Friday, October 31, 2008

This will have to do

Because I know myself too well, I realize I might have this year's Halloween pics posted by, oh, Easter. So, to hold you over, this is last year. Note: only two children.

At least maybe the pumpkins had fun

As I mentioned earlier, we carved pumpkins on Tuesday night. It was not a particularly fun experience.

When we were getting ready for bed that night, we were not discussing pumpkins. Nothing even remotely related to pumpkins. However, my butt muscles were sore, like I had gone for a long run or something. But I hadn't. So I mentioned this.

Me: "My butt muscles are sore, like I went for a long run or something. But I didn't."
Jeff: (in a truly caring and concerned voice) "Do you think you hurt it while you were carving pumpkins?" [emphasis added]
Me: "..."
Me: "?"
Me: "You are so weird."

So, seriously: what did he think I was doing to those pumpkins to make my ass hurt?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My contribution to the election dialogue

Being a "good" Democrat, two days ago I received an "invitation" to Obama's rally, RSVP requested. Here is my response. Read, and prepare to watch my poor tired brain actually melt:

Dear Senator Obama,

I regret to inform you that I will be unable to attend your rally tonight.

It's not that I don't want to be there. Outside, in the cold, with about 50,000 (give or take 43,000) of my closest friends who are waving signs and yelling and and looking toward you for political or financial or social salvation and trying to crush my child (who desperately wants to attend) and wanting to be a part of history or whatever. Ooo, maybe it will rain. It sounds awesome and I wish I could come. I do.

But, dude: 9:30? pm?! Is this a joke??!! The night before Halloween, when I must stay up late putting the finishing (aka "procrastinated") touches on the kids' Halloween costumes? (And by "late" I mean 9pm. At the outside.) After my kids have been sick and I've been sick and I really need a vacation from, well, not working and I've been a total insomniac and the thought of sacrificing a potential hour or two of sleep is enough to make me cry, even if it means I get to see you...?

No way. No. Way.

I want you to get elected next week. If my brain weren't numb from fatigue, I might try to verbalize my substantial feelings about the election and how interested I am in what the results will tell us about our country, but since I can't put together a coherent thought and since I'm pretty sure there's not a single angle of this protracted race that hasn't been analyzed to death, I'll just say "ditto" to all the liberal blogs (my guilty pleasure of late) and leave it at that. I really, really want you to win. But sorry, B. Can't come. Sleep wins. If I weren't so committed to you, I might cast a write-in vote for Sleep.

Have a good visit. I'll see you in the Huffington Post. And thanks for the invitation.

Sincerely, me

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's the Really Ugly Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

We took the "tough love" approach to pumpkin-carving last night.

Jensen has, in his seven and a half years, never placed his hand inside a pumpkin. He's always convinced us to do his dirty work. But not this year. "No scooping, no carving," we said. It worked. After several minutes of pouting, cajoling, and fake barfing, he sucked it up and scooped. And did a fair job. Fair.

Then it was time to carve. You know those carving kits they sell now? With all the (very useful, by the way) little saws and hundreds of completely impractical patterns so you can have your own "original" pumpkin? He wanted to one of those designs. If you're a parent, you know exactly where this is going. {groan}

(This, by the way, prompted all kinds of "when I was a kid" comments from his parents: "...we never needed any pattern to carve our pumpkins," and "...I don't see what's wrong with just doing a face with triangle eyes," and that sort of thing. We were only partly joking.)

He chose a spider. And worked hard on it for about seven minutes. During which time I helped Evan. Evan, you will recall, is four. And very prone to self-injury. He's not allowed within six feet of a carving utensil. So he dictated to me what he wanted on his tiny pumpkin: a t-rex (?!), frontal view, with nose holes. And boogers.

As soon as I finished that work of art, and it truly is something to behold, I got manipulated into finishing Jensen's spider. Yeah, so much for tough love.

When I finished, about 45 minutes later, Jensen was in bed, Evan and Caleb were crying, and Jeff was begging for beer. I was in a lovely mood.

We have the lamest pumpkins in the world this year. Maybe tonight I'll manage to find some candles so we can bask in the glow of their mediocrity.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stop me now. Please.

