23 December 2005

Shhhh . . .elf at work . . . .

Why is it that I don't realize how much I've bought until I sit down and wrap?

Oy.

Gonna need more wine. It's gonna be a long night.

If I don't get back on tomorrow: Merry Christmas. Or Chrismakwanzakuh. Or Festivus. Or Solstice. Or whatever.

:)

20 December 2005

Dear Santa

Stealing an idea shamelessly from my friend Christian, who stole it from his friend Jenny is probably not in my best interests this season, but Santa, I've been busy.

My requests are few. I've tried to be good. It's hard, you know, with three kids who veer from the naughty and nice lists so frequently. Not to mention that work has been hard on me. And my husband's job has been hard on him, and consequently hard on me.

This year, I'd like:

Some good bottles of wine to share with friends.

More time to spend with my friends.

More time. Period. I'm tired of being tired, and feeling guilty because I don't spend enough time with family, friends, exercising, scrapbooking, cleaning.

Maybe freedom from guilt would be good, but I doubt you can overrule the Catholic genes.

The uncertainty hanging over our heads to dissapate into clarity of where we are going and what we might do in 2006.

Harry Potter VII to be finished early (hey, a girl can dream!)

Healthy, happy kids. And for them to stay safe. Always.

14 December 2005

As if Tina Fey weren't cool enough

From Salon.com:

Tina Fey began her acceptance speech by telling the audience that, as the mother of a three-month-old, "it's an honor to be anywhere, actually, and a deep, deep privilege to be wearing a bra and shoes."

Fey talked more about the rigors of new motherhood, including how every event -- like running out of cereal, for instance -- can feel like a disaster. "We're out of cereal?" she whispered with weary panic. "What are we going to do?

Been there. Done that. Heck, still do that.

10 December 2005

I am so weird

I've been baking Christmas cookies off and on all day.

At about 9 tonight, I thought, "Hey, I'm starving."

So what do I eat?

Not cookies.

I'm noshing on a tuna salad sandwich, some bbq chips, and a glass of pinot.

Hey, most of it is healthy, at least.

By the way, if you want some Picassoesque sugar cookies, I'll send my son to you. He had a blast with the little tubes of squirt icing I bought this year. Some of them are quite abstract. And not bad artistically, either.

06 December 2005

Some things always make me cry

I'm not usually the teary type. But there are some things that always make me cry, no matter what:

When Charlotte dies after deeming Wilbur "Some Pig!"

When Scout is told to stand as the balcony watchers rise for Atticus Finch after the trial in To Kill a Mockingbird. "Miss Jean Louise, stand up, your daddy's passin'" gets me every time.

When one of my kids shows how caring they are in an extraordinary way.

The final lyric of "For Good" in Wicked. Would that we all changed each other for good.

When Anne's archenemy dies of consumption in the Green Gables series, and again when her sensitive son, Walter, is killed in France during World War II in Rilla of Ingleside.

When one of my kids hits a major life milestone, and I realize, really realize, that I only have them for a short time.

I sobbed silently when my eldest made her First Communion two years ago. I sobbed loudly when I packed my son's baby clothes away. And as I watch my youngest hit milestones, I'm happy for her, but there are moments when it just breaks my heart.

I'm not the weepy type, honest.

02 December 2005

I am certifiable

We're going to Breakfast with Santa tomorrow.

At my place of work.

After I've worked a long night babysitting a building during a neighborhood Christmas homes tour. I just got home an hour ago.

Is it too early for medicinal Shiraz before noon?

28 November 2005

Snicker

For my money, there is nothing funnier right now than watching a toddler lurch around the living room like a drunken sailor in her fuzzy pink pjs while carrying a plastic Easter bucket loaded down with Thomas trains.

Trust me.

27 November 2005

Thanksgiving family vacation

Three kids.

One car.

Six well-meaning inlaws (hubby's parents, bil, sil, grandparents in law).

Whiny, clingy kids.

Kids complaining about food.

Hubby dealing with work part of weekend.

Kids fighting in car on way home.

Glass of cab sav after kids in bed early after five days of torturing Mom:

Priceless.

21 November 2005

Gah! Bad scale! Bad, bad, BAD scale!

Oy. That was a bad idea.

I've been complaining that nothing fits for a few weeks. Usually in the morning, as I'm rushing to get ready.

I've been avoiding the scale, too.

That ends as of tonight. So does my soda habit, my fast-food habit, and my sitting on my tail all day at work habit.

I was 117 before my last pregnancy. I won't admit where I topped out at, but as recently as July I was at 120. And happy. Outfits fit.

Not anymore. I'm at 136, which I know to many of you sounds like heaven, but is about 20 pounds over where my ob and I agreed I should end up.

Eeep. Happy Thanksgiving. Pass the veggies. Hold the mashed potatoes and stuffing. Hello Weight Watchers.

18 November 2005

Chickie pox

When I was 12, my little sister came down with the chicken pox. My mother swore I had them when I was in kindergarten, so she had me help care for my sister.

I distinctly recall, as I was cleaning out the bathtub after yet another oatmeal bath, that I was doomed to catch the darn things. With all the skepticism of the best pre-teen filled with angst, I just was sure she was wrong.

I was right.

Two weeks later, I broke out in one of the all-time worst cases. I had them EVERYWHERE. I mean EVERYWHERE. If you've heard of it, I had them there.

To add to my pain, my then-two-year-old brother, who had one of the mildest cases ever, pranced around the house, lifting up his shirt and proclaiming: See my chickie pox! Come see my chickie pox!!

It is truly amazing that he's alive today.

Two weeks ago today, we had the younger two vaccinated for chicken pox. They've changed the shot formulation, and after this year, I wouldn't be able to get it as a stand-alone. I caved. I'd rather they got it naturally, like our eldest did. But the pharmaceutical companies thwarted me.

Tonight, after our son's bath, my husband called me in. Look at this, he says.

