Random thoughts: Housecleaning

Not the real house, unfortunately.

Here are a few things to clear off my blogging table.

First of all, the very sweet Allison at Allison Says gave me not one, but TWO blogging awards, and said nice things about me, too (uh, I can’t seem to link to the images of the awards. Advice welcome. In the meantime, you can see them at her place). Allison is the mother of Alex, a baby that apparently everyone loves to touch, which bugs his mama. But I’m telling you, that boy is so adorable, I want to grab him and gobble him up every time I see him.

Allison already gave these awards to some of my other favorite bloggers, so I will pass them along to only one, my buddy now hailing from Nashville, Tenn., Misfit Hausfrau. She is completely irreverent, the mom of two girls, and a Lost lover. I especially value her blog because it makes it easy to check in with a friend who moved away. We still get to see each other once or twice a year, but I can always be up-to-date on what’s happening. And she’s funny, too.

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Secondly, I recently signed up at Freepeats.org, and things have been flying out of my house. I have given away about three boxes of toys and a box of maternity clothes. And it’s so easy: just post what you have to give away, or check the Wanted forum. The people who want what you have will come pick ’em up. I feel better about doing this than giving stuff randomly to Salvation Army or Goodwill. You know that what you are giving away is needed and is going to be used.

So if you, too, need to do the Great Toy Purge of 2008, I heartily recommend Freepeats. I did not have enough toys to give away to the takers!

Now, I still need a good home for the girls’ old stuffed animals. Still no takers there. They may just hit the curb, although if i do that, they will haunt me. I just know it.

Of course, if I manage to unload everything I want to, and I do manage to have baby number four (technically) (and not that we’re actually ‘trying’) I will be looking to get it all back. If I stay with Freepeats, though, I don’t think that will be a problem.

I actually have a bunch of stuff I am trying to get to moms I know. If they decide they don’t want them, I’ll just post them to Freepeats. Also, my sister-in-law WonderSIL is expecting another baby in March. If it’s a girl, I want to pass on clothes. If, on the other hand, she has another boy — her fourth — she is well provisioned.

Well, maybe she’ll need a little more wine.

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Thirdly: Happy Halloween.

I know there is a lot of confusion (or people are confuzzled) about when and why Halloween is scheduled in Pittsburgh. I can understand the frustration. I’m of the opinion that Holidays should be celebrated on the day they occur. (Anyone else remember when Pittsburgh celebrated July 4th on July 3?)

I like that they have set hours, I will admit. I can expect people to come between 6 and 8 p.m.; the earlier time is great for little kids because there is still daylight. In my neighborhood they had trick-or-treating on Thursday because of the high school football game. Since DearDR couldn’t be home, we just handed out candy, and the girls are trick-or-treating tonight in an adjoining neighborhood with friends. So it worked out well for us this year.

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Monkey had a Halloween party at her preschool yesterday. They sang little songs and everything. Bella went in my stead (thank you, Bella!). She called me later at work to tell me how cute Monkey was.

“Some of the parents brought treats,” she mentioned. “I put them in a bag for Monkey.”

Okay, I thought, so she’s already got some stuff. Cool.

Turns out that “some parents” means “almost all of the parents in Monkey’s class” and “treats” means “treat bags with fun stuff, cookies, candy and personal notes.”

I win clueless mother of the year award. I better get my sh*t together for Christmas time.

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And lastly: I am getting my hairs cut tomorrow (as is the bang queen, Monkey). Please help me pick a real style. The color will be a brown closer to my natural color. It’s time to go away from the red. Thanks.

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All Apologies

Looking at my blog last night, DearDR got upset about what I wrote about Nanny and Gigi passing away.

He feels my choice of words sucked, to be frank. Saying that it was a “race” was disrespectful and insensitive.

And I can see his point. In not wanting to be flippant, my wording still was not very sensitive. He was quite hurt and angry.

