Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Art Of Exaggeration, 3-Year-Old Style

Lately, Lauren has been peeking ahead in her life to her adolescence and practicing some of the angst we'll get to enjoy down the road. And by that I mean exaggeration. Boy-howdy, does she exaggerate! She's no longer content to just tell me she doesn't like something. No. Now she must dramatically throw her hands up in the air and declare, "but Mama, I don't love that!" (pronounced in her own unique way, so it comes out sounding like "but Mama, I don't luff dat!"). It's like she's starring in Gone From the Wind or something, I swear. All the theatrics! The head roll. The overly exaggerated shoulder-slump. The pouty shuffle. All that's missing is the back-of-the-hand-to-the-forehead gesture of weariness. That'll probably show up soon.

"Lauren, we're going to see Anne today!"

(shoulder-slump/heavy sigh combo) "but Mama! I don't luff her! I don't wanna play wah Anne!"

As she's stomping off in a huff when I've turned the TV off: "I don't luff you anymore, Mama! You not my friend!"

After Nicholas wrongs her somehow, "Nicholas! You not coming to mah berday pahty! Hmmph!" followed by a fist bang on the table or something along those lines, you know, for emphasis (that seems to be serious currency around these parts - the allowing attendance to ones birthday party. Big stuff.)

After taking a required bite of (insert disliked food here): "That's it! I no eat (distasteful food) evah again. Nevah evah again!) said with her arms defiantly crossed and a big frown to make her point.

After seeing the outfit I picked out for her to wear: "No Mama - I don't luff those clothes! I pick out my own clothes!"

After being told she must wait 5 minutes for her turn on the computer: "But Mama! Dats SO LONG to wait!"

Yep, she's got the diva thing down. Much angst. Much overly dramatic exaggeration in not only speaking but in body language to boot. Most of the time I have to surpress giggles because it's pretty funny to watch her.

Between Nicholas's declarations of, "This is the worst day EVER!" from time to time, and now Lauren adding her own special blend of drama to the mix, I'm surrounded by Drama Queens.

Think I should get them both involved in childrens theater? Channel these dramatic tendancies somehow? Or maybe I'll bust out the video camera and film their theatrics and then use it as blackmail when they're older. Maybe it can be an audition tape someday.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hostess With The Mostess

What a fun-but-exhausting weekend! I'm only now full recovered, and even that's debatable. After a long hiatus from entertaining at our house I hosted two soirees this weekend: a dinner party Saturday night, and an Oscar party on Sunday. I'm beat. Over-stuffed and still a tad hungover, but definitely beat.

I love to entertain friends at my house. It's something I look forward to. I enjoy figuring out the menus, planning, getting ready - everything. I love to create a warm atmosphere where friends can relax and feel comfortable. I'm not a fancy entertainer. I don't do super formal. My style is more laid-back and casual. A place for people to kick back, settle in, talk and hopefully laugh a lot. If I achieve that then I know the event was a big success.

During law school we entertained with regularity. I think it was more out of necessity than anything else - we were the freaks with kids and therefore it was just easier for people to come to us than the other way around. If we went somewhere else we would either a) have to find and pay for a babysitter, or b) leave early in order to get the kids home for bedtime. So people came to our house. Plus, not too many law students HAD a place big enough to accommodate lots of people (including us - our house was small, but it was a HOUSE, vs. a small 1-2 bedroom apartment, and therefore more spacious). And, I think, the young 20-somethings in law school didn't really cook much so coming over to our house for some home cookin' was appealing. Not that I'm a fantastic cook - trust me, I'm not - but I was still able to turn out foods that these people didn't do for themselves. Comfort foods, mostly. Stuff like homemade cheesy scallopped potatoes and big green salads and smoked turkeys.

So anyway, since moving back after law school, our entertaining days seems to have dwindled. I'm not entirely sure why, but I suspect it has something to do with not wanting to have lots of people over during project construction time. And we've been doing lots of projects. The biggest, of course, is the kitchen which has been dragging on for months now. And it's not like it's a major renovation or anything - just some cosmetic upgrades that any do-it-yourselfer can do. Which is why it's so damn frustrating that it's taking so damn long to finish already! (damn rental houses sucking up all the available time, money and more - gah!). Damn!

But a month ago when I realized that the Oscars were right around the corner, and that's been an annual party I've organized for a number of years now, I said FUCK IT and invited everyone over, finished projects or not. And then Mr. Chick told me he'd invited some law school friends over for dinner on Saturday, the day before my big shindig. oooohhh-kkaaayyyy! Now we're in full swing party-wise. Nothing like making up for lost time!

Dinner on Saturday was for 5 adults, plus our 2 kids. I decided on grilled marinated flank steak with a gorgonzola sauce, roasted red potatoes, tossed green salad, and dessert. Our friends, as most friends do, offered to bring something. Not wanting to be a martyr, I asked one to bring dessert and the other to bring the salad. I was handling the main entree, side dish, appetizers and drinks. I had to go to several stores to gather all the necessary ingredients, but it was SO WORTH IT! The flank steak came out perfectly and the gorgonzola sauce was a perfect compliment. SO GOOD! You can never go wrong with roasted red potatoes and they couldn't be easier to make. Add some varieties of wine, some crusty bread for dipping in seasoned olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and you've got yourself a dinner party. We played a game I've never heard of before - the Sultans of Catan - after dinner. It's a fun, stragetic game and I came very close to winning. It was a fun evening and I'm just sorry I waited so long to have a dinner party.

Sunday, the Oscar Party, was all about my girlfriends. No husbands, no kids. Just us girls. We get competitive with our balloting of Oscar predictions and score each others sheets. There is a prize involved, after all. And bragging rights. In years past I've tried to tie the food menu into one of the nominated pictures. It's not always easy, and some years I've really had to stretch to make the link to the film. The year Chocolat was up was easy - chocolate fondue for everyone! When Lord of the Rings was up, I tried to prepare foods in a circle shape. We had a make-your-own pizza bar set up (circles, pizza - get it??) But in more recent years I've abandoned tying the menu into a nominated film. Too much stress. Plus, how does one do a food theme based on Babel? Or The Departed? Much too much of a stretch. And so? I went with a completely unrelated menu and it worked out much better, I think: grilled lemon garlic shrimp with lemon rince, and chicken satay with peanut sauce. Plus 2 different champagne cocktails. See? Random (although you COULD make a argument for the lemon theme tying in with Little Miss Sunshine, but I chose not to). It was all delicious. And empowering for me personally, because this time *I* handled the grilling part, a job usually done by Mr. Chick. He's got excellent grilling abilities and the grill is sort of a guy thing around here. But on Oscar night it was ALL ME. And the chicken was perfectly done - moist and flavorful - as were the shimp. I was quite proud of myself. I can now boast mad grilling skillz to my culinary resume.

