Career Choices

During the next few weeks, we’re covering a Unit Study on Space here in the Fiddle Academy of Higher Learning. Recently we ventured out to the Kennedy Space Center for a family field trip, and today we viewed a tape of how the astronauts train for their missions.

I am totally into this study of all things Space related. Especially since the last study we covered was the Wondrous World of Revolting Insects. And by the way, our ant farm is still unpopulated since the manufacturer has not sent our ants. I have a tersely worded e-mail in the works, as you might imagine. I thought about just going belly to the ground and catch my own. And thankfully, that thought went out with, “Why don’t I just get on the treadmill?”

Anyhoo. Focus. Space.

As a child, I loved shows like “Lost In Space” and “Star Trek.” I am completely fascinated by the Space Station. I tune into the NASA channel often to catch of glimpse of life on the Space Station. It could be a series as far as I’m concerned. “As The World Turns.” But, that one is taken. Pity.

As we were watching the tape, aptly entitled “Astronauts”, Cailey remarked, “Mom, I want to be an astronaut when I grow up.”

My heart leapt with joy. For a couple of reasons. This is a child who, for the last few years, has aspired only to be a fairy. Or a mermaid. Granted, she’s only 5, but it’s never too early to start thinking about career choices. And this is the first I’ve heard her acquiesce to the fact that one day she will, indeed, grow up. And get a job.

The movie continued. The Challenger disaster was covered as well. The sober silence that filled the room was shattered when Emme nearly yelled, “THEY DIED?” At the same time she grabbed the remote to replay it. Not twice. But three times.

Cailey looked at me with wide blue eyes, “Mom, if I become an astronaut, will I die?”

“Cailey, that is very very rare. I think you would make a wonderful astronaut. Look, they get to wear orange. You love orange.” I was trying to think fast, before she changed her major.

Emme pipes up, “WELL, I’M FOR SURE NOT GOING TO BE AN ASTRONAUT.”

“Emme, you don’t have to, you could work at Mission Control!” I offer brightly.

“No, I want to work at Disney World.”

Cailey perks up, “YEAH, ME TOO!”

Pffffttttt. My dreams go up in smoke.

I relayed the conversation to Fiddledaddy later. He said, “I think I want them to set their sights a bit higher than Disney World.” (Let it be known that one of his first jobs was a Disney World.)

There’s still time, I assure him. I mean, look at me. I wanted to be “Miss America” when I grew up.

Suddenly, Disney World isn’t looking so bad.

What did you want to grow up to become?

October 9, 2007

In Training

I’ve begun a new exercise regime. Y’all are going to be so proud of me. I started with weight training, and have worked my way up to 40 lbs. I began with approximately a 7.7 pound weight, and it has grown to 40 pounds in less than 2.5 years. Every time I lift that weight in/out of the crib, high chair, car seat, and off the chandelier, I am building muscle.

Next I took up Karate. Unwittingly. Emme is in a Karate class with her homeschool co-op, and I am a volunteer parent. The karate instructor encourages the volunteer moms to participate. And since I’m certain she could kick my sagging derriere from here to next week, I comply. So, I stretch, kick, punch, lunge and perform intricate karate moves with the rest of the class. Even though I have at least 35 years on them. I’m fast becoming a weapon of my own mass destruction.

For endurance, I thought I’d try running. Without the added incentive of being chased. After our co-op of classes, we all head to the playground for some of that all-important socialization. We moms need a little adult conversation every now and again. Only, I’m never able to complete a thought. Much less a sentence. I’m too busy doing the 50 yard dash to stop a runaway freight train named Jensen from playing with the “real” cars in the busy parking lot. Or sprinting across the playground when Jensen spied his sister swinging high up in the air on the swing and he decided he’d like hug from her. Mid-swing. I yelled like a mad woman to get her to come to a full and complete stop while at the same time tackling Junior just inches from a sure collision.

And people, I should never run in public. I have the most uncoordinated run known to man. Or woman. I resemble a broken windmill, arms and legs heading in all different directions. If you ever saw the episode of “Friends” where Phoebe tries to run, well, then you get the picture. And it isn’t pretty.

