Friday, February 27, 2009
There are three problems with introducing a young toddler to the art of going the bathroom.
1) They will show no interest and you will be frustrated.
2) They will show excessive interest in the products and you will be appalled.
3) They will show no interest in going and tons of interest in the product and you will be both frustrated and appalled.
Guess which one I got.
We were giving showers and my new potty trainer had gone. While I was stripping her for the shower, her younger sister toddled in, delighted to see that a shower was pending. She began to strip of her own accord. Checking the water and preparing the first, I had not yet emptied the pot. Then from the corner of my eyes, I saw someone...painting...on my door.
"There is No Painting with Pee!" I managed to get out before grabbing the brush and tossing it in the trash. I decided not to answer "Why?" despite repeated requests.
The first daughter got in the shower. I took off the diaper of the second daughter and caught her in the act and decided to plop her on the potty. It would be a fake success, but visually undeniable. She didn't want to sit, she wanted to squat, but I wouldn't let her move. It took five minutes, by which time; the first daughter explained she wanted to see.
I toweled off the first, thinking she could reinforce the praise I heaped on the second. "She made a butterfly." my newly showered daughter said. "My poop is just rocks." There was a touch of envy. The creator was curious and considering what this strange thing might be. One could see the wheels turning...where's my paint brush...followed by a hint of trauma as I swooped in to throw out the proof before too much fascination was shown. It was then my second daughter got her shower.
Evidently, this whole experience was too much for her, as she finished her business in a diaper to avoid any further scrutiny of her bowel movements. I for one appreciated her discretion and have tabled further potty training sessions for the younger for the time being. But I do know one thing, her motivational prize...a pack of water colors and a pad of paper, but I'm going to eliminate the yellow and brown paints just to be safe.
Monday, February 23, 2009
By following her older siblings around, she can usually get the prime scraps from whatever they've decided to have for snack. Between her natural cupie doll looks and her fierce toddler will, "Can I have some, can I have some, can I have some, can I have some?" that enables her to repeat those same four words tirelessly for 20 minutes at a time if necessary; she gets extra slices of pizza from her older brothers, bags of chips from the team snack, bonus cookies at bake sales and a near unlimited supply of drinks. All of this was bad enough, but now she's become independent.
The food she acquires through persuasion is insufficient to meet her caloric needs. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack plus second breakfast which the next older brother views as a constitutional right rather than an eccentric dining convention of hobbits, are not enough. She can open the fridge. She can open the freezer, and using a chair, she can get to the higher shelves in the pantry. I’ve taken to putting “boring food” in front of the desired cereals, cookies, crackers and chips, but it gets hard sometimes to find things as a result. This past weekend, her father brought home a bag of apples and a box of clementines. I'm thinking, we're set for the week for fruit for the lunches. Yeah!
On Monday, she found the apples. I'm not sure what I was doing at the time. Maybe feeding/changing her brother, maybe making the bed or switching the laundry, but I came into the kitchen and noticed the apples were not in their basket. The basket was empty. I hunted. I called. The house was silent.
I began patrolling the rooms; first the upstairs, no one under the bed, no one in the closet having a picnic, no evidence hidden in a waste basket. On the main floor, my room was clean, the bathrooms, empty, the study and the dining room, vacant. Panic was seizing me. The apples had been gone at least ten minutes if not more. Downstairs I raced. The main room was a mess as usual but no kids. The kid's study was also quiet. The girl's room and bathroom needed sprucing but there was no trace of my three toddlers or the apples. Now where to look? I came back up puzzling and calling. Then I saw them.
On the screened in deck, they had 12 apples on their kid table, still unconsumed and three that were happily being crunched. The apples were in a line and the three of them were trying to put ten apples up on top. The fruit kept rolling but the oldest patiently kept trying to place one or two on top of his head and wondering why they wouldn't stay. The next oldest was holding the inspirational book open to the page and pointing.
I gathered up the fruit that was still unbruised, bagged it in a Ziplock and placed it in the back of the refrigerator on the top shelf. “There.” I thought to myself.
