Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Holding Out Hope for the Home Brew

"I make food and I gotta' go work on Wezz-day. Buh-bye. Maybe you wight. On you email I have to go to email and shake when you wear Pull-ups. Where you Pull-ups is? In da store? I gotta' go get 'em. I worry you got to get 'em. I have to get 'em at da store. I HAVE to buy all da' stores, Mama. I'm not going anything. I'm just hangin' out wight here. Why you have to zip me, tell me zip it? I'm miz-able now, so I have to go. We gotta' go da store and buy noodles. Why get a job? You do this all the time."

I love talking to two year olds who are punch drunk from lack of sleep, especially my own. I don't love talking to them when they are up way past their bed time for no good reason (sniffles, bad dream, "Help! I wost my speh-shull cell phone," you know, the usual).

I should explain that Pigtails, who continues to babble espresso ripping fast at this very moment, was referring to my blogging addiction when she said I "do this all the time." At bedtime last night she busted out of bed, darted into the living room and declared between drags on her thumb, "It's free-o'clock now, mama. An' you still doing blog?!"

In unrelated news, Cheeks is on the mend. All the king's men could and did put him back together again. He's officially no longer sporting silver staple skull bling. He swapped that junk out for eye gunk care of conjunctivitis. His budding ER doc big brother, Mouth, continues to clean his two-inch long laceration with peroxide and Neosporin nightly.


Everyone in the family bears telltale red-rimmed eyes with pie crust crumbles sprinkled in our lashes. We practically need chisels to rub the sleep from our zombie bloodshot eyes in the morning. Our self-imposed quarantine (avoidance of friends, preschool and neighbor kids) is getting old. Have you ever gone stir crazy alongside hyperactive two- and three-year-olds? Those controversial cocktail playdates are starting to sound good. I provide the hard stuff, you bring the protective goggles and a can of Lysol.

Needless to say, my homemade pink eye remedy/eyewash isn't working as quickly as I'd like, although it seems to be greatly reducing itchiness and redness, as well as making me feel like a bad-ass herbal concoction queen, a trooper survival mode mama.

In case you're into home brewed health remedies, I give you the Herbal Eyewash for the treatment of conjunctivitis recipe, compliments of The Family Herbal by Rosemary Gladstar:

1 tablespoon of powdered comfrey root (I couldn't find it in the powdered form, so I used the dried flakes instead ... the same type of comfrey root flakes I used in each of my post-home birth sitz baths. It's a powerful, proven tissue healer.)

1 teaspoon of organically grown goldenseal root (Take the time to shop around for the best price - It cost a steep $299.99 per pound at Wild Oats or about $18 per ounce! I don't know whether or not the goldenseal I bought was organic. Does it really matter? Won't it still work the same? One would think ...)

I boiled one cup of water, combined that with the above ingredients in two layers of non-fancy cloth drawstring tea bags and let it cool to room temperature.

Next, I dipped a cottonball into the fragrant eyewash and dripped a few drops into the crispy eyes of my petrified-of-their-witch's-brew-master-mama kids. I'm supposed to repeat the eye blotting remedy often for four or five days.

Anyone have a good remedy for hair-lodged gum? One of my Big League Chew addicted children (Cheeks, as if you didn't already guess it was him) decided the overstuffed trash can wasn't the best final destination for his spit soaked rubber tree sap.

(Brings back bad memories from childhood, when my aunt sheared a chunk of my long golden locks off without telling my mother after giving me a gagging hunk of Bubble Yum.)

No amount of eye goop could keep me from relishing a rainy Tuesday night in Southern California (Cheeks, Pigtails and I stomped in sidewalk puddles all morning long ... Who needs umbrellas?)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Just One Scream Free Night

Cheeks is crying in his sleep again. His legs are spotted with hives. I've never seen it this bad. Damn dust mites.

He doesn't want me, though. He wants his daddy, so here I am for the time being. It should be a matter of seconds before he wakes his sister up and I'm needed in her room. Yup, thar she blows.

I found Pigtails dangling asleep halfway down her bed, mid-descent. Apparently she nodded off while trying to get out of bed, presumably to come to my bed. Next I went into Cheeks room, where I craned my neck as close as possible to his upper bunk, threaded a clump of my hair between the wooden slats and let him paw at it until he fell back asleep.

Just now I was going to say that my hair is better than the sandman's magic sleep dust ... Can't finish my sentence. Both are back up and wailing in unison. Crap.

Cheeks is hysterical. I guess I'll have to tell you about the Rosemary Gladstar homemade herbal pink eye/conjunctivitis poultice/cure I whipped up for the goopy-eyed kids, the husband and myself tonight. I had a whole posting planned about how I'm resorting to home remedies for sickness for a number of unpleasant reasons. But I'm making the best of it, and it's even fun in a makeshift science lab kind of way.

I also wanted to write tonight about how Cheeks' older brother cleaned his head laceration after I could hardly stomach doing it again, especially now that he had his staples out. Seems we have a budding doctor in the house.

Screams are blasting from Cheeks' room again. Better go before he wakes his brother too.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Letter to My Unborn Son, Flashback to 2000

Like Peter Gabriel, I'm digging in the dirt. Soul searching my old journals for new book inspiration. "I'm digging in the dirt. Stay with me, I need support ..." as the song says.

In diving into the deep end of a decade of journals, I stumbled across a letter to my unborn son. He is first of my three children. Here it is, as written in my journal July 3, 2000. I think I used every maternal cliche possible. Still, I'm quite attached to it:

Dear little baby,

I want to tell you warm in my changing belly that you are a true gift, a blessing. You've chosen me as your mother, and your daddy you've chosen too.

I'm taking the best care of you that I possibly can. Resting every day and giving you the healthiest foods. I'm sticking to my decision, which I believe was decided long before I was even born.

What do you feel as you grow? Your heart beats so strong and loud. I've heard it three times now and I'm already in love with you. Your heart gives me life and hope.

I know we'll make it together, little one. We're going to be just fine.

Thank you for coming into our lives. Pure love.

Your Mommy

Journal entry, July 9, 2000

I can talk of nothing else. This baby consumes me. My body is doing the work of a mother.

This is my fourth week at home on bed rest. The hours on my back and off my legs scatter like sprinkled pepper. The oil coating my hair gives it a new sheen that doesn't smell as fresh as it looks.

Cat food, the hard, crunchy kind, remains spilled across the tiny strip of linoleum that makes up our kitchen floor. The cat tore a hole in the bag, which I did not know when I lifted it from the counter to feed him.

Overall, our apartment is out of hand dirty. Most of our energy to do such things as clean, pay bills or remove old food from the fridge is sapped by our new fears, arguments and responsibilities.

Physically, my body is taking on new duties, duties of motherhood. And this effects me emotionally as well. I feel insane.

Britney Spears, Paula Abdul and Me

See me morph into Britney Spears

Create your own Celebrity Morph™ on MyHeritage.com

Hit me, baby, one more time ... with a sledgehammer, please.

Why? Because the folks over at MyHeritage say one of the celebrities I most look like is a bleached out, skanky, pop singing mom who doesn't wear underwear when she hits tinseltown with Paris. (She might actually be nice in person, so I take that back.) But Britney Spears? Come on!

I was hoping for a more demure, classy celeb. Isabella Rosalini fits the profile but doesn't look a thing like me. Just how innacurate are these things anyway?


More proof that I time manage as skillfully as a two-year-old. What the hell am I doing up at 4 a.m.?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

It Takes a Real Friend to Tell You ...

Head hurts. Eyes puffy. Nose stuffed. Rough morning.

I might as well warn you now that I’m posting right now as a way to wake myself up, so I’m not sure if I’ll reach a point or even entertain. Let’s see where this goes.

My friend Jay is curled up like a shrimp on the couch, where he landed last night. I stayed up in the twilight with him because we were too scared to sleep. A cop chopper (ghetto bird) patrolled the area around my house for so long that I began to think a fugitive might be hiding out in my garage, along with the Razor scooters and an avalanche of sports paraphernalia. Skinny shards of ghetto bird spotlight crept along my living room walls. I panicked and double-checked all the locks. You’d think I’d be used to this by now. How the kids could sleep through it all is a mystery to me, especially Pigtails. Event the light whoosh of bills and magazines falling through the front door mail slot wakes her sometimes.

The boys are watching Saturday morning cartoons from beneath their blankets. How funny is that we think it’s so cripplingly cold in the morning here in Southern California? We’ve become such weather wimps. Pigtails is curled up in the warmth of her daddy’s armpit in bed. She’ll need to be decontaminated upon waking.

So last night Jay and I went to a trendy seaside neighborhood in the city called Belmont Shore. My husband stayed home and put the kids to bed without incident, or so he says. I believe him. He’s far better at parenting than me. Much more patient.

Anyway, Jay took me out for a latte and to look over what I have written for my book so far. Literally seconds into the first page, he looked up and said, “Whose idea was it for you to write a book? What did they base your ability to write a memoir on – your blog?”

“Okay, I suck. You hate it, don’t you.”

“No, it’s just that you use so many 10 cent words. It’s all over the place. I’m already confused and I’m still in the first paragraph.”

This doesn’t bode well. My completed first three chapters are due on March 8. Scary.

Yeah, yeah. I can already hear people saying don’t put so much weight into one opinion. Of course I know not to. But I’ve had a really hard time liking the book so far too. The whole effort’s been a struggle. I guess I got cocky and assumed that after years of writing experience, and not that many years in reality, that the contents of my memoir would gush from me. Maybe my first stab would even be artful, literary, entertaining and cathartic all at once. So far, no dice.

