Thursday, December 30, 2010


I have been a bit preoccupied lately.

First off I have a head cold of epic proportions.  I always get sick at this time of year.  In the past though I've had a collapsing lung or an exploding gall bladder so in the great scheme of things a head cold is not that big of a deal.

Secondly, the kids are driving me to distraction.  Having them both home all the time during winter break is a real adventure.  To quote my own facebook status "Damn, my kids talk a lot."

Thirdly, there's the fish tank.  Oh, the drama of the fish tank!  There's the male guppy who refuses to mate with any of the lovely female guppies we've provided him and instead spends his entire day chasing after a female platy or rubbing himself against plants in rather disturbing ways.  There's the male platy who spends all his time hiding in the castle acting rather sad about the fact that a guppy is moving in on his action.  There's the ghost shrimp who Joseph took one look at and said in a Very Serious Voice "I hope I can resist eating them."  It's all very dramatic and fascinating I assure you.

Fourthly, I cannot find my regular tweezers or my backup pair of tweezers.  Ladies of a certain age will know why this is a problem.  I know I could buy more tweezers but I never think of it while I'm out.  I only think of it when I'm at home and I look in the mirror and wonder why Dumbledore is staring back at me.

Fifthly, I am wrestling with what I can only describe as a Big Decision.  I made Major Progress last night and took a Big Step forwards this morning but I still feel anxious and jumpy about the whole thing.  I think I was waiting until I didn't feel anxious and jumpy but that was never happening so I'm just trying to live in the moment and be ok with the jumpiness.

Lastly, I took a picture of Joseph playing in the snow and I think it is the first time ever that I have asked him to smile and he gave me a nice, natural, happy looking smile.  I think he is such a handsome boy!  NO real problem here, I just like to show off my kid.

One year ago today I told a story about sex ed.
Two years ago today I had 1000 blog posts and no gall bladder.
Three years ago today some people had no tact.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays my friends!

I hope your day is filled with good cheer, good company and good food (even if you're not celebrating Christmas today).  But if you are celebrating Christmas I hope your day is also filled with good presents.
Good tidings of comfort and joy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A fishy miracle

I walked in to the kitchen to find that the kids had pulled chairs up to the fish tank and were sitting and watching it closely.  "I foresee many hours spent this way!" Joseph said with a big smile on his face.

It was cute but also kind of sad since there were no fish in the tank yet.

Yesterday I attempted to make the situation a little less pathetic by buying a couple of interesting yet hard to kill snails to put in the tank.  Elle came with me and she picked out a white snail, a yellow snail and a blue snail.

When we got them home we discovered that the blue snail really likes to climb the towers of the castle we have decorating the tank.  We have named him Flynn Ryder.  We named the yellow one Rapunzel and the white one Maximus but sometimes Elle calls him Poker Face.

And then!  Then!  Something amazing!  When we dumped the snails into the tank we discovered that there was a tiny baby fish in the bag from the fish store.  We don't know what kind of fish it is or how it got into the bag but right now he's happily swimming in a little isolation tank inside our aquarium. 

We're debating what to name this little fish.  So far Lucky is the winning name because it can easily be changed to Unlucky if it dies.  I suggested Jesus because he's small and he miraculously appeared at Christmastime.  My family vetoed that name which I sort of think means they hate Jesus but what are you gonna do.

Tomorrow we'll attempt to add a couple of ON PURPOSE fish to our ACCIDENTAL fish family.  The kids will be so happy to have something to stare at for hours at a time.  Until then I'll be praying that our miracle baby fish doesn't die because I don't want to have to always look back on this as the Christmas I killed Jesus.

One year ago today I was 24 weeks pregnant and huge. (And people told me I was pretty.  Haha.)
Two years ago today Frosty got it on.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fish tank ... OF DEATH

In many ways Jesse and I are very different people.  One of those ways is the how we make decisions.  I get some information, think it over for a minute and then quickly make a decision/form an opinion/act, sometimes hastily.  Jesse gets some information, considered it for a good long while, gets some more information, thinks about it for some time, gets more information, ponders it for a while, gets some more information, wonders about it and then continues on that path for the rest of his life never having ever fully committed to one opinion or thought or course of action.

Now I'm not saying that one of us is right (me) and one of us is wrong (him), I'm just saying that we do things very differently.  To a certain extent it's a good thing.  We can balance each other out sometimes.  The downside of course for Jesse is that for every one decision he makes in our family I've already made 47 others PLUS decided on the thing he was debating and oh, by the way, I also disagree with whatever decision he came to.

Sadly for Jesse I kind of tend to not give in once I've made up my mind and I can be a little persnickety when I'm trying to get my way.  Thank goodness most of the time we're able to settle our differences of opinions with a minimum of angst.  MOST of the time.  Not all.  Not in the case of the incident which shall hereafter be known as The Time Jesse And I Almost Got A Divorce Over A Fish Tank.

You see, for Christmas this year we decided we would get a nice big fish tank as a family present.  We all agreed that it would be something we would all enjoy.  So far so good right?

The choosing, purchasing and getting home of the fish tank went pretty well.  We wanted to get the tank set up several days before Christmas so that it would be ready for fish by Christmas Eve.  (The tank has to run for a few days before you add fish.  It's science.)   The putting together of the tank stand went well.  Then it all sort of went to hell.

We put the tank on the stand and then put the gravel in the tank.  I was ready to add the water but then Jesse suddenly decided he wasn't ready to make the step of adding water.  He was worried that perhaps the tank was not sitting straight.  I pointed out that the stand (the stand that was manufactured and purchased especially to hold a fish tank) was not wobbly and that we could see with our own eyes that it was straight.  This was not good enough for Jesse.  He was convinced that if we added water to the tank if it was anything less than 100% perfectly straight then the tank would tip over.  I again pointed out that the stand was straight and even.  He pointed out that it looked even but that it was possible that our house was built sloped and that we just didn't know it.  I pointed out that he was insane.  He pointed out how the instructions that came with the tank said to be sure your tank was sitting on a flat surface.

My argument "They just mean to be sure that the tank is not sitting someone that is obviously slanted.  They don't mean 'Woe unto you who has a house that is built with one side of your floor 1/4th of 1/8th of 1/100th of a centimeter lower that the other side for you shall never know the joys of fish ownership!'"  Jesse's argument: "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!"

He refused to let me put water into the tank until he had gone to work the next day and was able to bring home a level from his work toolbox.  That would put us a whole day behind on getting the fish tank ready meaning that on Christmas Eve we would have to say to the kids "Merry Christmas children!  Here's some water!"

I then pitched a little fit and drove to my parent's house to borrow a level.  When I brought it home and checked the stand I discovered that it was - prepare for a shocker here - perfectly level.  Now we could add water.

Not so fast!  Now Jesse was worried that if we added water there might be a leak in the tank and we wouldn't notice.  I calmly pointed out that I would be standing right there as I filled the tank and I would notice if was leaking.  He calmly pointed out that it might be a really small leak and I might not notice it and then we would all go to bed and overnight all the water would leak out and we would all drown and our house would have water damage and obviously he just cared more about our safety than I did.

It finally occurred to me that even though we had talked about the fish tank and agreed to the fish tank and BOUGHT the fish tank Jesse was just not yet ready to commit to the fish tank.  I knew that if we left the fish tank preparation up to him we would not have a working fish tank until Elle was seventeen. I made an executive decision and filled the tank with water.  (Fun fact - we did not all die from a defective fish tank.)  Not a drop leaked out and it didn't tip over and the water was able to start getting ready to receive fish.