So I told him I would apologize, and that I would do it on this blog. So I’m doing it. I’m sorry, babe, for my choice of words. I hate that what I wrote hurt you.

I had meant to write more, actually, about losing Nanny and Gigi, but I was distracted at the time I was writing, and I was primarily just trying to throw up a post with some pictures in it. I didn’t spend as much time as I usually do on a post.

I know how important Nanny is to DearDR. From the second he was born, she loved him completely and unconditionally. He healed something in her, and she gave to him a love that he didn’t receive from anyone else. He still has the teddy bear that she went out and bought the day he was born — five weeks early, incidentally.

Losing these extraordinary women is going to be devastating and heartbreaking, and that is something that is not expressed in my last entry. Nanny and Gigi have been through some trying and difficult times, Nanny probably more so than Gigi. If I ever get permission to tell Nanny’s story here — or anywhere publicly for that matter — I would love to. To say she is a survivor doesn’t do her life justice.

At this point, Nanny is frail. Her mind, though, is still sharp. DearDR knows most of the struggles she is going through now, and I will not presume to guess. DearDR, of course, is going through his own struggles facing the loss of this person, who has loved him so much so well for so long.

In contrast, I have been losing Gigi for a number of years now. Her memory started fading probably 10 years ago. Five years ago, it started fleeing. And then about two years ago, she took a fall and fractured her pelvis, and her memory loss was, abruptly, memory lost.

When we visit, she says she remembers who we are, but I have my doubts. These visits are pleasant because my grandmother, despite her complete absence of presence, is cheerful. She isn’t angry, or depressed, or crabby. She just smiles and hmms and nods as we tell her our stories, remark on the weather, or talk about food. She doesn’t seem to be in any pain or discomfort. She is in good health, although my mother reports she is steadily weakening. Unlike Nanny, Gigi isn’t struggling. What would she struggle against?

If I had one wish before Gigi dies, it would be, for one day, to spend it with the grandmother I remember from, say, fifteen or twenty years ago. That woman, my children, and a tape recorder, for 24 hours. I would like Monkey to have something more than the vague woman she has met. Bun may not have any memories of Gigi at all.

Which leaves it up to me, I guess. To remember for all of us.

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If I may please play PittGirl for one moment (come on, a bunch of you did at PodCamp’08) I couldn’t help noticing this story from today’s PG.

I should say, I went looking for this story, because I live in the area, and we had friends who were, almost literally, on the front lines. I can’t attest to whether they were participating in the search, but I would bet — as parents themselves — at least one of them was. While the other stayed home with their own kids, probably giving thanks.

But, I do have a few questions:

1. What was the babysitter doing at the time of the pickup?
2. Why didn’t the aunt take the time to mention that she was picking up the child?
3. Why didn’t the aunt take the child’s coat?

I would like to commend the babysitter for calling the police, and I would like to commend the police for their prompt, intense action. I would like to thank the neighbors who pitched in with flashlights in their hands and hope in their hearts. I sincerely hope that next time a child in Coraopolis goes missing, their responses is exactly the same, even though this incident was frustrating for everyone involved.

Better to risk little frustration than the alternative.

Here You Go

People just give things to DearDR. I’m not kidding. They hear him talk about liking music or the Pens, and they lend him CDs to burn or give him front row tickets to a game. He gets offered cars (I make him say NO), and the other day someone just gave him a digital camera.

I wish they had given him the manual. But we’re figuring it out as we go along.

Bun is developing a really funny personality.

From the Dormont Park picture session:

Nanny is the matriarch; Bella is Nanny’s daughter; DearDR is Bella’s son. We don’t really know how much longer Nanny will be with us. She’s not an invalid, although she is no social butterfly. She has emphysema, and as far as I can tell, they (whoever they are) decided against supplementary oxygen. For now anyway.

