Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Reason We're Not Having A 3rd Baby...

... is because of mornings like today. Seriously. It was baaaddddd. Like ready to throttle both of my kids bad and then throw their lifeless bodies under the first available city bus bad. Ok, so maybe I exaggerate just a smidge, but the morning really did suck gigantic donkey balls. It was as if both kids made a secret pact in the middle of the night to make today the shittiest day ever, and then ganged up to execute their flawless plan.

It worked.

It actually started last night with Lauren pitching a fit - again - about dinner and her general distain for 99% of the food. She did eat some corn-on-the-cob - an actual, honest-to-God vegetable (shocker!), so that was a pleasant bonus. But she hadn't napped and it got ugly right quick. We sent her to her room for being such a whiner/pain in the ass at the dinner table (what's new?) and she put herself to bed. So I went up there and tried to change her diaper and, oh, I don't know - put some pajamas on her? so she could sleep. I had some nerve, apparently, and the best I could manage was a clean diaper and nothing else. She slept in the toddler-equivalent of the buff. Fine by me.

Then this morning she wakes me up by shoving a diaper under my nose, demanding the fresh one (at least it was the clean one she hit me with and not the night-soaked one. Small mercies) be put on her NOW. (See below post about Lauren's fun new diaper thing.) I think we ALL woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I got the kids breakfasted (yes, that's a word. Shut up.) and dressed. I even did a load or two of laundry before we had to load up for swim lessons (cue scary doomsday music).

Just the loading up to leave part of swimming lessons was a trying experience. Like trying to corral kittens high on meth. Shoes weren't found. Towel selections were all wrong. Games weren't finished. Sudden hunger pangs were announced. General chaos.

We drive the nearly 25 minutes to swim lessons with Nicholas AND Lauren whining all the way. That annoying, might-as-well-be-shoving-needles-into-my-eyes whining. God, I hate that. Nothing shortens my fuse like orchestrated whining. And they were both letting me have it with gusto. We unload, griping the whole time, and I'm trying to do the usual pep-talk for Nicholas about how well he's going to do in lessons, how excited I am to watch him swim today, how he's going to listen to his teacher and not cry, right?? RIGHT!? (he's a total liar, turns out). We make it to the pool deck and we're a few minutes early.

(cue the meltdown)

Teacher: Ok Nicholas! Let's get into the water.
N: noooooooooo!!!!! I don't want to go to swimming lessons today!!!
Teacher (looking at me accusingly): he's feeling nervous already?
Me: Nicholas, please get in the water. It's time for your lesson. Your teacher is waiting.
Nicholas: (dissolving into a liquid puddle of goo on the floor and sobbing) noooo!
Me: What's wrong?? We talked about this. Get up! I want you to go get into the pool and have your lesson. NOW.
Nicholas (still crying): noooooo!
Teacher (giving me the eye)
Me: Get up. Get up right now! No? I'm done with this. We are going home and you don't get your sticker, you don't get to watch TV, and no computer either. Move!

And we left. Just like that, we left. It took everything I had not to throw him bodily into the pool and then run away. I marched him out of there, half pulling him, half dragging him, as he choked and sobbed and made a general spectacle of himself. He's pulled this crap at every lesson and I was so over it. It's the most frustrating experience because he never did this before. Before, he excelled. Before, he loved swimming lessons. Before, it was fun. Now? Not so much. Now it's a nightmare. I'm done being a cheerleader. Positive reinforcements aren't working. Rewards aren't working. Threats aren't working, either. Nothing is working and it pisses me off.

It's hard to admit, but I wanted NOTHING to do with my own kid today. No, make that kids - plural. Lauren's been her own brand of difficult today, too. The scene at the pool really set off some anger in me. Part of Nicholas's personality, it seems, since birth has been a lack of motivation and being a very big weenie, for lack of better word. He's still a big crybaby, and that sets my teeth on edge. His catch-phrase seems to be "I can't do it", punctuated with whine, even when he can. Even when he has before. And then we he DOES do it, he's very proud of himself and we give him tons and tons of ego strokes, but he seems to forget it. A taste of success doesn't make him want it again. I don't get it. I clash with his personality type and it makes me crazy. I'm sure I was given Nicholas as a lesson in patience.

Today, I failed to learn my lesson for I had no patience for his crap today. None.

So I find that today I'm making the kids "pay" for their poor behavior. I want to make today very uncomfortable for him so he doesn't want to repeat it. We went to the library, but I didn't allow him to check out a movie (something he normally gets to do and really loves). He hasn't gotten to watch his favorite cartoon show this afternoon, nor has he gotten to play games on the computer. I'm sort of giving him the silent treatment, truth be told, because I'm not over my urge to yell at him. I hate yelling at the kids and feel I do so too often. So I'm opting to distance myself from them today vs. yelling at them. But I'm reminding him throughout the day of how egregious his behavior was - how completely unacceptable - and letting him know I'm still upset. He's hanging out in his room for most of the day. Fine by me.

I've never wanted to drop the kids off at my mothers and run away so badly. I've not liked one thing about them today. I've not liked how I feel about them today.

