Random Thoughts: Broken Record

The more I reflect on the four-hour mashed potatoes, the more I realize: That’s just how life with kids is. Doing anything takes a long time. It is a process of stopping and starting, of refereeing, of building in the extra hour (or so) the thing is going to take.

Except for eating out. Eating out is the guessing game of when the children (or, in my case, Kate) will be done. By that time you better have gotten to eat yourself, finished your drink if you have one, and be waiting for the check to come back. Because it will be time to go.

That being said, it was a nice weekend. We had scheduled a portrait sitting with Niece and Nephew on Saturday that went well — although true to life with kids, about an hour before we left the house, Kate fell and skinned her forehead. I don’t know how. Honestly, we were all upstairs, including Dan, and I was dressing Flora, and I suddenly overhead from our bedroom, “What did you do to your forehead?” So, Kate’s sporting a band-aid along with her very pretty green velvet holiday dress in those photos.

Ah, memories.

Saturday night I went out by myself (! I know!) to the Make Room for Kids fundraiser at Las Velas. It was fun and relaxing and delicious. My drink of choice is usually beer or wine, but something about the Las Velas margaritas (maybe it’s the crack) perks up my taste buds. I had the pleasure of seeing and dining with Pittsburgh bloggers and Twitter friends, plus some celebrity sighting along the lines of Sally Wiggins, who is lovely.

I am trying to figure out what was so nice about the evening (besides everything) and why I found it so relaxing. Although I missed Dan greatly, and he really would have enjoyed himself, I think part of my relaxation stemmed from the fact that I didn’t have a babysitter to rush home to. When we have a sitter, I am watching the clock, and we usually have to be home by 11 p.m. or so, and there’s the whole “do you have cash/no, do you?” game Dan & I have to play so that the sitter gets paid.

Oh, you know what else? I didn’t have to worry about remembering anyone’s real name to introduce them to Dan. Using Twitter and/or blog names is perfectly acceptable with this crowd.

Since Dan stayed home with the girls, and I didn’t have to introduce him to anyone, I just hung out. I didn’t watch the clock. I had some kind of fried corn tortilla empanada with cheese and mushrooms that I think also had crack in it because I want more, and just… I don’t know. Didn’t find it hard to breathe. And I wasn’t interrupted, and I didn’t have to feed anyone mac’n’cheese or take anyone to the bathroom, and I didn’t have to pay anyone when I got home (although there may or may not have been some positive reinforcement at the end of the evening for Dan). And even though I did not get nearly enough sleep, I would do it all again.

Because, damn, those margaritas are tasty. And all those people I have met via Twitter and Pittsburgh blogs? Are really, really nice and really fun to be with.

BTW, donations to Make Room for KIDS can be made at That’s Church. Go on. Giving feels good.

Life with Kids

It took me four hours to make mashed potatoes yesterday.

I had originally intended to cook exactly nothing (just bring some faux meat — and not of the Tofurkey variety), but then I discovered about 14 potatoes from my CSA in my refrigerator. So I called my MIL Wednesday and offered to bring mashed potatoes to dinner as well. I had butter and milk, even, so I didn’t have to make a store run. Bonus!

I should probably know better than to think I would just ‘whip up’ some mashed ‘taters. But I truly didn’t think it would take me four hours.

I got the potatoes out of the refrigerator around 11 a.m. I wasn’t whipping those puppies until 2:30 p.m. It was ridiculous.

But life with children is all about interruption, and I don’t know why or how I forgot that.

I got the potatoes out of the refrigerator — and had to make Kate lunch.

I got out the vegetable brush to scrub the potatoes — and had to make Flora lunch. Actually, since she wanted eggs, Dan was pressed into lunch duty (1. He makes better eggs. 2. He had slept until 11 a.m.). I just had to make Flora’s toast.

I ate some lunch, too.

I started to clean the 14 potatoes —  and had to help Kate down from her chair.

I went back to the sink — and had to rinse lunch dishes and put them in the dishwasher.

And on and on. The washing, peeling, cutting, and cooking of the potatoes were interrupted by: asking my children to stop screaming in the other room; asking them to clean up the other room; trying to get Kate to go on the potty; changing Kate’s diaper; helping my children clean the other room (which had been ritually toy bombed while Dan & I were… well, reminding each other of one of the reasons we were so thankful to be married); reading Skippyjon Jones; helping Kate brush her teeth before her nap (she had had a lollipop); getting Kate in for her nap — twice; and sending Dan upstairs to help Kate actually fall asleep for her nap. (He was cleaning the office.)

I had no clue that making mashed potatoes was going to be so exhausting.

Apparently, the secret to great mashed potatoes is lots of butter and four hours. Because there weren’t even leftovers.

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for (in no particular order, really):

10. Family. Beyond my husband and my children (which, der), I love being with my parents, my siblings, even — gulp — my in-laws. I got to spend a couple of hours with Dr. Sis Tuesday night (we picked her up from the airport), and it was nice to just sit and talk about our lives and how she is doing in North Carolina. I am extremely fond of my sisters-in-law, who are extraordinary women in their own rights. I have been so lucky and blessed in this area.

9. Craft beer — what we used to call microbrews in the ’90s. And places like The Sharp Edge and Bocktown to drink them.

8. Social media. If you don’t “do” social media, it’s hard to explain to you why I am thankful for this. Suffice to say: I’ve met some neat people who do some neat things. I hope to become more involved as time goes on (and my children get older…). You’re all awesome!