Everyone who reads it says it doesn’t sound like me. That if they read the first two chapters independent of me they wouldn’t even know I’d written it.

“Why are you trying to sound so smart? I mean, you are smart but you seem like you’re trying to prove something to your readers,” Jay said, as we packed up our empty notebooks. We didn’t even take one note.

“We should at least draw a stick figure or something,” I said. “Maybe a few tally marks with a slash through them. At least make it look like we accomplished something.”

But that was not to be. We accomplished nothing. No, something happened. Jay helped me realize that I need to find my writer’s voice again. My authentic voice. Not a trumped up with a million fancy adjectives voice.

Have you ever heard of KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid? Well, that’s what I’ll be busy doing tonight, after all the day’s birthday parties, after the kids are asleep in bed. I’ll be out at the local café trying to simplify what I’ve already written. Trying hard not to try so hard.

In an effort to motivate myself and remember that I used to be a decent writer, I dug out my dusty old journals and newspaper articles last night. Seeing my by-line next to some hard-won front-page articles really made me feel old. Rusty. Put out to writing pasture. How could I have written so much better back then? When I was only 19, 20, 21? Has becoming a mom sucked all the creative juices out of me? Turned my writing to pulp?

Even my angst ridden journal from 1995 is better than my first stab at a memoir.

How do you get back on the horse again and ride like a maniac with abandon? Without constantly worrying that you’ll fall of in front of everyone?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ambiguous Cocktail Play Date Hangover - Why Moms Are Buzzing


Just a minute ago The Today Show aired a segment on moms who drink alcohol during play dates. Isn't this non-news? Actually, I'm not sure. Right now my opinions are about as firm as Jell-o shots on the issue. Slippery at best.

Can't mothers "have a life" enough to party without dragging the kids along? Or do we all need a little fermented liquid helper to relax enough to hang out together without judging each other, without competing with each other over who has the most behaved child, which of our kids goes to the best school (Montessori, Waldorf, public, private) and which of us works out often enough?

Yes, at the risk of sounding completely processed squeeze-cheesy, this morning's report has me buzzing. (Yeah, I loves me a bad cliche.)

After a teaser for NBC's Cocktail Play Dates story, and during the commercials preceding it, I found myself asking these questions: How many more times can modern moms go under the societal microscope? How many more times can the media point the finger at stay-home and working moms for being anything less than perfect, even when they're simply trying to relax, to chill with fellow moms and have a little fun?

Surprisingly enough, and I mean a PLEASANT surprise from the media for once, The Today Show report miraculously did not lambaste or crucify moms for sipping more than just juice - fermented juice, wine and even hard alcohol laden cocktails - while corralling their mini-me's together to raise the play structure roof.


"A jungle gym, a sand box and a glass of wine," an NBC reporter dramatically announced, in the kind of overly sensational sentence fragment TV news is infamous for.(Face it, chopped up bites of sentences might be all the average American TV viewer is capable of digesting.) "It's hanging with the kids, feeling like a grown up."

Yes, Exactly. At first glance. But what happens when we go beyond the salted rim of the Marguerite glass?

I have to wonder, are we talking cocktail play dates on the weekend or a week day/work day? And why is it that we are forced to drink and socialize WITH the kids at arm's length? Where are the other halves to hopefully offer harried, often overwhelmed and overbooked moms their long overdue "me time"? Essential girls night out time. Are our partners that unsupportive that we can't go out drinking without the kids in Peg Perigo tow? Can't we count on each other to babysit, cover us for a while so we can enjoy a drink and a night on the town?

Do you think chardonnay sipping mothers in France and Sangria sipping mothers in Spain harangue each other like we do about their play date drink choices? Are American mothers really as paranoid and overly safety obsessed as the rest of the world says we are?

Personally, I've never had a drink during a play date, but I have on rare occasion ushered in the child frenzied morning in the privacy of my home with a sparkling Mimosa. Only during the holidays, in fact, when leftover champagne crowded the top shelf of my fridge. I don't think I've ever been to a child's birthday party where beer, wine or other spirits were served.

Now that I think of it, I take that back. Strong mimosas were served at a recent birthday party my eldest son was invited to. I only had one mimosa. The hostess repeatedly offered me more, despite my telling her over and over again that I had to stay sober to drive to our next birthday party of the day. I wonder how the other moms got home because many of them had far more than one.

A perky, slim, perfectly put together looking mom interviewed for Today's report with cocktail in hand said, "Sure, be sober 15, 16, 17 hours a day and watch (the kids) and I'd like to see if they're great moms."

Perhaps she went a little too far in her public boldness here, but I see where she was headed. As a fan of honesty, full disclosure and cathartic public confessions, I applaud her bravery.

We all know that sometimes staying home with the kids borders on madness. It's a daily exercise in testing our personal limits, our patience, our fortitude. So what if a touch of merlot at the end of a bitch of a day with the kids takes you places that mantras and meditation might not. Pleaes, just don't swig like a lush, dear mamas. Especially if your partner won't be home to put the kids to bed.

Who am I to preach, ladies? I got plenty tipsy on Christmas Eve when the kids were still up and dropped a cake in the washing machine. In my defense, my parents-in-law and husband were on hand to help with the kids when mommy took herself too far. Come on, it was the holidays. I was festive.

Still, I'm mixed like a stiff drink on the whole issue. How about you? Let me know where you stand? If you've attended cocktail play dates, share your story? I find that whenever moms come out, take a risk and admit to their mistakes, we all feel better. We know we're not isolated. Alone. I allow for anonymous comments here, so don't be shy.

"it's not that they need a drink, they say," but that having one is the break between boredom and loneliness that moms seek."

One of the silliest news bits that came out of this morning's report was "Juice boxes coexist with wine glasses here." Who writes this stuff?

A book called Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay was also featured in the report. I think I can wait for that one to come out at the library.

Mothers Don't Let Sloshed Mothers Drive Home Drunk From Play Dates (MDLSMDHDFPD or MADD? I'm sticking with MADD. It's shorter, and who can remember the other trailing acronym when seeing double?!)
One last thought, just who is driving these kids home from play dates if all the moms are tipping it back? Why wasn't the issue of designated drivers broached in The Today Show report? As a journalist, I think they really missed the boat on this one.

What does the idea of cocktail play dates shake up and stir in you?

Ps. Cheeks is at the pediatrican's with his papa, hopefully having his staples removed from his head. I'll let you know how it went.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Slackstress Reporting Here ... Under the Influence of American Idol (and Hair Gel)


Reader beware. I'm writing while under the influence of American Idol, my guilty pleasure, my embarrassing mass appeal American addiction. Also, I'm writing from my husband's laptop, something I'm going to have to suck up and get used to now that my mine has terminally ended its damaging affair with the Blue Screen of Death. I can't even revive it long enough to launch its operating system.

Okay, how hot was Jenry (pronounced Ahn-rey) from Day 2? Keep on licking those lips, baby. Paula, I was pleasantly surprised too. "Easy on the eyes" is an understatement. Those dimples. Those teeth. Wait a sec ... They just said this guy's only 16. Uh, yeah ... scratch all of the above.

I'm pressed for time. Sharing the Internet with my husband is about as fun as sharing a bathroom. So, all I have to offer is a snapshot of my day with the munchkins. Truth is, I'm writing during Idol commercial breaks. Here goes with hair gel overdose visual flair:


I'll start with Pigtails. She spiked a random high fever with no warning. No prior symptoms. I wonder if she's sprouting some new Chiclets in her thumbsucking mouth. An hour into her Tylenol dose she was bouncing off the wall like the rock hard Red Sox regulation baseball her brother Cheeks dug out of his "special drawer" earlier in the morning. A freakin' (spell check suggested changing "freakin'" to foreskin, hmmm?) baseball in the house. Just what we need flying through the air at fast ball speed while Cheeks still has three metal staples firmly holding a hole in his head together. (It would have been to easy/cliche to say we needed a flying in-house baseball like a hole in the head. I think I just said it anyway.)


Cheeks, well, he wasn't what you would expect today. Calm. Well-behaved. Listening. Sharing. I think his fall might have straightened out some of his rather crooked behaviors. Is that terrible to say as a mother? Will I burn for such comments? Seriously, though. My mother always said that people can change when they crack their heads. He didn't even talk through his nose in whine-tongue-speak. Keep it up, Cheeks. Oh, and don't forget to sleep through the night for once. As usual, I'm endeared by his poofy cheeks, which he noticed in the mirror for the first time yesterday. "I look like Santa, mommy. Even my chubby cheeks are red like his!"


As for Mouth, he said kindergarten was hard. "We even skipped snack because all we did was work, work, work." He carted a stack of paperwork home to prove it. Once we settled down from pitching that same regulation baseball around the playroom INSIDE THE HOUSE for God knows why (what kind of a mom lets her kids throw a real ball in the house), Mouth took me to his room and drew me some addition and subtractions problems in yellow crayon, "Just so you aren't so bad at math anymore, mom. Dad's the math genius. You're the writing genius." Ah, to be young and clueless.

Mouth, who should really be nicknamed The Lawyer I've decided, wowed me with his progress reports (from his home room kindergarten teacher, music teacher, phys ed teacher and Spanish teacher)yesterday. As I opened the final sealed envelope, I played a little trick on him. A mean one perhaps. Definitely not an age-appropriate joke. "Oh, you'd better come here, mister. I need to have a word with you about your progress report from Mrs. Kindergarten Teacher. It's not good. Not good at all. What are we going to do about this. NOT GOOOOOOD. What I mean is, this progress report is not good, it's EXCELLENT. Outstanding. Better than good."

