Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pull Yourself Together (Wo)man!

This December, I forgot to go to a doctor’s appointment. Then I forgot to go to the follow-up appointment. Then I miraculously found the October cable bill which heretofore resided in and amongst Preschooler’s art supplies instead of the LARGE BINDER CLEARLY LABELED “BILLS.”

Unfortunately, this has been the state of my existence ever since moving back to Wisconsin. Calendars get lost or buried under clutter. Bills get misplaced (ahem), and then paid late. Appointments get missed. Chores go unprioritized and unfinished.

I’ve tried to get it together. I bought a planner. I used it twice and then Preschooler turned it into an art portfolio, which the gnomes who live in my basement stole to use as a rain shelter.

I tried to use iCal, but I’m lucky if I check my e-mail more than twice a week. I only open my laptop on regular basis to use Safari and Pages, enabling my addiction to blogs and writing and crack. Wait, not crack.

It doesn’t help that Husband and I never got the hang of to-do lists. We just sort of did things as they came (usually in one fell swoop), then proudly congratulated ourselves on being adults. Then, we’d stop doing things, then we’d get sad, then anxious, and then we sort of wither away under piles of newspapers and dirty socks.

Strangely enough, I never had this problem prior to being a stay-at-home mom. Franklin Covey Day Planner = my brain. I never missed tests, never missed appointments, never missed meetings. Time-management was my middle name, except for when it was Marie, and later, Pelnar.

My solution to my newfound hole-in-the-brain syndrome? NAIL EVERYTHING TO THE WALL.

I’ve purchased a giant white-board monthly calendar that will be hung on the wall, along with several letter bins. There is also a giant chalkboard to write daily to-do lists, so every one can see whether I’ve completed a task, and shun accordingly.

I know part of the problem (ok, all of it) is me. I have to keep up on using these things, or all the fancy tools in the world won't help me be more organized.

At least by sticking my calendars, bills, and to-do lists, on the wall, they won't get lost. And my walls will look pretty, even if the water bill is currently being used to insulate Preschooler’s doll house.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Biting The Bullet. But Not A Bullet. That Would Hurt.

I've been away from this blog for a week. My time was committed to visiting relatives, being jolly, and then sleeping 19,034,803 hours while my in-laws watched over my children.

Now I'm facing my blog, and I can't write.

It's not because I no longer want to blog. I do.

It's not because I have nothing to say. I do.

It's because I'm afraid. Starting my blog was like jumping off a bridge, except I didn't get wet. Baring my self, my opinions, and my writing to the world was like facing down a grizzly bear, while wearing nothing but a suit of marshmallows.

Little known fact. Bears love marshmallows.

Strangely enough, baring my self, my opinions, and my writing to friends and family was even more terrifying. It was like facing down a grizzly bear, while wearing nothing but a suit of marshmallows, and the grizzly is wearing a live hornet's nest as a hat.

Bear + hornets + hat = unstoppable killing machine.

And now, after a 5 day absence, I have to do it again. And it's damn scary.

So I'm writing this post to let every one know how chicken-shit I am. Then I'll promptly publish a second post, in hopes to bury this post under new material, not unlike a serial killer buries a body under a pile of mulch, covered by a second body. I think.

Friday, December 24, 2010


I haven't been home for my family's Christmas celebration in three years (I think.)

I've seen relatives I haven't seen for more than three years. I've met long-lost relatives that no one's seen for 20 years.

My family is happy. My family is healthy.

I am healthy.

I'm finding peace with God. I'm finding peace with myself.

So for a moment, all is calm, all is bright.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010: My Year In Review

January: Broke down.

February: Stopped functioning.

March: Got help.

April: Felt better.

May: Worked my a-- off toward a promotion.

June: Quit my job.

July: Learned how to be a stay-at-home mom.

August: Started this blog.

September: Packed. And packed. And then I packed.

October: Moved back to Wisconsin

November: Had my midlife crisis

December: Wrote this post.

And there you have it. The most boring post in the history of the internets.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm Pretty Sure Lionel Richie's Ballerina Girl Knew How To Use The Potty

Ever since I was 3, I was a dancer. You name it, I did it: ballet, lyrical, pointe, jazz, tap, performing, ballroom, Moldovan folk....

The 1980's were not kind to any one. Not even ballerinas.
Also, I'm notoriously unphotogenic. More on that later.

