Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I blame my husband.

It started this morning, when he left for work. As he hovered in the living room in his coat, waiting for the car to warm up, my daughter innocently informed him that she, too, wanted to go to work.

He told her that she could not go.

"I go to work, Daddy...I get money."

"No Sweetie, you can't go to work. They aren't hiring where I work right now."

"But I don't have money...I go to work with you."

"But you need to work at home...Mommy needs help picking up laundry...helping with the babies...cleaning your room...you need to stay here. Maybe we could pay you to help out at home."

That seemed to placate her for the moment. He did not realize what he had done.

It started with feeding the twins.

"I help you, Mommy? I feed Owen."

After many attempts to distract her from this form of help...I finally gave up and gave her Owen's food in a plastic bowl, while I settled into feeding Connor.

"Uuuuuh-mmmmm....yes, Owen...you eating big boy food. Uuuuuuh-mmmmm....oh Owen, you getting messy...I clean you. Just a minute. Stay right there....shhhhh...."

She skips off down the hall, and I look over at Owen...wearing most of his oatmeal. He stares at me with wide eyes, and pushes the bib to his mouth to lick up some of his breakfast. Irelynn comes back with a washcloth.

After breakfast was over (and I made sure Owen got some food in him,) it was time to attempt the laundry...with help. Which meant folding...and refolding, several articles of clothing, and finding all the socks she had bunched up and stuffed into various orifices of the couch. She grabbed a pillowcase and held it up to me.

"Where this go?"

"Just set it in Mommy and Daddy's room...on the bed."


After a couple of minutes had passed, I begin to wonder what is taking her so long. I sigh, wondering if she went into the babies' room and had woken them up. I walk down the hall and peek into my bedroom to see her unfolding the pillowcase. My bed was completely torn apart, stripped down to the mattress, the covers lying in a heap on the floor. My jaw dropped...my...my sanctuary...I blinked and quickly recovered.

"Irelynn...what are you doing?!"

"I put this on bed...I making it for you." She was attempting to stretch the pillowcase to make it fit over the bed. I calmly informed her that I needed her help elsewhere.

As I tried to remake my bed I heard the water turn on in the kitchen.


I walk out to see her at the sink, with the dishwasher open. She was standing on the door to the dishwasher, clanging dishes together in the sink.

"I washing dishes, Mommy."

I pulled her down and told her I had a very important job for her. I led her out to the living room, and gave her a pack of Pull-Ups. I told her I needed her to put all the Pull-Ups into the drawer in neat stacks.

She is currently working on this task as I make lunch. Promptly after lunch I will put my little worker down for a nap. Wait...no...she is finished. She has a hot pad on one hand and is dragging a chair into the kitchen to help with lunch. Great.

I think tomorrow I will send her to work with her father and let her help him for the day. I'll pay her to go.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Stew and Stooges

I was assisting the toddler in the bathroom (she has decided to use the toilet again, thank goodness,) when I overheard a somewhat disturbing conversation between my husband and oldest son. I'm not sure which was more disturbing...the fact that my 13-year-old son has delved into an entirely new brand of potty humor...or the fact that my husband provides great comedic material for him without even realizing it.

The discussion was about my chicken stew. It centered around the fact that neither of them like peas, but they decided that, in the stew, they weren't that bad. Jaylond said that he even liked them.

"They were actually kind of sweet."

Bruce wouldn't go that far, but he admitted that it wasn't bad.

"I don't mind it when it's mixed in with other things. You don't taste them as much...there was only a hint of pea...ness."

He drew out the last word, only realizing, a moment too late, the damage he had done. Our son burst out in fits of laughter.


Needless to say, my husband has yet to live that one down.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Crazy Hormones

Is it just me, or do the teenage years start earlier than they used to? Eleven-years-old seems to be too early to deal with the full onslaught of attitude, boy-craziness, and general teenage angst...but...it has arrived, full force. Hormones are going wild, and I appear to be the target. Was I really this obnoxious at that age? Wait...don't answer that.

I will give her credit where credit is due...she can be very witty. Her brother doesn't stand a chance when it comes to a battle of insults and comebacks. I, on the other hand, have years of experience, a degree in Communications, and some pent up angst of my own in my personal arsenal.

Unfortunately, I am also the adult. So, tempting as it is at times, I need to fight the urge, when she threatens to run away, to help her pack.

There are new, conflicting emotions....one part of me can't wait for her to grow up and move out...the other wishes she would go back to being that cute, innocent child that used to dance in the living room with me to my Irish music and never grow up. The one that still respected and loved me.

I'm not sure what went wrong. Did I feed her after midnight? Did she drink Jay's science experiment in the fridge, thinking it was Mt. Dew? I'm not sure...but I do know she has undergone some serious mutations.

How, as a parent, does one endure these next few years of abuse? I suppose locking her in the basement until she is 18 is out of the question.

