Thursday, April 28, 2005

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Before Bedtime Posted by Hello

Swear Once, Shame on You, Swear Twice, Shame on Me

We have barely entered the phase where words like "poopy-head" and "bum-toots" are funny, hilarious even. I'll catch Kaleb and Leah whispering in a corner, giggling over any word combination including burp, toot, poop or pee. I chastise them, saying something parental like, "We don't say things like that," which makes it all the more appealing. I should have been grateful for their age-appropriate interest in bodily functions because, unfortunately, just a few weeks ago we graduated to our first four-letter experience.

Kaleb was in the livingroom, trying to put his shoes on by himself, and, frustrated that it wasn't going well, said, "Oh shit!"

"What did you say?" I asked from the kitchen, immediately regretting my request that he swear yet again.

"Oh shit?"

"Where did you hear that word?"


When he was two "Sandlot" was his favorite movie, and until about a year ago baseball was the most important thing in his life. Now the lineup goes something like this: 1. Spiderman, 2. Any other super hero, and 3. baseball. Kaleb used to watch Sandlot with mitt in hand, pretending to catch, throw and hit with the movie cast. I knew that one expletive was in the movie, but didn't think he would notice it. It's just one word, for heaven's sake, one word amongst thousands.

But apparently, while watching the movie with Leah the week before he did notice that one word, to the point where he understood the context in which it should be used. After explaining to him that the "s" word is not a nice word and definitely not a word we use, he nodded, apathetic, and moved on to some other project in his bedroom.

Leah had been listening to my little Bad-Word Lecture in the kitchen.

"We don't say shit," she said. "Shit is a bad word."

"Okay, Leah, that's enough," I said.

"Because shit is a bad, bad word," she said. "And we don't say bad words like shit."

"All righty. Let's go play with Kaleb now," I said, steering her into their bedroom where I hoped she'd forget the word that we don't say, especially as many times as she just did.

Since then we haven't had a problem with the "s" word, and I've decided it's because neither of them realize that shit is just a synonym for poop. If they knew that I’m sure it would inspire creative word combinations that wouldn’t be contained in the little corners of my house. With my luck, they would be shouted from grocery carts and in church parking lots.

So I’ll take the “poopy heads” and “bum-toots” any day of the week, and be grateful for them.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Scratch and Dent Surplus

Our refrigerator has been dying a slow death. For the past six months it's leaked water, and I've had to line the bottom with towels. I willed it to live just long enough for us to receive our tax return. Just last night I came home to find it ticking, literally, like a bomb. So off we all went to the scratch and dent RC Willey surplus store to look for a new, scratched and dented refrigerator.

Taking three kids to an appliance store is not on my top 10 list of fun things to do. Luckily they had little strollers which amounted to mini go-charts with long handles. Kaleb pushed Zack and I pushed Leah. Now if you're going to take three little kids to an appliance store probably your safest choice is a scratch and dent warehouse. I mean, really, how much more damage can my children do?

We were looking at the second isle of refrigerators when the kids began to get restless. One of the salesmen seemed to be getting nervous as Kaleb became more adept at maneuvering Zack's stroller. Kaleb began pushing Zack faster. Zack squealed in delight and Kaleb pushed him even faster.

The isles were narrow so it didn’t take long for Kaleb to create a few scratches and dents of his own. So I found a small appliance-less corner of the store and told him he could pace back and forth with Zack. Leah wanted in on the action. Soon my kids were having their own little party in the scratch and dent RC Willey, to the chagrin of the aforementioned salesman.

We found our fridge and I took the kids out to the van while Daddy finished the transaction. Wouldn’t you know it was raining? Pouring, in fact. So while I buckled Zack into his carseat Kaleb and Leah soaked themselves in the parking lot.

We hadn't driven four blocks before Leah was falling asleep.

“Was that fun?” Kaleb asked from the backseat.

“Yep,” I said. “That was a blast.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


My name is Shauna and I'm a coke addict. Diet coke with lime, that is.

It's always been my little indulgence. When you're Mormon your options for legal vices are limited, and while diet coke is by no means endorsed by the LDS faith, they won't kick me out of sacrament meeting for having a little carbonated caffeine on my breath.

But I recognize that it's become a problem and I need to stop, for the children. Kaleb has demonstrated a predisposition for caffeine that's a little disturbing, so for the sake of all involved I need to be a better example.

Every now and then I get a 44-ouncer (for those of you not involved in a soda addiction, that's a 44-ounce cup, or would that be a mug... -- ok, ok, so it's a 44 ounce tub of diet coke) on our way home from the grocery store (how I love those drive-thru gas stations). Just last week while bringing in the last load from the van, I caught Kaleb guzzling my soda from atop a chair in the kitchen, his mouth barely reaching the tip of my big gulp straw.