I danced until I left for college. I was a member of a dance company that can only be described as...industrious. In addition to the normal conferences, competitions, and recitals, we also danced at many festivals and events during the Christmas and summer seasons.

To this day, every time I hear "Run, Run Rudolf," I start to twitch.
Also, to my chagrin, Bryan Adams never made an official
appearance at our annual Christmas shows.

My years in dance were some of my best of childhood memories probably in part because by the time I was 13, I spent nearly as much time in the dance studio as I did in school.

I only stopped when I was 18, because I was curious as to what real teenagers did with free time on their hands. I took a couple dance courses in college, but my knees rebelled. I had to discontinue this activity, lest I become a cripple. Also, since I knew I wanted to go to law school, I needed to spend more time studying, and less time in frivolous (albeit loved) activities.

Lately, Prechooler has declared she is a ballerina. Actually, she declared she is a puppy ballerina. Whatever.

I swear this is through no influence of my own. I'm trying with all my might not to push her to dance unless she explicitly says she wants to. I don't want her to feel later in life that she is obligated to dance just because I did. But, I've already researched dance studios in our neck of of the woods, JUST IN CASE.

One studio in particular has an excellent preschool program. Unfortunately they require pupils be potty-trained before starting the program, which Preschooler is not.

We've tried, oh how we've tried. Incentives didn't work - not sticker charts, M&M's, toys from the dollar bin at Target. Nothing.

We tried making her sit on the potty at regular intervals. We tried letting her pick out her own potty and big girl underwear. We tried backing off and doing nothing at all. Nothing worked.

Now I've tried to explain that if she uses the potty now, she can go to ballerina studio and become a real ballerina. But I'm not certain she understands the concept of doing something now for a later reward.

So what's a mother to do? Mothers older and more experienced than tell me not to worry - nobody ever went to kindergarten in diapers.

But I think Preschooler is giving THAT axiom a run for its money.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Meet “Baby”:

Looks like a sperm wrapped up in a Snuggie. But what would I know?

“Baby” came into our lives a couple months after Baby (the real one) was born. It was a gift, an afterthought, for Preschooler (then Toddler). It was intended to act as a buffer to the avalanche of presents a new baby receives.

From day one, “Baby” was Preschooler's constant companion. “Baby” went to bed with her. “Baby” woke up with her. “Baby” went to daycare with her. “Baby” joined us on every car ride, fitting neatly in the cupholder of Preschooler’s car seat.

But recently, “Baby’s” role in Preschooler’s world has been usurped by a small pink teddy bear. It’s not even a real teddy bear, it’s an unnatural hybrid of a blanket and a teddy bear.

Such abominations are usually hunted down by peasants with
pitchforks and garlic. Usually

She’s had this teddy since the day she was born, and never noticed it until now. Heck, I almost put it in the “donate” pile when preparing for our move to Wisconsin.

Poor loyal “Baby!!!”

Is it wrong that Husband and I feel bad for “Baby?” It’s one thing when a childhood lovie is outgrown, but it’s another thing when it’s simply replaced.

Worst of all, I think I know where this came from. In every book or show about Santa, his sack of toys spills over with a candy cane, a toy soldier, a doll, and ... a teddy bear. In fact, Preschooler has pointed out that ubiquitous teddy bear regularly since she adopted her teddy bear.

There is hope... Baby (the real one) has had her eyes on “Baby” since day one. Today she found Baby lying abandoned on Preschooler’s bed. She instantly grabbed hold of THAT forbidden treasure, and kept it in her firm grasp until she got downstairs.

She tried to give it back to Preschooler, but the offer was spurned. So “Baby” may find a new role in life, even though Husband and I are not prepared to see any of our “babies” grow up.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I kind of suck at baking. The only thing that I’m consistently able to produce is cobbler. I make a mean cobbler.

I tried to bake cookies with my kids last week. I really did. It’s the Holidays, after all. Otherwise they’ll end up on a therapist’s couch sobbing , “Mom never made Christmas cookies.” And I don’t need that shame-spiral right now.

First, I tried gingerbread men. I had a store-bought mix, so it should’ve been fool-proof.

Well, the gingerbread-mix people hadn’t counted on me! I made the dough. It was sticky. I thought, “This needs more flour.” So I continued adding flour till the dough was stable enough to withstand a rolling pin. I must have added a cup of extra flour.