My only consolation is that I must be doing something right if she hates me this much...and that she will probably love me again...when she has kids of her own. Until then, I must remain calm...find my happy place...and remember...."it's just a phase....it's just a phase..."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Angry Toddler vs. Stupid Cat

You could feel the tension in the room. It was almost tangible...I tried to concentrate on my Frosted Mini Wheats and ignore the pending doom. The toddler was in a sour mood. Having been denied the desired breakfast combination of M&M's and soda, she stormed through the house, having been reduced to making noises that closely resembled a bobcat crossed with a bear. Wearing only "big girl" underwear, and too stubborn for clothes, she draped the baby's blanket around her shoulders like a cape and stomped through the house.

Dobby, the cat (the one who plays Candyland,) sat just out of the way, watching her with intense scrutiny. He was waiting to make his move. The toddler, unaware of the crouching feline, glared at me as she made her second round through the house. The blanket, trailing behind her, crossed Dobby's path, and his claws latched on. It took the toddler a moment, too fixated on her path of destruction, to realize the blanket was not coming along willingly. I cringed. She grunted, and pulled harder. The cat clung on...and began to slide across the floor.

Upon realizing what was happening, the toddler howled out in anger. She yanked with more force, dragging the cat across the living room. Dobby clung on for dear life, as the toddler started walking in circles around the living room. I begin to wonder if I should step in. However, I am hungry. And I am finding this somewhat amusing. So I sit.

The toddler, her shoulders pushing forward, builds up a little more speed, with Connor watching anxiously from his exersaucer. As she made the final round, the cat spun around, his head making contact loudly with the exersaucer. It was enough to free him from the blanket, and send the toddler into the couch. Connor let out a shriek of laughter. Dobby shook it off and left the room. The toddler burst out in a fit of giggles.

I'm not sure who the winner was, but my toddler was now in a better mood, and ready to eat some applesauce. I could live with that.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Oatmeal and Lawnmowers

Having children requires having a sense of humor. The ability to laugh at yourself, despite how irritated, embarrassed, or exhausted you are. How else would one be able to deal with feeding a cranky baby, only to have said baby sneeze, spewing oatmeal all over your face? Or when you find the toilet clogged because not only did your toddler go pee in the potty and wipe, but apparently Dora also went potty and needed to be wiped.

Of course, there are the actual funny moments...that you can laugh at when they happen, as opposed to later, when you calm down. Like when your 11-year-old daughter grabs a handful of M&M's, and asks you why they all have the letter "E" on them. Or when your toddler grabs a Kit Kat bar and offers you a "kitty cat."

However, most of the best moments are the ones that you laugh at later. Much later. Or when they happen to your husband instead of you. Like today. Bruce was going to go to the gas station to get gas and a couple of fountain sodas. He decided to take Irelynn along, who had been asking to go outside all morning. First she could not find any matching shoes. She wanted to wear sandals...which was not exactly appropriate for 35-degree weather. Finally, they compromised on socks and crocs. They headed out the door, with her excitedly waving good-bye. I finished feeding Connor (the one who sneezed oatmeal on my face) and placed him in his jumperoo. I start to walk around and pick up. Suddenly I hear the van horn beeping outside. They couldn't have gone and come back already, could they?

I go outside to see if he needed help. I look at my husband, frowning in the front seat. He rolled the window down.

"You guys haven't left yet?"

"No. We had a meltdown. She wanted to play outside, and I struggled to get her into the van. I finally got her to go by telling her she could bring her lawnmower with her. Could you go get my phone for me? I forgot it."

I glanced to the backseat, where our toddler sat, strapped into her carseat, with her hands clinging to her big pink bubble mower...filling the backseat. She was grinning.

Luckily, my husband has a good sense of humor. Or, he will later today. Much later today.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Taking twins to the doctor

I was out the door in record time. The diaper bag was ready to go, stocked with diapers, formula, extra outfits, and even a game for Irelynn. Like an assembly line, I loaded the little ones into the van, one by one. I smiled as I headed to my mother's house. This was going well. It wouldn't be too bad.

After picking up my mom, we headed to the doctor's office. Upon arriving, Irelynn's coat was on the floor and she bounded over to the magazines. Then I realized that Owen had been busy on the way to the doctor. It also dawned on me, that as prepared as I was...he was wearing a cloth diaper. I forgot to put him in a disposable one before we left. Horrible images of trying to dunk a diaper in a public toilet flashed before my eyes. I asked if they had a place to change a diaper. The receptionist led me back to a room.

Luckily, due to the fact that they are eating solids now, I was able to use the wipe to pick up the mess, with nothing remaining on the diaper. I relaxed somewhat. Owen smiled up with me, pleased with his nakedness. I grabbed a disposable diaper from the bag...and realized that my boys have grown. Apparently they should be in size 3 diapers now. I stretched the tabs around his rolls and hoped they would hold.

It was finally our turn. Owen went first, because he was getting very cranky. I'm sure the too small diaper didn't help. As soon as he was looked over, I asked the doctor if I could run him back to my mom in the waiting room to have a bottle before he got his shots. I recieved numerous stares and a few giggles as I ran with my mostly naked screaming baby back to the waiting room, and asked my mom if she could feed him.

