Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pill Pinching Sky Jumpers

When you've never been in a car accident before... a four car pileup with police and ambulance seems like a big deal. But a week on the other side of it and its barely a blip on the Christmas madness radar. Jim and I both flinch and hold adrenalin contests every time there's so much as a hint of a vehicle behaving abnormally on the freeway, but considering everyone escaped with their life and their health intact... I'm pretty sure that's cause for sheer gratitude.

I wouldn't go so far to say we're into near death experiences around here, but lately it does seem Charlie has a penchant for trouble. Like a cat who can climb a tree, but can't get down. He gets himself onto fridges, cupboards, garage shelves, boulders and trees, but then instead of being the type of kid who's brave and daring. He starts yowling for help after instantly concluding he's about to plunge to an early demise. Funny thing is, it didn't strike him as dangerous to peer over the edge of our hill and then just leap off. It seems like going Princess Bride style all the way down our hill, would be a more appropriate escapade for Charlie to freak out about, but no, that seemed like a good idea to him. I sustained more damage plunging after him in full emergency-mom mode than he did. Humbug.

There was also a brief stint where Charlie tried out his skills as a prescription pill napper. A frenzied call to Poison Control and I learned that alzheimer medication, thyroid and calcium is not a dangerous combination for a two year old to take. Who knew. I'm sure The Children's Hospital is grateful to have one less kid in its ER this season.

Jamie and Charlie were given swords and candy last night after dinner. Weapons and Sugar. Baboons with firecrackers and bullhorns could not have been louder or wrecked more havoc. They slept with their swords like true warriors. After all, you never know when you might need a foam and plastic weapon to call down wrath from heaven.

Now we're off to build an epic gingerbread castle. May I be granted grace and patience.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bye bye binkie

Trip to the dentist today revealed Charlie's teeth and bite are officially taking a hit from the pacifier. Booo...

Never could get Charlie to call it his binkie or any other such cute name. He calls it his "wire". Appropriate I think, considering it's attached to him at all times (if he has his say in the matter).

I know he'll survive, but I'm not sure I will. This was the last remnant of babyhood he had left.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Trafficking Nail Polish Remover

There have been days in my life where everything went wrong, I ran out of gas, burned a hole in my favorite shirt, spent three hours driving somewhere only to find it closed... whatever. Then I became a mom, and almost every day is like that.

Last night Jamie got up at 1:30 with a splinter in his foot that I misdiagnosed and paid for by 5 am. Charlie kept throwing his covers on the floor only to wake up a shivering little mass of tears. I'm so good at navigating the space between my bedroom and theirs that I can do it without putting on my glasses or turning on any lights...that is unless the dog decides to plant himself somewhere in the middle, in which case the floor gets a german shepherd/blind girl sandwich. The funny thing is, almost every night is like that. Charlie sleepwalks into a closet door... Jamie wakes up thirsty (and by the sound of it, will die any moment of dehydration)... Jamie is convinced we're all going to eat breakfast without him... Jamie is convinced he can't sleep without the dog... I'm pretty sure it's been a good 5.5 years since I last slept through the night.

But it's not that motherhood is difficult and exhausting, it's more like your body morphs and adjusts and you have loftier goals. Because all those bad days? Really not that bad. I try to think of it like a CEO. If a pizza delivery kid had to run Google for a day, it would probably be the worst day in his life, at the very least it would be the most challenging day of his life. But if you're a real CEO, then you wanted that job, it's what you'd been working towards your whole life. So all those lives you have the capability of ruining? All the Stress? All that money you have to answer for? It's really just your new normal.

So when I got caught shoplifting at Target for stealing finger nail polish remover, I reminded myself it was not an unusual day. This was my idea of fun. I could have been on the phone like Jim, talking to cranky doctors and working out contracts. Instead I was profusely apologizing to a Target employee for my son who had tried to be helpful by bagging up our purchases...prematurely. Curses on reusable shopping bags. They sit in shopping carts tempting small fingers to fill them. I walked away from the experience, only to discover two more (very small) unpaid items in my bags, which I then had to confess and pay for. I got in even bigger trouble the second time, and they certainly didn't congratulate me on my responsible values.

Today I brought home a forty dollar bottle of champagne I did not want, but yet somehow bought anyway. I'm not sure what happened. Costco is one of those places with checkout counters where you go one way and your cart goes the other way. Not a good situation when you have two tap dancing monkeys in the cart. They escaped, I of course was a whole counter away (not close enough to enact a successful death stare), and acrobatics ensued. There was more employee angst, and suddenly I ended up at my car with a receipt for way more than I thought I'd spent. Some people would never make a mistake like that, they probably have a policy against signing receipts without looking at them. However I am not one of those people.

Which brings me to supermoms. They don't exist. Everyone complains bitterly about the hapless supermom, but it's so far past cliche these days it needs to be stricken from the English language. Supermom is made of glass and stuffed with straw. We only set her up when we want to rant about someone but can't name names. We do it (I think) to make ourselves feel better, which is what I'm doing now. I just compared my life to a CEO, and yet I've stooped so far below what a good mom should be, I don't even know what she looks like anymore.

But I did buy an unopened Psalty record today at the thriftstore for a dollar. That makes me happy. It makes Jamie and Charlie happy too. It's been a long time since I rocked out to "Arky, Arky".

Oh, and I lost Charlie somewhere in a McDonalds playplace. Those twisty, plastic maze things swallow children whole.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The year of the bees...

So many things I want to write down to remember. Like Jamie can read now, Charlie has finally made it out of the zero percentile for height and he says "peep-a-peet" for "trick-or-treat". Jamie did not inherit my sense of direction, as he quite regularly tells me things like "are we going to take the 15 or the 125 to Great Grandma's house?", he also works as a mini navigation system if I'm off in la la land. I get annoyed because driving used to be the only time I could think for a few minutes without being interrupted, but those days are gone.

