Tuesday, February 28, 2012

These are Two of My NOT Favorite Things

We all know as mothers we are required to step up to the plate sometimes.

There are lots of moments throughout the child raising years when we just have to do gross things, things we never in a million years as teenagers thought we'd be willing to do.

If you're a mama, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Things that are just too nasty to mention. I really don't enjoy dwelling on some of my more, well, revolting tasks as a mother of young kids.

I have two things that just really, really gross me out. Forgive me, but I'll have to mention them here or else this blog will be kind of missing the point. But you do need to know that all pictures in this blog are not from the actual event described. I simply could not and was not willing to subject my readers to the horrors I witnessed. You'll see why.

The first thing I really, really hate is vomit. Just looking at that word in print bothers me.

I've gotten better, really, I have, but the presence and sounds and odors associated with sick, vomiting children produces dry heaves in me every single time. I just can't help it. A few times in my early days as a mom, I would have to close my eyes and remind myself of the vows of motherhood that I should never break as I held back my daughter's hair. Abandoning your violently ill child is definitely one of those unbreakable vows.

I'll tell you about the second thing that totally grosses me out in a moment.

So. Picture the scene if you will.


Beautiful bedtime has arrived.

My husband and oldest daughter are still out at ball practice, so I've been flying solo in getting everyone corralled into bunk beds.

I've been up since 4:50AM. I'm kinda beat. Just as I settle onto the couch to see what's on my DVR and catch up on email, I hear the pitter patter of little feet and figured it was this one headed my way: (here she is pictured at a Chinese restaurant attempting to eat her ice cream with chopsticks)

Sure enough, the three-year-old arrives to stand next to me. She's holding her arms at a funny angle and has a distressed look on her face. In the dim light, I can't really see what the problem is, but I soon SMELL what the problem is.

The poor kid had thrown up. EVERY.WHERE.

Her beautiful curls, her neck, the BACK of her pajamas (which is kind of a mystery to me, actually), her favorite blanket (which she named Kissee), and her arms were covered.

Ever seen those commercials of daddies having to change dirty diapers and seen them heaving and gagging? That was pretty much me, folks.

But, knowing I couldn't just leave her in that pitiful state, I helped her back up the stairs and straight to the girls' bathroom for a bath.

It was at that moment I encountered the other thing that just completely, 100% grosses me out. Puts me over the edge.


I know, I know, most people think this is ridiculous. So what? A little dog hair never hurt anybody, right?

First of all, we're not talking just a "little" dog hair. My oldest darling daughter had decided to give her dog a bath earlier that morning, unbeknownst to me.

Apparently there must've been a fire or she had to take cover from a tornado or something equally distressing and sudden, because the bathroom looked like it had been left in a hurry. If I hadn't seen her the rest of the day, I might have thought the rapture had occurred. Why else would someone leave a bathroom in this condition?

The bathtub was literally growing with black dog hair. The floor was covered. About five of my (good!) bath towels were sopping wet and lying on the floor, also covered in dog hair.

This was somewhat of a dilemma. I could not very well bathe my vomit covered child in the hairy tub, and I wasn't about to carry her to another bathroom where she could get even more vomit spread throughout the house.

There was only one thing to do. I stripped her down, left her shivering and pitifully standing in the corner of the hairy bathroom, and retrieved the vacuum cleaner. I literally had to vacuum out that stupid tub and the floor, all while my poor, sick little girl stood there holding her arms out and trying not to spread the nastiness.

And so, dear readers, it was not my personal favorite night of motherhood.

It was, however, good practice in self-restraint. I did not get sick, I did not go berserk at having to vacuum out the tub (this would come later, as I was to find out), and I did not shoot the dog, mainly because he was not home at the time. People have told me my fondness and affection for this animal will grow over time. Still waiting on that one.

The gross factor. Sometimes it's just part of the job, mamas. It's in the fine print.

Part II of this story coming soon...it involves dancing, dogs, vomit, and a teeny tiny hissy fit.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Management

The Management in my home is getting fed up.

