Friday, August 29, 2008

and just like that.. you made me a mother..

It was a Tuesday. I had a huge round belly and an aching back. I could barely walk without needing to sit and rest and was spending most of my days in the pool at our apartment complex. The water was the only thing that gave my swollen body relief from the extra weight and pressure. I impatiently waited for some sign that this baby was on his way.

I'd been to my grandmother's a day or two earlier and we'd had taco casserole for dinner. She sent some leftovers home with me and, after my morning swim, I decided it would make a good lunch. It was around 1pm. It was hot that day, as it is almost every day in August in the Sacramento Valley. I flipped through the few channels that we got on our cable-less television while I ate my lunch, but there was nothing good on. I was glad that there wasn't a whole lot of food.. I couldn't eat much these days and generally started to feel full around the 3rd or 4th bite. I was 5 days past my due date.

I got up from the couch and put my plate in the sink.. thought for a moment about doing the dishes and decided to save them for later.. opting to check my email instead. I sat there at the computer, bored.. and sleepy. As I sat there, my stomach started to hurt. I went to the bathroom, then layed down.. then went to the bathroom, then layed down.. then went to the bathroom.. sheesh! How much could there be in there? I was starting to worry I might poop out a baby! Maybe taco casserole not such a great idea?

Around three my stomach settled down and I started to doze off on the bed.. I started to cramp. I thought back to the conversation I had with my mother a few days before..

Me: I'm a little worried about the pain.. What does it feel like?
Mom: Oh, you'll be fine.. It's like a really.. really, really, really bad period..
Me: Really?
Mom: Yeah.. and I know your periods were just as painful as mine.. it's the same feeling, just.. intensified.
Me: Oh.. ok. I can deal with that.

If it hadn't been for that conversation, I might not have known I was in labor. Mainly because this pain wasn't coming and going like contractions are supposed to.. it just.. HURT.

After about 45min I thought, 'Well, I guess this isn't going to go away.. I'll call J.'

M: I think I'm in labor.
J: REALLY? Awesome. I'm on my way home!
M: Well, you probably don't need to rush.. I'm sure we've got some time.
J: Are you kidding?.. I'm coming now.

Ok. Next, call mom..

Me: I think I'm in labor..
Mom: What do you mean 'you think'?
Me: Well.. I have the right kind of pain.. it's just not coming and going like I assume contractions would..
Mom: Hmm.. well, that's definitely something.. but, it sounds like we have some time.. I have some things I need to finish up today.. you want me to finish first and come later? or come now for a while and then come back here later and then join you for the birth?
Me: um... why don't you come now..
Mom: Ok.

By the time I got off the phone, I'd had a couple of discernible contractions.. and finally felt convinced that this was really it. The first one came.. followed by another 20min later.. followed by another 15min later.. followed by another 12min later.. followed by another 10 min later.. followed by another 7min later.. Crap! Where are they?? Is it supposed to be like this?? followed by another 5min later.. and another 3min later..

I heard the door open, it was J.

Me: Get the bags.
J: What??
Me: Get the bags.
J: um.. ok.. are you ok??
Me: We need to go.
J: Already? That fast? are you sure?
Me: YES.
J: What about your mom? is she..?

She walked in the door.

Me: We need to go.
Mom: Really? Are you sure?
Me: Yes.

She looked at me, and proceeded to help J grab the begs and head for the car.

The drive to the hospital was blessedly short. Still, every rock felt like a speed bump. Within about 10-15 min, we arrived. We checked in downstairs and declined the offer of a wheel chair. For the most part, I was fine laboring and walking.. only stopping occasionally to breathe through a contraction.. like the one that came while we were walking from the check-in area to the elevator.

J: Wanna take the stairs?
Me: Ha. Ha.

At this rate.. I'm going to need an epidural for sure.. Damn, this hurts! They showed us to our room upstairs.. I don't remember any of it.. It was a blur and the whole hospital looked foreign to me when they wheeled me around later.. We walked into our room where they handed me a hospital gown and instructed me to use the bathroom and put the gown on, opening in the back. I thought that was odd.. wondering how I would nurse with a back opening hospital gown on.. then I noticed the snaps all down the shoulder.. oh.

I came out of the bathroom and got into the bed.. really starting to feel it. The nurse, Kristy, asked me some basic questions about my labor thus far.. and then announced that it was time to check my cervix and see what kind of progress I'd made (like a teacher checking the progress of your homework.. only more invasive). Kristy was nice. I liked her.

She snapped on that oh so romantic rubber glove and reached up in my girl stuff.. then her face changed to a look of surprise.

K: Well... you seem to be about 9cm dilated and your bag of waters is bulging out. So.. what time did you say your labor started?
Me: About 3.
K: Well.. you'll probably have a baby pretty soon here.. Good news, you won't need an IV.. no time for anything you might need it for! Unless you'd prefer to recieve your pitocin through an IV instead of a shot in the thigh after the birth.

Pitocin?? For what?? What's pitocin again?

Me: Uh.. a shot's fine.

Another nurse came in and announced that my doctor had been called and had said he'd wait until I was closer to delivery.. to call him back when I reached 7-8cm.

K: Well, call him back and let him know that she's already at 9 with membranes bulging and ask if he wants us to break her water.

A few minutes later they came in with the biggest crochet hook I'd ever seen and stuck that up my girl stuff and..

Me: Aaaah...
K: giggle Was that a relief?
Me: Yeah.. that relieved a lot of pressure.
K: Well.. that took you down to 8.5cm.. but I'm sure you'll regain it quick.

Then the next contraction came. OUCH. Suddenly they got a lot more intense and the room seemed to be filling quickly with people. My SIL and brother were there, my dad was there, my MIL was there, my grandmother was there.. They'd all come to visit me while I labored and had planned to be waiting either back at home or in the waiting room for the announcement. Not going to be the case. My brother and father gave a quick 'Hello' and then headed for the waiting room. My grandmother and SIL (after asking) took a seat across the room and then my MIL arrived.. and proceeded to intervene, excuse me.. help, in any way she could. J tried to keep her busy getting cold wash cloths for my forehead while he remained at my side, my hand gripping his tightly.. my knuckles as white as his face as he watched the nurses set up the doctor's 'equipment' for the impending birth. I did my best to just breathe through contractions, not wanting to moan and scream.. but soon the nurses accused me of being 'about to hyperventilate' and strapped an oxygen mask on my face. Then my MIL was there at the other side of the bed nearly shouting 'Squeeze my hand, squeeze my hand!' as she grabbed the hand that I was not clinging to my husband with. I shook her free and wondered why she was at my side instead of my mother.. then saw my mother coming back with my next cold washcloth.. Oh hell..

