Thursday, January 31, 2008

Help we all can do without

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming highlighting dirty, disgusting little boys.

When I was a very young girl, one of my very favorite books and accompanying records (yes, records) was Free to Be … You and Me by Marlo Thomas and Friends. This came to me courtesy of my ever-educating Aunt Jane (English teacher and the first of her family of 11 children to graduate from college) I loved the stories, the quick poems, the hilarious songs, the upbeat, funky rhythms. I played this OVER and OVER until I wore out the LP and had to get another one. I even bought the Book and CD as an adult because I thought my kids might like it. When I listened again in my more mature state, it brought back amazing memories of getting called in from neighborhood galavanting for Campbell’s soup lunches, wetting my pants because I didn’t want to stop playing for 15 seconds, straight-haired pig-tails, denim jumpsuits and Dad bad-mouthing Jimmy Carter. As I reflect on the stories as a parent today, I think it should be renamed GIRL POWER! Yeah, Feminism! and How to Emasculate Young Boys. I don’t want to further emasculate my boys in a society that already teaches them they are hateful and bad if they are strong and manly, but that is not why I don’t listen to it with them. I don’t listen to it with my boys because, well, frankly, they don’t get it - just like they don’t get original Scooby Doo and SuperFriends episodes. They want a computer-animated farting Scooby-Doo and japanimation Justice League Generation 4,317.

But, I digress...

There is one particular song on the album that I truly did not comprehend until I was a parent – “Helping” by Shel Silverstein. (That link will take you to and you can click on 'samples' to hear most of the very short song.) I unsuccessfully tried to find a link to the entire song performed because it really is cute, but here are the words (with guitar chords for those of you musically adept)

Helping Chords by Shel Silverstein,

Agatha Fry, she made a pie
And Christopher John helped bake it
Christopher John, he mowed the lawn
And Agatha Fry helped rake it
/ G - / - D7 / - - / - G /

Now, Zachary Zugg took out the rug
And Jennifer Joy helped shake it
Then Jennifer Joy, she made a toy
And Zachary Zugg helped break it

And some kind of help is the kind of help
That helping's all about
And some kind of help is the kind of help
We all can do without
/ CG CG / G7 C / - GEm / AmD G /

Today’s example of the “kind of help we all can do without:”

My ever-helpful Grant helping to make drop uncooked cheesy eggs (yolks, whites, cheese chunks and all) on the kitchen rug.


Monday, January 28, 2008

The Booger Vault

In keeping with the disgusting, dirty little boys theme I started with my last post, I thought I would share the following discovery:

Several weeks ago, when putting Gavin to bed, I saw this above his headboard.

“What is that on your wall?” I inquired. Gavin smirked. Upon closer observation, I noticed several more streaks on the wall just beyond the headboard slats.

“Gavin, what IS that? Seriously, it looks like…. Oh no…don’t tell me…”
Gavin replied without remorse, “Well, Mom, my nose gets boogers when I lay down.” “WHY DON’T YOU BLOW IT THEN?” I impatiently inquire. He retorts, “NO! I HATE blowing my nose!”

He hates blowing his nose, but picking it and decorating the wall with booger sprinkles is apparently acceptable.

Super Close Up

I don’t know why I am surprised, really. Based on my first road trip with Brian, I should have known that Booger Vaults are an element of male organizational skills. Brian and I had been dating mere months when I found myself in his car for an extended duration, looked out the corner of my eye, and saw IT. I caught him mid-pick. Due to the seedling stage of our relationship I contemplated calling him out in this incriminating predicament. I didn’t contemplate long, however, and began to chuckle. I expected an awkward scratch-pick cover-up when he realized he was busted. Rather, he looked at me without remorse and stated, “Sometimes you gotta pick to get the stubborn ones out.” “Gross, maybe you could use a Kleenex, and by the way, I don’t have one.” Brian was a junior in college, so rest assured, there were no Kleenex in his car, not even a Wendy’s napkin in sight. He looked at me as if I had suddenly sprouted several extra key facial features and declared,

“What would I need THAT for?”

“Because you have a booger on your finger now.”

“So. I’ll just roll it up in a ball,” as he shows me the fine art of rolling drying mucus into a tightly rounded sphere between thumb and forefinger.

“Oh. My. Word. THEN what do you do with it?”

“THEN, it goes in the Booger Vault,” as he reaches down between the drivers seat and driver’s door.

“Disgusting. Now you just have a bunch of boogers hanging out next to your door in the ‘Booger Vault’”

“That’s the beauty of the booger vault. They disappear.”

Unfortunately, Gavin’s booger vault did not disappear. It has taken hot soapy water, Simple Green and Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser, yet STILL some remains.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Aim high...

Okay, I know I have boys and an occassional missed target is expected, but THIS IS RIDICULOUS!

I cleaned this toilet TWO DAYS AGO, yet it rivals any toilet on an I-80 TRUCK STOP!

AND there's MORE...

This is the wall JUST ABOVE the toilet.

I don't know whether to be irate or impressed. Regardless, I am disgusted!


Friday, January 25, 2008


IRONY: Pronunciation: \ī-rə-nē also ī(-ə)r-nē\ Function: Noun
(1): incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2): an event or result marked by such incongruity

A few examples of irony:

#1) One of the most vivid memories of best friend, Gretchen, from high school is sitting in accelerated Math Analysis class. She is not grasping the principles being taught and upon which we are building. She has an adolescent, sobbing, melt-down lamenting in the middle of the classroom, “I am so stupid! I am never gonna understand this stuff! Let’s face it, I am just going to be barefoot and pregnant for the rest of my life!” Cannot help but laugh and pity the poor teacher who has to keep a straight face. Gretchen opts out of the accelerated math program her high school senior year. Irony: Gretchen’s college degree – Secondary Math Education.

Gretchen and I finishing up college. I'm the short one. early 90's, chokers were in - weren't they?

#2) Gavin eats any and every baby food item given to him. Every meat, starch, vegetable and fruit is devoured as if there will never be another meal. Irony: At age 6, if there is a vegetable or any resemblance of fruit coming from anything but a can on Gavin’s plate, he refuses to eat the entire meal.