New policies are being instated and enforced with diligence.

New policy #1
(and being illiterate does not exempt residents from responsibility)

All clothes found in the laundry room or hamper which are not actually dirty shall incur a fine of 25 cents per item. Certain young residents around here are slightly obsessed with changing clothes at amazing rates of speed. Clothing must be worn a minimum of half a day in order to be considered for laundering.

Management has deemed it appropriate to charge a nominal fee for extra needless laundry. This seems fair. After all, the money will likely go to purchase additional detergent, dryer sheets, and Tylenol for my aching back. We are prepared for the reality that most of our residents will be broke within two days, but don't worry, rent is cheap around here.

New Policy #2

"No food allowed past this point."

This includes, but is not limited to, goldfish crackers, gummy treats, liquids of ANY kind, and in general anything which young minds could possibly deem acceptable for consumption. (So yes, this also includes tiny beads, crayons, and dog food.)

This one has been kinda funny to observe. I've seen residents actually stop and read the policy and have to stop mid-stride on their way to the family room with a handful of pretzels. Somehow it surprises them every single time. They sigh, stay where they are to wolf down their snack, and then proceed as planned.

New Policy #3

"Dogs Need Food."

Providing food and water is not really a negotiable term for your pet. He pretty much will die if residents in this home don't start doing a better job of remembering to provide basic sustenance. And while I would prefer this to be a "no pets" residence, I cannot support getting rid of the animal by these means.

And while we're at it, New Policy #4

The dog's water bowl is NOT to be used by any resident in this home with opposable thumbs. Please refrain from drinking out of his water bowl, even if you do use a fancy straw.

And finally,

New Policy #5

"Baskets have been provided for shoe storage. Please begin utilizing them for this purpose."

This new policy results from a rather prevalent and ongoing problem. But don't take it from me. See for yourself.

A member of Management built the bench pictured above with great loving care for the residents in this home. The other member of Management went out and purchased the baskets which fit perfectly in the bench, as you can see.

It is not just for looks.

It is not just for dumping your junk on and walking away.

It is definitely not for standing on and launching yourself onto other residents' bodies so that you can splatter them on the tile floor.

It is designed for shoes to be placed INSIDE the baskets. Not next to them, not on top of the bench, not in other random spots throughout the house.

* * * * *

And just when I thought I had all necessary policies posted, my youngest caught the policy fever herself and began designing a few of her own. This immediately resulted in one additional non-negotiable policy: NO POLICY WRITING WITH MARKERS NEAR THE FURNITURE!

Please direct any and all complaints to our headquarters located in kitchen between the hours of 9am and 5pm.

Ask for Dad.

Upper Home Management will be unavailable as she'll be having a spa day thanks to all the extra change from laundry.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My little Thelma and little Louise

Do you remember that one crazy, reckless thing you did as a kid? That thing you knew you definitely should not do, but you were feeling daring and decided to throw caution to the wind? That 'burn the ships' mentality that you were going to do it and to heck with the consequences?

Remember that feeling?

I would like to introduce you to two little people in my home who most certainly experienced the euphoria of deliberate naughtiness this evening.

I don't know what came over them. It was like their Thelma and Louise moment.

And boy, did they ever live it out to the fullest.

It went down like this:

7pm. Bathtime. A tiny revolt concerning wanting to take a shower instead of a bath, but I quickly squashed the uprising and all was well. I got both of them in the tub, where they were all smiles and sweetness, and left the bathroom for just a moment.

During that "mere moment", my children went a little bit temporarily insane. Really. If I could have access to their minds, I'm sure I would see that their mental state became highly erratic and unusual.

I retrieved a couple fresh towels for my bathing beauties, checked on the older one who was managing a shower on her own, and made the short trek back to the master bathroom.

It was in that moment I came upon a scene I was not really expecting. I heard a sound that evokes fear in the hearts of mothers: unexplained, deep belly laughter.

There in my bathroom, were two giggling girls. The tile floor all around them was covered in about an inch of water. Drenched. Completely submerged. Water on the walls, the laundry hamper, the bath rug, you name it, it had water on it.