It was three+ days of shopping, cleaning, prepping, marinating, cooking, furniture re-arranging, and stressful anticipation, but both parties were smashing successes. I drank one (or two, or three) too many cocktails at each of the events, and I take a little more time recovering than I used to. And no one cared in iota that there is no flooring in the back hallway, or that we don't have any curtains up. Or that the molding for the kitchen is stacked in the dining room. Big deal.

And on that note, we've invited more friends over for another dinner party in two weeks. I need to start thinking of what to serve - I'm off to surf recipe websites for inspiration!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Roughin' It

So last night after Mr. Chick left the office and stopped off to visit his "mistress" (aka Home Depot - he's there more than here....), he got home just in time to kiss the kids good-night and then get right to work on the various "projects" (aka Disasters) around here. After eating his now-cold burrito, of course, and daring to use an actual plate. But I didn't stress about yet another dirty dish added to the already enormous pile of dirty dishes scattered all over the kitchen, because Mr. Chick bought a shiny new un-clogger thingy that was certain to fix the sink. CERTAIN to. I had no fears and promptly demonstrated my fearlessness by plopping down on my couch to watch American Idol while Mr. Chick fiddled with the sink.

I kept hearing indistinguishable mumbles and some clearly distinguishable 4-letter words coming from somewhere under the sink. I think a groove was created in our floor from all the trips from the sink to the deck in order to dump out a big pot of water. But I sat blissfully "out of the way" on the couch, happy helper that I am, offering my commentary on the show.

Then suddenly, all activity stopped and Mr. Chick left the kitchen. "Are you done? Is the sink working again?"

"NO! &*#&#(*@!!! I need a break from the #%@#^ clog so I'm working on the TP holder in the bathroom. Where's the level?"

Thankfully, THAT project took only 5 minutes and we were back in TP business. The sink? STILL NOT WORKING. Mr. Chick, like a trooper, tried and tried and kept at it for 2 hours, but "that clog must be really, really deep. More than the 25 feet of this clog-buster snake tool, at least." Grrrreeeaaaatttttt. The upside? I didn't have to do any dishes all day yesterday! The freedom - !

So this morning, as I surveyed my now disgusting kitchen, Mr. Chick off-handedly tells me that "oh by the way, the dishwasher probably uses the same pipes as the sink, so you better not run the dishwasher today, either."

fuuuccckkkkk. So now, I'm faced with the unpleasant reality of having to UNLOAD most of my dirty dishwasher as well as gather up all the pots, pans and knives (which I normally handwash) and haul everything upstairs to the bathroom in order to do the dishes. In the small bathroom sink I'm supposed to be able to fit a fat pot and wash it. Not to mention rinse it. Perhaps I'll commandeer the bathtub for the larger items. It'll be so fun to pick out soggy food bits from the drain of the bathtub! And possibly from Lauren's hair after her bath in the same tub! Oh yes, this fun little house snafu is just one big adventure for me! Because nothing gives you more perspective on just how vital a working kitchen sink is than having to repeatedly walk to the other end of your house to wash your hands after handling raw hamburger, and having to make the same trek several times in order to rinse out the sponge so you can wipe down the table and counters. And faces. Really, it's like exercise! The new home exercise program! Kill your kitchen sink, lose 5 lbs! Plus weight-lifting from having to haul the contents of your cupboards up and down the stairs for washing! It's fool-proof.

Mr. Chick PROMISES that he's going back to see his other mistress (aka Lowes) tonight for a better un-clogger snake that he's SURE will do the trick this time. It better, because I'm facing not one, but TWO dinner parties here at my house this weekend, and if I have to host these events WITHOUT A WORKING SINK IN MY KITCHEN I just may lose it. You want a different kind of cocktail? No - don't rinse out your glass here - go to the bathroom, please. Don't think about the potential cross-contamination - I'm sure the alcohol will kill anything harmful. Really!

Clean up after-party in the bathroom - who's with me? You just might end up losing some weight for your troubles - wanna try? I'm sure it'll be a fun, fun party.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Scenes From A Morning

7:00 am - cue alarm

MP wakes up from a strange dream where Nicholas wasn't her son but her brother and she went to the same school with him and watched him perform in some sort of dance/cheerleading thing after which they had to walk home together in a town they've never been to, encountering various challenges and obstacles along the way - all in slow motion.

MP stumbles out of bed, throws on her bathrobe, and goes to wake up Nicholas and get him ready for school. She totally misses the olfactory clues as to this mornings specialness.

"ok, you keep getting dressed and I'll go start your breakfast."

"mama? why is there a big rock in our living room?"

"what?! A rock? Let me see"

"Ohmigod - YUCK! DON'T TOUCH IT! Abby you bad dog - where are you? DON'T GO NEAR IT, I'm serious. Abby pooped in the living room."

"Abby pooped? That doesn't look like Abby poop."

"I know it doesn't, but it is. Abby must have gotten sick last night. Come eat your breakfast."

"MP? I forgot to tell you last night but you can't use the kitchen sink today. It's clogged. I'll keep working on it tonight. The clog must be really deep."

"I can't use the sink AT ALL?" MP surveys the utter chaos in the kitchen of the aftermath of Mr. Chick's attempt to play a plumber. Pots under the sink partially filled with nasty water, nasty water filling the sink itself, lids to same pots on the floor, and a few scattered dirty dishes for good measure. Takes a deep breath.

"No, sorry babe."

"Ok, we'll just have bagels for breakfast and use paper towels so we don't generate more dishes this morning. Sit down - you don't want to be late for the bus."

"MP? what's that in the living room?"

"Gah! Abby crapped on the carpet in there - I'm about to go deal with it after I get the kids some breakfast. Crap! I can't even wash my hands in the sink!"

"Hey, do you think you could iron my shirt for me? It's got a few too many wrinkles for me to wear it today."

"ok, just put it in the laundry room and I'll do it. Watch out for the steaming pile in the living room, though."

MP irons Mr. Chick's shirt as the kids eat, not even having had her first cup of coffee.

"here's your shirt. I'm going to clean up that mess in the living room. Nicholas! Please go get your shoes on and grab your coat and backpack!"

