Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Sometimes, low-tech is the way to go. There might be all sorts of fancy, new-fangled tools out there, but then again, you might have what you need right at home. That old adage about necessity is the mother of all invention? It totally applies here. WTF am I talking about? Why, thumb sucking cessation, of course. Duh!

Nicholas sucks his thumb. Still. He's 5 1/2 yrs old. He's sucked his thumb since he was a
n infant. I even have an ultrasound picture of him in utero that shows him sucking his thumb. It was his destiny, I suppose. It's always been a major source of comfort for him. And as a sensitive, emotional child he needed it. In the beginning it was cute. What baby doesn't look adorable when they suck their thumbs? Plus, I preferred it over the dreaded pacifier. Except for the one glaring difference, that is: you can take away a pacifier but you can't take away a thumb. Lauren was a binky baby, but we pulled it from her when she was 16 mos old. Game over. Nicholas? Here we are nearing the end of his kindergarten year in school and he's still One With The Thumb. And Blankie. He has a special blanket that he sleeps with (green fleece he's holding in the picture on the right).

Initially, thumb sucking seemed to go hand-in-hand with Blankie. The two were tightly linked. So, around the age of 3-ish, I decided to limit Blankie to just his bed, hoping that he would maybe quit sucking his thumb if he no longer had Blankie around all the time. The plan backfired. Sure, Blankie now lived and breathed only in his bed - it no longer was a fixture when he watched cartoons or came in the car with us - but the connection to being with Blankie and triggering sucking his thumb didn't break - he STILL sucked his thumb even without being with his Blankie. Damn.

So fast forward a couple of years. We're constantly reminding Nicholas to not suck his thumb. "Thumb!" we'll say and he'll know to pull his thumb out of his mouth. He sucks unconsciously. He doesn't always even realize he's put his thumb in his mouth when he does it. In the car, watching TV, when he's tired or agitated - whenever. I've watched him and it doesn't seem like he really does it at school - hopefully it's because he's too busy and engaged to do it - but I'm sure that some of his pals have seen him do it. It's only a matter of time until he gets teased about it. Thankfully, Nicholas isn't an intense sucker. He's never raised a blister on his thumb, and his teeth don't seem to have been affected (at least that's what the dentist told me. He couldn't tell by looking at his teeth that he was a thumb-sucker. I had to tell HIM). But still - it's time for him to quit.

I bought that foul-tasting nail polish. We had a long talk about the need for him to stop sucking his thumb and he agreed to try. He was OK with me putting that polish on his thumb nail. He was on-board. The first night was ooooooo-kkaaayyyy. Not great, but better. He sort of got used to the bad taste. I noticed him trying to scrape it off with his teeth. He announced to me proudly the next morning that he'd "only sucked my thumb 3 times!" like this was a major accomplishment. Baby steps, I reminded myself. The 2nd night wasn't much better. He fussed a little bit more about putting the polish on. He said he'd try harder to not suck his thumb without the nasty polish. I knew I had to find another method or this would never work.

And so I lied to my child. That's right - I LIED TO HIM. I told him a story about the Olden Days when I was a little girl. You know, the Dark Ages. I told him how I used to suck my middle and ring fingers together (that part was true - I did suck my fingers) but that it was really, really, REALLY hard for me to stop. Just like him. So my mom and dad found a special glove for me to wear at bedtime that would stop me from sucking my fingers (not true). They even had to tape it onto my hand so I wouldn't pull it off when I was sleeping (not true). He was buying this BS hook, line and sinker so I was rolling with it. I asked him if he would be willing to try wearing a glove to bed to help him stop sucking. He said he would. So I went to the closet where we keep all of our winter gear and found a mitten. It a blue waterproof Gore-Tex type of mitten. We put in on and even taped it down with masking tape. He was giving it the College Try. We read stories and got tucked in. We snuggled with Blankie and gave hugs and kisses. Then a few minutes later I got called back up because the tape was bothering him. So I untaped the glove amid his promises to not take it off in his sleep, and left him there to come to terms with the fact that he's going to have to find a way to fall asleep all by himself without his thumb.

AND HE DID IT! NO CRYING, NO ORDEAL. Just a quiet, swift drifting into sweet slumber without his thumb. And that ridiculous glove stayed on his hand the whole night. He got up the next morning and saw that he'd NOT taken off the glove in his sleep and came running up to me to announce this big breakthrough. I was so proud of him! We had lots of hugs and high-fives and a visit to the Treat Bag (a silly little bag I keep full of little chocolates or toy cars or whatever I can find from time to time at the Dollar Store) as a reward. This was a Big Deal to be celebrated!

Last night, he did it again. We're on a roll here!

