeated the process an hour later.

And an hour later.

And two hours later.

And two hours after that.

And an hour later.

After the second set of soiled sheets, I wised up and put a thick bath towel over the sheets and covered that with a king-sized flannel pillowcase, so the next time she woke up and threw up, I only had to remove the towel, not the sheets. Unfortunately, by that time, she was having involuntary diarrhea, so I still had to run bathwater and change her pajamas.

At 7:00 a.m., I telephoned parents to ask them not to bring their children. This is the second time in three years of childcare that I've had to do so, but I still felt terrible giving such late notice. I was so happy that Spring Break was over and that my sons would all be gone--either to school or homeschool P.E. at the YMCA.

So, my day (a lovely, spring day full of breezes and blue skies) was spent holding my girl as she gazed at the television, interrupting the stupor only to occasionally heave into a Rubbermaid bowl. She faked me out, though, at one point and vomited all over my shirt while proclaiming, "I AM DONE! I AM DONE!" She wasn't. We went upstairs, then, and she curled up in my bed and watched television while I showered. By the time I finished, she was asleep and so, when the boys got home from P.E., I was able to march them through adding and subtracting decimals. When she woke up, she was fairly cheerful, though not entirely well.

Demonstrating my superior abilities and endurance as a mother, I cleaned out the refrigerator during her later afternoon snooze in the recliner. And I made a healthy dinner featuring broccoli and brown rice.

At this point, I am just hoping to sleep all night long.

And I do apologize for this lengthy discourse about vomit. Turn in tomorrow for our next installment of As The Stomach Turns. Or more scintillating, uninformed political commentary. Look out, Eschaton and Instapundit, or I'll be stealing your readers and usurping your place in the Ecosystem!

I also want to talk about secret things women keep in their purses. Soon, I hope.

Update: Last night, we slept all night! This morning, the stomach ache is gone, but now she has a persistent headache.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Untitled Until I Think of a Title

We have a new phone next to our king-sized bed. And so, that's why I didn't realize it was ringing at first. I murmured, "Telephone," to my husband, forgetting that I've had the telephone next to my side of the bed for years. Then I rolled over, peered at the red digital numbers of the clock and realized that a telephone call at 3:11 a.m. can only mean very bad news.


"Hi, this is Robert Brittingham*. I'm looking for Dan. Is he with with Julie tonight?" The man was a member of our church, calling our house by mistake in his quest to find the location of his 18 year old son. I told him he reached us by mistake and I'm sure he was horrified (he apologized today and told me that his son showed up half an hour after the phone call, seemingly sober, in his right mind, aside from the fact that he lost track of time).

My husband didn't remember that odd interlude in the morning.

I've harbored a terrible sense of guilt these past weeks because I failed to donate candy to the Easter Egg Hunt. The event is put on by our private pool club and all the members are supposed to donate candy. I bought candy . . . but the person I thought was collecting the candy was on a cruise (!) and I didn't know who the real contact person was. Despite my insufficiency, however, the egg hunt featured eggs galore and many happy children, despite the light rain that fell and the presence of the teenage girl dressed as a frightening Easter bunny. My daughter wanted to go back into the van rather than stand within twenty feet of this ominous creature. I even called out, "Please, will you hide so we can go by?"

I took the kids home and then left as soon as possible for my weekly I'm-not-with-kids-for-four-hours-alone-time. And look! Daring Young Mom is not the only one with Superpowers. Observe, if you will, my perfect parking space:

Please note the location: Fred Meyer. There will be a quiz later.

So, after shopping a bit while waiting for my digital prints to be developed (I had a coupon for free developing), I headed for my favorite thrift store, Value Village, where I wandered, meandered and generally wasted time, although you will be happy to know that I purchased my very own copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, which I have never read. *Gasp* I promise to read it next, as soon as I finish the Jane Smiley book which I am nearly halfway through and figure I'll finish sometime in the next decade. Or month.