MP kneeling, in her bathrobe, over the dogshit on the living room carpet which resembles more a dropping of wet cement than something organic produced by a sick dog. Armed with a fresh roll of paper towels and half a bottle of Pet & Kid Stain Remover, and only breathing through her mouth, she begins the unpleasant chore. Small amounts of gagging occur.

"Mama, I want to help you."

"Lauren! Stay far away from here! You can't help me with this."

"But I no touch it, Mama - I just watch you. ok?"


"MP? Abby crapped more down here. A few times."


"Yeah, I see what you mean about it looking like wet cement. And oh yeah, last night I started working on the broken tp holder down here, so try to keep the kids out of this bathroom today."

"Nicholas! C'mon honey, you've GOT to get your shoes on and put your homework in your backpack. The bus is almost here!"

"but mama, I can't put my socks on! I keep getting them twisted up. Can you help me?"

"Daddy! Please help Nicholas with his socks so he won't be late. I'm still trying to clean up the first pile in the living room. NO LAUREN, you CAN'T help! STAY OUT!"

"Babe, does this shirt go ok with these pants?"


"mama, nevermind. I got my socks AND shoes on all by myself, see?"


"Mama, I finish my bagel. Can I watch cartoons? Please help me with my cartoons."

"Just a minute Lauren. Nicholas, do you have everything for school? Yes? OK, time to go outside for the bus. I love you."

"bye, mama!"

"MP, Abby got it in quite a few places down here...."

"I'll get it, just let me have some coffee first." MP goes into non-functioning kitchen and realizes she can't dump the last dregs of yesterdays coffee into the sink and must get the water from the bathroom instead. At this point she's seriously thinking of just going back to bed and starting over.

"babe, I gotta go. Have you seen my keys and money clip?"


"I found 'em. I'm not sure what time I'll be home tonight. I'll call you later. Love you."

"mama, can I play on the 'puter?"

"No, Lauren. I need to finish cleaning up this mess. You just stay right there and watch your cartoon, ok?'

MP gets first mess cleaned up in the living room and is somewhat impressed that the stain remover seems to have worked pretty well. Heads down to the playroom to tackle the next steaming pile...

"OH MY GOD I FUCKING HATE MY DOG! Seriously, something is wrong with her." MP surveys the disaster zone where her children play. Notices the two large wet cement-like piles right off the bat, next to which is a big lake of urine soaking the carpet, and then she sees the plethora of little squirts all around the room as if the dog was turning circles with its intestinal agony, dripping liquid crap as she went.

"mama, where are you?"

"Lauren, STAY OUT!"

"But I wanna play on 'puter!"

"Not now, honey. Mama's busy trying not to get sick as she cleans up down here. Stay by the TV, please!"

Nearly a roll of paper towels later, most of the mess is cleaned up. To MP's dismay, she runs out of stain remover/carpet cleaner after the bigger piles and is without anything to deal with the squirts in the rest of the room, or the urine lake. So now both the kitchen, playroom, and downstairs bathroom are unusuable and/or under quarantine, and the living room is questionable. MP finally gets her first cup of coffee, which surprisingly isn't soothing her queasy, repulsed stomach. She's not sure she can manage eating anything for breakfast yet.

End scene.

PS - this awful morning is offset just a bit by the good news that my youngest sister and her husband announced they are expecting their first baby in the fall. yay! AND, I was hired for the Child Watch in YMCA. I go in later today to do all the necessary paperwork. Bright spots for sure in the dark clouds of my morning. I think Lauren and I are going to hibernate in my room for the rest of the morning, one of the only rooms not befouled, it seems, and stop by the store for more stain remover after my appointment at the YMCA. Then maybe the kids can regain use of the playroom. My kitchen, however, might be another story.....

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Little Girls Lost

I recently heard about the latest shenanigans (aka "cry for help") from Britney Spears. The now-infamous head shaving incident that is burning up the Internet. Yes, it's shocking and bizarre and really, really unsettling. But mostly, it's sad. Poor Britney just seems so lost and bewildered and completely out of control. Hollywood has chewed her up and spit her out. She seems to be making one bad decision after another and her innocent babies are the ones who will really pay the price. Rehab for one day? Shaving your head bald? Flashing the world your va-jay-jay? Publicly appearing like she hasn't showered or brushed her hair in an eternity? She's what -? 25 years old with 2 kids under 2 and 2 divorces under her belt. Nice track record.

It's not that I'm opposed to women being bald by choice. I'm not. But this recent move by Britney doesn't smack of a rational fashion decision but instead one of desperation and temporary insanity. Or something along those lines. One of my friends will be shaving her head bald in a few weeks in support of this. Now that kind of bald move I can support. (and you should, too!)

There see
ms to be more than a few Little Girls Lost lately. Not that they are still technically "little girls", but maybe it's their lack of maturity that makes me think of them that way. That their development was arrested while still a little girl and so their behavior manifests itself as that of a lost child without supervision. Lindsay Lohan, for example, comes to mind. Here is truly a lost child. A talented actress who isn't even of legal age to drink and yet has been allegedly attending AA meetings for a year or so now. TNot that it seems to be having much effect in dampening her partying.... and she's another "victim" of the va-jay-jay flashing as well. Maybe that's an initiation into the Lost Girls club or something.

Another current example of a Lost Girl is none other than Anna Nicole Smith. It's tragic that she's dead, but her life wasn't exactly one of health and productivity. Not exactly a role model or an exemplary citizen to emulate. 5+ men coming forward to claim paternity for her infant daughter? A son recently deceased from a drug/medication overdose? An self-imposed exile to the Bahamas? Drunken public appearances? Truly, a Lost Girl. She clearly had no direction in her life. And now that poor baby girl will grow up with any one of sub-par candidates as her father, who really only are interested in her because of her inheritance. Sad, sad, sad. No one deserves that.

Hollywood horrifies me these days. It just seems so ruthless and viscious. NOT a place I'd want to be, or a place I'd want my young son or daughter to be. I know that there are some young starlets who seem to have both feet firmly planted on the ground and a strong support system. Dakota Fanning comes to mind. But then again, young Britney seemed this way in the beginning, too. As did Lindsay and many others. MacCauley Culkin and Whitney Houston, to name just a few. Shoot, even Michael Jackson seemed "intact" in the early days and look at him now: the worlds biggest freak show. And yet so many flock to Hollywood everyday in search of the elusive fame and fortune it dangles and promises but so rarely delivers. And when it does deliver and you become a celebrity, our nations equivalent to royalty, the price you pay seems oh-so-monstrous in hindsight. A complete and utter lack of privacy. A society who will build you up only to be much too eager to witness your fall. Praise and criticism in the most public of forums. Celebrity must be like crack for so many to risk so much in it's pursuit.

