Thursday, August 30, 2007

Is someone coming over?

Here's my latest column (although, just between you and me, it's really just an old post...).

People who know me are well aware that I'm not very domestic -- that's a nice way of saying my house is a mess, I'm always behind on laundry, and my children eat a lot of macaroni and cheese. But I thought I had my kids fooled.

That is, until a couple days ago when Kaleb asked, "Mom, who's coming over?"

"No one. Why?"

"Because you're cleaning the house."

It was one of those rare days when I was cleaning the house just because. Because I wanted to clear a pathway through the playroom and to clear my mother-conscience.

But apparently my children are onto me. I'm beginning to wonder how long it will take me to get it. I'm a grown person with an advanced college degree who just can't apply the whole optimal time management thing.

Case in point. When we lived in Utah I would watch twin 5-year old girls every Thursday from noon to five. From nine to eleven every Thursday morning I'd madly clean the house. The kids' room especially had to be orderly, a ridiculous notion for a preschooler play-area. But like clockwork, every Thursday my house would be immaculate by noon only to look like a presidentially declared natural disaster by 5:30. Why clean a house that will only, just hours later, look worse than it did before you started to clean it? Wouldn't an educated person wait and clean the house after the kids had left so she could enjoy her work longer?

I do the same thing for the babysitter. Just yesterday I found out my sitter couldn't watch the kids at her house, so I spent three hours cleaning the four rooms I allow people access to (my bedroom, the garage, and the basement are currently off-limits, and have been since we moved here). And after all that work my sitter kindly forgave me for my messy house. "Your kitchen looks like ours does when my mom blows a gasket," she said. Apparently one person's clean is another person's mental collapse. *Sigh*

So I've realized that I'm the kind of person who would clean her house before the maid comes. I'm also the kind of person who, when she cleans, doesn't even make babysitter-clean standards. At some point I'll need to embrace my domestic anti-goddess self and call it good. I'm an artist, I tell myself, cleanliness and order are in opposition to my creativity. Why not rejoice and let the world see my disarray?

But there's hope. Today as we were cleaning Kaleb’s bedroom, he said, "Christian's room is so messy." Christian is my babysitter's little brother. "Messier than your room?" I asked innocently. "So messy," Kaleb said. "And he never cleans it."

Redemption can sometimes come from the little tattlers living with you. I wonder if Christian's messy room is what makes my babysitter's mom blow a gasket.

I'll probably continue scrambling to get my house clean before visitors arrive. And if I ever blow a gasket the authorities might have to declare my house a biohazard.

But until then, this is just my dirty little secret.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Birthday Girl

Last week Leah turned five and regardless of my somewhat distracted state she managed to have one wing-ding party (well, three wing-ding parties, but who’s counting).

The Cake
She wanted a butterfly cake and, having made one for her second birthday, I thought “no sweat.” What a silly, silly woman I am.

Two containers of frosting later I had created this hideous orange, pink, and purple butterfly cake (it even sounds bad, doesn’t it?). I was a little worried that she would go diva on me like she did on her third birthday when I attempted the Barbie cake (with the cake posing as a skirt). When she saw THAT one she cried, “But Mom, I wanted the cake from the store!” Forget that Albertson’s uses a dollar-store Barbie while mom used the real deal. Anyway, so I showed her the butterfly cake pre-party to prevent any cake fits. What did my blessed daughter say when saw this ugly cake from butterfly hell?

“Oh, Mom, it’s BEEEautiful!” in this awed voice that nearly made me cry. Of course that wondrous moment was tempered when she added, “Next year can I have a pony cake?”

The Part(ies)
It’s all a blur now, but needless to say after cupcakes with her kindergarten class, a subdued “friend party” with the two neighbor kids and a family party after dinner, my little birthday girl was a little full of herself.

Apparently while I was ran an errand her grandmother asked her to get her PJ’s on. Leah complained that she couldn’t find any PJ’s to which her grandmother reminded her that she needed to go to her bedroom and actually look in her PJ drawer before coming to such a rash conclusion. Leah then complained that her room was a long, long ways away and could grandma please go fetch some PJ’s for her. To which grandma replied, “no.”

“But I’m the birthday girl,” Leah said. “You should get them for me.”

Later she asked me, “Can I be the birthday girl even when it’s not my birthday?”

I wanted to laugh, but really, don’t we all feel like that sometimes? She is currently adjusting to a very, very unbirthday-like existence.

little-girl wear, the antithesis of hoochie wear (dress courtesy Grandma Barnes)

Just last night Leah said, "Mom, I'll never, ever be four again." And looking a little wistful she added, "Now I'll only be five."

*sigh* So true...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nice Matters!