In the afternoon, the box of clementines went AWOL.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Noticing the discrepancy of work, I called a Wolf council (we howl and then everyone comes a running to here whatever announcements might follow). Usually, allowance is involved.
Paying the chief bed maker for her work, there were protests and calls for fairness.
I agreed and told the non bed makers to pay up for her sevices or start making their own beds.
They each gave a quarter and agreed to make their beds from now on or be fined by me.
I wonder if I could get a job managing mortgages.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
No doubt. None.
She then asked, “Why do you think that was his first word?”
“Oh,” I replied as I stripped a toddler for bath time, “He probably picked it up because it’s said so often around here.” And as if to underscore the point, from somewhere, the siren call “Mom, mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom…” which translates to “I’ve got a juicy tattle just waiting to be told and oh boy is my brother gonna get it once you hear I hope I hope I hope.”
“Hmmm.” My daughter looked at me skeptically. “So you’re saying kids are like parrots when they learn speech?”
“Not exactly, no.” I started the bath and started stripping the second toddler who was trying to get into the tub, shoes and all. “But kids learn what they hear.”
“If that’s the case then why wasn’t his first word, “Pick up your shoes!” “Turn off that TV!” “Get in the car!” “Stop that right now!”
The tattler Mom cry now came in breathless and certain that this sort of breaking news couldn’t wait. Mom, mom, mom, somebody started eating the pie that’s for dessert and I thought we couldn’t so I think he might be in trouble but if he’s not can I have a piece?” I mollified the tattler, explaining that I had actually taken my piece of pie first. I started soaping the girls' hair.
Being an adolescent, my first daughter wasn't finished with me. Once the tattler left, she couldn’t resist adding on, “Am I the only one who sees the trash around here? Would it kill you to put your shoes in the closet?”
“I might remind you that I cleaned your room today.” It was time for the rinse.
She smiled and offered to help, getting out the towels, still shouting choice imitations of me, “This room is a mess! I’m going to count to five…or three if you make me mad. Did you do your homework? This is a benevolent dictatorship. The benevolence is my option.”
“Don’t you have saxophone to practice or something?”
“Oh, good one Mom.” She smiled as she got the first girl out and began drying her off.
I got the second toddler out and another cry came out, “MOMMMMMMMM. MOMMMMMMMM. MOMMMMMMM?” Each with higher and louder intonations. This tattle was about a mess. My older daughter finished dressing her sister and they left to allow the tattle to continue in relative privacy.
“What’s up?” I diapered up my little girl and she ran away while I was fumbling with her pajamas.
“We spilt some of the pie when we were serving it but it’s okay because we gave it to the little ones who don’t care if their pie has been on the floor or not and so they’re eating…and we wiped up the mess with towels.”
“Paper or cloth?”
Running to the kitchen, I find the first once and future clean toddler with pie on her face and in her clean hair. On the floor was a terry cloth towel that had been used to dutifully blot the mess of apple pie and ice cream.
The Diaper toddler had also found an abandoned paper bowl of ice cream and was wearing it as a hat.
I don’t mind parenting.
It’s the Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
To avoid getting what everyone is coughing up, (which naturally, being Mom, I tend to stoop to catch), I have determined a few coping devices for the primary caregiver to all minors with unhealthy germs to share.
10) Burn all clothing after wear. Given that this will reduce your laundry load, it might be a more permanent solution to the issues of children not putting away clothing or dropping their dirties in a laundry basket. However, the HOA and EPA might object.
9) Declare a sick week and require all healthy kids to hang out with the sickies until everyone gets it so it's all over at once. Post a large guard dog outside the room to ensure no one sneaks out. Slip food, reading materials and parental judgments about fights that occur within, under the door.
8) Go into Deep Denial.
7) Even though the weather isn't good, pitch a tent outside. Sleep there.
6) Consider applying for "Wife Swap," provided it's this week.
5) Budget Buster: Call in painters and re-carpet. It's easier than cleaning all the places they've touched.
4) Call Congress to determine if water boarding one's self with Listerine is considered a violation of human rights.
3) Show up at the Pediatricians' with everyone and beg for a gallon sized bottle of amoxicillin.
2) Go into Deeper Denial.
