Tuesday, September 30, 2008

talk me down, quick

Tonight we had fish for dinner.

Or rather, Charlie and I had fish for dinner.

The children picked at rice, squashed applesauce in to bread and exercised extreme caution to insure that the energy field of their fork did not intersect with the energy field of the one-inch square piece of halibut served up on their plates.

As I was cleaning up the kitchen, before putting the kids in the bath, Elizabeth asked why I was packaging up the leftovers and putting them in the refrigerator. I answered, "Because I don't want to throw them away."

Since we have unequivocally entered The Age of Why?, my three-year-old again asked, "Why?"

"Because this is food that we might be want to eat tomorrow for lunch or dinner."

Again she prompted, "Why?"

"Because we will be hungry and we will need something to eat." And then I added, "Besides, Elizabeth, a fish gave it's life so that we could eat it and the last thing I'd ever want to do is throw it in the trashcan." This seemed to satisfy her curiosity and she pondered that while continuing to flick rice about her plate.

I finished washing the pots and pans that were in the sink and loading up the dishwasher. A few minutes later, I called all the children to the bathroom for their bath. In came William, in came Carolyn, in toddled Henry. When Elizabeth didn't arrive after a few minutes, I walked back out to the kitchen to see that she was sitting at the table, eating her fish.

When I asked what she was doing, she replied, "Mama, I don't want this fish to go in the trash, so I'm eating it." And she did. Every last bite.

These children are the most perfect little creatures ever.


Look at these faces.


Why would I want to be away from them?

They are perfection. With a smidge of silt.


I went back to work so that the children could go to school. Now, I'm actually considering working more so that I can send them to school for a longer period of time and/or bring in a sitter. All of this working, working, working so that I can pay other people to watch my children?

What am I missing here?

Doesn't that defeat the purpose of having children in the first place?

I'm sick. I'm tired. I'm running around like mad. And tonight while I was bathing the kids it dawned on me that what I really want out of life is to move to the country and home school our children. I've eluded to it before, but never come clean. Now I've said it.

Call me crazy.

Maybe I'll make candles and spin wool. We'll have solar panels and a well. I might write a book. I might even try to make soap. We'll grow vegetables in a garden and tap maple trees for real syrup. We'll have a canoe. We'll fish in a lake. We'll have 12 children and we'll be as happy as the day is long. Now, once we can figure out how to make a living ... we are so totally there.*


*Not sure where "there" is yet. I'd like it to snow, but not be too cold. The ocean should be within a days drive. And the mountains need to be close. And although I want to move out of suburbia, we'll need some nice stores nearby. Definitely a store that sells good cheese. I can order a lot of things through the internet but not cheese. [edit: It turns out you can get good cheese online. But ice cream is tricky. So, I need a store for good ice cream. Whenever I've tried to make it myself, it never comes out well.] And there should probably be a pscyh ward close. I'll probably need it, once I come to my senses and realize that we ditched our careers and moved our family out of San Diego to the middle of nowhere and if we're going to have cereal for breakfast, I need to go milk a cow.

Monday, September 29, 2008

growing pains

So here's the deal.

I just figured it out.

Less than a month in to it and we've discovered this whole school schedule is really tough and wearing us out. The level of effort that is required to get the children up and dressed and lunches made and breakfast prepared and teeth brushed and out of the house by 8:30, just so that we can drive 20+ minutes and drop them off and then drive 20+ minutes to work or home, and then drive 20+ minutes and pick them up less than three hours later and drive 20+ minutes home again ... is a lot.

Especially since as soon as we get them home, we are getting them ready for their nap. And then, we're trying to coordinate four children going to sleep at the same time. This is entirely hit or miss. It frequently happens that three go down just as one is waking up or vice versa.

Having a helper seems to make sense just to take off some of the burden from that late-afternoon crunch, right around the time I need to prepare dinner. Right around that time my energy stores are low - the children's energy stores are high - I want to lay down and take a snooze - and they want to dump the contents of their dressers.

What if we just coughed up the extra $100.00 per month per child and sent them to school from 9 until 3, as opposed to 9 until noon? Would those three extra hours a day be everything that I need? Or, would it just take my babies children away from me for that much longer everyday?

I'm planning to put our children in various sport programs through the Y. And oh my gosh, all of a sudden, they would be gone from 8:30 in the morning until possibly 5:30 at night and they are way too young for that.

And you know, I really miss them. Even though they're only gone for three hours a day, I feel like this whole school schedule has put a major wrench in the daily routine that we had.

Besides, I actually think it was less exhausting when they were under my care the whole day.

a discussion with my conscience

For the past several years, our families have been encouraging us to hire a mother's helper.

Whenever my mother comes to visit us in California, it is her mission to find us help. When mom was recently in town, she stopped everyone who had a pulse made eye contact and asked "Do you know of someone who might be available to babysit?"

For years and years, mom has been telling me to go to the local high school and talk to the Principal. Or one of the guidance counselors. Or post a flier at a local Junior College.

"The flier could be simple" she said. "Just post that you need a Mother's Helper. But..." she added, "I wouldn't mention how many children you have - or how old they are - in the ad."

I'm sure any potential babysitter would love to have it sprung on them, the first day of work that there are one! two! three! FOUR! children. And by the way, they're all under the age of four. I suspect there wouldn't be a first day of work. They'd ditch their black umbrella and bag of tricks and take off running down the street, never to be seen or heard from again.

To our credit, we did once post a flier at a local JC and never received any response. And when I was first returning to work in 2005, we ran an ad in a local newspaper - interviewed several people - and then decided that hiring help wasn't our cup of tea.

Charlie and I could make this work, just the two of us.

And we did.

And we have.

And wow - look at that.

Almost four years have passed and we're still relatively sane.

"All you need is someone to come over and play with the children for a few hours in the afternoon so you can get some things done"
, mom would stress. "Think of how nice it would be to have a little time to do some laundry or cook dinner. Wouldn't that be nice?"

Theoretically? Yes.

Realistically? I'm not sure.

But after enough people have been pressuring telling me how liberating it will be to have another set of hands to help in the afternoon, for a few hours a day, I have finally decided to give it a go.

My concession is that either Charlie and I would be here - folding laundry, participating in a conference call, preparing dinner. Maybe we would take one or two of the children and visit the grocery store. The babysitter's responsibilities would be to play with the children, read them stories, paint, string beads, push them on the swing.

Although, I really enjoy doing ALL of those things with the children. Why should I pay someone to come and do that? And really, we've managed for FOUR years with just the two of us, why do I really need to bring someone in, NOW? If anything, I'm away from the children for three hours a day in the morning - why do I need to be away from them in the afternoon, too?

Dear God, are you there?

Can you hear me? Is this thing on??

Today, one of the people that my mother talked to at church, many Sundays ago, came over. She is 18-years old and a Freshman in College. She has a very busy schedule, but is available a few afternoons a week to help with the children.

My initial impression was that she was very nice, but very shy. What I didn't notice (because I was chasing after Henry), but Charlie pointed out, is that she didn't talk to the children at all. While my husband walked her around the house and pointed out their various play areas and toys, and discussed what we were looking for and her availability, she clutched her bottle of water and nodded, "Oh, OK. Um. OK."