If he can go two whole weeks without sucking his thumb then he gets $10 to spend on a new toy or something. That's HUGE incentive for Nicholas. Bigger than the Treat Bag! And it's all because of a silly little lie of desperation and the lowest of low-tech solutions. No fancy gizmos here, no sir. A simple glove is working for us. And I couldn't be happier about it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Spring is here and you know what that means: nail care. Both manicure and pedicure. Especially pedicure. Gotta get those tootsies into sandal/open-toe condition. Mine are far, far, FAR from being ready.

But on the subject of nails, I've always hated the fact that my fingernails, well, they suck. They're thin, weak, and are prone to splitting. And, I must confess to occasionally biting mine. Yes, I do. Force of habit. Usually in the car when I'm bored and suddenly I find myself nibbling on a nail. Call it what you will - gross, nasty, unseemly - I KNOW. And yet, I can't help myself sometimes. I think I understand better the siren song of the thumb sucking for Nicholas - it's just a force of habit. Anyway, back to my nails.... I don't bite them to the quick. They actually look somewhat decent. Short, but clean. Even edge
s. See? Tell me you've seen worse from admitted nail-biters. They could be worse, right? They're not awful or anything. Just short. Right?

I find that having shorter nails is just more practical in my life. With all the knitting and crocheting I do, it's just better. But oh! How I do envy those lucky women who can grow long, pretty nails! I'm so envious of them! Twice in my life I've been successful in growing my nails long (and by long, I mean so that you can see them over the tips of my fingers when looking from the palm-side.) One summer in college when I was working as a building receptionist and had nothing better to do with my time than to be a desk jockey and pamper my nails. The other time was before my wedding. And even then, one or two broke right before and I had to get fake ones put one. And I pretty much hate fake nails. It's a rare acrylic (or any other form of artificial) nail that I think looks good. They all look fake to me. And fake doesn't do it for me - not when you can tell. And with nails, I can usually tell. But naturally long and manicured nails? Rock.

Even when I was pregnant I couldn't grow a decent fingernail to save my life. The whole "your nails and hair will grow when you're pregnant" thing? MYTH. At least when I came to me. My nails are so weak naturally that when they do get any sort of length going I can literally bend my nail so it lies flat against my fingertip. To the people with rigid fingernails this creeps them out to no end to see. The only way I can get my nails to grow is to apply 2-3 coats of some uber-hardening polish on them everyday and then walk around like I'm a hand model and essentially can't use my hands. At all. Because if I do something as routine as flush the toilet I'll rip a nail. Or it will split. And then the urge to just deal with it by biting it becomes overwhelming. Sick cycle.

I do my best to make peace with my skimpy, short fingernails. I no longer bother trying to grow them. I've learned that lesson. But each spring hope must really spring eternal because I do this every year: buy the newest "nail strengthener" offered and use it to see if I can maintain my normal life and grow a long fingernail despite it. It never works, of course, but I find myself doing it anyway. I did it again just last night. I bought some Sally Hansen polish that promises the ability to grow longer, stronger nails in no time at all and will eliminate the weak, split nail syndrome. I'm definitely drinking the Kool-Aid, it seems. If nothing else my nails look nicer with a shiny clear coat of polish on them. Always clear - never a color (or at least, never a DARK color) when one has short nails. I've never liked that look. Why draw attention to your short nails?? It boggles...

The other area of spring envy I have? Tans. As an Irish-German, I'm pale and freckled. Any pigment in my skin was long ago claimed by the freckles. There is nothing left over for a tan. The only color I get with sun exposure? RED. And fast. I burn in 15-20 minutes - no kidding. That kid who swam in the pool all summer with a t-shirt over her swimming suit? That was me. So people who have the ability to get a glorious golden summer glow are people I envy. Everyone loves a tan. No one (other than Gwyneth Paltrow, maybe) strives for Perfectly Pale. Tan is hot. Tan is sexy. Tan is unbelievably bad for your skin - hence: spray tans. People want a tan so badly they pay money to have tan-colored dye sprayed on their bodies. Or worse, pay money to lie in a tanning bed to get a "natural" tan faster and speed up the damage done to their skin. Look great now, pay later. That's my only solace: that my skin will age better than those poor souls who spent countless hours sunbathing and/or lying in tanning beds. Because otherwise? I'd be tan in a heartbeat. Instead, I'm all about the SPF 50.