I won't lie. I went a little berserk. I mean, honestly. It's not like this is new territory and they had no idea this behavior was off limits. We have been fairly clear in our requirements regarding water being KEPT in the tub. We left no room for loose interpretation.

The story came out as I began immediately mopping up the floor with no less than six large bath towels. Apparently, for lack of anything better to do, they began literally pouring large cupfuls of water directly onto the floor. They had caught the vision that they could create a small ice skating rink if they poured enough water out.

That makes perfect sense, right?

Now I know that one of these days I'll look back on nights like this and laugh. I will miss the silly childishness of my girls and wonder why on earth I let minor things they did get me worked up.

Tonight is not really that night. One of my girls handled the laughing part just fine for both of us.
She laughed all the way through the rest of her bath, laughed while she picked up all those sopping wet towels and walked them across the house to the laundry room, and giggled as she heaved them into the washing machine.

She poured in the detergent and turned on the machine, a big smile on her face.

I was kind of seeing red just a little bit as she giggled at their deviant behavior. This kid knows how to play me like a fiddle.

I have to attribute their boldness and lack of repentance to the absolute state of euphoria one experiences when doing something daring. They were both on a naughty behavior high and it would take just a little while for the fun to fade.

But boy, did it fade. And fast. They lost their privilege to have book time and got snuggled into their beds just a little bit earlier than usual.

And so, as I kissed their freshly washed little faces and breathed in the sweet smell of clean little girls in pajamas, they finally showed remorse for their actions.

Looking at me quite seriously, the ringleader of the two spoke her darkest secret:

"Mommy, I'm sorry. The ice cream I ate tonight made me naughty."

Well, that's a new one. Blaming the groceries. It's original, I'll give her that....but I WON'T be giving her ice cream for a few nights.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Man's Best Friend, Woman's Worst Enemy

We are all greatly anticipating warmer temperatures and will happily welcome spring.

Why? Oh, lots of reasons. We can get out and enjoy the sunshine, I can set the kids loose to ride bikes and scooters and big wheels in the cul-de-sac and burn off excess energy, and we can make sidewalk chalk masterpieces on the driveway and in the street. We love warm weather.

But this year there is another reason I am counting the days to warmer weather.

It has to do with a certain dog:

Now, not to name names, but there is a certain pet in this home who has been somewhat of a problem lately. I attribute it to the fact that he hates me, but some have urged me to give him the benefit of the doubt since he is but a solitary year old and still displaying definite puppy behavior.

Nevertheless, as soon as I don't have to feel bad about this certain canine getting frost bite or my kids discovering him as a spaniel popsicle, out he's going.

Why, you ask, am I being so tough on such a cute little doggie?

Well, for one thing, he is a murderer.

Exhibit A:

This is the stuffed animal my oldest daughter was pretty excited about on Christmas morning. She really likes mice, rats, rodents in general (I really don't know) so we got her this cute little mouse that came with a cheese patterned blanket. She loved it.

He came to an untimely and cruel demise at the paws of a certain dog. It was really very tragic, as you can see.

Today alone, this is what I found:

Exhibit B:

Apparently, he was jealous of any other dogs in the house. This stuffed animal, affectionately dubbed "Woofie" by my daughter, did not win this fight.

The violence was not over yet. Just wait.

Exhibit C:


Think she doesn't look too bad?

Take a closer look.

She's been permanently maimed. Her life as a runway model is over, unless she's willing to glide down the runway in a motorized wheelchair. Her bike rides and games of beach volleyball with Ken are over. He'll probably dump her for some new blonde Barbie out there.

Exhibit C:

This cute little mouse doesn't look too bad off, right?

Not at all...if he were a mouse.

He's actually a white bunny rabbit.

Or rather, he WAS a white bunny rabbit until a certain chocolate brown spaniel ate off his bunny ears.

This little guy is now the brunt of the jokes at all the parties in Mr. McGregor's garden.

