Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I know it's December 29, but I can still wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Merry, Merry belated Christmas to all of you.

Needless to say, in the whirlwind of the wonderfulness of Christmas, certain things have gone by the wayside in the last week or so, and my blog is one of them. My kids are on Christmas vacation, and home with me all day, which is heavenly. No, really. Do not detect even the slightest hint of sarcasm this time. I absolutely love having them home all day. Bill is off work this week as well, so the coziness and family bonding around here is so sweet that it's cavity-inducing.

And I'm savoring it.

The best part about this Christmas vacation? Nobody around here is bored. Not that they could be if they wanted to. I have declared an official moratorium on boredom, and so far, so good.

Another good thing? It snowed here. Not just a few flakes, but big, fluffy piles of white stuff. Snow and Christmas vacation are copacetic.

Last week I was talking to some girlfriends and we were chatting about how much our kids love to play in the snow. One friend complained how much work it was just to get the kids ready to go outside in this weather. Of course, I agreed, but then I bragged, "Charlie and Henry are so easy these days! They put on their snow pants, boots, hats, coats and gloves all by themselves. THEN, when they are done playing outside, they come in, and put their outside clothing in the dryer, and turn the dryer on!" Jealous much?

Braggy moms can be so annoying. And I was one of them. I was all, "I don't mean to toot my own horn ladies, but....beep, beep! I've got these boys trained."

Yesterday, Charlie and Henry got themselves ready ALL BY THEMSELVES to play outside in the brand-new fresh blanket of snow. They played in the snow with some friends, but were cold after about a half hour and came inside. I greeted them at the door and directed their boots to the rug. Henry took off his coat to reveal a SHORT-SLEEVED shirt underneath his coat. Then, he took off his snow pants to reveal a pair of Adidas SHORTS. Shorts. In 23-degree snowy weather in Ohio. And the socks? It keeps getting better. They were a pair of ultra-short, no-show white socks with holes in them. Whose kid is this? What kind of mother lets their kid go outside for a half-hour in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt?

Who's the cocky mom now?

Yeah. How would I explain that one to the ER doctor? "You know Doc, I'm not sure at all how my boy has hypothermia. He totally had snow pants over those flimsy summer shorts. And that shirt is paper-thin, but at least it has sleeves, even if they are short ones. And those socks? Psshh. That big hole in the toe and the heel is sooo not even noticeable. There was only about 1/2 gallon of snow that melted down into his boots. Who really needs their pinky toe anyway? It's the useless toe."

Charlie and Henry must now go back to passing our rigorous inspection before they play outside in this weather. And the next time you catch me bragging about how I have my boys trained, feel free to mock me.

Back to Christmas.

Bill laughs at me every year because at some point on Christmas Day, I always say to him, "I'm sad." Why am I a little sad on Christmas Day? Because that means it's almost over. Of course we still have another family Christmas celebration happening here at our house on New Year's Day with my parents and sisters and their families, and all my decorations stay up until at least January 2, so it's never over on Christmas Day.

But still.

The radio goes back to playing normal music, the lights and the trees will be down soon, and my house will go from bright and shiny and cozy, to just plain cozy. But cozy is not so bad. Cozy works for me.

If you are one of those people that takes all your Christmas decorations down by December 26 or 27 without a legitimate reason, (i.e. having to travel, etc.) then to you I give a resounding, "BOO."

Did you hear that? Boo. Can't you at least look at that pretty tree until New Year's Day?

Our garbage man is a happy man today. Sorry, Al Gore. Sorry, environment. But really. MOST of our garbage, about 12 out of the 13 miles of it, is recycling.

Blame the packaging industry. It's not my fault that the Fisher-Price Imaginext Batcave came with 2 pounds of packaging and twist ties. Did I mention that I sustained one minor hand injury and several little cuts on my fingers just trying to get Batman, Barbie, twin baby dolls, Tech Deck, Star Wars guys et al out of their packages? Bill helped, of course, but I always strive to be the biggest whiner in our marriage, so that's why I'm telling you about it here, and he is remaining silent. And really, how manly is it to whine, "Dude, I totally shredded my hand on that 'Just Like Mommy' Doll. Man, check out this little cut on my pinky finger. Ouch, dude."

My kids were very sweet and very grateful on Christmas morning and for most of the days leading up to the holidays. They know the real reason for the season. They know whose birthday we are celebrating.

But these kids still love themselves some Santa.

Santa doesn't wrap the gifts he gives to them, so they knew exactly which ones were from him, and which ones were from us. But on Christmas Eve at my parents' house, Bill and I had one of those parenting moments that we were all, "Whose kids are these? Have you seen their parents? Because surely I am not raising someone who would act like that."

This is the part where you're supposed to nod your head and say, "Uh-huh, Clare. Right on sister. Our kids have their spoiled brat moments too. It's not just you." Can you at least humor me, people?

By the time my kids were toddlers, and could speak or understand words, Bill and I have stressed manners. Good manners are HUGE with us. "Please" and "thank you" were always some of their first words. I truly believe that manners and politeness get a person far in this world. As a result, they now know how to behave when receiving a gift, even if it's something they don't like, or, if it's something they already have. They're supposed to say, "Thank you, Aunt, Uncle, Grandma So-and-so! I love it!" Then they're supposed to shut it. Shut. It.

I wonder if training a dog is this easy?

Anyway, Charlie loves Hardy Boys books lately, and Henry totally hearts Nancy Drew. They saw a four-pack of books of each at Costco back in early November, and begged me to buy it for them. I told them to wait for Christmas but they still talked about these books a few weeks later. My boys wanting books in the Age of Video Games? Loves it. "Wow!" I thought, "Bill and I must be doing something right if our boys are asking for books. After all, they do love to read. We are totally taking credit for this." And then I patted myself on the back for my total parental awesomeness.

My parents ended up buying and wrapping up the books for Charlie and Henry. The big unwrap came around on Christmas Eve, and Charlie and Henry both opened them, looked at them, sighed, and then promptly tossed the pack of books down, and said things like, "We don't like these anymore! We wanted a video game!" Whine, whine, cry, whine, cry.

Oh yes, they did.

Doesn't every parent want to hear that stuff? Especially in front of cousins and aunts and uncles they see a couple of times per year? Look at Clare's kids! Wow! How spoiled are they? Kids are starving and going without, especially during this recession, but Clare's kids are all, "Waaa! We hate this stuff! We want more! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Poor us!"

I looked at my boys and I was all, "Whoa. Slow your roll, dudes. SLOW. YOUR. ROLL."

Maybe they were hungry. Over-tired. Over-excited. PMS-ing. Who knows? That might explain the bad behavior, but it does not excuse it. Needless to say, Bill and I had to have another strongly worded chat with them about values and manners and not hurting feelings, especially their beloved grandparents' feelings. It was buckets of fun, especially on Christmas Eve. They apologized to their grandparents, and I think all was well after that unfortunate outburst.

From me and mine, I wish you joy in these last three days of 2009. This year had its challenges for my family and for those we love, but there were many, many bright spots, as I hope there were for you.

We have high hopes for 2010. It's a brand-spankin'-new decade. Can you believe it? Wasn't it just days ago that we were all worried about Y2K blowing up our computers and erasing our bank accounts and making the world come to a grinding halt? Time flies when you're having fun. Which we can happily say that we are, despite challenges and tough moments. Life is good.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Last time I checked, boogers and snot aren't illegal.

Ahhhh. Boogers and snot. Yes, we keep it clee-assy on this here blog o' mine.

Nothing but the best for my readers.

You're welcome.

Bodily fluids anyone? We've got plenty of them around our house these days, specifically coming out of the nose of Annabel. It's like a continuous faucet of yellow mucus. I wipe it away, turn my head, and there is more in its stead.

Anyhoo, she has been Little Miss Snotty McSnotterson since Thanksgiving-ish. On Sunday, it turned into a full-blown flu, complete with fever and a hacking cough, and of course, there was a major showing of our omnipresent friend, Runny Nose. (What a great for a name for a Kentucky Derby racehorse by the way.)

You know your child is sick when they are not interested in movement of any kind. Annabel laid on the couch for the majority of Monday and visited with all her friends from Nick Jr., which was great, since it was "Merry Monday." However, that a-hole, Caillou, kept trying to bust in on all the fun. Luckily I put a stop to that because I was all, "Dude, am-scray. We're watching Dora save Swiper from Santa's Naughty List. PBS is not where it's at today. Hit the skids, baldie." And he disappeared. Just like that. I think he's scared of me, and he should be. I have a remote, and I'm not afraid to use it.

By Tuesday, Annabel was 85% better, and by today, she was about 99.9% back to her normal, active self. Although I must say that she was still very much sporting a runny nose and a cough. But these Christmas presents aren't going to buy themselves, so into the minivan she went with me to Target.

We stopped at the uber-fantabulous Dollar Spot, to see if there were any good stocking stuffers for the kids. Just as I had my eye on a sa-weet little lip balm in the shape of a can of Pepsi, (Henry needs a 12-step program for lip balm in a major way) Annabel started coughing. And coughing. And coughing.

"Are you okay, sweetie?" I asked.

"Yeah mom."

"Do you want some water bottle?"

"No mom."

Okay. Back to checking out a pair of "Cars" socks that I know George will heart.

Cough. Cough. Cough.

Did I mention that there was a lady in the DS with me? (Get down with the Target lingo, peeps.) She kept looking over at Annabel and I, and I could tell she was getting more disgusted by the minute. But it's not like Annabel was snotting (Yes, Grammar Police, at least it sounds better than "boogering". Mmmmkay?) all over the Charlie Brown coloring books or the Hello Kitty hair bows. She was just coughing. Not a pleasant sound, but come on. Surely a child has coughed in the general vicinity of the DS before.

