Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Survival Techniques from an Old Pro

Little Jimmy is a survivor; from his rough beginnings to now, he's proven time and again that he's a survivor. I've spoken with lots of other mothers of preemies, and it does seem to be a trend that across the board, these little ones are tough cookies. They come into the word before they'd really like to be here, and then have to make peace with their new settings and people messing with them, etcetera. I'm convinced their feistyness and spunk serves them well not only as infants but also throughout their whole lives. These kids are thinkers; they're not ones to just go with the flow - they've got thoughts of their own. As the mother of a four year old, I can tell you spunk at this age is not always the easiest, but I'm convinced it will serve an excellent purpose.

This morning, Jimmy demonstrated some of his survival skills, although I'm not totally sure he knew that's what it was at the time. It reminded me of something which might be aired on 'Man vs. Wild,' a program various family members delight in debating. "What's the point of knowing this stuff?" my sister has quipped with obvious annoyance. "You never know when you might need these skills" my dad has been known to respond smugly. It was through one of these sorts of family dialogs I learned about this most recently demonstrated survival skill. And I quote: "Drink your own urine -- it will stave off dehydration temporarily."

Little Jimmy was eating his bowl of Cheerios this morning while I fed Kyla her oatmeal. I had already placed Jimmy's antibiotic and allergy medicine on the counter for him to take (see blog on 'OJ and a Vitamin' for more info on how I feel about this), but still needed to get him some water. I remembered the cup of water by his bed, which Kyla frequently delights in dumping out as soon as she's given the opportunity to crawl into Jimmy's room. Heading off a likely mess, I grabbed Jimmy's water from his room and placed it on the counter. "Take your medicine; here's your water." I told him. Jimmy popped his allergy pill into his mouth and washed it down with his drink. "Mommy! That water tastes YUCKY!". I had noticed that it actually wasn't water in his cup this morning, but had assumed Jim had given him apple juice or something last night when he tucked him into bed. Upon further inspection, however, I noticed the cup of apple juice was slightly warm. "Jimmy, did you pee in your cup last night?" I asked with vast amounts of trepidation building. "I finished off my water in the night, so I peed in my cup this morning." THE HORROR!!! I quickly dumped the cup of urine down the drain and got him a fresh cup with water straight from the spigot. "Drink this quickly!" I ordered. After Jimmy had taken a couple of sips and realized he'd drunk his own pee he innocently told me, "Mommy, I thought you had given me nasty water." No, no - in all reality I had just given my child a cup of his own pee to take with his medicine.

"Honey, you need to not ever pee in your cup in your bedroom again. Pee in the potty when we're at home" I requested as reassuringly as possible. Jimmy has peed in cups before - typically when we're driving and there's no place to stop, or the only option is a scary looking gas station. These are times he's peed in a cup; times when I've known there was pee in a cup. Really, these were "survival pees" too: times he had to go - but very definitely not times he was forced to drink his own pee for the sake of staving of dehydration.

Still there is one other type of survival very popular nowadays. Really it's not so much a front- line form of survival as it is a recourse for those who have survived some blunder of their own or another's doing. It's called an attorney. To my surprise, Jimmy is also familiar with this survival technique. Last week while demonstrating his amazing, high-speed driving skills with Kyla's walker, Jimmy had a collision with a wall. Fortunately there were no injuries, but Jimmy felt there had been damage done to his vehicle. "Well then it's time you gave Bogun, Munns and Munns a call, isn't it?" I played along. "No. I'm not calling them, I'm calling Morgan and Morgan, for the people" Jimmy answered decidedly. I'm assuming Jimmy heard their add on the radio, but it totally baffled me not only that he remembered their slogan so well, but also that he referenced them in the correct context.

I think little Jimmy could teach the world a thing or two on survival. Already, at such a formative age, he has demonstrated a mastery of survival skills. To recap, just remember: when you start something (per say, being born), keep going until the job is done; don't ever be afraid to drink your own pee; and when necessary find an advocate to plead your case.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Life Changing

My sister-in-law just had her baby. Little Miss Payton Grace arrived nine weeks early weighing in at 2 pounds 11 ounces and 14.5 inches long on Friday. Talk about a flash back! Nearly five years ago this May, our tiny little Jimmy arrived - also 9 weeks early at 3 pounds, 1 ounce, 16.5 inches long. Both my sister-in-law and I had c-sections to take our little ones out for the same reason, pre-eclampsia. I just got off the phone with Jen, and boy does it bring back memories: the fear and uncertainty, the guilt of whether or not you somehow caused all of this, the feeling of being totally overwhelmed - not even sure what to worry about first, the longing just to hold your baby, and the desire to know beyond any shadow of a doubt that your baby would make it.

When our little Jimmy arrived, EVERYthing in our life changed on a dime. Our WORLD suddenly revolved around our baby; I know this is normal for every new parent, but when there's a chance your child just might not make it, the intensity is beyond words.

When Jimmy arrived, though tiny, he was breathing on his own and screaming lustrously. His existence surpassed my comprehension - so tiny, yet so very much alive. The doctor carried our child around from behind the curtain where they had taken him from my belly and held him near me so I could touch him and just look at him. It was a surreal moment gazing silently into my baby's big eyes - both of us equally confused. I was able to kiss him before they rushed him back to the NICU to ensure his stability. We had been told everything was progressing as well as could be expected for a baby of his size, and in my heavily drugged state, that was good enough for me.

Unfortunately, things turned around rather quickly. The nurses had attempted to give Jimmy his first feed through the feeding tube they'd inserted through his mouth down to his belly. This would've been fine, except for the fact that I'd been on an IV of an anti-seizure drug; thus, the hospital staff was supposed to wait about a day before feeding Jimmy, and somehow, this little tidbit of crucial information was not in the notes the NICU received. Thus, not long after they'd put food into his belly, he quite nearly quit breathing. They hooked him up to a ventilator and were able to keep him going. I remember when the doctor came into our room to deliver the news of Jimmy's decline; as he looked over the notes, he realized the mistake that had been made, and he was 'hot' to say the least. You see, when a baby whose mother was on magnesium sulfate is given food before that drug has the time to wear out of the baby's system, the baby's body cannot process the food. Usually, this well lead to a condition called NEC in which the baby would need surgery to remove a portion of the intestine that would have likely become infected; sadly, most NEC baby's don't make it. Somehow though, little Jimmy pulled through without ever developing NEC.

A couple days after Jimmy was born there came another very hard moment - leaving the hospital without my baby in my arms. I went home and made trips back to the hospital over the next couple of days, but it was killing me not to have him with me. I checked into the Ronald McDonald house by the hospital so that I could be within walking distance of little Jimmy.

While Jimmy remained at the hospital under the watchful eye of his doctors and nurses, I continued visiting him while myself trying to heal up from a c-section. About a week later when the staples were taken out, starry-strips replaced them. Unfortunately I learned the hard way that I was allergic to starry-strips. On top of the actual vertical scar from the c-section, I had staple scars, and now blisters covering the whole area. My belly looked about how I felt emotionally - completely torn up.

The NICU experience was a roller coaster ride. It was over a week before I was able to hold my baby and kiss him again. And even then, I was so afraid to hold him that I actually told the nurses, "No, I don't really need to hold him; I can wait until he's stronger." But I think the nurses knew this Mommy needed to hold her child for the sake of comfort.