Mostly though, this has been the year of the bees. If bugs were chess pieces. Spiders would be rooks because they can only move laterally. House flies and ants would be pawns and bees would be the queen, because they move every which direction and have an uncanny ability to check mate. Last year we had whole nests of bees and I lived in holy fear they would sting us...of course, we never got stung. This year there is nary a bee around. A few in the garden, a few flying here and there but nothing out of the ordinary. My poor children however, have had the worst luck. Jamie got stung in the foot, and it swelled up so bad it looked like someone blew up a latex glove and painted it purpley red. Last week he was playing outside and a bee flew up his boxers and stung him right in the nether regions. I sort of panicked, not knowing if private parts needed different treatment for stings than other areas, so I called his ped. Turns out abnormal swelling and itching are the biggest symptoms of a sting in that area. All week I've had to explain to concerned looking parents that Jamie really isn't doing what it looked like he was doing. Thankfully everyone was more than understanding and it healed up just in time for Charlie to get stung in the neck on Monday. It looked like a jungle native nailed him with a poison dart to the carotid artery. Such a pleasant picture for one's baby. It got him out of his scheduled immunizations that day though, so I guess there was a silver lining from Charlie's perspective. I sympathize with his pain, as I personally would rather take a whole platter of vaccinations over a bee sting.

I almost feel like banning the outdoors as I'm pretty sure we must have blinking signs over our heads saying "sting me...sting me.". Although yesterday I caught Charlie trying to catch a bee with his bare hand, so that may have something to do with it as well. Our trusty dog is an ever present help in times of trouble as Barnabas views bees as a tasty delicacy. He snaps them right out of the air and eats them with grace and panache. I need to clone him though, as he has a hard time being near all three of us at the same time.

I took Charlie's two year old portraits finally. You'd never guess it was the same location as Jamie's. Amazing how the landscape can change so fast. Charlie's such a funny looking little chap. I tell Jim he has as many moods as a pms'ing girl...until I'm actually around a pms'ing girl and then it's manifestly obvious he isn't nearly as bad as I think he is.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Zach The Horse

He was a part of my childhood, a constant presence that followed me through to adulthood. I nearly accidentally killed him in 2005, but old age finally caught up with him and the sweetest horse that ever lived, died yesterday.

(Hannah and Zach in Spring 2004)

He was a great big, chestnut gelding, with a gigantic head and an even bigger heart. Despite the fact that he was easily the most laid back horse on this hill, he maintained such respect and genteelness, he was at the top of the herd's pecking order (second only to Kayla who is neither nice nor sweet). Kids learned to ride on him (including myself), and while he would never in a million years be anything but gentle, he stubbornly ignored all commands until you learned to sit firmly in the saddle and issue them correctly. The best part was, that unlike most mellow horses, he still had that spark of personality in his eye and he could run like the wind out on the trail.

Once, Jim and everyone else on the hill was out of town. I was home alone with the infant Jamie, it was a foggy, dark night and someone knocked at my door. I cautiously asked who was there, got no reply and after commanding my beating heart to calm down, I opened the door to...nobody. Thinking I had been hearing things, I locked the door and turned the TV back on. This time there was a knock at my kitchen window. Again, I gave a quivering "Hello??" before sticking my head out the window and seeing...nothing. By the time the third knock came, I was beyond all semblance of calm or brave. I got the shotgun out from under the bed, despite having no idea how to load it or even where the shells were (don't judge me). I figured if worse came to worse, it was also the closest thing to a club I had in the house.

Sure enough, another knock came at the front door, and this time I was crouched and ready for the sinister intruder. I threw open the door, empty shotgun at the ready, and into my living room swung the biggest horse head you've ever seen. Seems someone (me probably) forgot to lock the corral gate, and Zach was snacking his way in circles around my house.

Good thing I don't know how to load a shotgun.

We miss you Zach, and I'm sad my kids won't get to grow up riding you.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Catch A Falling Star With Air Pirates

It's a good thing mom's don't have quarterly reviews, or managers overseeing their projects...because I'd be fired in a hot second. I'm pretty sure most people don't howl like a coyote when their son's carseat malfunctions and has to be taken out of the car, the straps all redone and the carseat put back. In my defense, installing a carseat correctly almost requires an engineering degree these days and if you're already late for work, it quickly becomes disastrous. So disastrous that my children have taken to admonishing their carseats before they climb into them. "Now be nice to mommy carseat, we don't like it when she yells."

Then there are days like yesterday where I look around in amazement and wonder how I won the mommyhood lottery, since I'm pretty sure there is nothing more fun than eating a picnic dinner, outside, during a thunderstorm, while discussing how air pirates manage to sail their airships around lightening. Epic. Since we're west coasters, we don't see much in the storm department around here. I celebrated by making beef stew, which we were dutifully trying to eat at the kitchen table when Jamie suggested raindrops would be so much better than his breath at cooling down his food. I couldn't fault his logic, so we packed up our dinner and headed outside. I'm sure you're not supposed to eat a picnic in a thunderstorm, since I really know nothing about lightening safety, but how can you resist the thrill of raindrops in your steamy soup while you laugh and get soaked, the ground rumbling beneath you as the sky sounds like it's being ripped apart? Later it was hot baths for everyone and snuggles on the couch while we worked through a stack of picture books and ate ice cream. Basically, my idea of a perfect day.

Jamie is at that age where he doesn't have a clear grasp on the difference between make believe and reality. Most of his playing involves some sort of dragon/harrypotter/airbending/moving castle mash up. Charlie is at an age where his vocabulary is just now blossoming into motor mouth, and while I only understand a fraction of what he says, he does say some things quite clearly. Like "pancakes", "Mom", "Dad" and "Barnabas"... it worried me though, because why doesn't he say "Jamie"? He has more aunts and uncles than most people have christmas lights, and those names he's got down pretty well too, but Jamie? Never crosses his lips. Jim finally figured it out when he went through all of our names with Charlie and then pointed to Jamie. "What's his name?"


