Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ace of Cakes I am not.

My apologies for not posting sooner, but my Henry turned 8 years old yesterday, and I know that we weren't exactly speaking of my heroes, but I gave birth to four of them, and I married the other one.

Have I mentioned that Henry also hearts Lego with a passion usually reserved for people and pets, and not tiny little pieces of colored plastic?

There are THOUSANDS of pieces of Lego that have taken up residence at our home. THOUSANDS. A few naughty ones have been punished with a trip up the vacuum cleaner hose, but the rest of them spend most of their days in brightly colored buckets on the bookshelf in Henry's room, when they are not dumped on the floor in piles in said bedroom, of course.

Despite the fact that there are MILLIONS of Lego bricks in our home, (Yes. I have a theory that Lego bricks actually multiply overnight. They mate and have little Lego babies, and I am telling you, they are like rabbits, because every time I turn around, I swear there is a new batch of bricks.) Henry always seems to know exactly which bricks he has, and which ones he doesn't. In fact, he keeps the heads separate from their little Lego bodies, so he can access them when needed.

And no, I do not think it's the least bit alarming that my sweet little boy has a self-described, "bucket of heads" in his bedroom on the bookshelf.

It was only fitting that Henry would have a Lego birthday party with his peeps this year.

I am well aware of my talents, people, but "Cake Decorating" will not make the list now, or anytime in the near future. Yes, I'm sure I could find a class somewhere that I could take in order to hone my skills, but let me tell you, that when I have free time, the LAST thing I want to do is pick up a piping bag and spatula. I'm leaving that job to the pros.

But I am somewhat of a cocky gal. I watch the TV shows that make it look so easy, and I see many of my talented Facebook friends post pictures of their homemade Lightning McQueen cakes, Chewbacca cakes, or Disney Princess cakes. I think to myself that surely I can make simple, rectangular, Lego bricks out of flour, water, eggs, and sugar.

Surely I can, right?

Well I am here to announce that the next time I say to you, "Piece of cake! (pun intended) I saw Duff Goldman (of Ace of Cakes fame) make a cake of an armadillo lying on a beach towel in the middle of an arctic tundra who was smoking a cigar while simultaneously installing an iPhone app, and I can totally do that too!" then you have my full permission to slap me heartily across my face. Hard. Just so I get it through my thick skull that, no, that would NOT be a "piece of cake."

And that is the big difference between Clare and Duff Goldman. Duff has mad skills with a spatula, flour, water and eggs, and I, for one, do not. I guess there is also the teensy-weensy little difference that he is short, bald, and male, and I am none of these things. But we both kind of snort when we laugh, and that, right there, is our only similarity.

Anyway, back to my Duncan Hines debacle.

The plan was to bake three Lego bricks. I made two boxes of white cake mix, because Henry does not like chocolate. I poured one mix into two bread pans, the other mix went into a square pan and the remainder went into a mini-muffin pan. The mini-muffins would be the Lego prongs, or "studs". Genius, right?

In theory.

I baked them all, (not at the same time, of course) and let them cool. That part is simple enough, and there was no doubt that I could do it. However, what I didn't realize, is that there is a reason that cake pans are shallow and thin. It is because cake is not supposed to be thick and deep and made in a bread pan. It crumbles and starts to fall apart if you attempt to move it.

I do not own a platter or board large enough to display 3 cakes. So of course, very...ahem...SANITARILY...I went into my dusty basement storage area, ripped the lid off of one of my large, plastic Sterilite storage boxes and was all, "This'll do. Cake platter. Done."

Sidenote to the parents of Henry's friends who attended the party: Don't worry. I scrubbed the dirt and the spider carcasses off the lid with warm, soapy water. Please do not call the Health Department.

I clumsily moved the three cakes from the cooling rack to the Sterilite lid, (Really, you guys. Try it sometime. It's cheap chic.) leaving a plethora of crumbs in its wake. Because the cake. It crumbles. Because it's too thick.

Duff Goldman already knows this. 

But no worries! Frosting will fix this! Frosting is like glue! It can totally repair the cracks and fissures forming in my Lego bricks!

Frosting.

Now, heaven forbid that my Lego bricks NOT be multi-colored. I decided they would be red, yellow and green. Food coloring is simple enough, right? Let me rephrase that. Food coloring is simple enough for most people, right? Most people. Personally, I just find it to be a total menace. (And "menace" is the only appropriate word I can think of to describe that devil liquid.) Also? I have a piece of advice that will take you far in life: don't wear your favorite jeans when working with the aforementioned devil liquid. You might cry.

Fun fact of the day: White frosting + a WHOLE BOTTLE of red food coloring does NOT = red frosting. However, it does equal a barfalicious shade of Pepto Bismol pink that in NO WAY will make an 8-year old boy think that his Mommy baked him an oh-so-manly PINK cake for his rippin' cool Lego party.

