Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Considering the Source

Sometimes I think that people forget about the old adage: Consider the Source.

For example, I dabble in the stock market. And let me tell you, before I buy a stock that is recommended to me, I Consider The Source. My cousin, who has lost more money in the stock market than I have earned in my entire life? Probably not the best source. Warren Buffet? Definitely somebody who probably knows something I don’t.

If there is any one thing that I am an expert at, it is my kids. I know them very well, even the newest one. I can tell you pretty much immediately when something is wrong with any one of them, and I can even give you a general idea of what it might be. Call it a gift. Call it not having enough outside interests.

I took Bacon Bit (and two of his three older sisters) to the doctors office last week. Based on his behavior (screaming, pulling at ears, temperature, general ire) I thought he might be suffering his first ear infection (see, this is me displaying my uncanny knowledge of my kids’ inner workings). We couldn’t see his ‘real’ doctor on the same-day basis, so we saw ‘somebody in his practice.’

45 minutes in the waiting room (with one screaming infant and two hyper preschoolers) (and everybody else's sick kids, too). Hey, I’m not really complaining: I am, after all, calling them at 9:00 and crying into the phone that my baby’s siiiiiiiiiick and I wanna come in now, dammit!

35 minutes in the examining room with a screaming infant and two EXTREMELY hyperactive preschoolers who are about twenty minutes past being entertained by any of the stuff I’ve brought or any of the assorted magazines / books in the office – they wanna play with the doctor’s toys. I started repeating the phrase, “Get out of that drawer” over and over and over.

10 minutes with a nurse, who carefully took note of all symptoms while I kept saying, “Get out of that drawer” and “put your clothes back on, we’re not here for YOU!”

3 minutes with a doctor, who apparently didn't even glance at any of the carefully taken notes. She also had a pronounced accent; she either said he was fine or that he had some sort of flesh-eating virus, I'm not sure which. She shoved a scope into his little ear, said it was “red but not swollen”, blurted a few other helpful things (“Are you feeding him regularly?” Aw, shucks, NO! I forgot all about that whole ‘feed the baby’ part! Is that our problem?!) and then told me if he's still sick in a week to bring him back.

A week?! You'd think that a pediatrician would know – a week of this ‘screaming all night, sleeping on mommy all day’ routine, and his mommy will be a brain-dead flesh-eating zombie.

She then capped this by informing me that I’d need to wash my hands frequently to help keep the germs down (I refrained from saying, “Ya THINK?”, but only by a narrow margin) and then began telling me how, since he has older siblings, he’s probably going to catch a lot of things from them, especially if they are in contact with other children, say, at preschool or…

Now, I know it is entirely possible that I have somehow managed to have four children go from cradle to first grade without understanding the ‘magic circle’ of children, snot, and diseases. But it was really, and I do mean really, hard not to snap something very counterproductive. Such as, “What kind of moron do you take me for?” or “Really? Kids can pass germs to each other? Who knew?!” or a drawled out, “Well, that’s useful information.”

It required a concentrated effort of will. Especially considering that I was, while she was delivering said helpful hints, commanding the older two away from the sink, trying to tie the shoelaces of the vigorously protesting four year old while the two year old was busy tugging off her shirt (again) and Bacon Bit was wailing his frustration at the top of his three month old lungs.

And after all that, she declined to give us a prescription for those ears on the basis that he didn’t have an infection as of yet.

But, I argued, if his ears are already red and swollen in there, the infection can’t be more than twenty four hours away…

She gave me that wonderful condescending smile doctors sometimes cultivate and informed me (loftily) that it was entirely possible that this infection would disappear on its own.

Uh-huh. I gave her my own carefully cultivated condescending smile and bet her a burrito that I’d be back within 48 hours with an even sicker infant. She looked puzzled, smiled vaguely, and beat a hasty retreat.

Two days later, I was back at the office, this time seeing our regular pediatrician with, yes, an even sicker infant. Dang. If I had managed to get a handshake on that bet, I’d be richer by a burrito. He took one glance into those ears, yelped, “Yikes!” and prescribed Amoxicillin, twice daily. He started to tell me not to wait so long next time, but wisely backed off upon seeing the expression on my face. My face, which reflected the fact that I was now going on the fourth straight day of having an infant screaming in my ear around the clock.

