Thursday, August 30, 2007

I'm a terrible mother

First off, I have to share this with you. Punkin is just the teensiest bit hooked on Ariel right now. That girl loves her some Ariel. We've watched our copy (well, it's actually my copy. Ahem.) of The Little Mermaid so many times we can all quote it word for word. So, we're having a Little Mermaid themed party this weekend and I got her an extremely soft Ariel fleece blanket as part of her birthday present. Today at pre-K Bubba drew about a thousand birthday cards for Punkin's birthday. Here's my favorite.

Any guesses who this might be? I think he captured her red hair quite nicely. That boy is sooo sweet to his sister sometimes. (Since several people have commented about Ariel's beard in the above picture I'll put my two cents in -- I think those are supposed to be red lips, but with Bubba you can never be too sure!)

So, anyway, speaking of Ariel. I'm a terrible mother. How are those two related you ask? Well, see, every now and then, Punkin wakes up in the middle of the night and she just won't go back to sleep. I try everything...rocking, bringing her to bed with us, snack...everything. Nothing doing. She's just up. And she NEVER, NEVER, NEVER does this on the weekend. Oh no. That would be too easy. She has to do it on a work night. When I have to get up at 5:00 in order to get everybody out the door by 7:15. On nights when I actually need my sleep. One night, in sheer desperation (and probably sleep deprivation) I did the only thing I could think of. I set up her pack n' play in the living room and put on The Little Mermaid and then I went to bed. When I got up to check on her about an hour later, she was sound asleep and slept there quite peacefully the rest of the night. Now I'm not proud of this behavior of mine, but it was all I could think to do.

On Tuesday night, just as I was drifting off to sleep (around 10:30), Punkin started crying. I can usually tell if she's going to settle herself back down or not and this time seemed like a "no." So I went to her room and tried to pat her back a little, but that was not good enough for her. I picked her up and sat and rocked her for a few minutes until her breathing slowed. I put her back in her crib and went back to my room to sleep. It seemed that I was just dozing off again when...."Mommy, mommy, mommy." Up I go again. We do the rocking thing again. But this time when I put her down she didn't go quietly. She didn't just cry, she screamed. I didn't want to her to wake Bubba (I didn't need TWO children awake in the middle of the night!), so I brought her into bed with Mr. Daddy and me. "Hi Daddy" she crowed as we walked into my bedroom. This doesn't bode well for any actual sleeping getting done. We lie down. She sits up, looks around. She pats my face. She puts her legs outside of the covers. She puts them back in. She rolls over onto her stomach. She rolls back onto her back. We do the leg thing with the covers again. She pats my face again. She says "It dark in here." This is obviously NOT working. She is not sleepy at ALL.

By this time it's like 12:30. Again, I'm desperate. So out comes the pack n' play and The Little Mermaid. I plonk her down and start the movie and stagger back to bed. Around 1:30 I hear her shout "Hey" but then nothing else. I figure the movie's over but figure now that it IS over, maybe she'll go to sleep. I go back to sleep. Around 2:00 I wake up and it's soooo quiet. Is she asleep? Did it work this time? I need to know if she's asleep because if she's not, there is going to be some SERIOUS crankiness come Wednesday morning and I want to be prepared for it.

I tiptoe down the hall. The only light I can see is the light from the television. Wait. There's someone sitting on the sofa. My brain is so sleep addled that it takes me a minute to realize that's Punkin! On the sofa! NOT in her pack n' play! And she has my cell phone in her hand (probably calling DFACS). I seriously cannot process this. How did she get out? She's never done that before. She hasn't said a word so far and neither have I. The whole thing is very surreal, with the blue television light and neither of us talking. I lean down to pick her up and realize that she has taken her pajama bottoms off. And not just her pajama bottoms but her diaper, too! And she's peed ALL OVER the sofa cushion! And she's still wide awake.

At that point, I had just had it. I took her to her room, threw another diaper on her and put her in her bed. If she didn't like it, she was just going to have to deal with it. I had had enough. And then I had to go clean up pee! At two in the morning! Five o'clock came VERY early on Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday I got my self a little freaked out thinking about how she could have been wandering the house. A friend assured me that some kids wander the house at night. But then I thought about how dark the rest of the house was and I seriously doubt she did much wandering. I mean, if she was going to go anywhere, surely she would have come to my room to get me, right?

Needless to say, the pack n' play is no longer a viable option for future sleepless nights. If anybody has an idea for me please share in the comments. And if anybody calls DFACS I'll deny it 'til the day I die. Nobody else was there but me and Punkin'. And she's not talkin'. Yet.

Happy Birthday, Punkin' Pie!

Two years ago, on August 30th, my baby girl was born and it was love at first sight. In honor of your birthday, I'm going to tell your birth story.

First of all, you were a miserable pregnancy! (How's that for a warm and fuzzy birth story?!) I was so sick in my first trimester that I literally had to quit my job. I could not function. I could not eat. I would weakly sip the broth from Campbell's chicken noodle soup -- but not the noodles! NO! Nothing so substantial for me, thank you very much! Crackers did no good. I tried all the home remedies -- ginger in every form available, peppermint, motion sickness wristbands. Finally, the poor doctor took pity on me and prescribed some phenergen. Well, that did help with the nausea -- because I was UNCONSCIOUS! You can't be unconscious and be nauseated at the same time. But you can't be unconscious and take care of a 2 year old at the same time, either. So, the doctor took pity on me once again and prescribed me the wonder drug Zofran. It's what they give chemo patients and it costs about a bajillion dollars. I tried to get a month's worth filled and was told it would be over a thousand dollars. Um. No. So, I had to start rationing my Zofran. I totally know how junkies feel! And I began to have really weird cravings. Slim Jims. Yes, slim jims. And Blimpie sandwiches. And banana pepper slices. Mmmmmm.

Then came the second trimester and the earth returned to it's non-nausea inducing regular orbit. But in the place of nausea came wake-you-up-in-the- middle-of-the-night stomach -stabbing heartburn. And restless legs. Have any of you suffered from restless legs? It sucks. Just as you're about to get to sleep, you get this URGE to move your legs. And you just HAVE to move them. It's a compulsion. You can't help it. The only thing that helped were long hot baths, so there was many a night I'd rise from the bed about 11:30 to go soak in the tub.

And I got HUGE! I mean, huge! See:

And finally, the big day arrived. We had scheduled a c-section because Bubba was born that way. We arrived at the hospital bright and early. We turned on the news, watching the very early Hurricane Katrina coverage. My mom joked that we should name you Katrina (in her defense this was BEFORE the New Orleans tragedy). Finally, they came to get me. I had an extremely handsome anesthesiologist and was mortified that he had to see my extremely large rear end as he administered the epidural. He asked me if there was anything special I wanted to happen during the delivery. I told them that I just wanted to remember it, to be able to savor it. Bubba's birth was a little traumatic and scary and I didn't get to fully appreciate every moment like I wanted. I wanted to remember your birth

And it went great. "You'll feel a little tugging," they said. And there you were! All 9 lbs 1 oz of you. Screaming. Looking like a strange mixture of your Uncle Todd and your great uncle Russell (weird, I know, but genetics at work I guess. She does not STILL look like those men, fortunately). And they took you away to clean you up.

And then they brought you back to me. So sweet. And such a good nurser! You've never seen your Papa Bill (my dad) move so fast as when he realized I was about to start nursing you! Of course we had to stay five LOOONGGG days in the hospital with nothing to watch on television but the VERY depressing post-Katrina coverage from New Orleans. I'll be honest, I felt a little guilty sitting there watching women begging for formula, water, anything for their babies. Mr. Daddy decided to get some fresh air and was going to take a drive but he noticed cars lining up at gas stations with regular unleaded going for $3.55 a gallon. It was a very short drive.

