Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Potty Mouth

Can someone please tell me why children (and some adults) are so completely fascinated by bodily functions: bathroom talk and nasal issues, mostly. It's well known that since the beginning of time every single six year old on the planet thinks the word "fart" is the most hysterical thing ever.

Personally, I am not impressed, but not completely grossed out, either. After all, I've had three babies. Any new mom will tell you that we have lengthy conversations regarding the bathroom habits of our babies, some very descriptive and down right disgusting.

And older folks tend to use a laser focus on their bathroom habits, along with any other aches, pains and illnesses that they might have. I can't tell you how many people over eighty-five (when I was marketing an Assisted Living Community) were concerned about whether I had a daily bowel movement or not. Then they wanted to follow up with their personal habits. I tried to look interested, and then quickly change the subject. There are just some things I don't need to know about people.

But children- they are almost drunk with hilarity over words like "butt," "pee," "poop," "fart," "snot," and other such slang for their bodily functions. I've watched my children get to the point where they could hardly breathe because they were laughing so hard.

I must admit, their laughter and unadulterated glee make me giggle. I think sometimes they mistake that for the idea that I might find their "potty talk" funny. But it truly is their utter joy and hysterical laughter that I enjoy.

I do know that eventually they will outgrow this phase. Part of me will be so glad to be able to have a conversation with them that doesn't dissolve into pandemonium because I said "do do" mistakenly in a sentence.

But another part of me dreads for that day to come. It will mean that they've also grown out of the child-like innocence that allows them to enjoy the simple jokes. At that point, they'll laugh at innuendos of sex, snarky sarcasm and just about any movie in which Will Ferrel stars.

For now, I'll discourage the potty talk AND the growing up. But I know it will only be a matter of time before I can say "poop," and it will just slide on by...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Daddy's MIA

Hubby is out of town... again... This is getting very old- for me and the kids.

But there is an upside to it all: The kids and me are huge, big slugs while Daddy is gone. The day he is to come home, we do a big time clean to try and make it look like we have been productive the whole time he's been gone.

When he's gone, we watch stupid television, and eat dinner in the den. We do lots of Arts & Crafts and we stay in our pj's as long as we can.

I try to keep the yard mowed and the trash put out. But it's no substitute for Daddy.

He'll be home Friday. We're counting the days.

Until then, we'll be watching bad tv, in our pj's, while eating dinner. If you'd like to join us, come on over.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Say Cheese!

Today my youngest daughter (age 7) had all of her wildest dreams come true: she got braces. She was thrilled- no, beyond thrilled. So excited, in fact that the Orthodontist had troubles getting her to sit still enough to examine her teeth.

Apparently, my gene pool is more far-reaching than I had once realized. Originally I thought that the "overcrowding" teeth problem was going to be exclusive to my middle daughter. But, no such luck.

I sighed heavily as they posted the x-ray up on the big screen in the office. Even my middle daughter looked at the picture of my youngest daughter's teeth and said, "Oh my gosh, where are all those teeth going to go?" I can't be sure, but I think I saw a gleam in the Orthodontist's eye.

Don't get me wrong- they have worked virtual miracles on my son and middle daughter's teeth. Unquestionably, their teeth look absolutely beautiful.

But, the cost... Wow.

This was, as so many things are, NOT in the "Parent Brochure." (At least not in the one I was given.) I got the brochure that showed happy children running across fields, laughing and tugging a balloon behind them. Mine showed the young man with a graduation cap and gown hugging his parents appreciatively. I am supposing that my insert with all the "fine print" was lost in the mail.

Because I never got the memo about braces costing as much as a nice used car. I never knew that "extra curricular" activities (read: sports, music, etc.) could cost as much as a house payment each month, and that we would have to rent out a special place next to the gym/music store so that we had somewhere to sleep after long practices. But, I digress...

My daughter was absolutely thrilled as the technician carefully applied tiny blobs of glue onto her teeth, and then placed little silver brackets on each glue blob. She even got to pick the colors of her rubber bands: electric blue and ocean blue.