Maybe she was just overly shy and will be more engaging with the children when we're not standing right next to her. But so far, we're not off to a good start.

See, here's the thing. If I am going to have someone come to watch our children, they better do just as good of a job - if not better - than me. Better, I would expect, because they are going to be here for a short period of time and they will be paid. They need to be energetic and fun, resourceful and imaginative, carefree and disciplined, loving, kind and patient.

Extremely patient.

And they sure as heck better TALK with the children.


Once she left, Charlie and I were discussing compensation. When Charlie had asked her what her expectation was, she replied, "Whatever you are comfortable with." I remember giving that exact same empty response when I was a teenager. Perhaps 18-year-olds just haven't yet developed the self confidence to assertively declare what they want, or feel that they deserve.

Back in the 80's when I would babysit, I would make around $3.00 an hour. So I really have no idea what the "going" rate is. In talking with several of my friends, they have told me that depending upon where you live (i.e. Northern California Bay Area), the going rate for a sitter is $25.00 an hour and each additional child is $10.00 per hour.

To which I asked, what comes with that?? Will they also sanitize the house and teach our children Italian?? Because seriously, if I could be pulling in $55.00 an hour to babysit, graduate school was a bad investment.

Charlie called our sister-in-law, Kathy, this afternoon and according to her (mother of two teens both of whom babysit), a fair salary would be $10.00 an hour, assuming Charlie and I are here and the babysitter can come and ask us questions. Charlie assumed then, that if we pay $15.00 an hour, we should be left COMPLETELY alone.

Truthfully, I'm not too keen on any of this.

I definitely don't like having things forced upon me.

I feel like this whole "thing" of hiring a routine-sitter has been set in motion and I'm not too sure I want any of it to happen. My unwillingness has nothing to do with relinquishing control and allowing other people to care for my children because I already do that five days a week with school.

Instead, it has everything to do with the fact that I don't want to put an extra burden upon myself to find someone that I like and trust. I don't want to give up more time with my children, than I already do. I don't want to be committed to someone every week. It seems that bringing some one in is supposed to make my life easier, but from what I can see thus far, it seems like this is only going to complicate matters AND it will cost me money.

Why is that good??

Why do I have to try and fix something that isn't broken??

Although, right now, the kids are stirring from their nap and I am wishing that I had just a little more time to myself. Especially since I can hear William growling and screaming "ARGH!" and that never bodes well with my psyche.

Who knows. Maybe things would get better with time. Maybe this is just the kind of thing I need to try out for a while. Maybe this sitter will be the answer to prayers I didn't even know I was praying. Maybe everyone who has made the suggestion that I hire someone knows exactly what they are talking about, and I am clueless.

Or ... maybe not.

bad hair day

Every one that lives in this house is sick.


Well, except Henry.

So while we were laying on the couch today, we were nearly helpless to stop the newest toddler who is climbing on top of the dining room table and grabbing at the chandelier. We were bribing him with Cheerios and Goldfish to lure him near, and whenever he came within grasp, we'd grab him and hold him tight until he squirmed away from us. Then, we upped the anty to M&M's.

Oh, how Henry loves him some M&M's.

Thankfully, we're such good teeth brushers around here.

No?!

Tonight, Charlie made homemade chicken noodle soup. And much like it is imperative to clean out both cavities of a turkey prior to stuffing and cooking (we made the unfortunate error on Thanksgiving in 1998 and didn't notice the oversight until we were carving the bird in front of 10 guests and the knife snagged on the gizzard bag - OOPS), it is imperative to clean out both cavities of a whole chicken prior to boiling.

Did you know that if you fail to clean out both cavities of a chicken, prior to boiling, the heart and liver will disintegrate and turn the water dark brown? Nothing says "GET WELL SOON!" like eating soup that has chunks of various poultry organs floating about that give the dark broth a nice resemblance to raw sewage.

Charlie being the culinary genius that he is, saved the day by straining the soup, adding some organic chicken broth and an assortment of fresh vegetables and herbs that yielded the best tasting concoction I've had in a long while. If not for him commandeering the remote control and subjecting his family to almost TWELVE hours of football, I might have considered throwing him a parade.

OK. I'm still considering it. That soup was awesome.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

favorite thing friday

A few days before Charlie and I were married in 1994, my mother underwent a major dental reconstruction. Mom previously had her top teeth extracted and was fit with a temporary bridge while her permanent bridge was made.

My mother's dentist gave her strict instructions to avoid certain foods because her temporary bridge would not be as secure as the permanent bridge, and since mom was slated to read a verse at our wedding in front of 200 guests, she promised that she would be careful.

But on the plane ride from South Carolina to Massachusetts, a mere two days before the wedding, mom bit in to a seemingly harmless-to-fragile-dental-work sandwich and nearly died when she looked down to see that her bridge was still in the sandwich when she took it away from her mouth. Mom threw a napkin up to cover her face and leaning over to my Aunt Grace, who was traveling north with her, muttered "Oh NO!"

When Auntie encouraged mom to drop the napkin, she initially panicked - before falling in to a fit of hysteria. My aunt and my mom laughed and laughed. Because there sat the mother of the bride, almost completely toothless.

I've written before that dental hygiene is very important to me.

I have had our children in to see the dentist every four months since the time they were 18-months old, and Henry had his first checkup the same month he turned one. When my mother was in town recently and she watched me struggling with Henry to brush his four little teeth, she casually mentioned that she didn't own a toothbrush until she was seven-years-old.

So. As I was saying.

Good dental hygiene is important. And my mother knows that although she was born during the Depression and before the current day emphasis that is placed upon taking care of one's teeth, mom always made sure I had my teeth cleaned every six months when I was growing up.

For Christmas in 2000, mom bought me an Oral B electric toothbrush.

Up until that time, I had always used a manual toothbrush, and once I made the switch, I couldn't believe the difference. I went on and on about how awesome my new electric toothbrush was and Charlie had such toothbrush envy, he ditched his Reach and went out and bought an Oral B for himself.

For the past eight years, I have used the exact same toothbrush, changing out the heads once every few months. I had no plans to replace my Oral B toothbrush, but very recently, it seemed that whenever I would brush my tongue (I cannot consider any toothbrushing session complete without a good tongue scrubbing), the toothbrush head would come off and get stuck at the back of my throat.

No kidding.

(Does it amaze you as much as it amazes me, the things about my personal life I divulge on this blog?)

The first time it happened, I thought that maybe I needed a new toothbrush head. But when I replaced it - and the same exact thing happened again - I got a little fearful that I was going to die while brushing my teeth.

Instead of running out and buying a new toothbrush (or using one of the 50 manual toothbrushes I have stockpiled from my [nearly] quarterly dental visits), for the next few months, I exercised extreme caution when brushing my tongue to insure that the toothbrush head didn't disconnect from the body, get lodged in my throat, and kill me.

(Seriously, in my mind's eye I could actually see the obituary about how I choked to death on a toothbrush head and I leave behind four small children and a grief-stricken husband.)