I came back to get Connor undressed and on the table. He was all grins, completely clueless as to what was coming. The doctor finished up with him, gave me instructions to take Owen over to the hospital to get X-rays on his lungs (he has had trouble with wheezing for several weeks, despite numerous medications,) and then left the nurse to do the dirty work.

Connor grinned up at her. She turned him so his legs were facing her and told me to hold his arms. The grin started to fade as he realized he was being pinned. Then came the first shot. Now, Owen can be pretty fussy at times, and certainly cries now and then. But it is nothing compared to the sound that can come out of his brother. Connor let loose with a scream that must have terrified every child in the waiting room. Then came the second shot. He continued to scream until he had trouble breathing. I decided I'd better rush him out to my mother to get a bottle to calm him down. I quickly put on his sleeper, and ran him out, swapping him out with Owen.

Irelynn tried to chase after me, and I tried to tell her to stay with Grandma. I see a toddler running down the hall in just a diaper as a frantic mother chases after him. We smile at each other as she scoops her escapee up and heads back to their room.

I set Owen on the table, finally calmed down from earlier. I braced myself. I knew what was coming. First, the lip. Then the slow whimper that got louder. The tears began forming. The nurse asked if I was going to be ok. I nodded. I wiped my tears away, and pulled myself together.

I looked down at Owen, still not sure what was happening yet.

The first shot went in....and his lip went out and the tears streamed down. Not as loud as Connor, but more heartbreaking. He got his second shot, and cried louder. We were finally done. I frantically dressed him, and we went through the major procedure of getting the boys back in their carseats, Irelynn back in her coat, and getting out the door.

Luckily, despite the long walk through the hospital while carrying the carseats (I had not known we'd have to go there, and the double stroller was left at home)...this trip actually went smoother. Irelynn was a little more restless, but she entertained the receptionists by informing them that she wanted money and flowers. They smiled and commented on how she was already in touch with what every woman wants. Irelynn agreed.

We started to have a bit of a meltdown when we reached the X-ray waiting room. The receptionist was behind a glass window...with large animal clings plastered to it. Irelynn thought it was one of those machines with a claw meant for grabbing stuffed animals. She began demanding, loudly, money so she could get a zebra. After several rounds of explaining that there was no zebra, and it was not a game, I finally ask my mom if she will walk her down to the gift shop. Luckily this pacified the toddler long enough to get Owen's X-rays done.

We finally got home, and my fussy boys finally drifted off into an uneasy sleep. I also put Irelynn to bed....and collapsed onto the couch.

I remembered then that I still had to take all of the kids out to the store...by myself...so that Jaylond could pick up a birthday present for his friend...who's party was at 5pm. It's a good thing we had beer in the fridge for later.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Night Out

It has been a long time since I have ventured out, by myself, to go anyplace other than the grocery store. I scrambled around to get ready. I alternated putting on make-up with consoling babies. Putting on my dress shoes with getting bottles ready. Gathering rough cut DVDs of a movie I've been working on with asking questions about how the school day went (and answering questions, in return, as to why I was wearing real clothes.) Connor was grabbing at my hair, which is usually pulled back, out of his reach. I dodged pinching fingers, narrowly missing having the earings yanked from my ears. I finally ducked out of the door, feeling sorry for my mother, who graciously offered to watch all of the children so I could head out with my friend, the director of the movie I'm helping with, to Detroit, for a Film Industry Symposium.

My purse felt oddly light compared to the diaper bag I usually carry. I was careful to remove the baby wipes, extra diapers, and random pacifiers and crayons, replacing them with lipstick, gum, and business cards. I almost felt...human.

We drove to Detroit, talking about movie projects, kids, and life, in general. Then my phone rang.


"Who gets what pill? Where are the pills?"

"Owen gets the Singulair, and Connor gets the Pevacid."

"Wait...Singulair...where is that?"

"Should be by the sink, near the pill cutter."

"What color are the pills?"

"Owen's are brown..."

"So, Connor gets this white pill?"

"No! No, no...that's half of an allergy pill that I cut for Marissa...do not give it to the babies!"

"Oh...well...what color is Connor's?"


"And how much do they get again?"

"Owen gets half a pill, Connor gets a quarter of a pill."

"Ok. I think I've got it."

"Are you sure?"


"What happened??"

"I tried to crush it and half of it went across the counter..."

I hear Irelynn whining in the background.

"Is everything ok?"

"Yeah...I have to go...it'll be fine..."

We almost get to Detroit...I am trying to read the directions that my friend printed out off of Mapquest. My phone rings again.


"Do you know where the camera is?"

"I think, actually...I have it. It's in my purse."

"Oh. Ok. That's all...I'll just have to use my Blackberry."


"Connor fell asleep in the high chair."

I have to tell him that I need to get going before we get lost in Detroit.

The rest of the evening, all I can think about is how I missed a precious moment...and wonder, briefly, whether my baby was knocked out in his high chair because my husband did, indeed, accidentally give him the adult allergy pill.