#3) Shopping with kids. Ask them every time the bathroom is passed (243 times) if either has to go to the bathroom. Suggest at least trying. “I don’t have to. Ooh… Look… a toy…” Irony: Have been waiting in line to check out for 37 minutes. Children are restless and misbehaving. Finally. Next in line. “I have to go potty… NOW.”

#4) Children receive countless $$ worth of Christmas gifts – action figures, video games, webkinz, walkie talkies, Magnetix, games, playing cards etc. Irony: Their favorite items to play with – laundry baskets, a large empty box and the $3 Walmart Star Wars playing cards (although, I can’t blame them for this one. What boy wouldn’t want to play war stating – my Obi-Wan Kanobe ace beats your Han Solo king? Or my Darth Vader beats your Imperial Guard.)

One deck of heroes and one deck of villains.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

One more reason I love that man of mine

One of the residual problems Brian has as a result of his surgery in April is difficulty speaking. He knows exactly what he wants to say, his mind says it correctly, but the words simply DO NOT come out his mouth the way he intends. It is called expressive aphasia. For instance, if he is trying to say ‘electricity,’ he might say something like “lecture”, then “sickle”, then “locknew,” until he finally says, “the thing that gives us power.” I usually know what he is trying to say by the second try, but I always urge him to say the intended word. Even when he tries to “Porky Pig” (Brian’s expression, not mine) himself out of it like the above example, I encourage him to say the word, if only repeating after me. This is therapy. It didn’t start like this, though. When we first returned from surgery, I finished his sentences often and spoke the word I knew he was struggling to spit out.

Recently, I found myself saying the word for him again and I apologized.

It’s alright. I am getting pretty used to it.
From me?
No, everyone else.
At work?
Yeah and everywhere.

We discussed his speech and the complexity it brings to his career. It occurred to me that unless you know the background to Brian’s situation, you would think he is not as intelligent and he can’t find the words. That is NOT at all the situation, but I could see men in the workplace unjustly inferring this. Brian NEVER comments whether this may be so nor ever assumes it this way. That was just the way I could see it occurring.

Me: So you find that people finish your sentences for you often at work?
Brian: That and other things.
Me: Like what?
Brian: Well, in the workplace, since I have had to sit back and listen more now instead of speak up, I notice that sometimes people simply talk a lot and will occasionally talk over me before I am finished, or that I can’t get in my points when I want.
Me: That must be frustrating for you, eh, babe? (1/2 empty)
Brian: Well, it could be, but I look at it as a good opportunity.
Me: How’s that?
Brian: Well, as I get better with speaking and when I get my speech back, I have learned a lot by listening about when to speak and not to speak and how to use less words. I also think that as a result of this, I have learned to be a lot more intentional in my phrases. I really think about exactly what I want to say. I write down my thoughts during meetings since I can’t interject, so I listen instead of thinking about what I want to say all the time. When I do have something to add, it is very concise. (1/2 full) I think that will really help me when I am over this. (I paraphrased some of this since Brian tried to Porky Pig his way through a few words.)



Wednesday, January 23, 2008

One of those days...

Yesterday was ONE OF THOSE DAYS. Those days when Murphy’s Law has replaced the Law of Gravity and the Law of Thermodynamics and the Laws of Quantum Physics in one’s life.

It started with a beautiful layer of snow on the ground. The weather-man called for around an inch, so I was surprised to see what seemed more like a solid 3 on the ground. The problem with this 3 or so inches of snow is that there were high gusts accompanying the snowfall. We live in what was once a cornfield just 10 years ago. Therefore, we have NO windblocks. The only objects that serve as windblocks in our neighborhood since we also cannot have fences are any shrubbery adorning the landscape. Unfortunately, we adorned our entire driveway with stocky little boxwoods and yews. This makes for a nice look, but also the perfect place for snowdrifts to accumulate on our wind-tunnel of a street. The boys and I set out around 9:30 to play in shovel the walk and drive. It has also been extremely cold for a few days and this cold usually creates extremely light, dry, flaky, easily-shoveled snow. Apparently, this particular snowfall had some icy precipitation mixed in. When I shovel the walk, I go past the neighbor’s corner house and half-way down the other side of the street so Gavin has a clear path to walk from the bus. This was no easy task. So, the boys and I spent about an hour plus shoveling VERY HEAVY 3 inchees of snow with 6-8 inch drifts off 2/3 of the drive (too daunting to do the whole thing) and the walk.

After Gavin boarded the bus for the first time in nearly 2 weeks due to his illness last week and the Monday holiday, I went to print some coupons on the computer and told Grant to consider putting on his shoes because it would be time for school soon. (My afternoon was planned. Take Grant to school. Spend extra time grocery shopping today and clip coupons to help with budget situation. Go to Hobby Lobby with 40% off coupon and browse for a floor lamp to replace recently departed halogen. Pick up Grant from school. Make dinner. Etc.) When Grant heard me mention it was nearly time for school, he took it upon himself to grab my keys and turn on the car. Only he didn’t turn it on all the way, and it sat there for half an hour in temperatures in the teens playing the radio and blasting the heater on high while the light was one due to the open rear passenger door. When I got to the van, I sternly scolded Grant for partaking in such a dangerous activity and tried to start it. It was dead. Therefore, Grant had an unexpected snow day, and I was without a vehicle stuck home all afternoon with a very demanding 4 year old.

When I was donning my coat to meet Gavin’s bus, Grant was just settling in for a cup of hot chocolate. As I was putting on my shoes, I heard the crash and went to investigate. Grant spilled a completely full cup of hot chocolate all over his chair, the floor and the table. We have nicknamed Grant the Master of Disasters and regrettably, he continues to live up to the title. So, I hurriedly wiped up the hot cocoa and equipped Grant with his own dishtowel to pay the consequence for his own carelessness. I embarked on my journey two houses away to meet Gavin’s bus. I had about 2 minutes to spare, so I thought I would get the mail. This is what I saw:

That is our walk and driveway.