That afternoon, just for grins, I popped my abs tape into the VCR machine. Because I’m technologically ahead of my time. It’s from the early 90’s, I believe. The fashion of the day was headbands and leg warmers. But, a sit-up is a sit-up. My girls even joined me on the floor, while Junior scurried around near by. At one point, mid-cruch, I looked to my left and no sooner were the words, “Where is Jensen?” out of my mouth, when he surprised me with a full body slam from my right. Completely knocking the wind out of me.soccer_playerwoman.gif

And then, on Tuesday we joined Sports Camp. It’s for homeschoolers to earn their President’s Physical Fitness Award, and learn a new sport every month. AND, here’s the fun part, THE MOMS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PARTICIPATE!

I CAN’T WAIT!

So, the next time Fiddledaddy suggests, “Why don’t you just exercise?” I’m going to karate chop him in the adams apple.

And then run like a bat out of a hot place.

October 5, 2007

Clear The Pool!

Warning: If you’re even a little bit squeamish, don’t read this post. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD, move on. Save yourself! And your sensibilities.

I debated telling this story. I wrestled with it for about 10 minutes. But, since I’m all about full disclosure regarding my parenting experiences, I couldn’t help myself. And the fact that I’m juvenile doesn’t help. With that said, hold onto your Oreos.

Last night I was giving Jensen his bath. It’s a gleeful time for him. He dearly loves his nightly bath. He shares the tub with his beloved Wheel Pals cars. Since the Hotwheels don’t fare well, what with all the rusting they endure after submersion. The bath is also the only location that I am able to feed Junior without a fight. Sadly. I was sitting on the toilet (lid down) beside the tub, feeding Jensen his chicken dogs. Cut to bite-sized non-choking-hazard pieces. Emme and Cailey even provided the entertainment by bringing their guitars into the bathroom to play “Mary Had A Little Lamb” that they had just learned in their guitar class. It was a happy, albeit crowded, moment. Jensen got up on his haunches and leaned forward, I presumed to be closer to the source of the sweet music.

I presumed wrongly.

With no warning whatsoever, Jensen shot out the largest poop I’ve ever seen come out a child. It was the size of his entire leg. I wish I were kidding. And it just lay there, fully intact, on the bottom of the tub. Jensen stood up, to get as far away from it as possible. With wild banging of guitars against walls, sibling, and door, the sisters made a hasty retreat out of the bathroom. I wanted desperately to follow them. But I couldn’t. What kind of mother would I be. Immobilized, Jensen and I stared at one another for about a minute. Then I did what any mother would do. I called for Fiddledaddy. He came quickly when he heard the urgency of my voice.

He assessed the situation. “Dude!” He said as he lifted Jensen out of the tub and whisked him away to the other bathroom. Which was a brilliant move, by the way. Since I was left to handle the excrement. I wondered if he noticed that the child was two pounds lighter.  I stared at the tub for another minute or so. “I can’t just let the water out,” I reasoned. That would have caused a whole other set of problems.

I noticed the chicken dogs, still sitting on the counter. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so well. I left the bathroom, my mind racing. I could just close the door and pretend it never happened. A favorite coping skill of mine. I went to the kitchen to get a plastic bag. Reluctantly, I reentered the bathroom. I began gagging. I opened the seat of the toilet, just in case. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t cleaned this particular toilet this week. An unfortunate mishandling of housekeeping duties. Soon, I was heaving like a dog. Tears flying from my eyes. I put my hands into the plastic bag, trying to provide a barrier between me and the offending feces. People, it took two hands to lift it out and deposit it into the toilet. I flushed. Thankfully it went down. I thought I would have to dice it up first. Then I had to go after the remaining debris. A most unpleasant task. I was retching the entire time.

I think the only reason I was able to mentally talk myself out of hurling, was that the only person in this house who would clean THAT mess up, would be me. And I instinctively knew that if I had to clean it up, more would be forthcoming. And, well, I just willed myself not to blow. Let it be noted that I have more will power than I give myself credit for.