I found new-looking Dockers and Gap khakis for my boys for Easter, dresses for my daughter (from Nordstroms, Laura Ashley, the Gap), more books (as if I needed them!), jump ropes for Vacation Bible School (we use them to tie up keep preschoolers in line--they all grab the rope and walk), and believe me, MUCH, MUCH MORE! I kept looking at my watch and marveling at how much time I had to myself. Glory be! Time alone, no one asking me for a snack or calling "MOM!" from the next room.

Then I got back into the van and noted the clock in the van read 3:57 p.m., while my watch declared it was 2:57 p.m. Uh, hello? Daylight Savings Time anyone? I hadn't worn that watch in a week . . . and so, I lost an hour of time in the vast black hole that is Value Village. (But I got thirty-percent off my whole order, except for those coveted orange-tag items which were half-off.)

And so then I sped to Fred Meyer to do some grocery shopping before returning home at 5:00 p.m. My superior shopping skills allowed me to finish the job by 4:50 p.m., but alas, other people were s-l-o-w-i-n-g me down, getting in line before me, insisting that their groceries be scanned and that they be allowed to pay before me. I telephoned my husband and reported my progress.

Feeling satisfied with my bargain-hunting skills and my ability to remember to buy dried apricots for the bran muffins I planned to bake, I climbed into the driver's seat, turned the key and . . . the engine died.

I snapped to attention, turned the key with determination and attention this time and the engine started. And died.

I telephoned my husband for advice. Pump the gas? Or hold it down? He advised me to hold it down (he'd had success with that technique earlier) and as I talked, I tried again and it started! And died!

I turned off the phone and tried again. For, oh, fifteen minutes. Finally, I called again and he came to pick me up. I transferred the groceries to our car while he attempted to raise the dead. Then we went home and called AAA. The lady on the phone said the tow-truck driver would be there no earlier than 7:30 p.m. and possibly as late as 8:30 p.m.

At 7:00 p.m., the tow-truck driver called, wondering where my husband was. He grabbed the car keys and hurried out the door.

At 7:03 p.m., my husband called and asked me to call AAA to make sure they'd have the tow-truck wait. I did and the AAA man said the truck had left, but it would turn around and to stay with the vehicle.

At 7:15 p.m., my husband realized he didn't have the van keys. He turned back and AAA said they'd have to cancel the call and start over. He picked up the keys and a friend of his drove him to the dead van.

So, he and a buddy waited in the Fred Meyer parking lot, forlorn and abandoned by AAA. At 8:30 p.m. on a lark, he turned the key and stomped on the gas and the van started. So, he cancelled the call and drove the now-resurrected van home.

This morning he drove it to church.

So let's review. We now own a van which may or may not start. And a car which will always start, but may or may not stop randomly as you drive down the road. Fun, isn't it? The element of surprise, the not-knowing?

And now, I must watch Grey's Anatomy.

(*not his actual name, obviously)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

What We Did Today

  Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 07, 2006

Testing, Testing, 1-2-3

Today, I figured out how to use an Olympus D-380 that I bought on Clearance at Target several years ago. I bought it without a manual, USB cable or software and after an initial flurry of desperate attempts (including an unhelpful response from Olympus Customer Service), I abandoned the camera.

I am unable to recreate the sequence of thoughts that led me to hook the camera to a USB cable (that came with a digital recorder), but I did. (Wait! It had to do with me fiddling around in Picasa 2, that lovely free program. Oh! And before that, I noticed my slideshow screensaver included pictures I didn't download onto my computer. And during my investigations [Google-Talk downloaded them, apparently. Huh? Did I agree to that?] I saw the "Import" button on Picasa and wondered . . . )

Anyway, here is one of the five photographs that was on the media card in the digital camera. I'm posting it here as a test. (This is my now-8 year old son who was about five when the picture was taken.)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Fit Throwing 101

My three and a half year old daughter was the sort of baby that nodded "yes" before she shook her head "no." If she started to touch something off-limits, I would murmur "uh-uh" and she'd never try it again. When she was a year old, I started babysitting a baby who was six weeks younger than she was and I thought he might be the dumbest baby of all time.

He would climb onto the deck--with its dangerous railing--and I'd say, "No, no!" and move him back down.