I rolled the dough, and cut out the men. They baked up fine. I frosted them, and Preschooler assisted with adding the sprinkles. That is, she dumped an entire jar of sprinkles on one gingerbread man and announced, “I’m done!”

When the frosting set, I tasted a cookie. It tasted like shellacked cardboard. Ooops. Apparently the cure for sticky dough is to chill it for a while. Also, when making royal icing, adding an entire 2 1/2 pound bag of powdered sugar is probably overkill. WHO KNEW?

Undeterred, my next attempt was a double-chocolate chip cookie with marshmallows. When all was said and done, they spread all over the pan into a large, sticky half-burned mess. I tried to do a search for a picture of the "cookie" I created. I couldn't find any. I'M JUST THAT GOOD!

Finally, I tried a peanut butter cookie dipped in chocolate and powdered sugar. This time I remembered that my cookie-saving-grace was to replace butter with vegetable shortening, and using self-rising flour instead of all-purpose flour. For those familiar with baking, I know. Weird.

This time, I ended up with beautiful peanut butter cookies. Then I ruined them by dipping them in chocolate and powdered sugar.

I ate a couple, then gave up. The only thing I could taste was cavities. Husband didn’t even try them. I tossed the whole mess.

The next afternoon, after rummaging around in the kitchen, Husband asked, “Where are the cookies?”

“What cookies?” I asked. I didn’t make any cookies. I only made atrocities.

“The ones you made yesterday,” he answered.

“I tossed them. They weren’t any good.”

“I didn’t even try one!” His disappointment was palpable. Crap, there’s that shame-spiral again.

I hope Santa likes cobbler. It’s all I can offer.

Also, I hope he likes tequila - I could sure go for a margarita right about now.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Don't Over-Think Things. And Don't Stick Your Hand In The Snow.

For the first time since I started this blog, I am at a loss of what to write. I have a lot of starts to posts, but they don’t go anywhere.

Take, for example:

Best Friend and lived kitty-corner to each other. That is, if the homes in our neighborhood were the 4 corner states of the United State, she’d be Colorado and I’d be Arizona, at least from my perspective.

We did this all the time.

The first winter we spent together she took off her mitten and stuck her hand in the snow. Then she cried, and we had to go inside. At the time I thought, “WTF are you doing?!”

Now, as a parent, I understand her thought process. The snow looked soft and pretty. If she touched it would it feel like a sparkly marshmallow? NO. It felt cold and wet. DAMMIT.

And then, how do I end it? Something about the innocence of youth? Something about how dorky Best Friend and I were?

Maybe, sometimes, a story doesn’t have a deeper meaning. It just ends. Sometimes things just happen, they are what they are, they don’t need complex analysis.

Sometimes, I need to stop over-thinking everything, and just go on with it. Or let it go. Whatever is more appropriate.

Also, I didn’t want to end the week with a post about a detachable penis.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Just When You Think Nothing Happens To You....

Disclaimer: Smut isn't my usual genre. But for the sake of this post, I have to use the word penis. It can't be helped. Fair warning.

I went to the grocery store today. Upon opening the car door, I was faced with a strange something lying on the cold, snowy pavement. I tried to take a picture with my cell phone, but all I got was this:

What do you mean you don’t know what this is?!

The mystery object was...some....thing.....

It looked something like a plantain, but there was no knobby bits at the end.

It wasn't this. Maybe...

It also looked something like a kielbasa, but it wasn’t ring shaped. Sometimes smoked sausages are packed more like traditional sausages. Either way, those suckers are vacuum-packed in my neck of the woods. So in order for one to hit the ground of a parking lot, some one had to ravenously gnaw at the vacuum seal until it tore open, so they could consume then-and-there the cold, raw meat.

Getting closer. Sort of...

No one is that desperate for sausage. Except maybe the homeless. Now I feel bad.

Anyhow, it was probably either a malformed plantain, or a sausage of unusual shape and/or destruction.

But I prefer to think it was this:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

There Is No Wonderland. Just Winter. Also, Bah Humbug.

I tend to be a real hermit come winter.

Alas, it is snowing.

I avoid going outside. And, I avoid going outside. And then, I avoid going outside.

I don’t like snow. I don’t care that I grew up in Wisconsin. I don’t care that I spent 2 1/2 years living in colder Minnesota. I don’t care that I spent 3 1/2 years in milder (albeit still cold. Sort of. Sometimes.) Ohio.

