Monday, March 31, 2008

Sibling Fight Management 101

Aaah - another refreshing night's sleep on the couch. Susie has a cold, so I felt as though I was sleeping between the dueling banjos of snoring until I finally went downstairs for a decent night's sleep.

David and Larry returned from camping unscathed. David had a great time, notwithstanding his extreme reluctance to go on this trip. He found a new best friend, and Larry enjoyed talking with the best friend's dad. It is interesting that, even though they spent a full 24 hours together (including sharing the same tent), Larry never discovered that this guy's kid is homeschooled also. David told me. Because he is only 10, and so has not yet developed the non-communication skills of a true guy. Give it another year, and he wouldn't have known either.

Uncle Matt got tired of the sleep deprivation (hey, that pun wasn't intended, but it's a pretty good one) and packed up and got the heck out of here. But not before we all watched The Man Who Knew Too Little last night. If you're a Bill Murray fan, this is a must-see. I missed it when it came out 11 years ago, as I was having a baby at the time.

Rachel and Susie keep having altercations of one sort and another, and they are all very emotional. I am not used to having 2 girls fighting. It's always been boy-girl or boy-boy. People got mad, but they also got even. Theo would pinch Anna. Anna would take his toys. (They don't do that anymore.) The boys just punched each other. Rachel bit Brian a number of times when they were littler and then he'd yell, "I'm telling Mommy!" Somehow, it was a lot simpler. Girls, however, get very emotional and there is much wailing and screaming of things such as "I hate her! She's mean!" accompanied by these big, gulping sobs and huge tears rolling down their cheeks. It's overwhelming. So I smack them.

Ha, ha - kidding. I just mail them to India.

Stop that! I don't know what to do, actually. But I don't worry about it too much, because I know that before long they will have outgrown this stage and gone on to be teenagers and won't that be fun?

I feel a list coming on...

WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN KIDS FIGHT

1. Talk so your kids will listen ('cuz they don't listen unless you are siding with them)
2. Use your conflict resolution skills (see #1)
3. Call your husband at work and have him threaten them over the phone (not very effective and it annoys him no end)
4. Try to be fair (as in, "Now, Susie, you've had a turn with the old, bent spatula from the kitchen drawer; now give Rachel a turn.") This technique rarely works because (you guessed it) they both want the crappy old spatula first and who cares that they have a perfectly decent set of play kitchen tools of their own that cost more than all your cooking equipment put together, not that that bothers you or anything...
5. Scream "Shaddup, youse!" and burn them both with your cigarette (Ha - joke - though it is tempting... it's a good thing I don't smoke, I guess)

Instead,

SIBLING FIGHT MANAGEMENT

1. Studiously ignore them - they just want to find out who Mommy loves more. Also, most fights evaporate after a few minutes. Intervening too soon prolongs the disagreement, leaves you with a splitting headache, and annoys you no end when you see them playing happily together 10 minutes later as you lie on a couch nursing a migraine.

2. If the fight lasts more than a few minutes, or turns violent, take away disputed object. Hide it. Out of sight is truly out of mind. Kids are way distractable.

3. Redirect the fighters' interest ("Oh, look! I just saw a giraffe outside! Quick - go see!"). See above re distractability of young offspring.

4. If undistractable, the fighters should be put in separate rooms and allowed to scream at each other safely from behind closed doors while you go back to lying on the couch and nursing your migraine. This approach has the advantage that you can drink something, um, comforting without the little brats seeing and telling Daddy.

5. Remember to say at some point, "Just wait until Daddy gets home!" Sometimes the old ways are the best.



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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hemingway Redux

Larry went up to the attic yesterday to find his camping stuff and discovered 3 (count them! 3) full mousetraps. I thought it had been sort of quiet up there lately. As usual, he was quite proud of himself for his hunting prowess. He treated himself to an extra beer after disposing of the bodies. I'm just glad he didn't have them stuffed and hung above the fireplace.

Larry was looking for his camping gear because he and David headed off for a fun Boy Scout camping trip today, David's first. It was sort of touching how excited David was. I mean, if excited means screaming, "I'm not going! I don't want to go!" Larry practically had to carry him out to the car.

Parenting isn't for weaklings, you know.

And lest you think we are cruel for forcing our son to participate, the kid was eager to go until yesterday, when he found out that Uncle Matt was coming to stay for the weekend. David didn't want to miss a second of the visit, though most of today will consist of watching the little girls play with their uncle's cellphone (it has a camera! And fun tunes!). In fact, as of this writing, Uncle Matt is still abed (it's past noon), as he is not used to having his sleep patterns messed up by a screaming 10-year-old at 6 in the morning. No one else around here even noticed the disruption. Uncle Matt leads a very sheltered life.

I had planned to give myself a break from a solo parenting weekend by going to yoga class this morning - but instead I ended up leaving the minivan at the local auto shop for a new battery (after a kindly neighbor once more jump started it for me) and then walking back home. Oh, well - it still beat being stuck in the house on duty all day. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the kids for the rest of the day. I mean, once I stop wasting my time watching this funny video on the new trend of outsourcing childcare to India, brought to you from those strange folks at The Onion. Boy, some people can really take Idle Parenting to an extreme...

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Some Things Bug Me

Well, I certainly wasn't in a very good mood last night, was I? Chronic pain will do that to a person. And the threat of impending death. Things haven't improved much here today, healthwise - I just keep popping those little magic pills the doctor gave me, which might as well be placebos for all the good they are doing me.