All this to say ... I recently bought a new toothbrush.
I had heard great things about the Sonicare from my dentist, but never felt compelled to fork over the $100 (or $170 depending upon the model) until my recent disconnecting-toothbrush head-escapades. Now I can honestly say that as much as I loved my Oral B, I love the Sonicare that much more. The level of clean that is achieved after just one tooth brushing, is comparable to the level of clean one obtains after having just visited the dentist.

From the Philips website:

  • Sonicare achieves its bristle velocity through a combination of high frequency and high amplitude bristle motion.

  • This velocity generates dynamic action.

  • Dynamic action is gentler on dentin than a manual or an oscillating toothbrush. This action cannot be achieved by oscillating, spinning, rotating, or pulsating brushes.

  • The cleaning power of dynamic action, coupled with the specially designed bristle orientation, results in deep penetration of interproximal spaces.

  • This process results in a distinctly different brushing experience.

We purchased the Flexcare at Costco for $169.99. It came with two toothbrushes, a recharger and travel recharger (this is convenient for us since Charlie needs HIS OWN charger because he doesn't like sharing his recharger with me since I do not share the same neurosis about cleaning my toothbrush prior to charging. Whatever. He has his hang ups, he says I have mine) a travel pouch and a UV sanitizer.

If it wasn't so late, I would do a little comparison to the Flexcare that is sold at Costco versus Bed, Bath & Beyond. They also show a sale price of $169.99 but I'm not sure if the package sold at Costco is exactly the same, or slightly expanded. If they are the same, purchasing this toothbrush through Bed, Bath & Beyond (with a coupon) could save you 20%.

Our children are still using inexpensive battery-operated electric toothbrushes, but once they are a little older and not as likely to put their toothbrush in to the toilet, I will consider purchasing a Sonicare for them, too. Because dental hygiene is important to me.

(As for my mom: she visited a dentist in Massachusetts who placed her temporary bridge back in, the day before we exchanged nuptials. She had teeth, but her dental work was incredibly fragile and awkward fitting. I love you mom. Thanks for everything you do for me. And thanks for reading at our wedding. I think the lisp was adorable.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

next time, it's charlie's turn

Tonight we went to Costco.

One minute we are having fun chattering in the freezer section, the next minute I am informed - very loudly - that one of our children needs to go poop. As in, NOW. THIS VERY SECOND.

Charlie has one cart loaded with groceries, I have the other, partially loaded with children and more groceries. Our eyes briefly connect while our child is dancing around our feet, clutching themselves and yelling, "I NEED TO GO POOP! I NEED TO GO POOP! I NEED TO GO POOP! POOP! POOP! POOP!!"

As our children are rapidly approaching the age of four, their language has become much more articulate than it was just a few short months ago. No longer are we the only ones to understand the words that they use. Now when they speak, anyone who has any grasp of the English language would know exactly what they are saying.

There's no covering this one up, so we do our best to ignore the fellow shoppers who have stopped their shopping and turned to stare. My husband actually attempted to feign oblivion to the situation and looks around, saying aloud to no one in particular, "Oh would you look at that! Raspberries are still in season and they're on SALE!"

Meanwhile, I abandon my cart and taking my child's hand, lead them to the restroom - all the while praying that they don't drop a load somewhere between the absolute back corner of the store and the very, very front. As we are walking away at a brisk clip, I notice that my other two three-year-old children are running behind me yelling, "I need to go POOP too, Mama!! Wait!! WAIT!! I GO POO POO TOO!!"

To all the people who had stopped to stare at us as we trotted along the 1,000-foot corridor from where we had been standing in the freezer section, to where we were going in the latrine section, I smiled and nodding my head to the back of the store declared, "There's a great deal on raspberries! They are on sale and going fast in produce!!"

We make it to the bathroom and there is a long wait. And while we wait my children are chanting in unison, "I need to go POOP. I need to go POOP." Which very soon causes a stir because in the land of three, when you have to go poop, only YOU have to go poop.

No one else dare lay claim to that bodily need.

Yet because more than one of my children purportedly needed to go poop, there was bickering, "You not need to go poop. I NEED TO GO POOP!" Followed by, "NO. YOU NOT POOP. I GO POOP!!"

And on.

And on.


And finally, after what seemed like 15 minutes, after much shushing and mouth covering, a stall opened up. One of the standard small stalls, not the over sized handicapped stall I had been hoping for. I ushered the kids in to the small space and then tried to corral them in the corner while I closed the door. They are trying to kick the trash can which is piled high with who knows what. They are trying to pull seat covers out. They are trying to flush the toilet. They are touching everything and attempting to squeeze in behind me and open the door.

"HOLD STILL!!" I bellow.

"PUT YOUR HANDS ON YOUR ELBOWS AND DO NOT MOVE!!"


I wipe off the seat and put a seat cover on before depositing the child who started the mad dash to the bathroom. Only to see that their request to use the bathroom came about ... uh ... five minutes too late. They finish what remains of their business while their siblings crowd around the back of the toilet and inquire, "You go POOP? Lemme see the poop. Where the poop?!"

I put the next child up. While they are trying to do their business, two other children are crowded around the back of the toilet inquiring "You go POOP? Lemme see, lemme see. Lemme see the POOP. OHHH!!! I SEE POOP!!!!" and then grabbing at their noses, "OH, it's STINKY!!!"

The second child is taken down and the third is put up. They don't have to go poop. They just like all the attention and fanfare, so they sit for a while, soaking up the excitement, reveling in the moment.

The third child comes off the potty and I decide that while I'm there, heck, I may as well go, too. As I'm preparing to sit down, one of my children kneels down in an area where only a three-year-old could fit and demands, "Hey, where's your PEANUT?"

My other two children stop talking long enough to hear me respond, "Girls don't have peanuts." Now although I believe it is important that children know the correct nomenclature for parts of their body, the public restroom at Costco is not necessarily the place I want to give the kids a lesson in anatomy. KWIM?

In that time that I was talking to the children, I noticed that the bathroom was eerily quiet. For a brief moment, I thought that maybe everyone had vacated and we were left alone in the restroom. But when I peeked out underneath the stall door, I could see that there were at least 20 pairs of shoes - standing in line - and the stalls on either side of me - were occupied.

Great.


One of my children saw me look under the stall and dropped to their knees to see what I was looking at. The other two children were attempting to cluster around the back of the toilet. "Mommy, you go poop? Lemme see, lemme see, lemme see. Do you go poo-poo, too MOM? Where's the poop? I don't see any poop? Mom, you go poop or you go pee-pee?"

I pulled the child off the ground who who was now attempting to crawl under the stall, and as they stood up, they exclaimed, "HEY MOM! You have a BIG bum!! Look at your big bum!! Turning around they pointed to themselves and continued, "I have a wittle bum!! See my wittle bum?! It's WITTLE!"

Chuckling I replied, "Yeah, but you know what? You have a BIG mouth!"

I'll be darned if everyone wasn't eavesdropping on us, because the whole restroom erupted in to laughter.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

wednesday weigh in

For the record: I am not planning to make my blog private. Why, just last month I went on that soul-searching mission and ultimately determined that I rely too heavily upon the support of people I do not know to help me through the maze of parenthood.