We're clearly spending too much time together. I rarely get a break from them. Neither kid is in any sort of preschool and hasn't been since the move. Swimming lessons is our only "scheduled" activity. We don't yet have a playgroup, only an informal gathering of my friends from time to time. Kindergarten seems to be a lifetime away and can't get here fast enough. Mr. Chick is gone 11 hours a day, so it's just me and the kids. All.Fucking.Day.Long.

But what's worse? The guilt. The heart-breaking guilt about yelling so angrily at the kids. For seeing the crushed look on my sons face when I dismiss him and tell him to get away from me. The guilt for still feeling red-hot angry even when my darling boy tries his hardest to be nice to me. To smooth things over. To make things better. I accused him of being a quitter, and now he's telling me - reassuring me over and over - that he'll do better next time. Next time, he'll try try again and not give up. Next time he won't cry, he promises. "Trust me, Mama - I'll do better next time and you won't be mad at me anymore for quitting."

Oh the guilt. It stings.

He even told me to walk in front of him because he should walk in the back. Then he scrambled in front of me to try to open the big, heavy door for me. "Let me open the door for you, Mama!" And the kisses, the little innocent kisses he peppers my arms and hands with. Guilt makes those burn, too. Guilt sucks.

But it's still been a rough day and I still need some space from the kids. But tomorrow? Tomorrow is a new day and a fresh start and I'm determined to make my anger dissipate with my dreams and get back to the business of loving my kids.

Sippy Free - The Way To Be

My concerns about Lauren's speech have led me to go 100% sippy cup free. It's quite liberating, actually. I was already pretty sick and tired of washing those damn valve thingies and then reassembling them - gah! And I hated forgetting that we'd had a sippy of milk in the car and then finding the nastiest cup of now-solid & chunky milk lodged under the seat 3 weeks later. I'm so over that routine. We are now drinking from regular, unlidded cups all the time. And I've put a temporary ban on straws, too. Straws and sippy cups encouraged Lauren to continue to use her tongue in a strange, newborn-nursing way when she drank. She doesn't do that with non-sippy cups. She protested using cups for a couple of days - pitching a royal fit in prime 2-yr old fashion - when I would pour her beloved milk (now pronounced "mit" instead of "bot" - progress?) into a cup vs. sippy. You see, it takes her much longer to drink a cup than a sippy. With a sippy, she could guzzle her beverage in one long, uninterrupted gulp. She's going to be a big success at future keggers. But with a cup she has to take breaks, if you will. She can't consume the whole cup at once. And, she has to sit at the table to drink. It's an unbreakable rule. She's doing really well remembering and not trying to walk around with her cup in hand like she did with her sippy. Plus, she's drinking less, which is a good thing from a diaper change point of view.

Speaking of diapers, they've become Lauren's new obsession. She's able to tell right after she's peed that it's happened. Right after, not before. Same with poop. Nice, eh? And she then wants an immediate diaper change - if we're home. If we're out and about then she's distracted and doesn't care or notice that she's peed a few drops into her diaper. But at home, when she pees then she goes and gets another diaper, takes the soiled one off (solid or not - ewww!) and brings me the new one to put on her. This morning, in fact, she came into our room at her normal waking time bearing the usuals - Baby, blankie, and a new addition: a fresh diaper. Just what a Mama wants to be woken up with - a diaper shoved under her nose with the demand for a change. What a lovely way to start the day. That was 6:30am. It's now 8:20am and she's on her 3rd diaper for the day.

We've put Lauren on the potty many, many times and encouraged her - bribed her - to produce something. A trickle. A drop, even. Nothing. It's never worked. But I'm thinking that her new-found ability to identify that she's peed/pooped immediately after (or maybe when it's happening, I can't tell) is the beginnings of being ready to potty train. God, I hope so. I'm so so SO ready to be a diaper-free house. But I loathe - LOATHE - the idea of a long, drawn-out potty-training effort. Starting too early, before the child is really ready, is torture. Who wants weeks/months of constantly taking the child to the bathroom and having to clean up multitudes of messes because they didn't make it to the toilet in time? Certainly not me. We waited with Nicholas until he was 3 - his 3rd birthday, in fact - and he was 95% trained within a week. That's how I like it - quick and easy. I doubt it will be as easy with Miss Lauren [sigh].

In a half-hearted attempt to maybe, just maybe, get the ball rolling on this I put her in the thick training pants underwear we had from the days of Nick's training. They're too big on her, but what the hell. Then I put a pull-on style wool cover that I crocheted to help with the inevitable leaks and wetness and try to keep my furniture pee-free. I'm hoping that putting her back in cloth will help her identify that she's peeing and she'll be so opposed to feeling wet that she'll start considering the potty. So in a way, I'm going back to cloth diapers - pull-up version. I may have to make another wool cover or two....

