Thursday, June 30, 2005

And then, for why I don’t sell them…

Just as I was posting the rant below, I felt a little tug on my leg. I looked down and Bacon Bit was grinning up at me. When he saw he had my attention, he declared loudly: “Muhm-muhm!” and held up his chubby little arms. So I lifted him up to play with him.

He shrieked and laughed, giggled and reached out to grab my nose. “Muhm-muhm! Muhm-muhm!” he chortled.

Then he threw himself forward, wrapped his arms around my neck and gave me a great big drooly baby kiss. Then he pulled back and grinned at me again, ever so very pleased with himself, ever so in love with his muhm-muhm.

While I was ‘working’, Eldest painted butterflies for me, and Danger Mouse has written her name almost right TWICE and Boo Bug drew…well, it looks like a potato with eyes but I’m told it’s me, dancing to the Quack Quack Waddle Waddle song. So naturally...we had to go find the Quack Quack Waddle Waddle song for dancing purposes. It’s probably good for sore muscles. Maybe. But I’m totally sure that lightening up is good for them.

Lord, how I will miss these days, someday…

Quack quack waddle waddle all day loooooong, quack quack waddle waddle sing a duck song…

With gritted teeth...

If my grin looks a little weird today, it’s because my molars are grinding together. My children are doing absolutely nothing wrong. I just have to say up front. They are being their usual charming little selves. They’re just being…children.

Some days, I just wish they could quit being children and grow up already.

The thing I really despise about such days is when someone chirps up with, “Oh, you’ll miss these days ever so much when they’re grown!”

Yes. Yes, I’m sure I will. But then, I also miss recess while at the same time remembering elementary school as being a kind of living hell, into which we were thrust by uncaring, demonic parents for nine months of the year.

I suppose I should count myself lucky that Mommyhood is kind of like the reverse of the school experience for me. Recess lasts for about 85% of the time, while the living hell is only 15%. Can’t really complain, I suppose (she said, promptly doing so).

I’m tired. Last night I played the, “Which feels better, braces on or braces off?” game with my wrists. Wake up, wrists hurt, take off the braces. Ah, that’s better…zzz…wake up, wrists hurt, put on the braces. Ah, that’s better…zzzz {lather, rinse, repeat, all freakin’ night long}

This morning, I woke up with sore wrists, sore hips, a weird burning sensation in one calf and a tension headache. In the last six hours, I’ve downed six Motrin. And guess what? I still have all the aches. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, apart from possibly removing the last vestiges of my stomach lining, the Motrin ain’t doin’ shit for me today. Pardon my French.

Hmm. Why do we call cussing ‘French’, as in, pardon my? Never really thought about it before, but how…odd. Are we saying that all French is nasty-talk? Or that the French are all poo-poo heads? Or that they have an excessive number of cuss words? Or that they invented cuss words? Which I kind of doubt…in fact, I do believe that the Lord High Cuss Word, the Big F, the F-dash-dash-dash word, is actually Anglo-Saxon in origin, right (I’m too lazy to look it up, but I think it was either Anglo-Saxon or Middle English – ‘member the Chaucer torture?!)? So, why don’t we say, Forgive my Anglo-Saxon? Or Excuse my Dutch? Then again, a language in which the word ‘yes’ is pronounced ‘wee’ and then frequently put together so that when you’re trying to say, enthusiastically, “Yes! Yes!” you end up saying “Wee-wee!”…well, what do you expect? If you’d just speak English like the rest of us, you wouldn’t have these problems, France.

(You see what kind of mood I’m in today? This is a very good day for me to stay away from politics, religion, and finances. I’m so brilliant I can say that without even glancing at my horoscope…)

Anyway, what the heck was I blathering about. Oh yeah. Motrin. Ineffectiveness thereof. You know what would be effective? A martini. A large martini. But oooooooooh no. I’ve got children in the house. You know what would happen if I got even the teensiest bit inebriated right now? Someone would fall over and break some part of themselves and require doctoring. And what would I have to do? I’d have to call up 911 and say, “Uh, hi, yeah, um, look: my kid has broken her calcaneus and I’m too drunk to drive her to the hospital. Couldja help me out, be a pal?”

Yeah, that’d be good, huh?