(I'm looking at you, Twingles.)

For now, I'm just going to change my name and possibly my husband's so that if there are any crazies that stumble upon this website, they would be hard pressed to Zaba our legal names - obtain our home address and telephone number - know that my favorite color is mocha - see a satellite image of our neighborhood - and discover that in June of 2008, we were detained at the Canadian Border.

Although on second thought, it might be a good thing for any crazies out there to know that we were detained at the Canadian Border for attempting to carry a BANNED WEAPON that would be used against anyone that ever attempted to cause my children harm.

I'm just sayin.

ROAR!


OK, enough about the sickos of the world. How about the sickos in this house?

There seems to be a case of the flu going around that I suspect the children picked up from school. Shocking, huh? Not even a month in to the preschool program and the whole house has the plague.

Elizabeth had it last weekend and spiked a temperature of 103. William had it on Tuesday and spiked a temperature of 102. Henry's nose is running, Carolyn is grumpy, I have a sore throat and Charlie is complaining that his ears feel clogged. I've been administering hot tea and honey, Zicam and Nasal Rinse in amounts that border on excess.

Today, I was struck with the dilemma of what to do with William. Yesterday he was sick. But this morning when he woke up - he was running around the house, with no apparent temperature, no nasal discharge, and instigating pillow fights with his sisters.

So. I thought about the cost of tuition for a moment. And then I thought about having THREE hours almost completely to myself. And then I thought that if he is running around and frolicking and eating breakfast and generally happy ... sure he can go to school.

So he did.

When I went to pick him up three hours later, he initially seemed well - waving and excited to see me, from behind the school gate. But by the time we walked 100 feet to the car, his eyes were glassy, his nose was running, he felt feverish and he wanted me to carry him.

Way to go, MOM!

Sending a sick child to school!


Now the rest of his school will probably fall ill, except, of course, the child that brought the flu to school in the first place. And they will know that it was our fault because they saw us in the parking lot. Me encouraging William to walk because I had Henry in my arms, William wailing, "I CAN'T!! I SO SICK, MOMMY!! MY NOSE!! I WANT A NEW NOSE!! LOOK AT THE BOOGIES!!"

I called the Director of the school this afternoon and told her about the situation - apologized for sending him back prematurely - and said that the chances are great I'll be holding him out tomorrow and possibly Friday as well.

And now, I'm thinking that a good rule of thumb is to keep a child out of school for 24 hours following a fever. But what if they have no fever but green boogers running down their face that they like to wipe off with every part of their arm extending from their pinky finger to their elbow? What then, pray tell. WHAT THEN?!

It's not surprising that there hasn't been much exercising for me this week. Not much at all. Or rather, none. Although to my cardiovascular credit, I have been doing a tremendous amount of jumping up and down to fetch tissues, medicine, juice, popsicles, and a host of other items that my little people need but are unable to fetch for themselves.

Including that. Said with a stuffy nose, "DAT FING OVAH DARE. IST's yellow."

Ah yes. We call it a banana.

Language apparently eludes us when we are ill. So does the desire to exercise.

I did try once. I put on my running shoes and clipped on my shuffle. But my shoes just felt too heavy. So, I laid down on the couch and imagined I was running. In the following pictures, Henry illustrates precisely how I have felt about taking on any physical challenge these past few days.

"Oh, look a ball! If I pick that ball up, I'll add a little variety to my walk!"



"Oh, it's a slippery little devil!"


"Why I'm just trying to pick it up and I get knocked flat on my tush!"



"But, I'll stand up again..."



"... and give it another shot."


"Not to worry that I have a smidge of dirt on my rump. Who ever said challenges would be clean?!"


"Upsy Daisy."


"I've got a good hold on you, now."


"... or, maybe not."



"Let's try this again."

"And bend with the knees ... keeping my back straight..."


"I did it, Mom! I'm well on my way!!"


"OH CURSING CURSES!"


"What is THIS?! Where is the love?!"

"It's a BALL for Pete's sake. It's not an anvil!!"


"Is it covered in Crisco?!"


"Yeah, well. Maybe when I'm inspired I'll be back. So you just think about that while you watch me walk away."


**********

Please, tell me how you're doing.

It's got to be better than me and my little buddy, Henry.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

well, hey there!

Hi, I'm Jane.

It's my new name.

I've spent the past two hours corresponding via e-mail with Michele about internet security and when she sent me a map to my house, I almost passed out. When she also sent me a link to ZabaSearch and I went online and plugged in a few details about myself, only to discover that for the low price of $49.95, I could purchase my entire life history and telephone number (a number that is supposed to be unpublished) I decided that it's a fantastic time to change my identity.

Because what if someone CALLS and wants to talk with me?!


Some might think I'm being a little paranoid and last week, I might have agreed.

But after my sister-in-law called my husband this weekend and strongly suggested that we make our blog private because there have been documented cases of people going to family websites where there are photographs of children, and then, deciphering where those people live and selling that information (essentially a photo of a child with a map to their home), that's all it took for me to replace my name with one that I've adored for years.

Jane. It's a lovely name, isn't it?

Here is some information about Jane that you might not know.

She is considering changing her husband's name to Sam. Or Pinot.

Her children will remain named, although the pseudonymns KnockItOff, QuitYourTeasin, GoToSleep and StopScreamingHolyMotherofGod are under consideration.

She has triplets that are about to turn four-year-old. Within the past week, all three of her triplet children have been pooping on the potty. This brings Jane tremendous happiness. In fact, there are not enough words in the English language to adequately capture the level of joy in Jane's heart.

Jane can't say that it was any one thing that happened to result in this monumental occurrence. Although she must admit, she never did think that it would *actually* happen. It's like the Northern Lights. Everyone tells you that they exist and what it takes to see them, but you remain skeptical until the one time it happens and then, the whole Majesty of God opens before your eyes.

Why, just last month, Jane tried laxatives, suppositories and her children's pediatrician provided the telephone number of a pediatric psychiatrist and suggested that she give them a call to profile her one pooping-in-the-potty holdout BECAUSE NOTHING WAS WORKING.

But Jane wanted to give it a little more time.

What Jane believes is that sitting on the rim of the tub and holding hands with the pooper, while making sounds like YOU TOO are pooping, is a good tactic. Having a stash of candy in your child's favorite color for a reward might benefit you too (or rather them, although also you).


It may help to sing "Little Bunny Foo-Foo" a few hundred times while you wait. What absolutely doesn't help is to threaten your child. As in, "If you don't go poop, I am going to eat every last M&M and then you will be sad." That will only cause your child to cry and tense up and that is counter productive to the process of letting go.

Currently, Jane is trying to figure out how to night time train her children, without taking off their night time diapers. BECAUSE, she don't want to be changing sheets and pajamas all hours of the night. So she suspects that once the children are mature enough to wake up and use the facilities, they will. If they are still wearing diapers by third grade, Jane might change her strategy.

For the most part, Jane's children use a real toilet.