After watching a panel of people tell us how Detroit is going to make a mark in the film industry, and how much opportunity there will be here, there was a short networking period where couldn't help thinking of my poor husband who was left alone with all the kids.

I got home late. The babies were still up. Connor grinned up at me and latched onto my hair. My husband looked exhausted. He didn't seem to notice that I was wearing make-up...or real clothes. I suddenly felt much less impressive.

Perhaps in a few more years I will be able to go someplace without worrying about the kids. Of course, by that time, my oldest will be driving.


So...I guess now really is the best time...before the twins...or the preteens....get mobile. I'd better let my husband get some more practice watching the kids...I have a very narrow window here...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"I'm not fat...I'm just big-boned..."

In my husband's defense, all of our other children are small. Jaylond recently turned 13...and has not yet hit 70lbs. Marissa is one of the shortest girls in her grade, and has a slender frame. My almost 3-year-old has just grown into her 24-month clothes. Even Connor has a long, slender frame with long, slender fingers and toes.

Owen, however, is the one child that took after my side of the family...short, stocky...and round. He has little rolls on his legs. He has cute little chipmunk cheeks...and pudgy little hands and feet. He has been a bit fussy lately, but I attribute it to teething...my go-to excuse for most baby fussiness.

Bruce usually ends up with the task of entertaining and feeding Connor for the evening. I'm not sure why, other than Connor not only puts up with, but actually loves Bruce's crazy loud bouncy forms of entertainment. Owen is more sensitive...so he is usually with me. The other night, however, Bruce took over feeding Owen when he arrived home. He held him and looked at him critically.

"I don't think Owen is feeling well."

I look up at him and ask why.

"Well...he's kind of fussy...but look at his hands...do they look...swollen to you? I think he's swollen!" He examines our son's hands and notes, again, the size of them.

"Um...honey....Owen just has fat hands. And feet. He's...rounder than our other son." I am trying, unsuccessfully, not to laugh.


Poor Owen. Man...no wonder I feel so huge in this family.

Perhaps I'm just swollen...everywhere...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life in Miniature

If you ever really want to know about yourself...just watch your toddler. It can be pretty revealing.

I have never been a great cook, by any means...but I think I have the basics down pretty well. In fact, I have even ventured beyond the normal frozen chicken breasts and hot dogs. Admittedly, I have googled how to properly make baked potatoes...but on the whole, I'd say I do a decent enough job.

Irelynn's favorite pretend game is to make something in her kitchen. She asked me to play with her the other day. I think to myself, see...I must do pretty good if my toddler knows her way around her own kitchen and enjoys pretending to cook. She pats the ground, indicating that I should sit down and watch while she prepares our dinner.

She begins by pretending to wash her hands, and searches for her dishes. I smile, noticing the attention to hygiene. Then she decides we are having tea. She carefully pours the beverage into the cups, and then, one by one, puts them in her toy microwave. She presses the buttons, and then makes a loud whirring noise.

"Ding ding! They're done...hold on...it's hot." She blows on it, and hands it to me. Then, she decides we are having cheeseburgers. I start to open the oven.

"No...microwave," she instructs. She puts the "cheeseburger" in the microwave. Then, apparently her cell phone rang. She picks up the plastic phone, and presses a button before putting it up to her ear.

"Hello? Oh, hi. Nothin'....what are you doing? Oh. I just making cheeseburgers. You want to come over? Uh huh...hold on..." she pauses, turns to her doll, and says, "what? I'm on the phone. Just a minute. Yeah...you there? I talk later. Bye."

"Who was that?" I ask.

"Uncle Chris."

She continues moving about her kitchen, rotating food through cycles in the microwave. She stops only momentarily to tell me she is looking on her laptop to see how to make eggs. She washes her hands when she finishes.

Well...at least I know I must be clean, regardless of my cooking skills.

She has even begun taking my tone with the older children. As they launched into their usual dinnertime argument, Irelynn calmly interrupted, without looking up from her food.

"Shut up you guys. Be nice."

Jaylond looked up, nervously, as he had just used the words "shut up" in retort to Marissa's last comment.

"I'm sorry, Irelynn...Jay Jay shouldn't have said that....you shouldn't say that..."

Irelynn glanced up.

"I didn't. You said that. Those are bad words. You guys need to shut up."

I sigh. Bruce laughs. Marissa smiles. Jaylond just stares at Irelynn, not knowing how to respond.

Sometimes I look at her in awe, and wonder if she can really barely be three years old. Then she dumps Moonsand on her head and giggles and I realize that yes....yes she can.

I think I am going to use the crock pot today. That's slightly better than the microwave, right? At least I won't have to google that.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Big Talk

Upon finding the Kohl's women's underwear ad in my son's room, I decided it was officially his father's turn to take over with the whole puberty thing. Although the kids and I have had a fairly open dialogue so far, when my son came to me to ask what a condom was...and a douchebag...I realized that perhaps this should really be the father's territory at this point. I mean...would my daughter feel comfortable talking to my husband about tampons and bras? I tell my husband "it's time."