Chickie pox. UGH.

Thank goodness everyone we're supposed to visit over Thanksgiving has already had the darn things.

17 November 2005

Tormados

I've been fighting colds for a month now. Hence my lack of posting. By the time I'd get them to bed, I'd be too tired to even concieve of going downstairs, turning on the computer, and being creative.

Saturday night, I thought I'd post after I lusted over Colin Firth in "Pride & Prejudice."

Never got that far. I was finishing up a glass of Reisling and wallowing in period literature when I heard something.

No way. Can NOT be. It's freakin' November.

But I turned off the tape, turned on the one reliable weathercaster in this town, and sure enough: tornado sirens.

Damn.

I was alone with the younger two kids; dh and kid one were off at the annual daddy-daughter dance at her school. The other two were asleep.

Okay, did I really need to wake them up? Once the weathercaster started listing off landmarks and intersections in my neighborhood, I caved.

Woke up the kids. Kid two was handed a flashlight and told to be brave.

"I'm scared, Mommy."

Guess what, I was too. Because if it came, I knew there was no way I could hold on to both him and his 14-month-old sister. My plan was to lay on top of them and hold onto them for all I was worth.

In the end, we just had some hail. It was dicey there for a bit, though. There was an F1 in the next county over. Nothing like what they had in Iowa, though.

Kid two can't stop talking about the "tormado" now. It's a topic every night. I'm proud of him, because he was brave, despite being scared. He listened, despite being the same 3-year-old pest who was sent to bed early for not listening. He was an angel.

But, please God, could we hold off on the tormados until next season?

Thanks.

02 November 2005

There's no "fun" in fundraising

I hate fundraising. I've hated it since my parents made me trek around our rural route to sell overpriced candy bars and raffle tickets for my elementary school.

Let's just say that by fifth grade, I knew that sales would never be my vocation.

Just because I've grown up doesn't mean I've escaped. I get calls at home for donations--We only give through our church, thanks. I get the annual arm-twisting from United Way at work. I do the Walk for Life, because my mom's best friend died of breast cancer when I was in high school. I've never seen my mom so devastated.

Right now, my daughter is selling cookie dough for her talented and gifted program. That, at least, is usable, unlike the wrapping paper, candy, candles, entertainment books, you name the latest stupid thing we have to sell.

In January, it will be Girl Scout cookies. Place your orders now.

Right now, I've been roped into the Muscular Dystrophy Assocation (think Jerry's Kids) fundraiser by one of the Greek organizations at work. They blindsided me, and like a fool, I said yes. My mom's boss's daughter was a Jerry's Kid about 20 years ago; she now is a teacher, I believe. She has spina bifida. Hey, at least I have a connection.

If you'd like to donate to a good cause (and what among them isn't these days) and get me out of jail early, follow the link below. If you want to let me rot in jail for an hour, hey, that's fine too.

Get Sherrie Outta MDA Jail

18 October 2005

Chronic pain and the Cardinals

My carpal tunnel is acting up again, so I'm taking a break from posting. I'll be back in a few days, I hope. Brace is on, but I need to take a rest from typing.

To see my feelings about the Cards-'Stros series (last night not withstanding), read my friend Christian's blog.

15 October 2005

Frenetic

Drat . . . my post was eaten.

Quick recap:

Toronto: Fun, except for work. Very glad Gina served as tour guide. Food good. Indigo bad for checkbook. Tim Horton's divine.

Little one: terrified of Picture People photographer. Try again next week. Took steps, walked about five feet, then decided crawling faster.

Eldest: face planted in wood chips. Friend landed on her head. Lots of scratches on gums, tried to get to dentist yesterday, no go. Try again on Monday.

Middle child: becoming sane. Slowly. Still a Thomas train addict.

Toys R Us: enabled us to get 1/2 Christmas shopping done today. End is in sight. Off to eBay. :)

29 September 2005

Ears . . . hurting . . .

Fourth grade.

That should strike fear in any heart.

The homework gets harder. The projects get loopier. The textbooks are written poorly (or at least the science book our daughter uses was written by morons who don't have a good grasp of language).

Oh, and the recorders.

Now, our daughter actually can carry a tune. The recorder, not so much.

Our eldest has had piano lessons since she was 4. She begged for them. She's been reading music about as long as she could read English.

No matter. The recorder she happily brought home today thwarts that. It's not that it sounds bad. It's just shrill.

Like Rita Crosby Live and Direct. On high. With nails going across the blackboard in the background.

It's painful. Fourth grade means recorders for lessons in music reading and basic instrument playing across the nation.

Buy stock in Excederin, folks. I'm gonna be using a lot of it.

12 September 2005

Tagged

This game has been floating around, but I thought I'd avoid being tagged. I'm a low-profile blogger. Sadly, my friend Gina has now made me IT. So here goes:

10 years ago - 1995. I was starting to figure out that I had by far the most psychotic beat at the newspaper in Westchester/Putnam County, N.Y. I had sources stalking me by phone. Threats. And an unlisted number. I was also feeling my way through the first few months of marriage. You can date as long as you like, being married is much different. Not bad, but there's an adjustment. We hung out in Cooperstown, visited our shrine, drank apple cider. Figured each other out. Sort of.

Our friend Gina moved in with us while she hunted for an apartment, and helped abate some of the worst homesickness I've ever had in my entire life.

5 years ago - 2000. I was doing my darnedest to not get fired from my telecommuting job, while hunting for a way out from a boss who felt the need to wield the hatchet every six months. I'd already watched her drive out two other editors, so I knew my number was up. Thankfully, Sylvia came along with a job that melded my editing with my love of planning and development, and my Chicago years started in full swing. We'd just moved into our new house in Ill., and Cathy had started preschool. Oh, and the years of angst over infertility started, too.

