Thursday, May 26, 2005

Gold Star

Boo Bug knocked over her milk this morning. Though warned with quotations not to, she was so busy bouncing in her chair and trying to play with Bacon Bit while drinking that she tipped it right on over.

“Oh no, mommy, I spilled!” she cried.

“Oh dear, get a towel,” I advised, grabbing one myself.

“Ok, ok, ok!” she shouted. “You get the high parts, I’ll get the low parts!!”

Muttering “oh dear, oh dear, oh dear what a mess!”, she wiped the milk from her chair and the floor, while I soaked up the lake from the table.

As I was tossing the towels into the laundry, she surveyed the ex-damage with a sharp, critical eye. Then she turned around, grinned up at me, and thrust her tiny thumb skyward.

“OK. Good job, mommy. You’re a gold star mommy today!”

Hot dog. Gold Star Mommy. That’s me. Milk Wiper Upper Extraordinaire.

…does this mean I get to pick a treat out of the basket this afternoon? Cause I’ve got my eye on one of those miniature spiragraphs in there…

Martha I ain’t, but…

I’m going to do this. I have to do this. Meatloaf Cupcakes!

But instead of using food coloring, I’m going to get some more of those purple potatoes . And may I just state for the record that it utterly sucks that our town’s weekly farmer’s market sucks?

Lessee, you want fifteen different kinds of makeup? Maybe a sno-cone or some cotton candy or deep fried Thai food? Then go to our market. But if you’d like, say, oh, I dunno, vegetables? Well, we’ve got onions, bok choy, strawberries and…uh…more onions…and the occasional carrot. And that’s about it.


Fortunately, though, there are some thumping good ones within half an hour of my house. So I can still get the best of the best, without too much angst and suffering. All I need to do is find other things I want to do in that neck of the woods so I can justify the cost of the gas.

What I love best about farmer’s markets is that I can get the veggies for the same (or better, even) price as Costco, while the guy who sells them to me gets a much better price for all his hard work. It’s also nice that the food is actually picked when it’s ready, instead of being harvested slightly ahead of time so that it is green enough to survive the journey from field to processing center to distribution center to grocery store.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Why did I do this to myself

Due to comment length restrictions (another way of saying I’m too damned long-winded), I’m going to answer ya here, Mapletree. Question was: I am curious (as one of four children) why you decided to have 4 yourself. And what was the chaos escalation with each new addition?

I wish I had a solid, business-like reason. But I really don’t. In some ways, it’s like trying to say why you prefer green over blue, or chocolate chip to peanut butter. I preferred having four kids to having a lot of other things (like peace and quiet) (or a luxury yacht). Even when I was just a kid myself, I wanted to have a lot of kids. Of course, when I was a kid (to include up to my very early twenties), I wanted the classic Catholic ‘as many as God will bless me with’ lot of kids. Thank God I switched Sprint, with the new rollover minute plan…um…wait…why doesn’t that sound right…?

My husband and I settled on four pretty quickly. Me being the oldest of two, four seemed like a nice big number. My husband being the youngest of seven, four didn’t seem a bit threatening.

Well, actually, it was more of a ‘we’d like at least two and up to four’ agreement. We thought pretty long and hard about each kid before we conceived. Could we handle this new addition emotionally? Physically? Financially? Could we fund two, three, four college funds? Wedding funds? Semesters-abroad-funds? Not to mention preschool, and the possibility that the public school system would get so incredibly bad that we’d end up paying for private schools…what would we do if and in case…?

And after all the thinking and planning and wondering and worrying, each new kid was basically a leap of faith.

I consider my kids to be the greatest gift I have ever been given. There was a while in my life when I thought I wasn’t going to have any kids at all. Payback for a life of crime, so to speak. First of all, I never thought I’d find a man interested in me that wasn’t…uh…let’s see, what’s the term I’m looking for…scary beyond all reason? Yeah, I think that’s it. And let me tell you, it hurt. Going from wanting lots and lots and lots of kids all your life to thinking that it just isn’t ever going to happen? Ouch. So you can imagine how I feel, now that I have all four of my children.

There is not a happier woman in the world. There is nobody more blessed than me. I have everything in the world, and more.

The chaos factor is interesting. You’d think that it would be either a smooth upward trend, or an exponential leap and flatten with each new baby…but it didn’t really work that way. Going from no kids to Eldest was the biggest leap of the Chaos Curve, and it would settle and spike with each new phase. She started toddling and there was this big spike in the curve. AH! The baby! She’s got your soda! AH! AH! AH! Catch her, stop her, grab her…aw, hell! **sigh** OK, you vacuum up the glass, I’ll get her some dry clothes…

It goes up temporarily each time one kid or another hits a new phase. Like when Boo Bug suddenly decided, at three and a little change (and not a bit coincidentally, right around the same time Bacon Bit arrived), to work on her Terrible Two Attitude. Suddenly I’ve got a kid who is arguing with me about Every Damned Thing in her life, from what color shirt she’s going to wear to whether or not she likes apples (you do! I don’t! you DO! I DON’T! You WILL! I WON’T!), and the Chaos Factor takes a big upward tick. But then she decides that overall, it isn’t worth the hassle and it settles back down again…right around the same time Bacon Bit discovers that his feet are made for walkin’, and starts crashing around the house bonking his head on every available surface. I swear, I could bubble-wrap the whole house and he’d still find some way to fall over and bonk his head on something.

As an aside, I’ve observed when visiting other parents’ Dens that whether you have one kid or a dozen, the chaos seems about the same. I mean, the physical logistics are tougher with my four than my friends’ one or two (I’ve got this one, you’ve got that one…who’s got #3 and 4?!), but in terms of mess and noise it seems to be the same whether there’s one or twenty. Weird, huh?

Sometimes it makes me crazy (especially when it involves pain, blood or squabbling…I loathe squabbling), but overall the noise and the mess and the upheaval are part and parcel of the whole ‘mom’ gig. And every day, every mess they make, every shriek and giggle, every accident, every mistake, every inappropriate copping of attitude, takes them one step closer to going out into the world as (hopefully) happy, healthy, well-adjusted grown-ups. Who know that their mother, while admittedly something of a nutcase, loves them hopelessly and thinks they’re pretty damned cool.

