Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunrise, Sunset

Harper got her final lab results back, and the results are that she's apparently won the staph lottery, and that her two boils in 6 weeks were just sheer dumb luck, and not MRSA, which is somehow really good news.

But do you know what happened today? Well, I mean aside from us all being in the car and Harper sagely yelling, apropos of nothing, "Everyone has nipples!"?

I got a pop-up on my Outlook. (I use a PC. Don't be a hater.) And my pop-up was kindly reminding me of Aaron's first day of KINDERGARTEN, on TUESDAY, which I am clearly not prepared for. I mean, he has all of the gear. It's stuff that can be bought at Target- of course he's prepared in that sense. But I don't understand how this little monkey that I'm still getting used to is ready to go out and start the world kind of on his own. I feel a little Tevye, and can't believe this is the little boy at play. I didn't really comprehend how quickly all of this was going to happen after I gave birth. I feel like I never even mastered infant carseats; how can we be on to teacher assignments and school bus schedules? This is all going by entirely too fast and I can't keep up.

I am willing to admit that part of me is very, very ready for him to start school. He and Harper are like gasoline and a match together, and I'm looking forward to some one on one time with the little diva. I mean, Aaron and I had three exclusive years together, and I haven't ever had that with her. Similarly, I haven't had any alone time with Aaron since Harper's been born. But since she's in daycare a few days a week, that means once he gets off the bus on those days, he's all mine, without any sibling rivalry to contend with. (And I'm not even going to mention the huge cut in our daycare bill, which has, for the past couple of years, been significantly larger than our mortgage.)

But another part of me realizes that this is it- this is the start of the greased slide that is childhood. I've listened to other parents- I know it just goes faster and faster, and while I can't see that at all when I'm in the thick of it, I recognize how quickly these 5 1/2 years have gone, and know I'm rapidly closing in on him not being my baby anymore. Right now he gives hugs with gusto and abandon, kisses us on the mouth, and does everything he can to be close to us and emulate Daddy. Just this past week he decided he wasn't going to sleep with a shirt on anymore, because Daddy doesn't. I tried to remind him that Daddy also eats broccoli and chews with his lips together, but Aaron's picking and choosing which parts of Jason he's going to try on for size, and broccoli doesn't seem high on the list. He's really divine. You can see him have his internal struggles with how to behave, and he clearly knows right from wrong, and the clincher is that the behavior that makes me most insane is when he's obviously He's a mouthy kid, but he came by that honestly.

I was talking with Jason's mom (Hi, Sharon!) a couple of weeks ago about digital cameras. She recently switched from film to digital, and part of her was a little disconcerted at the idea. I was trying to sell her on it because of the immediate feedback- you take a picture, you know what worked and what didn't, and you can readjust. And the hardest part of this parenting thing is that I have no idea of what the result will be. I don't know if my parenting will turn him into a serial killer or a sweet, kind person. There is no adjusting for poor exposure. There is no immediate feedback on whether your shot is accurate and clear, or if you've gotten everything horribly out of focus and framed everything entirely wrong. Getting the film back on this will take years- decades! At that point the film's been taken, and there's no going back, so I really hope I'm doing this right, because I'm completely winging it. But for one last day, he's still my little baby.

Aaron, 4 mos.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Boil Watch 2008, Redux

Just briefly, I talked with a nurse today about Harper's lab results. Her new abcess came back as a staph infection, but apparently not MRSA (thankyouJesus). The nurse was far less informed about the difference between staph/ MRSA than I was; you'd think she didn't have Google or something. So in addition to that being the only information I got from her, I also got no viable information regarding whether this was just a freak coincidence (two boils in a month and a half? Come on!) or a sign of a more serious problem, or what. There is another culture I'm waiting for to come back tomorrow that will give us more information as to this being MRSA vs. staph. I don't know why, since the woman I talked to was so clueless, but for some reason I got a good feeling that tomorrow wouldn't show anything unexpected. Maybe it was just because she was so happy in her cluelessness that it gave me a happy feeling, too. If I didn't have Google, I'd be happier, too, and not the boo-hooing mess one might have seen yesterday as I was Googling "toddler MRSA".

So keep thinking happy thoughts and keeping crossables crossed. Her abcess now is definitely under control (at least, it sure looks that way), so I've got that going for me. And if she'd stop erupting, I could even move on to Aaron's last day of daycare (today). Poor Aaron.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Writing this blog has taught me how completely formulaic my life is. Each day is basically a limited multiple choice.
"Today we:
A. went to Target.
B. went to the doctor.
C. went to the pool.