Someone came over to visit with her kids this afternoon, which provided me a little distraction from my medical woes; but, unaware of my tenuous grasp on my Weight Watchers' resolution, she brought a container of chocolate chip cookies to share. They were good cookies. Not quite as good as Trefoils, but beggars can't be choosers. Luckily, the cellulitis seems to be affecting my jaw, so it's been harder to chew; maybe that will all balance out for me, diet-wise.

Oh, dear - now my hypochondriacal brain is whispering the words "gangrene of the jaw" to me. Is that a disease? Should I Google it? Can I live with half a jaw? I don't know. One of you look it up for me, okay? And my left ear is still swollen up like a cauliflower. I was thinking about that last night when I couldn't sleep, and I remembered that I had once read about a medical case in Boston where the doctors couldn't get rid of the infection in some guy's earlobe no matter what, until some genius decided to use live maggots to clean the bacteria out of it. It being the middle of the night and all, I decided that that was no doubt going to happen to me; so then I started wondering if they would administer some sort of general anaesthetic for the procedure or if I was just going to have to kill myself.

Would you believe, Larry was sort of confused when woken up by my 3 AM panic attack? Even after I managed to explain to him my dire maggot-ridden situation?

Oh, look, I found a picture of maggot therapy; but, for some reason, I can't load it onto my blog . Consider yourselves lucky, okay? If you really want to see it, just go here.

Lovely, isn't it? Whatever happened to "First, do no harm"?

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thoughts From A Whiny Sick Lady

In the comments from yesterday, Anonymous wanted to know what to say when a teen screams, "You hate me!" Tempting as it may be to trot out Rule #5 ("Yes, dear, we do hate you")(or better yet, "Who told you?!"), it may be better to just say, "Cut the crap" - because the kid knows it isn't true. Surprisingly, Anna has never screamed that at us. She has screamed, "I hate myself! I hate my life!" when informed that she is not allowed to go to some social function which she had her heart set on attending, to which we always replied, "Well, we love you, sweetie," just to bug her.

Drama, thy name is girl teenager.

I'm a tad late posting today, as I have been laid low, once again, by cellulitis. Luckily, I remembered what happened when last I Googled this particular disease and so I have stayed far, far away from the search box at the top of my browser. Of course it didn't help to have the doctor talking about MRSA and IV antibiotics, either. I guess I could drop dead any minute. In which case, I should be editing family photos, not talking to imaginary friends.

The good part about being sick is I have an excuse to lie in bed and neglect the children; the bad part is I have to put up with the blank stare Anna gives me when I inform her that I need a little extra help around the house. You parents of teens know that stare - the "You talkin' to me? Why? Do I know you?" look that is probably the cause of more military boarding school enrollments than all the other reasons put together.

And, in case you're wondering, the answer to that look? "Yes, I just came from outer space, dimwitted Earthling; now get your butt off the couch and look busy."

Can you tell it's been a rough week with a certain someone who used to be the cutest little girl on the planet? Sigh. Maybe I should look through all the old photo albums again, so I can remember what her smile looked like. Or maybe that would only make me feel worse.

Ha - she just asked to check her e-mail. I don't think so, sweetheart. Mommy can be waaaay bitchier than you. Just ask Daddy - he knows. And it doesn't help that I am missing Knit Night this evening.

Time to go - the Tylenol bottle is calling my name.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Teen Girl Survival Guide

I've just read yet another blog post about insanely-acting teen/preteen girls. Let me shorten the learning curve for all you people whose daughters have just recently been possessed.

Surviving Teens (and Preteens) of the Female Persuasion

1. Do not, I repeat, do not try to reason with these creatures. You could reason better with a pet iguana. They do not want to see your way of looking at things. Because that would make them as much of a loser as you are.

2. Insist on the outward forms of respect. That is, unless you want to live for a couple of years with a screaming, wall-kicking, door-slamming she-monster....

3. Remember! You are dealing with someone who has regressed to the mental state of a 2-year-old. Treat her as one. Short, simple commands work best.

3. Never does the pain/pleasure principle work so well as it does for teenagers. Making a teen write "I will not hiss at my mother while she is speaking" 200 times has more of a salutatory effect than lecturing her. Make sure to take away all computer/phone/IPod privileges until she is done.

4. Carry a hand-mirror at all times to avoid looking in the face of the teen-girl death glare. Confronting the death glare directly has been known to turn formerly rational parents into screaming, out-of-control maniacs.

5. Acknowledge everything she says and agree with it. (Yes, dear, we are ruining your life. That's right, we are losers. Now go shovel off the floor in that hellhole you call your room.) It drives her absolutely crazy.

6. When they complain about simple household chores, give them more. When they complain about that, add even more work. Eventually, it gets through their pea-size brains that there is a pattern here, and they shut up. (Not permanently, alas, but that would be too much to ask for)

7. Do not acknowledge her displeasure when she is standing directly above you, glowering like a summer storm cloud, flashes of lightning emanating from her eyes. Asking what is wrong is just looking for trouble. Instead, smile and say, "My, don't you look lovely today!"

8. Develop an early-warning system with your spouse. Do not let him come home from a hard day of work to be greeted by, "Either she goes or I go!" These sort of histrionics are very hard on the menfolk.

9. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Removing an oft-slammed bedroom door is a reasonable tactic for an otherwise unsolvable situation. So is refusing a driver's license until the teen is capable of thinking in a rational fashion once more.

10. Remember, this is a test of endurance; a marathon, if you will, not a sprint. Conserve your energy. Hydrate well (preferably with something that has some alcohol content). Stay in shape in order to prevent your daughter's doing damage to personal property or a younger sibling. Above all, laugh a lot, especially in front of her. She hates that.