But the chances are excellent that she'll still be hauling a portable potty chair around with her everywhere she goes until at least the first grade, because even today, while she was at a location that had a public restroom within 50 feet, it was EASIER to let the children use the portable potty then tote four children in to a public restroom where it was undeniable that they would be unable to resist the temptation to lick something.

That's right.

Jane's children are going through a licking phase and Jane is dying from the grossness. She can handle her kids touching things fine enough. But she can't stand it when they run their tongues from one end of a pool banister to the other.

Or, lick a counter in a public restroom.

Or, a conveyance belt at the grocery store.

Or, the handle on an escalator.

Got the picture?

Here's something else about Jane.

She is breastfeeding her 14-month old son.

Why?

Jane loves not having to worry about "womanly issues" every month. It's been two years since Jane has had a period and she doesn't miss it one single bit. (Jane especially likes referring to herself in third person when discussing things of that nature.)

But mostly, Jane loves the bond that she shares with her baby. And eating whatever she wants. But mostly the bond. Really.

(And if ONE PERSON tries to tell Jane he's not a baby anymore, WATCH OUT.)

Jane nursed her daughters until they were 17-months old and she suspects that when her son is ready to stop he will. If he is still nursing strong at 18-months, she will BEGIN to entertain thoughts on weaning. But not a moment before pass the cheesecake thank you very much.

Since you asked ... although Jane sincerely admires Palin, GASP!, she's planning to vote for Obama in November. And Jane will proudly wear a t-shirt to the voting poll that reads, "Make Cupcakes. Not War."


Go Jane. Go.

Monday, September 22, 2008

at which point I discuss politics

Last month, the day before my mother and Jim arrived, Charlie began a daily subscription to the newspaper because Jim does the crossword every day and loves to read the sports section.

I think I've mentioned before that since we've had children, we are a bit out of tune with the world. Or at least, I am out of tune with the world. I never watch the news, don't read the paper, and hardly ever listen to the radio. Charlie on the other hand, listens to NPR whenever he commutes to work, so he is the one that clued me in recently that we are scheduled to elect a new President this year.

There was once a time in my life I had a subscription to the Christian Science Monitor and would voraciously read it from cover-to-cover. I could discuss intelligibly, anything from human rights violations in Syria to the status of health care initiatives in Congress. These days, I voraciously read Dr. Seuss and can discuss intelligibly the ins-and-outs of potty training and nursing a toddler.

My focus has changed a bit.

But now that we are receiving the newspaper everyday, once every fourth day or so, I actually peruse the headlines. And it feels like I am waking up from a long slumber to see that our country is in really bad shape. As if the foreclosure signs popping up all over our neighborhood, dropping stock market, and soaring gas prices didn't give me a good indication.

Two weeks ago, following our flat tire incident, I had to immediately drive over to a tire store and have our tire replaced. Or, all four tires as the case turned out to be. It was just me and the four children and we had a three hour wait. Thankfully, the Gods of Good Grace smiled upon me and within walking distance of the tire repair store was a Chuck E Cheese's.

As we took a five minute walk over to this children's play paradise, we passed no less than 10 homeless people. I don't know what their circumstances were, but in my own life, I know a few people that have been homeless, and a few more that are currently one pay check away from losing their home.

When I tried to explain to our children that the people we saw have no homes and no place to sleep at night, they were perplexed. They couldn't understand why they didn't have homes. Where do they sleep at night? Don't they get cold? Don't they need a bed? What if they are sick? What if they are hungry?

Can they come and live with us?

Three hours later, as we were walking back to pick up our van with $800.00 worth of new tires, we stopped by In-N-Out Burger and purchased a few meals for the homeless people that we would pass on the way back to the tire store. Two weeks later, our children are still thinking and talking about how we fed the "hungwy people" that didn't have beds. And I am thinking about the doctor invoice I recently received for $400.00 while we were in Boston to take our children to see a Pediatrician that wasn't covered by our insurance.

What if I didn't have the means to pay this invoice - especially after buying four new tires?

What if our children had re-occuring medical issues that we were financially responsible for?

How thick is the buffer separating us from the street?

These are just some of the thoughts that now keep me awake at night.

Along with thoughts surrounding global conflicts that are brewing in North Korea and Russia and Georgia. An ongoing war in the Middle East and over 4,100 American casualties. The nose-diving value of the dollar. The nose-diving stock market. Drastic budget cuts at public schools. Global warming. Our country's huge dependence on oil and WHY IS IT that we have the technology to clone an animal but we are not capable of driving cars that run on salt water?

What kind of world are our children going to inherit?

Now, there is a new political race on and a new President to elect. A new President that will hopefully turn the state of our nation around and facilitate our country making a positive impact on the world.

When I received this link from my friend Tracy a few weeks ago, I laughed so hard I darn near cried. Since then, I've watched the video at least 20 times and I've shown it to everyone who has come to our house. Try as I might, I cannot get the image of Obama on the unicorn soaring over the rainbow out of my mind. It gets funnier every time I see it.

I'm thinking that our country really needs some good magic.

But I'm also thinking that Switzerland looks like a very nice place to live.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

the old bait and switch

This weekend, a friend of my mother's - who she met while at the Optimum Health Institute several years ago - came to stay with us. Lea is from Ireland and she is absolutely lovely. She attends OHI every year for a few months to "detox" and whenever she is in town, we always try to see each other.

Lea currently lives in Northern California. She is one of the most gracious, peaceful, classy, soulful, earth loving people I've ever met. Twenty years ago, Lea ran a Montessori school. She is wonderful with children and her demeanor exudes calmness, patience and love.

Just having her in our home has an extremely peaceful affect on me.

Saturday morning when we sat down to eat breakfast, Lea was attempting to tell the children a beautiful story about a Quail named Robert. But she was distracted because Carolyn was trying to look under her shirt to see if she makes milk, William was continuously interrupting to see the earring holes in her ears, and Henry was screeching. Then there was Elizabeth who wasn't feeling well and with a temperature of 103, was trying to curl up on Lea's lap.

It was pure mayhem and the peaceful Lea looked over at me and said "I have no idea how I ran a school for so many years. How on earth did I do it?" I replied, "I don't know, you tell me. I have no idea how I have survived the past year."

The last time we saw Lea, Henry had not yet been born and I remember talking to her at length regarding my concerns with having four children under the age of three. And I clearly remember Lea telling me that if I could just get through three-years-old, four is a wonderful age. Yet this weekend, after seeing the drama and the hysteria, Lea told me that their behavior is perfectly typical and four will probably be the most challenging age yet.

HUH?

I've been seriously holding out hope that within the next month, a tremendous transformation will have taken place. Where suddenly, our children will become reasonable and as a unit, they will become tolerable. But Lea crushed my theory and when I told her that people, including herself, had said FOUR would be the magic age, our elegant friend snorted.

She snorted.

For the past day, I've been thinking about how surviving the first few years of parenting is a lot like learning how to swim. When I was a child, I have memories of my older siblings standing in the swimming pool and encouraging me to paddle out to them.


"Come on, you can do it! It's only a little ways!"

Summoning what courage I could muster, I would jump in to the water and while attempting to stay afloat, I would struggle to reach my siblings, only to see that they were slowly walking backwards, away from me.

