Thursday, December 30, 2010

Life is a highway

Why is it the drive home always takes longer than the drive there?  Yesterday's long long long car ride home from Christmas at Grandma's really sort of epitomizes how the rest of the holiday went for us.  There was grumpiness, chaos, comedy and barf.

Here's the scene:  we've just gotten back on the road from our delicious and satisfying Burger King lunch, the big girls are arguing over what DVD they want to watch.  Zoey gives a cry and when I turn to see what the fuss is about she starts spewing all over herself.  Chaos ensues - Zoey is crying.  Greg is trying to decide if we can make it to the next exit before stopping, Lorelei fanning the putrid air and telling us how gross it is.  Violet is coughing and crying, "I don wanna barrrrrrrrf Mommy!"  I'm chanting, "It's okay, it's okay, it's okay, it's okay." 

It was not okay. 

Greg took the first exit we came to, which turned about to be the on-ramp for I-64.  Crap.  So, we cleaned up as much as we could on the ramp between Interstates 81 and 64.  When we finally made it to a Sheetz, I made the quick decision that the outfit Zoey had been wearing was going straight into the trash can.  I pulled the car seat out and we did a more thorough cleaning - we still had a long way to go.  

An hour and 20 minutes later we were back on the right road to home.

A little further down the road, very shortly (and I emphasize the "very") after we'd made a bathroom stop, Violet starts yelling about needing to pee again.  We're on a 2 lane country road with only farms, keep going and going, get on our next road, still nothing, going and going - finally about 20 miles later we come to a town.  I remember from our last trek this way that the gas station on our side had outdoor bathrooms that were really horrifying, so we opt for the 7-11 on the opposite side of the road.  I run in with V, search around.  You are kidding me, no bathroom.  Back in the car and across the side street to the A&W we go.  Run in - Violet starts gushing about how "cute" the bathroom is and is not acting at all like it's urgent.  Gotta tell you - the bathroom was not cute at all.

I am so glad to be at home.  I don't know when we'll be making our next car trip, but it's going to be a little while. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

No Christmas for the wicked.

Well, I almost completely missed Christmas.  The oldest daughter and I were attacked by a vile stomach bug.  Ick.  I was upright long enough on Christmas morning to see some of the gifts opened and very thankfully Violet was in love with Bouncin Babbles from the first moment she saw her.  Fickle, thy name is Violet.

I was uninvited to a gathering with friends this morning (damn germaphobes), but thanks to the wild snows of North Carolina, I haven't missed Christmas with the extended family (as long as no one else falls victim to this stuff). 

That's all for now, still need my rest. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stupid Santa, can't get anything right.

For at least six weeks Violet has told everyone with ears that she wants a Bouncin' Babbles for Christmas.  I'm serious - anyone who has passed within six feet of us has heard about Bouncin' Babbles.  This morning she says, "Mommy, I don't want a Bouncin' Babbles after all." 

Me:  "But if Santa brought it to you anyway, you'd love her, right?"

V:  in abject horror, as if I'd suggested she eat her own arm, "Nooooooooo!"

WTF?  I was so excited - she's the only one of the three that I absolutely knew was going to have an awesome Christmas morning.  Now what?  She's still getting the damn doll and Santa's going to have Hot Bourbon Milk Punch with his cookies.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The joy of parenting?

Yesterday Violet had a complete meltdown because I was wrapping a gift that was not for her.  At first it was one of those fake pouty things that I basically laughed at and said, "Oh don't be ridiculous."  Which of course forced her to make it real.  She cried and cried and cried and then coughed and coughed.  Luckily no barfing.  It made me stop and think - oh crap what am I teaching my child that she reacts to the simple act of giving someone else a gift this way.  

So I talked to her about giving to others because we love them and the joy of making someone else happy with a special gift.  She didn't care at all.  She wailed, "I don't like presents for other people!"  After quickly checking to see if the neighbor's cars were home, I decided we'd walk next door to deliver the goodies I'd baked for them - make a big show of giving.  She was a little resistant, but gave in at the prospect of seeing the sweet neighbor teenagers who she loves so much.  

I don't know that it made much of an impression, so now I'm even more worried than usual about whether or not I'm being a good parent.  

It was a bit reassuring to hear from the mom of one of Lorelei's friends that at a sleepover she "was super polite as always, cleaned up after their activities, and offered to help out with things I was doing a few other times.  You should be proud!"  I am proud and I told her I was - I wish that she would behave this way at home, but I know I'm definitely not that good at parenting. 