1 year ago - 2004. I was still braindead from giving birth on 9/5. No sleep. Sore nipples. And my mil and mom helping me out. The rest is a blur, sorry. I do remember cuddling my baby a lot, and I think I was actually more coherent this time around, but that's probably a hallucination from the pain medication I was on at the time.

Yesterday - I hurdled a childproof gate to rescue my son, who decided it would be a great idea to leap off of a moving glider on the swing. Before that, I was sitting on my porch, reading "Family History". Great book, btw.

5 snacks I enjoy - Chocolate. Dark chocolate. Doritos. Lay's Salt & Vinegar chips. Carrots/black olives/anything on a relish tray.

5 songs I know all the words to - The Itsy Bitsy Spider. World on Fire, Sarah McLachlan. Green Eyes, Coldplay. Pink Houses, John Cougar Mellencamp. I Hope You Dance, LeeAnn Womack

5 things I would do with $100 million - Donate a chunk to charity. Buy a house that works better for us. Pay off my siblings' loans, and set up trusts for our kids. Start a PAC to lobby for better rights for working (and not working) parents, one that would lobby for tax credits to companies who offer flextime, job shares, onsite daycare, and generous family leave policies.

5 places I would run away to - Grand Cayman, Mackinac Island, Mich., Napa, Calif., Austin, Texas, Chicago.

5 things I would never wear - A muu muu. Big, gigantic prints. Most shades of pink (red hair + pink = hideous). Tube tops. Anything yellow.

5 favorite tv shows - Sports Night. M*A*S*H. Mad About You. The Simpsons. Cheers.

5 biggest joys - The birth of my kids. My husband and our honeymoon. Our trip to Mackinac. Our trip to the Caribbean. Walking my family's farm alone, just to think and sort things out.

5 favorite toys - iTunes. Legos. Thomas Trains. Any trivia game. Frogger.

06 September 2005

Heart-heavy over reality

I just spent most of this past weekend sick as a dog with some stomach bug the kids brought home.

At 3 a.m. Saturday, bowed over the toilet and retching up bile, I had one thought: Thank God I'm here, and not in New Orleans or Mississippi's Gulf Coast, or else I'd be dead.

I took today off because I needed to recharge my soul. We went to visit my family on Sunday once I felt somewhat better and celebrated my little one's first birthday. Wow, where did that year go?

It also forced me away from CNN. My parents, you see, live in a part of the country that can't get cable and a dish won't work because of topography. They get six channels: NBC, CBS, ABC (fuzzy), FOX, PBS and UPN.

I needed that. I broke down in tears before we left our house on Sunday morning, while I was sorting through the kids' clothes, blankets, and shoes to pack off and send to Houston and Baton Rouge.

"We have so much," I wailed to my husband, as I was literally surrounded by kid clothes and blankets a foot deep in any direction. That was the stuff we don't even use.

I'm still crying, so I've spent much of today at home, sorting, shipping, and cleaning our house.

I'll go back to work tomorrow, but my heart will still be incredibly heavy.

Give. Give until it hurts, then give more.

02 September 2005

Speechless

As those who know me, I'm rarely at a loss for words.

I've been watching CNN at work and at home. I can't believe what is going in New Orleans. We have an entire military, a Department of Homeland Security, heck, FEMA's job is dealing with stuff like this.

And there are people dying. Babies dying. And our illustrious leader of Homeland Security was on NPR bloody arguing with the anchor over whether or not there were thousands of people at the Morial Convention Center.

"Just rumors," Michael Chertoff had the gall to say.

My God.

Go to snarlingmarmot.typepad.com. Her rage is my rage.

Donate to your reliable charity. Find someone to ship your extra clothing to in Houston, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, San Antonio, et al.

Those poor people.

My God.

30 August 2005

Lucky

Any time you think life is bad . . . just remember: It's not.

Prayers to anyone affected by Katrina. Especially those in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast. Really wishing I'd forced us to take our vacation there a couple of years ago instead of going elsewhere.

It won't be the same. It will come back, but now the area is haunted by hundreds of new souls.

Read the Times-Picayune. The anguish and pain and devastation are palapable in the blogs.

http://www.nola.com/hurricane/t-p/katrina.ssf?/hurricane/katrina/stories/083005catastrophic.html

21 August 2005

We're back

Vacation was good. Won't try it again, anytime soon. Three kids under 10 in a car, or in a teeny hotel room in downtown Chicago = not a good idea.

The kids had a blast at Shedd's. We stopped at the LegoLand store. The new Dementors in the Harry Potter series are way cool.

The Iowa State Fair is a great state fair. My son loved the pigs, the horses, the cows, the sheep, the chickens. My eldest loved the rides. The youngest was just along for the stroller ride.

We saw a few old friends. We went past both of our old houses. The trees are bigger, the places seem smaller. We've really outgrown them, I guess.

The return came too soon, and school started with a bang. Work will be hectic during the next six weeks, so forgive me if I don't post much.

07 August 2005

Packing mania

We're about to head out on vacation.

I feel like a supply-line coordinator for the Army, because "going on vacation" means that I have to pack three kids, all of their gear, and myself.

That means:

One baby suitcase, packed with triple outfits for possible eating destruction.

One preschooler suitcase, packed with double outfits for possible general destruction.

One eight-year-old's suitcase, because I don't trust her to pack herself with appropriate gear.

A bag of toys for each kid.

A bag of food for the baby.

A bag of food for snacks in the car.

Sippy cups, bowls, baby spoons, bibs.

Diapers.

Wet wipes.

Sunscreen.

Pullups for preschooler to sleep in.

Baby's lovey.

Baby's toys for her bed.

Preschooler's lovey, pillow, blanket, frog and diosaurs to sleep with.

Tell eight-year-old she can only bring one pillow and one stuffed animal.

Stroller.

Sling.

Travel crib.

Two sleeping bags.

My clothes.

Books to read in the car.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

I need a vacation to rest from prepping for the vacation.