I mixed up the PINK-ish frosting, repeated, "Screw it. It's just a birthday cake for little kids to eat," about 8,427 times in my head, and went to work coating the first brick. (I had sliced off the tops of the mini-muffin-cake and placed them upside down on top of the too-thick-crumbly-cake made in the bread pan.) The cake continued to crumble and fall apart, and my feeble attempts to "glue" it back together with "red"/pink frosting were leaving me feeling more frustrated by the second.

This was around 5:00 p.m. on Friday, by the way. In retrospect, that is the PERFECT time to attempt to assemble cakes. Especially when you SUCK at it, you are hungry, your children are hungry, and it has been a long day. It was at that moment when my understanding and forgiving husband called me all lovey-dovey to say, "Hi! I'm on my way home from work now! How was your day?" and I responded, and I quote, "GET HOME. NOW. I'M FRUSTRATED, PISSED AND GRUMPY. AND THESE CAKES? THEY SUCK." And I hung up.

I know! Don't you want to just move right in with me? I'm such a joy.

Needless to say, I managed to finish frosting the first cake, then moved on to a yellow Lego brick, (Yellow food coloring: much easier to work with.) and then finished with a green one. The whole time, I was cursing Legos, cake, frosting, food coloring and Duff Goldman under my breath. I was thisclose to calling the bakery and asking them to make me a cake, STAT. However, I reminded myself that not only was Henry mega-excited for his mom to make him Lego brick cakes that he could show off to his peeps, but my audience was a bunch of little boys. And let's face it. I could dump all the cakes and the frosting into a big cake pile in the middle of my kitchen floor, hand them a bunch of plastic forks, and say, "Have at it, boys," and they would be all, "Sweet. Cake on the floor, dudes!"

Sidenote to parents of Henry's friends who attended the party: I did NOT do this. Although tempted, I repeat. I did NOT.

The cakes were finished. Frosted. They looked somewhat like Lego, and somewhat edible. Done. Feeling more exhausted and brain-fried than usual, I wrote in red edible gel, "Happy Birthday, Henry!" on an empty space on the oh-so-chic Sterilite lid. Proudly, I leaned down the basement family room stairwell and yelled, "Henry! Come on up and see your Lego cakes!" My boy came bounding up the stairs two at a time, beaming and ready to see the masterpieces. Thankfully, he was too enthralled to notice that his red Lego brick was more of a dark, barfy pink. "Mom, it's just like 'Ace of Cakes'!" said Henry at first glance at the cakes.

Yeah. It's just like that.

He leaned in closer to look at the writing on the lid and said, "MOM! Why did you write, 'Happy 7th Birthday Henry!'"?

Um...did I mention that Henry is now EIGHT? That I gave birth to him EIGHT years ago, and not SEVEN? Did I mention that?

Niiiice. His own Mom, WHO PUSHED HIM FORTH FROM HER OWN LOINS EIGHT YEARS AGO ALMOST TO THE DAY, cannot remember how old he is. Must I add that while adults would LOVE to subtract a year or two from their age, ALL children will do anything to add a year or two to their age? And may you rue the day that you think they are younger than they really are?

But in my defense, it's the frosting's fault. And the cake. And the devil food coloring. And Legos. And Duff Goldman making me think all this was possible in the first place. And the 5:00 hour. I slapped my forehead, said, "Oh my goodness! I was just kidding, Henry! Mommy was just joking! You're such a big, old dude now! I know you're EIGHT! Ha! Ha!" as I playfully punched him in the shoulder and I wiped the gel off the lid.

Thank goodness for Sterlite lids. They wipe clean just like that. Especially when mommies have stupid moments.

I rewrote "Happy 8th Birthday Henry!" on the lid while Henry beamed. I was forgiven.

And here is the result. Doesn't look so bad, does it? But now you know the back story.


Happy Birthday, Henry. I am proud beyond words to be your Mom, and I have been, every single day of the last EIGHT years. Not seven.

I love you.
 

Friday, February 19, 2010

I have thrown down the gauntlet. Again.

It was all because of the Goldfish cracker crumbs floating in my water bottle on my nightstand.

And the stack of Dora books sitting next to our armoire.

And the mini Jar-Jar Binks figure that I tripped over on my bathroom rug.

And the half-filled sippy cup in pre-rot stage underneath our bed.

And the light saber in our closet, right next to my shoe organizer.

And my bed sheets and comforter thrown on my bedroom floor after little feet had a jumping party on our bed.

The camel's back was broken, and those were just a few of the straws.

Mama lost it.

I scooped up the offending toys, brought them out to the hallway outside my bedroom door, threw them down, balled up my fists, stomped my feet, and had an honest-to-goodness temper tantrum.