I'm going to confide in you now, and what I say will probably shock you: I am a craft whore. I know, I know, I'm totally playing against type. A stay-at-home-mom who drives a mini-van and is also into crafts? Stunning.

Sadly true. I knit. I scrapbook. I cross-stitch, and I don't even like the finished product here. I quilt. I decorate cakes on occasion. If macrame were still popular, I'd be making plant hangers as if there were no tomorrow. (I made the coolest beaded macrame belt when I was, like, seven. I wish I still had it.) Hell, you could probably convince me to crochet those terrifying ladies in dresses with the garish plastic doll heads that my grandma used to put over the spare roll of toilet paper.... Yeah, I'd do it.

It's genetic. I got it from my mom, who puts me to shame. She never buys anything. She sees something in a store, says dismissively, "Oh, I could make that," and then goes home and does it, about a thousand times better than anything you could buy. It's true. Ask my sister.

This crafty-gene is relevant right now because it's Halloween. I've spent uncounted hours this week making costumes. A mummy? No problem. Wall-E? Has spiraled out of all control. My arsenal this week has consisted of: spray paint (lots of spray paint), a hot glue gun, acrylic paints, an exacto knife, a sponge, a Sharpie pen, felt, styrofoam, wooden dowels, construction paper, masking tape, safety goggles, craft foam, a staple gun, trash bags, a big ol' cardboard box, black tea, a sewing machine, and-- this one kills me-- decoupage medium. I kid you not. And I'm not done yet. In fact, I suspect I need to make another trip to the local craft superstore.

So I must sign off now and continue my costume construction. If the kids aren't good, maybe I'll just hot-glue them to the walls. (Kidding.) (Kind of.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Revenge of the boobs, or, How I learned to quit complaining

Last week, against my own better judgment, I wrote a post about how much I hate my boobs. The upshot was that they've become unelastic, unattractive, utilitarian (who knew how many "u" adjectives apply to human breasts?) appendages that I don't even recognize anymore. I was (and still am) tired of them and I said I wanted to have them removed.

Then Sunshine wrote a couple of nice
posts (thoughtful without being sentimental) in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, and then I felt like a total dork for a) complaining, and b) threatening to cut my breasts off.

Evidently my boobs also took offense at my complaints, and decided to make me pay for my insensitivity. Friday afternoon (at about 4pm; too late to get into my regular doctor or to the urgent care clinic, of course) I came down with a blazing case of mastitis. In case you've never had the pleasure, I'll summarize: it's a breast infection (most common in breast-feeding women) that gives you a high fever and the infected boob gets a big lump in it and hurts like it's been put through a meat grinder, but the rest of you also feels so incredibly sh**ty that you don't really even notice the boob pain. It. Sucks. As a result of this lovely disease, I spent the weekend in bed with a fever that gave me convulsive chills and I hurt all over and hated everyone and everything.

(I'm feeling better now, thanks for asking.)

As awful as this weekend was, it was a mere annoyance compared to the unthinkable and all-too-common experience of breast cancer. My boobs (contrary to what I thought 48 hours ago) were not trying to kill me; they just wanted to make me suffer a bit. (It worked, by the way.)

Even in the midst of feeling like hell, though, a couple of thoughts occurred to me:
  1. While my boobs have become very irritating, I am lucky to have the luxury of even joking about removing them: there are maybe hundreds of thousands of women this year alone who will not have a choice in this matter; and
  2. My boobs are evidently even more powerful than I had heretofore imagined, and have the supernatural ability to exact vengeance on me when I am mean to them.

I had it easy. I went to the doctor and got a prescription and am well on the road to recovery. I will heal without going through months of soul-wrenching treatment, emptying my bank account, wrestling with my self-image, or being forced to face my own mortality. Next time I find a lump in my breast I may not be so lucky. I know that.

It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Friday, October 24, 2008

When science goes bad

Second grade has been good to Jensen so far, thanks in no small part to science class. His sole stated reason for wanting to attend school has always been, "For science class." (I think he wants to learn how to blow things up, but maybe I'm wrong.) Sadly, it appears that our public education system does not trust five- and six-year-olds with bunsen burners or frog carcasses.