I could get this fixed, at least temporarily, if I’d just let them take the Seattle Space Needle and jam it between the bones of my wrist in order to deliver a barrel of cortisone to the inflammed bits. Ha! HAHAHAHAHA! As someone who almost throws up just from watching her kids get vaccinations, I can pretty well state that it would require a lot of Valium to get me to hold still long enough for that. A lot of Valium.

The wee piping voices have been hitting me rapid fire this morning. No more so than usual, but I’m running at less than my usual capacity of handling it.
“Can I have some juice?”
“Can I please have some crackers?”
“Mommy, could you please button my dress?”
“Wah!” {translation: I’ve just whumped my head and by God it kinda hurt – cuddling, please, snap-snap!}
“Mommy, I’m out of underwear!”
“Mommy, what about those crackers!”
“Juice? Juice now?”
“Wah!” {translation: I’d like my bottle, please, and perhaps a diaper change while you’re at it, snap-snap}
“What am I supposed to do about underwear?!”
“Mommy! Can I have cheese and crackers?”
“I still don’t have any underwear – can I have some soda? Please?” (You’ve got to get the tone right on that last please – it’s fired off in as insincere a manner as possible. Snotty little seven year old alert…)

Then, because mommy isn’t in the game, they start fighting. And I’ve just remembered that two of them are going off with Grandma today {pause to thank God for my parents!!}, and I need to find clean clothes to pack for them. Hmm. Define clean…which further reminds me, I better get Bacon Bit into the tub before they get here. He put most of his breakfast bananas in his hair, and he looks…uh…well, dirty.

You see why I’ve got a headache?!

But I will miss these days.

Sure. Just like I miss geometry class…

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Idiotic Mother Moment du Jour

“How many is this? Oh, let’s count! One…two…three! Three Vienna sausages! One…two…three! That’s right! Three! What a big boy!” I burbled…

…at my one year old…

……who is barely spitting out a ‘muhm-muhm’ to mean “mommy” and “bah-bah” for bottle and otherwise doesn’t understand a word of plain old English.

I know that I could have simply dropped them on his tray and said, “Gabble gooka gigga blah! Sweetheart!” and it would have meant just as much to him. It’s probably just a wee tad soon for the whole ‘learn to count’ routine, doancha think?

But still, I can’t resist. “What color is that? Orange! How many is that? FIVE! One, two, three, four, FIVE! Five juicy oranges! Is this a toe? Nooooo…that’s not a toe! That’s a finger! Fing-ger!”


What a dolt. Oh well. At least he isn’t old enough to grasp just how nutty his mommy is…yet…

Monday, June 27, 2005

So very needed...

You know, every morning I would get up and fret to myself: When, oh when, oh when, oh WHEN, are we going to have an International Chewing Gum Association? Dear God, when are we going to have a single global voice for such weighty matters, a harmonization of regulations internationally when it comes to that most basic of human needs, bubble gum?

Finally, my prayers have been answered. We now have a International Chewing Gum Association, the president whereof is our very own Stefan Pfander (VP of Wrigley’s, in case you’re not exactly up on such things).

I can finally sleep easy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

This just in!

Stop the presses! I have the following announcement to share. Per Eldest:

Dear Mommy,

You are wonderful, buteuful, and the best Mother in the wold.

Love Eldest.

So. Apparently I've done something right. Score one for the home team! Woo hoo!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Such a deal!

Buried at the bottom of the Afternoon Wrap at the WSJ today was a little blurb about how Dell had released a bare-bones, bottom of the line laser printer for $99; toner replacements, the article noted wryly, will set you back $65.


This, I have just got to see. So I went to Dell, and I found it .

It’s cute. It’s little. It’s slower than slow. Hey, what do you want for just under a hundred bucks?! But I had to laugh about the toner. Yeah, the toner costs 65% of the total cost of the printer.

Now, given a somewhat infrequent printing habit that I suspect you’d have if you were the sort of person who would be looking for a slow monster like this, hey! Who cares? You probably won’t go through a cartridge a year.

But why do I get the feeling that people will be saying to themselves, “Hmm, it’ll probably be cheaper to just buy a new printer, rather than replace the cartridge…” come next year?!

Of mermaids and mothers

Yesterday, the Denizens went for their first {drumroll please} swimming lesson!

Yes, that’s right, the Den of Chaos descended en masse to the local watering hole, where they were greeted by a swarm of very young, ridiculously perky nubiles (all of whom looked to be about 15 to me) who assured me that they were, in fact, the instructors.