Right after we made the decision to have a baby I totally freaked out.  Completely.  I started thinking about the huge responsibility of raising a tiny little baby to not be a serial killer (anybody who knows me, knows there's at least some chance of this happening).  I told my husband I'd changed my mind, I didn't want kids after all.  And then he freaked.  There was a thirty minute calming period and I was back on board.  

Now that we're three kids deep, I don't have as much time to obsess about every little thing since it can really be incapacitating for me.  I just try to make the best decisions I can and let the chips fall where they may.  At some point it's got to become their decision to not become murderers, right?

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's Friday, there should be drinking

This has been a crazy week. 

Monday - reorganized the household that had been left to Daddy and girls for 3 days while I was away,  do laundry, make grocery list, trip to elementary school to check my PTA Treasurer's box, etc.  Relatively calm, compared to the rest of the week. 

Tuesday, spent copious amounts of time burning and throwing out a few dozen Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Kisses (which my husband says look like a novelty item anyway) - major setback in holiday baking, more laundry, last minute grocery trip 40 minutes before the school bus drops off oldest (only because I remembered I'd volunteered to bring cookies to Violet's preschool holiday party the next morning), quick dinner, take Lorelei to dance by 6:15, meet husband there to exchange cars and kids - by the way, dear, the "check engine" light is on in my car, rush home to bake brie for PTA Board Meeting/Holiday Party at 7pm, shatter glass lid to bowl, clean glass, go to PTA thing, whew!  Tuesday's over. 

Wednesday - skip out on preschool holiday party (Violet said, "Mommy, I am a party girl, but you are not a party girl, so you have to leave."), check PTA box at school (expecting important bill that has to be paid, still not there), run a couple of Christmas gift-related errands before Zoey's nap, who does not cooperate, falls asleep at 1pm - luckily neighbor was home and sat with her while I fetched Violet from school.  Make peppermint fudge for teacher who won a PTA thing, clean bathrooms, prep dinner, feed kids, get everyone ready for Lorelei's chorus concert at school, husband runs in at the last minute to shovel dinner down his throat before going to concert where it was so crowded we couldn't sit together.  Both little girls insist they must sit on my lap, Dad gets cushy folding chair all to himself.  Get home late 2nd night in a row, third night with no bath for the girls.  Address most of the holiday cards.

Thursday - gave up on Violet's ballet, so babysit a friend's 1 and 3 year old.  Four children under four.  SNOW - ug.  Beef stew into the crock pot.  Go to liquor store - sale on sparkling wine, get beer for husband and Grand Marnier for baking (leave kids at home with friend).  Make Grand Marnier candy (AWESOME).  Deny children play time in snow - terrible terrible mother.  Reassemble household from morning play session.  Husband discovers gas cap is loose - "check engine" dilemma solved!  Violet falls asleep on the sofa at 6pm -  fourth night with no bath for her.  Bath for the other kids.  8:30 kids all asleep.  Finish holiday cards.  Panic - not a single gift is wrapped.  Wrap 6 gifts, only 6000 left to go. 

Friday - 2 hour delay for school.  Make more peppermint fudge, make pignolia cookie dough, pork barbecue into the crock pot, pack up little girls, deliver fudge to school, pick up PTA mail (bill arrived!), Costco (serious diaper wipe deficit at home!), Pizza Boli's take out, both little girls asleep when we arrive home - HALLELUJAH!  First time all week I've been "alone" at home - watch DVR'd Desperate Housewives while eating pizza. 

Screw the dishes, the toys, the dirty floors, the unwrapped gifts, the unfinished sewing projects and PTA business.  I think there should be drinking tonight.  All (adults) invited - BYO and some for me, too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One of life's little tragedies

Panama City, FL has been on my mind since yesterday.  If you haven't seen it in the news yet, there was a shooting at a school board meeting.  The man was confronting the school board because he said his wife had been fired unfairly.  The video is pretty scary, I can't imagine what it must have been like to be there. 

I have never even touched a gun, much less owned one and I can't imagine a scenario that would ever make me change my mind.  I just don't understand it - well, I do understand hunting (although, I'd never do that either) - but I think having a hand gun would make me feel more afraid than safe.  And it definitely makes me feel afraid that I guy like this one would have access to a gun.  He's an ex-convict whose been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. 

