Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Annoying People Without Even Trying

Dear Lady at the Phlebotomist's:

Yes, I was sitting there in the waiting room with 4 small children (you missed the two I didn't have with me). Yes, the four year old boy was sitting in a chair back-to-back with mine. It made it difficult to follow his every action, since I was also nursing a baby, chatting with a six year old and being climbed on by a two year old. They were all sitting quietly -- no screaming, no running through the aisles. I thought they were being rather lovely (and I've seen them being rather unlovely).

And then, there you were. Glaring. Shoving a small piece of paper at me and saying, "I think this is your child's." I said, "Thank you." Although your rather belligerent attitude was odd, I thought you were returning to me one of those precious doctor's office stickers that my children cherish so much. Then I flipped the paper over and realized it was blank. Stripped of its stickers. The stickers were on the arms of my four year old.

Ah ha. He must have dropped it on the floor. The vicious, nasty little litterbug. How could I have missed that with my back to him and a million things going on? I'm so glad you directed my attention to it. After all, if you hadn't interceded and pointed it out, my children would have spent their entire lives thinking that dropping garbage on the floor  was ok and some day we'd be buried in sticker papers.  It certainly would not do to ignore such outrage and quietly pick up and throw something away for a busy mom.

Or perhaps my presence with part of my horde was annoying in and of itself. Was it that obvious that I was a neglectful and negligent parent? I sure fell down on the job when I missed that falling sticker back. What else must be wrong with a woman who has so many children in tow.

I thank you for making me aware of my miserable failures, my lack of care for my children and clear ignorance of social mores. In future, whenever the children mess up and drop something on the floor, I will remember your outrage and take proper measures. Just in case you were mostly outraged by the sheer size of my brood (and you only saw 2/3 of them), I'll try to keep you annoyance in mind next time I look fondly at my husband and he gets that gleam in his eye.

Yours fondly,
The Crazy Woman with the Litterbug Son

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Netflix, How I Love Thee

I have been trying to convince my husband for at least two years to sign up for Netflix. He resisted. He demurred. He ignored my pleas.  Somehow the cumulative effect must have gotten to him though, because while I was at the doctor the other morning, and the children were puking their guts out, he signed us up.

Life in the midst of a stomach bug was the perfect time to discover the joys of instant streaming videos, and our first DVD arrived this morning as well.

I rarely let my kids watch anything at all on the TV, and I rarely watch that much myself. I have no shows that I follow.  However, Netflix is still pretty awesome and I see a lot of potential there, despite our general ban on too much screentime (she says as she sits in front of the computer blogging).  I am sadly disappointed that The Mouse That Roared isn't available for instant play and they don't have Condorman at all. I'm not sure what it says about me that I spent some time yesterday looking up silly Cold War movies.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Not That Kind of Sharing!

Monday morning the six year old came downstairs to tell me that there was "brown stuff" on her bed. Then I saw the dried vomit in her hair. Blech.  She felt a little off in the morning, but by lunchtime she was up and wanting to eat. Now, on occasion I have had a child throw up once for unknown reasons and never display much of any other illness. Usually on these occasions, no one else gets sick.

Sadly, this time she shared.  The next morning at 5:45, as I was getting up early to head to my own appointment at the allergist, the eight year old came in to tell me that she felt sick. We just got her to the toilet in time. She couldn't keep anything down and finally I had to take her to the doctor. Zofran is amazing stuff. She's still feeling off, but she's keeping down liquid.

Then the two and a half year old crawled up in my lap, got very quiet and puked all over me.  She was miserably pathetic and helpfully determined not to throw up anywhere but all over herself or me, no vomit bowls for her!

Currently we have no active vomitation, but I am still wondering when the next one of us will succumb. Terrifying thought.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Belated Christmas Letter

There are several people I probably should have sent Christmas cards to, but lost their address. Others out there, I never had an address for, and a few of you might still get a card. However, in the meantime, here is Justin's 2011 Christmas masterpiece.