Then this lady spoke to Annabel. "Wow! That's quite a cough you got there! You should be at home resting and not shopping!"

Oh yes she did.

Annabel, my TWO-year old, looked at her, and then looked at me with a Huh?-What-is-the-tall -lady-saying-to-me? kind of face. And then, I kid you not, she coughed up a small portion of her lung right there in the DS.

Well played, Annabel. Well played.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't a small portion of her lung, but it was a hacky, mucousy good one. Seriously lady. Taking it up with a two-year old? I'm standing right here. You've made your passive-aggressive point perfectly. I get it. You're disgusted with us. I'm a sucky mom because I brought my perfectly fine-but-slightly-coughing daughter to Target at Christmastime. People like me aren't fit to be parents. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Walk on, lady. Walk. On. It's a big store. I hear the Thera-Flu aisle calling your name. You might need some after your encounter with Mommy Horrible and Daughter Disgusting Nose. Beat it.

Of course I was just kind of stunned that she would actually say something to not me, but my daughter, so I smiled at her and politely said, "Oh yeah it sounds awful, but she's okay. She's much better now. You should have heard her a few days ago." Then I steered Annabel to another section of the store.

It's called the high road, be-otch. Try it sometime.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas cram session.

I feel like the whole month of December is one big cram session. But in a good way.

I want to cram all the fun in, all the traditions, and some new experiences too. It goes by too quickly. We wait for it all year, and then suddenly it's January, and we're all, "Huh? Where did it go?"

The Christmas season is just all kinds of awesome.

First of all, let it be known. Santa is watching these kids.

It's a fact that I remind them any chance I get.

Santa is the best form of parental bribery there is. However, the threat of him is starting to wear thin on the two older boys. Their belief is starting to wane, mostly in the mind of Charlie, my 9-year old.

Nine-year olds know it all. Surely you knew that. But if not, then see how little you know? If only you were a 9-year old, then you would have known how much 9-year olds know. But I'm sure the same is true for 10-year olds, 11-year olds, and those pesky teenagers.

It's really only a matter of time before the jig is up with Charlie, regarding Santa. I mean, really, how much longer is he going to believe that a bearded fat man drops off presents on the living room floor and then whisks himself back up the chimney? A chimney, by the way, that is fake. Yes, we have a beautiful stone chimney built and attached to the back of our house, but it is just for show. It does nothing but stand there, tall and proud. And that's it. It is not a portal for fat men in red suits. Our fireplace is a gas one that conveniently turns on with a light switch on the wall. The logs are pretty, but fake. Fake. Fake. Fake.

But the sweetest thing about Charlie's age is that he so fervently wants to believe. He wants to think it's all real. He doesn't want logic to settle in. Logic, schmogic.

He wants to believe in the magic.

And far be it from me to ever burst anyone's Santa bubble. If he's 13 and still believes, then so be it.

We have many traditions around our house at this time of year, as I'm sure you do. The kids all love them and look forward to them, but no one around here seems to love the traditions more than my Henry. Something I am learning about his ADHD and his ODD is that he likes to control situations. He doesn't like surprises. So when we hang up the same ornaments every year, and light up the same porcelain houses on the fireplace mantel, and display the same manger scene by the tree, Henry is in heaven. This is his element. Sure, we introduce a new tradition or two every year, but it is he that makes sure that I continue it the next year.

Yesterday after church we decided to take the kids to see Santa at the mall. We knew there would be long lines, but decided to brave the lines anyway. However, the kids were having none of it.

"Santa is scary," George insisted.

"Scary? No he's not."

"Yeah, he is," Henry joined in.

"Really? Well then why is it okay to ask him for presents, and he brings them to you, but you don't want to talk to him?" I asked.

" 'Cause we don't have to see him. He just drops the stuff off. Duh, mom," said Charlie. "He scares me a little bit too. Besides, you can just email him or call him and tell him what we want."

Oh. Duh. Santa 2009 is all about technology. I wonder if it's hard to text with those white gloves on his hand.

Honestly, can I just say that deep down I was relieved? Bill and I weren't about to force them to sit on Santa's lap; therefore, no long lines and waiting. It was win-win for all.

Instead, we decided to finish up a little Christmas shopping. This was a superbly awesome idea to do with two parents and four children on a Sunday afternoon at the mall a few weeks before Christmas. Because it's not like it's crowded or anything.

Fortunately, the kids were good because we bribed them with time at the play place/climbing/2,742 kids-running-out-of-control area.

Bill and I live to bribe these children.

Really though. Bribery and blackmail just sounds so seedy. Let's just call it "offering incentives." Now it sounds like a bonus program. There's nothing better than turning a negative into a positive.

So we're walking through the mall, and to what to my wandering eyes do appear? It was a huge display of Victoria's Secret's brand-new Miraculous Bra! It makes you TWO chest sizes bigger! And lordy knows I need a miracle or two in my chestal regions. The table with all the bras was right at the opening of the store, and I just turned the stroller with Annabel riding in it, and headed towards the display.

With my 4 men in tow.

I know. My brilliant ideas keep on coming.

Why oh why, do I put myself in these situations where I find myself having to explain uncomfortable things to my shorties?

Maybe if Bill were a better mind-reader, then he would just be all, "Hey guys. Let's go over to Gamestop. Or Sears Hardware, or [insert manly store here] while mommy looks at this boring girl stuff." But no. He's all, Victoria's Secret? And a legitimate reason to go in here? Why, thank you very much! Don't mind if I do. DON'T MIND IF I DO.

In my mind, there is nothing salacious about buying a bra. They're utilitarian. Sure, they're pretty, but they just serve a purpose. And in my case, it helps me look like I don't have the chest of a twelve-year old boy that coincidentally has breast-fed four children. So in my defense, I was just thinking, bras? Miraculous Bras? Well I think I'll just check out this display of pillows that you can strap to your chest. Because, let's be honest. That's all they are. Pillows. Seriously you guys. I can't even begin to explain how much padding is needed to make your chest look Miraculous.

Anyway, the next thing I know, my boys, and even little Annabel, are rifling through the drawers of bras on the stands like a group of uncivilized mini-perverts. Pink! Lime Green! Orange! They're all, "Ooooh...look at all the pretty colors!" And I'm so busy looking for my size, that I didn't notice at first until George grabbed a big orange bra, swung it upwards and exclaimed, "Yeah! I like BIG FAT BOOBIES!"


"Bill, did you hear that?"

"No. What?"

Focus, Bill. They're just mannequins. With fake plastic boobs. Get with the program here. Focus!

"George, what did you just say?" I tenatively asked.

"I like big fat boobies, Mom."

Oh. That's what I thought you said.

That's great. Not only does my 5-year old like boobies, but he likes big, fat ones.

By the way, I have no idea where he heard that word. It's not like it's common vocab around here. Bill insists that I have said it, but I insist that it's a word that I have said out of earshot.

Whatevs. George now knows what boobies are. Big. Fat. Boobies.

Alright. Everyone out of Victoria's Secret. That'll be enough of that. Mommy didn't think that one through. Daddy is a little dumbstruck at the moment.

Don't think that we'll be starting an Annual Family Trip to Victoria's Secret at Christmastime anytime soon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A conversation with my 5-year old, George.

George: Mom, what are these toys here? Are these presents for us?

Clare: No, G. Remember those cards we pulled at church? These toys are for the kids on the cards.

George: No fair! Why do they get these toys?

Clare: Because those kids need the toys, and they asked for them. They are kids who don't have a lot of money, and maybe their mommy or daddy doesn't have a job, and can't afford lots of Christmas presents. So we are helping them out by giving them what they want. See, this girl requested Hannah Montana stuff, so we got her a Hannah doll. It's so important to always help others.

(Clare is feeling puffed up and proud at the moral lesson she has just imparted to her child. These are pure pearls of wisdom.)

George: Oh man! No fair!

Clare: George, these toys are for poor kids. You have lots of toys and a nice home. We have to give to others. We have to help others!

George: No fair. I wish I was poor. They get all the cool stuff.

Clare: George! No, you do not wish you were poor! You should be grateful for all you have! Some of these kids might not even have houses or beds, or dinner every night!

George: Yeah, but they're gonna get these toys. So they're lucky.

Clare: (frustrated, deflated, out of words, trying to explain to a 5-year old what "poor" really means) Let's just always give to and help others, George. Okay?

George: Okay, Mom.

Um...yeah. I think it's time to have a chat about values again at this house.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmastime and other things that have been keeping me busy.

What a week.

I'm still recovering from Thanksgiving traveling, Christmas decorating, and all the doorbusting I did last week and part of this weekend.

My sisters and I doorbusted (Screw you, Grammar Police. I say it's a word.) or as we like to say, "We busted down some doors," last Friday at 5:00 a.m. Why? I have no idea. Just because we could. The doors of Macy's and Target were beckoning to be busted wide open, and we more than happy to oblige.

I have no idea what we bought. We just grabbed two carts and just started throwing crap in them. I do know that I got 700-thread count sheets for $30 bucks. 30 BUCKS, BABY. So, while you were sleeping soundly and peacefully in your warm and cozy 300-thread count sheets last Friday morning, just know that I was out there, fighting the cold, the crowds, the lines, and my own lack of sleep, just so I could upgrade to the 700 model. Oh yeah. Totally worth it.