I write more about the times when I want to bang my head against the wall than the times when things get schmaltzy. I usually need the therapy more than I do when I’ve spent the day with the Golden Children and am basking in the warmth of their sun-like glow. Besides, it’s hard to write about those times and feelings without sounding like a putz. Seriously. How do you write about the way sometimes you look at your kids when they’re playing some charming little game of their own invention and feel your eyes swelling up with tears because they’re just so damned beautiful, without sounding like you’ve gone not only around the bend, but over the rapids as well, banging your head on the rocks all the way?

Speaking of mess and general noise level… Bacon Bit would like to get up from his nap now, so it’s time for me to quit this, and the girls to quit their ‘art time’. Mess is about to go down as we clean it all up, noise is about to go up, and the Chaos of Snack Time is upon us…

Step on a crack...

I’m not in the mood to roughhouse this morning due to both a rotten night’s sleep and a remarkably sore back. So when Danger Mouse threw herself on the floor in front of me demanding, “Tickle me!” I said no. Not this morning.

“Why not?” she asked, tugging at my arm.

“Because, honey, my back really hurts this morning.”

She dropped my arm like she’d been burned.

“Is it broked?” she asked timidly.

“Broken, not broked,” I laughed. “And no. It’s just sore, and I don’t want to roughhouse today.”

She skulked away. I thought she was just sulking, but then I heard her crying over the baby monitor. So I schlepped upstairs to see what her problem was and found her sitting at the top of the stairs. Before I could a word to her, she wailed out with, “I didn’t mean to!!”

All sorts of horrors were flashing before my eyes. Which would it be? An overflowing toilet? Towels soaking in the bathtub? Crayon on the wall? All the clothes taken out of the closet and their hangers used to form a ‘barrel of monkey’s’ like line?

Well, no. Turns out she, and she alone, is responsible for my sore back.

She was stepping on cracks yesterday. Even though Eldest had told her that if you step on a crack you’ll break your mother’s back, she (and Boo Bug) had been jumping from grout-line to grout-line in the hall as part of their Princesses Avoiding Alligators game.

Not only stepping, but jumping on cracks. No wonder my back is so sore this morning!

I think she’s mostly bought my explanation that her stepping on, around or over grout has nothing to do with the state of my back. I’m pretty sure she understands that my back is likely sore because I insisted on trying to reorganize the closet yesterday by myself, instead of waiting for Daddy to be home to help me with the heavier / higher up bits.

But right now, she is trying to walk up the hall without stepping on any grout…just in case…

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Ok, so teething is just not fun, pretty much ever. But this is double-plus-not-fun.

Bacon Bit was pulling up on my leg while I was working at the kitchen table.

And then he fell.


Into the table leg.

When I picked him up, he was bleeding like crazy. I mean, it was gushing out of his mouth. AAH! AAH! AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

So I applied a little first aid and a lot of cuddling and the bleeding stopped and he settled down to a case of hiccups and whimpering.

Then I took a peek in his little mouth.

Whaddya know. The tooth that was nothing but a white bud this morning is now poking well out of his ripped-up gum. He must have fallen just exactly on top of that tooth, pounding it through his gum like a razor.

Damn, that just had to hurt like hell.

Infant Motrin and frozen biting toy have been given, and sympathy will be extended all day.

And now that the crisis is over, I have just noticed that my t-shirt has a lovely wash of bloody spit all over the left shoulder. Swell. Bets that it won’t come out, even though I’m taking it off right immediately now and putting it into the washer, anyone…?

*sigh* That’s two t-shirts ruined for wearing out of the house in one week – and it’s only Tuesday!!! (Yesterday, it was chocolate – I gave Bacon Bit a chocolate chip cookie, and he stored up a bunch of chocolate in his cheeks or something to urp all over my shoulder, and I didn’t notice it until it had set like steel into the {ahem} WHITE t-shirt.)

I'm just not cut out for this line of work. I'm not. People who are stupid enough, after SEVEN YEARS of experience, to wear a white shirt around children ought to be fired. Also, people who get so emotional over things like bloody mouths and infant pain that they get all damp in the eyeball area are obviously not psychologically well-suited to such work. Not to mention the inability to multitask well enough to simultaneously comfort the baby, cook breakfast for the other two and spell words like "Wishing well", "sport bottle" and "singing" - all of which have been requested by a kid who can't even write the letters yet anyway, so what the HELL is the point?

There! Right there!! A woman who gets mad at a five year old for pretending to write because it's irritating her while she's trying to simultaneously comfort an infant and cook eggs to order? Bad mother! Bad mother!!

Somebody, please: fire me. For the sake of the children.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Hot Diggity-Damn!

OK, this is one of those stock-geek posts. I’m sorry, I know they’re boring to, like, 99.9999% of the other human beings out there. BUT! I have just passed the Profit Point on a batch of trades. Woo-hoo, woo-hoo! {funky chicken dance}

I made a thousand bucks worth of trades three weeks ago, buying small positions in 8 different stocks. I paid $7 apiece in commissions, losing $56 to the broker. And if I wanted to sell out of them, I’d lose yet another $56 in commissions, right? So my $1000 worth of purchases has to go up by $113 before I’m actually ahead by a buck. (Ack.)

Well! As of this morning, I am officially at the point of Starting To Make A Profit. And it only took three weeks, which, on such a wee tiny little investment set, is pretty damned good. As usual, it’s a couple of them doing fabulously while another couple are doing blah (dipping up and down around my purchase price and not committing either way – but that’s OK, I bought them to be a stable base of dividend producers - their contributions will come from quarterly dividends rather than capital gains) and the other four are just sorta…truckin’ along. Surviving a freaky market where missing earnings by a fraction of a cent causes people to scream in panic and rush to sell every last share before the End of the World (hence putting the stock ‘on sale’ for the rest of us, who are less concerned with ‘this quarter’ and more concerned with ‘in fifteen years, when I hope to be retiring’).

Now I just sit back, try not to freak out if they dip back below that level (‘dip’ is OK…it’s ‘tank’ that’s scary), and wait it all out. This batch is, in my humble and probably wrong estimations, undervalued by an average of about 40%, and I expect it to take between 2 and 5 years for them to grow into their value for a total annual return of between 8% and 20%, depending on just how long it really does take.

And, I must take that crayon away from Bacon Bit. Where does he get these things?! I just swept, vacuumed, and mopped this floor not twelve hours ago…!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

New Favorite Show

Forget CSI. Forget America’s Next Top Model. Forget How Clean Is Your House.

My new best-favorite show in the world is now Mad Money, on CNBC.

Oh my God. I laughed, I cried, I argued with him (always a fun exercise, shouting at the host of a television show), I asked myself, “What? What was that? Geez! Talk slower, talk slower!!!”