The nurses decided it was time to check my cervix again and found that I was 'complete'.. as if I was 'incomplete' before.. One left the room to check on the status of my doctor, on his way from the other side of the county.

K: You're fully dilated now.. would you like to try pushing?
Me: I could already feel my body starting to bear down and thought that sounded like a good idea.. Sure.
K: Ok, with the next contraction, go ahead and hold in your breath, and bear down and count to ten as you push through your bottom.

The next contraction came and I followed her instructions.. giving it all I could and feeling the relief of this child finally leaving my body..

K: Ok.. well, the baby's crowning.. so we're going to have you just roll onto your side and breathe through your contractions until your doctor gets here.. Good pushing!

What?? You want me to what? Lay on my side?.. with a head between my legs? You've got to be kidding me.. do I really need the doctor??

No, they weren't kidding. They rolled me onto my side, and I did my best not to scream in pain as I breathed (without hyperventilating) through a couple more contractions.

And my doctor arrived. Pulling on his gloves as he walked in the door and took his seat with his head between my knees. On my back once again, with my knees being smooshed up my nose, I pushed again.. and again.. and snip (I though J might pass out..) again.. and again..

And just like that, you made me a mother.

I gasped with relief as they plopped a rather heavy and equally slimy baby boy on my chest. His face grimacing and purple, smooshed and chubby.. his head covered in thick gooey black hair.

'Wow, look at all that hair!'
'Wow, he's a big boy!'
'Oh, he's beautiful!'
Beautiful? Um.. ok.

They rubbed him down with towels and I wondered why they were being so rough with him.. he was already crying and 'pinking up'.. Once he seemed a tad cleaner and they'd had J snip the cord, they took him to the scale to weigh and measure. I saw my father in the doorway, gazing at my son, a look of such pride on his face.. Finally.. I'm going to remember this moment.. it may be the only time I ever see that look..

The baby nurse looked like a member of Hell's Angels.. He removed the towels from my baby and waited for the scale to register..

BN: 9 pounds, 7 ounces.

He pulled at my son's legs and stretched them along the tape measure..

BN: 20.5 inches long.

Nurse with clipboard.. 'What time was he born?'
D: 8:21pm.. as he finished stitching up my nether regions and explained to me that after the episiotomy, I'd torn all the way into my sphincter muscle.. 3rd degree lacerations.

Finally, they wrapped him in a blanket and placed him back on my chest.. He blinked and struggled to find me through the goo they'd smeared on his eyes and I marveled at the fact that such a huge baby had fit in my body.. several times that first night.. I lay there and thought 'He's so BIG. How did that.. fit in there??' I was lucky that there had been no c-sections that evening.. so I was awarded the room they normally reserve for c-section patients.. since I couldn't get out of bed and walk around and my husband needed to stay with me.. You never realize how much you use your sphincter til you rip it..

It was a beautiful night. I think it was the only night that August that it rained. Cool refreshing rain that came and relieved the discomfort of the heat.. just as I was relieved of the discomfort of my full-term pregnancy and the heaviness of carrying my first child.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

i'm sorry, church.. i can't agree with that..

There happen to be a few things in my life that I have very strong convictions about. One of them is how I parent.

I have a hard time with women and their cattiness when it comes to certain labels on parenting styles.. if you're not 'all' then you're 'nothing'. If you don't subscribe to every issue, then you may as well not be reading. Whatever. I don't need your stupid labels.

I feel strongly about parenting the way God leads me to parent. (Yep.. a religious post.. enjoy. But don't go running yet! It's more parenting than religion..) I'm a non-punitive parent - that's about as far as I go with labels. I don't believe that punishing and humiliating my children is necessary in helping them grow into good adults. I don't believe that smacking or hitting them is necessary in getting them to behave. Yes, I do believe in discipline, but I do not equate discipline with punishment.

Our church recently spoke on the subject of parenting. I had a very hard time not getting up and walking out. I'm all for a church taking a firm stance on parenting. But, I believe they should take a firm middle of the road stance, at best. Not a firmly pro-spanking 'start 'em young and we'll help tell you how' stance. It makes my heart ache. It made me squirm in my seat.

This is a small church, an intimate church, only about 300 or so members. It's not a church one goes to if they want to just blend in or hide. There are some fabulous people there - we LOVE this church. Accept for that ONE thing. And I know that I was not the only one who was more than a little uncomfortable with this message.

Many people would say "Well, there's lots of churches out there.. why not look for another?" Why? Because God put us in this one. And we don't go to church to meet our needs, we go to church to meet God's needs, to find ways to meet other's needs. I don't know exactly what God has planned for us in this church, but I know He put us there for a reason.

And I've lost track of how many times other parents have come to J and I and asked us "Your children are SO well behaved! How do you do it? What is your secret? I'm always so impressed with them!" We're not shy about it. "Well, I'm sure that it's due to a certain degree of just being blessed with good kids who are just as laid back as we are.. but our discipline methods are probably not what you'd expect. We don't spank."

Why not? What's the reasoning behind all this? It goes a lot deeper than just 'not hitting'. It's a matter of how I view my children. How I view my relationship with them. The other night, my husband and I had to again 'touch base' with each other.. We'd had a long day with the kids and I was less than impressed with how he was speaking to our oldest. He came back with "Well, what? Do you see him as your equal?"

Yes, actually. I do. I shared this exchange with a friend from church (a woman who's children are grown and out of the house) and she interjected "But you're the Boss." No. I'm not. I don't see myself as the Boss of my kids. I consider myself their teacher, their leader, their guide - I'm hear to help them figure things out. Here to help them learn to relate to people in an appropriate and harmonious manner so that they can succeed in the relationships in their life and be all-around effective people. I don't see myself in a God position in their life. I'm not in charge, the ultimate authority, the be all end all..