*** EDITED TO ADD*** Just now, as I type this, Lauren walked over to me and started peeing. On the carpet. The underwear and cover only prevented some of the urine from leaking out. Crap! err, I mean, Piss! This project might be aborted before noon at this rate.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Purple One

Like most of the country (world?) I watched the American Idol Finale last night. I couldn't help myself - I've been watching all season. It's my guilty pleasure. Nicholas knows it's "mama's show" - how sad is that? Anyway, I always find it amazing? annoying? that Fox can stretch a 1 minute annoucement - the result we're all waiting to hear - into 2 hours. 2 freaking hours! Of mostly bad and very cheesy numbers performed by top 10 contestants and odd pairings with has-been's. EXCEPT PRINCE, and Mary J. Blige. Everyone else? Whatever. Meatloaf? Completely random and not a little bit unnerving. Freaky Clay Aiken fan? Nauseating and a little sad. Clay Aiken himself? Scary. Chris and the Live lead singer looking like twins? Get over yourselves.

You know who impressed me? Other than Prince? (because I LOVED Prince back in the day, and since I still mostly live "back in the day", I think he kicks ass). Paris. Paris was good last night. For someone so young she's got huge talent. I hope she sticks with it.

Taylor won. I didn't really care who won, but felt it should have gone to Katharine. Affected and totally into herself Katharine. She's got more mass appeal for the long-haul than Taylor. I'm so over his schtick - Soul Patrol? Puh-leese! Enough already. I mean, he's very likable, but I predict he's very niche-y and will put out one album and then fade into obscurity like Ruben. But Katharine is a pop music dream come true. She's beautiful and can sing well. She's a good image for young girls in that the lady has curves a la Beyonce. And she's white. With curves. She's a better recorded artist and poster-image photography than Taylor, who's probably better live in concert than recorded. But whatever. Taylor will end up being successful singing in small, intimate clubs and Katharine has future scandal a la Britney. She's just ripe for it.

If last night could have been a Prince concert I'd have been all over that. Purple Rain (only my high school's colors were purple and white and we were dominating various sports at the time so we were all "Purple Reign" - ha) and I Would Die 4 U. "If I Was Your Girlfriend" - massive memories - all good. "Raspberry Beret" "When Doves Cry" "Diamonds and Pearls" and even the salacious "Little Nicky". Loved 'em all. The Purple One - he's a freak but it's real and I dig him. He's leaps and bounds above any American Idol. He's MY American Idol. Go Prince!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Why I Want To Be Pet-Free

Cost of making a batch of chocolate chip cookies: $4.37 (total wild guess)

Cost of losing half the batch to the dog snatching them while we were gone: $2.17

Watching the dog get sick to her stomach (I hope): PRICELESS

Effing dog! I made a batch of the worlds BEST chocolate chip cookies (see Kick-Ass Cookie Recipe in April 2005 archives. Truly delicious!) with the kids this afternoon. It was a fun activity for all of us. I left 4 dozen cookies to cool on the counter while we left to go pick up some shoes we had new soles put on for Mr. Chick. When we got back, just 21 cookies remained, along with a bunch of crumbs on the floor and a very guilty looking dog. I got pissed and yelled and put her outside. She hasn't gotten sick, but I hope she does. That many cookies CAN'T have been good for her - especially the chocolate part. Damn dog. Normally she's good, but every so often she'll do crap like this that makes me want to be pet-free for awhile. GRRRR!!!!

Maybe I should be grateful that she prevented ME from eating that many cookies. My ass is better off. Better her than me.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty - A Family Tragedy

I'm not sure how even to start this entry. Mr. Chick's family has been all over the news lately over something unimaginably horrible that they're being accused of doing. It makes my stomach turn just to think of it.

Mr. Chick has a large extended family. He's an only-child, but his father is one of eleven kids. So there are plenty of aunts, uncles and cousins to make up for the lack of siblings.
The "older" siblings, which includes Mr. Chick's father, were foreign-born and immigrated to this country late in childhood. My father-in-law was 16, I believe. The "younger" set of siblings were either born here, or moved when they were too young to really remember, or be influenced by, the "old country". One of them, in fact, was literally born in transit from one country to the next. Anyway, it seems that the "older" set, by and large, has been more successful. They've worked hard, have/had good careers and families, and essentially kept their shit together. No so for many of the "younger" sibs. Many of them have had legal troubles - drugs, multiple failed marriages, no education, hard-scrabble lives. I'm not sure what the difference was - why some of the kids did so well and some of them failed so miserably. Maybe the parents (Mr. Chick's grandparents, both deceased) got tired and weren't as involved in the upbringing of the younger ones? Maybe it was the influence of now growing up in a smallish town in the US vs. Europe? Who knows. I've met all but one of Mr. Chick's aunts and uncles, and despite many of their personal shortcomings, they are a fun & lively bunch of people. Despite the various arrests and "quirky" lifestyle choices. A few are like trainwrecks. But I like them anyway.

The one I've never met is the one making headlines now. They've kept their distance from the family for their own personal reasons, hence my never even meeting them. Not once in 14 years. But now? Now I'm having my first introduction and it is very unpleasant. You see, they have been arrested on felony manslaughter and arson charges, accused of intentionally locking their own disabled son in their apartment, setting fire to it, and walking away. Their son was badly, severely burned and only lived a few days in a burn unit before dying.

