Sunday, March 30, 2008

Parenting math

Inspired by Owen's incessant math-related questions ("Mommy, what's 21,432,394 plus 78? What's 4,934,987 plus 436,346? What's 234 plus 43?) I've decided to work out my own equation based on recent household events:

Number of time Paige pooped yesterday (4)

PLUS The number of years I have left to enjoy comments like the following from Mitch: "Thank you so much for washing my socks, Mommy. You are sooo pretty" (2)

MINUS The number of months my new laptop cord lasted before it got wrecked by children tripping over it (2)

PLUS The number of nights a week I feel like cooking dinner (0)

PLUS The time Owen woke me up this morning (7)

MINUS The amount of money I spend at Target every month (200)

PLUS The number of romantic dates John and I have been on in the past 3 months (0)

PLUS The number of months I have left before Paige can talk, thereby adding to the never ending chatter and driving me utterly around the bend (6)

PLUS The amount of the PowerBall jackpot that John is convinced we will win thereby relieving all of our financial hardships (46 million)

MINUS The number of times this weekend that Bailey has thought she knew better than her loving parents (15)

EQUALS On a scale of one to ten, the number representative of how badly I need a vacation (45,999,802)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Well ain't that the bees knees

I just sat down to update the ol' blog and couldn't think of a damn thing to write about. Then I saw I'd been tagged by the hilarious and insightful Gray Matter Matters for "Meme Friday: The lazy person's post," which I totally win, since I'm soooo lazy I didn't even know I'd been tagged until Saturday night. So now I have something to blog about. Yay.

5 Things

First, the rules:
1. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
2. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves a comment letting them know they've been tagged and to ask them to play along and to read your blog.

What I was doing 10 years ago - 1998
1. Working as a tutor, a waitress, and an editorial assistant
2. Fighting with John
3. Applying for grad school
4. Playing Word Ox online far too often
5. Sleeping in almost every day

Five things on my to-do list today
1. Shop for a new washer and dryer
2. Vacuum the house
3. Sew my sister's placemat purse
4. Pick up a refill at the pharmacy
5. Grocery shopping

Snacks I enjoy
1. Popcorn (#1 all time favorite snack ever)
2. Cheezits or almost any other type of cracker
3. Ice cream
4. Oranges
5. Chips

Things I would do if I were a billionaire
1. Buy a new house with a "sewing annex," a cozy study and a library with a fireplace
2. Hire a housekeeper
3. Hook up my parents and my brother and sisters
4. Invest money for my kids
5. Travel

Five of my bad habits
1. Procrastination
2. Poor money management
3. Poor time management (aka putting off chores to do fun stuff)
4. Snacking at night
5. Staying up way too late

Five places I have lived
1. Richmond, VA
2. Raleigh, NC
3. Boone, NC
4. Atlanta, GA (just for a summer)
5. Durham, NC

Five jobs I've had
1. Counter girl at the Barbecue Hut
2. Cashier at the university food court
3. Sales person at an antique store
4. Editorial assistant, then Assistant Editor at a literary mag
5. Teacher

Five bloggers I tag
I'm skipping this since it's already Saturday and it might be lame to tag someone for a Friday meme on Saturday

Monday, March 24, 2008

You are my favorite because

Today is Mitch's birthday, so I'm continuing my "You are my favorite because" series.

Mitch, you are my favorite because...

In our family, you are your own species. Everything about you is different, not in a black sheep way, but in very charming, unique and sometime hilarious ways. Even your physical features are singular; everyone else has dark hair and eyes (except Paige, whose eyes are smoky gray), but you are bright blond, your eyes a crisp, clear blue with a depth that exposes every emotion.

You contain not an ounce of shyness and have a way of drawing strangers to you in your friendly sincerity. You succeeded today in soliciting "Happy Birthdays" from everyone whose path we crossed, including the man working the McDonald's drive-thru. You have thoroughly charmed every adult you're close to: your teachers (and Owen's teachers), your aunts and uncles, your grandparents, my friends (especially your secret real mom, Anna).