As Christians, we are called to 'be like Christ'. Why should we not apply that to our relationship with our children?? I see my children as my disciples. They do not follow me for fear of getting in trouble, they do not obey out of fear of getting smacked, they do not respect me because I told them to.. They follow me because they admire me and the way I live my life - they want to be like me. They obey me because they understand why they should, how it will benefit them and benefit others for them to do so. They respect me because they are treated with respect. Children have an insatiable desire to learn and understand the world around them, I do my best to meet that need.

So many people speak down to their children - as if they are some how 'lesser'. Why? Because they are young? Because they don't know? If an adult 'doesn't know' do you talk down to them? No. Many parents talk to their children in a manner that they would never speak to anyone else - family, friends, co-workers.. don't our children deserve the same love, respect, and consideration that these people do? Are they not some of the most important people in our lives? Let's not make them feel small, insignificant, weak, or ashamed. Let's build them up, empower them, let them know just how important they are.

The most common way people view their relationship with their children is in an adversarial mindset - a 'me versus them' approach. Power struggles. Who's gonna come out on top, who's gonna win? Who's gonna be the bigger man?

My children understand that they are loved, that they are people, and that I as their mother am responsible for teaching them, guiding them, and protecting them. They understand that I have their best interests at heart at all times and that even when things seem unfair, I'm trying to do what's best for them.. and they know that if they want to know why, I will gladly explain it to them. And, most importantly, they know I'm 'human' - that I make mistakes. They see me do my best to right my wrongs and are excellent at applying the same principals in their relationships with others.

The most common response to all this is usually 'Wow. That all sounds great, and I agree with a lot of it.. but I still believe there are times when spanking is necessary." WHY? I can't understand this. It is still so contrary to these essential foundations of my parenting. How am I showing love and respect to my children by hitting them? People who spank often say things to their children like 'I'm doing this because it's best for you.' 'This hurts me more than it does you.' and will not say to people that they enjoy spanking their children, but rather the opposite. J and I were both spanked as kids, and started out as 'spanking parents'.. No, it hurts more to be on the receiving end. And, yes, our parents spanked 'the right way'.

So if you really don't like spanking your kids, and you heard that there were ways of parenting without it.. wouldn't you want to know more about it?

Do my kids have consequences for their actions?? Of course! I'm not a 'permissive parent'. But I believe that the natural and or appropriate consequences of their actions can teach the lesson that needs learning much more effectively than a swat on the rear.

I'm not saying that I want to bring my whole church over to my side of the fence. But when they tell me that I'm sinning by not spanking, well, I take offense to that. Hence, the belief that they should be taking a firm middle-of-the-road stance. They do not need to condemn people for keeping spanking as a tool in their parenting tool-box, but they also need not condemn those who've thrown it out and decided to use grace and mercy in it's place. I would just love to see them a tad more open minded, mkay?


Monday, August 25, 2008

Flatfoot 56

I love this band. My husband found them last summer/fall and knew instantly that I'd love them. He was right. I love this video too... My kids wish they could be this cool.. ha ha.

Flatfoot 56 - China Town Jail Break

cupcakes for breakfast.

Some days, I swear my children are conspiring against me.


Other days, I just relish in the fact that I can see them enjoying being children. Today is one of those days. Hectic and busy and preventing me from getting anything done, thus far, but fulfilling as a mother. They have watched no tv today so far. That, in and of itself, is a good day on my calendar. Sure, my oldest started his day at the keyboard playing pirates online, but that was only for less than an hour and only I have been on since.

My children are caked in dirt. Again. I've had the pleasure of witnessing my three little boys giggling and sqealing (ok.. we'll just count Booger as sqealing.. since it's not very 'masculine' for a 6yo or almost 8yo..) in the dirt with their Hot Wheels and Thomas trains (again.. Booger's) and riding their bikes and skate boards around in circles on the driveway..

They ate cupcakes for breakfast. Yes, cupcakes. The 2yo got into them (and licked the frosting off two) before all the boys were even up.. so I let them finish off the 6 mini cupcakes that I'd bought for dessert last night for breakfast today. So yeah.. then I kicked them outside because I had no desire to witness the early morning sugar rush, and then I proceeded to drink my coffee in peace. For once. I think my last sip may have been hot. Wow.

They've been out there ever since. Well, I did call them in briefly for lunch at around 2:30.. having them rinse the top layer of dirt off their hands and faces (sometimes I wonder if they act like dogs out there... getting down on the ground and rolling in it, rubbing their head around and smooshing their face into it..) and serving them some microwave burritos and grapes and goldfish crackers with kool-aid (yeah.. shut up. I need to go to the store..). They're back outside now. Playing in the dirt hole under the tree.. Mmmm.. dirt.


My 2yo, on the other hand.. did not last long outside. They were out there all of maybe 30min this morning before Dog managed to knock Princess flat on her back by clotheslining her with her leash. Nice.


I heard her shrieks and ran outside to see what happened. She managed to walk all the way up to the porch before falling into my arms. I held her until her crying slowed down.. not stopped.. just slowed.


Then I carried her into the house and tried to pinpoint the source of her pain. To no avail. Within a few minutes, she was fast asleep on the couch. She stayed there, waking only a couple times, for two hours. Then she woke up and puked all over the couch.. and I thanked God again for our pleather couches and hard wood floors. I carried her up to the bathroom and plopped her in the tub, stripped her down, turned on the water, rinsed her, and filled the tub. She played in the water while I cleaned up the mess in the living room.

She's been fine since then.. So I'll assume it was either just a concussion or an upset tummy from too much sugar.. Those are fine with me.. they're not contagious. There's nothing worse in a large family with small children than a 'stomach virus'. *shudder*

PS the nominating has ended for HotBloggerCalendar... I can has votes plz? kthnxbai.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

you melt my face off.. baybeee

And you make me feel like a teenager again..

Last night was date night for J and I. We abandoned our 5 hoodlums at the home of some friends (brave souls) and headed out to...
J: soo... what do you want to do?
M: Heck if I know! I don't really care much.. I'm easy.
J: Heh.. you said easy..
M: Shut up.. you know what I mean. And besides, at this point even urinating without an audience sounds like treat.
J: You wanna see Dark Knight? We could go to the mall, maybe grab some dinner and see a movie?
M: Sure. Sounds great!