We heard that the son had been badly burned - over 80% of his body - before all this hit the news. The long-lost relatives contacted Mr. Chick's father because he is an attorney. The insurance companies were wanting to settle. The son (who was in his late teens but had only the mental capacity of a young child, apparently) was given a 50/50 chance of survival. They told FIL that their furnace had malfunctioned so they contacted their landlord to fix it. The landlord sent over a repair guy, who supposedly fixed it, but did a faulty job of it and that's what ultimately caused the fire. Hence the insurance companies being involved and wanting to settle.

But when the son died from his injuries, that's when the authorities stepped in and arrested Mr. Chick's aunt and uncle for manslaughter and arson. We don't know the real story. The media is painting a horrific picture of these people and what they're being accused of doing. It's unthinkable. I guess a potentially scandalous story has legs and gets people to tune in. This aunt and uncle have no prior arrests or convictions. They've never been in legal trouble before. And now they stand accused of intentionally killing their own child in a most-heinous way. We went from believing a tragic accident caused the son's injuries and ultimate death to hearing that the parents are being accused of killing him intentionally. Horrible. The part that does seem to be true is that fact that they locked him in the apartment. They made it so he couldn't get out from the inside. Why? I believe it was intended to protect him. He was autistic, disabled. They probably had to lock him in so he wouldn't be able to leave and get hurt. Much the same way that parents will sometimes put the doorknob thingies on the inside of bedroom doors so their toddlers can't escape their rooms. Or block their doorways with gates for the same reason. I think that's what the aunt and uncle were doing with locking him in the apartment, but the media is saying they did it to imprison him and prevent him from escaping the inferno. I think that was a side tragedy of what happened. A risk they took in trying to protect him ultimately made things much, much worse.

A few things don't seem to add up or make sense. If there was a hint or evidence of their guilt, why did the insurance companies get involved wanting to settle so quickly? They are the LAST people who want to pay money if they don't have to. Also, if the aunt and uncle were to desperate to be rid of their autistic, disabled son, why wait until he was a legal adult and could be placed in a group home or something? They cared for this boy his whole life only to be accused of trying to kill him now? And why choose such a horrendous method - being burned to death? If you wanted to kill someone, wouldn't you try to do it in such a way that the chance of survival was minimal? This boy - Mr. Chick's cousin - survived. He was rescued and taken to a burn center. He lived for many days before succumbing to death from his injuries. If taking care of him before was tough, wouldn't caring for him as a burn patient be even worse? You think you'd find a different way of eliminating your "burden" if that was your motive, as the media is trying to say. Also, there is a "paper trail" regarding the problems with the furnace. They really did contact their landlord about their furnace, who really did send someone over to fix it. And then this happened. Do you think they were faking that? Laying the groundwork for an alibi? I doubt it, but I know know for sure. No one does.

So now all we can do is wait to see how this plays out. I've never met any of these people - not the aunt, uncle or now-deceased cousin. But yet they're related to me by marriage. We share an extended family. It's hard on Mr. Chick. He's embarrassed to be linked to this mess, especially since he just started work at his new law firm. He had talked to the litigator about taking the case when we all thought it was a personal injury or product liability situation. Before the cousin died. Before the felony arrests. Before the criminal element creeped in. Before the ugliness. Back when it seemed a horrible, terrible, tragic accident. He's hoping the "scandal" doesn't reflect badly on him as he's trying to establish his reputation at the firm and in the wider legal community. He doesn't want his family associations casting a negative reflection on him. But at the same time he feels terrible about what happened. I guess not having contact for over 14 years allows him to have an emotional distance from this, but still - it's his family. And family is very, very important to him. To both of us.

So for now, I'm going with Innocent Until Proven Guilty, no matter what the news media says, or tries to imply.

Monday, May 22, 2006

My Bad

As much as I'd like to, I can't get mad. I can't. I want to blame the kids, but it's not their fault. It's mine. You see, all they wanted was a bubble bath. Some fun in the tub. And when I had the nerve - nay, the gall, to check my email while the kids were happily splashing in the tub they decided that shampoo makes most excellent bubbles. And if the little bit of shampoo - like the amount Mama uses to wash our hair - makes a seemingly vast quantity of bubbles, just think of how many bubbles could be made if we used the entire bottle of shampoo?! The answer? A shitload.

Checking on the kids a few minutes later demonstrated to me that any unfortunate-but-creative incidents that happen when I should have been watching are, in fact, my fault. Mine, not theirs. So I can't be mad. I can only suggest that we no longer use entire contents of nearly-full shampoo bottles for future bubble baths, and then I need to keep my trap shut and try to enjoy the "washing" of the bathtub a la kid and massive amounts of giggles bubbling forth (pun completely intended). I literally had to turn the shower on to rinse the kids AND the tub after the bath there were so many foamy bubbles. They covered every inch of the kids and coated the glass tub enclosure doors (sidenote: I usually HATE glass doors enclosing tubs, but have come to appreciate their splash-preventing qualities since moving into this house, which has them.) At least everyone and everything smelled nice. Like blueberries (if the advertised fragrance of the shampoo is to be believed, that is.)