My crew was innocently sitting on the couch in the family room below watching television. I leaned over the railing and I yelled, "ENOUGH! THIS IS MY BEDROOM! AND DADDY'S BEDROOM! EVERYBODY OUT! ALL YOUR STUFF OUT! NO ONE IS ALLOWED IN HERE ANYMORE UNLESS WE INVITE YOU!!!"

And then I went back in my bedroom and slammed the door firmly and loudly.

Dramatic? Perhaps. Unnecessary? Maybe. Bad example? Probably.

Do I regret it? No.

Who says that kids are the only ones who get to have tantrums around here?

In my defense, I was OVER it.

But can a gal and guy just have some space to themselves? Is that too much to ask? I mean really now. I don't ask for much around this house. I can handle crumbs on the carpet. Spilled, sticky orange juice on the kitchen floor. Toys all over the playroom. Toys covering the basement. Unmade beds and Legos on the bedroom floors. Clothes that somehow miss the laundry basket and end up on the floor. Video game controllers underneath the couch. I can handle these things. We deal with it and move on.

But all I really ask for around this house is the following:
1.) Be polite. Say please and thank you and treat others with respect.
2.) Destruction of this house is not allowed.
3.) Put your pee and poop in the toilet.
4.) Daddy and Mommy need a room of their own. Buzz off.

Some days I feel like this is just the kids' house and we are living in it. But that has to change.

I have thrown down this gauntlet many times before, but immediately afterward I regret it, because there is nothing I love more than family snuggle time in our bed, watching TV, reading books or just talking to the kids. I treasure those moments. But family snuggle time soon turns into a license for these kids to turn our bedroom into yet another playroom, despite the fact that they have plenty of other rooms in this house to claim as their space. The Matchbox cars start to show up on the floor. I find stuffed animals under my covers. Mind-numbing kids' DVDs show up in my DVD player.

And then I lose it again. I just. can't. deal. It becomes one more playroom for me to clean up, and believe you me, there are ENOUGH things to clean up around here.

I have considered throwing my books and clothes and hairbrushes and ponytail holders and water bottles on their bedroom floors just to prove a point. However, I am sure these things would all go unnoticed with a shrug of their cute little shoulders and a, "Meh? What's this stuff? Cool. Mom is a slob too."

Our bedroom is my sanctuary. My haven. My only space in this house that is truly my own. (And Bill's, of course.) Our room is decorated so that it feels like a relaxing space for two adults. Not four shorties.

I have said it before. I adore these kids, and would step in front of a bus/truck/train to save them. If one of my babies fell into a pool of hungry piranhas, I would dive right in without hesitation. I am terrified of heights, but for them, I would scale the highest mountain. If one of them needed an organ? A pint of my blood? Done.

But I will NOT share a bedroom with my four children. I will not drink their backwash out of my water bottle. I will not trip over Jar-Jar Binks. Light sabers have no place among my shoes. I have my limits.

In the prolific words of Meatloaf, "I would do anything for love, but I won't do THAT."

I treasure what little sanity I have left.

Family snuggle-time in our big bed is still a yes. Total Master Bedroom takeover and sharing is a no-no.

Is that too much to ask?

Monday, February 15, 2010

A rousing game of Whac-a-Mole, anyone?

I have said it before, but this parenting thing? It's really just one big, exhausting game of Whac-a-Mole.



You remember Whac-a-Mole, don't you? Those pesky little moles are the problems, and the mallet is your solution. However, as fast as you can stamp out one problem, another one usually pops up in its stead.

Finally got your baby to sleep through the night?

Whac! Solved that problem.

But wait! He's now teething!

Whac! Problem solved.

Your two-year old started having night terrors?

Whac! Night terrors begone! You wield a fierce mallet.

Of course, some problems are easier solved than others. Some require one Whac! of your mallet, and they are solved. Some keep cropping back up like those ugly moles.

Ahem. Like imagine for a minute that your boys keep peeing on the bathroom floor. No matter how many times you threaten, beg, plead, cajole, and make them clean the mess up themselves, that problem will not be squashed, despite how many times you try to tamp it down with your Mighty Mom Mallet.

No. Matter. How. Many. Times.

By the way, are you sick of hearing about this peeing-on-the-floor problem in our house yet? Because I am definitely not sick of talking about it. But I'll spare you.

Anyway. These parenting problems are exhausting, and just when you think you've solved it all, you know it all, you're in a perfect groove, all the moles have been whacked, then it happens. Another one pops up and taunts you.

SUCKER! YOU DON'T KNOW JACK. TRY AGAIN, BITCHES.

And you are exhausted, mentally and physically. You just want to lay down your mallet and cry, "Uncle." They have beaten you. They have called you chump. You just. can't. take. it. another. minute. Your children are slowly taking over control of your brain, and you are actually thinking about just letting the takeover occur. It's just too hard.