In keeping with ancient custom, kept since time out of mind, we have taken keyboard to hand to write only now that it is too late to mail our letter before Christmas. Herewith the desired statistics:
The 5 month old. Greeted with customary cacophony on July 18. Suitably fat, unsuitably gluttonous: eats, rather than sleeps, through the night. Appreciates kindly ministrations of the two oldest endures with stoical resignation the somewhat less kindly ministrations of his two immediately older siblings.
The 2 year old (aka Cindy Lou Who). Mastered several skills this year, including double-handed thumb-sucking and, more impressively, the simultaneous one-handed thumb-sucking nose-pick. Agile and verbal, to our constant sorrow. Has mastered, with the assistance of elder siblings, a fine repertoire of insults, taunts, and invitations to brawl. Loves shoes more than life itself.
The 4 year old. Began the year by undergoing a “minor urological procedure,” regarding which he expressed his understanding, or perhaps hope, thus: “It will make my _____ bigger.” He quickly recovered from the surgery (and disappointment at the absence of the hoped for result) and resumed his usual posture of cheerful aggression toward his siblings, his parents, and pretty much the whole world. He returned to hospital in the spring, having smashed his thumb in the door (he endured the stitches with occasional manly grunts and scowls), and again in the summer, having inserted a perfectly sized Lego piece up his nose. His older brother is happy to report that the Lego was recovered safely.
The 6 year old. She announced to us early this year — by an illustrated manuscript slipped under our bedroom door: “I’m mad and bored.” We feared it was an ultimatum of some sort, but she made no demands. She seemed, rather, to think it important to express this painful emotional state in the sort of simple, robust prose that is so refreshing in this Post-Post-Modern age. Her older brother, thinking this emotional state of hers was more or less perpetual, helpfully suggested she should adopt it as her motto — he thought it could be translated sum fura et taedio afficitur — and incorporate it in a coat of arms. She remains our most reliable informant on household affairs, so reliable, in fact, we have considered paying her to report less frequently. When not mad and bored, she loves to read and draw.
The 8 year old. She blossoms. Her sense of high fashion, like the six year old’s sense of high dudgeon, rarely goes awry. Has a fine sense of drama, as we discovered once again when she sprained an ankle last month; the performance was worthy of a double amputation, at least. Living in an almost nineteenth century house, she decided this winter to acquire a nineteenth century disease: chilblanes. (The doctor had heard about if from reading Anne of Green Gables, as opposed to medical school.) Even Viking warrior-goddesses must wear socks, it turns out.
The 11 year old. Has almost broken the five-foot mark and is fast losing his baby cheeks. He, with the oldest girl, studies piano, and is a leading expert in the field of Lego Star Wars Studies, despite the frequent set-backs caused by his younger brother’s destructive tendencies. His great love is serving at the altar, especially in the older form of the Mass, in Latin. He is cheerful, oblivious, and sweet.
Jordana & Jordana. He’s still a lawyer, she’s still a homeschooler. Their motto as parents is: Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station. (The oldest is working on the Latin translation.) We’re each a year older, and we may have posted a net increase in wisdom as of year’s end, but who knows (whatever the indicator of wisdom may be, it is a lagging indicator)? We live, love, sin, repent, rinse, and repeat, and remain grateful for the friends and family of whom we are most unworthy.
Puer natus in Bethlehem, alleluia!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Legos All Year Round

Sometimes the best motivation is to relate an assignment to a child's interests.  Therefore, I got a lot better reaction when I assigned the oldest to write four short poems about Legos (to study various meters) than I would have had I asked him to write about flowers or butterflies. I present the results:

Seasons of Legos, in four parts
by GTA

The Lego Chicken said angrily,
“I was born in spring, in a factory!
Go away, ye odious Megablok, you,
Or I will make you smell my shoe!

Summer, oh Summer, oh Summer sublime,
For Legos this is a prodigious time,
Prices and shipping go down quite a lot,
Your countenance brightens as you see the jackpot.

Lego turkey,
Most lovely,
Nice little shade of brown,
Orange and Yellow,
Not getting mellow,
Lego leaves falling down.

Christmas tree, Lego Crèche,
Wise Men of three,
Santa’s hat goes to a pirate matey.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sleeping It Off

Sure he's cute now, but you should see him at 3 a.m.
I have come to realize that six months post-partum is about my tolerance limit for lack of sleep, and let's face it -- six months post-partum actually means I haven't slept a full night in at least ten months.  I'm all for co-sleeping, but unlike some moms and kids who keep it up for ages, eventually I want my bed back.  I always swear I'll never let the wee one cry it out and then I find that I can't function any more. Every night as my eyelids drooped shut, the baby stirred and then wailed, ready to nurse and then party all night long. A few days ago, I hit my limit. 