While we were there, my kids:
A. behaved miserably.
B. did something funny or particularly cute and poignant.
C. humiliated me.

And at the end of it, :
A. I felt kind of depressed about being a parent, and that this job is harder than it should be.
B. got a funny anecdote to share with the internet and use to embarrass them in the future.
C. learned a valuable lesson about myself which I will hopefully grow from."

See how easy it is? Just use the above formula, and you can either write my next blog post, or maybe make bets with yourself about which of the above scenarios will play out on any given day.


Today we went to the doctor. While we were there, my kids behaved miserably. At the end of it, I felt kind of depressed about being a parent, and that this job is harder than it should be.

It wouldn't have been *that* bad, but Harper has been feeling lousy and has bad memories from her boil experience, so she kind of freaks out now. So now that she's developed another boil (abcess) in her leg that they had to drain in the office, it was pretty much a downhill slide. They're culturing it to see if it's just a regular staph infection or MRSA, and I should know in a few days. I don't have any great way to sum this up, I'm just worried and feeling badly for my little bunny. If you're the praying type I wouldn't mind if you sent a few out her way.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bathing Beauty

I read somewhere once that if your kids don't humiliate you at least once a day, then you're not getting your money's worth. There is no question that my kids were a bargain in that department, because if we leave the house, I'm guaranteed at least two public humiliations, and that's on a slow day.

We were at the pool today and the kids were fine, but the longer we're there, the sassier Harper gets. Eventually she was spending an average of two minutes in Time Out for every one minute she was in the pool. While she was sitting next to me right by the pool edge, she was amusing herself doing whatever; I wasn't really paying attention since I was watching Aaron. At least, I wasn't paying attention until a little girl about 6 or 7 walks out of the pool, looks at Harper, and makes a face that would lead one to believe she had seen something unpleasant. And I look at Harper and realize that she has barfed up the gallon of pool water she had consumed, as well as the lunch she had eaten shortly beforehand. And it's all down her stomach and crotch, all over the chair, and all over the pool deck.

Hoo, boy, let me tell you, you haven't LIVED until you get the opportunity to wrangle a towel out from under your soggy (and, of course, dirty diapered) toddler and get on your hands and knees wiping up vomit from concrete, calling over your five year old because you have to get out of there RIGHT NOW. Because as other pool moms know, when someone barfs in the pool, the entire thing is shut down for an hour and everyone has to get out, which makes you not very popular at all. Since no barf had actually gotten into the water, I don't know how it would have been handled, but I didn't particularly want to find out. So I wiped up the barf and took Senorita Soggy Stink and Captain Yell and hightailed it out of there and didn't notify a single authority, because the only thing that could have made this more humiliating was me having to tell the perpetually bored and annoyed 17 year old lifeguard that we had a vomit issue that needed to be addressed.

At least let me defend the dirty diaper- I didn't *know* it was dirty, it must have happened while she was in time out, maybe in the midst of all of puking (that I wasn't paying attention to. Where's that mother of the year application again?) Clearly, though, that wasn't the time to deal with it; we needed to make a speedy exit, not get caught in the locker room where we would have potentially been lynched if the pool was, in fact, closed. Thank heavens we live just a couple of miles from the pool, because by the time this diaper got home, I was hanging my head out the window and gagging, and I rationalized that while I had committed a parenting sin by running out on public puke, my penance was addressing that diaper (and I'm not going to go into details, but any parent who has dealt with swim diapers should understand the mechanics of the nastiness I was dealing with).

So, you might want to wait until it rains to visit our pool. Or at the very least, wear your shoes on the pool deck. I'm sorry for the situation, but I know if I had to do it over again, I'd make the same coward choice, so my apologies to anyone who runs into my kids and their blinder-wearing, rationalizing mother.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Well, lookie-loo. Seems to me if I put enough Pop-Tarts on the bottom shelf of the pantry, I'm done needing a babysitter, right?

So that she knows one day when she reads back, I made the same ridiculous fuss for her that I did for her brother. Never have my children been so happy to hear me scream. And do a tinkle dance. And offer jellybeans. She's so Harper she actually told me "Mommy, you say 'Way to go, Harper!'" And I promise I did. With a song and a dance, and lots of squealing and clapping. And maybe a little mental spending of my current diaper money.