This year is different, though. They're doing experiments, and in his mind it's PhD-caliber stuff. Yesterday he came home with his first "lab sheet." They timed how long it took to melt ice. Here's the transcript (emphasis added):

  1. Describe how you melted your ice. I put it in my armpit, my shoo [sic], my shirt, and down my pants. I rubbed it in my hands and on my back.
  2. How long did it take your ice cube to melt? 13 minutes

Right. I was a science geek, and I'll admit it to anybody. My favorite college class? Organic chemistry. I went to Science Nerd Camp and was even a runner-up for a national science symposium. But I'm pretty sure I never put any experimental object down my pants. I hope he loses this urge before he moves into the realm of hydrochloric acid....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

There's no title for something this gross

All of a sudden, Caleb cares about what he eats. He's getting finicky. Like the other night when he turned up his cute nose at carrots and some expensive organic whole-milk yogurt that I buy because I'm so paranoid about what goes into his little baby body.

Probably because he was full of tree mulch, which he had spent the last 20 minutes eating in the front yard.

This got me thinking about some of the completely repulsive things my kids have eaten. I mean, they've all eaten dirt, or three-day-old dessicated "leftovers" they discover under the kitchen table. That stuff is pedestrian, for amateurs. I'm talking about the stuff that actually made me gag a little.

Like when Jensen announced at dinner, "You know, flies don't taste as good as they look." (He got bored one day in kindergarten and decided to eat a fly and didn't really care for it.) Or when he made Evan eat a worm after he watched the movie "How to Eat Fried Worms." (That is the grossest movie ever made, by the way.)

Or when he discovered old gum on the bottom of a restaurant table. Or when Evan plopped down on a theater floor and made a meal of what he found there.

That stuff is yucky, but I think most parents (at least parents of boy-children) have similar tales.

But: brace yourselves. Because this next one is Really Bad.

When one of the big boys (who shall remain nameless) was a pre-walker, he had diaper rash. We let him crawl around with a bare butt, to air him out a little. And because it was cute. Until we found him sitting in a corner, happily snacking away on his own poo. It was in his hair. In his ears. Up his nose. And in his mouth.

Not cute anymore.

Jeff wimped out, and left the room gagging. (This from a man who ate his lunch while watching a doctor break my water last time I was in labor. Ew.) Which meant I had to clean up this 9-month old human octopus who was covered in crap.

Baby wipes. Q-tips. Washcloths. Baby shampoo. Ivory soap. After I figured out where to start (his hands) I got the majority of him cleaned up pretty easily. But how was I supposed to clean out his precious mouth? I wiped it out with a washcloth, but that didn't really get it all. It was still plenty yucky in there.

Turns out the answer was right in front of me: Jeff's toothbrush. Of course! (That's the price he paid for sticking me with this horrific task.) So I brushed the babe's mouth until I made him gag, and called it good. I'll tell you what, though, it was a while before I let the little guy give me one of those wet, sloppy, open-mouth baby kisses.

(Because I love my husband, and am not [entirely] evil, I did tell him about the toothbrush before bedtime hygiene. Probably would have made for a better story if I hadn't. But, seriously....)

I've never heard anyone share a similar story. Which leads me to wonder: is it because everyone else has enough common sense not to admit that this happened to them? Or is it because we are the worst parents in the world and nobody else would ever allow this to happen in the first place? If you could set my mind at ease, I'd really appreciate it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A bazillion words

This is a stegosaurus. At night (note the black sky). Oh, and it has toenails.
This is a football game. Missouri vs. Oklahoma State. Please observe the facemasks. Jensen's been perfecting the facemasks lately.

This morning I found a piece of paper on the kitchen table. Evan had drawn the above dinosaur on one side. Jensen had drawn the football game on the other. I don't think I could create a better metaphor.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One tooth at a time

I was chatting. I'm always chatting at football games. I always pledge to pay attention, but after the first few plays, I just can't help myself. So Sunday afternoon I was chatting, and not watching the action on the field, when I heard my name being called. "We need you..." the coach said as he trotted over to me.

I, of course, assumed the worst. Perhaps my child was unconscious on the field? Paralyzed in flag football? A brief sinking feeling settled in my stomach. (He had taken a cleat to the head a week earlier. These games can be rough.)