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Monday, March 24, 2008

Looking Forward to a Holiday-Free Week...

Whew! We got through Easter without Rachel spilling the (jelly)beans. You see, last week she informed me that there certainly wasn't an Easter bunny. In her words, "A bunny wouldn't wear clothes and come into our house and leave eggs." Oh, okay - but a fat man from the North Pole does land on our roof and come down our chimney. Apparently, she is very selective in her suspension of disbelief.

I know she's 5 already; but compared to her siblings, Rachel's a little Einstein. Usually, our kids are 8 or 9 before they figure out that we're lying to them. I had to make her promise not to disillusion Brian (who is 2 years older) and little Susie. I threatened her, in fact, with no jellybeans if she ruined the magic of the holiday for her more gullible siblings. We take our fantasy pretty seriously around here.

About a year ago, I was "volunteered" to serve a 3-year stint as president of our townhouse community association. I guess everyone thought that with only 6 kids at home, I had extra time on my hands. Also, it was a Bunko night and a little too much wine had gone around, okay? This whole situation is laughable, as I do not know what I am doing. And I don't have any brain cells left to figure it out. Fortunately, someone else is treasurer; and he has promised me that he will have a budget figured out by tomorrow evening's yearly homeowners' meeting. I, in turn, have promised him any number of hand-knitted items if he will agree to cover for my stupidity over the next 2 years. I think that's fair, don't you?

I really hate being in charge of things that people might yell at me about.

And for those of you who were wondering, Anna did not go naked to church Easter morning; instead, she showed up in last year's Easter outfit. Fine with me. Now if I can just find the receipt for that other dress....otherwise, we may have a nifty giveaway here soon. Kalynne? Does your daughter need a sundress, along with a modesty-preserving shrug? Knee-length, looks decent with flats - just don't let her wear it with high heels, unless you approve of the strumpet look for young teens. In which case, my Anna would like to live with you.

I had a weird dream last night, too convoluted to explain here; but the part that stands out in my mind is that I was hitting people in hospital beds (invalids, I think) on the head and yelling, "Be nice to me!" It worked, too - they gave me presents.

I don't want to even think about what that means.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Type Suitable Title Here

I used all my 50% off coupons at Michaels' yesterday - this activity involved purchasing only one item at a time, walking with it out to my car, walking back in, purchasing the next one....seems silly, right? But I saved $6.25 for just 15 minutes worth of effort, which translates into earning $25 an hour. Without taxes. And I got some very nice wool yarn for $2.50 a skein.

Hey, it makes me happy.

Yesterday afternoon, I tried to get out of pushing Susie around the neighborhood on her tricycle by running into the house and telling her that I'd be "right back." I figured she would wander off to play at the tot lot with the other kids. 20 minutes later, Anna reported that Susie was still sitting there on her little pink tricycle, trusting that her mommy would come back as she had promised. Makes me feel sort of bad for forgetting all about her, you know?

Perhaps I should finally invest in one of those trikes with the long handle to push by. I always thought that the people pushing those expensive contraptions around the block were money-wasting idiots; but now I realize that buying one just might save me on chiropractic bills. Raising little ones is a younger person's game, it turns out.

At 5:30 this evening (that is, a mere 15 hours before Easter Mass) Anna announced that her Easter outfit was not at all satisfactory. You know, the outfit I spent all last Saturday afternoon taking her to stores to find, the one she loved, and that I decided was just barely long enough to be acceptable. But it turns out that there is a shoe issue. Isn't there always? Heels versus flats....you don't need the details. Suffice it to say that today she balled up the dress, shoved it into a bag with the new shoes, and handed it to me, saying, with a sob, "I can't wear these tomorrow."

I don't know when it became her job to make me feel lousy, but she certainly is good at it.

Larry and I took the younger 4 on a forced march through the woods today. (Why? To keep them from driving us crazy at home, that's why.) They did all right until it started to rain. Brian totally freaked out because he was getting wet. As Larry said, "What is wrong with him?" We hiked damply back to the car (well, Susie was on Larry's shoulders), getting lost only once. And Brian didn't melt. There was a slight crisis in the car on the way home: I had brought only 3 granola bars as provisions, so Rachel and Susie had to share one. Did I mention it was only a 5-minute drive? It felt way longer. But no one starved to death, I promise.

Where was I? Oh, yes, Larry took me out to dinner tonight. We shared a burrito, and then he bought me a kids' size hot cocoa at Starbucks. Big spenders, that's us. And then, as if that weren't enough, Larry bought me a book at B&N - Alan King's Great Jewish Joke Book. The cashier was a little put out when I presented my homeschooler's teacher discount card at the register. "We only give the discount for items actually used for homeschooling," he sniffed. But he gave in when I said, "That's right - we're studying ethnic humor." I guess he was too tired to argue. After all, we all know what happens when you mess with homeschoolers. (I'm linking to paragraphs 4 and 5 of that article - but I don't know how to link to just part of an article, so just skip the first part)(I mean, unless you want to read about California court decisions, then go right ahead).

Time to put some jelly beans in plastic eggs and hide them around the living room (the ones I don't eat, that is)...have a Happy Easter!

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Involved Parenting and Self-Preservation

I decided to be an involved parent yesterday and arranged to meet my friend and her kids at a nearby aviation and aerospace museum. This sort of trip, let me note here, is David's idea of heaven. Brian was pretty excited, too; but Rachel was only lured by the promise of pizza afterwards. Susie is cool with anything, as long as we are nice to her (she started shouting that at the dinner table last night, apropos of nothing, as far as I could tell).