We promised the kids once we got home from our trip on Saturday that we would put up the Christmas tree. It's an artificial tree, and before we put up the lights, Annabel took matters into her own hands and decided to decorate it herself. Here's the result. I didn't notice it until I went to hang the lights. Can somebody say future interior designer?

I know, I know. I promised you no more Barbie pictures, but I lied. Look how Babs is upside down, naked, and hanging all askew in the tree. Is this a political statement? Is Babs secretly a tree hugger? Is she lamenting the fact that trees have to die to make our Christmases merrier? Well, sorry Babs. I hate to break it to you, but our tree is as fake as your boobs. Your political statement is futile.

Of course, the true statements on this tree come from the the My Little Pony hanging out on a nearby branch, along with a Little People sheep. PETA would be so proud.

Speaking of animals, would you like to meet the current bane of my existence?

Cute, huh?

Nope. He's a total effer. Really. Don't let his cute face, his floppy ears and his reindeer antlers fool you. He is as annoying as the day is long, and I can thank my mother-in-law for him. She gave this to the kids last year for fun. Ironically, there is nothing fun about him, at least according to me. If you press his paw, he sings, "MEEEEEERRRRRY CHRISTMAS BABY!" to the tune of "Shout". You know "Shout", don't you? It's that annoying song that has been played at every wedding in the history of EVER and at one point people even lay on the floor inappropriately and kick up their legs and give you a little unwanted glimpse of their "world"? Yeah. That song. So just substitute, "Jump up and shout now!" with "Merry Christmas now!" and then sing it OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

Why is it that my television remote control batteries die after about a month, but this thing has batteries that will still be working in the next millenium? No matter how many times the kids push that stinkin' paw and I hope that this will be the time that nothing comes out of his mouth, he manages to start up with a, "MEEEEERRRRYYYYY CHRISTMAS BABY!!!!"

I'm not going to be a Scrooge about it. But this dog may or may not have accidentally been dropped down the basement stairs this evening at a high velocity when no one was looking. Or it was thrown. Thrown, dropped. Same thing. Alas, this doggy still has his vocal cords intact.

Violence doesn't solve anything, kids.

Before I forget, guess what, among other things, the boys are getting for Christmas this year?

Roller skates. Inline skates, to be exact.

Because I am stupid like that, and furthermore, in love with the Emergency Room. There is no better way that I'd rather spend an afternoon with all four of my children, than having one of them get a plaster cast on a vital body part.

But really. The boys asked for them, and they are seasoned, veteran skaters who have been skating a grand total of ONCE, so it's a good idea, right? I'm not one of those moms who wants to bubble-wrap her kids just so they'll never get hurt, but I have a tiny inkling that I'm just asking for trouble. I fully expect my medical insurance company to call me and be all, "Hello Clare. We heard that you bought the kids roller skates for Christmas. We'll be handling your claim for your visit to the ER on December 26. So good luck with that!"

I'm not totally stupid. I did buy them all new helmets, and a bag o' armor, i.e. wrist guards and knee pads. Perhaps I will consider sticking maxi pads to their butts just to decrease my chances of serious injury even further.

Oh...it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our neck of the woods.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Okay. Today's blog entry is going to take a slight detour into Sappytown.

I'm a sappy, sentimental fool, and proud of it.

I know it doesn't take a special time of year for any of us to realize or admit that we're thankful. But isn't it great that we have this day?

Thanksgiving, I am thankful for you.

I can be as spontaneous as the next gal. Well, I guess that I can be as spontaneous as this busy life of mine allows. Personally, however, I'll choose tradition over spontaneity any day. There's something so inherently cozy and heartwarming about longstanding family traditions that just envelop you like a warm hug. Thanksgiving is all about tradition and sameness, and that familiarity is comforting.

The cast of characters has changed over the years as we have added new people to our large, extended family, and as we have lost others who are dear to us. But love is the constant. That is the thing that draws us back together as a family year after year from far and near.

My extended family, made up of sisters, brothers-in-law, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces and in-laws is not perfect. We don't always get along. We are different people leading different lives. But isn't that one of the best things about family? We're all thrown into this mix together to teach other and to learn from each other, as frustrating as it may be at times.

My family has a tradition we started years ago. Perhaps your family has the same one. Each person at the table says what they are most thankful for in this world. This moment usually turns me into a blubbering, crying fool. There should be a country music song called, "Tears in My Mashed Potatoes and Gravy", because that's very much what happens.

I love hearing my kids when it is their turn. It's usually something like, "I am thankful for my Wii, my Razor Scooter, my bedroom...and oh yeah. I'm thankful for my Mom and Dad."

I usually barely get out the words, "I'm thankful for", and the tears start. It's so emotional for me to put into words how thankful I am for my life and all the people in it.

Sometimes we have those moments when we are reminded of how grateful we should be for our health and our families and all that we have. A friend is diagnosed with cancer, and we pray for them and become even more grateful for our own health. A child is sick and hospitalized, and we hug our own children even tighter and thank God that it is not happening to our child. We see a bad car accident and say a silent prayer that it wasn't us.

We swear to ourselves that we will always feel this grateful, and that we will never forget it.

But we are human. We have our bad days. We say things like, "These kids are driving me crazy and I need to get the hell out of this house!"

Charlie was having a typical tweener temper tantrum (oh the alliteration!) the other day and Bill and I grounded him from television and video games, which made him angrier. He started slamming doors and amping up his attitude. "I hate you both!" he screamed. Bill quickly responded, "Now you just lost your playing outside time today too. Get in your room." Another door was slammed, but not before Charlie managed to squeak out, "You're so stupid!"

It was then that I went into the powder room, slammed the door, (Do as I say, and not as I do, kids!) and started crying. Bill came in the room and asked, "What's wrong?"

"I hate this job sometimes! Charlie calls us stupid and says he hates us! What kind of child are we raising who says these things?!? What are we doing wrong?!? I suck at this. I suck, suck, suck." I said to him through tears.

Needless to say, I was not feeling very grateful.

"He's just trying to get a rise out of us, Clare. Don't let him get to you. He knows it bothers us." Bill responded as he put his arm around me.

It was not a perfect moment. But it was a human moment, and I am glad that Charlie or the other kids didn't see or hear my meltdown. All was better once Charlie served his punishment, calmed down and apologized. All was forgiven.

We have lots of human, imperfect moments around here. But we don't give up, we learn, and we move on. We try again. We put things in perspective.

I am so thankful for my life, as imperfect as it is. I tell myself I wouldn't have it any other way, because who needs perfection anyway?

Every day that I have with the people I love, I am supremely grateful, even if I don't always say it.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I wish you the smells of good food cooking in the oven and desserts aplenty.

And of course, I hope you are surrounded by the ones you love.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The true story of how Bill almost let Annabel and I go to a S-T-R-I-P club.

How's that for a title? Piqued your interest a little, didn't I?

Okay. I know you must think that I make up some of these stories I tell. But I assure you, everything I write about actually happens to me or my kin.

For reals. Honestly. I'm not that creative. I can't just pull these stories out of my head.

I'm not sure why I feel the need to tell you this particular story. Maybe I just enjoy embarrassing myself. Whatever the reason, I find this story hilarious.

But first, let me explain to you why I have spelled out the word S-T-R-I-P, and why I will be doing so throughout this entry. You may have noticed that I have ads on my blog. I have no control over what ads will appear on this page. Usually, they are triggered by words in my entries and the topics I choose to write about. That's why you'll see ads like, "Potty train your child in 3 hours!" when I write about potty training. See that? I probably just did it again. Great. Now I'm going to have ads for bladder control pads. Darn you, invisible ad monster! Take these words and chew on them for a little bit: Disney World, Disney World, Disney World!

There you go. I hope that triggers happy pictures of Mickey Mouse instead of ads for S-T-R-I-P clubs. Because this is a mostly G-rated page. (Except for those times I sometimes bust out the swear words. Oops.) Pictures of ta-tas are not welcome here.

Okay. Back to my story.

You know how trading in your old gold jewelry for cashola is all the rage these days? Well, I have decided to jump on the bandwagon. At least I've been talking a big game about jumping on the bandwagon for about a year now. I wouldn't say that I have thousands of dollars of jewels lying around the house, but I do have a few old, outdated necklaces, bracelets and earrings that might be worth a little dough. However, it has just always seemed like a lot of effort for a little bit of green stuff. And there is the small detail of going through the boxes from our move to this house last year to find my old "treasures". That requires time and extra energy, of which I do not have a lot of. But yesterday, being a Saturday with not much on the agenda, I decided it was time.

I found this among my husband's personal effects.

I had to put it on a piece of black velvet when I took the picture, just so you could see it in all it's golden brilliance. It's a big gold "B". The letter "B" stands for Bill. It's on a gold chain.

Maybe this is only funny to me, or maybe it will amuse the people that know Bill, but it's a golden "B" you guys! A golden "B" on a chain! Meant for men! It's man jewelry! In my husband's possession!

As you may recall, I met Bill at a dance at his all-boys Catholic high school, when the song "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel was playing. It was thrillingly romantic, at least to my 17-year old self, what with the smell of the boys' gym locker room nearby, and me fervently hoping that I wouldn't trip on the big wrinkle forming on the blue tarp that was protecting the gym floor, thus potentially making a huge fool out of myself. When I met Bill, he was wearing a beige Ralph Lauren polo shirt, blue jeans, and preppy loafers. He was not wearing a big golden "B" around his neck, thankfully. Because if he was, there would probably not be The Great Love Story of Clare and Bill. The story would have ended right there in the gym.