And he'd do it again. And I'd say, "No, no!" and move him.

He'd climb up again. And I'd say, "No, no!" and move him and he'd GO RIGHT BACK.

Rinse, repeat about ten times, which felt like ten thousand times because I was used to my sweet, compliant, sensitive, bright, timid girl baby. I'd already forgotten the agony of my now-12 year old son who had pushed me every day of my life, attempting to wrest control from me and also, trying to drive me stark raving mad when he was a baby, a toddler and a preschooler. (Now he is a delight and I mean that.)

But this girl child, oh, sweet relief! She learned to chat early, she never sprinkled an entire container of baby powder all over the whole house while I was distracted in another room, she never slathered herself head to toe with mud, she never slammed toy hammers into the walls just to watch the drywall crumble. She never tried to strangle her brother, she never peed in the heating vent, she never threw dry rice all over the living room carpet.

Lately, our regimented bedtime routine has become somewhat lax. She used to have a bath and watch a particular video before bedtime. (The video would change from time to time. For weeks, she only watched "Shrek." Then, for weeks, only "Bug's Life." For awhile, it was "Max & Ruby.") But then her father introduced Pooh Bear Candyland into her life tearing a rift in the time-space continuum and messing up the routine. Her evenings have expanded to include a game or two or six of Candyland, which pushes her video-watching time later. Sometimes, it'll be 7:30 p.m. when she decides she wants a long video before bed and occasionally I just surrender and let her stay up past her bedtime of 8:00 p.m.

But! Sometimes, 8:30 p.m. turns into 8:45 p.m., and frankly, we can't have that. I hate to make her cry, though. My husband says I'm a push-over and a softy and maybe that's true. But last night, he wasn't home and I was desperate to have her in bed at 8:00 p.m. I gave her plenty of warning, those incremental warnings the experts suggest("In ten minutes, it'll be bedtime" and "Now you have five minutes") and yet, when I went to her room, she'd just turned on a Rugrats video (running time? 82 minutes). It was 8:03 p.m.

I gave her the choice. "Would you like Mommy to turn it off or would you like to turn it off?" She covered the button with her hand and began to cry.

I repeated the choice. When she did not choose, I chose for her and pushed off the button with my toe.

She turned it back on and I turned it back off. Then I said in my best Love and Logic voice, "Would you like to brush your teeth or would you like Mommy to brush your teeth?" She writhed like she was on fire and screamed. I repeated the choice again and said, "Okay, fine." and plopped her into her crib. (Yes, crib. Wanna make something of it?)

She was in the midst of the kind of tantrum you occasionally see at a retail store, the kind that causes you to fall to your knees and begin thanking God that it isn't your child frothing at the mouth and kicking, but some stranger's brat instead. I retrieved her toothbrush and said in a placid voice, "Would you like to brush your teeth in bed or in the bathroom where you can blow out candles?" (Every night, she gets to blow out the bathroom candles as a treat.) I offered the choice twice.

Her head started spinning around in circles--okay, not really, but boy, was she furious. She kept shrieking and so I said, "All right. No teeth. Good night." Then I said, "Would you like to have covers or no covers?"

She answered with weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

So I turned off the light, said, "Night-night!" and closed the door. Her fury increased and she flipped on the light and from the sanctuary of my room, I could hear her voice suddenly louder, which was strange because she has never once attempted to climb out of her crib. (Scared of heights? I don't know. She hates to swing, too.)

I opened my bedroom door and saw her door opened. She'd been able to reach the doorknob from her crib. (First time she's done that.) She had one leg flung over the end of the crib and was screaming, "I WANT TO WATCH MY VIDEO!" I said, "No. Good-night," and turned off the light and closed the door again.

We did that twice. Then I said, "Child, you are NOT going to watch a video. No! Now, stop!" and she stopped. Then she said in broken sobs, "I . . . want . . . to . . . blow . . . out . . . candles!" I plucked her out of the bed, carried her to the bathroom, asked again about tooth-brushing ("NO!").