I hereby vote Jim Cramer extremely likely to drop dead of a heart attack mid-show. Good lord. I’m watching the ‘lightening round’ right immediately now, and he has given opinions on about five hundred stocks in less than five minutes. Holy smokes.

He is a much faster mover than yours truly. Well, duh, of course he is. He’s a hedge fund manager. I’m one of those ‘buy in and then sit there for a year or two or five’ types. He’s looking to buy a stock that is right immediately now undervalued and then !BOOM!, the instant it slides up, sell-sell-sell!!

But he did interest me on a couple points. For example, I've been keeping an eye on my 7-Eleven (SE) position lately. They’re trading on a 52-week high right now (and have been for about a week now). I bought in a little over a year ago at $15, it’s now trading at almost $30. When I bought in at $15, I had set a target of $28 a share.

Hmmmm, I said to myself, sipping my second cup of coffee at 6:10 this morning. Methinks perhaps I ought to take some profits on that deal…

And then what does this guy blurt out but “7-Eleven! It’s been good to you, now sell, sell, sell!”

Wow. Weird. Because just about everybody else is still hollering, “Buy! Buy! Buy!!”

Me, I’m meeting him halfway. I’ll be selling some of my position, locking in most of the profits I’ve made. I’m not exiting the position…just scooping the profits off the top. I have no crystal ball, damn the luck; I can’t guess whether this stock will continue to rise or crap out next week due to some bizarre confluence of assorted moons and stars and a new diet that bans the Slurpee sweeping the nation. All I know is, I like their balance sheets, I like their net income, I like their Slurpees, their distribution system rocks the free world and, by the way, I like their gas prices. Our local 7-Eleven has one of the lowest priced pumps around.

Oh thank heaven. (Sorry, couldn’t resist – but then, my van takes up to 28 gallons at a crack, so low(er) gas prices do make me sing…)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Oh no, you DIDN'T

Oh yes, I did.

Lunch in the Den of Chaos. I start combing the cupboards and I’ve got…nothing. I mean, I've got a lot of fixin's, but I've got nothing that's ready to just EAT.

Out of bread for the next three hours.
Just had mac-n-chez yesterday.
Saving the cheese and cracker and fruit plate routine for snack.
Only one can of raviolis, not enough for the five of us.
Leftovers – HA! They didn’t eat them when they were new-overs!
Out of fish sticks. Out of spaghetti-os. I could make spaghetti-spaghetti, I guess…

Hey, I’ve got a few chicken nuggets languishing in the freezer. That’ll work. Not quite enough for the kids, but there’s also a half bag of tator tots.

Hmm, directions say to oven bake or deep fry…saaaaaaaay, I’ve got a brand new deep fryer…

{deep fries chicken nuggets}
{deep fries tator tots}
{assures self that they are Yummy cooked that way}

So I had enough chicken nuggets for the girls, but not for me. I was going to have, like, an apple and maybe a few tator tots and the pathetic half bagel pining away on top of the fridge.

But then, it occurred to me that I had some chili out in the freezer.
And I had tator tots.
And cheddar cheese.
And sour cream.

Sounds like an impromptu casserole to me!!

So I have just put crispy fried tator tots in a bowl, layered chili over them, added a handful of shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream, and eaten it for lunch.

By my rough estimation, I have just consumed enough fat and calories for a week's worth of lunches in this one go.

Dinner tonight will be a salad.

Deep fried. With sour cream and cheese on it.

Oh yeah.

Ooooooooh, HELL yeah.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Things that make you blink

I run across things just about daily that make me sit back and go {{blink}}.

Like this comment, snipped from a review of a slow cooker:

“…It also does NOT have that non stick coating which is safe to use if you own a pet bird which was a very important feature for me…”


Whoa, first of all – what is she trying to say? That a nonstick coating is safe? Or that the non-nonstick coating is what she’s after? And is it the coating, or owning a pet bird that is the important feature?

So. Confused.

Eventually I figured out that what she meant was that the nonstick coating can kill birds due to the billowing of PTFE from said coating. So, it was non-nonstick that she was after.

So, reconstructing the comment: “It also does not have a nonstick coating, which makes it safer to use if you own a pet bird. This was a very important feature to me.”

Clear now? Good. I’m glad I could help out with that.

And I had to do so, because it called out my Evil Twin. Upon reading this, Evil Twin leaned over my shoulder and whispered in my ear: Of course you wouldn’t want a nonstick coating if you owned a bird – it would be easier for the damned thing to jump out of the pot if it didn’t stick to it!

Bad! Bad Evil Twin! Go back to your cave!! That’s a ten minute time out, Missy!!! And no, I do not want to hear your opinion on the finger-in-the-custard case. Thanks all the same. (Argh, what an ASSHAT! Clarence Stower, you jackass, what IS your major malfunction!?)

Now. Where was I? Oh yeah. New crockpot, Den of Chaos sized.

Wish me luck, I'm headed back out into the Internet...

Friday, May 13, 2005


I ran across an article talking about how parents favor better-looking kids. I’d heard this before, that babies that were “cute”, with rounder heads and Gerber-like little faces, tended to get more and better attention from their parents than those Dumbo-eared, smoosh-nosed, weak-chinned versions.

Ok, so, whatever. I suppose it might be true. I’ve got some pretty good looking and well-behaved kids (at least, usually and in public), and they do seem to attract more positive reactions from people than that ugly little creep throwing bags of Cheetos on the floor screaming, “Buy it for me or I’ll hold my breath ‘til I’m purple!!!”

Blah blah blah, evolution, ensuring that the best thrive and the worst…uh…don’t…but then, my eyeballs stammered across this paragraph, which I am quoting directly from the article:

The differences were striking. The researchers found that 1.2 percent of the homely children were buckled into the shopping cart, compared with 13.3 percent of the prettiest ones. When a man was in charge of shopping, none of the unattractive children were strapped into the carts, while 12.5 percent of the cute children were.

Whaaaaaaaaaa? Sooooooooooo…you’re telling me, that overall fewer than 13 percent of parents are strapping their little monsters into the cart?

I’ve winced a few times when I’ve seen other people’s kids jumping up and down in the basket of a cart. Accidents waiting to happen, and while the fall from a shopping cart might not seem that far from the perspective of a 5-foot-something adult, it’s pretty damned far for a small person to drop.

