Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Places I Love (To Not Love)

I know, I KNOW the Monday listicle challenge was to name your favorite places. But I’m going to list my LEAST favorite places. I’m a rebel like that.

I also know that it's Tuesday.  This makes me fashionably late, and for the very first time, fashionably anything.

Right then, places I hate:

1) Any bed that’s not my own.  My bed has a squishy pillow-top with grooves shaped over the years to fit my bizarrely bony hips and gigantic ass.  Sleeping anywhere else is like sitting on a rock-hard platform.

2) Dressing rooms.  No matter how much I weighed, the flickering fluorescent lights and tilted mirrors do nothing to hide my flabby belly.  It’s like they WANT me to not buy any clothes.

3) Scorching hot pavement directly under the earth's sun.  My shoes will start melting and then what will I wear, WHAT? Also, I hate sweating.

4) Gym class.  Gym class was the bane of my otherwise stellar academic career.  Oh, and also calculus.  These two things are related, right? Also, I hate sweating.

5) My bathtub.  I don’t take baths. I’m a showers only kind of gal. So if I’m in my bathtub, it means I’m cleaning it.  And every one knows cleaning the bathtub is a job that should only be performed by Satan's minions in the seventh layer of hell.

6) Hospital.  I hate having an IV in me.  HATE IT.

7) Work after childbirth.  Months of PPD combined with an undiagnosed bipolar disorder made going back to work after childbirth nothing short of a tragedy.  I’d have panic attacks in the parking lot at the mere thought of entering the building.

What, only 7 places?!  Angela, you optimist, you!

 Take a look at other great listicle posts here.  Thanks Stasha!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Downside Of Secret Naps

When I was in high school, my mom taught freshman English literature to my friends.  And my enemies.  At my high school.

It was a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, there was no cutting class, cheating on tests, or any other shenanigans.  Mom wouldn’t find out about these transgressions days, weeks, or months later, after all was long said and done.  No, she found out within the hour from her coworkers, who were also my teachers.  There’s no point in acting out, when there’s no feasible chance of getting away with it. 

On the plus side, I always had a car ride to school. She was able to coordinate my schedule so I would end up with the teachers of my choice. Best of all, I was able to conduct my own personal study hall under the guise of being her “assistant.”

Students had the ability to be a teacher’s assistant one hour of the day, rather than taking an extra-credit course.  Theoretically, these students were to assist the teacher doing who knows what.  In my case it meant sitting at a desk stashed away in the English supply room, reveling in the gift of undisturbed slumber.

This secret nap was sorely needed.  By the time I was in high school, I spent most of my free time at ballet.  Ballet shoes took up more space in my backpack than books.  I’d often go straight to ballet after school, arriving home at 9:00 in the evening to wolf down a re-heated dinner, and (finally) start my homework.

I was tired.

Until one day, I had an unanticipated surplus of energy.  Embarrassing, embarrassing energy.  I sat at that stashed away desk in the supply room, mentally going through a recently-learned dance routine.  Pretty soon I was walking through the steps while sitting in my seat.  Before long, I leaped up, and twirled into a double-pirouette, landing only to see one of the other English teachers chortling in the doorway.

And that is reason no. 239 why I wasn’t popular in high school.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Flashback Friday: Because I'm Lazy

It occurred to me that I have a plethora of posts from the days of yore, when no one read my blog but Lindsay Schultz @sayschu.  It's a bit of a shame, so I'm starting a new feature on my blog: Flashback Friday.  Each Friday I'll republish a post from approximately a year ago, because I'm lazy nostalgic,  

This first Flashback Friday explains how I (used to) hate shopping at Kohl's. In other news I'm a blasphemer who is going to Hell in a hand-basket.  Or a Kohl's shopping cart. Same thing, really.

*     *     *

Originally posted August 25th, 2010, when we lived in Ohio, Preschooler was a toddler, and Toddler was a baby. This isn't confusing at all!