We actually lived in Panama City for almost five years in the late nineties, early aughts.  I worked for a family owned construction company and one day gun ownership came up in conversation - I don't remember exactly why.  I shared that I did not own a gun and probably never would - I think that was pretty shocking for the family to hear.  My boss's mother assured me that I would change my mind when I had children.  I was appalled, but just nodded and smiled, since, you know, it was the boss's mom - if anything, having children in the house makes me feel like it's an even worse idea to own a gun. 

Intellectually, I know that guns and weapons in general are a part of our existence and that is never likely to change.  But in my heart I hate it. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Things that go bump in the night

A little while ago Violet asked, "Mommy, on today's night [translation:  last night] did I fall down the stairs?"  I'd forgotten about the crazy night we had. 

I have worked hard to cultivate my husband's night-time response to the kids once they stopped nursing.  And I've gotten pretty good at sleeping through a lot of the night time things.  I sometimes wake up in the morning with one or more kids in bed with us and have no recollection of them getting there.  That even happened to me once when Zoey was just a few of months old and Husband was out of town for a week.  I'm assuming I'm the one who picked her up when she cried - but really it could've been anyone. 

So that sets the stage for last night - I was sleeping deeply when suddenly I heard a series of thumps and Husband saying, "OH MY GOD DID YOU FALL DOWN THE STAIRS?!"  Turns out Violet had woken up and had to pee - Greg heard her call out and got up to assist.  Afterward Violet asked if she could come back to bed with us - he agreed, flipped off the bathroom light and made his way back to our room (which was maybe 3 adult steps from the bathroom).  Violet got disoriented in the sudden dark, "Daddy where are you?"  He told her to just follow the sound of his voice.  Turned out not to be the best advice!

Just say no to drugs.

When Violet was an infant our pediatrician prescribed a vitamin D supplement.  I balked because she was our second child and our pediatrician in San Diego (who I liked therefore trusted just a little bit more than the doctor we have now) never mentioned a word about giving Lorelei a supplement.  Of course, five years had passed since Lorelei was an infant - plus I thought it could have been a regional difference, sunny California maybe didn't have as many incidences of vitamin D deficiency.  I still felt hesitant about giving a perfectly healthy infant a supplement, my instincts were telling me that if I had a healthy diet and the right amount of vitamin D shouldn't my nursing baby be getting the right nutrients?  But the pediatrician insisted it was needed, so I bought it.

I gave it to Violet one time - she made it really difficult to administer and basically spit it all back out making a sticky purplish mess.  Since I was giving it to her against my instincts that made it easy for me to say, "Never mind, this is too much trouble."  The next several times I went back to the pediatrician for well check-ups she always asked about the vitamin D and I just decided to not rock the boat and say, "Yep, sure, she's taking it."

When Zoey was born, same thing all over again - except I didn't bother buying the stuff, I just nodded and smiled.

A couple of weeks ago, I felt some vindication when I heard this story on NPR.  A panel of independent medical researchers was convened by the US and Canadian governments and "[t]heir new study says most Americans get plenty of vitamin D in their regular routine and diet — and supplements can even be harmful."  The recommendation coming out of the study was to take 600 units of vitamin D rather than the 1000 to 3000 that was previously recommended.  That seems like a pretty big difference to me. 

Of course this is one study and as seen in the comments section of the story, many many people disagree.  Commenters wondered whose payroll these doctors were on, if the study was skewed too much toward bone health and not other aspects of vitamin D's benefits, some pointed to other studies that showed the benefits as far as cancer prevention goes.  So what are we supposed to believe? 

I'm going to stick with my instincts and say that it isn't for my family.  Of course I'm one of those crazy hippies that says no thanks to the flu shot, too.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What would Colin think?

Violet didn't want to go to preschool this morning.  She threw a big fit and said she didn't want to go because her teachers yelled at her.  The yelling she's talking about occurred when Daddy packed Halloween candy in her lunch as a treat, but one of the Whoppers escaped her grasp and hit the floor.  I'm pretty sure she tried to pick it up and eat it anyway and one of the teachers "yelled" to keep her from actually putting it in her mouth.  I haven't been the happiest with her preschool - I don't think they're hurting her or scarring her for life, but I don't think they handle some things in the best way.  But this was weeks ago, so why's she bringing it up now?
She also didn't want to get dressed.  Mondays are laundry day, so the pickings are slim and our sweet Violet has some pretty specific ideas about what looks good (see photos).  So, we searched the closet and drawers and finally found something acceptable.  She looked at herself in the mirror and crooned about how cute her outfit was. 