Think I’m just paranoid? Well, I am, BUT! Every year, around 12,800 kids are taken to hospital emergency rooms for shopping-cart-related injuries. 5700 were head injuries, of which 25% (or 1,425) were considered ‘serious’. It ain’t just me sayin’ that. It’s plastered all over the Internet.

Those falls happen in a flash. Children small enough to be put into the shopping cart in the first place are so incredibly likely to be jumpers, too – ooooh, lookit, a bright-colored package! I wannit!!! – and out they go, without a thought to the fact that it’s four feet to the ground.

C’mon, parents. Yeah, buckling them is a pain, like trying to throw a harness on an octopus. Yeah, they whine about being buckled. Yeah, they’d rather be free to run and roam.

But we’re the parents, and they need us for much more than food, shelter, and Nintendo cartridges. Part of the gig is doing things that are going to be very unpopular. None of my kids particularly likes being buckled into a shopping cart. They also don’t like being made to clean up their rooms, eat vegetables, and behave like civilized creatures instead of Wild Things.

But all four of them are still alive, free of concussions and other broken bones.

I’d like to keep it that way. And I’d like to see yours stay that way, too.

So buckle them. Even if they hate it. Even if you’re a man. Even if they’re so ugly you wish they'd hurry up and get to that phase when they're begging you to pretend you aren't with them.

Keep them close, keep them safe from themselves and others.

Attractive as babies or not, I guarantee they’ll grow up to be beautiful people – if we treat them as the treasures they are.

Rude, rude, RUDE awakenings

First, I woke up at 2:15 this morning because there were small feet kicking the hell out of my lower back and a hard little head burrowing between my shoulder blades. What the…

“Bed. Back to. Go.” I muttered. Nobody moved.
“Hey!” I poked at Eldest. “Time to go back to your bed, honey.”
“Other Honey. Wake up. Get her back to bed now,” I commanded. Yeah yeah, I could have done it myself. But he’s the one who let her in there in the first place, I vote it’s his problem getting her out of there again. Besides, my rotten husband has this magical ability to get up, deal with things, get back in bed and be asleep again in less than ten seconds. Me, if my tootsies hit the floor that’s it. I’m awake. No going back to sleep without chemical assistance for me once I’ve achieved verticality.

So two hours later the alarm goes off and we start the ‘getting the husband out of bed’ process. Alarm goes off, I poke at him, he says, “FiveMoreMinnits…” and I hit the snooze button; we repeat this once; and then I start pushing and shoving and hissing at him that he needs to get up or he’s going to end up in the office until, like, midnight, get going, get going, get going get going get going…

Then, exhausted, I doze while he showers and gets dressed. Usually at this point I schlep downstairs with him, make our coffee while he puts together his lunch and so forth, we chat a few minutes, he leaves, and I get to putter around for an hour or two before the kids start bouncing wildly.

Well, this morning, I didn’t get up for coffee. Himself said, “You want to just stay in bed?” and I said, “Yes. Yes, I do. Have a good day,” and tunneled myself back under my covers like a burrowing owl.

Half an hour later (about 5:30, for those keeping track at home), my door banged open and Boo Bug stood there peering at me.

“Mommy!” comes the urgent whisper.
“{snork, cough} Wha?”
“Mommy! Can I come sleep with you?”
“Oh. Uh. Yeah, OK. C’mere.”
“Come here, honey. Don’t wake up your brother.”
“But I wanna sleep with you.”
“Then come here.”
“But mommmmeeeee…I wanna sleep with you.”
“You aren’t going to do that from the door. Come. Here.”
“But mommy!”

About this point, I get mad. I sit up in bed and say, “Boo Bug. Come. Here. Right. Now.”

To which she replied, “But…but mommy…I wanna come in and sleep with you.”

This is typical of Boo Bug being defiant. She doesn’t say ‘no’, she doesn’t directly fight with you, she just ignores and/or deflects you. I got mad. I got really mad. Mostly because I now had one of those headaches you sometimes get when you wake up, doze a little while, wake up, doze a while, wake up, actually get back into real sleep, and then are abruptly jerked back awake again.

“Awright, that’s it. Go back to your bed. You’ve made me very angry, Boo. Go on. Go back to your bed. I’m too mad to have you in here with me now. You should have come when I called you. Go.”

So she wanders off back to her bed. I got up (remember my complaint above about not being able to get back to sleep once I’ve gotten up?) and watched from the door as she got back into her still-dark room and climbed into bed. She lay down and put her fingers into her mouth. I shut the door, got back in bed, and watched my ceiling be completely uninteresting. Sure as death and taxes, now I’m wide awake. Oh well.

I start planning my day, staring up at the monotonous ceiling…a load or two or ten of laundry, change the sheets on the beds, replace the towels, vacuum upstairs, oooooooooh yeah, I’m supposed to be washing the windows throughout the house this week (feh!) and I wonder how much that security laminate I saw featured on ‘It Takes A Thief’ last week would cost because gee, it seems to me that it would be worth having just due to having so many kids bouncing around trying to kill themselves; glass that doesn’t shatter can’t be anything but good, when you stop to think about it…

I had moved on to chuckling about how disappointed a thief would be if he broke in here. No jewelry. No cash. One laptop, that would be good…a little silver, but nothing to write home about… maybe the checkbook…hmm… where did I put that thing last…?

And then I hear: “Ayi! Ya ya ya ya! Goo-GA! GA! Mummah magoo {giggle shriek}!!” {rattle rattle rattle go the crib slats}

Whaaaaaaaaaa? Oh, now come on. That baby is not awake at this hour!! Oh yes he is, though, I can hear him jumping up and down, using his crib mattress as a trampoline (173% boy, my Bacon Bit).

Then suddenly, Boo is back in my room, quivering with glee.

“Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy! Bacon Bit is awake! And he’s looking at me! Because he was lying down, but then I pushed on his eye and he woke up and now he’s looking at me!”

Yes, that’s right. The baby was peacefully sleeping in his room, and Boo went in there (a blatant violation of Den of Chaos Denizen Laws #27,280, thou shalt not go unto rooms which are not thine own AND #37,217, thou shalt not wake up the slumbering infant, lest the wrath of thy mother exceed her ability to remember that thou art likewise her baby and beloved unto her), reached through the slats of his crib, and pushed on his eyeballs like they were ‘on’ buttons to wake him up.


I just want to check. If I understand the law correctly, it would be illegal for me to, say, duct tape that three year old kid into her bed for the night? Or brick up her door?

Damn. Stupid laws. Always protecting the so-called ‘helpless’.