So we stopped by the house to put some clothes on that didn't have little handprints, boogers, and dirt on them.. or smell like office.. and then headed out to one of the local malls. We got there only to have The Man rain on our parade.. only showing was at 8pm.. putting us back in the car at nearly 11. Not gonna work, kids were at friend's house, not home. I was ok with it though.. we got to walk around and talk to each other instead of sit in the dark and.. well.. not talk to each other.

So, we wandered aimlessly out into the mall.. not quite sure what to do with ourselves without 5 midgets in tow.. and headed toward Hot Topic. Wow. SO much easier to navigate without a stroller and group of small children. As we walked in, we noticed a poster:

Preview Listening Party
August 22, 7pm

What luck!! So we did our usual browsing the store while listening to some new Underoath and hit up the CD rack to find the new Family Force 5. Score. (Yep. Christian music sold at Hot Topic) Then something on their listening panel caught J's eye.. The Austrian Death Machine.

J: Ooh! The Austrian Death Machine!
M: The who's a whatsy??
J: The Austrian Death Machine.. it's from one of the guys in As I Lay Dying.. we need to check it out!

So we shared the one pair of headphones like a couple teenagers sneaking around the mall when they should be doing homework and took a listen.. ROCKS. We bought it. Along with a bunch of other crap.

Then we wandered around Scheels for a while. The All Sports Store. Good gravy people.. they need to hand out maps at the door like they do at amusement parks for crying out loud! We perused the camping gear first..

J: Ooh! [yeah, he does that a lot when we're shopping.. we don't get out often, so it's like we only see this stuff online and in magazines normally.. then we go out in public and see that it actually exists..] a hiking stick! I need one of those for work..
M: Um... what??? Did they install some new mountain ranges in the office?? old ones not exciting enough as they did not require said sticks??
J: No. For killing people.
M: Oh. Of course. Silly me.
J: I could totally sneak up on people with it.. around corners, over cubicle walls.. and stab them in the back of the head.. and they'd be all 'Ungh!! Why am I dead??'

Ok.. that one had me giggling. Cause when I die.. I'll totally be saying 'Ungh.. why am I dead??' with my last breath. So, that was about all our ADD shopping capacity could handle so we were headed for the door and..

M: Hey, I want to check out the swim wear.. So I can actually see what the suits feel like and stuff before I buy one online. [dude.. it's SO cheaper.]
J: Ooh! [see.. told you.] Skate boards!!!

So we checked out the skateboards. They had some lovely overpriced stuff and some lame flimsy ramps and what not.. and..

J: Hey, try out the long board, babe.
M: Um.. right.. No.
J: Come on, it's easy. You can totally do it. Here I'll hold your purse..

I knew he wasn't going to leave me alone unless I humored him, so I put my foot on the board and rolled it back and forth.

M: Nice.
J: No. Come on, give it a push!
M: Um. No thanks. I rather prefer my rear end UNbruised thank you.
J: Here I'll hold onto you...

Lucky I didn't fall on my ass. Nothing like a little public humiliation, har har. At least he now has confirmation that the wife can not ride a skate board. I can't even ride a dang bike, how the heck am I supposed to balance a skate board?? Right.

So we started looking for the swimwear.. passing by their own fudge shop and meat shop and ads for cabin rentals..

M: Ooh, specialty meats.
J: I've got some specialty meat right..
M: Shut up.

Had to ask someone for directions to the swim suits.. big. store. But hey, it killed time, burned calories, whatever.. or something. The All Sports Store.. just shopping here is a work out!

J: You like any of these suits?
M: Yeah. They're ok.. but I don't see the ones I was thinking of buying. Lame.. Or is that one of them? ... Or is that one? .. oh, heck.. Oh, here's a couple reversible suits..
J: Reversible? Oh. Look, that one's brown on the inside. That's for when you're about to race and you crap yourself. You know.. camouflage or something.
M: Shut up or I'll order you a Speedo.

Yeah. I take him out in public.

Time for dessert!! Off to the Cheesecake Factory! We were expecting something more along the lines of the Fudge Factory where you just go in and select out of a glass case and take it home.. not realizing there's a whole restaurant and stuff. Wow. Need to get out more. So we sat down and, feeling a little hungry, had our waitress give us detailed reviews of all the appetizers and cocktails and cheesecakes to help us decide.. I'm not kidding. We really did. She actually had to leave our table a couple times to help other people in the middle of it. Awesome.

We had some Avocado Egg Rolls, Ahi Tuna Tempura Roll, a Mojito and a Georgia Peach (don't ask.. it was good), and ordered some cheesecake to go. Yum. Yum. And more Yum.

We hopped in the car and headed toward our gracious sitter's home and cranked up some Austrian Death Machine. We rolled down the windows and blasted it and giggled when people next to us at the stop lights rolled their windows up. It's an entire album mocking Arnold Schwarzenegger, every song based on lines from his movies. hi.lar.i.ous. It was like a timewarp, taking me back to my hardcore roots.. reminding me that I'm a watered down version of what I was when I was a teenager. Rewinding to my long haired, plaid flannel shirt, ripped jeans, docs, and Headbanger's Ball t-shirt days. I forgot how much I could like that music. It did help that we laughed our guts out all the way to collect our kids. I kind of missed that hard driving beat that makes your head feel like it's going to pop without making it hurt. It makes your innards run for cover for fear of implosion. It was awesome. And did I mention hilarious? Yeah.

Who Is Your Daddy? What Does He Do? (Kindergarten Cop)

Then, shortly before we arrived, it ended. So we popped in Family Force 5 and did our best to Dance or Die without.. well.. um.. dying.

Love Addict (Since Dance or Die doesn't have a video yet.. but my kids totally dig this song and Booger sings it all the time..)

Friday, August 22, 2008

how to go through multiple rolls of paper towels in one afternoon and other ways of destroying the earth single handedly..

So yesterday while I was busy posting away all my mushy gushy feelings of adoration for the youngest of my offspring, my older children (more specifically, the ones with wieners) were occupying themselves in the kitchen with a train set and a bottle of maple syrup. Yes, maple syrup. A little reminder of why I should not be blogging at all? Perhaps.