My heart goes out to these Little Girls Lost. I feel bad for them. I don't think they truly understood the ramifications of the choices they were making, or others were making on their behalf, and now they're paying the price. In many ways, I think their parents are at fault, or at least partially to blame for what has befallen their children. And we, the public, are to blame as well for our unquenchable desire to see more and more of these celebrities, especially if they are in the throes of a crisis of some sort. That huge appetite feeds the paparrazi, which has to contribute at some level to the extreme invasion of privacy these people experience. Which then must lead to all kinds of self-doubt and other issues along those lines, which leads to even more questionable acts. A vicious, vicious circle.

I hope the cycle is broken soon before more talented people are destroyed on the alter of celebrity.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Our budget is tight. Like many, we aren't flush with cash that we can just blow on a regular basis. We live frugally and save where we can so we don't drain our savings more than necessary at the end of each month (we don't have cell phones. We don't have cable beyond the most limited basic which really only gives us network channels for reception. We don't have Tivo. We recently lowered the temp in our house to a frosty 65 to save on energy (natural gas costs are out of control!) Our cars are paid for and I've driven mine for 6 years and it has 110k miles on it. We don't go to restaurants or eat take out more than once a month or so. We rent movies instead of going to the theater. So, you know, frugal.) New, fledgling attorneys simply do not make wads of cash, despite what you might envision. Dow the road? We hope so - that's the plan. But now? Not so much. And so I've been getting twitchy about wanting to contribute to the family finances. I'm more than capable - I worked for years as a marketing manager and back in the day, earned a decent salary. But things are different now - we have a family, and family comes first.

Lately I've been keeping my eyes open for decent part-time job opportunities. There aren't many that come up. Not to mention, my "requirements" for taking a job are strict in that the position needs to be flexible enough to work around the fact that I have a family that I'm not willing to put into full-time daycare (hence part-time), but yet needs to pay decently to make it worth the a) hassle of juggling a job and a family and b) pay enough to cover any additional daycare/babysitting costs and still make enough to make a difference in the family budget. That must be a tall order because I'm not finding much.

The part-time jobs I DO see listed offer wages in the range of $9 - $13 per hour. These aren't the most "professional" level jobs, but more entry-level. And yet, that's what's offered for part-time. And frankly, that just simply isn't enough. After taxes and daycare I'd be working for essentially a few bucks per hour, and that's not worth it. It's better for me to stay home in that scenario. Don't get me wrong, I'm not so proud or ego-centric that I think I'm above working for those wages. I'm not. If push came to shove and I HAD to work to feed my kids, I'd take it and be happy. But the truth is, I don't have to work so I can be a little choosy. It's a nice place to be. 6 years ago, when I was working full-time, I earned in excess of what equated to $26/hr, plus full benefits and perks like a fully stocked kitchen and espresso machines at our disposal. Dinner provided 4 nights out of 5 for those who worked into the evening. Razor scooters to ride around on between the cubicles and a corporate concierge for other miscellaneous needs. Gotta love the dotcom heyday. But given where I've been you might begin to understand my frustration in my current situation.

I have a couple of applications out. Jobs that, at first blush, might work out if they were offered to me. Except my applications seem to be going into the big, black void of HR. The blackhole of resumes. Things go in, but nothing comes out. Not even an automatic, canned e-mail reply acknowledging receipt. It's very, very frustrating. I'm doing my due-diligence and following up a few days later, expressing my ongoing interest in the position, etc., but still....nothing. Is it me? Do I smell?

One of my apps was to my local YMCA. On sort of a lark I submitted my application to work as a substitute in the Child Watch. If I work just 1 shift per week (I think) then I get my membership (nearly) free (we're out of district, so I'd continue to pay the difference between an in-district and out-of-district membership), my paltry hourly wage (no kidding, $7.80/hr. almost minimum wage), and my kids can come with me to work. Plus I would receive discounts on the various programs for them, like swimming lessons. I figured I wouldn't be earning much, but rather saving in that we wouldn't be paying $75/mo for our membership anymore. And since I'm there nearly everyday anyway, why not get paid? That could make a small difference in our family budget, not having to pay for that membership and not pay as much for swimming lessons, etc. So I applied. I'm not crazy about the thought of babysitting kids for 4 hrs a pop, but I'm willing to give it a try. And I waited, and waited, and nothing. No call. The Big Black Void again. Am I not even qualified to change shitty diapers?? Have I been out of the workforce so long that I can't even get hired to do that? Really, I began to wonder and feel a little scared for my future. So I called and followed-up. LIke the professional I am. And finally, a response. I have an interview on Monday with the director. She still hasn't even seen my application, which makes me wonder just how disorganized they are, but she called me in response to my follow-up call to her. I don't want to get too cocky and ahead of myself, but I'm feeling pretty confident that I'll get the job. At this point, it may be the only thing I'm qualified to do: babysit kids. it's my life as it is, why not my profession? And maybe, if I'm hired, Mr. Chick and I can splurge and get a cell phone. Or curtains. Or a new light fixture in the kitchen. Or the cabinet hardware we want. You know, live a little larger. (ha!)

But mostly, I'm hoping to combine this very part-time job that will give me my membership for free with another more "professional" part-time job that will actually pay me something decent. THEN we can start talking about Tivo. Because that? Would truly be living high on the hog.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Overheard yesterday in my kitchen after hanging up the phone scheduling Lauren's planning meeting for speech therapy:

"Mom, was that phone call about me?"

"No, I was talking about Lauren and her speech."

"Aww! Everytime you talk it's about Lauren. Lauren Lauren LAUREN!"

Which took me back immediately to my favorite show as a kid, The Brady Bunch, and the whole Jan whining about Marsha scene "Marsha Marsha Marsha!". Nicholas nailed it, whiney tone and all.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Preschool Ponderings

Around these parts, this week marked the "open enrollement" window for preschool. Most of the local preschools began taking registrations for the fall as of a couple of days ago. Lauren will be starting a preschool program come fall, so I needed to spend some time visiting the various preschools and figuring out the best place for her. She is so, so ready. We both are.