And finally, they let us go home. Here you are in your going home outfit that was almost too small for your 9 lb self!

And now we're two years later. It hasn't always been an easy road, but the easy roads are rarely the ones you remember anyway. In honor of your birthday, I'm going to list 2 things that I love about you. Every year I'll increase the number to match your age.

1. I love your sense of humor. It is amazing to me that at only 2 years old you already have a keen sense of what is funny and will make people laugh.

2. I love your sweet smile. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are gray. You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away.

Happy Birthday, Punkin! I love you!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Are you ready for some football?!

Do you know what happens this weekend? Do you? This and this. Two of the sweetest sounds I've ever heard. Well, besides "Mama" but you and I both know that starts to grow a little thin after a while, right?

This weekend the Dawgs take on Oklahoma State "between the hedges." The spelling "dawg" really bugs a girl I work with (Hi, MacKenzie!), but I kind of like it. I'm a little nervous for my dawgs, playing OSU, but I think they'll be okay.

I love football. Pretty much always have. Well, since high school anyway. In fact, I never missed a single football game the entire time I was in high school. I even skipped my cousin's wedding because attending it meant that I would miss the first game of the season my senior year. Given my top tier nerd status, one might wonder how I got to be such a football fan and I really don't know the answer to that question. Neither of my parents really followed football back in those days.

My mom was a baseball fan, though. We used to watch the Braves back when they were really bad. I had a huge crush on Dale Murphy and my mom kind of had a thing for Glenn Hubbard. I remember once after a huge dugout clearing brawl I turned to my mom and said "Now I know why you like baseball!" My mom liked baseball so much, in fact, that it completely confused my cousin Michael. Once, when he was about 5 he turned to my mom, who was engrossed in a game, and said "Aunt Mary, did you used to be a man?" We still get a good laugh out of that one. (Michael is also the cousin who misheard the lyrics to "Der Kommissar" by After the Fire. Instead of "Don't turn around, uh oh. Der Kommissar's in town, uh oh" he heard "Don't turn around, uh oh. Hold that sausage down, uh oh." THAT still gets a good laugh, too!)

Amazingly, while actually attending UGA, when tickets were cheap and plentiful, I only attended a handful of games. I think it was because I was usually working, but I look back at those days now and curse myself. Tickets to the game now are scarce as hens teeth. And you have to donate thousands of dollars to the University to get the good seats. Even if I had thousands of dollars -- which I don't -- I'm still not sure I could fork it over to the old alma mater just for the privilege of attending some football games. And yes, there's a little bit of sour grapes in that statement.

Although I've always loved college football, I've never been a big fan of NFL. Until last year, that is. We didn't have cable last year and so I didn't get to see many of Georgia's games and I was jonesing. So I started watching NFL games. I found that I was interested if I could get invested in the players or their stories. I was really rooting for the New Orleans Saints last year. I've always rooted for the underdog and the fact that they made it to the playoffs was just amazing. And of course I always watched the Falcons. And I'll watch this year, happier with Michael Vick gone. I never really liked him before all this dog fighting mess.

I don't know if my love of sport is normal or not. Fred used to tell Mr. Daddy that he was a lucky man to be married to a woman who liked football and baseball, could discuss them intelligently AND read ESPN magazine. For fun. All I know is I can't wait for fall. And football! Go Dawgs! Sic 'em.

(Fall 2006)

"And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest"

This is not going to be a funny or witty post. This post is about loss. This post is about my friend Fred who killed himself in May of 2006. He's been on my mind a lot today. He, and the circumstances of his death, are never far from my mind but everything came rushing back when I heard the rumor about Owen Wilson's alleged suicide attempt. All day I've been planning to write about Fred, but as I sat facing the empty screen I just couldn't bring myself to do it. And then, literally at that moment, Bruce Springsteen came on our satellite radio. Bruce was Fred's favorite. It seemed like a sign.

I met Fred in February of 2005. He was my boss. It wasn't a very auspicious beginning -- he made me cry in the first week of work. He pronounced himself "an arrogant New York Jew" and wondered if I would be able to handle him. We joked that although the small town I grew up in was pretty short on Jews, I HAD actually met a few before and that I assured him that I would be fine. We worked through our initial difficulties. I was pregnant so my crying was probably fueled by hormones. Eventually we became very good friends. He was a Yankees fan and I am a Red Sox fan so we had fun ragging each other as to who would win the American League East, and eventually the World Series, and decided that it was probably for the best that I would be on maternity leave during the playoffs. We worked well together. He was a perfectionist and so am I. We both had the same customer service ethic. We both had the same sense of humor. We would both often reference lines from "The Jerk" . When he was out of the office I would change his screensaver from Bruce to a still from Brokeback Mountain. He called me farkakte (Yiddish for crazy/messed up) at least once a week.

And Fred was a little OCD, by his own admission. He was VERY germ phobic. Yet, when Punkin had to be hospitalized at 5 months, outside of my immediate family, Fred was the only one to visit. I heard a knock on the door and there was Fred in latex gloves and a mask. And he wasn't joking.

I knew Fred had problems with depression. I even knew that they were pretty severe at times. In fact, I used to call his therapist for him and make/change his appointments. He relied pretty heavily on Clonapin due to his severe social anxiety. Most of the rest of the world knew Fred was eccentric, but few had any idea the depths of his depression. Even me.

The day that Fred killed himself he came into the office for a couple of hours. He and his wife were having problems. She was seeing someone else and was leaving and taking the kids (although their problems went much deeper than that, I later learned). Fred was so angry. I tried to offer him a judgement-free space where he could vent and rant. He asked me to call and reschedule his afternoon appointment. Before he left he asked me for a hug. He was so vulnerable. I think it was the mother in me. I just wanted to make everything better for him.

I find I still can't write about the finding out, the aftermath. Suicide is a terrible thing. It completely goes against human nature and all rational thought. I thought about Owen Wilson's family today. Assuming the rumors are true, I know how they must be feeling right now. There is confusion, desperation, guilt. You can't even comprehend something so terrible, or despair so deep that would drive someone to that point. Did you miss the signs? Did they try to tell you and you overlooked it? Or laugh them off? See, about two weeks before he killed himself, Fred said "I can't live like this." I thought he meant that something had to change. I said "What?" and he said "Suicide." I went into a rage. I told him that I would never forgive him if he killed himself. He kind of laughed it off and said "I'm not serious. You know I could never do it. I'm too big a wuss to actually go through with it." And I let him convince me. But what if I had taken him seriously? What if I had told someone? Would he still be alive?

That's one of the most horrible things about being a survivor of suicide -- that's the term for those of us left behind, survivor -- the what ifs. What if I had told someone? What if I had gone to his house that afternoon after several hours of unreturned phone calls? What if I had listened to him when he confessed his thoughts of suicide, instead of flying into a rage. I know these what ifs are a dead end path and the fast track to making myself crazy, but occasionally, only occasionally now, they still go through my mind.

The suicide of someone you know changes you forever in a way that normal death does not. I have tried to find something positive from this experience, from this grief. There has to be, right? That much pain can't be for nothing. I'm still not 100% sure I know what the good thing is, but I think it is that I need to have compassion. For everyone. You just NEVER KNOW what someone is going through in their private life. It's not easy to have compassion for everyone and I don't always succeed. But, for me, that is the quest I've been given. I can't let Fred's death be in vain. Something good must come from it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I Need My Beauty Sleep

I like to sleep. No, scratch that. I LOVE to sleep. Of course I love nighttime sleep but I also love a good nap. Ever since I can remember, I've been a napper. And my family growing up were nappers. But I married a man who is not a napper and now every time I try to take a nap he makes me feel like there's something wrong with me. He'll say, "You're so tired all the time. Maybe you should see a doctor." But I KNOW what's wrong with me. It's called motherhood. And while I wouldn't trade my duties as a mother for anything in the world, the exhaustion and the lack of sleep have been, shall we say, eye-opening.

