Friday, June 29, 2007

Why I Outsource My Ironing

The results are in. If paid, stay-at-home moms would earn $134,121 a year. In this same alternate universe, working moms would make $85,876 annually for the “mom portion” of their working day. Too bad the people making these calculations aren’t also writing the checks. But heh, it’s a good start.

The job description “MOTHER” implies the following occupations: chauffeur, housekeeper, financial manager, caregiver, social worker, therapist, seamstress, cook, laundress, nutritionist, recreational worker, and receptionist. It might also require these skills: budgeting, multitasking, the handling and disposal of bio-hazardous waste, catering, conflict resolution, scheduling, conflict resolution, and organization, to name just a few.

Uncle!

So in light of ALL the work on my plate, I made an executive decision (because I happen to be mid-level management around here) and decided to outsource a time-consuming task: ironing. I’m horrible at it. I don’t even remember my mother teaching me how it’s done. And in the time it takes me to iron one Eddie Bauer shirt I could change 5 diapers, wash the dishes, and swiffer my kitchen floor. The nice little dry cleaner down the street only charges me .75 cents per shirt. You see where I’m going here?

Let’s break it down, shall we ladies? If I make a hypothetical $134,121 per year, I earn an hourly rate of $64.48. Now if I take 10 shirts to the local dry cleaner I pay $7.50 which is equal to 8 minutes of my hourly rate. However, if I were to iron those shirts myself it would take me at least an hour (needless to say I’m ironing impaired), which, if you ask me, is a waste of my imaginary income.

When my mother-in-law (bless her!) comes to visit, she does my laundry and all our ironing. That job alone can keep her busy 8 hours a day (never mind there’s a dirty, heaping pile of it in my basement when she first arrives). (Note: She always tells me that she doesn’t care who he is, Tommy Hilfiger makes shirts that are ridiculously difficult to iron).

But, Shauna, you say. That money is make-believe, so all your calculations are ill-founded. To you I say, my sanity is also make-believe. But that’s neither here nor there.

The point is, ironing my husband’s work shirts takes me forever, and even then they don’t look professionally pressed. (And I’ve been told that hanging them on the shower rod and squirting them with a water bottle doesn’t get the job done either.) So I contribute to the success of a local business instead: the dry cleaner. And I’m happy to do it. Because heh, with the money I’m pretending to make, I can afford it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kindblog

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog and what I’d like it to be when it grows up. Way back when I started, “Up in the Night” was just a way to share all my crazy kid stories with family and friends. After some time it became an exercise in writing and a cheap replacement for Prozac. And while I don’t fool myself into believing that I have a kabillion readers, I want my blog to have a positive impact on the people who do read it. That and I want it to be thoughtful, kind, and well groomed with good manners (like my children are in my dreams).

And for those posts that have crossed that line, I apologize. I would hope the slips have appeared innocuous to my gentle readers (all three of you). I try, in most posts, to limit my fun-poking to myself, the hub, and my chillun because I know it's all tempered with a hearty dose of love, nauseating effusion, and cheek pinchin’.

Just today I stumbled on Oh, the Joys’ kindblog badge, and decided the beautimous graphic would remind me of at least one thing that I know I want my blog to be.
So that’s the reason for the new pretty picture in the margin over there. I’m sure most of you don’t need the reminder that I sometimes do, but if you want a kindblog badge too, go to Oh, the Joys and download one for your blog.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A day in the life...

Today was one of those crazy days. The kind where we were on the go and I wished I had my big ole baseball bag packed with bottled water, sunscreen, snacks, wet wipes and distractionary tactics. But I didn’t. I forgot. And so today was extremely interesting. (Although, I’m thinking now, the bag wouldn’t have prevented any of the following…)

At the ball game
Leah and Zack were playing under the bleachers when I lost sight of the little guy.

“Leah?” I called. “Where’s your brother?”

“He’s right here,” she said. “And could you come and get him? He’s embarrassing me.”