It’s kind of a race to see who passes away first (I was tempted to be flip here, but I don’t want you to think I don’t take this seriously. I wanted to type “kicks the bucket” or “buys the farm”, but these are our grandmothers we’re talking about here) Nanny or Gigi. My money is on Gigi: She is older and confined to a wheelchair now, and her dementia is well advanced. My mom, Nonna, says it’s just a matter of time. Which makes a ringing phone a thing of joy.

But anyway, this is our slice of the family. I think we look pretty good.

Sassy!

Monkey is thinking of adding to her fairy costume this year.

Girl’s got Personality, I’m telling you!

Not Meaning to be Morbid

I woke up from a bad dream this morning that Monkey was lost.

As I was waking, I was already issuing the Amber Alert in my head, and the security at the ice skating rink was already in motion. Right after waking, I continued the dream to its happy ending: Monkey running toward me through the crowds at the rink, crying, saying, “Mommy, you were lost.”

This, as parents, as mothers, is one of our greatest fears, isn’t it?

I know that I live in heart-constricting, breath-stopping agony of losing another child. I don’t know that Gabriel’s death makes me more sensitive — I don’t think so. I think these little people we have in our lives carry our hearts with them. At the stage at which Monkey and Bun are, they carry them unknowingly, unwittingly. They haven’t learned (despite the hyperbole of her language — wonder where she gets that — Monkey, even, has not learned) how fragile a heart is, and how careful one needs to be with another’s heart.

Children don’t know about this given heart, until later in their lives. It’s not as if we parents, we moms, mean to give our hearts away. It’s just something that happens when you have a kid. Whether you lose your heart in your pregnancy, or at the moment your newborn comes into light, is placed in your arms, or if it happens later, months down the line, years even. Suddenly you realize your love in all its infinite wonder has been placed into these bodies, that part of your heart goes with them everywhere.

I was in love with Gabriel from the moment I knew I was pregnant. As with Monkey and Bun, part of my love for my babies was love for my husband, love for growing our love. Gabriel’s heart was my heart, and my husband’s heart.

I hope you can only imagine how it felt when his stops. (I don’t encourage such an exercise.)

Given my own tendency toward… um, let’s call it mental instability (I have been diagnosed more than once with Generalized Anxiety Disorder with a generous side helping of Catastrophic Thinking) I consider it a wonder that I leave the house, let alone with my children. I have been in imaginary car crashes; my children have disappeared in public; I have saved Bun from certain death by throwing myself in front of cars. (Bun’s a runner. I am thinking of changing her nickname to Wild Child, the way she is acting lately. I literally have nightmarish visions of her darting away from me in parking lots or into streets that freeze my blood with fear.)

While I think losing a child makes one uniquely sensitive to the experience of losing a child, I don’t think it makes one more (or less) fearful of losing a child. I hope that none of you dwell on this, but I wonder that it is not in the backs of your minds. Our love, our fear, our hope and dreaming, our nightmares — how would one go about separating all of this? It is all, in its way, all-encompassing, all-consuming.

As much as we want to protect our children, I think we want them to protect us, too. This I may feel more than other parents: I am dependent on my girls to never, ever let me feel the pain that I have already felt once. I need Bun to learn not to run away from Mommy in public or outside. I need Monkey to be careful of who she befriends in restaurants.

One of the best ways I ever heard this summed up was like this. A father I know (The Ex’s father, as a matter of fact) said to me, “I was never afraid of heights. Then I had children.”

Or maybe these are the intrusive thoughts that mothers of dead babies have. Along with questions like, do I love my dead baby less because of live babies? And, how could I ever forget?

Or maybe I am alone.

I know this: that it is vitally important to me my children bury me (not soon! like, how about in 40 years? That’s doable). That the natural order hold in that fashion. That they protect my heart until they don’t have to any longer.

In the meantime, I will protect theirs, protect them (as best I can — maybe by asking them not to jump without me). Because it protects that part of my heart that is most important.

Four Letter Word

First, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who weighed in on my infrequent posting dilemma. I truly appreciate the support and suggestions. You guys — er, ladies and guy, are great.