The inmates have officially taken over the asylum.

But wait! You plead with yourself to not set down that mallet. Don't give up.

If you set down that mallet and give up, the next thing you know, your child will start gelling his hair, calling himself "The Situation", and you'll receive a cryptic text message that states, "OMG Ma. MTV called. Goin 2 live @ Jersey Shore 4 summer with Snooki and Pauly D & get paid. I rok!"

Because let's face it. That's where The Situation's parents went wrong. They gave up. They stopped hammering out the problems and said, "You win, dude." And thus, their son now is "employed" by MTV to hang out in a hot tub all summer and obsess over the ...ahem..."hot" beefcake that he allegedly is.

Let that be a lesson to all of us mentally exhausted parents. The Situation could happen to you.

And that is where Bill and I found ourselves this weekend. Tired.

Not so much physically tired, but scrambled-eggs-for-brains-tired.

Just when we thought we had hammered out our share of problems, those sucky moles decided to rear their ugly heads.

Screw you, Whac -a-Mole. You were never my favorite game as a child.

I mean, come on now. We've been doing this parenting thing for almost a decade. We know how to get kids to behave in a restaurant. We know not to take four kids to a restaurant when everyone is over-tired, over-hungry, over-stimulated. We are not that foolish.

Except for the times when we are really, really stupid. Which happens more than we care to admit. Like Saturday night.

I was stir crazy. I needed to see people, to be back among the living. I wanted to eat food that I hadn't prepared myself. I wanted to remember what the world looks like outside of my snowy window.

Oh, and I'll take a glass of wine, please. Intravenously.

We walked out of Saturday evening mass to an almost-flat tire on our minivan. We could see the shiny, offending nail embedded deeply in the rubber tread. "Whatevs," I thought. No stinkin' nail was going to derail my chance to be out in the world again.

Please don't make me go home. I hate it there. Well, no. I don't so much hate it, as I am sick of looking at it 24/7. After having spent the last week practically as a shut-in, with occasional jaunts to school and back, I need to get out. Damn snow. Just inflate the tire and move along. We'll get a new tire tomorrow.

And now I would like to issue a formal apology to the two young couples who were unfortunately seated behind us at the nice Italian restaurant for what you thought was a romantic couples' night out on the town to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Because 7-year old boys just cannot get over how funny it is to say, "JABBA THE BUTT! JABBA THE BUTT! JABBA THE BUTT!"

Even in a nice restaurant.

Don't worry. My son was able to reflect on the hilarity of it all once he got home and parked his own Henry the Butt in a time-out chair.

And since I was at the point when I would rather stab myself in the eyeball with my own fork rather than continue to listen to the whines of my children as they lamented about the fact that their food wasn't ready and sitting in front of them within 2 minutes after ordering it, I decided to listen in on your conversation.

You're thinking about getting pregnant and starting a family? Good for you! You only want two kids? Is that what I heard? Of course. Because only idiots have 3 children. And people who have four or more children? Well, they're just total dumbasses. As you can see.

Exhibit A sitting at the table adjacent to yours. And yes, my loud children are making it more difficult to eavesdrop on your riveting conversation about whatever it is that young, carefree twentysomethings talk about.

I'm sure it's not about which person in your household pisses on the bathroom floor, and leaves a yellow puddle. No, I am sure you do not have such petty, disgusting problems.

Can somebody please make these four loud kids STOP? Bill and I are too tired to fight this battle with these four little punks that we have given birth to, and I just want to sip my nice glass of wine in peace. I do not care that he/she will not stop touching him/her or breathing on him/her, and yes, I heard for the 514th time that HE/SHE IS HUNGRY. I get it.

Young couples, I assure you, it's not always this hellish. Because once the food arrived, did you notice how my over-tired, over-hungry children went from snarling, gnashing beasts to semi-civilized human beings? I'll take semi-civilized. Fully-civilized is awesome, but semi-civilized works for me too.

And now I want to give a shout-out to the cute, older couple in their 60s who gazed over at our table longingly. Yes, I said longingly. Like you've been through our battle. Like you have fought that war. Like you have been through the tiredness, and had the "Whose-kids-are-these-because-surely-we-are-not-raising-such-brats" thoughts.

You actually looked like you might miss it. This parenting thing. This crazy, Whac-a-Mole game of parenting.

Thank you, Older Couple With a Lifetime of Perspective, because you made me gaze at my husband and think to myself, "That will be us someday. We'll be all alone, just the two of us, sipping our Cabernet and we'll see a family of harried, tired parents, and rowdy, hungry children, and we will miss this. This wonderful, chaotic, blessed insanity."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow? Bring it on. We can handle it. Sort of.