29 July 2005

When Momma ain't happy . . .

I've been trying to get in a better frame of mind before posting again.

It hasn't happened. This year has just been so hard. The kids have been sicker than ever. The collarbone incident hasn't helped.

Family members dying. Newspaper acquaintances dying.

Yard all torn up for massive city project. Entire 15-foot swath of trees gone out of our backyard, creating a road to the neighbors'. The entire neighborhood has taken to walking through our yard, and we can't take it much more.

Kids can't play outside because of constant construction and constant presence of backhoes and bulldozers.

Work isn't fun. It is just hard. I'm finding it very hard to stay motivated day in and day out. Not sure I like the direction my job has lurched into because of new leadership, either. But no real options for escape.

Husband's job responsibilities are changing. He's stressed. I'm stressed.

I've been morose and cranky for about two weeks. If you can think of a way to cheer me up, post away.

18 July 2005

On Madame Pomfrey

Like every other geek in the land, I spent my weekend reading Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I started at 12:30 a.m. Sunday, slept for about four hours, went to church, then finished around 7 p.m. Sunday night.

By 7:30 p.m. Sunday, I was wishing I had Hogwart's doctor Madame Pomfrey's magical powers to heal any injury.

Especially broken bones.

My son was goofing off, like he always does. I was nursing my youngest. My older daughter was zoned out on the couch by me, watching some show on TV.

My son loves to sit on the coffeetable. He's been all over it since he was one. I've long since given up trying to keep him off of it.

He was sitting on it. He moved to scoot back. He scooted diagonally. Lost his balance. Fell. I watched in horror. Tried to unlatch my little one and toss her at her sister to catch him.

He landed right on his left collarbone.

I just knew, watching, that he'd broken it.

My son has a high tolerance for pain. It's one of the reasons we can't keep him out of daredevil trouble. Normal bumps and bruise never faze him.

This was no normal bump.

He cried for almost 30 minutes. We gave him Motrin right away. My husband made banana milkshakes to calm everyone down. We called our pediatrican.

By the time we reached her, we decided the best thing to do would be to put him in a sling, give him more Motrin, and try and get some rest. First thing in the morning, he'd go to the doctor.

That's what we did, and the doctor confirmed it: Broken left collarbone. We have the films to prove it. He snapped that sucker in two.

So, now he looks like a little linebacker with his brace (because you can't put a cast on a collarbone). I bought out Target's collection of 4T button-down shirts a mere two hours ago.

All in all, he's fine. He's even bonded with Dad, who managed to break his left collarbone no fewer than three times as a kid.

And yes, the genetic jokes and like father, like son jokes have been running rampant around here.

Doesn't change the fact that if I had any magical powers at this very moment, the ones I most envy are Madame Pomfrey's.

15 July 2005

Blind as a . . .

Criminy, this has been a bad week. I went to my opthomologist, and it was confirmed that I need bifocals. Joy. At 32, that's not what you want to hear.

He informed me that the best thing to do for my eyes would be to quit my job. Editing puts too much strain on them, and I have a family history of macular degeneration. So my chosen profession is probably among the worst for my genes.

So, that's just great. Find a new job, or be blind as a bat someday.

Having watched my grandmother slide into almost full blindness over the past three years, I'm pretty sure I don't want that.

But all in all, as bad as that news was (and devastating to me), at least I have the option of getting a second opinion. And I will. And if the news is still bad, well, then we'll figure it out, I suppose.

I'll take my news over the news that my sister-in-law's brother got recently. He was in Iraq once, now he's back. Check out Gabe's blog (My Beautiful Vacation), and find out what it is really like over there.

08 July 2005

Worldwide Mommy

I hear about the London attacks on NPR as I was driving to work Thursday morning. In order, here are my thoughts:

1) Dear Lord.

2) What sort of world have I brought children into?

3) Oh, please, please, please let my bil/sil not have taken a jaunt down to London without telling us.

4) Oh cr@p, do we have students in London this semester? Where the hell is that uni that they study at in relationship to this mess?

Much, much later, once I've confirmed that we don't have any students in London this semester, I find out that a good friend's brother was in London that day, headed to a professional conference. I don't find out until Friday that he's okay, albeit in the general area at the time of the attacks.

Mommies worry. It's what we do best. Thursday, I spent a good portion of my day worrying about people I'm not even a mommy to.

01 July 2005

If you haven't been there, you can't know

Like most of the nation, I've watched the Tom Cruise public meltdown into brainwashed Scientology lunacy.

I wish our news were focused on something important, like say the stalled nomination of John Bolton for U.N. Ambassador or the seemingly deliberate move to undermine public broadcasting, but there you go.

So Tom's been amusing, at least. But his attack of Matt Lauer on the Today show was disturbing, and his derision of postpartum depression was disturbing. I mean, the man adopted two children, he's never seen what can happen on a hormonal roller coaster ride after childbirth.

I've never been diagnosed with PPD. I might have had a mild case of it after my first was born, but we moved, and the old ob didn't pick up on it, the new pediatrican wasn't watching for it, and hey, eight years ago, no one really took the baby blues as seriously as they do today.

I had suicidal thoughts at moments, though, and I really never connected with my older daughter until she was a toddler. Those are two huge red flags now that every ob and pediatrican we've had since has asked about after the other two were born. Thank God we muddled through okay.

I have had friends who were diagnosed. It isn't pretty. Vitamins, as Cruise so cheerfully offered up, won't fix it. It's a dark, dark, dark place to be.

So I'm glad Brooke Shields called him out today in The New York Times.

  • Take a read here
  • 21 June 2005

    Monkey torture

    "Mom, I gots monkeys in my ears!"

    I'm really starting to hate the monkeys. That's code in our house for an ear infection, started by one of the pediatricans in our group. He asked to look at my son's ears, under the pretense of finding "monkeys."

    Today, heck, this week, is NOT good for monkeys.