The snowplow threw all the street snow back onto the walk and the bottom ¼ of our drive. So, I had to slip on my boots and re-shovel the walk and drive. This time, the snow was EVEN HEAVIER due to the snow pack and ice from the road snow that was heaved onto our drive. Fun! (1/2 empty)

Since I had the entire afternoon free, Grant and I made the enchiladas ahead of time to bake at dinner. He added his own ingredients to his, and as I was topping the grown-up enchies with some smoky, spicy sauce, he insisted he have some, too. I was pretty sure he just wanted to play with the sauce topping whatever he could, so I encouraged him to have his sauce on the side in case he didn’t care for it. HE INSISTED, so I obliged. When dinner came, he refused to eat stating he hated the spicy sauce. He spent most of his time at dinner picking apart his tortilla to remove the sauce. We spent the entire time at dinner telling the boys to sit properly at the table, to eat and to ‘stop saying bad things about the food mommy spends so much time preparing for them.’ It fell on deaf ears and dinner was no fun.

It was just one of those days.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Polar Emotions with Kids

Children’s behaviors cause varying reactions and emotions within different people. What annoys one person charms another. For those that don’t want children, the mere mention of the word begets loathing and headaches. For someone who may be trying desperately and unsuccessfully to have a child (I have been there), children can be heart-breaking. Others react with joy, laughter, fear, wonder, you name it. One phenomenon that still amazes me with my children is the POLAR OPPOSITE reactions and emotions that a certain behavior can cause AT THE SAME TIME. Here are some examples:

Like when your two boys (4 and 5) wander off from their Daddy at Disneyworld during the ONE time you and your spouse decide to split up in the park while he turns for half a nanosecond to look at a display, and Mommy miraculously stumbles upon them 5 minutes later because she happened to backtrack unsure of the meeting place, completely unaware of the situation.

Like when your 3 year old little baby boy is learning to ride a two-wheeler/ice-skate/roller-blade/insert dangerous-coming-of-age activity.

There is nothing remotely surprising about your predictable behavior / I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU DID THAT! (again):
Like when your children take the tassel off your expensive beautiful throw pillow, and you punish them for their actions. Then you find another tassel disassembled the next day in the same spot. You punish them again. Then you find a third about a week later. Punish again. Then you find a 4th and a 5th two months later until you just take them all off yourself and mourn your loss.

Like when they bring you a deer tail recently cut from the hanging carcass being skinned next door telling you it is just for you because there is meat inside and “You and Daddy love meat.”

Like when you are going on few hours of sleep during the busiest time of your life, but you can still find the energy to make a snowman, go on a bike ride, play a board game, etc. because your kids want nothing more than to be with you at that moment.

Like when they can’t zip their own pants, dry off after the shower, button their own shirt, whatever, and you explain that big boys at least TRY doing these things for themselves while secretly loving that you are still needed for such basic functions.

Like when you are in the middle of a very quiet situation ever so thankful that they are obliging you with unusual silence only to have them yell out “I have to PEE!” at an inopportune time. Or when you are trying to put them to bed and you just want it to go quickly and smoothly tonight because you are BEYOND exhausted, but they talk about how some day they are going to marry you because you are the only girl they want to be with.


Like when they are hanging on your leg, tapping your shoulder, or climbing on you when you are making dinner, having a telephone conversation, or paying a bill and you shoo them away only to realize that is the only physical contact you have had with them all day.


I am a winner

My blog soul sister, Pinky, at Cheese in My Shoe, so graciously awarded me the Daily Dose Award. Xandra started the Daily Dose to celebrate sticking to blogging. Pinky is like me and has found MANY blogs that she wastes her day on checks out daily. Thank you, Pinky

Monday, January 21, 2008


For the last 3 days, we have been saying regarding Gavin’s illness, “Well, he seems much better so he must be on the mend.” Ummm… not EXACTLY… Friday was one of the worst days – high fever all day, achy all over and NO APPETITE. Upon calling the doctor again, we concluded he did not have strep and very well could have influenza, but we should be getting past it soon. Saturday, he seemed much better and that evening, we even went to Brian’s brother’s house to play cards while the kids played. About 3 hours into our evening, I thought Gavin looked a little pale. Cheryl took Gavin’s temp at it was back to 101.5. Man, it had been 6 days at this point in time. So, we gave him more Motrin and, I am ashamed to say, played more cards. Hey, I REALLY needed to get out of the house after 6 days of this. Anyway, Grant and I went to Sunday church while Gavin slept in. We returned at 10:30 to find him STILL in bed. He had slept for about 12 hours. He woke and seemed to be doing better. The rest of the day, he whined a lot, complained of aching legs and wanted to be RIGHT ON ME. I held him as we watched Green Bay beat themselves lose to the Giants and he fell asleep on me at 8:30. I woke him today at 8:45 (12 hours again after only being awake yesterday for 10 hours) worried that he might have mono as I stared to google “prolonged fever, cough, and aching legs.” However, there is no fever today, he wants to have a friend over (no), is smiling and is fighting with Grant. Prayerfully, we are over this sickness. I NEED MY LIFE BACK and I CAN’T WATCH ANY MORE SPONGEBOB! I’m pretty sure it is going to take Gavin 3 weeks to catch up on the 5 days of school he missed because he has become more stupid due to prolonged exposure to Spongebob. I pray Grant doesn’t catch this sickness, as I don’t know how much love remains in me to give. And Grant’s comforts would be Power Rangers and Star Wars Episode II marathons.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sobering 2008 Budget

While Brian was away this week, I spent my late nights developing our 2008 budget. Moving back from Canada to the United States, we lost all of our ex-pat salary perks bringing our salary back to reality. Also, we lost the company car, therefore, increasing some of our fixed costs like auto insurance, maintenance, gas, etc. Our medical expenses are triple what they were 2 years ago with new cost sharing on prescriptions and higher deductibles. Utility costs are up, taxes are higher, and gas is through the roof. It has been very sobering to determine the only way of living in our means is to cut back on our controllable costs, and I mean this literally. One of the areas we had to cut in half - our booze cost. This means two things for Brian and me - 1) drink less or 2) drink mass produced beer in lieu of our micro-brews. I can't decide which is worse.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Video Game Sing Along

You may remember from this post that Grant has a peculiar interest in music. You may remember from this post that he likes to HEAR his video game music when he plays. That leads me to the current post. Here is some candid footage of Grant singing/mumbling his own words to the Aladdin game on his Disney plug-n-play set.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Open up and say AAAHHHHH...