The coach opened his hand and handed me a bloody tooth. Jensen lost a tooth.

All the parents on the sidelines applauded and Jensen gave me a proud wave and flashed a slightly bloody smile before he got back in formation. I held the tooth carefully and allowed myself only brief memories of when he had gotten it as a baby, how much he had cried about it, how I had marked the event on the calendar. Now I held the precious tooth in my hand and felt happy and sad at the same time.

He's growing up, and has the great big crooked teeth to prove it. Sunday night he got out his Tooth Fairy pillow and tucked away the lost tooth and placed it on his bed. And very slyly asked if maybe I wasn't the Tooth Fairy. I very truthfully told him no (I'm not, but that's not saying anything about Jeff) and waited for more questions about it. None came, but they aren't far off. I don't think Santa will survive this Christmas.

He's growing up, playing football, needing braces on his new big-kid teeth, his world becoming a little less magical. I love this kid.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why we stopped contributing to the Netflix Charitable Organization

Another Friday night, another misguided attempt at some sort of grown-up life. We (gasp!) watched a movie. A rented movie. Which has inspired me to write this letter:
Dear Mr. or Ms. Film-maker: Your movies are too damn long. Please make them shorter. Thanks a bunch. Sincerely, me

That ought to get some response, dontcha think? Pretty eloquent, I am.

We rented "Into the Wild." Good movie. Definitely would recommend it. As long as you have the ability to stay up past 9pm and still function the next day. It could have been edited down to about 45 minutes, I think: Boy hates parents, boy shuns societal trappings and becomes a modern-day hobo, boy meets some nice people, boy goes to Alaska, and finally (don't worry, I won't spoil it just in case I'm not the last person in the whole world to have seen this movie, even though I probably am) the Moving Ending.

As we were watching, I started to notice that things were dragging on a bit. It was over at 11:30pm. Which is the new 3:30am. We were in bed by 11:38, and Jeff said, "I think that was a really bad idea."

Righto. Baby started crying at 11:45. He was sick. He cried for hours. He cried so much that we fell asleep when he was crying and woke up who-knows-how-long-later (15 minutes? two hours? no way to know) and he was still crying. The last time I looked at the clock it was 4:38am. At 5:30, Jeff had to get up and go to work for 24 hours. Saturday was the longest, crappiest day ever. I felt like a had a hangover, but I didn't do anything even remotely fun to deserve it.

This is why we canceled Netflix.

If they can put a three-hour commentary by the director on a DVD, and all kinds of other lame crap that nobody ever watches, why can't they include a condensed version of the movie for parents of young children? I could maintain at least a vague knowledge of movies that have come out in the past five years and get some sleep.

I know, I know: the "art." I'm a lit major. I'm all about nuance and symbolism and character development and references. I love it. But all those things are luxuries. Sleep is not. I have faith that someday I will appreciate aesthetics again. For now I must be a pragmatist, though. Which means I need Cliffs Notes versions of films. Expediency. However: I sincerely doubt any film-maker has much appreciation for my plight.

I survived. I got some sleep Sunday night, and feel better today. Completely culturally illiterate, but at least rested.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Maybe I'm an Amazon

Disclaimer: If you are a male who knows me in real life, you may want to consider not reading this post. If you are my father or my father-in-law, I expressly forbid you to read further. Turn back now, and we will be able to look each other in the eye tomorrow. Thank you.

It had to happen. I knew that, even with my trepidations about over-sharing, I would eventually write about this. Every nearly-40-year-old woman, every woman who has borne children, every woman who looks at magazines in the grocery store check-out aisle becomes alarmed at the condition of her breasts. I am no exception.

My boobs. They've had a good run. They've done everything I've asked of them, and have gone above and beyond. I fear we're reaching the end of the line, though. They are on the brink of outliving their functional life. Matter of fact, I think they are begging not only for mercy, but to be put out of their misery. I'm considering obliging them.

They were good to me. Back in the Hot Bod days, these 34C girls won the admiration of many. Men lusted; women coveted. They were gorgeous. Assuming a biological imperative, they've done their job and then some. In their youthful, firm glory, they played at least a small part (you'll have to ask Jeff exactly how much) in securing me an outstanding mate. They helped lure him into propagation of the species (he didn't want three kids, but he was powerless). And aesthetics aside, after each reproduction they dutifully fed my fat, hungry babies with very few complaints.