    My husband and I played "Whose meeting is less important?" this afternoon. I won: I went to my meeting.

    Tomorrow is worse. Neither of us can miss. We both have filled days. We are in positions that have considerable responsibility, and face time is required.

    I'm trusting one of my teenager sitters on her recommendation, and having a friend of hers sit. Not ideal, but we really have no choice.

    We have no family within a three hours' drive. All of them work, anyway.

    My husband's mom would make the five-hour-plus trip if we asked, but she's just gotten back from an out-of-state funeral. We aren't asking.

    I know my neighbors, but not well enough to trust them with a rambunctious three-year-old. He's not THAT sick.

    I can't dump a sick kid on my friends and make their kids sick.

    Daycare won't take him, because he's had a fever (low-grade) all day. We need 24 hours without fever. The policy was just redistributed yesterday, as a gentle reminder to folks like my husband who really try to push that rule.

    Anyone who thinks being a working parent is easy really needs to spend some time in our shoes. Juggling work and family is hard enough. Toss in illness or a family crisis, or a work crisis, and it inches toward impossible.

    Darn stupid monkeys.

    20 June 2005

    "We're on a mission from Gawt."

    I didn't realize what day today was until NPR blared the music.

    Then they did a tiny schtick: Twenty-five years ago today,
    The Blues Brothers
    mixed an early Saturday Night Live sketch with some classic gospel and soul singers, and one of the finest pileups in movie crash history.

    Wow. Who knew? I find it sad, though, that the only other place that honored a classic was on Nickelodeon.

    You read that right. Nickelodeon. My oldest daughter's favorite show, Drake & Josh, managed to honor John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd with a sketch that mimicked the Soul Man act.

    Directed by Fred Savage. Yes, that Fred Savage.

    Go pull out the tape or DVD, groove to the tunes, watch Jake and Elwood travel through the Chi-town, and see the beauty that is Lower Wacker Drive.

    06 June 2005

    Ten years, no time at all

    My husband and I have been married ten years.

    In that time we've:

    Had three children, two girls and a boy.

    Lived and loved in Missouri, New York, Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri again.

    Bought and sold three houses.

    Suffered through five miscarriages.

    Suffered through three pregnancies and incredibly scary labor and delivery.

    Watched two grandparents (both mine) die.

    Come to the breaking point and fight our way back.

    Live through a few job crises.

    Watch Seinfeld, Law & Order, Mad About You, Star Trek, Star Wars, The Practice, Sports Night, Twister, Desperate Housewives and Saturday Night Live together, even though the other person might not have wanted too.

    Suffered through several Yankees World Series, listen or watch the Yankees stab the Twins through the heart, and watch my face crumple in resignation as the BoSox destroyed the Cardinals last year in the Series.

    Enjoyed each other's company in Mackinac Island, Michigan, a few Caribbean islands, around Cape Cod and Boston, skiing (or in my case, falling and whining) on the slopes in Massachusetts, and worshipped at the Baseball Hall of Fame several times.

    It all went by in a blink of an eye. There's no one I'd rather spend time with, and I hope our years are many yet to come, even with the inevitable ups and downs.

    Palanca, hon.

    03 June 2005

    The Month That Never Ended

    I've been busy. Can't you tell?

    Work was nonstop in May. I think I had a total of four days off, which would explain why this is the first post in 30 days.

    Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maximus culpa.

    In the last month, I've survived the publication of my first magazine at the new job, a media fiasco, a trip to Kansas City where I found out how awful the Internet connections are at Bartle Hall. Hey, KC, wanna know why you are losing convention business? It's because all you have is pathetic dial-up. Put in wireless. Soon.

    In the last month, my son really came into his own. He's 3 now. He's full of questions. Driving home is like driving with Socrates in the back seat.

    In the last month, my youngest has gotten very fast at crawling. She's learned how to pull up to her knees, and is really frustrated with herself about not being able to pull up to her two little feet. She's so petite (yup, all my genes), she's like a tiny doll (yes, smaller than her Cabbage Patch still) trying to walk.

    In the last month, my eldest became a fourth grader. Yes, now all of you who read this and remember cuddling her as an infant in N.Y. can feel old with me. She's also stayed away from home for a full week and counting. She's living the good life with Grandma and Grandpa at their house on the lake. I have promises from Grandma that they will return her. They just don't say when. : )

    In the last month, my husband and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. That's going to lead into another entry soon. I promise.

    04 May 2005

    Forgiveness

    Ten years ago, I was a teaching assistant at journalism school.

    The person I was a TA for was, um, challenging. She drove me crazy, especially at a time in my life when I was teaching, carrying a full load of my own journalism coursework, planning a wedding and trying to find a job.

    There were times I was reduced to tears in someone else's office, venting and trying to figure out how to politically cope with someone who seemed to make it her life's purpose to be difficult.

    A month ago, she popped back into my life.

    She sent a query letter to me, in my current job as a magazine editor. The story had merit, but I'll be honest, I had a hard time thinking rationally about the whole idea at first.

    I'm putting it in the "maybe" file though. The next two issues are planned, but maybe the one after.

    I chatted with her, but didn't really get her wheels clicking on who I really was (I don't always use my full name--I got tired trying to explain why anyone would have three names to my daughter's friends).

    Today, she figured it out.

    And apologized. And thanked me for not holding her actions 10 years ago against her.

    Even though it happened a decade ago, I suddenly feel a lot better.

    Strange. Good, but strange.

    28 April 2005

    C'mon, do the locomotion

    My baby, she's a movin'.

    It actually started two weeks ago. My husband had to leave town for a business trip in Virginia, so of course, that's when our seven-month-old daughter thought it would be great to crawl.

    She started at daycare at noon. By evening when I picked her up, she was mobile. Not fast, but mobile.

    Tonight, we learned she's mobile and fast.

    She was across our living room (no small room) in under two minutes.