I thought I would post about how Gavin is fairing since inquiring minds want to

The following information may not seem relevant, but it is: When Gavin was a baby and we started baby food, it was like a dream come true. He loved all of the wonderful pureed vegetables, fruits, meats, fruit and vegetable medleys, fruit and meat medleys, meat and vegetable medleys, etc. However, when we started giving Stage 3 foods - baby food with TINY morsels of texture - he started to gag. It didn't seem he hated the food, rather the texture. So, transititioning Gavin to table food proved to be a nightmare. He gagged at everything with more solidity than a banana or pancake. We had to be RIGHT next to him while he ate all foods to ensure he did not gag and choke. To this day, he eats almost nothing. It has developoed into a matter of taste, but it started as a matter of texture. During our last 2 trips to the dentist, both hygenists commented on his heightened gag reflex. I thought nothing of it, until yesterday.

Our trip to the doctor proved interesting. Since he was complaining of a headache, had a 103.38 F fever and mentioned a sore neck (throat), they decided a throat culture was in order. Just before the nurse was about to insert the swab, I nonchalantly mentioned that he has a strong gag reflex. She looked me square in the eye and said, "He is not going to throw up on me is he?" "No, of course not, he will just gag when you do this." She asked me to hold his hands. She depressed his tongue with the stick and he IMMEDIATELY gagged. She inserted the swab and he hacked. She took it out and realized she did not touch the throat. We had to try again. This time he was not as cooperative, tearing up while insisting his throat no longer hurt. My heart broke for him, but I firmly held his hands again for this attempt. It is so hard to be a mom when you have to be terribly mean to your child who just wants you to protect him. She tried again, but he barely opened his mouth. She inserted as best as she could and he started gagging, hacking AND crying. I told him he is brave and wonderful and deserved a treat for this, only to realize that she DID NOT TOUCH THE THROAT AGAIN. Please note, I don't fault her for this. I don't see how anyone could get that long Q-tip down that 1/2 inch opening in the .42 seconds he opened wide enought to allow it. The third time he was crying hard and she started again, but he proclaimed he was going to throw up. I thought he was just suffering from the gag after-math and didn't take it seriously; however, he vomited into his hands, my hands, his pants, my coat and the floor. Luckily, he hadn't eaten much; nonetheless, it was unpleasant. The poor nurse who was spraying the anti-septic cleaning agent and wiping the floor was in dire need of fresh air. She stated she was going to let Dr. E. do this one himself and I could see her turning a bit green. I told her that I would gladly clean this up if she left me the product. No, she insisted, but she started to gag, then got upset with herself proclaiming that she is going to be a terrible mother. I told her before I had kids there is no way I thought I would stick my hands under a vomitting mouth. Even today, I wouldn't do it for anyone except my 2 little boys. I couldn't. She gave us one of those kidney shaped trays, finished cleaning and left, I hope, feeling reassured. We will see if she stays in the pediatric office or requests a transfer.

Dr. E. checked Gavin. He has an ear infection, so we could start anti-biotics right away without waiting for the strep culture which we had YET to get from Gavin. This time, I prepared Gavin for it. He tried to talk me out of it and I lied to him assured him Dr. E. is much faster and better at it. Dr. E. dressed me and Gavin in gowns, put Gavin on my lap so I have better control of his extremeties and somehow convinced Gavin to open up for a 4th time. He even convinced Gavin to close his eyes so he wouldn't see it coming and react before he got there. Gavin followed the instructions, it lasted 1.7 seconds and we were finished. Turns out Dr. E. IS very good at this. Gavin said, "That's it?" Yup. We started out the new year meeting our deductible as soon as possible paid, left and filled our script.

He was VERY sick all day with a high fever and sore throat. He laid around watching TV and playing video games all day, wanting me RIGHT by his side the majority of the time. This morning we have started with another high fever and a morning vomit. My sick little Kindergartner looked into his barf bucket, overcome with the initial relief that follows throwing up, and declared, "Look, I made a "C!" And to think I was worried about his missing school all week. There are learning opportunities EVERYWHERE!
Gavin can smile through just about anything. Here he just after the doctor visit.

For whatever reason, Gavin's ears get fire-engine red when he is ill.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And the mother of the year award goes to... *not me*

Okay, I am having one of those "low moments as a mom." Gavin (6) has been home from school for a couple of days with a VERY low grade fever and what he says is a headache. I hate when people send their kids to school sick possibly infecting all around them, so I vowed never to be one of those moms. However, with each dose of Motrin or Tylenol, he acts as healthy as can be and plays as if nothing is wrong. I was going to send him today after a quick dose of Motrin.

Last night, Gavin comes in my room at 2 (only 1 hour after I went to bed) proclaiming he has peed in the bed. Oh bummer, we forgot to put on a pull-up. Luckily, Daddy is gone this week, so he can just crawl in bed with me after we change clothes, and we don't have to worry about changing his sheets at 2 am. I ask him how he is feeling. "Not sick," he says. I give him a quick feel of the forehead with the back of my hand and my medical assessment is complete. However, he is breathing heavily and noisily through his mouth because his nose is clogged. I reach for a Kleenex, he sees me coming and cringes. He HATES to blow his nose and really doesn't know how. I don't get it, but it is what it is. I tell him he has two choices. He can either blow his nose if he wants to stay in bed with me, or go back to his bed which is still full of pee. "Gross," he says. I agree with him and he blows his nose. Now I can sleep without hearing Darth Vader next to me. We sleep for about 3 hours and at 6:45, he wakes. He is making lots of rustling noises and tossing and turning. I tell him to stop being so fidgety and then ask him how he is feeling. "My head doesn't hurt anymore." Great, I assume we are on the mend. He declares he is hungry. I tell him he can go downstairs and get a pop-tart and some milk because he is a big boy and he knows how to himself. He tosses and turns some more. I tell him it is time for him to leave my bed because Mommy is still sleepy and he is being too antsy. Go get some breakfast, turn on the TV and I will be down in a little bit.

