Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Honk If You're...

Rude and/or Lazy. For the last couple of nights, at about 10pm, what sounds to my trained ears to be a 1970's model Ford or Chevy pick-up truck horn can be heard honking across the parking lot of my complex like a sick goose. Last night, it came as I was trying to watch the opening of the much-anticipated 'Robin Williams' episode of Law and Order: SVU. I turned to J in annoyance and informed him that had been happening every night. It occurred to me then, and I noted it aloud, that it may be someone's ride picking them up for their graveyard (or what New Englander's call "Third Shift") shift job, as it was always about the same time.

J just looked at me and smiled saying 'Ahhh. The white trash cell phone.' I had never thought of it that way, but it really is the perfect way to describe it. I remember my mom roaring into our driveway in her trusty Taurus and blasting her horn to let my dad know that she was home and needed help bringing in the groceries. He would sit up straight in his La-Z-Boy and, after putting on his shoes, would head to the back door greeting my mom laden with groceries. EVERY SINGLE time he would exasperatedly remind my mom in his Über-serious tone "Nancy, a horn is a safety warning device."

Feeling empowered with that knowledge, I was cautious to use my horn only in the appropriate situations for at least the first two months of having my license. But, how else are you supposed to say hi to your friends as you pass them at 30 mph cruising on Main if you can't use your horn? Duh, Daddy.

During college, I worked in a law office for about nine months. Overlapping that period of time, I had my first 'real' boyfriend, who I thought was grand but later realized was a complete dweeb and not really the man who was destined to be my husband/father of my children as originally thought. Unfortunately, my family was too nice to tell me what a complete 'tard (yep, I just used that word) he was.

A couple of times, he picked me up from work so we could go on a date. Instead of doing what most people would (come up to the door and get me), he would gallantly sit on the street and honk up at the second story office building to let me know that my prince had arrived. My boss then dubbed him, "The Honker" explaining to me, that it was not polite to notify your beloved of your arrival by laying on the horn. Of course, I defended him...what's a 19 year-old girl to do, after all?

After some time, it became crystal clear that he was a total waste of time, and I soon found Big J, who became my fiancee and, obviously, the real man who would be my husband and father to my children.

I had not worked at that office in several years, and was actually working as a caseworker for Child Welfare when I had to 'go up against' that attorney in court. He saw my engagement ring, and asked with a pleading look on his face "It's not The Honker is it?" I was so relieved to be able to say, of course not!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Big Brother Is Watching...

And I don't mean the gub'ment. Yesterday some friends threw a shower for C and I, and I received tons of great loot!

When I got home, I put all the bags in a corner so I could dash off to watch Baby Mama with my mom's group. (Contrary to critical review, I thought it was pretty enjoyable, and would probably watch it again.)

I knew that I would need to sort and put away all contents before going to bed that night, but didn't have time to do so immediately. By the time I'd come out from changing into different pants, the pillage was in full swing. A couple of the gifts really were for him, like the Big Brother shirt a friend embroidered for him, so I thought that this might appease him...wow, I have a LOT to learn about having multiple children! Even the 0-3 month bib and bucket hat outfit seemed to be calling his name.

I had decided before even going to this shower that I didn't care if H laid claim to toys that were given to C at this point, because C doesn't care. Also, I'm hoping that placating him with a few of the toys will enable him leave the bouncy chair and other baby gear alone. I've been careful to point out that C is 'sharing' his toys with H, just like H will be expected to share with C. I'm sure this is all sinking in as much as my attempt at talking to H about breastfeeding.

During our swimming lessons, H was excited to point out in the changing room each time "Those are your boobs!" (Yes, I'm the mom that uses incorrect anatomy terms...sue me) I thought that it might be a good opening to talk about the fact that C will not eat normal food, but will be nursing while he's still little. This is how my very logical and well-thought-out dissertation (read: spur of the moment horrible explanation) was interpreted by his two year-old mind... "C eats my boobs?!" Great. Yeah, maybe some things are better left to a Q & A session after observation.