They're tired, now, though. They've spent the last few years in noticeable decline. We're officially out of the Hot Bod stage. (Seems like I'm moving quickly into the Saggy-Please-Keep-Yourself-Covered stage.) The babies have been no less than disastrous for my boobs. Depending on where I am in the whole knocked-up-breastfeeding-recovering (sweet relief!) continuum, my bra size swings wildly between a very deflated 32A and a 36F. My skin is pretty elastic-- three babies and not a single stretch mark on my tummy-- but not that elastic. Last time I was pregnant Jeff called my enormous boobs "weapons of mass destruction" (at least the Bush administration has given us some useful phraseology). Last time I wasn't pregnant or nursing (god, that was a long time ago) he likened them to tennis balls dropped in a pair of pantyhose. Nice visual, huh?

Caleb dealt the fatal blow on Tuesday. He bit my nipple. Hard. Not just a little "oh, that kind of hurt" nip. This was a searing "holy hell blinding white light" kind of thing. He broke the skin. (Three years of breastfeeding, and this has never happened before.) It hurts so bad I'm having trouble sleeping. It brings tears to my eyes.

And I think that was it. I think they're officially done, my boobs. In an occasional fit of wanting to relive their glory days, I give brief consideration to having a boob job. (Not so much to make them bigger-- I'd just like to lift them off my abdomen.) But you know what I'd really rather do? Cut them off. We have surgically assured that we will have no more babies (good old Jeff stepped up to the plate on that one), and in a couple of short months Caleb will have his first birthday and I will wean him and will have absolutely no need for breasts anymore.

So, like I said, I'm seriously considering their pleas for mercy. I'll let you know if I find a cooperative surgeon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My poor husband's hair

Jeff got a haircut. Contrary to what you may think, this is post-worthy, because he only does it about twice a year. If that.

He has Lyle-Lovett-hair. It's as tall as it is long. Curly. Black (at least the part that isn't gray). Kind of wiry. You can also call him Kramer if you want. Anyway, his hair was pretty long/tall when he left on Tuesday. When he returned it was way short. I call it his Repulican 'do.

He may never get it cut again, based on our responses:

Jensen: (snort) Actually, Dad, that looks kind of ridiculous.

Me: Dude, you're getting whitewalls.

Evan (it took him several hours to notice): Daddy, your hair is kind of different. Jeff: What's different about it? Evan: It's kind of... flat. Jeff: Why do you suppose that is? Evan: I don't know... you washed it?

Poor Jeff.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cute? Yep. Coordinated? Well...

I suppose you might consider wearing a crash helmet to dinner "overly cautious."
However, if you were Evan, you'd probably find it very appropriate. Reassuring. Necessary, even.

Gravity is not Evan's friend. This kid falls more than anyone I've ever met. A couple of Sundays ago I decided to count how many crashes he had during the week. By Monday evening I had counted 27, and I'm pretty sure I missed a few. I stopped keeping track. Too depressing.

A typical scenario might look like this: Evan walking along a completely even and straight sidewalk, shoes tied (ie, no shoelaces over which to trip), no obstacles in his path. He's singing a little song, happy as a lark, and boom! he's sprawled flat out with scraped knees and a bloody lip.

What happened?!

I don't know why my child can't remain upright. Perhaps he is just more sensitive to the earth's rotation than are the rest of us? Maybe he's like one of those goats that collapses when it is startled? Who knows. I suspect he's just rather uncoordinated.

He's been doing this since he became mobile. He used to spend a lot of time crying, and I used to spend a lot of time worrying. Now we take it in stride. Usually he pops up and smiles and says, "I'm all right!" and goes on his merry way. He has-- astoundingly-- survived four years without a single trip to the emergency room. The other day he tried to climb a tree, which I was pretty sure would end at the hospital, but he survived even that. He's lucky he's so indestructable. A weaker individual would have broken many bones and had some nasty internal bleeding by now.

Evidently he's starting to understand that he is a danger to himself, however. Why else would he have worn his bike helmet to dinner?