Gustogirl, the Queen of Nice, gave me this Nice Matters Award so I am completely flattered (and a little surprised!). Thanks so much!

This sounds absolutely cheesy, but I am lucky to know more than a few fabulously nice bloggers. I'm going to nominate the uber-nice here:

Candygirlflies from I Can Fly, Just Not Up
Rachel at Three Day Blog
Karen at Pediascribe

These ladies are fabulous! But it seems so unfair to narrow it down like that. This blogosphere is an amazing place--I am impressed by the clever, kind, and dedicated bloggers out there. Thanks for letting me blog with y'all!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mamma Meme

The Zen of Motherhood tagged me with this fun middle name mime. Here are the rules:

  1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.
  2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of their middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.
  3. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.
  4. At the end of your blog-post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Okay, so this is forcing me to be creative. Thank heavens my mother didn’t give me a ridiculously long middle name.

M – I’m very religious—Mormon, in fact.

A – When I was just a kid I wanted to be an actress, and then in high school an artist. Now I’m an author (of accounting newsletters, no less).

R – Rich. I’m so not rich (I’m sure this violates one of the meme rules). In fact, I’ve been thinking about making a t-shirt that says, “Will blog for food.”

I – Irrational. Yep, that’s me. I worry about the littlest things and have been known to turn my fair share of molehills into Mt. Everest.

E – My confession…one of my favorite songs is “Call Me When You’re Sober” by Evanescence.

I know, that was a pathetic attempt at creativity. But now I get to pass the challenge to five fellow bloggers: Gustogirl, Three Day Blog, Mommy Vents, Becky & Co., and my sister-in-law from Life in the Nuthouse (because I just realized, Erin, I don’t know your middle name!). Meme on, ladies!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hobos, Spiders, and Piles of Dirty Laundry

I admit, I’ve been a delinquent blogger. I’ve also neglected putting my columns online lately. So I’ll post the latest one here, inspidered (get it? in-SPIDERed? haha) by the Hobo Spider. They’re all over the place here. Ew!

When I first called to set up our phone service here in Idaho Falls last October, the nice lady I talked to was a virtual welcoming committee, sharing all things good and bad about the area.

“Hobos are horrible here,” she said at the end of our conversation.

I imagined scads of homeless people filing the sidewalks of old downtown, complete with smudged faces and polka-dot bindles. I said something silly about not knowing Idaho Falls had a problem with the destitute.

She laughed. “No. Hobo Spiders. They’re nasty!” She explained how the Hobo killed entire populations and kept most Idaho residents entrenched in fear. Okay, so I’m exaggerating. She said something about them being poisonous and drawn to large piles of unfinished laundry. Just what I needed to hear.

Now I had heard of the black widow, and even the brown recluse, but never the hobo spider. And Google gave me just the panic attack I needed; they’re hideous looking creatures with long, icky legs and those strange dangling eyes. Other pictures illustrated how a hobo bite pickled a man’s thumb while extraneous text explained that it had killed countless others. Should we call an exterminator, bug-bomb the place, or move to Atlanta? A call to the extension office (which also provided us with a lovely pear-butter recipe) gave us just the answer we needed: sticky traps. That’s it. Pesticides, exterminators, and even the evil eye would do us no good. We just needed a good set of sticky traps.

So I diligently set up eight in the basement, putting them against the floor boards and praying that not one delinquent spider would make its way up the stairs. Little did I know that by October hobo season was nearly over; I had nothing to worry about.

Until last week. Because I guess August is mating season for the hobo (yes, I Googled that too) and all the adult spiders are looking to get lucky. In my basement.

How do I know this? Just last week I was working on a little freelance at the library when I got a call from my mother-in-law who occasionally watches my children and tackles Mt. Laundry. She reported witnessing a real live hobo spider by the washing machine in my basement, big enough to carry one of my offspring from the house.

So betwixt more Googling and an informative conversation with two young moms at the park, we decided that rather than purchase the hobo-specific, pheromone-laded sticky trap I had read about online (because, apparently, that’s inviting all the hobos in the wild to come live with you), I would buy some good old fashioned bug spray at Walmart and exterminate my basement.

That’s why, two hours later, you would find me in my basement, wearing a nuisance mask, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and some tennis shoes, picking through piles of laundry and spraying pesticide like it was air freshener, trying to unearth the hobo.

What did I discover? Three suspiciously hobo-esque spiders and a lot of unmatched socks. Which begs the question, which problem is really worse at my house? The infestation of venomous spiders or all my loads of unfinished laundry?

I’d like to say that for once, it’s not the laundry, thank you very much.