When Bubba was born I basically went into shock. I was in no way prepared for the realities of motherhood, particularly the lack of sleep. And the shock was in itself a shock because I had assumed I was going to breeze through motherhood. I had always been good with kids and I had read EVERY book ever written about pregnancy, childbirth and newborns (too many according to my mother). But the only thing I can compare it to is soldiers learning about battle in a simulator only to be faced with the horrors of actual battle and finding themselves woefully unprepared.

In the week after we came home, my mother graciously, wonderfully, came to spend the week with us. I didn't cook a meal, wash a dish or do any laundry the entire time she was there. But the greatest thing that she did was take over in getting Bubba back to sleep after his middle of the night feedings. Once I was done nursing, I'd wake her up and she'd rock him back to sleep or do whatever was required so that I could get some precious zzzz's. A girl can get real used to that, let me tell you. So, once she was gone I was in for a second shock (though she did come back for another day or two after I called her hysterically wailing "Mom, I can't get him to STOP crying." After her return trip I called her hysterical saying "Mom I think there's something wrong with him -- he's not crying!" She didn't come back that time.). And since I was nursing -- and refused to pump in those early days -- those every-two-hour middle of the night feedings were all on me. My mom recalls a "wild eyed" look I had in those early days, but I think it was probably closer to psychosis brought on by lack of sleep. When I look at pictures of myself from those days the thing that jumps out at me from every one is how absolutely exhausted I look. I mean, look at my eyes in this picture (this is my Aunt Linda on the right).

With Punkin it was a little easier I think because I knew what to expect. With her I learned to prop myself up on the sofa and nurse her while I caught a few winks. Plus, I kept her in a bassinet next to the bed for a long time and I could hear her start to stir, get up, change and nurse her without ever really getting her completely woken up. But the sleep issues have lasted much longer with her than they did with Bubba. She still occasionally wakes up crying like a newborn and is difficult to console and she's almost two.

The great thing about having kids, little kids especially, is that you can nap when they do. And believe me, I have taken advantage of their naps for as long as I possibly can. These days when Punkin' naps, though, I usually have a lot to do and don't often get to lie down. Plus, there's Mr. Daddy, who makes me feel like a degenerate for wanting to get a little extra sleep. And I don't really get this. Why does he care if I take a nap? Usually he's just on the computer or watching tv. It's not like if I weren't sleeping we'd be doing something awesome. So why not just let me take a little nap? I'd be so much more pleasant to be around. Sigh.

Although Bubba is starting to skip naps -- except at school and the occasional broke-neck nap in the car, I think my kids are more like me. They definitely need their sleep. Check out this picture of Punkin' I took the other morning.

Rise and shine, Sleeping Beauty!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Don't m'am me!

We have new across the street neighbors. Yay! I say yay because although the old neighbors were nice, they were very young and had no kids and pretty much kept to themselves. Our NEW neighbors are also young but they also have a four year old, much to Bubba's delight.

I think I've mentioned before that Bubba doesn't know a stranger, so of course the moment our new neighbor, whose name I've ALREADY forgotten (DANG!) stepped outside, Bubba was on her and her son (whose name I DO remember) like white on rice. Even though Bubba will talk a person's ear off if you let him, I'm really glad he's such a social creature. I can sometimes be a little bit of a misanthrope and sometimes, if I let myself, I can happily retreat into my shell.

So, Mr. Daddy and I were standing there chatting with Mrs. New Neighbor, asking a few get-to-know-you questions. She's a nurse and they just moved here from a neighboring county. I can't even remember now what I asked but she responded to one of my questions with "Yes m'am." Now granted, she's younger than I am, probably by a lot, but somehow when someone has children the same age as mine, to me it makes us contemporaries. So that m'am was like a bucket of cold water poured over me.

This is actually not the first time some young person has m'amed (m'am'd?) me. At a former job I had an intern who was like 20 at the time. When he first started it was "Yes m'am" this and "Yes m'am" that. Finally, one day I said "David, as a mother myself, I really appreciate the fact that your mother taught you good manners, but please don't say m'am to me." That, coupled with the fact that he (nor any of the other interns) had any idea who Depeche Mode was made me feel truly ancient.

I guess it all boils down to the fact that I still feel 21. Okay, not physically because right now I'm so tired I feel more like 81 in stead of 21, but I guess emotionally? But not really emotionally either because I've certainly matured since I was 21. Do you know what I mean, though? I guess it's that need to feel that I'm still "cool," still relevant. I've got pretty good taste in music. I keep abreast of pop culture and movies and such. But when someone calls me m'am it just invokes something that I'm not quite ready for. So don't m'am me -- unless you're Bubba or Punkin. Then it's required!

UPDATE: I was thinking about this last night and then I read Lauren's comment this morning so I decided to add this update. I don't want to undo years of hard work that mothers have put in, so I guess I don't really mind when people call me m'am. I'm a m'amer myself. I guess if you're a m'amer, go ahead and say it until they tell you not to. It was just a little shock to the system is all!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mawwiage is what bwings us togever today

Since I didn't have my blog back in June, I wasn't able to tell you guys about a momentous event in my life -- my tenth wedding anniversary!! This was big, y'all. It's like I told Mr. Daddy on the morning of our anniversary, "I've never done ANYTHING for ten years."

I'm going to tell you the story of how we met and our first date, but first a little background info on him. Mr. Daddy likes to tell people he's from southern California and this is technically true because he WAS born there; however, I discount it because I think he only lived there for about a week after birth and for the rest of his childhood and teenage years he moved mostly between West Virginia and South Carolina. He was born in 1971 and I was born about a year and a half later in 1972, so we both grew up in the `70s, both experiencing all the wondrous things the seventies had to offer -- fashions, music and, of course, hair styles.

Look! We have the same haircut! He looks completely thrilled about his -- he used to beg his mother not to cut him "curtains" (bangs), but it looks like he lost that fight. As best as I can tell, we're both about 5 years old in these pictures and as soon as I got my hot little hands on the one of him, I just had to photoshop them together. It is obvious to me that we were meant to be!

And as fate would have it, we both ended up in Hilton Head, South Carolina in the spring and summer of 1996. I was waiting tables at the Chart House and he bartended next door at Shuckers. We Chart House wait staff would truck on over there every night for a very generous free "shift beer" (to be followed by numerous paid-for beers -- those were some smart Shucker's owners!) and Mr. Daddy and I got to know each other as friends.

In fact, we even started looking at getting an apartment together -- just as friends. His living situation was not ideal and neither was mine, so we were both looking for something new. One day as we were going over classified ads he asked me out. I said "Sure. But that means we won't be able to get a place together. That would be too weird."

So we went out. And we went to one of the most crowded, noisiest, most fun bars on the island, but NOT a good bar for a first date. You couldn't even hold a conversation it was so loud. While Mr. Daddy was gone to one of three bars to get us a beer, I decided that I wanted to head to a slightly quieter spot, so I struck out to the bar to alert him of the change in plans. Well, you know what it's like trying to find someone in a huge crowd -- and it's even harder when you head out to the WRONG bar!! So, finally I gave up and headed back to our table where I was greeted with the sight of the most dejected looking individual I have ever seen. He thought I had ditched him! I quickly set the record straight and we headed off to the cigar bar that was right next door. Much better. And we had a great evening. We talked and talked and talked. I remember that someone played Sade's version of "Send Me Someone to Love" on the jukebox (yes, they still had jukeboxes back then!) and it just seemed to fit somehow.