About 45 minutes later (yes, I know I am terrible, but I truly fell back into a heavy sleep), Grant comes in asking for Gavin. I tell him Gavin is downstairs watching cartoons and eating breakfast. He leaves to investigate but returns in minutes declaring he can't find Gavin. I pop out of bed and immediately think of Elizabeth Smart taken from her own house in the middle of the night in Utah. I check out Gavin's room first and find him in his own bed. EWWW! Gavin, are you okay? One look and I know the answer. I feel him and I think his forehead actually singed my hand. YIKES! He won't even talk and just lays there. I can't believe this is the same child that was lying next to me just an hour before. I disregard the fact that he is currently snuggling up in sheets he peed in earlier to grab the thermometer. Our ear one has a low battery and does not take an accurate reading. I grab the only other I can find. It is a Celsius reading. I know that 37 C is 98.6 F (don't ask me how, it is just something I have memorized). I take it under his arm. It STARTS reading at 36.8, so I KNOW it is going up and up. I leave get him some Motrin and pour him some juice. The thermometer stops reading at 39.1. I go to the computer to convert this to Fahrenheit on the calculator, remembering as soon as I get there that I shut it off last night. It usually takes about 5-10 minutes to boot up, so I do the conversion on paper and come up with 103.38 after I add a degree for taking it under the arm. Pretty high for a 6 year old. I call the doctor and get Gavin in for 10:45. I am thinking perhaps Strep because he is now complaining his neck hurts. I am pretty sure he means throat and he won't open much more wider than about 1/2 inch, but we will see.

It is a low moment as a mom to realize that I banished, what I know now, to be my very sick child from my bedroom, and finding refuge no where else he chose his own urine-ridden sheets. YIKES!

On a positive note, though, I realized I remembered the Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion and I can still do multiplication of double and triple digit numbers on paper the way I learned in grade school.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Could Mighty Mouse beat up Superman?

Because I have children, especially boys, I find myself carrying on meaningful actual conversations about topics I NEVER knew I would. Have you ever seen the movie Stand By Me? In one particular scene, the boys debate whether or not Mighty Mouse could beat up Superman. One kid says "No way. Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. Superman is a real guy. There is no way a cartoon could beat up a real guy." Another kid says, "Yeah, you're right.... It'd be a good fight, though!"

I have similar discussions.

Grant (finding his batman figure in the tub): "Woah, Batman is dirty."

Me: "How can he be dirty, he just got out of the tub?"

Grant: "He's got stuff all over him."

Me: "Oh, you know what that is? That is from the bubbles. When the bubbles pop, they leave behind the soap residue after the water is out of the tub."

Grant: "He needs a shower."

Me: " You are not taking a shower with Batman right now."

Grant: "No, I need to give him one in the sink under the water."

Me: "Ok. Turn the water on."

Grant: "That water is warm. Batman likes cold showers."

Me: "There is no way Batman likes cold showers. Warm showers are awesome."

Grant: "Batman likes the shower cold. Please turn the water colder."

Me: "Do you like cold showers?"

Grant: "No, but Batman does."

Me: "No way. Because you know who LOVES cold showers?"

Grant: "Who?"

Me: "Mr. Freeze. Batman would never like cold showers if Mr. Freeze does."

Grant: "Mr. Freeze would probably like REALLY REALLY cold showers from the refrigerator or freezer."

Me: "Right On!" (breath a sigh of relief that we don't have any Mr. Freeze figures for the experiment I KNOW Grant was brainstorming.)

Grant in his favorite Batman shirt (minus a cape, surprisingly.)


Monday, January 14, 2008

Traveling with Drugs

Today Brian left for his FIRST business trip since surgery in April. I am actually looking forward to this trip. Weird, eh? The reason being, while he traveled for so many days on end week after week in Canada, I grew very accustomed to that lifestyle. We missed him terribly, but we talked every night and we were extremely grateful to see each other upon his return. The lifestyle to which I grew so accustomed, however, was having no accountability to anyone over the age of 5 for the “goings-on” and conditions in my house. If we had cereal at 4:00 for dinner, so be it. Pizza at 2:00? FINE! Laundry dirty? Put on your jammies for the third day in a row. Toys on the floor again? Who cares! Step over them for another day or two! You want to go swimming at 5:00? Sounds good to me. Daddy wont be home tonight! Mommy is on the computer until 2 am? No one is waiting for her anyway! It was very liberating. In April, when Brian had surgery and life came to a sudden and abrupt shift, we all had to deal with the lifestyle changes resulting from Brian’s new issues, but also with Brian’s presence at home on a regular basis. Naturally, we handled it without much difficulty, but I think it was hardest for me. Having to be responsible for a presentable house and something that resembled a meal each evening proved to be a daunting task for myself who had become lazy out of practice in such areas.

Now because we can’t do anything simply or have anything work smoothly and easily in our lives, Brian decided to spice up this trip by taking some heavy duty drugs along. Drugs called Temodar and Kytril. One is chemotherapy and one is to ensure you don’t barf up half your insides from the chemotherapy. Ahh life…. Isn’t it great when schedules coincide to make things just … more … interesting? (½ empty)

Brian’s commentary regarding this untimely schedule conflict: It will keep him focused and on track with eating, drinking and resting which is easy to lose sight of on a business trip. (½ full) He is amazing!


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad

Happy Birthday Dad

Sixty-one years ago today, the world became a better place with the introduction of Larry Baer. Today is my dad’s birthday. I am dedicating today’s blog to all the things I can think of that make my dad… well… my dad.