Little Jimmy was intubated and taken off the vent, placed on a c-pap, back on a vent, then to a c-pap again. It was up and down - one day at a time. There were days I went to sit by little Jimmy's isolette that I was told it'd be best to not even stick my hands in to give him comfort - just to watch him as he shouldn't have any stimulation at all. There were other days that I went to see my child and was told I couldn't even go in because they were admitting a new preemie and couldn't have any visitors. As time went on and I was able to hold my child more frequently, there were still days I was told that he shouldn't be held. It was incredibly hard. I became an expert at reading doctors' and nurses' notes in his folder. I learned the lingo of the NICU. With the help of my case worker at the hospital, I broke through the yellow tape so that I could nurse my child on an every three hour schedule - even when the doors were closed to everyone else.

I learned that as hard as our situation was, it was far from the worst. I watched as Mommy's and Daddy's kissed their babies 'goodbye' before they went into surgery - uncertain of whether they'd ever see their children alive again. I felt the tension and desperation, from behind the curtain where I was nursing Jimmy, as nurses attempted to insert a scalp IV on a preemie who's other usable veins had gone bad. I listened to the baby next to mine, who was so tiny his cry sounded more like a meow. I observed a single teenage Mommy facing the horrors of the NICU by herself, her son having already had surgery to place a stint into his skull to alleviate a severe case of hydrocephalia. And a day or two before Jimmy would end up leaving the NICU for good, I sympathized as I watched the nurses repeating the same thing again and again to a Mama in complete denial of her baby's situation, a preemie born with cerebral pulsy.

And just when I was getting comfortable with my new homes - the Ronald McDonald house and the NICU, I was told little Jimmy was well enough to come home. I was thrilled with the possiblity of bringing my baby home, yet horrified with the thought of trying to care for him without the support from the hospital staff. I had seen other Mommies with their "fat" babies and their cart of flowers and gifts leaving the hospital every single day since my son was born, and every time I had seen them, I cried - with a feeling of jealousy and longing. When my turn finally came, I was feeling a little uncertain of my ability to handle a preemie - with no machines, daily doctors' rounds or nurses checking vitals.

We did bring little Jimmy home, but our journey of preemiehood didn't end there. There were lots of sleepless nights, lots of doctors visits, a handful of hospital trips, one ambulance ride and one surgery. Our world revolved around our boy and his health. We were vigilant parents with a quest to see our child grow strong.

It's a funny thing to think about - how things have changed. Those things that we thought were really important then mean nothing to us now. Eventually the focus had to shift from caring almost single-mindedly for our child, to caring for our child and our relationship as a husband and wife. There's nothing that'll strain a marriage quite like having a sick child, or worse yet, losing one. Amazingly, our little boy survived and so did our marriage.

When we left the hospital Friday, we took our big boy to the park at Lake Eola. He had patiently endured an afternoon of waiting around at the hospital, and he and I both had energy to burn off. I ran with Jimmy and played on the rides at the park, both of us screaming and letting off a bit of pent up anxiety. "You people are crazy!" I heard another little boy whom we were playing with comment excitedly. Compared to the other urban and ultra-hip mommies at the park, I'm sure I came across a bit on the wild side. It's good to be able to enjoy these carefree moments with my boy; it's good to have survived preemiehood; it's good to have come out on the other side as better parents and a healthy child. So what if I look like a homely, crazy Mama - I know I've got it good!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

OJ and a Vitamin

"He seems better." I told Jimmy's pre-k teacher yesterday morning. "He had been throwing up and feverish; that's why I kept him home yesterday."
"Oh - I thought it might've been something to do with his sinus infection and all." she responded.
"Ya - that's a whole nother ball game in and of itself; he has allergies really bad, but the doctors say he has no infection - just allergies."
"You know, everyday since my son was a baby, I just give him a vitamin and a cup of orange juice in the morning, and he's healthy. He's in fourth grade now and never missed a day of school." she commented.
Ms. Cheryl's words fell on deaf ears.
"OK - I'd better run; Kyla's in the car." and I hurried off, blood boiling and all.

Since then, for more than 24 hours, I've been stewing. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. The audacity of such commentary! I've heard similar jargon from others over the years, but I have to say, I've never gotten over it. I hate, with a passion, when Mom's give me their lame-o tips on what THEY'VE DONE, to make their children healthy. Just let them walk a day in my shoes, and let's find out if they have any suggestions after that time.

You see, it's not like I just let my children go and wallow around at the dump, nor do I feed them a steady diet of sugar, lard, and caffeine. Oh contrare! If any of these arrogant moms who delight in sharing their bits of useless wisdom with me had a vague clue of the arsenol of medicines - eastern, western, herbal, homeopathics, natural, alternative - that my pantry housed, they'd keep their mouths shut. Because I can reassure you that the likelihood of my happening to run into another mom who knows more about what to do to treat a common cold, an ear infection, a sinus infection or allergies is slim to none at best. I AM THE EXPERT. I know of NO other person with a vaster array of knowledge on the subject of children's health than I do. And just let me throw out there for the sake of Jimmy's pre-k teacher, if I had stopped at just orange juice and vitamins as a remedy for my children's problems, they would've both been dead a long time ago. I know every possible cure for all the common childhood ailments, and I treat them accordingly, but alas, my kids are just sick kids.

We've all heard about survival of the fittest. Let me just share with you, that I personally am not the fittest, and neither are my children. I live because of modern medicine and penicillin. Jimmy lives because of the uber-latest advances in technology and science AND penicillin. Kyla lives and can still hear because of modern surgery AND again, penicillin. I do my absolute best in every way to keep my kids healthy, but I think some of us are just more susceptible to illnesses.

I first began getting my edumacation in providing the most top notch care and treatment for sick kids the day my son was born. Born at 31 weeks and weighing 3 pounds, 1 ounce - this baby needed a LOT of help. I learned to change a diaper through an isolette, and how to actually turn a baby with no muscle tone whatsoever by turning both their torso and their heads simultaneously with both hands. It was a full week before I ever even held my son. After thirty-nine days of scrubbing down for 2 minutes before I could even enter the room where my son was at the hospital, he was sent home with me - sent out into a disease ridden world. A world where I could NOT for the life of me keep every possible germ from attacking him. That first winter with my baby was my intro to how winters with kids are - everyone is sick for six months. You can try EVERYthing under the sun to boost immunity, and you will still end up sick.

Three long winters and one hernia surgery later, I decided I could handle one more child (I know, I truly believe it was a temporary lapse of sanity too). I thought I had it made when little Kyla arrived full term and healthy last April. But sure enough, right on time exactly six months later, the winter colds began. . and they continued, and continued - except for now there were two children to care for. I took my kids to the doctors' office weekly, and sometimes bi-weekly, and in my spare time I bought books on and searched the internet for every conceivable way to get them healthy - all, to no avail. My eight month old baby, after over five rounds of antibiotics concluding grandly with antibiotic shots for three days straight (and yes, I know all the woes of antibiotics too - so don't get me started), got tubes in her ears. At last check, there was some hearing loss, but they were hoping it would resolve over time.

My point is, a cup of orange juice isn't going to help, and neither is an IV of vitamin C. A flinstone vitamin isn't going to cut it, and neither is another $50 of phytonutrient and mineral vitamins. I do think all of my efforts have helped. Like I said, they'd both be dead long ago had I done nothing. But some kids just are more prone to sicknesses. My advice to any who have advice for me is quite simply to keep your advice to yourself!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Oh The Thinks You Can Think!"

