When did I get so stupid?

Last Saturday, I took my daughter to an arts and crafts festival downtown. We wandered up and down the sidewalk, fondling handmade scarves and sculptures created from common household utensils. The kid unexpectedly turned and strode into a boutique and I followed her in. It was one of those women's clothing stores into which I almost never venture, the type that's chock full of oversized accessories, impractical purses, and what-are-YOU-doing-in-here salespeople. When you see just three of something hanging on a rack, you know you can't afford it. A skipped up to a hot pink halter dress with a diaphanous skirt strewn with tiny crystals.

"Mommy, you would look so beautiful in this dress!" she exclaimed, pulling the dress outward so that I could take in its glory.

"Oh, sweetie," I responded, running my fingers over the flowing fabric, "I don't know where I'd wear a dress like that."

She stopped and turned around, looking up at me with brow furrowed. "You'd wear it ON YOUR BODY." She said it slowly and carefully to ensure my comprehension.

The following day, we were headed to church. Our church is right near the airport, so we often see airplanes landing as we are waiting at the light. A watched a mid-sized Northwest Airlines flight touch down on the runway. "We're taking an airplane to see Meemaw in Oklahoma!" she exclaimed.

"Yep, we're leaving in two weeks," I responded. "We're not leaving from this airport, though." We are driving to a larger "hub" airport because the fares are a lot cheaper.

"We're going to spend the night at Kathy's house the night before," I continued. "She lives closer to the other airport."

"Mommy, why would we stay at Kathy's house? WE. HAVE. A. HOUSE." Again with the careful enunciation for my benefit.

I never knew I was so stupid until I became a mom. After all, I spent much of my education in Gifted/Talented classes. I graduated college with honors. I've read Faulkner, for crying out loud! But now, I'm just a run of the mill dumbass who does not understand basic concepts.

From the back seat I keep hearing things like, "This is NOT the way to our house. You need to turn." Also, I'm often told that I've forgotten something, when the truth is that I haven't forgotten - I just haven't done it yet. Just as I'm reaching into the refrigerator to pour some apple juice for our resident pre-schooler, I'll hear that sing-songy voice, "Mom-my, you forgot my ju-uice!"

"I didn't forget, " I say through slightly gritted teeth. "I'm getting it right now." I never get credit for it, though. It just continues through different objects. "Mom-my, you forgot my pillow/blanket/teddy/pajamas/backpack/umbrella/coat/toothbrush!"

It's a wonder I manage to shower properly and feed myself each morning.

Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-oo

I had my chimney cleaned on Friday. And no, I do not mean that in any sort of metaphorical sense - I literally had the chimney cleaned. We hadn't brought in a chimney sweep in several years, mostly because a) we intend to do it every year but never seem to have it in the budget and b) our kid is a bit, ah, clumsy and we weren't convinced that she wouldn't pitch headfirst into a crackling fire. Now that she is a little older and we had it in the budget, I called the first name that came up on Google.

The gentleman on the other end was friendly and folksy. "I'll be coming myself because I'm the owner and I do everything myself. If you want it done right, you do it yourself. That's what I always say." We made arrangements for him to come on Friday afternoon, when I would be taking a late lunch in order to meet him at my house. I was instructed to have $110.00 in cash.

As I left the office on Friday, I told my co-worker, "If I don't come back, it was the guy at Alpine Chimney who did it."

The chimney sweep arrived at the appointed time and set up shop next to the fireplace. He had various round bristle brushes and other soot-covered tools. He was an older gentleman, dressed all in black, of course. He wore glasses with oddly tinted lenses. He had Santa Claus embroidered on his shirt, because his slogan has something to do with helping make sure that Santa can get into your house on Christmas Eve. Won't my daughter be thrilled, I thought. She has been asking me a lot of pointed questions about the Easter Bunny lately, such as "WHERE were you sleeping when the Easter Bunny came in?" Apparently she is having a hard time believing that a giant rabbit hopped all over our house and I somehow failed to spot him.