And the story ended happily.

That is until I wanted to plug in the filter so that it could start running and Jesse said he didn't think we should do that yet.  No reason, he just didn't think we should.  (Maybe he thought our crooked house also has defective wiring and if we plugged the filter in then the whole thing would explode and we would all die because I was selfishly trying to run the filter.)

And then I pelted him with fish tanks supplies until he left the room and I could run the filter in peace.

The end.

Death incarnate

Friday, December 17, 2010

Right up to the bitter end

They never could agree on the true Reason for the Season.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My #1 tip for traveling with a child with Aspergers


It's as simple as that.  We make a point of taking earplugs whenever we visit an amusement park or a water park or any other place that's crowded with people, voices, sights, smells and sensations that might be overwhelming to Joseph.

Joseph doesn't have a problem with sounds in general (although high pitched and sudden loud noises bother him) but the ear plugs help him filter out some of the sensations bombarding him.  When we hear the dull roar of an amusement park he hears a kid asking for cotton candy, the squeal of a roller coaster, a cash register ringing, the clink of ice dropping into a cup, a teenager laughing, a baby crying, all of that multiplied times a million.  The earplugs help him filter out the "extra" noises and let him focus on other sensations.  He can see more, experience more, when he has to hear less.

As an added bonus, for some reason when he's wearing the earplugs he able to modulate his voice better.  I don't know if it's because he's able to hear himself better or what it is.  What I do know is that with his earplugs in he's able to use his "indoor voice" and "outdoor voice" more appropriately.

Also, Joseph's behavior in general is better when he's wearing earplugs.  He has fewer meltdowns and he even seems less "rigid".  Again, I'm not sure why it works but I'm sure glad it does. 

Certainly some kids with Aspergers may be bothered by the sensation of having earplugs but Joseph enjoys the benefits of them so much that he doesn't mind wearing them at all.  In fact, on our recent trip to California he asked for them if we forgot to offer them.

So there you have it, my number one tip for traveling with a child with Aspergers: earplugs.  Hey, it's worth a try right?

Two years ago today I had a wild weekend.
Four years ago today Joseph came home from a trip.
Five years ago today I was so BORING.

Monday, December 13, 2010

No, I mean a LOT of clothes

I have a small clothing problem.  And by small I mean massive and overwhelming.

You see, I struggle with just a wee bit of a tendency to hoard.  I mean, I'm not like one of those crazy, keep-my-poop-in-a-bag people on Hoarders but I do have a hard time getting rid of certain things.  My biggest struggle is with clothes.  Specifically clothes that the kids have outgrown.  I'm a little ashamed to admit that I have saved nearly everything the kids have ever worn.

Every so often I'll go through the boxes and boxes (and boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes) of stuff and thin it out a little bit but getting rid of a half dozen things here and there doesn't really have much impact when you're starting out with such a huge amount.

When I look through I think "Oh, I remember when Joseph wore this!  He was so cute in this outfit!" and "I loved this dress on Elle and it's nearly new!  I hate to get rid of something she only wore a few times."  I hate the idea of getting rid of this stuff.

What I hate more though is having it all here, hanging over my head.  Every time I have to go in to the storage room I one whole side of the room filled with boxes and totes of kids clothes and I cringe.  I actually feel guilty that it's all just sitting there waiting to be dealt with.

Today I started pulling all the boxes out of storage and going through them.  It's time to lighten the load.  I need to get rid of this stuff once and for all.  I'm not having any more kids (*sad*) and there's no reason to keep hanging on to all of it.  Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to do with it all.  I figure I have a few options.

1. Ebay - I'm almost certainly NOT going this route.  It just seems like such a pain to list all that stuff even if I did do it in big groups.

2. Donate - I could just take it all here and be done with it.  I've donated to them many times in the past and I know they are always in need of children's clothing.  I know what I've got could clothe a lot of kids.

3. Once Upon A Child - I take it all in and give whatever they offer me even though I know I won't get anywhere near what I could if I sold it myself. I certainly like the ease of this option but I kind of hate the idea of someone buying something from me for twenty five cents and then selling if for $3. 

4. Craigslist - Just sort things in to big groups and then put what I think is a fair price on it and see if there are any takers.  I would probably put any money I made towards more photography equipment* so I'm somewhat motivated to at least try this way out.

Right now I'm leaning towards a combination of 2 and 4.  I like the idea of donating but I also like the idea of a new lens.  But maybe I'm missing something.  Maybe there's a better option that I'm just not seeing?  What would you do?  Other than "not start the hoard in the first place crazy lady" that is.

*This year four families will be sending out Christmas cards made of pictures that I took.  Yes, they are all family members of mine and no, I won't be getting paid for any of them but still, it's a start right? 

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


You know how when you're dating someone they'll do something that's kind of annoying but you figure you'll just learn to live with it because you're in love all that crap?  And then eleven years later you find yourself thinking "Oh my god.  If he takes a drink of milk and then swishes it around in his mouth before swallowing it one more time I am going to murder him in his sleep."?  Yeah, that's pretty much where I am.

Jesse is a swisher.  He swishes his drinks around in his mouth.  Sometimes when he doesn't have a drink he'll just swish spit in his mouth.  It drives me absolutely nuts.  I don't think he even realizes that he's doing it most of the time until I snap at him "Stop swishing!"  I know it doesn't seem like a big deal but that sound just hits on every sensory issue I have. Just thinking about it makes my skin crawl.

Now I also have to deal with Elle.  She's taking after Jesse* and she has become a master spit swisher.  She's CONSTANTLY making noises with her mouth.  Swishing, puffing, blowing, clicking, clucking and then more freaking swishing.  It's making me lose my mind.  I know it's just a habit that she'll grow out of sooner or later but in the meantime I have gone totally batty.  I even get madder at Jesse for doing it because I'm so irritated from listening to Elle do it all day.

Short of removing my family's saliva glands what can I do to make the swishing stop?

*This is not the only way Elle takes after Jesse.  She also thinks her gas is very funny. She laughs whenever she toots.  And she toots A LOT.  "Ahahahahahaha!  I tooted like seven times in a row!  Ahahahaha!  Can you smell it Mama?  Is it going in your nose?"

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Most awkward phone calls ever

I get nervous when I talk on the phone to people I don't really know. I try to avoid it as much as possible but sometimes it can't be avoided.  Yesterday I called the mother of one of Joseph's friends to RSVP for a birthday party.  I managed the whole ordeal pretty well until it came time to end the conversation and I slipped into dweeb mode.

"Ok, thanks you!  I mean, thankly!  I mean, thankly you!  I mean thanks to you!  I mean thankful!  Thank!  Thanks you!  Much gratitude is expressed to you!  Ack!"  And then I hung up.

It's not always my fault when phone calls get uncomfortable though.  Here is an actual snippet of a phone conversation that I had (with an attorney!) yesterday:

Me: I'm not looking to try anything, you know, through the backdoor.
Attorney:  Oh, don't worry.  We're not anal like that.
Both: *long awkward pause*

I think we were both trying to decide if it would make it better or worse to acknowledge that we had both sexually harassed each other.  In the end (ba-DUM-bah) we both laughed uncomfortably and then ended the conversation as quickly as possible.

This is why I hold as many conversations as possible via text message.  Although that's not much better since thanks to auto-correct I have now told someone that I would "pee on them" and someone else that they should "get ghetto".  Soon no one is going to talk to me at all.