What? She’s four. How does she even know what embarrassing is? And excuse me, but you’re the young lady with plumber’s crack. There’s an embarrassing gene, missy, and everyone in this family’s got it!

Then, later, Zack climbed up to me on the bleachers.

“Mom, there’s poo,” he said. “Come see.”

“No thanks,” I said. “I already know what poo looks like.”

“NOOOOO,” he said. “Come see.”

Worried that he might play with it if I don’t take a gander, I climbed down the bleachers and followed him to the backside (haha) where, he’s right, there was indeed a pile of human feces. How or why it got there, I was not interested in knowing. “See!” he said, triumphant. “There’s poo.”

“Let’s leave the poo alone,” I told him. Puzzled, he looked at me. “No,” he said. “I still wanna see it.”

As I was dragging Zack away, Leah, who had come to take a peek, informed me, “You should clean it up.”

“Listen,” I said, in my adult voice, wanting to make this one thing very clear. “I may clean the poo up at our house, but it’s not mommy’s job to clean the poo up at the baseball field.” She nodded, satisfied.

At McDonalds for a lunch date with our Great Uncle Bill

Leah opened the alarmed door and sent a very packed playland into a tizzy. After which I offered a very public apology.

Zack became extremely disappointed that his Surf’s Up toy wasn’t Cody. (Who, by the way, is Cody, and why has my son, who has yet to see the movie, developed such an affinity for him?)

At the doctor’s office

I got nothing. Zack had his three-year checkup and one shot without incident. (Woohoo!)

So there you have it. Motherhood is not only fun, but it’s funny. Funny haha, or funny looney? Well, you be the judge.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Detangle Me!


Okay, so here’s the thing. I love this L’Oreal Kids Tangle Tamer and not for the reasons you might think.

It’s not because of Rosie O’Donnell’s shameless product promotion on the View before she lost her Jujubes in that argument with Elizabeth Survivor.

And it’s not because it’s a magic potion that unravels knotty, little-girl hair. Oh, no, that’s not it at all.

It’s because my Pretty Leah with the long, stick-o-matic hair BELIEVES that it works.

I start to brush her hair, and it feels like Bob Marley’s dreads have sprouted from her noggin. “Mommy,” she pleads. “Use the detangler!” And I soak her hair with that burst of sweet pear and whataya know, it’s still like the girl’s channeling the King of Reggae. But does she squeal? Does she squirm? Does she cry? Nope. It’s magic. It’s the tangled hair placebo. And I love it!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The New Season


Kaleb's been playing baseball for two weeks now. Because I didn't enjoy soccer, I was relieved to discover that his passion for baseball made this particular sports season much more enjoyable. And a little sad that he's grown up so much. This week's article is called "A New Season."

"I worried when I didn’t enjoy soccer. This was my first year as soccer mom and I was not meeting the cut. We dragged our feet to practice and collectively dreaded game day. What is wrong with me, I kept thinking. What kind of sick, twisted mother doesn’t enjoy watching her children play organized sports? Ahem. That would be me."

Click here to read more.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Ladybug Whisperer

My daughter loves ladybugs. Ladybugs and butterflies. And because ladybugs are easier to catch and more transportable than butterflies, she finds one everyday and carries it around until it dies. Or flies away. Whichever comes first.

Last week she found a yellow ladybug that was injured. Its wing was stuck outside its shell, and it wasn’t moving. At all. Leah said it was sleeping, or possibly sad that it was injured AND separated from its family. I said it was dead. Nicely, I said it nicely and in a very age-appropriate manner. She stood by her diagnosis; the ladybug’s health and vitality were intact.

For nearly an hour she nursed the ladybug, setting it on the table (ew!), whispering into her palm and taking it outside to visit nature. And darn it if she didn’t bring that ladybug back to life. I watched in amazement as it began to limp across the back of her hand.

Rich and I finally convinced her to take the ladybug outside so it could go home and get better. Holding back tears, she agreed, although she stayed in the backyard by its side until bedtime. She came in and informed us, “The ladybug lives in our backyard. She told me so.” And all was well.