Apparently Jamie has completely convinced his little brother to call him "Aang" from Avatar The Last Airbender. I should have picked up on it a long time ago, since Jamie introduces himself as Aang half the time, and at the playground it's not unusual to hear multiple kids calling for Aang. But I never caught on that when Charlie is yelling for Aang all day...he's really referring to Jamie. I figure Jamie must have exuded some powerful, big brother influence, because I cannot get Charlie to say Jamie at. all.

I finally got around to taking "Aang's" five year old portraits the other day. Tried to do Charlie too, but that required a longer attention span from both my children and the sun.

The storm is gone today and the morning sunlight was reflecting so brightly off a little metal bowl in the front yard that Jamie looked out the window and gasped in delight. "Mom, a star fell into our front yard." Nothing could convince him he hadn't actually caught a falling star, and so the tiny metal bowl is tied to his waist. He won't let Charlie touch it, because it came from outer space.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pediatricians And Sharks

Our Pediatrician's office was spawned in the pits of hell. It was one of those things that slipped through in the mass confusion surrounding Jamie's birth. We hadn't picked a pediatrician yet, since we weren't expecting him for another couple of months, and consequently our insurance picked one for us. Trust me when I say...don't ever do that.

After five years of wanting to poke sharp things through the phone receiver every time I called and talked to Atilla the Hun, you'd have thought I'd have found a new pediatrician, but for some reason, fate thwarted me every time. I jumped at random strangers when they mentioned they loved their pediatrician, and have begged more offices in tears than I care to confess at the moment. But our kids have state insurance, and consequently I run into three problems. 1) Not very many Pediatricians accept it (not that I blame them) 2) If they do accept it, they're not accepting new patients (despite my attempts at bribing them with chocolate and tales of my children's angelic temperaments) or 3) I can't understand anyone in the office because they all speak Spanish (reason #327 I should have learned that language).

It didn't really matter too much because my kids are rarely sick. The only time the office from hades made me truly angry was when they gave Jamie the chicken pox vaccine after I specifically asked them not to. Most of the time though, they were just rude, bored and treated me like I was a teenage mother. Last time I was in there, I finally had it with the ramshackle, toyless blip in the universe. A joyless place where kids go in shrieking and come out screaming.
I got home, pulled out the PCP list and started googling every single name until I had amassed a list of reasonable sounding physicians. After much haggling with the insurance company, I finally managed to get a Dr. for my kids who both spoke English and was accepting new patients. Heaven!

Dr. Regina Mangine

I hadn't needed her services until this Sunday when Charlie came out of the church nursery with a bum hip. I hoped it would get better overnight, but of course it didn't, so off to the new doctor we went (with much fear and trepidation on my part).

I shouldn't have worried. The waiting room had toys (shocker) and books (oh the joy), and sharks! Real ones. They had a giant aquarium that rivaled the zoo in stature and exotic looking fish. My kids were so enthralled, it would have been worth the trip just for that. Charlie's hip on the other hand confounded everyone from MA's to Dr's. Something was definitely wrong with it, but no one could figure out what. They wrote me an order for an ultrasound and sent me home with instructions for ibuprofen and rest (yeah right). He's completely fine today, so perhaps he just pulled a muscle or something? It's hard to tell when they can't talk.

I'm kinda glad we went in though, if only so we could meet Dr. Mangine. She's young, sweet, smart and looks like she could be my sister. ;-) I feel like a huge weight has been taken off my shoulders.

Now I just have to get them to their well check ups.

In other news, the twins came home for the weekend, along with Becca/baby in the pod and Meagan.

We've missed all of them so much, there was much hurrah'ing done around here.

And the Felix Family was together for the first time in at least a year (but more like two, because Zach's wedding doesn't count).

Good times.

Friday, September 10, 2010

And Summer Is Over

I'm laying on my stomach, on the living room floor as I write this, because my body was hijacked for use as an ambulance. Charlie is sitting on my back, giving life saving ministrations to an overly large, stuffed duck, while Jamie sits between my ankles and uses my injured big toe as a gear shift as he jams it into a lower gear to veer around a sharp corner. I try to point out that ambulances don't sound or drive like Ferrari's, but Jamie is unconvinced.

We started "school" last week, although technically we're waiting to start real Kindergarten next year. I thought it would be fun to do school for fun this year... you know... before he gets the memo that talking about your letters incessantly throughout dinner is decidedly not cool. School for us basically means a talking gummy worm shows up and hangs out with Jamie for awhile. They excitedly hold contests on who can draw the best "S", while the gummy worm impresses Jamie with his best jokes and witty banter. When the fun is all over, the the raspberry and grape flavored speciman disappears down into Jamie's tummy, only to magically reappear the next day. I think it's kinda creepy and weird, but the arrangement seems to be mutually agreeable between them.

Which leads to the next part of our school day. The digestive system. Jamie has some sort of obsessed facination with the digestive system. Thank goodness for youtube and google images (or maybe not), as Jamie now has a graphic appreciation for how exactly the stomach works. He especially likes to detail the finer points over breakfast in the morning.

"First it goes in my mouth and my teeth chews it up
Then it goes down my ehgulpagus
Then my tummy chomps it up
Then my pancake soaks into my bones and whatever my bones don't want comes out my butt. "

Sometimes we do the skeletal system which is almost as awesome as the digestive system, but not quite.