**As a sidenote, I saw my first official Sex and the City: The Movie preview (aside from the blippy trailer on YouTube), and I am committed to seeing that movie, even if I am in labor. Either that, or C's first theater experience will be with Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha...I know, I know, I really shouldn't have him go to something like that in the beginning, it will set the bar WAY too high for his future visits to the big screen!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Unleashed

I have made a sad, sad realization...I am going to be the parent who puts their kid on a leash. (Okay, it's a fuzzy monkey back-pack that looks pretty ridiculous, but what are you going to do?) There, it's been confessed. The other day, after many consecutive successful times of having him hold the outer door handle while I unlocked it, H took advantage of the fact that I had two gallons of milk in one hand, and his hand in the other. I placed his hand on the doorknob, reminding him of the importance to stay right beside me, and he agreed then bolted.

As I was lumbering after him and shouting for him to stop, he looked back, laughing, and kept right on truckin'. I'm sure the people enjoying their après-work drink on the porch enjoyed the show. They must have, because they made no offer to help as they saw H making his exodus across the lot.

After I caught him and did the white trash dance across the parking lot (child's arm in your claw as you walk faster than is really possible for them to keep up) I was calmly explaining (read: yelling) that this was why he had to be in his stroller and/or a grocery cart when we were out because I couldn't trust him to listen to me. Yes, I understand this was not going to make much of an impact, but until he can understand what 'get run over by a car' means, it would have to do.

I felt a mixture of anger, fright, and a new burning pain in my pelvis. Awesome, if I go into labor a month early because of this, I'm not going to be happy.

I sat H down at the table with his dinner and paged J at work, just needing to talk about what had happened, but not wishing to discuss it further with my two year-old. J was not immediately available, which was probably better, because I didn't talk about the situation in front of H any further that night. I took some deep breaths, followed by some Tylenol, and we went about our night-time routine.

After talking to J about it when he got home, it was agreed that I'd start using the "pack-pack" trying not to worry about the looks of disgust I would receive from other parents, as it is a safety issue for H.

I have to say, after a trip to the zoo today on which the back-pack was utilized, H and I had a great time. He was able to see all the animals and exhibits that he would not have been able to see from the stroller, while still feeling like he could roam around a little. At the same time I felt exponentially more relaxed, comfortable in the knowledge that he was being kept on a very short leash.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Everyday is Earth Day (For Retailers)

Today we celebrate the Earth and our efforts, as part of the human race, to preserve it. A worthy cause for celebration no doubt, and hot on the heels of Patriot's Day at that!

While I love the Earth (obviously), I find that I don't do the best job of 'doing my part'. For instance, I am fairly conscientious about separating my milk jugs and cardboard boxes from the everyday trash, but I have chosen to use disposable diapers...and I mean Huggies and Pampers, not Seventh Generation.

I thought that I was doing the earth some good by toting my Nalgene instead of using multiple plastic bottles...that is, until I got a litany of daily emails talking about the perils of BPA. Seriously, if I get one more email about it, I will dry heave all over my keyboard.

I understand that it's thought to be dangerous. What I don't like is feeling like I'm being scared, bullied and shamed into buying alternative products and that I'll be viewed as an irresponsible parent if I don't make those changes. I like to hear the fair and balanced argument, and I don't mean the Fox News version of fair and balanced, before I invest money that I don't necessarily have in a litany of products only to discover that I didn't really need to. Sure enough, days later I found a list that reassured me that every single sippy cup and bottle I already own is on the 'safe' list. The only exception being my Nalgene, which I am replacing with a Sigg.

I feel like it's much easier to be eco-friendly when money is not necessarily an object. For instance, gDiapers, eco-friendly cloth diaper services and Seventh Generation disposables are far more expensive than regular disposables; generally at least 1.5 times more expensive from what I've found. I'm not saying that I feel no remorse for using the less friendly versions, it just seems that the companies that make these products are seriously invested in saving the earth one poopy diaper at a time, so why not price them in such a way that they were honestly competitive for the 'average' middle-income family.

When J and I made the decision to have me stay home, I did not even consider that this would result in us having to make fiscal decisions that make me feel guilty on an almost daily basis, due to the barrage of email, commercials and interviews by those 'in the know.'
In a few years, money will not be an object for our family (at least not as much of one), but I hope that change doesn't make me place judgement on, or point and accusatory finger at, those who are making the best decisions given their circumstances and priorities.

HA! This is almost too good to be true. While googling, I found the following passage on Tiny Decor's blog (which is also where I got the photo for my post):

"As if G Diaper wasn’t cute enough already, they have come out with a special Earth Day diaper. The XOXO ‘little g’ diaper is $9.99 with a case of refills (total $61.99). Let your little one show their love for the planet Earth."

