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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009

I don't make resolutions, nor do I have a bucket list. I sometimes think both of these would be nice to have, but I am so anal, I really wouldn't be able to handle it if I didn't reach all of my posted goals. Like even on my deathbed taking my final gasps of air.

I only write down 1 chore a week on my day-planner because usually I can manage 1 thing. And if I do that chore plus more I feel so AWESOME!!!

There are some "plans" I have floating around my head for 2009. "Plans" are different than resolutions because they are more nebulous and airy. "Plans" can change, while resolutions are diamond-hard (at least in my brain).

The first and second "plans" are the two classes I have to take to renew my teaching certificate. The first is Developmental Reading, an online course through the U of Wisconsin. I think it will be fine once I get started, but right now I am having a terrible time psyching myself up for it. The second course will be in the fall.

And there is vacation...hopefully to Disney for a couple days and then the beach for a longer stretch.

And there are the birthdays coming in February--D's and N's. D will be 40, so I may have to hire him a stripper or something stunning like that. Who wouldn't love a lap-dance on their 40th? Ok, I mean who with a penis wouldn't love one of these? And I'm already freaking out a bit because after Christmas I don't know what in the heck I can possibly get for this child for her birthday.

So there we go. Classes, vacation, birthdays. Maybe a minivan. Plans for kid #3 and D's vasectomy to follow?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

OMG

Tonight G flipped himself backward while sitting at the dining room table in his booster seat. Afterwards, D told me that is the 2nd time in a week he has heard me say, "Oh my God!" about something G has done (the first was when G fell down all 13 steps last Wednesday).

I reminded D that technically I have said it 3 times in the last week. Last Tuesday, G gave himself a bloody lip by falling on one of his cars on the kitchen floor.

After supper while D was doing dishes, G got the step stool out of the pantry, pushed it over to the refrigerator and started climbing. Together now: OMG!

A few years ago, there was a commercial (I cannot for the life of me remember what was actually being advertised) in which a mom says, as her son is doing dangerous things, "If he lives until he's 5," "If he lives until he's 10" and so on. Eventually the commercial showed the now grown boy saying the same thing about his daughter.

D and I both think about that commercial ALOT these days.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pics from Christmas

CHRISTMAS EVE AT MAMAW'S HOUSE

N got a Barbie & the Diamond Castle doll. She feels "connected!"
(For those of you who don't know what this means, please watch Barbie & the Diamond Castle DVD 4 TRILLION times.)

G enjoying the wrappings more than the toys.

Mommy rockin' the hell outta Christmas with N's pink guitar!


CHRISTMAS MORNING AT HOME

Luke Duke likes to slide in through the closed door into his coupe.

Big N and Little N in front of the tree.

N got a holiday makeover from Mommy using N's new makeup kit.


CHRISTMAS NIGHT AT NANA & PA'S HOUSE

Starting to look a little draggy....

A little dazed & confused....

A motley crew.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Little Miss Funny Pants

N has been on a roll these past couple days.

Tues, Dec 23rd
I took both kids out for pizza with Nana, Pa, Aunt Norma, Allan, Uncle Ed and Louise. N asked for the Papa John's cheese (and we weren't at Papa John's). I said, "They don't have Papa John's cheese here." She pointed to the parmesan cheese shaker.

Thurs, Dec 25th
On the way to Nana and Pa's to celebrate Christmas, D and I were discussing the possibility of buying a minivan in 2009. But we agreed that neither of us wants to shop with the other for a car. So I suggested that I give D the 1. amount to spend and 2. mileage requirements, and he go do the looking, test-driving, etc, since I don't care about anything else besides #1 and #2. He said, "Would you be ok with that?," and I said, "Absolutely." N piped in with, "Don't say absolutely!" When I asked why not, she said, "Because you don't trust him." God, does she know her parents' relationship or what?

Sat, Dec 27th
  • As we were pulling out of our neighborhood on the way to the zoo, she saw a house with a blue tarp on the roof (from wind damage). She said, "Maybe a rocket ship bumped into that house?"
  • When we got on the expressway, D ran over the raised lines at the side of the road, which made a farting sound. I said something like, "N, did Daddy toot?," and D said, "Excuse me." A few seconds later N replied, "I don't smell anything yet."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Minutes

Christmas Eve:

I. G woke up too early--6:47ish a.m.

II. Got pissed at D because he didn't want to get up with G even though I had been up with N like 3 times because of the wind during the night--7:15ism a.m.

III. Probably as a result of my being pissed at D and overall preoccupied with crap I needed to get done, accidentally left the gate open and G fell down all 13 steps--9:20ish a.m.

IV. Called doctor's office and felt sick to my stomach because of leaving gate undone--9:26ish a.m. (G is fine by the way. Not even a bump.)

V. Took N to run errands at Blockbuster, Wal-Mart, library--11:00ish a.m.

VI. Fixed food for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day breakfast--1:30ish p.m.

VII. Went to Mamaw's and had a very enjoyable evening eating and opening gifts--4:00ish p.m.

VIII. Polished off nearly an entire bottle of wine with D and went to bed--9:00ish p.m.

Christmas Day:

I. Kids slept until 8:00ish a.m.

II. Opened gifts and felt heebie-jeebies at all the new clutter filling up my house--9:30ish a.m.

III. Put G down for nap and began the frantic reorganization of the house to help contain the clutter--12:30ish p.m.

IV. Checked on neighbor's cats--3:00ish p.m.

V. Went to Nana and Pa's for more eating, gift opening--5:00ish p.m.

VI. Returned home with all new toys; too tired to begin re-reorganization of house--9:30ish p.m.

Thank god this is over for another year!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The goods

For some reason, I feel compelled to share what N and G will be getting for Christmas this year from Mommy/Daddy and Santa. While I am excited about what they are getting, I am a little worried that N will be disappointed. But then I think she will be so excited by the whole "idea" of Santa coming and gifts to open, she might forget exactly what she had written on her list.

Plus, I'm curious to know what other parents got their kids and approximately how much was spent. (Yes, I do spend an inordinate amount of time wondering if I'm in the normal range in terms of spending/giving gifts to kids at Christmas. I know I'm not in the normal range mentally, so I'm hoping to be so in some regard). However, I suspect most people feel as comfortable talking about this as they do their sex lives, so I never know how people REALLY live, if ya know what I mean.

Oh, and another reason to post it: So Daddy knows/remembers what the heck we got the kids. I did show him all purchases, but....ya know....he recalls nothing.

So here goes:

N's gifts--
From SANTA (1 big gift, a few stocking stuffers)
  • Blonde/blue-eyed My Generation Doll ($32.99) with matching pink dress for N and doll -- made by Nana
  • Viewfinder with Barbie & Kung-Fu Panda reels ($13.47)--- stocking stuffer
  • Bratz auto toothbrush ($4.94)-- stocking stuffer
  • Bratz Baby DVD ($5.48) -- stocking stuffer

From MOM & DAD
  • Camera ($19.67)
  • Barbie magnetic fashion book ($14.99)
  • Big crayon box, window markers & Strawberry Shortcake coloring book ($10.94)
  • 5-year-old Christmas ornament ($10.00)

G's gifts---
From SANTA (1 big gift, few stocking stuffers)
  • MegaBlocks wagon ($28.19)
  • Small ball ($2.06) --stocking stuffer
  • Tonka car ($4.04) -- stocking stuffer
  • Tonka car ($4.04) --stocking stuffer

From MOM & DAD
  • Little Tykes Coupe ($25.00) (got it off craigslist.)
  • Bath basketball hoop ($7.99)
  • 3 shirts ($14.60) -- this is totally a gift for Mom, since I have to change his drooled on/food slathered shirts at least 2-3 times a day. Means laundry less often.
  • 2 board books ($6.85)
SHARED GIFTS -- I thought it might be a good idea to get the kids a couple SHARED gifts. While G will be used to having to deal with a sibling, N still sometimes acts like she still rules the roost. Probably won't make a lick of difference.

From SANTA -- A bathblower ($19.99)
From MOM & DAD -- 3 DVDs ($20.07) (bought used from amazon.com) and Trouble ($4.13)

So the grand total comes to $243.53. Technically, I spent $111.57 on N, and $87.77 on G, which made me feel guilty for 2 seconds until I remembered that he doesn't care right now about any of this so why spend a fortune?