1) Hang a sign on the door. Quarantined. Hope by March, you get to peek outside to see your shadow.
P.S. No one is actually sick right now; this was inspired by a friend whose daughter has been very ill. She needed a laugh.It's February.
So kids get sick.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Veteran moms have learned to trust the voice’s recommendations through the series of hard knocks that came when the voice was ignored. For the rookies out there, here are examples of the sound not heard, the sign not seen and the voice unheeded.
The mom voice specializes in preemptive alarmist thinking. When a teenager asks, “Who’s purse is this?” and volunteers to take it to his sister’s room, veteran Moms know to stop the generosity in its tracks. She follows her son into his sister's room. He doesn't notice until she coughs. “What?” the teen asks? His hands are in the wallet. “She owes me money.”
The mom voice prompts the accidental emergency discovery. We’ve all had that moment. We’re going about our business, ordering the house, planning the day, straightening things and suddenly, our heart freezes. Things are quiet. It’s that Miss Clarvel turned on the light kind of something is not right sort of feeling. We run to check off the kids knowing, we’ll find one doing something unthinkable. Maybe it’s unraveling an entire paper towel roll down the stairs. Maybe it’s putting stuffed animals in the sink for a bath. Maybe it’s trying to will the unsweetened chocolate found in the pantry to taste good. It doesn’t matter. All you know when that silence settles on the house is “Run!” Locate and secure all non sentient beings. You have maybe ten seconds.
Sometimes, Moms get jaded and slack off for a moment. We get tired. We put the Mom voice on "Mute" and we punt. Over the years, Veteran moms learn, all punts by Mom are returned for 90+ yard touchdowns. If we punt on dinner and order food, the scale yells at us the next day. If we push a kid to go to school, around 11 o’clock am, the phone will ring. The nurse will lecture us. The child is very sick and we will feel like the winner of negligent mother of the year award. We yell up the stairs, “JUST GO TO BED!” just before we get the “But I just wanted to say prayers with you.”
Aaaaugh! The Mom voice always says do, do and do. It’s usually right but does it have to be so smug about it?
Today, while getting the baby dressed, I noticed my almost five and 3 ½ year old had put on their coats and gone outside. They had socks and shoes and coats and gloves and hats. The Mom voice said, “Check.” But I said they were fine. The kids stood on the back stoop. The Mom voice said “Check.” But I told it, I wasn’t worried, let the kids play. After feeding the baby and putting him in his crib for a morning nap, the Mom voice jumped up and down and said “Check!” such that I gave a cursory glance out the window. They had brought up the smallest sled and were mulling the possibility of sliding down the stairs.
“Scrub the launch!” I banged on the window.
They reconsidered and went out into the yard to make snow angels.
The Mom voice crowed, “Told you so.”
Thursday, February 12, 2009
So Congress has agreed to a 789,000,000,000.00 package deal to stimulate the economy, which most experts have indicated shall make a 13$ a week for those who qualify for the tax cuts. How much does 13$ buy?
And is it after taxes? At the local store, thirteen bucks gets you a gallon of milk, a box of name brand cereal, a loaf of good bread and a jar of whatever peanut butter is on sale. If you use coupons or scrimp a bit, you can add a jar of jelly. That, or order one large pizza with just cheese and have it delivered. Maybe if I caught the special, there'd be bread sticks too.
Personally, I’d feel better if we handed out a bag of those groceries, taking care of a week of breakfast and lunch for everyone. If it's not after taxes, people can look forward to a mere 8 bucks per week. We'd better take the generic cereal in bags, the cheapest bread and skip the jelly....and we might need to switch to powdered milk too.
We don’t expect perfection, but is this the best we could do?
The Senate and House leader announce an agreement on the bill...huzzah!
Let’s light the tikki torches, cue the hula girls and start the luau. Roast pork for everyone! It will only cost $2,254.28 a plate. (That’s 789 billion divided by 3.5 million).
They can say there’s no pork. (It’s all necessary even if they don’t know what’s in the bill). They can say, there are no earmarks. (If it’s not a line item, it’s not an earmark). They can say all spending is stimulus. If that’s the case, then please please, let us keep our $2,254.28 per person.