Instead of swimming a mere three feet, I would have swum six, nine, twelve feet. I would have made it across the pool and my siblings would be cheering me on, "See! You did IT!! You didn't think you could do it, but look what you've accomplished!!"

"Sure! And hey my whole life only flashed before my eyes once!"

Now, I am on the brink of our children turning four. And although I am proud of how far I have made it without requiring resuscitation, some days the edge of the pool still looks awfully far away.

"Hey little one!! Throw me that thing ... will you?!"

Friday, September 19, 2008

perspective

Despite the best intentions of waking up this morning an hour before the children, we were up for three minutes and 15 seconds before William came in to our room, looking for Batman.

Carolyn was next.

Elizabeth was next.

Henry had been there for the past two hours, rolling across the top of me while I tried to sleep.

It was a flurry of activity to get the children dressed for school, fed breakfast, teeth and hair brushed, faces washed, lunches packed. Charlie will be attending a business trip in Washington, D.C. for a full week in November and I am weak wondering how I'll ever do all of this on my own. Who knows. Maybe by then I'll have a good system in place.

Or maybe by then, the children won't feel compelled to change their clothes minutes before we walk out the door because they want gween undawear. No pink. No, buddafly. EVERYONE wants buddafly undawear. Except William. Because he has a penhus and buddaflies are for GOYLS.

So are yellow carseats with flowers, which even though William has sat in a yellow carseat with flowers on it - at varying times over the past three years - suddenly it's an offense punishable by a full body seizure.

Maybe by November they won't hack in to their lunch boxes that I had packed nicely next to the front door and start eating their sandwich, apple and spill raisins from the living room to the kitchen and back again.

Or, get globs of toilet paper wet and throw baseball-sized spitballs on the walls.

Or, pretend that they are dogs and lay on the ground eating grass.

Or maybe, Henry will outgrow this insane stage of frustration where he screams a lot, sleeps a little, eats even less, and throws himself on the ground in violent tantrums.

Or maybe, I'll just tell Charlie that there is no way is he leaving for four days on a business trip. Because as difficult as it is in the morning to get everyone ready for school, the afternoon - when I pick them up - is even more insane. It's like these children have been "so good" for the past three hours that when they reunite and their triplet energy once again becomes one, they morph in to creatures that prey on me, whole.

My whole mind, my whole body.

Coming at me from every angle, "Mommy, hold me. Look at me. LOOK AT ME!" ... "Mommy, I wet. I WET! I WET!" ... "Mommy, mommy, mommy, MOMMY, mommy, mommy, mommy, MOMMMMMMYYYYY."

Does it sound like I'm complaining?

I'm not.

OK. Maybe I am a little bit.

But the truth is, I
wouldn't trade my life for any other.

One of the amazing things about blogging is that I am "introduced" to so many individuals that if not for the internet, I would never know existed. I have stumbled across some incredible people and some incredible stories. And every so often, I will read a blog post written by someone who is going through an extremely challenging period in their life and I'll sit at my desk - looking in on this person's life through their words and photos on my computer screen - and I can hardly breathe through the pain of what they are enduring.

I am so grateful for the blessings that I have in my life. Even though those "blessings" have been known to drive me clinically insane and make me question the need for heavy doses of antipsychotic medication. But whenever I feel myself start to go off the deep end, I remind myself of just how lucky I am at this point in my life.

I remind myself of the blogs that I read.

There is the story of Daniel. An 18-year old boy, the oldest of seven children, who was hit and killed by a drunk driver while riding his bicycle his first month away at college. I have been reading a blog written by his grief stricken mother and I wish I could reach through the computer and give her a hug or make her some homemade cookies. I'd like to do something to take away some of her hurt. Thus far, all I can come up with is leaving her comments to let her know that she is in my prayers.

There is the story of Stephanie and Christian. Together they have four small children and last month, they were in a small plane crash where the pilot was killed and they were left in critical condition with severe burns over their bodies. While the parents recover from their life-threatening injuries, Stephanie's sisters have taken in their four children. Stephanie's sister Courtney, is documenting her sister and brother-in-law's long road of recovery on her blog and has been spearheading fund raising efforts to help offset the staggering medical costs.

And there is the story of Carol Decker. She prematurely delivered a baby girl this past June by emergency c-section, due to complications associated with an infection. Soon after the birth, the infection became worse. Ultimately, the doctors had to amputate both of her legs below the knees, her left arm and one of her fingers. Due to various medications used to save her, Carol is now also blind.

Last week while we were at Sea World, as we were making our way over to wash our hands after feeding the sting rays, I noticed a man and woman who were with their son. The little boy couldn't have been more than seven-years-old and he was confined to a wheelchair. His body was terribly atrophied and on the back of his bald skull, I could see that he had recently had some type of surgery. My heart instantly ached for this family.

When the father spotted our three children, dressed alike in their matching hats, he inquired "Are those triplets?" and I proudly replied, "Yes, they sure are!" He stood staring at us for a brief moment before shaking his head and saying, "You have my most sincere apologies. I am so sorry."

I've heard that line many times before. But I really didn't expect it from a parent who had a child that was gravely ill. My cheerful response was, "These children are the greatest blessing I have ever received. They are healthy and happy and I wouldn't want to imagine my life without them."

When I turned around to walk away and he spotted Henry, previously unseen as he was strapped to my back, I heard him exclaim "OH MY GOD. There's ANOTHER one."

That's right. My bonus baby. And he just got his professional photograph taken which is now hanging proudly on the wall alongside his siblings at one-year-old.

They are the most magnificent little things I've ever seen.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

wednesday weigh in

I'm not a very competitive person.

I really don't care what place I finish in my next triathlon, so long as I finish. I'm not at all ashamed to slow down and walk when out for a run, or lag way behind when out on a ride. I very rarely push myself too hard when I'm working out. Sure, my heart rate will go up and I'll break in to a sweat, but I can't stand being uncomfortable for long stretches of time.

I remember going to an aerobics class with one of my friends in high school. Since I had done gymnastics for several years and considered myself rather flexible and coordinated, I thought aerobics would be a breeze.

And the warm up was.

But once they started with the, "And lift. And lift. And lift. And one more time, LIFT. And right and lift. And left and lift. And right and lift. And left and lift. And faster now, right LIFT, left LIFT, right LIFT, left LIFT", I sat down and lifted my foot up and down to the beat of the music.

That marked the end of aerobics for me. Although, in hindsight I wish I had stuck with it, because my friend continued on with the class and she was absolutely cut by the time we graduated. But it seems I always cop out when the going gets tough.

Last week, I went swimming with one of our neighbors, Dawn.

Dawn is in fantastic shape. She rides her bike 25 miles to work several mornings a week. She ran the San Diego Rock-n-Roll marathon last year and has competed in numerous triathlons. She rides with her husband a minimum of 50 miles every weekend, including a trek up a road that is 7-miles long and has a 6% up hill grade. Dawn is always encouraging me to go for walks with her, a jog around the block, a weekend ride, or swim some laps before she leaves for work.