When the cat's away.. the mice will play.

As I finished adding pictures and publishing my post, I realized that it was 2 something in the afternoon and my hair was still crispy from my post-shower mousse. Oops. I got up to go brush it out and noticed, as I peeked in the kitchen at my darling little dirt wearing dudes (seriously, if they were naked I probably wouldn't know.. I think they might be borrowing dirt from other yards.. there can't be that much in ours), some brown puddles had appeared on the floor and train tracks. Oh, crud.. Princess must have leaked something on the floor from her body... what could it be.. Then I smelled it. What the?... Yeah. Maple syrup. About half a bottle of it.

I'm so glad that I'm always so calm and collected.. cool as a cucumber. I never lose it with my kids.. Um. Yeah. I screamed at them and accused them of being the proud owners of malfunctioning gray matter. Then informed them that they were the lucky winners of a roll of paper towels and suggested that they get their butts in gear and put it to good use cleaning up their mess. Wow.. they are really impressive in their cleaning skills! Not.

I ended up helping.

The floor is still sticky.

And my hair is still crispy.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

my crazy cupcake

My baby is both insanely adorable and.. well.. insane. She drives me crazy with her cuteness while also driving me crazy with her screaming-smacking-jumping-pinching-crying-clinging antics. One amazing little girl, if I do say so myself. And I do.

Her birthday is fast approaching and I'm not ready for it. No, I don't mean in the sense of party, cake, guests, candle, and gifts.. I mean, she's not old enough to turn one. I realize that I still have about 5 weeks.. But I think back to this time a year ago...

Big round belly full of baby.


I was busily setting up a spot for little baby in our room and purchasing yet another carseat to squeeze into our van. Having conversations with my Monkey about how he was sure it would be a baby girl and that he thought we should name her 'Cupcake' because it was a 'beautiful name'. Yes, it feels like that was a year ago.. it's amazing how time accelerates after the birth of a child. Passing so slowly as you await their arrival and then WHAM! all of a sudden, as soon as that cord is cut.. warp speed ahead! She's too little, too young, to be turning one.

She's the 'favorite' of many.. so sweet, spunky, smart, and silly.. sometimes she reminds me of myself a little.. the me that people don't really know. The part that takes work to get to, too vulnerable to be constantly exposed.

Her birth was so special for so many.. almost as much of an 'event' as her oldest brother's.. but so much more... perfect. His was in a cramped hospital room with more people than I wanted, some expressly uninvited - causing me to rethink my options in subsequent pregnancies. He was in a hurry.. unexpectedly rushed and a little unprepared (just as the circumstances of his conception), not quite ready when the moment came. It was still better than I imagined it would be, leaving me with no regrets. Hers, more carefully planned, my midwife honoring all of my few wishes.. In the privacy of my own bedroom, with only invited guests, she was born on my own bed, the very bed she was conceived on. Welcomed into the world by her family and some very honored teen age girls who still treasure the experience as they do her.


Through all the crap that we've been though this past year, she has been a constant source of joy. That little bright spot. We've enjoyed sharing her with other people in our lives. Enjoyed her laughter, her smiles, her giggles, hugs, and snuggles. Her obvious desire to bring smiles to our faces, her delight in making us laugh and just being a part of our household. Even Wizmo seems entranced with her, in spite of the torment she provides him with, always coming back for more pinches, smacks, and tail yanks.

I know that she will be an amazing girl, fun to be around and filling our house with laughter. Especially when she gets old enough to understand that trying to yank out mommy's nose screw is really not that funny!

Sweet little baby girl.. don't lose your spunk! Don't let the world beat you down and make you feel small. Don't let people kill your spirit. I wish I could build a protective shield around you so that no one could hurt you or damage you. Don't be afraid to fight back. I love you.


My name is Jo
and I like to dance,
My name is Jo
and I like to dance,
My name is Jo
and I like to dance....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

a night swim

There she was.. floating where the water met sky, staring up at the stars. She held as still as she could, listening to the water and feeling it lap around her body on her skin. It feels like home. She pulls her feet down under herself and ducks her head under the water, her arms stretching out in front of her as if reaching to push aside a curtain. She kicks her legs and dives down deeper, water rushing past her limbs as her feet flutter behind her. Then up again to the surface where she draws in another breath and water rolls off her head and down her neck.

She remembers wishing, as a child, that she were a mermaid. Wanting to live in the water, never having to leave. Never having to feel her ears flood or see her fingers and toes wrinkle. No longer having to come up for air. Weightless and graceful she glides through the lake, her limbs carrying her faster, the coolness washing away the stress of her day. Up her head pops for a quick breath and then down she goes again, drawing nearer to the shore. She begins to feel the plants growing up from the sandy bottom brush against her legs, like thousands of tiny gentle fingers tickling her. Like the touch of her children's hands. Her head rises once more out of the water and she spins around, stretching out on her back again. She gazes up to the full moon and thanks God for the water. Closing her eyes her arm extends above her head and scoops behind her, paddling her closer to land.. Home? This feels more like home to me..

Opening her eyes she stands in the water, close to the shore now, barely deep enough to swim. She pauses, sweeps her hands through the dark water, not wanting to leave. Then, slowly, she walks to the water's edge, enjoying the water swirling around her legs and body. She softly steps onto the sand and finds her towel in the dark, warm from the summer night. Wrapping it around her, she turns back once more and stares out at the still waters.. it's as if she was never there. Perfect.

Good night, my friend... Good night.


..for especially difficult children..

because my 7yo is fighting over trains that don't belong to him and having a fit that resembles the behavior of a 13yo girl..
because my 2yo is still wearing last night's diaper because she won't let me change her..
because my 6yo is trying to 'explode open' a cereal bar..
because my 4yo is upstairs playing while the baby is sleeping..
because my 2yo is sitting on the floor screaming at me after telling me to move the keyboard off my lap and sit on the other half of the love seat and I said 'no'...

I need one of these...

Engrish picture of a donation box labeled Charity Box For Especially Difficult Children
more the engrish!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

MxPx - Shut it Down

In honor of yesterday's post...

"This is a Public Service Announcement.. With Guitars!"

c'mon.. watch it.. we all need a little punk rock now and then...