    Time for the gates to go back up. Or as I call them, the Mommy torture hurdles. My knees are shot from running distance in high school and college. I'm paying for it now, each time I climb steps, or worse, hurdle a gate with a kid in arms.

    Not to mention time to worry about Lincoln Logs, Matchbox cars, and Thomas trains. Oh, and Polly Pocket accessories, Barbie crud, and the various junk rings and necklaces my eldest treasures from birthday parties and Incredible Pizza (think Chuck E Cheese, with a 1950s theme). All choking hazards. All items we have in abundance.

    A cautionary tale to all of you sans kids: When you get them, treasure every moment. They grow much too fast on you.

    19 April 2005

    Habemus Papam

    May the Holy Spirit know what She is doing.

    Pray for Benedict XVI, that he might have the wisdom to deal with the Church and its upcoming crises.

    18 April 2005

    Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Day

    I love that book. Judith Viorst did a wonderful job when she wrote it, years ago.

    A little boy has a bad day. Nothing goes right, at school, at the dentist, at his father's office. Nothing.

    But at night, something goes right, and there's always tomorrow.

    It's a classic in our house. It's also shorthand: If you are having an Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Day, you are having a bad day, indeed.

    Dh and I are both having our separate Very Bad Days. For very different reasons. In very different states. His involves airplanes and TSA officers, mine involves being overinvolved, a crummy day at work, and three overly needy kids.

    So I think I'll go up, go to bed, and start over tomorrow. Heaven knows, it can't get much worse.

    10 April 2005

    Snake attack

    Well, not really. But after lifting a rock in one of our flower beds to go after a dandelion, my eldest and I found a garter snake.

    I think we scared each other equally.

    I flew about three feet, I think, and I like snakes.

    The snake jumped up (it was probably 2 feet long) and made for the shrubby undergrowth that we were trying to remove.

    My eldest gave of a shriek loud enough to make you think she found a dead body. Hysteria doesn't quite describe it.

    After taking a good five minutes to calm her down, we cautiously approached the rock again. I showed her where he was, then we went inside and looked him up in our nature book.

    I proved that garter snakes don't eat small girls, or their fingers, but rather bugs and small rodents. So, hey, he can take down the squirrel population here, that would be okay.

    After the hysterics passed, she was more than happy to show off the snake to her younger brother, who was duly impressed: "Wow, wook, Mom, a snake! We don't touch snake."

    No, we don't.

    01 April 2005

    Prayer, today and for the Church

    I don't normally speak of faith here. I usually speak of parenting.

    But Pope John Paul II has almost left us, and I'm left attempting to explain to my eldest not only death (because this is the first person she feels she knows to die), but also how we Roman Catholics are graced with a new pope.

    God grant me the wisdom to explain both concepts to her.

    And God grant the College of Cardinals the wisdom to select a man who can do the difficult job as well, with as much grace. May they be truly guided by the Holy Spirit, and not by their own whims.

    Eternal rest grant unto him, O, Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. Amen.

    28 March 2005

    Easter at the doctor's office

    I hate it when my children are sick.

    Sure, it is inconvenient. But worse, I hate being helpless. I hate not being able to make it better.

    My two littlest ones are on antibiotics. My son, at least, can tell us what is wrong: "My ear, it huwts!!" No diagnosis troubles there.

    My little one, nearly seven months old, doesn't have that luxury. She spiked a fever over the weekend, the first high fever of her entire life. She was scared, she was ill. And there wasn't much I could do for her.

    I hate being helpless. I gave her the medicine to lower her temperature. I dressed her in cool clothing. I held the little blast furnace to my chest to try and get her to drink and bring the fever down.

    I missed Easter Mass, something I never do. It was more important to spend Sunday morning in the doctor's office, getting a diagnosis and medication. Not to mention I slept barely three hours out of the previous 27.

    Her fever seems to have broken this morning, after nearly 40 hours of feeling heat just come off of her in waves. And still, there isn't much more I can do. I can medicate her, I can comfort her, I can give her liquids.

    But that helpless feeling won't leave, and neither will the guilt that maybe I could do something more. If only I could think of it.

    In light of the Easter celebrations, it makes me wonder what was going through Mary's mind as she saw her son on that cross. Was she trying to think of what she might do to ease His suffering? Was she wracking her brain, trying to think of what she might have done differently?

    Somehow, in the sisterhood of motherhood, I have to believe that she might have. We can't help it.

    23 March 2005

    No Break for the weary

    Where I work, it's spring break. Last week, the students were downright loopy on a vacation high. Now that they are gone, it's so quiet, you could hear a pin drop.

    Now, I have work to do. But it's raining and grey outside. I have a sick child. I'm in an anti-work mode. Mostly because I know my students are on vacation, doing fun things (I can confirm this by reading two different blogs), while I'm stuck here writing bios for a symposium.

    Ugh. My job doesn't get much more dull than that.

    So far, in a moment of absolute desperation, I downloaded 1980s-era country music from iTunes to play on my Mac. It's the same songs that my sister and I made fun of when we were kids, tortured by our parents' music choices in the car. But it's keeping me awake.

    On the up side, I at least get Good Friday off. Eight hours and 30 minutes to go . . . .

    "Delta Dawn, is that a flower you have on . . . could it be a faded rose from days gone by?"

    (sorry, couldn't resist. curse me in comments for putting that in your heads.)

    18 March 2005

    Fun Toys, Long Week

    For reasons I won't go into, this has been one of the longest workweeks ever.

    So thank you to those who forwarded on these fun toys, which made a miserable week somewhat better.

    Enjoy!


  • Find Your Spot Quiz


  • Baby Name Wizard
  • 09 March 2005

    Blue waters, grey skies

    It took five years, but we finally took a vacation last week. The kids stayed with Grandma and Grandpa.

    Who knew the waters of the Caribbean could be so crystal-clear blue? The skies were overcast, the waters were choppy, but the rest was much needed.