I don’t like snow. I don’t like being cold.

But I do like an excuse to add hot cocoa and mochas to my hot beverage repertoire.

I like duping myself into making heart-attack inducing casseroles (hotdish to my friends in Minnesota) reasoning they'll stick to my bones.

You mean corn-dog casserole ISN’T good fore me? But it has corn in it!

I like being able to stay in my sweatpants all day, since I’m not going anywhere. Actually, I already do that, even when I have places to go. But now it’s LEGIT.

However, my hermit ways also manifest themselves when I’m depressed. I pine, not for the fjords, but for a deep, dark cave where I can go unnoticed and silent until the end of days. Like the prisoners of Plato’s cave, I see only the false shadows of my mind’s making.

Hermiting in the winter is ok, so long as it limits itself to things like sweaters and hot chocolate. It is not ok when it harbors solitude and sadness.

For me, at least, it’s a fine line.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mama the Grouch

When I first started this stay-at-home gig, I could’ve been mistaken for the cheerful fairy. At the beginning it was all:

Time to put your shoes on!

Of course I’ll play princess puppy dance party with you!

Now it’s more like:

What are you doing? Come back here this instant!

If I catch you whining one more time, you'll get time out!
Also, I hate Jeeps!

I wonder if my children’s crabby moods are simply a product of my crabby moods, and we’re caught in some sort of ridiculous symbiotic relationship, where we all feed off of each other’s crabby-ness until we’ve all reached a point of crabby saturation.

That’s it, Jim. Take ‘er to shore.

Sometimes, I'm just so frustrated. I try to tell myself things like:

“They’re only 3 and 1. They don’t have any other ways to express their feelings.”

“Take a deep breath and assess - is this a fight worth having?”

But then I also tell myself things like:

“If you were happier, they’d be happier.”

“Why are you such a grouch to your own children?”

It’s hard to allow myself to be frustrated, without shaming myself for feeling frustrated. It’s hard to allow myself to be angry, without shaming myself for feeling angry.

I love my kids. I love that I can be at home with them while they’re still so little. So why am I so frustrated? So beat-down?

So grouchy?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Walker, Baby Ranger*

What, you don’t remember the hit Walker, Texas Ranger? Me either. Let’s move on, shall we?

Never forget...

Baby finally took her first steps. At 15 1/2 months.

Both my kids were late walkers. Preschooler didn’t learn until 16 1/2 months. Those 16 1/2 months were spent in anxious concern that because my daughter was a late bloomer in the walking department, she would probably have to roll and crab-crawl** to job interviews when she’s 23.

With Baby I had no compunction whatsoever. My kids were just late walkers. That’s just the way they rolled (or crab-crawled.) Whatever.

So screw developmental assessments!

There, I’ve said it.

At every baby well visit I’m handed a questionnaire and asked to tick off the items my baby is able to accomplish. The 12 month questionnaire went something like this:

Can your baby pick up a small object between his forefinger and thumb? Check.

Can your child speak at least one recognizable word besides mama and dada? Check.

Can your baby identify the area of an isosceles triangle. Uhhh....check?

But there’s one assessment question that has always screwed both my children over.

Does your baby walk yet, or at least cruise?

Our pediatrician in Ohio responded to this with:

It’s probably nothing. BUT...

And that “but” would drive my new-parent anxiety off a cliff and into a ravine filled with thorn bushes, and probably bears.


By the time Baby came into our lives, I was no longer concerned with her pokey gross motor development. And neither was her new pediatrician, who basically said, “Who cares? See you in 3 months.”

Lots of things are more difficult with 2 children. Time management. Shopping. Sanity.

But some things, like diaper-changing and expectations, are easier.

* I owe the entire concept of this title to my best friend's cat.

** Crab-crawl refers to this funky way of mobilization, where my kids scoot around on their butts using both hands and one knee in front of them. It's not to be confused with traditional crab-crawling.

Faster, my minions, faster!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Yes Preschooler, There Is a Santa Claus. Sorta. I think.

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. Actually, there is no goose. I’m filling the void by getting fat(ter).

I’m spending my time stringing cranberry garland that may rot on our live Christmas tree that may loose all its needles before Christmas actually begins.

This may be the cleanest part of my home by the time Santa comes.

I’ve also spent my time in a futile effort to keep my living room clean so we don’t have to use a complicated rope-and-pulley system to suspend the tree over the pile of dirty laundry. In my living room. I know, I don’t know how that happened either.