Two years ago today I wanted someone to call the cops on me.
Five years ago today I was the most boring person alive.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One year

Last year my godson was born.  I got the be there when he was born.  It was the first time I saw birth from the other end of things.  (Fun fact - birth is disgusting.  Beautiful and magical and wonderful and also very gross.  And gooey.)

Then a year passed.
And one again he was gooey and magical.
Happy Birthday Danny-boy.  You're the sweetest little monkey I know.  Also the drooliest.  I'm confident that next year will bring about an eventual delivery from your constant dampness.  Also, note to self - get a haircut you damned dirty hippy.

One year ago today I talked about Danny.
Three years ago today I had a headache.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This is why I should not be allowed to do the grocery shopping without adult supervision

Not pictured - the latest issue of Klassy Lady Monthly.

Three years ago today I was ThakFul.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Urgent hamster update

So I compiled the answers to my hamster/Thanksgiving questions and I have the following results to share:

Some of you like dryer stuffing and some of you are gross and like the wet stuff.  Also, no one seems to like sweet potatoes except for one person and that one person is pregnant so I guess she has an excuse for liking weird foods.  A lot of people like mashed potatoes so now I feel good about my choice to bring mashed potatoes and gravy to my family's Thanksgiving potluck.

The answers I got to the hamster question made me think maybe a hamster is not such a great idea for my family.  When someone tells you that they spent their entire time as a hamster owner "wishing they would die a peaceful rodent death so that I didn't have to smell them or clean their cage anymore" you start to think maybe rodent ownership is not all it's cracked up to be.  On the other hand, I sort of want to buy a mouse because apparently when you have a mouse and you get paper bedding for them "they like to carry the paper around" and I find that unbearably cute for some reason.  I probably won't buy a mouse though because I can't really bring myself to pay for something that we've been killing for free all summer long. 

One year ago today Joseph liked a girl.
Four years ago today Joseph tried to be polite.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Three questions

Friends, I have some very important questions for you!

1. What is your favorite traditional Thanksgiving food?

2. What is one traditional Thanksgiving food that you hate?

3. Do you like wet, mushy stuffing or dryer stuffing?

And a bonus question for those of you who have rodents as pets:

1. How stinky are they? Honestly?  If I buy one hamster are people going to be able to smell it the second they walk into my house?  Because I've sort of fallen in love with a crazy little white hamster at the pet store and she's so cute but also I suspect that she's sort of deranged and I just want to buy her and bring her home and feed her raisins.  Assuming you can give raisins to hamsters that is.  But we just got Elle a fish AND a snail and as a family Christmas present we're going to buy a big fish tank and I don't want to get a hamster if that's going to tip us over in to the "crazy animal people" category where people will be afraid to come to our house and they'll be able to pick us out in a crowd by our odor and by the wood shavings in our hair.  So be honest!  The fate of a nutty little hamster hangs in the balance!

I kind of want to buy this crazy looking hamster
One year ago today I liked youtube.

Monday, November 15, 2010

As funny as a heart attack

On Saturday I was sitting around trying to work up the motivation to do some housework when I noticed an odd sensation in my chest.  It was like painful pressure and a kind of tightness.  A few moments later I started to have pain radiating up my neck into my jaw and across my left shoulder and down my arm.  "Be reasonable" I told myself.  "You are too young to be having a heart attack. This will go away soon."

But then it didn't go away.  So even though I felt stupid about it I went to Jesse and suggested that perhaps we take a little drive to the ER.  You know, for funsies.  Jesse was very concerned and as soon as he finished his fantasy football trade he drove me to the hospital.

Turns out a good way to be seen really quickly in the ER is to walk in and use the phrases "chest pain" and "going down my left arm".  It also helps to be naturally pale so that the intake nurse is able to remark on how pale you look but then when you catch a glimpse of your reflection in the mirror you wonder what she was talking about because you don't look any paler than usual and then you think about it for a minute and you feel a little sad.

I was given some aspirin to chew and then I got an EKG.  When that came back ok I had a chest x-ray to be sure my lung had not collapsed AGAIN.  It hadn't but the pain persisted.  I then had a scan using contrast dye.  When the dye was injected I panicked because I thought I peed my pants.  As I was lying there wondering how I was going to hide that the scan technician said "Oh, by the way, the dye may make you feel like you peed your pants."  Thanks for mentioning that after I had already formulated an elaborate plan to start a small fire in the lab to distract everyone from the puddle I left.  The scan looked good.

Since all my test results were normal but I was still having the pain the ER doctor decided to admit me overnight for observation.  "Crap!' was my general reaction.  I didn't even know doctors did that in real life.  It seems like a plot point on tv shows, not something that doctors really do.

I was given a room with a roommate who was deaf and kept screaming the same three questions at me over and over.  She had a stack of magazines that she kept ripping articles out of.  She had some kind of super sonic ripping powers or something because all evening long I could hear her rip, rip, RIPPING pages even though I had my headphones in as I caught up on missed episodes of the Amazing Race.

I pretty much got no sleep at night because nurses kept coming in to check on me and draw my blood and give me EKGs.  At one point my chest was really hurting and I got a nitro glycerin pill.  That didn't help.  In fact it made me feel like I was being dipped in cement.  Cement that was on fire.  Not pleasant.  The fact that it didn't work was actually good thing since it proved once and for all that whatever was going on with me was not cardiac.

After a long visit with a doctor in the morning she told me that was she suspected is that I had had an esophageal spasm.  She also thought I was having some bad heartburn.  At first I thought that was silly but then I realized that I actually have been having heartburn ever since I was about three months pregnant with the twins.  It's just that it got so much better after they were born that I've kind of learned to live with it and not notice it most of the time.  The doctor thought that I might have some irritation or damage from the pregnancy heartburn that never really healed.

So, long story short (or not short at all I guess) I was sent home with a acid blocker that I have to take for the next three months.  I didn't have a heart attack.  I feel like a giant idiot for running to the ER for what basically amounts to indigestion.  Sorry this is such a boring story.  There's really nothing interesting about a heart attack that isn't actually a heart attack.

For real fun and laughs tune in tomorrow when I have an actual heart attack as I try to figure out how in the heck we're going to pay the bill for the world's most expensive heartburn.

Three years ago today I met my best friend.
Four years ago today I got ready for my first surrogacy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Amazon Woman

I am not boycotting Amazon.

Look, I think we can all agree that the "how to be a ped0phile" book that Amazon is selling is repulsive and it's hideous that such a thing even exists.  The very idea that there are people out there that want to harm children in this way makes me sick to my stomach.  My argument here is in no way, shape or form a defense of this book or the vile scum who wrote it.

There are a lot of books on Amazon that I wish people would never buy or read.  Tom Clancy novels, Focus on the Family publications, Sandra Lee cookbooks and those stupid sparkly vampire books.  In fact, if I had my way none of that stuff would be available on Amazon (or anywhere else for that matter).

But do you really want me deciding that for you?  Do you want me - or any random yahoo - deciding that you can't buy something because it offends our individual sensibilities?  Because there are a lot of books that offend me as an individual that you probably really enjoy.  Lucky for you  those books fall under the protection of the First Amendment and neither I nor anyone else can tell you that you can't buy and read them even if they are total crap. *coughTwilightcough*

Now certainly as a consumer you have a right to vote with your dollars.  If you don't like that Amazon has a company policy of stocking books that are vile (but legal!) then don't shop there.  And if you want to use your voice and exercise your First Amendment right to tell others not to shop there then you should do that.