Just another parental mishap. Why don't you just call me Britney Spears and get it over with.


Ahhh - what a difference some time away can make on one's mental health. Mr. Chick had to attend a planning conference for his new law firm in Sunriver, OR. One of our favorite places to go for a getaway (it's just over 3 hrs away from where we live). But the best part? NO KIDS. My parents took the kids for the weekend so we could go and have a few days off. Heaven!

We attended the "non-shareholder" dinner Friday night and I was introduced to a few of his new co-workers and their spouses. Nice people. Good food. We were beat so we crashed early.

Saturday was MY day. Mr. Chick had to be at the conference at 8am, so I had the whole, entire day to myself. Do you know how rare that is?? Time just for me to do whatever I want. No one hassling me. No one else's schedule to keep. Just me and the whole day. I was giddy! I got dressed and went out to breakfast. Just me, my book, the newspaper, and a charming breakfast spot. I ate leisurely and enjoyed every moment of solitude. Food never tasted so good.

Then I called my good friend who now lives in town. I have missed her terribly since she moved, and then we moved. We had plans to get together that day and hang out. I called her after breakfast and she told me her husband was out of town but that she hired a sitter so we could play. A grown-up playdate vs. our normal variety. Yay! I made my way over to her house and we chatted while she got ready and we waited for the sitter to arrive. We decided to spend our time doing sometime we both NEVER get much opportunity to do: pedicures. Once the sitter showed up we wasted no time beating it out of there and over to the nail shop. It was just one of those hole-in-the-wall kind of places where hardly anyone speaks English and they kind of rush you through, but to us it was perfect. We were able to get pedi-chairs right next to each other and kept right on chatting away while our nails and feet were being soaked, filed, scrubbed, buffed, massaged, and ultimately polished. Now my tootsies are sandal-worthy. It felt wonderful.

Afterward, we took our slightly squishy-feeling feet out to a late lunch. Again, I totally enjoyed eating a meal in a restaurant and having a conversation that wasn't constantly peppered with "sit down!" and "use your fork, please" and "no throwing".

I love my children dearly, but sometimes it's nice to be away from them. Sometimes you have to create some distance so you can appreciate being together again. When I checked in on them, my mom told me that Nicholas was missing me terribly and being very whiney. He's been unusually whiney for several weeks now, so I knew what she meant. She told me it's exhausting and that she's glad I'm getting this break. No kidding!! Sometimes it's extremely gratifying to be justified like that.

After my day with my girlfriend, I got dressed up and attended an all-firm dinner with Mr. Chick at a very nice restaurant. I was introduced to most everyone (not that I remember very many names - I'm terrible that way!) and was seated next to a founding partner of the law firm that was instrumental in Mr. Chick's hiring. A pleasant and powerful man. It was a nice but tiring evening of making small talk and managing first impressions.

We drove home the next morning (Sunday). It was a long, quiet drive as both Mr. Chick and I were decompressing from our weekend away. We were looking forward to getting home again and seeing the kids. Because as eager as you are to get away from them, you're twice as eager to see them again and soak up the love they slobber all over you.

Now it's back to the daily grind. But now I'm refreshed and ready to deal with it with composure and patience and not, as in the days before our getaway, with irritation and frustration. It's nice to be back.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Weekend Ups & Downs

First off, we're pretty much back to health. Nearly a full week of snot-induced whininess and clinginess is enough to make me cry "uncle!". I was *this close* to demanding to spend Mother's Day completely away from the kids. But then you see them sleeping, or they give you an unexpected tttiiiiigghhhtttt hug to show you how much they love you, or they work extra-hard at coloring a picture just for you, and all is forgiven.

Saturday was spent working in the yard. What's new. We're always working on something at the house. But the weather has been unbelievably gorgeous and just begs for you to spend time outdoors, so yard work it was. Let me say that I'm not a fan of yard work. I don't mind doing some - helping out - from time to time, but really digging into the dirt and gardening is not my most favorite activity. I love how a cared-for yard looks and appreciate what it takes to maintain it, but I don't want to be the one to do that work. I just want to enjoy it's beauty, not create it. Our front yard is being choked to death by huge, gigantic weeds. Mr. Chick has already hacked, er - I mean pruned - the shrubbery a lot, but more will be done after everything finishes blooming. Our yard is sloped some and there is a retaining wall rising maybe 3 feet tall from the sidewalk. From the retaining wall ledge there is a 6-7 foot deep planting bed. This is where the majority of the weeds are. There are several smaller bushes, like azalea, and a beautiful small flowering tree. The previous owners had a "natural" garden (aka they didn't do anything and let it go completely wild, according to neighbors), so it's hard to tell, to a non-gardener novice like myself, what is weed and what is intentional plant. To me, unless it's a bush, it ALL looks like weeds. I like my garden spaces to look tidy and orderly, so I went through and took out everything that looked like a weed. Well almost. There were a few things I could tell were plants of some sort, and I left those. It took me HOURS and a big shovel to do this, and I'm only 2/3's done. I took out a big ugly fern and filled our curbside yard debris container. That's why I had to stop when I did - no more room for the weeds in the bin. But it looks much better already. Now you can SEE the bushes and the edge of the grass is delineated from the flower bed. Once I'm completely finished we'll throw down some anti-germinating chemicals (organic? ha! I'm all about better living through chemistry, be it medicines or gardening.) and then bring in some bark to finish it off.