I'm really only concerned with my legs. Oh how I hate my pale, pale legs. I don't need tinting anywhere else really except my legs. I've been known to buy the lotions that will tint your skin so you look like you have a tan. And for special occasions I'll use them - usually only on my legs. Because otherwise, where do you stop? I just need to tone down the blinding whiteness on my legs to more evenly match 30-some-odd years of exposure on my arms, which are marginally darker than my legs. If I get too dark (ha! me, dark? Like that would really ever happen) I think it looks weird. Not like me. Like me in bizarre clown makeup or something. Not natural. The natural me is Casper-White. It's what I'm used to, so anything else looks odd. Even in summer. But because my skin is SUPPOSED to be pale it is therefore the good sort of pale vs. the undesired pasty pale. There is a difference. Someone who is more naturally dark but doesn't see the light of day in months looks pasty. Me, I look just pale. There is a healthy pinkness to my pale. Not a yellowish-greenish undertone of a tanning bed junkie whose gone too long without a fix. But I'd be a big fat liar if I said I'd take my paleness over the ability to get a natural tan. Tan lines? What are those?? I'm only familiar with sunburn lines. And then it just fades back to pale - not a tan. I know people who go out and get a sunburn ON PURPOSE because it will then fade to a tan and they're on their way to building up a good "base". WHY CAN'T THAT BE ME?? I'd have "base" to spare if it were! But no, I get to enjoy the burn and then return to my pale. With maybe an extra freckle for my trouble.

So all you long-and-strong fingernail growers and natural tan havers, enjoy your blessings. I notice you. I see you out and about. You make it look so effortless! I'm envious of you. I like most everything about myself, but I covet your nails and tans (but fake nails and fake tans - I'm not talking to you. You can keep your fakeness. Even *I* could have long nails and a tan if I paid for them) Wanna trade? I have decent eyelashes and naturally thick and wavy/curly hair. If only it could be that simple: trade one element of yourself for that of another. Oh wait - people already do that! It's called plastic surgery.

I guess I'll just have to keep on hoping that one day the strengthening nail polish really will work.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

13 1/2

That's the number of hours Lauren slept last night. Thirteen and a half. Which is completely unheard of - she's my child who simply does not require as much sleep as I would wish. But clearly she was in need of some catching up. I wish I could do that....

Let me back up a minute. Yesterday was one of those days. Everyone was a little off, if you know what I mean. The kids annoyed me a little too readily (as did the dog, but that's normal), Nicholas was giving me some attitude and being whiney, and Lauren simply wasn't listening. The kind of day when you wonder if 2pm is too early for a stiff cocktail.

Late afternoon rolls around. I'd taken the kids to play at the mall and even treated them to Orange Julius. We'd gone to the library for some movies. I really did try to be a good mom and keep them occupied and entertained. And yet... Lauren got home and the shit hit the fan. Over the most innoculous thing ever, but I think it's was just a trigger vs. a real issue. It could have been anything that would have set her off. She was primed. (the trigger? An OLD pair of footed pajamas she's long outgrown that I had cut the feet out of to extend their life she loved them so much. But even then, they were simply too small so I'd put them up in her closet. She hasn't seen them in months, but for some reason they caught her eye yesterday and she rigged her chair/stool so she could get them down and then had a shit-fit about them. She wasn't upset that these precious pj's had been kept from her - no - she was pissed that I had cut the feet off A YEAR AGO. Totally irrational on her part, but again - this was just the trigger.)

So what does any crazed and over-the-top 3 year old do when in such a state? Why, throw a full-blown, dresser-clearing, hysterical tantrum of course! Turn your entire room inside out! And scream and cry the entire time! THAT will make you feel much better about the situation. And then, when you've finally run out of steam, curl up in your bed and fall instantly asleep from sheer exhaustion. Fully clothed, having eaten no dinner, brushed your teeth or used the potty for good measure.

I checked on her when the screaming and crying had ceased and found her asleep in her bed. It was about 5:15pm. Bedtime isn't normally until 7:30pm. I didn't know if this was going to be just a nap or if she was out for the count. Lauren and naps don't mix well and even the shortest 10 min snooze in the car will extend bedtime. And so I debated: do I try and wake her and give her dinner, etc., or do I let her go on sleeping? You'd think by now I would know better, but I tried to wake her. Big mistake. She was still angry and tantrum-y, even in her sleep. But I was able to wrangle her out of her jeans at least and plopped her on the potty (oh - the indignity! She was like a hell-cat for being forced to sit on the potty when she didn't want to. And I could tell she was even more upset when she actually DID pee, clearly against her will, like her body betrayed her.) I then just held her, laid down in her bed with her, and she went back to sleep in record time. And STAYED asleep until the oh-so-late hour of 11:41pm when she woke up and climbed into bed with us. For her it was the middle of the night, but for me, it was disturbing newly found sleep. But she must have forgiven me the travesty of having mutilated her pj's and wanted the comfort of Mama. And so I gave it. Happily. Even though it means I sleep worse, I was happy to have Lauren snuggled up with me in bed, throwing arms and legs and all.