We started spending a lot of time together. Mr. Daddy is a very funny man and there's not much I find more attractive than a great sense of humor. One night we were walking on the beach and he said something really funny and I started laughing. He looked at me and said "You're falling in love with me aren't you?" He said it as a total joke, but it was true. I was. And he liked music, which was also perfect because music plays a big part in my life. I think the night that he showed me his goosebumps from a Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar solo was what sealed the deal.

And the rest, as they say, is history. We had a very fast courtship and were married on June 21,1997. It hasn't always been an easy ten years (nobody told me marriage was HARD!), but we made it through. We're comrades in arms now. We've done battle (raising kids, right?!?). We're in it for the long haul!



(P.S. I have a VERY bad habit of closing my eyes in photos. If you continue to follow this blog you'll probably notice the trend. P.S.S. This photo was taken by Bubba, age 4.5. Pretty good, huh?)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I Would Rather Die

So I was watching the news tonight and ABC news did a brief story on this little tidbit - 27% of Americans did not read a single book last year. You can check out the full story here. The article goes on to break down the statistics of those who do read by gender, geographic region, etc., but frankly I can't get past the thought of a person who did not read a single book last year. I can't even imagine it. I'd rather die. I probably would die if I were deprived of books. Or at the very least wish I was dead.

My family is pretty literary and books were always present in our household. My mom read to us a lot as a kid and one of my favorite memories is when she and I took turns reading chapters of The Secret Garden to each other. My mom was great with accents and she did a great job with Dicken. If you've never read this book, I highly suggest it. Uncle Remus stories were a big hit in our household too. My mom was such a great reader/storyteller that at my spend-the-night birthday parties she was always in high demand to read The Almond Tree, a really spooky/sad story that was guaranteed to give everybody the willies and an old African folk tale called Wiley and the Hairy Man that was scary and funny at the same time. Year after year, my friends would beg her to read them.

I wasn't always a fan of reading to myself, though. In fact, I can remember one day I was complaining to my mom about how bored I was and she told me to read a book. I had Emily's Runaway Imagination lying around but I quickly labeled it as BORING. She said "Finish the first chapter and then tell me if you're bored." And that was it -- I was hooked. And I've never been bored again. I devoured everything that Beverly Cleary wrote, particularly the Ramona books, as well as everything by Judy Blume, all the Nancy Drews, Trixie Belden and the 6th grade equivalent of a "trashy novel" -- the Sweet Valley High series (I so wanted to be brainy Liz with her handsome boyfriend, Todd!)

From there it just grew. I have favorites that I love to re-read from time to time (I'm not going to link to them all -- you guys are intelligent folk. If you're interested, I'm sure you can find 'em). I call them my "desert island books." A few of them are: Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle (pretty much the whole Austin Family series), A Wrinkle in Time by Ms. L'Engle again (and again, pretty much the whole Murry family series), Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher, and Heartbreak Hotel by Anne Rivers Siddons.

(A funny aside about Anne Rivers Siddons. One of the absolute coolest things about my job is that I occasionally get to meet some really great authors. This past April I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Siddons and I was beyond excited. But every time - EVERY TIME -- I tried to talk to her I would start to get all weepy. What was that all about???!! Fortunately she was very kind to me and didn't even call security or anything. What a goober I am!)

I'm also a really fast reader. Given the time and the inclination, I have been known to read a book in a day. It's only happened once recently, but that is an awesome feeling. To find a book that is so fantastic that you don't want to put it down. And that's the other great thing about my job -- I'm constantly surrounded by books. I've probably read 30 books in the last 3 months. And there's a never-ending supply.

I'm always looking for a good read. Share some of your favorites in the comments!

The Whole Fam Damily

I haven't posted in a while because I was away all weekend at a family reunion. Most people see family reunions as a kind of chore, but I actually enjoy them. I've always been big on family but that's probably because I come from a big family. My immediate family growing up wasn't big -- just me and my brother, but my extended family is HUGE!

My grandfather was one of 18 kids. Yes, I said 18!! All from the same mother and father. My grandfather was one of the older ones and I've heard stories that he used to get really pissed every time a new baby was born because that meant more work for him. Can you imagine fixing meals for 18 kids? I mean, by the time you finished breakfast for the last one, it would be time to start on lunch for the first one. It would be never ending. And laundry!! Every time I start to feel remotely sorry for myself I think "Well, at least I don't have to do my laundry in the creek, by hand." Can you imagine laundry for 18 people? My dad has said that when his grandmother died he thought she was ancient, but he later learned she was only 59. The woman probably died just so she could get some rest! I mean, seriously.

My dad is one of 7 kids. And they all had kids and they all had kids and so on and so on. This weekend was the reunion of the Smith* Seven (surname changed to protect the innocent). Usually we have it earlier in August and all my cousins come and its great fun. Over the years this reunion has taken on various iterations -- we've gathered at my uncle's property just over the line in Alabama,, everybody piled up in the trailer on the property or camped out on the many acres. Or a day of swimming at the small town country club in a neighboring town followed adjournment to a dinky little (but clean) motel down the road. For the last couple of years we've all gotten cabins in a small state park in my hometown. The cabins are really nice and there's a little beach for the young kids. Everybody who has one brings their boat or their pontoons and everybody takes turns cruising the lake.

(Please note that all of this is just my father's side of the family. My mother's side is not small, but it's kind of complicated and deserves a post of its own. Also note that I married a man with 5 siblings and my mother got remarried 10 years ago to a man with 7 kids himself. So, as you can, we've got LOTS of family).

This year was a little disappointing because many of my cousins from my generation were unable to come. Because we had the reunion later this year everybody had already started school and many kids already had "activities" that kept them from attending. These cousins and I grew up together, spending just about every Sunday afternoon at my grandparents dairy farm, roaming the woods, having hay fights in the hay barn, riding the dirt roads. Once we got a little older and people started going off to college we started losing track of each other and this reunion is a great way to catch up and reminisce at the same time.

The Smith* 18 reunion is held every October. I've always loved that reunion, too. There are very, very few of the original 18 siblings left now and every year the attendance keeps dropping and dropping. Two years ago my cousin and his wife, who had been in charge of planning and organizing the reunion for 10 years announced before lunch that they'd had enough. Well, they didn't put it quite that bluntly, but that was the gist of it. They made a "call" for someone in the younger generation to step up and take it on. And some sucker fell for it! Any guesses on who that sucker might be? I totally blame it on hormones. I mean, Punkin' was only about 6 weeks old and those hormones were still running rampant in my body, wreaking all kinds of havoc. I guess I was feeling some kind of familial fire and I wanted to keep the flame burning. So, last year was my first one and you know what? It wasn't hard. And by God this year I'm going to guilt trip every last person into attending that darn reunion. Now I totally get why my grandmother used to lay it on so thick!

And where are the pictures of these lovely events, one might wonder? Well, see, here's a confession. I'm a terrible picture taker. Actually, to clarify, the photos that I take are not in themselves terrible. It's just that I'm terrible about getting out the camera and actually taking a picture. I lugged the camera all over this past weekend and did one single photo get made? No. It did not.

One funny last note. Today when Mr. Daddy dropped Bubba off at school, as soon as the car door opened in the "Kiss and Ride Lane," Bubba started talking a mile a minute to his teacher, Ms. Anita. Mr. Daddy said,"He's a talker, isn't he?" Ms. Anita said "He sure is. There's another little boy in the class that's the same way. When we go out to the playground they just stand around talking to each other and I have to run them off and make them go play." For some reason, this image popped into my head. I can totally see Bubba and his little friend standing around like old men, discussing politics and the weather. Oh well, at least Bubba's found a friend. If only one would stop talking so the other could get a word in edgewise!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I like women!

Okay, get your minds out of the gutter. I mean I like them in a strictly platonic, let's be friends kind of way. And this is big for me because I haven't always liked women. Actually, it's that I haven't always trusted women. And there's a reason for that.