Her wracked sobs and ragged breath actually put the candles out before she could gather enough breath to blow. Then she clung to my neck and I rocked her for two minutes--okay, four minutes--while she hiccuped and shook and then I put her in bed. She fussed a bit, but when I told her to lay down, she did. I covered her up, bade her farewell and closed the door.

Don't mess with Mama. I've been through these battles before and I will not crumble. I am invincible in the face of preschooler snot and outrage.

And tonight? Daddy turned off her DVD player--while she protested--and offered her the choice of Mommy or Daddy putting her to bed. She chose me, she brushed her teeth, she blew out the candles, I deposited her in bed, I covered her up, I said good-night and closed the door.

Never let them see you sweat.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I'm Bored When They Talk

Tonight, I thought with sudden clarity: I cannot stand pretentious people who are impressed by their own intelligence. They start to talk and I have to force my eyes not to roll up with a snap like old-fashioned window shades. I click onto a blog and find a bunch of big words strung together without any sense of rhythm or style or talent and I wonder why I keep that blog on my Bloglines list. I turn the channel and a talking head is talk-talk-talking and I just can't listen for more than a second before I fondle my remote control with desperation.

Perhaps my attention span is permanently broken by the incessant interruptions of my daily life. Maybe it's just me and my mommy brain which has shrunk to fit into this 2000 square foot house with its odd little backyard. I might be have lost my ability to understand politics and theological matters to a satisfactory degree. And I don't care.

At any rate, all the super-big-name political and religious bloggers bore me silly. (And I'm sure it's mutual.)

How to Make Egg Rolls At Home

Here's a link which tells you how to make homemade egg rolls. I use the wrappers located in the produce section of the grocery store and vary the fillings, though I usually use some sort of sausage and shredded cabbage. (Some of you had asked for my recipe, but I usually just wing it, sort of combining the recipe on the back of the package with stuff I have on hand.)

And here is a blog which made me laugh today . . . and which also gave me some great ideas!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Spring Break: Day Two

My husband rocks. He took my boys out for lunch, then to the church for three hours today. "A three hour tour, a three hour tour." (Sorry. I suddenly started singing the Gilligan's Island theme song.) The youth pastor at church has video games and a pool table set up, so my boys love to play there, but rarely do.

So, this afternoon, all the little ones were sleeping (except my daughter, but she was upstairs watching t.v. having a "quiet time") and I savored the silence. And later, to make up for my calmness, I lost my mind entirely and decided to make stir-fried rice and eggrolls from scratch while watching four little ones. My big boys were all outside waving swords and sticks around with the neighbor boys. The little ones were playing in the family room, stealing toys from one another and squealing at each other.

And then I looked out the window and saw branches falling from giant trees across the way. I squinted and looked closer and saw lumberjacks (can I call them lumberjacks?) perched way up the trunk of the trees, chainsawing branches off one by one as they climbed higher. I hollered for all the kids to come and see. The lumberjacks (arborists?) climbed the tree with spiked boots and ropes and when they got within ten feet of the top, they lopped the whole top off and we watched as it seemed to float down. Then they moved eight or ten feet down and lopped off another section, until they reached the ground again.

I'd never seen a giant tree removed before, so I was fascinated and, I admit, a bit distracted from my cooking extravaganza. And the kids were fussy and crabby and my daughter was bossy and then my trying-to-help-son barely burned his finger on the stove and I felt terrible, but HONESTLY, I don't want help I JUST . . . WANT . . . TO . . . COOK . . . IN . . . PEACE . . . AND . . . QUIET!!!


Anyway, cooking dinner before all the kids go home is always an exercise in juggling and not just ordinary three-ball juggling. No. It's like juggling flaming swords with baby chicks perched on the handles. Very delicate and someone is likely to get hurt. Or yelled at.

But the eggrolls were delicious.

A Puzzling Question for the Day

When two adults are asleep at 3:11 a.m. and one of the adults wakes up and hears a child crying, why does said adult wake up the other blissfully snoring slumbering adult and say, "Hey, I hear crying?" causing the second adult to also wake up and therefore, become responsible for tending to child?