I finished up the job by disinfecting the bathtub, wheel pal cars, and my hands and arms, right up to the pits. I don’t know what happened to me. I thought I had developed a high gross-out threshold after birthing three children. I mean, even his diapers don’t bother me. And that’s sayin’ something.

Oh well. It coulda’ been worse, I suppose. The incident could have occurred in my bathtub. Then I would be relegated to taking showers from now on.

I remember when I was very young, spending summers at the community pool. There were a couple of boys who delighted in torturing the swimmers by strategically placing Baby Ruth candy bars in the water. I use to think that was hysterical.

Until now.

I will never eat another Baby Ruth again. They are dead to me.

October 4, 2007

Sugar And Spice

This weeks installment of Works For Me Wednesday comes with a twist. Instead of doling out sage wisdom, we are to beg ask for help from our readers for a particular problem. Well I have one. And y’all have never let me down before. So here goes.

My children stink.

What a relief. It feels good to get that off my chest.

My daughters, ages almost 6 and almost 8 have sweaty pits. And they stink.

This is one of those posts that I will never be able to get away with in a few years, when they actually care about what I write about them. So, I’m getting it out of my system now.

First you might suggest that I bathe them. Which is brilliant advice. But, I do. Every single day. And I personally oversee the washing of the “under pits.” I began to notice this problem last winter. I thought I was losing both my mind and sense of smell, because I didn’t think we’d be dealing with body odor issues until they were 10 or 12. Or teenagers, I type with a shudder. Incense is out of the question, because that would just bring back unpleasant memories of the 70’s. And there’s the potential fire issue.

Are my girls just weird? Has anyone else noticed this about their prepubescent children? I’ve even had them on organic milk since toddlerhood, to ensure that we don’t have to go bra shopping while I’m in the throws of pre-menopause.wfmwheader1.jpg

I’ve thought about antiperspirant/deodorant, but I’ve heard that the ingredients in antiperspirant aren’t good for children. And something just called “deodorant” is hard to find.

If anyone has any suggestions, I would be grateful.

For more burning questions about life issues and other important matters, head over to Rocks In My Dryer.

October 3, 2007

Date Night

Fiddledaddy and I celebrated our anniversary last week. We’ve been married for ten hundred years. Quite an accomplishment. To celebrate, we decided to go out to dinner. And leave the three products of our union behind. I asked Aunt Trish if we could dump leave them at her house. I never worry about the two girls, but Jensen is my wild card. I was concerned that he would have a meltdown. From missing us so much. He raced up to Aunt Trish’s door. As soon as he entered, he went in search of her sons’ stash of hotwheels. Instinctively he knows that this particular house is heavily testosterone laden. There are cars, robots, and superheroes at every turn. And not a Barbie in the bunch. He squealed with glee. These are his people.

The children didn’t even look back for one last peek at us. As if to say, “Don’t let the door hit you on the fanny!” We walked to the now empty and silent van. SUCKERS! Fiddledaddy peeled out. Okay, he didn’t exactly peel out. But I’m sure he thought about it. We didn’t get 50 yards before I started crying. It was clear that I was going to need a cocktail. He looked at me, “You’ve got to be kidding me?” He promptly called Aunt Trish to let her assure me that everything was fine. And that the sliding glass door to the pool was securely locked. And the smoke detectors were fully functioning.

We arrived at the restaurant and Fiddledaddy asked for a quiet booth, off in a dark corner. Very romantic. Also practical. In case, you know, I should deem the meal exceptionally good and attempt to lick my plate. At some point he mentioned to our server that it was our anniversary. Demurely I ordered a Pomegranate Margarita. Which when it arrived, was so large that I had to hold it with two hands. Come to mama.

We enjoyed a wonderfully quiet and romantic dinner. That is until our server, and 4 of her friends serenaded us with song. They forgot to inform one performer that it was an anniversary and not a birthday, so we had a rousing rendition of a tune that was completely unintelligible. In the end it was worth it because with the song came a complementary dessert.  I was awfully glad that I had the good sense to wear my stretchypants.