I'm Going To Hell In A Hand-Basket.  Or Possibly A Kohl's Shopping Cart. Whatever.

I hate going to Kohl’s. Don’t get me wrong - the high quality goods and wares and the low prices combined with the ubiquitous 20-30-40 percent off additional sale price savings are alluring.

Once, I purchased a blouse that was originally $18.99 on sale, but due to a small tear in the seam was marked down by $9.00. It was on a rack marked LUDICROUSLY SUPER SAVINGS! A MILLION PERCENT OFF ORIGINAL SALE PRICE!!!!!

Ok, maybe it was actually 80 percent. But by my calculations (20% of $18.99 minus $9.00) Kohl’s owed me $5.20. For some reason, the clerk didn’t agree. Whatever, I’m still waiting for my cheque to arrive in the mail any day now.

No, the reason I hate Kohl’s is because of their damn shopping buggies. You see, my oldest can walk, but insists on riding. My youngest cannot walk, and refuses to ride. Had I the power of Thrud, Norse goddess of strength, I could not push a buggy with one seat while holding the baby. Thus, I must face the doom that is the double seat stroller. This never ends well.

Unlike a regular shopping cart, Kohl’s buggies seats two kids, one behind the other. This is fine with Toddler, but absolutely unacceptable to Baby.

Now, Husband will only wear jeans from Kohl’s and his pants had become so worn that I was afraid he’d be mistaken for a pauper, get locked up in debtor’s prison, and we would not see him again unless we immediately paid off the $180,000 in student loans we incurred in an effort to be smart.

Note to self: Spending $180,00 to obtain official papers saying you’re smart may indeed not be smart. YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.

I was forced to go to Kohl’s. And because we live three states away from any reliable babysitter I resigned to taking the kids with me.

The minute I put the baby in the buggy seat, she screamed as if I had ripped her out toenails out with pliers then dipped her in a tub of hot oil. And took her nuk away to boot. TREMBLE BEFORE THE HORROR OF THE KOHL’S SHOPPING BUGGY!

I put the toddler in the next seat. She immediately began screaming because the baby was screaming. Oh, my tenderhearted one! Still, she steadfastly refused to walk, so off I traversed to menswear pushing my two inconsolable children in front of me.

Soon, I began to garner attention of other shoppers, some sympathetic, some annoyed. Shushing the children was as effective as teaching a chicken to read, so I grinned and beared it. Actually, I smiled maniacally and ignored them until the shopping was complete.

It reminded me of the time the toddler climbed too high on the jungle gym and had to be rescued. Though I safely returned her to land, I attempted to jump off the third step and fell flat on my face in front of the other mothers.

Or the time in college I was walking home from class, and stopped on the highest hill to take in the scenery of the fresh spring day. Then I slipped down the hill becoming covered in mud and grass and scraping my elbows and face. Subsequently I was forced to walk home to my downtown apartment looking like I had a close encounter with a mud-wrestling bear.

So when is it OK to pretend like everything is A-OK when it is clearly not? Shopping with screaming kids, sure. Falling down, why not so long as no exposed bones are involved. Depression, not so much. I learned that the hard way. I existed like that for way too long.

*     *     *

You're still here? Good for you! Also, I'm thinking of including a trial link-up with this. If it seems like people want to play along, let me know in the comments, and I'll include this feature (with a real link-up) in every Flashback Friday post.  Thanks!

FYI: I had to re-publish this post due to some typos, and now it's showing up in my feed-reader (and probably yours) as if I wrote the same post multiple times.  Damn it, Google, get with the picture.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Back in July, we went on vacation to the north-woods of Minnesota and Wisconsin. It was quite the road-trip, consisting of a total of 20 hours on the road. We stopped to let Preschooler go potty only 239 times.  I think she’s the only person who can truly appreciate, nay enjoy, a truck stop bathroom.  Even better, there were no real breakdowns thanks to these little gems:

I give up.