When I was in 5th grade, one of my friends -- a girl who had been my absolute best friend in the world since kindergarten -- well, one day she decided she didn't like me anymore. And she convinced several of my other friends that they didn't like me anymore either. So they all set out on a campaign to ostracize me. No one was allowed to talk to me. No one could play with me on the playground. In other words, it was torture. I was devastated and I cried for days. Until one day, she decided that I was "okay" again and everything went back to normal. Except my heart. As I'm typing this, I'm thinking "Good grief, how did this girl have so much power? Somebody should have tried to harness this power for good, not evil!"

Time passed. I've never really been one to hold a grudge. Seventh grade came around and I was still friends with this girl. I invited her to go on a family trip with me to Gatlinburg for the weekend and we had a great time. My parents even got us our own hotel room right next to theirs. On Monday at school? ICE. She wouldn't speak to me and she set out to destroy me again. Except this time she got everyone to write in a note why and how much they hated me. Again I was devastated. Only one person broke the "rules" -- Dee. I can still remember that one day she ran after me after school and she said "I'm not afraid to talk to you." I'm sitting here and I'm almost 35 years old and it still brings tears to my eyes how much that meant to me. And she's still probably the best friend I have on earth even though we don't get together as often as either of us would like. I will never forget that kindness that she showed me.

But fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Or is it vice versa? I always get that confused. But you know what I mean. I never really opened myself up to girls/women again. I've had friends, don't get me wrong, but I think I've never really trusted women and have never really longed to be a part of a group of women.

But all that is changing. First there are my blog buddies. It has been a surprising bonus to have met all these wonderful women via my blog and through blogs that I read regularly. Granted I haven't met many (only one, in fact) in real life but everyone seems so awesome online and have been so supportive and I like everyone so much. And I feel like they like me, even though they've never met me. You like me. You really like me.

And today I went to a new Women's Forum that is sponsored by the University where I work. Maxine Clark, the CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop spoke at the kickoff event, which was very interesting. The forum is designed to help women build networking relationships and learn from each other. And it was very exciting and empowering to be with these women who have similar goals and similar dreams. Very inspiring.

I just want to take this opportunity to say "Thank you" to all of you out there who have either commented on my blog or have emailed me. It means a lot. And even if you're just lurking, even though I don't know who you are, thank you.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Me & Elvis

Since most of you will probably read this on Thursday, the 30th Annivesary of Elvis' death (GOD, I'm old!) I'm writing about my love affair with The King. I've had a thing for Elvis since I was a little girl. The sad truth of the matter is that I didn't even know who he was until after he died, but really I was only 4.5 at the time, so cut me a little slack. My first memory of him is when a girl at my daycare showed me a picture of him and said "He has the same birthday as me. He died." And then of course, after his death, the non-stop hawking of Elvis albums began on television and I was hooked. I thought he was gorgeous! And that voice! That smile!

As I grew older I started watching his movies. I learned to look for the Elvis marathons that would run in January (his birthday) and in August (his death). I haven't seen them all, but I've seen a good many. My favorites were Fun in Acapulco, Blue Hawaii, and G.I. Blues and I own Jailhouse Rock, although it was never really a favorite. And of course I had all the records. Real records, too. They're still around, in fact, but I have nothing to play them on. I can still sing all the words to all the songs on the Fun in Acapulco soundtrack, even the ones in Spanish and I don't even SPEAK Spanish. I had other Elvis records, too -- Elvis Sings for Kids was a favorite -- and even a "gold" record.

When I was eight, my mom, brother and I drove to Dallas, TX to visit my uncle and his new wife, whom he married when he was in his forties. She was an unknown quantity and my family didn't really know that much about her. She won me over forever though, when, after finding out that I was a huge Elvis fan, she led me to her secret stash. For some reason -- and I still don't know what it is -- she had a closet full of portrait sized paintings of Elvis. Some were oil, some were watercolors (no black velvet, though). And she let me choose which one I wanted. She had all kinds -- early, skinny Elvis, Elvis in his middle-years, Vegas Elvis. Which one to choose? I don't know why I chose the one I did. Probably because it was purple. It had some slight damage and it wasn't framed, so when we got home my mom had it framed for me and for years it hung in my purple bedroom. See it below in all its glory. This thing is a good three feet tall!

During my college years it hung in numerous apartments and was kind of kitschy and good for a laugh. Since I've been married, though, it's been relegated to the closet. Since I don't have a rec room, or a game room, or heck, even a basement, there's just nowhere in my normal house that needs a three foot portrait of Elvis. Several months ago Mr. Daddy tried to talk me into selling it on eBay. I didn't really want to, but several people convinced me that Elvis memorabilia sells like crazy on eBay. So, what the heck, let's give it a shot (hence the photo). BUT, I made Mr. Daddy set the reserve kind of high. And guess what? It never sold. And truthfully, I'm glad. Even though I have NO WHERE to put it, I still love it.

And I'm passing my love of Elvis on to my kids, so maybe one day they'll want it. We got Bubba started early. His first Halloween came when he was about ten months old. I was wracking my brain (and the internet) for unique costume ideas and found one that said a baby's fat cheeks lend themselves perfectly to Vegas Elvis. Eureka! So, I followed the directions on how to make the costume and it turned out great, if I do say so myself.

Check out the sunburst design and the sideburns!

And finally, look at those collars!

Unfortunately, as is the case with most second (or subsequent) children, Punkin' hasn't gotten the full indoctrination yet. But there's still time. Plenty of time.

RIP Elvis. You're still the King.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Everything old is new again

I'm sure you've notice by now Hollywood's propensity to recycle everything. Apparently there are no more new ideas. This summer saw the Transformers hit the big screen and apparently there's an Alvin and the Chipmunks, starring Jason Lee of My Name is Earl fame, headed our way this Christmas. And apparently Footloose wasn't good enough the first time around so they're re-making it with the guy from High School Musical. It'd be interesting to hear Kevin Bacon's thoughts on this. I guess I don't really have a problem with this trend, but ask me again when someone decides to remake Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club. THEN we've got a problem.

One of the cool side effects of this trend, though, is getting to introduce your kids to things that you love. YouTube helps, too. Mr. Daddy recently found some old Transformer clips on YouTube that made Bubba's day. I'm not quite sure how they made the leap, but the next thing you know they're looking at breakdancing clips. And Bubba was hooked! He couldn't get enough. And watching wasn't good enough -- he had to try it. And you know what? He's pretty good! The only downside is that he wants to show every body. We recently went to our new dentist and after talking their ears off -- Bubba doesn't know a stranger -- he got down on the floor of the examining room to show off his breakin' skillz! Is it possible to be mortally embarrassed and ridiculously proud at the same time?

When Bubba left his daycare to go to pre-school, the teachers made a card and they all wrote a little note inside. My favorite was "Keep on breakdancing, Bubba. I want to see you on YouTube one day!" Bubba's already been on the Today show (a story for a later post), so he's already used up about 2 of his 15 minutes of fame. I guess we could spare a minute or two for breakdancing glory. We'll call it "Breaking II: ElectricBubbaloo"

We also recently introduced Bubba to Michael Jackson. Not literally, of course, because what sane parent would do that, right? Again, the wonders of YouTube. Bubba had become obsessed with the movie Free Willy, for which MJ sang the theme song. So, we found the video on YouTube, which was followed by the video for "Beat It" (Mommy, why are those men dancing and then fighting?) and then the one for "Black or White" (it had a cool video and a good message). Then we brought out the old school Michael with my favorite "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" (that's a skating rink song right there). Bubba watched it for a few minutes and then he said "That's Michael Jackson?" "Yep." I replied. "Mommy, he used to be brown. "Yep, Bubba. He sure did. He sure did."

Is there a 12 step program for this?