There is only so much that will keep my children occupied during this time.

For Baby it’s pens (mercifully capped), my sharp scissors, exposed electrical outlets, and anything else that will result in her immanent demise.

For Preschooler it’s glitter. Lots and lots of glitter. She has always enjoyed art projects, so I keep an assortment of paint, crayons, colored paper, and, yes, glitter around for her to use. I did this with the good intentions of letting her express her creativity, and to keep her out of my hair for 5 minutes. Unfortunately, though it keeps her busy, it results in a heart-attack inducing mess.

At least the glitter on my carpet is festive, right? Right?

Explaining Santa thing has also proven difficult. I honestly believe the sex talk would be easier.

Now about this Santa thing...

But I find myself tripping over my tongue trying to explain the lie of the jolly fat man.

Part of me wants to to tell her it is TRUE. Because that’s what makes it fun. And so she won’t be the kid on the playground who ruins it for every one else.

But I can’t do it. Because it’s not true.

I’d much rather put it in the context of myth. That it’s a really fun thing to do. That since the beginning of time people have found ways to celebrate that even though winter is dark and bleak, there is still hope.

But what kind of 3 year old can appreciate myth?

And then there’s the whole Jesus thing. It would be so easy if I could explain that Jesus was a real man sent to earth by God to spread the message of peace and love, and that since he saved us from sin we celebrate the day of his birth. It’s not to say this isn’t true. It very well could be. But as I’m still looking for spiritual faith and guidance myself, I’m not sure how to approach this issue with my children.

The funny thing about all this is I LOVE Christmas.

I love decorating my house with lights and evergreens.

I love being with my family, so we can celebrate (or at least appreciate) our love for each other. I love giving presents to my family, in part because I love to shop and it’s more fun to shop for others rather than myself.

I love giving to my community in the form of charity and volunteering.

I LOVE Christmas. Even if I don’t understand it.

And now I have to go. Baby is trying to eat my lipstick. With her eyeball.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Getting Schooled

Warning: I am way over-thinking things. I should probably stop thinking. And brathing.

What, you breathe instead of brathe? Heathen.

Preschooler (who is not in preschool) turned 3 this autumn. This means that she’d start conventional preschool next fall, in order to complete 2 years of preschool and enter kindergarten at age 5.

And I’m a bit freaked out.

Preschooler is smart, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my child and I’m biased and believe everything she does is brilliant (although this is true.) She could identify all the letters of the alphabet by 18 months. She knew all the letter sounds by 2 1/2. She counts to 30, understands the concept of zero, and can do very simple arithmetic, i.e. addition and subtraction with numbers 10 and under.

The thing is, I don’t think she’s doing all this by rote. Because one day she’ll just reveal these concepts in conversation with us, and I’ll ask Husband:

Me: Did you teach her this?

Husband: No, did you?

Me: No. OMG what do we do? We have to encourage this somehow! All this talent will go to waste if I don’t encourage this right now, and she’ll end up homeless on the street begging for change in exchange for sounding out 3-letter words and adding 4 + 3, and it will be all my fault!

Husband: No way. She’s a genius! Let’s notify the media!

Me: She’s not a genius! She’s just too smart for her own good. Or my own good. Whatever. Anyhow, we need to get her in some sort of program where she can continue working on these skills.

Preschooler: I like ham!

Husband and I and those close to us believe she needs to be in some sort of preschool program now, to help her further develop these talents until she can start “real” preschool. Problem is, we can’t afford it.

So, I’ve started teaching her at home a bit. For the past week or so, we sit at the kitchen table about 10-15 minutes a day, and I work with her on basic reading and math skills. I’ve checked out books from the library about teaching math with manipulatives and teaching phonics skills. We sing a song or two. We read a lot throughout the day. I try to get her to a playground or other activity where she can run amuck with other kids a few times a week. We continually work on things like manners and self-help skills.

Hopefully, by the time she enters a conventional preschool program next year, she’ll be equipped academically to focus her attentions on social skills. Because, as I’ll explain later, this is what she needs to work on the most.

So, she’s getting schooled in ... school. And I’m getting schooled in ... school. And hopefully, if this works out, she won’t be the kid in kindergarten who eats paste.

The secret to eating delicious paste is to do it in full view of others.
That way, your peers will be fraught with envy as you wallow in your sticky gluttony.