Boy, it feels good now that I have let the cat outta the bag. Never felt this good after Catholic confession. Guess I must not have been sinning well enough.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why I freak out over Christmas break

I wish I could give a definitive answer as to why I freak out over Christmas break. It goes back to when I was a pre-teen, I do know that. I distinctly remember hating Christmas Day, specifically, because I was stuck in the house with my family, unable to go anywhere or do anything or even talk on the phone to friends because they were all with their families. We only had 1 tv, which was always on sports....and I HATE sports. Of all kinds.

Basically, once I got to the stage of childhood when I wasn't getting fun toys, Christmas was just a pain in the rear.

My premise is that my "anxiety" is a big umbrella holding all these little issues I have related to Christmas.
  • I do not "relax" well at all, if one considers relaxing laying around watching tv or reading. I can handle these activities for only short periods of time, and I prefer to do my reading in bed at night. So extended periods of time with little to do but watch tv or read just make me edgy. I am not a "hangin out" kinda person.
  • I get my energy from being out and about, around other people. Being in the house, unable to go anywhere, makes me feel trapped, caged. And this time of year, it is often too cold for even a walk with the kids. So fresh air is hard to come by. All of this makes me anxious.
  • Christmas break fucks with my routine, and I really, really need a routine. I am not a slave to my routine, but if anybody is gonna screw with it, it's gonna be ME. I get into a rhythm with playdates, N's preschool schedule, and housework/errands, and small breaks like Christmas are short enough to be unable to establish a new routine (like summer break), but long enough to totally throw off one's momentum.
In my senior year of college, I developed neuralgia over the Christmas break from school. The sensation was at the top of my head, and felt like drips and drops of water plopping onto my noggin. It wasn't painful so much as annoying. I had chronic headaches during that time too. And I just felt sad. It was a month of hell.

Once I got back to school in January, I felt fine, so attribute this bout of neuralgia to 1. being out of my routine, 2. hating Christmas in general, and 3. having the time to worry about what the hell I was gonna do with myself in 6 months when I graduated from college. Stress can do all kinds of crazy stuff to someone who unknowingly (at the time) suffered from anxiety.

So my issues with Christmas break go back many, many years.

But as bad as this sounds, I have gotten immensely better since having children. Now I just struggle with the routine part, but I listen to Christmas music, decorate the house with interest and enjoyment and like shopping for my kids. Before my kids, I was an utter Bah Humbug. Hated decorating, hated shopping, didn't own any Christmas music. I was the Christmas Bitch.

D would probably argue that I am still that, at least when he is on vacation, but I think I have improved.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Last minute gift gettting

I had been so strong, so courageous. Weeks ago I finished my Christmas shopping for the kids, and I had held firm. But watching G today look through his books, some of which are barely held together by a shred of binding, I thought I might get him a book or two.

Doing so will not mean purchasing for N, since I already have a book-like gift for N sitting in my closet, which I intended to save for her birthday in February. But yesterday and today she has been playing alot with her Disney Princess dress-up books, and the aforementioned book is a Barbie magnetic storybook.

Hmmm, decisions, decisions.

Getting out by myself today to purchase G a couple books will help minimize my stir-craziness that will begin in earnest tomorrow, when we are inside to avoid the crowds. We will be making a visit to the muffin store, though, to order goodies for Christmas morning breakfast.

Oh, I'm gonna do it. Mental health care of this kind doesn't have to be too expensive.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

How I buy wine

I think it is kinda funny and more than a little pretentious the way some people "do" wine. Swirl it in their glass. Waft the air above the rim with their hands to savor the bouquet. Taste a little bit to get a sense of the flavors. How people can sip a little wine and know it has hints of tangerine, mocha and woodchuck is beyond me. But I am not a high society gal.

So when I go to stock up our wine rack, I have two things in mind: Price (must be under $10 per bottle) and Art (does the bottle and/or label look cool).

I purchase a couple bottles of wines I like---riesling and other sweeter wines---and a couple bottles of wines D likes---those that taste like wet salt.

D sometimes tries to imitate a wine connoisseur (swirling, smelling, sipping), and I'm never sure if he is being serious or not. So I always make fun of him.

Today's 6 bottles totaled $40 (all were on sale, and I got a 10% discount for purchasing 6). A German riesling in a cute pink bottle. One with running cats on the label. Another called Juno with a mythologically beautiful woman on the bottle. The other 3 I can't remember.

Prior to kids, we toured a couple of wineries during our travels. It was always fun, but I never "got it." I could never taste the hints of whatever flavors were supposed to be infused throughout the wine. I could never understand paying a shitload for crushed grapes.

I can appreciate the art of wines/winemaking from an ideological stand, but from in my practical reality, cheap and pretty are the way I roll.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Our day

I thought about having this be a picture-only post, but it would be totally unlike me not to have some witty (or stupid) comments to share.


This little hottie went to her preschool party all decked out as Santa's elf. The other girls wore their rather "conservative" Christmas dresses (long-sleeves, no cleavage). My baby is gonna rock the pole one day.

See how limber she is already.

See how friendly she is with men.




The after-party was at Chuck E. Cheese's. G loved the train.
Didn't quite know what to think of Mr. Cheese sitting next to him.

N likes the real Cheese.


The family that plays skee-ball together, stays together.

The 15-month-old who got us kicked out of Chuck E. Cheese's for disorderly conduct.

My kids are nuts! But they have so much character.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Booking

I DO NOT want the next two weeks to involve N plastered to the couch staring at the tv. And with the cold weather and my utter refusal to do things out in public with everyone else who's children are out of school, the possibility of aforementioned is very, very real.

So, I am playing Social Coordinator. We have 2 playdates arranged, and are working on a 3rd. I don't know yet how many I intend to squeeze in.

During this same 2 week period, D will be off work for 7 days straight. 7 DAYS PEOPLE!!!

My husband and the school system at large are trying to kill me.

My hope is that N will be content having friends with whom to play, while D is somewhere in the basement doing whatever it is he does down there. And no one will be pacing the floors, getting under my feet or in my way, or relaxing too much in front of me. Or complaining.

I will allow them to breathe in my presence. That is acceptable.

Am I one of those moms?

I just did something I never thought I would do. Something I think is pretty uncharacteristic of me (you can argue if you'd like).

You ready?

I sent in G's picture to a local magazine for a Beautiful Baby Contest.

The last time this magazine had a beautiful baby contest there were some ferociously ugly babies that graced the pages (they showed all the entries, not just the main winner). I showed my mother the magazine to see what she thought, and I didn't preface it with, "Check out these homely looking babies." Ok, well, maybe I did, but she totally agreed with me that a boatload of 'em apparently had parents with poor, poor eyesight and no vision insurance.

Anyway, when I picked up this magazine at the grocery the other day and saw the Beautiful Baby Contest announcement, I thought about their last contest. I don't expect to win, but I just thought my goober-grinned kid has at least as much cuteness as the kids from last year.

(Editorial note: While writing this, I looked on thesaurus.com for some adjectives for ugly and found, among others, appalling, disfigured, frightful, grisly, repugnant, loathsome, all of which seemed a little hard-core to use with little wee ones. Which made me momentarily question how hard of a heart I must have to think of those particular infants as being that ugly.)

Hmmmmm. (I think to myself whether there is a special ring of hell for people like me...regarding baby beauty, that is. I know there are rings for my other faults.)

Nah, they was ugly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Really bad mother of the day

Up until today I had never screamed at N. I had been gruff, a little sarcastic, a little inpatient at times, severe in a strangely calm way, but I had never let off a full-fledged harpy-like, "So help me god" scream. I guess that is pretty good for having been a mom for nearly 5 years.

I had just absolutely had it with her attitude and pokiness this morning. There were around 6 things I wanted to get done before G's nap: pick up a Santa suit from a friend's house, deposit a check, buy diapers & wipes, rent a DVD in order to use up a free rental coupon, mail letters, and return books to the library.

Once I had gotten myself and G dressed, I told her to get dressed. She informed me that there was a cartoon she wanted to watch on tv. Since I rarely watch tv, I don't have much patience with anyone who puts tv before living life, especially my preschooler. I told her the DVD rental was for her (which it was), so that helped motivate her to get her clothes on.

Getting her shoes on was another matter. I don't know what the heck she was doing, but I had G and all the junk I needed in the car and she was still putzing around. When she finally did get into the garage, she was packing 3 books, a Barbie, her bear, and her paci, all of which was jumbled in her arms nearly falling to the floor multiple times. And making her move even slower. As if it was even possible.

Then she saw that I had put about 6 of the big cardboard tubes that holiday wrapping paper winds around in the recycling bin. Rather than getting in the car, she grabs the one she had started to decorate (and never finished), thereby making all the other precariously balanced junk in her arms start to slide. And she starts whining that she wants to keep it so she can decorate it. Like I'm throwing away shards of gold.