You know how you always tell yourself, "Wow! Wouldn't it be cool if I could just stay in the house for a few days with my family and not have anywhere to go or anything to do?"

Um. Yeah.

It has been real, but I'm glad to be back to normal.

Well, as normal as it gets with 15 inches of snow on the ground and freezing temperatures. And reports of more snow to come. But don't quote me on that, because it's not like my middle name is Doppler Weather or anything.

I love snow. I'm a midwestern girl through and through, so bring it on. I can handle it. But you must seriously overestimate my love for snow if you think I'm going to hang outside in it for hours. See? I know how to make a snow angel.



But after about 20 minutes, the warm indoors and a cup of hot cocoa beckons. Yes, I love the snow, but I'm also a wimp, and if you look closely, there are not 15 inches of snow on the ground in this picture. Come on now. Any CSI novice could see that. This picture was taken a few weeks ago when it snowed. So have I been outside frolicking in the latest batch of snow? Um...in a word....NO. It's cold out there, people.

Anyhoo. We had TWO snow days this week. FOUR kids + ONE mom - ONE dad that went off to work each day = STIR CRAZY.

Oh, and did I mention that I'm now "on the wagon", too?

No, not that wagon. The Diet Coke wagon.

Darn you, researchers. You know, the same researchers that have told us that if we drink more than two sodas a week, we increase our risk for pancreatic cancer by 87%. And I definitely drink more than two "DC's" a week. Actually, multiply two by 24 and you might be in the ballpark. Ish.

DC is my liquid. My mother's milk. My manna from heaven. My homie. My little fizzy friend that goes so well on the rocks. (That's on ice, people.) I prefer my DC straight from the fountain, but since I don't live inside of a gas station or a McDonald's, I'll take it out of the can. (The two-liters will suffice in a pinch, but they get stale too quickly.)

And now DC is just sitting in my pantry, all forlorn, sad, the tab ready to be popped, but nothing. Crickets. Total un-fizzy silence.

I went COLD TURKEY. Cold....gobble...gobble.

Here are my priorities in life:

  • God.
  • My marriage.
  • My children.
  • Diet Coke.
Sorry, Mom and Dad. I know you gave birth to me and all, and you love me, but I'll slide you in right behind the DC.

But here's the good news, Mom and Dad, because you might move up a notch! Some poopy-headed (Can you tell I have been stuck in the house with four kids for two days with this language?) researcher had to go and take away my only vice. I don't gamble. I don't overspend. I love wine, but I'm an occasional drinker. Smoking is just sooo last millenium, and you know, there's the little detail that it will KILL you. But DC? DC is just smooth, tasty goodness. And I abhor the flavor or coffee, so it gives me a sugary, sweet caffeine fix.

However, I have...ahem...maturely decided that I love my pancreas more than DC, so...sigh...I am now on the wagon. And I hate this frigging wagon. It is un-fizzy and tastes very much like plain ice water. Blech.

Caffeine withdrawal headaches, anyone? I have plenty, and for all of you that are all, "I never get headaches, what do they feel like?" feel free to come on over, and I'll hit you in the head a few times with full, unopened cans of Diet Coke, just so you can see what it feels like.

Of course, I am not kicking the habit entirely. I have just decided that DC is now my weekend jam.

So let me revise my earlier math problem. FOUR kids + ONE mom who is undergoing serious caffeine withdrawal - ONE dad that went off to work each day = STIR CRAZY.

Oh, and did I mention that George's bedroom smells like rotting fish carcass?

Word to the wise. If you have gills and scales and can only breathe underwater, then do not come live at my house. Because we will kill you. We will not kill you on purpose, of course, we will just kill you by overfeeding you, or forgetting to feed you, or not cleaning your water, or whatever the heck else is killing all the fish that are unlucky enough to reside here at Casa de Really Nice Family, But Unfortunate Skills When It Comes to Owning Pets of the Aquatic Persuasion.

First, there was Golfie, George's orange betta fish that I told you about a few months ago. He lived for 6 months. Golfie was succeeded by Swimmer, George's blue betta fish that lived for about 5 months. Swimmer was succeeded by Bluey, a cobalt blue betta fish that lived for an unfortunate SIX days.

Moment of silence.

But as much as we can probably take reluctant credit (overfeeding, not cleaning the tank enough) for the unfortunate demises of Golfie and Swimmer, Bluey was not our fault. Because guess what, you guys? They sold us an ALIEN fish at the pet store. So you know, it's not your fault when you buy a blue, otherworldly, alien fish and it dies.

Allow me to explain.