It's fun answering all the questions a five year old can come up with. Sort of like a game to see how fast you can type "can an anaconda eat a croccodile?" in your smart phone before the next question hits. The only time it was embarassing was last week when we were out eating sushi, and Jamie examined the lemon in his water, and let out a yelp "this lemon has a PENIS!!" as he pulled out a seed.
Not exactly son, but sort of.

Mostly though it feels like I read picture books...all. day. long.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Post About Swimming Lessons With Jamie

I thought swimming lessons were going to be fun. I have indulgently fond memories of swimming lessons as a child (plus not so fond memories of mean lifeguards), and so like any good parent... I wanted my kids to have the same opportunities I had. In this case it meant group lessons at the local city pool. At first I only signed Jamie up, but that was before I realized I would have to contain Charlie in a small little caged space next to the pool while we watched and waited for Jamie. Anyone with a two year old can attest, it would have been like trying to contain a popped balloon (or in Charlie's case... like putting his hands in mittens next to a bowl of m&m's). Painful for me and deafening to everyone else.

So I signed both of them up for swimming lessons, with the blissful ignorance that it would be Jamie scarring everyone for life and turning innocent, helpful people into child-hating cynics.

Yes, Jamie is rather reticent around adults... and yes, he can take a little while to warm up to most situations, but he'd never pulled a full on unicorns-are-dying, while someone-is-pouring-seething-green-poison-down-my-throat and poking-me-with-lava-dipped-needles before.... until now of course. Even that might be a bit understated. He managed to ward off four swim instructors with sheer, muscle and lung power that granted him super power to cling to the pool wall like his scrawny arms had become part of the cement. Meanwhile, I bobbed a happy Charlie up and down in the Mommy & Me class and pretended like Charlie was an only child.

It was going to be a very long two weeks. The weird thing was, Jamie was absolutely stoked about swimming lessons, he loves the water, and pretty much thinks he can live at the bottom of the pool like a hippopotamus. So we tried again. At home we practiced coping techniques, bought magical gummy bears for positive reinforcement and prayed for courage. Nothing doing. In his defense, he got an A- for effort. I'd drop him off with his eyes as wide as saucers... he'd start to hyperventilate and then catch himself...take a few deep breaths, square his shoulders and make his way to the pool with his peers. Then one of the instructors would pick him up to put him in the pool and it was like all the screws came loose. Calm breaths were replaced by wild eyes and terrifying screams of "DON'T TOUCH ME LIKE THAT" (which is of course what every adult wants to hear when they pick up a minor).

We didn't make it very many days before Jamie hurtled out of the pool at the end of his lesson and begged me to let him take lessons with Mrs. Smith. Since we were gaining quite the reputation and people were wincing when we showed up, I agreed with Jamie on this one and called Mrs. Smith to beg for mercy (she's a close family friend).

She deserves sainthood. She turned my stubborn, hysterical, puddle of a son into a swimmer in just two short weeks. There is more patience in her pinkie finger than I contain in my entire being on a good day.

Plus, she has a cool underwater camera.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I blinked.

One day this...

The next day this...

Happy Birthday Jamie. Remember what your daddy and I said about growing? Take your shrinking pills babe.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Post In Which Weddings Are Like Childbirth

(photo credit KevinCharles)

It starts out innocent enough... you look at wedding magazines, ooh and ahhh over all the pretty pictures at greenweddingshoes. So many perfect details and sweet moments, you save your favorites and start a massive folder titled "inspiration".

Turning that into a wedding is tricky business and not for the faint of heart. When I planned my wedding, I was 19 and could have gotten married under a bridge with dragonflies for attendants and I would have been happy.

This time I tried much harder for my sister's wedding.

We worked and... sewed napkins and... cried and.... then rallied. Over and over again.

I swore I never wanted to help plan another shindig like this again.

And then the wedding came.

And it was pretty and fun.

So now I'm planning a Christmas Party.

Some people never learn.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sprite Baby 2.0

My baby turned two this weekend.

He's not quite sure what he thinks of being so old.

But that's only because he doesn't know he's one of the lucky ones with a Summer birthday and pool party

He thinks he's very grown up.

But not quite so grown up yet that he won't wear hats while half asleep.

Happy Birthday Charlie. Please sleep in tomorrow.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Case of The Missing Pacifier

When your scrunchy, little, tomato faced newborn is wailing like a broken smoke detector, you feel like the whole world would be a better placed if your darn offspring would just take a damn pacifier. When (and if) they do take a liking to the succulent little morsel you keep shoving in their mouth, suddenly life looks a whole lot more manageable. You get three whole hours of sleep at a time (perhaps) and you fantasize about duct taping the pacifier to your baby's mouth. Bliss.

Fast forward 2 years...

You're crawling around on the floor at 1 am in a deranged panic looking for a tiny bit of rubber and plastic that is sure to give your child braces, a speech impediment and cancer. What seemed like an innocent and adorable little soothing device is actually a deal with the devil because now your baby can't sleep without it. Awesome.

We stayed the weekend at Jeff and Gabrielle's, and somewhere between lunch and bedtime, we lost The-Item-Of-Utmost-Importance. The one that is attached to Charlie at all times via a chord and safety pin. I put him to bed with much fear and trepidation, but after an evening of running around Torrey Pines, and eating dinner on the boardwalk in Del Mar, he was so out of energy he didn't even notice his pacifier was missing when I laid his downy curly head, on his soft pillow in his crib pack'n'play. Staying asleep however, was not something his fairy godmother fated his poor, tuckered out mum, and without his ability to self soothe, it was shaping up to be a really. long. night. I tried ignoring him, I tried readjusting his blanket, I tried patting him on the head and assuring him that life would go on without his paci... but it was like trying to reassure teenager they could live without texting.