Hoooookay. I mean, I think the pair of shoes I was wearing at that moment were older than most of the ‘instructors’, but then again I’m getting to a point where I see kids working at McD’s that I’d swear should be in middle school – so I took their word for it.

So. I have a three year old, a five year old, and a seven year old, plus of course Bacon Bit in his stroller – none of whom know the first thing about how to swim. I walk up to the perky young thing doing check in and announce that the Horde has arrived, and where does she want them?

Two on one side of the pool, the other on the other.

Oh…dear. Suddenly that pool yawned like Lake Michigan. You could barely even see the far shore, it was so wide…how was I going to manage all three of them over such a distance?!

So I showed the older two where they were to sit and wait for their teacher, then walked Boo Bug over and set her down where her class was to begin.

Shouted across the pool to Eldest and Danger Mouse, “No running!”

Told Boo Bug to just sit and wait for her teacher.


Told Boo Bug to get out of the water, just sit here, and wait for your…


Told Boo Bug that if she didn’t quit trying to drown herself, we were going home. Sit. Right there, sit. Wait. Or else.

“HEY! Sit down and wait for your teacher! Do not mess around that diving board! SIT!!”

(By the way, this was not just my kids being horrible – all the kids were milling and running and shoving and otherwise doing all the things they weren’t supposed to do – I was just apparently the only mom there who wasn’t too busy with the ‘oh hi, how ARE you, how’s your cat, how’s your hubby, how’s the minivan treating you’ routine to actually monitor what the kids were up to during that period before the instructors got into the pool and started organizing things.) (And I have no sympathy whatsoever for the kid who got shoved into the deep end and got the scare of her life when her face actually went {gasp!} underwater. I was watching. She was actually one of the main instigators of the shoving match, was being outright nasty to kids that wanted nothing to do with her and her shoving game, and dammit, she deserved that dunking. “He pushed me FOR NO REASON” my foot!)

Eventually the instructors jumped into the pool and began taking charge of the children. Very capably, I must admit. And I stood at the edge of the pool with Bacon Bit in my arms, hollering things like, “Danger Mouse! Don’t splash your teacher! Eldest! Stop goofing off! Tell her you’re seven! Boo Bug! Listen to your teacher! Listen! Listen to her! Listen to her and do what she says right now or I swear I’m hauling you outta there and we’re going home!!

Suddenly, with a sickening thud, it occurred to me that I was micromanaging my children way more than was strictly speaking necessary. Hello, this is supposed to be fun. The instructors were adept at getting shy and/or scared kids into the water. There were about eight instructors to handle twenty kids, ranging in skill from zip to kids who actually knew how to move around in the water without drowning, plus two other solemn looking adults who sat on high in the lifeguard chairs watching.

I think…they’ve got it covered.

I suspect…if my kids get way out of line, they’ll toss them out.

I suppose…I could just park my butt on the grass with Bacon Bit, flip through my magazine and just…let them…do their thing.

I sat. I opened my magazine and ran one eyeball over it while watching the pool with the other (which is no mean feat). Bacon Bit made the acquaintance of another boy about his same age. They compared notes, bonked their heads together, laughed over it, poked each other in the eye a couple times and had a marvelous time. Bacon Bit pulled Eldest’s fake-grass skirt out from the base of the stroller to share, then took away my magazine and shared that, as well. Other Boy was duly impressed with the Oriental Trading magazine. Bright colors and all, you know. So they tore up a few pages, ate part of an ad for 4th of July hats and called it a day.

Then suddenly, the “all out” alert was sounded and three shivering, soaking mermaids ran to me shrieking and giggling.

“That was great!” “Did you see me? Did you see me in the water?!” “Look, I can hold my nose!” “Mommy!” “Are we coming here tomorrow?” “I can put my whole head under water!!” “Mommy!” “Mommy!” “MOMMMMMMEEEEEE!”

I know I’m not the only mom out there who has control issues. It’s hard for me to believe that anybody else can manage my Denizens; even harder to accept that by golly they can manage themselves. That without my constant nagging and harping and carrying on, they could manage to be charming and well-behaved children seems inconceivable.

But they can, and they did, and they had a marvelous time. Without a whole lot of input from me, too.