After dinner, we walked around the open air mall. And found ourselves in Kohl’s Department Store. A favorite of mine. It was fun to shop without three children pulling me in different directions. Although, we did end up in the toy section. Old habits are hard to break. In the end we bought really nice new sheets for ourselves. While Fiddledaddy was paying, I wandered over to women’s clothing.

Where I was appalled. Appalled at the apparel.

My eyes were assaulted by the sea of multi-print tunic blouses in polyester. 258763_black_white.jpg WHEN DID THESE COME BACK IN STYLE? AND WHY? This whole new fashion craze, that I have evidently slept through, just seems very flammable to me. And that’s just wrong. It was wrong back in 1976, and it’s just as wrong today.

And yet, I was strangely drawn to them.

Our date night was such a success with the children that Aunt Trish and I were on the phone over the weekend planning once a month getaway date nights for each of us. Gives us something to live for.

Do you all plan date nights? If so, how often, and where is your favorite place to “get away?” This is a completely new concept for me, and any fresh, new, and frugally practical ideas would be greatly appreciated.

October 1, 2007

“Dear Toothfairy, Keep Your Day Job”

Emme lost another tooth. If she keeps losing teeth at this rate, I’m going to have to start feeding her a steady diet of porridge and take out a loan.

After a week of watching this snaggled tooth, so loose that it hung out of her mouth, and listening to much wailing and gnashing of other baby teeth, she finally yanked the thing out of her head. We all offered to do it for her. The list included parents, cousins, and a couple of aunts. Just so the complaining might stop. Cailey especially was eager to give it a try. “Emme, just let ME do it!” she a little too gleefully hounded. Ad nauseum, as she followed her sister around each day. Hoping above all hopes that her big sister would change her mind, and her mother would grant her the use of pliers.

No such luck.

The adult tooth was impatient, waiting for the baby tooth to fall out. So, it’s my theory that Adult Tooth just shoved Baby Tooth out of Emme’s mouth, as it is already halfway up. We placed the tiny tooth in a sandwich baggy and I wrote Emme’s name and the date on the outside. I expect to have many such baggies before the three children reach puberty. This is a wonderfully clever way I’ve found to keep track of the teeth, and idea that I got from Meritt quite a while back.

After the extraction or murder (depending on how you look at it), Emme sat down to pencil a letter to the Toothfairy. We’re beginning to study Writing Composition, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The letter was two pages long. She had quite a lot to tell the Toothfairy, evidently. Mostly about the pain and suffering she endured waiting for the tooth to fall out. She took her two page letter and baggied tooth, and placed them under her pillow. To await the Toothfairy.

Who never came.

You see, the Toothfairy hasn’t been getting much sleep lately, and isn’t quite up on her game. It was another rough night with Jensen, and when I stumbled out of the master suite this morning, I remembered. Oh no. Emme was already up having her “coffee” with Fiddledaddy in the front reading room. Her “coffee” consists of whole milk in one of my favorite coffee mugs. This makes her feel very civilized and mature.

Maybe she forgot. I know. But a mommy can dream. I rifled through my purse and could only find a five spot and some change. I considered just using the five dollar bill, perhaps to alleviate some of the guilt, but reconsidered. This would be setting a precedence that I might never financially recover from. Do the math. Each kid has about 20 teeth to lose. Times three kids. I then raided Fiddledaddy’s cash stash and only came up with a five plus change. But I was able to put all the change together to make one dollar. I stuffed the coins into a sandwich baggy, labeled with her name and date, and quickly scribbled a note which cleverly said something like “Good job Emme! T.F.” And stealthily tiptoed into her room to make the exchange hoping she would think that she overlooked it.

Later I found out that she did indeed notice the absence of money under her pillow and sadly reported her findings to Fiddledaddy. He offered two explanations. “Probably the Toothfairy had a really rough night and couldn’t make it.” She looked at him doubtfully. So, then he added:

“Or the Toothfairy heard Jensen screaming and it scared her off.”