After waking up out of a dead sleep for the fifth time, there was not a shred of logic left in my brain. Despite the fact that I'm nearly blind without contacts or glasses, and despite it being pitch black in a large house that wasn't my own, I grabbed my cell phone and started crawling through the house on my hands and knees, vowing not to give up until I found The-Thing-Of-Utmost-Importance. How I thought I would be able to find it sightless and in the dark when I couldn't find it during daylight was not allowed to cross my mind. I got the brilliant idea that maybe it had gotten caught on a couch cushion or under a piece of furniture, so as I prowled around the living room in my striped pajama pants and purple cell phone, I came across a pair of shoes, a wallet...then a cell phone, but no pacifier. I ran my hands underneath the couch and could have sworn I heard someone breathing deeply, when I felt someone's breath, hot on my face as I went to scour the cushions, I almost chalked it up to hyperbolic imagination (such was the intensity of my one sighted focus on the quest) but then my hopelessly malfunctioning vision came to the alarming realization I was nose to nose with a strange man who was sleeping on aforementioned couch. While I was trying to decide whether to scream or die of embarrassment, my brain caught up with my mental freak out and I remembered that I had met this man before and been told he would be sleeping on the couch. Which was good. What would not have been good... him waking up to see a wild, blue haired woman staring at him from inches away. So I crawled my mortified, delirious self back to bed...

And found Charlie's pacifier along the way.
In a different couch.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Outgrown Cribs In The Land Filled WIth Snakes

Turns out 4-almost-5-year-olds can move furniture. I wouldn't have discovered this hidden talent if I hadn't nearly slid a bunk bed onto Charlie. Sometimes I think I'm bigger and stronger than I really am, like today when I made a spur of the moment decision to get rid of Charlie's crib and put bunk beds in the kid's room. How I thought I could balance precariously on a tower of tires while I wiggled apart two bunk beds stacked on top of each other, is beyond me. My back is telling me it was a lesson of folly, but my head says well done. Charlie is still alive, and the dog only got squished once, so I maintain it was a success. Jamie navigated the corners and lifted his fair share of the burden, snatching his little brother from the jaws of death every time I started screeching "grab Charlie....grab Charlie quick.

Because you see, Charlie discovered his crib is really just a facade. Those bars that used to look formidable, suddenly transformed into a jungle gym begging to be climbed. Sometimes my kids move to new stages without me knowing it, I'll look at them and think... when did he learn to pedal a bike, or... has that child always been three shades browner than me? Other times like today, a new stage is ushered in with bells ringing and change staring me down with his ugly bushy eyebrows. I don't like facing change nor staring at his ugly face, so I threw myself recklessly into cleaning out the kids room, taking out Charlie's crib and moving in the aforementioned bunk bed. So yes I heard him, Change can go away now (unless he plans on taking away the diapers and leaving a potty trained boy, in which case he can stay).

Charlie was rather ambivalent about the whole process. He went to bed very relieved looking, like he didn't care where or what his bed was as long as someone was still kissing his head, handing him his bottle and praying for him (ha! bottle...he's still got a bit of baby in him left). Jamie on the other hand was ecstatic. He had a few worried moments when his mama wasn't sure the bunk bed was sturdy, but Uncle Vern came to the rescue and fixed the wobblies. Jamie spent the rest of the evening airbending off the bed until he turned the ceiling fan on and promptly whacked himself in the head. Some things you just have to learn by experience. No matter what your parents say, it doesn't make sense until you're rubbing a goose egg on your head.

The other thing Jamie's ecstatic about it snakes. He's obsessed with classifying all snakes as either good or bad. Rattlesnakes=bad, King snake= good. The snakes have decided our house is Disneyland or something, which is seriously about to give me a heart attack. The first time Jamie told me there was a snake on our front door mat, I thought he was pretending... monsters in the closet and all that, but no, there was truly a full grown rattlesnake coiled up against my front door like it was a park bench at the beach. No freaking thank you. I even like snakes. I'm just not sure my kids could survive a bite from a rattler long enough for me to get them off of our remote commune and to a hospital. These things worry me (and now I've convinced everyone to never visit, but honestly, they aren't normally this bad). Two days later I gave Jamie strict orders to stay on the patio and not venture into the tall weeds, he went out to play and came running back in telling me there was another rattlesnake on the patio. Sure enough, he was right again. Thankfully both times Barnabas was between the snake and my children, but still, I have them hog tied and apron stringed whenever we go out now.

A few days and a few good snakes later (this is the story that never ends), Barnabas went out to pee and nearly sat on a rattlesnake. It was a big snake and had a tail that sounded like a Pepsi can full of pebbles, so the dog quickly got wise and skedaddled, and Jamie named it Tricksy (with the help of his Uncle Lulu who is actually his aunt).

I finally had time to take a picture of this one, as it seemed content to hiss and rattle at us instead of dive for the bushes like the other ones did.

So this is what we get for having perfect weather all the time. As long as we stay stuck in 70's and sunny, we're stuck with rattlesnakes as backyard (or front yard) pets.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How To Talk To The Kamikaze Bugs In Your Head

Jamie: Mom, my ear is buzzing.
*pulls ear...yelps...then tries to give his ear the evil eye*
Jamie: Hello? Hello bugs! Please go away, you're annoying me.
*no response from offending party*
Jamie: Get out of my ear right now.
*bangs head against wall*
Jamie: Mom, there are bugs in my ear and they are punching me.

Me: I know babe, but they can't hear you.

You'd think I would have figured it out earlier. The cold that set up camp in his sinuses, the return of a slight fever, the huddled moaning in the corner, but instead I always feel like I'm late to the mommy instincts game, coming to the brilliant deduction my son had an ear infection only after he was sobbing uncontrollably and talking to himself like some sort of deranged narcissist who was directing a symphony of bees.