But I'm standing with Amazon on this one and I hope they don't cave to the mob.  Just like you don't want me deciding that you can't read Twilight or the Bible or How Easy is That? by Ina Garten, I don't want a loud, angry facebook/twitter mob telling me what I can't read.  It's a very slippery slope.  If the loud, angry mob gets this book taken off shelves then what's next?  What's the next book that they direct their attention to?  Lolita for it's portrayal of sex with a ch1ld?  To Kill A Mockingbird for racial slurs?  The Color Purple for it's rape, inc@st, slurs and lesbian themes?  And should the loud, angry mob get their way then?

Look, I don't plan to buy this repulsive how-to book.  I don't even like that it exists.  What I do like is that Amazon is standing up for my (and your!) First Amendment rights by keeping this book for sale. (At the time I wrote this I heard the book is back on the shelves.  Obviously this may change.)  I like that they are not letting the moral code of an individual, or of a group, decide what I can and cannot read.

So I'm still going to shop at Amazon.  I'm going to support them as a company by buying books and video games and photography equipment there.  And I'm going to do my part to stamp out offensive material by NOT buying Twilight.

It's the right thing to do.

Edited to add: Oy. Just so we're super clear here: I am not defending this book.  I am not defending the person who wrote it or those who might buy it.  I am attempting to address the larger issue of you and I being able to have access to books and other materials that fall under the legal protection of the first amendment.  Further more, if you send me an email accusing me of being a "pervert defender" you are not doing anything to change my mind on this issue.  It's just going to make me question not only your mental stability but also your reading comprehension skills.  Also I'm going to wonder why you're so worked up about Twilight.

One year ago today I played Barbies.
Four years ago today Joseph was my defender.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Criminals love cologne in decorative collectible bottles

I had just fallen asleep last night when Jesse came in to the room to ask me if perhaps I had made $263 worth of charges on his credit card.  The good news is that I had not.  The bad news is that someone had.

We're not exactly sure how it happened since Jesse is still in possession of his credit card.  Luckily Jesse caught it almost as soon as the charges went through.

The weird thing though is what the credit card thief bought.  They ordered stuff from Avon.  Avon?  Seriously credit card thief?  You had to steal a credit card to get your Avon fix?

I just picture someone stealing a credit card to buy prescription drugs online or to pay a hooker but Avon just seems so ... stupid.

Also, I've never had a credit card stolen (nor have I stolen one) but doesn't it seem like it would be relatively easy to track down the person who stole the card?  Couldn't you just go the the address where the Avon was supposed to be sent to?  Or is Avon thievery more sophisticated than that?  Maybe there's an elaborate network of safe-houses and PO boxes that exists for people who are addicted to lip balm with calendars printed on the side.

You know, I'm not even mad that someone stole the card.  Whatever, stuff happens.  I'm just annoyed that they used it to buy something so lame.  At least give me something I can make a good story out of!  (You'll not that I blogged this anyway.  That's because this is sadly the most interesting thing I've got going on right now.)

One year ago today people were rude by proxy.
Three years ago today Elle wanted an itchy potty.
Four years ago today Joseph wanted Jesse to take ED medication.

Monday, November 08, 2010

I'm not saying I'm good, I'm just saying I don't suck

I had a dream the other night that I went to a blogging conference and everyone there was really mean to me.  In fact, they locked me in a closet and I had to crawl out a heating vent to escape.  In an attempt to make myself feel better I flew to New York to visit the twins but then everyone in New York was mean to me and they they locked me in a closet too.

Even in my dreams I am insecure.

Insecurity is my operating system.  It's a way of life for me.  I've always wanted to learn to sing.  You know, take voice lessons and whatnot?  But in order to do that I would have to actually sing in front of someone and I worry that they might say "Please never sing again" so I'll never do it.  Instead I only sing to my kids ... who then ask me to stop.  I want to learn to fish but I'm afraid that if I try I won't be able to catch a fish so I pretend I think fishing is gross.  I would like to throw a dinner party but I'm afraid no one I invite would show up and everything I cook would be gross so I just don't do it.

Humor is the way I usually try to deal with things.  If I try something and it doesn't work out I am the first to point it out and then to mock it.  I learned a long time ago that it's better to have people laughing at your joke than it is to have them laughing at you.  (Not that this means I think I'm funny of course.  I have to point that out in case anyone reads this and thinks "What?  She's not funny!  I've never laughed at anything she's said before!  Who does she think she's fooling?  I'm going to compose a rage filled email about this!)

Even when I succeed at something I'm quick to put it down.  For example, last year I made the turkey for my family's Thanksgiving get together.  People kept telling me how good it was and someone said it was the best turkey that had ever had.  I kept saying things like "Oh, I just threw some stuff together.  I really don't know how it turned out that good." and "I just got lucky I guess." and "I don't know, I think it's kind of dry and it could have used more salt."

I'm afraid that if someone tells me I'm good at something and I agree with them that I would be making myself really vulnerable.  Maybe if I say "Thanks!  I'm really happy with how the turkey turned out!" you'll say "Although it is a little dry and it could have used more salt and way to suck at life."

That stuff is a lot easier to hear coming out of my mouth than it is coming out of someone elses.  I can't handle it so it's easier to pretend that I don't really think I'm good at anything but it doesn't really matter to me anyway.


Except this.  Photography.  I like it. I think I'm good at it.  Even when I look at my pictures with a critical eye I feel like there's a glimmer of talent in there.  When I look at the pictures I took just a year ago and compare them with the ones I took yesterday I see vast improvement.  I feel like I'm getting better every day.  I take and process pictures every day and I really feel like it's paying off.  I'm getting more comfortable with the technical stuff and I think I have an eye for the creative side of it.

Oh geez, do you know how hard that was to say?  I mean, to type?  I mean, maybe now you'll come along and tell me that I suck and that I should never pick up a camera again who the hell do I think I am and could I please step inside this closet for a minute?

So why admit all this?  Because photography is something I want to do.  I want to continue to practice it and to get better at it but I also want to go a step further.  I want to come up with a business name.  I want to have business cards made and hand them out to people.  I want to have a price list.  I want someone to pay me for doing something that I love and I want to feel like I deserve it.

I just need to get over this fear and this doubt and this constant second guessing of myself.  I have to be able to say that I am good at this and then be ok with saying it.

I can do this.  Right?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Blessed be the tar paper

Our neighbors are having their roof redone.  They are using a company that describes itself as  "Christian roofing company".  I'm not even sure what that is supposed to mean.  What Would Jesus Roof?  If the behavior of these roofing guys is any clue, Jesus would chain smoke the entire time he was nailing shingles so that when the wind blew just right the entire neighborhood would smell like a methyl cigarette. 

It doesn't surprise me that our neighbors would use a "Christian roofing company".  They're an interesting group of people. Their three little girls are sweet and kind and well behaved.  They're also not allowed to leave their yard to play with other kids.  Or go trick or treating.  Or attend school.

The girls ARE allowed to dress up for Halloween stay home to pass out religious themed "treats".  This year they passed out "Jesus Loves Me" necklaces and stamps of crosses and lambs(?) and tattoos that say "Shine with the light of Jesus".  I sort of want to skip their house during trick or treating but I feel bad for the poor kids so instead I just throw away what they give us as soon as we get home.

When we were setting up our Halloween display this year the little girls were in their yard hiding behind trees and trying to see what we were doing.  I wanted to invite them over but I didn't want to make them feel bad.  I knew they would have to say that they couldn't come over so I just kept quiet and felt sorry for them.