We thought we had a little while yet with the Twilight series. The waiting list at the school library for the fourth book, the infamous "sex" book, was long. I have been trying to read late at night to see if I can get through it before they do. No such luck. My sly, somewhat manipulative, and hormonally-charged son has found a way to get to it before his sister, and half the school, has. He convinced some student to let him borrow a copy. Now I must come to a decision. We had already made a decision...but...was it really the right decision? Lost for something to say, I inform him that he needs to wait...that his father is going to have a discussion with him, first.

He acts innocent. I sigh, and explain that I know why he's anxious to get through that book. His eyes widen in child-like innocence.

"I read quickly through any book series that I'm into."

I told him that I knew about the ad. That I also knew that he had informed his sister about the contents of the fourth book. I reminded him that I, too, was once 13, and knew what it was like in middle school. He looked at the floor and sighed. I told him I wasn't banning the book...I knew he would find a way to read it, anyway...but I would like him to wait until after his father spoke with him. He nodded. I explained that I was not offended...that it was perfectly normal to be curious, but that this was a difficult topic because we, his parents, do not really condone having our children read about sex. So we didn't want to just ignore it. He nodded again. I suddenly realize that I unwittingly just delivered half of "the talk" myself. I remind Bruce, again, that "it's time."

Last night I stole a moment to go lay in the bedroom and try to read. Jay enters the room and sits on the corner of the bed. He looks at me sheepishly.

"Well, he did it. Dad had the talk with me."

I set down the book and raised my eyebrow.

"It was kind of funny, actually. I asked him if he would. I think I surprised him. I told him we could do it later if he wanted, and he said, 'no, that's ok.' I think his face turned a little pink...and he couldn't look me in the eye."

He stopped and smirked.

"Well...what did he say?" I ask more out of my own curiousity than anything else.

"Oh...it was mostly about the morals of it...you know, that the characters were married before they had sex...and they were over 18. He said I should be married and over 18 before I have sex, too." He shrugged and laughed at me. I tried to keep a straight face.

"So...can I read the book now?"

I pause...and nod. I suppose it was the best I could hope for. I have a feeling that my husband was more embarrassed than our son about the whole thing.

Unfortunately, I also have a feeling that I will have to still be the one to answer any future questions about vampire sex. I guess I'd better try to finish the book quickly.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Clean Act

I am desparately looking for a cleaner that will actually take the grime off pieces to the stove burners. I sift through my evironmentally-friendly overly-priced child-safe cleaners. They smell wonderful...look trendy...and do not put a dent in whatever is stuck to the burner plate I am now scrubbing away at with intensity. I have broken down and made a paste out of baking soda and water as I work away at it. My husband looks at me funny...but I am determined. My in-laws are visiting for the weekend, and the last couple of times they came to visit, I have walked in to find the stove torn apart and cleaned by my mother-in-law. I'm starting to worry that she thinks I don't know how to clean. I do remember...I was taught the basics long ago. I was even a touch on the obsessive side at one point. However, years of children (and husbands) going behind me and undoing all my efforts have forced me to all but give up on my cleaning efforts. I cringe as I look at the floor that desparately needs to be mopped. I wonder if she'll notice.

My husband, the helpful man that he is...wants to aid me in my efforts to make it look as though I do, in fact, clean. So he enlists the help of the older children. Jay is instructed to clean the toilet. I am not sure which is more humorous...the look on the child's face at the prospect of touching a toilet...or my husband's explanation on how to properly clean it.

"Honey...where are the cleaners?? Do we have antibacterial stuff? I need something antibacterial. Where's the Windex stuff?"

I hear him tell Jay to spray something "antibacterial" in the toilet and let it sit. Jay begins to complain.

"Somebody didn't flush!! It must have been Marissa....but Daaa-aad....she used a ton of toilet paper! The crap in there is like this big!" He is indicating the size of excrement with his hands.

"So? Flush it, then!!"

Jay mumbles something about him not even being the one to make the mess and how unfair life is.

I am still scrubbing in vain. I finally give up, and figure, oh well...my mother-in-law will do it properly when she gets here. Along with cleaning the counters and possibly even throwing in a load of laundry. I sigh. If she found it clean here, she'd probably wonder what was wrong, anyway.

Suddenly, I hear my toddler crying. My husband is irritated because she tried to dump her own pee from her little potty to the big toilet. I hear the toilet flush, and my toddler cry out in pain. The next thing I know, I have a naked toddler tugging on my shirt, babbling incoherently about Daddy flushing her pee.

I hear Jay state in disgust that Marissa could make it into Ripley's Believe It or Not because she somehow managed to get poop on the lid of the toilet.

Only in this house would you simutaneously have one child upset about having to flush another person's mess, one child upset about not being allowed to flush a toilet, and a third child who never seems to flush at all.

I try to calm my middle child and explain that she is allowed to flush, but either her father or I have to do the dumping. It's too late...the tears are streaming down, and she wails uncontrollably, unable to hear my explanation. I guide her out to get a new Pull-Up on.