  • He is one of 6 kids.
  • He looks like his mom. *
  • He is a conservative Republican. *
  • He is a total goof-ball. *
  • He is an Engineer *
  • He is one of the smartest people I know. #
  • He can STILL take apart almost anything and put it back together. #
  • He picked up golfing in the last 10 years, loves it and is GOOD at it. #
  • He loves to fish and is GOOD at it, too.
  • He loves his grandkids. *
  • He is very capable of just about any handyman work. #
  • He will do anything for you – especially handyman work – and only complains sometimes. (just don’t ask for plumbing help or drywall finishing help) #
  • He farts A LOT! %
  • He doesn’t like to spend the night away from home unless on vacation.
  • He retired in his early 50’s. #
  • He is very opinionated and loves to argue, but claims he doesn’t. %
  • He is often the only one in the room that is cold.
  • He is a devout Catholic/Christian. *
  • He loves pie. %
  • He has a metabolism equivalent to a racing bicyclist – stays skinny while eating more red meat and drinking more beer than anyone I know. #
  • Not much will keep him from playing with his grandkids, golfing, and fishing (within reason).
  • He has just about every tool imaginable (except a wet saw we recently discovered when we needed one)
  • He is smart with his money. *
  • He loves the farm and all that comes with it – feeding his cows, piddling around with tractors, tinkering with this and that.
  • He likes beer. %
  • He is indecisive. %
  • Since I can remember, he has planted and tended to his own vegetable garden (and like most vegetable gardeners I know, he grows WAY more than necessary) yet he has never taken good care of our lawns.
  • He worked for MANY years in jobs he didn’t love and lived in cities he hated just to provide for us, put us through school and retire in the country while young enough to enjoy it because that was his responsibility. #
  • He used to hitch-hike to and from college back in the 60’s.
  • He was NEVER a hippy.
  • He coached my basketball team as a kid even though he knew NOTHING about basketball because no other dads volunteered. (We didn’t win much, but he tried, and I am sure he hated it.)
  • He can sleep while sitting up in a wooden kitchen chair.
  • He has always been able to watch TV through a newspaper and closed eyes and YOU HAD BETTER NOT CHANGE THAT CHANNEL!
  • He’s just plain AWESOME! #


* Traits I inherited
# Traits I WISH I inherited or still hope to
% Traits I inherited I wished I didn’t


Friday, January 11, 2008

You know it's time to lose weight when...

You know it’s time to lose weight when…

Your 4 year old grabs you around the back. You play along thinking he will love it and bend forward lifting his feet off the ground. He grabs on for dear life and says. “Ooohh, I feel your squishy stomach, Mommy.” You flex and say, “Oh yeah, what about now?!” He says, “Still a big fat tummy to squish.”

Your 6 year old asks you while you are waiting for the bus, “Do you have a baby in your tummy?” (footnote: I have never had a baby in my tummy. Both boys are adopted and KNOW I can’t grow a baby in my tummy)

I think its time for Brian to teach the boys about lying to girls using their words wisely.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Christmas Crimes I Committed That I Learned From My Mom

This past Christmas the metamorphosis of myself from young, hip, cool chick into my older, ultra practical mother continued. There have been many small instances throughout the years in which I have more and more developed into this woman that my all-knowing, adolescent self vowed I would never become. This Christmas, though, I broke several cardinal Yuletide rules I once claimed unbreakable. My mother has committed these what I once considered heinous acts for years.

  1. We used to call my mom 'the lumper.' If you were receiving a clothing item of any sort, you knew it because it was never in a box that could have you guessing its contents. No, it was simply folded up and covered in some snowflake patterned paper adornment. You knew clothes were beneath and no matter your partiality to the contents, you simply weren’t surprised. I used to enviously admire the beautiful packages of different sized and shaped boxes decorated with colorful, shiny bows at our friends’ and relatives’ houses. Mom would say, “I don’t have enough time to put everything in a box and I am not going to PAY for boxes. Who needs bows? You are just going to throw it away anyway.” I lumped every clothing item I purchased this year. EVERY ONE! I did put bows on them; however, without a hard boxy surface for it to adhere, they all fell off. Next Christmas, who needs bows? I have boys for crying out loud!
  2. My mom used to buy her own Christmas presents. I found this appalling and used to think it a direct reflection of 1) Mom’s dominating personality (which she isn’t) and 2) Dad’s laziness (which he isn’t, either). I never considered that she was simply ensuring she received her own portion of the Christmas budget for what she truly wanted and that Dad maybe didn’t have a lot of extra time to shop with the busy lifestyle stemming from being a father of 3 working full time. This year, I bought my own Christmas presents for the above reasons.
  3. My mom WRAPPED her own Christmas presents. Fast forward to 2007. I mean, they were right there; I knew what they were already; and I was wrapping anyway. Why not? Mom probably thought the same.
  4. Mom was ALWAYS so excited to tell us what we had under the tree. She used to put the presents out and watch us shake them and sometimes ask us if we wanted to know what was in them. She wanted to tell us more than we wanted to know. She would inevitably allow us to open at least one before the official unveiling day. Obviously, we never refused. I let my kids open just a few small gifts the night before our own official opening this year. It was fun and made the joy last longer. I may do it again.
  5. She would try to talk us out of our ideas. When I was 8 or 9 or so, I KNEW I HAD TO HAVE the Betty Crocker Juicer Blender. I relentlessly begged for this item every day from mid-November through Christmas Eve. Mom and I would argue back and forth, Mom insisting that I would never use the coveted treasure. She was not going to spend the money on something I would NEVER use. I insisted; however, I was SURE I would not receive my coveted culinary gadget because when Mom spoke of practicality, she rarely caved. On Christmas, I opened the one box that I thought MAY be large enough to be my prize. It WAS! I opened the juicer blender devouring its components, instructions and recipe ideas, eagerly using it that afternoon. Mom took my picture stating as she took it, “I better get your picture using this blender since this will probably be the last time you ever use it.” She was DEAD ON! I NEVER USED IT AGAIN! It sat in my closet haunting me because I hated it. I hated getting out all the parts and cleaning it after use (which mom cleverly made ME do). The juice I made was terrible. Ever since the Betty Crocker Juicer Blender incident, I believed my mom about practical gifts, mostly because she would say, “You only think you want that. Remember the Betty Crocker Juicer Blender?” It became a family joke. Regardless, I know now that my mom knew best and she wanted to spend our Christmas budget on something SHE KNEW I would use. When my kids asked for something that looked SO appealing on TV, yet I knew they would never use, I tried to reason with them. It yielded the same results as it did on me when I insisted on the kitchen gadget I couldn’t live without – an argument. This year one of their “must-have’s” was Aqua Dots. “Aqua Dots were made in China and recalled. Little boys and girls who have them are getting sick and dying from lead poisoning.” (True enough, by the way, except for the dying part.) Whenever they asked for an item to which I responded with an immediate “no,” they inquired, “Was it made in China?” “Yeah, I think so.” (Perhaps true) MOM KNOWS BEST and if it requires a tiny little white fib to smack them over the head with that logic, so be it!