It was at this point that my head popped off my body, and my mouth screeched, "GET IN THE CAR NOW!!!!!"

What followed was an overflow of tears from N and an overflow of guilt from me.

I apologized to her immediately and told her I loved her. I also asked her how she felt when I yelled. I told her this is how I feel when she yells at me and is disrespectful. I told her it wasn't right for mommy to yell, and that mommy had lost her patience.

But she was a jewel while we were running errands. Never once complained, and she always finds something about which to complain. I guess since I never scream, N knew I meant business and was fed the hell up.

She forgave me much sooner than I will forgive myself.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Premature aging

D and I might as well be 95-years-old and living in a nursing home. Well, I would be a spry 90.5-year-old, but we would both only be able to handle gimping down the hall to the cafeteria for bingo once a month.

Last night was D's company Christmas party. We left at 6:00 and returned home around 10:30. We didn't get drunk. We didn't salsa dance or play fierce air guitar. Our evening involved having 2 drinks of wine each, eating a meal, chatting with friends, watching an improv group, and then driving home. Low key.

And yet, we are absolutely exhausted today. Getting home at 10:30 means chatting with D's mom (who was watching the kids) until 11:00, which means getting into bed at 11:20, which means reading until 11:45ish.

When we got on the expressway last night and ran into traffic, I said, "THIS is why we never go anywhere at night or on the weekends. I hate THIS!" I'm such a grumpy old geezer.

I love to be active during the day. But once the sun goes down I want to be home. I want to put the kids to bed early, have time to check email, read blogs and write if desired, and read in bed for a good long time.

And then tonight was busy. We took a cake to D's grandpa who turned 84-years-old today. Papaw makes us look BAD! He went and helped his son cut down trees today at Rough River.

Geez, D and I are pathetic.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Big boy babbles

D and my brother asked me if I am going to cut the little mullet that G is sporting, but I refuse. Cutting his hair will make him look like a little boy, and I want to hang on as long as I can to my baby. I know this is why I am still nursing him before bed at almost 15 months.

Of course, hearing him say words more and more makes that little boy stage come ever closer. We can just drive by a Kroger and he says, "Appa" for apple (can you tell I do all my grocery shopping there?). He says "Ball," "Bye-bye," "Hi," "Mamaw," "Nana," "Ba" for Pa, and "Momma" and "Dadda." Tonight he very clearly said, "Bubba" for bubble in the tub when I squirted his soap and a bubble floated out.

He is walking much faster now, and can bend down to pick up toys without toppling over (usually). He pretends to talk on the phone. He tries to put sunglasses on himself. He is doing all the wonderfully cute things toddlers do.

And he dotes on his sister. He squeals and laughs when he sees her standing in line at preschool pickup. He follows her around everywhere. He mimics her...which is as cute as it is annoying, particularly when he is imitating her screaming or banging my pots and pans with wooden spoons. But it is so sweet to see them play together. To see her him pick at her belly button, which is his version of tickling, and to see her let him and laugh.

I remember reading a Little Golden Book about Baby Jesus when I was a kid, and I remember it said something on the order of, "Mary treasured these things (about Jesus) and kept them close to her heart." While I try to do the same, I find I forget so much, so quickly. It is one of the worst things about parenting....the memories dissipate too soon.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day of dance

Today was so busy.

D took off work so we could take N to see the matinee of The Nutcracker. She really enjoyed it. Her mouth just kinda gaped open most of the performance. At one point she looked up and me and said, "Wow!"

During the dance of the Snow Queen, a bubble machine was turned on so that it "snowed" on the audience from above. That was pretty darn magical to have it snowing on us as we watched the snowflakes dancing on stage.

After lunch, my mom, N and I went to Santa's Depot, which is like a winter wonderland, full of lit Christmas trees, a bazillion ornaments and nativity scenes. I have started a tradition of letting the kids "buy" each other ornaments, although this means that until G has an opinion, N gets to select both her ornament and his.

She was going to pick a baby with a pacifier in its mouth for him, but I told her that one was a "Baby's 1st Christmas," so she selected a tractor for him since he likes anything with wheels. Rather than picking a ballerina for herself, she chose a girl in a karate uniform since she likes Kung-Fu Panda so much. I said, "But, N, you don't take karate lessons." She then proceeded to show me her kung-fu moves in the middle of the store to prove that she did, indeed, know her martial arts stuff. Whatev.

Tonight, N performed with her dance class at a local nursing home. She was so cute. While I was putting G to bed before we left, I had D snap some pics of her in her costume.




As I was videotaping her while they performed, I couldn't help but think of her as both so grown up and such a wee little girl. I heard someone referring to raising young children as a season in your life, and that there is a time for all seasons. I know that with her getting closer to age 5 and starting kindergarten next year, a new and different season will be upon us, and while that is exciting, it is also sad to see a much-loved season pass on.

Monday, December 8, 2008

There but for the grace of God go I

My father-in-law used to tell me I squeaked when I walked....as in so tight with money. And while I don't think I'm so tight I could turn a penny into a diamond with just my ass, I do tend to be pretty frugal (as noted in my wishlist post from the other day).

But around Christmas time I really struggle with my inner spendthrift, who is also quite judgmental.

I am trying to teach N about giving to the less fortunate during this Christmas season. Since we "do" Santa in our house, I explained to her that some families move around an awful lot because they don't have a whole lot of money, which makes it really hard for Santa to find them to bring presents. And while N and G have presents sitting under the tree right now from Mommy and Daddy, alot of parents can't afford to give their children much if anything at all, so that is why we help out because we are fortunate that Daddy has a good job.

And this year she has been quite eager and willing to give of her gently used toys for a toy drive in Harlan County and look for clothes/toys for a little girl we are sponsoring from The Family and Children's Place.

Unfortunately, I am the one who is finding it hard to share. Sorta.

Today at Wal-Mart, I asked N to help me find a shirt and pants for the little girl. I buy cheap clothes for N....either at Wal-Mart, Target or at consignment sales. It is very rare that I purchase something from a mall store for her. So I headed for the less expensive clothes for our "angel." And by this, I mean the $5 and $6.50 shirts and pants. N saw some Hannah Montana pajamas, and said, "Let's get these." But they were almost $14.00. I had seen some non-HM pajamas for almost $10.00, so I suggested we get those so we would have more money for a toy.

Then in the toy department, N kept picking out Little Mommy dolls which are upwards of $16.00, but I found a less expensive, non-brand one for around $10.00. We went to look for a coloring book, but I wasn't about to pay $3.47 for one, when I knew I could get something equally cute from the Dollar Tree.

Between Wal-Mart and the Dollar Tree, we ended up buying her 2 shirts, a pair of pants, a 3-pack of undies, a pajama set, a baby doll, a coloring book, a pack of crayons, and a Littlest Pet Shop toothbrush pack. All nice stuff, I think, but I kept feeling cheap, like I should buy more or buy better. I kept telling myself that I buy inexpensive as much as possible for my own kids, so I should NOT feel guilty buying these things for a disadvantaged child, but it didn't work. I still felt sorta chintzy.

I know I am blessed and fortunate to have what my family has. I am blessed and fortunate to have parents who were both raised in poverty but worked and saved their way out of it and stressed education and fiscal responsibility to their children. I know that it is because I buy wisely that I am able to do the things I am able to do with and for my own family. I know that if something bad happened I have family who would take us in and provide us help (and I know there are lots of people who don't have that).

But a little tiny judgmental part of me gets its panties in a twist this time of year.

I feel guilty on the one hand because I don't shop at Gymboree for my "angel," and I feel frustration at all the parents of the world who don't have enough to care for their kids. It is not the fault of the kids, and so many parents only repeat the poor parenting/caregiving cycle they experienced as children, but I still get wrankled. As much as I want the government to butt out of my personal life and choices, I tend to want the government to butt into other people's lives and prevent them from having more babies or any babies if they can't afford them, care for them respectfully or responsibly, or provide a stable home life.

The holiday season is especially fun when I have an internal wrestling match going on between the angel on my one shoulder and the devil on the other.

So, in the end, I buy the stuff at Wal-Mart, I give N money to take to school to "adopt" children for Christmas, I encourage her to donate gently used toys, and I drop coins into the red kettles, hoping that the season will soften my heart, make me less judgmental, help me find peace.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My wishlist

Sometimes I put together a little list of things I'd like to get myself at some point in the near future, but this list is always terribly disappointing because it is always uber-practical stuff for the house...not for me. Or if it is for me, it is underwear or socks. So darn exciting.