Until, that is, my mother-in-law informed me that a 3-year old died after being bitten by a ladybug. Apparently the child was allergic. As worst-case-scenario mom, my first reaction was to freak out and ban all ladybug activity. But then I regained my composure to realize that if Leah was allergic we would have discovered that, oh, 2 years ago. The girl’s immune.

It’s seems, however, that Leah’s affinity for bugs extends to moths as well (but not spiders). Last night Kaleb discovered a moth in his bedroom. As he chased the moth down with a boardbook, intending to, well, squash it like a bug, Leah melted down.

“Moooooom,” she wailed. “Kaleb’s trying to kill a moth!”

“Let me take care of that,” I said, grabbing the boardbook and coaxing the moth onto its cover. And then, too lazy to walk down the stairs and out to the backyard, I flushed the moth down the toilet.

We were halfway through our bedtime story when Leah interrupted. “Mom, did you kill the moth?” Argh. Foiled.

“I flushed it down the toilet, Sweetie,” I said.

Leah’s face contorted and her eyes welled up with tears. “Why would you kill a moth? Moths don’t hurt humans!!!!”

“I’m sorry, Leah,” I said. “Next time we’ll take the moth outside together, okay?”

She tipped her head to the side and looked at me, as if using her supernatural power to detect honesty. Convinced, she smiled. “Okay,” she said. “Next time we’ll save the moth together.”

The Ladybug Whisperer has a convert. I won’t be flushing anymore moths, ladybugs, potato bugs, or butterflies down the toilet. Spiders, however, don’t stand a chance.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Flashback

I just had a conversation with my three-year old that is too deja vu not to document (and is nearly identical to my very first post):

I'm typing on the computer while Zack balances on one of my knees, chatting on and on as he points to the directions that came with a Spiderman toy. All at once he manually turns my face to his, one sticky hand on each cheek.

"Is Spiderman real?" he asks.

"No, Sweetie, Spiderman is pretend," I answer.

Zack's eyes go wide and looks like I've told him he'll be going to Princess School this summer. "No, no, no," he says. "Spiderman is not pretend."

Remembering the duplicate conversation with Kaleb three years ago when he was just Zack's age, I ask, "What is Jesus. Real or pretend?"

Zack looks at me like it's a trick question, like he can't give Jesus the dignity of being real if Spiderman isn't.

"Spiderman is real," he says instead, strategically ignoring my question.

"What about Jesus?"

"Jesus is pretend! Spiderman is real. I like his movies."

I shake my head, recognizing just how alike my two boys are. Now if only Jesus would shot webs in a feature film, He'd have a fan. Uhm, make that TWO fans...

My Little Chatterbox


Conversation while making muffins:

Zack: Why are you looking at me?

Mom: (Somewhat surprised because she had been looking at the batter) Because you're so cute!

Zack: I not cute. The puppy is cute. The baby is cute. I Zack. I HANsome!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Summer Classics

Today we went to Kaleb’s baseball game. It was 2:30 in the afternoon and sweltering hot. We forgot water bottles and had to scrounge around in our van for empty canisters to fill with drinking fountain water. From that time until now I’ve enjoyed classic summertime favorites:

* Slugging water so fast it dribbles down your chin.
* Watching red-cheeked children chase each other through the grass (even though it’s over 95 degrees out).
* Getting ice cream after the game and watching my kids lick vanilla goo from around their mouths.
* Turning the sprinkler on under the trampoline so they can jump through a water mist.
* Walking from the room for a moment only to return and find that everyone’s dead asleep on the couch.
* Going on a bike ride with Kaleb and being so thirsty afterwards that we slug water fast and it dribbles down our chins.

When you have kids it’s like stepping into a time machine and warping back to your own childhood. This time I’m savoring it (and taking lots of pictures).

What are your classic summertime favorites?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Back to Utah, or more aptly titled, Why I Will Give My Children More Credit

This weekend the kids and I drove back to Utah. My brother and sister-in-law (bless them!) watched my kids overnight so I could meet with a client and spend time with my best friend. It was wonderful! I experienced complete thoughts (and wrote them down as proof), slept until 9, and walked in and out of buildings without children hanging from my shirttails. What a dream! Albeit short, and now, over.