Nicholas attended preschool where we lived for law school. Therefore, I'm not very familiar with the preschools around me now. I've been doing "due diligence" by doing what moms do best: tap the network. You know, asking around. Finding out which programs come highly recommended by moms and which ones are, well, not so great. Through that highly scientific process I was able to narrow it down to a top 3 preschools I wanted to check out in more detail. I did that today and was able to tour 2 of them as well as chat with the teachers and get the nitty gritty details about their program.

What has surprised me is the hours that kids attend preschool. VERY FEW, in a nutshell. And most programs aren't very flexible when it comes to schedules. Days of the week, specifically. Before, with Nicholas, his preschool was 1/2 day. And by 1/2 day, I mean 1/2 day. 4-5 hours long. ALL morning. Through lunch. Not just 9am - 11:30am, like the preschools I toured today. They included both a breakfast snack and lunch, and kids learned all about proper table manners, etc. by eating "family style". Also, they got exposed to foods that they might not get at home, thereby encouraging the more picky eater to get over it already. I love love loved it. Fabulous program. Of course, it helped that it was run in connection to a university with a top-rated education program and masters students were involved in the program, and that it was designed for student families and therefore flexible. I could choose, upfront, the days of the week Nicholas attended. He could have gone tu/thurs, or m/w/f, or tu/w/thur, or any combination of days I determined (and there was room in) when we enrolled him. I was charged by the hour. The second preschool we had him in (at age 4, and we switched only because Mr. Chick had graduated and we were no longer students and lost our eligibility at preschool #1) was through a high school. Again, the morning session was 4 hrs long and included lunch. Great program because the high schoolers taking Early Childhood Development classes worked with the preschoolers and the ratio of kid to "adult" was wonderful. Nicholas often had one-on-one attention. Someone to read with him, for example. But here? Here preschools are 2 1/2 hours long and for a 3 year old, you seem to only be allowed to register for a tu/thurs schedule. m/w/f is reserved for 4 yr olds.

I'm not sure why, but this sort of bugs. Not that I want to toss Lauren into a school for endless hours, but I was thinking that 3 days a week would be about right for her. She'll be nearly 4 when school starts, so it's not a far-fetched idea. But yet, I don't get that option. AT least not at the schools I toured and came so highly recommended. Plus, I'm thinking I want to either start working part-time and/or return to school. So 5 hrs a week broken into 2 1/2 hr chunks of time just isn't enough. The only other option I could find that offered longer school hours were places like KinderCare. And they're more interested in all day kids, or half-day kids 5 days/week. And that's too much for us right now in terms of time AND money. It's a connundrum.

But getting back to the topic of preschool.... so many differing theories! For me, I'm not interested in a preschool with a strong academic focus. I'm just not. At the age of 3 and 4 I'm more interested in kids learning how to interact socially with other kids. How to get along. How to sit in a circle and listen. How to share. How to line up. Play-based learning. I want to see imaginations flourish. I want sensory tables and dramatic play. Yes, I would like a little "academic" learning mixed into the fun - stuff like Letter Of The Week, colors, numbers, etc. But I don't want my kid force-fed math when they're 4 yrs old. Not necessary. Some parents do, and that's great. But I'm not one of them. I know my kids are smart. They are - I said it. I'm not worried about them being behind their peers where intellect is concerned. But then again, I'm a hands-on parent. I'm teaching my kids stuff all the time (I just worked with Nicholas the other day on math. He's adding 3 digit numbers to 3 digit numbers on paper, and we even touched on simple multiplication and he seemed to grasp the concept). Most parents do. So I'm looking for school to be a more socialization experience than an academic one. Because I don't care how smart you are, if you can't make friends and get along with others, you won't be as successful in your life. The brainiac stuff can come later. So to that end, Montessori isn't likely something I'm going to pursue. I know it's wonderful and all, but it's just not our style. Plus, it's way way WAY more expensive than other options, so that right there rules it out.

Which leaves me with the other top 2 choices. One is located in a Lutheran church and is the hands-down favorite of many of the parents I've talked to. They can't say enough about this program. I toured it today and it is very nice. The director was a very warm lady, and they have a nice set up. It's reasonably priced at $100/mo for 2 days per week (again, 9am - 11:30am). All very well and good. But. (you knew there was a "but", didn't you?). But the energy was more mellow than I was expecting, especially for "pajama day". The kids all looked like they were having fun, but it was a very controlled fun. I can't explain it. And, while this might be minor, they have a monthly "chapel time" with the pastor of the church. It doesn't last long - just 15 - 20 minutes - but I'm not very comfortable with that idea. I know what they would be saying is all love and peace and harmony type of messages - and there is nothing wrong with that per se - but I'm having major, serious doubts about religion in general and am questioning the entire Christian faith, so I'm not really prepared to have to explain - yet - to my kids my position on all of this. Avoidance and the whole 'head in the sand' routine is appealing to me. This school is so popular that they have to operate a lottery just to get in. Or hope to. Just to keep my options open I signed up for the lottery. We'll see if our name gets called by the end of the month.

The 2nd school I toured today is my favorite and I'm about ready to just enroll Lauren there and screw the lottery at the other place. The vibe I got was just much better there. More energetic and alive. Happier. And I was there AFTER the kids had gone home! the walls were bright and cheery. The toys were colorful (the other place had fewer toys and more were wooden. Dull!) At this place, both Nicholas and Lauren jumped right into a bucket of bright cardboard bricks and found a box of cars and were happy as clams as I spoke with the director. WHO TOOK NEARLY AN HOUR OF HER TIME, UNSCHEDULED, TO TALK WITH ME. Amazing. What a fabulous lady! SHE'S what you want in a preschool teacher. It's truly her calling. She's been running the place for 13 years. They used to be in a local church, but now they've moved to....... wait for it....... A GYMNASTICS ACADEMY. That's right: Gymnastics. And Lauren. A match made in heaven. They don't have an outdoor play area, but everyday the kids get to spend time in the big gymnastics studio running around and jumping on the trampoline, or launching themselves into the pit. Walking the balance beam. Gross motor time, they call it. I call it hella fun. The cost is about the same as the other place, with the exact same 2 day/week schedule. BUT, they offer something called "lunch and fun" (or something close to that) where the kids get to eat a lunch they brought from home and then have some creative art time afterwards, and then more time to play in the gym. Until 2pm. OMG! Of course, for Lauren to do that everyday she was there (tu/thurs) would essentially double the tuition, it might well be worth it. The point is, it's an option. You can do it or not. You sign up for 8 week "lunch and fun" sessions. So some flexibility is possible from that respect. AND, Lauren could go to just "lunch and fun" on days she's not in school. So a Wednesday, for example. And as an added bonus, students at the preschool get discounts off gymnastic classes. And those ain't cheap - I checked.