I should have known better. He nearly imploded with stifled tears. True Mouth style. He only cries when the Patriots lose. Now he'll have nearly a year until next season to store up the tears. ("They said at half time that Tom Brady was the 'Come Back King,' but he's not! He's sooo not. He's not a king to me anymore, mom. How could he throw an interception in the last few seconds? What was he thinkin'! It's just not fair. I hope the Bears kick the Colts butts hard in the Superbowl.")

On an Idol note, the girl with the red cowboy hat might need a taste of Valium. BTW, my husband's only comment during American Idol was, "She's got the cleavage for it." He said it about Jory Steinberg. I don't think his gaze ever made it above her necklace.

I take that back. The New Yorker who works out in frumpy sweats like Rocky "has a nice ass," according to my marital peanut gallery. Why do I watch this show with him again? Talk about a double-standard. Wasn't I just drooling over the guy with the hard to spell/pronounce name only a few paragraphs ago (Jenry)?

Sorry to random zig-zaggy write this post like Rod Stewart's hair. Hopefully I'll be able to post as often as possible in the coming days, even with a lap top slated for the graveyard.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How Has Being a SAHM Prepared You for This Job (and Why Should We Hire a Momstrocity Like You) ?

I've had it up to here with the shpilkes. Call me a meshugine with a bad case of the mishigas. While I'm at it, I admit, I've got a massive pisk. Not bad Yiddish for a goyim, eh?

What I mean is, my hard drive crashed. I've been away from blogging too long. A mere 24 hours without a post has me realizing that I'm completely addicted.

There's nothing like venting, kvetching and coming clean confessional style on such a public forum. I think all bloggers agree that receiving comments is one of the most validating aspects of blogging. I loves me some comments, a mom blogger recently said during de-lurk-ness. Right on.

So, as I get back into my blog, my kindergartner who should be racking up REMs for a fresh start at school tomorrow is bouncing on my bed wearing a Power Ranger face mask. My daughter, who also should be deep into snoozeville is cramming a whore of Baby Bratz doll into a decorative Asian lock box from Pier One Imports.

Good girl, Pigtails. Ho lookin' Baby Bratz dolls with skimpy diaper covers that look more like Frederick's of Hollywood thongs than bloomers SHOULD be locked away in black cryptic boxes.

So I'm back. Hopefully my laptop won't crap out on me again. If I had the energy I'd spill my guts right now about my eldest son purposefully hitting me and kicking me in the past 48 hours. That boy needs to learn some respect.

Also, I'm reluctantly flirting with looking for a full-time newsroom job, which would mean placing my two youngest kids in full-time child care. "Placing" sounds so cold. Like placing a down-payment on a home. Or placing an ailing parent in a nursing home. The whole thing feels cold. Against every thing I want for my children.

Qualifications accrued in the nearly six years I've domestically slacked as a SAHM:
Breastfeeding while chasing children through parking lots.
Miraculously holding my breath between pushes.
Passing humans through my life giving vessel. Three in four years - not bad.
Stopping the blood flow from gaping wild boy head wounds with my bare hands.
Strapping miniature humans into five-point harness car seats with one hand.
Chucking graham crackers one by one to my sons in the third and farthest row of my minivan and actually hitting my targets, right in their hungry faces.
Managing not to have a so-called REAL job for nearly six years.

Until the next slack-i-sode, y'all.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Avalanche - Chaos - Bedroom?


When did the bomb go off in the boys' room?




Maybe little Miss red Power Ranger will clean it up before someone trips and falls.

Do your messes ever mount to the point where you feel trapped, paralyzed? Where do I even begin?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

There Are No Prizes in Yoga (or Motherhood)


My friend Todd called me a "show off" in yoga class this morning when I decided to take my Tree Pose to lofty heights. Think arms wide open like the scales of justice with a Bangles "Walk like an Egyptian" head twist. Add in a peculiarly folded knee.

Except now visualize me smirking with embarrassment, falling over like a top, thanks to Todd's distracting but accurate editorial comment.

Todd was right. I was showing off. Trying to look cool, like a vanilla yogurt covered pretzel. Like a seasoned yoga pro. Competing. Something you're never suppose to do in your yoga practice.

"Remember, there are no prizes in yoga," our 50s-ish bleach blonde instructor Randy reminded the class mid-sun salutation. "No one wins for being the best at holding a pose or for mastering the most complex balance. Yoga isn't about judging yourself or others. If you're not able to smile during your yoga practice, then perhaps you've forgotten yoga's true nature."


As I lay outstretched beneath a Mexican wool blanket in corpse pose, I tried to clear my mind for final relaxation but couldn't stop thinking about competition, prizes and motherhood. I thought, "There are no prizes in motherhood either. There's no Number One Mom award to strive for. So why do so many moms compete with each other?"

Nothing deep. Just something to ponder on a Sunday.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Competitive Breakfast of Siblings


Breakfast should be as simple as choosing between cereal or waffles. Toast or bagels. Juice or milk. Should be.

Instead, when a relatively routine morning meal unravels into an all out competitive sibling cereal contest (i.e. who has more in the best/worst Bob the Builder bowl, who can cram more Chex up their nose, etc.) like it did this morning, the choices become more about punishment than nourishment, more about shutting down than waking up.

Time out or confiscating a toy. Sending eye booger crusted offenders to their rooms or cancelling the day's play dates. Creamer in my coffee or Bailey's Irish cream. One Advil or two.

Instead of peacefully welcoming the day with a few pleasantly crisp English muffin bites, I desperately inhaled my caffeinated lifeline with a bitter gulp of whine. Whine spit in my face from the wise ass mouths of my babes.

You moms doubling as short-order breakfast cooks like me know all too well what I'm talking about. I give you the following, whether you ordered it or not: (To breathe extra annoying accuracy into the snippets below from breakfast at my kitchen table this morning, please insert your own kid's nasally whining/demanding voice)

"I WANT milk!"
"He has more milk than me! NO FAIR!"
"Not in this cup! I wanted the Buzz Lightyear cup!"
"But he STILL has more!"
"You may have more than me, but mine is better."
"More juice!"
"I want gum, not cereal. Where's MY gum?"

Next, the discord escalates from verbal to physical.
"He threw a Kix ball at me!"
"She pushed my cereal bowl!"
"He dumped his milk on my chair!"
"I'm gonna' pull those staples out of your boo boo if you keep doing that!"

Between demands and complaints, I punctuate their every command/cut down/complaint with, "What's the magic word?" and "How do we ask like a gentleman?" and "We use our words, NOT OUR HANDS!"

Oh, and "Get your face outta' that cereal bowl. We are not a dog!"

Whining. I HATE whining, unless I'm the one doing it. Especially when I'm trying to jolt myself awake with hazelnut flavored black sludge.

Remind me again. I forgot. What's the "best part of waking up?"

Hey, wait, am I the one whining again right now? Smacks of the classic "Do as I say, not as I do." Whatever.

Bottom o' the mornin' to ya.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Not Even Gravy Could Make Pride Taste Good Going Down

The London broil mistake and gravy soaked mashed potatoes went down silky smooth last night. Not bad as today’s lunch re-run either. Never made a better mistake if I do say so myself. Too bad we didn’t have any leftover garlic bread and Cesar salad to stuff ourselves with before naptime. After the morning I’ve had, some serious emotional over-eating was only a matter of time.

I swallowed so much more than unhealthy amounts of microwave reheated food today, namely my pride. That I swallowed hard in front of a crowd of people waiting for the local library doors to open for the day. I nearly offered to put their staring eyes back in their heads as my 2- and 3-year-old trailed behind me, announcing our riotous arrival with tantrum screams and flailing limbs.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the shady looking gaggle of ogling onlookers at the library were on a rare release from rehab or some other reform program. All twelve or so characters clutched cigarettes, sucking on them for dear life, knowing they wouldn’t be allowed to burn tobacco in the hallowed halls of the digitized Dewey Decimal System.

I swear some of them looked so grave as they collectively, carelessly contributed to a growing cloud of carcinogenic smoke around my spazoid fitful children that they reminded me of death row inmates taking their last living drags.

The whole smoky scream scene was a drag. So much so that I bailed.

“That’s it,” I barked. “This simultaneous fit is OVER! I’m not going to allow both of you to scream like this, demanding to be picked up every where I go, all the time. Trailing me like you don’t know how to walk. I can't hold TWO kids at the same time.” Trust me, my days holding both of them are long over thanks to a spent S.I. joint.

Neither kid cared, still shrieking, tears streaming down their hot heads, encircled with plumes of cigarette smoke from a dozen inconsiderate, gawking strangers.

I care. I care too much. I absolutely HATE when my kids scream in public. It mortifies me. All I can think about is what other people think. I feel their stares like barbs against my tensed up skin. The louder the screams, the deeper the barbs dig. Just one eardrum rattling kid screech is all it takes to render me a human irritation station.

Today was the last time I’d flee in response to the screaming. This time, when faced with fight or flight, I scooped up the kids and flew home in our minivan. Straight for the stroller.

“If you are going to scream like babies, you can ride in the stroller like babies!”

Yes, I actually said that. Mean, cruel or not, it worked. My dueling duo of wailers clammed up like I’d just given them a lollipop.

I zipped the five miles home, left them strapped QUIETLY in their car seats, marched up the driveway to the garage and grabbed the stroller.

Slam! I flung the stroller in the back of the minivan and slammed the back door shut.