The girls are home-schooled and from talking to their mom I sort of suspect that they're getting a ... biased education.  For example, she told me about a history project they were working on where they made a time line of all the major events in world history.  You know, everything that has happened since the world began.  When God made it.  I've never seen the time line but I'm guessing it includes things like "The Civil War 1861-1865" and "Black Plague 1348-1350" and "Jesus rides a dinosaur 17".

Although neighbor kids are occasionally allowed to go over and play with the little girls (in their yard only) they are not allowed to go in anyone else's yard or have anyone play inside.  Their mom has told me this is a hard and fast rule for them.  No one ever gets invited inside.

Except for this.  Recently the girls have been inviting my kids over for Bible study.  Elle had no idea what they were talking about and said she would rather play house thankyouverymuch and Joseph tried his best to be polite and say no thank you.  They persisted though so Joseph refused a little more firmly.  When they still persisted he informed them that he didn't believe in God.  It was at this point that the oldest girl (who really is very sweet even though this story makes her sound not so sweet but it's not her fault, she's just been brainwashed) told Joseph "You have to believe in God otherwise you're going to Hell!!!"

I observed this whole exchange but instead of stepping in I watched to see how Joseph would handle it.  He thought for a moments and then said "Well I don't believe that's true but I think we can still be friends even if we don't agree."

I'm so damn proud of that kid.

I would like to write more but I have some stuff I have to get done today.  A big storm came through last week and blew some siding off of our house.  I'm going to call our insurance guy and see if he can recommend a good heathen siding company.

God is so totally smiting us you guys.

One year ago today Joseph got glasses.
Four years ago today was the end of an era.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

This is not an announcment

I've started about seven different blogs posts today, each of them more boring than the last.  I keep starting sentences and then losing interest halfway through.  That's been happening to me a lot whenever I blog lately.

I think I've lot my blogging mojo.

I need to figure out how to get it back.  I love blogging too much to quit.  I love this blog to much to let it die.  Yes, it's a stupid, unknown, poop-story-filled, read-by-four-people, poorly spelled, dorkishly URLed blog but I love it.  And I need to figure out how to get back to the place where I'm IN LOVE with it.

I certainly can't be the only person who has ever gone through this.  What do you do when you've got a bad case of the blogging blahs?  How do you break out of it?

One year ago today some people noticed me.
Two years ago today I didn't like the neighbor kid.
Five years ago today Elle had a bath.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bad Dancer

Oh.  Hello there roofers working across the street.  I'm sure you're laughing at a joke that you heard earlier and not at the sight of me dancing to Bad Romance.  I ... I sort of forgot that people could see into my giant picture window.  And that there were people out there.  And that I'm the worst dancer in the world.

(I need to crawl in to a hole and never come out.)

One year ago today Joseph hurt my feelings.
Two years ago today my brother and I talked politics.
Three years ago today I was burned out on Halloween.
Four years ago today I was drunk.  I think.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I have got a weird, random, out-of-no-where case of baby fever going on.  I think it's because I'm surrounded by people who just had babies or are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant.  I have a tendency to get swept up in what ever excitement is going on around me.  It might also be because Elle is five now and the other day she told me "I'm not your baby any more!"  *die*

Even though Jesse and I had already agreed long ago that we were done with babies I brought up the whole idea to him yesterday.  I presented my reasonable, well thought out arguments to him. "But I waaaaaaaaaant one!"

He considered my points and said "Not in this lifetime crazy-pants."

He stuck with that even when I pouted (which almost always get me what I want!) so I went to the bedroom to cry play Sims3.

So no more babies for me I guess because I have to be a damned grown up and make the responsible choice.  Shoot.

Oh, but here's good news!  When we got back from vacation I had a terrible back ache that left me pretty much unable to move for about four days.  One day I was laying in bed and Elle asked me to get her a drink. I sort of scooted-rolled out of bed and as I did I found my lost gold earring laying on the floor between my bed and the night stand.  I had looked in that exact spot a dozen times already so I guess the earring must have been caught in the bed sheet or something and it had finally worked it's way loose.  Hooray!  I was so happy.

Not happy enough to make up for the fact that my husband is keeping me from achieving triple motherhood but, you know, still happy.

Three years ago today I was massively pregnant in a picture and I talked about having a womb for rent.
Five years ago today I was the boring mother of a newborn.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Five happens

Once upon a time I had an adorable, round, pumpkin-headed baby.

And then I blinked.  And this happened.
Happy (belated) Birthday my darling girl.  You make my heart smile every day.

One year ago today Joseph wanted a sack lunch.
Four years ago today I got matched for my first surrogacy.
Five years ago today I needed some sleep.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Home again, home again

I am home from vacation.

We had a wonderful time and I did not want to come home.  Our house was not robbed or burned down while we were gone.

I took nearly 1500 pictures.  I am not in a single one of them.  Of course.

I'm a little bit grumpy right now.  I've got a major case of post vacation blahs and I'm also nursing a wicked backache. My plans for the day include sorting through some of the pictures and then laying around and having Jesse bring me chocolate.

I'll be more interesting tomorrow.  If I feel up to it.  In the mean time if you are so inclined I'll be putting up vacation pictures here.

One year ago today I was practically famous.
Four years ago today Elle ate cake.
Five years ago today I didn't worry about pooping while giving birth.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Emotional girl

Right now Elle is in her room stomping around loudly and muttering to herself.  She's throwing a little fit because she asked me to make a peanut better and jelly sandwich and when I made it I put the peanut butter on the top and the jelly on the bottom.  She got even madder when I fixed it by flipping the sandwich over.

Have I mentioned before how terrified I am of her teenage years?

Three years ago today I was pregnant with Little A and I ate gross things.
Five years ago today I was pregnant with Elle and I ate even grosser stuff.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

This is the part where I gross you out

Sic months out from the c-section and I still have large patches on my abdomen where I have no sensation.  It occurs to me that it would have been really nice if someone had warned me in advance that this can happen.  It's not like I would have refused to get the c-section but it would have been nice to know.  I like to be prepared.

Remember when I had gall stones? It was just about the worst pain I've ever had and I've given birth without pain medication.  It only took one gall bladder attack for me to decided I wanted my gall bladder out.  (My recovery from the surgery led to my most popular post ever, loved by both fellow bloggers and random googling poops fetishists alike.)

Now I'm not saying I regret having my gall bladder out.  At the time I was suffering there is probably nothing you could have told me about life post-surgery that could have made me change me mind.  I'm just saying, a warning about some of the side effects would have been nice.  Like, maybe as I was being put under the doctor could have said "Oh, and by the way, for the rest of your life you're going to have occasional, random moments where you feel like your insides have liquefied and are going to shoot out of you at a high rate of speed.  Just wanted you to know!"

Since he didn't tell me that I had to come to the realization on my own that the on and off stomach bug I've had ever since the twins were born in fact is not a stomach bug but a fact of life that I've got to learn to live with.  And I had that realization after an incident today were I was standing in Best Buy, sweating profusely, concentrating on clenching every muscle in my body and thinking "If I move from this exact spot I'll explode.  I'll just have to live here for the rest of my life."

As I stood there trying to look casual and not attract the attention of salespeople (lest they come over to me and talk to me and require a response from me which would cause me to unclench something and lose control of my ... parts) I did some quick googling on my phone.  It turns out that the entire internet knows that gall bladder removal can cause, oh, let's just say intestinal issues.

I just wish someone had maybe thought to let me know.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

One is the loneliest number

My dad was in the Air Force my entire childhood.  When I was 17 he had to go to Saudi Arabia for a few months.  When he was there be bought me a pair of gold hoop earrings.  I have worn those earrings nearly every day of my life since I got them.