I have mixed feelings about my wishlist (whenever I get a hankering to make one up).

On the one hand, I really wish I could think of something(s) I really want. I kinda wished I wanted an iPhone or iPod or Coach purse. Something that would be my own little toy. But I would kill (with a capital K) D if he bought me an expensive techie gadget because my basic FB and email and blogging needs are met with the ancient laptop I have (that is being borrowed, I might add). And I'm not interested in clothes, shoes, purses, cosmetics, body lotions... basically anything girly. (Anybody who has actually seen me in real-time knows how true this is).

On the other hand, I'm kinda proud of my inability to think of stuff I want because it makes me feel like I am not materialistic and I know what is most important---experiences and personal growth.

When it comes to buying for myself, I can talk myself out of purchasing anything. I cannot (in my mind) justify buying a book to read for the book club I'm in unless I can get it for under $5. So if a book is relatively new and popular and I can't get a book from the library, I just don't go to bookclub that month.

Recently, I saw an address book, and I thought, "Hey, I could use one of these," even though this doesn't really qualify as a gift for me since it has a household purpose. But then I thought, "Well, my current address book isn't falling apart." And it is not falling apart, but it is old, and names/addresses have been crossed out all over the place. It came in the mail as a "Welcome to the Community" gift, so I didn't even shell out any of my own money to purchase it 7 years ago when we moved into this house, but I still think, "Nah, I don't really need a new one."

You would think I had lived through the Great Depression.

So here is my pathetic wishlist that I am currently keeping on the refrigerator:
1. address book
2. knife for putting icing on cakes & cupcakes
3. basting brush
4. Harry Potter books 5, 6, and 7

Only #4 would even remotely qualify as a personal gift because 1-3 are for the home. And #4 is something N or G would eventually inherit.

I sure hope the Treasury and Federal Reserve aren't relying on little ole me to jumpstart this economy.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Doing teen boys

I read an article in the paper today about a pregnant woman who is in jail awaiting arraignment for raping/sodomizing a 15-year-old boy. She is 25 years old. The fetus may or may not be the teen's child.

I was pretty stupid at 25 years old, but I can assure you that I never wanted to bed a teenage boy.

Now I can totally see and even understand a 25-year-old man wanting to bed a 15-year-old girl because...men are dogs. There is a long, long history of older men bedding and marrying young girls. It happens to this day. I'm not saying it is right, but from an evolutionary perspective, a older man impregnating a 13-year-old makes reproductive sense. Not common sense, but reproductive sense.

But I cannot believe a woman would really have any interest in a teenage boy. What is even remotely appealing about a teenage boy? Are they more pliable and easily manipulated than a 35-year-old man? I'm sure this has to be part of it.

When I was teaching, there were these two 8th graders who would come to my room to chat after school sometimes. One I had taught when he was in 6th grade, and the other I had taught during summer school. Nice kids, but perhaps 2 of the biggest doofusses (or is it doofusi?) on the planet. I could tolerate a 3-minute visit from them before the sheer stupidity of their conversation melted parts of my brain. Why would a woman want to subject herself to this kind of conversation on a regular, intimate basis?

And there is nothing appealing about the "boy" look. This is one of the reasons I don't like Leonardo DiCaprio in most of his movies because he looks too much like a child. The only movie I really found him attractive in was Gangs of New York because he looked more manly, more gruff. Older than 14 years old.

Ok, by blogging about this I'm giving myself the willies so I better sign off, but the article really confounded me. Even more than the economy right now, and that is pretty hard to do.

Friday, December 5, 2008

How have we kept it together?

I asked D the other night if I am hard to live with, and he gave me "the look," which means, "Why do you ask me questions that you know you don't really want the answers to?"

Then I asked him if I am as hard to live with as his sister, and he gave a definitive, "No." So I feel a little better.

Last Sunday, I was way irritated and irritating, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. I had just had a period, so I knew hormones weren't to blame. And then the lightbulb turned on, and I realized that D had been home from work for 4 days IN A ROW. And when D is home too many days in a row, I start to go bonkers for a number of reasons.

First, when he is home too long, it really interferes with my stay-at-home routine. If he sleeps in, I feel like I shouldn't vacuum or drag the kids upstairs so I can clean the bathrooms....because he is on vacation.

Which brings me to point #2. When he is off work for many days in a row, I get to be reminded for many days in a row that I never get a day off. I get to cook, clean, and tend to the kids every single day without a break. I don't get to leave my workplace because my home is my workplace. Yes, it is my choice to stay home, but it kinda makes one a bit pissy to see the hubs dorking around while I am folding laundry or sweeping 8 tons of glitter off the floor.

Thirdly, after a number of days off D starts to get a little bored, so he paces. He kinda wanders aimlessly around the house, mostly in the kitchen, where I usually am. While he is pacing, trying to figure out what he wants to do, I am looking at the toy & junk fallout from G and N, thinking to myself, "If you want something to do, how about picking up some toys and stashing them? Or taking the laundry out of the dryer? Or do the dishes sitting in the sink?"

Now D is a brilliant computer dude. He can wrap his head around engineering stuff that I couldn't understand in a million years. But he is not so good with things household related, and by this I mean, cooking, cleaning, dusting, straightening, folding, sorting, hanging, etc. Don't misunderstand--he is a very neat man. His clothes land in the hamper; he hangs things up. But the subtleties of household maintenance are beyond him.

And he is not alone in this. I can't tell you the number of times my mother has told me how my dad would always ask, "Is there anything I can do?" which drove her batty. She felt like saying to him, "Man, open your eyes! Do you not see all the stuff there is around here that needs doing!"

While I hope D and I live long, healthy lives, I do pray that if one of us has to die while the kids are kids, it is him. And the reason I pray this is because if I die, he and the children will sucuumb soon after due to starvation or suffocation from the plague of dust bunnies that will take over the house.

I told D that I was blogging about him being off work 4 days in a row, and he reminded me that he will have from Dec 25 to Jan 1 off.

Crap.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Would this be wrong? (I mean tacky)

I am increasingly getting into buying gently used items and selling our gently used items. Aside from the expense, I just feel a certain moral imperative to try to reduce the amount of new things we purchase, thereby (hopefully) resulting in less waste of resources.

For the most part, I buy the kids' clothes at consignment sales. We bought N's bike this summer second hand from Schwinn. My birthday purchases were at Plato's Closet for jeans (how wonderful...to buy $20 Abercrombie jeans that are already comfortably broken in, so I don't have to do it). And a number of the kids' Christmas presents are in their second lifetimes.

Now, my dilemma (well, that is exaggerating; let's call it a slight concern):

I really love Half-Price Books, a store that sells gently used or brand new overstock books. You generally can't find the bestsellers there, but I am always able to find something that I want to read. And it is an awesome place to buy kids' books. I can get Barbie, Disney Princess and Strawberry Shortcake books there for usually a $1 or more less than what I would spend at Borders. And they have bookcases packed with clearance books....like $.25 books. Heck, even if we only read it once or twice, it is well worth a quarter.

So since I am more and more into reduce/reuse/recycle, I thought I would purchase gift cards at Half-Price books for N's preschool teacher, as well as her dance teacher. But I wonder if they would be insulted if I get them a gift card to what is essentially a book consignment store?

When I was a teacher, I was thrilled to get gift cards to anywhere. There are only so many "Best Teacher" ornaments and tchotchkes a person can have without having to rent storage space. It was so, so nice to get even a $5 card to Kroger or Wal-Mart.

And her dance teacher is young, like 15. I thought about a gift card to McDonald's, but I don't really want to encourage unhealthy eating. And I thought about just giving her cash, but I kinda want to support the economy.

So, faithful or unfaithful readers, what do ya think?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Full of holes

Well, G is, at least.

This morning he had bilateral tubes put in to hopefully reduce or (if we're super lucky) eliminate his chronic ear infections. As friends had warned, he was absolutely out of it upon returning to us from the recovery room, but after a nap at home, he was ready to eat and play for a bit. He is napping again as I type this.

The doctor said G did have fluid in his ears, but no infection. Of course, as far as I'm concerned, it was only a matter of time before another round of antibiotics. G started sounding congested yesterday, so I wasn't at all surprised to hear there was gunk in there.

While I didn't white knuckle it during the surgery or in the last few days, I did sleep horribly last night, even with half a Unisom.