A more plausible reason for a 7 year old, I think. Thusly taking the heat off of the poor bedraggled toothfairy. But then, when Emme went to make her bed, she found her baggy of loose change and the note. Excitedly she came running out of her room. “She came, she came after all!”

No questions asked.

A tired tardy toothfairy is better than no toothfairy at all.

April 26, 2007

A Disturbance On Aisle 2

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’m one of those weirdos obsessive types that gets up at dark thirty every other weekend to do my big grocery shopping trip. All by my lonesome. Yesterday, my resolve was once again strengthened to continue with this little ritual.

I’m due for my big trip to Wal•Mart this weekend, but I wanted to hit Publix to take advantage of some of their 2 for 1 specials to which I would add coupons on top of those savings. I thought I’d go early in the afternoon, and bring my entourage. For sport.

Jensen was trapped strapped into the stroller, which I was driving, while Emme manned the grocery cart. To her driving credit, only two endcap displays and one elderly patron were compromised. The grocery store was particularly crowded with geriatric shoppers. Cailey flitted about close by.

We made it to the middle of the noodles aisle when Jensen let loose with The Screaming. For no apparent reason. Nothing was being pinched, he wasn’t hungry, it wasn’t time for a nap. Frankly, I was surprised that it didn’t begin in the dairy aisle. Usually The Screaming commences when we enter through the automatic doors. Jensen doesn’t care for shopping.

Well, we were drawing a crowd, let me tell you. Some older patrons were turning their hearing aides off, while other sweet grandmotherly types thought they would stand in front of Jensen and “try to reason with him.” He only got louder. And I didn’t think that was possible. “ARE YOU INSANE? STEP AWAY FROM THE STROLLER. YOU’RE MAKING IT MUCH WORSE,” I shouted. In my mind. I would never say such a thing out loud. But my thought life?

2 Corinthians 10:5
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Let’s just agree that my thought life needs a little work.

Anyhoo. I picked up the pace, trying to get to the end of the list as soon as possible. People were beginning to come by the throngs to see who could possibly be torturing this little boy enough to make him scream that way. I noticed Emme lagging behind a little. I turned to see her stricken face as she said, “Mom, let’s go. This is so embarrassing.” I turned my attention back to the screaming Jensen and hollered loud enough for him to hear, “Dude, you now have the ability to humiliate your sister in public. You have no idea how much you are going to enjoy this!” All the while, Cailey continued prancing and twirling beside us.

I had told the girls that if they were extra good, they would get a cookie when we got to the bakery aisle. Publix has this wonderful policy of giving free cookies to particularly good children while shopping.

It is my long held opinion that it is the MOTHERS who deserve the cookie.

We finally arrived, but unfortunately, there was a long line at the cookie counter. Well, they all heard us coming and parted like the Red Sea. Without a word, the bakery personnel handed me three chocolate chip cookies. I gave the girls’ theirs, and I handed one to Jensen. Saints be praised. Silence. I raised my hands signaling a touchdown, and received modest applause. A few of the ladies nodded with knowing smiles saying, “We’ve all been there.” While I kept repeating, “It’s only a season, it’s only a season,” to myself.

The cookie induced quiet only got us through the frozen vegetables where The Screaming picked up where it left off. But that was the last aisle, and we soon found ourselves in line to check out. I apologized to everyone around us for The Screaming. I handed the clerk my coupons, and she felt the need to PULL EVERY ITEM FROM THE BAG TO MAKE SURE IT MATCHED. I’m not kidding. Again, my thought life went to the dark place. Satisfied, she handed me the receipt and we headed out the door. As soon as we cleared the auto-door The Screaming ceased.

It seems my son is an outdoorsy kind of guy. Doesn’t care for the confines of a concrete building all that much. I stashed all of the freezer items in the waiting cold bag, and we set off for the park. Where I could unleash Jensen into wide open spaces and let him terrorize nature. With the wind in his hair, and a huge smile on his lips, he ran free.

My dreams of my son becoming a doctor or an attorney are all but shattered. I have a feeling that he will lean more toward an occupation that can be accomplished outside. Like football player. Or cowboy.