Yes, the portable DVD player saved our vacation, or at least allowed us to drive hours at a time in relative peace and quiet.  Well, maybe not quiet, but definitely peace.   I know, REALLY? A TV?   The words “spoiled,” “privileged,” and “lazy” come to mind.

Before Husband and I were parents, we used to vocalize loudly on what consisted of appropriate parenting.  We were parenting snobs; parenting armchair quarterbacks. But after our kids were born, our parenting standards shattered, one by one.

“We’ll NEVER use a portable DVD player in the car.  Our children will entertain themselves, just like we did as children.”

Ahem.  Actually these little beauties will allow you to keep your sanity in between diaper changes, potty stops, mealtimes, snack times, and nap times. When you’re driving for a whole day, your sanity takes precedent over anything else.

“McDonald’s will ONLY be a very special treat, save for the road-trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Our kids will NEVER eat processed food.  There’s nothing wrong with fruits and vegetables.  Also, we’ll make all our own baby-food.  And, we’ll never frequent restaurants with children’s menus.  The kids will eat whatever we eat with gusto.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! You’re so cute.

You see, there will be times where even the notion of cooking is impossible.  You may be holding a screaming baby for 22 hours in one day.  You may have a Toddler clinging to your pants leg starting at 4:30 or so, and lasting for the next 3 hours.  You may be simply exhausted, having stayed up with an infant all night, or negotiating a peace treaty between your offspring all day. On these days, even if your fast-food suppers occur twice a week or more, they will be a blessing, a blessing from the Lord above. Amen.

“Our kids will only play with wooden toys.  Plastic, noisy toys are the work of Satan himself.”

Ok. Plastic toys ARE forged by the devil’s minions, but seeing as you already caved in with the DVD player and the junk food, you ought not worry about this.

In for a penny, in for a pound, right?

P.S.  Stay tuned for more vacation stories..... probably.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shot In The Heart, And You're To Blame

When we moved to Wisconsin back in October, we had some difficulties getting my daughters’ vaccination records to move with us. Our first visit to our new pediatrician’s office was for Toddler’s 15-month-checkup. I was unsure which vaccinations she was due for, but I thought, “No problem!  That’s why they keep records of these things.  Right? RIGHT?”


When our doctor in Wisconsin reviewed the records we brought with us from Ohio, they couldn’t figure out which vaccinations she received. You see, the vaccination chart was on the SECOND page of the girls’ records we brought back from Ohio, but our new doctors’ office would only scan the FIRST page of the records into their electronic systems.  The rest of the documents in the girls’ charts went into some strange land of limbo known as “storage,” accessible by neither man nor beast. 

Because I couldn’t say for sure which vaccinations she already received, I went ahead and told the staff to skip the vaccinations for this visit, we’ll get the necessary vaccinations once we have all the records straight.

Fast forward three months, and we STILL didn’t have a clear vaccination record for either of my children.  By this point I was so fed up that I just said, “Go ahead, just give her whatever vaccinations she missed from her 15-month checkup, along with whatever she’s due for today.”

“M’am, that’s going to be six shots.”

“Really?  Hmmmm.... is it dangerous for her to get that many?”
“No, there’s no danger.”

“I may regret this, but lets just do them all and get it over with.  It’ll suck for today, but she’s so little she probably won’t remember.”

Poke. WHAAAA!!! Poke. Poke. WHAAAA!!! WHAAAA!!! Poke. Poke. Poke. WHAAAA!!! WHAAAA!!! WHAAAA!!!

I regret this. 

Not only did it physically hurt her at the time, which broke my heart, but she remembers those jabs. Now she is terrified, utterly, utterly, terrified.  All a doctor has to do is look at her to reduce her to a trembling wailing heap in my arms.  If I even go to lay her down on the scale to get her weight and height measured, she clings and trembles as if I were trying to baptize her in a fountain of acid. The poor thing desperately clings to me, shaking with terror, if I even try to lie her down on one of those plastic changing tables in the McDonald’s bathroom.

She remembers.

I ruined her.