So last week when we went swimming and I noticed that I was slightly ahead of Dawn on the flip turn for my final lap, I discovered a competitive streak I never knew existed. I dug in deep and started to swim as fast as I could - kicking like there was a shark chasing me down. But Dawn, the athletic hard body that she is, started to dig deep too ... because there was no way she was going to let me beat her in the pool.

(I'm absolutely certain that is what she was thinking.)

When we got to the shallow end and I looked out of the corner of my eye and noticed that she had started to catch up and we were almost neck-and-neck, I stood up and RAN the rest of the way to the wall.

And I won.

Although we weren't really racing, it felt so good that I felt compelled to talk smack the rest of the way home. "Yeah. How do you like me NOW? Uh-huh. That's what I THOUGHT."

Today while I was at the gym, I was jamming out to music and I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a person on the bike next to me had a higher RPM than I did. So, I stepped it up a notch. And then, I noticed that they were burning more calories than me. So, I cranked up my resistance. When I started pedaling faster, I noticed they started pedaling faster. And before I knew it, I was racing the person on the stationary bike next to me.

And then, I noticed that he wasn't a day younger than 70.

As I've been working out with consistency, I have noticed that I am getting stronger. I have a little bit more confidence in myself to push a little harder and further than I did before. And it feels really good to push myself and know that I can do it. Because in doing it, I become even stronger so I can do it better the next time.

At the end of October, six weeks from now, I'm going to have another iPod shuffle giveaway. I thought about offering up a new prize, but the fact is - those things are so cool. To own a shuffle is to love a shuffle.

To participate in the giveaway, leave me a comment telling me what you are doing to challenge yourself ... and then, every Wednesday from now until then (10/29), you need to tell me how you are doing towards the accomplishment of your goal. If you have a blog, please leave a link so that I can come by and encourage you. Because in encouraging others >> I am encouraged myself.

My goal is to shave 15 minutes off the completion time of my next triathlon.

And just maybe, I'll be able to beat some of those people in the 60-age range.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

i'd need something a lot stronger than coffee

Now that the children have started Montessori, on the days that I am scheduled to work, if I don't have a meeting to attend, I will drop them off at school and find a coffee shop where I can sit and have a few quiet hours while sipping on a Chai tea.

Today, I am working out of a Starbucks across the street from a junior college. I'm listening to peaceful music, sipping on a hot drink and nibbling on a scone. As I'm reviewing a few reports and responding to e-mail, a woman and her teenager daughter come in and sit at the table next to me. The daughter breaks out her homework while the mother goes to get drinks for them.

How nice, I think. The mother is going to read a novel while her probably freshman-in-college daughter does some work. And then, because they are sitting directly next to me, I can't help but overhear their conversation.

The mother says, "Honey, I bought you something to eat, if you're hungry."

The daughter responds, "MOM. I'm NOT hungry. I'm trying to do my homework."

"Oh, OK. I just thought I'd let you know. If you get hungry, it's there for you."

"MOM. I just said I don't WANT it. This is SO hard. Why are they making my homework SO hard? All the girls in my biology class say that this is way too hard. It's NOT FAIR. I can't do it!"

The mother puts down her coffee and says, "Well, let me see if I can help you."

"No. You can't HELP me. You don't know anything about this, it's BIOLOGY. Uggggh. I HATE school. I HATE this class. This is so hard. These multiple choice questions are SO STUPID. Stupid, stupid, stupid. DUH this is stupid. I caaaaannnnn't doooooo itttttttt!!"

The mother puts down her book and offers a few words of encouragement.

The daughter asks, "What does it mean when a section is devoid of plants?"

The mother doesn't answer immediately, because it is clear she is pondering the question.

"WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN A SECTION IS DEVOID OF PLANTS?"

"MOM! WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN A SECTION IS DEVOID OF PLANTS?"

Finally she replies, "Well honey, it means that plants don't grow there."

The daughter asks, "Well, WHY? Is it because there is no sunlight or water? Is the hypothesis VALID? I need to KNOW IF THE HYPOTHESIS is VALID!"

"Sure, honey. If there is no sunlight or water, plants can't grow. Plants need sunlight and water to grow. Right?"

The daughter doesn't answer and instead pummels her mother with another question, "Where is my binder? WHERE IS MY BINDER? Did you forget to get my binder off the table at home?! OH MY GOD. YOU FORGOT MY BINDER. Didn't you?!"

The mother reaches in her bag and pulls out a binder. "No honey, I didn't forget it, it's right here." The daughter snatches the binder from her mother and then asks a few questions about cell structure, while nibbling on a muffin.

Her mother, who apparently is no longer as biologically ignorant as "Honey" once assumed, answers the questions before the daughter gets up to use the restroom. When she returns and sits down, she throws a fit because her mother has moved the table to accomodate her getting back in to the booth. "MOM. You moved the table TOO FAR OUT. Duh. How am I supposed to write with my the table FIVE FEET away from me?"

"Here honey, let me push it back towards you."

"Or better yet", I murmur, "Why not just push it OVER her."

Monday, September 15, 2008

a camping we shall go

We went camping this past weekend.

When our friend called us on Friday afternoon and asked if we would be up for camping "sometime" and we tossed out the idea of leaving on Saturday, he couldn't believe that we would be so spontaneous as to pack up the children and a tent and leave on less than 24 hours notice.

Clearly he doesn't know us very well.

Charlie and I used to camp all the time, but this is the first time we have taken our children camping. Probably by the nature of studying geology, we spent a large portion of our college experience in 'the field'. We love spending time in nature and sleeping outdoors, away from noise and light.


After driving two hours to the north and ascending curvy mountainous roads, we unloaded the car at our camp site and Elizabeth promptly threw up the contents of her stomach. Thankfully, she was sick the moment after she stepped out of the vehicle and not the moment before while she was seated inside, because vomit coating our equipment that was squeezed in to every square inch of car space might have meant an immediate end to our outdoor adventure.

Our friend has three children under the age of five - so together with our four children under the age of four - we had seven small children running around and playing. But at one point, Charlie and I decided that if we had been on this trip - alone with our children - it would have been a lot less stressful and more enjoyable. It seems the combination of new children plus our children created an energy level that now as I'm thinking back on it, just hurts my head. My head hurts even more when I think of Carolyn opening our friend's cooler and intentionally crushing her finger in to several of their eggs that just moments before, they had told me they planned to use for a "special" breakfast.

Although we both have a lot of small children, we have triplets.

Our friend does not.

This weekend, I realized just how much work triplets really are. They are more than "just" three kids. The level of effort is exponential. Three children. The same age. The same wants. The same competitions. The same idiosyncracies because of their developmental stage.


Our friend has taken off the past several years from his career to stay home with his children where he works with them extensively on reading, writing and math. He grows all of his own food organically, and is teaching them to play various instruments. He and his wife are teaching their children to be trilingual, since they speak English, Gujarati Hindi and Punjabi, interchageably at home. They are doing an incredible job of raising their children, but when my friend told me that his children have never thrown a temper tantrum because they don't know what a temper tantrum is, I felt like kicking him in the shins.