    We tramped the same ground that the Mayans once did, ogling their structures. We saw handprints made on structures by artisans 500 years ago. We saw the impressive planning and astronomy put to work to create a city at Tulum, Mexico.

    We splashed in the ocean. We swam with stingrays. We rafted the Martha Brae River in Jamaica. Ask for Danny to guide you if you go. He was amazing, a font of knowledge who is supporting his large family on what he makes as a nature guide/raft leader.

    We saw damage from Hurricane Ivan from September 2004.

    We also saw some ungrateful, racist fools who don't understand that an impoverished nation simply can't be held to their standards of the U.S. We saw others who felt it their right to berate our cruise ship staff for: Not having every NASCAR race on the satellite connection we had for TV, not having smoking rooms on board, and not accepting that it might be a fire hazard, not realizing that the staff can't make an exception to allow their family to join an on-shore excursion that is booked.

    It is no wonder a good chunk of the world thinks Americans are ungrateful louts. I saw more than a few.

    But then I also saw kindness and patience from other passengers.

    The best part of the trip: The look of absolute happiness on my son's face when he turned to look at Grandpa and instead saw Mom and Dad turn into the driveway after we'd been gone for nine days.

    22 February 2005

    Nursling

    She snuggles in, latches on, and munches away. I feel relief. She twists her little hands in my shirt. I hold her close, and wish I never had to let go.

    This is a time I will never get back. This is the one time in her life when she needs me for comfort and for food, and it is something that no one else can provide.

    I'm going to try and make this time last as long as I can.

    The first time, it barely lasted three weeks, as I was fighting against my own ignorance and a baby who, at best, could be called challenging.

    The second time, I fought hard to make it work, through tears, hording pain pills to deal with the agony of the early weeks when we were both learning the skills.

    The third time, I know all the tricks, from the difference between eating and comfort sucking, where to buy the Lansinoh, that oatmeal and lagers increase milk supply and Sudafed will kill it.

    I'm using every trick in the book to make this time last. I know some disagree with breast-feeding, others just don't understand. And few women in the United States make it past six months. I'm determined to make this time last as long as I can, and enjoy as much as I can.

    It's my last time with a nursling, and honestly, it rates among the best time I've ever spent with my kids.

    16 February 2005

    Amen, Sistah!

    You want to know what my life is really like?

    Really?

    Go read the current issue of Newsweek, on newsstands now: February 22, 2005. "The Myth of the Perfect Mother" by Judith Warner. It's not on the Web, so you have to actually read paper.

    Yes. To every word she says.

    Highlights:

    As Gen-Xer moms, we are preconditioned to be perfectionists. To try and do it all, and do it all well. After growing up listening to '70s feminists, Betty Freidan, Patricia Ireland and their ilk sold us on the fact that we could do it all, and we drank the Kool-aid.

    Here's the deal: We can't. I speak from experience. It is impossible to hold down a full-time, high-powered job, have kids, be super-involved, find great daycare, join the PTA, have dinner on the table, and a perfect house.

    Can't be done.

    So she calls for radical changes: Tax-subsidies for companies that offer part-time work arrangements. Let money flow back to the middle class, so we don't HAVE to have two-parent working families to make ends meet. Actually put money into the daycare and educational systems, so we don't have to worry about our kids, and enroll them in extra classes after school to make up for the drastic cuts to music, art, and gym to pay for more drill work to meet the idiotic state standards tests.

    And I'm a lucky mom: I have a boss who understands parenting, because he's a Gen-X dad. We both burn the candles at both ends, but we make it work. Sort of. As long as no one (especially us) is sick. I have a great husband who tries to pitch in when he can, despite the fact that he works 50- and 60-hour weeks.

    Read the article. Then help us poor, tired moms lobby to make some serious societal changes.

    11 February 2005

    The Little Bird, The Little Bird

    That line from "The Crucible" sent my friends and me into hysterics during sophormore honors English back in 1988. But the larger story, the story of witch hunts, both historical, fictional, and in an era when folks were finding Communists under every rock, or in every screenwriter, sparked the tinder that led to me becoming a journalist.

    I owe that to Arthur Miller. He died yesterday. He was 89.

    I can't wish him well with Marilyn, as I believe she's in Heaven teasing Joltin' Joe, who loved her more. But I can thank Arthur for sparking my will to fight injustice and fear. And to write about it when I can.

    Here's his obit from The New York Times:


  • Read the obituary here
  • 09 February 2005

    Pensive mommy

    How is it possible that my boy is nearly 3?

    Just a mere two years ago I was cuddling him on the couch, nursing him, snuggling with him. Every moment I can cuddle them as they are small seems blessed, and they are passing too quickly.

    Now he is up and around, talking in complete sentences. He hardly ever wants to "swuggle" anymore.

    My little baby started rolling over this past weekend. She's started cereal.

    My eight-year-old daughter barely resembles her infancy. Some days that's a blessing, but other days, her approaching teen years seem like a curse.

    This is the last time for the baby firsts for me: I know we're done. To steal a phrase: My quiver is full.

    And while I don't want any more babies, the aging and growing older is stabbing my heart a bit more each day.

    I now know what it means in the Stations of the Cross when they say that "sorrow pierced her heart."

    It's bittersweet, it's painful. It's also what you know they need to do, know where they need to be.

    You can't keep them little forever. Though God knows I'd like to.


    In spiritu humilitatis, et in animo contrito suscipiamur a te, Domine.


    In spirit humble, and in soul contrite
    may we be received to You, Lord.

    07 February 2005

    Impressions in a busy week

    "Rubber Ducky" in full arrangement played by my daughter apparently sounds impressive to other parents attending her school's talent show. So much so that one was stunned when she found out that we've been teaching her in our spare time.

    My son was thrilled to learn that the object of bowling was to knock pins over with a heavy ball. He was in absolute bliss the entire time we played at the local alley.