(As a side note, all of the technicians are quite young. I thought maybe it was because of the energy they brought with them. Now I realize that it is because they are working on things that are the size of a grain of rice. The older techs just can't see what they are supposed to be doing anymore!)

When my daughter hopped out her chair and smiled, I snapped pictures with my cell phone and sent them to everyone I knew and posted them on FaceBook, with a tag that said, "Look at our summer cruise sailing away without us..."

My little one got a whole goodie bag full of "teeth stuff" and a coupon to Baskin Robbins. She skipped happily out of the office. I was left trying to keep down my lunch while attending to the bill.

As we settled into the car to go home, my daughter asked, "How long do I wear these?"

"I don't know, sweetie," I said. "The Orthodontist said this was your first phase. Then when all your baby teeth are gone, they will get you ready for your second phase (whose price is not included in the first phase, I might add). So, probably this time about a year and a half."

"Well, they hurt," she whined. "I don't want them any more."

"I'm sorry, darlin'," I said, sympathetically.

How many times in life have I wanted something so badly, only to discover it was not anything like I thought it would be? Sometimes it's beyond my expectations. Sometimes it is disappointing beyond words.

I expect that she will have some of the initial aches/pains/discomfort of the new braces subside in a few days. Then is when the real hike begins: Eighteen months of tightening, moving, deprivation of gum, hard candies and other favorite treats, having to brush teeth around brackets and wires and generally feeling like your whole mouth is too full all the time.

I trust that in the end, she will have a beautiful smile. I know I can't count on it, but in my dreams the fact that we've provided braces for our children will give them confidence, better oral hygiene and the ability to get a better job.

Regardless, I know one thing for sure: there will be NO activities that could knock out teeth in our house! And they better smile big in every single picture for the rest of their lives!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Just Killin' Time...

We spent 45 minutes in Dollar General this morning. My total bill was $9.01. I had my daughters, my niece and a friend with me and they were all allowed to spend $1.

Finding that elusive item that was "it" proved to be quite the task. We fluttered all over the store, and then went around again. We picked up every possible candidate and looked it over carefully.

It came down to Flarp (a goopy colored substance in a plastic container that makes gaseous noises when you push it) or lip gloss for one of the girls. The two older ones decided on battery controlled cars, which surprised the heck out of me. But they seem delighted with their simulated monster trucks. The last girl was having a hard time deciding between Disney Princess press on fingernails or a box of hair do-dads.

Ultimately, I was thrilled to see that lip gloss won out over Flarp. The Disney Princess nails were adorable- for the two and a half minutes she wore them, before deciding they hurt.

Who knew a single dollar could cause such angst? As children tend to be, the girls were only thinking of the here-and-now. They could not fathom the fact that there could ever be a "next time," so their decision was of the utmost importance. The total happiness of their entire existence hinged on this choice.

As an adult, I can see that if I don't get something now, well, there's next time. If I get something home and it doesn't work, I can take it back. And buying something just for the sake of using the $1 just leads to more junk in my house.

We are now home, and everyone is playing with their treasured new possessions (except for the one who got the nails and threw them away). Everyone seems content and satisfied... for now... we still have the rest of the day to go...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Birthday Fit for a Princess...

My youngest daughter has a knack for saying whatever is on her mind. I always tell people that she was born without a filter (much like her father).

The summer prior to her Kindergarten year, the school had gotten sprayed for bugs, but was awaiting the cleaning crew. She told her soon-to-be principal, "Uhm, I'm going to this school next year, so you need to clean up these bugs," with all the attitude of any starlet diva.

This same daughter took to heart her father's words (when she was several years younger), "We can not get a dog until we get rid of the cat." A mad, wet cat sprinted from the bathroom after she had tried to flush it down the toilet. When asked why she did that, she replied, "I didn't want to hurt the cat. I just wanted it to go away so we could have a dog."

Recently we went to adopt a new cat. She looked up at the salesman with big, brown sincere eyes and said, "I promise not to flush this cat down the toilet." Surpisingly, they let us take it anyway.