In short, earth day should not be everyday only for those who make over 80K.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Perfect Ten

Growing up in a small town, it was always customary to greet the new neighbors and bring gifts of food...if only to ensure that you got in on all the good new gossip first.


Since moving to "the big city" I've always lived in an apartment, with this latest move being no exception. Since the units are so close to each other, I always had visions of the mid-recipe run to borrow a cup of sugar, but that never happened.


I was chatting with my Sister Mary Mandy late one evening, armed with a bowl of Cookie Crisp and preparing to watch a 'new' old episode of Law and Order: SVU, when I heard a tap tap tapping on my door. Thinking this was odd, as the entrance to my building is secure, and I wasn't expecting anyone, I suddenly got a surge of excitement. My sugar and flour were stocked! I was prepared to help someone complete their late-night batch of chocolate chip cookies!


I held the phone at my shoulder as I peeped through the hole in the door, only to see the neighbor who had moved across the hall from me days before. As I made a wide swath with the door, she nervously explained that she had a strange request. I thought, awesome, I just bought the Costco pack of toilet paper! Because how weird could her request really be?

Neighbor: Um, my nails are really screwed up from moving, and I don't have my fingernail clippers unpacked yet.
Me: Oh, sure, you can borrow my clippers.
Neighbor: Um, I have a disability in my hand...
Me: (light bulb) Do you need me to clip your nails for you?
Neighbor: That would be great!
Me: (inward shudder) Sister, I'm going to need to call you back.
Neighbor: Thanks so much, this is a little embarrassing.
Me: (a little? I briefly considered telling her about these little places where it's actually someone's job to cut your nails, but didn't.)

As I avoided the thumb that was ripped back to the quick, I mentioned that I would just trim them roughly and she could file them how she wanted. When I was done, she said "Do you have that file?"


Jesus, Mary and Joseph,would you like to take a seat and pick a color while you're at it?!


I went back into my bathroom and brought out a file for her, which I told her she could keep. The last thing I want is a someone's used nail file. There's a reason that I pay for my own set at the salon...


As she stood at my kitchen table attempting to make small talk as she filed her nails, I realized that there was only one solution; discontinue eye contact until she gets the hint. It took a little longer than I had hoped, but when she finally made the obligatory, 'well, I better get out of your hair...' I was already lugging my melon belly to the door to show her out.


I tiptoed to my bedroom and closed the door to call Sister back and in a barely repressed laughter told her why I had to let her go...there was just stunned silence on the other end.

When J got home from work in the wee hours of the morning, I recounted the tale and I could feel his body stiffen next to mine in bed, he was not impressed. He explained (very nicely of course, because who isn't civil at 2am) that he was concerned about my judgement, although I explained that my safety was not at risk, since she was about half-my size (and don't forget the defunct hand). However, and perhaps more of a threat, he pointed out that if she felt comfortable with that request, she would most likely be back.


This could be worse than Jim Carey's Cable Guy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Butterflies Flutter By...

Or so they say. Today I took H on a little field trip to "Magical Wings Butterfly Conservatory" in South Deerfield (home of Yankee Candles), along with my friend Alex and her boys. H loves butterflies, and is quick to identify any image he sees of them, especially on his tin tea set from Granny.

I'd been building up the trip all week, with each day saying "In __ days we get to go to the butterfly museum!" It was very exciting to say "H, today we get to go to the butterfly museum!" That is, until I had to say about 5 times..."Do you want to go to the butterfly museum? Then (let me change your diaper/put on your shoes/stop running around like a hooligan)!" After much drama, H was securely installed in the car, and we headed over to Alex' to pick them up so we could make the trek together...one big happy family.

In my mind, I imagined the peaceful butterflies that you see in the wild...you know, one or two flitting from flower, to tree to a blade of grass next to you? All very benign and graceful to watch.

Upon arrival, it was noted that there were no strollers allowed. I approached the 'friendly' woman behind the counter in the gift shop, about to ask politely where we were supposed to store our strollers, when 'Elaine' (I don't know why I used quotes because that's her real name) looked up in the increasingly-familiar New England style (aka hostile and unfriendly customer service folks) and said "Sign."