“I don’t wanna’ go the library. It takes too long. We have to be quiet,” lamented Cheeks from the way back of the minivan, from the last row of Scooby Snack crumb littered seats.

“Sorry, kid,” I said. “We ARE going back, but this time we’re not going to have fits. No screaming. No kicking. No wailing.”

I was determined to show my mini scream team that they can’t get what they want, play me out, just by screaming in public, something I completely abhor, down to the bone. This they know, so they often pull the screaming bit to get me to flee wherever they don’t want to be.

Not this time. I would face my embarrassment of their public fits and screams head on. We were going back. The library would be opening in five minutes. The smoky crowd might still be lined up at the doors, waiting for them to open, continuing to build a massive exhaled smoke cloud.

We pulled in the parking lot. I sprang into action – releasing the lock on the stroller, springing it open like an umbrella, robotically strapping the grimacing newly quiet kids in one by one. Methodically going through the motions of our second chance. Our re-run. This time, the kids would be quiet. No tantrums. They lost the privilege to walk on the sidewalk with their fed up mother. They had to remain strapped into the double stroller, looking glum and defeated, for the entire library outing. And that’s just what they did.

A gazillion dinosaur, airplane, NFL football history, anatomy and Magic Schoolbus science books later, I too exhaled. At least my expelled air was clean, unlike the work-release looking smokers who now grinned in the direction of my stroller bound children instead of furrowing their brows with repugnance.

Stroller straps are underrated. So is standing up to your kids in the midst of their worst public fits.

I’m proud of myself for following through. For choosing fight over flight.

Poor kids. My strict stand continued all the way through the steamed broccoli they pushed to the corners of their fluorescent plastic IKEA plates during lunch. Not giving in and handing over a brownie before they finish all their broccoli is much harder than you’d think, especially if you are extremely noise (scream) sensitive mom like me.

Now they’re napping. Don’t bother me. I’ll be busy enjoying the golden silence.

When was the last time you took a stand with fitful little ones and how did it work out?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mistake and Potatoes


Me: Hey, what should we make Daddy for dinner tonight? I want to cook something special for him now that he's back from his business trip.

My 2-year-old Pigtails: I wan' cook Daddy a mistake and 'tatoes, k?

Me: Sure. I'll make the gravy to drown Daddy's mistake in.

Pigtails: Okay. Daddy WUVS my mistakes! I can hep' you make mistake for Daddy, right, mommy?

Me: Of course, big girl. I'm the best at making mistakes but I could always use a partner in crime.

There you have it. Another successful dinner brainstorming session in the can at the casa di Slackstress.

Mistakes, no longer just opportunities for learning (and reasons to kick yourself).

Mistake. It's what's for dinner.

*As FlipFlop Mama pointed out in her comment, this is my first cutesy wootsy poopsy post. You know, the ones where the blogging mommy proudly heralds her baby waby's cutesy comments. I guess it was a matter of time before I'd join the cuteness ranks. It was bound to happen. Maybe tomorrow I'll be more edgy. Way cooler. We'll see. It really depends on what my cuties do in the next 24 hours, doesn't it? Swoon, swoon. Gag, gag. Gag me with a baby spoon.

This Just In From SoCal, The Land of Frozen Fruits & Nuts


It doesn't take much to impress my five-year-old son Mouth. A puny one-inch snowball comprised of five measly frost crystals will do the job, actually.

Well, impressed for a few moments, that is, until he's downright depressed. He cried when his micro frost ball melted in his hands, seconds after scraping it from the roof of his daddy's car.

I mean really cried. Make that bawled. A good, hard cry of despair and disappointment. All this from a kid who hardly ever cries, not even when he bust his elbow open Razor scootering.

He sprang from bed today to look out the window for frost, ice, any evidence that Southern California is indeed caught in an rare weather freeze front from the Arctic. Next thing I know, before I'd even had a chance to rub the sleep from my eyes, I see my bed-headed blonde son out on the front lawn in his jammies, his breath turning into puffs of frosty air, combing our putting green style grass with his fingers, scraping frost like a man obsessed.

After calling him in and forcing him to don an over stuffed winter coat, I heard something strange on the kitchen radio. A booming voice over artist declared: "A blizzard in Malibu?! Snow in surf land?! We'll have more on the strange site, coming up on the news."

I'm sorry, but I didn't know that four snow flakes and a sprinkling of frost qualified a blizzard. I wonder what my parents would think of the local news' Southern California "snow storm watch 2007," as they shovel their way out of the latest snow cloud dumping and cross their fingers that they have power through the next hour.

This also just sensationally in: The California Highway Patrol is conducting escorts for drivers not used to icy conditions who are slipping and sliding on ice from Castaic all the way up to Bakersfield. I admit, this is hilarious to me, a person who learned to drive in a snow bank hemmed ice rink of a parking lot in New Hampshire.

WTF? Didn't I move to Southern California to escape the harsh winters of New England?

Face it, my Southern California kid is just screaming to play in some serious snow. "You're mine, buddy," Mouth taunts his brother every day. "In a snow fight, you're mine. Mommy, when are we going to Big Bear Mountain? You promised."

They take turns in the morning blasting each other with morning breath mist in the chilly 7 a.m. air. But that's not nearly enough winter for them. They remember the most recent Winter Olympics and Sean White, aka The Flying Tomato, is still their hero.

Looks like I'm going to have to break out the long johns and make good on my snow-capped mountain promises. It's probably a good thing that I forget the feeling of frostbitten toes. Brrr. I'm shivering just thinking of it.

More later from the land of frozen fruits ... In the meantime, tell me what the weather is like in your ZIP code?

BTW - completely unrelated - Why is it that my children feel the need to strip down to their birthday suits whenever they need to sit on the toilet for a while?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I'll Take Three Staples With That Head Wound


Congratulations Cheeks. You are now the proud owner of three metal staples in the back of your little head.

Thank you Dr. Shumacker for my couch surfing 3-year-old's shiny, new skull bling.

Cheeks learned the hard way two hours ago why mommy says he can't jump on the couch.

As his uncle recently told him, I don't tell him what to do just to be mean. I do it to protect him, because I care. But do you think any of his uncle's chat actually sunk in? C'mon. He's three.

"You CANNOT jump on the couch," I sternly told him. "But I want to," he retorted with a bratty sneer. I reached in his direction to physically remove him from the couch. He jumped back to escape my reach and fell over backwards off of the couching and head-first into the angular iron base of our living room lamp.

Talk about a surreal parenting moment - holding your wailing, bucking child down while an emergency room doctor plunges a lengthy needle filled with a wonder numbing drug into your preschooler's bloodied, swollen scalp. You have to look away or you might faint and need emergency medical attention yourself.

Next the good doc squirts a stream of cleansing water into your child's gaping gash. Finally, he shoots two silver staples into the pinched together edges of the laceration.

"Hmmm," the doctor mumbles, scratching his beard and peering closely at his most recent, still throbbing handy work. "I think I'll shoot one more in there for good measure."

Snap. The staple gun fires again into the wound. Your child's head kicks back in response and he lets out a defeatist whimper. Now three staples shine amidst the dried blood stiffened hairs spiking out of the back of his tender head.

The last step is a smear of glossy antibacterial ointment slathered atop the staples for an extra degree of grusomeness.

We stopped off at Johnny's Frozen Yogurt on the way home. Spiraled frozen sugary things topped with gummy bears and jelly beans make everything feel better. Even wounded heads (and wounded egos). At the emergency room I promised Cheeks one cherry for each staple. Back at home and happy again, he gobbled up all three cherries as I cut his blood spattered T-shirt off with a pair of scissors.

Now onto night watch. The doctor says I'm to wake Cheeks every hour or so to make sure he can wake up at all. Lovely. I think I'll tuck him into bed with me and his daddy, just to be sure.

Concussion. Infection. Strange and unusual behavior. I think I can identify the first two if I must. But that last one, strange behavior, well, we're talking Cheeks here. Most of his behavior is strange. And I mean that in a mostly nice way. Mostly.

Gnarly head wounds are nothing new to the Slackstress home. Two years ago my kindergartner Mouth gashed his forehead with a clumsy crash landing on the corner of a concrete step. Surgical glue came to the rescue that time with maximum fight and maximum forced restraint.

Pigtails fell down the steps and out of my sister's RV over the summer. She didn't walk for two weeks and severely sprained her neck.

Why do these injuries happen on my watch? Must I stand directly behind my kids every second to make sure they don't stumble and fall? How could I possibly be in three frenetic places at once?

There's only so many times you can start your explanation with "I was right there but didn't catch him/her in time," before people start to question your abilities as a care giver and mother? How many wounds can be written off with the old "kids will be kids" or "boys will be boys" sayings?

The countdown to staple removal is on, whether or not I'm busy beating myself up for how my kids accidentally beat themselves up. Nine days to go.

I'm not looking forward to when the numbing agent in Cheeks' Frankenstein wound wears off. Why don't the nurses numb the worried mothers in the ER while they're at it? How about a sedative? Anything.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Mystery of the Middle Child


I can’t stop thinking about birth order and the role it inevitably plays in how each of my children will turn out, especially my middle child Cheeks.

When I dropped him off at preschool today his did his usual – kiss me goodbye with a nervous look in his sensitive espresso eyes, then trudge off to play by himself.

According to his teachers, alone is mostly what Cheeks chooses to be at school, a stimulating stage for the dynamic developmental experience featuring, at times, some 70 potential friends. Cheeks can’t be bothered though, playing on his own, building sand hills for plastic cows to graze on. Sometimes he engages in parallel art and cooking play.