And then, as if that weren't enough parental involvement on my part, we made hamantaschen yesterday afternoon. It isn't that difficult: make the dough, chill it, roll it out, cut out the circles, put a dollop of jam in the middle of each circle, and fold the corners up just right (although how we get corners out of circles is beyond me). Of course, it requires nerves of steel to get through these steps while negotiating with 3 children who exactly gets to do what, when. I sort of needed a drink by the end.

If you have survived all the squabbling over who cuts out the circles and whose turn it is to dish out the jam, you then pop the cookie-laden sheets into the oven. Just make sure you remember to set the timer for 15 minutes. Because I didn't. Luckily, I also forgot to turn the oven on; so nothing burned. Sometimes early-onset Alzheimers can be your friend.

I'm going to have to do absolutely nothing with the children today in order to retain my Idle Parenting credentials.

All around us our friends and their families are being felled mercilessly by some sort of extreme stomach virus. We are avoiding them like...well, like the plague. I am willing to drop off some ginger ale and crackers at their doorsteps (actually, not directly at their doorsteps - I'll stand at the end of the sidewalk and sort of lob it in the direction of their contaminated front doors); but that is the extent of my compassion. I have a family to protect, after all.

Somehow, I don't think I would have been one of those hardy souls who went around nursing the ill and burying the dead during the Plague years; but I definitely would have gotten myself one of those masks.

I wonder, do you have to wear it with the robes for it to be effective? Or would jeans and a sweater do just as well?

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Because The British Are Always Right

I love this article on the BBC website. It's titled "Stressed Parents 'Make Kids Ill.'"

I'll just pause to let that sink in a minute.

Okay, anxious and depressed about being stressed yet? Because the article states that "A University of Rochester study, reported by New Scientist, found sickness levels were higher in children of anxious or depressed parents." Which is fairly ironic, considering that having a sick child makes parents fairly stressed out. Which in turn, according to these scientists, can make your child sicker. So be happy! Be cheerful! Or else!

I am so glad that something else is my fault. I didn't have enough to be worried about already.

The BBC seems to be on a bit of a crusade, actually. Peruse this article also. It's worth it, I promise. I particularly like its Manifesto of Idle Parenting on page 3. Here, I'll copy it out for you lazy ones (and thank you, Mom Bomb, for bringing it to my attention):

Manifesto of the idle parent

  • We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work
  • We pledge to leave our children alone
  • That should mean that they leave us alone, too
  • We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children from the moment they are born
  • We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals
  • We drink alcohol without guilt
  • We reject the inner Puritan
  • We fill the house with music and laughter
  • We don't waste money on family days out and holidays
  • We lie in bed for as long as possible
  • We try not to interfere
  • We push them into the garden and shut the door so that we can clean the house
  • We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small
  • Time is more important than money
  • Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness
  • Down with school
  • We fill the house with music and merriment


  • Am I allowed to copy all that into my post? I hope so. I love it.

    Well, I hear the patter of little feet; I'm off to go lie in bed for as long as possible, and then I will push them out into the "garden" so that I can clean this pit we call home. Have an idle day, y'all!

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    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    Rain, Rain....

    Lord have mercy, it's raining. And cold. And I don't know what to do with the children. We have already visited Target today, where I bought them a couple of really cheap toys in a pathetic attempt to get through the afternoon. Then I bought us one large popcorn to share and had the nerve to ask the guy for 5 free cups for water. I'm quite the big spender. I'm surprised he didn't assume I was skimping on the kids' food to support a drug habit and call the police.

    But if Child Protective Services does show up at my door to investigate charges of malnutrition, I can redeem myself by showing them that Susie actually eats her carrots now, instead of sneaking them onto Brian's plate. Yet another gustatory miracle brought to you by the supernatural powers of ketchup. It's what's for dinner.

    One more hour until bathtime. Maybe I'll suit everyone up and send them out to play in the rain. That should impress the authorities.

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    Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    Parental Advisory

    How To Know You May Have Too Many Kids

    1. You haven't a clue what developmental milestone your youngest is at.
    2. When you call the doctor to tell him that the toddler has croup, and he asks if she's ever had it before, you say, "I don't know, but somebody has."
    3. You can't remember who hates which food.
    4. You don't bother with logical consequences - a swat on the bottom works just as well.
    5. You use candy as a motivational tool.
    6. You see a book titled "Siblings Without Rivalry" and break into hysterical laughter in the bookstore. Your husband has to slap you to get you to stop.
    7. Going to the grocery store alone counts as "me-time."
    8. Birthday cake gets boring.
    9. Your teenage daughter threatens to leave home, and you immediately start thinking what to do with the freed-up closet space.
    10. You and your spouse are way too tired to fight. (See? Having lots of kids is good for a marriage.)

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    Monday, March 17, 2008

    Howdy!

    Oh, my - all these new visitors coming over from Dawn's blog today, and I haven't even tidied up. How embarrassing.

    I must say, Dawn's ability to influence people's behavior is a little frightening to me. Thank goodness all she did was to hyperlink to my little blog. Imagine if she had backed, say, a specific presidential candidate - the election would be all but over. And, please, Dawn, don't even think of saying anything negative about the current state of the economy - the resultant crash would make the Great Depression look like a spending spree.

    Is it good for one person to have that much power in a democratic society? Maybe some PhD type (I'm talking to you, Kalynne) should write a paper on The Civilization-Altering Potential of Blogospheric Influence.