So Mr. Chick and I will talk about it this weekend, but I'm pretty certain that I'll be going back to preschool #2 with my $75 non-refundable registration fee on Monday and enrolling her there. If we happen to get picked in the lottery for the other place, we can respectfully decline and make another family's day. This place is the right place for Lauren. I could just feel it.

But now I'm curious. What do YOU look for when evaluating preschools? Me, I want a bright, clean, stimulating environment. I want stability with the staff, who need to be upbeat, enthusiatic people. There needs to be a play-based curriculum where social skills are a priority, academics being present but not obvious. A love a learning needs to be fostered. I don't so much care about it being a faith-based program. In fact, that can be a detraction for me. The ability to play outside is good, but not necessary if there is a suitable alternative (like a huge gymnastics academy, for example). I'd like flexibility with schedule, and the option for longer hours if necessary.

What about you? Tell me while I still have time to make a final decision.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


In general, I really like our neighborhood. Quiet streets, lots of families, nice people. Folks seem to take care of their places - there aren't really any dumps or eyesores that make you cringe when you walk by them. It's a nice place.

As for our immediate neighbors, the neighbor kitty-corner from us has become a good friend and we enjoy getting together at each others houses and letting our kids play with regularity. Our oldests are the same age (only their daughter goes to private school whereas we are public school people), we baby-sit each others kids, and we've gotten together for dinners and drinks. Good people. The people next door are Perfect Neighbors and have a beautiful home, a big (7 kids! Homeschooled!), beautiful family, and impeccable landscaping. Never a weed in sight or a stray leaf on the grass. Which could be annoying, but they are just so nice that you simply can't be irked by their seeming perfection. On our other side is a family we've gotten friendly with as well, dog-sitting for each other, drinking wine, borrowing tools back and forth, and their two teenaged daughters have babysat for us on more than one occasion. So see? A very nice place to live by any standard.


The people who live directly across the street. They are those people. You know the ones - the ones who seem to have many issues and complain about stupid, petty shit. They're an older couple who moved here about a year before we did. Semi-retired. This summer, her adult daughter (grad school age) moved in, too. The guy (let's call him Tim*, shall we?) is a pleasant enough fellow. Helpful. Observant. He knows what's going on in the area because he's always out walking his ugly-ass white poodle, Captain Fantastic** (no kidding, that's the dogs name.) And yet, despite the fact that I kinda like this guy, codger that he is, the women in his life are the types I'd have a hard time living with. Shoot, just living across the street from them is proving difficult.

I think we're good neighbors. We keep up our lawn and yard. We've improved the visual appearance of the house. We take in our garbage cans and recycling bins the day they're collected. We don't throw wild parties and make a lot of noise. We're friendly and say hello and wave when we see folks. Granted, our stupid dog tends to bark when someone walks in front of our house, but we're not the only people with a dog. And that's what dogs do: they bark when people approach their house. She has gotten out of the yard a few times (literally broke through the new lattice Mr. Chick put up) but I've done a good job barracading the hole and she doesn't get out anymore. And when she did get out? She was waiting for us at the front door. Stupid dog.) Plus, when we take her on walks we pick up after her. That pile of dogshit on your lawn? It didn't come from my dog.

The people across the street? I'm having a hard time smiling and making nice anymore. A big part of me wants to go T.P. the crap out of their yard just for spite, just because they're so damn petty. First, let it be noted that they have 3 adults living there, yet there are no fewer than 5 cars associated with that house, recently whittled from 6. One is the daughters. Tim has both a sedan and a pickup truck. He finally got rid of the compact a month or so ago. His wife also has a sedan and a minivan. The minivan is for those times when she has to drive her family around. I think I've seen them drive it 3 times, and never with other people. They have a two car garage, but only one car is parked inside. The others? Lined up along the street. Sometimes Tim parks his pickup on the driveway, but mostly he leaves that space open for his wife to have wide access to the garage. Plus they have a sailboat parked next to the garage under a side carport thing. I understand needing multiple cars in a family. I do! The people next to us? With 7 kids? THEY need several cars. But they park two in their driveway, and one to two on the street. That seems reasonable. Our babysitters? They have 3 cars for 4 people. His, hers, and a shared car for the girls. That, too, seems reasonable. The car to people ratio across the street is a little out of hand. I'm just sayin'.

Then, there is the wife's ultra-sensitive nose. Last spring she knocked on my door to tell me that we were "smoking her out of her house" by burning wood in our fireplace. She literally couldn't even be in her own house because of the smoke. My house? NOT SMOKY. I told her that we needed to fix the ducting of our furnace and were therefore burning wood for heat until Mr. Chick could do the repair. I also pointed out that both Perfect Neighbor and my friend kitty corner to me (right next door to them) were burning wood solely for heat as well. But no, she assured me that she didn't smell smoke from their chimneys, only ours. She had actually studied the way the smoke came out of our chimney and Perfect Neighbor's chimney to make this assertation. 'hmmm, " I told her. "I'm really sorry you're smelling smoke. I don't smell any at all. I'll try to keep the burning down to a minimum and urge Mr. Chick to fix the ducting quickly so we can use our furnace." And she waddled back down my steps (yes, she's fat and I'm pissed at her, so I'm not feeling charitable about my description at the moment. Get over it.) A couple of weeks later her husband, Tim, sort of strolls across the street to tell me that they were worried that we were freezing in our house since they hadn't seen much smoke from our chimney lately. He then tells me that he KNOWS his wife has a super-sensitive nose and can tell if the people in the car in front of them on the freeway are smoking a cigarette or not at 65mph. I think he felt bad she bitched at me. He seems to be the one to apologize on her behalf.