A tiny step toward Someday, when they’ll unfurl those wings and fly off without me, leaving me standing on my porch hollering after them, “…and don’t forget to wear a sweater! …take your vitamins!…and…!”

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Bloody irony

While I’m on the subject of menstruation, I simply must share a moment of irony from this morning.

So Aunt Flo, who has been pretty flaky lately and either comes a week early or two weeks late, finally got here this morning – a week late. Woo hoo, finally I’m going to be shedding all that stupid water that has gathered around my middle in the meantime. And ack, cramps. Oh well, take the bitter with the sweet, be relieved that once again I have not experienced an improbable conception and get on with Life After Shower.

Now, I just got some new Glad Rags - for those unfamiliar with this particular variety of eco-nazism, they’re cloth feminine pads. No, they’re not all that gross to deal with and yes, they’re more comfortable to me than paper. OK, glad to get that out of the way. I’ve been using these things for twelve years now, in combination with paper because I didn’t have enough of them and would get to a point where all of them were either gross or drying from being quickly washed in the sink. Then suddenly it occurred to me that, given my preference for them and given the fact that it is one of those ‘pay for it once, use it forever’ deals (which appeals to my cheaper side), AND that they were now available online instead of having to travel out to someplace cool like Sebastopol to find them (imagine the sell-job on that: “Honey, I’m going to be gone all day on Saturday – I need to drive out to Sebastopol to buy some feminine pads! Have fun bonding with the children, ta-ta!!”)…why not try to be intelligent about things and buy some more?

So I did. Picked up six more of them, and twelve liners – I now have more than enough to get through an entire period without having to do that ‘ack, quick, wash one in the sink and stand there with the blow dryer like a moron trying to dry it!’ thing.

So this morning, I go to my drawer and I take out one of my new Glad Rags. I look at it, with its crisp new ‘unbleached linen’. And, swear to Dog, I think to myself, Oh, wait, I don’t want to wear one of the new ones! I’m going to get it all ICKY!


Um, hello?! Anybody home up there?! That would be the whole purpose of it?! Icky there, not in the fancy Victoria Secret underwear! (OK, well, it used to be fancy underwear. Now it’s, uh, well, let’s just say it would behoove me to consider the purchase of new underwear because in the event of an accident I will definitely be embarrassed: “Hey, check it out – this stuff is vintage 1998 VS! Doesn’t this woman ever buy new underwear? Make sure you check that insurance card, ‘cause we got ourselves one cheap witch on the table here…”)

These are the moments that really make me wonder about myself. A stab of regret for the former pristine nature, sure. But, what, the flow will be “cleaner” later in the period? Or maybe I think I’ll just keep these to show to guests? C’mon. This is like when you use a measuring cup to measure water, then put it in the dishwasher.

Oh well. At least I can blame it on my period. Normally, of course {ahem – BS alert}, I would never do such a thing. But being that I’m on the rag right now…I’m a little ditzier than usual. There’s too much blood in my chocolate stream. Please help. Operators are standing by to take your call…or you can send your Godiva directly to me at the following address…

Friday, June 17, 2005

THAT time already?

I ran across this at today. Entitled “Monthly Taboos”, it’s about some of the weird things we’ve associated our periods with over the centuries.

There’s this huge list of things we wimmin-folks ain’t a-posed to do during That Time of the Month (TTotM). Canning, mayonnaise making, fruit picking, gardening, all kinds of stuff.

Now, I don’t know about believing that my bread won’t rise if I try to bake during TTotM, but I can tell you this: it damned well might not. Not due to TTotM itself, mind, but because I am so frickin’ pissy and distracted, especially in the early stages, that I might do something like leave out the salt or the yeast. And the flour. Then I’ll wonder why that pathetic little pile of sugar isn’t doing anything. I’ll have to sit down and cry about how the flour hates me and the way other people don’t have these problems for a while, then I’ll suck it up, drink a beer and sit around feeling fat and saying, “You know, I really need to get more exercise…” until TTotM is over.

I found myself pondering this most female of experiences. In spite of great efforts on the part of many different people to encourage me to embrace this empowering, Goddess-invoking bit of female wonderment, I still consider it to be a nuisance at best and occasionally downright awful. You know what I don’t need? I don’t need something else to drive wedges between friends and neighbors.