Before the chimney sweep got started he handed me a folded card which bore one perfect, sooty thumbprint in the corner. The card had some sort of motivational message on the inside, and a list of references. I noted that most were names with no telephone numbers. I went into the other room to watch Judge Hatchett while he worked.

About twenty minutes later, he called me into the living room to show me the fireplace, which has been sucked clean of its filth. He pointed out a few small cracks and suggested I do something about them when they get wider. He then gathered his gear and loaded it into his car. I was impressed that there were no sooty footprints on my carpet or anything. A few minutes later, he came back in to issue me a receipt and here's when things got interesting. Writing in a small folio, he leaned down to pet Fritz, who was on the other side of a baby gate and who didn't seem to mind having blackened fingertips scritching him on his head. The chimney sweep then pulled out a photo of a youngish blonde woman surrounded by three enormous St. Bernards. Not having any idea why he was showing me the photo, I said, "Oh, um, are they your dogs?"

"Oh, God no," he said, tucking the photo back in. "She went through a terrible divorce. Oh yeah, it was just the worst. Those dogs are her babies now." I have no idea who this woman was (and he didn't say) but I now knew quite a bit about her tragic personal life.

I handed the cash to the chimney sweep. "If I pay extra, will you dance on my roof like Dick Van Dyke?" I asked. No doubt I was the 548th person to make this request.

He smiled. "I used to have this one guy working for me," he started. "He wore the stovepipe hat and the coat and tails and the whole deal. Oh, the TV stations all wanted him, you know. Everyone always wanted to rub his button. That's good luck, you know."

Then he lowered his voice. "Yeah, that guy . . . his father beat him to death with a hammer." I just stood there, unsure of the proper etiquette for this type of situation. He wasn't done, though. "His dad was at all the bars downtown, you know. That alcohol is no good." I nodded.

He opened the folio again and handed me a blurry Polaroid of a tiny figure standing on top of a factory's smokestack. "That's me!" he exclaimed.

"Well, so it is!' I responded. He went on to tell me about that particular job and how hard it had been to work at that altitude. Not sure where this conversation was going to go (or for how long), I mumbled something about how I had to get back to work, which was the absolute truth. Otherwise, it seemed like we might be standing there until Santa really did show up.


They really are the best of friends lately. I love to watch and listen to them play together. They play pretend 90% of their waking hours. Tanner has his army men in hand and Kate with her princesses and dinosaurs in tow. Their figurines fight, sleep, eat, talk, play, build houses, hear bad guys, shoot bad guys, are bad guys themselves and then they're good guys saving people, they get sick, go to the doctor, go to Disneyland, etc. It's such a crack up. As long as they've both had a good night's sleep, they play for hours and hours everyday. About every 20 minutes Kate comes to me crying about getting hurt and so I give her a big hug and she hops back down to play more. About twice a day, Kate does something Tanner doesn't approve of and he'll yell, "I am never playing with you again! Not ever!!!!" And then about 5 minutes later they're playing again. When Kate takes her naps, Tanner constantly begs me to wake her up so they can play. If Tanner goes to preschool, Kate is soooo sad while he's gone because she misses him.

I am loving the stage they are in right now. I hope they are best friends forever.

"Arkansas Pregnant Woman Is Pregnant Again"

Did any of you read this crazy rare case of getting pregnant while already pregnant?

Talk about freaky to read when you're pregnant. When I was pregnant with Kate, I had this horrible dream that I got pregnant again while already pregnant. It was one of those unbelievable but very convincing dreams and I woke up very confused about whether it was real or not. I called my Mom who reassured me that it's impossible to get pregnant while you're already pregnant. I've been hanging on to that reassurance she gave me. I mean really, can you imagine? Getting pregnant while pregnant? It sounds horrific to me.

So the other day, I'm checking the news and see this crazy headline, "Arkansas Pregnant Woman is Pregnant Again." I immediately read the whole article and thank goodness it's extremely rare and only happens within the first month of being pregnant.

So glad it's not me.