Beyond my understanding. That's how I'd describe some of the recent sightings I've come across in my new hometown. I understand that strange sightings happen almost anywhere you live (like my Uncle Shawn's frequent sightings of aliens and UFOs), but I wonder if this area doesn't have it's own, unparalleled version of "strange." I've written before about the oddities of the area, and now I'm going to write about some of the oddities of the population itself.

After dropping $60+ to fill up a tank of gas on recent blustery and chilly day, I was pulling out of a gas station with my mother in law seated next to me. "Oh. . " she expressed with a tone of disgust and horror. I followed her line of sight to a seemingly homeless man walking down the sidewalk towards us. He looked fairly normal to me as far as homeless people go, so I wasn't totally sure what she was remarking about; I wondered if she knew him or if it brought up a bad memory or something. Not certain of how to comment back to her, I returned to looking the other direction to determine when there'd be a break in traffic so I could pull out. My mother in law sighed again with a very distinct tone of repulsion; "Can you believe that?!" she asked shaking her head as the homeless man passed in front of our vehicle. He looked almost angry, but determined as he strode confidently past the van. "What? Is it that guy?" I asked trying to figure out what she was remarking on. Apparently the man had "forgotten" (and I use that term VERY loosely) to zip up his pants, and was casually exposing himself in broad daylight for all the locals to witness. I'm really not sure of the point of this man's expose' aside from to say that he had something to prove. His little x-rated show would be perfectly fine and normal were he in a nudist colony - but, to the best of my knowledge, there are none of those sorts of facilities around (I'm hoping!). It's this type of situation which reminds me of some classic Dr. Seuss lines: "Young Cat! If you keep your eyes open enough, oh, the stuff you will learn!" (the stuff we don't want to learn)". . . SO. . .that's why I tell you to keep your eyes wide. Keep them wide open. . at least on one side." And that is a motto I'd like to live by - keep your eyes open, but only on one side; there's no sense in taking in EVERYthing that's around you; it's far better to only see half of it.

Continuing on with other strangeties I've come across, let's meet another character - this time at the gym. Really I don't consider her so much of a phenomenon to the area as she is more of a staple at every gym. She's been in every single group class I've attended since joining this gym. At first glance, she's just another lady working out; if you saw her before class, she'd just be quietly doing her thing and preparing for the class, but once that music starts and she's warmed up, well look out! She's on a roll! She's the one who actually jumps at tempo through the entire workout (which is at least twice as much as the rest of the class), and performs even more dynamic moves than the instructor herself. When everyone else runs to get a sip of water and towel off their sweat, she's the one who holds her position and continues working out - all the while admiring her capabilities in the mirror. When the instructor calls out the number of reps remaining for any given activity, she'll voluntarily count down for the group at a notable volume with a slight accent: "Foe, twee, two, one." But the point at which I really have to bight my lip through is when the "spirit of the dance" overtakes her and she begins clapping solo to the beat of the music - kind of like Riverdance, but very definitely NOT. Yes, she's in all my workout classes, but I'm sure she's in all your workout classes too.

The final localaty I'll share today is a tad bit more somber than the others. As I approached a busy intersection with the fam in tow, each of us marveling over our Whatasized Whataburger meals, I quite nearly didn't even see him. . . And sadly, that may have been just the way he wanted it to be. He was on a scooter for older people, and he had been sitting in one of those bizarre little medians between the turn lanes and the straight traffic. Whether it was an inadvertent slip of his finger on the remote or if it was intentional I will never know, but his little buggy suddenly lurched forward at a breakneck speed heading straight into oncoming traffic. And then, just as quickly as it had started, the scooter stopped with the man being thrust forward in his seat, possibly causing some whiplash. I swerved slightly within my lane, and hit the breaks. Fortunately, the man had stopped before actually entering the road. I studied the man looking for some clue to his erratic driving as our vehicle whizzed past his. He appeared to be middle-aged, sober and regretful - with his eyes pointed towards his feet, and his head at half mast. I wondered if this feigned accident was in all reality a suicide attempt which he aborted at the last second. Could this have been a mid-life crisis averted by the sight of our family van approaching? Not wanting to harm any children, did he call off his planned final blaze of glory? I'll never know just what this local yocal in a scooter was thinking, but I do think of him often.

While all of these individuals seem to define the new region I live in, I must admit that though each of them is unique and special, there are probably people very much like them in nearly every corner of the world. It seems that this is the brotherhood of man - all regions and groups so strange and different, yet so alike. And so, we are bonded - everyone of us, streaks, workoutaholics, and contemplative souls - this is the human race.

Monday, March 17, 2008

ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. . . .

For all of you have heard me tout that I'm not right in the head because my sleep is so deprived, it appears the medical community is finally coming to the same conclusion - Duh!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Walking on Broken Glass

When I opened my eyes yesterday morning, had I known the sort of day that was awaiting me, I would've pulled the sheets up over my head and remained there until it was dark again. Unfortunately, my crystal ball hasn't been working to well lately, and even if it was, I have this sort of stubborn streak in me that refuses to perceive even the most obvious hints life offers me.

Kyla had been up all night. Allow me to clarify for my uninformed readers what I mean by "all night." Some people may use that term when they should really say "intermittently through the night" or even "a time or two through the night." When I say all - that's what I mean. Kyla was up approximately every thirty minutes crying and demanding to be walked or rocked or shushed or fed or changed or medicated. Over the course of the previous day, she had developed a high fever, and not long thereafter began draining heavily from her nose; her face looked puffy and she was pretty non-interactive aside from crying. All this hit within twelve hours of my commenting rather proudly that we had made it through her first cold and flu season. So after my last thirty minute sleep session prior to getting up for the day, I had deducted Kyla must have had some sort of ear infection on top of just a cold to be keeping her (along with Jim and I) up all night as she had done.

My mind was foggy as I began the day - it usually is in the morning, but yesterday's fogginess exceeded even my normal level. I fumbled between getting myself dressed and the kids ready for the day. I knew I was going to be late dropping Jimmy off at school as I just could not think clearly enough to be even mildly efficient. I set Kyla in her booster seat and dropped a handful of cheerios in front of her. Then I began carefully organizing my day: "Kyla needs her fever medicine, which reminds me that I need to call her doctor to set up an appointment, and I need to find the number to the doctor because I have no idea where it is; also I should load up on vitamins so I don't get sick too, and Jimmy needs his vitamins and allergy medicine. . oh, and his breakfast needs to be started, and I'll heat up the water for my oatmeal. Both of the kids need to be dressed soon, which means we all need to eat quickly or we're going to be really late!" So with that level of clarity I succeeded in taking my vitamins and pouring a bowl of cheerios for Jimmy before it dawned on me that Kyla wasn't eating a thing (probably because she was sick), and she had a stinky diaper. I pulled her out of her booster seat and brushed off all the sucked on cheerios which clung to her night clothes or had buried themselves in the roll of her neck. All the while my mind was racing: "Jimmy's teeth need to be brushed, and we need to remember to grab his show-and-tell along with his folder; I've got to pack granola bars for after school so Jimmy and I aren't passing out on the drive home; Kyla's diaper bag needs diapers, wipes, a bottle, cheerios; don't forget the coffee above all else!!!".