Where’s the law that protects me, huh?! I was so irked by my rude awakening (again) that I was forced to have two double mochas and a two-serving-sized slice of banana cream pie for breakfast. Forced!! {blatant lie} I was planning to have a half cup of nonfat cottage cheese, an apple and a cup of black decaf coffee {/blatant lie}, but noooooooo. The kids made me pound back two heavily-leaded mochas and a massive slice of banana cream pie. Which is going to contribute to my belly-floppage, which, as we all know, is a leading cause of tummy tuck surgery, which is damned expensive. And where am I going to get the money? From the college funds, of course!! After all, it’s all their fault that I look like this, it’s only fair!

And then people are going to stand around and tsk at me: What a rotten mother! Look at her poor little darlings, not able to go to college because she spent all their money on that tummy tuck!

It just ain’t fair, I tell you, it just ain’t fair…

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Jump and Crash

So I updated my portfolio this morning shortly after the market opened - and the damned thing dropped by a thousand bucks!

What the hell...?! How could I have lost a thousand bucks between closing bell yesterday and open this morning? I ain't no day trader, I ain't no penny-stock-holder, I ain't got the kind of portfolio in either size or investments where a thousand bucks comes or goes in a single day!! (More's the pity...)

So I start trying to track down what the hell and, Dear God, one of my investments has tanked. I mean, it tanked! I mean, it dropped in value by almost half! What the...I's just...I don't...they hit earnings...they just got another juicy business partnership is good...earnings are good...growth is good...{hyperventilating}

So I'm staring at the chart and suddenly I notice this little triangle up at the top with the word "Splits" next to it.

Oh. Oh yeah. Stock split this morning. Yeah, I knew that, it was announced about forever ago. So, hahahaha, let's see, if I adjust for the split...

There we go, still down compared to last night but only by a hundred bucks. That's the level of waffle I'm used to, the plus-minus a hunnerd bucks waffle. This I can handle.


Yet another reason why I am so not cut out for the life of the day trader. I'd need a stockpile of nitrous pills and Alka-Seltzer that would bankrupt me before I even started...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Pittering, Pattering, Screaming and Splattering

So this morning at 5:45, the pitter-pattering of little feet began. So did the shrieking, complaining, cries of ‘I hate you forever!’ and ‘Gimmie it!’ ‘No!’ ‘Mine!’ ‘NO!!’

Some people get birds chirping on the windowsill. Some people get their favorite radio station. Some people get trash trucks (which, while not exactly pleasant, at least are things that do not demand any action from you – unless, of course, you forgot to put out your totes the night before, in which case they require you running out in your unmentionables to drag the damn things to the curb).

Me, I get shrieking, running and the sound of excessive water being run in the bathroom, which means that somebody is filling up a vessel of some kind which will probably end up being poured on somebody else’s bed if I don’t put my butt in gear.

Being a gentle, loving mother who respects their delicate grasp of justice and fairness, I naturally threw open my bedroom door and shouted down the hall: “If you do not stop making that noise this instant, I am going to come down there and take every single one of those princess dolls away!!”

Then I put on my last pair of (sorta) clean jeans, and decided that a few little stains from yesterday weren’t anything to bother with right now – I honestly don’t think that Tyra Banks is going to pop into my life any time soon to criticize my fashion choices.

I brushed my hair and judged that going one more day without a shower isn’t likely to actually kill me, but another week without a visit from my best buddy Ms. Clairol might. It occurs to me that if Tyra were, in fact, to pop into my life, those beautiful doe-like eyes of hers would probably fill with tears of pity for me. Which would undoubtedly piss me off. Maybe I should actually really consider getting my hair cut done an actual hairstylist instead of using a teenager with a summer job at Supercuts and a box of whatever hair dye is on sale at WalMart...

I put on my socks and tennis shoes and determined that while they are getting a little bit on the worn side, they still cover my feet OK and don’t have any actual holes in them (my last pair were five years old and had holes the size of dollar slugs in their soles before I broke down and bought these). I like to call it 'shabby chic' and pretend that I am taking my fashion to the next level. At least, that's what I'd tell Tyra, when she came to invite me to be America's Next Top Model. Although the fact that, due to certain damage to the old figure that I like to blame on the children because it is convenient to do so, I can barely even reach my feet might damage my chances on that front...

In the meantime, I crushed five little dreams:

Can we go to a farm? No, and get out of my bedroom.
Can we go to Disneyland? No, and get out of my bedroom.
Can we go to Chuck-E-Cheese? No. And. Get out of my bedroom.
Can we go to the zoo? Whaddya call this place?! And! Out!
Can we go to grandma’s house?! No. {point silently at the door}

Eldest has told me all about the three chapters of Farmer Boy she read last night. That would be Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. That would be a book considered appropriate for 9-12 year olds.

Excuse me, my daughter is only seven! And may I just state for the record that she has read this over my shoulder, aloud. And she wishes to state that it isn’t hard to read and that books shouldn’t be only for people who are a certain age because…well, because {adorable shrug and self-deprecating giggle here}.

Lord help us. What are we going to do with the child?!

I must go now. I have only had one cup of coffee, and that ain’t enough to keep this creaking old brain clipping along fast enough to pace these kids, not one of which is a bit stupid.

And no. We’re not going to China while Eldest is on break. Even though they speak in Chinese and make tea, which, coincidentally, Eldest is growing quite fond of, especially if she can put the sugar in it herself.

Too. Much. Input.
Too. Little. Coffee.
Must. Go. Brew. More.

While I brew, I will ponder the intricacies of attempting to plan an impromptu trip to China, of all places, wedged in among all the ballet classes, trips to Grandma’s, birthday parties and etcetera already on the calendar for this brief little month she has off school…

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

He’s a busy kinda guy

Bacon Bit is nine months old now, and he is one busy little fella.

He likes to stand and ‘cruise’, pulling himself along the sofa or a table or your leg whatever else presents itself. He can crawl at about nine miles a second and can get through a door or a gate that has been left open before you even realize he’s noticed it.

He can also climb the stairs all by himself. We didn’t know he could do it until he demonstrated for us on Mother’s Day. “He’s on the stairs!” someone sings out and by golly – so he is. Crawling like a demented lunatic, right up the stairs. (My adored son often looks like a demented lunatic – like right immediately now, for instance: he’s standing up leaning on my rocking chair banging frantically on a broken computer keyboard we’ve relegated to ‘toy’ status. Good Lord. I wonder what he thinks he’s programming into that chair…?)