    "But where are the mice?" you ask. After all, you were led to this post believing that there was a mouse saga of epic proportions happening here. Just type "mice" and "mouse" and maybe "rodent" in that search box at the top left of the page, and peruse what comes up. But bear in mind that we do have other regularly-occurring features here - alienated teenagers, cute toddlers, demonic 4-year-old girls who decapitate stuffed animals for sport....it's a veritable three-ring circus of domestic dysfunction (sp?), all for your reading pleasure.

    Y'all come back now, you hear?

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    Animal Farm

    Edited to add: all you folks popping over from Dawn's blog to read about mice, just type "mice" in the search box up there at top left. Then read from the bottom if you want the tales (oops! no pun intended) in chronological order.

    Larry took the four youngest to a local farm park this morning. Judging from the pictures that I've just edited (and can't show, sorry), they saw a lot of sheep and lambs. A couple of piglets. A horse. And 2 turkeys. It would have looked (from the photos) like a fun family outing, but for the fact that, in every single picture, Susie has an extremely unhappy look on her face. She did tell me, when she came home, that they had seen some very scary animals. I guess any animal looks scary when it's bigger than you.

    Exhausted - must go to bed. I've been running on only 4 hours of sleep today, and I am really too old to do that. G'night!

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    Sunday, March 16, 2008

    March Madness

    I went to bed at 7:30 yesterday evening, in an attempt to catch up on sleep and wake up all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (whatever that means) this morning. Instead, I woke up at 10 PM and couldn't get back to sleep until past midnight.

    Have I mentioned how much I hate the switch to DST? Oh. Okay, then.

    Today I took Anna clothes shopping so she could get a nice dress for Easter. (If this were a horror movie, the scary music would start right now.) But you know, the clothes in the stores were so ugly, there wasn't even anything for us to fight over? We managed to find a pouffy sundress with a not-disgusting pattern that wasn't too short. (JC Penney - women's department - I know someone wants to know). It took us 3 hours. And Anna didn't glare at me once. I mean, that I noticed. I hate to think what her mood would have been like had we come home empty-handed, though. Hell hath no fury like a woman unadorned....

    Larry took me out for ice cream this evening. Wasn't that nice? We tried to act as though we were single and dating, but I don't think we fooled the waitstaff. Larry might as well have been wearing a ball and chain, he looked that haggard. And I'm not even talking about how I looked. I was wearing a sweatshirt with Tigger on it, okay? 'Nuff said.

    You know, March isn't supposed to be a high pressure month; but within the next week, I need to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, bake hamantaschen, create Easter bags, and cook Easter dinner. I think we need to convert to a religion with no holidays whatsoever. A religion, perhaps, that doesn't believe in holidays. Because all this merrymaking is going to kill me. I mean, I'm still suffering PTSD flashbacks from December. Please, won't someone stop the madness?

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    Friday, March 14, 2008

    Clarification, and Bonus Discussion Question

    Ahem - I would like to state here that yesterday's post was directed at the thick-headed male scientists who are trying to develop a female Viagra, not at my remarkably considerate husband. My husband does, in fact, read Curious George to the 4-year-olds, and he does actually help with the dishes (though I truly don't expect him to after a long day at work - honestly!), and sometimes he even has the sense to feed me chocolate.

    Not that yesterday's post bothered him or anything...

    The keyboard thing, when I call him at work, though? He does that. And I hate it.

    And I wasn't saying that men like sex and women don't - I was just saying that men will choose to have sex when they are tired or in a bad mood just to perk themselves up, whereas women will have sex only if they are in a good mood already. Key gender differences, again - ignore at your own risk!

    Okay, have we cleared that all up? Good. Whew.

    Susie peed all over the front stoop today, and also all over her shoes; somehow this episode resulted in my spending an hour sorting out hand-me-down clothes in the attic while looking for some footwear for her to put on. And Larry wonders why I never get anything done.

    What are the odds that 2 bloggers I read are both published in the current issue of Brain, Child? I mean, considering all the zillions of bloggers with kids who are out there....maybe I just have good taste, you know? Mommy-blogger connoisseur, that's me!

    I didn't purchase that issue of Brain, Child by the way - I just popped into the local Barnes & Noble and looked at the articles. I rationalize this behavior by telling myself that I buy things there fairly regularly; but really, isn't what I did just the same as stealing? I think it may be. Discuss, please. Make sure to back up your argument. Extra credit for good penmanship.

    I must go. Anna is standing near me, visibly annoyed; and her annoyance is creating a sort of miasma around my head which makes it hard to breathe. Need...air...(gasp)...

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    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    FYI, Menfolk

    I think that if I rarely call my husband at work (and never for stupid things like asking, "Do you still love me?"), then he should have the decency to stop typing at his keyboard for the 45 seconds it takes me to ask him where the corkscrew is. Not that that bothers me, or anything...

    And they wonder why women become disinterested in sex. This article says scientists are trying to develop a pill for FSD. That's female sexual dysfunction, for those of you not aware that there is a new epidemic sweeping the nation. A pill? We don't need no stinking pill. We women are a tad more complicated than men when it comes to these matters, in case you all haven't figured that out yet.

    For example, the article does not address the relationship between housework and sex. As in, men who do the dishes after dinner may just have a better chance of getting lucky that night than those who watch TV while their lovely sex slave toils away in the kitchen.

    Or fatigue and sex - There's nothing like running after the kids all day, making meals, cleaning the house, and doing the bedtime routine to put a damper on any amorous notions a less exhausted woman may entertain towards her husband. You know, reading Curious George to your 4-year-old in the evening while your wife takes a much-needed break just may be to your benefit, guys! Extra points if you actually take her out to dinner!