I was pretty much on auto-pilot picking out Kyla's clothes for the day and beginning her diaper change, but as soon as I pulled open her diaper all of my racing thoughts came to a dead halt. The stench was so incredible that it literally blew me away. Upon vague observation of the contents of her diaper, I realized this was no normal diaper. . no, this diaper had all sorts of goodies for me in it. First there was a pacifier in her diaper; over the course of trying to soothe her through the entirety of the previous night, we had lost almost all the pacifiers we owned, whittling down our available stock of pacifiers to a mere two. . well, here, hilt buried in her poo, was one more to add to our collection. It took me a moment to confirm that she had not actually passed the paci, but rather it had somehow mysteriously been lodged in her diaper awaiting discovery. The second and more normal entity in Kyla's diaper was poo. Yes, I know poo in a diaper shouldn't be a surprise, but this poo was marvelously grotesque. There, in whole and completely undigested form was the rice and bean lunch she had consumed the previous day. The sight of the rice and beans and paci was alarming, but the stench was much more so. In fact, the mere thought of this whole diaper was enough to thoroughly nauseate me; nearly five years of mothering, and I'd finally met my match (the vitamins in my empty stomach did not help the situation at all).

I succeeded in quickly wrapping up Kyla's booty in a fresh diaper while tossing the soiled one face up on the carpet. I then ran to the kitchen sink where my vitamins along with any tidbit of food or drink I had managed to sneak in that morning were rather violently expelled. I hovered over the sink hoping that was the last of it as Kyla bawled at my feet and Jimmy wandered through the kitchen questioning out loud if I could help him fix his car (clearly oblivious to my situation); "Just give me a minute, honey."

I did eventually manage to get my oatmeal breakfast before fishing out Kyla's paci from the diaper. Jimmy and Kyla were both clothed, prepared, and packed into the van only a half hour later than normal. Given the morning that had just unfolded, I was feeling pretty good about that.

I dropped Jimmy off at school and headed to Kyla's doctor's appointment (which I had managed to set up amidst the morning chaos). At her pediatrician's office, I was informed that while she did not have the flu, they couldn't be sure her ears were clear either. They recommended some sort of over the counter earwax thinner. They explained this would help her, and would also make it easier for them to determine if there was an ear infection in the future. I was at the checkout feeling mildly annoyed that I was having to pay these people who weren't even able to give me a clear diagnosis when my debit card came back with an error code. I tried it again, and the same error code appeared. The secretary commented that she'd never seen that error code, and looking worried, suggested I give my bank a call. It wasn't long after that I found out our card along with a number of others had been shut down by Visa after some crook had attempted to use them. Still, our account was fine, and no money had been lost so I couldn't complain. It was just alarming.

I picked up Jimmy and, in my attempt to not let anyone in our family get any sicker, headed to the health food store on the other side of town. Unfortunately, being newer to the area, I got completely lost. I ended up way past where I needed to be, and then had to try to get myself back to the correct place. . but hey, what's an extra thirty minutes on a day like this one?

It was 2:30 by the time we arrived home. Per the doctor's orders, I placed the earwax thinning drops in Kyla's ears, and thus began the onslaught of her hysteria. . . She cried and cried and cried. My nerves were beyond frayed. To put it as a wall poster at a former place of employment had put it: "When I woke up this morning, I had one nerve left. And darned if you ain't got on it!". I had nothing left to give to this child. In complete and utter desperation, I called up her pediatrician.
"Well, the only reason she might be screaming like that would be if she has an ear infection and as that medicine breaks up the earwax it aggravates her ears further. We can get you in on Monday." the nurse answered unemotionally.
"I'm sorry," I answered rather loudly to the nurse "Could you repeat that; I wasn't clear on what you said over my daughter's screams of pain. She's going to be screaming like this until Monday if this is an ear infection - which, you're pretty much telling me it is, and I can't handle that." I told her, my voice breaking up.
"There'll be a doctor in tomorrow. I can schedule you for then." she replied naively. Obviously this woman did not have children, and had never had the experience of a child with an ear infection (which, as is evidenced by the tubes in Kyla's ears, I am altogether far more familiar with than I'd ever imagined possible.).
"Look, I've done my part. . I've done everything I can do. . I've brought my daughter to your office, and have followed your instructions to the "T." I was up all last night, and I cannot handle being up again all night tonight. I need a solution, and it's your office's job to give me one." I answered the nurse firmly and possibly even with a bit of a crazed tone.
"I'll speak with the doctor when she comes out, and call you back." she replied.
Good enough for me. I later got the call stating both of the doctors at this practice had discussed it and were writing me two prescriptions: one, an antibiotic ear drop, and two, an antibiotic to fill in several days if she was still miserable. Clearly, they did not have any interest in seeing me in the next few days. I had been heard.

Kyla eventually calmed down, and regained a bit of an appetite. Again, I set her in her booster seat and dropped a handful of cheerios in front of her. Jimmy was playing peacefully in his room. It was 5:00 - my chance to tackle a few household chores. I threw in a load of laundry and began emptying the dishwasher. I had put away all the silverware along with the bottom rack, and was just starting on the top rack when I dropped a large ceramic mug. Before I had a chance to begin cleaning it up, the phone rang; it was Jim informing me the prescription the doctor had called in which he was to pick up was out of stock at the pharmacy. "Out of stock?! Are you kidding me! You get our prescription, and let those people know we're taking our business elsewhere!" I answered a smidge overzealously as I hung up the phone.

Disgusted, I pulled out our short garbage bin from under the sink and set it by the oven where I began tossing the larger pieces of my now broken mug. I reached for the last big piece of broken mug, and in an involuntary instant of reflection, directed all my frustration from the day on chucking that wedge of baked clay into the garbage. Sadly, I'm not a basketball player. I missed the garbage and hit the front window of my new oven. The glass on the oven shattered instantly into a gazillion tiny shards that dumped from the kitchen to the dining area. That was it; the straw that broke the camel's back. I knelt to the floor observing the scene and broke into my "siren" cry. Sometimes "it feels just like I'm walking on broken glass" I thought to myself.

And so I reiterate, had I known this was the kind of day that would develop, I would never have allowed my big toe to touch the floor. But I keep on walking - "walking on, walking on broken glass."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Stepping Down

I hadn't really put a lot of thought into attending the step class at the gym. It was just another class I intended to try out. Still, after being at the gym for about a month and enjoying lots of other group fitness classes, the step class had eluded me. Today, however, the step class was on my agenda.

The mere fact that it took me so long to even get into one of these classes should've been my first sign. But upon walking into the room and viewing the row upon row of steps already set up, I should've taken my second obvious sign and high tailed it out of there. "Wow. This class must really be full!" I commented to a lady standing next to me. "Oh - it's not too bad. Each person actually needs three steps; that's why there's so many steps set up." "OK, then. . ." I thought to myself as I considered how in the world one might actually NEED three steps for one class. Still, I refused to be intimidated. Other people were participating in this class, so it couldn't be too terrible, right? After all, I had done step before (about five years before, to be precise) and I figure it'd come back to me, thus giving me a "step up" (excuse the pun) from being a complete novice.

The instructor clipped on her microphone and began with some basic instructions. "Let's just start stepping in place" she suggested, her voice amplified a tad louder than I was really comfortable with. "Fine and dandy with me" I thought as I marched in place feeling like an old pro. She led the group through a couple of simple steps, and then she began to "build on the basics." This is where things began getting a bit difficult for me.