He wishes he could have the nightmare end by letting himself get caught and made into a good rabbit stew. We're all hoping he makes it through this difficult time.

But lest you begin thinking the dog in this home only disturbs toys, let me present you with a couple more pieces of irrefutable evidence that he is a menace.

Baseboards have been destroyed:

Blinds have been destroyed:

He made short work of this little thingy you use to raise and lower the blinds.

See all the little brown spots on the windowsill?

They're actually teeth marks.

Decency prevents me from showing you the countless pair of undergarments totally destroyed by the dog when the girls left them on the bathroom floor, their room, or anywhere other than the closed laundry hamper. He pretty much seems to live for the chance to demolish underwear. It's quite revolting, actually.

So, dear readers, feel free to drop in and visit us anytime. Just please be sure to leave all toys, all woodwork, all clothing, and all food with you at all times. I cannot guarantee their safety. Last summer a woman I had just met came over and we had a great visit, until she got ready to leave and we found one of her brand new summer sandals missing.

I found it in a few minutes behind a chair with a certain dog looking quite guilty. It was demolished beyond recognition.

It was not one of my prouder moments as a hostess. But seriously, come over anytime.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

For the Love of Money

Things are changing in my home.

It was inevitable, I suppose, as my children grew older.

Yes, I knew it was coming, but I was not fully prepared for the severity and quick onset of a little mindset I like to call,

"the Mr. Potter".

You remember this character. He was the villain in the classic movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" with Jimmy Stewart. Fantastic movie.

Potter is a miserable old man totally obsessed with the accumulation of money. He's willing to do just about anything to acquire more, including lie, steal, and cheat. It's not a pretty sight.

Two of my three children still have virtually no understanding of the value of money. They couldn't tell the difference between a $1 bill and a $100 bill and would quickly hand over either one for a stick of gum. This can be quite handy when the tooth fairy visits and they are ecstatic when she leaves them a quarter.

As for the third child?

Meet Mr. Potter in the form of an 8-year-old girl.

Her appreciation for money has only recently begun, and can be traced back to her desire for an iPod touch.

We, as the kill joy parents, have required that she save the money necessary to buy one of these babies herself.

After all, we figure if she actually has to work for it, she'll be far more likely to treat it well and not lose it within the first 24 hours of owning it.

We thought it was a fairly ingenious plan, to tell you the truth. Why?

1. She will learn the value of money and how to save.

2. We will be able to get her to cooperate with household chores and helping out.

3. She will learn that she has to resist the temptation of impulse buys if she wants to be able to buy the bigger item down the road.

These sound good, right?

Well, these are the things we did not factor in when we came up with our plan.

Exhibit A:

I found this little sign taped to her door.

I've written about my children's obsession with tape in recent months. Their obsession continues.


She is now charging her baby sisters five bucks for the privilege of sleeping in her bed with her. She has dropped her rates from the original price of $10, but only because one of her baby sisters began crying when she didn't have that much liquid cash on hand.

At five bucks, it's a real bargain, she'd say, though I would personally would probably charge more for anyone who sleeps in my bed while wearing a pull-up.

Exhibit B:

Yesterday I found Leighanne breaking into her piggy bank and eagerly grabbing a dollar her grandmother sent her for valentine's day.

Why, you ask?

Her big sister had offered to draw a portrait of her for cash.

And it should be noted here that I cannot show a picture of the actual piggy bank as it seems to be missing at the moment. I am not waking sleeping children to ask questions regarding its whereabouts.

Exhibit C:

Homemade feather clips.

My little entrepreneur ripped feathers off a dress-up costume and connected it to a barrette.

She sold it to her best friend down the street. I still don't know how much it cost.

I would not be surprised to find watches located inside her coat or candy cigarettes being sold under wraps.

So watch out, friends and family. This kid is determined. She is totally dedicated to raising the funds necessary, by however means necessary, to secure her longed for iPod touch. For the most part I won't get in the way of her fund raising tactics. I have discouraged her from ripping off children who don't know better, but if she wants to sweep out the garage or pull weeds I'm willing to play along. However, the day I find her fashioning for sale signs around her baby sisters' necks, I will likely have to intervene, especially if I see the words "Quick Sale" or "Estate Sale" painted on their signs.