Bluey was the prettiest of all the fishes that have taken up residence here at Casa de...blah, blah, blah. He was a bright, cobalt blue fish with fins like feathers that would swoosh as he happily swam in his tank. But on Sunday morning, as Bill went into George's room to get George dressed for church, Bill turned around and saw that Bluey was dead. But not just dead. He was, and I'm trying to describe this as best as I can, ENCASED in a bubble-like thing, with a brownish fuzz surrounding his now brownish body like a halo.

Seriously. I tried several times to take a picture of it for you, but to no avail. The water became cloudy when he passed on, and I just cannot fully capture it for you on my Canon. And also because alien fish don't like to be photographed once they die, so they sabotage your camera with electromagnetic waves or something, disallowing it to be captured on film.

Enough of my fancy science talk. The fish is dead. Yet, George does not want to have his funeral until we can replace him with "Jack," the currently named, but as of this moment, un-purchased betta fish. Because the snow. The snow has held off the ceremonial Purchasing of the Betta Fish Who Will Live With Our Family for An As-Yet Undetermined Amount of Time Before Seeing the Light and Being Called Home to Fishy Heaven.

Yes, there is a fishy heaven in the sky. It is reached by flushing your toilet.

You know, I could make about ten different potty jokes about the toilet and heaven right now, but I'll leave it at that. Because my blog is KLASSY. With a "K".

Okay. Math problem time. For the past two days, we have had FOUR kids + ONE mom who is undergoing serious caffeine withdrawal - ONE dad that went off to work each day + ONE rotting, alien fish carcass = STIR CRAZY.

But other than that, it's been fun. The kids mostly got along, we turned some rotting bananas into chocolate chip banana bread and banana smoothies, we hit the Play-Doh, I whined about the new Facebook layout, and we had a few dance parties in the kitchen. Our current favorite tune to hit the floor to? "Bad Romance" by Lady GaGa. Minus the part about romance, it's the perfect kid's song. She sings, "GA GA, RA MA MA, GA GA OOH LA LA," which is like total kid talk. So yeah.

And we only had ONE bedroom door that the kids "accidentally" slammed so hard that a hinge popped off of it, in the past TWO days.

And YES, I am bragging about that.

But it's all good, and that's a story for another day.

Thanks, snow. I guess you're not so bad.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

On dilemmas, DVR timers, and the Bachelor.

I had a marital dilemma last night.

There were three shows scheduled to record at 8:00 p.m. on our DVR. The DVR can only tape two shows at a time. The shows scheduled to record were:

1.) How I Met Your Mother.

I was definitely not going to erase that timer. Bill and I love that show. There are a few shows that we watch together, and this is one of them. Great news for Barney Stinson and crew: you have been spared. Suit up, Barney.

2.) Chuck.

Yet another show that Bill and I watch together. Chuck, the Geek/Nerd Herd Employee/Spy for the CIA brings the funny. And I have pretty high standards for funny, so normally, I would spare it from being deleted. Priorities and all. But here is the other show where my marital dilemma occurred.

3.) The Bachelor: On The Wings of Love/A Goober Gets His Gal.

Dude. It's like, am I going to run 25.2 miles of a marathon, and then be all, "Naw. I'm bored. I'll stop here."? No, I am not. Did the ancient Egyptians get towards the end of building the pyramids and get all, "Yeah, I know this thing has taken us 25 years to build, and we have been lugging these unwieldy, large, stone blocks up and down this inclined, triangular shape for most of our lives, but this last block? Not doing it. Because this is heavy, you guys." No, they did not.

And that is the true story of why Clare chose The Bachelor to record instead of Chuck on Monday night. But Clare also decided not to tell her husband Bill that she didn't tape one of his favorite shows. Until right now.

Honey? I taped The Bachelor instead of Chuck. Please forgive me. I'm sure you'll find a way to move on. I'm not gonna lie and say that I'm never going to do it again, but how about I make it up to you by letting you cut into my Lifetime Movie on a random, rainy, boring Saturday afternoon with a basketball game that you would rather watch? Sound fair? We're good.

Let's face it, you guys. As much as I hate to admit it, the Bachelor is my JAM. I just couldn't bring myself to not pick that timer over Chuck. The show is annoying, I complain about it but still. It is my jam, and I feel that it is my duty to see it through to the end.

Of course, I am jealous of all you people with your truly intellectual shows like, "Lost", but I just couldn't get into it. I have tried more than once to watch that show, just so I could be a part of the crew that gets to say, "Did you watch 'Lost' last night? So good! But why didn't they answer any questions?!?" An elite group of cool kids watches 'Lost', and...sigh...by those standards, I am not a cool kid. Because here's the thing. I do not speak for all moms, but THIS mom is exhausted by the end of the day, and could use a few laughs and inanity. The only castaways that my brain might have the energy to figure out is led by a gangly guy named Gilligan. So last year when I watched a recap for 'Lost', my brain just couldn't get past the fat guy on that show. Because really. If you're stranded on an island for more than a week, drinking coconut juice and eating the occasional fish, the weight is going to fly off. It's the ultimate low-carb diet. And that guy looks like he just licked his chops after he ate a whole side of beef.