"What? Did you see me?"

My kids either think they're invisible or I'm stupid. I don't want to know which.

"Yes, I saw you. Get down and stop drinking mommy's soda."

"Is soda bad for kids?" he asked.

"Yes, it's bad for kids."

"Is soda good for mommies?" he asked. Okay, now this is where your parental ore is really tested. I could have said, "Yes, soda is good for mommies, in fact it's medicinal. It's what prevents mommy, on bad days, from taking off for Costa Rica while you're on timeout." But I didn't. I told the truth. "No, soda is not good for mommies. Mommy probably should probably try to stop drinking soda."

Kaleb nodded his head with solemnity. "Yes, you should stop drinking soda."

Now that would be the end of this story if my "do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do" parental approach had worked. But it didn't and so our story gets worse.

I've found a valid chore that Kaleb both loves to do and does well. Unfortunately, it's soda related. He's the can smasher. He gets his little blue moon boots on and goes out the back door and smashes cans for a good 45 minutes. It's noisy, aggressive, destructive, and exhausting -- what more could a mother ask for?

Well, the other day Kaleb was out smashing cans. He got about 15 minutes into it before I realized that it had grown silent. When I opened the door I caught Kaleb with his head turned back, trying to eek out a few drops from a half-smashed soda can. The kid looked like a sad urchin thirsting to death. But he wasn't thirsting to death, he was trying to get a lick of mommy's soda.

So I need to stop drinking soda and I need to stop soon, before my son begins collecting aluminum cans for the sole purpose of getting his caffeine fix. And while I've yet to find a support group for my addiction, I'm sure there will be an over-the-counter caffeine patch available any day now.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Lost and Found

It's one of the most terrifying moments a mother can experience. Your child is lost in a crowd of people and you don't know where to start looking for him. Today I lost Kaleb at the SuperWalmart, and I'm still a little shaken up about it.

We were at the checkout and Kaleb was looking at the Darth Vadar exhibit a few feet away from the counter where Leah was helping me unload our groceries. He had just gotten to the age where he was too big for the cart. We had barely established our newest rule: Hold onto the cart. Unfortunately I had gotten distracted and wasn't enforcing that rule. I assumed he knew where we were and would join us when he was done looking at the Darth Vadar masks.

I stepped away from the counter to call him. “Kaleb?” No answer. I stepped further away to look down one end of the store. Kaleb was wandering towards the mini McDonalds by the exit, his grey coating bobbing at he looked around for me. “Kaleb!” I yelled. I yelled again and again on tiptoe, willing him to turn around at look at me. He continued to wander past the McDonalds. I went back to the checkout counter. “He didn't hear me,” I said to the cashier and the lady who was currently writing her a check. “Go get him,” the lady said. “I'll watch your kids.”

I took off after Kaleb, calling as I went. I could see other people were starting to worry which increased my panic. Two ladies, customers, asked what he was wearing and told me they'd search in the back of the store. Then one of the employees stopped me. She put her hand on my arm and said, “Go to Customer Service and tell them your little boy is lost. They'll alert all the employees to search for him.”

I ran to Customer Service. Just as I pushed my way through the long line to the counter, one of the employees spoke into the intercom, “Will Shauna please come to the front of the store.”

I looked around and saw Kaleb holding a man's hand. Kaleb's face was red and splotchy; he was trying not to cry. I picked him up and cried into his coat. “Thank you,” I said to the man, who I now realized was wearing scrubs. “Thank you so much,” I said, meaning, thank you for not being a pedophile. Thank you for not being crazy and cruel and stealing my boy for whatever reason. And thank you for seeing him lost, and being kind enough to help him find his mommy.

“That's okay,” he said. “He was in the parking lot, wandering around. It's happened to my kid before so I was glad to help.”

We had a long talk on the way home and made a few more rules. 1. Stay in the store if you ever get lost. And, 2. Never get into a stranger's car to go look for mommy.

Unfortunately I had to tell him that the bad guys he's seen in movies are real, not pretend, and that in order to be safe he can't trust anyone his mommy and daddy don't know. And even that's not a guarantee.

I was grateful he knew my name, but when I asked what my last name was he said, “Mommy.” Shauna Mommy. It wouldn't have mattered; I would have come regardless of what I was called.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Why Our Library Books Are Always Late

This is certified information, I'm sure. If you called the FBI, they would deny it; but I know the truth. A small percentage of American Fork City Library books are gremlins.