She will be eight on her next birthday, which is on December 30th. She really gets the short end of the stick of this deal. People try to lump her birthday and Christmas gift together. And she has a hard time getting folks together for any kind of party, since her birthday is squashed between two such major holidays.

Our remedy to this was to have a party in July for her "Half Birthday." She has been so excited about this upcoming party that I'm not sure if she's slept any this whole week.

The theme is "Princesses." We will be doing Princess make overs, hair do's and manicures/pedicures. We also plan to watch "Princess Protection Program" by Disney (which is actually quite a good film).

When we were writing out the invitations, she was not short on her special "charm" of saying who she did not want to invite and why. I asked her to please not have the same discussion with the other girls at the party. I could just see her sitting with a horrified little circle of girls saying, "I did NOT invite Susie because she's loud and immature!"

As I was sealing up the invitations to mail, she said, "Wait! I need to put something else on the invitations!"

"Oh. I'm sorry! What did you want to put on there?"

"I wanted to write what they needed to bring," she implored.

"I can tell their moms," I offered.

She considered this for a moment. Finally she said, "Okay. Will you please tell them that
everyone should wear sweat pants and rags?"

I looked at her, my eyebrows knitted together. There was more to this story.

"WHY are you all wearing sweat pants and rags?" I asked.

"Oh, THEY are wearing the sweat pants and rags. I am wearing a princess gown," she said, as
though she were reporting the weather or how much apples are this week at the supermarket.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, counting to ten... and then again...

"Honey, we are NOT having your friends dress like peasants, while you dress like a princess," I said as sweetly as I could.

I was both mortified and internally laughing hysterically at the same time. How awesome would it be to not worry about what other people think? To be so confident that you talk to your principal as though she were a peer?

Hubby has that same ability. It has proven to be both a blessing and a curse.

But he and my daughter will NEVER be boring. And I will ALWAYS have a story to tell... even if I am dressed in sweat pants and rags while I tell it...

Monday, July 13, 2009

No Such Thing as a "Free Lunch"


I was putting together a budget for hubby so we could talk about how much this school year was going to cost... You know, the "free" education that the state provides for our children?
Let me tell you, if this is "free," I would hate to see it if it wasn't.

To start with, we need at least $700 worth of clothes and shoes for all three kids together. Now, I know I have to clothe them no matter what we do. But "school" clothes at their school consists of a uniform, which I LOVE (no joke!). So they will need additional "play" clothes and "church" clothes.
Next, we have school supplies. The school provides a list of all the required school supplies for each student. I have already shelled out over $300 for the girls. We still have about $150 to go for my son.
The school also has fees for workbooks and other classroom materials not supplied by the state, but necessary for the children's instruction. Between the three kids, it should add up roughly to $175.
So that the students (and parents) aren't subjected to fundraisers, our school has chosen to have a "family donation." It is suggested to donate $100 per child. That means we'll pledge $300, to be paid out over the course of the school year.
If the children are involved in any after-school activities or sports, their uniforms, equipment and fees associated with each activity. We are expecting at least $200 in those moneys.
The children have many plays and activities that are both educational and fun during the school day. Many of these require a fee to go. The fees are usually very nominal, but I'm figuring on about $50 throughout the year for all three children.
One of the children's favorite things is field trips. The younger two will go on several, spread throughout the year. The eldest, in Middle School, will go on one big overnight trip out of the city. When all is said and done, all together I expect to pay around $600 for all three kids.
Lunches are something that needs to be provided, regardless of whether they are in school or at home. So, I pulled that line-item out so we would get a more realistic picture.
Inside the classroom, there are room moms, who arrange various parties, including games and food. They also usually collect money to give the teacher Christmas gifts, birthday gifts and end-of-school presents. Our family also usually gives individual gifts for the teachers. I'm estimating around $240 for all of the various things for all three children.
As the weather changes, we will need to supply the children with more uniform clothing so that they will stay warm. That will be an additional $300 for long pants and long sleeved shirts.
Or school is a K-12 school, so we have school sports and socials for the upper grades. I'm certain we will be asked by our children to attend games and dances. I'm guessing around $100 for the year for all three children.
Oh, don't forget school pictures, taken both fall and spring. We usually don't purchase them. But the kids do want year books. The upper grades' book is $50. The lower grades' book is $35. That's $120 for all the kids together.
I'm sure there are other things I am forgetting, all of which will cost... you guessed it... money.