You are affectionate and kind, but unwilling to stand by and let someone hurt you. You have faced me, hands balled into fists, eyes brimming with tears, and scolded, "I don't like the way you're treating me, Mommy." From only 6 months old, you'd beat the floor in rage when I took an object of interest away from you. In your relationship with Owen, you are the dominate one, regardless of your "little" brother status. You came home from preschool one day with a story about an older boy who'd said something mean to you. You told him, "Do not talk rudely to me." You are self-assured and forceful, but not without tenderness toward those you love, especially Paige, the apple of your eye.

And oh my lord, you say the funniest things. Some recent examples:

To dad and me when we made fun of a TV show: "You guys have a really bad attitude."

To Aunt Blair about her (actually very nice) boyfriend (said with your hand on Blair's arm): "You don't have to marry a guy like that."

To me after I asked you if you liked the bunny I sewed you for Easter: "Well, I did want that bunny, but I'm sorry. I changed my mind."

About your birthday: "Everyone in this family feels my birthday in their heart."

But my very favorite thing about you these days (as you move through an intense mommy-love phase) is the way you lean your head against me, wrap your arms around my waist, and tell me, "Mommy, I love you so, so, so, so, so, so much."

Mitch, I love you so, so, so, so, so, so much, too. Happy 4th birthday!

On your birth day:

My all time favorite picture of you (4 months old):

First birthday:

One of your last days as a three year old:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

This is why I wanted a sewing machine

To make old fashioned, simple dresses for Paige. She'll wear this (probably with a sweater, sadly) for Easter.

It's the third dress I've made for her, and the most successful by far! The pattern was about as simple as it gets.

I'll post a picture of her wearing it soon.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The changling

I fear a malicious fairy crept in Paige's bedroom window some time last month and snatched away my dear sweet girl-child, leaving an imp of a fairy baby in her place.

She seems to have developed a trouble-seeking radar, which activates the moment her fat little feet hit the floor. She wakes up, pitter-pats down the hallway, and the radar flips on. I can see it working. She looks left and right across the room, up and down from floor to ceiling until she find her first target: a glass of water left on a low shelf, a spool of thread within reach on the sewing table, an open box of crackers. By the time I've wrestled her away from the first target and dealt with the aftermath, her work on target #2 is well underway.

Her standbys are the desktop computer and my sewing box. If the desk chair is left untucked, her radar flashes wildly, and she bee lines for it. All I have to do is look away for 20 seconds and she's there, standing in the chair, the computer already starting up, and her pudgy fingers clacking away on the keyboard. If I dare forget to close and fasten my sewing box overnight, I'm in for a painful cleanup within first 10 minutes of the morning: tangles of thread, far flung (and dangerous) piles of spilled needles, a colorful scribble of fabric marker on the rug or wall.

This morning she found Owen's box o' writing implements, top wide open. Bad enough it's full of crayons and markers, Owen keeps an ink pad in there, as well. Markers and crayons Paige has plenty of experience with. But an ink pad? Here was something new, something to be pried open, something wet and squishy. I was in the kitchen fixing coffee and John was sitting at the kitchen table with is back to Paige. She was well within eye shot, it's just that she was very, very quiet. (The radar also has a "parent sensor" which warns her to go about her troublemaking silently.)

John spotted her first, and I swear, he sounded a little bit afraid when he called me: "Ashley! Oh crap. Ashley! She's a mess. Oh man. She looks like an animal!"

Her face was blue from forehead to chin, her nose a particularly deep, purplish shade, as if she'd rubbed it in the ink, planning to make nose prints (on the wall, I'd bet). Her hands were covered, too, of course, and her pajamas. And when we laid her on the bathroom floor to strip and wash her, she howled. "Don't cry, wolfgirl," John said. "It's just a bath."

She's forever plotting her next move. She finds days-old food on the floor no matter how well I vacuum. She pulls the cereal boxes down from the cabinet and dumps their contents on the kitchen floor. She eats the cats' dry food, plays in the toilet, sticks other people's toothbrushes in her mouth. And all this even though I am, I swear, a watchful, engaged parent.