The extremely social, talkative adult part of me wishes Cheeks would make friends at school, establish a regular gang of kids. The extremely shy, nearly a-social little girl in me remembers how crippling it felt to break the ice with new people in new places. She wants to protect her loner middle child from the crushing, sometimes unruly seeming crowd of kids at school.

I’m conflicted to say the least. Maybe Cheeks is too.

As early as the 1920s Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler asserted that yes, according to his extensive research, birth order does in fact influence the development of a child’s personality and intelligence.

Tomes have been written on the controversial subject. Study after study has picked apart birth order. I'm betting nearly every mother throughout history has too. One recent study even showed that birth order affects which careers children will grow up to be in and how successful they will be.

Who really knows? Will mothers of middle children ever stop worrying about how well they will adjust, how their birth order-related propensities might serve or disserve them in life?

When will I stop obsessing over making sure Cheeks is getting enough attention, enough stimulation, enough of my (mostly paper thin) patience, enough of my heart, enough of my soul? Probably never, not even when he’s flown the coop. It's a case of caring too much, if that is even possible.

Simply put, researcher Adler contended that each child vies for the attention of his/her parents, and that each successive child has to compete that much more than their older siblings. Maybe this is why Cheeks is so fitful. He does what works. His rage stirs up a massive tidal wave in me and it shows.

Also, depending on the size of the family, each child struggles for parental attention that much more, according to Adler. The competition could be worse for mine. I could have had six children like my grandmother, not just three.

Still, even having skimmed studies old and new, I often wonder how much I can attribute “middle child syndrome” to my Cheeks’ white hot temper, social shyness and ultra-emotional sensitivity.

I wonder what Cheeks thinks of himself. Of me. Of his older brother and little sister. Of his entire family. Does he feel left out? Left in the middle child lurch?

Mostly he builds walls that feel too steep for me to climb. Sometimes, when in the rare mood to open up one-on-one, he tosses me a rope and I carefully climb in, stepping lightly and in perfect awe.

What's your birth order? How do you feel your birth order shaped your personality if at all?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Every Kid Should Have a Funcle Fay

This is for my best friend, who my children know and love as their wacky “Funcle Fay.”

Thanks for sticking around all day to give me a hand with the kids and some much needed company.

Thanks for reading them bed time books tonight when they missed their daddy.

Thanks for watching their goofy Razor scooter show spectacular even though your bones shook in the cold.

Thanks for flipping my misshapen crepes when I ran off to change Pigtails’ Pull-Up for the zillionth time. Thanks for eating the last one too.

Thanks for allowing me to sneak away and journal for 45 peaceful, quiet moments at the sub joint.

Thanks for gently talking to Mouth about the consequences of fibbing as only his best adult friend could. And, yes, since you asked, he has heard of the “boy who cried wolf.”

Thanks for bringing me back a rich walnut brownie from 7-Eleven. It’s staring me down from the kitchen counter right now, demanding to be devoured.

You are an amazingly involved, caring uncle. The kids love you and so do I. Until our next weekend pajama party with our favorite “Funcle Fay” …

Oh, and thanks for teaching my kids how to repeat everything I say in an annoying nasal voice. This new non-skill should take a few days to deprogram. That and all the “poopy head” name calling you started so long ago.

Don’t you worry, Funcle supreme. I’ll get you back and you know it.

Did you have a fun Funcle Fay when you were growing up?

I did. I still do, even if I don't see him much. His name is Uncle Mike. He used to feed us cold pizza for breakfast when he babysat. Breakfast of champions. We had a blast running around the house like wild banshees with awesome Uncle Mike, my dad's only brother.

*Funcle Fay's picture was taken down at his request. Ugh.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Unexpected Patriots Pride - Brainwashing Complete


The New England Patriots handed it to the San Diego Chargers today. As if I care?

Surprisingly, I do.

What the hell's happening to me? I think I like football. I must be sick.

My newfound fondness for football is strange indeed. Normally I scoff at a sport that encourages hulking men to toss each other around like rag dolls, often for salaries large enough to crack the global warming crisis.

My amped Pats fan sons eagerly watched their helmeted heroes storm the field on TV while their daddy watched them in-person from the nosebleeds at Qualcomm Stadium, just two hours South of us in San Diego.

I've been brainwashed. I admit it. I even like my kids liking football. They must be slipping something into my Starbucks.

If you can't beat 'em, well ... you know the rest.

No energy to make this post remotely interesting or decently written. I was out until 3 a.m. at my friend's birthday party in the Hollywood Hills. I hadn't seen her since we worked together as Internet news producers nearly 10 years ago. Her party deserves its own detailed post. The international crowd alone made the trip worth it. So many languages being spoken at once, all in one room ...

Until tomorrow ...

Ps. The spitter didn't spit or hit today. He was an angel. Chalk it up to the three-hour nap anomaly.

Friday, January 12, 2007

At Wits End With My Habitual Spitter

Cheeks spit in my eye a minute ago. His saliva dripped down my lid and into my eye ball. I just about lost it.

Then, during his consequent time-out, he spit all over the floor. He even spit under the door as I held it shut, all over the tops of my bare feet. He also hit me and kicked me while I re-explained why he couldn't come out of his useless time-out.

I don't think the word "challenge" fully describes how I feel about Cheeks during his many fitful, spit-ful rages.

After he gut-punched his big brother because he didn't want to play Matchbox cars with him any longer, I sent him to his room for the night. He's been there ever since, thrashing and screaming loud enough for the neighbors to potentially alert the cops.

Too bad, I say. You hit, you spit, you lose. You go to your room until tomorrow. I've had enough of his bullshit, young kid or not. There's only so much hitting and spitting a mother can take. No respect.

Do any of you have a spit hurling, raging three-year-old like mine? When time-outs and taking away toys fails, what do you do? What works for you? I don't think any of you will admit to spanking via comments, but do tell what succeeds in curbing such bad, completely unacceptable behaviors.

Two Peas in a Pod ... For Now at Least

Egads! What sorcery is this?

Instead of hocking a loogey in her fair face or punching her out, Cheeks is calmly "reading" a naptime book to his baby sister Pigtails. Mark it down for the record books.

"Lay down, sweetie," he just cooed in her direction. Could this be real? "Be good fo your big brudder now, k?"

Wait. I hear loose change jingling. I knew it couldn't last forever. At least they're still getting along and not using one another for two-foot punching bags.

They're dumping their piggy banks and enthusiastically telling each other "You're rich! Rich! RICH!"

Ah, ignorance is bliss. Little do they know just this morning I replaced a few quarters, dimes and nickels I looted earlier in the week for groceries and gas.

"Looks like you skip your nap now, honey," Cheeks just informed Pigtails. Really? So glad to be in the loop on his executive decision.

My miniature dynamic duo woke up simultaneously smiling and eager to be my helpers today. So far, we've stripped the tree of its homemade and Kmart issue ornaments and half blown lights, at least the pilfered ones the kids didn't tuck away in the corners of their play room. We hauled our dried out, shedding Douglas fir across the living room floor and out the door. Next came a massive vacuum job, which involved lots of vacuum belly raspberries and funky, air sucked hairdos.

Hang on. I have toss a wet blanket on my two youngest ones' newly kindled friendship. Time to break up their smashing party in the bathroom. Pigtails is cheering Cheeks through a poop like a rowing couch. "Go, go, GOOOO, brudder! You can do it!" She's echoing my cheers from her short lived potty success this morning.

"Holy stinky poop, doooood (dude)" Pigtails just proclaimed from inside of the drained, damp toy infested bathtub. "I've never eat that poop. Can I eat it?"

"Nope," answered Cheeks. "Eat your own poop, grossy!"

What the hell is going on in there?

It should be interesting to see if Cheeks is as enamored with his new sister-buddy when we pick his big brother Mouth up from kindergarten at 2 o'clock.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Boogie is Still a Boogie, No Matter How (Closely) You Look at It

It all started with a scab.

An oblong elbow scab. One of those long-term hang-er on-ers. The kind that you never know when and where it will fall off, leaving a glossy patch of tender, pink skin behind. The kind that ends up surprising you on the floor, or maybe even surprise landing in your bra, like your middle child's umbilical cord stump.

Maybe not that kind. More like the kind of scab that comes from a hard fall from a Razor scooter, a maroon scab belonging to my 5-year-old son.

"Wanna' see my scab?" he asked my mom friend today as we watched her daughter tuck and roll at the local gymnastics academy. "I've been saving it all day in my pocket. My dad says we can look at it with my microscope when he gets home from work. Do you like it?"

Ew. It's a good thing my friend's a scabbed over bodily fluid veteran, having stayed home with her daughter going on three years now. She wasn't fazed.

Minutes after loosening his tie, kicking off his shoes and nearly swallowing a six-pack of California sushi rolls whole, my husband made good on his scab inspection promises. (This posting was so much better the FIRST time I wrote it, before Blogger blew up and my posting was poof gone. Ugh.)

First, he looked at the scab using Mouth's new microscope, as promised. Next he drew his own blood.

"Daddy's blood cells look like jiggly rainbows," Mouth said, amazed that his dad drove a safety pin into his finger for the sake of science. Needless to say, he's also an organ donor. Check the back of his license.

Head hairs were plucked. Eye lashes were donated to the cause.

My middle child, Cheeks, even scraped up a smear of tooth tartar.

When bodily fluids, for example ear wax, lost their luster, we turned to the cupboards. Spices. Drinks. Eye-stinging onions.

Finally, just when we thought we'd exhausted our own disgusting curiosities, we heard Mouth propose something entirely wrong. Something that would take this whole family science adventure too far.