Next, it was the daughter. Every morning around 7:50am a gaggle of kids collect in front of my house to catch the bus to school. It's at my house in the morning because Nicholas is in kindergarten and the school tries to pick up each kindergartener at their house if possible, even if they live within one mile of the school (which we do, barely). So we're a convenient, close bus stop for all the older kids nearby and they come to our house in the morning. Every morning. Like clockwork. And I'm usually the only adult out there with the kids, it being my house and all, and Nicholas being a tender 5 yrs old. I've gotten to know the kids and enjoy seeing them everyday. Well, in December on a typical school morning the daughter from across the street comes out of her house and onto her lawn and starts shouting at me. I didn't realize she was addressing me at first, and then I sort of clued in that she was saying something. "I'm sorry - what?" I say. And she proceeds to shout from across the street that she's "been woken up 4 out of the last 5 mornings by the kids and could we PLEASE keep quiet before 8am??! I've got finals!" "um, okaaayyyy.... this is the busstop and these aren't all my kids, but I'll ask them to keep it down." I respond, sort of bewildered because they kids weren't being inordinately loud or anything. They were just chatting among themselves and two of the boys (one being Nicholas) were playing chase around my car in the driveway. It was like any other morning. But she had finals (as if we were to know that or something), so I asked the kids to try to whisper if they could, silently wishing I could cram a chill pill down her throat. And a few days later, as expected, Tim approaches me to say that he thinks that perhaps his step-daughter overreacted the other morning, but that she has been under a lot of pressure lately, blah blah blah. I told him I understood the stress of finals and had chalked it up to that.

But then today? Today I was taking Nicholas to Spanish class at his school and he called out a cheery hello to Bus Driver Don, his bus driver, who then motioned to me. I stopped and Bus Driver Don told me that a neighbor had called to complain about him beeping his horn when he pulled up in front of our house to let me know they were there. I'd say half the time I'm already outside to greet the bus when it rolls up, but the other days I'm keeping an eye out for the bus from inside because it's too damn cold to be standing out there, and the bus comes anywhere between 10:45am and 10:55am. It varies depending on lots of different things. So I can be on the computer, for example, and see the bus from the window as it comes up the street to our house and then I make a mad dash to the front door just as it rolls to a stop. No biggie. He knows I'm home and I'm watching for him. He just gives a couple of short "beep beep's", just in case. It's not like he's laying on the horn or anything, and I'm usually right there opening the door. He's not having to wait for me, tapping the horn over and over to get my attention. But the persnickety lady across the street? Well she ain't happy with the toot-tooting of the bus in the mid-morning and actually called to complain. TOOK TIME OUT OF HER DAY TO CALL THE BUS COMPANY TO COMPLAIN ABOUT AN OCCASIONAL TOOTING OF THE HORN. The guy on the corner can run his leaf-blower at 8am on a weekend without worry of complaint, but the bus can't give a beep-beep when they drop off a kid? I.don'!

I asked Bus Driver Don if it was the lady across the street from me who'd called to complain. He said it was. I told him I was sorry she'd felt the need to call, that I didn't mind him beeping the horn and confirmed that I don't keep him waiting (he can't let Nicholas off the bus until he sees me.). I told him that I would no longer just keep an eye out for him from inside and try to be waiting on the top step everyday to avoid trouble ("it's no trouble - I know if I see your car you're home"). But he just can't give a friendly horn toot anymore. I guess I have it coming because I admit to one bus fuck-up on my part. School had recently started in the fall and I had a friend over for a playdate with Lauren and was in the playroom where we don't have a clock. My friend and I got to chatting and I didn't watch the time. The bus came and I wasn't outside. So he honked the horn, but I didn't hear it from the basement. But my persnickety neighbor heard the horn. Oh yes, she did. And she came over and rang my doorbell to tell me the bus was there. Oops! My bad. My very bad. I thanked her for coming over and letting me know, apologized for disturbing her, and sheepishly collected Nicholas off the bus. That's never happened again, let me assure you. But it DID happen, and she's the wrong one to disturb, apparently. So now? Now the bus giving me a beep as I open the door is a bad thing. No one minds except her, it seems.

But seriously? Is the bus giving a little toot every few days that big of a disturbance for her? He doesn't beep the horn everyday. Just the days that he opens the door of the bus before I open the front door (usually mere seconds later, literally). I would think the sounds of my kids squealing and laughing as they ride their scooters and tricycles up and down the sidewalks would be more of an annoyance than the school bus. Or the garbage guy. They make quite a racket early in the mornings every Friday when they collect the trash. Same with the recycling people. You hear the sounds of glass breaking as they dump a bag of it into the truck. THAT'S not a subtle sound. Do you think she calls them to tell them to lay off the noise and have more respect for the quietude of the neighborhood? I wouldn't put it past her. But trust me: my kids will play outside, my dog will still bark, I'm burning wood in my fireplace RIGHT NOW, and if the school bus has to toot it's horn to make sure I'm home and avoid driving my kid back to the school, then so be it. It's called Surburban Life. Life is messy and life is noisy, and if you don't like it, move to the country.

She'd probably complain the the crickets were too loud.

*name changed to protect the innocent
**name NOT changed to protect anyone.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Progress Updates

I'm taking a sick day today. I seem to have caught the cold the kids had (inevitable, I suppose...). Mr. Chick took both kids with him today, leaving me the house to myself to rest uninterrupted. I thought I'd use some of this precious time to update you all on the silly, inconsequential projects I've been working on for the past few weeks. Sorry for the lameness of this post but I'm just not up for much else.

First, I finished knitting the cute star sweater for my friend's daughter for
her 1st birthday. I gave it to her this past week and it was a hit. It turned out adorable, minus one little "bobble" along the seam. I'm still a knitting novice so imperfections are part of every project. But other than that, it came out looking pretty close to the pattern, which is impressive. I was very proud to give this gift, and I know my friend really appreciated it. Now I'm in the middle of knitting a sweater for Lauren that is done entirely on circular needles and has that Norwegian yoke-type styling at the neck/chest with a contrasting pattern. The star sweater was my attempt at intarsia, this sweater for Lauren will be more Fair Isle with the two-color pattern on the yoke. So far, it's turning out quite well and I'm excited to start the yoke and try my hand with knitting with two colors at the same time.

Second, I think I mentioned I finished painting the kitchen and back hallway. We went with a rich sage green color. I finally took some pictures so you could see how it turned out. This is how the kitchen looked when we moved in. Yellow walls. I actually didn't mind the yellow paint. The floor, however, bugged. And with the new tile floor came new wall color.
kitchen looks much different now.

The fi
rst picture shows the paint with the cabinets. I'm kind of over the whole oak cabinet look - very 80's to me - but Mr. Chick won't let me paint them. Evenutally we'll put some knobs/pulls on the cabinet doors and drawers and attempt to update them a bit that way. And lighting - we desperating need new lighting (the crappy ceiling fan you see in the picture above that is over the island? It broke. No light. And since I hated it before it broke I'm in no hurry to fix it. I want to replace it instead. I'm seeing a pendant fixture that splits into two lights, sort of like what you'd see over a pool table, but cooler, and with less of a pool hall look.) But now that the kitchen is green I don't mind the cabinets as much as I originally did when the walls were yellow. I think the yellow blended in too much with the golden oak tones. Or something. And oh yeah, we reversed the front of the dishwasher to have the black panel instead of the almond. Did you know that most dishwashers (except stainless steel) have this reversible panel? You might notice a thin strip of yellow paint still showing along the edge of the counter. This is because Mr. Chick added a line of clear silicone sealer along that edge and when I went to paint the green it wouldn't adhere to the silicone. We'll have to cut away the sealant, paint the edge green, then re-caulk. What a hassle. Also? We don't have the molding up at the edge of the floor yet. Baby steps.