I know women who don’t experience anything when TTotM comes along. No bloating, no cramping, no emotional weirdness, just… “oh my, I appear to have my flow!” and they wear a pad or two for a couple days and that’s it. I hate them, because I pack on five pounds every cotton-pickin’ month, then spend two-three days in the bathroom peeing, the first day of which is also a nightmare of cramps and the kind of crankiness that would encourage a woman to, say, get up into the winter-wakened bear’s face instead of taking the more sensible course of running.

And I know women whose entire lives are ruined for a week, week and a half – Cramps of the Gods, hormones worse than any teenager, inability to think or do anything, twenty pounds of water weight and swollen feet to boot. I hate them, too, because I’d like to accuse them of faking it. Especially the ones for whom these symptoms go on for two weeks or more, or when the list of complaints takes more than fifteen minutes to recite. C’mon. What pucus, I want to say to them. Suck it up and walk it off, girl. But then, of course, I can’t do that. Because first of all, in these enlightened times we know that such things can happen and that to deny the veracity another person’s symptoms purely because we think they’re fuller of pucus (which is, I believe, a word of my own invention to avoid getting my mouth washed out with soap if my mother should happen across this) than a herd of cows is both insensitive and immature.

And, if I did, then when I got my cramps I’ve set up a bad precedent and may find myself told to suck it up and walk it off instead of being handed a quart of Haagen-Dazs or a little box of Godiva truffles or something. And that would be bad, because without good chocolate I doubt my ability to get through TTotM without actually seeking out a hibernating bear for a wrestling match.

Which would be bad. Very, very bad. Because in order to seek out a hibernating bear in the first place, I’d need a babysitter. Who would, undoubtedly, be unavailable because she alleges she’s in the throes of TTotM herself – the faker.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Aw, nuts

My ‘To Do’ list is way too short on the fun stuff, and way too long on the really-rather-not stuff. Basically, I’ve got “clean entire house”, a bonus chore of dusting the floor moldings (yes, I really do dust the stupid floor molding and yes, I know it is very 50s of me), and doing the yardwork.

I already did the “fun” stuff: read my online national newspapers, check my stocks, and so forth. So what am I left with?

Clean the damned house.

What is it with this house, anyway? Why can’t it just…stay clean? For, like, five minutes?

Didn’t I just do that whole house-cleaning thing?!

But I can see from here that the house is very much not clean. Shoot, I’m sitting at the kitchen table right now, and there are crumbs from this morning’s muffins all over it. Even though I wiped it down after breakfast, yet – there are still crumbs on it.

I know why they’re there, too. It’s because someone put some muffin in a pocket or under the couch or something, then brought it back to the table later. No, seriously. They do this. What happens is, they eat a few bites and declare themselves “done” so they can go to battle with their siblings over toys and so forth. But they’re not really done, and they know it. So what they do is palm some of their food and squirrel it away for later. I think they do that in case snack is not to their liking. Because sometimes, Mom gets on this kick where she’ll insist on giving you things like celery with peanut butter and raisins for snack. Blech! What’s wrong with cheese and crackers, or Ritz crackers with peanut butter on them, or apples with cinnamon? Celery = green food, and green food = evil.

The bathroom mirrors are coated in soap, toothpaste, and other flecks I’d really rather not identify, thanks all the same. The floors have an even layer of dust, sand, little rocks, and toys. Junk mail, receipts, cookbooks, bank statements, old socks and stuff I’ve been meaning to deal with all week are covering every level surface in the house, from the desks to the built-ins to the top of my dresser.

On the plus side, that does mean I’ll have less dusting to do, right? One I’ve picked up the stuff?!

Oh well. The stuff isn’t going to pick up itself. And the vacuum isn’t going to run itself. And if I don’t get the crumbs off the floor, Bacon Bit is going to eat them – and they might be little shreds of tuberculosis or streptococci or something equally awful.

OK. I’m off. I’m going now…unless, of course, someone’s posted something interesting on the Living Below Your Means board over at the Motley Fool…

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The End is Nigh.

I’m serious.

Let’s check the omens, shall we? Dark and sinister, here they are:

1. The downstairs of my house is clean. Vacuumed, washed, dusted. That right there is enough to forecast the end times.

2. The mail that has been accumulating all over the house has been handled. Not just thrown into a different drawer! Handled. Paid, input, protested, filed, or otherwise taken care of.