Selective Memory

Last summer we had a severe drought, and trying to be a responsible eco-citizen, I told Aaron precisely once "if it's just tinkle, don't flush it". Once! I realized as soon as the words came out of my mouth that it would create more problems than it was worth to save a few gallons of water, so I told him "nevermind that, just flush every time". He hears "please keep lips together when you chew" forty times a day and hasn't mastered it, but he sure clung to that "don't flush it" suggestion.

My apologies in advance to whatever you might find in our toilets if you should visit.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Safety Dance

To Whom it May Concern:

I am writing to submit this video clip, filmed in the spring, to accompany my application for "Mother of the Year". This is to prove completion of the "Provides Safe Play Activities Not Including Television" subcategory. Additional qualifications will be submitted as completed.


Aaron & Harper's Mom

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rude Awakening

Jason and I went on vacation last week, and it was decadent. Our itinerary included eating, drinking, and sleeping. If we got to see some of the city we were visiting, that was fine, too, but mostly we wanted to enjoy being kid-free for a minute. Just driving there and having silence in the car was relaxing beyond measure, and it got better from there.

While we were there, I told him "I can't imagine what I'm going to write about when we get back. Nobody humiliated me or infuriated me, I didn't yell at anyone, I didn't have to deal with anyone else's fecal matter, how deliciously boring!" (To which he replied "The weekend's not over yet!")

And then we got home and picked up the kids. Before we even left my sister's house, where they had been staying (thanks, Kara!), there were at least 3 fights between them. By the time we got them to the car, it was pure chaos, and we hadn't even gotten home and started the unpacking yet. Jason's and my vacation bliss melted away rapidly under a steady barrage of crying and bickering among the littles.

When Jason and I started dating, like everyone else, we were in "put your best foot forward" mode. We were probably in our first year of marriage before he became aware that my toenails don't naturally grow out shiny and pink, and maybe the second or third year before I decided that shaving my legs every day during the winter was far more effort than shaving them once a week (or less). Everyone's been there- you just get more comfortable with your partner, and let down more of your guard about what a real slob you are underneath it all. When I got pregnant with Aaron, I was a little embarrassed about the new issues that pregnancy brings up that aren't exactly modest, but Jason was always fine with everything, or at least he pretended to not be horrified by my constant burping and chewing on Tums and the sixty-five pound weight gain (thanks, Dairy Queen!) The only thing that was really making me nervous was the actual delivery. I mean, if you have a shred of dignity, I think we can all agree that you can package that up and throw it right out the window when it comes to giving birth. In the end, of course, everything went fine. He was not traumatized by the sight of our children being born (so he maintains), and it just became another experience that we shared. We thought that was it- that's as bonded as you can get, right?

What I did not realize at the time, is that your partner seeing you give birth isn't nearly as revealing as your partner seeing the way you parent. I think that's when the real guard comes down; the last frontier of facade is destroyed. Giving birth is just biology; any grownup involved knows you don't really have any control over it. Yelling at your kids, or getting fed up to the point where a bedtime story is just more than you feel like dealing with, or putting them in front of the TV all day because it mutes the arguing- those are real tests of who you are, and I fail those tests more frequently than I'd like to admit. They tell Jason a lot more about me (and vice versa) than me admitting that I'm perfectly happy to use the dryer as my clothes closet to avoid folding anything.

When Aaron was first born, that shock to our marriage was so difficult to deal with that I wasn't sure we'd make it to Aaron's first birthday together. But we did, and while I can't say that parenting has gotten any easier since then, our marriage certainly did once we realized that we're a team. Sometimes one of us has to come in and relieve the other one when we're at a breaking point. We spend a lot of our time on the weekends separately running errands with one kid, our "divide and conquer" method. We sit on the porch at night and commiserate about the day, or laugh about the funny stuff the kids did. We're starting to figure out how to work with each other's strong points, and when the other person needs help. By no means do we have this perfected, and it's been a long road, to say the least. But there's no question that there's been a lot of soul-baring in the past 6 years- some of it I'm proud of, some of it not, that we would never have had to reveal to the other person if we hadn't had kids. I didn't know half of these things about myself before becoming a mom; I can only imagine how surprised Jason must have been.

At this point, the only secret I've got left is my natural hair color. I'm keeping that one until I think he's ready for it.