    Or good old-fashioned wooing and sex - Flowers, chocolates, compliments: these are all time-honored methods of courting a woman's favor. And they all work way better than saying pointedly, "Well, I'm going to bed now!" and hoping your wife takes the hint.

    It's not a pill we need, gentlemen - a little romance (of the non-physical kind) and attention (gifts don't hurt, either) would do the trick (ooh, no pun intended). Some things never change, now do they?

    And for heaven's sake, stop working for a minute when your wife calls you at the office. Would it kill you?

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    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    Thankful For The Small Things

    I'm thinking that it is hard for a woman to restrict both her food intake and her non-food purchases at the same time. I've lost another pound (thank you, yes, I do feel great, except for this gnawing feeling in my stomach); but I keep buying things online. Things that have been sitting on my Amazon wishlist for 6 months, say...and some more fun workbooks for the kids...and a bunch of educational CD's that put science to music I've been eyeing for years....

    (I must say, that until you've learned about DNA to the tune of "Shortnin' Bread," you haven't really lived. This is why I home school.)

    I haven't even hit the yarn sites yet; but I can feel it coming. Where do you buy your Cascade 220, Amy? I think I'll be ordering some next time I want a cookie.

    You know what? Nothing to complain about today - I lost a pound, I got my 15-minute walk, only one kid wept through dinner, and my husband has not exposed me to a media firestorm of epic proportions. What's not to like about that?

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    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    For Better or Worse?

    I read an interesting article in our paper yesterday about a man who is taking meticulous care of his wife (she has Huntington's Disease). I was telling Larry (on our date last night) how impressed I was by the steadfastness and loyalty of this guy, and Larry said, "Well, he's certainly raising the bar, isn't he?"

    I think I had better make sure I have a good long-term care plan lined up, don't you? Just in case...

    And to all of you who asked - Yes, thank you, I am feeling better. My mystery disease has finally gone away. The problem with feeling better after being sick for 2 days is that the house is totally trashed. Which makes me feel sick. It's a vicious cycle. I cannot imagine what this place would look like if something happened to me (like, death, say). Actually, yes, I can. And it's not a pretty picture.

    It's late. No, it's not. I mean, it wouldn't be late if the powers that be hadn't made us mess with our clocks. But they did. So it's late. And I'm going to bed, even though I probably won't be tired enough to sleep for an hour yet.

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    Saturday, March 08, 2008

    Miscellaneous This and That

    I started feeling worse and worse yesterday; so I attempted to take it easy around noontime by sitting in my beloved floral Ektorp and cuddling Susie in my lap. Unfortunately, she was emitting this constant whining sound that reminded me of nothing so much as a dentist's drill. (Why was she doing that? Ha! I know not why.) So I went up to bed (where Larry was already napping) and lay down (yes, we are both pathetic) and Susie followed me. Then she heard someone knocking on the front door, which resulted in her running downstairs to shout, "Mommy and Daddy are in the bed!" to whomever was at the door. Cool. As if our neighbors didn't already think we are a bit too frisky, what with the 6 kids and all...

    How often do you think I get invited to a grown-ups only social event? Almost never? You're right! So it would stand to reason that I would be too sick to go yesterday evening to our neighbor's house where she was having a little farewell dinner party for another neighbor. A real dinner party, where you drink cocktails before the meal and sit at a table to eat your food and (if you're my husband) stay until midnight laughing and chatting with the other attendees (all grown-ups).

    Not that I am jealous or anything...

    And that cauliflower I managed to serve the kids on Friday? Made me sound pretty good, huh? It probably appeared to the casual reader that we always have a fresh steamed vegetable (with ketchup) at dinner. Wouldn't that be nice? But, in reality, it's usually just a bag of baby carrots thrown on the table as an afterthought (eat them or no dessert!), or some carrot and onion in whatever stir fry Theo has thrown together. Bagged salad makes an appearance every once in a while. The kids' favorite dressing - French, of course, because it has ketchup in it.

    We do have a special family ritual here - every other week I buy the healthy veggies at the commissary, and then, 2 weeks later, after they have decomposed sufficiently, I throw most of them out. Sometimes I treat it as a homeschool science experiment by demonstrating to the kids what mold looks like (biology!). Or I can list it under earth science by calling it compost.

    It's a learning lifestyle, that's what it is. Mostly the kids are learning how I waste good money on food we don't use. And I'm learning that you can lead a kid to cauliflower, but you can't make him eat (at least, not without a lot of ketchup).

    If I were really blog-savvy, I would insert a YouTube video here of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young singing, "Teach...your children well..." But, alas, I'm not blog-savvy; and Larry wants the computer. G'night, all!

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    Rain, Rain, Go Away...

    For years, I've battled my kids' predilection to put ketchup on all comestibles. I've read Mrs. Pig's Bulk Buy to the little savages any number of times. To this day I refuse to help them put ketchup on their hotdogs, as I have no wish to aid and abet a culinary crime. And I blame my husband for not nipping this ketchup thing in the bud. If it were up to me, their virgin mouths would never have tasted anything but mustard on their frankfurters.

    Anyway, dinner yesterday - baked beans, cauliflower, and salad. No meat, since I'm raising a bunch of Catholics who must be penitent on Fridays in Lent. This restriction makes them more whiny than remorseful, however, as they are used to having hotdogs with their baked beans. Susie, trying to make the best of a bad situation, asked for ketchup for her cauliflower. And, in a moment of weakness, I gave it to her.