Me: What?
Elaine: Sign.
Me: I'm sorry, what sign are you talking about? (I again asked her to what she was referring, because most other humans speak to each other in more than grunts and points.)
Elaine: (With effort) No Strollers!
Me: (In my head only of course)No sh*% Sherlock, I was trying to ask where I might store mine.
Elaine: Coat Closet
Me: Thanks. Where is the coat closet?
Elaine: (pointing a pudgy dismissive finger into the far reaches of the cafeteria).

Oh, duh, how could I have missed it?! Oh, I know, BECAUSE IT'S IN AN UNMARKED CORNER!

Stroller safely stored, we were on our way to experience 'magical wings.' I paid my exorbitant entrance fee, and got a cute stamp on my hand. H and I traversed the gift shop, with every butterfly themed object you can imagine and entered the first room. In it, I saw no butterflies. I did, however, see tanks containing poison dart frogs and baby button quail. Alrighty then. This was destined to be right on par with all the other New England anomalies. You can rest assured that if you ever go to something in New England, the object of the center will not be the only thing you'll be treated to that day.

H was intrigued with the multi-colored frogs, and the tiny baby quail. Alex' OS was quickly thinking he'd been duped, when we saw the double doors inviting us into the conservatory. The sign reminding you to look in the mirror to ensure there were no "hitch-hikers" upon exit, gave me the first clue that this may be a less than magical experience.

In case I've never mentioned it before, H has thus far been enthralled with the idea of most animals. He loves looking at things that are separated from himself by glass or another partition, but gets a little overwhelmed when it's up close and personal.

Yeeeeesssss, glad I thought this one through.

We opened the doors and were treated to a blast of hot air, similar to the entrance of any Target where the heater is just over the entrance. Sweet. Just what a whale of a pregnant lady needs, more heat.

From the second I stepped foot in that (to copy the Simpsons) Tree-house of Horrors, I knew I'd made a grave lapse in judgement. Don't worry, it wouldn't be my last of the day. There was no fluttering. There were large swarms of butterflies darting, dipping and buzzing all around.

I am the person who inwardly freaks out at just the thought of entering the aviary at the zoo. I thought that I'd be able to control myself, but it was really hard to not swat at them each time they were going to land on me. I went into convulsions when one landed on my arm, and then a really pretty, brilliant blue butterfly landed on H's head and I shrieked excitedly to Alex to get a picture (I know a good photo op when I see one.) Yeah, it may not have been the best idea to call attention to the fact that there was one on H's head, because he went into the same convulsions I just had, and almost ended up with butterfly guts on his head. I'm pretty sure that would have been frowned upon, as there were signs all over "Don't Touch the Butterflies!" "Do Not Pick Up Flowers From the Ground!" "Do Not Touch the Butterfly Food, It Contaminates It!"

I felt like I was in the middle of The Birds, as Hitchcock himself could not have hoped for a more creepy set-up. We were making our expected rounds, and I spotted BIRD cages on the ground with little finches inside. We owned finches growing up, and nothing spazzed me out more than when those little suckers escaped upon cleaning the cage one day. I looked over at Alex, and quipped that I was glad they were in the cage, as I'd be a goner if there were birds flying around....until I noticed the sign that the birds were just "in quarantine" until they were acclimated, as they were a new addition. Yes, there were freakin' birds flying around in the mix...nobody warned me of this!

I remembered that I was a 28 year-old woman who needed to set a good example for her child, and kept walking talking in that uber positive voice to H about how pretty the butterflies were. When it landed on him, I reminded him they were just giving him 'butterfly kisses' and that they really liked him. I seriously need to evaluate the shampoo I use on him, because the poor kid was a butterfly magnet.

We had almost made it out the door, when a staff member was walking around and had something in her hand. 'Would you like to hold it?' she asked Alex's son sweetly. He was more than excited and did a great job with the little GECKO she placed on his hand. I inwardly shivered, and felt my heart drop when H told me he wanted to have a turn. I knew what would happen, but didn't want to deprive him of the chance. I told him it would be really exciting, but tried to warn that it would "tickle" him, as I think he fully thought it would be like his little plastic "Geicko Gecko". I softly told the staff member that he would mostly likely shake it off his hand so to please hold his hand and be ready. This was out of H's ear-shot because I didn't want to sabotage him. Sure enough, that thing was on his hand and he freaked out. Oh well, at least he's being 'exposed' to all life has to offer.

I let out a huge sigh of relief as we re-entered the room with glass cases, and a normal air temperature.