(And you're welcome. Because I was only thinking of your well-being when I decided NOT to include a picture with this post...)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

First Day Faux Pas

Remember me? I’m the proud mama prude trying to keep her daughter modestly dressed at all costs. Well, I have a confession to make. I sent my daughter to school in hoochie-wear. On her first day of kindergarten.

I know. It’s shameful. I should be banished to live on the Island of Misfit Mothers where I can mingle with Dina Lohan. But in my defense, it was an accidental, completely unintended protistot ensemble. And there’s a moral to this story, so pay attention.

I bought Leah this cute little dress at Walmart for just six dollars. It was one of those belted shirt dresses reminiscent of the 1960’s. Simply adorable. In addition to that dress I also bought knee-high tights. It’s Idaho Falls and not only are tights practical, but there’s nothing cuter than a little girl in a dress with knit tights.

And that was the outfit Leah chose to wear the first day of school. And it wasn’t until we were ready to leave that I realized the tights were not quite as high as I expected while the dress wasn’t quite as long as I expected. There, in my livingroom, Leah was channeling Britney Spears, circa “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” But we were running late and the first day of kindergarten was only an hour; I decided to overlook the hoochie-wear today and swear never to let her leave the house like this again.

The entire hour of that first day of kindergarten Britney whispered in my ear, “Oh, baby, baby, how was I supposed to know, there wasn’t something right here.” Oh, Britney, baby, you got that right. For those agonizing 60 minutes, Leah sat on her heels with her legs splayed, showing off her Dora panties. Asking questions. Providing insight. over. and. over. and. over. “When’s recess?” “I’m not five yet.” “Will I paint today?” “My name’s Leah.” Rocking back on her heels as if to say, “My mommy dresses me inappropriately EVERY DAY.”

When it was all said and done my daughter professed she hadn't learned anything new in kindergarten that day. Her mother did.

  1. Girls should always wear shorts under dresses, no matter how long or short they may be. And,

  2. The outfit your child wears the first day of school should a) be modeled BEFORE the first day of school and b) never remind you of Britney Spears.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The rest of the story…

My daughter made the front page of The West section in the Sunday edition of Idaho Fall’s Post Register. And she looks cute as a button. It was Saturday and she was wearing her rainbow swimming suit when caught skipping through ankle-deep water at a local event trying to catch fish. And true to Leah-form she saw her picture in the paper and exclaimed (palms cupping cheeks), “I didn’t catch a fish but my picture is on the paper…” as if the cosmos had finally realigned, restoring karmic justice.

As Paul Harvey would say, and now, for the rest of the story…

We were down by the Snake River enjoying a big shindig in preparation for the great Duck Race, an annual event where people adopt rubber ducks which are numbered and then dropped into the river in a race for different prizes. So sans stroller (note to self: never again) we walked the river and enjoyed lots of kid-friendly activities. We made sailboats at the Home Depot tent, noodle necklaces, sand art, and maracas with the Youth Jamboree, and then, the best part, the kids got to jump into a man-made pond to try and catch some rainbow trout. It was a Norman Rockwell moment. Good farm town fun. Kaleb and Leah were completely invested; Kaleb even caught four fish (two of which were already dead---sshhhhhh…) and Leah just seemed to be enjoying a very public romp through the water. That is, until they blew the whistle and ushered a new set of kids into the pond.

Leah had a meltdown. At the top of her lungs (which, I must say, have the capacity of a 20-year old snowboarder, dude) she screamed, “I didn’t catch a fish…” Over and over again. Hundreds of people seemed to be watching while I wrangled cloths back on children and tried to keep a very distracted Zack by my side. Leah continued to scream. When that didn’t work she dropped to her knees and wailed. When she regained her strength she stood up and stomped her feet, screaming still. In fact, mid-tantrum Zack wondered onto a policeman’s golf cart. Once I disentangled him from the steering wheel I easily relocated my daughter who was still screaming by the river.

So imagine my surprise when on Sunday morning we discovered that while our ducks may not have won the race, Leah’s picture was on the cover of the paper. Looking absolutely joyful and serene. And thus, in Leah’s mind, balance had been restored. While she may not have caught any fish, she did secure a very captive audience. And that time she didn’t even need a tantrum to do it.

Yes, I am very afraid. I only have 9 more years until the girl turns 13.

Monday, August 13, 2007

We interrupt this blog...

I haven’t posted in awhile and there is a good reason, although I can’t share it now. Our family is going through something that’s knocked me off my blog a bit. It’s prevented me from posting to my own blog and from reading those blogs I love. I apologize for being neglectful. Blogging is therapeutic for me and I’m guessing everyone will learn far more than they ever wanted to know as soon as I feel it’s fair to begin posting about our icky ordeal. So until I catch up with my life a bit, my posts will be sporadic. Thanks for stopping by—I’ll be back soon…

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

MEMO to my son

TO: Zackary William
FROM: Mommy
DATE: 8/7/07
RE: Saturday night’s “activities”

Now would be a good time to assess the activities that transpired the night of Saturday, August 4th, 2007, since we (i.e. me) have had amble time to cool down and reflect.