I promise to go out and spend it.
But if this is going to pass, as all claim it will, I still have a few questions.
If the bill is so big, no one knows what all is in it as some Senators attacking questions about what is in the stimulus package have claimed, how can we have a dollar figure?
If the millions here and millions there that the "chattering classes" of opposition object to, are so snatteringly small as to be statistically insignificant, why not cut them out to silence the criticisms? Or are they so vital that if we cut everything else, these still would have to stay?
If there is a 30% chance of getting it wrong as stated by Biden, shouldn't we try to fix that first?
If there is no pork or earmarks, then why are there so many oddball programs and policies and special projects that seem unique to specific geographical areas of the country representened by prominent leaders in the House and Senate?
If everything here is vital and was before the conference, why was the bill reduced from 920 billion to 789?
Using the monkeys typing Shakespeare theory, could we just take out every other page of the bill and maybe have a more reasonable stimulus package?
If I pay my bills and my mortgage and live within my means and don't own a corporate jet, already bought a house and don't have anyone in college, and file my taxes accurately, how am I not a chump?
Could we at least have pepperoni on the damn pizza?
Monday, February 9, 2009
My eighth child is so silent, we've had her ears and speech evaluated. It turns out, if you exhaust all genetic possibilities, you do occasionally get a quiet kid.
This does not mean she is docile.
Like the Mighty Sphinx, she sits in her high chair and points at that which she desires. Her loving loyal subjects, (all the older kids adore her), scramble to meet her silent wishes. I have taught the olders how to prompt speaking. Offer her a choice. Show her the choices and ask, "Do you want Milk? Or Juice?" She waits and watches as these simple servants of hers repeat the question solicitously.
Eventually, she wearies of the demand for a decision and renders her judgment with a single point.We try this same technique with every meal, with toys, with clothing and with activities. Do you want to read a book or color? Would you like a shower or a bath? Her response is always the same, quiet indifference until she finally deigns to let us know what she wishes.
The other day, I served ice cream to everyone and she dropped the pretense. Her eyes bugged out. "Ice Cream." She refused to surrender her cup when she finished until the last trace elements of her dessert were gone and this was just plain Vanilla bean. We asked at several intervals, if it was good and got nods, smiles and even a rare "Yes."
Handing us the cup, the Queen put her fingers together contented. Then she realized, she'd been talking with the plebeians and went back to the stony "I shall not be moved." stance by shutting her eyes and turning her head away.
It took all my mom discipline not to yank her chain by asking, "Hey Baby Girl, do you want some more ice cream?" Who knew frozen dessert could thaw the ice princess? Next week, I'm going to really get her, I'm buying Rocky Road.
The rule of thumb in our home for outside of school hobbies has been one activity at a time unless it slips into the schedule. For example, one year, two of my kids played basketball because their practices were back to back. One child does band in addition to her sport because it doesn’t take time out of the schedule at all. I wish others of my children would do band, then I could feel virtuous about providing parental enrichment without actually engaging in any physical effort. In the past, I have lobbied to double up kids because of the apparent benefit of multi-tasking, but repeated experiences of one child poking along not finding the needed equipment while another bounces up and down in the car saying, “Come on, let’s go!” has head me to hold fast to the “You’ve got to want it” Mantra.
These days, I’m encouraging enrichment activities that don't involve me driving anywhere. You can read a book. You can play a game of pool. You can go outside and play catch. If you play catch every day with your brothers and sisters, you’ll be as up to speed as those kids whose parents love them and sign them up to play baseball year round.
The response of the children has been similar to their reactions to food. Hot dogs served at school for hot lunch at $2.75 a plate, they’re fabulous. The same meal served at home…and I’m scraping a lot of ketchup off plates. When I point out that throwing a ball at a field is not dissimilar to throwing one in our back yard, they point out that the coach has a speedometer to measure the accuracy and rate at which one throws. I offered to make up numbers and do color commentary.
"P. is backing up to make an out from a thrown pop up....and he just missed that catch.
His sister picked it up to throw back and it's a wild throw to center field."
They settled for me pitching to them.