I am 35-years old, so I have now known this man for over half my life. I've known him longer than I've not known him. And in all the days, weeks, months and years that I have known him, the above "B" on a golden chain, does not fit into the picture. He is ultra-conservative, preppy, traditional and reserved.

He is not Vanilla Ice. Or a homeboy of any sort.

I thought I knew everything about him, but apparently somebody has some skeletons in his closet. And they're in the shape of a huge golden "B".

He swears he never wore this man-necklace. He says it was a gift from his mom. I believe him. Kind of.

Okay. As enjoyable as it is to mock my husband and his taste in fine jewelry, I'm rambling. Back to my story and my hunt for golden treasures.

I found a nice little pile of gold, put it in a travel-size jewelry box, and put that into a little Victoria's Secret handle-bag with tissue paper on the inside, so that I could carry it with me to the mall, and no one would know that I was carrying thousands...ahem...hundreds...ahem...tens of dollars of expensive jewels. (The irony of the Victoria's Secret bag comes later in the story.)

Bill and I were able to enjoy a night out last night, sans children. We ate dinner at a great restaurant, and then headed over to the mall, with me carrying my Victoria's Secret bag full of loot. We were able to do a little Christmas shopping first, but then we realized it was getting late, and I couldn't find the so-called gold appraisal place at the mall.

No bigs. "Annabel and I will just go to a few jewelry stores one day this week or next to have this stuff appraised," I said to Bill.

"Where're you gonna go?" Bill asked.

I named a few places that I have driven by recently that have signs advertising, "Cash for Gold!" in their windows. Then I said, "Yeah, and I think there's a place on Sawmill called Columbus Gold. I'm sure they appraise and buy gold there too."

"Columbus Gold?" Bill asked tenatively.

"Yeah. Columbus Gold."

"Columbus Gold? Really? That's where you're taking it?"

"Yes Bill. I said Columbus Gold. I've never seen it, but it's in a strip mall, and they have a big sign that says, 'Columbus Gold'. Therefore, I'm assuming they appraise gold jewelry." Duh.

Sheesh. Pay attention dude.

"Huh." Bill said.

"Huh? What do you mean by 'huh'?"

"Nothing," Bill responded, but I looked over at him, and I could tell he was starting to smirk.

There was silence for a few moments as we drove down a dark road, headed towards home.

Then he said, "Alright Clare. I have debated in my mind right now whether or not I should tell you this. It's too good. I've decided to tell you, but only because my children may be involved with this. Columbus Gold is not a jewelry store. It's a S-T-R-I-P club."

"Is not."

"Is too."

"No way."


"And you weren't going to tell me this?" I asked, getting frustrated with him.

"NO. WAY. If you were going alone, I wouldn't have told you. I would have just let you walk in the door with your little Victoria's Secret bag and make the discovery yourself," Bill said through his laughter.

(See the irony? The sweet irony of the Victoria's Secret bag now? I would have looked like I was on a job hunt. Oy.)

"But since Annabel was going with you, I decided to tell you. I wouldn't want her little eyes exposed to that," he continued.

"But it's okay for me?"

"Of course! That would have been hilarious! Can't you just picture yourself with your little Victoria's Secret bag?!?" he said as he laughed even harder.

Hilarious indeed. I'm a good Catholic girl. Clearly, I have never been to a S-T-R-I-P club. Nor do I have any desire to go to a S-T-R-I-P club. That's not how I roll.

"How did you even know it was a S-T-R-I-P club?" I questioned.

"Clare. It has all black windows, and a tacky limo parked out front that says Columbus Gold. Haven't you ever seen it from the street?"


Aren't S-T-R-I-P clubs supposed to have names like "Ta-Ta House"? "Cahoots"? "The Velvet Touch"? They're not supposed to have unassuming names like Columbus Gold.

Can you see why I thought it was a jewelry place? My brain does not automatically go to S-T-R-I-P club.

In my defense, I'm sure I wouldn't have actually walked in the place. I'm sure I would have noticed the smell of baby oil and sensed the overwhelming presence of girls with serious Daddy issues while still in the parking lot.

At least I hope so.

So there you have it. The embarrassing moment that almost was. Thanks to my husband.

Payback was sweet at about 2:15 this morning when Bill got out of bed to use the bathroom. As he was coming back to bed, I was jolted awake by the sound of a huge thump, followed by a loud, "OWWW!"

"What happened?!? Are you alright?" I asked, jumping up out of bed.

Billed whined as he rubbed his nose, "No I'm not! It's so dark, and I didn't have my glasses on, and I walked right into the doorjamb, and hit my nose, and half my face!"

And I just started cracking up. Right there in the bed at 2:15 a.m. While my husband rubbed his injured nose and whined.

As the teenagers would say, I was LMAO, also known as Laughing My Ass Off.

I know. My compassion is astounding.

But whatevs. That's what he gets for almost letting me walk into a S-T-R-I-P club.

Don't mess with me.

UPDATE: I drove the kids to school this morning, and made sure to notice this place on my drive home. It's usually obstructed from view by a now-closed fast food restaurant, and the only thing I usually see is the sign on the building, that is very understated, like...ahem...a jewelry store would be. I laughed to myself as I finally looked at the place the first time. Yep. Definitely a S-T-R-I-P club. Black windows, purple lights and all.

It's a good thing I have a healthy sense of humor. My own naivete continually surprises me.

Just another day in my life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Charlie Brown hates Mr. Claus.

Yep. You read it here first.

Charlie Brown hates Mr. Claus.

At least according to George.

And I just like saying it because it makes me laugh.

Charlie Brown hates Mr. Claus.

Yep. Still makes me chuckle.

The Christmas music has been playing in our house and car for weeks now, and I love it. This afternoon I was driving George to pre-school, and he and Annabel were happily sitting in their car seats singing along to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". Suddenly "Christmas Time is Here" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio started up.

"Why does Charlie Brown hate Mr. Claus, Mom?" George asked.

"What? What makes you think that?"

"Because. They say it in this song."

"Where? Tell me when they get to that part, okay George?"

"Okay. I'll tell you."

lalalalalalala....music playing....lalalalalalalalala...

"There. That was it. They just said it Mom."

"It was that part, George? They're not saying they hate Mr. Claus."

"Well then what are they saying?" queried George.

"They sing, 'olden times and ancient rhymes, of love and dreams to share'." I answered.

"Huh? 'Cause it sounds like they're saying they hate Mr. Claus."

Yeah. Sounds exactly like that. Word for word.

I'll never listen to that song the same way again.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Swine Flu? Not with these kids. Hopefully.

Getting the Swine flu vaccine for my kids?

Done and done.

I have checked it off my list with much exuberance and much flair. Picture me whooshing a check mark sign through the air.

That's how happy I am that my kids have gotten the vaccine.

The whole ordeal was only fraught with only the tiniest hint of drama. You know, because that's how I roll. I brings the drama where I goes. Yes, I complain that I can't handle all the drama in my life, but I think that I secretly like it a little bit. Drama and I are kind of buds. But shhhh...don't tell anyone.

So Sunday afternoon, at about 4:05, my friend and wonderful neighbor Kirsten called me and said, "Do you guys still need the swine flu vaccine? Because we just left the high school, and they're doing vaccines there. There was no one there, and we were in and out in about 10 minutes. It was so easy! You should go!"

You guys, let me tell you. I can get this family out the door fast. But seriously. This was like Road Runner from Bugs Bunny fast. All I heard Kirsten say was, "Swine flu vaccine...only took 10 minutes...no people there...go," and I was off and running like my legs were on fire. Charlie was resting on the family room couch watching the Disney Channel, wearing just a pair of boxers and a t-shirt. (Boys, why do you hate pants so much? What do you have against them?) I quickly ran to his bedroom, grabbed a pair of blue sweat pants, leaned over the upstairs railing and threw them down to him, and said, "HURRY UP! WE GOTTA GO! LET'S MOVE IT PEOPLE! GO GO GO!"

"Where are we going Mom?" asked Charlie.

Oh crap. How am I going to motivate them to move their little butts fast? "Hey kids! It's shot time!" was not going to work.

"We have to go to the high school. They have a swine flu vaccine, and I want you guys to get it so you don't get sick. But it's the Flu Mist one and not the shot, so let's go really quickly!"

I had no idea if they had the Flu Mist or not. I lied directly to their little faces. But I needed their butts in their car seats. Like ASAP. And they liked the Flu Mist when they got it for their regular flu shot because it was painless. If the shot was the only thing available when I got there, I would just cross that bridge when I came to it. And by "crossing that bridge," I mean that it would somehow involve us bribing them with McDonald's milkshakes immediately following said shots.

Henry was playing Lego, and he ran to his car seat. Check. Charlie threw on his pants and shoes and ambled over to the minivan. Check. Annabel was sound asleep, taking a peaceful nap, and I literally ripped her out of her crib, popped her Crocs on her feet, and put her in her car seat, as she gave me a sweet little, "Huh? Mom, why you gotta bust into my sleepytime?" face. Check.

Bill and George were at Home Depot buying a patch for the bedroom wall, (see yesterday's blog entry for the details on that) and I called him as I rolled down the driveway and said out of breath, "Quick!...(pant)...Kirsten called...(pant)...meet me at the high school...(pant)...and get Swine Flu vaccine...(pant) for the kids...(pant)"

All four kids ready.

"Mom, doesn't the speed limit say 25?" Charlie chirped as I drove 35...okay...45...to the high school, which is about a mile from our house.

Sheesh. These kids and their number-reading skills. That'll be enough of that.

I just had a feeling that the clinic would be closing soon, and I wanted to get them there in time.