Even though I seem to be the type of person who needs to see something like jagged bones poking out of arms to be convinced of a fracture... once I get worried, I really get worried. How do you console a distraught four year old? Particularly a four year old that doesn't get distraught very often. The last time Jamie sobbed uncontrollably for any length of time was when he was a colicky infant. So I did what I used to do when he was a baby--I rocked and sang to him and just hoped it would go away soon-- completely bewildered as to what else to do. We are not a family prone to ear infections and my mom's old remedy of garlic oil in the ear was not an option. (mostly because I don't have any, since I was desperate enough to try it, despite its propensity for turning one's house into a rancid Italian restaurant.)

In a brief stroke of brilliance I called on my friends. I remembered Kat had more than her fair share of ear infections as a child. She came to my rescue with the heated rice sock idea, back rubs and anything else that would help him calm down and thus relieve some of the throbbing. Bethany said she always watched Dr. Doolittle and Willy Wonka when she had ear infections, so we turned on the TV, asked daddy to pick up the antibiotics, and settled in for an afternoon/evening of movies, books and cuddles.

May that amoxicillin do its job quickly.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Lampshade Wearing Princess.

I woke up this morning and promptly tripped on a mangled dog bone that took half the skin off the bottom of my foot. Jamie stuck a lampshade on my head and called me a princess, and while the hobbling lamp princess was trying to fashion a bandage for her injured appendage, Charlie tried to cut off his nose with the gauze cutting scissors.

This sort of thing shouldn't be allowed to happen before breakfast.

My kids are going to grow up thinking jam filled crepes are what everyone eats for breakfast because here we eat them almost every day. They're cheap, comprised mostly of eggs, and I can now make them in my sleep. I did a double batch this morning so Jim could have some too, but his offspring one-upped him and ate them all before he got his truck loaded. That's right, my 2o lb baby ate five plate sized crepes, and Jamie ate six. How am I going to feed them when they're teenagers. I see cooking lessons in their future.

Because this sort of appetite shouldn't appear until they are at least 13.

Since the day was already off to a doomed start, I decided laundry might as well join in the fun and take a few punches at me. We pretended to be air bison, as we pushed and flew armful after armful of dirty clothes to the laundry room. The laundry baskets were being used to hold up a fort, so fifty small trips later, we got all the clothes this household owns to the front of the washer...piled into a awe-inspiring, ceiling reaching summit. Three loads later and Jamie decided to mix up the clean clothes with the dirty clothes (because the mountain was beginning to shrink in stature just a little). I confess I actually picked through the laundry piece by piece, smelling each sock and underwear to see if it was clean or not.

Because this much laundry shouldn't have to be done twice.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Drunken Frog Doctor

There was a ruckus on the side of the house the other day, and since we're at the peak of rattlesnake season, I sort of flew in a supernatural panic when I heard Barnabas barking and Jamie yelling at something to hold still. Turns out it was just a really large frog (toad?) who looked like he was rather regretting his decision to take a pleasant walk (hop?). He didn't understand Jamie's repeated explanation that he was really being saved from a far worse fate at the paws of our playful 120lb dog. The frog seemed a little stunned, or maybe he was just old and fat, but whatever the case, Jamie set up a frog hospital and named himself chief surgeon. I came to the frog's rescue and told Jamie there was plenty of time to be a frog surgeon in biology some day (in what grade do you dissect frogs? This frog, I'm sure was grateful it's not preschool).

Jamie got his own taste of doctoring today... this time from the tooth doctor. I somehow missed the memo you're supposed to floss your child's teeth from the time they get them. We're doing good just to get them brushed suitably well twice a day. Consequently, Jamie had four cavities (two on each side) that had to be taken care of. I absolutely adore his pediatric dentist, and the whole office is fantastic. There are TV's on the ceilings that play Pixar films to watch while you're leaning back in the chair. The staff is sweet as can be and there are books and puzzles in literally every nook and cranny, in every single room. Plus, they all have more kindness and patience in their pinkie fingers than I contain on a good day, and that alone is reason enough to celebrate. Despite all that however, Jamie's dismay at having breakfast withheld this morning caused shrieks of despair that could be heard in a five mile radius. Such cold hearted parents we are, but a couple doses of oral sedatives, laughing gas and novocaine later...he doesn't even hardly remember he missed breakfast. In fact he's not even really sure what happened except that there was definitely Finding Nemo involved. I'd really like to know what that was like.

He's been in sort of a drunken daze ever since. On the way home I caught him in the rear-view mirror punching himself in the face. I asked him what in the world he was doing and he mumbled something incoherent about how he was spanking his lip for disobeying and that his tongue wasn't listening to him. It's gotta suck when you can't feel anything in your mouth and you think it's because your lips and tongue are staging a political coup.
I bought the starving child a hamburger and milkshake because that's what he wanted. He took a bite of hamburger and unsurprisingly it all fell right back out. He picked it up, stared at it cross eyed for a few seconds and tried again. Same result. Frustrated, he threw it across the room, swearing in a language that could only be Orcish. He had better luck with the milkshake, but he was still so hungry he ripped the hamburger up into tiny pieces and stubbornly forced it down despite his uncooperative hippopotamus lips.

I have to admit, there is a silver lining...a couple actually. For one, I don't think I've ever been so secretly amused. Two, it sure is nice to have a cuddly child in my arms who tells me twice a minute I smell like mommy and that he loves me. On the other hand, it's a little horrifying how truly stoned my child is. I think it would break my heart to give a kid of mine behavior modifying drugs for ADHD or anything. It would be like I was covering up their personality or something, dampening it. Jamie has been keeping me on my toes and knees since the moment he was born and while it's a pleasant break to have him sitting on the couch reading all day (or napping)...I think I'll be happy when the real Jamie re-emerges.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Looking for my sanity.

Mom-training should include the many wiles and woes of shopping carts. Before I had kids I knew that sleeplessness was a part of the deal. I knew my walls would get marred with crayons. I knew green babyfood would be spewed across my kitchen. I did not however imagine I would find myself putting kid #1 in his carseat, while my errant grocery cart rolled off with kid #2.