My third sign came when the instructor began leading the group in a series of steps moving around the side of the box. I was so tuned in to her instructions that I somehow failed to notice the step immediately beside me. As I stepped around the side of the box, my foot landed partially on the box beside me, and down, down, down I went - almost the way you'd imagine Paul Bunyan falling. . I can still see it in slow motion in my mind, and let me tell you, this was NO little fall! This was a full on bottom to back, complete with a roll kind of fall. I landed in the middle of four steps which happened to be in the middle of the room. I could here women around me gasping as they caught sight of my dramatic tumble. Quick as a wink and trying to hide my embarrassment, I laughingly got back up. The instructor, however, having missed the whole thing but beginning to notice her students staring and gasping in my direction picked up on what had happened. "Oh, no big deal!" her voice boomed over the speakers, "Someone always falls in my class" she commented almost proudly. I smiled and tried to stay positive by convincing myself this was really quite comical.

I continued on the step trying my darndest to follow her directions, but her "building on the basics" had left me in the dark. I pretty much just walked around trying to move the same direction as the group, but completely missing the form or workout part of it. There was one other new woman in the room, and she happened to be next to me. Initially we both looked at each other laughing at how ridiculous we knew we looked. As the class progressed, however, our little funny glances turned into rolling eyes and raised eyebrows as we considered the instructor's sanity.

The instructor's voice was so loud I had a hard time even comprehending what she was saying as she belted out her commands, "BASIC, HIGH-DEE, KNEE, KNEE, KICK, OVER, NEIGHBOR, BASE, HIGH-DEE, BASIC!!!". I was totally lost, and what was worse was that about half of the time the class was actually facing the rear of the room where I was positioned centrally (initially assuming I'd chosen a discreet spot to brush up on my moves). Several times I just stood staring as the class faced me performing all of their various antics. I felt sort of like a conductor overseeing an orchestra - appearing to be involved by my mere placement, but in reality, having nothing to do with the creative process.

It was at about this point I considered the various signs which I had overlooked in the name of "giving the class a try." I kept glancing at the clock, but by my fifth clock check, the class still was not even half over. I assumed there would be more "building on the basics" from here - a lot I was not prepared to plow through. While I'm not typically one to just walk out of a class halfway through, by this time even I could see I was just wasting my time. I tried to consider how to tactfully escape the room unnoticed. The worst possible scenario would be for the instructor to call attention to my exigence or to even encourage me to keep at it. I decided to play coy, and pretended like I was just heading over to get a drink. As I drank from my water bottle the class faced the rear of the room again - observing my blatant break. I knew this was no time for indecisiveness, so the moment the group faced the front of the room again, I booked it for the nearest door.

While I knew I hadn't escaped unnoticed, I'd at least succeeded in getting out without any unnecessary attention being drawn to myself. I felt my heart racing as I glanced back through the glass at the class whirling and jumping around; I wasn't out of breath from my workout - I was out of breath from the rush of quitting it. I boarded a treadmill to begin a quick jog - a real workout. From where I was located, I could take some quick backwards glances towards the step room; I lurked intermittently - scoffing at the insanity of the class itself and even those who chose to participate in it. Eventually, I was satisfied to see the other new lady who had been next to me make her move - her quiet exit from the class.

My conclusion is that workouts should be fun and actually WORK OUT your body (go figure. . ). I'm not a dancer, and I can't follow choreography - but I can get a clue about what NOT to do in the future. As for me, I'm 100% satisfied with my decision to step out of and permanently step down from step class.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Food for Thought

Tonight little Jimmy was not really interested in our leftover imitation crab meat casserole (remember my comment on the male species and leftovers?!). So after moving his food around on his plate and nibbling here and there on it, he requested some parmesan cheese to douse his food in. Later, he noticed the bottle of Sonny's sweet barbecue sauce on the table (which we were using on some other leftovers) and decided that would really make his dish edible.

Jimmy actually did almost clean his plate; he ate all his noodles, but left the imitation crab meat. I just scraped the remnant into the garbage and nearly gagged. That is quite possibly the grossest combination of food that I could possibly imagine. Imitation crab meat casserole + parmesan cheese + Sonny's Sweet Barbecue Sauce = NASTY

Plastic Surgery of Sorts

There's nothing quite like the scent of nail polish remover greeting my nostrils as I walk through the door of the nail salon. This is a new nail place - new to me at least. And when I decided to go for it, I knew I was taking a chance, but I was willing to risk it.

You see, after much dread and procrastination, I had finally journeyed to the Sprint store where they surprised me with prompt and efficient service - thus I was left with some time on my hands before going to pick up my son from preschool. I drove through the parking lot of the Super WalMart strip mall knowing there had to be a nail place somewhere near; within a few seconds I had located one. I glanced anxiously in the back seat at Kyla - still sleeping. Typically I'm not one to bring her with me to get my nails done. After one experience wherein she awoke shortly after my pedicure began and I spent the remaining 30 minutes trying to keep my feet still, while simultaneously occupying my daughter in my lap, I was a bit gun shy of bringing her again. Still, my feet were in dire need, and my sanity hung in the balance.

When I sat down to begin the pedicure, I placed my sleeping baby in her car seat right beside the nail technician - an obvious reminder to her to keep the talking to a minimum. She threw out a few typical questions for conversation starters, but I think when I leaned back and closed my eyes she got the hint that I wasn't there for the small talk. I hated to be rude, but I needed a pedicure, and if my baby was awoken the whole experience would be rather unpleasant for all parties involved.

Miraculously, Kyla slept and slept and slept - and I relished my quiet pedicure. The technician was doing a great job all until she got to my heals. She used the pumice stone to scrub them, and then she moved onto the next step. . . without using the heal razor (as I call it). The heal razor was largely the reason I was getting a pedicure - I wanted ALL the dead skin gone. When I voiced my request, she answered: "You no need. There will be blood. Skin soft. There will be blood." My mind went immediately to the title of the recent drama 'There Will Be Blood.' "Oh, well, we don't want that." I answered nervously, and while I didn't want blood, I did want every smidge of dead skin removed! It's sort of an obsession. I'd even be OK with having my toes and heals methodically removed, scoured clean, and then sewn back on. I know - my husband thinks it's neurotic too. Nonetheless, I was forced to make peace with the way my heals were.

The nail lady continued her work while I dozed intermittently and played with the controller for the chair massager. As she wrapped things up, she looked up at me and squinted as she studied my face. "You need eyebrow wax." she commented certainly. I've only ever had one eyebrow wax before, and while I enjoyed it, I felt it'd be best not to get them too often. You see, another phobia of mine is the uber long eyebrow hairs you see on older people - typically in their seventies or eighties. I am convinced that people get long eyebrow hairs in their later years because they regularly overtrim their eyebrows, thus causing them to grow at lightning speed. Then, when they're too old to clearly see what they look like, their eyebrows stage a coup and takeover their face.

Despite my fear of overzealous eyebrow trimming, I decided since my last and only eyebrow trim was over eight months ago, it'd be OK to give it a go again. And so, with a few quick pulls of paper and wax, my eyebrows got a makeover. "You want uppa lip wax too?" the lady asked. "What?" I asked not even believing my ears. An eyebrow wax was one thing, but an upper lip wax?? C'mon! I do NOT, at least at this stage in life, have upper lip hair! How could she even suggest such a thing? I politely declined her rather rude offer.