Monday, August 18, 2008

unstifling childhood..

The pond spread out in front of us like a giant moss speckled mirror. Totally still, calm and placid, like a child waking from a restful sleep.

*plop plop*

I look over as the boys fling some crab apples from the sidewalk into the murky water. I feel sluggish. Like the mid-afternoon drag on Monday, when you've lost some of the momentum you had to start the week off, when you stop just long enough that you realize the past two days were so much shorter than the four ahead. Is it the heat? or the lack of sleep from last night? It slows me down enough to make it impossible to think of anything but here and now.

Children with cheeks flushed from hard play and eyes filled with eager anticipation "What's next? What will we do? When do we come back?" I look around the park with a twinge of sadness. I love their innocence and delight in the simplicity - the grove of trees often holds their attention longer than the slides and swings do. Still, there are remnants of a truly awesome piece of childhood here. A snack bar by the pond, with a picnic area up stairs, built into the hillside. A tiny boat dock, a plastic jug now covering the fountain spout in the pond. A wading area, over grown with weeds, now disintegrating concrete and only part of the hand rail left jutting out of the ground sorely out of place. The squeak of the swings is so loud we can barely hear each other - they are the only remnants of the original play ground.. which was replaced some years ago with updated 'safer' play equipment. Still, I can picture in my mind the things that may have been there - a merry go round, a tall metal slide, a jungle gym tall enough to break bones if you fell from it... It seems as though the tennis court is the only thing that has really been kept up. As if the children that once played here all grew up and moved on, and their parents only cared to keep the court clean so they could keep up their game.. never mind that they might have grandchildren visiting some day who might like to play in the park. But there will be DVDs and video games for their entertainment. Overstimulating technology constantly bombarding their delicate minds. Numbing their brains to the point of quieting them.

I remember the hours spent in the parks of my own childhood. Days upon days of digging tunnels in the sand, swinging from monkey bars and spinning on the tire swing until we got nauseated. Racing in the grass, flying kites, hunting for lizards and tadpoles or, after a good rain, for worms and newts. Exploring dry creek beds, perfecting our bumble bee catching techniques, and listening intently for chirping frogs and crickets as dusk would fall.. And I wonder, how many of these things will my children miss out on? So I resolve to make sure that they don't miss a single one. After all, it was my own mother who introduced us to many of the hot summer afternoon wonders of my own childhood.

I'm tired of my kids sitting in front of a computer game or tv show. Brain destroying idiotic humor filled cartoons and hypnotizing pointless games.. Sure, I do enjoy the hour or two of peace and quiet it gives me now and then - but I don't like seeing that glazed over look in their eyes.. It's disturbing. It can be an uphill battle some days to fight the entertainment industry, and it surprises me at times that my children continue to fight it even after having the taste of sunshine and grass on warm afternoon... and then I remember the broken glass in the grass of our park. But I won't let it stop us. I won't let the intoxicated transient who sat and drank in the park and then threw his bottle at the tree just to watch it break ruin our perfect August afternoon. We'll just keep our shoes on today.


Friday, August 15, 2008

still refusing to be a soccer mom..

What the heck is that supposed to mean anyway?... 'soccer mom'. Whatever. Cause we can be defined by the sport our kid plays or by the fact that we have to drive them somewhere in the afternoon..

I didn't even want to admit that my boys were playing soccer last fall for fear of being dubbed a...


Huh? wha? who said that?? No, I'm not. My kids don't even play soccer.. They just run around on a field chasing some kids who are kicking a ball... Seriously though, they didn't really get to play soccer. The homeschool co-op takes 'making it fun' a little too far. Where's the challenge? where's the personal growth? where's all those life skills they learn from team sports?? Yeah, not so much.

That's ok, we put them in wrestling with the school district after that.. and found out that they would get their butt kicked if they ever picked a fight with anyone bigger or slightly stronger than them... Still ok though.. we also found out that Princess has a head start on it with a wicked wrestling stance.. by the time she's four, she'll be able to take any of her brothers down, we're quite sure of it. Good thing, too.. since apparently her brothers won't be able to protect her - unless you count 'distracting the attacker' as defending..

This year, I asked the kids what they wanted to do. Yes, you guessed it.. soccer and wrestling are Dad's favorites. But Monkey wants to be just like Dad, so he would have requested soccer anyway.. and Captain would have just followed along. I've always thought that Monkey would enjoy gymnastics. I even looked into enrolling him (and his brothers) a couple times while we were living in CA. We just never had the time or the money to do it - and the other 2 boys would have just been 'along for the ride' for the sake of simplifying schedules. Yeah, it wasn't big ears or cro-magnon like facial structure that earned him the nick-name Monkey, but rather the fact that he was climbing on top of the dining room table (before he could even crawl on all fours) at 9 months old.

Recently, some friends of ours enrolled their kids (you know.. our friends' kids are our kids' friends) in gymnastics. . Monkey thought that was 'rad'. So, pair that with the fact that he'd caught a glimpse of the Olympic gymnastics and it kind of sealed the deal for him.

Me: What do you want to do this fall?
M: Gynnastits.

So we had a talk about the fact that it costs money for him to do that and that if it's 'hard' that doesn't mean he can stop going (became an issue with wrestling.. though more with his older brother than him). He's got heart.. and a good dose of perseverance, so I think he's got a good chance. And, yes, he said he still wants to wrestle this year.. so we're quietly hoping that the gymnastics will give him more of an 'edge'.. helping improve his strength, flexibility, and body control. Maybe he'll do more than flop like a fish this year. Then again, maybe he won't.

Me: You sure about that?
M: Yup.
Me: You know.. it's kind of hard. You going to be ok with that?
M: Yup.
Me: and if it gets hard?
M: I'll keep doing it.
Me: ..because?
M: ..if I don't Daddy will cut my legs off and I'll have to walk around on little stumps and everyone will call me stumpy.
Me: um... no.

And Booger is 4 so...

Me: What do you want to do?
B: Gynnastits.
Me: ok.. and if it gets hard?
B: I keep doin it.
Me: ..because??
B: I don wanna be stumpee??