Healthy Lunches, Owls, & the Government...

So there's all this hubbub about the government checking children's lunches brought from home. They claim they want to ensure we parents are providing America's future taxpayers with healthy options.

I will refrain from my soap box on the government interfering in our lives once again, as that is not the point of this blog.

But seriously...okay, no. Moving on.

Anyway, all this commotion got me thinking about my own children's' lunches and the quality of the food I am serving them each day.

Now some days are just a wash, let's face it, mothers of the world. Some days my kids have eaten skittles for lunch or nothing but goldfish as we rush from place to place.

Thankfully, however, these are just some days.

Today, I decided to present them with their usual fare in a unique and fun way, because after all, aren't we mothers supposed to be the pinnacle of interest and excitement for our children? (Or wait a minute, I might have that mixed up with the Wii) I am usually quite uninteresting, as a matter of fact. But I was willing to give it a try.

Quite happily and feeling inspired thanks to Pinterest, I began preparing two lunches which would delight my children.

Lunch number one:

I'd say it was a hit.

She smiled and laughed and enjoyed eating, um, her usual two bites.

There's one.

And there's two.

What the heck? I just made your lunch into a nature scene complete with an owl! Are you kidding me?

Not to be disheartened, I had the genius idea to morph the owl into an alien. Aliens are totally tasty. Everybody knows that.

Still nothing. She looked upon it in relative disdain.

She did enjoy the two cookie eyes, however.

Ah, well, such is life.

Lunch number two:

I have a child mastering the art of telling time and thought this clock face made out of cheese cubes, olives, and celery would be fun (and also a clever disguise for some good for you food).

I am happy to report that this lunch did get eaten (and lest you judge me for not giving her as much lunch, you should know she also ate half of the unwanted alien).

But do you know how I was rewarded with my industriousness? Here I was, expecting praise and exclamations of how lucky she was to have such a creative, wonderful mother. What did she say? Hmm, the exact words escape me.

Nope. I remember them quite clearly.

My oldest child looked at me quite seriously and said,

"Mom, why didn't you make my lunch into a fox?"

The other one then informed me that she was allergic to owls.

Perhaps having the government's involvement would not be as catastrophic as I originally thought. If they want to give it a shot at persuading carb-loving tots to eat their leafy greens and flaxseed, I'm happy to let them take a turn. I'd love to see Nancy Pelosi try her hand at character themed grilled cheese. Who knows? It might even persuade her that women who stay at home to raise their children are not the waste of oxygen she likes to make us feel like.

I'm sorry. I couldn't resist. The political side of me just took over my hands for a second.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

TSA and Other Addictions

It's not funny anymore.

Really. We have a couple big problems in our home.


This is addict number one:

The 6-yr-old. She is in a sad state of long time addiction. She's been a slave to her habit for six years now and has tried unsuccessfully several times in the past to kick it.

This is addict number two:

The 3-yr-old. Her addiction dates back to her baby days and has a stronghold on her presently. It's going to be an uphill battle for this kid as well, I'm afraid.

To look at either of them, you'd never know they were hiding a deep rooted addiction that's virtually controlling their lives.

I think I am going to have to take some tough love kind of action. It's time that I, as their loving and concerned mother, did the hard thing. It's time to break the chains of addiction at last.

Tonight I am calling to order the first TSA meeting in our home.

What is TSA, you ask?

Thumb Suckers Anonymous.

This is how it will go down. Both children will be caught by surprise, because if they ever got wind of my plans beforehand, they would definitely go a-wall. MIA. You do not want to lose people who have tiny little bodies and can easily hide just about anywhere in your home. I could be looking for them for days.

Anyway, the people who love them the most will be waiting for them when they enter the playroom. The chairs will be arranged in a circle, and seated in those chairs will be other unfortunate addicts, all whom are trying desperately to understand the psychosomatic reasons behind their thumb sucking. The hope is that through this enlightenment each addict will be able to come to grips with whatever incidents in their pasts have brought them to this dreadful place.