3. The children are…quiet. OK, OK, Bacon Bit is beginning to chatter up there in his crib, but the other three are quietly playing Reader Rabbit on the laptops. Quietly. No fighting. No screaming. No incessant cries of, “Mommy! She won’t let me play my own game!” Only laughing and cries of, “Oh! I found the secret vowel!!”

4. It’s 5:15. The market is closed. I have cleared out my email inbox (for the first time in about three weeks). The kitchen is clean, ready for dinner to be cooked. And I don’t even have to think about starting that for another 45 minutes.

I’m telling you. It’s the End of the World™. Any second now. The roof may fall in. Or something equally dire. Maybe Greenspan will suddenly walk up to a reporter and say, “Hey, just kidding about that whole ‘steady footing’ thing! Actually, the economy is tanking and we’re all doomed, BWA-HAHAHAHAHA!”

Because when there is anything even sorta close to peace in the Den of Chaos…bad things are sure to happen. I’m telling you, it’s the end of the…

Hang on, hang on…wait just a second here…Ah! There we go! Sounds like Eldest just gave Boo Bug a big old poke in the eye or something…there’s the “I’m TELLING!!”…and the cries of “Sorry-sorry-sorry-sorry-sorry don’t go tell! She’ll take away the games!”…and the pitter-patter of wee little three year old feet…and all that hollering has made Bacon Bit realize that something cool is probably going on down here so he’s hollering…

Whew. OK. So, the End is Not Quite Nigh.

But if I get this resolved without getting up from this chair…DOOM! DOOM, I tell you!!!!!!!!!

Not literally...

{dramatic, thrumming music}

Clad in painted-on black, the woman lowers herself artfully on a gossamer thread from on high. Her delicate hand gestures, the dome opens, and we see a button: “Start Engine.” A single finger pushes the button. {rrrrrrrrrrrrooooooom!}

{more dramatic, thrumming music}

The black car jets through the streets to the dramatic, thrumming music.

“You know,” I said thoughtfully. “That would be stupid. I mean, can you imagine if I had to lower myself from the ceiling through all those wires and stuff and so forth and so on, just to start my car in the morning? I can barely get the four of you into clean clothes and shoes and into the van, how would I…”

“Mommy,” Eldest responded, in tones of great exasperation. “You don’t actually have to do that. They’re just trying to sell you the car!”

Well. Guess there’s no foolin’ her now, is there. No moss growing on her. No stupid children around the old Den, either.

Hmm. I guess that means that I also wouldn't look like Ms. Painted On Clothes if I bought the car...?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


OK, fair warning: this is another poop story. Or, as I like to refer to such stories, ‘birth control via oral tradition.’ (Although, this being written down as opposed to told live in person, I suppose it would have to be ‘birth control via essay’.)

So this morning, Bacon Bit got up early and had a nice long snuggle while he sucked down that first bottle of the morning. We then proceeded to the playing part of the morning. He climbed up onto me, throwing his chubby little arms around my neck and planting a great bit drooly kiss (which was actually an attempt to bite me, headed off at the pass because I’m on to him by now) on my chin. Laughing and shrieking, he bounced up and down, crawling to his toys and back again with enviable energy.

Suddenly, he went as still as stone. His face turned very serious, as though he were pondering a matter of tremendous philosophical importance. And then…{fwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap!} Followed by his absolutely top-drawer cutest grin, which clearly asks of all who see it, “Aren’t I just the most adorablest thing ever?!”

Oh my. Yup, that would be a full diaper. Whew! Just call him Mr. Sulfur! Phew!! Stinky Boy. Right, that’s going to need changing – STAT!

So I carried his squirming, shrieking, laughing self into the laundry room to attend to the business.

He’s lying there on the changing pad giggling, clapping his hands and chatting me up (“Ba! Ba-ba! Ga! Da! Mmm-mmm-BAH!”), the image of happy, reasonably-calm infant.

But the instant I released the tabs of the diaper, he suddenly turned into Uber Squirmy Baby, flinging himself violently all over the changing pad, arms and legs flailing wildly.

“AH! Hey, knock it off! Ah! No, don’t put your hands down there!!! AH! Stop, stop, stop!!”

He got ‘it’ all over his little hands, his feet, his legs. He smeared it all over the changing pad, my washing machine, me, thank you very much, and even flicked a bit on the walls and ceiling of the laundry room.