As I suspected would happen, one of the suggestions was to get a laptop — or a cleaning lady. Another of the suggestions pointed out that a photo and a line of text counted as a post. (I remember how easy Photo Friday was for me last year!)

Unfortunately for me, Monkey accidentally trashed our digital camera, so I’m in a bit of a bind there. And though both DearDR and I can justify buying laptops at this stage in our careers (we could probably write them off, too), we don’t actually have the $$ to buy laptops. Or a new digital camera. Or replace the CD player in my 2002 Camry.

We are a household deep (and I mean deep) in D-E-B-T.

I’ve done some research, and I strongly suspect that we are not the only ones. This country is a country run (disasterously as it turns out!) on credit.

The average household credit card debt in 2004 (the latest year for which I could find numbers) is $8,000. I suspect that number is shooting up astronomically these days.

DearDR and I are above average. Now when it comes to things like height and intelligence, above average can be good. But obviously, not when it comes to things like credit card debt.

Granted, this is the direct result of some… I hesitate to call it bad decision-making per se. Dumb decision-making. Kind of cross-my-fingers decision making. “Things will get better so I can do this right now” decision-making.

And we didn’t run up our credit cards on fancy shoes, jewelry, or, I don’t know, a boat. We ran up our credit cards on gasoline, food, diapers and other baby stuff, decent clothes, car repairs.

We ran our credit cards up when I took a year off to be a stay-at-home mom and DearDR dropped some hours to study for his license exam. Should I have gone back to work when Bun was six weeks old? We wouldn’t be in this mess if I had — or at least, it would be less of a mess. I second-guess that decision all. the. time. But I can’t go back and do it differently. I have to live with the consequences.

Our mortgage is probably below average — we bought this house directly from the owner, and that keeps costs down, yo. We haven’t missed a payment in 3 years; I pay a little bit over the minimum.

I don’t even want to talk about DearDR’s student loans.

And of course, although I went back to work in February, it turns out that prices of just about everything went up at the same time. We saw our weekly gas budget go from about $40 to $120. Monkey started preschool and a new (more expensive) daycare. We considered not sending her this year. Or not sending her to the Catholic school pre-K program we wanted to. But in the end, we knew it was time, and St. J’s was the right place.

The bills, including those heinous credit card bills, are getting paid. On time. And I don’t just pay the minimum due on the cards. I want those suckers to go away, and I throw as much money as I can every month at ’em.

We’re not in danger of losing anything. Or of having to sell organs on the black market.

We don’t use credit cards any more. It’s a struggle, but we live within our tight budget. I am taking out a consolidation loan, cosigned by Nonna, to reduce the interest — taking it down to a quarter or a third of what I am paying now. I’ll still be sending the same amount of money, but most of it will go to principle instead of evil finance charges.

This isn’t a pity party, but I gotta tell someone how it is. Because I stress out about this every single day, and if I don’t get to talk about it, I’ll explode.

We are sheltered, fed, and clothed. We have great health care coverage through my employer. We even get treats (the occasional date, a beer with friends, Eat ‘n’ Park dinners once or twice a month with the kids). We just don’t have the disposable income for digital cameras and laptops. Cry me a river, I know. Some people can’t eat, for goodness sake.

And if I had the cash, I would hope that I remember them before I buy that laptop. Someday, I hope to be able to do both without thinking — or stressing — about it.

You know, my mom was right. I should have been a pharmacist.

Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

Much thanks to Classmate’s Mom who was sweet enough to take these pictures, and awesome enough to remember to email them to me.

This is from last Friday.

We had a lot of fun here:

Our First Hayride!

Reporting Direct from the Pumpkin Patch.

The Giant Slide was a Big Hit.

It was a little chilly, but we had a good time. I think Monkey really enjoyed seeing her classmates in a different setting. And it is clear that she just loves her teachers — she couldn’t stop asking about them, or running up to them to say hi and chat a bit. I think school is really good for her. Makes me happy to know she is doing well.