Um.. yeah. Anyway, so my pirate-obsessed Captain would be off sailing the 7 seas if he could, pillaging and plundering all the way.. but since that's not an option..

Me: What activity do you want to do this fall?
C: I want to dance.

Very much like me and my father, my oldest has a love for all things dramatic. He loves to sing, dance, and act. He spends lots of time choreographing his favorite songs and has even been known to engage his siblings in his conquests and direct them. (Honestly, I think directing is what he's best at..) Sadly, he kind of lacks a natural propensity for rhythm and coordination.. but he's got heart (not so big on the perseverance part though).

Me: Really? and if you think it's hard?
C: I'll keep doing it.
Me: Why?
C: Because I want to get good at it, and it's fun. I want to show my teacher my moves and..
Me: You realize that if you go to dance class, they'll want to teach you, not watch you, right?
C: Oh.. Ok. Can I do the Scottish dancing?
Me: You mean Irish dancing?
C: What's that?

This is not my child. Son, in this house, it's Irish dancing. Get it right. You're Irish Mexican. Not Scottish Mexican. Oy. So Highland Dance it is (turns out they do Scottish and Irish dances in the class I found.. so he's off the hook this time). Thank God for grandparents who are supportive of personal enrichment (I didn't tell grandpa that he called it 'Scottish' dancing.. that would be an ever so grievous mistake..), who will help lighten the load by giving Captain some dance lessons for his upcoming birthday.

So, I will officially be carting my kids around town in my mini-van. And, if you call me a 'soccer mom' I'll sick my 2yo on you. Trust me, you do not want that!


Thursday, August 14, 2008

voulez-vous danser avec moi??

So I'm bored..

Last night, as I'm occasionally wont to do, I was sitting around reviewing my French vocabulary in my mind. I know, I'm a geek. Said vocabulary is constantly shrinking and I know that if I don't at least mentally review it now and then, it will disappear completely.

I love foreign languages.

I love them so much that I daily annoy the crap out of my kids by talking to them in random languages and going long periods of time donning weird accents.

"Mommyyyy... Pleeeease talk normal now!!"

They're no fun.

So whenever I start thinking en Francais, I think of Ace of Base. I can't help it. Perhaps it's because I loved Ace of Base and The Sign was still fairly new when I took my first year of French? Who knows.. So, it took some searching.. but I managed to find this. Hilarious.


I also couldn't resist adding The Sign to my Rhapsody.. Now I can, once again, dance around my living room like a fool and annoy my children even more!! Muahahahahaa!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Amazing Wiz-Kitty

J rolled out of bed at some horrible unmentionable hour this morning and while contemplating how to end world hunger and stop global warming he stumbled across the hall to the bathroom.. only tripping on 235 toys along the way. Yes, my husband is so brilliantly awesome that his first thoughts in the morning revolve around how he'll spend the day saving the world.. hey, it makes up for the fact that by some time in early afternoon (usually after his work out..) they turn to plots of world domination.

So he groggily steps up to the piss-pot for his morning tinkle, carefully takes aim in his early morning visual haze, and lets loose.. seconds later..

*thumpa-thumpa-thumpa-thump.... splash*

Stunned, he watches as BabyCat comes stampeding into the bathroom and launches himself straight between J's legs, through the stream of urine, and into the toilet.. while J is still going. He quickly realizes that said kitten can not get himself out of the toilet (should have just flushed him.. darn, no more tiny claws scaling my leg!). Still confused by the whole incident, J scoops the kitten out of the toilet and turns on the shower. No, BabyCat does not enjoy cold showers. Oops. J turns the hot water on so as to avoid a case of feline hypothermia and finishes rinsing him off. He then spent a good portion of his morning rubbing him with a towel to get him dry and warm again, wondering what on earth this tiny creature found so appealing about him taking an early morning wiz.. Was it the splashing sound? The manly smell of J's urine - perhaps it awoke the inner lion's desire to dominate? Does he prefer toilets to litter pans and really needed to go (oh, how I wish)? Or did he just really want to have an early morning swim? We may never know..


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

idiots on the internet.. not for the faint of heart!

J: "Speaking of leg-humping dogs.. my co-worker told me a funny story the other day.."

I know, I know.. not the conversation you'd expect to have while eating brunch at Cracker Barrel with your best friend (E) and his wife (R) before they fly back to California.. But, what can I say, I married a man with panache. (Yes, I did.. so shaddup.)

J: "So my co-worker knows a lady up north a bit who frequents some of Iowa's illustrious bike trails. One day, she's out on the trail riding and hears a noise, just off the trail, up ahead.. She peeks over as she's passing and there, pretty much out in the open, is a lady who's totally going at it with some dude.. like going way downtown on him. Shocked (and, not to mention a bit disgusted) by her discovery, she just continued on her way and tried to forget what she just saw. She didn't want to let the image linger too long for fear of recognizing them.. it is, after all, a pretty small town. Little did she know, she was in for much worse.."

He paused as the waitress poured more coffee in our mugs and glanced at the kids to make sure they were still ravenously devouring their food (I swear, you'd think we never feed them..) and not paying attention to the boring grown-up talk. He leaned in, lowered his voice a bit, and continued..

J: "So, the next time she's out on the trail, she's passing by the SAME spot and hears noises again. She, rather hesitantly, looks over again as she passes.. only this time she sees a man on all fours with a dog behind him, giving it to him.. well.. doggie style."

R: "No! Are you serious??"

J: "Yes. But wait, it gets better. So when she gets home, she thinks 'That's enough. I need to report this to someone.' So she calls the department of parks and rec or animal control or something, and tells her story. The lady on the other end, a friend of said trail patron, is rather disturbed by the tale at first.. then, she says 'Wait.. what did the dog look like??' So the woman describes the dog to her. 'Oh... gosh. that's MY dog.. um.. shoot... .. What did the man look like?' So she describes the man to her.. 'Oh shit! That's Uncle Bob! Dang it... We told him not to do that in public anymore!'"