After twenty minutes of watching me throw the balls, catch and drop the balls and wince as I sometimes got hit by the balls, the children took pity on me and announced they would play catch on their own. I went inside to make hot dogs but I told them it was fish so they’d stay outside and practice longer.
The two muddy kids came in twenty minutes later, “I thought you were making fish.”
“I decided to make hot dogs instead.”
“Wow!" "That’s great!”
“Do we have any ketchup?”
“Hit the showers, dinner will be ready when you’re done.”
When they’re in the major leagues one day they’ll thank me.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
President Barrack Obama said “Criticisms of my plan echo the failed theories that led us into this crisis –theories that Americans rejected in November.” So now, objecting to a 900 Billion dollar pork fest that even some of his own party are feeling a bit queasy about is tantamount to treason. After all, he won. The president’s editorial in the Washington Post and blitzkrieg interviewing on the airways give new meaning to the term, “Bully Pulpit.” Agree or see your country go down in flames. Agree and agree fast or you’re responsible for the end of prosperity as we’ve known it.
There are people who criticize Democratic and Republican actions reflexively because they are political animals. There are hacks. There are partisans and there are those whose livelihood depends upon making whoever is the biggest target, the source of all ill. But the attacks on the stimulus plan have been substantive, not personal. Without being partisan, it is fair to say Mr. President, this is a bad bill. It’s huge. It’s beyond anything we’ve ever done before. It’s full of programs and policies and projects that smell to high heaven and have little if anything to do with stimulus.
Economists, friends and enemies have said so via editorials, commentary, and thoughtful analysis. I’m not sure how big it is now, as the number keeps growing exponentially by the moment, but I do know, just because there’s something in it for everyone, doesn’t make it a good policy or a good economic plan. There are no checks and balances for determining if a job has been saved or created. There is no money to pay for it except by extending debt. We will have those chickens come home to roost for our children and grand children, if not ourselves. The idea that people cannot examine, critique or reject this bill without dire consequences to our country is ludicrous. The idea that there is nothing in this bill which has not been as carefully vetted as your cabinet picks and thus should pass without delay is equally silly.
It’s clear we have an economic problem and it’s clear we need to do something to address it. What is unclear is how spending 900+billion we don’t have, will secure our future.
The general themes of the President’s campaign and of his selection of cabinet appointees and this bill are all the same. “We’re the only ones. This is our only chance. This is the only guy who can fix it.” Forgive me Mr. President, but you are not Obi Ben Kenobi and this bill locked in S.A. 98 H.R. 1 (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) is not our only hope.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Still, the President is the president and he has to draw the line somewhere.
The following is a list by no means comprehensive, of Obama items not approved.
5) Michelle thought the Obama Underwear was funny but thought the airbrushed sheets with his image in the Hawaiian surf were creepy. In the spirit of compromise, both were stopped.
4) There was a strong push in the spirit of bipartisanship to allow the Obama popsicles stay on the market. Those who loved Obama could shower the confection with their affection. Those who didn’t could chew the ice. However, good taste prevented the administration from going forward. The idea of an elementary school full of children eating frozen versions of the leader of the free world didn't sit well.
3) Obamuppet, the newest character on PBS, the President of Sesame Street was turned down for use in the 35 year old educational television show. Obamuppet was created with affection from beyond the grave by Frank Oz himself! This more handsome than Guy Smiley, loveable than Grover and wiser than Kermit puppet was nixed because the DNC decided that he needed a larger platform on which to work and is currently in negotiations to have the newest Frank Oz creation host his own news and commentary program to run opposite Sean Hannity.
2) Obamawine: Despite being an excellent vintage with a delicate bouquet and rich deep tannins reflecting the complex and compelling mysterious nature of the man himself, the tag line, "Drink it and what you hope, changes," made this otherwise promising product, DOA.
1) Obama Nicorrette Gum: It seemed like a natural match, and it would boost sales and thus stimulate the economy while making those who used the product healthier, thus putting less of a drain on the overtaxed health system, but the loss in tax revenue made this a non starter.
Feel free to add to the list. I just thought I'd have some fun.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
(The kids have been sick so writing time is at a premium).