He then tried to go down the stairs – headfirst, and at a fast crawl. He has no fear. “Hey, I wanna go back down where the party is!” he decides and off he goes! And was very irritated, thank you, by my wild grab for his hips. Yo, babe, yer slowin’ me down here…!

His day is pretty full. It can be hard to schedule things like, say, a diaper change or a snack, because he has got so many things to do.

I mean, he’s got to pull all the videos off the shelf, for Pete’s sake! You think those videos are going to pull themselves down? No sirree! It takes skill, and dedication, and a single-minded devotion to duty to get those videos down on the floor where they belong!

And let us not forget that the floor underneath the table must be cleared of debris left by sisters. There is always at least a crumb of potato chip or perhaps a sliver of turkey or something under there – and it is his duty to collect and eat it.

Then there are TV buttons to be played with, a remote to be chewed upon, and naturally some kind of uck needs to be deposited on Mommy’s left shoulder absolutely as soon as possible.

Yeah, he’s one busy guy, that Bacon Bit. But occasionally, he’s willing to give us the benefit of his full attention for a few minutes.

We were all singing “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” yesterday, and he dropped everything to listen in. And laugh hysterically at the ‘dah nah nah nah nah nah nah’ part. He’d sit there waiting, breathless with anticipation, a tiny smile loitering around his little rosebud lips, as we got through the chorus ‘…there goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt’ and as we started the ‘dah nah nah nah nah nah nah’ he’d fire off a machine-gun laugh: eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh!

He goes-goes-goes in three to four hour bursts and then suddenly - !THUMP!. It’s over. He turns from Mr. Affable into this howling, fussing, glaring-eyed little ball of neediness. After hours of struggling and lunging toward the toys when picked up for diapers changes and so forth, suddenly nothing will do but to be held, cradled in mommy’s arms, perhaps fed a bottle, staring up sleepily into my eyes, lazily exploring my face and hair with one questing hand until he drifts off to sleep.

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the transitory nature of his childhood. Nine months old now? Surely not. A matter of weeks, maybe, but nine months?


He’s growing before my eyes. I just know I’m going to blink and a man is going to be before me, tall and strong like his daddy. I’m going to ask myself who that good-lookin’ stranger is, and it’s going to be this little tiny baby who puts his chubby little arms up to me and shrieks with wild delight when I come to lift him out of his crib, smiling at me and leaping into my arms and lunging forward toward the world.

But all grown up now and wondering what’s wrong with Mom now, geeeeeeez, always with the waterworks going…!

And he’s going to be a busy kind of guy. Football practice and dates and meeting up with the guys for some video game time and then there’s the debate club and the future business leaders of America and…

A busy, busy kind of guy.

Hope he’ll be able to find a little time for mommy then, a few minutes in that busy-busy day to talk to me, to let me think I’m still important. A glad-to-see-ya smile wouldn’t suck, either.

Come to think of it…I don’t know that I’ve given my mom one of those for a few years. It’s still inside of me, but it doesn’t come out much.

I wonder if she misses it.
I wonder if she knows it’s still there.
I wonder if I’ll know it’s still inside my kids, when they’re all grown.

I hope so.

But right now there’s a tugging at my leg, and a baby voice is whining. It must be time, time for our pre-nap cuddle. Look at him laugh at me – he knows I’m going to pick him up and hold him close.

While I still can.

Scare of the Day

Yesterday I was doing laundry (again). My three year old is very into “helping” right now (read as, I would have been done sooner, but I had help). She wanted to help me put the clothes into the washer. I said no. I said she could help me unload the dryer when it beeped, but no washer. About a zillion years ago, I saw a news story on our local station where this four year old boy had gone into the laundry room, opened the lid of the washer during a spin cycle, reached in and promptly got his arm torn clean off.

Ugh. For some reason, of all the horrors there are to choose from in terms of ‘stuff kids can do to themselves around the house’ from falling on knives to blowing themselves up with kerosene, this is one that really stuck with me. It’s up there with the ‘running in front of a car’ in terms of making me freak out. You want to see an irrationally pissed off mother? Hang around the parking lot of the school sometime and watch what happens when one of my kids tries to go dashing off the curb toward the van.

(And yes, before anybody says it: I’m paranoid. Especially about my kids.)

So after telling her ‘no’, I sat down in the other room to fold up the dry laundry. I called her a couple times, ‘wanna come help’? “Nooooooo,” her sweet little voice drifted back. “I’m busy.” Her voice was coming from the bathroom, which is right next to the laundry room. Hmmm, busy. Either using la toilet, or making a huge mess. Better keep an ear out either way…

And then, I heard the lid of the washer go ‘CLANG!’

I’m often a bit upset by how much I’ve slowed down over the last few years. I used to be athletic. I used to be a runner, a hiker, a kayaker. I used to be able to put it in gear and move it along – but these days, I tend to kind of waddle and dawdle. I can think of a thousand reasons why it really isn’t all that important to go the stairs right immediately now.

Unless, of course, I have just heard breaking glass, the unmistakable sound of a head hitting a solid object, or…

I got into that laundry room faster than an Olympic hopeful hitting the first hurdle, snatched her off the stool (stolen from the bathroom), and gave her an earful of ire. It was hard to resist shaking the dickens out of her! Ah, the delicious irony: Thank GOD you’re alright! Now, I’m gonna kill you!!!

You think they understand. You don’t expect them to do these things. What did she think she was going to do? Why did she open the damned thing? I might forbid a hundred things a day, from watching cartoons to eating cupcakes for lunch – why choose the thing that could get you maimed or even killed for your supreme moment of defiance?!

I’m saving like crazy for a new, super-ultra-deluxe washer and dryer. They have three times the capacity of my current washer/dryer set, and the washer door actually locks during the cycle. Can’t be opened without pushing specific buttons in a specific order on the machine.

That alone would be worth the fifteen hundred bucks to me right about now.

And now, I'm going to go do the ironing. Hmm, back when I was living with my folks, I seem to remember seeing this story about an infant who crawled over while mom was ironing and pulled on the cord, bringing the iron down on his delicate little skull...

There can be only one conclusion to be drawn from BOTH of these news items.

Laundry is dangerous, and should only be undertaken by professionals in a child-free environment. That's it. I'm taking all of mine OUT from now on...!

(OK, not really - but I think I like the argument!)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Killer Cards

MOI, I so understand your confusion. It took me a minute, too, when Eldest explained it to me (I stole it from her school). So I thought I’d make a new thread about The Cards.