But I was completely terrified that my children would “go Belknap” and freak out the extended family. I can even provide imaginary details. Picture this: Zack climbing to the roof of my brother’s rental, pulling cute little Rory behind him, from her hair. Or this: Kaleb orchestrating a coup, secretly springing toddlers from the house to wonder the streets aimlessly. Or maybe this: Leah carrying big baby Jill from room to room without a spotter (okay, so that did happen). But does anyone else worry like this? I’m their mother; I’ve seen them at their worst and I’ve seen them at their best. Why was I expecting them to exhibit unholy behavior when removed from my direct supervision?

I was projecting, once again. At 36 (okay, 37) I’m still uncomfortable in my own skin, perceiving the worst about myself and believing others do the same. Now when it’s just me (in the confines of my therapist’s office) that’s fine, I can project and worry, project and worry, all the day long. But when it involves my children, and how I think others may perceive them, it’s criminal. It’s time I figured this out.

My children are normal, and because they’re mine they’re absolutely phenomenal. They’re not perfect. And they’re not mini-me’s. They’re little people learning how to be the best individuals they can (hopefully, just as their parents continue to do daily). And my duty, as a mother, is to help them accomplish that. Now I’ve decided that equal to that task is my belief in them, my belief that they’re already wonderful, amazing, astounding, and extraordinary little people, set on a path unique to them. Because if they recognize that their mother believes them to be fabulous in the quiet moment of being, apart from report cards, baseball stats, or (heaven forbid) blog readership, they’ll spend more time becoming who they need to be and less time trying to please their imperfect mother, or anyone else, for that matter.

I’ve decided it all boils down to this: I’ve watched too many episodes of “Intervention.” Really, have you watched that show? Every episode I’ve seen details a childhood, at some point or another, riff with uncertainty and criticism. While the addict’s parents may or may not be addicts themselves, most exhibit poor self-esteem. Now I AM NOT SAYING that every addict has dysfunctional parents. NOR AM I SAYING that your children will become drug addicts if you have poor self-esteem. What I AM SAYING (in a highly exaggerated fashion) is that when a parent is preoccupied with their own issues of self-acceptance, it’s difficult to communicate unconditional love and acceptance for their children. Enter, me (it’s all about ME, people).

So I’ve decided that three paragraphs ago when I said it didn’t matter whether or not I projected my unhealthy self-image like a fire hose as long as I wasn’t projecting an unhealthy image of my children, I was wrong. It does matter. Whether or not children can articulate it, they feel connected to their parents, and if I’m projecting an unhealthy image of myself, they’re eating it up like ice cream (and allowing that projection to settle into the center of their self-assessing lobe—if there is such a thing). So it’s time to get healthy and feel fabulous about myself. For my children. And me too, of course.

Expectations? Sm-expectations! That’s all I’ve got to say (that and about 640, now 41, words). Not that I don’t expect my children to make good choices, be good people, and do the best they can. But first (like a commandment) I expect myself to swell with the understanding of just how magnificent we are. No strings attached.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ode to the Daddy Voice

In honor of Father's Day this week's column honors that which I value most in our parenting relationship: The Daddy Voice.

"This is how a night in our home plays out:

Me: Kids, it’s time to get PJs on and brush your teeth. Can you hear me? Let’s go. Upstairs. Now. That means everyone… Kaleb, Leah, Zack. Upstairs. Go, go, go. It’s getting late. It’s time for bed. Hustle, everyone, now. Why are you all still sitting there?

Enter the Daddy Voice: Did you guys just hear your mother?

And that’s it. Kids are scattering like a piƱata just broke in their bedrooms. Excuse me?"

Click here to read more.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Only at six...