This causes a myriad of instant dilemmas. While you're chasing the runaway cart containing precious cargo #2, kid #1 has climbed out of the car and is running the opposite direction. Never a good situation to find yourself in. Today it was an elderly gentleman who grabbed the collar of my young whippersnapper while I apprehended the cart. If you're wondering the correct way to bypass the whole embarrassing situation, you have to master the art of hooking your foot around the shopping cart while you wrestle kid #1 into his safety harness, making sure not to pull the cart too close that you bump your own car, but not too far away that it scrapes the car next to you. Extra points if you can do this while there are cars backing in and out of the parking stalls around you.

Maybe other moms don't have these problems. Maybe I'm the only one who opens the front door to sign for a package and within a microsecond I have a dog chasing escaped chickens, one kid headed for the mud and the other kid headed to join the chicken chase. The UPS guy is familiar with our brand of craziness, so he just shakes his head and heads back to his truck.

I seriously need to get my act together.

You can check out my blue hair now, here.

I had a super fun photoshoot on Monday.

Bethany's gyoza/potstickers recipe got a shout out on this blog! whoo hoo.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Growls, Snarls and Roars, Oh My

One might suppose a child's first animal sounds would be reminiscent of all the children barnyard picture books out there (and there are more of them than there are BMW's in San Diego). True also, that this is what teachers and therapists expect as well. Kids are supposed to "moo" like a cow and go "woof" like a dog. Charlie sadly, skipped all that and instead learned how to growl at an early age. Six months ago we all thought it was cute, like a tiny lion cub trying to act all tough (and it definitely is all an act). He would peek his head around the kitchen cabinets, roar and then grin with his one little dimple that pops out only when he's being mischievous.

Now that he's older, he's grown his arsenal of animal sound effects to include bears, lions, sharks, tigers and monsters (to name a few). Show him a book with a cow mildly chomping on grass and Charlie is silent as stone. A picture of an adorable kitten gets not even the tiniest "meow" out of him. But show him a picture of a hippopotums with his mouth open and Charlie lets out a guttural growl that my untrained vocal chords are not capable of reproducing. When we walk past the Polar bears at the the zoo, he roars a mighty baby roar. The bears don't pay attention, but the people around me give him strange looks...or laugh.

Until today, the roaring and growling wasn't a problem. Yes, we are all trying desperately to get him to cluck like a chicken and oink like a pig (by "we all", I mean me), but so far it's proved absolutely pointless. Charlie did pick up a new animal sound, but it was for a dinosaur, and yup, it was some variation of a roar. There's a little boy Charlie's age in his speech group, his name is Lennox and he's a pretty cool little dude, he and Charlie normally get a long great. But today, Lennox handed Charlie a plastic tiger and Charlie thanked him by giving his best roar (afterall, that's what Charlie thinks you're supposed to do when you see a tiger). Lennox stepped backwards slowly, his bottom lip quivering, until he got a safe distance away at which point he turned and ran sobbing to his mothers arms. For the rest of the morning, every time Charlie got near him, Lennox would drop his toy and back away, hands if to say, here take whatever you want, just don't growl at me.

At least Charlie has some friends who don't mind his growling and roaring.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just What The Dr. Ordered

Last weekend, we packed up the kids and headed out on our somewhat spontaneously planned road trip. Destination: San Jose. The 8 hr drive that turned into 9 hrs because of traffic was... relaxing. Like a spa for my mom brain, or a relaxing soak in the hot tub. What could be better than 9 hrs of my husband all to myself while my kids were strapped and contained in plastic devices? And it's not even considered child abuse! Amazing. They can't climb on me , or tear the kitchen apart. There was no mud tramped through my house and thank heavens they couldn't make any more coyote soup. The Jamie unit is currently convinced the coyotes are starving to death around here (I think our rabbit and rodent communities would have a differing opinion). Consequently he's made a giant mud cauldron in our yard and filled it with twigs, stumps, boulders, and a delicate blend of weeds. All for the malnourished coyotes.

The coyotes had to do without us for a few days however, because the Ramsey family was in desperate need of a break. Good friends, food, movies, and blue hair, relaxing was definitely achieved in spades. I highly reccomend it. Call your friends, beg for mercy, and then show up on their doorstep for the weekend with enough stuff in tow to move in permanently.

Reviews, opinions, food, and blue hair will all be up on the Fairytales and French Fries blog soon... I say that so I won't forget to actually do it. Ahem.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Music + Me = Storytime Part II

Annnd.... here are the last half of the songs on my cd. I split it up because my eyes were glazing over, and my fingers were quaking on the keyboard at the thought of posting 19 songs at one time. (I feel bad for Lora, who had to be on the receiving end of my cd in said swap).

I realize looking over this, that Derek Webb is featured prominently. What can I say? His songs happen to be wandering around the room during all my life changing moments.

A New Law-Derek Webb

"Don't teach me about moderation and liberty... Just give me a new law"
Scene: In the car driving, listening to my new Derek Webb cd for the umpteenth time. The lyrics are just now becoming solidified in my head and making any sense. Finally the truth of what they say hits me and years of ATI related baggage falls off.

The Church- Derek Webb
"You cannot care for her, with no regard for Him"
Scene: Small camping trailer. Our home. Jim and I are stretched out on our bed that is also a couch, in our living room that is also our bedroom and dining room. We are back in CA and new to San Diego. I don't want to find a church, while I haven't given up on God, I am kind of sick of His church. Jim tells me this song doesn't allow us to give up.