"Anyone got a booger? I'm all out," he said, plugging his nostril up with his finger, all the way up to his second knuckle.

Bet you can't guess what happened next.

This is Your Brain, This is Your Brain on 3 Kids

My mom stock severely dropped in value today.

Confession: I accidentally locked Pigtails in the minivan today. She was none the wiser, taking long drags on her thumb and twirling her white-gold hair between her soggy fingertips as I freaked out inside but kept face on the outside for her sake. I even played peek-a-boo with her through the dirty tinted windows to make every thing seem kosher.

A brawny mustached university police officer named Lenny (strange coincidence) jimmied the lock open after 10 or so tense minutes.

Lately I've made a slew of scatterbrained mistakes that effect not only me but also my children. Flawed. Imperfect. Human. Me.

At least the temperature in the car wasn't dangerous. Anything but sizzling thanks to a cold front in full windy force.

I know I can't be the only one who has ever done such a stupid thing. At least I hope I'm not.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Going Green With My Kids (Who Stuff Green Up Their Noses)

I a tree hugging dork. And so are my kids.

Me and the kids earned our share of green karma points today. Together we got down and dirty crunchy granola at the reeking neighborhood recycling center.

“Dude, this place STINKS!” Mouth remarked when I pulled our weighted down with clinking bottles and cans minivan up to the unloading area.

"Smells like someone tooted," his little brother giggled.

“Yeah. Whadya' expect? Trash stinks,” I said. “And humans make a lot of trash.”

“Especially us,” Mouth observed, crushing his empty, sucked to implosion juice box, then chucking it into the trash bag on the minivan floor.

He’s not kidding. Just one basic meat, starch and veg dinner for our family of five practically produces enough waste (food packaging, etc.) to fill up an entire kitchen trash bag. (And also produces a blizzard of crumbs worthy of a snow plow)

You’ve never seen a kindergarten kid happier than when noisily sorting clinking bottles and cans at a joint overrun with forklifts and gruff, tough “worker guys.” (Except maybe when he's mindlessly picking his nose.)

We sang Beck’s Bottles and Cans (Is that even the name of that song?) like a bunch of punch drunk tools while we sorted our rinsed (and some not rinsed) junk.

“Just Clap Your Hands” … so went our song, and we did. We spread the dorky high-fives and hand claps on thick, thick as the old milk that curdled in a gallon jug I couldn't bring myself to uncap. The kids, newly malodorously streaked with shwag New Year's champagne and flat Diet Coke, applauded their eco-conscious selves along with their proud mama, who frantically scanned the premises for running water, a sink and some germ squashing soap. No such luck.

At least for now, my kids are still young enough to celebrate their budding accomplishments by sharing hugs with me in public. They'll be plenty mortified by my mushy displays soon enough and I'll have to scale back on the PDA.

Recycling with kids packs huge I-did-it-myself value for them. Even my two youngest got in on the simple sorting action, just long enough for their big brother to correct their clumsy sorting mistakes.

After a half-hour of work/fun, each kid split the redemption cash, their hard won earnings. Each walked away with one whopping dollar bill. I used the remaining cash to fittingly rent Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth from the local Blockbuster Video, stop number two on our green day, fuel combustion engine fueled outing.

Thanks, Mister Vice President (who I voted for, hanging chads or not). Now my five-year-old is afraid that Santa will drown when the North Pole melts "because you know it will, mom." Great. Nice going, enviro-mommy. (Actually, I loved this film both in the theaters and at home. Eventually I'd like to own it, and hope Gore makes a sequel that maps out every day steps each of us can take to reduce global warming, instead of drilling it into our heads that we're screwed, despite our sunscreen.)

The kids used their dollars to annoy me the entire trip to the DVD store. How many times do I have to explain to my little menaces that money is filthy (in more ways than one) and not to be sucked on like a lollipop?! There's not a vat of Purell big enough in this hyper sanitized world to clean that kind of dirty. You never know where freaks rub their dolla', dolla' billz, y'all.

"Can't we just wash our dollars when we get home?" Mouth asked. I think he was actually serious. I've done it a million times by accident. Nothing beats finding a lost and long forgotten Andrew Jackson lurking in your back pocket.

"Yeah. When it's clean, then we can eat it! Right, mommy?" Cheeks inquired hopefully.

By then I was already elbow deep in wondering who made up the saying, "Put your money where your mouth is" to afford Cheeks an answer. My kids not only reduced the old adage to its literal meaning but added a new, gnarly twist to it -- Put your money where your NOSTRIL is. Why do they have to drive every little bendable thing into their facial orifices?! WHY?!

Moving on .. Did I mention that I practically own stock in the environmentally unfriendly Huggies diaper brand? To this day I’ve had a child in diapers nonstop since 2001. Lucky me, whose nearly lost all sense of smell in the process.

Even while fully understanding the irreversible toxic damage that disposable diapers left to rot in landfills wreak on our atmosphere, I am still too apathetic and unmotivated to switch to cloth diapers. (But I'll recycle if there's a little chump change in it for me and the kids to swing by Blockbuster.)

Too hooked on Velcro wrapped, moisture lock convenience dressed up in shiny, happy Sesame Street monsters to be troubled with the "inconvenient truth" of my wasteful diapering choices/apathy.

Too poor to buy a hybrid.
Too in a hurry to rinse out and reuse Ziploc bags.
Too out of shape to run all my errands by running to them.
Too paycheck-to-paycheck to go paperless with online bill pay.

Too much of a neo-hippie fraud to actually haul my recycles to the recycling center more often than six times a year. (Twice I've sheepishly dumped my overflowing, stackable recycling bins into the garbage cans out back, just so I wouldn't out myself as the half-hearted recycler that I am in front of dinner guests.) At least today's small success was a start.

My California city continues to live in the dark ages and for whatever reason doesn’t automatically sort and recycle its constituents’ refuse. However, they do provide heavily graffiti'd recycling “stations” that require residents like me to take it upon themselves to clean, sort and haul their own recyclables of their own volition, and perhaps their commitment to a cleaner environment for their children.

Too old to teach new tricks? For my kids sake and for the warming world they will inherit, I hope not.

Ps. It's too bad money doesn't grow on the trees we hug.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Hypocrite Mother's Confession

I'm a hypocrite. Today my 5-year-old son rode three traffic heavy miles home in our van from school today with only a seat belt securing him down, not his booster seat.

Totally illegal. Totally wrong. Totally hypocritical.

I can't believe myself, my fleeting lapse of judgment, considering how upset I was only days ago after strongly stating my disagreement with allowing children to ride in moving vehicles without proper car seat restraints.

Just as we piled into the van ready to head home from school (with a sweet stop at the local frozen yogurt joint first), my three-year-old son pointed out that his brother's car seat was MIA, a lingering TO DO task Christmas vacation casualty. A highly important task that I failed to tend to after not driving the van for two weeks thanks to very expensive transmission repairs.

Stupidly, I spaced it on putting his booster seat in its right place this afternoon. A parental responsibity lost in the rush of getting soggy diapers changed, nap head hair snaggles detangled and grumpy just waking kids perky enough to make the trip.

I can assure you my son was properly strapped in to a booster seat on his way to kindergarten this morning. His father brings him when he's not traveling.

I can also assure you that I strapped him into a shoulder strap and lap belt combo seat belt in the farthest back seat of the van on the less safe than desirable trip home from school. But, according to the law and my own recently, emphatically stated safety standards, that just doesn't cut it.

Of course, I'm going to have to admit my hypocrisy and maternal delinquency as soon as my husband walks in the door tonight. (Update: BTW, as usual, he took it well. He is a very tolerant, understanding, nonjudgemental fellow. I'm lucky. I would have had him by the balls for the same infraction.)

I could have left my son in the trusty hands of his school's $8/hour after hours child care while I made the 15-minute round-trip journey home to get his precious safety gear, but I didn't.

I completely surprised myself. I'm still shocked. Didn't I just say on this blog days ago that I would "never" do such a thing? What about my mom credibility now? I'm human, for sure.

I compromised my son's safety for fifteen minutes today, fifteen minutes too long. Maybe I'm being to hard on myself, but I don't think so. You know I'd be even harder on you.

Never again.

Think of our parents, parents of the early 1970s (I'm dating myself), who often let us roll around like jumping jacks in the back of pick up trucks on the highway, whipping along at 70 miles an hour.

Would they have beat themselves up so badly for the same booster seat free 15 minutes? Are we modern moms subjecting ourselves to a destructive, far too harsh set of standards? Is being better informed (or overly informed) really better?

With today's increased pressure to be perfect parents, are the stakes higher, and what's the price of all this plaguing worry?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Large Side of Bitch, Whine and Complain

Bedtime is definitely sucking.

The troops are resisting getting reacquainted with the routine.

My five-year-old starts school back up tomorrow a.m. after several days on holiday. He won't go easily. Unfortunately, neither will his sister and brother.

I can hear my husband threateningly counting to three in our defiant daughter's room. Now he's demanding loudly, "Lay DOWN!"

Our kindergartener claims his head is pounding. I believe him after having a horrid migraine half the day amid counting how many kids were in our pack at the overrun aquarium. My throat is coated in goop. Consequently my tolerance level for other mini me's whose throats are likely also coated in goop is extremely low.

How many hours have I lost to warring with my children over bedtime? You'd think I were trying to force them into a room engulfed in flames, not simply into cushy soft mattresses decorated in their favorite themes and characters.