That Lulu, she's got some great blog posts. I find I'm always getting ideas from her, plus she's hilarious! Yesterday she had a link to a contest where you can win a PicaJet photo organizer. I'm going to enter. If you want to enter, click here and then follow the directions. The contest only runs until the 15th so get crackin'.

The whole concept of getting organized got me thinking. I really WANT to be organized. No, really, I DO. It's just that it's too much work. I want to be one of those women who has it all together. One of those women whose shoes have no scuffs. Whose purse doesn't look like it has a family of gerbils that have taken up residence inside. Whose jeans look like they've been starched. Who have no dirty handprints on their just-washed white pants by 7:45 in the morning! But somehow I just can't seem to be that woman. I guess I'm kind of a slob. I don't mean Pig-Pen kind of slob, but somehow I always feel like I have that little Pig-Pen-like cloud following me -- except in my case it's harried-ness. That my not be the image I present to the world, but that's how I feel.

Every now and then I'll make a new resolution. Okay, from now on I'm going to hang my clothes up when I take them off or put them right into the laundry basket instead of having them lie atop my dresser until Saturday when I finally have the energy to face my mountain of clothes that is burying my jewelry box. I'm going to GET THESE PICTURES ORGANIZED! I'm going to follow the Flylady rulebook to the T! Do you know what the first thing is that Flylady tells you to do? Go "Shine your Sink " -- and then you're supposed to dry it out every night so that every morning you feel good about your nice shiny sink. I couldn't even do it! Not the very first thing she tells you to do! And my apologies to any Flylady converts out there, but WHO HAS TIME FOR THIS?!!? Not me.

I guess I come by it naturally, though. My mother wasn't a slob, but orderliness was not a high priority in our house. Spending time with me and my brother was, though. In fact, I remember one time that our preacher called and said he was going to stop by in a few minutes and in order to "clean up", we threw all the clutter into a blanket and threw it into one of the bedrooms. And I guess I feel kind of the same way. Why should I spend my Saturday cleaning up the house when I can spend those precious hours with the kids.* Working full time as I do, and with their early bedtimes I see them very little during the week. So to me, my priority is my time with my kids. I hope that when they're older they'll remember the time we spent together and not what a clean living room we had. (*Disclaimer - Now if you come to visit me, I promise my house will be clean. Just don't open the door to the guest bedroom!)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Boys will be boys

Can anyone explain to me the fascination that boys have with the word poop? And butt? And stinky? Bubba has been going through a phase where those words, either alone or in some crazy combination pepper his sentences with increasing frequency. He has, in fact, been known to walk around singing the following ditty:

"Poopy, poopy, butt, butt, butt. Poopy, poopy, butt, butt" all the while shaking his narrow little hiney back and forth. It's hard not to laugh, but after a while those words start to wear a little thin, especially when you tell him to do something and he fires back with "Okay, booty head!" Now lest you start thinking I'm some kind of lax mom, we don't let him get away with that, but still the words are out there and you just never know when they'll pop up. He places them randomly and with total disregard to syntax and sentence structure!

And any use of these words can send him into hysterics. Mr. Daddy took him to see Surf's Up several weeks ago and one of the characters called the other one a "stinky trash can full of poop." Every time he repeats that phrase he just collapses in a fit of giggles. Somebody in Hollywood has been doing their research in regard to the target demographic!

The only thing that Bubba loves more than saying "poop" is hoarding his money. In his room he has a giant pickle jar -- and I mean food service size -- full of spare change. Mr. Daddy and I were wracking our brains trying to figure out a way to break this annoying habit when finally it dawned on us. The next time he started with the "butts" and the "poops" we told him we were going to start taking money from his money jar. BINGO! Now he may not even know how to read, but the boy's got business sense! I only had to take a nickel out twice before the habit was effectively broken.

And what's with the fascination with his own anatomy? So far that seems like that's just a boy thing too. Maybe because they're just hanging out there?

One night while I was giving him a bath he reached down and said,
B: Mommy, what are these round things?
Me: Those are your testicles. Only boys have them.
B: But what do they do?
Me: (Hmmmm. What to say? How much information is he ready for?) Well, when you get bigger they'll give you hair on your chest and on your face.
B: (He looks horrified) But mommy, I don't WANT hair on my chest. OR on my face.
Me: Well, Bubba, most men have hair on the chest and on their face.
B: (In a decidedly final tone) Well, I won't be a man. I'll just be a guy.

Okay, Bubba. Whatever you say!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

ANTS!! They're taking over the world

In my entry about our trip to Charleston I mentioned that we only really encountered one real problem -- ANTS!

Now, I'm not afraid of bugs. In fact, I'll pick up just about any kind of bug I come across. Well, let me clarify that I don't just go around picking up random bugs, but now that I've got kids I do pick them up occasionally so that we can examine them. For science, you know. The only kind of bug that I despise -- and I'm not really sure it counts as a bug -- is a spider. Ughh! Hate 'em. I hate the way all 8 legs move independently of each other -- completely weirds me out. But I try to be fair even to spiders. We have a rule -- if he's outside, he can live. If he's inside, he must die.

And I'm trying to teach my kids not to be afraid of bugs, but that's actually harder than you'd think it would be. You can't just say "All bugs are okay" because they're not. You don't want your kids to pick up just any old thing, right? What if it were a scorpion? Or a cockroach? ((shudder)). But you don't want them to be deathly afraid of every little six legged critter they come across either. It's a very fine line you have to walk.

It's been hardest with ants. In the first house we lived in when we moved back to the area we had fire ants. And it doesn't take but once getting stung by one of those to terrify a child forever. Bubba was only about 16 months old when we moved back and he quickly learned to spot ants wherever they were, whether they were just regular old black ants or fire ants.

In that house, and in this one too, we had quarterly pest control visits. And EVERY time, about a week after the guy comes to the house, we are OVERRUN with ants inside the house. And so we have to call and have the guy come back out and retreat. EVERY TIME. You'd think that by this time the guy would just go ahead an put out the ant traps when he comes for the quarterly treatment. But no. I guess hope springs eternal even in a jaded pest control employee.

So anyway, we picked up the camper from my dad about a 5 days before our actual trip and we parked it beside our driveway. When Mr. Daddy went out the next day to open it up and air it out, the thing was COVERED in ants. If you accidentally bumped the camper the ants would come boiling out, running in circles like something you'd see in those "Insects Attack" nature shows. I mean, you've never seen so many ants. Or seen a Mr. Daddy lose it quite so spectacularly in the front yard. To say that both of us are just over ants would be an understatement. So, I got the broom and Mr. Daddy got the 409 (which works wonders on killing ants, by the way) and we managed to get rid of them all. We moved the camper into the middle of driveway and put ant poison around all of the wheels and all was well with the world.

On Thursday night, Mr. Daddy, being the super efficient person that he is, went ahead and hooked the camper up to my Jeep Liberty. Friday morning we left in the pitch black and it wasn't until an hour or so down the road that we noticed our entire car was crawling with ants. The ants had used the hitch from the camper to the Jeeps as their little ant bridge and had taken up residence in my car. Anybody with children's carseats knows how many crackers, cheerios and general crud gathers underneath. It was like an all you can eat buffet for the ants. And poor Punkin' -- she's still slightly scared of ants -- she was trapped in her car seat with ants crawling all around her. "The bike me, they bike me" she cried. We stopped and managed to kill all the ones we could see and finally continued on our way.