At one point, I looked over to see him sitting down quietly with his four-year old son and quizzing him on the curriculum of a First Grade activity book while our children were laying face down licking dirt.


No sooner had we started a fire and I was desperate to get our kids to bed. Instantly, my visions of keeping the children up late in to the evening and wrapped warmly in a blanket so we could star gaze, dissolved.

Their lack of an afternoon nap and over indulgence on sugar caused them to run around the camp site with their arms literally waving over their heads while shouting "ARGHARGHARGH!"

I sensed it was the perfect storm brewing and I could just see children falling one after the other directly in to the fire pit. So, while I was sitting nursing Henry at the campfire with our friends, Charlie was trying to get the children in their pajamas. They were so crazy excited to be in a tent, they were bouncing around and pushing each other to and fro.

At one point, Carolyn shoved William who smacked in to Charlie's face and sent his glasses flying. Charlie yelled, all eyes and flashlights from the campfire quickly turned up to see what was happening and when I went to investigate, I found my husband, terribly flustered and ready to wrap the kids in tent line.


Fresh from sitting with our friend and his prodigal children who were calling out all the capitols of the United States, I approached the tent with a gentle and quiet mind. Having been separated from the children for a good 10 minutes prior to that outburst, I had summoned patience and was better able to interface with our children than my husband, who had been subjected to their bedtime ritual insanity.

When I walked up to the tent, I actually said, "Hello Children. Let us all be peaceful loving souls on the earth, Kumbaya."

They just looked at me and I could see their beautiful blue eyes spinning in their heads. Instantly, I could feel myself being sucked in to their vortex of crazy and then someone sat on the potty and in a fit of acting goofy, proceeded to dump a bottle of water all over themself and their dry pajamas and I cracked like Jimmy Corn.

The words I started yelling didn't even make sense. But then again, dumping WATER on yourself when you are CAMPING and it gets COLD at night and you only have ONE pair of pajamas doesn't make sense, either. For the second time in less than five minutes, all the flashlights at camp were again on our tent.

I could just imagine what our friends were thinking. "Peace Loving Man. What is with those kids? Who is in control over there? Our children would NEVER behave that way."

Charlie and I got the kids situated inside the tent, duct taped the zipper close, and returning to the camp fire, opened up our bottles of beer which we then drank down faster than we've ever drank down beer. We then talked animatedly about being admitted to a mental institution and laughed like we were crazy.

It continued to get dark and our friend queried his four-year-old son, "What continent is Saudia Arabia on? What about Germany? Afghanistan? India?" Then he turned to astronomy. "What is the smallest planet? What is the largest? What are the planets in order from the sun?" Then on to math. "What is four plus four? What is eight plus two? What is twelve minus eight?"

"Who is the 43rd President of the United States?"

An hour or so later Charlie and I retired to bed feeling like the worst parents ever. Our kids don't know what continent they live on and I suspect they would be easily convinced that we are citizens of Pluto. They have a slight grasp of math, because they all seem to want FIVE of whatever it is we are having. Five strawberries. Five grapes. Five cookies.


Our kids certainly know what temper tantrums are and they know how to throw a good one. If I sat them down with an activity book, it would just be a matter of time before they tore out the pages and ate them. Charlie and I lose our patience and we get extremely frustrated. Sometimes, it seems that the ONLY way we can regain control of a situation is to channel the alphadog.

Sometimes, reward stickers and time outs just don't cut it.

The next morning, when one of our children was in the process of throwing themself on the ground for a temper tantrum, I ashamedly picked them up and quickly took them to the car where we set off on a 20-minute drive. Charlie remained behind at camp with our other three children.

But when I returned from the drive, my husband had a sparkle in his eye and a spring in his step. He pulled me aside to say that one of our friend's children had tried to reach in to their cooler and pull out various food items. The mother had said no. The father had said no. But the child persisted. And then, the mother - the patient, calm, yogi master - started breathing fire from her nostrils. She snapped at her child in a demonic voice while her husband desperately pleaded, "Walk away. Walk away!"

But she didn't walk away.

She stood her ground and a monster emerged.

An ugly, beautiful monster that suddenly didn't make us feel like the worst parents ever, anymore. When Charlie excitedly relayed this story to me, I felt warm with love, compassion, understanding, comraderie. And I did what any person who tries to feign oblivion to a nasty situation would do.

I walked up to my friend who was still fuming and placing my two hands palm together, bowed my head and unsuccessfully trying to suppress my laughter, whispered "Namasté."

Life is good and I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me. Especially that spirit that goes CRAZY when provoked by small people.

And to think ... they almost had us totally fooled.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

favorite thing friday

A few months ago, I asked your opinion on baby carriers. I then spent the next several days looking at all of the various carriers that people suggested.

After pondering for a few days what would be the best baby carrier for me, I narrowed it down to two. And then, I happened upon this summary.

Once I learned that with the Beco Butterfly, Henry straps in to the carrier, before he is placed on my back, and then I read a few posts regarding questionable Ergo business practices, I settled on a Beco.

I selected the Sara print because I thought that the colors were more "manly" and something Charlie would opt to wear as opposed to the vibrant flowers I had been considering. Then, I forked over my credit card information and waited on pins and needles for my new baby carrier to arrive.

Once it did arrive, I ripped open the box, spent 30 minutes trying to figure out how to wear it, another hour or so trying to figure out how to put Henry on by myself, and then I fell in love and have been happily baby wearing ever since.

I love this thing.

Although I can wear Henry in the front and the back, I usually wear him in the back. Sometimes he will put up a protest whenever I try to strap him in, but once he is settled on my back, he is positively content. Until he's not. But typically, he's content for a long while - especially if I'm walking around doing things. It's just when I stand still for longer than 10 seconds that he'll take to SCREAMING in my ear.

In fact, I pulled apart our entire garage and cleaned it from top to bottom, with Henry on my back. All told, he was on my back for a solid three hours and he was happy as a clam the whole time. He fell asleep while in the carrier - and although his head was bobbing around, he snoozed for at least an hour, undisturbed. The Beco comes with a sleeping hood that I have tried to use with little success, so perhaps I just need more practice.

The bobbing baby head syndrome really seems to bother Charlie. But since it doesn't seem to bother Henry, it doesn't bother me.

This baby carrier is like another set of arms for me.

While I'm wearing Henry I can vacuum. Wash dishes. Cook dinner. Grocery shop. GO TO THE BATHROOM. Play hopscotch. And if he gets fussy on my back, I can move him around to the front and he sits snuggly against my chest. All the while Henry, who if not in the baby carrier - would very well be chasing me around and chanting "Wahhhh Wahhhh Wahhhh!!" is usually smiling and happy.

He loves it.

I love it.

My almost four-year-olds love it.


Anyone with an infant or toddler would love it.

Especially if they bought it from The Portable Baby because she is having a sale and select prints on these carriers which normally retail for $139.00 are selling for $89.00.

Yes, that would be $50.00 off.

Now, I must go finish packing because we are leaving for a camping trip first thing tomorrow morning. It's just an overnighter in a tent, but the volume of gear we have stockpiled next to our front door, might lead one to believe we were living for a year in Antartica.