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wow! Thanks Again

I received an award from a fellow blogger, My 5 Little Monkeys. Beware! Her site plays her favorite music if you are at work or someplace that needs to be quiet. Sometimes I just hit refresh to see what song will pop up next because I love them all.

I contemplated doing this just to see what people would say, but in the interest of simplicity, I will splain this award. I had no idea what it meant, but saw it on a couple sites I stalk. It does something to the HTML programming language on here, but if you look at the less than sign on its side and then a 3 next to it, it looks like a heart. So, even though Christina didn't know it, she was saying she 'hearts' my blog. (<3)

Because this is what bloggers do and because EC has had a rough go of things lately AND because I do less than 3 her blog, I am passing this along to Whatever blows my Skirt. I like seeing what she is up to and how she deals with life. Plus, she posted a blog the other day that makes me want to read more of something I think she doesn't even know the "more" of yet.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New Year Resolutions I Think I Can Keep

Since Christmas just ended for us this past weekend, I am just NOW finalizing my list of resolutions. I have been through a couple of versions and thought I would share them with you:

By the end of March, lose the 10 pounds I have slowly gained in the last 9 months so I can fit back into my size 2’s instead of trying to uncomfortably squeeze my current size 8 body into my large size 4’s.
Scour the clearance racks for some mediums and some sweats to tide over the 6-month process of attempting to lose 5 of the 10 pounds I have gained.

Lovingly and logically convince the children to eat vegetables.
Spend extra time cooking food and disguise vegetables or other highly nutritious ingredients in order to naturally give the children fiber and vitamins.
Stock up on Flintstones.

Develop a budget on our one income that incorporates paying the house off in 10 more years (instead of our remaining 22), saving enough to pay entirely for an out-of-state college for our two boys that are merely one school year behind each other by the time each is 18, retiring by the age 60, partaking in some recreational activity, and vacationing each year.
Meet our budget by finding creative ways to supplement our income while staying home for at least 2 more years.
Develop a budget. Do not go on vacation or have any fun. Save what we can. Start browsing classifieds. Do not incur debt. Try to stick to it.

Browse the weekly grocery ads to determine sale prices for the week, develop a weekly menu based on the ads, grocery shop once a week, and cook dinner 5 nights each week.
Cook dinner 4 days a week. Think about it more than 1 hour in advance at least one of those days.

Spend less time on the computer so the kids can play Webkinz and other educational computer games instead of watching Spongebob and playing Nintendo.
Spend less time on the computer so Brian can use the computer to organize and browse through his music collection in the evenings.
Incorporate the cost of a laptop into our already unrealistically tight budget.

Watch less TV.
Watch less kid TV.

Watch more grown up TV than kid TV.

Go on a date with my husband once a week.
Go on a date with my husband once a month.

Lock the kids in the basement once a week to have an uninterrupted conversation. Eat dinner at home at 9 pm after the kids have gone to bed once a month and call it a date.

Clean the entire house, top to bottom, at least once a week month.
Teach the boys about family responsibility and show them how to vacuum, fold laundry and clean the toilets.

Live with it. Complain less. Teach the boys how to aim for the INSIDE of the toilet.

Be more diligent in my prayer time – “OH MY GOD! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE THIS TIME?” does not count.


Monday, January 7, 2008

Christmas is offically over

I know most bloggers wrote their post-Christmas, sappy, back to reality blogs 1-1/2 weeks ago, but for us, Christmas was officially over this weekend. We like to spread things as thin as possible and eek out as much fun and enjoyment as we can, so we spread it to January 5. This past weekend was Christmas with my family at my mom’s. They retired in Southeast Missouri about 4 hours south of here. The boys have the time of their lives when we are visiting, and because there is really no place to go when we are there, we all have each other’s undivided attention. Every time we leave my family, I get the blues. Probably because I haven’t lived in the same town, state, and sometimes country as my family in over 12 years and probably never will. Because we are so 100% TOGETHER when we do gather, it is especially hard to leave. You have no idea how badly I wish we lived close enough to meet my sister for lunch, or to Christmas shop together, or to grab a cup of coffee with my dad, or to catch my nieces’ games without having to make it a weekend and a 4-6 hour trip. It is EXTREMELY difficult to leave, but that is reality. So this week is our BACK TO REALITY week. To make it extra real, we have tried to squeeze in as many unpleasant events as possible to kick start the new year – dentist appointments for the boys, a tooth filling replacement for Brian, my monthly cycle, putting away Christmas decorations, cloudy and rainy weather, and to top it off, the next cycle of chemo for Brian this weekend. I might schedule immunizations for the boys just for fun since they’re due for those anyway.

Back to reality for me is very difficult. It means thinking about the week ahead. It means organizing, cleaning, managing, budgeting, shopping, exercising, and reflecting. After a long break from reality, I spend a lot of time pondering the events that just past. Vague thoughts like –

Did I enjoy it enough?
Was I nice to people?
Did I spend as much time as possible with those I love and those that made an effort to see us?
Did I spend as much time and conversation as possible with those I made an effort to see?
What will Brian’s condition be next Christmas – did I make this as enjoyable as possible for him?
Will my kids be as excited and animated next Christmas – did I enjoy them enough?
Was I crabby?
Did I relax?
Why did I eat so much?
Was I thankful enough?
Why did I drink so much?
Was I generous enough?