And again, I’d like to offer my apologies to all of those Publix consumers who still hear a ringing in their ears. But I managed to purchase about $60.00 worth of goods for approximately $20.00. I’m just sayin’.

March 16, 2007

Fickle Finger Of Fate

When my daughter Cailey was born, her sister Emme had just turned two. From the moment Cailey emerged, mad as a hornet with her brillo pad orange hair, I knew she would be a force to be reckoned with. She has seldom disappointed.

Emme developed an unfortunate habit that would come back to haunt her, all these years later. Whenever she happened by her baby sister, innocently seated in the bouncy seat, Emme would quickly give the sleeping babe a little head slap, and then continue on her way. This caused great commotion for all concerned. I’ve heard of older siblings acting out in all sorts of ways when the parents bring home an unwelcome and permanent house guest. It could have been worse, I suppose. I know of one child that took to defecating on the carpet when his mother presented him with a baby sister.

There was suitable punishment extended to the guilty party, and stern warnings from me. I explained to her that she really should be extra nice to her baby sister, because that’s what Jesus would want her to do. And while that’s true of course, I was mostly concerned that this little strawberry haired pistol, would be able to clean Emme’s clock, in short order, as soon as she was mobile. As usual, I was not wrong.

I look at my girls as “bipolar opposites.” While Emme has usually been compliant and easy going, Cailey is a little firebrand with a distinctly Irish temper. While they love each other dearly, they are prone to bicker and fuss, and on occasion I have to step into the middle of an all out skirmish. But lately, I’ve noticed that Cailey has devised a rather devious way to get even with her sister. It’s brilliant really.

I was stationed at my customary spot in the kitchen, overlooking the family room. I’m able to peer over the counter, generally undetected, to see what mischief is befalling my two girls. Recently, I spotted Cailey with her index finger up her nose. Now, there’s nothing unusual about this. But I knew from the glint in her eye, that she was up to no good. She excavated a suitable booger, and stealthily scooted by Emme, who had only moments before been tormenting her little sister, and Cailey deftly deposited the booger bomb using said index finger. She continued on her way, with a sly cheshire cat grin, stifling a giggle. Revenge is sweet.

I’ve discussed this behavior with her. We talk at length about always using a tissue, frequent hand washing, and how to work out your problems. Without the use of nasal mucus. I thought I was getting through to her. But really, I was awfully glad that she had stopped the pushing, kicking, hitting, and yelling at her sister. And so far, her sister was none the wiser. Thankfully. I cannot even imagine the fallout if Emme discovered she was wearing her sister’s booger on her sleeve. The horror. So, I haven’t made a really big deal about it.

Until last night.

I had been chastising Cailey about her unruly behavior before bedtime. We finally settled into my daughters’ room to continue reading the “Little House On The Prairie” series. We’ve been at this for quite a while and we’re on “The Long Winter.” I think I’m enjoying these books more than my captive audience. On occasion, Cailey will whine “Moooom, can’t we just go to sleep.” “No, we must get through this chapter.” Just because I want to know what happens next. I read these books when I was a girl, but apparently motherhood has killed off one too many healthy brain cells, because I have little recollection. But now, the book that we’re currently reading has both girls spellbound. Because Laura is about to meet Almanzo, don’t you know.

But I’ve digressed.

I took my customary spot on the floor, Cailey is behind me on her bed, and Emme is sitting beside me. I could feel Cailey messing around with my shirt, but that’s not unusual. She then interrupts me with “Mom! What’s that on your shoulder?” I look. Sure as shootin’, there’s a booger perched atop my shoulder. “Cailey, is that a booger?” She leans in to closely inspect the object. “Yes, I think it’s a booger.” “Cailey, where did that booger come from?” “Well, I dunno.” Sure pal.

What she hasn’t considered, is that I’m the chief preparer of all that she eats in our home. And if she wants to learn a thing or two about how to get even, and not angry, then she’s messing with the right person. In the meantime, I’ll be sitting across the room from her during our nightly reading ritual. And I’ll be inspecting my clothing a little more carefully anytime she swoops in for a hug.

February 1, 2007