Only at six could you kiss a boy you like, have him say "gross," and then hang out with him all day, every day, three days in a row without worrying about where the relationship is going, the other girls he might be interested in, and whether or not he likes you the same way you like him. Meet Kelly Ann*, the first girl to have a crush on Kaleb.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent. But you can tell she’s adorable, right? *sigh*

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Smells of Summer


Every summer I recognize them; they cue in summer, somehow making my children quiver with excitement like tuning forks. The sun feels warmer, the future is brighter, and summer stretches ahead like an endless golden ribbon.

Feeling inspired by Notes to Self, I’ve decided to create a montage: the fab five smells of summer. Here they are:

Chlorine: Swimming lessons, motel swimming pools, and family trips to the aquatic center. My kids love to be in the water. Even after a bath, the smell of chlorine lingers on their skin and reminds me of my own childhood, uninhibited for hours in my swimming suit.

Sunscreen: Always a good excuse to give your kids a rubdown. I call out “Sunscreen!” and my children line up. They stand in front of me, holding out their arms like an offering. I think they enjoy it as much as I do. “Don’t forget my neck, mama,” Zack said to me this morning.

Barbeque: I love going on walks and passing all the houses in mid-barbeque. My mom and dad still grill the summer away, and the first thing most of us ask when we go home to visit is, “Are we barbequing tonight?” (If paper plates had a smell they'd be on this list too.)

Kids after a long day playing outside: They're warm with an earthy smell (and a hint of sunscreen). It must be the scent of concentrated energy and laughter.

Fresh cut grass: It almost makes me want to mow the lawn (honey, I said almost). I think the summer scent of my children is also one part fresh cut grass.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Insta-Post

When you blog, sometimes having kids means having instant material—just add internet. For example, yesterday I was running late to a birthday party and needed to 1) deposit a check into my account and 2) buy a present. Multi-tasking like a Super Mom I went to the local Fred Meyer with a WaMu branch right inside. Only at these nifty little banks can you push a cart of rowdy children up to the teller.

After filling out the deposit slip and drawing attention while we stood in line (“Zack, please sit on your bum,” “Leah don’t tease, Kaleb,” “Kaleb, stand by the cart,” “Zack, don’t pull Leah’s hair…”), we made it to the nice lady with the cash. The transaction was nearly complete when she said, “Don’t you write a column for the River City Weekly?” just as Kaleb pulled two tampons from my purse and, waving them in the air, asked, “What are these?” His tone implied that I must be keeping a personal stash of candy in my purse because how can something with such a shiny, crinkly wrapper not contain sugary goodies? I growled at my son, smiled at the nice lady with the cash, and pushed my cart of rowdy children from the bank (and past the long line of customers waiting, attentively, behind me).

Up until that moment I’m sure the teller wanted my autograph.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mom, Interrupted

This is a real life conversation I had with my children this morning (and another example of why mommy shouldn't mumble to herself...)

Mom: Kaleb, will you clear the table, please?

Kaleb: Why?

Mom: Because I asked you to...

Mom(mumbling to herself as she walks from the dining room to the livingroom): What a novel idea. Doing something just because mommy asks you to...

Leah (having followed mom from the dining room to the livingroom): You mean evil, right?

Mom: What?

Leah: Evil. You mean it's an evil idea.

Mom: No, I said novel. Like new, refreshing, innovative. (Okay, so I thought the last two).

Leah: Sounds evil to me.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Mommy is Closed

This week's column was inspired by events over Memorial Day weekend. It's when I realized just how far I've come from being a first-time parent. Not that I've learned anything. I'm just lazier.

"Over Memorial Day weekend my family and I spent Sunday afternoon at a barbeque hosted by my husband’s great uncle, an annual tradition. After preparing plates of food for my kids, which included everything save chewing the food and spitting it back into their mouths like a mama bird, I sat down to enjoy my own plate. Anyone with kids knows this is when your children, after having access to their food for milliseconds, are either finished eating or need your help with some obscure task.

Leah began to call me. 'Maaaaaa-um. Maaaaa-um.' Only kids can turn a simple, one-syllable word into a multi-syllabic Gregorian chant.

'Mommy’s closed,' I answered, determined to enjoy my food."