Now granted: I do not expect nor want my pediatrician to prescribe medications based on my “expert” opinion. I can just envision the exchange: “I believe my child needs marijuana to treat her excessive grasp of reality.” “Sure, why not?!”

But still! When the obvious signs of an impending ear infection are looming large, and a Mother of Many is telling you that the child is behaving like a baby with an ear infection…perhaps just a wee little touch of Considering The Source might be helpful?

I’m just sayin’.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Costco with Kids

Let me start off by saying right up front: I don’t usually take the kids with me to Costco. I wait until someone – my husband, my mom, some random stranger who came to the door handing out Watchtower magazines – can watch the Denizens while I bounce over to fill up our freezer, garage shelves and storage shed with bulk goods.

But every so often…I forget, and I say to myself something inane like, “Aw, it’s OK. I’m just going to be doing a quick fill-in shop anyway, so I’ll just go ahead and take them with me rather than waste any of that precious hubby-time on it…”

So. After getting the DH and the visiting BIL off for the day, I ran upstairs and took a nice hot shower. That was the last peaceful moment of the day. There then followed the usual rout of getting four kids up, dressed, hair and teeth brushed and little faces washed.

Finally, I threw them all in the van and we did the hustle, first to Eldest’s (age six) school and then waaaaaaaaaaaay across town to drop Danger Mouse (age four) off at her too-darned-short preschool program. Rushed home with Boo Bug (age three) and Bacon Bit (five months), cleaned about half of the house, fed the baby, told Boo Bug three times that yes, we were going to get McDonalds today and no, I hadn’t forgotten that I promised, dropped everything, rushed back, grabbed Danger Mouse and fled to McDonalds. Threw the Happy Meals over my shoulder at the kids, and made for Costco.

OK, now, let’s pause here. Going to Costco with three small children along is just plain mental. And I say that as a mom who has four really good kids. These are kids who will respond to things like a Glare of Doom and a quietly menacing, “Stop that this very instant…or…ELSE!” I don’t have kids who will scream and cry for everything they see (ask incessantly, yes; scream and cry, no). I don’t have kids who take advantage of the fact that most of us are reluctant to beat them in public to act out. They usually behave about the same out as they do at home, which is 90% Angel and 10% Pure Evil.

But I’m looking at their shining little happy faces and I think to myself, “Shoot yes. I can get through this before anybody gets tired/irritable/otherwise obnoxious.”


Got twenty minutes into the shopping experience only to hear the dreaded cry of, “I have to go poooooooottttttteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Aw, heck. I asked her if she had to go potty 1) before we left the preschool site, 2) while we were in the drive-thru at McDonalds, AND 3) before we started shopping. All three times, she acted insulted and replied, in tones implying I was the rudest person alive, “No!”


So, we rushed to the potty and returned to find our cart was gone (I suspect some overzealous employee grabbed it and did ‘go backs’ on all my stuff!).

Well, spit. So, we start over. Procure a new cart, and off we go.

About three-quarters of the way through all this, I suddenly remembered that today was a MINIMUM day, not an EARLY RELEASE day. Pickup is at 12:40, not 1:30. While most of the time such random acts of memory are just irritating (like remembering my high school sweetheart’s phone number while trying to balance the checkbook), this one was pretty timely.

I now have precisely half an hour to finish shopping, pay, load stuff into the van and get my butt to Eldest’s school…fifteen minutes away.


As I’m loading the groceries, Bacon Bit decides he’s had enough and begins screaming as though someone is driving red-hot nails under his toenails. Time check: 12:35. I have five minutes to drive fifteen minutes.

I began meditating and telling myself that I will be far from the last parent to toddle up for offspring-removal. I remind myself that none of my children have ever actually died from pissed-off crying in route to anything. Besides, since we’re going to be kinda late, maybe the pickup line won’t be so bad…?

So off we bounce, me answering an endless stream of questions from the far regions of the van:
Mommy, do spiders drink blood?
Mommy, does yarn come from yams?
Mommy, how many sheets do we have?
Mommy, can I have a cookie?

What, again?! Swell. Let’s check the scoreboard, shall we? Children Screaming: 2. Children NOT screaming: 1.

Ah, here’s the scho-HOLY SHHHHEEEEEEEIT, I have not seen this many cars stacked up and goin’ nowhere since that time we went to a Nascar race at Sears Points many years ago and got stuck in the ‘exit’ traffic for, like, almost two and a half hours!