And I felt like CRAP about it.  How could’ve I willingly exposed my baby to such pain, that it would stick around as one of her earliest memories?  But as I was wailing and gnashing my teeth over this, my Mom came up with the best reasoning I’ve heard yet. 

“Honey, lots of people are afraid of the doctor.  Who’s to say that she WOULDN’T have developed such a fear, no matter how many or few vaccinations she received?” 

So maybe I didn’t ruin her.  Yet.

Sorry Toddler.  Mommy loves you very much. Even when your 5, 15, 25 years old, if you need some one to hold your hand at the doctor’s office, I’ll be there.

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Click here for the chance to win a slot in The Bloggess sidebar for a month sponsored by freefringes.com 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Challenge Accepted

In my head (don’t tell me you don’t want to be there), there is a big difference between “dares” and “challenges.”  I’m so incredibly risk-adverse that I blow off any type of dare.  It’s been like this since I was a child. Observe:

Another child:  I dare you to climb to the top of that tree.

Me:  No thanks.


Another child: Who thinks they could climb to the top of that tree?


I would then try ineffectively to shimmy up a tree.  I’d only manage to get one or two feet off the ground.  I never had good gross-motor skills.

It wasn’t always physical challenges that prodded me to take on a challenge.  There were academic challenges too.

Math teacher:  Ok, it’s time to review our algebra homework.

Me: AAAAARRRGHHHH.  Math is hard.


Math teacher:  Ok, here is an extra-credit algebra worksheet.  You get 1 extra-credit point for each problem you answer correctly.

Me: I’ll take two, please.

Now, I was no great-shakes at math, but that’s besides the point.  If you try to motivate me to achieve a goal by betting me I could never do it, well, you’d be right.  If some one thinks I’m unable to accomplish something, and they tell me so, I have no desire to prove them wrong. 

But if you simply present me with a lofty goal, I’ll rise to meet that challenge.

And sometimes I succeed.

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This post brought to you by a writing prompt at http://www.studiothirtyplus.com/  Check it out!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Move Over, Ma Ingalls

A secret part of me has always nursed a fantasy that one day I would be chosen to go back in time, to travel the Oregon Trail in a Conestoga wagon.  My mom took pains when I was young to make sure I knew how to do household tasks.  I was taught how to sew a button and hem pants. I learned to clean and cook and bake.  I even learned how to cross-stitch, a skill worthy of any burgeoning attorney.  

To be honest, these days I still enjoy at least sewing and cooking.  Plus, I LOVE a good living-history museum.  I even loved the Little House On The Prairie TV series, and would continue to watch it in reruns, if my daytime TV viewing minutes weren’t already commandeered by a certain explorer and her little monkey friend. 

So this summer, seeing as I have all this free time on my hands (wait, what?), I took it upon myself to make jam.  Not just refrigerator jam, which I have successfully made before, but real jam, where you boil the jars and everything.  I’m not sure why I pick up hobbies like this on such a whim, it never really ends well for me.

So sometime in June, I went to my local library for a book about making your own preserves and home canning.  I schlepped off to Walmart to buy mason jars, and the world’s largest pot to boil them in.  I made extensive lists detailing what I would can based on when the various fruits came into season over the course of the summer.  My daydreams involved lining my basement shelves with a myriad of jewel-bright jars.  I could even gift them, right? RIGHT?

Well, the first things to ripen were strawberries, and seeing as we had a pretty wet June, they were a little later than usual to arrive.  No matter.   I picked up several pints of berries, along with a sack of sugar and some of those little packets of pectin, and I was on my way. 