While I was breaking my back with the shovel waging war on the weeds, the kids were enthralled with the worms I would find. This was good, dirty fun. So when the work was done for the day we hosed the kids down and then tossed them into the hottub to complete the washing cycle. Only we didn't know that danger lurked in the churning waters of the hottub. It seems the night before Mr. Chick violated a cardinal rule of hottubs: no glass in or around the spa. He enjoyed a cocktail in the tub and forgot to bring in his glass. Somehow, it broke IN THE TUB. We think it on the edge of the tub and when we put the cover back on it broke. So imagine our horror when all of sudden Lauren starts shrieking and the water starts turning shades of pink. She holds up her foot and it's all bloody. We couldn't figure out what happened. I'm tending to her cut (it's pretty deep and is a vertical slice on the ball of her foot in the middle and curves up to cut under one of her toes. We debated taking her in for stitches but decided against it.) while we make Nicholas get out of the hottub and Mr. Chick starts trying to unravel the mystery of what caused the cut. It takes him only a minute to find the glass - all broken and jagged, and 10+ more minutes of painstakingly finding ALL the shards. He blames himself and feels terrible. Lauren stopped screaming and crying in short order and applying direct pressure got most of the bleeding to stop. The cut is in such an awkward spot it's hard to put a proper bandage on it. We had to go get some butterfly sutures to help keep it closed, and she's got yards of medical adhesive tape wrapping the front half of her foot to keep the sterile pad in place. She looks like a participant of the ancient practice of Chinese Foot Binding. But her injury hasn't slowed her down at all and she's running and jumping around, much to my chagrin, as much as ever. She'll be fine.

Again, a gorgeous day. I got to take my time getting up in the morning and took a leisurely shower without an audience. Always a plus. Mr. Chick and the kids gave me a funny, touching card and we had plans to go out to breakfast (which turned into brunch we had to wait so long for a table). It was a good day because 1) my hair cooperated and I actually liked how it looked. Damn good, in case you were wondering. 2) I was able to take the time to apply my make-up the way make-up should be applied. And I was happy with how I looked. My normally haggard appearance was now polished and I cleaned up very nicely. 3) my outfit was not only comfortable but figure-flattering. That doesn't happen often in my world, so I was digging it. When you feel like you look good, you actually do, in fact, look good. And I was feeling it. Plus, my rack was totally on display and looking good. Gravity-defying good. I didn't look like a frumpy mom yesterday. I looked like a hottie mom, and I liked it. Good hair, good face, good rack. What's not to like?

We went to my sisters' house after brunch for a small family celebration. My oldest nephew made his First Communion yesterday and we were celebrating this milestone. And oh yeah, Mother's Day. I made my mom a pretty cool basket and filled it with flowers. It was made from crocheting heavy-duty jute twine. It was a shallow long rectangle, like a bread basket. Which she could totally use it for. I was happy with how it came out and didn't take me long to make. Just something quick and easy. I'd never used jute before, so it was fun for me to experiment with a new material like that. Hard on the hands, though. Very rough.

And later, when we got home, Mr. Chick worked more on the house (will it ever end??) and had his shirt off (eye-candy for me - I'll consider that Mother's Day gift #2 - breakfast was #1) and was dealing with the kids outside as well so I could put my feet up and spend some lazy time reading my book (a great one called Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult). I got over an hour of lazy R&R time IN MY OWN HOUSE WITHOUT KIDS HASSLING ME. (Mother's Day gift #3). And I got to finish the day with some private time with my sexy husband (Mother's Day gift #4). A most excellent day.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My Anniversary Gift...

.... is a lovely head cold! Just what I always wanted! What it SHOULD be is the ability to actaully take a sick day. SAHM's don't get sick days, which just makes the days when we actually ARE sick much, much worse. Yes, it seems I've caught Mr. Chick's cold and feel shitty. I can't get warm. My head is thick and has a constant dull ache. I can't breathe through my nose and HATE mouth-breathing. My lips are chapped from all the damn mouth-breathing. The delicate skin under my nose is sore from all the futile nose-blowing. I'm tired but find it hard to sleep. Not that I could, mind you, when my daughter refuses to nap, but still - I tried.

Last night I knew it was hitting me, and I had to get up out of my warm bed at 5-something A.M. just to drink some water and brush me teeth because my tongue felt thick and downright fuzzy from getting all dried out from mouth-breathing for hours. It was RANK and had to be dealt with, no matter the personal cost of actually getting out of bed. There is nothing fouler than the taste/feel of a mouth after hours of endless, exclusive mouth-breathing. I'd rather French a smelly homeless chain-smoker than experience the nastiness of that taste/feel ever again.