I'm tired

Today I...
  • did 13 loads of laundry, and more are going as I type.
  • stripped, primed and painted my bed today...it took 6 straight hours. Lillie watched the kids for 3 1/2 of those hours making it possible.
  • did 3 days worth of dishes and sweeping
  • made 4 loaves of whole wheat bread and fresh scones for my kids
  • finished the book Catching Fire (loved it by the way)
  • am about to shower....the first one in many days
Some of you might think, "oh she's doing too much, pregnant and all....", but then you gotta recap what I did. I obviously haven't done laundry in a very long time, to have 13+ loads piled up. I obviously haven't done dishes or swept in 3 days. I had to make wheat bread, because to be honest, we're out of food. I pretty much had my food storage to pick from. And note I said "finished" a book. Meaning, I had been doing quite a bit of reading before today. And the shower...yep. I haven't showered since Tuesday morning, and maybe I could've gotten away with that if our A/C hadn't been broken for the past two weeks, making unbelievably hot weather in our home and making me sweat like a pig. Or maybe I could've gotten away with it if I'd been swimming with the kids a couple of times a day, but I haven't been. They swam, I watched. Lillie saw me briefly today and said something like, "Wow. I've never seen your hair so dirty." And she's seen me in lots of ugly states (she wasn't being rude at all though....simply an observation...it was true and funny). So that wraps up my day.

Honestly, it's been a good week.

Stupor Girl

As I sit down to write this, my husband and daughter are in the other room playing an X-Men game on the PS3. We only have one controller, so they have to share. I have to confess I am impressed at how well she can navigate the game. She knows the names of all the mutants. She knows which button does what on the controller. When it was A's turn a few minutes ago, I actually heard her father say this to her (and I promise you I am not exaggerating or embellishing this in any way - it is a direct quote): "Hang on, let me find you a robot to fight."

Isn't that what every daddy says to his precious baby girl?

In other super hero-related news, the kid has decided to be Super Girl for Halloween. We bought the costume, but she keeps insisting that she needs to wear a tiara. We've told her repeatedly that Super Girl doesn't wear anything on her head. The get-up is pretty garish already, truth be told.

Speaking of super heroes, I cannot say the word "Superman" without my brain involuntarily adding the rest of the line. "Superman looked up at me, he said 'you rock so naturally.'" I realize I am really dating myself with this. Honestly, I should be ashamed. But somehow, I'm just not.

A Day in the Life

My daughter is not what you'd call a morning person. She takes after her Meemaw that way. Every night, we suggest to the kid that she go to sleep because "you'll be tired in the morning if you don't go to bed now." Well, the morning her and the evening her are not the same person. The P.M. version is jovial and cheerful. The A.M. version . . . not so much.

After some trial and error, we discovered that we can scale back the intensity of the morning tantrums by putting her in front of the TV when she gets dressed. (Don't give me that look - it's not like we leave her there all day.)

First: waking her up. I'm reminded of that joke, "Some days I wake up grumpy, some days I just let him sleep."

Second: I lift her out of her bed and carry her out to the couch. I can lift her now but I am not sure how long this is going to work. Let me tell you, I have no upper body strength. That's why I transitioned her out of her infant carrier when she was only four months old. I was too much of a pussy to carry a baby and a hunk of plastic. Anyway, I keep picturing me trying to carry a high school freshman down the hall in about ten years.

I turn on PBS. Curious George is on at 6 a.m., followed by Sid the Science Kid at 6:30. I actually like Sid the Science Kid, which is produced by the Hensons. Have you ever noticed that Sid's family is bi-racial? My daughter is bi-racial so maybe that's why I focus on that sort of thing. Sid is sort of yellowish and his mom is vaguely orange (she comes across, albeit loosely, as being African-American).

In order to give the kid some sort of incentive to get dressed, I take off her pajamas (and undies) and then leave her with the clothes for the day. You'd think she'd feel a bit awkward about sitting on the couch completely naked watching Curious George. But you'd be wrong if you think that. She lays there quite comfortably, scratching whatever may itch. I give her two or three chances to get herself dressed before I start in with the threats (turning off the TV, sending her off to school naked, etc.)