How NOT to can:
  1. Sterilize all your canning equipment in boiling water.
  2. Hull all your strawberries.
  3. Realize you don’t have nearly enough sugar to make jam.
  4. Go to bed.
  5. Buy sugar in the morning.
  6. Re-sterilize the canning equipment.
  7. Mash up berries and sugar in a pot on the stove. Heat them to boiling.
  8. Watch the substance in pot try to reach a boil.
  9. Watch it.
  10. Watch it.
  11. Wonder why everything in your pot has gone pink and foamy.
  12. Decide maybe that’s what “boiling” is, and start plopping the hot, pulpy, concoction into jars.
  13. Under-fill each and every jar.
  14. Boil filled jars, at a simmer, for several minutes.
  15. Forget about the jars for a moment, to catch the ending of Little House On The Prairie.   It turns out Sylvia dies.  Poor Albert.
  16. Remove jars from the water, and place them on a tea-towel on the counter to cool.
The result? Eight jars filled with an almost bitter-sweet "jam" with only a hint of the over-cooked strawberry that was its namesake, topped with an inch of crystalline jelly-sugar for that added zing.

I don’t have to worry that I’ll die of dysentery.  I’ll probably die of botulism first.

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This post also appears at Lovelinks.  Check it out!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Think My Babysitter Is Some Sort Of Saint. Probably The Saint Of Slow Parents. Amen.

When we lived in Ohio, we had no baby-sitter.  All our family and close friends lived at least a day’s drive away.  We fanagled crazy work schedules so we could manage to only send the girls to daycare three days a week.  My husband would work days Sunday through Friday, and I would work early afternoons until anywhere between 9:00 pm and 11:00 pm Tuesday through Saturday.  This meant we had very little time, much less any money, to go on dates anyhow.

I don’t recommend this.

When we moved back to Wisconsin, we tried to have date nights once a month.  Try is the operative word here.  We are close enough to relatives that we could call on them to babysit our kids for free.  But relatives aren’t always available when we need them, or don’t live quite close enough to do any late-night babysitting. 

Therefore, our outings with friends (even those who are also parents) tend to go something like like this*:

Arrive at our favorite brew-pub:

Hostess:  Hello! How many people are with you today?

Me: 4 adults and 4 children. We’ll need a highchair, unless we are seated in a booth.

Hostess: Ok! We’ll be able to seat you in 45 minutes!

We wait in an unobtrusive corner at the bar.  Grown-ups order drinks, while my children spin in circles for 20 minutes.  At that point Toddler decides waiting for a table is crazy-business, and bolts towards the door.  I chase after her and catch her, forcing her to become boneless as I drag her shrieking back to our corner.  Not wanting to disturb the other patrons any further, husband takes the kids outside until we’re seated.  

My friends are kind and understanding souls. “Let’s all get together at the local bier garten next time,” they say.  “It’s an enclosed area, and plenty of people bring their kids,” (this is Wisconsin, after all.)   Off we head to the bier garten.

It’s really quite pleasant.  There is an outdoor bar, but mostly the bier garten consists of lots of picnic tables.  We get a pitcher of beer to share.  Preschooler starts playing a rather subdued version of ring-around-the-rosy with one of her little friends.  Meanwhile, Toddler is trying to make a break for it. 

You see, the bier garten is fenced in, save for the entrance and exit doors.  Does Toddler eat snacks at the picnic table? No. Does she play with her sister? No.  Does she poke curious fingers at one of the many dogs also at the bier garten to enjoy a fine summer evening? No. She spends the entire time trying to run back out into the street every time  the door opens or closes.  ARE WE THAT BORING?
That was the final straw.  We wanted to go out with friends, without our kids.  We needed a babysitter. 

No problem,” I thought.  “We live in a college town.  I’ll just put an advertisement for a babysitter on the student job board.” Except instead of the bulliten board being a physical board, as it was back when I was a student and dinosaurs roamed the earth, you post your ad on a website.  Same thing, really.  Up goes the ad.

The next morning my phone rang.  It was a student interested in the babysitting position.  I got her name and number, and arranged for a visit.  Five seconds later, my phone rang.  It was a student interested in the babysitting position.  I got her name and number, and arranged for a visit. While I was on the call, I heard my call-waiting beep.  It was another student interested int he babysitting position. I I ignored the call-waiting and hung up the phone. Five seconds after that, the phone rang.  Over the course of the day I got nearly 20 calls on my home phone, 20 calls on my cell phone, and over 35 emails all from students interested in babysitting.  I had to stop answering my phone by about 10 am, lest I end up talking to hopeful college students all day.