I dreamed that D, N and I took G up to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital (I honestly don't even know if there is such a place, but that's where we were in my dream). And we were having to go into all these different rooms, down long corridors, even getting back in our car to drive to another building in an attempt to register G. There were huge long lines of parents with their children, waiting for the next available surgery window. N was bored and acting out, nearly getting hit by a car at one point when she jumped out of our car.

Suffice it to say, I was unconsciously worried about today. My dear friend K called last night to check in on me and offer to bring a meal to us tonight. What a doll! Considering how poorly I slept last night and how tiring it is to try to hang onto a 14-month-old coming off anesthesia, I am glad I accepted her offer.

One thing I have wondered during all this is whether other parents stew over stuff as much as I do or do they just go, "Ok, needs tubes. No biggie." As I told K last night, I just have to go through a certain amount of "try everything under the sun to avoid surgery." I did it with my c-section when G was breech; I did it with ear tubes.

It would be nice to take things in stride a little better, and, believe it or not, I do compared to how I would have handled this in my life pre-antidepressant. While D and I were waiting today, I started thinking about folks who have cosmetic surgery, not because they got half their face bitten off by wild dogs, but people who just want bigger boobs or tighter abdominal muscles or no crow's feet.

I will go to the grave with my tiny boobs, flabby abs and a whole flock of crow's feet. Rode hard and put away wet.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Last day

Oh thank heavens this daily blogging is at it's end. I have been boring myself to tears thinking about things to write. Mulling over the mundane and inconsequential. Finding this outlet all too easy to come by for my vitriol. I have discovered that when I blog every day, I allow things to fester because I am keeping them "fresh" for when I have time to post. Can't be healthy.

Early last week, I met a college friend for coffee. K and I hadn't seen each other in at least 14 years, I guess, but we reconnected on Facebook. We had a nice visit and discussed the very different paths our lives have taken. And our conversation got me wondering, "What if?"

I don't really have any regrets about what I have done or not done in my life. Most of the time I am pretty content with where I am and who I am. But when I am having a bad spell, when I am feeling testy, I start to wonder if I would make the same choices if I had it to do all over again. I guess I start to channel George Bailey.

Sometimes I wish I had lived on my own before settling down. Sometimes I wish I had been older when I married because I know for a fact I didn't have my head on straight at 24, when I walked down the aisle. That I didn't marry a complete wastoid of a human is probably a minor miracle. Sometimes I wish had known how much having my own family would mean to me. Sometimes I wish I would have stuck with the Honors Biology classes and really given pre-med a try.

I guess I would only make different choices if I had all the knowledge I have now at my fingertips. And you can't possibly know at 25 what you will be like, feel like and experience by the time you are age 35. And who's to say that even if right this second, at age 35, I thought I would make a different choice, that things might happen by the time I'm 45 that would make me reconsider that decision.

You do what you think is right, good for you, at the moment you are making the choice. You hope for the best. And you deal with whatever life throws you in the best way you know how.

When I have these moments of doubt, I have to remember that if I had made different choices, I wouldn't have the people in my life whom I adore. There are people who's lives have been better because of the me I am right now, with the experiences I have had, the choices I have made and not made. And that is worth something. That is what I have to remember when I am feeling testy and frustrated and thinking, "What if?"

That, and that the grass is always greener where a herd of cows has shat alot.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Buffer people

Buffer people are very important to polite society.

Anyone can be a buffer. Sometimes they are aware of their buffer status, and other times they are not. The requirements to being a buffer actually have nothing to do with the buffer--it has to do with whether there are difficult people around, and by difficult people, I mean people who are really, really, really hard to tolerate. For even 5 minutes.

Some difficult people are difficult because they just talk crazy all the time. People who carry on about extreme politics or religion in a room full of people who are obviously moderate. People who use the words blackie and fruitcake for blacks and gays and think that is perfectly ok. I have an uncle like this.

There are also difficult people who just talk, and talk, and talk. And don't get it that they are blathering on to the point that the listeners eyes are glazing over and they are slipping into a coma of boredom. Un-PC uncle mentioned above has a wife like this.

Or difficult people are those who are chronically cranky, never happy about anything, easily pissed off. Or difficult people are those who gets their feelings easily hurt by even the slightest tease. This is like the person who's home we are going to this weekend for a birthday party.

And there will be no buffer people around! I'm not sure how this is gonna go down.

Being around moody, cranky, overly sensitive difficult people is like walking with nail shoes in a field of eggs under which landmines are buried. No fun.

It is only one afternoon, though, right? I can do it! I can do it! I will survive.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I've become one of those people

It occurred to me last night that I have become one of those people....the patronizing kind.

It started with turkey talk at my MIL's house. I was sitting at the dining room table with J, DPB, BB, B and M---D's uncle, cousin, cousin-in-law, cousin and brother-in-law. We started talking about cooking the Thanksgiving meal and prepping the turkey. Now I have never prepared a turkey in my life and don't really have a desire to. DPB made the comment about how gross it would be to jam one's hand up a turkey's rear to pull out all the innards. This is when I made the comment to DPB, who is young and a newlywed with no kids, that, "Once you have kids, that won't be so gross."

And this statement is more or less true. Lots of things go out the window when you have kids. Like modesty. Once you've had a baby and had the whole hospital check on your ya-ya and squeeze your nipples to help you breastfeed, you aren't quite as body shy. Then when you have a toddler as your audience in the bathroom every time you have a bowel movement, you lose shyness about that too.

And your gross tolerance goes waaaayy up. My hypochondriac tendencies throughout my life made me squeamish about all sorts of body fluids, including my own. Until I had kids. I have been peed on, shat on, thrown up on, snotted on, and bled on. Sticking my hand up a turkey's rear, particularly a dead one, is not such a big deal.

BUT, I still always hated it when people said things like this to me before I had kids. Like I lived in a bubble. Like I was just a baby myself who didn't know crap about crap.

So when it occurred to me last night that I had said this and probably come off like a jerk, I felt badly. It's like realizing you are turning into your mother. You don't want it to happen, but you kinda can't help it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I'm thankful for

1. My kids, who drive me bonkers a lot of the time. But since I'm being driven bonkers, I am not stewing over a sorts of stuff that are out of my control....like my kids.

2. My husband, who also drives me bonkers, but does so from the comfort of our home. I'd rather it be this way than him be out, watching sports with the dudes, drinking endless beers, at all hours of the night. Or visiting strippers.

3. Our home.

4. That D has a job that allows me to stay at home with the kids who drive me bonkers. I am glad we made the decision 11 years ago to live off one salary. I cannot imagine being driven crazy all day by kids who aren't mine and then come home for a few hours to be driven crazy by the kids who are mine.

5. My education. I make the choice to stay home, but I am glad I have a teaching certificate and Master's degree to fall back on if and when I ever need to...or choose to.

6. My parents who encouraged me to get an education, paid for my education, and help me with my kids when I have doctor's appointments, etc. I am so thankful they live in the same city as me.

7. My friends....from Bell & Howell, from JCPS, from bunco, from MOMS Club, from book club, from playgroup, from college. They give me something to laugh at (with their funny comments, not in a you-suck kinda way), someone to laugh with.

8. Health. Despite paying a buttload for antidepressants and soon-to-be-had ear tubes, I am glad we have health insurance and some money saved to help us pay for health care expenses.

9. Myself. I think I am pretty smart and mostly a good person. I am glad I have gotten to a place in my life where I am ok with who I am and who I used to be.

10. That Obama is President-elect. (Simply because of that stupid Anti-Christ/towel-head email from way back when. I am glad to be able to say in my head..."Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!" )

11. That I am still childish and in need of work as a decent person (see #10).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Shopping Rules

I have rethought the whole Black Friday thing after getting out this afternoon for a little bit to shop. My mom was over, so I thought I'd take advantage of G napping and Nana entertaining N to return the balls to Target, look for my bunco gift, and buy a used copy of Harry Potter III.

I forgot that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and that tons of people would be out. I like to think I have mostly moved beyond my misanthropic days of yore, but being around that many people in various stores makes me HATE HUMANITY!!!

My experience today made me think that someone, namely me, should create some Rules of Shopping during the Holiday Shopping Season that must be followed or will result in being shot on sight.

Here is the shortlist:

1. During peak shopping times, shoppers cannot bring extraneous people, including useless husbands, children of any age, or more than 1 other shopping friend. These folks glut up the aisles, looking stupid, looking at their feet, or looking too long at sales and chatting about what to purchase. Stores get too hot and stuffy, and these folks take up too much space and air.