After eating lunch and buying a pink and purple butterfly ball for H (the only color combo available, which I thought was odd), I spotted a jar of beautiful butterfly lolly-pops, and a butterfly cookie cutter. I got three lolly-pops for the kids for the ride home, and the cookie cutter to make butterfly pbj's at home.

At the car, I pulled out the lollies, and all the kids were really excited. I noted to Alex that it was great because the sticks were plastic, so wouldn't get all mushy like the traditional paper sticks. After taking one look at the (no kidding) two-foot long, skinny, floppy stick, Alex, much wiser than I, quipped 'Yeah, OS is going to enjoy hitting his brother with that.' We both agreed that none of the kids would think of that.

Not even two feet down the highway, we heard the telltale 'pop pop' of a lolly touching something other than an appreciative tongue. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the candy flashing around the three car seats like the light-sabers in Luke's duel with Darth Vader. It was a matter of minutes before the first one broke and tears were shed...ah well, what can you do? The road is paved with good intentions, they say.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cow Tipping

Spring is (finally) here in New England and it could not have come at a better time. We've spent the last couple of afternoons at the park, and it's been a glorious way to ensure a good night's sleep for all, while also giving H some challenges and fun.

I've hit the big 34 on the preggo chart, so only 6 weeks left (in theory.) I finally gave in and started napping when H does so that I'll have the energy to give back as much positive vibes as he's giving me. I feel fully energized and great until it's about to wind down for the day and/or I stop for more than about 30 seconds and I suddenly feel like a cow; not just because I'm huge, but because I could easily sleep standing up. Although, I'm pretty sure it would be a fire hazard, because my first attempt would have been tonight while making dinner, standing over the gas burner.

I've gone through a couple more fits of manic purging resulting in more cash to feed the piggy bank. I decided awhile ago that all proceeds from the sale of H's goods will be kept in his bank so that he can do fun things with other families while I'm blissfully adjusting to life as a mother of multiple children. Fair trade, right?

Today I got my weekly "Hello, you're pregnant, now buy some crap you don't need" email from BabyCenter. The Couples Corner article was entitled "Money fights: Four steps to ending budget battles" and contained a number of sensible suggestions for looking at your budget and ensuring you aren't spending money you don't have on frivolous baby items, as the number one cause of fighting in the third trimester was reported to revolve around family finances.

IMMEDIATELY UNDER the article was a large bar that said "Shopping help from the BabyCenter Store" which helpfully pointed out all the things you'd need for your new baby. Isn't that ironic, don'tcha think? (Alanis, that's irony...a black fly in your chardonnay or rain on your wedding day is just crappy luck.)

This came fresh on the heels of an email I received from a friend, about a recent Talk of the Nation segment on NPR with author Pamela Paul whose book, Parenting, Inc., unveils and investigates the amount of money parents are pouring into the economy in the name of the baby-raising business. Says Paul 'Today, the "mom market" is said to be $1.7 trillion, with the toy industry for babies between birth and age two alone generating more than $700 million a year. "Parents will do anything to provide for their children. Marketers now know that this category has tremendous opportunity for growth," said Jan Studin, publisher of Parents magazine.'

It's oh-so-easy to say you won't get a bunch of crap you don't need...until you have kids. I'm blushing as I think about J's look of derision when he said 'S., that's just wasteful!' in response to me explaining that we'd need a new infant carseat, as the one we have goes with our old single stroller, and would no longer match the fabric of the double stroller I'd registered for. Needless to say, we'll be keeping our old car-seat. Here's to doing my part to raise great kids without forfeiting our retirement!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Stick(er) It To 'Em

Yesterday, our salesman delivered the focus to our house. No, that was not a typo, he delivered the car to our house because J was going to be gone during business hours. What service! I felt as if I were having a new Mercedes dropped by for me.

After installing H's seat, I prepared myself to take our first spin, as J had done all the test-driving alone while I waited with H at the dealership...I already knew what a Focus was like, so I was content to stay behind. I slid behind the wheel, and it took a second to realize what was 'wrong.' Yes, I felt small and close to the ground compared to our other car, but that wasn't it. Hmmm...well, my butt was sweaty, but after I figured out how to turn off the seat heater, I ruled that out...something was still odd.

Then it hit me...the windshield was completely devoid of stickers, pike passes, and apartment 'please don't tow me stickers.'