During the trip we continued to see the random ant or two, but we managed to smush them as we encountered them and we even taught Punkin' to do the same. We'd be riding along and hear her pipe up from the backseat "SMUSH!" and know that another one bit the dust. But on the way home -- good grief! We stopped for lunch, and as I mentioned, it was about a thousand degrees that day so when we got back in the car Mr. Daddy turned the air on high. All of sudden he looked down and he was covered in ants. They were blowing out of the air vent! Now, it's not exactly like having a bee in the car, but having ants crawling all over you is still a very disconcerting feeling. I know because it happened to me again on Monday night. It's a good thing there was no highway patrol around either time because I'm sure we would have been stopped on suspicion of DUI. We cleaned and cleaned and cleaned the car and I even have ant bait traps under my seats. We seem to have gotten rid of most of them, but I still see the occasional ant.

People always say that cockroaches will be the only thing to survive a nuclear attack, but I think that ants are going to do them one better and just go ahead and take over. But my family, we'll be ready for them. SMUSH!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Smart Girls are the new black

I was going to do a Thursday Thirteen blog today (inspired by Lulu once again) but frankly I'm just too tired to think up 13 things. There's something about Thursdays -- by the time it rolls around every week I'm just plumb tuckered out. We usually just have sandwiches for supper on Thursdays but tonight we actually had a real meal. But that was because I actually cooked it LAST night. I can usually be so organized for about two days in row and then kerfluey. Instead I'm going to talk about something near and dear to my girls.

I've always been a "smart girl." I was, in fact, charter member of the Nerd Herd in high school. I took 5 AP classes my senior year, went to Governor's Honors, Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership. I'm not bragging -- it's just how I was known -- my rep, if you will. To illustrate my point, when my husband was in the National Guard in my hometown he was telling this kid in his unit that he was married to me and this kid said, "Oh yeah. I know her. She's smart as shit." I barely knew this kids in school. But he knew me! I guess if I had to have a rep, I'll take that one. There were a few times I longed to be part of the cool crowd. I did have friends who were on the cheerleading squad, etc. so I could kind of float between both worlds, but mostly I was just brainy. And I liked to read, so that was kind of weird, too.

Now, in full disclosure I have been known to say "I don't know. That's why I was an English major" when faced with a math problem. But really, I'm just being lazy. I was always really good at math. Well, up until AP Calculus that is.

So anyway, that's why I'm really psyched about Danica McKellar's new book Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail. I am sick to death of the "stupid girl" persona taken on willingly by so many girls in Hollywood -- you know who I'm talking about -- Paris, Nicole, Lindsey, Britney and all the rest of the clones. Do young girls actually look up to these trollops? I don't know. But if you look at the way they dress I would say they do. If I had one wish in regards to this book, other than that it be required reading for all sixth grade girls, it would be that I wish Danica had written this book at the height of her Winnie Cooper fame. (Girls, just go ask your dad who Winnie Cooper is.) I'm afraid most girls in this generation don't know who in the heck she is. We need someone the girls can really relate to. Who is she? Cindy Crawford is supposedly super smart, but she's no longer really a supermodel. Who will step in to support this smart-girl revolution? We need smart girls to come out of the closet! Show yourselves! Don't be afraid! Boys WILL like you! Smart boys. The kind you want to ask you out.

I say let's even design our own little rubber bracelet so that we can identify each other on the street. What should it look like? What should our slogan be? "Readstrong?" Or how about "Smart is the new black?" Leave your thoughts in the comments. And don't be afraid to be smart!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The first day of the rest of his life. Or something like that.

Well, today was Bubba's first day of pre-K. We had an open house last night that was absolute mayhem. Sixty kids. Plus about 120 parents -- figuring two per kid which I know is not always the case but let's just go with it for now. Plus several assorted older and younger siblings all milling about in a very tiny space. And it was hot, y'all. I swear sometimes I think I'm going through the change with these hot flashes I get. But that's another story. Anyway, we met Bubba's teachers Ms. Anita and Ms. Chhaya (yes, there are 2 h's in her name -- I don't know why) and they seem very nice.

Now, originally I was going to walk Bubba in this morning. It seemed like a momentous event, you know? But after seeing the classroom and meeting the teachers, I felt like it maybe wasn't necessary after all. The parking situation is not ideal and I would have had to lug Punkin' along. And I would have had to carry her or else she would be flinging herself down in a fit every time I wouldn't bend to her whims. She's a drama queen, that one. I have NO IDEA where she gets it. Ahem. And getting her out of there without Bubba would have been more than I could bear at 7:15 in the morning. That child loves her Bubba.

And the honest truth is that sometimes I hog all the special events in the kids' lives. My schedule has just always been more flexible and most of the time I'm the one who does this kind of thing. So, I figured it was only fair to let Mr. Daddy handle this momentous event.

All day long I wondered how things were going. Finally, the moment of truth. When I arrived at the center the lady behind the desk said "Hi! Who are you?" (in a nice way, of course). I told her I was Bubba's mom and she said "Oh. Great!" I asked how his day went and she said "Well, I talked to the pre-K teachers this afternoon and his name didn't come up. So, that's a good thing!" Whew! I just knew she was going to say "Oh yeah. He's the one who won't stop talking."

The biggest challenge of my day is trying to find out about Bubba's day. I swear if getting information from him as a teenager is any more difficult than it is now, I can see I better gird my loins for a battle ahead. You basically have to play 20 questions and sometimes if you get him going he'll tell you everything. Other times -- pfffft! Nothing. Here's how it went today:

Me: How was your first day at school, Bubba?
Bubba: Good.
Me: Did you have fun?
B: Yes.
Me: What did you do?
B: I played. (Oh really, you don't say.)
Me: Did you have a a good lunch?
B: Yeah. I didn't like what was on the sandwich so I scraped it off and ate my bread.
Me: What was it?
B: I don't know.
There were lots of questions in between but I actually gleaned very little from them.

And finally:
Me: Did you have a good snack?
B: It was wonderful!
Me: It was? That's great! What was it.
B: Some kind of cheese crackers. They didn't taste very good.
Me: I thought you said it was wonderful?
B: It was. For everybody else.

Ah, that Bubba. Always thinking of others. :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

And the exhaustion sets in....

After sleeping like a dream for 3 nights in an unfamiliar environment, guess who slept like a baby last night in her own little bed? And by baby I mean waking every couple of hours and crying like your heart is going to break. Did you say Punkin'? Ding ding ding! We have a winner! Give the lady down in front a shiny new attagirl!

So, I'm exhausted. Plus, I spent the day with Bubba -- one last day of freedom before pre-K starts. Do you hear that? No? Me either! Blessed silence. I love Bubba but good grief he is a talker. One funny random note-- at supper tonight Bubba said out of the blue "I don't want to be bad, but I really want to see what jail looks like." I nearly snarfed milk out of my nose. Do they have a "Scared Straight" for preschoolers?

Since I"m tired, I'm going to do a meme that I found over a Lulu's Laundry. I'm supposed to list 8 random facts about myself. Here we go:

1. I love celebrity gossip. As much as I profess to be sick of hearing about Paris and Nicole and Lindsey, I can't help myself. There' s a website I check several times a day called dlisted. If you check it out, please be aware that the guy is very often crude, crass, gross and not safe for work. But I still check it out anyway.

2. I have a tattoo and two piercings. Well, technically just one piercing now, in my ear. Technically it's called a tragus piercing, but since it's in the ear, it seems kind of tame to me (I secrety want to have a tiny little stud in my nose). I used to have my belly button pierced but Mr. Daddy guilt tripped me out of that one by saying "Don't you think you're a little too old for that?" I think I was 28. I've regretted taking it out ever since, although the state of my stomach after two kids and a c-section doesn't really lend itself to a navel piercing. The one in my ear? It'll be there when I'm ninety. I'm holding on to the last vestiges of my coolness with tooth and claw!

3. I love soup. I could eat it any time of day, any weather. In fact, I just ate some Campbell's chicken noodle soup and it's like 100 degrees outside. By the way, you should only dilute it with half a can of water, no matter what the directions say. It's much better that way. When I graduated from high school, my mom's friend gave me a case - A CASE -- of Campbell's cream of chicken. The secret to that one is to stir it really well before you add the water. That way, no lumps!