In the end, we were able to find a really awesome babysitter.  We have utilized her services numerous times, and it has been worth every penny.

But sometimes I have no parenting common sense.

*P.S. Our outings also sometimes go something like this.

P.P.S. I feel obligated to emphasize that any restaurants we try to visit have extensive children’s menus, while maintaining a great brew-pub in a reasonably family-friendly environment.  Nevertheless, we have been forced to vacate an otherwise lovely meal more than once, when my kids start to get obnoxious.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I'm Whale Neutral. Don't Tell PETA.

Having majored in English, and being a self-proclaimed library addict, I’ve read many a tome in my day.  So I’m about to go all Judgey McJudgerson, and regale you with a short list of books I absolutely hate. 

Moby Dick.  Oh how I loathe Moby Dick.  I’ve been forced to read it cover-to-cover twice.  One professor in particular, LOVED Moby Dick.  He may or may not sleep with a copy of Moby Dick under his pillow.  WHO KNOWS?  Because despite all the symbolism and etymology, Herman Melville spends an exorbitant amount of time discussing whales and whaling in minute detail.  Excruciatingly, painful, minute detail.  Guess what?  I don’t care about whaling!  On the other hand, I also didn’t like Free Willy.  I’m whale neutral.

Sweet Valley High.  Anyone remember the Sweet Valley High series.  Anyone?  Beuller?  Right.  For those who were not pre-teens in the 80’s, here’s the scoop.  There are two girls.  They’re twins.  And every book revolves around some sort of boyfriend drama.  Or who’s on the cheerleading squad.  Also, I think in one book they had some sort of switched-identity due to a coma, or something.  I was 11, with no boobs.  Boyfriend and cheerleading conflicts were not relevant to my life.  I did, however, have a brief and passionate love affair with the Babysitter’s Club books, despite the fact that I rarely babysat.  Apparently the life of a pre-teen is tumultuous and inconsistent.  Also, no one used the word “tween” when I was young, and I refuse to use it now.

Uuuummm....hmmmmmm.  I guess that’s it.  Apparently I’ve enjoyed, or at least tolerated, every other book I've ever read.  Ever. 

Wait a minute, this can’t be right. Any one out there care to shore up this pathetic list? 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

All Those Years Spent NOT Eating Werther's Originals Finally Paid Off!

Despite my insistence back in April that I would do nothing of the sort, I finally broke down and went to the dentist for the first time in seven years. Teeth are so 2004.

A combination of so-called “dental insurance” combined with a growing sense of my own mortality brought on by turning thirty, sent me looking for a dentist to hack away at my sorely neglected teeth.

I fully expected to be told that my teeth were all falling out.  But as it turns out, I’ve been blessed with good dental-genes, which makes up for my complete inability to see anything in the dark

Also, there have been some impressive changes in the world of dentistry over the past decade.

For starters, the chair.  The dental chairs of my youth were cold, hard, leather covered with thick plastic sheeting, the same kind of plastic elderly women put over their dining-room chairs to protect the upholstery.  This new dental chair, however, was nothing short of luxurious.  I’ve never sat in a more comfortable chair, although at this point in life my chair-standards have been drastically lowered, disdaining only that which has recently been peed-on, or is otherwise sticky. I’m ordering two for my living-room.

Next, the distractions.  Growing up my dentist had a variety of mobiles hanging over the chair.  I think there may have also been some posters, starring cute baby animals and possibly some sort of “Smile!” message.  This time around, mounted to the side of my chair was a TV. With cable.  And I got to control the remote. Thanks to that TV, should you wish to bypass the whole small-talk-turned-pantomime thing wherein the dental hygienist insists on holding a conversation with you while you attempt to communicate your annoyance and/or distress by making vowel sounds and possibly pointing at something, a simple “Shut up! I’m watching my stories!,” or more likely, “Ut uh! Ih oshing y ories!” should suffice.