I'm just asking.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Spring Break: Day One

Today is the first day of Spring Break. And yet, I am not posting from a cruise ship. Alas, I've never even been on a cruise ship.

If I were on a cruise ship, I would tell you about the fabulous pools, the magnificent meals, the scintillating conversations with strangers. If I were on a cruise ship, I'd definitely have hot-pink painted toenails and a tan. If I were on a cruise ship, I'd be well-rested and my Oprah magazine would be tattered and wrinkled from being splashed poolside.

But I'm not. My magazine is unblemished. My skin is glow-in-the-dark white. My toenails are hidden in white fuzzy socks. My conversations include discussions about snack foods ("I want an apple with no skin,") and taking turns on the computer ("That's not fair! It's my turn! Wah-wah-wah!") I do have a pool in my backyard but it's actually a sandbox full of collected rainwater. The meals around here depend on my creativity and crockpot.

I could be well-rested if I had any sense and went to bed eight hours before I had to wake up. If I went to bed early, though, I'd sacrifice the nighttime silence and that is a price too high to pay. I may be sleepy tomorrow, but at least I will be sane. (One can hope.)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

America's Next Top Model Cuts With Scissors

My daughter wore her pajamas to church this morning. Saturday night, she'd mentioned that she intended to wear them, the Carter's footie-jammies with horizontal lavender and baby blue stripes, but I didn't really believe her. (Actual pajamas not pictured, but boy, what an outfit that is, huh?) She'd also picked out a yellow and blue dress with gauzy ruffles around the hem.

But this morning, when she woke at 8:35 a.m. (which in her uninformed brain was only 7:35 a.m., but now it's Daylight Savings Time, SURPRISE!), she told me she would wear her pajamas. And I said, "Okay." We had to leave by 8:45 a.m. . . . well, really, we should have been at church at 8:45 a.m., but let's not quibble over details. I tucked her dress, tights, shoes and sweater into my bag, just in case.

I taught Sunday School to three preschoolers and then my daughter and I headed upstairs to claim our rightful position in the second pew on the left side, right behind my boys who, judging from the greasiness of their pre-teen heads of hair, failed to use shampoo again last night during their showers. A lady behind me noted my daughter's unusual attire and said, "You're a more relaxed mom than I was!" and in the pause between that and her next statement, I wondered if I should take offense, but then she said, "Good for you!" I said, "Well, I figured, what does it matter, really?" As I said to my husband tonight, if you can't wear your pajamas to church when you are three years old, when can you?

We lasted through all the stuff that happens before the sermon begins, then headed to the fellowship hall where we could see Daddy preaching on closed-circuit television while also running around in circles (her, not me). My daughter is seemingly ravenous on Sunday mornings . . . but the truth is, she knows that the kitchen holds loot, desirable loot like cookies and brownies and sometimes, cake. This morning, she feasted on Hostess "donettes," those small chocolate covered ones. She also brought a cookie to our table, a snickerdoodlish cookie.

The cookie sat. I sat. My daughter sat. Then my daughter, wanting to shake things up and shake things out, asked if she could put pepper on the cookie.

"No," I said.
She asked again.
She said, "But I want to put pepper on the cookie."
"I said NO!"
She asked again.
I enunciated very carefully, "Look . . . at . . . me. I . . . said . . . NO."
She added a little whine to her request and asked again.
"Listen to me. The answer is NO!" I used my most stern voice, the one just short of screaming my head off, because after all, I was wearing pantyhose, sitting in the fellowship hall at church.

She paused, smiled sweetly and said, "I love your dress."

* * *

(These tiny cut-out pictures are her handiwork. They are the actual size . . . my daughter is good with scissors. I'm thinking she'll either be a hair stylist, a surgeon or, maybe she'll operate first, then style her patient's hair.)

* * *
A Note to Clarify:
She had rejected the cookie already. She merely wanted to make a huge pepper and salt mess on the table, using the cookie as an excuse. I did not want to clean up a big mess, so I told her no. I have no objection to peppering cookies under other circumstances. (What? I personally do not pepper my cookies.)
Parents Blog Top Sites

Powered by Blogger

Listed on BlogShares