Immediately following this we revisited the school issue, "Mom, do I have to go to school?"

"Yes, you have to go to school."  Brace for crying...

"Okay.  I can't wait to see if Colin likes my clothes!"

So this whole thing was really about whether or not she was going to look cute enough for Colin?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Roses are red, Violets are pukey

I spent about half of my leisure hours (the 2 hours after the kids are in bed before I collapse) last night cleaning barf out of a toddler bed and the carpet.  As always, it was just lovely.  Violet has always had a hair trigger gag reflex - a cold with coughing leads to barfing; water going down the wrong way leads to coughing then barfing; extended crying leads to coughing, then barfing.  I've seen more barf than any one person should have to bear.  If you think about it, though - it's the perfect defense.  We tell her no about anything, she cries, she barfs.  She is conditioning us to avoid any sort of confrontation with her. 

Last night's barf wasn't a behavioral thing - just an old fashioned cold with cough. 

Thursday is ballet day, but last week Violet threw a fit and didn't want to go.  I bribed her with a trip to Touche Touchet afterward which worked well enough to get her to the studio, but not enough to actually go in.  "We're not going to the bakery if you don't dance."  "I don't care - I don't want to go to the bakery."  Damn!  I wanted a cupcake.

By Tuesday afternoon this week she was already campaigning against going to dance today.  Husband and I discussed it and decided I would force her to go in the hopes that once she was there and dancing she would remember how much she liked it.  Somehow, she went along with it (after some crying and a few gagging scares), but she said, "If I don't like it I don't have to go anymore." 

She tapped for about 90 seconds before running to me and declaring that she does not like it.  We sat together and watched her lone classmate tap (for some reason 3/5ths of the class was absent).  When it was time to switch to ballet slippers she would have nothing to do with it.  I finally just gave up and left.  Maybe I would've pushed a little harder if we weren't going to pick a friend up at the airport, but whatever.

What's going to happen next week?  I'm pretty sure there will be more fits, so how hard should I push my 3-year-old to participate in a dance class that she suddenly dislikes?  And how difficult is it to get vomit out of a tutu?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hello my name is Wendi and I'm a renter...

I've been on the verge of blogging for months - composing in my mind, but somehow never quite putting fingers to keys. So I'm just going to dive in...

I read this blog post today about something a tea party leader said and even though Wordbones had already blogged about a more local incident of renters and social injustice, this Judson Phillips guy, just set me off. On a Tea Party Nation radio show he said:

"The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote. It wasn’t you were just a citizen and you got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners."

I am not a property owner. I'm nearly 39 and my husband is 46 - neither of us has ever owned a chunk of land. When I type it out, it sounds sort of pathetic, but we have our reasons. We were living in cities temporarily because of school or a post doc, then we moved to San Diego where a 400 square foot condo in a bad neighborhood could cost you upwards of $200K. We had a baby and decided that it was more important for me to stay at home to raise her than to own a home.

After we moved to Maryland we really wanted to buy, but were outbid on 2 separate townhouses. We found a townhouse to rent so we could get out of the terrible apartment we'd been renting in the interim. We started laying down roots, we had another baby, our oldest started kindergarten, we got involved with the school and our neighbors, we had a third daughter. So now we have three children to feed and cloth, we have ballet and jazz and tap and preschool to pay for, and we still only have one income. Because we've made the choice for me to be at home, we have to make sacrifices including not buying a home.

We could possibly afford to buy now, but it would likely have to be a condo (which would probably be smaller than our townhouse) and it probably wouldn't be in our school district. So, for now, we continue to rent.

I find it so humorous that someone like Judson Phillips could accuse me of not being invested enough in my community to vote. That someone like me shouldn't have the right to participate in my government. I think we've made some pretty sound financial decisions - perhaps on the conservative side - but at least we aren't consumed by the debt of a mortgage we can't afford.

I admit, we are "dream" renters. We have been in the same place for five and a half years, we pay our rent on time, we haven't destroyed the property, we are neighborly and keep our yard neat. Not everyone is like us, but does that mean your right to vote should be taken away because you can't afford to buy a house?