    My littlest daughter can sleep eight hours solid if she wants to sleep for eight hours.

    Even a nearly three-year-old boy can need some serious snuggle time during the Super Bowl.

    Being asked to dance by my son was the highlight of my weekend. Even if it was to Sir Paul McCartney's performance during halftime on Sunday night.

    01 February 2005

    Overbooked, over guilt

    So, I've managed to cram my week with not just meetings, but also mommy-guilt make up time.

    As in:

    * Extra nursing sessions to help accomodate the child with a growth spurt and the daycare workers who don't know how to cope with a breastfed child.

    * Going to child's talent show on the one evening I don't have much of anything going on, after a full day of back-to-back meetings.

    * Delivering snacks to my daughter's Girl Scout troop on Friday afternoon, even though I really don't have time on my lunch hour to get the snacks (see above for why).

    * Delivering a home-cooked meal to one of my Moms Club folks, because she just had a baby. And they did it for me back in September. Payback is hell.

    * Trying to fill in for overworked husband on the parenting end, so he can have some semblance of free time this week.

    * Finishing gigantic project at work that was neglected for weeks because of ill children taking up my work time.

    Why do I do this to myself? I know superparents don't exist.

    But in one quick bound off a tall building, I leap into parenting duties and work without fear of speeding bullets (or deadlines).



    28 January 2005

    Terroristic?

    I'm an editor; I admit it, I'm a bit more, shall we say, annoyed, about the butchering of the English language than your typical person on the street.

    But the local television news channels butcher it, stuff it in sausage casings, and hang it out to dry.

    Tonight, for example, I heard a T.V. reporter state that the accused had threatened a "terroristic" act.

    Terroristic?

    Exactly in what dictionary would one find that word? Its definition, please?

    Think before you speak. Reread what you write. Please, people, stop tormenting the rest of us.

    25 January 2005

    23 January 2005

    Two into Three

    The year from age two to age three is the year a baby changes into a little person.

    At two, they can barely communicate. Grunts, points, and crying; not so many words. They physically look closer to babies than older kids.

    As the months pass, and my little boy moves closer to three, the signs of the baby he was are quickly disappearing.

    He speaks in full sentences, with adjectives and adverbs. You can understand what he is saying--no baby gibberish for my boy.

    He even looks like a preschooler. Those loving baby eyes have transformed into pools of impish devilment, sparkling with life.

    Hugs and kisses are fewer and further apart; sometimes those signs of love are sprinkled with the spice of mommy manipulation.

    It's a rough year, from two into three. Temper tantrums abound as he learns limits.

    It's a bittersweet one for me.

    19 January 2005

    Sleep, or lack thereof

    There once was a time, not all that long ago, when I thought it was a great thing to stay up all night. Sleep seemed unnecessary.

    Those days are past. Sleep is very necessary.

    Nights like last night make me long for the days when sleep came uninterrupted. One small, crying, inconsolable child up for all hours of the wee sma' hours can drive a human to the pits of desperation. Anything for five minutes to rest. Even if it means a somewhat supine, semi-slumbering state while a small child noshes on you.

    So here I sit, working on less than five hours rest for the second day in a row, longing for the days of eight uninterrupted hours of slumber.

    Oh, to sleep, to dream . . .

    17 January 2005

    Success at Last!

    She took a bottle today.

    At four months old, that shouldn't be huge news. But it is. For you see, Mommyhood blinded me to the eternal fact: Not all children are alike.

    I blithely planned my return to work when she was two months old: Expensive breast pump-check; La Leche League-approved bottles that worked for her brother-check; test runs with bottles fed by Daddy- not check, but hey, it worked before.

    My other children took bottles without any problem. One preferred them.

    But as the days at daycare progressed, something was wrong.

    She wouldn't take a bottle.

    She'd hold out for me, no matter how long it would take.

    The daycare workers were worried. I was frantic. I had to leave for 10 days in March; she had to eat. Something had to give.

    After multiple bottle hunts, sippy cup attempts, cajoling, force-feeding, she held firm. Mommy or nothing.

    On a whim, one caregiver tried the el-cheapo bottles they keep for emergencies.

    She took a bottle today.

    13 January 2005

    Addiction

    My husband and I are hopelessly addicted to caffeine.

    My preferred mode of consumption is coffee.

    The kids need their lovie fixes.

    For those not of the parenting ilk, lovies would be those ratty stuffed animals or blankets you see short people lugging around.

    My eight-year-old daughter cried the day we told her this summer that her threadbare stuffed rabbit really had to go on the shelf if it was to live another day.

    My two-year-old son can't live without his gankie. The world literally ends for him if it is lost. My husband once frantically called me on my cell as I was driving to K.C. because he'd turned the house upside down and couldn't find it.

    And the newest addict I discovered today: My four-month-old munchkin has discovered that sleep will not come unless she rubs her tiny face in the soft, satin-lined blanket that Grandma gave her.

    A small word to the folks at Carter's: For the love of God, stop changing the blanket styles. Small toddlers (and even smaller kids) don't care about trendy. They want what they want.

    This mom is tired of frantically searching shelves looking for a replica of the precious object that you've heartlessly discontinued.

    You can't tell a bankie junkie that the fix isn't there anymore.

    12 January 2005

    Do-over

    That's what today should have been--a do-over.

    One well-child appointment in the morning, followed by a phone call on my cell from the daycare center. One frazzled call to husband to cover sick kid at home while I sat through a two-hour meeting. One pile of work left behind to go care for ill child. One more visit to the doctor's office. One slightly confused doctor's office staff at seeing me back a mere five hours after the first trip.

    One drive by Walgreens. One search for lost bankie. One tired, ear-infected two-year-old.

    One blog created to test my skill at this before one frazzled, exhausted mom and editor sets one up at work tomorrow for one writer.

    One of those days. Should'a been a do-over.