Because who can stay frustrated at a sleeping angel? No me. Especially when she sleeps for 13 1/2 hours.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Best One Yet

I finished it! A couple of months ago I started knitting this sweater for Lauren because a) I thought it was cute, and b) I really wanted to try knitting a sweater using circular needles (no seams!), and c) I wanted to learn how to do Fair Isle knitting (the two-color pattern around the yoke). Also, as an added bonus, I got to try my hand at "grafting" (aka kitcheners stitch). All very worthy skills to have. I had to take a brief break in the action to do the paying job mentioned below. The result of my experiment is a Big Fat Success for I couldn't be more pleased with how this turned out! Even Mr. Chick is impressed, calling this my "most professional piece ever." High praise indeed!

I think I like knitting in-the-round on circular needles the best. My purl stitch leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion, and with circular you only need to do the knit stitch. MUCH more consistent that way. Tension, appearance - everything. And the added bonus of no seams is gravy. I need a little more practicing with the Fair Isle aspects as I found it a challenge to keep the yarn I was carrying behind stitches from pulling too tight. There is a bit more of a "puckering" effect than I'd like as a result. Thankfully, the hint of pucker just sort of blends in with the texture of the sweater when it's worn better than when it's laying flat.

Next challenge for me? (after I crank out a few new-baby gift items - it's a baby boom in my world right now!): STEEKS. You need to be very brave to do this, but it's a cool technique that I want to try, given how I prefer knitting circular vs. straight. With steeks you knit in-the-round, allowing a few more stitches than you would normally for the steek. Then, when you're finished/ready, you sew a vertical line on either side of the steek to secure the stitches, and then cut (CUT!) the steek within the sewed lines, thereby turning a pullover, for example, into a cardigan. At least, that's my understanding of steeks after reading about them and talking with an expert about it. The Norwegians, who are/were well-known for their rapid-fast knitting of sweaters similar to the one I made Lauren, use the steek method because it's just that: faster. If anyone has done them, let me know if I'm on the right path here.

Ok, I'm off to weave in a few ends and clean up my mess before the kids get into it. Nothing good ever happens if/when they mess with my knitting/crocheting stuff. Then I'll be sifting through various patterns to decide what to make for the first of the babies soon to be coming into this world.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Some days I look at my kids and marvel at how fast they seem to be growing. Both physically and developmentally. All of a sudden, more than a few of Nicholas's pants seem to be an inch or two too short. Same with Lauren. And sleeves don't quite make it all the way to the wrists. Or I try to cuddle with one of them and realize they no longer fit easily on my lap like they used to and instead it's a tangle of bony elbows and legs that seem to go on forever. Gone are the days when they would sort of mold themselves into your chest like soft, pliable lumps. They just seem to be getting so BIG.

And then I see Nicholas standing among his new t-ball teammates and it takes me only a split second to realize that he's the smallest kid on the team. Huh? He seems so huge at home - is this right? He's not on the 2nd or 3rd grade team by mistake, is he? No? This is the kindergarten team? Wow...

Nicholas is at a very strange age. On the one hand, I love it. The whole world is opening up for him. He's reading exceptionally well. He's becoming responsible. He desires the company of friends with increasing frequency. He's incredibly inquisitive and wants to know everything already. He's getting bolder and more outgoing (like the time this weekend when we were at the park, enjoying a rare and wonderfully sunny afternoon and he and his pal wanted to play with some sand toys they saw there. Usually, Nicholas would insist on my participation in asking the rightful owners for permission to share the toys. But now he's growing some balls and taking matters into his own hand and initiating the request himself without even a glance in my direction. And what's more, when the person he first asked told him the toys weren't theirs and re-directed him to another adult, he simply walked over to them and repeated his request. I was floored. First, because this is new for him and is something we've encouraged - you know, to speak for himself. Like at restaurants when it's time to order, for example, or to do the talking when we knock on a friends door. That sort of thing. But secondly, I was just a tad alarmed. Because while we've wanted him to have the confidence to speak for himself, we've always been there with him, backing him up. Now, he was completely on his own - me being all the way across the playground - but we've also told him, repeatedly, that he's not to speak with people he doesn't know unless/until we tell him it's alright. So him just running up to an unknown adult at the park and asking (nicely, nicely) if he could play with their sand toys is a little unnerving. I'm not sure whether to be proud of him or extremely upset.). But when Nicholas gets hurt, for example, he's big enough now to want to hold his tears in when other people might see him, but little enough to still come running to me for hugs and kisses and cuddles to make it all better, bawling the whole time. So seeing Nicholas, who has gotten so big in my eyes, at the littlest kid on the team made him seem all the more vulnerable to me. I mean, some of these kids have several inches on him. Many inches. Whole heads worth of inches. I guess you can't fight genetics: Mr. Chick isn't exactly on the tall side, standing proud at 5'8". The exact same height as me.