Why do my children hate sleep so? I can't think of a better way to pass the time. Apparently my husband agrees with me on that; He didn't rise earlier than 10 or 11 a.m. one single day his entire two-week Christmas vacation.

I take that back. Make that except for Christmas morning, when the kids woke up around 7 a.m. thirsty for Santa's stash. Wait -- He also let me sleep in one day, all the way til 11 a.m. I thought I'd come clean with that now before he leaves me a comment here, reminding me of his good deed. I was wrong. Oops.

Two of my three didn’t even fall asleep in the van on our hour-long trip up the 405 Freeway. You’d think they’d be zonked after stomping from one frigid, stingray loaded touch-pool to the next all afternoon. Of course, they finally fell asleep five minutes before we arrive home, after the hour-long trip back down the 405 Freeway, only to wake up pissy and starving for my poorly improvised bread, cheese and donut (I know. How stupid of me) dinner.

Now I want to sit on my ass and do nothing after such a busy day. Nothing more than suck down a mimosa.

But the dishes say I can't. The rainbow sprinkles on the sticky dining room floor say I can't. And the randomly strewn overalls, library books, dried out baby wipes and loads of other not-put-in-its-proper-place minutia ... Too much commands that I get off this lazy ass, log off the laptop and do something about it.

So here I go.

Scratch that. Family Guy is on. Hilarious adult cartoons trump chores any day.

Off to Touch Sharks

All I've got today is a terse Sunday report.

Right now the kids are converting their bunk bed into a pirate ship/lair. You'd be amazed how carried away they can get with the contents of their dress-up drawer. Works for me. Now I can finish my make up and get ready to move the brood to the Long Beach Aquarium.

The Tower, my husband, took Pigtail Sprite over to his brother's to watch the New England Patriots vs. rival New York Jets. His mood eventually depends on how well a bunch of padded muscle bound, overpaid, grunting guys perform in the hour or two. Lucky me.

We had our 3-year-old nephew over this weekend for his first sleep over. Overall it went okay, except for the part where I stayed up with him for 2.5 hours talking about his "The Vader" toys and his baby sister pounding on his bedroom door when he wants to play alone or with other "big kid" friends.

Actually, I kind of enjoyed our late night chat. With three kids of my own and his sister in the mix, I never get any one-on-one time with my nephew during our play dates and family get-togethers. I got to know him a bit better and the bags under my eyes that still drag my face down today were worth it.

Last night we had my 9-year-old niece over for yet another sleep over. She's so easy because she's so much older and very mature. I seldom have to worry about much in the way of sharing battles and "I had it first" b.s. with her around. I met my sister to pick her up at Downtown Disney. I'd never been there before. Basically it's an upscale mall with a few entertainment venues (ESPN Sports Zone, etc.), anchored by a massive Disney Store.

We ventured out this morning in our jammies for donuts and coffee. Next we're off to the Aquarium, if I can ever finish my face. Finally, we'll head up the 405 to meet my sister to drop off my niece. She and my eldest Maestro of Mouth are heading back for their first day of full-day school since Christmas vaca.

Now you have my mundane weekend update. Hopefully I'll close out this busy weekend by finishing a chapter of my book. Otherwise I would have set a procrastination record.

Thanks to all those who commented on my last post, helping me see that those a-holes at it2m are no one to sweat.

Friday, January 05, 2007

italk2much.com Doesn't Get My Sarcasm (and They Think I Suck)

Obviously the dolts over at italk2much.com missed the entire point of my blog - 1) Laughing at my own shortcomings for the sake of comedy and stress release and 2) baring the "madness of modern motherhood" so others in similar straits can relate and perhaps experience catharsis.

Oops. Sorry. I just dropped a three-syllable word (catharsis, if you didn't catch it) that would no doubt really irk and dumbfound the literary tards over at italk2much.com, who say my lexicon makes me sound pretentious. Pretension and intelligence are two very different things.

It’s one thing if you hate my habitual, overly adjective-loaded, trailing, comma littered, run-on sentences. I realize I have a bad habit of over describing things to the point where nothing is left to the imagination. That's just my style. Deal with it or don't read it. I freely admit that I'm not the best writer, nor have I ever claimed to be.

Like anyone worth reading, I work hard at becoming a better writer all the time. To improve. To evolve. To challenge myself. I challenge you to have the drive and time to actively try to improve your craft and attempt to complete a decent book, all while juggling three children under the age of six as a stay-home mom with a house to keep up with. Good luck.

Whether or not you enjoy my writing style is purely choice and personal preference. According to Google Analytics, plenty of people continue to return for more every day. That must count for something.

However, if you fail to the see overall self-depricating for the sake of humor and entertainment focus of my blog, you obviously lack the skill to boil grouped words down into their correct meanings and nuances. Perhaps you failed the portion of the GED that asked you to summarize a body of work.

To think some of those who commented so harshly on my blog compared me to a Stepford wife is laughable. Stepford wives are supposed to be beautiful, robotic, organized, shrewd, calculating socialites. I am none of the above.

I am a real person. One who admits her faults on this blog and who isn't afraid to look like a real person, one who makes mistakes and even sometimes embarrasses herself in front of her readers at her own expense. Gee, I've never heard of a comedian doing that before. Not everyone finds the same comics and comic styles funny. Again, personal preference means everything. If you don't like me, log the hell off.

Maybe my frankness here is threatening. Maybe it makes you squirm. Well, I think that's a good thing. Confrontational writing is what I strive to achieve. Squirm away. If not, if you really hate having to confront your own feelings, ones that are perhaps spawned by my feelings admitted right here in this blog, then do us all a favor and stop visiting the site. Don't waste your time. Or mine.

And, please, sharpen your shallow, lacking review skills elsewhere. Obviously the reviewers at italk2much.com weren't journalism school trained on how to write compelling, factual reviews and lack the know how to learn on their own. I refuse to spend my time here teaching you how. I'd prefer to write reviews for those who actually pay me as a professional writer.

If you expect MSNBC and "newspaper maven" caliber writing here at my blog, you are sadly mistaken. Do you write like a professional journalist in your diary or do you simply vent and/or explore/express? Who are you pretending for? I don't bother to put up a front or try to be a journalist on this particular venue.

8 Centimeters Deluded is my daily stress release for those who care to languish along with me for a good laugh (or cry). Must actors continually play the same character time and time again or can they occasionally venture off the beaten creative path and test out new roles, new styles, new media?

Writing outside of old-fashioned news and features reporting is new to me. Perhaps it shows. If it didn't, I wouldn't be putting forth an honest portrayal, now would I? I admit that I'm feeling my way as I go on this blog, and surely my end product won't always be stellar, final draft quality. Much of it will consist of unfocused rants for the sake of ranting. Accept it. I do.

Speaking of final draft quality, yes, you can expect plenty of typos and grammatical errors here. Typos happen. I'm a one-woman show with a million plates in the air. I usually write late at night, when I'm already burnt to a crisp.

So what if I'm fallible and make mistakes? Who the hell doesn't? I'm not going to stress every single word I type. When I write for professional publishers and magazines, online and in print, I try my hardest to send them flawless work. I scour my for-pay text until my eyes practically bleed. In the end, though, it's up to the professional editors to catch any errors that should slip by. Unfortunately, I can't afford my very own personal copy editor here at 8cmdeluded.com.

I doubt the former United States Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop (the former drkoop.com) and Dr. Drew Pinsky (drdrew.com and Loveline) would have allowed me to write so many thoroughly-researched, professional-level parenting and health news articles for their commercial web sites if I were a total untalented blowhard with zero writing skills.

So what if I moonlight for kicks on this crazy rant of a blog now that I'm no longer in a newsroom or public relations board room earning pay? Believe me, the job I'm doing now is much, much more stressful and demanding than my old news chasing ones. Blogging is my outlet for blowing off pent up motherood steam, which I have plenty of, as you can read.

I'm not about to let a few flaming reviews at italk2much.com diminish nearly a decade of published, quality articles bearing my personal by-line, many of which have appeared on the front pages of high-integrity, decent-circulation New England newspapers.

As I said, I created this blog both as a venue to vent and as a sounding board for making fun of the entire experience of staying at home with your children. Much of it is funny. Even hilarious. Some of it's downright depressing. Let’s face it –- Though it’s rewarding much of the time, staying at home to raise children is also an exercise in frustration, trial and error, and even sometimes failure. You try getting three live wire kids to listen to you all the time. Even one kid.

8 Centimeters Deluded is a blog title that in and of itself suggests (or that was intended to suggest) that this whole stay-at-home motherhood ride is a crazy, unstable gig, if you weren't sharp enough to pick up on the suggestion.

Hell, I’m plenty bitchy at times and my moods can swerve from one parenting moment to the next. What’s wrong with admitting that reality openly and freely on a personal blog, a forum supposedly centered and possibly created expressly for being personal and honest, almost diary-like? Haven’t you people over at italk2much.com been to the hugely successful dooce.com? Please.

I won’t defiantly say that I wasn’t bothered or hurt by your cruel reviews, several of which (some 20) involved the word “fuck” and words “fuck her” as in fuck me. As if you really know me. It would be a blatant lie to say that I'm not upset. I've put a lot of work into this blog and it sucks when people reject it wholesale based on my tagline or preference for home birth.

As far as my tagline goes, which apparently made a few italk2much.com reviewers wretch, gag and all the rest, I admit that it is one, big TMI check. I was trying to stand out in a sea of unoriginal, bland mom blogs by stating in an odd, outrageous, roundabout way by mentioning that I had my babies at home in bed, something very few people in the U.S. do. Something unique that readers would perhaps remember me for and perhaps return to my blog because of.