As melodramatic as it sounds, these stupid little shreds of bright-colored construction paper really did revolutionize our relationships around here. I did a lot more yelling, screaming, and irrational parental moves (accelerating straight from “now, honey-pie-sweety-love” to “GOTOYOURROOMFOREVERYOULITTLE!!!!!!”) before we went to the cards.

Here's what happens. The four cards are stacked, one on top of the other, in order: green, yellow, orange and red. They’re pinned up on the fridge in age/size order (Boo Bug’s cards are first in line AND smallest in size), where you can’t help but see them all day long.

When you sin against society, a card gets pulled. Green goes to yellow, yellow to orange and so forth.

For a long time, we had this deal where they got a quarter AND a treat for being at green. But I just recently (like, this week) began having two separate treat baskets, one for Green Card Holders and one for the Yellow ones. The ‘green’ basket has the more primo-treats: the sheets of stickers, the temporary tattoos, the $$money$$ (quarters) and larger candies (still not full sized bars, but Halloween candy-sized anyway).

If you, say, hit your sister or something, you'll get a card pulled. Then you've got a yellow card showing. You can pick something out of the regular old treat basket, which has stuff like Hershey’s kisses and single stickers. Still cool, but not cooooooooool.

Now, let's say you've already lost your green card and now (duh-nuh-nuh!) you decide that your sister just really needs a good hard whack with a shoe and damn the luck, mom saw you do it. Lost the yellow card and you're on to orange.

NO TREAT (wah!) and an immediate five minutes in "time out" (a.k.a., endless purgatory).

Now. If you're just really determined, you can go on to losing that orange card, which puts you at ‘red’. At that point, Flaming Death (a.k.a., "Go to your room This Very Instant") will descend upon you. You’ve proven yourself to be a danger to society, and will be removed from it for a time period not less than half an hour and probably Until I Call You For Dinner.

That's only happened once to us. It may be due to the fact that I have Mutant Alien Children™, but my kids have responded really, really well to the cards. I’ve actually seen them, just before performing some feat they know is going to get them busted, glance up at their cards to see where they stand.

The two younger ones are more than willing to exchange their green card for, say, jumping from the sofa to the rocking chair or attempting a Cookie Theft. But losing that yellow card and not being allowed a dip into the treat basket at Treat Time? Dear God! The horror!!!!!!

They are wonderful ‘visuals’. You can see at a glance what color card you have. They’re simple enough that my three year old gets it. And I have to say, I love the way it puts a kind of layer between myself and the discipline. Call it a copout, I don’t care. I love that I can point at the fridge at Treat Time and say “who has a green or yellow card?”

I also love the fact that I can stop most of their worst behavior simply by reminding them that, if they persist, they will lose a card. Quietly. Calmly. “If you don’t stop yelling and screaming in the doctor’s office, you will lose a card.” {silence} Aaaaaaaaaah. That’s better. No yelling. No screaming. No threats, no spankings public or private.

Amazing how a child too young to understand that mommy balling her hands into fists and turning bright purple is a bad thing, can yet somehow understand that (green OR yellow) = good, (orange OR red) != good.

Amazing how it keeps me in line, too. I might be tempted to cut a kid some slack, because after all, it isn’t fair that her siblings are getting treats, so maybe I’ll just overlook her horrid behavior this one time…

But not with an orange card glaring out from the fridge. Just like in Real Life, what you’ve done in the past follows after you, hindering or helping you by virtue of the choices you’ve made earlier. Good choices bring certain rewards, bad ones certain punishments.

Unlike Real Life, mommy resets the cards overnight, so that you start each day with a fresh, green card. Monday’s sins have no impact on Tuesday’s virtues.

If only, if only…

Creepy crawly all day long

Don't you just hate it when you feel a tickle on your arm? And then, when you look down, there's a spider on you?

So you go "Shriek!" and brush it off.

And spend the rest of the whole freakin' day thinking there are spiders crawling on you.

{brush brush brush brush brush}

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

can i have a soda can i have a soda can i have a soda can i have a soda can i

Why do they do it?!

There’s a new habit in the Den of Chaos. It is practiced by all three of my older children, and it is incredibly irritating.

“Can I have some soda mommy? Can I have soda? Soda? Can I have soda? Mommy, can I have soda? Soda-soda-soda-soda-soda! Soda! Please? Can I have some soda?!”

Remember the Simpson’s episode where they build the pool? “Can we have a pool dad can we have a pool dad can we have a pool dad can we have a pool dad can we have a pool dad can we have a pool dad can we have a pool dad can we have a pool dad can we have a pool dad can we have a pool dad can we have a pool dad”?

That’s about it.

Doesn’t matter what it is. Soda, cookies, macaroni and cheese, apples, going outside, coming inside – doesn’t matter. Whatever they ask for, they ask fifteen times per second.

It’s gotten so bad that when I answer them, it always goes like this: “No AND! Do NOT ask me again!!”

Yesterday, Danger Mouse lost a card* for spitting out her request one more time after the “No AND! Do NOT ask me again!!” gate had crashed down.

They also have begun trying the ‘divide and conquer’ routine. One will wander in and ask, say, for cookie.

“Can I have a cookie?”
“Nope, not before dinner.”
“Puh-leeeeze? Just a little, little, little one?!”
“No AND! Do NOT ask me again!!”
{wanders away}
{four seconds peace}
{enter the next kid in line}
“Mommy, can I have a cookie?”
{lather, rinse, repeat}

Now granted: sometimes you’ve gotta ask a few times before mommy a) remembers you asked in the first place and b) has a free hand to get it for you. (Aside: someday, some elusive day, they will be old enough to get their own whatever – by themselves. Without help. Without angst. Without breaking, spilling, or otherwise wrecking anything. {pause to appreciate Someday})

But it seems that my kids have decided that it is best overall to simply hit mom with a barrage of demands and hope that she gets so confused by all the noise that she gives you cookies for lunch. It could happen.

Wouldn’t hold my breath though, if I were you. I’ll cheerfully admit that I’m pretty easily distracted by any number of things. But cookies, for lunch?

I don’t think so.

Rice Krispy treats now, that’s another story…

*the cards: every day, the kids start out with four cards. Green, yellow, orange and red. You lose cards for rule infractions. At the end of the day if you have a green or yellow card, you can get a treat out of the basket. An orange card is an instant 5 minute time out AND no treat, and a red card means Flaming Death (a.k.a., ‘go to your room and think about it until dinner and/or I call you'). Works better on my kids than anything else I’ve tried, from reasoning to yelling to spanking the dickens out of them.