This Evil Overlord List is Copyright 1996-1997 by Peter Anspach. If you enjoy it, feel free to pass it along or post it anywhere, provided that (1) it is not altered in any way, and (2) this copyright notice is attached.
10) I won't use my superpowers to simply destroy a single person, I use them to unfairly manipulate the market such that I make a killing on Wallstreet and can then buy all the influence and power I want. Or, I could just run for Congress, but then I'd have to be Completely evil.
9) When a flunky says that something is out of wack, out of date, or seems strange, I will immediately follow up by firing on whatever ship/seemingly normal cache of troops are seeking access to my base.
8) If the hero is male or even has a male appearance --and is actually a robot/alien/amoeba/whatever, all females will be forcibly removed from the premises to avoid possible defection due to sexual attraction; EVEN the ugly ones.
7) Any sage that has been long since considered old and crazy but has a glorious past shall be removed from the planet without the benefit of a space suit or ship.
6) I will raise taxes on the middle class.
5) I will employ a cadre of lawyers to sue for property damage and have the heroes arrested for breaking and entering by only planning and speaking about my evil plans rather than implementing them. I will claim it was for a book I'm writing.
4) I will not have vicious looking or ugly pets like snakes, pit bulls, mean fluffy white cats or Great White Sharks. To confuse the heroes, my lair will be populated with cute little bunnies.
3) I will not employ some oddly disfigured henchman with poor dental work or parapalygic devices made of precious jewels or metal. They tend to defect.
2) I will have a strict policy. No capturing prisoners...ever. All enemies shall be shot on sight. Violators who think people captured might have a strategic value or important information shall also be shot.
1) The codes to the machinery that accesses my secret labs/plans/power will be undecipherable. Even to me.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Remember the good old days, when everyone talked about the weather but no one tried to do anything about it? The sun shone. The clouds gathered. Sometimes it rained. Sometimes it didn’t. People went about their errands without feeling a need to check the NOAA website or have breathless announcements about the five day forecast every fifteen minutes on the 8’s.
MoCoLoco (Montgomery County, Maryland to all non locals), has been insane about what comes from the sky ever since I moved here. I remember the first year, we had a five day blizzard resulting in schools being closed down for over a week. The rest of that winter, the mere prediction of a flake falling was sufficient to close the county.
I thought they were nuts.
Even a Texan could drive in less than an inch of snow. Buses and hills were the given explanation, but that also didn’t make sense, as the instant a cry went out predicting snow, there was a massive stampede to the grocery store to collect bread, milk and toilet paper. The shelves would look ransacked as people lined up with carts bulging with multiple gallons of moo juice, enough bread to feed the 5000 and 20 roll 2 ply Scott packs. I considered asking why these were the only items considered vital in a blizzard, but deemed it ultimately unwise.
Two years later, in the spring, school was cancelled on account of heat. Mind you, the schools had air conditioning and running water and thus were able to provide sufficient shelter from the extreme weather conditions. The temperature was a sweltering 96 degrees but still, there was no further explanation of the county wide day off. All I could think was the Superintendent got up, heard the fishing was good and thought, “Sick day.”
So stricken are Marylanders by the announcing of inclement weather, that one local wags on the radio has taken to shouting, “ABANDON YOUR CARS NOW!” when the forecast includes a chance of snow.
With the advent of the 24/7 news cycle on the tv/radio and internet, every change in temperature that is outside the standard deviation, be it for wind, moisture, heat or cold, cloud cover or time of day is charted and measured and compared to the norm. If it’s a slow day, there are even interviews of local climatologists when things are too hot or cold, and tips on how to endure the heat or the ice. People stand out in the snow to show us that it is in fact snowing. People stand out in hurricanes to show us it is wet and windy.
Then, to make sure we’re extra prepared, they also remind us to go out and stock up on essentials like milk, bread and toilet paper.
I bring all this up because this week, we had two snow days. They were unplanned and unanticipated. The whole neighborhood was covered in snow and ice, making driving extremely dangerous. I called my husband at work. “I can’t get out to the store.”
“What do you need?”
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