As I pulled into the parking lot of the high school, which is about ten times larger than the Mall of America, (could these brand-new public high schools be any bigger?) I finally found the right parking lot.

My heart dropped a bit as I saw the county health workers putting coolers and chairs into their cars.

Too late.

But still determined.

I pulled my car up to a thirtysomething guy who had a county health badge on, and I asked him dejectedly, "Is this clinic all done for the day?"

"Yes ma'am. But we'll be doing another one soon."

Ma'am? Ma'am? I did not bring my grandmother with me. I know my hair is in a haphazard ponytail, and I'm in my ultra-sexy (read: frumpy) sweatsuit, but there will be none of that. Ma'am indeed.

Unless he had the "goods". Then he can call me "Mister" for all I care.

"Oh! I'm so mad that I missed it! Did you run out of shots today?" I asked, still out of breath.

Need I mention that I kind of curled my lip in a cute little pout? Seriously. I was flirting with the health care worker. Alas, my feminine wiles and charms were lost on this poor soul who just wanted to get home after a long day of sticking screaming kids in their arms and up their noses.

He answered, "No, we still have shots left over, but you'll have to come to the next clinic."

I was thisclose to asking him if he would just stick my kids in the arms right there in the parking lot. But people, although I may be harried and desperate, I still have my dignity.

And back alley drug deals that involve Swine Flu vaccines are where I draw the line.

Well, not really. Who am I kidding? Just say the word and I'm all, "Hey kids! Roll up those sleeves!"

I opened my mouth to beg, but I snapped out of it and instead asked him when the next clinic would take place.

"Not sure. Just check the internet."

The internet? Never heard of it.

I sensed that someone was trying to get rid of the Crazy Minivan Mom.

I called Bill and told him to meet me at home instead.

Now I know how all those loony parents felt like back in the '80s when they were trying to get Cabbage Patch Dolls for their kids. Long lines and shortages. Doing anything to get the goods for their kids.

Chew on that analogy for a little while. I know I'm farfetched sometimes, but connecting Cabbage Patch dolls from the 1980s to Swine Flu vaccines from 2009? That's quite the stretch. Even for me.

I know there is controversy over this vaccine. I have read as much as I can about it. I know the pros and the cons. I'm not telling people what to do for their own kids. I just know that I wanted it for my kids. Plenty of people are surviving the Swine Flu. But I trust my doctors, and the medical community in general, even if they don't have all the definitive answers. The risks are too great. Besides, I would hate myself for exactly forever plus one day if I could get the vaccine for my kids, decided against it, and one of them and was hospitalized with Swine Flu, and even worse, died of it.

We hate making these tough decisions as parents. But we try our best.

And hope for the best.

My mother-in-law is undergoing chemo and thus has a compromised immune system. I can't promise her that my kids won't get her sick, but at least now I can promise that they won't infect her with Swine Flu. The kids can now also hang with their brand-new cousin Maxwell with much less fear. So far, they have only been able to meet him through the glass storm door at Aunt Cettie's house. It's like he's the boy in the bubble.

George said, "So now we don't have to wash our hands all the time?"

Um, no George. We're still scrubbing those mitts regularly.

The part of this story where we actually end up getting the shot was particularly easy and drama-free. Kind of. Like I said, I brings the drama where I goes.

Yesterday after school I took them to a clinic downtown at the local science center. I filled their bellies with McDonald's before heading down there, and prepared for a long wait. Needless to say, I was daunted by the sight of HUNDREDS of people. HUNDREDS.

The workers led us through a maze and I thought to myself, "Huh. This isn't so bad." Not so bad, that is, until we got to a huge, empty exhibit hall and followed the ropes. It was like Disney World. But without the fun rides and Mickey Mouse. But with the long lines. And when we reached the end of the line, the kids didn't get to hop on Thunder Mountain Railroad.

But surprisingly, that line moved quite rapidly. We really never stopped walking the whole time. As a parent, I was impressed. I was very impressed in my children's behavior, because there were so many people and things to look at that my kids didn't have time to get bored and whine. I was also impressed with the whole process. The staff was very helpful.

Thank you, Columbus Health Department, for being so organized and helping to make a stressful experience into a painless one. Well, except for the shot part.

And of course, all my kids qualified for the Flu Mist. Except for...drumroll...George. (He got a bunch of booster vaccines at his 5-year checkup two weeks ago, and they didn't think it was safe to also inject him with the Flu Mist.) Did you read my entry a few days ago about how George feels about medicine, and especially shots? You can refresh your memory here.

George was fine until we got to the vaccine room with nurses sitting at long tables, ready to administer vaccines, and then he clamped his arms around my left thigh with a firm hug and started trembling. Then he proceeded to wail.

He still thought he was getting the Flu Mist at this point. I had left out the little detail that he was getting a shot. Is there ever a good time to tell your kid that he's getting a shot? Especially my George?


"It's okay sweetie. Mommy is here, and I'll hold you the whole time. But sweetie, they have to do a shot on you instead."

Suddenly the Flu Mist nose thingy was looking better to him.


How quickly he changed his mind.

Annabel started crying. And so did about five other kids nearby who suddenly realized, thanks to George, that scary things happened in this room.

I held him in my lap facing forward, hugged him in a vice grip, another nurse held his legs so he couldn't kick and get away, and another nurse stuck him in the arm with the needle.

George wailed like a banshee the entire time. Poor guy.

When it was all over, his banshee-scream quieted to a dull cry. Then it disappeared altogether as he decided that he had bragging rights over his brothers. Tough guys get shots and live to tell about it. "Babies get the Flu Mist up their noses," he told them.

I'm staying out of this one.

I'm just glad this ordeal is done.

Until the next drama.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holey moley.

Guess what I get to do today?

Fix this.

What is it, you ask?

Oh, it's just your garden variety hole in the bedroom wall.

You know. No bigs.

Actually, this is the second time I have fixed this hole in Charlie and Henry's bedroom. The first time the hole happened, it was an "accident". (We have lots of those around here.) Someone had removed the doorstop on the baseboard behind the door one day, and then another day, someone flung the door open with...ahem...vigor, and voila! Big hole where the door handle hit the wall. Of course, that "someone" had to use some of his allowance money to pay for the patch for the drywall.

Lucky for Someone, I already have plenty of spackle, because I have boys. And once you have a boy, the doctor at the hospital says, "It's a boy," and they send you home from the hospital with a few diapers, a free can of formula, a jar of spackle and a putty knife while saying, "You're gonna need this." Which you do. About 10 seconds after your boy learns how to walk. I am very grateful that we're finally through the big, metal Tonka truck phase, because as fun as those huge yellow beasts are to play with, they MURDER your baseboards and lower walls. Murder in the first degree.

So back to the big, gaping hole in the wall.

I have no idea how the hole was reopened. Not surprisingly, no one around here knows either. However, my kids are insisting that it must be our fifth child, Not Me. I'm assuming that the once-again-missing-doorstop had something to do with it. I'm also assuming that someone opened the door with vigor. I'm further assuming that it truly was an accident, because there was no big drama associated with it. And usually if someone is to blame, I hear, "He did it!" and running footsteps to try and find me. (In the kids' defense, the hole didn't look this bad when I found it. I cleaned off the mangled bits of the previous patching and re-painting job.)

But I have no time or energy for assumptions. Yesterday I sent Bill to Home Depot for supplies. I forgot to have him pick up a new doorstop, so he will have to make another trip. A new doorstop is a must. I plan on installing one of those semi-permanent ones, rather than the springy coiled ones that twist out easily. (And yes, I do know about those plastic circles you can put on the wall behind the door to prevent it from happening again. Practical, yes, but not my thing. They're a little too industrial-looking, and if I put them up, it would be like inviting the kids to slam open their doors.) Besides, this whole shebang is relatively easy and painless to repair. And believe me, I've repaired bigger holes than this one. This hole? A challenge? Pshaw.

Hellooooooooo HGTV! New idea for a show, starring moi! We could call it, "How to Repair All the Crap That Your Kids Break or Damage, So That You Can Barely Notice It." Or if that title is too long, we could always call it, "Help. I Have Kids. Fix This."

I love decorating. It's one of my favorite pasttimes. I love picking out paint colors and all the other details - kid-friendly, of course. There are no Louis XIV chairs in this house. When we moved here, I chose a sports theme for Charlie and Henry's shared bedroom, and I decided to paint light blue and dark blue stripes on the wall. It was a long weekend spent with two cans of paint, a ladder, a level, a pencil and miles of blue masking tape, measuring out and painting 12-inch, perfectly even stripes. I honestly enjoyed it too. My life is so chaotic, messy and unpredictable that I found something very therapeutic and calming about having a room all to myself to paint stripes.

I know. A psychiatrist would have a field day with me. He'd probably say I need a rubber room with stripes. But hey. I like what I like. Some people get drunk. Some people smoke. I paint stripes.

But there's no time for wallowing around here.

I'm just going to fix it, lecture the kids about respecting the house, and move on. This is a house where four kids live, and it shows.

That's why I love it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

If you see me looking confused at the toy store, this is why.

I am in full Christmas shopping mode.

I've learned over the last 9 years of being a mom, that all the best deals on kids' toys and games happen before Thanksgiving.

The early bird gets the worm.

Therefore, I am having no trouble whatsoever finding bargains on toys, especially during this recession. Let's just say that with all the people I have to buy for, I have definitely been doing my part to stimulate our little corner of the economy. Because it's all for the economy, right? I'm just being patriotic.

Anyway, it's not the bargains I am having trouble with. I'm just running out of ideas.