Monday, October 13, 2008

How Christopher Columbus ruined Christmas

First, an explanation: I am, by nature, a procrastinator. Mostly reformed, now that I'm an adult. I totally plead the Fifth regarding my college years-- all eight of them (two degrees, remember?!)-- but that's a different story and involves several irritated landlords and uptight professors so let's talk about that another day. Can't dwell on that. But I do tend to revert to my "I'll-do-it-tomorrow" ways when I get stressed.

Next, an excuse: I've been very stressed this year. Again, I'll spare you the details, which are (astoundingly!) simultaneously boring and insomnia-producing. Just stressful.

The logical, and correct, conclusion is that I've been putting off a few things lately. Nothing that's going to land me in small-claims court or cause the kids' teachers to call social services. My life isn't that exciting. Neither are the things I've been procrastinating.

For instance: we moved, what, five and a half months ago? Sounds about right. And I was being super-responsible about it. I had change-of-address cards all ready to mail within about two weeks of our move. I just needed stamps, so I dutifully placed the cards in a neat stack on the corner of the desk. In May.

They're still there.

Without stamps.

It's October.

Oh, but this morning, I decided to take that bull by the horns. I was going to slap stamps on those babies and get them in the mail. That was my one goal for the day. Woo-hoo! Go me!!!

(My motivation, by the way? Easy: Christmas is only about two months away. And I love getting Christmas cards. How am I going to get lots and lots of Christmas cards if people can't find me?)

I got those kids loaded in the car and made a special trip to the post office. 100% of the kids cried during the trip, and Evan got carsick, but I was not to be deterred. Give me stamps or give me death!

Hey, guess what today is? Columbus Day.

And for some stupid reason that only the federal government understands, the friggin' post office is closed today. Don't get me started.

No stamps. Change of address cards remain on the desk. Motivation has all but evaporated. I probably won't get any Christmas cards this year, either.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Small things

If you've ever lived with a toddler or preschooler, you know that they have control issues.

It turns out that living with a bunch of kids has also given me some control issues. (Just ask my husband.)

It's been a bad week on this front, mostly due to Caleb's two-pronged approach to Mommy Torture. Firstly, he has a cold. This means he's fussy, crying a lot, up every few hours at night, and wants to be carried almost constantly. Secondly, when he does allow me to put him down (only briefly, mind you), he's hell-bent on destruction: climbing bookshelves, shredding books, crawling into the dishwasher and then falling out, and so on. Even when he's not crying, I cannot leave him alone for a second.

I find this part of motherhood to be maddening: nothing occurs on my terms. I've spent the week staggering around in sleep-deprived, shower-deprived, out-of-control fatigue. I can't get anything done, quite literally. I've stopped trying. I ordered pizza for dinner last night. There are toys scattered on every horizontal surface in the house. Crazy-making, for me. When I have a free minute, for some self-defeating reason, I spend it on the computer reading about the disaster-formerly-known-as-the-economy, or this horrifying election season. Which makes me feel even worse.

This morning Caleb awoke at 5:45, ready to get up. Which meant for me: no shower, no breakfast, no sense of control or accomplishment. I had failed before I even started.

Except I didn't play along.

I calmly put him back in his crib, much to his disappointment. I happily made a pot of coffee. When I got into the shower, he was fussing. I let the hot water clear the cobwebs, and when I emerged he was still protesting (though not too forcefully). I dried my hair, and when I turned off the dryer he was still complaining. I made my bed. I picked up my room.

In short I did what I wanted to do. Those things that I used to do every morning, before Number Three came along. Those things that, even if I don't get another damned thing done this day, make me feel as if I've accomplished something-- petty as though it may be.

Then I went to save my baby from his crib-prison. He smiled at me, and I smiled back.

This is my life right now. It's a small world which I currently occupy, defined by bed-making and laundry-doing and child-feeding. Big Questions are beyond my grasp, which I sometimes find disappointing. But for now, it's mostly okay. As long as I can occasionally say that I've done these little things on my terms, I'm satisfied. For now.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Are my arms really that short?!