4. I don't like for people to flush the toilet when I'm in the shower because I have this weird phobia that the water from the toilet is somehow now raining down on me in the shower. I KNOW that's not happening, but I can't help it. I never said it was rational.

5. I don't know what to do with commas. I have an English degree and I've written tons of papers. Part of my current job is producing our department newsletter. But I still don't know what to do with commas. If I pause in a sentence, a comma's goin' in. Although I have become sort of partial to dashes.

6. I'm sort of stealing this one from Lulu. I met my husband in a bar, too. He worked there and I waited tables at the place next door. We got engaged one month after our first date and were married eight months later. We've been married ten years.

7. I can read a book in a day. Not that I get much chance to these days, but it has happened fairly recently.

8. I hate grocery shopping. With an all consuming passion. When most people dream about what they would do with their lottery winnings it's usually new car, new house, travel. Me? I'd hire somebody to do my grocery shopping. Now that's the good life!

I don't know enough bloggers to "tag" -- or at least not well enough yet to feel free to tag them, but if you want to do this meme, feel free.

Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles!

Well, believe it or not, we had a good time. I'm not saying it was perfect -- I'll just say one word and leave it for another post - ANTS! All in all, though, it was a good trip.

We got up really early on Friday because our plan was to get to Charleston early, go see the U.S.S. Yorktown at Patriots Point, and go with the cousins to see a Charleston Riverdogs game. And we made really great time, even taking into account the fact that Mr. Daddy realized not even three miles out of town that he had forgotten the key to the camper. Needless to say he was not pleased, but still I say that was WAAAYYY better than realizing it once we'd arrived 5 hours later in Charleston. Right? I would definitely not want to be around for that cussin' fit. So anyway, we got to Charleston in great time, around 10:30 in the morning, in fact. And guess what? It was pouring!! It rained ALL day. So, we hung around with the cousins (of whom there are 5, with a 6th on the way!) and then when none of us could stand to be in the house one more second we went out to a nice-- and by nice I mean family-friendly because between the four adults we had 7 kids! -- seafood restaurant and gorged ourselves on fresh seafood. Then we went back home for the moment of truth -- BEDTIME!

Would Punkin' sleep? Would she cry all night? Would we have to pack up in the middle of the night and go home? Find out next time on....Oh, sorry. Back to the story. It's about 8:00, which is an hour past her bedtime, but it's vacation so we let the bedtimes slide a little, plus I figured the darker the better in the camper, you know? So, I went to bed at 8:30 with both the kids. Punkin' slept on one side of the pop-up with me and Bubba slept on the other side with Mr. Daddy. And they both slept. Now I'm not saying it was easy. They both tossed and turned and squirmed like a worm in hot ashes all night long. But they slept. I told Mr. Daddy that next time we should put both kids on one side and we could worry about undoing the resulting tangle o' kids the next morning. At least that way WE could get some sleep.

On Saturday the day dawned sunny and we all packed up and went to the beach. If you think it's easy getting ready to take 4 adults and 7 kids to the beach, you've got another think coming. You gotta think about lunch. You gotta think about snacks. You gotta think about drinks. You gotta think about sunscreen. You gotta think about diapers. But, we got it done and we headed out to the Isle of Palms. The beach was crowded but we found a spot and the kids had a blast. Here's Punkin' on her first trip to the beach.

And Bubba, who's been to the beach before but not since he was a baby.

There were only three small bad things about the trip to the beach. One, I was wearing a baseball cap and COMPLETELY forgot to put sunscreen on my ears. I walked around the rest of the weekend looking like I was embarrassed about something. Plus, they hurt like a mother. Two, Punkin' got stung by a jellyfish, we think. She grabbed her leg and started saying "Ow, ow" but then she kind of forgot about it and later we noticed she had a really red mark on the back of her leg. Either it was a very small jellyfish or she's really a trooper! And three, no matter how many times you tell a 2 and 4.5 year old "Don't put your sandy feet on the towels" they just don't listen.

On Sunday we got up and did the church thing. We had promised Bubba that we would take him to see the big battlship on this trip, so we drove from Bonneau to Mount Pleasant and Patriots Point. Now I don't know if you noticed what the weather was doing in this part of the country, but in SC it was about a go-zillion degrees with a thousand percent humidity. The thought of walking around a giant hunk of steel with no air conditioning made me want to just die, so we told Bubba we were just going to "look at it." Now of course, this was after we stopped at an Old Navy to take advantage of South Carolina's tax free weekend and it was so miserably hot and humid just walking from the car to the store that we were tempted just to drive by and look from the car ("Hey kids..Big Ben, Parliament.")\. But as we drove up Mr. Daddy said "Okay kids, let's get out, take a picture, and call it memory." So here they are...

And on the cannon...

And finally, Mommy and Punkin'. We're not sweating. We're glowing. Hah!

As I said, all in all it was a good trip. The kids had fun because they got to play with other people's (i.e. new to them) toys all weekend. Can I just tell you, though, how exhausting it is to worry about your kids breaking other kids toys all weekend?? And they must have a million toys.

And the icing on the cake? Look who was here when we got home....

Hot, hungry, and thirsty, the prodigal cat has returned.

Friday, August 3, 2007

We're off to see the wizard...

I forgot to mention last night that this morning we're off in the family truckster for our little vacay. I won't be posting while we're gone, but I'm sure to have plenty of blog fodder upon my return. Say a prayer, everyone. Say a prayer.....

Warning: There be grossness ahead!

As a teenager -- heck, even after I got married -- if anyone had told me the absolutely disgusting things that I would be called on to do as a mother, I doubt I would have believed you. And if you had told me that I would do these things willingly and lovingly and without gagging once (okay, MAYBE once) I probably would have hooted in derision.

I started thinking about this topic this evening as I was eating my dinner. I had fed the kids earlier and they were off in their rooms playing and Mr. Daddy was outside getting the camper ready for our trip, so I was blessedly alone and enjoying a good book with my meal (Run With the Horsemen by Ferrol Sams, if you're curious). Punkin' comes around the corner, stops, and with the trademark red face and grunt of a poop-in-progress lets me know she needs my assistance. Now I have two options, really. I can get up in the middle of my meal and change a poopy diaper OR I can finish my lovely meal and let her wander around for a few minutes with her diaper bespoiled. Frankly, neither is a tantalizing prospect but whaddaya gonna' do? Let the record show that I did get up and change her immediately, but let's just say dinner didn't look quite so appetizing when I returned to the table.

The thing that has absolutely astounded me about my parental ability to handle just about anything is the ability to handle the kids throwing up. There was a time in my life that if I saw it, heard it or smelled it, I was doing it too (I warned you this would be gross!). But since my kids have come along, I have been known to catch it in my hand in order to keep from making a bigger mess. Or allowed them to continue to throw up down the front of my shirt for the same reason. I mean, once they've got you there's no reason to have to clean up yourself AND the floor too! Right? Anybody? Bueller?

I've mentioned this fun fact about Punkin' before -- she throws up a lot. She has probably thrown up more in her short two years than I've thrown up in my entire life. She suffered from severe reflux as an infant which got better as she got older and started solids. The down side to that was that her gag reflex was extremely sensitive and I began to despair that she would ever be able to eat table food. When she would throw up it was truly amazing to watch. You could see her gag reflex kicking in and then all of sudden -- blech! It was just like when you pull the lever and the Play-doh squishes out in interesting shapes, only it wasn't Play-doh. (Gross, I know. But I DID warn you.) Fortunately for everyone involved, she appears to be growing out of all these issues. But heck, they should have had the local sex-ed class come to my house for while. It's the perfect form of birth control. It certainly worked on me!