The next picture shows the vaulted part of the kitchen above the sink - over the garden window. I include this just to give you some appreciation of what a gigantic pain in my ass it was to get up that high and cut in along that wood. There are beams I had to cut in all around, scaling ladders and being on my tippy toes on my countertops and stools to do it. Twice (it took two coats of paint to cover the yellow, which tends to bleed through).

And finally, a shot of the back hallway. No tile floor there yet, just the cement backer board underlayment stuff. But damnit if that wall isn't painted and mirror re-hung! That mirror, by the way, used to be my Gramma's and even though it's very plain and simple, I love that it's round and that it was hers. Someday I want to get it framed to jazz it up. The paint will also go up the stairs (which lead to the master bedroom) that you can just see at the edge of the photo. I haven't tackled that part yet. Or the wall opposite the one with the mirror, which has only one coat of paint on it still. I just LOVE living in a constant construction zone!

So we're making progress around here. Slowly but surely we're getting it done. After this I can maybe start thinking about the kids bathroom and how the lighting and vanity need addressing. Plus paint. Or maybe how the two chairs in the living room need slipcovering in order to move my living room one step closer to how I ultimately envision it. Or perhaps I could tackle curtains. We need curtains in both the living room and family room. Our neighbors have probably gotten sick of seeing so much of us. So yeah, there is still a lot of stuff still to do.

But for now I'm pleased with the progress we have made. And we're doing it with our own two hands, so that is very satisfying. And exhausting. Let's not forget exhausting. I'm off to knit a bit more while the family is still out. That's a good sick day project. The paint can wait.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Buying the Hype

As a mom I'm faced with having to deal with my kids wanting every damn thing they see in commercials (shakes head disapprovingly about ads being on PBS - my kids now think Chuck E. Cheese is nirvana). It can be hard sometimes to feel like all you do is say "no" to their various requests for whatever they see on TV. "Please Mom! Can we pleeeeaaaassseeee get the (fill in the blank). I really want it!" And going to stores? They see stuff there they've seen advertised and I see them look longingly at the item/toy as we walk past. Thankfully they learned a long time ago that we don't buy "treats" every time we go to the store. They know better than to even ask. But they look. And the looks speak volumes about desire and wistfulness.

But the other day I gave into the hype. There's this new product out called Listerine Agent Cool Blue and it's a pre-rinse for kids that will "stain" their teeth blue wherever there is plaque in order to help them brush better. Remember chewing on those little tablets at the dentist that did the same thing? When it's time to brush teeth at my house my kids would give a cursory once-over then run over to me, mouths agape and foamy, and ask, "is this OK?" Without even having to look I always tell them, "no, you have to brush more/longer/in the back/etc." and they rush back to the sink and we repeat this dance a couple of times. I've taught them how to brush their teeth. I've demonstrated many, many times. Yet they always want to rush the process. At Christmas, Santa left a toothbrush in each of their stockings that blinks for one minute and you're supposed to brush for as long as the toothbrush is blinking. I, or rather, Santa thought this would help the situation. It didn't. Nicholas left his new blinking toothbrush at our friends house after a sleep-over and it got thrown away, and Lauren, well, Lauren doesn't quite grasp the concept and likes to see it blink and will turn it on repeatedly just to watch it (sigh).

So when we were at Target the other day Nicholas saw a display of this new dental product and got really excited about it. He launched into a whole diatribe about it, explaining to me what it does and all it's benefits ("Mama, that's the stuff I saw on TV! You drink some - it's blue - and it tastes great! and then you swish it around in your mouth. It turns your teeth blue! Can you believe it?? Then you brush your teeth to get rid of the blue. Kids love it! Can we get some? Please?!? It'll help us brush our teeth better, and that's good, right?). The company really should consider hiring him as their spokes-kid he was so enthusiastic about it. In other words, their marketing campaign is working. Very, very well. Give that marketing manager a big fat raise, I say. I bought a bottle of the stuff, much to my kids delight (really, they were more excited about getting this than about most toys) and both of them couldn't wait to try it.

It seems to work, for the most part. You squeeze the bottle and it fills a small chamber at the top to the correct "dosage". The kids drink, swish and spit. Then brush. Their teeth are blue if there is any plaque on them (thankfully, I really haven't seen much, if any, plaque on their teeth - yet) But there are a few drawbacks:

A) the squeezing the bottle to fill up the chamber? MUCH TOO TEMPTING FOR YOUNG KIDS. They tend to just want to squeeze for the thrill of it, often then over-filling.

B) 10ml, the amount a child is supposed to use, seems like a bit too much. It's hard for my kids to hold that much in their mouths without swallowing.

C) That stuff is Super Blue. The dye is very, very strong and saturated. When the kids drink it a semi-circle of blue dye appears on their upper lips from the chamber. And when they spit (kids are NOT tidy spitters. Take note) they tend to spray the blue all over. The sink and counter are then dotted with blue spittle spray. Our sink/counter is white. I'm afraid it will stain if it sits too long. So I'm having to be in the bathroom monitoring the spitting part and wiping up the overspray, just in case. Really, this is some strong color. It sometimes drips on their pajamas and now I'm wondering if it will stain the clothes. I'll let you know.

I tried it myself, not having been to a dentist for about 5 years. I saw a bit of blue stain here and there, but thankfully not the hideously huge amounts I was envisioning. It tastes OK - a bit sweet - but not awful like the traditional Listerine mouthwash. So the initial review is cautiously positive. It really does make the kids excited to brush their teeth, and that's half the battle, right? It's cutting down on the running back-and-forth from the bathroom to me for brushing approval and the kids are learning how to look in the mirror and see if there is any more blue left. I can't say for sure yet if we'll continue to purchase this again after our first bottle is finished - more time is needed before knowing if this will become a permanent staple around here. But the thrill the kids got from me just agreeing to buy it in the first place made the $4.59 I spent well-worth it.

Because sometimes it's just good to say YES to the hype.

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