2. Cell phones cannot be taken out of purses or coats, and CANNOT BE USED unless done so immediately outside the building. Today I listened to this lady yakking on her phone, wondering where the magnetic fishing board game for $4 was. I knew where it was....it was sold out. If ding-dong had gotten off the phone and opened her eyes, she would have seen the big honking sign that said, "Fish Game SOLD OUT." Because she was on the phone and wandering aimlessly as she chatted, she was another person glutting up the aisles.

3. Only very old people, handicapped people, and pregnant woman are allowed to park in the first 50 spaces nearest the stores. Everyone else has to park far away, get off their lazy butts and WALK. No idling the car waiting for someone to back out, thereby causing a gigantic traffic jam.

4. Anyone who doesn't know where they are going and crosses multiple lanes of traffic to get to a store will immediately be pulled over my the Shopping Police and thrown in jail until at least the 4th of July.

Today exasperated me so much I don't think my psyche can handle Black Friday. It's probably safest for others if I stay home. If I go out into the thick of it, I might end up doing all my purchases at a gun store.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Buyer's remorse

So far, I have returned 1 item I purchased for N for Christmas (some pajamas with feet), but I intend to return the big bag of balls I bought as a shared gift for the kids (for the makeshift ball pit in our basement). Both of the kids enjoy playing in it, but they are hell-bent on dumping out every single ball. There are enough balls in the pit now that when they are dumped, I can't see my carpet, so I don't think they need anymore. I don't know what I was thinking.

I did see that the Mega Blocks wagon I bought for G for $29.99 was recently half off, but I was too lazy to take it back. However, I have a haircut on Black Friday so I might just have to run by ToysRUs to see if it is still at the reduced price.

For some crazy reason, I feel like seeing if there are any good deals to be had on the craziest shopping day of the year, especially since N's birthday is in February. If I can go ahead and get some things for her at a steal, that would be awesome. Of course, I'm likely to buy stuff only to have to return it because she gets identical gifts for Christmas, but I think I'm willing to take that chance.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Clean slate

Around this time every year, I purchase something for myself that brings me a tremendous amount of satisfaction: a new day-planner.

There is nothing like having an absolutely clean day-planner, although, in truth, I admit that this and opening up a brand new jar of peanut butter are in a dead-heat. See, I'm not high-maintenance.

At the back of my current day-planner, I have dr. visit cards piling up: my ob/gyn appointment in March, the kids' dentist visit in February. The last day of December is packed full of notes about the early weeks of January: G's playgroup, N's days off from school, D's haircut.

First, I go through my planner and mark family birthdays, wedding anniversaries and the anniversary of my FIL's death. Then I transfer appointment cards, taping them into their new homes. Finally, I jot down all those miscellaneous notes.

I know time doesn't just start anew on Jan 1, but there is something nice about seeing a new year laid wide open in front of me. It is full of possibility, and I always think good possibility, not bad. I start to think about vacations, parties and seeing the kids get older. I saw the date of N's preschool End of Year program, and I can't help but be excited by the prospect of seeing her "graduate" from preschool. And then there is her dance recital in June. That will be fun. And I think about G getting bigger, walking better, and being able to do more with him, watch him explore his world in a different way.

When the days are dreary (like today), it is especially nice to have a happy little reminder of something fresh, new and unknown.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Drunkard's Path

I deserve the Wife of the Week Award. I nominate myself, second myself, and accept it on behalf of myself. Why?

I volunteered to cut the grass today since D has a sinus infection.

Our outside to-do list had been written for awhile, just waiting to get done. But it kept warming up, and we always wait for somewhat consistent really cold nighttime November weather to tell us that we really need to close up shop now.

I had already cleaned and put away all the kids' toys. We needed to turn off the outside faucets, pull in the hoses, open the faucets (don't want frozen pipes), put all the outdoor furniture on the patio (to cover with a tarp at some time TBA), and cut the grass one last time.

Given how much D has been drexin' around with this sinus infection, I knew that cutting the grass would only make him that much more pathetic. So I did it.

It took an hour and was quite a workout.

But while I was cutting, it occurred to me that most men would have a conniption over the way I cut grass.

You see, our yard is anything but flat. It is lumpy, humpy and hilly. And I have virtually no upper body strength of which to speak, despite lugging around 26 lbs of G. So I start mowing in one direction (like vertical) and then switch (to diagonal or horizontal) whenever I have to go down a hill, resulting in grass cutting lines that go all over. No one would ever hire me to landscape a golfcourse. And if I can't push the mower up, I pull it backwards. And I hate dodging tree limbs, so I maneuver this way and that to get the grass cut under the tree without losing an eye.

It gets the job done, but it ain't pretty. There is a quilting pattern I've seen my mom do, and which I attempted once, called Drunkard's Path, and I thought that was a most fitting description of my rare ventures in lawn maintenance.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A piece of quiet

I am finally having some seconds to myself, so I better take advantage and blog. This evening is my nephew's 2nd birthday party, so I doubt I'll feel like rehashing the day after watching my 2 kids and my 2 nephews and my nephew's 2 cousins destroy my brother's home.

This morning, I LOST it! Ended up screaming, which I rarely ever do. I had just had it up to here with the 7 or 8 cat vomit piles on my basement carpet, G crying and being totally uncooperative about me cleaning up said piles, and D honking and snorting with a sinus infection (day 7, but feels like day 2,007). Suffice it to say, all the genetic males in the house were cruisin for bruisins. The screaming affected everyone but was directed at the cats, who get fed and then proceed to yak it all over the house, only to come back immediately after Barffest 2008 meowing for more food.

My goal for the day was to take the kids to a local elementary school's craft fair where pictures could be taken with Santa for $10.00. At first I had suggested that D come with us, but I instead told him to get his butt to the immediate care center for some frickin' antibiotics. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I've given natural vaginal and cesarean birth to 2 children, breastfed for a total of 26 months, and had 25 years worth of periods, cramps and cysts. Sinus infection=no sympathy.

So off to the fair we went. I had to be in the picture with the kids because G wasn't having any part of sitting solo on Santa's knee. N got to do some kid crafts, and I bought her a brownie so she was happy. It wasn't too long before G had had enough and was ready for nap. But we got the pictures taken. Mission complete.

Now G is down for his nap, D has taken his first dose of his antibiotic and has gone to his hole in the basement, and N is zoning in front of the tv. Silence is golden.

Friday, November 21, 2008

To tube or not to tube?

We saw the ENT today about G's chronic ear infections. He said G definitely meets the criteria, which is 3 ear infections in 6 months. G has had 5 ear infections in 6 months, and 1 infection per month since September.

His ears were fluid-free today, although I would expect this since he has only been off Augmentin for 2 days.

I went ahead and scheduled the surgery for Dec 2nd, but I still feel a little uncertain, and it's mostly due to incomplete information.

Here's the deal:

1. We could just watch and wait. My gut tells me G is not magically going to stop having ear infections, especially since it is cold/flu season. But I guess it is within the realm of possibility that they could decline in frequency.

2. If we watch and wait, and he continues down the path of monthly ear infections, we will eventually have to go to antibiotic shots, which are painful and sometimes require multiple trips to the doctor's office.

3. We can watch and wait, and still think he needs tubes in February or March. I know for certain I will not go another 6 months with monthly or every-other-month ear infections.

4. We will not know what D's health insurance will be for 2009 until Dec 15th. It will probably be worse than what it is now. We have already met our $4,000 deductible for 2008, so doing surgery in 2 weeks means we pay 20%. If we wait until Jan 1 or later, we will pay 100% and who knows what our deductible might be. (Even more than infections or surgery, I really HATE having to think about costs, but I simply feel we have to consider it in our decision-making.)

5. We have a strong family history of ear problems. I had 3 sets of tubes, adenoidectomy, and then a final surgery to repair the hole in my eardrum that wouldn't heal. My dad has ear problems. Both of my brother's sons have had to have tubes due to chronic ear infections.

6. I can't help but wonder if G's poor sleeping isn't due to fluid in his ears, even when he doesn't have an active infection.

I dislike the idea of surgery, but I also dislike the idea of antibiotic overuse.

And while surgery is costly, taking G to the pediatrician for ear infections is costly. It runs $78 per ear infection visit, and $50 for ear-recheck visit. The antibiotics have ranged in price from $4 to $71. And up until this month's infection, we paid 100%. So ear infections thus far have cost us between $500 and $700.

So I guess I am to the point where I feel tubes are the best option for G. Continuing ear infections and doctor visits start to wear on both a child and parent after awhile. But I still can't help but worry whether this is the best decision. Such is life.