I know, I know - you think I'm making excuses. I've had my fair share of overdue books. But check my record - it's only happened at American Fork. Okay, well maybe there was that one overdue book while I was at BYU. Okay, so maybe an overdue book or two in Provo. But statistically speaking that's nothing compared to how many late books I've returned to the AF library.

Some may say it's because I never had children before moving to American Fork three and a half years ago. Kids put a strain on your organizational skills, they lift books, drop them in odd places, some kids might eat a book if given enough time. Not my kids. Angels, all three.

Now I've never seen a library book actually morph into a gremlin, but I have my proof. Because of my record some might assume me library-uncivilized, be we actually have a library system at our house and it all depends on The Library Bag. We take books home from the library in The Bag, we store them in The Bag, and we take them back to the library in The Bag. They are safe in The Bag, that is, unless a book escapes on its own. Because, really, how else could it happen?

I've found stray library books in our own bookcase, under the couch, in the closet hidden under old coats, wedged between the dress-up box and the wall, and next to old string cheese under Kaleb and Leah's bunk bed. Obviously this is the work of the library book gremlins.

As a result of the meddling book gremlins, it takes us awhile to gather all our books and return them to The Bag so that we can return them to the library before they are due. Sometimes all our books are late by a day or two. Sometimes we think we've returned all of them only to get the friendly notice in the mail, telling us which one is missing and how much the gremlin has cost us. But we keep going back and loading up The Bag because we love books, with or without gremlins.

Unfortunately one of those books has never been found, and I believe it lives in our dryer and eat socks. At night it roams the house, hiding my car keys and the remote control.

Now do you really need any more proof than that?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Princess Factor

It's official; I'm a queen. How did I reach this conclusion? Deductive reasoning. I'm no philosophy expert, but here goes. My daughter Leah is a princess (albeit self-appointed), and I'm her mother, therefore, I am a queen.

I have to admit, I was vexed until I had this epiphany. Raising a princess is tricky business, and I was starting to feel unequal to the task, a tad unroyal. But now that I've recognized my station, I'm feeling quite grand, majestic really.

Those of you who haven't raised a princess might be unfamiliar with the royal tantrums that trail a 2-year old diva. It wasn't always like this - the princess evolution started with an innocent little Halloween costume; Leah was a butterfly princess. Give a girl a tiara for a couple hours and it's all over. She hasn't been the same since.

Shortly after Halloween Leah stopped wearing pants. If it wasn't a dress, she wasn't putting it on. I quickly decided this wasn't a battle worth fighting, so I began doing more laundry to keep the girl in her frills. Of course it didn't stop there.

Enter Attitude. You wouldn't believe such an angelic little girl could be so sassy. She can. And her sass extends beyond the common 2-year old “NO.” Leah has flare, a way of defying authority that would make Super Nanny cringe. And she's stolen some of my best lines, which work well for a mother but are outrageous when said by a sassy toddler. “You don't talk to me that way,” or “You be quiet right now,” or “Stop that this instant,” are off-putting when the speaker is a 2-year old girl with her hands on her hips (or worse yet, pointing).

Now when Little Miss Princess Leah has a face-off with Big Queen Mamma, it's not too pretty. I've decided the most queenly response to such defiance is to ignore it. Imagine the nerve, ignoring royalty -- there's no worse punishment for a princess. This is when you start to see the tantrums, and in our home there are too types. There's the Dainty Tantrum, where Leah throws herself on the floor and pouts into cupped hands. Sometimes the Dainty Tantrum is accompanied by the Dainty Weep, and sometimes it's accompanied by a Blubber Fest. Either way, this tantrum is the easiest to deal with. She's small and compact there on the ground with her bum in the air and her face in her hands; I just step right over her. It's the other type of tantrum that's troublesome.

We call it the How-I'll-Act-When-I'm-Thirteen Tantrum. This tantrum manifests itself much more these days. Leah stands up for this one and wails with full-force, grabbing at anyone within reach to pinch, scratch, or gouge. She yells out all those mother lines, and sometimes screams herself into a sleeping, hiccupping heap on the floor, if we're lucky. We're usually not that lucky.

So maybe my little girl isn't unlike other 2-year olds out there. She's definitely done the whole terrible 2/3 thing with more gusto than her older brother. But she can also turn on the charm more than Kaleb can. She wears confidence as easily as she does her dresses. And she expects to be treated well. I call it The Princess Factor.

The Queen Factor? I have no royal secrets to share. Telling myself I'm queenly just makes me feel better about mothering my princess. And I've decided that if she goes through adolescence feeling like a princess and makes it to adulthood with her royalty intact, I'll have succeeded as a mother and will expect a crown of my own.

Let's just hope she outgrows the tantrums.