"Mommy, look! I made our whole family out of dinosaurs. This little orange one is Caleb, and he's just crawling around. And this one is me, and I'm crying because Jensen got mad at me. And this one's Daddy."

"Which one am I, Evan?"

"Oh, well, you're the great big scary meat-eater."


So, this is Jeff and me. I'm the enormous terrifying one getting ready to tear someone's head off. Apparently a child's head. I do not even want to know what a child psychologist would say about this.

I'm fully aware that I can be a little surly in the morning. Especially before I've had my ration of coffee. And before, say, 10 am. And I also know I sometimes get grouchy in the late afternoon, when I'm trying to get dinner on the table and two-thirds of my children are crying and the other one is jumping on the sofa and Jeff isn't home and I'm starving. Or sometimes I maybe get a teensy bit grumpy at bedtime when the kids are coming up with ways to postpone sleep and remembering last-minute things for school and the baby is crying and I wanted to be in bed 30 minutes ago. Okay, granted.

But a T-rex?!

But. But, wait. Let's remember that Evan adores dinosaurs. And the T-rex is his favorite of favorites. The pinnacle of dinosaur-hood. The ultimate incarnation.

So I'm interpretting this as the sincerest form of Evan flattery. Never mind all that grouchy stuff. And this is exactly what I'll tell that pesky child psychologist, too.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A little bit of nuthin'

I didn't even post yesterday. Which violated my self-imposed Monday-Friday rule. But I wasn't home at all, and barely made it through dinner in time to watch the alleged "debate." (Which, by the way, I'm happy to report I survived. If I pull through this presidential campaign without having a catastrophic health event, I'll be surprised. I've decided Sarah Palin is trying to actually kill me. Although I was having some back problems yesterday and took a muscle relaxer after the kids went to bed and that made the debate much more enjoyable.)

Lots of boring details, including a brand-spanking-new washing machine (old one died while full of water and Jeff had to siphon it and accidentally drank dirty, detergenty laundry water), a Christmas present that may or may not involve a hard-to-get video game console, getting my lovely van serviced only to be told there's nothing wrong with it but there is and they won't listen to me!, and Cub Scouts. Busy day. But on the upside, Caleb did not sustain any potentially life-threatening injuries, which is a welcome change from recent days.

As you can see, the glamour here continues.
I don't want to overdo the excitement or make anyone jealous of my jet-setting lifestyle, but I also get to go to the dentist today. Whew.

But, just to tide you over until something interesting happens, I'm posting a cute picture of Jeff and our tailgating-baby-with-approximately-eight-chins.
Now I'm done.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Where the sun don't shine

This exchange took place a couple of weeks ago. Evan is proving to be quite the perceptive child:

Evan: Mommy, you know it's dark inside people's bottoms.
Me: Well. Yes, I suppose it is.
Evan: Why?

Oh, man. He makes it too easy.

Friday, October 3, 2008

For my family

Dear Grandma,

It's a beautiful fall day. The weather is starting to turn, the kind of day that just makes you happy. I've been thinking about you a lot this week.

I wanted to tell you how much I miss you. Sometimes, three years later, I still feel a big hole. The knowledge that you were there always made the world just a little better. I wish badly that I could talk to you, and share with you. Just to update you on the news. We're still the same loud, loving, opinionated family you oversaw... with a few personnel changes.

We had another baby-- I have three little boys! Cory and Anthony had a baby, too (did you even know they had gotten married?). Eric got married to Vicki and they had an adorable little girl. Cassie and Matt have a little girl who looks exactly like her mommy. Kati and JP added a little boy. Chris and Jennie adopted a little girl, and on the day of your funeral Jennie told me she just felt that was going to happen. Erin and Jeremy are having another baby very (!) soon. And Ali and Dustin are adopting a little boy in December. (Did I forget anyone? Maybe....) How many great-grandchildren does this make? A lot....

And we're still growing up and moving around and moving on. Annie's in South Korea. Phil's in Sweden. Laura's in college (she's so old!). Erin and Jeremy moved. We moved. Cassie and Cory are in Chicago. I don't even know what everyone else is up to.

And. We lost Barb this summer. You would be so proud of her boys, Grandma. I know we all wish we could make it easier for them, but they did everything right by their mom. Even in the sadness, I know how happy that would make you. And Jennie is sick now. We know she's going to fight and win-- we just want to give her all the strength and love in the world.