Good Lord! I had almost forgotten all of the bureaucracy associated with being a resident/vehicle owner in the glorious Commonwealth of Massachusetts. After getting off the phone with our insurance company and the dealer I had a short list of about 100 things I needed to do within 14 days of taking possession of the car...and I thought buying a house would be bad! We naively thought that going through a dealer would be the 'quick' process that it is in Oregon. While they do complete all the RMV paperwork for us, there is still a 'pre-insurance inspection' the Mass Safety Inspection, and then there will be the forthcoming Town Of Shrewsbury Vehicle Excise Tax, about which I've previously written. Luckily the Mass inspection is paid for by the dealer and the pre-insurance by the insurance company, but still...

J had recently commented to someone, in his oh-so-Vulcan dry humor that it has been proposed to have a 35-hour work week in Massachusetts, so that the other five hours can be dedicated to filling out all the paperwork associated with living here. He received a blank look in return. The man said 'What? Is it a lot here?' Uhhhhh, yes, yes it is. It's almost sad that someone would think that the volume of red-tape is 'normal'. Oh well.

The important thing is, we've got our second car, we'll soon have all our little window decorations and I will be driving around like Beyonce singing "All you women, independent, throw your hands up at me!"

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Shout Out to Best Friends

The other day, H was looking at a collection of framed pictures on our bookshelf and said 'That's me and my friend.' I was at the wrong angle, and couldn't think of any pictures of him and any other kids. I asked him who he was referring to, and he said 'My Mommy. That's me and My Mommy. My Friend.' Ahhhhh. Heart-warming moment. Later, he was looking at the photo of J and I in Hawaii from last Spring, and he said that we were his mommy and daddy; his friends.

H is very into naming people and talking about the relationship that each thing has to the other and to himself. I was quartering strawberries for him later in the evening, while J was making H's dinner, and H said 'Strawberries! Thanks! You're my best friend!' I was glowing as J looked at me incredulously. I had a witness this time, it wasn't just some little anecdote from our day.

It's the little reassurances that make me feel less guilty about the times that I'm 'raising my voice' to gain compliance, and ensure that he follows direction. I know that a lot of my impatience with him is being in my third tri-mester and just tired all the time, but that's somehow not very comforting.

I spend so much time planning fun stuff for us to do together, that I really hope the things he carries with him are not my repeated rantings of "That's One!" I remember an episode of Sex and The City where Charlotte and Trey are dining with friends who have children. The mother says 'That's One!' and Trey asks how many the kid gets, while the dad dryly replies "Forty-Five."

It sometimes feels like it's impossible to be consistent without being redundant. My neighbors are probably mouthing along to my 'I'm tired of telling you something a million times!' I'm sure they're picturing a surly teen-ager, not the angel-faced little boy who literally dances his way to the playground.

I hope he'll still think of me as his friend after little C is born, and that I behave in a way that is deserving of the title. My parents used to remind my sister and I frequently that they had us so close together so we'd have a built-in friend...'So go play, and quit fighting!' I look forward to the day when he and C are 'best friends.'

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Well, I Never!

Before having children, I made a list of things that I would never do. This list included, but was not limited to, having my kids play on the sick toys at McDonald's, specifically a ball pit. Eating fast food before the age of six(teen). Watching TV for longer than, say, 30 minutes. Swatting them on the bottom, no matter how bad they were, or raising my voice to a level that could be heard outside of the room we were in (seriously not possible for me even in normal conversation, as my general theme in life seems to be go big or go home.)

It seems like it was much easier to maintain this level of irreproachable parenting when H was in daycare about 50 hours a week. As soon as we moved to Massachusetts, I realized that there's really nothing wrong with the tunnels at McD's (the balls are a thing of the past), and TV is GREAT! PBS kids has allowed mommy to have her own quiet time in the morning to drink coffee. A lot of kids might learn to count or say their ABC's while watching Sesame Street and Curious George, H has just learned that it's "cool" to jam a bunch of crackers in his mouth while letting the crumbs fly because "I'm Cookie Monster"! Also, he hopes that if he acts hopelessly clueless aka George's 'huh?', he can get away with most anything.

Yesterday, I went to McDonald's with a friend and her two kids in an attempt to give my husband a couple hours more of peace and quiet to sleep as he's working graveyard this week. We live in an apartment, so there's really nowhere for him to go that's super-quiet, although he's very gracious about it.