But physical stature aside, I was happy to see that Nicholas is right in the thick of it with the other boys when it comes to athletic ability. And by that I mean NONE. Well, maybe not none. Let's say limited. Limited ability. At least when it comes to baseball. He's had essentially no exposure to baseball other than going to a few minor league games a year or two ago. Mr. Chick has tossed him balls to catch his whole life, but he's got no game when it comes to catching. Lauren has better hands when it comes to catching. But he's not the worst catcher on the team. Very few of the boys could really catch many balls with any sort of consistency. Although, he might have a knack when it comes to grounders. And running isn't his forte, either. He's an average runner. He's fast enough, but not what you'd call fast. And Mr. Chick thinks that he looks sort of funny when he runs. Awkward or something - I'm not sure exactly what he thinks is off, but he's sure something is strange about Nicholas' running form. Me, I'm just happy he CAN run. But when it came time to practice hitting the ball off the T, Nicholas did well. Finally, something he did decently in the world of athletics. He was so nervous when he was standing in line waiting for his turn to bat. He had the look I see so often - the look that tells me he's about to lose it and dissolve into a puddle of tears and hysterics. Nicholas can't handle pressure very well. Once he gets his confidence up, he's fine. The anticipation of possible failure is almost too much for him. But another sign of his getting bigger is his maturity level and his new ability to pull it together better and cope. I very much like seeing this. And when his turn came, he listened to his coach, struck the right pose, and swung. And connected! And the T didn't fall over or anything. He had 4 or 5 good swings before his turn was over and he had to go back in line. And now that he knew what to expect, his anxiety level was much lower and his happiness quotient raised considerably. A smile returned to his face.

The boys will practice once a week until games begin next month, and then there are two games per week: one during the week, and one every Saturday. Through June. Sigh - t-ball is a big commitment. I just hope Nicholas has fun. I don't care if he's "good" - I just want him to have fun, learn some skills, and enjoy being on a team. I want him to develop good sportsmanship.

But on the subjects of athletics, I must share Lauren's newest trick. She "taught" this to herself and does it every.single.morning. After she wakes up in the morning she runs up to our room to announce her wakeful state to us. Then she scrambles up on our bed, scoots down to the foot of the bed and turns around so she's facing us. Then she lies down on her back, flings her arms up over her head, and slides down from the bed toward the floor. Her hands touch the floor and she then kicks her feet over her head and ends up doing a supported (by the bed) back walkover. She'll stand up, raise her arms back up, and say "ta da!" and do this many more times as we watch is awe. Mr. Chick and I are amazed. She doesn't land on her head when she slides down the bed blindly and can support the falling weight of herself with her hands. Each time she kicks her feet over she's more graceful. This is fun for her.

Now I'm even more convinced that registering her for the preschool inside the gymnastics academy was the right decision. I mean, hello - !! Time to look into more gymnastics classes for her, I think. We've taken a break from those offered at the Y (she sort of outgrew them, truth be told...)

And speaking of the Y.... they're STILL jacking me around with the schedule and I'm finding I REALLY don't enjoy this job. AT.ALL. I didn't think I would LOVE it, but I'm finding I don't even like it. Not even a little bit. Childcare is not my thing, I guess. But I like the break on my membership, and I know I'll REALLY like the discount on the various day camps for Nicholas this summer. But this new t-ball schedule is going to make it really tough for me to keep working the crappy shifts they've given me. I e-mailed my supervisor with the information and a suggestion of a single shift that would work out. If they can't do it on their end then I'm pretty sure I'll be leaving. C'est la vie. Between after-school Spanish classes twice a week, speech therapy once a week, t-ball a couple of times, and life in general, it's hard to find a shift that fits in. And really, what I'm realizing is that I'd rather be available to my kids for this sort of stuff and let them be involved in stuff, than to have a job I don't even like that much. I've never been a quitter, so it feels very disloyal somehow to consider leaving a job I've only had for a month or so. But my kids and family come first and this job is so minor that losing it would not be a great loss. We'll see what the supervisor says. Maybe it'll work out that I can just work the one shift per week and all this worry will be for naught.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Value Of Time

So a post or two ago I mentioned the Small World experience I had with the woman I connected with to do a knitting and crochet project for who I knew from college. Remember that? Well, the project is done. I finished it, and I'm quite pleased with the outcome, if I do say so myself. It took a bit of trial-and-error to figure out the best techniques for shaping, and the best design for the crocheted edge, but I think it turned out exactly as requested.