But if I quickly add together just these things that I have listed, we are looking at a grand total of: $3,235.oo.

Wow. Okay, I kind of wish I hadn't done this little exercise. I'm hyperventilating at that big, monster figure. But we've done it every year, so I guess we'll do it again.

I guess this is just a shining example of the fact that nothing in life is "free"-- even a "free" education...

P.S. I know this is NOTHING compared to college. But just let me get through one thing at a time...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Relax, Mom's In Charge

Whatever your personal political views, you know the name Sarah Palin, Vice Presidential nominee for the Republican party in our most recent vote. And no matter whether you are Republican, Democrat, or other political affiliation, you have to admire the gumption of a wife/mother who wants to serve the country in a position of such great responsibility.
I do have to say, though, I totally get her desire to make changes. Every day I see things that make me want to take over not just the country, but the world. I just want to take the planet by the shoulders, shake it and say, "What are you thinking????"
How does it make any sense that AIG is asking for MORE bail-out money for corporate bonuses, but I know several middle class families who are upstanding, wonderful people, whose main bread-winner has been out of work for over ten months. The rich should not be penalized for making money- it's part of the American dream, but the mega-rich really can be mega-gross in their over-indulgence (Who needs five homes, a couple of yahts, lots of cars and tons of other stuff only seen on MTV Cribs or LifeStyles of the Rich and Famous?). How can they feel good about themselves when they look in the mirror?
I have a friend whose boss is currently taking advantage of the current economy to try to extort more hours and more work. Instead of looking out for his employees and understanding family emergencies and the need for off time, he has threatened my friend with the loss of her job. I would love to be in charge for a day and go up to that boss and thunk him in the forehead. What a goober!
We have good friends who would/could be the best parents ever. However, they struggle with infertility. Enter the grand world of "supply and demand." Young children and babies are practically sold. Adopting a child from another country is sometimes easier than adopting one here. Why can't the moneys raised for pro-choice & pro-life be used to house women who want to anonymously give their baby up for adoption?
All these folks who want a financial bail-out? Sorry. No can do. If you can't handle a multi-million dollar company, why would I give you more money to dump down the pot??? Or, if I do give the company some money, the lunk-heads who put them in the situation in the first place, would NOT be allowed anywhere near a leadership position ever again!
Frivolous law suits? Not on my watch!
The stereotypical government workers? Not any more. If you want to get paid, you have to work more than 20 minutes a week.
Education would be important. Welfare would be a way to give people a leg up- but it would have requirements that actually encouraged people to stand on their own two feet- and, it would have an end. Every bill would be able to be line-item vetoed, so that the "extra" fluff couldn't make it through piggy-backing on whatever media-hyped issue was.
People would be held responsible for their actions instead of finding ways to place the blame, and never changing or making amends for their actions. Prisons would be self-sufficient, with inmates making their own clothing, their own food, and taking care of themselves, instead of playing in gymnasiums, watching cable TV, having conjugal visits, getting free educations and having the ability to make money while living on the government's dime.
I would quit giving other countries our money, who hate and try to hurt us. I would try to make the United Nations an actual functional group, who actually helped the world.
There would be many more things I would do in my 24 hours of reign. But the very last thing I would do would be a little bit selfish: I would arrange for two weeks in some fabulously exotic, warm island location with my family. I would spend those two weeks playing with the family, relaxing, reading and writing.
Then I would come back to my perfect world, and make sure another mom is in charge, putting the bad guys in time out, and rewarding the good guys with extra cookies and milk. After all, Mom knows best!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bad Mommy!