The hoops are nice and small so they don't catch on anything.  They close well so I never worry about them falling out when I shower or sleep.  I never take them out.  In fact, the last time I took them out was the day the twins were born.  I put them right back in as soon as I could that day.

This morning I went to take a shower and I realized the earring was missing from my right ear.  I searched all over the bathroom floor and in the clothes I had been wearing.  Then I searched my bed and the floor of my bedroom.  I looked all over my house and in my car.  I can't find the earring anywhere.

The kicker is that I'm not even sure when I lost it. I have a nervous habit of playing with the earring in my left ear so if it was that one that had fallen out I would have known it right away but since it's the right earring that's missing I have no idea when it fell out.  If it fell out at home I'll probably find it sooner or later but I could have fallen out this weekend while at my cousin's wedding or as I was running around town getting ready for the wedding.  In that case I know I'll never get it back.

I feel just sick about this.  Those earrings were really special to me.  I keep putting my hand up to my ear to play with the earring just out of habit but then I remember the earring is stuck in my dresser drawer just waiting for me to find it's mate. 

I'm so sad.

Three years ago today I remembered being rude.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

That's how I roll

Ladies, what do you do if you're out with your friends and some sleazy guy starts taking video of your group on his cell phone?  How do you handle it when he sits right across from you and aims his camera right up the skirt of the girl you're sitting next to?  I don't know what you do but here's what I do:

He didn't much care for me firing off about 20 pictures of him (in fact, there may have been a "bitch" muttered in my general direction) but he stopped taking pictures and videos.

This is not the first time I've done this.  It is the first time I've done it to a guy with prison tattoos of his children on his stomach (someone in my group told me he had shown them to her).  

I may be a bitch but at least I don't take crap from some badly-tattooed, pubic-hair-beard-having, stained-pants-wearing, scrawny little scuzzballs. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This is what you get when I have nothing interesting to talk about

What's that?
My fridge be bad, yo.

This amuses me much more that it really should.  No one else is even going to think this is funny.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A breath of fresh air

"You have to brush your teeth in the morning after you eat because friends don't like it when you blow your breakfast air on them."

So sayeth Elle.

Four years ago today Elle discovered pay-per-view

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You just can't cut the wisdom out of me

I have a story for you.  It's a story of magic and miracles and wonder and the freaky ass thing that's going on inside my mouth right now.

Eight years ago I had my wisdom teeth removed.  It took a long time for the right lower side of my mouth to heal and at a follow up appointment an x-ray showed that I still had a small tooth chip left in my gums.  The oral surgeon promised me that the chip would work it's way out or it would be reabsorbed by the surrounding gum tissue.

Eight years come and go.  The chip never came out so I always assumed it was reabsorbed.  It's never brought up by any dentist that I see.  (I change dentists a lot.  I have a massive dentist phobia and I'm always looking for one that I can make an appointment with without feeling like I could vomit from terror.)

Yesterday I went to a brand new dentist.  I mentioned that I was having some pain on the right side of my lower jaw.  She looked at my new x-rays and said "That's because you've got a wisdom tooth crowding your molar on that side.  It's going to need to come out."

I explain that I already had that wisdom tooth out.  She pulls up an old set of my x-rays.

"Huh .... I've never ... How is that ... Are we sure these are yours?  We are?  Then how... That doesn't seem right."

All good things to hear your dentist saying.

It turns out that my tiny little leftover wisdom tooth chip has regrown into a tooth.  It's a small tooth but it's a tooth.  It's got a nerve running though it and everything.

My dentist says she's never seen that happen before.  In fact, when I got home I had a consult with Dr Google and I learned that wisdom teeth do not regrow.  It just doesn't happen.  Unless, you know, it does.  In my mouth.  It happens in my mouth.

Now I don't have the x-rays so I can't give you photographic proof but why would I lie about this?  Because I want to achieve world-wide fame as The Freak With The Tooth Thing?  It's not exactly a title that comes with great power and financial rewards.  Believe me, if I was going to lie to you it would be about something much more exciting that my wisdom tooth.

The dentist also expressed amazement over the length of the roots of the teeth in my lower jaw.  She just went on and on about it.  At first I was oddly proud like it was something I had any control over.  Then she just kept talking about it.  She even said it looked like the roots are longer now than they were in my last set of x-rays.  If I had not been sucking down nitrous oxide like it was chocolate cake I probably would have thought to ask her if that meant that sooner or later the roots of my teeth are going to pop right out of the bottom of my face.

I'll ask her tomorrow.  I have to go back to have a cavity filled.  At least that's the excuse the dentist gave for wanting me to come back.  She probably just wants me to sit in the waiting room so she can charge people 25 cents each to get a look at the Amazing Walrus Girl.

Two years ago today we came back from Disney World.
Three years ago today I laughed at Jesse and the kids were freaking adorable.

Friday, September 17, 2010

His last name is Remover

There is a kid in Elle's preschool class named Stian.  Pronounced Stain.

Stian is Norwegian for "wanderer".

It is also Hipster for "my parents were too busy patting themselves on the back for coming up with my unusual name to ever take the time to consider how naming me Stian is pretty much like pinning a PLEASE TEASE ME note to the back of my shirt every day for the rest of my life".  Alternative meaning: "Thanks a lot assholes"

Edited to add: It's been pointed out to me that perhaps Stian is an old family name.  A tradition.  I respectfully agree that this may be the case but I maintain that some family traditions are better ... not continued.  Family name or not I still think it's a mean thing to do to a kid.

Edited to further add: It's been pointed out to me in an email that perhaps I am a huge bitch for making fun of the name Stian.  I respectfully agree that I may be a huge bitch but maintain that not liking the name Stian is not what makes me a bitch.  Still not a good name.  Sorry, random emailer.  If it makes you feel any better you can go ahead and make fun of my kid's names but then the joke will be on you because I didn't even name one of them, he came with that name so hahahahahahaha!

Edited to even further add:  Holy macaroni!  Does everyone who has a kid named Stian belong to some kind of message board or something?  I have now gotten three emails from people who are mad at me because I made fun of their kid's name.  All right, fine.  You win!  Stian is a wonderful name and I hope that when Elle grows up she and Stian get married and that they have 100 little Stians of their very own but if they don't I will adopt several cats (and some house plants) and name them all Stian because Stian is THE BEST NAME EVER!!!  Also, my best friend is pregnant and I will be encouraging her to name her baby Stian unless it is a girl then I will suggest Stianette.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

And now I'm dead. Because of germs.

Yesterday I was feeling pretty good about Joseph's no homework situation.  Remember that?  I was all "Yeah bitchez, no homework for us!"  Yesterday I mentally composed some swear word free love thank you notes to his teacher in my head and then I went to pick Joseph up from school.

"Hi Mommy!" he said as he got in the car.  "I have homework today!"

What?  Homework?  As in work you do at home?  What the hell?  I was told there would be no homework!  No homework!  That was the deal!  It's my fault isn't it?  I gloated too soon about the homework situation.  I should have just kept it to myself.  The universe is punishing me for something isn't it? I'm sorry! Please, powerful homework god!  Forgive me!  I don't want to do homework!  OH NOOOOOEEEESSS!

"What kind of homework is it babe?" I cautiously ask.

"During dinner time or some other family time we have to have a discussion about germs.  I have a paper to use to help me moderate it."

Oh my god.  For homework he has to moderate a family discussion about germs.