Hopping off the chair to survey in a mirror the new me, I was confronted by my flaming red brow bones. . really awesome looking eyebrows, but rather understated compared to the cherry red color my brow bone area was taking on. They sort of itched, and I was really hoping this would go away quickly as I needed to be going to pick up Jimmy. "Wow, it's really red" I commented to the nail lady; "You like?" she asked eagerly; "That go way in hour." I hoped so as it was beginning to look like I'd been in some sort skirmish.

While the area where my eyebrows previously had existed was still red, it had toned down some by the time I arrived to pick up Jimmy. I hastily entered the pre-k doors feigning a serious self-image complex by trying to keep my face towards the floor the entire time. I avoided any conversation with his teachers or other parents as I knew I was a sort of walking freak show.

By the time we arrived home and I ran into the bathroom, however, I was pleasantly greeted by my new eyebrows. These weren't just any eyebrows, these were supermodel eyebrows! If my face wasn't the one supporting the remaining hairs above my eyes, I'd surely be working as a model for Cover Girl!

Yes, my money was well spent at the nail place. Just a few tweaks, which even my husband probably won't even notice pays big dividends towards my peace of mind. With my feet quite nearly free of dead skin and my eyebrows now perfectly in place without my even having to lick my finger to paste them down, I feel like a new woman. I wonder what it would feel like to have real plastic surgery when these minor alterations give me such a rush. Regardless, whether I'm considered easily amused, or just plain neurotic, I'm just glad to have a nail place near me - even in Ocala.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Circle of Life

Lunch. How could something so simple turn so ugly? Today's lunch problems I believe stemmed from two key problems: hunger and leftovers. Hunger: obviously people eat lunch because they're hungry; little Jimmy and I, however, get REALLY hungry (personally I think there may be some sort of low blood sugar problem or something) and when the hunger hits, there'd better be food near bye. Leftovers: while in so many ways it is a wonderful thing to have an overflowing fridge, in other ways it's not so great. Trying to put the milk back in the fridge after breakfast can easily become a 5+ minute re-organization ordeal; further, I personally feel the burden of using those leftovers as it is a given that men won't eat leftovers regardless what new and creative ways they are presented to them. (Wasteful Watsons!)

When I picked up little Jimmy from school, I felt really prepared as I'd brought an assortment of granola bars. Unfortunately after having scarfed down two he informed me for the twentieth time that he was "Huuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnggrryyyyyyyyyyyyy" (said with a slight whine). He was really gunning for a stop at McDonalds on the way home, but I was determined to make it home so we could put a dent in all those leftovers.

As soon as we walked in the door, I put Kyla in her high chair and plopped down a few pieces of cold mac n' cheese for her to nibble on while I heated some other food. In the meantime, I pulled out a bag of cold pancakes from Saturday morning's breakfast for me to delicately devour while I raced around the kitchen. As I chewed on a bite of cold pancake with syrup, I noted a certain familiar yet grotesque smell as I reheated the noodles, broccoli, and li'l smokies. Maybe it was the broccoli - as broccoli pretty much always stinks when it's cooked; or maybe it was the combo of broccoli and li'l smokies . . whatever it was, it struck me that "this really stinks," and I sort of felt bad about serving it to my child.

"C'mon, Jimmy. Lunchtime." I called. "Yay - what do you have for me? Macaroni and cheese?" he asked eagerly. "No, I have this" I said as I set his reeking plate in front of him. "But I don't waaaaannnttt that. . " he sulked. Trying to not be one of those moms that gives in to their kids' every want, I took on my stern tone: "Jimmy. Enough whining. Time to eat." I answered as I set a putrid piece of broccoli on Kyla's high chair and began breaking a Li'l Smokie into li'l bitesize pieces for her.

It was right about then that I looked around the kitchen and surveyed the horror of it all. The stinking pan on the stovetop steaming with some hazy looking, greasy liquid, Jimmy's plate of nastiness, the open bag of cold pancakes, the tupperware of cold mac n' cheese (complete with a spoon sized dent in the center where Kyla's spoonful had been pulled from), and finally Kyla - covered in tiny, little, gooey, green bits of broccoli and cold macaroni stuck to her face. . and those pieces of li'l smokies - mysteriously gone. . "Gross. This is just gross" it hit me as Kyla began applauding with her sticky hands out of the clear blue.

After much cajoling, lunch was wrapping up. Jimmy hopped up to go blow his bubbling nose leaving a trail of cold, limp broccoli behind him. Kyla started fussing and yelling "Da dun" (translation: all done). I went to pick her up, but alas, the mess was too great. As I stripped off her sticky clothes there in the high chair, a new sent greeted my nostrils. . Kyla had a poopy that needed taking care of. I abandoned the mess in the kitchen to go clean my daughter's hiney. Just as I was finishing up Kyla's diaper, I heard little Jimmy run past the bedroom door shouting "I gotta poo!". "OK, great." I answered. I went back to the kitchen and began cleaning up the results of our "hunger plus leftovers" combo. While I was working, I could hear Jimmy practicing his letter sounds in the bathroom: " 'B' is for butt." Several minutes later Jimmy called out "I'm doooo-ooone." When I walked in, little Jimmy was laying stomach down on the floor with his pants by his shins and his pooey tooshy exposed. "What are you doing?" I asked - not nearly as surprised as anyone else might be to come across something like this. "I'm laying here" he answered. . and that was the end of that conversation. No further explanation was necessary.

I've now finished cleaning up the kitchen, putting the kids down (though Kyla is still screaming from her crib), and have just polished off some more leftovers. It strikes me that my everyday "normal" could very easily turn the average Joe's stomach. In fact, I know it would. The quick succession of gross, grosser, and grossest is not atypical. I have a feeling this is what humans in their basest forms are like. . just kind of yucky. . eating nasty foods and pooping them out (think of the Lion King's theme: 'The Circle of Life'). They say young kids and very old people have a lot in common. So while being integrally involved with certain aspects of my children's life at this stage may seem nasty to me, it's worth noting that they'll probably observe me in an equally (or more so) nasty state when I grow really old and geriatric. So here's to the Circle of Life!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Morning Meditations

Having lived the whole of life until 6 weeks ago in the greater Orlando area, moving roughly two hours north to the Ocala area has been a bit of an adjustment. I know two hours of drive time isn't that far mileage wise, but civilization wise it's practically light years away. Orlando was comfy to me - urban and progressive, but not too big; Ocala, however, is not quite there yet. Don't get me wrong; there are a lot of truly wonderful aspects of Ocala - the rolling hills, the acres upon acres of pastures, the numerous horse farms, and decent shopping (most of it pretty new too). But being a less developed city, Ocala does have it's quirks.

Much to my shock, Ocala actually seems to be the very bottom tip of the Bible belt. All over town there are billboards proclaiming conservative Christian viewpoints. And the bottom five radio stations are all Christian stations, so on any given day you have the opportunity to make a tax deductible contribution, ponder the newest organ in town, and also here the philosophies and perspectives of a number of highly educated reverends - all on your morning commute. In addition to the religious aspects of this quaint little community, there's also sort of a backwoods feel - at least on the outskirts of the city. It's the kind of roughness apparent only to the highly trained eye (maybe it's the combination of livestock and multiple permanently parked cars in dirt yards that gives it away).