Always, I am greeted with the same answer. Of course, I could have done MORE of any of those things. (except eat and drink – I don’t know if that is possible) I could always spend more time, be more generous, enjoy more, etc. (1/2 empty) Brian told me yesterday during the car ride home that I would make myself crazy with those thoughts. Why would I spend time asking myself regretful hypothetical questions instead of reflecting on the joy the last two weeks brought us? (1/2 full) So here are some of the joyful memories the last two weeks brought me:

Children smiling
Children playing
Children believing
Children indulging
Time with family rarely seen
Reconnecting with friends seen even less.
Good food
Micro-brew beer
A gift of some extra cash for our bank account
Adults smiling
Adults playing
Adults believing
Adults sacrificing
Lots of card playing
Dinner at Alexander’s
A gift of ¼ of a cow in my freezer
Good health (except for some coughs and sniffles scattered throughout)
Lots of time together in our home with little distraction


Friday, January 4, 2008


Kids crack me up when they mispronounce a word. My boys (4 and 6) do it all the time. However, I find it more humorous when kids use an actual English language word in place of the correct one. My nephew, Logan (3), has been instrumental for some of these laughs this week at my mom’s.

First of all, my sister, Mindi, is expecting. (I got her permission before I posted this.) We are in dire need of some female influence on all sides of the family, so they have begun talking about girl names. If they have a girl, they have tossed around the name Savanna. However, if you ask Logan what his expected sibling’s name will be, he says her name will be “Banana.”

Today Gavin returned from a nature walk with Papa with a tackle box full of “treasures” including more acorns than you can count and two Cardinal bird feathers. When Logan was going through the box with Gavin, he referred to the acorns as “corn-nuts.” I can’t argue with that logic, but something tells me they don’t taste as good.

The other day as Logan was carefully maneuvering an obstacle course of cords and wires, he told Grant to be careful of the “tension cord.” (extension cord)

Today the boys were playing chase. Gavin and Grant have cleverly caught on to the sneaky concept of “base.” While taunting their pursuers a few paces from the safe haven, they would run back claiming, “I’m on base!” Logan, obviously not as familiar with this concept, excitedly claimed that he too, “Was in Space!”

Recently, he told my sister and her husband after they rode a trolley car that he wanted to go back and ride the “tamale” again.

When looking at his plate of chicken, tater tots, and green beans, Logan explained that he had “chicken, ‘Goldilocks,’ and green beans.” I, personally, can’t get past my own envious observation that he LOVES green beans.

One of my favorite misquotes from Logan, however, happened a few months ago when he was staying with us in Illinois for the week. One evening we went to Chuck E Cheese’s, followed by some half-witted idea I had to take all three boys, Logan (3), Grant (4) and Gavin (6), into the neighboring Toys R Us to purchase a birthday present for a party that weekend. I learned a long time ago to make the threats to my boys stern yet vague enough that I can follow through on MY terms when we are in public. Meaning, my spank bluffs got called one too many times. So, I always tell MY boys, “Do what I say, or you will be punished.” I can follow through on that no matter if it is a dirty look, time out, loss of video games or whatever. Logan, however, was unfamiliar with this threat. After the Chuck E Cheese high, the Toys-R-Us mission was ill-fated and all three boys were awful – not listening, not staying with me, etc. So, I pulled out the old. “That’s it! If you don’t stay right by my side, you are going to be punished! No more warnings!” Grant did not comply (as usual) and as I started to walk away from the aisle he was still browsing, Logan turned to him and VERY LOUDLY declared, “Grant, you had better come with us or else you are going to get PUNCHED!” He misquoted my ‘punish’ for ‘punch’ about three more times in the next two minutes. AHHHHHH! As the security guard and employees sideways glanced at me, I tried as innocently and motherly as possible to correct his misquote tenderly stating, “Punished. I said, PUNISHED. I would never PUNCH any of you.” By that point in time, I could have punched any of them.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I didn't send Christmas cards this year

Well, the title pretty much gives it away, but if you are anxiously awaiting a piece of snail mail wishing you good holiday cheer from the Brian O’Neill family, you will be waiting a long while. I didn’t send Christmas cards this year. I don’t know why. The fact that I hate sending Christmas cards is probably the most likely cause. I hate determining the final list of potential addressees. I hate downloading the address book and wondering which have changed and which are still accurate, racking my brain to determine the change of address emails/cards I forgot to update. I hate determining which photo of my family is the least awful yet most accurate representation of ourselves. I hate sending the inevitable humiliating emails to the few people just to ask for their address that is missing from my file. Why can’t I just send an e-card with a photo at that point? I just don’t like sending the cards. I like receiving them. Completely selfish, I know. Every year for the last three years, I have told Brian, “I think I am not going to send Christmas cards this year. We have so much going on. We are traveling too much. People understand. (ya de ya de ya)” Every year he laughs because I cave around December 21 after receiving several ourselves, and I frantically find an overnight photo card service in our price range staying up until 2 a.m. sorting addresses and writing a Christmas letter. I told Brian the same this year. He laughed again, but I did not cave. The reason I did not cave, though, was not entirely due to my dislike of the Christmas card process. It was because I was working on a project for his mom and dad that I can’t accomplish due to software and technology failure and ignorance on my part. It was because our hard drive that had every photo we have taken from March to November of 2007 crashed. It was because I spend too much time working on this blog. It was because (ya de ya de ya)… I have many more excuses, but something tells me you don’t care. Then Brian said something to me that sealed the deal. He said, “You have the blog that updates our lives for others to see and has plenty of photos and videos. You would just be sending the cards to the same people that check the blog.” Justification. Thank you, honey!

At first, I felt victorious dodging this task I consider such a nuisance; however, the guilt is almost unbearable. I hate the feeling of unreciprocated kindness and good wishes. I have begun to dread the holiday mail seeing the bright and cheery red, blue, gold, and silver envelopes with our address hand-written because I know what is enclosed! I can’t bear to open another holiday note stating their eager anticipation for our photo they receive each year. Ugh! Each card its own telltale heart beating relentlessly, mercilessly under the floorboard, becoming louder and LOUDER! These cards are from people I see once a year or that I haven’t seen in years. Isn’t that the whole point of the Christmas card? I AM thinking of friends and family this time of year. I am just LAZY! I admit it! Just so you know: I am from the bottom of my heart SORRY that I didn’t send a photo card this year and the tradition will re-convene in 2008. If the telltale heart beats any louder, you just may receive one in February.