They will resist at first. I have no doubt. That is why I have enlisted the help of Malificent from Sleeping Beauty and Ursula the sea witch from The Little Mermaid to stand guard at the exits. You can read about my daughters' phobias about Disney villains here:

I know this sounds terribly cruel, but we have reached that point. I'm pulling out all the stops.

I will be the discussion leader. After my children have joined the circle of trust, I will explain how this works.

Each person will have a chance to tell us their name, give us an update on their progress, and let us know of any relapses since we last met.

I will go first to get the ball rolling and set them at ease. My addiction confession will be slightly different, but they'll get the gist.

"Hi. My name is Sharon and I'm a recovering "What Not to Wear" addict."

The circle members will respond in their little voices, "Hi, Sharon." They'll seem so nice I'll feel confident enough to share my secret.

"I've been clean for, um, three days." (What? We're nothing in the circle of trust if we're not honest. Besides, I want the girls to feel welcomed and accepted even in their failures.)

The circle will clap and give me their encouragement at my accomplishment.

I really am kinda addicted. I just cannot seem to change the channel when I see a poor schmuck who is SO woebegone in her fashion sense that it's going to make for thrilling t.v. I mean, really, once they had an actual witch from Seattle who wore shirts with the armpits cut out! And when they start arguing that their panda bear sweatshirt with an ankle length denim skirt is perfectly acceptable for a job interview, I simply am hooked. I can hardly wait to see how this person will be transformed.

My husband may be a little jealous of Clinton and my great affection for him. Jealous, yes, intimidated, no. I think my husband could take him.

But anyway, enough about me. Back to the TSA meeting.

Next, I will encourage another child to speak up.

"Hi, my name is Lauren and I'm a thumb sucking addict."

"Hi, Lauren."

"I've been hooked since the first day I figured out I had thumbs. It started slowly, just a little here and there between bottles and naps, but before I knew it, I couldn't stop. I would go days without speaking and the only time I removed my thumb would be to eat as quickly as possible. The times it's the most tough is when I have a cold and cannot breathe unless my mouth is open."

Everyone will nod in sympathetic understanding and urge her to continue.

"Once I tried to quit by laying on my hands in bed. I started shaking and crying uncontrollably. I lasted just three minutes."

We will all clap for her, moved by her openness.

Next, the youngest TSA member will speak up.

"Hi, my name is Leighanne and I'm a thumb sucking addict."

"Hi, Leighanne."

"My story is pretty much the same as my big sister's, but I partly blame her because I looked up to her and her habit influenced mine. I wanted to be just like her. She was so cool. I now know I should've been more careful who I let in my inner circle of friends."

The group will wear sad looks on their faces and there will be murmurs of, "we know, girl, it's so hard when you're surrounded by temptation."

But she won't be finished. "I am also a cheez-its addict. Sometimes I just can't stop sniffing them. The high I get from them is so peaceful. It's better than Benadryl."

The addicts around her will look down, all remembering their own first meetings and the difficult confessions they made.

"I've never actually tried to quit. I don't think I'm ready yet. But I hope that if I continue meeting with you guys I'll be able to try. You are all so inspiring."

A skinny kid with an angry birds t-shirt will speak up and say, "You can do it. I was a major thumb head for most of my life and it nearly destroyed me. The playground teasing was unbearable to the point that I begged my mother to homeschool me. Don't go down that road, girl. It's a dead end."

And so, the TSA meeting will come to a close. I'll thank each participant for their honesty and candor, and we'll schedule the next meeting for the following week. Same time, same place. I will dismiss them, and they will all head straight for the little people toys on the shelf.

But my kids? They'll head straight for something else, something that draws them like a moth to a flame. My breath will catch in my throat.

The baby doll that sucks her thumb. And in a moment that will touch my heart forever, I will see them pull the doll's plastic thumb OUT of her mouth.

And so will begin the long road to recovery.

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