All I could think about was my desire for some sleep -- just a little sleep with no nursling attached. I wanted to be able to go into my room, turn on my bedside light, read in bed and fall asleep all without waking any sleeping midgets. My sleep-deprived mind felt as though it was going just a tad bit crazy.

Thus, I found myself telling my husband that if he could find the baby monitor, I would put the baby in the crib. Even feeling desperate for sleep, it's something of a sucker punch in the gut for me to move the baby out of my room and lose that midnight connection.  However, the monitor was found and hooked up.  The baby was moved out of my bed and bedroom and he did fuss and object -- for a few minutes.

And then, miracle of miracles, I didn't hear from him again until 4 a.m. The next night it was 1:30, but I still got a few hours of good sleep.  Since then, the wake up calls have been coming between 5 and 7. Full nights of sleep!

So kick me out of the attachment parenting club, if you must (though my membership was probably always in doubt). My son is sleeping in his crib, and we're both getting more sleep. I miss the cuddling a little bit, but mostly I am loving the sleep.  I'll cuddle during the day.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


We've been having fun in the snow for the last few days. Nashville doesn't get several days of snow in a row very often, so one has to play in it when it comes.

Hope you all are having fun in the cold, white stuff too.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Adventures in Emergency Home Repair

"Mom," said my six year old as she pointed her flashlight at the floor, "I don't remember the vent being so far down."

I peered in, blinking rather unbelievingly at the sudden depth of the bottom of the in-floor heating vent. Why was it so deep? That dime sure is visible down there. Is that a dirt floor and a chair I can see? Wait a minute. I'm looking straight into the basement. It isn't supposed to look like that.

I wasn't thinking too quickly at first, obviously, but once it dawned on me that we'd been heating the basement for who knows how long, I moved a bit faster and hauled tape and a step ladder down to basement to reattach the living room heat to the first floor.

The taping job was pretty easy, although actual duct tape and not the stuff we call duct tape probably would have been preferable. What was most amazing was the amount of stuff that had spilled out of the duct as it fell. Legos, coins ($3.15), poker chips, lots of missing pencils, and plastic beasts by the dozen. I half wondered whether the weight of all the treasures stuffed down there was what sent it crashing.

No wonder my often frigid house has been a little extra chilly and now that extra large electric bill makes more sense.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Back to the Routine

We've been out of our routines for several weeks now.  And for the past week, we've had much feasting and far too many late nights.  Feasting and hanging out with friends and family are lovely, but this morning it felt rather nice to return to normal.  Even if we returned to our routine even later than our usual late morning start. Ahem.

At one point in my life, I would have denied that I was a creature of habit, that I craved the ordinary and routine, but whether or not I was ever really as spontaneous as I liked to imagine myself, I am no longer thus.  A well ordered day is comforting.  Consistency makes my life easier.

I suspect this is true for most of us and I suspect that this is why rhythms such as the liturgy of the hours and the liturgical calendar are so perfectly suited to us humans.  We like to know what is coming.  We like to have a cycle to live by. Order makes the large messy world seem navigable.

It is this order that is one thing most human and most divine that I have discovered in becoming Catholic.  In my past, prayers were to be spontaneous and from the heart. A pre-written prayer would never have been considered to be of any value. Of course, those spontaneous prayers often all sounded the same from years of repetition --  and oddly enough, having having the order and routine of prayers prayed through the ages has given me the nudge to actually pray for these past several years.

In my old communion, there was no liturgical calendar other than Sunday services.  The weeks and years brought no particular order or variation.  It's restful to discover a calendar that leads one annually through the story of Christ. As Catholics we dwell every year on the same events, but through this annual routine, we can hope that we will grow in understanding and closeness to Christ.  If you never know from week to week what the preacher will be thinking about, it is hard to have this same kind of reflection.

So as I ease back into my school plans, remind my kids to practice piano and sit together for morning and evening prayers, I am thankful for routines.  Routines that even when one falls out of them for a while, can be re-embraced, rediscovered and picked back up.  Just as I need to do this with my family life, isn't it these routines that drag me back to Christ and the Church when I slip and slide?
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