We Come To You- Derek Webb

"as you came to us, so we come to you, fragile as a baby hopeful and new..."
Scene: Hospital recovery room, August 2005. I'm all alone, it's late and the room is dimly lit. The stitches on my belly are the only evidence there used to be a baby flopping comfortably around in there. Half of my drugged brain keeps panicking because I can't feel anything...I can't feel my baby anymore because he's not there. They've taken my teeny child out, and I cry quietly wishing I had Jim. Wishing I knew if my baby was still alive. Wishing I knew what was going on in the NICU. Unexpectedly, a nurse appears at my bedside holding my cd player. She tells me my husband was quite insistent she give it to me. He's not allowed in himself, but he managed to smuggle my music to me. I hit replay over and over again on this song until the fear starts to subside.

Dare You To Move- Switchfoot

"Welcome to the planet. Welcome to existence. Everyone's here...Everybody's watching you now"
Scene: NICU, I'm in a wheelchair marveling at my little son covered in wires and tubes. This song, which previously held no meaning for me whatsoever, pops randomly in my head. I sing it to him when no one is around. And I mean every word... I dare my child to move, to breathe, to cry. He more than takes me up on challenge...but it takes awhile.

Defying Gravity- Wicked/Broadway/Glee
"Together we're unlimited. Together we'll be the greatest team "
City sidewalk. Live music, it's late at night and I'm practically prancing in my high heels. It's our anniversary, Jim has booked us a weekend downtown and tickets to see Wicked. This song which was already beloved, becomes even more cherished. When I see it performed on Glee, I get happy tingles.

My Eyes- Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog
"Look around, we're living with the lost and found"
Scene: I'm in our friends living room, wondering what rock I've been living under that I missed Joss Whedon's brilliant distraction from the Writer's Strike. Jim and I don't sing, but we will try anyway for this song. We go home, print the lyrics and hold the paper between us, singing with great gusto to an empty room (thank goodness). We think this is awesomely fun which means we've reached new levels of nerdiness.

How Can I Glorify God- Songs for Saplings
" loving Him, and doing what he commands."
Scene: I'm up to my elbows in dirty dishes. My tupperware drawer has been emptied and rearranged into towers in the living room. I think about the days when I didn't listen to kids music and I decide I'm lucky to have kids so I can have an excuse to sing (and love) the children's catechism.

Smile- Charlie Chaplin/Glee
"Smile though your heart is aching, Smile even though it's breaking. When there are clouds in the sky you'll get by."
Scene: This is me now... in between the happy and content times. Struggling, feeling like I have a hundred things that have to get done each day and I only ever accomplish a few. Feeling like a failure. This song has a sort of melancholy flavor that isn't angry or depressing, but a very "weep with those who weep" vibe, which is comforting when I feel like I can't pick myself up off the floor.

And that's it for my life. Maybe I shouldn't have ended on such a mellow note, but that kind of brings us up to date on my life. I'd love to see what your soundtrack would be.
If you care to share, send me a link.


Bonus Song.
... from the cd I received in the swap.

Small Piece of You - Sara Groves
"Go on son and see the world; I hope you see it all, But please please please don't forget to call"
Every kid knows their mom bemoans their growing up. Every teenager nods their head sagely as if they understand. Every adult has heard it before. But somehow, despite the fact it's a well known fact, it hits me like a sledgehammer when I hold my own children. Sara Groves is brilliant in that she can capture and describe emotions that are so real to me yet are beyond my ability to explain without slipping into cliche. This song is perfect.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The lonely egg of wisdom


"If it really happened, then the power of tyrants is shattered. The worst the tyrant can do is kill. The power of tyranny is the power of death. But if death is reversible, if dead people do come back to life after life after death, then the tyrant’s sword is finally useless and certainly not fearsome."

Oddly comforting words when your neck will only turn one way comfortably and the kids have emptied the kitchen cupboards into an elaborate labyrinth of tupperware and pots in the living room. The list of projects I have unfinished outnumbers the list of projects I do have finished, and my ears are sagging dejectedly (metaphorically of course) from all the depressing news I hear constantly about my kids.

"Jamie should really know how to count to 25 by now " (he can only count to ten).

"Charlie may have to be referred to a specialist for his speech delay. (really? Here we go again)

"Your son (Jamie) has a problem. He refuses to color." (Yes. Tell me something I don't know)

All minor problems, something easily squelched by the magnitude of oh... Death crushed forever. Perspective Esther, get a grip.

Charlie started speech therapy yesterday. It's one of those mommy-and-me type classes and Charlie has struck up a friendship with a little German kid his own age who has a pregnant mom. She chilled comfortably on the floor with her multi colored leg warmers, and knit wool hat like some sort of adorable gnome. I wish I'd had the nerve to dress like that when pregnant... or look as serene while sitting on the floor covered in toddlers.

I get the impression Charlie sort of stresses out the speech pathologist. She followed Charlie around the entire 45 min with a box of tissue. Catching the drool that dripped from his chin and whisking away every toy that got slobberfied each time Charlie snuck one past her and slimed a ball or block. There was an entire box full of toys awaiting for Lysol by the end of the class...all of them there because of Charlie. Maybe I should be concerned. He does drool and slobber an inordinate amount and has done so since the beginning, teething or no teething.

I woke up in the middle of the night to Jamie's little voice cracking as he bravely tried to fight back tears. "Mommy, I'm scared." I told him there was nothing to be scared of and to go back to bed. That's when I felt his arms wrap around my neck. "help me mommy. I love you." Pause. "a lot. " Oh well, shoot. If you put it like that....come on in. Charlie was already in there. It was a rough night in the Ramsey household. Hence the kinked neck this morning. A queen sized bed wasn't made for the UFC fighter that is Charlie when sleeping. Jamie was on the floor next to the bed.

I'm blaming the Easter candy.

The kids and I had fun yesterday taking pictures of our Asian market. You can check them out here, where I wax eloquent with Bethany.