Monday, May 02, 2005

A Poop Story

Fair warning: this is a POOP story!

I should have known something was up when the potty became a meeting ground.

“I need to go potty!” my five year old declares. Yeah fine good whatever, I’m looking at earnings surprises right now honey just – go. Go potty. Score one for the gipper. Whatever. (As an aside, I can hardly wait until the only person whose digestive processes I need keep tabs on are my own.)

Now, for the record: my five year old has been doin’ the potty thing for two and a half years now. She’s well past the point of requiring my hovering about anxiously in the background to do her business.

But then the three year old wandered in there and a meeting commenced. Discussions of poop, quantity, quality and the making of, ensued (‘do you have to poop?’ ‘why yes, yes I do’ ‘do you gots a lot of poop?’ ‘uh-huh, a-cause of daddy tooked me to McDonalds yesterday and that makes a lot of poop!’), until finally, thoroughly grossed out and wondering if these really were my children, I said to the ref that it was time to get out of there and let the player finish her game, if you know what I mean.

Well, the ref stood right by the door and advised the player to make sure, absolutely sure that she wiped good. Because if you don’t, you get a red butt. {bwa-hahaha, you said butt} (As another aside, I also can hardly wait until the words ‘butt’ and ‘poop’ become embarrassing rather than hysterically funny.)

A few seconds later, there was screaming and carrying on. Sure as poop, poop had happened. So had toilet paper. Lots and lots and lots of toilet paper. The toilet bowl was filled to the point where the only thing keeping the water from pouring over the floor was the surface tension of the lake.

Now, there are few things that gross me out more than a backed up toilet. Seriously. I’d rather deal with any diaper than a backed up toilet. Hence, I am about as far from an expert in the fine art of toilet-un-backing-uping as you can get and still be a user of said devices.

However, taking a quick glance around, I determined that no big, strong, manly-type guys were about to dash to my rescue.

Nope, it was just me, and the plunger. And two screaming little girls who insisted on giving me a running commentary as I sprinted for said plunger, which I vaguely remembered seeing in the garage at some point.

“Mommy! The water’s coming! The water’s coming!!”
“EEEEEEEEW! That’s POOP in it!”
{wild shrieks of laughter because someone said ‘poop’}
“Mommmmmeeeeeeee!” (the cries are getting more urgent as I begin throwing things out of my way, searching for the damned plunger) “MOMMMMEEEE! The water! It’s on the floor! It’s on the floor!!!”
{much cursing is done, sotto-voce because I don’t want to hear these words again from those cute little lips – where is that beep-honkin’ plunger?!}
{Oh, there it is, right next to the door I came in here through}

The water (and…other…matter…) is sheeting all over my floor. The floor which, by the way, I had just sanitized this very morning. Why do I bother?! The children are standing in my way, screaming and shrieking. The baby has awoken and begun crying for attention.

I wade into the bathroom and realize I have no idea how to use a plunger. Hmm. Well, OK. It’s a pretty simple concept, right? I mean, it’s just…this part is the pushy-sucky-part, and all I need to do is…hmm…get a good seal on the thing there and then, what? Push? Pull? Yeah. Push-pull. That’s gotta be what you do…


Followed by the most beautiful sound in the world: {fluuuuuuuuussssssssshhhhhhhhh}


The water subsided back to where it belongs. After a long, tense moment (honestly, you’d think there was a rattlesnake in there!), I gingerly depressed the handle on the toilet and, with calm efficiency, the water flushed out and refilled again, sparkling and clean.

Double whew.

That’s it for me today, friends. The market closes in eight minutes anyway, and I think it’s about martini time around here.

Thus endeth another day and I, the Reigning Goddess of the Den of Chaos, am going to get an early start on my evening. A very, very, VERY early start. A martini and a double-dark-chocolate-brownie ought to work pretty well on my nerves.

Backed up toilets. {{shudder}}

Anybody want a couple kids? Cheap? Anybody? Anybody?!

Can’t we all just get along?

One of the most valuable things we can teach our children is how to get along with others, how to manage the give and take of relationships, how to get what they want by giving a little in order to get a little.

Also, I am damned sick of refereeing every little thing my middle children do all day long. Take this morning, for instance. It’s only 8:30 in the morning, aaaaaaaaand…

“MOMMY!!” the twin voices shriek from up in their room. {thump thump thump go the little feet down the hallway} I can hear them squabbling as they run: I’m telling, no you’re not!, I am telling! I’m telling first, huh-uh, uh-huh, huh-uh, uh-huh…!

They shove and hurtle their way to my side, invariably waking up their brother – I just spent twenty minutes of my life cuddling and rocking him to sleep, grrrrrrr – to scream their siblings’ sins into my ear.


Bill Cosby once pointed out that parents aren’t interested in fair – all we want is quiet.

So true, so painfully true.

“All right,” I say, calmly. “Stop. Stop yelling. Everybody quiet. Eyes on me. Danger Mouse. Go upstairs to your room, and stay there. Boo Bug, you may stay down here with me in the playroom. Go quietly, go quickly, go now.”


“But we wanna play together!” Danger Mouse protests.

“Sorry. You can’t. This is the fifth time in twenty minutes that you have been unable to find a way to play nicely with each other. I think you need to be apart for a little while, so you can think about ways that you can work together.”

Also, mommy is going to start banging your adorable little heads together if you keep shrieking and screaming like that, I think to myself, as I kiss them lovingly on their muffin-encrusted heads (why-why-why can’t my children eat without somehow getting their food in their hair? How do they manage it, with me sitting right there with them at the table? It is one of the great mysteries of life…)

Shrieking and wailing, they part company. They promise to love each other forever and that they will miss each other so-so much. Forever!

Oh, ack. Bronte has nothing on my 3 and 5 year olds for angst.

They were thus torn asunder for all of fifteen minutes before Danger Mouse appeared downstairs, clutching a paper towel roll.

“Here, Boo Bug,” she said contritely. “You can have the telescope. Now can she come back upstairs to play, mommy?”

“If you can remember to play nicely.”

“We can remember.”

Hoooookay. And off they run, up the stairs.

So far, so good. It’s been almost an hour, and no shrieks of ‘I’m telling’ have echoed off the stairs yet. I can hear arguments and discussions, but nobody has rushed to tell on anybody else for a while.

I’ve gotten through my email, made two stocks trades, folded a load of laundry and contemplated cleaning the kitchen floor again.

What more could I ask out of a Monday morning?