Finally, the instruments. My life-experience with dental equipment went something along the line of, poke, POKE, jab, scrape, stab...oh dear, it looks like your gums are bleeding, do you floss?   Now, it’s not as though poking and jabbing and scraping didn’t occur.  But there was also beeping.  And some wand measuring the density of something (my teeth? my jaw bone? any dentists out there?)  Anyhow, all I had to do was sit there while the hygienist ran that wand by each tooth and shouted out numbers seemingly at random.  The future is now!

All in all, not a bad visit.  I (surprisingly) don’t have any new cavities, and the old silver fillings I got as a child won’t need to be replaced for a while yet.  I got my hands on a free toothbrush, and samples of dental floss.  And, just in case I get bored, I get to haggle with my insurance company as to whether or not this particular dentist is in their network. 

Next time I might spend up to a month prior to my appointment guzzling soda and eating nothing but Werther’s Originals.  I don’t want to bore the dentist again.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Let My Kids Play With Glitter, And I’m Not Ashamed

I'm not exactly a morning person, but my kids are.  In fact, they like mornings so much that they wake up at six in the morning no matter how late they (or I) were up the previous evening.  And they like to hit the ground running.  Our mornings usually go something like this:

Preschooler:  Mommy, play with me! 

Me:  Wait until I've had my coffee. 

Preschooler: *blink* *blink*

Preschooler:  Mommy, play with me! 

Me: Errrmmm.....ok.  What should we do? 

Preschooler: I don't know? 

Me: Okaaaaay... how about we play with your farm animals?  You can be the horsey! 

Preschooler:  I don't want to be the horsey. 

Me: Oh. 

Preschooler: I want to be the horsey!  And you can be the horsey's mom! 

Me: Sounds good. 

Five minutes of neighing and frolicking ensues...

Preschooler:  Now what?

At this point, I usually point her in the direction of her toys: 

You’re on your own, kid!

Playtime with Toddler is only slightly better.  For example: 

Me: Look honey, blocks!  Let's make a tower!   

Toddler stacks blocks while I count "1... 2... 3..."

Toddler knocks down the tower, laughing maniacally. 

Me: It fell down!  Let's try again! 

Repeat twenty-seven times...

I'm not particularly bothered by any of this.  I try to find a decent balance between showing an interest in what my kids are doing and engaging with them, without actually having to be a play-mate.  That's what they have a sister for.

Plus, I have an ace up my sleeve.

Crayons.  Markers.  Glitter.  YES, GLITTER.

Because so long as I start her off, Preschooler will go on creating art for at least twenty minutes. That’s twenty minutes I can fritter away doing dishes, taking a shower, or vacuuming.  Not that I actually do those things.

It’s hard to resist the siren’s song.

Plus, trying to accomplish any task during those precious few minutes becomes markedly more difficult when I have a toddler clinging to my pants leg.  Because although Toddler likes art, she only lasts about five minutes before she loses interest and/or eats the crayons.  Same thing, really.

In enters the glitter.  Preschooler draws a picture on any various type of medium.  Construction paper.  Notebook paper.  Paper bags.  The dining room table.

When Preschooler is finished coloring her picture, I help her squeeze glue onto the appropriate places in her composition.  Then she sprinkles glitter on the whole creation.  And on the table.  And on the carpeting.  I shake the excess glitter onto a second sheet of paper, and use that paper to funnel the  remaining glitter back into its canister.

We put the masterpiece up on a high counter out Toddler’s reach, so she can’t attempt to use it as a napkin and/or hat.

Preschooler contentedly skips off to play with her sister, who is only too glad to follow Preschooler around while Preschooler bosses her.  Who am I to judge?

And I’m left to clean up the sticky table and sparkly carpeting. The twinkle of glitter nicely offsets the macaroni-and-cheese stains on my dining room floor.  And my refrigerator door can now do double-duty as Cher's Vegas dressing-room door.