When she's finally dressed, I do my best to tame her curls. Then we tackle breakfast.

On this particular morning, I was short on time so I asked her to pick out some cereal. She acted as though I'd asked her to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro. She stomped around the kitchen for a bit because she wanted pancakes and surry-up instead.

After some intense negotiations, she agreed to eat breakfast. But, she made it clear that she was NOT happy.

Then, at the end of the day . . . my reward. A little girl who runs out of the school yelling, "Mommy!" And for a little while, that other kid, the morning one, doesn't seem quite so unruly.

Del Mar

So about 24 hours after we flew in from Kauai, we raced off to Del Mar (Shad had to stack a bunch of his appointments since we'd been gone for a week). Poor Shad was super busy catching up, while the kids and I got to play for 5 days. I know. I've had it really rough these last couple of weeks. = ) It was so much fun. We've been out there 4-5 times this summer but I was always in my first trimester...sick + no energy + grouchy = not a fun Mom. But this time we went to the beach twice a day, looked for shells, dug in the sand, swam in the pool and I must confess, I read a lot on the couch while they played (they've been in this awesome stage where they play together for hours....it's wonderful).

Shad "surfed" with Tanner after work. Tanner calls boogie boarding surfing and it's all he talks about. The last collage is of Kennedy, my friend Tara's baby girl. They were up there the whole time as well...her husband works with Shad.

Picture Day

My daughter had school pictures today. The challenge for me was that she is in the afternoon session of 4K. I send her off the Kindercare each morning looking pretty cute - dress clean, curls bouncing. However, my husband has openly admitted that by the time he picks her up at noon to take her to Kindergarten, she looks like a homeless street urchin. The Little Match girl, in the flesh. Curls have turned to frizz, dress has met up with a marker, face bears the remnants of lunch.

So, what to do? I got her up early today and gave her a new dress to wear. Then I pulled her hair into two braids and . . . shellacked her entire head. I layered on as much hairspray as I could until she waved me away and told me I'd gotten some in her eye.

I guess I'll see what comes back and then purchase one of the fabulous "packages" I have been offered (check #4 to the school, for those who are keeping track). No matter what, I'm sure her photo will be better than the ones taken of me when I was in elementary school. I always hated picture day. I remember standing in line in the barren hallway outside the auditorium. They'd hand each of us a little black ("unbreakable!") comb so that we could tame any wayward strands. It was akin to slaying a dragon with a butter knife. Even then, I knew that not even a fully-loaded salon would help me, so I always just held the comb in my hand until it was my turn. Then, when I was in front of the camera, I would conjure up a smile that involved only my teeth and not any other part of my face. "Claudia, why didn't you SMILE?" my mother would always ask.

"But, I WAS smiling," I would always respond.

I'm sure my daughter's photos will be a marked improvement over what I brought home back in the day. But even if they aren't, if you are reading this and you are related to me, you'll be getting one in the mail either way. Cheers!

MOMS Club State Luncheon

This years state luncheon was held in Glendale. Three of our board members were able to make it to this years festivities. We won a lot of awards this year and because of the donations from our group we got 2nd place for our Chapter's basket that was auctioned off. The ladies had fun getting new ideas for our chapter and meeting other moms from around Arizona.

Here are the awards we won:
* Top of the Chart Award-awarded to the chapter who RSVP'd first to the board workshop

*2nd Chapter Basket- Awarded to the chapter that created a fantastic basket

*Outstanding Service Programs: donations to Make A Wish, Challenged Athletes, Water Drive, Halloween Parade, Wreath Sales, Adopt a Soldier, FD toy drive, New Leaf Foundation, Mother's Day cookies, Ride for Silence, Aid to member in need.

*Outstanding Aid to Member-Organized meal support every 3rd day for 31 meals, helped with childcare, housework and yard work.