I was fortunate in that I was able to get little Jimmy into a preschool program half-way through the year. After checking out a handful of schools that were a bit subpar (could it be the ten plus children packed into a 15' X 8' moldy, deteriorating room that turned me off to these upstanding, government funded, academic facilities?),I settled on a preschool which I really love. Unfortunately it's a thirty minute drive just to get there. Thus, every morning, I have the opportunity to ponder my new home city over a cup of coffee as I drive Jimmy to preschool.

This time of the year, all the churches are getting ready for Easter. The one nearest us has a sign up for breakfast after a sunrise service; sounds enticing! It should be packed with that offer of free food. A few miles up the road is another church having an Easter play; they're really gunning to save souls as the signs promoting their play are on every corner. But just past that church is the one that takes the cake for Easter productions - they have a drive through OR walk through Easter story; so you have the opportunity to meander past a bloody assault (which I guess is ongoing so everyone can see) followed up by a real life crucifixion, and then watch as a human ascends to the heavens - again, all this is ongoing. . For me, I'd have to say the last one wins hands down. But, in all reality, why bother going to one of these things when I have the opportunity to watch the Passion by Mel Gibson at home on Easter Sunday; yep, gotta hand it to Mel - he took the jackpot on that one!

Continuing on the journey of my daily commute I have the priveledge to pass "Big Sexy Auto Sales." No, I'm not joking; that really is the name of the place. And every day I see their sign and am forced to ponder what in the heck is sexy about auto sales. Beyond that, the place is disgusting; there are various cars and trucks parked in the dirt in front of a trailer surrounded by chain link fence - where's the sex appeal? Whatever gets ya going' I guess. . .

Up the way and not far from the golf course you'll be able to see scores of vultures circling in the sky. As you get closer it may not be totally obvious what sort of carcass could be huge enough to feed them all; alas, it's the dump - the city dump. But not just any dump! This dump has these really neat balls of fire that are literally shooting into the air day and night, non-stop. This, I've been informed, is the burning methane created by the dump. They ignite the methane to, among other things, prevent any sort of spontaneous combustion of the dump itself. Should I mention that there a communities going up around the dump? Considering the risk, the burning of the methane really seems the safest way to go.

Actually, physically on the dump property is a billboard that reads in big letters: "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." I ponder the effects of pondering the dump so often. . could it mean that I've become some sort of wasteland emitting massive quantities of methane? - definitely something to consider seriously.

As though the scripture billboard on the dump premises were not enough, just past the dump there's also a smaller sign which reads: "Church at the Springs," and then it has a phone number. I'd gather that "Church at the Springs" has purchased this property and intends to at some point build a facility on it. From the first time I read the sign I found it to be annoyingly deceptive. I pictured an individual searching for a church in the phone book: "Ah. Church at the Springs. . Sounds fresh and inviting." the naive person would think. How disappointed he would be to show up one Sunday morning at their newly completed facility at the dump. The sign should in all honesty read: "Church at the Dump."

Just past the inmate work farm and only a block or two before Jimmy's preschool is another huge billboard that reads "Sex without consent is RAPE." Now, I don't mean to be critical, but I'm going to be. What sort of individual above the age of 8 needs this pointed out to them?? What sort of people am I living amongst that need these obvious atrocities literally spelled out for them to see in huge letters. I can just imagine a rape victim on her way to work like usual one morning when passing the same old sign it hits her, "Hey, wait a minute! That's what that was!" Well I guess it's a good thing they have the number posted so she could contact them straight away!

And THAT is my morning commute. Suffice it to say, Ocala is NOT the 'City Beautiful.' There are beautiful aspects to it, but there are enough oddities to leave an urbanite like me scratching her head in confusion. Well, in trying to blend in with the Ocala locale (AKA: Locala), I'll sum this one up with: "Praise the Lord, and pass the peanut butter!"

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Grow Up!

I'll be the first to confess that I'm really very immature in a lot of ways. I'm not mature in many ways that a mother probably usually would be mature in. It's almost like my growth in certain areas has been completely stunted - never surpassing a middle school level.

In what area could I possibly be so immature? Well - though my husband would claim there are many, I'll confess to only one: scatalogical humor (or as my even brighter and more mature elder sister might inadvertently say: scatagorical humor. . . which must have something to do with the game Scatagories). What exactly is scatalogical humor? According to the dictionary, the noun scatology can be defined as: a preoccupation with feces, filth, and obscenities. Thus, quite simply, scatalogical humor is a big, grown-up phrase meaning: potty humor. Call me a Juvenile Judy, but this truly is my main area of recessed development.

I've heard other mothers jokingly comment on their young children's potty talk with eye rolls and general sense of embarrassment. I've also on occasion heard other woman belittlingly reference not only their children but also their spouse's preoccupation with bathroom humor. But I've yet to meet another Mom who still finds bowels and boogers to be so amusing.

It's with great delight that I bring this sense of humor into our daily home life. I don't mean to tell on myself, but I have been known to inadvertently toot without any comment - forewarning or apology. A couple times little Jimmy has looked at me with concern and asked, "What was that?"
"What?" I might antagonize a bit.
"Did you just hear that? That little noise?" he'll responded quietly.
"It must have been a farting ghost!" I'll tell him. "Do you think it's possible that there's a ghost somewhere near us - a farting ghost?!" Little Jimmy usually then picks up on my game, and will slowly smile as it dawns on him that it's actually his mother doing the farting.

About a year or so ago little Jimmy became really preoccupied with tanker trucks of varying kinds. He'd point them out on the road or in the parking lot and ask with great anticipation what the truck was carrying. Usually, it was oil or gas; occasionally milk or even orange juice. The real moment of truth came when he pointed to a septic tank truck and asked "What's in that one?". I started laughing as I considered how to tactfully answer this one; this only further fueled his curiosity. Eventually I had to answer, "Well, honey. It's a poo-poo truck. It carries poo-poo." Little Jimmy couldn't believe his ears - and I couldn't believe what I was having to share with my then three year old. Just the thought of various professional tanker trucks traveling the highways and byways of America - creating revenue and jobs and helping people in various ways. And then there were these. . these ingrates. . these filthy trucks that simply traversed towns collecting dung. Well, it was enough to have us in stitches for the next fifteen minutes. We just couldn't collect ourselves; every few minutes we'd manage to quit laughing, but then the hysteria would overtake us again for several more minutes.

Last night at dinner another rather self-incriminating event occurred. After the recent beef scare, I've been attempting to cook more vegan foods. Unfortunately the more fibrous consistency of this new eating style has a tendency of coming back to all of us again and again and again. The four of us were sitting around eating our dinner. I sat in my chair "criss-cross applesauce" (as Jimmy would put it) while attempting to feed Kyla. All day she had eaten really well, but by dinnertime was expressing some disinterest. "C'mon Kyla. It's black beans and tofu. You had it for lunch; why won't you eat some now?" I said, followed up by a rather brazen gas pass. My husband looked at me horrified. "That's disgusting!" he said as I tried to hide my snickering. "Did your mother ever fart at the table when you were younger?!" he questioned with a tone of horror. "I don't think she did! And I can tell you my mother never did either! It's like you've never grown up!". Well, I guess he's right. I've never gotten over potty humor - it's still fresh and witty to me even after twenty-seven years.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hot Pants!