Click to read more.

Random Pictures

Feeding ducks by the river.

A fuzzy picture, but it's all I got. This was the last day of soccer.
Yippee! (Did I just type that?)
Cheesy shot, I know. But how cute is that? They're both 4's!

Zack's favorite accessory is now the basbeball hat.
What can I say? Zack likes cheese.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Where Does My Time Go?

Someone, PLEASE, explain the math.

So Kaleb’s home for summer vacation. He’s my oldest. He’s six years old. And he's causing chaos.

Pre-summer vacation, the three of us (Leah, Zack, and I) had gotten into a comfortable groove. For the three hours Kaleb was at kindergarten we would quietly tinker around the house, and I would actually accomplish something while Leah and Zack played together. I found that I could easily clean the living room, dining room, and main floor bath without incident (miraculous, really). Then, after lunch, Leah and Zack would go down for naps while Kaleb did his homework, chores, read with me, and played with friends. Except for the two hours before dinner, and the three following (how daylight savings plagues me), the three of my children weren’t together much (this occurs to me now, like an epiphany). And for some strange reason, they enjoyed those few hours together more than they do the countless hours they spend together now. Apparently, we’ve reached a threshold.

Now that they are together all day, everyday day, they either seem to be fighting or scheming (which generally results in the removal of the shower hose to spray the entire bathroom floor, and a little of the hallway). To sum it all up? I referee my day away. Here are just a few phrases you’d catch me repeating these days:

*Don’t hit/kick/bite/scratch/pinch/touch/look at/spit at/tease your brother/sister.

*Sit on timeout.

*Don’t talk to your brother/sister that way.

*Go apologize to your sister/brother.

*Give that back to him/her.

*Do you want to go to your room?

*Come here.

*Come here!

*Come here!!!

*Why can't we just all get along?

I don’t accomplish nearly as much as I used to. But let's be honest, in the grand scheme of housekeeping, it wasn't much anyway. In the grand scheme of mothering, it seemed less disjointed and more meaningful. So lately my days are filled with attempts to help my children play nice so we can enjoy the summer. So they can enjoy each other.

And the rest of my day? It’s spent counting to ten and taking deeeeep, cleeeeeansing breaths. Oh, and blogging. I blog a lot too.

Join the fun! The Parent Blogger Network and Light Iris are teaming together to award one lucky blogger with a free, 2-day pass to Blogher’s 2007 Conference in Chicago. Write your own post on “Where Does My Time Go?” and submit it today. Good luck to everyone!!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Shameless Promotion of the Seatbelt

[Warning: This post contains strong and disturbing content. Really.]

I thought this would be a funny little post about how I went to traffic school tonight and was actually looking forward to the three hours alone. Well, not really alone--in a room full of about 23 other traffic violators. But it would be time where I could sit quietly and not be responsible for changing diapers, assigning timeout, or navigating the wonderful world of sibling rivalry. That’s not quite how things turned out. Not at all.

About thirty minutes into Sergeant Joe Cawry’s promotion of the seatbelt, he shared a personal experience describing the worst accident he’s responded to in his entire police career. Here goes (I mean it. It’s disturbing.):

A mother leaves her son’s baseball game with three of her children belted into the back of her minivan. Her husband follows behind her with their 9-year old son and his teammates. They’re all going to get ice cream.

As she’s driving she misses a stop sign and passes through a fairly harmless intersection. Another minivan broadsides her on the driver’s side. Obviously she wasn’t wearing her seatbelt. Somehow (and I think I’ve blocked out the details) she was decapitated. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the officers receive word that the 9-year old son is missing. They finally found him. He had climbed to the top of a tree and wouldn't come down. Wouldn't let anyone touch him.

By this point in his story I’m near tears, so disturbed that I’m shaking. Not because of the decapitation so much as the son witnessing his mother’s gruesome death and trying to escape the scene as best he could. It’s that image, the boy clinging to a tree limb, that will haunt me for the next few weeks. But the story’s not over (although it does get better):

The mother in the other minivan had a two-month old baby buckled into a car seat that wasn’t secured with the seatbelt. The crash catapulted the baby in the carseat from the minivan where it flew 100 yards before skidding another 30. The baby was fine.