When you "sign up" as a parent, you know that you are going to have "good days" and "bad days." You know you will have times when you could when "Parent of the Year" award, and there will be times that you would die of embarrassment if your behavior was caught on camera.
But above all, you don't want to do anything that would intentionally hurt your child. You never, ever want to have you child suffer needlessly at your hand.
You count on your "inner voice" to keep you from "crossing that line." You hope your advantage of more life experience will actually make you make better decisions than your child.
When you "mess up," the amount of grief, remorse and self-loathing is immeasurable.
Recently, I made a decision that, even at the time, I knew better than to make. My inner-adult voice was reeling against my temples, begging me to listen.
But I was blinded by some big brown eyes. And an overwhelming desire to satisfy my own inner-child.
I let my youngest child by a kitten. A beautiful, sweet, red long-haired, gray-eyed, eleven-month-old kitten, named Tigger.
I saw the little darling and was absolutely smitten. I love cats, and I always have. Their graceful movements and big, expressive eyes. They are my favorite animal.
However... hubby and son are horribly allergic to them.
In fact, we have tried once before to have a cat. But hubby and son spent the entire time with a stuffy nose and red, watery eyes.
So, suffice to say, I knew better. I knew better!
I am the adult. It is MY responsibility to act like one.
But I did not. Instead, I threw cat food, cat litter, a litter box, a litter scooper, a toy and some snacks into the cart, very nearly skipping to the check out.
Even as I write this, I am holding my breath to see how this is going to work out. Tigger is supposed to be an outside cat. But he is living in my daughter's bedroom until he is used to us, so he doesn't run away.
My daughter loves this cat like nothing I have ever seen before. She is completely devoted and enamored with Tigger. It has been the best thing for her I could have ever imagined. It has tempered her, and given her a softness.
And I am holding my breath. Hoping beyond hope that I am not setting her up for heartbreak.
I am kicking myself all over the place for ever allowing the thing to happen. I knew better! (I think I said that already...)
I just pray to God, St. Francis, and all the guardian angels that this works... That hubby and son don't become big red, swollen snot balls. That Tigger adapts well to being an outside cat. That Tigger doesn't run away or, worse, get hurt.
I guess, like anything in life, it's just "wait and see." In the meantime, I will be walking the fine line between doing what is best for my youngest and what is best for hubby & son... And praying they eventually make peace with each other...

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Family "Work" Out

My poor, pitiful, precious flowers I call children have a severe aversion to work of any form or fashion. This week they showed the epitome of laziness, by whining about having to use the remote to change the television channel.
So, imagine their dismay when I suggested we clean the house today. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth... And I did not care one little bit.
My son will be learning to use the lawn mower (gasp) when the sun goes down a little. (No need to give the child heat stroke on the first time out of the gate.) My daughters helped tape off the trim in the hallways for our never-ending paint project. (I swear we did not have this much square footage in this house until we started painting!)
Once they caught on that I was serious, they wanted to know what was in it for them. Did they get money or a toy? I glared at them.
"You get the privilege of living in this house, having clothing and food provided, and being a part of this family," I growled back.
"But, we always get that," my son whined.
"I can certainly make other arrangements for you," I volleyed.
Said son responded with a sigh, an eye roll and a moooo-ooom, otherwise known as the trifecta for teens with an attitude and a death wish.
I looked at my middle child and asked, "Do you happen to know if there's still a three-day waiting period to purchase fire arms?"
She shrugged and looked utterly confused.
"Never mind," I shook my head. "Okay, son, let me spell this out for you: you live in this house because we chose to have children and we love you very much. However, you are part of a family. And, as such, you will participate in not only in the 'fun stuff,' but you will also help out with chores-"
"But that's not fair!" son whined.
"How do you figure?" I asked incredulously.
"I don't want to do chores! I shouldn't have to. You keep saying this is 'your' house," he said, stepping from the frying pan into the flames.
"Okay. Well then," I started, while crossing my arms across my chest, jutting out my chin and throwing out my hip for good measure," don't you think that perhaps it would behoove you to ingratiate yourself to me, since I am said owner of this residence. Otherwise, I will happily purchase you a tent, and you may survive in our backyard. You will have visitation privileges to our bathrooms, since we are a member of a homeowners association. And you may have two meals per day. So, what's it gonna' be?"
Never one to admit, or even hint at, defeat, my son grumbled something totally incomprehensible and slunk into the bathroom, scrub brush in hand.
"Make it shine, sweetie," I called sweetly after him.
"Mm-hmm," he said between gritted teeth.
"Love you!" I sang to him.
He looked up at me and glared for a moment. I went to finish the laundry.
As I began folding the towels, all I could think was, "Wow, that was fun... I guess I get to do this at least... a thousand and one more times???"