My little changling, mouth always sticky from eating some garbage or other, clothes perpetually stained, pants ever droopy, and her twinkling radar-eyes buzzing all over the room.

She's a right mess, an imp with a mullet, a refuser of barrettes, but I dare not take her for a haircut. Lord knows what they'll find under that mop: the mark of the beast, maybe...or a tangled, matted mess of week-old oatmeal.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Is there really a Calgon?

And can it take me away?

This has been a tragic weekend, beginning at 6 am Friday morning with the littlest one throwing up what seemed like 3 days worth of meals on my bed. Her first tummy bug...funny, there's no page for that one in the baby book. This comes, of course, on the heels of virtually 3 months of sickness in our household. I don't know what we did, but the universe seems really pissed at my family.

Then there was some other unhappy stuff, too complicated to relate here, and some financial stuff that I won't bore you with, and then, a few hours ago, there was Mitch, wandering around the back of the house in a half-asleep daze, leaving a trail of puke behind him as he stumbled from room to room (the worst of it landing--where else?--on my bed). And now I'm sitting beside him as he sleeps fitfully, raising up every 10 minutes to dry heave.

You never imagine this stuff when you picture motherhood. No little girl ever plays "stomach virus" with her doll babies. No one ever muses, "One day, I'll be a mother, cleaning puke off the tiny strip of floor between the bathroom sink and the wall and from inside the crack at the top of the floor molding."

I'm feeling drained and sorry for myself. It's a been a long damn winter.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I were more dedicated, more willing to act on my ideals and my aesthetics (I don't know how to explain that, but...maybe you know what I mean), I would move somewhere and build a house like this and live there with my family, where my kids would grow up exactly the way I want them to grow up. We seem so far from that most days.

In other words, I wish I were a hobbit.

But really, look at this house. Isn't it just like a dream? And the family who built it (who are probably sick of the hobbit jokes) is 100% inspiring.

Here's the inside:

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Squeaky clean

A nice long bath does everyone good, yes?

I, myself, used to enjoy baths until I lived with 3 children whose filth creates the need for weekly scrubbings of a tub that still never looks completely clean.

What I'm talking about is the nice long baths my children take. There's almost nothing they love more. In fact, bathtime is such a gigantic treat, that if one child is in the tub, the others appear from all corners of the house, begging to join him. That is why bathtime now means a tiny tub crammed with 3 children, one of whom is growing quite gangly and one of whom is nearly drowned by the rising of the water level when the aforementioned gangly child enters the tub. Still, they manage to make enough room to play, a task which could delight them for hours if their teeth didn't start chattering at the 30 minute mark. (There's a drought in these parts people--a person can't just add hot water to the tub willy nilly.)

But. As much as they love it, bathtime is, for me, a logistical nightmare. A grand pain in the ass. In fact, just the other day, my son and I had the following conversation in Target:

Son: Mommy, can I take a bath tonight?
Me: No. You took one yesterday.
Son: Pleeeeease?!?!?
Me: No!
Son: But, mommy, I'm so dirty! Look! Look, I stink!
Me: Not! tonight!

Afterward I realized that the shoppers around us must have been full-on judging me for refusing my child's pleas for good hygiene. Well, people of Target, I know that, in our house, bathtime has very little to do with bathing and everything to do with breaking out the Spongebob foaming shaving cream/body soap and the squirty Spiderman toys that came in the Cap'n Crunch box.

Still, though child-washing breaks my back and inspires grumbling at the gallons of water sloshed on the floor, their baths do me good, too. I'll admit it: I love my children more when they're clean. Some people get that feeling from watching their children sleep. But for me, there's nothing more adorable, more satisfying and huggable than a squeaky clean kid in fresh pajamas. It's even better when they're babies, when they climb up in your lap post-bath and you get to bury your nose in their soft, lavender-scented hair (which was, only an hour prior, crusted over with syrup and yogurt).

My freshly scrubbed children are sleeping next to me right now. And yes, their slack-jawed slumbering faces look angelic. But it's the scent of tear-free shampoo and Spongebob body soap that makes me misty.

Sigh. I can't wait until next week, when I finally let them bathe again.