I got H the standard ketchup only cheeseburger, though I splurged and got the Happy Meal this time. The boy toy was this freaky looking man from Pirates of the Caribbean who has squid-like tentacles for a beard, so I opted for the girl toy, which was a 'princess watch'...basically a chunky plastic wristlet, but H loves that stuff, so there you have it.

I have recently started allowing H to forgo the high chair in restaurants as long as he sits in his seat. He took a couple bites of food, but was too excited about the tunnels to play, so I let him get up after he took a couple mommy-assisted sips out of his chocolate milk. I was convinced he'd spill on himself if I let him have it on his own, so made him let me help him.

Fast forward about 10 minutes, when H returned to the table with the freaky sailor-squid guy. Hmmm...where had he gotten that toy. I heard no children protesting, or parents looking for their kid's toy, so I didn't make too much of a deal about it.

Fast forward about 5 more minutes, H came walking toward the table, casually holding a chocolate milk jug and sipping from the straw. I leapt out of my chair, shrieking, 'WHERE DID YOU GET THAT?!' Again, no parent seemed to notice that my not-so-secret ninja was scavenging from their tray, and the only person with a table in that area seemed to have all food and drink accounted for.

My friend was laughing, stating that she'd thought it was his milk. I then got a sick feeling in my stomach, hoping he hadn't gotten the milk from the trash, but that didn't even make sense...sure enough, there was no trash can in that area, and the others were within my sight, so I'd have seen him going over there...whew! I quickly deposited the questionable milk in the trash and told H to go play. Crisis averted.

Okay, fast forward ANOTHER five minutes, and the OS of my friend Alex is happily announcing "H has two ____ !" I didn't quite catch what he said, so I asked again. "H has two straws in his mouth!" I looked up into a clear portion of the tunnel to see H with a straw connected to each canine, grinning and looking like a walrus. Awesome. Where the H was H getting all this shite?! I looked around the corner, and it appeared that someone had left some cups and probably their toy and chocolate milk on the floor. I took the two cups, sans their straws, and threw them in the trash, eliminating any further fodder for the contraction of a plague-like virus.

I started yelling up to H to take the straws out his mouth. He, being no fool, realized that my hugely pregnant self was not about to climb up through the maze of tunnels and enforce my assertion so he just boldly shook his head no. After I realized it was a lost cause, I took out my cell phone and attempted to get a picture. However, it was too hard to tell in the photo that there were straws in his mouth due to the plethora of smears and smudges of unknown origin on the plexi-glass. I asked H to please take the straws out of his mouth, as it wasn't safe. He took them out, but then replaced them with lightning speed, technically obeying my request. I lured him down for a french fry and took the offending straws away, depositing them in the trash.

Not surprisingly, H had diarrhea today.

(PS, I realize that it's a sea lion in the photo, and not a walrus. However, that's a photo from my honeymoon on the Oregon Coast, and I haven't really had the opportunity to photograph a walrus, so there you have it.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ode to Nancy

Today, I thought I'd take the time to honor the best prankster in Union County. For some, April Fools is a day that is just plain fun. For people like my mother, it's a day that is anticipated and plotted for to the extreme.

Every year, we'd know that the date was looming, and EVERY year, she got us. By high school, we got to the point that we'd pick through our breakfast cereal, looking for plastic bugs or have cash ready to buy lunch when our Styrofoam plastic-roach-filled sandwich was lovingly packed by dear old mom. I think that the thrill of watching us walk on eggshells all day was almost more fun than the actual trick itself. She quickly learned that she had to get us earlier and earlier. My senior year, she even stooped to the level of putting saran wrap over the toilet...it's a good thing I always showered in the morning.
For her, the more props the better. She has worn 'BillyBob' teeth to work several times, and considering that she works at Wal-Mart in rural America it takes people awhile to realize that it's a joke, making it even more funny.

Being from a small town, she involved whoever she needed to in order to make her pranks seem legitimate, as everyone grew more and more weary of her on that fateful day each year. When I was 16, she had the chief of police call our house and leave a message for my little sister and I that we had broken curfew and needed to report to his office within 12 hours. At the end of the message, he officiously left the date. It took a couple of adrenaline-filled minutes for us to realize what that meant.