Boo Bug starts crying because, well, nobody likes to feel left out of a trend. Screamers 3, Mommy 0.

I turn up the radio.

They scream louder.

Finally, we’re pulling up to the school. I see lots of kids with large boxes marked, “Community Fund Raiser”. Ah yes, the infamous annual fund raiser. Eldest will have such a box.


“Hey, Eldest,” I say as she swarms toward the van. “Did you have a box today?”

“Danger Mouse!” she screams, ignoring me. “I got candy at school today and I saved ya some!”

“Eldest! Do you have a box?”

((blank stare from offspring))

Now, there’s a huge line of cars behind me, and they are all just as glad to be there as I am – which is to say, not one little bit. We all just wanna go home and lie down with a cold cloth on our collective foreheads and maybe a nice little martini (or two). And my child is staring at me as though I’ve just asked her to define the word ‘mnemenic’.

“Box, box, did they give you a box at school today?”

Box? Box? I have NO IDEA what that word means. Finally, after much contemplation, she says, slowly, “Noooooooooo. No box.”

Hmm. But, I’m blocking the pickup lane big time, so I jerk my thumb at her chair and instruct her to sit down and buckle up.

You see it coming, right?

Of course.

About halfway home, wedged in amongst the other cries, questions and comments, comes a sudden wail: “Mommmmmmeeeeeeee! I forgot my box! It’s on the LAWN at school!!”


Repeating the phrase, “She’s just a child, she’s just a child, she’s just a child” in my head, I assess the situation.

I have perishables in the van from Costco.
I have a screaming infant who is going to pop like an overripe cranberry if his needs are not attended PDQ.
I have a preschooler making those little urgent sounds preschoolers make when a potty accident is nigh.
Boo Bug is kicking off her shoes and whimpering, not sure why she’s crying but not wanting to be unfashionable.

“Oh well,” I say. “Let’s hope someone picks it up and puts it away for you.”

Screamers: 4. Mommy: 0.

But, we made it home in time to avert Potty Disaster, got Bacon Bit taken care of (it was a diaper issue causing all that ruckus, for those of you keeping score at home) got the perishables put away and yes, her teacher found her box and put it away safely for her.

Just another day in the Den of Chaos.


Welcome to the Den of Chaos. Pull up a chair – whoops, hang on a sec, lemme get that mac-n-cheez offa there for you first.

So, what am I doing here? Absolutely nothing of any real note. Seriously. If you’re looking for in-depth political commentary, financial planning, meaningful religious observations or serious advice on parenting, plant-growing (or anything else for that matter), it was nice seeing you, drop by again when you have some time to waste.

This is all about daily life here in the Den of Chaos, a realm of constant upheaval where any threat of monotony will be immediately destroyed by the unusual, wonderful or just plain bizarre. It is a lighthearted little break from the serious realities of managing to keep body and soul together in a world that sometimes seems dead-set against us. If you start seeing anything serious, any deep undercurrents or zen-master like blasts of wisdom…you’re probably sleep deprived. Seriously. Stop reading blogs and get a little more shut eye. And don’t argue with me. I’m a mom.

Let me introduce you to the Denizens.

There’s me, the Mother of Chaos. It’s all my fault. All of it. I’m a mom, musician, database analyst, writer, pennypincher extraordinaire (if I do say so myself), knitter, and general observer of the amusing side of life.

Then there’s my Darling Husband, hereinafter referred to as ‘the DH’. He puts up with it. All of it. In addition to being a darned awesome husband and father, he’s also a musician, a talented database developer, a woodworker of no small talent and the resident expert at untying stubborn knots.

We have spawned four times. We’ve got three girls (at time of writing, ages 6, 4, 3) and one boy (5 months old). And before you ask, No, we didn’t just keep going until we got the All Important Can’t Live Without Boy. We’re just nuts and actually wanted four kids, regardless of gender. And yes, I did dissolve into tears of sheer joy upon learning I had a boy At Last.

So what kinds of stuff am I going to ramble on about? Frugality, harp playing, knitting, kid-rearing and mortgage-paying, the occasional rant and probably a few boring episodes wherein the children do cute, clever or disgusting things.

In fact, the very next thing in this blog is going to be about a Costco trip. Want to know what kind of writer I am? Scroll on up (down, sideways – I’m not sure which way it’s going to go yet, I’m new to the whole blogging thing) and check it out. Hope you enjoy your stay, and watch out for dropped toys on your way out.