No Excuses

Even though what I am going to write sounds like a bunch of excuses, it’s not meant to be.

I am very frustrated by my infrequency of posting. I like to think I have people who check in here from time to time who are frustrated too. (I could be mildly delusional.)

National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo, to those in the know) is looming. I want to do it; I did it last year; I have no idea if I can do it this year.

I barely get two posts a week up here. A lot has changed since I did NaBloPoMo last year — I went back to work; Monkey started school and a new daycare program; DearDR has started a private practice.

It’s all a matter of making choices. The choice of when to write, for example. The choice of what to write. I will say that lately I have been thinking less about writing about my children (whom I love and who are very entertaining) and more about writing about what I am “going through”. Not necessarily pretty stuff — kind of like this post — but stuff that right now looms larger for me than the adorable things that my kids do.

This was all brought to a bit of a head at the latest Burgh Blogging Mommy dinner. I felt very encouraged to do more as Red Pen Mama, and I know I would like to write for the Burgh Mom site some of the moms are working on.

But the big question for me is: when? The big obstacle is time.

When I get home in the evenings, I’m on my own with the girls. And I don’t have a laptop — I have to go into a separate room to write/post. DearDR works long days, seeing patients in the evenings, and often catching up on paperwork. And I’m okay with that. He does the morning routine (with help from his parents, and me packing Monkey’s lunches), and I do the evening routine. He sees private practice patients Saturday. Usually he is around Saturday evenings, sometimes Sundays (sometimes he’s doing paperwork — that damn paperwork. His gravestone is going to read, “I have paperwork to do.”).

In terms of the house, I do the lion’s share. I wish that weren’t the case; I wish DearDR chipped in more. He does big jobs (like cutting down trees), and he takes out the garbage on trash day. That’s how it breaks down at home.

I sit in front of a computer all day long. Reading, typing, editing, etc. It’s hard for me to want to do that when I get home, too.

Choosing to write and post after the kids go to bed means that something will not get done. Laundry, cleaning the kitchen, putting out clothes for the kids for the next day. Once or twice a week, that’s okay. But to post for a whole month? We’d be out of clean underwear in no time. Or overrun with mice eating the crumbs in my kitchen. I could write at work and post at home, I suppose, but I think that would be frowned upon. Plus, if I did take the time to write at work, it would mean that I was blowing off work, and we’re all busy, with a pretty big deadline on the plate (I’m mixing metaphors a bit, but I really didn’t want to use a version of “loom” again), so that would be an unpopular decision. Even if I were the only one who knew I was making the decision to write instead of, say, read my page proofs.

And, also, I like to sleep about 8 hours a night. I’m not sure how willing I am to sacrifice sleep to blog.

None of this is to conclusively say that I am not posting every day next month. I did it last year; I made it through 13 days in April. And I have lots I want to write about.

I am also not throwing myself a pity party. I am not alone in being a full-time worker and a full-time mommy, with full-time housework and full-time hopes, dreams, and aspirations that sometimes take a hit. (Housework takes a hit occasionally too.) I am pragmatic and not a perfectionist. I don’t aspire to be Super Mommy. (Just a super mommy, you know?)

And now I’ve been introduced to Plurk! How do people do all this and, like, watch TV, too?

I used to think I was an efficient, organized person — I think I was an organized, efficient person. But now I can’t find enough hours in the day. Maybe I used to sleep less, too. My memory’s fuzzy on that point (maybe I drank more). I am reluctant to let that version of myself go. But until I dig her out and get her working for me again, I hesitate to do anything as crazy as saying, “I am definitely doing NaBloPoMo!”

But I can definitely say I may do NaBloPoMo. Let’s see if I can get back up to three times a week for now. We’ll go from there.

Knock Knock

Knock-Knock

I am sometimes quite amazed at the simple fact that all children move through similar social phases.

As Exhibit A, allow me to present Monkey, who has just discovered knock-knock jokes.