My assignment? To re-create the knitted bodice of a tank-style girls sundress which has crocheted edging around the armholes and neckline. The dress is an empire-waist design, so the bodice is rather short. To the left is a picture of the original dress I was given to use as my only guideline from which to replicate the bodice. The woman I'm doing this for wanted a few minor changes, mostly to the edging, in order to allow a ribbon to be woven through as an added detail. The original design did not have that. She wanted to change the design just enough so that she wouldn't be outright ripping off someone else's design so she can potentially market this dress herself. The fabric for the skirt would also be different from the original, although in the same style.

After a week of working on this off and on, I finished it. Included in my work is the pattern I generated so others can use it on her behalf instead of trying to re-create it themselves. The picture on the right is my re-creation with a bit of ribbon woven in one side for effect. Pretty good, eh? I think so, too. The biggest difference being, of course, the crochet trim. It's a little more noticeable in my version to allow for the ribbon.

I've e-mailed my contact/friend the pictures of the finished piece and a suggestion of my compensation. I have no idea what the going rate is for work like this. We're meeting later this week to do the hand-off of the finished materials and she'll cut me a check. This took me well over 12 hours to do - probably closer to 15 - because of the fact I was working without a pattern, had to shop for the right yarn, and keep copious notes of my efforts in order to write up a finished pattern. It was hard to keep track of my time because I would pick it up for an hour here and an hour there over the course of a week, and work for a few hours straight in the evenings. Is $50 too much to ask for? It's sort of where I thinking. I know I wouldn't pay $50 for the entire finished dress - it's nice, but not $50 nice - but the payment also includes the pattern itself, which will cut down on production time going forward. She said she might want to get a bunch made (via knitting circle or something) and then try to sell them in local boutiques or on e-Bay.

I would really appreciate any thoughts and insights into this - I don't want to sell myself short but at the same time, I don't want to be too greedy, either. Especially because I KNOW her (sort of) and I have a people-pleasing streak in me.... What is YOUR time worth?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Speech Progress Already

Today is a no-school day (teacher workday) so I took the kids to a "special" lunch after running a bunch of errands. And by "special" I mean Panda Express, Nicholas's favorite (that kid can eat a huge plate of steamed rice and orange chicken all by himself. Like the quantity of most adults. I don't know where he puts it, I swear!).

While we were having our lunch I was quizzing Lauren more about her first speech therapy class she had yesterday. Sometimes it can take a day or two before details are forthcoming, I've discovered, when it comes to my kids. It's like they need the extra time to just process stuff, and then BAM! Various details come pouring out of them. Anyway, I digress.... so Lauren was telling us about the "game" they played - tic tac toe (pronounced perfectly - yay!) and how she blocked someone when she played. Cool, great, whatever - let's hear about any sounds you had to practice. She drew a complete blank. I asked because the "homework" they sent home with her was a tic tac toe game with the pieces being wedges of cheese and slices of pizza, and the notation of various pronounciations of "K" (kay, key, cue) on the various game pieces. So I was thinking the kids had to try to pronouce one of those sounds when they played that piece and was asking Lauren if that was the case. Nope, she said, slightly bewildered.

But then, out of the blue, she sticks her finger in her mouth to hold down the tip of her tongue, and goes on to repeat "kay, key, cue" clear as day. OMG! This child hasn't been able to make the "K" sound at the beginning of words and suddenly she learns a little trick - holding down her tongue so that she makes the sound at the back of her palate instead of the front (before she would say "tar" instead of "car") like it's the most natural thing in the world to do. Like, duh! And so simple, when you think about it, that I'm sort of amazed I hadn't thought of it. I guess that's the difference between a trained speech therapist and a fumbling parent.

I am thrilled, overjoyed, and downright impressed as hell that she learned this very simple thing which clearly helps her. And on the first day, no less. For some reason I thought the progress would be slow going and subtle, and it might get like that as we go on, but I'll take my progress as I can get it. It'll just be a matter of practicing this technique over and over before she learns how to use her tongue properly to make the sound and will no longer have to stick her finger in her mouth. But I'd say we're off to a roaring start - go Lauren!

Small World

Do you trip out when a series of small, random choices lead to an encounter that proves yet again that we live in a very small world? I do, and it recently happened to me.

Where to start? Well, last week I was browsing Craigslist, as I do from time to time, and stumbled across a posting for a knitter/crocheter, posted a day or two previously. Someone was looking for a knitter/crocheter to help them re-create and slightly re-design the bodice of a girls dress they had and wanted to eventually market. It sounded intriguing to me, so I responded to the posting. As an avid knitter/crocheter who is always looking for a new project, it sounded right up my alley. Plus, the location given on the posting was for a community very close to me. I offered pictures of projects I had to done to show the caliber of my work, etc. Well, the person e-mailed me back and asked to see my stuff. We exchanged e-mails back and forth and eventually made plans to meet at a local Starbucks.