    You know what? She ate that cauliflower. She said it was, and I quote, "Yum." So, cauliflower and ketchup - go ahead and try it. It's the cuisine du jour. Yum.

    I slept on the couch last night. There is only so much snoring one woman can take. I can sleep with regular, rhythmic snoring. It's listening to the "Snore....hold your breath for 15 seconds....loud SNORT....hold your breath...." routine that destroys sleep for me. Call me fussy, but when the person in the bed next to me isn't breathing? I don't find that restful.

    It's Saturday, the day we either run around and get a lot of stuff done or else do something fun with the kids. And guess what? We're doing neither. Larry's sick, I've got some lousy head cold that is giving me a bad attitude, and it is pouring rain (cold rain) outside. Luckily, the teens are out of the house all day working a fundraiser (in the rain) for workcamp. I hate having them around on a bad day, because they make me feel worse.

    Of course, having the little kids going stir-crazy in the house is no picnic, either. I just bribed them - if they would please leave me alone for 20 minutes, I would play UNO with them. Now they are all sitting at the dining room table (i.e., within earshot) bickering over how to deal out the cards. Good Lord, just kill me now.

    I have to pull myself together. I was reminded last night that I am supposed to talk about homeschooling math materials at the curricula meeting today. I don't know what was going through my head when I promised to do that. Maybe I thought the weather would be springlike and none of us would be sick and that I would actually be able to find my math curricula materials in time. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. So I'm showing up with a headache and doped up on Sudafed and Tylenol, with nothing but my son's 6th-grade math workbook in my hands.

    Hey, these new homeschooling moms need a dose of reality anyway. Let them see what being home with the kids every day can do to a person. That way they can go into this homeschooling thing with their eyes wide open. With terror. It gets their adrenaline pumping.

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    Friday, March 07, 2008

    Sweet Nothings

    Well, yesterday was fun, wasn't it? Let's get back to trivial matters, however. That's what I do best. We just made the teens watch a DVD of Bob Newhart doing all his old comedy routines. I'm not sure whether they will ever forgive us, but I cannot get enough of that guy. The Driving Instructor, King Kong on the Empire State Building (as viewed by a very flustered night guard), President Lincoln's handler convincing him to "keep the beard, Abe; just keep the beard." I heart Bob Newhart. He's not bad-looking for - what? - over 70 years old? And if anyone can remember (or figure out) which season of The Bob Newhart Show had the moo-goo-gai-pan episode in it, please let me know. I want to show that to the kids, too.

    See? Trivial...I warned you...

    Time change coming right up! Gosh, isn't that a great idea? Trying to drag the kids out of bed an hour earlier than their bodies are used to, and in the dark? Who thought it was smart to get rid of the morning sunlight? I've been waiting all winter to have that sun streaming in my windows in the morning, and now it gets yanked away so someone can have a BBQ in the evening? In March? Last I checked, more than half of you were still buried in snow.

    I don't get it. I just don't get it. I would be happy if we could just leave those clocks alone, all year-round. There was research done (in Indiana, which finally got with the clock-switching program) that proved that DST actually uses more energy, not less. Because (surprise!) people still need to get up for work and school in the morning, and no one likes to shower and get dressed in the dark. Duh.

    Nothing like a time change to make me realize just how powerless I am...

    It's my bedtime, folks (well, for 2 more nights, anyway...). If you're staying up, hop on over to Mrs. G's for some dead-on marriage advice...you'll be glad you did.

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    Thursday, March 06, 2008

    The Fundamental Things Apply....

    5000 steps yesterday (but I started a few hours late); 8000 today. I've got to work on this.

    I would like to issue a formal apology to Mental Tessarae for my ranting in her comments today. She posted a thoughtful essay on not wanting people to gender type her little girl; and I went on and on about how the sexes are indeed hardwired differently. I sounded irate. I don't know why. Maybe because I see parents worrying so much over things they have no control over, rather than just enjoying their kids for what they are.

    Look - I have 3 boys and 3 girls, and even the least masculine of the boys would never dream of putting his hands on his hips when he gets mad. Girls, however, do this before they are even 2 years old. The girls also do these weird things with their feet when they are just standing around, pointing them while slinging a hip to one side, that boys never do. Girls smile and bat their eyes at strangers; boys, when feeling bashful, run and head butt the intruder. I don't know why.

    These differences show up before age 2. Don't even ask me for the list of differences at age 13. I could write a book.

    Acknowledging gender differences doesn't threaten the notion of equality between men and women. Just because girls have different mannerisms than boys doesn't mean they aren't capable of being engineers or astronauts or whatever. But we need to recognize and celebrate the differences between the sexes rather than try to ignore them. When we ignore them, we are ignoring an integral part of that person.

    I want my girls to grow up to be strong and beautiful, but I also want them to be able to be vulnerable, scary as that might seem. It's hard to be nurturing to your own children and intimate with your spouse without being a little bit vulnerable. I want my boys to grow up gentle and caring, but they need to be strong and protective, also, to take care of my grandbabies (and to chase bats out of the house). Women and men complement each other very nicely, you know. I mean, do I have to draw a picture? This is a G-rated blog, after all.

    (Sigh) Can you tell this is a pet peeve? I think I need to soothe my nerves with some Girl Scout cookies (see? Boy Scouts wouldn't be caught dead selling cookies) (Ha, ha! Joke! It's a joke!) and move on. This is just my predilection for traditional gender roles rearing its ugly head again...

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    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    Steppin' Out

    (To the tune of "On top of Old Smokey...")

    "The grave will deca-a-a-y you,
    And turn you to dust...."