*dies from wonderfulness overdose*

(Every single time I type try to "homework" I type "homeworkd".  Every single freaking time.  I only bring this up because I'm worried that at some point my poor over worked spell check will be all "We keep telling her that's spelled wrong but she just keeps typing it that way so maybe homeworkd is a word and we just don't know it?" and stop correcting me and if that does happen I just want you to know that I'm not stupid but my one finger is and also my spell check is kind of lazy.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I won the 4th grade jackpot

Let me go on record as stating that I HATE homework.  Sitting down and forcing my kid to do worksheets ranks right up there among my least favorite parenting tasks.  It's torture for both of us.  Joseph has had more homework related meltdowns than I care to try to count.

For the past two years Joseph's school has had an hour long after school Homework Club three days a week and that has helped some. He's been able to get most of his homework done there and when he's doing it in a group he thinks of it more as extra time he gets to spend with his friends and less as stupid, pointless busy work that was assigned to him because everyone hates him and no one ever wants him to play video games ever again and OMG HOMEWORK IS EVIL!

So Homework Club really helps but this year we might not even need it because, brace yourself for this, Joseph got a teacher that does not assign homework.

I almost passed out with joy when I heard the news.  She says that her philosophy is that there is always more learning and working for kids to do but that she doesn't think worksheets are productive or helpful.  She expects the kids to do things like reading or flashcards at home and they still need to study spelling words and sometimes they might need to work on a big project at home but there won't be any worksheets.  No.  Worksheets.

Woo freaking hoo.

Oh, and on top of all that awesomeness?  Joseph's new IEP case manager specializes in autism and she's arranged it so that if Joseph is ever feeling stressed out or overwhelmed or upset (or any of the other seven billion things he can be going through) he can ask for her and either she or her assistant will come and take him out of the class room.  He can go to get a drink or take a walk in the hallway or take a short break in the library or the motor room or whatever he feels like he needs.

Woo freaking fracking hoo.

Can I tell you how happy and grateful I am that Joseph has such an amazing team to work with?  I'm so thankful that the people at his school seem to recognize his needs are are working proactively to meet them.  I lurve them.  And not just because of this stuff.  Also because when Joseph sits in his desk his little legs dangle down and don't touch the floor because he's so short so they had him measured and got him a little footstool to rest his feet on and he said it helps him sit up straighter and write better and he doesn't get so tired!  Squee!

Is happy his little legs no longer dangle and that he now has more time after school to memorize video game guides.
Three years ago today I should not have been allowed in a grocery store.
Five years ago today I talked about my cervix.  Of course.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I think I'll keep her

Today when I picked Elle up from school she was sad because she wanted to stay and eat lunch with her "all day school friends".  To make her happy I took her to lunch at her new favorite place, a fancy burger restaurant right here in town.

When we were seated Elle was thrilled when she realized she would have one entire side of the booth all to herself.  I only had to remind her about fifty times to stop bouncing on the seat.

She requested that we split an appetizer of meatballs on a stick.  As I was ordering it a straw wrapper flew across the table and hit me in the face.  When I looked up Elle was sitting with her straw in her mouth and shocked look on her face.  I think she surprised herself with her good aim.  I didn't get mad because I'm the one that taught her to do that in the first place.

When our meatballs arrived Elle threw up her hands and cheered "Woohoo!  Neatballs!"

I cut the meatballs into pieces for Elle.  She decided that the bison was her favorite and that she also liked the lamb but that it made her a little sad to eat a baby sheep.  That didn't stop her from nearly licking the plate clean when she was done.

As we waited for our sandwiches to come we played a word game.  We went through the alphabet and Elle tried to name a food that started with each letter.  She was pleased with how she could use our appetizers in the game.  Lamb for L, bison for B, Kobe beef for K and neatballs for N.  H was the only letter she had trouble with but later she went back said "himachi".  I'm pretty sure she meant "jicama".

As we ate our sandwiches Elle paused to announce "I am just so cute today!"  Then, after a brief pause to nibble on a pickle (dipped in my chili of course) she said "You're so cute today too Mama."

In case anyone is wondering what we're going to do about the all day preschool program we're going to skip it for now.  We may revisit it during the last month or two of school as a "getting ready for kindergarten" option but that's a long way off.

For right now though I really like having her around.  She likes being with me.  I think she still gets a lot out of being with me.  She's my sidekick, my shadow, my little buddy.  I'm not ready to give that up yet.  Soon enough she'll grow tired of being around me all the time.  I have to soak up all the togetherness I can while she'll still let me.

And clearly I'm going to have to make neatballs for dinner more often.

Friday, September 10, 2010

We'll call them princess crowns

Every time one of my kids lulls me into thinking I'm a good parent the other one comes along and sucker punches me with a nice big reminder that hahaha, I really don't have this all perfected yet.

Joseph is 10 years old and has never had a cavity.  I won't lie - taking him to the dentist office has always been a little bit of a morale boost for me.  I would hear other parents talking about how Little Johnny needed three fillings or how little Suzy had two cavities and I would think "Hey, my kid may not eat anything other than peanut butter sandwiches and he may require hours of therapy a week and he might not be able to write legibly and he might scream at me if he can feel the tag on his shirt but by golly I've got this dental hygiene thing figured out!"

I live for the little victories.

For a long time it seemed like Elle was going to continue the proud Perfect Teeth tradition.  She loves going to the dentist.  She loves brushing and flossing her teeth and she'll sometimes do it three or four times a day.  She never drinks pop and only very rarely drinks juice.  She seems like the perfect candidate for being crowned Child Who's Teeth I Could Brag About.

Then a few weeks ago I took her to the dentist.  She went back for the cleaning herself and I sat in the waiting room feeling superior to everyone around me.  Next to me was a couple arguing because the dad had let their son have candy right before coming in for a cleaning and his mouth was still green.  Across the waiting room a woman was telling her son "You're in 5th grade now.  You're going to have to start brushing your teeth every day."  Yeah, I was feeling pretty good.

Then Elle came out. 

I'm sure you can guess where this is going.

Two cavities.  They were forming in between teeth on both sides of her mouth so she would need four crowns put on.  I almost passed out when they told me the bad news.  I made the appointment to get the fillings done and I tried to act very casual about the whole thing but in reality I was clutching on to the edge of the appointment desk for dear life and reminding myself to breathe.  There was a combination of two things going on here.  First, I was mortified that I had become one of those parents.  I just knew that somewhere in the waiting room someone was looking at me and going "I'm glad that's not my kid!"  Maybe it was even the mother of the green mouthed boy.

The second thing is that I have a huge, massive, gigantic, extreme, intense fear of the dentist. So much so that when I was recently on the phone making my own dentist appointment and they asked me if I wanted gas during the x-rays I used my most grown up and mature voice to say "That's an option? Yes, I do believe I would like that.  And who will I be needing to kiss in order to thank them for this wonderful, magical development?  And also, can you please send me some gas over the phone right now because even talking about this makes me anxious and queasy."

So I was a little upset about about the whole crown issue.  Not Elle though!  She told me every day that she was "exciting" to go back to the dentist.  She read her Dora Goes To The Dentist a thousand times.  She happily announced to everyone that she met that she was going to the dentist to have her teeth fixed.

Today was the big day.  She wanted me to come with her to hold her hand.  Watch my baby get her teeth drilled into?  That sounds super fun!  But I did it because I am the mom and surely those cavities were somehow my fault and the least I could do was hold her hand while they got fixed.

She was a rock star.  At least as far as I could see.  I tried not to watch too much and whenever I did accidentally look over the room would start to get dark and wavy.  But the people working on her kept saying what a great job she was doing.  In fact at one point they joked that she probably could have done it without the nitrous.  I "joked" that if she really didn't need it maybe I could take a few hits of it please and oh my god, why is it so dark in here and why is the room spinning?