The morning of the meeting came and, armed with a coupon for a free kids drink, I drove to the Starbucks. As I stood in line to order my chai tea latte and get a free kids drink for Lauren, I spotted a woman across the way who seemed to initially fit the description of the woman I was there to meet. I tried to catch her eye and ask if she was Andrea. She looked confused, but from somewhere behind and to the left of me I heard this, "No, but I'm Andrea and I KNOW YOU!"

I turned towards the answering voice and saw who had spoken: a woman I knew from college! In fact, we were in the same sorority together! But what's more, we used to live just 2 blocks apart when we were small kids in a completely different town! And our younger sisters were friends and in the same class! And we both had 2-3 yr old daughters who looked like us! (ok, that part is true but completely random and not at all connected to the Small World-ness of this story.) A pretty big trip, eh? Of all the responses she got to her posting, she replied to a few. Of those, she liked my work the best and I was the only one she agreed to meet. And we already knew each other. Bizarre. In college we were more acquaintances than friends - she was a couple of years ahead of me and therefore we didn't hang out together. But we lived under the same roof in the sorority for a year, and definitely were familiar with each other as a result. She looks exactly the same (in other words - good.) Except she's toned down her "look", which is good. She used to have a very colorful way of wearing her make-up back in the day, and now? Now she's a mother to 3 kids, the youngest of whom is 2.5 yrs old, and doesn't wear much make-up (neither do I). But she's got an entreprenurial spirit and is very creative and suddenly we have much in common. More so than when we were collegiates. My mind has officially been blown. I love it when that happens!

I've taken on her project and have been working diligently to re-create the knitted bodice. It's a little tricky trying to copy something without a pattern. First attempt wasn't quite right, so now I'm in the process of revising a few techniques to get a better result. I'm thinking I'll need one more attempt to get it perfect and I've already decided what I'm going to tweak next. Third times the charm, right? I guess the same goes with some people: we sort of knew each other as kids but didn't become friends. We sort of knew each other in college but didn't become friends. We run into each other again as adult and hit it off.

I just love it when I'm reminded of just how small the world really is sometimes.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I'm sick - poor me. First real cold of the season so I can't complain too much. But during my cold med-induced haze this weekend I looked at my upcoming schedule this week and felt a headache coming on. Any maybe a little nausea too. But compared to many people, it's not so bad. But to me? I'm going to be spending a lot of time in the car this week and glancing at my watch to make sure I'm keeping up with all I have to do and places I have to be.

Today I'm meeting a woman who's intereted in having me knit and crochet the bodice for a girls dress she wants to market. That's from 10-10:30am (a project job? That'll pay me for my hobby? cool!). Then I have to rush home so I'm here in time for Nicholas and his friend to get off the bus. Yes, we're hosting a little playdate with a girlfriend from school. So sometime this morning, before my meeting, I have to tidy up the place just a bit because there won't be time later and at some point this girls mother, who I've never met before, will be coming over to pick her up. Don't want to have a trashed house for that. And oh yeah, manage to shower, too. After the playdate I need to pack dinners and snacks for the kids and drive to the doctors office - totally on the way to nowhere - to pick up Lauren's immunization records for speech therapy. Then we're off to the YMCA for my 4 hr shift from 4-8pm. I'm hoping Mr. Chick can come get the kids before 8pm so they can get in bed closer to their normal bedtime and prevent disaster tomorrow morning. But with his late hours, who knows?

Tomorrow I'm at the YMCA in the morning for a workout and we have Spanish in the afternoon. An easy, normal day schedule-wise.

Wednesday is much like today. I work in the evening again.

Thursday is my new juggling act because Nicholas still has Spanish class in the afternoon, but now Lauren has her speech therapy class as well. And they overlap. And they're not located conveniently near each other. We have to drive 15-20 minutes to drop Lauren at her class at 2pm. Then drive back to get Nicholas to Spanish by 2:30. Then I return, again, to pick up Lauren at 3pm, and then come back once more to pick up Nicholas at 3:30. And then I'll drive home and mix a strong drink and take a nap after all that. Thankfully we only have to keep up this insane schedule for 3 weeks and then I think we'll be done with Spanish for a bit. We'll probably go back to swimming lessons or something, but at least I won't be shuttling back and forth in my car so much. And oh yeah, I'm scheduled to work out in the morning while Nicholas is in school.

Friday - I have something going on Friday but it's escaping me now. I might be working in Nicholas's classroom that day... But on Saturday we're having some friends over for dinner, so I need to figure out what we're having and get ready for that at some point.

Saturday and Sunday - in addition to the dinner party, we have two kids birthday parties over the weekend. One for a set of twins (twice the presents, sigh) and one for my nephew. So I need to squeeze in some shopping for presents into my week as well.