Soooo unrealistic.

Back to things are realistic. Kind of.

I am so proud of myself, because I totally resisted buying this when I was at the grocery store with Annabel yesterday.



Yep. I soooo wanted to find out which "Glee" cast member that the overrated Taylor Swift is dating. "Glee" is where it's at, people, and there would be no DVR dilemma with that show. No stinkin' Bachelor could ever make me delete that timer, because it is hi-lar-i-ous, in an intellectual, subtly humorous, very sharp, quick-witted way. It's like my own little intellectual 'Lost', but I don't have to get a study guide out to watch it.

Unfortunately, I never got to find out which one Taylor is dating, (um....the guy who plays Kurt, perhaps? Or Ken Tanaka the Gym teacher?) because they started scanning my UPCs, Annabel was messing with the Trident and the Skittles, and I got kind of a dirty look from Edith, my friendly check-out gal that indicated to me with her eyes that, "I best either put that magazine on the belt and pay for it, or put it back for the paying customers." I chose the latter. Bill would be so proud that I didn't succumb to the tabloid smut.

It's called Personal Growth and Maturity, honey. I have fully embraced it.

Can I just say that I am a little uncomfortable with Gia and Vienna's "girls" just splayed all over my mostly G-rated blog? Put them away. Be a mystery. Less is more.

I didn't get to read much, because then Edith shut me down with her laser eyeballs. And I couldn't bring myself to actually spend money on that junk. (I can almost hear my friends Jan and Emily laughing at me for this statement.)

Oh, the exciting life of a mom running errands. The thrills go on and on, you guys. Remind me to regale you with stories of Costco sample time, and going back for yet another sample of the pita chips and dip, and having the older gentleman sample hocker stare me down and say, "Ma'am, are you going to buy this tzatziki dip?" No, kind sir, but my children and I just thought we'd take about ten more samples before we make the commitment to buy.

Okay. Time for me to get to my point.

Why Intelligent Happily Married Women Who Are Also Mothers of Four Children Who Have Much Better Ways To Spend Their Time, Watch Dumb, Unsuccessful Dating Shows and Delete Their Husband's DVR Timer for Chuck.

Sounds kind of bad when you put it that way, doesn't it?

Which brings me to my final point. If my daughter ever downloads an application form for this show on abc.com and applies for The Bachelor, Season 42, "Love In Space", Bill and I will have failed as parents.

Because my daughter, if you are reading this as a single adult someday, here's the thing. Dad and I do not ever want you to sign up for this show (or any other dating show) because,
  • You are not cattle. Dad and I did not brand your cute little tushie with a branding iron on the day you were born to make you part of a herd.
  • Never give your all your power away to a man. Do not sit idly by waiting to be chosen by a man, putting him in control of your destiny. Play a major role in your own destiny. Sure, you never know when or where you might meet your true love, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to be at an abc off-site studio-slash-luxurious mansion, behind a camera, with a production crew present.
  • I know this is an unpopular stance that will probably be even more unpopular in the year 2032 when you might be reading this, but too bad. I'm saying it anyway, because that's how my mama raised me. If he likes it, then he's gonna put a ring on it. So don't give it away until he puts a ring on it. Make that two rings.
  • And Sweetie? Make sure you find a wonderful, kind, forgiving man like your Dad, who adores his wife, and always, always forgives her when she chooses to delete his DVR timer for Chuck, in favor of a stupid reality TV show called the Bachelor. And he even forgives her after she remembers that DUH, we have a third television in this house and she could have easily DVRed Chuck on that TV. Okay?
Love,
Mom

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I guess they all grow up at some point, don't they?

Annabel turned 3 on Thursday.

It was a pinkalicious day.

She's three. The fourth and final installment in this family is THREE.

My last baby is no longer a baby, and I'm surprisingly more okay with that fact then I originally thought my sentimental self would be. I love her age. I love her newfound independence. I love that she is potty-trained. I love that my shorty would rather listen to, "SOMEBODY CALL 9-1-1! SHAWTY FIRE BURNIN' ON THE DANCE FLOOR!" than "I'm a Little Teapot".

Yes, they grow up so fast.

It is now time for the "Big Girl" bed.

About a month ago, Bill and I took Annabel to the store and bought her a white trundle bed, much to her delight. However, it is now sitting in our storage room, the headboard ready to be attached to the rails and the footboard. I know it is time to take down the crib.

Yet, as of this moment, we haven't done it.

One of the reasons why we haven't taken down the crib is because we are sentimental. After all, the crib that Annabel is sleeping in is the same crib that Bill and I picked out back in the year 2000 when I was pregnant with Charlie. Bill's grandmother generously told us, "Pick out a crib, and don't worry about the price. It is my gift to you."