She finally calms down, and Bruce tells her she can go flush the toilet if she wants...he had just thrown some tissue in it.

"Okay!" She runs to the bathroom....only to come out, upset again.

"I can't! The toilet is dirty!!!"

Oh brother.

Bruce vacuums, and my coffee is now cold. The kitchen, however, is clean...for the most part. I ask Bruce when his parents were stopping by, because I thought I heard him on the phone with them.

He smiles.

"They're not. They went to my brother's house today."

I look at the clean living room...the twins, wearing actual outfits instead of their stained sleepers, and the shiny stove. That figures. The next time they visit there will be dried spaghetti sauce on the stove, toys littering the living room, and dirty dishes filling the sink. I know this because this is always what seems to happen. I just hope that maybe...maybe when my mother-in-law's kids were growing up, the stove might have been dirty...and there might have been dirty socks under the couch. Perhaps oatmeal streaked the table now and then...and she tripped over legos. And hopefully her mother-in-law came to visit...and gave her a big hug because she, too, understood....and knew that deep down, she wasn't really a slob...just a tired mom.

Well, I can dream, right?

Friday, March 13, 2009

One child's art is another parent's clutter...

I have lost my refridgerator. I know it's here somewhere...I remember stocking it with beer not that long ago. It's white....and I know my toddler can find it, because she manages to find the pudding snack cups, and fill her Tinkerbell tea cups with water from the water dispenser. It is buried somewhere beneath the many photographs of the children, the certificates and math papers with high scores circled in red ink, artwork my son has brought home, the large pieces of construction paper decorated in puffy paint, and potty training charts. There is the shopping list I forgot to take with me on the last trip to the store (macaroni and cheese...I knew I forgot something,) and the Star Wars magnet...along with the one that says "More Cowbell." The bright alphabet letter magnets are holding up papers colored on with markers, and phone numbers to various friends scribbled in a way that is only legible to my preteens. Every last inch is covered. Which would not be a problem if the artwork already adorning it were the only precious pieces of artwork the kids bring to me.

My sister-in-law brought over all the ingredients to make puffy paint. This newly discovered form of entertainment has become second only to Wii Fit for my poor, socially deprived toddler. Every day she wakes up, looks at me with bright, cheerful eyes, and asks, "you make puffy paint?" Being suprisingly less messy than the previous favorite art activity, Moonsand, I give in. I grimace as I look at the fridge...and the dishwasher, now also adorned in puffy paint artwork....and the end of the counter, where yesterday's projects are now sitting, finally dry.

My eleven-year-old, not to be outdone, has started tacking up any schoolwork in which she has earned a grade higher than a "C." I am running out of options. As the toddler naps, a few papers "accidentally" fall into the trash. I cannot believe how guilty I feel. I try to remember that they will be replaced promptly the next day.

I'm beginning to wonder what my kitchen will look like when the twins get big enough to express their artistic side. Man...I think I need something to drink. I'd better ask Irelynn if she wants some pudding so she can find the fridge for me...

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Scary Development

My toddler happily ran to the counter with her disposable camera in hand.

"I deveyup pictures!" she exclaims to the lady behind the counter. The lady smiles, takes the camera, and fills out the slip for the one-hour photo developing. We meet up with the rest of the family to do our shopping while we wait for her pictures to be done.

The time finally arrives to pick up the pictures, and find out what our budding photographer has captured.

Hmm...the cat's butt....the chair....the baby bouncer...the hallway mirror....Irelynn's feet...and...(gasp)...me. I obviously had no idea that my picture was being taken at the time. My cheeks turn red as I stare at this grotesque figure in the photo...taken from the perspective of a two-year-old. The camera was aimed upward, I was cleaning at the time. My baggy, stained tee-shirt did little to conceal the muffin-top stomach spilling over my pants. My hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail, exposing my double-chin, in all it's glory. My mouth was contorted, my face stressed...as though I was was in the middle of snapping at a mouthy preteen. It was not pretty. Is this what I really look like to everyone else? I at once vowed to begin, for real this time, a diet and exercise routine.

It's not that I didn't realize I was overweight. The numbers on the scale and tags on my clothes do not lie. However, I tend to forget about those things when I am spending most of the time in the house, donning sweatpants and my husband's tee-shirts. When I look in the mirror, there is the subtle realization that I do not exactly have my girlish figure anymore...but then I cock my head a little, look straight on (careful to avoid the side view,) and stand up a little straighter. I smooth my hair a tiny bit...I don't look too bad. I have grown quite good at fooling myself.

Unfortunately, I cannot fool my pint-size papparazzi. And I'm sure it won't be long, with her technical skills, that she will have figured out how to upload pictures to the computer, and post them on the internet.

So, I sit here tonight, sipping on my Michelob Ultra light beer, doing squats at the computer, while I contemplate whether or not a Fisher Price digital camera is actually a good birthday gift idea for my toddler. Perhaps I will go with the Tinkerbell toddler bedding instead.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Kids say the darndest things...