Oh, ack.

And then, the instant I got all the poop off him (and his environment), he went back to lying peacefully on his back clapping his hands and staring at the lights in the ceiling while I put the clean diaper on him.


Aren’t they adorable, the little Poopsies?!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

To Do Instead

To Do Today:
1. Ironing
2. Clean Zone II (downstairs hallway, bathroom, laundry room, office)
3. Mail forms to broker
4. Put in meat market order
5. Collect & put out household garbage
6. Vacuum sofas / chairs
7. Order soapmaking supplies
8. Read today’s articles at,,
9. Research tickers CHIR, CIEN, FRO, and PLMD
10. Redo valuation calculations on SE, MCD, INFA, adjust targets or take profits?

To Do Instead:
1. Set up fingerpainting
2. Report findings for the edification of the Guild.

In the interest of completing my To Do Instead list, I submit the following findings.

First, if there is any chance whatsoever that you might be engaging in activities such as, say, glitter glue, stickers, and/or fingerpaints, make sure you have a stock of dollar store plastic picnic table covers on hand. Nothing says, “Sure, we can get out the fingerpaints!” like having a cover you can put over your precious WalMart vinyl table cloth {ahem} before the heathens are turned loose with paint. Then, when you’re all done, you just fold that bad boy up, paint spots, ‘not good enough’ pictures and all, and shove it into the trash (hmm, trash, trash, why is that ringing a bell…?).

Oriental Trading Company rocks. Oh yeah. Huge jugs of finger paint, four dozen sponge stamps, cheap-cheap-cheap. And they frequently offer free shipping, so I don’t even have to leave my house to get the goods. Hot dog! (Hot dog, hot dog, hmm, there goes that bell again…)

Disposable Tupperware are fantastic finger paint containers.

Children should always fingerpaint in their underwear, because to do otherwise is just plain hard on mommy’s blood pressure. There is no such thing as an apron that can keep clothes from getting paint on them, especially if mommy is going to be doing the ironing while said children are exploring their artistic abilities. (Hey! I actually did something on my list…CHECK!)

There can be no such thing as ‘too many’ hand-wiping towels while fingerpainting is in progress. The thin, cheap-but-washable kind you can get at Costco (similar to the disposable Tupperware – you don’t cry if you just throw it out, but it can also just go in the wash with your regular clothes) are perfect.

It is a waste of breath to remind the children that if you get the blue in the white paint, you will have light-blue paint and no white. Ditto reminding them that blue and yellow will make green and that there is no unmaking of said green. Water put on the table to cleanse sponges between dippings will probably be used instead to wash hands. Or be drunk the instant you aren’t looking. {shudder}

It is also a waste of breath to remind the children not to touch anything (walls, sofa, cat, fridge, each other) when their hands are coated with paint. Just keep taking deep breaths and remind yourself, “It’s washable, it’s washable, it’s washable.”

If that doesn’t work for you, remember what the Buddha says: All things are transitory. The sofa’s ultimate destiny is found in its impermanence, and disintegration into a pile of messed up fabric and wood is only right and natural.

If that doesn’t work for you, remember that the sun is definitely over the yardarm somewhere in the world, and have yourself a nice little belt of something (I’m currently on my second Diet Coke of the day) (and my second dose of Motrin).

Fingerpaint does not smell nice to grownups. Kids think it smells fabulous, but it is in fact stinky. And the whole house will smell like the paints. There is an easy way to fix this, however. Bake cookies. Or brownies. Either way.

And, once you’ve rung all (most) of the paint out of the sponges (which should take a mere hour or so), a metal colander makes a primo sponge dryer.

Finally, I would also like to inform you that three year olds are very cool, because they think what makes yellow and blue turn green is, and I quote, “magic color fairies.”

Five year olds are also cool, because they’re willing to pretend (for the sake of peaceful coexistence with siblings) that they believe that too when everybody, and I mean everybody, knows that actually they turn green because blue and yellow get married and have green babies.

And younger kids on the whole are cool because they both appreciate and accept your adulation. They don’t have any ‘modesty’ problems, they don’t doubt that you’re telling the whole truth, they don’t second-guess your delight with the results of their efforts. We older types do that all the time. Someone walks up and says, “Wow, good job! I like what you’ve done!” and what do we do? “Yeah, but I shoulda-coulda-woulda…” or “Uh, thanks.” (lower eyes, rush away).