*Outstanding Children's Activity- Themed Park Day Picnics

*Mother to Mother Fund Donation

Way to go ladies on an awesome year! Looking forward to more fun in the future.

Kate's hair

The reason I haven't posted any pictures of Kate's hair, is because I cut it. So obviously I need to take her in to a salon now and get it fixed.

Shad and I got back from Hawaii and we'd just had it with her hair. I swear it grew 3 inches while we were gone, it was past her waist. Of course we loved her hair long and beautiful, but she never let us wash it, brush it or fix it. She even started to get cradle cap on her scalp again, because I totally neglected her hair. It was always down in her face, and CONSTANTLY getting in knots under her little armpits. She'd say, "Mom! My hair is stuck under my armpits!" She got gum in it (I know....with hair that long, I'm taking a big risk giving it to her), food in it and it was always in her face when she swam.

So Sunday night, I was cutting Tanner and Shad's hair and we asked her if we could cut her hair for a a piece of gum. She enthusiastically said yes. I just cut it off. I don't know what I was thinking. I've never cut girls hair before, and if you'd seen the haircuts I've given Tanner, you would've warned me not to touch Kates.

Shad loves it and I am in mourning. I wish I would've cut more like 4 inches off instead of the 9 inches I hacked off. Her hair is still past her shoulders, but she looks so grown up. She looks like a little girl. I suppose she is a little girl now, and I realize I'm pregnant with a baby, so I should let go eventually of her being my baby, but I'm just not ready.

Anyhow, we're in Sandiego, so as soon as I get back, I'm taking Kate in to get her hair fixed. I will take a before/after and post next week. I'm thinking bangs on her too. What do you think?

I also bought special shampoo to scrub her scalp with so she wouldn't have cradle cap at the hair salon. We did it this morning, and it was magical. Washed it, scrubbed her scalp with a brush and rinsed her hair. It's gone.

As for the sex of our baby...she's a girl. Hopefully I'll remember not to chop her hair when she has hair to her waist at 2 1/2.

Thanks Lennar Homes

Lennar Homes was so nice to host our mom and tot lunch on Friday. They invited us over to have fun at their splash pad and provided pizza and drinks for lunch. We all had a great time.
Lunch time in the shade!

The circus WAS here!

Here is a cute picture of the group that attended the Circus that came to town in June. You can click on it (or any other picture on the blog) to see it bigger!

Kauai 2009

Day 1, Saturday:
Arrive, go to bed.

Day 2, Sunday:
Hang at resort beach....we stayed at the Marriott in Poipu
Pictures on Lillie's camera

Day 3, Monday:

Day 4, Tuesday:

Day 5, Wednesday:

Day 6, Thursday:

Day 7, Friday:

Obviously, I have TONS to write about, but we're on our way out, so maybe in a few days??

Thanks for coming with Ross and Lillie!!! We had a blast.

Also, I cut Kate's hair last night....9 inches off. Pictures to come...

It's the little things

I am still reeling from the events at work last week. I am like a cat in that I do not cope well with change sometimes. I've been trying to soothe my anxiety with food, but as my sage Weight Watchers leader advised me: "If hunger is not the problem, food is not the answer." I've been repeating this mantra to myself for the past few days, but there is still some little part of me that feels the need to test the theory out just in case food is, as it turns out, the answer.

Rather than wallowing in self-pity yesterday, I got up early and headed to a rescue event about an hour away. It was, I had to admit, a beautiful day. We set up our lure course at a shelter charity walk, and I sat a table selling tug toys and tee shirts. I didn't manage to sell much, persuasive salesperson that I am. Mostly I just fussed over participants' dogs. The event was held at a park on the shores of a large lake, and at one point a large flock of pelicans flew soundlessly overhead in a perfect V formation. I had never seen a flock of pelicans before and I was entranced. I tilted my head back and watched until I couldn't see them anymore. Thereafter I kept scanning the sky and lake in hopes of seeing more of them. I never did, so I decided that the flock I had seen was gift enough.