Did I mention I'm not feeling well? That my ass is dragging and all I really want to do is be a couch jockey? I'm sure this lady this morning is going to want me to get started on her project sooner rather than later, so my evenings will be spent working on her thing. I'm tired before I even get started on my week. How do you working (for a company who pays you) moms do it?? How does anything get done?

I hope I survive.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Money. Love it or hate it, it's a necessity of life. And as a kid it can be hard to get your hands on some. Shoot, as an adult it can be hard to get your hands on some - who am I kidding?!? But I digress.... I know I had some sort of allowance as a kid but for the life of me I can't remember how much I earned until I was in my young teens. Then I remember vividly earning $20/month and how much that seemed like at the time when my parents forked over a crisp $20 bill. They had the right spin, too, paying us by the month and quoting the total in monthly terms, because if I had spent more time dwelling on it and realizing it broke down to a measly $5/week I might have felt jilted.

This $20 monthly allowance was not raised or adjusted for inflation for several years. I was still bringing home that amount into my high school years. And by then, I knew that my $20 didn't go far. I had to cover all my various incidentals out of my allowance: movies, food bought at school, pizza after football games, clothes, etc. Each summer my mother would take my sisters and I to the Nordstroms Half Yearly sale and hand us each $200 in cash. I never felt so rich in my whole life and looked forward to back-to-school shopping every year. That was all I was getting towards school clothes for the year, so I had to budget wisely (good lesson, actually). Including shoes. That $200 was IT, except for my monthly $20 (and those were the days when you just HAD to have the skinny zipper ankle Guess jeans that cost an ungodly $48. It took me more than 3 MONTHS of saving my allowance to buy those frickin' jeans, but I loved them and wore them OUT - even taking them to college, ripped knees and all. I learned the value of a dollar, it seems). Oh, you should have SEEN the bargaining and negotiating that took place between my sister and I in the dressing rooms. Inevitably we'd pick out a few of the same things and then agree to buy just one and share it, making our money stretch further. Good idea on paper, but then when we had to actually put the sharing into place all sorts of fights and threats erupted. But again, I digress...

So now, Nicholas is learning more about money in school. And he's had a vending machine fixation for quite some time now. And he's been asking with more frequency how he can earn some money. I usually put him to work dust mopping, or tidying up the toys in the playroom or something, but the time feels right to start formalizing things. Mr. Chick and I talked about it and decided we could give Nicholas an allowance for doing regular age-appropriate jobs around the house. Yesterday, I broke the news to Nicholas and he about peed his pants he was so excited. He ran to his room and grabbed his writing tablet so we could make his Job List, which is now prominently taped to his bedroom door like some Golden Ticket (I just know that the days of being HAPPY about a personalized job list are short and soon that paper will be replaced with some version of a menacing STAY OUT OR DIE sign instead. So for now I'm getting a big fat kick out of seeing a job list posted proudly on his door.)

Nicholas' Job List:
1) Make bed everyday
2) Feed dog and fish everyday
3) Get mail everyday
4) Do homework everyday
5) Clean up bedroom and playroom weekly

And if he completes his tasks he'll earn 3 WHOLE DOLLARS EVERY WEEK to spend how he pleases. On vending machines for snacks at the YMCA! For an ice cream treat! Or he could save it towards a new toy! The possibilities are limitless and his head is spinning with ideas. I think it might just explode and/or pop right off his wee shoulders. My bright son, always calculating, asked me immediately how much that would be every month. (I told him there were 4 weeks in a month, and if he was getting 3 dollars every week, then 3+3+3+3 = ??? and we solved the problem: 12!! 12 DOLLARS A MONTH!) "That's a LOT of money, Mama", he acknowledged sagely. He's drinking the same Kool-Aid I did as a kid and focusing on the monthly sum rather than the paltry weekly amount, but I'm not going to burst his bubble just yet. That's what high school is for. He went and got his very masculine Winnie-the-Pooh wallet so it would be at the ready for his riches. He keeps his very own library card in there, and soon, REAL MONEY. It's just too much!

We agreed on pay-day (Saturday after cartoons and after he picks up his room and playroom) and then Nicholas immediately set to work on doing the jobs on the list. He made his bed first (because it's #1 on the list - duh!) and then wanted to feed the dog but I had to tell him to wait until dinnertime, when we normally feed her, and then he scrambled to put on his shoes and run out to the mailbox and get the mail, and then he sat right down and did his homework without any whining. I AM A GENIUS!! Why didn't I implement this allowance notion sooner?? Granted, it was the first day, but still - ! homework willingly and without whining?? Amazing. And this morning, he made his bed without asking again. Off to another good start.

I think we may have found a new motivator for Nicholas: money. I suspect he's going to break my bank.

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