Understanding that you are not yet ready to deposit your poopies and peepees into the potty (having tried 4 vigilant attempts at “training” thus far), I appreciate your need to further acclimate to the big boy method of going to the bathroom. However, I would ask that given the current diaper-friendly situation, you consider the following the next time you need to fill your drawers (i.e. pampers, the generic brand).

  • Do not remove said diapers once you have taken a juicy dump.

  • Do not place your soiled buttocks on the carpet or furniture once you have removed those diapers.

  • Once placed in the bathtub to remove the poopage that resulted from the unauthorized diaper-removal, do not sneak from the tub and leave poopy butt prints on the porcelain while the parental authority (i.e. me) goes to get PJ's.

  • And absolutely DO NOT take the parental authority's cell phone (i.e. my cell phone) back into the tub with you to hold on your chest while you practice the back-float in very unstable waters.

I appreciate your consideration in the aforementioned requests and anticipate that we will both better endure the current diaper situation if you choose to honor them. I would also ask that when you are ready to use the toilet, and dear heaven above let that be soon, you inform me immediately.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

We all scream for ice cream...

My mother-in-law is visiting and last night she treated us to some ice cream (I know—this woman is wonderful). As I went to open the Blue Bunny Pralines and Cream carton I found a safety tab on the lid. Eating my ice cream I wondered, Was that tab supposed to protect me from the ice cream, or the ice cream from me?

Either way, it didn’t work…

Friday, August 03, 2007

An Ecosytem of Love

I’ve mentioned my daughter’s love of ladybugs. And for those of you who don’t know, she loves them to death. Literally.

Everyday Leah finds a ladybug and carries it in a fisted hand while she plays (“No, Mom, she’s not dead. She’s resting.”) As a result she was killing approximately one ladybug per day (or more, when our ladybug population was especially unlucky). And for whatever reason, this past week I was struck with the sudden urge to stop the pesticide.

So instead of killing them off, we took them in as pets, putting them in a grass-filled jar with a vented lid. Now, I’ve never been good with pets. I’m a cat person because they’re low-maintenance, snobby pets that don’t require much on my end. Luckily ladybugs run a close second to cats; all they need is a handful of grass, a wet napkin and some moistened raisins in their jar, and voila—you’ve got a ladybug paradise.

I thought so, at least, until I went to replace their moistened toilet for the first time. As soon as I unscrewed the lid about ten ladybugs rushed the lip of the jar; I swear I could hear them all squeal, “Help me, help me.” The ladybugs were not convinced that Leah’s little love jar was a ladybug paradise.

But Leah carried this jar around like other four-year old girls carry around dolls or purses. The first few nights she even slept with it. So I knew that this little ecosystem of love, while in need of modifications, would have to stay.

So I made an executive decision that each day I would release two ladybugs back to the wild. Which is how our pet ladybugs came to be on a work-release program. The Hub asked, “How will you know which to release so you don’t keep a few of them in there forever?” "Well," I said defensively. "I'm not going to tag them." I had to refer him to paragraph three of this post—our ladybugs are LOW-maintenance pets and require no tagging or research journals of any kind. I'm trusting bug karma to sort it out.

One Crazy $2500 Contest!

Over at Ashwin’s blog, you will find one crazy blog owner!! You can win $2500!! To enter just copy this text and paste it in your blog!! But hurry, this competition will not last long! So get posting!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

The following post was writting by Whymommy over at Toddler Planet. She recently discovered that she has inflammatory breast cancer and as she fights for her life, she's working to fight for yours too. Here's a post she's written to inform us about the nature of this type of cancer. And because this is really her post, I'm closing comments on my blog to encourage you to leave your words of love and support on hers.

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

My Six Year Old: Persistent and Gassy

I know I wrote about Kaleb being loving and defiant, but I should mention that he has lots of other great qualities I treasure. One especially is his persistence, a trait that didn’t come through my DNA strain. I’ve learned a lot just watching him.

For example, he taught himself how to ride a bike that’s bigger than what you’d find most seven-year olds riding simply because he believed me when I said, “You’ll get it if you practice long enough.” He’s done the same with swimming, basketball, reading, chess and, yes, video games. The kid keeps pluggin’ away until he gets it.

Well, he’s done it again. This week he’s been practicing and practicing and practicing. And just today he got it. That’s right, folks, Kaleb has mastered the armpit fart.

*sniff* It does a mama proud.