See, people, THIS is the reason why you should ALWAYS COVER YOUR COUGHS AND SNEEZES AND WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY! Moms seem to know this, but dads, sadly, tend to come up short on that. At least in my house. Mr. Chick sometimes remembers to cover his sneezes, but more likely will just turn his head away and let 'er rip. It's gross and I'm all over him about this, but I guess old habits die hard. Nicholas is actually really good about it. He generally remembers to sneeze into the crook of your arm at the elbow every time. Which is the correct way to do it, for those of you who weren't aware. It (the sneeze) avoids the hands that way when you're not right at a sink to decontaminate the now-affected hands you just sneezed into. It's how they do it in hospitals. Nicholas was taught well, if I do say so myself. My mom is a nurse, what can I say?

So I KNEW I was likely going to catch this cold. I knew it. And I warned Mr. Chick to not get me sick because he started his new job and it's not like he can take a day or two off to help me out. Out of the question. And so now I suffer.

wait! It gets better! Nicholas has the cold, too! We caught it together - isn't that special? Lauren is still ok, but Nicholas is whining about how he's got a "really really REALLY bad cold, Mama. I don't feel good at ALL." and I'm like, "me too!" but then I must get over myself and tend to him. And play Go Fish with my 2.5 yr old. And read books. And get more milk and yogurt and crackers, and deal with, ".. but I don't LIKE rice for dinner!".

Sometimes being a grown-up sucks. I want someone to come take care of ME instead of the other way around. I don't mind caring for my family when they're sick and I'm well, but when we're all sick it just means that I have to suck it up and continue to be mom. Even when I don't feel like it.

Because you just can't count on the toddler to make dinner for everyone. Especially when she's not potty-trained.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

8 is Great!

It's not official until the 9th, but we went out last night to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. Just us, no kids. And despite Mr. Chick feeling a bit poorly and under-the-weather, it was fun to step out for awhile and have dinner together.

Tomorrow he starts his new job as an attorney (so I hope all the OTC drugs he's taking like candy work and he feels better for his big first day!), so it feels a little bit momentous. Like now the "next chapter" of our lives can truly begin. Graduation was the first step, moving was the next, and now starting work seals the deal and we're on our way.

The 7th year, while sounding very cliche, had it bumps. Itches, as it were. But 8 is great and things feel very, very solid and satisfying. I like that. I take strength from that. I take pride in that. I once told Mr. Chick that we needed to stay married for at least 28 years, since that was my age on our wedding day, and I'd like to be married/have my married name at least as long as I had my maiden name. So 8 down, 20 to go.

I think we'll get there.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Speech Concerns, or Is That English She's Speaking?

I try so hard not to do this. Not to get overly concerned about stuff that will likely just work itself out in due time. I try to stay relaxed and not get my panties in a bunch, but truth be told, I'm getting worried. Worried about Lauren's speech, or lack thereof. She's 2 1/2 years old (officially as of Monday), but her speaking is still very, very muddy. Unclear and with strange sound substitutions. So I'm calling out to all voices of reason and/or any professionals out there who might help shed some light on this for me.

Lauren tries to speak. A LOT. Constantly.
She's always jabbering on about something. The trouble is, it's very, very difficult to understand her. I can better than anyone because I'm with her 24/7, but a lot of my interpretations are contextual, not because I actually understood the words. She just seems to be behind the curve on the whole speech thing, and I'm wondering if I have reason to worry. A few friends have told me not to freak out until she's 3, but, y'know, I'm starting to freak anyway.

The biggest thing with Lauren seems to be that she doesn't say entire words. Just the first part. And she can't say "c" or "k" or "ck" sounds. The back of the throat sound. Except for "g", because she calls Nicholas "gleh". But she substitutes the sound of "t" for "ck". So if we ask her to say "Nick" it sounds like "nit". "Cake" is "tate". And she'll even sometimes substitute a "t" sound for "s", especially when she says "yes", which then comes out sounding like "yet". Yesterday I offered her a Hershey kiss and asked her to say "chocolate". It came out sounding like "tohtay". She also can't seem to make the "ff" sound and will instead substitute "b" sounds. So "Garfield" comes out like "gar-tay" or "gar-beel". That's the other thing she does; end words with a "tay", no matter what the real sound should be. Strange, yes?

She seems to have her pronouns in place and refers to herself correctly as "I" or "me", and says "you" appropriately as well. She can string together 4-5+ words and make full sentances. They may be choppy, but she's beyond one or two word bursts. (Mama, where my baby? oh! Dere she is!) She communicates emotions, "Mama, I'm sad" and when I ask why she can tell me "because (which sounds like beetause) Gleh shut da door" The content of her language is getting more sophisticated, but there are just certain things that make me wonder if she's slipping behind what's "normal". She hasn't seemed to have that big language explosion that most kids have by now. Nicholas seemed slow to get rolling on speech, too, but shortly after 2 the explosion came and he got clear with his speaking very, very quickly. Now he's very articulate and clear and there isn't any trace of "toddler/preschooler accent" in his speech. Lauren seems to be a different story.