    Doesn't that sound like a good verse for a song on a children's CD? And the guy sings it so cheerfully, too...I almost drove the car into a hydrant while trying to (hurriedly) turn the volume way down. I'm surprised the next verse wasn't something like, "The worms and the ma-a-a-ggots, Will eat out your eyes...."

    Just finished paying another chunk of money to our local library. I don't really want to talk about it right now. Amazing but true.

    I stopped off at the grocery store after my weigh-in this morning (down 2 pounds - go, me!) (even with all those Twix and Girl Scout cookies) and realized at the checkout that I had left my wallet in the car. Normally, I would have been all annoyed at myself, having to waste time to run out there and run back in. But not today! Nope! Because, from now on, inefficiency pays off. I bought myself an official Weight Watchers pedometer this morning, so leaving my wallet in the car translated into 400 extra steps.

    I've heard that one's goal should be 10,000 steps a day - I'm only up to 3,000, so I need to get up and jog around the living room or something. Maybe I'll march in place while I prep dinner.

    It's so exciting to have a goal.

    We woke Larry up last night and demanded mousetraps for the attic above Anna's bedroom. It was that bad. He was pretty nice about it. So, understandably, I have mice on the brain. Which may explain why, just now, I thought we had mice running up and down in the walls of our den. Lots of them, hordes of them....until Theo kindly explained that those were raindrops I was hearing. I wouldn't believe him until he opened a window.

    They sounded like mice.

    Maybe it's the food deprivation. I'm hallucinating. Yeah, that's it...time for an emergency Twix...

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    I Can Dream, Can't I?

    It's about the mice today. Anna heard scrabbling in the ceiling above her bed - and considering she sleeps in the top bunk, she was a bit freaked out. For some reason Larry was not anxious to climb up into the attic to hunt rodents after a rough day at work (how rough? specifically, "sucky, but not too sucky," whatever the heck that means). Methinks he is losing some of that youthful energy that I so admired when I met him. But, being as that I am not exactly the sweet, energetic girl he married, I can scarcely complain.

    Ah, Twix, how I love thee! Is there anything more glorious than having both extra Weight Watchers' points at the end of the week and a bag of Twix in the house? What a marvelous confluence of events! In fact, the only reason I am still awake is that I had to wait until my kids were asleep to break into my chocolate-y stash.

    I'm trying to remember what made me happy before I had kids. I'm pretty sure it was something more exciting than a bag of candy.

    We had a glorious spring day today, warm enough to sit out on the deck and bask in the sun. And I felt skinnier because I didn't need my long johns on underneath my jeans. Hey! That should take a couple of ounces off my weigh-in tomorrow - pass me some more Twix!

    My best friend came over with her daughter; and while the girls played, she told me how she wasn't sure what she'd do with herself all day once all her kids were in school next year. And no, she wasn't joking. I told her I'd give her a list. Not that I fantasize about that or anything. But I do wonder whether, devoted homeschooler that I am, I'll suddenly do an about-face the year my youngest is old enough for kindergarten. "Hey, kids! Remember all that stuff I told you about school? Kidding! It's not that bad! Here's your lunch, have a great day, see ya later!"

    Sigh. Yoga 3 days a week, knitting classes, catching up on all the photo editing and albums - and you? What would you do (or what do you do already) with 6 or 7 blessed hours every day, 5 days a week? Go ahead, make me weep...

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    Sunday, March 02, 2008

    Quiet as Mice

    Quick note to any dieters out there: it may not be in your best interest to leave an open box of Girl Scout cookies (Trefoils) next to your keyboard. Just take my word for it, okay? And did you know that Trefoils are best when you chew them up really well and then just sort of keep them in your mouth for a minute or so? I mean, in theory? Ahem.

    During my cleaning frenzy this morning, I decided to go above and beyond by actually cleaning the furnace filter. I entered the furnace closet only to find that apparently Larry has stopped checking the mousetraps nightly. Which means, who knows what might be decomposing in our attic even now? That's a fun thought.

    I was complaining to Larry that I couldn't finish writing the stuff that I might actually make money from (as opposed to these blog posts that he sees me wasting time over) because, by the time I sit down to work at 9 PM, I'm too tired to do anything but mindlessly surf the blogosphere. And I can't write during the day with 2 little girls dancing around my computer chair and trying to sit on my lap. The Yarn Harlot, I pointed out to him, has been sequestered this week in a cabin in the Canadian woods, just so she can get her writing done. Larry was kind enough to refrain from pointing out that she is a professional writer, as opposed to being a whining dilettante (um, that would be me). But he did call my bluff by taking the 4 youngest to the aquarium for the day. The teens are out at chess club and flute choir all afternoon. Which left just me at home, with no distractions whatsoever....(well, aside from the box of Trefoils, of course)....

    Do you know how hard it is to concentrate with no distractions? It's so damn quiet in here. I actually had to take a walk to the bookstore to get anything done. (And to get away from the blogosphere...) (Not that I am blaming you guys for my lack of productivity or anything...)

    Nothing interesting is happening here, nothing. Not even anything cute and endearing...although I took Bia's advice and had a family night here yesterday evening (the teens were out, which made it easier - they don't want to know from family nights at their age). David was in charge and he chose pizza and monopoly to be our food and activity for the evening. We had Hershey's kisses and mini-Reese's cups on free parking - aren't I fun? A good time was had by all, so thank you, Bia, for encouraging me to be a nice mommy for once.

    And yes, I've been writing down all the chocolates and pizza - and I haven't gone over my Weight Watchers points. But if someone doesn't grab this box of Trefoils away from me, I'm definitely in trouble.

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