Grateful for her kind gesture, we picked out a very pretty off-white sleigh crib and matching furniture. We were 25-years old at the time, pregnant with our first baby after a year of marriage, and on the budget of two newlyweds about to move into our first home. That was 10 years ago. A whole decade. We no longer live in that home, or that state, and our family has grown beyond three people.

Life has changed dramatically, and the crib is still standing.

It has been gnawed on at the top of the rails by four different children who have teethed and used it as a chew toy. It has been pooped in and vomited in. It has been used as a trampoline. It has featured blue sheets, green sheets, yellow sheets, ducky sheets, striped sheets, and most recently in the past 3 years, pink sheets. Over the last decade, there have only been a few months when the crib wasn't being occupied by one of our babies. But in those few months, there was always a baby on the way, nestled snug in my belly, growing bigger and soon ready to come into the world and meet this family.

I know the crib has served its purpose four times over.

It is time. I am not trying to stop Annabel from growing up. I know they don't stay babies forever.

So there are sentimental reasons for not taking down the crib. But then there are the practical reasons.

Like there's the simple fact that the crib is a legal cage. And let's face it. I'm kind of lazy, and if there is a way to legally and comfortably cage in one of my kids for awhile, then that's an idea that I can get behind. And really. Who am I kidding with this sentimental drivel?

Well, maybe "cage" is not such a nice word. Enclosure? Pen? A means to fence-in?

No, they all sound kind of inhumane. But the crib is oh-so-humane with its fluffy blankets and stuffed animals. What mother doesn't appreciate the crib for the beauty that it is? It is a means to snugly trap your kid for several hours or overnight so you can sleep/pay bills/watch "the View"/write a blog in peace.

THIS mom has appreciated it for a decade. And sigh...it has to come to an end.

Now when I put Annabel down for a nap, or we put her to sleep for the night, she stays in her crib. She has no choice because she is caged in. She cannot climb out, and the only way for her to get out of her bed and her room is for her to call, "MOOOOOMMMYYY! DADDDYYYY! COME GET MEEEEE!!!!"

So yeah. Maybe I'm just a little lazy and not ready to deal with Annabel acting like she has free reign of this house all hours of the day and night. I have this vision of her escaping from her bed at 2 a.m., going downstairs to the family room, pouring herself a bowl of Goldfish crackers and chilling with the Backyardigans on Nick Junior. And FYI. That is not an idea I can get behind.

Excuses? Maybe. Lazy? Pay attention. I already 'fessed up to that.

We'll take down the crib soon. Our laziness and procrastination cannot last forever.

Back to Annabel's pinkalicious birthday.

I actually broke up a fight between Charlie and Henry over this.



Dude. It's a Barbie hairbrush.

I repeat. Fisticuffs resulted over this 3-inch purple Barbie hairbrush. I heard Charlie and Henry yelling, "It's MY turn! I get the Barbie next!" and I turned to see arms and legs flying.

Over a Barbie hairbrush.

By the way, this hairbrush just so happens to belong to Annabel's brand-new, much desired, only mildly slutbaggy preschool teacher Barbie. This particular Babs needs to be reminded that Circle Time is probably not too comfortable in a teal metallic miniskirt and 3 inch pink heels. Unless it's Circle Time for streetwalkers. I cannot fathom an appropriate version of "criss-cross applesauce" in her get-up.

Apparently testosterone makes you do crazy things, you guys, like fight with your bro over the brand-new Barbie that your sister just received for her birthday. Not that I would know boo about testosterone though, what with all this estrogen flowing through my bod. But herein lies the difference between boys and girls. Girls will cry and pull hair to get a toy back. They will tattle and bitch. Boys will just knock a brother out and be all, "DUDE. BACK. AWAY. FROM. THE. BARBIE. BRUSH. I SAID IT IS MINE."

Perhaps LL Cool J was inspired to pen, "Mama Said Knock You Out" after a battle with his brother over a Barbie. Or a My Little Pony. It's a thought.

I was quite flabbergasted, to say the least. I know how to broker a peace deal between two boys fighting over a video game or a light saber. But a Barbie hairbrush? That's new territory.

I couldn't help but chuckle inwardly in exasperation as my boys tried to pummel each other. I got in between them, pulled them apart, and all I could manage to eke out of my throat was, "Seriously you guys?"

"Mooommmmm...we're just trying to help Annabel figure out how to play with her Barbies," Charlie responded.

How charitable of Charlie and Henry. They're always thinking of their sister.

Or, like I said earlier, my kids are just all growing up so fast. I thought I would have at least 10 to 12 more years before they started fighting over some chick in a tight shirt and short skirt.

Oy.