A couple years before marrying my husband, I remember a shopping trip to Old Navy with a dear friend of mine. On this shopping trip we were both fortunate enough to get our hands on a pair of their infamous Lifetime Sleep Shorts. Of course, Old Navy doesn't necessarily market these popular sleep shorts this way. . Really, they're just set out in a heap with the rest of their sleep clothes. But for me, they're lifetime sleep shorts - or at least ten plus years in counting sleep shorts! When I first purchased these jewels, they were a soft baby blue with tiny little periwinkle flowers all over them, and they were THE softest things you've ever felt. I grew to love my shorts.

They've been with me through thick and thin; through good times and bad. They were my favorite sleep shorts when I first laid eyes on the man I now call my husband. They've been with me through falling in love and out of love and back in love again. They were my favorite sleep shorts when I found out I was pregnant and also when I delivered - not once, but twice. And still, to this day, they are my favorite sleep shorts.

The fondness I feel towards these sleep sweeties is so strong that I refuse to dwell on their slightly diminished appearance. They've been through the wash so many times now that they're really more of a gray. The flowers all over them now look like random spots. And for some strange reason, the crotch seems to have given out. . . I know, I know. . It's easy to imagine the crotch giving out on a pair of fitted pants or tight athletic shorts, but loose comfy sleep shorts you may wonder about. Allow me to clarify: when I say the crotch has "given out," that's pretty much literally what I mean. The material has given and given and given - never ripped - but definitely given generously.

It's fair to say that I might dawn rose colored glasses when dressing for bed; unfortunately, my husband doesn't oblige in the same way. Really, he's just not so fond of my well loved shorts. In fact, he's asked repeatedly for me to "Please get some new sleep shorts." He's tried to reason with me, "Katie got rid of her sleep shorts a LONG time ago" which sadly is true (she may not have been as deeply attached to hers as I am to mine; further, I consider that a bit of a blotch on her intelligence record!). In an effort to appease my husband, I actually have attempted to find new sleep shorts. I have NEVER found anything I liked nearly as much. It's not for lack of trying though! I've even purchased numerous shorts (at least five different pairs) which are usually abandoned after two or three wears at most. "Why bother adjusting to something that just isn't working when I've got old faithful waiting for me in my drawer?" I think to myself. I've even tried parting ways with my favorite sleep shorts - actually throwing them in the garbage. Usually this is when I'm upset. . but like any true lover in a spat, I always come back and make peace with them.

Last night, I was once again forced to defend my sleep sweeties. My husband jokingly began singing "Look at them girls with the Daisy Dukes on!" when he saw me once again wearing my favorite get-up. I flopped down on the bed, and the stretched out leg to my sleep shorts flopped up to my back. It might even be considered somewhat provocative and seductive were they not so completely and utterly. . . well, USED. Still, when I inadvertently flash a family member, I don't take it out on my shorts. No, in fact, that is my cue that they need a bit of TLC- maybe a wash with a good long dry session with a fabric softener sheet to help tighten them up! As it stands, there's no replacement lined up for my old faithfuls. They're in it for the long haul on my behind!

Monday, March 3, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

It all started yesterday morning when I was making little Jimmy's daily milkshake. It's a blend of fruit, soy milk, and some vitamins he can't swallow. Well, to entice Jimmy, I usually get out my handy little Black and Decker "Gizmo" (as it's called) to 'whip it good.' I discreetly jokingly commented on this little play on words to my husband, Jim. He, of course, not picking up my discreetness, began belting out the motivational 80's Devo hit whilst lamely spinning around the kitchen and clapping his hands. . so much for subtle. I mean, really, you have to be careful of EVERYthing you say around kids his age because it WILL come back to haunt you when you least expect it. And it's not uncommon for your words to come back to you in a sort of twisted and mutated form that's much more evil and trashy sounding even than when it first left your mouth.

One morning recently, while driving Jimmy to pre-k, I asked him about the rules for the day (a little routine we practice everyday to remind Jimmy to behave). He answered me initially verbatim word for word as I expected - almost in a sing-songy voice: "Obey the teacher, and keep your hands and your feet to yourself. . ." and then he continued, "and don't call anyone a big eyebrow, or a big nose, or a big box, or a big sign, or a big truck, or a big gas tank, or a big door, or a big window. You just call people their name."
"Ya, that's right." I agreed, somewhat dumbfounded as to where this whole avalanche of thoughts came from. I'd assume at some point he's gotten in trouble at school and his teacher has asked him to not call anyone "a big gas tank" per say.
So this morning, I was pleased to be up and functioning surprisingly before Jimmy. He stumbled out of his room groggily rubbing his eyes. As he climbed up to his chair at the counter, I told him his waffles were ready and that I was just making his milk shake, to which he replied classically: "Whip it good."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Eating Out With Kids = Oil and Vinegar

-Somehow it just never mixes. The very concept of eating out implies some sort of leisure and relaxation. "Why? Why?!?!" I ask myself, "Do I continue to forget the perils of bringing children to a restaurant?". I know how. . . It all begins so innocently when a friend might casually mention lunch plans and ask if I might be interested. "Heck, ya!" I think to myself picturing my semi- carefree life BC (before children). It isn't until everyone is seated (for all of 10 seconds) and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the menus that I begin to recognize the error of my ways. "When is the waitress going to get here with the menus?? We need to order already! It's not like I've got all day! The natives are getting restless!!" I think to myself as I note trickles of snot dripping onto not one, but both of my children's upper lips. Little Jimmy (4) then somehow loses his balance and proceeds to fall off his seat landing wholly (and I mean face to toes) on the floor - all this from a seated position mind you! Simultaneously, Kyla (10 mo.) drops her paci on the ground and begins the process of suckling the highchair with the intent of extracting every possible germ or communicable disease known to mankind in the quest to build up a massive quantity of immunity. The meal continues with Jimmy continually harrassing our friends' child - to the point that they actually quietly move their child to the other side of the table. All the while, Kyla continues sucking on things (tables, napkins, knives) and dropping her paci while intermittently letting out howls of annoyance.
Meanwhile, Jim keeps up a lively banter with some of our friends. After 25 minutes or so, he laughingly looks my direction and asks "Ha! Did you hear that, Danielle?". There is "a moment of silence" accompanied by a look of disconnect from me. Maybe it was my visible shaking, or the fact that snot was smeared all over the shoulder of my black shirt, or that it took me several seconds to even comprehend what he spoke to me - whatever it was, Jim got the hint. "Do you want to switch seats with me and I'll sit between the kids so you can enjoy some adult conversation?" he asked. "Sure. Sounds great." I answered as I stumbled out of my chair a bit too eagerly. Although I relished the thought of watching Jim have to handle the conundrum of our children as I had been doing up to this point, it still took me several moments to actually re-embody myself to the place that I could even enjoy it. I really felt badly for the woman who was now sitting next to me; I think she made several attempts at conversation for which I was only able to half-heartedly answer with very simple thoughts and short sentences. After several moments, I was able to reconnect. I smiled somewhat smugly at Jim. He caught my eye and smiled back at me in between attempting to catch Kyla's paci and holding little Jimmy in his seat as he "fell" from his chair again while laughing maniacally. Wondering what I was smiling about, he lipped the word "What?" to me as he continued to try to keep a handle on the chaos surrounding him. "THIS" I said, "Is why we don't eat out with children. EVER!". He smiled back and nodded - both of us knowing that the next time we eat out, it'll be just the two of us.