Not my kids. We start the “Mommy, lookit what I drew!” routine, and when I say, “Hey, lemme see!!” they don’t stand back and say to themselves, She doesn’t really want to see, she’s just saying that because I’ve cornered her into saying that…and by ‘good job!’ she means ‘what a loser!’…

Oh, no. Their little eyes shine with excitement and gratification, their voices get more and more shrill with excitement as they point out any wonderful points of artistic interest I may have missed (it’s a mermaid with a horse in the sea with a TREE!!!), and they may ultimately get so keyed up by the whole “meet the critics” thing that they will be forced to throw paint-encrusted arms around my neck and shriek, “I love you the MOSTEST!!” right in my now-throbbing ear (hmm, just how many Motrin can one take in a four hour period without, you know, dying…?).

The old To Do list, as important as it may be in the Land of Grownups, will be with me always, largely unchanged as the years roll by. Whether I get the trash together and out the door tonight isn’t likely to make a whole lot of difference to our lives. The trash is going to be with me pretty much always.

Youth, my own and that of my children, won’t.

I must take care of the household business, the cooking, the cleaning, the nest-egg-building. But I must also remember the To Do Instead list, the goofing off and the playing and the cherishing of what is now, as well as the what is to be tomorrow.

Our time here with each other is so fleeting and precious. This moment won’t be coming around again, and of such moments are lives built.

Take care of business. Ensure your own bliss. Do your necessary labor and toil – that’s part of the human existence.

Just don’t forget that sometimes – you’ve got a To Do Instead list to take care of, too.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Sock wars

I caught Danger Mouse this morning standing with her hands over her face, twitching and stamping her feet and murmuring savagely to herself, “One, two, three, four, five…”

“Are you mad?” I asked her, trying very hard not to laugh at this miniature version of myself. When I’m getting to the point of wanting to explode, I’ll frequently close my eyes and count to ten. Ten times, if I must. I have what is fallaciously referred to as ‘anger management issues’ – better known as, Classic Quick Temper. Just a powder keg waiting for a match, that’s me. I’ve been counting to ten since I was a kid, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon.

“I am very mad,” she said quietly in a choked up voice, still twitching in place. “I am so mad I want to cry. And Boo Bug is a very, very bad girl. She tooked my Minnie and then she said it was her Minnie and now I’m so mad I’m going to cry. And also, well, two things. I want to cry, and also I want to…well, I sort of want to hit her.” {pause} “Very, very hard.” {pause} “With…with…with a sock.”

Oh Lord. We contemplated this situation for a long moment.

Well, actually, I wasn’t thinking about the poor hostage Minnie at all. I was harking back to when my brother and I were kids, and the many happy hours we spent whacking the hell out of each other with knee-hi socks: you’d ball up one of the socks, stuff it down into the toe of the other sock, and then – HAVE AT YOU! Well, heck, since mom was too cheap to buy us an Atari like everybody ELSE had, we had to come up with something to do on those long, lazy days of summer…

Hee. Sock wars! Use the farce, Luke! Heh heh heh. My white-with-blue-bands knee-hi can whump butt over your stupid gray-with-red-bands any day, buster! En garde! Hup! Ho! Ha! Parry! Thrust! Swing!!

Gee, that was fun. Oh yeah. Heh. Good old days. Have a sock fight, eat some of those astonishingly hideous wax Coke bottles (remember those things? Suck out that brown syrup that was supposed to taste like Coke but didn’t, then chew on the wax as though it were gum for a while?), and wait (endlessly) for the ice cream man to come around…

Oh yeah. Those were the days, my friends, those were the days. Maybe I ought to turn the kids on to…

{shakes self} Good God! Was I actually thinking that?! Bad enough that I taught them how to blow the paper wrappers at each other whenever they get straws, now I’m going to show them how to utterly destroy their socks?!

What kind of mother am I, anyway…?

In the meantime, Danger Mouse calmed down enough to stop twitching. We retrieved Minnie and peace was restored to the household.

For the moment. I’m still pondering the great Sock Wars of ‘76-77, and considering making that the way we settle domestic disturbances around here. “OK, you both want the same toy? Right. Go and get your socks, first one to get five blows in wins…”