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I'm Watching You...

E-Gads! Yikes! How did this happen????

I... have lost my edge...

It's true!

I was perusing old blog entries full of witty comments and fun observations. I had amusing stories, snappy dialogue and laugh-out-loud commentary...

Now? Sadly, now most of my entries are nice, vanilla, ho-hum, "Hey! I'm trying!" pieces...

Gone is the... "edge."

When did this happen? How did it happen?

Ah. Wait. It is coming back to me now...

Hubby started traveling. I was accused of not paying attention to the children because I was typing on the computer (while they were watching television). I turned off the computer, and became one of the foremost experts on Sponge Bob Square Pants and anything on Disney Channel. (Jealous, aren't you?)

Well- no more, I say! Today is the day I dig deep, really deep, and try to pull out what's left of my creativity. I used to see every situation through two sets of eyes: the eyes of "me," and the eyes of a blogger who could use this to create an entry. Today I get my second pair of eyes back.

And I don't even care if it makes me look funny. Because, by golly, these fingers were made for typing, and I'm going to fulfill my destiny!

Ladies & Gentlemen: MommyBarbie has returned!!!!

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Hubby is out of town... again.

The kids miss him... again.

I miss him... again.

And it does not appear that this traveling will slow down.

The kids are particularly angst-y (if that's even a word) when they are tired. So first thing in the morning, and right before bed the kids are on melt-down mode. Nothing is right because daddy isn't home. Nothing will be good ever again- until daddy gets home.

Every decision I make is questioned. "Can I call dad and ask him?"

Uh, no. I can make a decision without your father, and here's my answer.

Even the dog looks a little lost without dad.

Worst of all, I am not the motivator in this family. The task-master (and I mean that in the fondest way possible) is definitely hubby. My idea of the perfect day is sleeping in late, going out for brunch, doing a little shopping, maybe getting a spa treatment, going out for dinner, then going to a movie, then coming home and going to bed.

Hubby's idea of the perfect day is far different. He would like to get up before the sun rises and get going (no time for breakfast- too much to do!). The day would consist of project after project that involved manual labor and sweating like a pig. Finally, around dinner, he would announce he was going to die from hunger, jump in the car, pick up a burger, eat it on the way home, then go back to work. He would finally pack it in when he could no longer physically move. He would take a shower and pass out into deep coma in bed.

I have written list after list. But all I've succeeded in doing is writing the lists.

Knowing that hubby gets home Sunday will be a motivator, though. Before he gets home I would like to have the lawn mowed, the laundry caught up and some more painting done. (I want to gag just thinking about it all...)

Now, if you need someone to plan a party, bring a dinner to a sick friend, make a spread sheet or organize an event, call me! I have energy enough for twelve people. And I won't eat, sleep or go to the bathroom until I'm done.

I guess that's why hubby and I compliment each other so well: I may have the original plan, but he makes sure it gets carried out. And when he's working, I enjoy working by his side.

I know there are many times when we all get frustrated and wonder what on earth God was thinking when He created two opposite sexes; Surely life would be easier if He had just stuck with one!

But this is one of those times when I thank God for His ultimate genius for balancing each sex out with the other. Hubby is the ying to my yang.

And all of us will be very excited to have him home!