There is usually some fairly lively banter that takes place at the dinner table. Most of it consists of arguments between the older two, Irelynn telling us stories about what her and her friend did...or will do, and the constant reminders by my husband and I to the children to actually eat their dinner. Once in awhile, though, there are some pretty entertaining comments.

I don't remember what prompted this comment, as I was too busy focusing on the fact that Connor somehow got carrots on top of his head...even though I was feeding him...but the next thing I hear is my preteen daughter confidently saying,

"I speak French. Hola."

Bruce and I glance at each other, and Jay starts snickering. Bruce clears his throat.

"You were just joking, right? I mean...you know that that's not French, right?"

She rolls her eyes.

"Yes, I'm joking. Of course I know 'hola' isn't French. It's Hawaiian."

Sometimes my children are very lucky that they are entertaining. There has been a time or two I wondered how much I could get for them if I were to auction them off on E-Bay. Such as earlier today, when my almost 3-year-old was determined to get on the Wii.

She was overly tired, whiney, and demanding.

"Mooooom...I wanna play Rock Band!!!"

"Not right now."


"Irelynn, not right now!"

"Mom mom mom....I wanna play Rock Band...anum eee um anum....ROCK BAND NOW!!!!"


She looks at me funny, and says, "What's wrong with you?"

I stare at her, dumbfounded...

"You angry or sumthin'?" She stares at me, curious.

I am at a loss for words for a moment.

"Um...well...you are being very whiney and disrespectful."

"Oh. Sorry. Can I please play Rock Band...just a little bit?" She smiles at me sweetly.

I did let her play Rock Band. That, in itself, was quite entertaining. I am probably one of the few proud parents of a toddler who knows the words to a Weezer song.

Friday, March 6, 2009

When Google Fails

The one thing that I have learned over the last several years about raising kids is that I have alot to learn about raising kids. Not that this has deterred my efforts. I am no computer genius, as my husband can tell you, but I have acquired some fairly wicked Google-fu skills over the years. I have Googled everything from how to cook pork chops to how to recognize chicken pox. I even researched how to prevent urinary tract infections in cats. (Supposedly cranberry supplements help.) There are certain things, however, where, as extensive as it is, even Google cannot help.

When my two-year-old was up all night, with a fever, crying that she wanted "makin' ayah," for example. I could not figure out if this was a drink...a snack...or she wanted to make something. Everything I suggested made her more upset. I came to find out, at a much later time, that "makin' ayah" is "American Idol." Go figure.

Or the time she lifted her shirt to tell me she had bug bites. She points to her chest.

"No, those aren't bug bites. That's...your...chest." I was proud of myself for coming up with a brilliant explanation without getting too detailed.

"No, Mom...ON my chest...bug bites...right here and here."

I finally cave.

"No...everybody has those. They're...nipples."

"Ooohhhh....NIPPLES. Daddy has nipples?"

"Yes, Daddy has them, too."

"You have nipples?" She points to my chest.


"My nipples littler than your's."

It doesn't end with toddlers, though. There is never a time in a child's life where something doesn't come up that leaves you shocked, speechless...or most of all...clueless.

For example, I went down to my teenage son's room. I use the word "teenage" loosely, as he is only barely a teenager...in my eyes, still a little boy. I lifted his pillow on his bed to discover what looked like a page to a weekly newspaper ad folded up. I pick up the shiny page and unfolded it. It was a page of the Kohl's ad, ripped neatly along the edge. The page was covered with young, scantily clad models showing us the weekly deals on sexy bras and underwear. I felt my jaw drop. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I mean...it was a newspaper ad, not Playboy...but still...when did my son start noticing girls?? I tell my husband....his response:

"Well...at least it was women, and not men."


I have found that Google is not much help with dealing with husbands, either.

If only I could learn how to properly meditate...perhaps the answers would just come to me. Oh! I'll bet I could Google "meditation..."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Morning Madness

Jay is in the shower. Marissa is putting waffles in the toaster. I hear a baby cry. My coffee has not finished brewing.

"Can somebody get me a towel!!"

I look at Bruce, who is standing in the living room, coat on, waiting for the car to warm up. He heads back to get Jay a towel.

Connor is on the floor, on a blanket, complaining because I left him to go get his sister out of bed.

"Momma!!! MOMMA!!!"

I bring her out, and she promptly goes to the TV, changes the source, and pops "Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" into the DVD player. She then turns on the stereo, and turns the sound down, because it was "too loud."

Bruce has left, and I'm feeding Connor. Jay walks by me, in a cloud of....what is that smell? I try to keep a straight face, but Connor openly gags.

"Um...Jay? Are you wearing cologne?"


"Well...um...a little goes a long way, you know."

"Yeah, well, so does the smell of my socks. I nearly gagged when I put them on."

"You're wearing dirty socks?"

He nods.

"I don't have any clean ones."

I sigh. Connor finishes his bottle and is happy to go in the exersaucer. I finally pour a cup of coffee. I hear the older two arguing in the living room.

"Shut up!!"

"I will when you stop talking."


"I will if you do!!"



I go out there to break up the argument of who will shut up first. Jay starts analyzing his body parts.