I wasn't aware this was any more disgusting than having babies in bed in a room that happens to be in hospital. I must be insane to have had two of my three babies in a manner that children have been ushered into the world by since the advent of the human race. It's a shame so many Americans continue to be so close minded about a birth style so remarkably ubiquitous throughout the rest of the developed world, especially in the UK and the majority of Europe.

My hope was that my tagline "I birthed them in my bed, now I have to lie in it ..." would individualize me, make me seem more human, even quirky to my readers, perhaps even shock people a bit. Obviously my plan worked, perhaps not to my advantage, though. It should also be noted that I don't preach home birth to anyone. Birth is very personal. No woman can be told what is right for her. Have your babies however you wish.

Yes, as one of you over at italk2much.com pointed out, I do have a book coming out. If I’m lucky, perhaps it will appear on Oprah’s list, as you predicted. I should be so fortunate for such awesome publicity. That way I could make some money to buffer this no-money SAHM gig.

If I make you sick … If my blog angers you … revolts you or whatever, at least my words are strong enough, compelling enough to incite a reaction at all. Bad press beats no press. Thanks italk2much.com for a link that will no doubt send traffic my way.

Many italk2much.com commenters complained about my nickname choices for my kids. You also complained about my repitition of my children's ages in my postings. Hey, it's hard to undo a decade of newswriting training and experience. Some habits die hard. Also, I feel it's necessary to repeat their names and ages for first time readers who might otherwise wonder who the hell I'm referring to.

More importantly, though, is the fact that I created those nicknames, which some of you clearly find so sickenly sweet and tacky, in order to PROTECT my children from the admitted pedofiles, convicted sex offenders and incurable freaks who plagued my site with threats and other scary comments for a time.

I'd like to think that my many posts goading mom bloggers to rethink how much they reveal about the identities of their children helped stir up a movement that helped veteran popular bloggers like ohthejoys and others endure the painstaking work of changing every name reference to their children throughout their entire archive to nicknames. Actually, I'm proud of how it all went down. But you probably didn't take the time to dig deep enough in my archives to discover that, did you?

Whether you prefer my choice of nicknames or not is not what I care about. I care about you not knowing my children's true names, so you can't harass them or trap them into thinking you know them. So, ease up on the name thing already. If you feel motivated to do so, check out the press I earned over at the zeroboss.com on this very issue. I must be doing something right, especially for such a young blog.

Obviously italk2much.com missed the whole point of 8 Centimeters Deluded. Here I can safely (or not?) make fun of just how pathetic, awkward and confining it sometimes feels to be surrounded with miniature drooling humans who soil their diapers nearly hourly. I’m simply making fun. That's all.

Did you think I was serious when I wrote a popular fake/parody toy ad for F-Bomb cop that earned a playful comedy award from my mom blogging peers? What does it matter what they think? Apparently the dicks over at italk2much.com detest stay-home moms and their stupid children. Why should we even write blogs?

Still, though it may suck or lack style to you, my blog attracts some 100 readers on a good day, perhaps even some of you who hate me. Maybe that’s not a strong yield in your book, but it’s good enough to keep me going. I still enjoy the ride, even if it's a rocky one at times.

If you don’t like my blog, I’m open to real, constructive, well thought out, well presented criticism, but please skip telling me to “fuck off” like the overly harsh, backwards hacks over at italk2much.com. And please don't compare me to a goddamn Stepford wife. That's just weak.

Am I being defensive? Of course. Am I going away? Never.

Do I feel better now? Hell yeah.

So, if you like this blog, leave me a comment to muzzle the haters.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Is Carseat Safety Optional/Cultural (or am I just anal)?

Today, for the third shocking time in the past week, I knocked horns with a fellow mother over the issue of car seat safety.

Is it me, or is it out of style to strap your most precious cargo securely into a booster seat or five-point harness, whatever is age/weight appropriate, these days?

My husband says safety and how far we mothers take our concerns about our children's health and well being is largely a cultural issue. Personally, he feels Americans take safety way too far, especially when it comes to riding in the car.

A few years back I refused to allow my then 8-month-old (the Maestro of Mouth, who is now brimming on age 6) to ride in a London cab from Trafalgar Square. My parents-in-law, who always suffer my difficult, demanding nature with their good natured attitude, seemed a little surprised, perhaps even wondering what the big deal was.

For the record, two issues I'm definitely NEVER, EVER going to bend on is carseat safety and helmets when riding Razor scooters and fast-clipping bikes. I admit, I did let my 2-year-old daughter sit on her new pink and purple tassled Radio Flyer trike yesterday sans skull cover, but she wasn't even budging. She couldn't pedal the thing yet if her life depended on it.

The last place I'd ever want my children is ricocheting around the backseat of an SUV in is the 405 Freeway, or any dangerous, often deadly, Southern California freeway, where people, even sometimes very little people, collide and die almost daily. I know. I used to write news in an L.A. newsroom.

One of my closest friends used to live in Egypt, where she said children seldom ever use car seats. Hell, the don't even have any road rules there. You could even ride around without doors fastened to your vehicle. I don't even think I could visit there until my children reach non-car seat age, despite its historical significance and magnificence.

However, right here, in the United States, where it is the LAW, allow me to remind you, people, to strap your children safely into the proper car seat whenever the vehicle is in motion, I WILL NOT budge. Not even on my street, crawling along at 20 miles per hour. Anal, yes. But extremely caring.

Yes, you may take my child out for a great play date, if I have given you permission. That in and of itself involves a great leap of trust, as my sister-in-law recently pointed out. No, you may not allow him (or her) to bounce like a bed bud in the back seat at will.

I hope I haven't offended my friends, however strong my feelings are on this issue. But I wouldn't want to find out how broken my heart would be if any of my three children feebly emerged from the Jaws of Life wounded, or even dead, because of someone else's lax attitude toward their safety.

Why should I have to feel slightly embarrassed about being uptight about the protection and security of my most valuable kindred spirits? Somehow I do. Still, I won't back down.

Weigh in fellow moms. Let me know what you think. Am I just being anal? I think not. I welcome all opinions, even ones from the opposite court. Do share.

What about you? If your child is heading off somewhere in the care of your fellow, supposedly responsible and trusted mother friend, do you know for sure at this very moment if he/she is strapped down with care?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Chipping Away at My Resolutions W/O Meaning To

The book is coming slowly. I'm plugging up the entire creative process by writing the first draft as if it were the final draft. I obsessively go back and edit every word, every line, continually altering and changing all my original text, sometimes to the point where I don’t even recognize what I started with.

Today I think I was a better parent than writer.

Before I stole away to the corner gourmet pizza joint, Z Pizza, (home of rivers of organic tomato sauce beneath four fine cheeses, kalamata olive slivers, a flurry of crumbled feta chunks and pungent, thin sliced red onions – can you tell I’m addicted?) to hack away at the book on my hobbling on the verge lap top, I hosted an impromptu get together with some friends and their kids that looked more like a Halloween sidewalk trick-or-treating march than play date. Holy run-on sentence.

Pigtail Sprite, 2, hasn’t noticed much of her sparkly dress-up garb given to her for Christmas until today. Her friend, who I’ll call Precocious Bangs, 3, because she’s smart as a whip with a cool, roaring 20s bob cut, came over today. Holy run-on sentence, Batman.

Bangs adores "dressing up" and dragged out all kinds of Pigtails' pastel pink and mint green fairy gear (shimmering wings, wobbly fairy antannae, feather tufted glamor heels, etc.). Once Pigtails spotted her older friend prancing around the front yard all gussied up with her silver plastic tiara, faux pearls and a fancy dress strapped over another fancy dress underneath, she warmed up to the idea of girly costume play.

Eventually Pigtails ambled up to me with her new gauzy Tinkerbell tutu dress and said, "Can you pees hep me put dis on, Mommy?" Pigtail Sprite's brothers weren't far behind. They rifled through the dress up drawer in the play room as if they were in the throws of a desperate search for Willy Wonka's golden ticket.

My eldest, the Maestro of Mouth, almost 6, resurrected his old Halloween costume -- Anakin Skywalker, who had to make do when the costume store sold out of Luke Skywalker outfits. A blue Star Wars light saber proved the perfect accessory for the ensuing frontyard drama.

Moody Cheeks McGee, 3, pranced around on his tip toes as usual in his coveted royal blue dragon ninja outfit, cut jagged and sloppy at the ankles with a pair of kitchen scissors for added authenticity.

Actually, I cut them with sheers in a hurry because I can’t even sew a button on, and had just given birth to his sister six days before Halloween that year, when Cheeks’ brother reluctantly wore the baggy outfit and then refused to walk up to any houses to collect Halloween candy.

Cheeks practically lives in that ninja outfit. He wore it all day on Christmas. It seems to extend and enable his shy nature, allowing him to hide behind a flimsy polyester blend mask that shows only his expressive, sensitive brown eyes. He can observe in silence, like a true ninja, completely enveloped in his character.

Letting my kids wear costumes wherever and whenever they want is my way of allowing them to express themselves and experiment with their budding identities.

Even if I hate what they pick out, I still let them wear what they want for the most part. For whatever reason I was motivated to clean out Pigtail Sprite's closet and drawers for items that no longer fit. Hey, I just realized I was chipping away at one of my New Year's resolutions without realizing it at the unusually productive time.

I owe my husband a candle lit massage and a heavy dose of doting attention. See resolution number something or other.

With that, I bid you adieu.

It’s early yet, but how are you doing on your resolutions?