(just now she's standing next to me begging & pleading "pee Mama pee! I want bot (milk)! pee! Mo bot pee! I ha bot pee Mama)

So what do you think? Is she doing ok, or do you think I have reason to be concerned. I'm not worried about anything else concerning her development - her reasoning, problem-solving and cognition are all impressive. It's just her speech that makes me wonder. When do you know she needs to be evaluated? When is professional assistance necessary?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Yay! At long last we're teetering on the edge of "formal" education. Nicholas will be entering Kindergarten in the fall. Can I get a HELL YEAH and/or IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME?!?! As a June birthday, he's on the younger end of the age range for his class, but he is very, very ready for Kindergarten. And so am I. The Kindergarten Round-Up was last week and he's officially enrolled. Unless we change our minds about sending him to the local public school, which is possible but unlikely.

Nicholas going to Kindergarten doesn't make me feel sad or nostalgic. I know so many mothers feel this way - that they're little baby is getting so big and going off to school and all. But me? I LOVE my kids getting older (I don't, however, love that that also means *I'M* getting older, too, but that's beside the point). Babies just aren't my thing. I sighed a big sigh of relief when Nicholas turned 3. Preschoolers are more my speed. Toddlers are better than babies for me, too. As trying as Lauren is at 2, I much more enjoy it than the first year of life. For me it's all about getting to know who my kids are. What they like and don't like. What moves them. What excites them. What they think about. You don't get that sort of interaction with a baby. Babies are cute and adorable and you love them, but I've always been happier as they get older [shrug]. So Nicholas going off to Kindergarten is, in my opinion, a huge milestone to be celebrated vs. mourning the end of his "at home" years. This opens up so many doors for him! New friends! New experiences! Some good, some bad. But that's what makes it so engaging for me. For both of us.

The Kindergarten program at the public school nearest us seems to be a very strong one. One of the biggest reasons we moved to this area is for the schools. This current year is the first time the school has offered all-day Kindergarten. We were tempted to do the all-day program with Nicholas, but we've opted to go another route. It seems the "academics" section of the K programs all happens in the morning anyway (or afternoon, if you're in the afternoon 1/2 day session. We live on the side of the boundary line that goes to the morning 1/2 day session). You have to pay for all-day kindergarten - about $280/mo - for your kid to eat lunch, take a short nap, and then get free choice time. They might get some extra help from the teacher on supplemental reading or something, but it's mostly unstructured time. There doesn't seem to be an educational advantage to the all-day option, so we're skipping it. We are, however, planning to enroll Nicholas in the Spanish after school class. The school has several after-school classes you can choose to enroll in (for a fee, natch), and one of them is Spanish. They also have a science class, a baton twirling class (no joke, they offer a baton twirling class. I thought they were kidding. They weren't), and a few others I can't remember right now. But Spanish is good. So instead of spending the money on after-school babysitting we'll spend it on Spanish classes. And soccer.

We met the teachers, and they're all quite competent. That is, if you can accurately judge competency by a single meeting. But they seem to be good, nurturing teachers who've been around awhile and have lot of energy. Which must be a requirement for teaching Kindergarten, I would think. They have 3 teachers in total: 2 teach all-day Kinder, and one teaches both the morning and afternoon 1/2 day sessions. She's Nicholas's teacher - Miss Crabtree. Doesn't that sound straight out of a sitcom? Miss Crabtree? She's the youngest of the bunch and appeared to be about 14 years old when we first saw her across the cafeteria. Upon closer inspection, she's in her late 20's and has been teaching a few years. She may be young, but she runs the class very efficiently. She has to - she has only from the hours of 8:15 - 10:50am to squeeze in the curriculum to a class of 18-22 five-year-olds. Thankfully the school gets a LOT of parental support in the form of volunteers and they do most of the prepping for her so she can devote all her time to actually teaching. Works for me. I just wish the hours were a tad longer because, c'mon, 2.5 hrs?? That's barely enough time for me to run any errands or do something with Lauren before school is over for the day.

The good news is that ALL kindergarteners get to ride the school bus. Once you're in 1st grade you must live 1 mile away or further to ride the school bus. We're about .8 or .9 miles from school, so we may not be bussed next year. But this year we're bussing it all the way, baby. Do you know how much time that's going to save me?? I won't have to load up both kids into the car, drive that short distance to the school but have to park far away from the door, unstrap the kids, walk Nicholas into his classroom, then reload Lauren and drive back home, only to barely have time to do anything before having to reload Lauren back into the car and go pick up Nicholas from school. By riding the bus, I only have to walk him to the bus stop, wave good-bye, and walk back inside. Then be ready to meet him at the bus stop a few hours later. Very low on the hassle scale. I'm stoked, and so is Nicholas. A win-win. I always have the option of picking him up, of course, or walking to school with him (which we'll do on nice days), but it's so handy to have the bus for the icky rainy days, of which there are LOTS during the school year. Most days, in fact. I just hope we can continue to bus it next year and beyond.

So yes, my baby is about to start Kindergarten and we couldn't be happier about it. I think it's the beginning of a very exciting time. I can't wait to see what the year brings.

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