As we were sitting at a local eatery last night, Monkey declared, “I want to tell knock-knock jokes.”

I’m game.

She starts:

Monkey: Knock knock.
Me: Who’s there?
Monkey: Hoosa.
Me (utterly mystified): Hoosa who?
Monkey: Hoosa Mommy!

Now Monkey is quite the one to make up words and names—she still plays Gusk the Dog quite often (a post for a different day). And this is her pattern in knock-knock jokes: Say a word, often a made up one, then say that word with “you” or “mommy” after it.

Cracks herself up.

I know that she is far from understanding what makes a knock-knock joke work (i.e. The Pun), but I throw a couple more sophisticated ones her way (boo who, banana-banana-orange), and she is utterly mystified herself. Her funniest ends, “Banana orange don’t be sad!!” It makes me laugh.

What’s your favorite knock-knock joke? Leave it in the comments. After “boo” and “banana-banana-orange” I’m out of ideas, so I’m looking for some new ones. My favorite, interrupting cow, is FAR above Monkey’s adorable little head. It’s in the goofy (and family-friendly) video below.

Weekend Letters

Dear Monkey:

If you think I was enjoying myself scrubbing the bathroom instead of playing with you outside on an improbably gorgeous autumn day in October in Pittsburgh, please reconsider.

It’s just that your dad tore up part of the disgusting rug in that bathroom (advice: never, ever, move into a house or apartment with a rug in the bathroom), but only part of it. And I decided to hire a babysitter so I could finish the job.

I’m grateful that you wanted to help me. But between the chemicals I was using to thoroughly disinfect the space and the clear detridus of I don’t know how many years accumulated under and on the edge of said rug, that room was not safe for you. It wasn’t really that safe for me, but my system is stronger.

Plus, “help” in the toddler lexicon is different from “help” in an adult lexicon. For example, on Saturday, you “helped” me clean the dishes by stirring a potful of water (“I’m making an apple cake!”) on one side of our divided sink while on the other I rinsed dishes and loaded them in the dishwasher. You often help me in the kitchen by doing arts and crafts while I put dishes away or cook. I can’t imagine how you were going to help me in the bathroom. Possibly by brushing your teeth and drinking a lot of dixie-cupfuls of water.

So for you to have come in after your walk with the babysitter, come see me covered in crap, and, when I told you to please go back downstairs, say, “You’re breaking my heart” was equal parts exasperating and amusing. I hope you will excuse my reaction.

First of all, where are you learning these things, these emotional words for heartbreak and love? Do Daddy and I say them to you? Are you picking them up from the four-year-olds at day school? Are you sneaking Hannah Montana at Bella’s house?

Secondly, given a choice, I would have left the bathroom exactly as it was for a couple more weeks, and gone outside, into the sunshine and air with you. But Nonna and Pap-pap are coming to visit, and my lack of effective housekeeping shames me. I had to do something.

Believe me, I want to spend my time on weekends with you and your sister. You are amazing and adorable and sweet and exasperating, and I love you so much it creates an ache sometimes from my throat to my stomach. But part of me loving you is going to work, and cleaning our dirty house, and taking you to the grocery store with me.

Please, don’t break my heart by telling me I’m breaking yours when I can’t come play with you. Time is precious and fleeting. But sometimes, I gotta clean the bathroom. Okay?

Love,
Your Momma

Dear Babysitter,

I understand that you are 14 years old. And texting to a 14 year old is like breathing. But your job, the job for which I am paying you, is to entertain and play with my child. Oh, and also to keep her out of my hair.

I am unsure of how to approach this with you. My kids like you a lot; my husband and I like that you literally live across the street so we can watch you go home at the end of your shift. If I tell you to leave your phone at home, it is likely that you will decline to work for us any longer. I hesitate to tell your parents to ask you to keep the phone at home — you could be texting with your mother for all I know. I would feel like I was tattling on you.