What would YOU do?

N's games and banter

I don't feel like writing a tome like I did last night, so I thought I'd post some things N has said or done recently.

  • She is all about counting these days. I didn't think she would ever stop forgetting 15 on her way to 20. Then suddenly she is counting to a 100. She has even started counting by thousands up to 10,000. Most of the time she does really well, but sometimes she says the numbers funny, like she'll say 22 as tooty-two, and 33 as threety-three, and 55 as fivety-five. One of the things I miss about her being younger was the cute and unusual ways she would pronounce words, so these are a nice treat for me.

  • The other night she and D were wrestling after supper. At one point I heard her instructing him on how to put the 2 purple pillows around her and squeeze. She said, "Pretend I'm in a sandwich maker, and I'm trying to get out." I thought that was a pretty good idea for a superhero torture device.

  • Evidently, she is retaining some of the things I've told her about Harry Potter. Yesterday when she and I were playing in the basement, she got D's old Snoopy bank. She put it in the office, grabbed her slide whistle, and said, "The 3-headed dog is in there. I'm going to play music to put it to sleep." Per her instructions, my job was to wear a blanket over my head to be a ghost, hold the mini-cymbals in my hands, and bang them when N (the princess) got beat up by the witch.

Sometimes I worry that N doesn't have much of an imagination. Perhaps because I let her watch so much tv, I think that she doesn't have an original idea in her head. But then I read these things that I blog, and I don't stress over it so much anymore.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Former student sighting and education quandry

Tonight at the grocery, I ran into a former student. While in the produce section, a young man called over to me, asking if I used to teach at M middle school. As soon as I looked at him, I remembered his name. He is 18 now, which makes me feel very old. He was just a pup when I taught him.

I told D when I got home that I recall this kid as always being very sweet, very nice, but pretty thick. Well, I can't say if he was thick or just disinterested. His printing was atrocious, illegible, something that a colleague once attributed to students being exposed to drugs in utero. N's printing at age 4 is more legible than this kid's printing was at age 11. So maybe there is something to that drug exposure thing?

It is funny how being a teacher really changed my view about education. I still think education is critical to success in life, but I think the educational system is a joke, more or less. Or should I say it is a joke for some.

I never realized until I taught how educational policy tries to right the wrongs of poverty and class. The school in which I worked was a magnet, so it pulled in the brightest of the bright and the richest of the rich. It also pulled in the kids from the housing project directly across the street--the poorest of the poor, and the...well, I don't want to say dumbest of the dumb. A child brought up by parents who aren't well-educated and struggle on a daily basis to get by simply can't and don't value education the way upper middle-class parents can and do. They don't have the luxury to value education.

For example, I know that reading to my children is important, dare I say essential, in helping them learn to speak, read and write. But I read all the time about parenting classes for low-income folks and that they don't realize how important reading is to their children. Or maybe they realize it but never learned to read well themselves. Or maybe they want to read, but their lives are so complicated by poverty that reading just doesn't take priority.

I taught plenty of 6th graders who were functionally illiterate. Some were probably reading at a 1st grade level. And I mean I taught entire CLASSES of students who all were in a similar boat. So while I would have liked to have said, "Send them all back to elementary school," this just isn't feasible. So how do I grade students who are many levels below the reading level at which they should be? This always proved a quandry for me. They had to get a grade from me, and some were able to do the work, although not at a level that I required of my advanced students (the upper middle-class students).

It made me realize that grades per se aren't very important at all, which is funny since I was the kind of kid who nearly had a stroke if I got a 92% on a test (B+). I had kids who managed to pass my Language Arts class who couldn't read worth a darn. And I had advanced students who failed my class (and many others), but will go on to college and become accountants. There are many things that grades don't measure, such as effort, ambition, parent-involvement, to name just a few.

I think about my parents, who both came from very poor families. My maternal grandfather died when my mom was 6 months old, leaving a widow and 5 children under the age of 16. My paternal grandfather was an alcoholic who drank many, many paychecks away. Both of my parents graduated from high school. Mom took some college classes but always struggled. Dad completed his college on the GI Bill after serving in the Air Force. Both of them made education a top priority for my brother and I. Nothing else came first....except going to church.

Seeing this student tonight brought back all these thoughts I had struggled with while teaching. And it makes me wonder how I will be with N and G?

My gut feeling is that N and G will do well in their educational lives because they have 2 well-educated parents who promote education and reinforce what they learn at school. And if my kids struggle, I will use whatever resources are available to help them. But that is the benefit of being educated. I know there are resources, and I know how to access them and utilize them.

I also know there are many, many parents who don't have this knowledge or confidence at their disposal.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rock rolling

I find that I feel a lot of mommy guilt associated with mothering N. And I think I know the reason.

When I was pregnant with N, I began the downward spiral of depression and anxiety, but I didn't realize it until well after the fact. I was so excited to be having a daughter, and yet I was stricken with utter fear...extremely unhealthy fear.

During the pregnancy is when I started on the path of Unrealistic Expectations of Self. I had always set high standards for myself and whatever job I set out to do, and I had, by and large, always succeeded. But being a mom isn't like any other job a person does.

So when N was born I became very strict about my behavior. I had to be perfect. I had to do everything for her myself. I intended to do everything the American Academy of Pediatrics said to do to the letter. I had to fix her torticollis with my own hands, every day, many times a day doing physical therapy on her. Now most of this was hormonal and chemical, but a good chunk of it was cognitive too.

I remember when N was about 6 or 7 months old and was fighting sleep. I would rock her, and rock her, and rock her. And once, in my frustration, I growled, which left her wailing. I remember the anguish I felt because I had scared her. And I thought I was a horrible mother for getting angry at this baby (not realizing that experiencing negative emotions about one's child(ren) is TOTALLY NORMAL).

It wasn't too long after this I had my nervous breakdown. And then from the time N was 9 months old until she was 18 months old, I was very, very undermedicated. I could sleep and I could eat, but I was depressed. Thank god I journaled and took pictures during this time because my memories of her at this delightful age range are tinged with sadness. I distinctly remember the winter months at the dining room window with N. She was watching cars go down the road, and I just stared blankly, feeling hopeless.

So I feel like I missed out on a good chunk of time with N. Even though I was physically there, I know I wasn't emotionally there. Lord knows I tried to be. Maybe N sensed it, and maybe she didn't, but I know I didn't enjoy my time with her, and so I feel a little cheated. I know this is part of the reason I just savor G's time now. Because my time with N as she was learning to crawl, and learning to walk, and learning to talk, was stolen.

I have guilt about that that remains on my heart to this day. And maybe the fact that I have this guilt makes me susceptible to feeling guilt about lots of things associated with my relationship with N. I think I still feel some amount of guilt about having G, about stealing away more time with N by adding another child to the mix.

This is why I try really hard to play with her and be available to her, even though alot of the time I really am sick to death of playing pretend or whatever. I feel terrible guilt at times when I tell her I need to stop to get some things done, even when most of the reason I am doing those things is because I am just tired of playing with her.

And so I have this guilt with her that I simply do not feel with G. Is it because he is the 2nd, and I'm much calmer in general? Is it because I am now medicated and have CBT under my belt to help me with my expectations associated with mothering him? Is it because she and I just have a typical, emotionally charged mother-daughter relationship? Maybe all of the above.

I spend a good bit of my time talking myself down from this guilt precipice, but it is a constant struggle. It is my sisyphean struggle.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The $388 oil change

I should have known the gods were against me. They were warning me that taking the car in for an oil change was not going to be pretty.

It began last Tuesday.

The "plan" was to drop the car off at the Mazda dealership, walk the kids over to the mall, and hang out there until the oil change was done. When I arrived at the dealership, someone had parked right in front of the service door, so I couldn't just run in really quickly, hand 'em the keys, and then get the kids. I had to unload the kids, the stroller and the bags only to get up to the door and see the sign that read, "Service has moved up the road to 1234 Packupallyourshitandtryitagain Road." Suffice it to say I was not happy. So I packed up all my shit and tried it again, down the road where the new service department was relocated.

I pulled into the garage and asked for an oil change. I was told that all the technicians were in the process of moving their tools and "stuff" to this new service department and that I couldn't get an oil change. Now it used to be that the dealership would take appointments for everything, including oil changes, but sometime ago they had stopped this practice. If the practice was still in place, I would have called and learned all this via phone. Instead I had packed up half my house only to find out my "plan" for the day was screwed.