I’m sharing this story for two reasons. One, I’m selfish. Writing is therapeutic and I’m hoping that putting this into words will purge the images from my mind. And two, if anyone out there, especially a parent, doesn’t wear a seatbelt, please start today. I can’t stand the thought of another child experiencing what that nine-year old boy did that day. We take care of our children best when we take care of their parents.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Vomit Bowl

When we were sick my mom used to park us in our beds or on the couch with a vomit bowl, sometimes a saucepan. “Throw up IN THE BOWL,” she would remind us, although I still have images of her on her knees, sopping up near-misses either in the hallway or the bathroom floor.

Does anyone else do this?

I’ve passed the torch and dole out vomit bowls when my own kids get sick, although it’s been months since anyone has thrown up, at least until Sunday. Zack woke up, ate breakfast and then informed me, “I sick. I needa bowl.” At first I just didn’t get it. “Are you still hungry? Do you want cereal?” I asked because the bowl he pulled from the dishwasher wasn’t the typical, stainless steel vomit bowl. It was a small serving bowl. “I SICK,” he said again, because I’m slow and just didn’t catch it the first time. “I needa bowl.”

I assumed that at the ripe old age of three he was already trying to get out of church (Call me Cynimom. As in cynical? I know, it was a stretch.). But he didn’t throw up and everyone went to church as planned.

Fast forward to lunch. Zack eats lunch (lots and lots of lunch) and informs me, “I sick. I needa bowl.” Again he carries the bowl through the house, leaving it empty at the bottom of the stairs. Dinner? Same thing, only this time Rich watches as Zack walks from the kitchen carrying a small ceramic bowl up by his mouth. We chuckled a bit.

Now it’s 8pm, and I have no idea where his vomit bowl went. He’s just downed a rootbeer float and is sitting on my lap, resting against my chest when outta nowhere he’s urping up twice his body weight in breakfast cereal, mini Totino’s pizza, barbequed hotdogs and macaroni salad (heh, Sunday’s a day of rest. There’s no gourmet on the Sabbath…). Luckily Daddy had just been sitting in that chair, snacking from a plastic dish of gummy worms. Voila, a vomit bowl! (Sorry, honey. Just know the gummy worms went to a good cause.)

So there goes my mommy intuition. The entire day my kid is telling me he’s sick, and I’m either 1) assuming he’s faking it or 2) “chuckling” at just how cute it is. Where’s my sackcloth and ashes? And more importantly, because the bug seems to be of the 48 rather than 24-hour variety, where's the vomit bowl?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

thank you to the nice man driving the souped-up, black, dodge ram pickup south on woodruff in idaho falls at approximately 8pm, saturday, june 2, 2007

Last night Kaleb’s life flashed before my eyes. We were on a family bike ride. I was on my granny bike, pulling Leah and Zack in a bike trailer, Rich was on his new mountain bike, and Kaleb was just a little wobbly on his $15 yard sale bike. We tried taking the back roads on an ambitious jaunt to Uncle Bill’s, over a mile away from our house. We were nearly there when we decided to cut through a grocery store parking lot before hitting Woodruff, an extremely busy street just blocks from Uncle Bill’s house. Rich led our sad little bicycle parade out the parking lot. Kaleb was between us; I was the caboose. What I realized, just a millisecond too late, was that the parking lot exit had a slight incline. Kaleb was going too fast and wasn’t making the turn to the sidewalk or using his brakes to slow down. He was heading straight into busy, oncoming traffic, and all I could see was this monstrous black pickup coming right for him. I screamed -- a classic, horror movie scream that ended in a loud expletive. Kaleb finally stopped about two feet onto Woodruff. So did the black pickup.