Annabel is easy. If it's pink, she'll take it. But with three boys, we already have our fair share of trucks, action figures, video games, sports equipment and other boy accoutrement. The kids have made their lists, and as long as the things they have requested are somewhat reasonable, I will consider it. Santa may come through, or Bill and I will come through. But sometimes Santa...er...I will look at the list and say, "Hell no." For example, "I want a dog."

Someday the dog will happen. Just not yet.

I grabbed my circulars this week, and I hit Target and Toys 'R Us in search of toys. Among other things, one of Charlie's requests is Tech Deck fingerboards and ramps.

They're mini skateboards. That you use on small ramps. With your fingers. Fingerboards.

Sorry. I just nodded off there while explaining it.

I just don't get it. They're super hawt toys among the tweener boy set. But I can't think of anything more boring. I said to Charlie, "So you mean you just use your fingers, pretend that they are feet, and do skate tricks on the ramps?"

"Yeah Mom. It's so cool. Everyone has 'em."

Well then. By all means. Everyone has them. I must not let my son be ostracized for his lack of fingerboards.

How is it that someone is getting immensely rich at such a ridiculously simple idea? I'm jealous.

Alas, there's nothing inappropriate or violent about Tech Deck, so I bought Charlie a few boards and ramps. And I promise you, in advance, that I will blog about the first time I step on a fingerboard on the hardwood floors, lose my balance, and land on my tailbone.

'Cause that's totally gonna happen.

Onto the next.

All my boys are obsessed with Star Wars. Yoda and friends have a stranglehold on their little hearts that just won't quit.

I headed over to the Star Wars aisle, and saw this:

It's a real robotic arm! You can build, use, and display it! It's on sale for $22.49! Even better, it's Darth Vader's Arm! There's only 42 snap-together parts!

Oh. Only 42? Phew. I thought it would be something crazy like 43 snap-together parts. Then that would be ridiculous.

Actually, it looks like a great toy, and the perfect project for my Henry. This is so up his alley that the box should say, "Hi Henry, I'm waiting."

But I am hesitant to buy it for a few reasons.

1.) There's 42 snap-together parts. Did you read that part? I have no doubt that Henry can assemble all 42 snap-together parts. But that's 42 snap-together parts in my house. Just waiting to get lodged in the carpeting. Or to fall behind couches. Or to get sucked up my vacuum.

I need 42 snap-together parts like I need a hole in my head.

2.) The description of this toy says, "The Star Wars Darth Vader Robotic Arm by Uncle Milton shows you how to build a robotic arm and lets you grip and move real objects with interactive controls."

When I looked at the toy and learned that it does real hand things, the description in my head said, "Henry will use this robotic arm to give George a wedgie. George will retaliate by manipulating the hand into a fist, and punch Henry in the stomach."

I have enough trouble with the kids keeping their hands to themselves. Do I really need a robotic arm to punish now? Because I can just hear it. "You said not to touch each other, Mom, and we didn't. The arm did."

I'll admit that I'm still thinking about it. I have a feeling I'm going to end up buying the robotic arm, if only for the reason that it will keep Henry and maybe a brother or two busy on a cold, winter afternoon while they put together all 42 snap-together parts.

Not 43. Heaven forbid. That would be crazy.

As I rounded the corner at Toys 'R Us today, after my contemplation of the robotic arm, I was rendered speechless.

And that's a hard thing to do. Because I like to talk.

But holy crap. I saw this.

Holy slutbag. It's Little Red Riding Hood, imagined by Barbie.

The sluttiest. Barbie. Ever.

And the best part is that she retails for a paltry $49.99.

Hooker dolls don't come cheap, you guys.

Okay. Where do I begin with the wrongness of this wrong-o wrongly wrong wrongocity?

First of all, it's just so wrong.

Secondly, this is exactly how Red and the Wolf were positioned in the box. His beady little eyes are directly targeting her crotch.

Sorry Wolf. Don't want no short, short man.

However, Wolf's best feature is that he is dressed appropriately, and he's actually quite dapper. He couldn't be more covered up.

Red, not so much.

The fishnet/garter socks that tie with bows? The velvet midriff bustier? The skirt that shows it all?

She looks like she wants to huff, and puff, and blow...blow...your house down.

Geez. What did you think I was going to say, dirty mind?

Oh wait. That's the wrong fairy tale. Wrong wolf.

You get the point.

I have expressed my preference for Barbie dolls over Bratz dolls in this blog before. But Barbie, how do I defend you now? After this?

This Barbie could out-slut a skanky Bratz doll any day of the week. I'm not sure what the criteria would be in the official "Slut Off" contest between Bratz and Babs, but I'm sure it would not be rated "E" for Everyone.

It's a doll. Kids grow up so fast. Really, Mattel? Is this necessary?

Merry Christmas shopping to you all. Wishing you bargains aplenty and wholesome dolls for your daughters.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This little piggy can stay the hell out of my house.

I'm not sure any of you have heard, because it's mostly a really big secret. Please allow me to enlighten you, and bust this secret wide open. So there's this flu going around, and it's caused by swine. Pigs. The nice name for it is H1N1. The ugly name for it is Swine Flu. Ever hear of it?

Didn't think so.

Or, you may have heard it mentioned it once, or thrice, or a bazillion times on the news.

Or, like me, a bazillion times twelve.

Really, media. We get it. Swine flu sucks. Wash your hands. Keep your hands away from your face. Don't pick your nose and give the germs an entry.

But hey. How about this? How about you just don't go digging in your nose at all? Ever. But if you do, at least have the decency to scrub those dirty hands. And how about you always wash your hands after you touch germy stuff like public door handles and toilet flushers? Scrubbing the feces off your mitts to avoid the transferring of germs would be an awesome idea. Awesome.

As if parents don't have enough to be scared about. Now this?

As if we don't have enough crap on our plate. Now, if we want our kids vaccinated, we have to wait outside for five hours?

My kids have not received the H1N1 vaccine yet, mostly because I am not a sadist. I want them to get the vaccine, and I hope my doctor's office or a local clinic gets it soon. But my idea of a complete and total parental nightmare would be to try and entertain my kids for anywhere from 3-5 hours in a long line of people, so that once we get to the Promised Land, a.k.a. The End of the Line, they would be rewarded with a shot in the arm. The end result would be four crying kids, four tired kids, four hungry kids, four punished kids, (I'm just assuming that one or more of them would punch or do something in that amount of time that would warrant a punishment) and one fed-up, and bitchy mom.

Yeah. It made me shudder just thinking of it.

So until my kids get the vaccine, I'll just have to remain in this permanent state of paranoia every time they get a fever, have a sore throat, or sport runny boogers coming out of their noses.

I assure you. It's buckets o' fun. Buckets.

Darn you swine flu. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times. This little piggy can go to the market, this little piggy can stay home, this little piggy can have roast beef, or none, but stay outta my house.

Now it seems like everyone is getting swine flu. All the cool kids have it. And they're surviving it and doing just fine now. That gives me hope. And as Martha would say, "It's a good thing."

Henry has been sick since Sunday, and I'm all, swine or no swine? He's about 83% better now, so if it was swine, it was a mild case (is there such a thing?). Whatever it was, it has now started it slow and evil descent into my home.

Mwwwahhh ha ha ha. Oink.

That's what Swine Flu sounds like. For reals. I picture it with this sinister laugh/oink combo.

George is starting to come down with something, which I dread. I dread it because it is one part scary, and two parts hellish, because George, as pleasant and easygoing as his personality is, will never, ever, nuh-uh, no way, in no uncertain terms, hell no, take medicine. It's not that a little Motrin will take down the Swine Flu. But Motrin reduces fevers, and fevers scare me.

I hope that a representative from Family Services doesn't happen to be taking a leisurely stroll by my house on that random night that George happens to be sick. Because he will find Bill holding George's head, and me practically straddled and splayed across the top of little George, shooting a dollop of orange Motrin down his throat as George screams, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"

It's quite the Norman Rockwell moment. Truly heartwarming.

Believe me. We have tried bribery. Gift-giving. Cajoling. Pleading. Begging. Mixing it in applesauce. Putting it in cup of juice. Offering lollipops. Offering it in chewable tablet form. Every darn thing. But George is decidedly anti-medicine. If there was a political group that was anti-medicine, George would be their top lobbyist. Their House Majority Leader. Their King. Their Messiah.

He will take chewable vitamins, so I have tried calling the chewable Tylenol tablets "vitamins". I know. I'm terrible. But if you think that's terrible, you should have seen me on the desperate day when I was thisclose to calling it "candy".

I didn't do it, of course, but I can't say that it didn't cross my mind. About a thousand times.

So now Bill and I have resorted to holding George down and forcing medicine down his throat, when he truly, desperately needs it, i.e. he spikes a fever of 103.

I hope he's not getting sick. Ugh. I dread it for so many reasons.

Welcome swine flu. I hope your stay here is very unpleasant.

I plan on Lysol-ing your ass to the curb.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween, you were buckets o' fun, but I'm glad to be done with you.

Well, Halloween 2009 is in the books.

It was a fun time, with great memories. But that said, I'm happy to be done with it.

Christmas is my thing. If there were a Scrooge for Halloween, that would probably be me. I enjoy it for a few days, but then I'm more than happy when it's over. My Christmas music playlist starts up, and I start focusing on the warm and cozy upcoming holiday season.

As you read a few days ago, Pre-Halloween 2009 didn't happen because I was living in Temper Tantrum City and Meltdown Town, but Halloween 2009 happened, and was, in fact, almost meltdown-free.