The only real incident came when Elle whined because I was holding her hand too tight.  (What?  I needed the emotional support!)  Well, that and the moment she was all done and she gave me a great big smile and I could see the crowns and I felt like the scuzziest, most low life parent on the face of the planet and clearly I have ruined her for life and I'm not fit to parent her everyone should just go ahead and use me an example of what not to do with their kids.

Then we walked out of the office and and I was paying I overheard a dentist scolding a woman for the state of her son's teeth.  "We had to remove three teeth today because they were so rotten.  One of them only had a little tip of root left.  There are a lot more cavities left on his teeth that will need to be taken care of.  In fact, almost every tooth he has some some decay on it."

Ok, so maybe I'm not the worst parent ever.  I'm still getting Elle a t-shirt that says "Please notice my gorgeous red hair and my brilliant blue eyes and not my four crowns and did I mention that my brother has never had a cavity?"

One year ago today Elle started preschool.
Two years ago today I loved Sarah.
Three years ago today I struggled with medication.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Wiggle room

(I'm going to break one of my own blog rules here and talk about my family's finances.  I'm torn on what to do and I hope this will provide me some clarity.)

As I type this I've got apple butter simmering in the crock pot and bread baking.  My house pretty much smells like magic.  Later I'm going to bake brownies and then the house will become the best smelling house in all the world.

As a full time stay-at-home-mom (I don't work in or out of the home at all) I have a lot of time for things like baking bread and canning apple butter and playing Farmville cleaning the house and whatnot.  It's a luxury that I know a lot of people would like but simply can't afford. The only reason we can afford it is because Jesse and I decided a long time ago that it was important to us that our children have a parent home with them full time and that we were willing to go without a lot of extras to make that happen.  We're not able to afford it because we're rich because, ahahahahahaha, no.  We're able to afford it because we're willing to be left with a very small amount of wiggle room after the bills are paid. 

The kids started school today.  Joseph is in 4th grade and Elle is starting her second year of preschool.  It's not cheap sending Elle to school.  For 2 hours a day, 4 days a week we pay $228 a month.  That might not seem like much to some people but remember us over here with the tight budgets?  Yeah, it's a lot for us. We can make it work though.  We just cut corners a little tighter in other places.  No biggie right?

Now we're in a quandary.  We just found out we could send Elle to an all-day preschool program this year.  She would go to her regular class in the morning then have another four hours of school after that let out.  Each day her class would do math and reading projects and then (depending on the day of the week) would go to the library or the computer lab or art class or music class.

The class sounds perfect for Elle.  I feel like she's ready for an all-day program.  She's smart as a whip and very social and I think she could really benefit a lot from the class.  She's an old four and we had even debated trying to push her ahead to kindergarten this year but I think this would be even better for her.  She's sensitive and easily frustrated when she can't do something right so I think she might really flourish in the gentle, nurturing environment of preschool. 

All that said, we probably wont' be signing her up for the program.  I'm sure you can guess why.  The cost is $456 and I just don't think we can make that work.  In fact, I KNOW we can't.  We're out of wiggle room.

Now In case you're thinking "GET A JOB!" I want you to know I am giving that some thought.  If I could get a job, even for only a few hours a week while the kids are both in school, I could probably get us the wiggle room we need to afford the all day program. The problems with that idea are:  a) I am terrified to go back to work. I've been doing this at-home thing for so long that the idea of punching a clock and talking to adults makes me sort of woozy. b) I'm pretty much unskilled.  Sure, I used to be a cashier and I knew how to run a til but it's been ages since I did that.  My homemaking skills don't really translate into real world job skills.  Unless people want to pay me for my highly skilled uterus I might have a hard time finding something. c) I don't really want to work.  I love my children but the few hours I get when they're in school are important to me.  I like running errands without having to bring them with.  I like jumping into the shower without them pounding on the bathroom door.  I like taking the time to bake cookies for an after school treat.  That stuff matters to me.  (Maybe more that it should?)  I've been a stay-at-home-mom for 10 years.  I feel like I've earned these few hours a day.

So now I have to decide.  Do I take one for the team and try to find some crappy, low paying job that I hopefully don't hate so that Elle can go to the all day program?  Or do we continue to send her to the half day program and look forward to next year's all day kindergarten class?  Or do I try to figure out some other creative way to earn us some extra wiggle room?  Or do I make Jesse get a second job?  Or do I keep pursuing another surrogacy and move Elle into the all day program when (if) I get pregnant and start getting paid?  Or do I buy a lottery ticket and hope that today is my lucky day?

You know what?  This hasn't clarified anything at all for me.  If anything I'm more torn that ever.  What to do, what to do, what to do?*

*I'm not really asking YOU what I should do but if anyone's got the perfect solution I'm more than willing to listen to it.

Two years ago today I found a practical use for blogging.
Five years ago today I was the most boring person in the world.

Friday, September 03, 2010

For the record, he does not care for it

I'm finding it harder and harder to write about Joseph these days.  He's an amazing, talented, smart, funny, creative, energetic, enthusiastic, occasionally difficult child and I want to tell the whole world how weird, wild and wonderful he is but I'm holding back.  The older he gets the more it feels like I'm revealing too much when I write about him.

It was easy when he was little.  I could say whatever I wanted about him and it was just me, telling cute, funny stories about my cute, funny kid.  Now when I want to talk about him I start to wonder if I'm invading his privacy.  He's ten years old now.  Those cute, funny stories that used to be mine to tell as I pleased are now becoming his stories.  More and more often when I want to talk about him I ask myself "Would he want you to share this?" and more and more often the answer is no.

There's other stuff too.  Sometimes I want to vent or work through a particularly difficult episode but I worry about what people might think.  For example, last night Joseph had a really big, bad melt-down and I would like to talk about it and get ideas and support but something is holding me back.  I worry that people will read it and think that I'm a bad parent.  That I did something that caused that behavior or that I didn't do something that could have prevented it.

Even worse, I'm worried that people will read it and think something bad about Joseph.  Maybe people will read it and think he's a bad kid or that he's a spoiled brat or that he's somehow less awesome that he actually is.  I can't let that happen.  Joseph is a great kid.  The people who know him know that.  I can't let people who don't know him think badly of him.

I've had this blog for five years and before that I had another that I started when Joseph was just a tiny baby.  I've spent most of his life documenting every milestone, achievement, setback and one-liner.  It's hard to accept that I have to stop that now.  The best parenting tool I have at my disposal is my intuition and right now it's telling me to ease up, to let Joseph struggle and thrive and grow and succeed without me blogging every little thing.

That doesn't mean I'll never talk about him again!  He's a hilarious little boy and his quips and quirks alone could fill a blog. For example: The other night I made soup.  (For all the progress Joseph has made with food issues soup remains one of his, oh, let's just say less than favorite foods.)   My parents dropped Joseph off after taking him to his horse back riding lesson and he was in a great mood when he walked in the door.  He chattered happily as he took off his shoes (and shirt), washed his hands and sat down at the table.  He picked up a spoon and was just about to dig into his dinner when he realized what I had set in front of him.  The dreaded soup. He stared down at the bowl for a moment and then put his head up and looked me dead in the eye. 

"Mommy" he said, his voice a mixture of anger and disappointment. "I believe I've already made my feelings on soup very clear to you."

And then Jesse and I laughed and laughed and laughed because it might have been a teeny bit rude and sassy but it was also mostly funny.