Ok, so I asked if I could get an oil change on Friday. The guy assured me this wouldn't be a problem. So I called Friday morning and was told they were still in the process of moving tools and whatnot but they would be ready to go by Monday.

I didn't call yesterday because that would be pushing my luck. I called today and got an appointment for an oil change (Hooray!). I desperately needed my windshield wipers replaced too. I had a coupon for a $25 oil change and $9.99 tire rotation, so I thought I'd get out of there around or possibly even under $50.

But no. I seem to be on an unlucky streak of late in all matters concerning money. The service guy called and said my battery was about ready to die and that my coolant system was on the fritz. PLUS, my front swaybar links and bushings are loose and my rear shocks are leaking. D had been complaining of my car making noises, and the swaybar and shocks appear to be the cause of the sound.

Since I don't want to be stuck anywhere with a dead battery with 2 kids, I told him to replace the battery. And go ahead and do the coolant thing since he promised it wouldn't take too long. He told me he would talk to me about the other stuff when I came to pick up my car (he would have to order the parts so he couldn't do it today anyway).

Back at the service counter I forked over $388 for the oil change, wiper blades, coolant flush and new battery. And the swaybar and rear shocks: those are gonna cost $493 and $537, respectively. SHOCK(s) indeed!!!!

So let's see. In September, we spent $500+ on D's car repairs. In October, D bought new glasses, which was $434. And November, we're looking at $1400 in car repairs on my vehicle. I keep trying to put money away, but this fall has been kicking my savings plan's ass. Oh, and my washing machine needed a part that cost us about $75. And G is likely gonna need tubes, so I don't even want to think about how many hundreds (or thousands) that is gonna cost us.

Hell, even if I wanted to take up a drinking habit, I don't have any extra cash to put towards the purchase of spirits.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kid pics

The half-crazy but very cute girl-child who lives with us.



Oh, isn't it wonderful to be able to walk?


I love the Baby Frankenstein walk.

Homes for unloved toys

I hate clutter. I hate junk hanging around that hasn't been used in ages. So all the paraphernalia associated with kids is sometimes hard on the neat freak inside, especially this time of year because I know more is on the horizon. G's birthday is in September, and N's birthday is in February, so that is a lot of new stuff coming into our home in a 6-month period.

If things haven't been played with much or at all in the last year, they are being placed for sale on craigslist and cheapcycle. I recently sold a Little Flier Bouncy Horse that we bought N for her 1st birthday (that her butt touched all of 5 times) for $45. I think I bought it new for either $49 or $59. So I didn't think that was bad.

I also sold some of her costumes. N is like me when it comes to clothes...she likes to be comfortable above all else, so the lace and frou-frou on costumes drives her nuts. She might put them on but after a few minutes she complains about them itching her, and they wind up on my floor.

It feels really good to get rid of some things, but a part of me feels a little guilty for selling stuff. I guess because some of the toys are relatively new (like less than a year old) or barely used. I try to tell myself that not every gift N gets is going to be something she likes or will play with, and so it is better to sell them to another child who might actually get some enjoyment out of them, rather than the toys just taking up space in my house.

I like to try to sell them online before I put them in one of the local Spring/Fall consignment sales. I get 100% if I sell them myself, and just 70% or less if I go the consignment route.

And I don't just get rid of the kids' stuff. I recently sold D's big honking speakers on craigslist. I've got an old record-player/cassette player in D's closet that I want to put online too. Maybe while I've got my camera out and computer on, I better try to find a new home for that. I kept hanging onto it in case I ever want to listen to my Jeff Buckley EP, but if I haven't listened to it in 12 years, chances are I won't anytime soon, right?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Are we almost done?

Day 16. Is November almost over?

I have been fortunate so far to have had flashes of inspiration or somewhat exciting happenings with which to regale myself and my 2 readers.
But not today.
Today is slim pickins'.

So I will discuss a couple things that I wrote down as possible blog entries that either I don't have enough opinion on to write a full-length post or the passion behind them is now passed so my motivation is gone.

1. Beauties and the Beast?

I haven't seen Knocked Up or the Kevin Smith Make a Porno movie, but I don't live in a bubble. I have at least read the reviews and know who Seth Rogen is. He is an average-looking dude.

In readings these film reviews, I have seen some rants about how he is paired with beauties like Katherine Heigl and Elizabeth Banks and all the brou-ha-ha that goes along with castings of this sort. I may be the only one, but I don't think either Katherine Heigl or Elizabeth Banks are beautiful. Nice-looking, but certainly not drop-dead-gorgeous. Heck, to be honest, there are very few Hollywood folks that aren't just average without benefit of makeup and hair people and stunning gowns/tuxedoes. Oh, yes, and the allure of filthy stinky wealthiness.

2. Effigies and lynchings

Prior to the election there were a number of lynched effigies of both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. All were in poor taste (a gross understatement). But I didn't fully agree with those who saw the effigies as equally distateful, and here's why. White middle-class women were never historically and consistently lynched in US history. Black men were. So while the effigies of Sarah Palin were stupid, the effigies of Barack Obama re-opened historically sensitive wounds. There is no comparison to what these effigies represented to anyone who knows anything about Black history in America (and my knowledge is scant, at best). The people who said the ones about Barack Obama had nothing to do with race, just politics, are idiots.

3. Ex-herm

Sometimes I think it would be interesting to take a Bible studies class. And sometimes I think, "Why would I want to subject myself to such a thing?" Maybe I've just heard of too many people who take "read the Bible as totally literal" type classes, and I just can't do that.

I am quite ignorant of things biblical. But I heard a program on NPR the other day in which John Dominic Crossan, a theologian, discussed his book The Historical Jesus. This is on my list of must-reads, as is Stephen Prothero's Religious Literacy.

More and more I feel like I read about fundamentalism and because I'm ignorant of the Bible, I don't know whether there is any substance to what the fundamentalists say or think. I can't quote the Bible (hell, Linus does a better job than I ever could), so maybe what I'm thinking is entirely wrong. It is easy for me to lump everyone else as being uninformed or misinterpreting the Bible, but if I don't know it, how can I be sure?.

Probably my favorite class in college was Theology in Modern Literature. Maybe it's a Catholic thing, but I tend to find god alot in the secular books I read. But I think to be a better rounded and informed person, I need to know more of the Bible.

Ok, well, I've ticked off my Post-It note list on my dayplanner. I'll have to come up with something new for tomorrow. Maybe I'll blow something up in the microwave or have a really bad hang-nail.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The bite at the pharmacy and doc's office

We have reached our $4,000 deductible and are now paying only 20% of our health care costs (until we reach $10,000, and then insurance will kick in at 100%--well, thank God for small miracles!). By the time we get to that point, we will be eating beans and rice every night for dinner. If G has to have ear tubes, we'll likely be on this diet before Christmas.

But since we are only paying 20% I decided to refill my Astelin Rx (nose spray) before it expires in early December. My allergist gave me an Rx for a steroid nose spray too, but I simply can't afford to fill that one every month. If I have to choose between my brain working properly, having an unplanned pregnancy and having a bit of a stuffy nose, you know which one I will choose. D and I have used up all the Astelin samples I begged off my doctor.

My Lexapro costs me $80 per month, and my birth control pills are about $28 per month. My allergy shots cost me $13.00 every time I go. Before G started with all the ear infections, I was the only one in the family who hit our insurance pretty hard. He is quickly catching up.

N is the only one of us who has spent $0 health care dollars this year (insurance covered her 4-year well visit at 100%). And she eats virtually no fruits or vegetables, picks her nose on a regular basis without the benefit of handwashing, and does anything to avoid taking a bath. Apparently, she knows how to live a healthy lifestyle.

By most standards, I think I would be considered pretty healthy overall, which scares the shit out of me when I think about how much we would have to pay if we were really sick.

I read in the paper on Thursday that Senator Max Baucus is pushing for a complete health-care overhaul in the US so I sent him an email. While I did say I thought an overhaul was needed, I also stressed that Congress should pass legislation that all people with HSAs should be able to save their entire yearly out-of-pocket maximum pre-tax, instead of just the deductible.

We can save about $5,800 pre-tax per year, but with a $10,000 out-of-pocket max, that still leaves a big chunk of change that we have to pay for.

I know there are people far worse off and everyone is feeling the pinch from rising health care costs. We pay cents on our health care premiums, so while other people may have cheaper co-pays, they pay bigger chunks of their premiums per paycheck. So this isn't a complaint post, so much as a "this scares me" blog.

Because more and more, without your health, you really don't have anything.