The kids are more than sated with their share of chocolate, lollipops, chocolate, gummies, chocolate, and did I mention chocolate? I'll let them gorge themselves for a few more days before the huge bags start thinning out, and pieces of candy slowly disappear into the garbage while children are at school. (Don't bust me.) After all the parties, the school parties, and neighborhood fun, even my kids would likely admit that they are Halloween-ed out.

It's been real, Halloween. Nice knowing ya.

We had a few last-minute costume regrets last night, to which I said, "Whatevs! 5:30 p.m. on Halloween is not the time to decide that you don't want to be a pirate/Star Wars Clone Trooper. Get over it." One of my kids, who shall remain nameless, even suggested that I run to Target to buy him a new costume, because he saw some of the other kids' costumes in the neighborhood, and they were "way cooler." Needless to say, I ignored that request.

I'm such a meanie.

However, like most holidays, no matter how many pictures I take, I always realize about five minutes too late (i.e. after they take their costumes off) that I didn't take enough of my kids. It's so busy getting everyone ready, and I'm thrown into the happy chaos, but then it's over, and I'm uploading the pictures thinking how many great shots I missed.

I say I will learn my lesson for the next time, but I never do.

We had a good turnout of kids in our neighborhood, and I'm always amazed at the creativity and cuteness of some costumes, but then I'm also baffled at the total inappropriateness of others. Yes, parents, when you send your sweet little child out on the street dressed as mass murderer with a bloody knife, and a bloody, scarred mask, I cringe. Really? That's the best you can do? I know the costume choices get harder as kids get older, but a serial killer? Niiiice.

I saw two different boys, each about 10-ish years old dressed as pimps. Yes, two pimps. I even asked one of the boys, "So what is your costume?" knowing full well what he was supposed to be, as I was almost blinded by the bright neon green and zebra fur hat, and gold dollar sign pendant around his neck.

"I'm a pimp," was his quick reply.

Good. I was just thinking to myself how the population of pimps in the world is always way underrepresented by children on Halloween. There is nothing more heartwarming than to see a young boy dressed up as a man who makes his living by selling vulnerable women for sex on the streets. And rules by force and threats. And even beats up or murders said women.

Parents? Really? A pimp?

On that note, I wish a Happy Belated Halloween to all. Now it's on to November, Thanksgiving, and the holiday season.

I savor this time of year. Cold weather and all.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trick-or-treating tonight? Yeah. Not so much.


So what kind of mom takes away trick-or-treating from her kids?

This mom.


But it had to be done.

Tough love sucks.

So...tonight is the "official" trick-or-treat night for most of the towns and suburbs here in our metropolitan area, even though it's only Thursday, October 29. Luckily, our suburb has trick-or-treating on the actual day of Halloween. Huh. Imagine that. Who would think to actually trick-or-treat on Halloween? Shocking, indeed.

My sister's nearby town has it tonight, so I told my kids that we could go trick-or-treating there for a little bit. They were more than excited for two nights of Halloween candy, and Bill and I were looking forward to spending some time with my sister and brother-in-law, since they are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first baby...oh...about any second now.

But then a shitstorm happened. And we had to shut it all down.

I try not to use obscenities or swear words in this blog. But sometimes, no matter how hard I try to search for the perfect word to accurately describe a situation, sometimes the perfect word just happens to be a swear word.

Thesaurus? Can you fix my potty mouth?

So yeah. A shitstorm happened. As in: a storm-o-shitty behavior that rips through the house like a hurricane. Or a tsunami. And threatens to destroy everything in its path with its colossal terribleness. Things may get broken or thrown. Kids are punished. It's a cacophony of tantrums, if you will. Just imagine if every child in your house (whether you have one child or 18 children) was on their worst behavior, all at the same time.

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, a shitstorm.

And we had a big 'un here tonight.

They're kind of like the apocalypse.

Well, not really. Now I'm just being dramatic.

Anyhoo, they don't happen very often, but when they do, I'm all, Calgon take me away. Like now. Pretty please?

I'm not sure what even started it. The kids were a bit grumpy and tired today anyway. Maybe it was because of the eight tons of crappy, refined sugars they consumed yesterday on George's birthday, a.k.a. Junk Food Day 2009. Maybe there's a full moon tonight. Maybe the earth is off its axis. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

I'll spare you the glorious deets. I'm sure you've been there. Bad behavior. Warning, warning, warning. Blah. Blah. Blah. Kids thinking you're bluffing. You reminding yourself that you have to be strong and stay consistent. You can't issue warnings you have no intention of carrying out. Don't go writing checks your ass can't cash.

All that I know is that I was fed. up. Bill was fed. up. He suggested that we pull the plug on trick-or-treating entirely.

One minute I was all, "Hey kids! Let's be good and get ready to go trick-or-treating at Aunt Cettie's! It's going to be fun!" (Kids fighting, screaming, calling each other stupid-heads)

Then the next minute I was all, "Well, hello there check, my ass has endorsed you, and is now ready to cash you."

And that, fair readers, was how Pre-Halloween 2009 got blown up. Shut down.

For reals.

I guess it was easy for us to make that decision, because it's not really Halloween tonight. We still have the real one to look forward to on Saturday. But it's hard sometimes to stick to my guns, and be the meanie.

But it had to be done.

And I don't regret it.

Bill and I don't mind being the bad guys, if it means teaching them a lesson. We love these kids. They are everything to us.

But still.

It sucks sometimes.

I wanted to have fun with them tonight. Instead, I'm the Mayor of Punishment City.

This job is hard.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Television is not the root of all evil and stupidity.

NEWS FLASH: Television done did made you're kidz stoopid.


You know, dumb as a box of rocks. A few sandwiches short of a picnic. The dimmest bulb on a Christmas tree. The dullest knife in the drawer.

I am warning you! If your kids watch television, especially before the age of two, you might as well forget college. Or high school for that matter. You'll be lucky if they make it through grade school.

And it's all your fault.

Okay. To clarify here, I'm talking about the recent news story that Disney is being sued for asserting that "Baby Einsteins" will make your kid a smartie.

They are offering coupons for Disney products, or up to $15.99 per video (up to 4 videos) if you want to return your Baby Einstein videos because...gasp...the video did not turn your kid into a genius. (For more info, click here.)

And to think that the "Baby Einsteins" videos were all part of our retirement plan. Bill and I bought the videos thinking that our kids would enter college at the age of 8, and then become a famous doctor/scientist/mega-genius who would support Bill and I into our old age.

Darn you, Baby Einsteins. I feel so used. So violated. So misled.

Do you remember the Saturday Night Live "Weekend Update with Seth and Amy" segment simply called, "Really?"

That's what comes to mind when I think of this topic.

Really? You really thought that a videotape could make your kid smarter?

Really? You might swim in the shallow end of the brain pool yourself, but you thought, "Mmmmkay. I'll just buy this here video, and Junior's gonna git into Harvard. 'Cuz it says so right here on the box. Even though it doesn't say so on the box. But the name has Einstein in it, and he was smart, so it must be so."

Really? You really thought that you could just plunk your kid in front of the TV for hours, with no interaction, and that was a good thing?

I am not questioning the validity of this lawsuit against Disney and Baby Einstein. I am not a lawyer. Perhaps there was a point to this class-action lawsuit. Perhaps somewhere along the way, maybe they did imply that if your child watched this video, his I.Q. would soar. Perhaps.

But doesn't this really come down to an issue of common sense as parents? And aren't we smarter than that?

What's next? Are we going to sue the makers of footballs and baseballs because they are making our children believe that they will grow up to be professional athletes?

Darn you, Louisville Slugger. There goes our other retirement plan.

Personally, I love the Baby Einstein videos. They were all the rage back in 2000, when I had my first child, Charlie. The concept is so simple, yet so entertaining. The music is sweet and soft, and the images on the screen are of little toys, or a picture of an animal, along with the word. They even have a video teaching them words from different languages.

I can still picture my little babies happily kicking their feet as they lay on the floor, propped up by a Boppy pillow, watching the video, or eating Cheerios in their Exer-Saucer while the images flashed on the screen.

It's now deep, dark, confessions time. I let my kids watch TV before the age of two. I also let them watch Baby Einstein videos. And...brace yourself...I occasionally let the television babysit (if that's what they're calling it) one or more of my children while I made a phone call, cooked dinner, or just needed a moment or two to regain my sanity.

Here's the worst part: I don't regret any of it for a single second.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has long cited statistics that say that TV can be linked to hyperactivity, lack of focus, and trouble with language. I have no reason to doubt many of these statistics. I trust the AAP. But I also think that with every statistic, there are many uncontrollable factors there that come into play.

For example, for every 2-year old that watched television, and knew less vocabulary words than the non-TV-watching 2-year old, what was their environment like? Was the TV on all day, or just at intermittent times with great, high-quality programming like Sesame Street, Blues Clues and Dora the Explorer? Did the child also play outside at some point during the day? Did the child make a trip to the grocery store with a parent who talked with them about what they were buying, as in, "Look at the red apples Mommy is putting in the cart! Do you want to help Daddy find the orange cheese crackers?" Did that child have siblings to interact with? When the TV was off, was the child playing with blocks, puzzles and other toys? Did the child ever listen to music in the kitchen with Mom and have dance parties while they emptied the dishwasher together or set the kitchen table? Did they also take walks outside to talk about nature? Did they ever make a trip to the zoo?

Because my children did all of the above and more, aaaaaaand they watched TV. They still do.

And I would like to believe that none of them is a babbling idiot.