My best friends parents were also my parents' best friends, so she would drive over to their house in the wee hours of the morning to shrink wrap their front door or she's sneak a rubber snake in their bed while having lunch at their house. Sending people into a panic or generally doing things that any other day of the year would just piss you off was something that she seriously NEVER gets tired of. She has this crazy cackle of a laugh, and it just erupts from her when her pranks go well.

All my life I've been waiting for the day when I could pull one over one her, and it just doesn't happen. This morning, I thought I would finally have my shot. I live three hours ahead now, so when I called at 5am her time and she groggily answered the phone, I launched into my tearful trick...no dice. She just said "You liar! It's April Fool's Day!" Curses, foiled again!

Anyway, here's to you, Nancy Lou. (I hope you all realize that she doesn't truly look like that in 'real life'.)

Sally HP Reviews!

When my friend Alex told me that the Parent Bloggers Network was looking for people to review Diaper Goop I was, unfortunately, in the throes of recovering from H's first really bad diaper rash. I hope never to have to repeat that experience, so I got more excited than had I accidentally been given a "Gotta Have It" at Cold Stone. I quickly emailed the powers that be, and asked that I be able to try the goop, as it would be my first review for PBN.

While H had his rash, I had tried a number of creams, two of which really work well, but they seemed to rub off and were in his diaper by the next change instead of sticking and creating a barrier.

My doorbell buzzed about a week later, and I excitedly signed for a box which ended up having FOUR tubs of Diaper Goop inside...I thought I'd get a couple little foil packets of the stuff, but these guys don't mess around! Enclosed was a nice letter about the company's beginnings and the fact that they hope to be able to launch in retail stores soon. Diaper Goop was developed by a pharmacist, whose customer had been battling severe diaper rash with her twins. The nice thing about it, is that it wasn't a cream that was conceived with dollar signs in mind. However, because it worked so well, word spread and it was officially coined "diaper goop" in 1990. It has been used by daycare centers and nursing homes alike, treating sensitive skin of all ages.


Fortunately, H's rash had already cleared when the goop arrived, but I noticed he was developing some slight eczema behind his knees. I slathered some on, and was a little put off by the smell, but then read the ingredients and immediately realized why; the primary ingredient in this product is Lanolin...it reminded me of the good ole days of FFA (that's Future Farmers of America for you city slickers) when we would watch the sheep getting shorn. I felt good knowing that it was an odd smell due to being a natural ingredient, instead of the forced 'pleasant scent' in some of the new products which are effected by perfumes being added.


When J got home, he was holding H and noted that he "smelled like bag balm." Yeah, you can take the boy off the farm...


Literally, the next morning, the red areas were gone. I was sold on the effectiveness, and have used it on the backs of his knees most nights after his bath, before slipping on his footy pajamas as a preventative measure. Unlike some of the other creams, the goop was still on his skin in the morning, and hadn't rubbed off onto his clothes. I was pleasantly surprised by this as it's a fairly greasy product, or to be exact lanolin-y. Little C will certainly get the goop treatment when he comes along as well.

The true test came when my friend, L, and her 10 month-old, O, arrived after flying cross-country in the dry, forced and re-circulated air of the plane. She soon realized that she'd forgotten O's prescription eczema cream and his cheeks were pink, and getting more red by the second. I was only too excited to show her the diaper goop, and told her she was more than welcome to try it. We pooled our expertise, and decided that it would be fine to use on his face, as it was just lanolin. She used it sparingly at first, just to make sure.

When O woke up the next morning, the redness had completely faded. She continued to use the goop throughout her stay, and took a tub of it home with her, hoping she'd be able to purchase more when that ran out. L is a very smart consumer...she's one of those people who researches things to death and is pretty eco-conscious. For her to take it with her when she left instead of just using it here out of necessity is a pretty big deal.

I'll also be sending a tub of this to my friend J in Alaska who would really like to use cloth diapers on her fair child, but the diaper rash issue has been prohibitive. I'll post again with the results of that, but feel like it's a good alternative for kids with sensitive skin as well.

I would definitely recommend this product to my friends, and will buy it in the stores when it's available. Diaper Goop is currently sold in only four states, but is available without a prescription. The goop folks are working hard to spread the word and mass-market their product because, as their slogan states 'It Really Works!'

The one thing that I would urge people is to just know that it doesn't smell like baby powder. It's not that it's an overwhelming or terrible smell, it's just a departure from the 'fresh'-scented baby products these days.