But, honey, it is not acceptable to me that you sit texting on the couch, while my broken-hearted three-year-old plays lackadaisically with her toys. It was nice of you to do arts and crafts with her — at my suggestion. And also to take her for a walk — also at my suggestion. But you’re going to have to do a little bit more if you decide to pursue babysitting as a means of earning cash. At this point, I would hesitate to recommend you for another job. Your two weaknesses are your inability to straighten up when you are done with the kids, and this whole non-stop texting thing while letting my kids entertain themselves. You need to be a teensy bit more engaged with them. I am hoping that when I talk to my husband about this, he will guide me to an effective way of communicating with you. (He’s good like that.)

Or maybe I will just buy you one of these, although such a step seems a tad heavy-handed.

In the meantime, I remain, your sole employer,
red pen mama

Random Thoughts: Frustration

I have mentioned that I have been “working on” a book-related post. But I think I’m going to scrap the idea.

I have been striving, since I gave up reading novels for Lent, to work more non-fiction into my book-reading repetoire.

On a recent trip to Joseph-Beth Booksellers to spend a gift card I had received for my last birthday, I picked up Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope. And while I admire him greatly, and think he will be a fantastic president, and he’s a good writer, and I appreciated the arguments in this book that let me know his policy ideas… I got utterly bogged down. Around chapter 10, I was lured away by a Michael Connelly novel called A Darkness More Than Night. That one moved right along.

I did eventually (kind of) finish Obama’s book. (Okay, I completely skipped chapter 10. But I did read most of the chapter on family. And some of the afterword.)

While I was attempting to finish Obama’s book (and thoroughly engrossed in Connelly’s), I was anticipating reading The Maternal is Political. It is a library book, and I had waited a long, long time to get it, and I had read good things about it at one of my favorite sites.

But I don’t know if it was the overload of political reading/coverage/emails at work (another story entirely) or what, but I just didn’t get into it. The essays were very short, and I didn’t feel they were communicating to me or about me. Maybe it’s because I don’t have an illegal alien as a nanny, or am not even close to being speaker of the house, but all I felt was disconnect. I am all for teaching my kids to vote responsibly, and bringing them up as vegetarians, and being environmentally friendly, and so on. Some of the passion in the essays came off as shrill to me.

I didn’t finish it. I don’t think I even managed half of the essays. I tried to renew it, but it was on hold, which considering how long I had waited for it, I was not surprised.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t disappointed either.

As these reviews show, I am clearly missing something. If Obama wins the election (here’s hoping!), maybe I’ll try it again.

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Another product about which I had read rave reviews was this DVD, Mom and Toddler Fitness. I have been trying to find a way to get structured exercise into my life. I thought this would be a good place to start.

Turns out for me, not so much. The problem is that I have TWO toddlers to “exercise with” instead of just one like the parents on the DVD. Also, when I get down to floor level, this is clearly a sign. It says: “Jump on Mommy!”

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Bun has been pooping in the bathtub. Regularly. It’s as if she waits until she’s in the tub.

Bun is quite the pooper, in any case. I think she goes around five times a day. Usually, even after pooping in the tub (which just leads to a giant waste of water), she deposits a sizable load in her diaper before bedtime. Anyway to train her to go between dinner and bath time?

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And: On mandatory overtime again, next week, at work. An extra hour a day. Crap.

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On a slightly different note, I have added an a-ha station to my Pandora. You remember a-ha don’t you? (Allison, you may be excused from this discussion.) Along with a-ha (still waiting to hear “Blue Skies”), I have gotten a good dose of Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, New Order, and a bunch of other artists that take me back to my high school days. And while it is a little fun to remember some of the stuff going on while these songs were “hot off the press” so to speak, it is reminding me to please listen to what my teenage daughters will be listening to. Because why all of a sudden does Dave Gahan, singing Martin Gore’s lyrics, sound like a freaky crazed stalker?

Because I am the mother of girls, that’s why.