I try really hard to be a good parent. I strive to be creative, I want stimulate my kids' brains by taking them fun places, and doing things with them. But I am also a realist. I believe in certain things in moderation. And TV is one of them. (Candy is another. But that's a different topic for another day. Halloween is coming and I will let them eat junky, trashy, sugary, yummy candy. Just not all of it at once.)

If you are a mother who does not let their child watch any television at all, I am not trying to convince you to do as I say. However, I am very curious, and maybe somewhat in awe of you. How do you do it? How do you take a long car trip to Virginia Beach without a video or two? How do you fold and put away those five loads of laundry without the assistance of "Dinosaur Train"? How do you make that important phone call without seeking the help of Steve or Joe from "Blue's Clues"? How do you not go insane without a few moments of your children sitting in silence on the couch at least once in awhile?

I know so many wonderful moms. These are women who are caring, whom I admire, whom I look to for advice with this job. And every single one of them lets their child watch TV occasionally. And every single one of them is smart enough to know that a video will not turn their child into a genius. But we do know that high-quality television is not bad for our kids either.

The other day I was shopping at Target with Annabel, and we were looking at toys to buy George for his birthday. She really wanted to check out what was on the end-cap at the end of the aisle, but I was still busy looking at the toys in the middle. "Come on, Mom!" she begged. "Let's go Mom! Vamonos!"

Vamonos? Did Annabel just say, "Vamonos?" Yes she did! And she did not get that from me. She got it from Dora. And she used it in the right context too! See? Television can't be all bad, right?

But that said, I will still not allow television and videos to be my constant babysitter. My kids wouldn't allow it either. They like to play with toys too much. Besides, isn't interaction with our kids the key to stimulating their brains? The best parents talk to their kids, take them places, play with them, go outside with them, and even...gasp...watch television programs with their kids. How can that interaction with kids be all negative? I don't think it can.

However, I'm still a sucker for a deal, and $15.99 for up to four videos? I'll take it.

Maybe I'll use the money to take the kids to a museum.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nine-year olds are a hoot.

Nine-year old in the house!

Yesterday was Charlie's ninth birthday. A few weeks ago I approached him and suggested a small pizza and cake party here at the house with a few of his besties. But haven't you heard? Those kinds of parties are for babies. The slumber party is where it's at. For nine-year old boys at least.

I dreaded the day when the sleepover party invites started rolling in, because I wasn't ready for it. I'll admit I'm a little overprotective, and I offer no apologies for it. It's a scary world out there, and the thought of just handing over one of my kids to someone I barely know for a whole night freaked me out a bit. It still does. About a year ago, Charlie was invited to his first-ever sleepover party, but I was okay with it, because I knew all the boys attending and I knew the parents. I trust my boy too, and I thought it was time to loosen the apron strings a bit, and I let him attend. He was fine, there was no 3 a.m. crying pick-up call, and since then he's been to one more slumber party. So it was just natural that he wanted to have his own slumber party, which Bill and I finally relented and let him have.

He invited six boys, but only four could attend. I shouldn't use the word "only", because four boys + my three boys = plenty o' boys in my house. Plenty.

The boys are all great kids from wonderful families, with impeccable manners, and I heard many "pleases" and "thank yous". They had a fabulous time. But if any of the parents are reading my blog, I apologize if your son is a bit tired today. The boys all talked a big game, saying that they weren't going to sleep at all. They were going to stay up all night and talk, watch movies, play video games and tell ghost stories. Bill and I nodded our heads at this big-kid bravado, but we were both thinking, "Yeah right. They say that now, but they'll all be passed out by midnight or before."

Well call me a big, fat, chump.

Those boys have stamina and energy that I did not believe was possible. When I say that there was no slumbering at our slumber party, I mean that there was no slumbering at our slumber party. At all. Not a wink. No sleepytime. Nada. Not a snore. Not a drifting eyelid. Noth. Ing. Twinkle, twinkle...aw...hell no.

I will never doubt the declarations of a nine-year old boy ever again. I guess when they say what they mean, they mean what they say.

It was all very wholesome fun, so Bill and I didn't have to do really any disciplining, and we turned the TV and video games off around midnight, hoping the Sandman would be along soon to induce them off to dreamland. Didn't happen.

To say that we are bleary-eyed today is a huge understatement. Actually, I shouldn't complain, because I was able to sleep in my big, comfy bed and catch a few winks, but poor Bill slept on the family room couch so he could monitor the goings-on down in the finished basement area.

Therefore, we will be having lights-out at 7:00 p.m. tonight. Or at least trying to.

One of the best parts of the night was eavesdropping on the boys' conversations. It was like reading the most entertaining blog, or watching the most riveting reality show. It was that good. And that hilarious. The topics ranged from the death of Michael Jackson to the death of Billy Mays. Yes, my friends. They're nine. So the sum total that they know of Michael Jackson is that he was a bizarre man who died "after taking too many bad drugs." (I was glad they made this conclusion. Yes kids! Sing it loud and proud! Drugs are bad! Say "no!" to drugs! Drugs kill!) Then the imitations of Billy Mays came out of the woodwork. "KABOOM!" "Oxy-clean!" "The Billy Mays Sandwich Stacker!"

These conversations were golden. It wasn't even necessary for Bill and I to speak. We were happy to just listen and observe.

After dinner and cake, the boys retreated to the basement for a rousing game of "Super Mario Brothers Super Sluggers" on the Wii. They set up their sleeping bags, and George asked me to set up his little shark tent, in which he wanted to sleep. So picture this situation. Me, buried in the jaws of a huge canvas shark, trying to insert tent poles. Five nine-year old boys plus George and Henry, cracking each other up, taking turns playing a Wii game.

While buried in Jaws, I suddenly hear one of the boys say to Charlie, "Charlie! Look! I unlocked Tiny Kong! 'Member I was telling you about her? She's the one that is H-O-T!"

Hot? Did someone just tell my son that a cartoon character was hot? I was intrigued to say the least. These guys are just on the cusp of starting to notice girls, (I am dreading the innocent years being replaced by the hormonal teenage years) so I wanted to see what they were talking about. I managed to extricate myself from the jaws of the great white, and I looked at the TV screen.

It was just in time to hear Charlie say, "Oh yeah! You're right! She is H-O-T!"

And here is our resident hottie:

I almost choked on my laughter. I was dying. Dy. Ing.

She's a monkey, people. With banana ponytails. And a sassy little midriff top. And an oh-so-gangsta streetwear knit cap.


I loved how they spelled, "H-O-T", too. Like it was something to be secretive about.


Um...by the way, kiddos, Mom is 35. She knows a thing or two about spelling.

So there I was, pulling my head out of the shark, thinking I'm going to see this curvaceous hottie cavorting across the screen (well, as curvaceous as they get for a game rated "E" for Everyone) and I see a monkey. A monkey.

Oh, it was just too funny. But of course, I didn't let them see my laughter. On the outside, I was all cool-as-a-cucumber, but on the inside I was all busting out the laughs like it was comedy hour.

"So Char, what's that character's name?" I asked.

"Tiny Kong."

"Is she the H-O-T one?"

I couldn't resist.

"Yeah mom."

"Why is she H-O-T?"

"Well because she's all cute and teenager-ey."

Ah. Interesting. My son likes sassy older women. Good to know.

I thought the boys would go for the cute Princess Peach.

But maybe she's just too wholesome in her cute pink gym shorts, and shirt that actually reaches her waist. She doesn't give away the goodies for free.

Now this is the kind of girl you bring home to mother. Not that floozy, Tiny Kong.

Tiny Kong looks like she wants to cut you if you mess with her. But maybe that's the allure.


Welcome to nine years old. The tweener years are here.

What a ride it has been.

And still loving every minute.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The flu and other things I did today.

Remember that time you said, "Wouldn't it be awesome if I could just spend the whole day in bed or just lying around?"

Yeah. Not so fun.

The flu hit me on Sunday and I've just been laying (or is it lying?) around all day today. It's not the swine variety, it's just your garden variety icky, achy, fevery flu. Besides, didn't you hear? The swine flu isn't allowed in my house. I banned it. That little piggy went to market, that little piggy stayed home, that little piggy had roast beef, and then I banned him from my house.

Wouldn't that be nice?

We were in Michigan this weekend having fun with relatives, celebrating the October birthdays in our house, namely, Charlie and George. I started to feel like crap on our drive back on Sunday afternoon, and when we got home at about 3:00, I barely moved from my bed until morning.

It was great.

Well, minus the chills and fever and achy stuff.

For the rest of the afternoon and evening, I watched trashy DVR-ed shows, and two movies. Lifetime, baby. Who usually has time for that? Bill held down the fort on his own, and I only heard minimal crashing sounds and screaming from the kids. Of course the kids wanted to come in bed with me, because they thought they were missing out on something really exciting, but they realized quickly that Lifetime is no Disney Channel. Besides, Bill kept telling them not to "bother Mommy because she needs her rest to get better."

Love him.

But today wasn't as exciting. I was still feeling sick this morning, and fervently wishing my energy would come back. Unlike Sunday, today I didn't have the luxury of total unproductive laziness, since Bill was at work, and I still had to do the afternoon carpooling, homework duty, after-school snacks, and "CAN I GET A JUICE, PLEEEEASE MOMMY?!?"

Is it bad that I let George play video games and watch television all day? Is it bad that the television was also Annabel's babysitter for about 3 hours straight today? Okay. Who am I kidding? Make it four hours. Is it wrong that I let her sit in her poopy Pull-Up for about a half-hour after her nap because I just didn't have the energy to change it?

I'm sure I'm not the only mom with the flu that did that today.

No guilt trip here.