"My thumb hurts. And I think I have a callous."

Irelynn joins in.

"I have callous, too. Here." She points to her forehead.

"Jay...do you have your gloves?"


"Marissa...do you have your planner?"

"Yes. I think. Wait." She pulls her binder out of her bag. She opens it, and yanks out a planner, along with several other papers that scatter across the room. I remind myself that they are out the door in two minutes, and I still have a half a pot of coffee waiting for me.

She finally gathers her items, and shoes are on, hats in place...and they are out the door.

I flop down on the couch. And then I hear Owen crying in the other room. I sigh as Irelynn walks up to me with a funny look on her face.

"Mom...mom....um...I have poo-poo. Change me."

Is it bedtime yet?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Playdate Disaster

Poor Irelynn. Yesterday we had scheduled a playdate with her good...well, her only, friend. She had been looking forward to it for a long time. Everybody knows about this friend...the girl with the Dora curtains. She is involved in almost all of Irelynn's stories...whether they are true or not. She is going to come to her birthday party, in April...and apparently she will make her tea. They are going to go swimming. They will watch the Chipmunks movie together...and her friend's mommy will serve them grapes. They get tattoos together (temporary, of course.) They even cook elaborate meals together and take their babies on walks. Needless to say, this day was very important.

Unfortunately, the night before she came down with a fever of 103. After some Motrin, cuddling, and a couple rounds of Scooby-Doo, she seemed to do better...although she was very clingy and whiney. Yesterday morning her temperature was only slight...but still there. I called to cancel the playdate. We let the girls talk on the phone. I smile as I see Irelynn walk around, as though she does this all the time.

"Like, um, I'm playing Wii Fit right now. Um, like, running."

After the phone conversation, she asks me eagerly if they are going to play together.

"No, Sweetie...you have a temperature. We don't want to get your friends sick, too. When you don't have a temperature for awhile we'll set up a time to play."

She sat down to watch TV for a few minutes. Then she ran back to my bedroom, and grabbed the thermometer from the nightstand.

"Take my temperature?"

I swiped it along her forehead.

"Well, the medicine must be working...it's come down to 98.7."

"I go to her house and play now?"

"No, Irelynn...not today."

"But I don't have temperature!"

"Honey...it's come down, but you're still sick...you could still get your friend sick."


And the tears started streaming down. I picked her up and tried suggesting alternatives. However, she suddenly didn't like movies, or her Leapster, or playing kitchen. She was devastated.

Luckily I was able to finally distract her with the computer...she began instant messaging her grandfather, and all was right with the world again.

Today she seems fine...and I will try to reschedule the playdate for later this week. However, this time...she will not know about it until we are ready to get in the van to go.

I wonder if the girl with the Dora curtains realizes how special she is. I'm sure her mommy already knows.

By the way...the girls will also, apparently, be competing on American Idol. Irelynn told me so.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Playtime with Irelynn

We sat around the gameboard, waiting for the toddler to make her first move. She had meticulously prepared for the game...choosing colors for everyone, coaxing her father out of bed to join the game, yelling at the cat, Dobby, to get off the board, and setting the pile of cards neatly off to the side. Dobby settled for sitting next to the board to my right, waiting for his chance to play.

The game began. It started off well...Irelynn drew her color, went to her space, and patiently waited for each of us to take our turn. Then...well, the game was not going quite how she wanted. The rules began to change.

"I get blue...no...I want..." she begins shuffling through the top five cards, "um...double purple. I get double purple! Yay!"

I go to reach for a card, but she quickly hands me one.

"You get blue!"

It was at about this point that Dobby decided to enter the game. He reached out a paw, wrapped his claws around Bruce's game piece, and moved it up a couple rows. Bruce snatched it back.

"I get...um...double orange! Yay!"

Dobby moves Bruce's piece forward again. Bruce moves it back.

"Yellow! Yay!" Her hand flies up with the yellow card, smacking me in the head.

"Um...I want to be green guy now." She trades game pieces.

Dobby goes to make his move again, and Irelynn intervenes, knocking down the pile of cards. I go to straighten them up, with her calling the cat out on his cheating.

I notice that she is getting close to the end. We try to coax her to choose her cards quickly, in anticipation of finishing the game.

It is time for her her turn again, but she picks up her baby doll, who is wearing a Backyardigans kneepad.

"Daddy? You feed my baby?" She hands him a plastic jalepeno pepper. She began feeding her other doll a plastic french fry. So ended Candyland.

Later she asked to have her toenails painted. Bruce agreed to do it, as I was giving Connor a bath. After his bath, she wanted to paint my toenails. I set out a towel, and let her cover my nails with sparkly fuchsia paint. She actually didn't do too bad...I think she might be more coordinated than her 11-year-old sister. Somehow she also convinced Bruce and Marissa to let her do their nails. Jaylond was another story. I think she is still chasing him around the house with blue nail polish.

"Just a little bit, Jay Jay? I paint your nails?"


Oh well...perhaps she will convince him to play Candyland instead.