A lot of us will be together this weekend, because Mike's getting married to Tammy! We'll think of you, and wish you could be there with us, and wish we could have a wheelchair dance with you. We'll have plenty of fun for you, and I'll be sure to let you know what the menu is.

Anyway. Thank you, Grandma. Even when I miss you the most, I can think about this wonderful family that you gave us and it immediately brings me peace. They are the best gift you could have left. And through each other, we will always have you.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

With special guest star...

...Uncle Dustin!

Dustin is my sister's husband. He has a Very Important Job which takes him to Lots of Places. (Which, by the way, I think my sister hates. But she'll live.) This week he was traveling in our area and dropped in to witness the glamour that is our lives. I think he was overwhelmed by the excitement, which included (brace yourselves): second-grade homework, meatloaf, tooth-brushing, bedtime, and a scrumptious breakfast of oatmeal. I hope he survives the letdown of leaving us.

The coolest things about Dustin, as told by Jensen and Evan:

  • He can fix any electronics.

  • He can install things on the computer that Dad can't.

  • He goes to work everywhere.

  • He can make great paper airplanes.

  • He lives with Charlie (the amazing horse-dog).

  • He has a really big tv.

  • He's a professional surfer and skateboarder. And can do any dangerous sport. Like Motocross.

These things are all true, except the last part. I don't know anything about him having a secret professional extreme sports life.

And here's another awesome thing about Dustin: in just three (or so) months, he's going to be a Dad. Click here for a photo of his son-to-be. He'll have his very own little boy to impress with his surfing skills....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hello, Marlon? Marlon Perkins?

Evan, jumping wildly up and down, was unable to control his excitement. "There's a snake in the driveway!" he kept repeating. I didn't really believe him, or thought maybe it was a garter snake (bad enough). But, yep. A snake. And, nope. Not a garter snake. It was coiled up, head flattened, striking out at my kids who didn't have the common sense to keep away. Rattlesnake.

Granted, it was only about eight or ten inches long. But! Wait! My husband says baby snakes are actually more dangerous than the grown-up kind. My first thought was to scoop it up with a shovel and dump it, I don't know, somewhere. But then I thought, "What if it can jump and bites me and I keel over and the kids are left alone?" I really thought this. Do snakes jump? Probably not, but you can't be too careful. Then I thought about getting our massive tractor lawnmower and running over the evil creature about 18 times, but decided that would take too long and that it would devour one of the kids before I could get the job done.

So we just went into the house. The kids are now forbidden to play outside barefoot.

Remember, I'm an Iowa girl. To me, "wildlife" means cows and rabbits. (Which can be very dangerous, by the way. If they are packing firearms.) I am not used to all these human-eating animals.

We have coyotes. They go crazy howling in the middle of the night. I had no idea what they were, but my Great Outdoorsman husband taught me. "Don't worry," he said. "They're at least a mile away." I think this was supposed to be comforting.

Turtles. Of all kinds, and sometimes they come into our garage. The troubling ones are the snapping turtles, which could easily break one of the kids in half. A few months ago, during Turtle Migration Season (I actually don't know if this exists, but there were a lot of turtles on the move) we saw a fine specimen about half a mile up the road. Easily two and a half feet across. I thought it was a small dinosaur.

Birds of prey. Constantly soaring over our house, looking very grand. The kids have been instructed not to lay motionless in the yard.

Oh, and the oversexed owl, who attempts to seduce us all night long. With a deep, intimate, whisper-in-your-ear voice. Not unlike Isaac Hayes. Except he's an owl.

Lizards. They don't look like gila monsters or komodo dragons, so I think we're okay here. But they still live in my yard.

To my knowledge, none of these creatures has thumbs, so they probably lack the ability to open doors and get into the house and swipe one of the children. Just in case, though, we have a security system. Which I'm pretty sure is intended to warn us of human invaders, but the animals seem like a more immediate threat.

But even the security system won't work against the snakes, who (no doubt) have located a drainpipe by which they can crawl into one of our toilets and wait in ambush to bite someone's hind end. I'm just not sure what to do about the snakes.