It's a win-win situation.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

You're Still Here?!

One year ago today, I started this blog, and then preceded to tell no one about it for a month or so.  Since most of you probably missed it the first time around, I'm republishing my very first post, wherein I wax neurotic about what the hell I was getting myself into.

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Originally posted August 4th, 2010


Why blog?

I suppose this is a question that should have been resolved before I began blogging. But, as you will eventually realize, I tend to over-think things. Usually I over-think so much that it prevents me from any action whatsoever. And I didn’t want this to be one of those situations where I thought so much about the consequences of doing something that I end up missing out on the experience and never doing it at all.

For example, I really wanted to study abroad while in college. I was an English major, so the United Kingdom seemed to be a perfectly crommulent place to study, and that was my dream. I thought it would make me seem all intellectual and worldly and stuff. Or at least I’d get to hang out with people who had interesting accents, and maybe I could pick up an interesting accent myself. Having grown up in Wisconsin my current accent is a mix between Minnesotan, Chicago, and Yooper. It is not so interesting as it is comical.

Anyhow, I was all set to undertake this adventure when I began thinking. What if the classes were too difficult and I failed all of them? What if I got sick? How would I find a place to live? And food? How would I pay for it? Never mind that thousands of students study abroad in countries all over the world every year, even countries more exotic and primitive than England, and most if not all of the programs are designed to make things as easy for an ignorant American student as possible.

I expressed my worries to my equally-neurotic mother, who was less than thrilled at the prospect of her youngest child leaving the country for a whole year and she heartily agreed that I should not study abroad. Thus, I kept my feet firmly planted on American soil.

I’ve regretted that decision ever since.

I had similar concerns about blogging. What if someone reads it and thinks it’s dumb? What if no one reads it, because it’s dumb? Do I really want to expose my innermost thoughts on the internet where they will last for eternity? After all, if I had done so when I was, say, thirteen, all the world would’ve known that OMG I LOVE TODD SO MUCH HE IS SO HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!EXCLAMATION POINT TO INFINITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I didn’t want this to be an experience I missed out on. I’ve always loved writing, and I’ve always been too afraid to let anyone read my writing. My writing has always been fairly translucent and to have someone else know EXACTLY what I think left me feeling naked and exposed.

After many years of therapy, I’ve decided to take some more risks in life. This blog is one of those risks.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mommy Ima

Mommy, Ima kitty!  At the carnival! Watch me on the ferris wheel!  MEEEOOOOOW!

This is how Preschooler usually greets me in the morning. Preschooler likes to pretend.  In fact, she is very rarely Preschooler.  Instead she is a princess, a doctor, a pirate, a pet-store owner, a chef, a mama, a zebra, a puppy.  It’s not just that she plays with her My Little Ponies or her stuffed animals, sending them on wild adventures, although she does do this.  It’s that she imagines herself to be something, and sends herself on a wild adventure.

At the same time, this amount of pretend play seems totally normal to me, if only because I engaged in so much pretend play as a child.  Best Friend and I met when were were 4 and 6 respectively, and for the next six years or so, we pretended pretty much everything.  We were doggies, we were mommies, we were teachers, we were astronauts. 

Eventually we outgrew pretending in favor of activities such as board-games and fingernail-painting.*  But out of that pretend play grew creative writing.  We’d write stories, poems, and even created newspapers.  We’d start novels that we never finished.  She inspired me to start blogging, and when I did she was the only one I told, if only because she knew me so intimately as a writer and she had seen me start and then give up on some many writing projects before.

So I’m thrilled to see Preschooler plays pretend.  I’m even more thrilled that Toddler is already following in Preschooler’s footsteps.

Who knows where this will take them?

*By the way, does anyone else remember having sleep-over parties where you all gave each other manicures, or experimented with make-up, or something like that?  Do teenagers even do these things anymore?  I’m pretty out of it.