(insert shocked laughter here)

R: "No way!"
E: "In public!?! As in 'It's fine at home, Bob.. but please, not in public!'?"
R: "Seriously, who DOES that?? Can the dude not get a girlfriend? or does he just prefer canines?"
Me: "Well.. Some people do.."
J: "True, there's whole p*rn sites dedicated to it. Besides, I guess the guy is a little retarded."
Me: "Um.. yeah. I think you'd have to be to do it in public.. with a DOG."
R: "It really begs the question.. how does one get a dog to DO that??"
Me: "Exactly. I mean, it's not exactly and instinctual behavior.."
R: "Unless, perhaps, he found some way of extracting the scent of a bitch in heat and rubbed it on his nethers.."
J: "Well, apparently it's not TOO hard to figure out.. After all, the guy isn't that bright."
E: "Well, he probably doesn't have to be Einstein. I'm sure any idiot with internet access could figure it out."

Me: "Dude. You just described the entire United States."


Sunday, August 10, 2008

passing childhood dreams..

I love the Olympics. Sure, I'm geeky, I know.. but I do. I always have. Seriously though, what kid doesn't watch, pick a favorite sport, and then fantasize about one day winning Olympic gold for it?? I know I did.. maybe that makes me weirder than I thought I was.

I remember watching Mary Lou when I was a kid. She was my hero. I loved gymnastics, never learned to do gymnastics but I loved watching and imaging myself being able to do it. Of course, when the winter Olympics were on, I was all about ice skating. I was in awe of the graceful figure skaters with all their daring stunts and glittery costumes.. though, in reality, if I ever succeeded as an ice skater, it would have been speed skating. I could skate pretty fast as a kid, but I couldn't spin for the life of me.

As I got older and more of my 'natural abilities' emerged it became easier to try and squeeze myself into that Olympic mold. By the 92 summer games, I'd realized my true calling was in swimming. I've always LOVED the water. I think I was around 7 or 8 by the time I had 'formal lessons'. By that time I was a capable swimmer but lacked technical expertise, able to keep myself from drowning but unable to distinguish between breast stroke and butterfly. I still can't do the butterfly very well.. After making my way through all the lessons our local pool had to offer - including all the basic strokes and floats, some basic diving, and rescue swimming - I got my little certificate that said I could indeed swim (and save a drowning person... so long as they weren't too much bigger than me).

It wasn't long after that that my parents had a 'real' pool put in in our back yard. Man... I miss that pool. I swam any day that I could and had some days that I only got out of the pool to eat meals. If I could have, I would have lived in the water.

In the summer of '92, we found out we'd be moving. We all really liked where we were living and didn't want to go.. even if it was way cheaper and my dad wouldn't have to spend 3hrs a day commuting. (Suck it up, Dad.. my school kicks ass.) We moved anyway.. and we survived. That summer, before our move, we took a big family vacation. We went to Disneyland and then drove from the West Coast to Chicago and back - seeing more of the USA than I probably ever will again. Aside from the awesome sights and seeing long lost family members and friends.. I looked forward to checking out the hotel pool each night. The Summer Games had just ended and we'd all watched as Summer Sanders, a 20 yo California girl, had medaled 4 times in Barcelona. My new hero.

I loved swimming in those hotel pools, working on my breast stroke and back stroke and trying to improve my butterfly.. I had more than one stranger comment on my swimming ability and one night even heard "Wow.. will we be seeing you swim for gold in another 4 years?" Then it dawned on me...

"Hey, I could do that!"

Then we moved. We didn't have a pool anymore.. But we did have a membership to the local racket club (yes, Buffy.. the racket club). I spent lots of time there.. not as much as I should have or could have.. but lots. While my brothers spent time pushing each other in the outdoor pool, jumping off the diving board and trying to drown each other.. I spent most of my time in the lap pool (though my oldest brother did join me now and then), honing my skills. (Mad skillz, yo.) I know I asked my parents at some point 'Hey, do you think there's a swim team for kids my age??' Which probably sounded more to them like 'Blah blah blah money blah blah blah?' Lol.. probably figured I was kidding or something. Being a parent myself now, I realize just how often the words coming out of our children's mouths sound just so.

It didn't take long for us to not be able to afford the Club anymore... Dad stopped working for the IT MegaGiants and started teaching at a vocational school instead.. Wow.. hello pay-cut! By that time I'd turned my attention more to theater and band and let those grandiose dreams of Olympic medals fade away long enough that by the '96 games it was a distant, nostalgic memory of 'Wow.. I wish I'd stuck with that.. I could have been good.'

Oh, and my husband has dreams of swimming in the Olympics too... Literally. Last night, after watching Phelps break yet another record, he dreamed of swimming in the Olympics.. and then followed it up with a dream of trying to beat a Japanese female gymnast. It really pissed him off that no matter what he did with his 6'3" 200+lb body, he just couldn't seem to beat that little Japanese Olympic gymnast.. Poor guy.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Then Reality Slapped me in the Face...

I really wanted to start this blog off with something truly creative that would make you laugh your butt off and want to come back again and again for more..

Then reality slapped me in the face. Or was it my 2yo? Either way, I woke up from that dream. A rude awakening, mind you.. Fear not, I'll come up with something funny, witty, and engaging to say.. but right now, I can't unscramble my brain long enough to transfer my words from my thoughts to my keyboard in a coherent fashion.

See that? Just now I had to figure out again where my 2yo Princess was and make sure she wasn't eating glass or bathing in cleaning products again or something.. all while trying to get my 6yo Monkey to shut up so that I could hear her answer my call and try to echo-locate her.. It's hard to echo-locate with interference from a 6yo boy.

Then I struggle to move on to another thought and have to break up a fight between my 4yo Booger and little trouble-making Princess, who's returned once more to the living room to try and rob her brother of his corner of the couch.. never mind that the rest of the couch is unoccupied. It just isn't satisfying to sit down somewhere without making someone cry in the process.

Then, of course, 7yo Captain SmartyPants yells at me for muting his favorite song for a moment to see if the noise I heard was MamaCat's yowling or my Baby Cupcake crying.. Did the screaming match wake her? *sigh*

So, I wonder if J will really make it home for lunch today... as I scold Captain for putting MamaCat on Monkey's head which resulted in a nice 7" trail of claw marks.. Perhaps we shall now refer to him as ScarFace?? J always wanted to have a ScarFace in the family.. he's always threatening to be the one responsible for the nickname. Oh.. I. love. my. life.

And now my husband is twittering about eating cupcakes at work...

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