Later in the morning, I headed to a hot dog stand to buy a soda. As I was waiting in line, I spotted a sign: "Boiled Georgia Peanuts $2.00." When I got to the front of the line, I saw that the booth was manned by an older man and his wife. "Have you been moving a lot of those peanuts?" I asked him. "I haven't seen boiled peanuts since the last time I was in South Carolina." I was truly curious.

The man turned to his wife. "See?" he said. "I told you someone would know!" I explained that I grew up in Virginia and that we often went to Myrtle Beach for family vacations. Down there, you can buy boiled peanuts just about everywhere. There are roadside stands devoted solely to boiled peanuts. We used to eat them every summer.

The hot dog vendor pulled out a styrofoam cup and scooped out some hot peanuts for me. "On the house," he said, handing me the cup. I went back to my table and shelled the nuts. I munched on the mushy goodness inside while my mind was flooded with long-ago summers full of sand and saltwater and ferris wheels.

Later, the man came over and gave me another cup of boiled peanuts. It seemed we were about 1200 miles away from the prime selling area for such a delicacy and he hadn't had a single sale. No one this far north had ever heard of them and weren't inclined to give them a try. I suspect boiled peanuts are one of those things people either love or hate, not unlike marshmallow Peeps.

I offered some to my friend Kate, who had never heard of such a thing. She wrinkled her nose. "I can't believe you're putting those in your mouth," she said as I shelled another nut. "I brought brownies and you're eating THAT?"

When tragedy strikes, maybe the little things just seem to bounce into focus a little more. Here's to pelicans and peanuts!


Yesterday at work, two of my co-workers were let go. We were a very small web development team - just five people. The President of the company was relieved of duty in July, and two more team members were lost yesterday. Now there are just two of us. More of a duo than a team, I guess.

This is the first time the sinking economy has had such a major impact on my life. The shareholders are looking to sell the company and I will probably lose my job when the company is sold. They want me to hang in there until then. An old friend posted condolences on my Facebook page and mentioned "survivor's guilt." I think he was dead on. I feel terrible for my co-workers who lost their jobs and I have no idea why I was spared (at least for now).

So, I have nothing witty to say this week. Looking at my co-workers' empty desks makes me physically ill. I didn't sleep at all last night and found myself at 2:30 a.m. watching Dr. Phil episodes saved on my DVR. The dogs were confused. Is it morning, and if so, shouldn't you be feeding us? I went to the grocery store last night and felt an overwhelming desire to binge on something horrible. It's disappointing to realize that even with four years of Weight Watchers meetings behind me, I'm still :::this::: close to consoling myself with baked goods. Gluttony, thy name is brownie bites.

I feel fortunate to have a job, even though it is a job that is now almost impossible to do. This bites. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on, economy.

The Sunflower

You may recall that back in the Spring, A kept telling everyone that she and I were going to have a fabulous time growing sunflowers together. Seeing as how I had no intention of growing sunflowers and had not proposed any such project to her, I was a bit perplexed. I've never been much of a gardener. Along the lines of "the frugal gourmet" or "the thrifty traveler," I call myself "the haphazard gardener." I throw seeds in dirt and hope for the best. I never save the package and so when something does sprout, I have no recollection of what it might be. I like surprises.

In April, I took the kid to the gardening store and we bought some starter trays and a few packs of seeds, including sunflower seeds. We dutifully planted everything and waited patiently, watering our dirt each day. But then, my friend Kevin died and I had to fly out for his funeral during the seedlings' crucial first days. When I transplanted what was left of the plants in May, none of the sunflowers seemed to have survived. However, one seed somehow landed among the petunias and so . . . we have one solitary but mighty sunflower. Behold!

I also feel compelled to share one additional photo. Last Saturday we took a family trip to our local wildlife sanctuary. The squirrels and chipmunks were in quite a pre-winter frenzy, busily stealing seeds and such that had been set out for the birds. This little chipmunk was so pre-occupied with stuffing his cheeks (literally) that he didn't notice I was lying on the ground with a camera just inches away.