Funny thing is I had just read a post at White Trash Mom where a man driving another black vehicle had just missed hitting her daughter because he was speeding while talking on his cell phone and drinking coffee. Thank God (no, that’s not in vain) that wasn’t the same man driving the Dodge Ram pickup who stopped before hitting Kaleb. It wouldn’t have been his fault if he hadn’t stopped, but at that moment he was paying attention, driving defensively and watching that parking lot exit. I’m sorry if all he heard was me swearing because the entire ride home I was sloppy with gratitude for a complete stranger who was an observant, cautious driver. Where ever you are, thank you! It makes me wonder how my daily choices may affect the welfare of those around me. Should I be that careful the next time it’s my turn to make a mommy swear. Er,weep with gratitude, I mean.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Soccer Diva Meltdown

What do you get when you cross an exhausted four-year old girl with 12 o’clock soccer in 85 degree heat? A meltdown of colossal proportions. Apparently my daughter believes that she should always be the drill leader, should always throw the ball inbounds, and should always be the goalie even though Division U4 AYSO soccer does require that particular position. I’m hoping it was the heatstroke talking. Regardless, she threw a tantrum reminiscent of her three-year old Diva Days. In fact, the last two weeks have been very deja vu. I’m afraid. It’s like there’s a premenstrual 13-year old girl stuck in her Dora the Explorer body.

Deep cleansing breath. In with the good energy. Out with the prepubescent-nightmare energy. In. Out.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Trading His Soul for a 12 oz. Gatorade

Freelancing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I have to be fairly creative in order to finish projects to earn a few bucks while mothering my children at home, full-time. Today we headed to McDonalds for breakfast. Not because I’m a slacker-mom who doesn’t care that her children eat a kazillion grams of saturated fat in one meal (although I am that too sometimes), but because I have an editing project that needs to be finished by 5pm today. Funny how my children can entertain themselves for hours on end at Micky D’s playland (except, of course, today).

So after Zack pushed a little girl FOR THE SECOND TIME, I rounded my crew up to leave (after spending maybe 20 minutes on my project) only to discover that Kaleb had filled his water cup with Gatorade. “It’s water, Mom. It just looks like Gatorade.” What am I, stupid? Because this Gatorade, or should I say magic water, was electric blue! And all this after a fairly thorough conversation on why we don’t fill our water cups with juice because MOMMY DIDN’T PAY FOR IT! It’s stealing, and just bad karma.

So I force Kaleb to a McDonalds’ cash register where I make him tell the nice lady that he filled his water cup with Gatorade.

Blank look. “That’s okay,” she finally says.

“No,” I say. “It’s not. We need to pay for it.”

Another blank look. And then no answer.

“She’s trying to teach the kid honesty,” the lady next to her says. “Charge her for one small drink.”

$1.06. That’s how much Kaleb is currently indebted to me. Mother. Moral Compass. Guardian of His Soul. Sheesh, this job gets harder the older they get. I know, I sound just a tad sanctimoneious and even more melodramatic, but is anyone else overwhelmed by the gravity of this task? Raising moral children.

So now Kaleb must do extra chores at a quarter a piece. And once he earns a buck 25, he can pay me back for the 12 oz. Gatorade. He’s already taken the food storage downstairs. Next he cleans the bathroom (Mom types as she emits evil laughter. Muu-ah-ah-ah).

School's Out!

Kaleb's been out of school for one week now! It's hard to believe that summer has officially begun. I covered his last day and more in this week's column.

"Yesterday was my son’s last day of kindergarten and he walked from the school looking dejected and forlorn. When I asked why he was so sad, he said it was because he wouldn’t see his teacher again for a long time. It was tragic and adorable all at the same time.

I was the dork who showed up with a camera and made my gloomy kindergarten graduate take pictures in front of the school. All at once I realized that he had just passed another development milestone. Kindergarten is just preschool on steroids (vitamins, really) and here he was, finished with the grade that doesn’t include lunch, multiple recesses, and an early release day. Come fall he would run with the big dogs and spend half his day away from home. Sheesh, whose bright idea was that? What are we, a heartless nation that sends our kids off to learn for, like, six hours in a row?"

Click here to read more.