7. That my kids make me laugh.

6. Health insurance.

5. A day off in the middle of the week. Middle-ish.

4. That I am almost done Christmas shopping.


2. My new hair style. (Yeah, I’m reaching. I mean, it’s true and all.) How about: my stylist, who is a great friend who gives me great hair plus loves my kids like crazy.

1. That I am not hosting Thanksgiving today; all I need to do is whip up some mashed potatoes and remember the Morning Star stuff, and walk across the yard. I love to cook, but this year, hosting anything and/r cooking a ton of food are the last things I need on my plate.

Happy Thanksgiving, all y’all. Do it up.

Snippet: Language II

Flora has recently learned (I suspect through daycare channels) that “willy” is another word for boy business (as we call it around here).

During Sunday’s Steelers game, Dan exclaimed, “Go, Fast Willie!”

Flora was flabbergasted. She turned to me and hissed, “Daddy just said a potty word!”

Dan was nonplussed, and I fell to the floor laughing.

We also have a DVD animated version of Whistle for Willie, a children’s book by Ezra Jack Keats.

When I told her the name of the story, Flora asked in the tones of deepest outrage, “Who would name a dog ‘willy’?”

Rant: Troll

I do not understand Internet trolling. I do not understand why you would visit someone’s blog (in this case) and call her names and belittle her — especially if the post in question is about trying to bring joy to sick kids.

It’s one thing to be mean on a news site or call fellow commenters on those sites names. I can understand a difference of opinion. Although when it gets to the level of flaming, hate-filled speech it should just stop. People certainly have big cojones on the Internet, I’ll give them that.

I have never posted anonymously on any site anywhere. (Well, okay, when Niobe has her confessions, I have commented anonymously there; it’s the rule.) Even when I have disagreed with a blog author, I have simply stated my opinion, without calling anyone names, and without hiding behind the “anonymous” button on the comment page.

I also have never had a troll. I am a little, itty bitty mostly-mommy blog. I probably know (virtually or otherwise) everyone who stops by for a visit. I am sure that my daily stats are a mere fraction of Ginny’s. And I’m okay with that. I do this thing for me.

When I was talking to my husband about this last night, he said two things that hit home. One, about the nature of the comments from “UPMSee”, was, “Sounds personal.”

Sounds personal. Someone with a mean streak who doesn’t like Ginny. Coming to her site and making trouble because he/she doesn’t like Ginny, or her husband, or maybe her family. Maybe it’s jealousy; maybe it’s one of the many Pittsburgh people Ginny has — non-anonymously — lambasted on her personal blog. Mayor Lukey? Skippy Skeeve? Probably not one of the big dogs; after all, to be a big dog a certain amount of skin thickener needs to be applied. So, probably a little dog.

A little, mean-tempered dog.

The other thing Dan said that gave me pause was: “Why doesn’t she just delete the comments?”

I think I stuttered something about ‘censorship’ and ‘being fair’ but he just kind of snorted at me. “Come on,” he said. “It’s a personal blog. If someone came to your blog and said something rude about one of our children, you would delete it.”

He turned back to the Penguins’ game. “You media-types,” he said. “You’re too quick to call censorship. When someone’s being nasty [on a blog], you have the right to stop them. Screw ’em.”

I have to say, I agree with Dan on this one. Here’s why:

1. He’s right; it’s not censorship. “Censorship is the suppression of speech or deletion of communicative material which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the government or media organizations as determined by a censor.”

That’s Church is a personal blog — a very entertaining, funny, and sometimes touching personal blog, in my opinion. It’s not exactly a hotbed of government or media communication. (I hope Ginny doesn’t take offense to that.)

2. As in the case of many trolls, the comments are not this person’s opinion. They are mean, nasty, name-calling comments. Whoever this person is, he/she does not like Ginny, does not like That’s Church, and he/she feels the compulsion to disparage Ginny and her blog and, for some reason, her effort to give something fun to sick kids.

3. The presence of a troll brings everyone else down. While trying to chant the mantra “Don’t feed the troll” sometimes the compulsion to name-call right back is… well, it’s hard to overcome. I am guilty of feeding the troll. Not often, and not a lot. But I have done it. And you know what? The troll likes to be fed.

Here’s what to remember about trolls from classic and popular literature: They are loud, dumb, and smelly. They come to bad ends.

I know that, really, this is none of my business. Whether or not Ginny decides to delete her troll’s comments is completely up to her. But I would love for Ginny to toss out the meanest of UPMSee’s comments, keep the one where he/she promises to give $100 to the fundraiser Ginny has organized for the kids, and get the number of comments on that post to 100. Which will probably happen by the time I post this.

And remember: Don’t feed the troll.


Problem Child*

Kate and I are having some issues. More to the point, I am having some issues with Kate and her behavior.

She is an energetic child, and she does not sit still. It has become much more of an issue in public than anywhere else, and it’s exhausting. I felt like my Friday evening and most of the day on Saturday was spent literally wrestling with her.

On Friday, the combined mis-behavior of my two children lead to us leaving a restaurant for the first time ever (we got our dinner to go). (So much for all that Progress.)

Saturday, we were at an indoor craft fair in Dormont (organized by my SIL), and I was unable to relax and look at things. Kate had to touch everything, run, kiss the metal frogs, and just generally be my Wild Child in spades. I wanted to buy pottery mugs (or goblets) for Dan and me, and order personalized books, and check out a couple other booths, and Kate made it impossible.

I worried that I was going to have to bail on Saturday night dinner with ClumberKim and her family, plus two other tweeps (Abby and Beth). The girls were tired of running around (truth be told, so was I!), but I wanted to see our friends, too. It turned out to be okay (although putting a party of 9, including four kids, in the middle of the restaurant was a risky decision on our hostess’ part), but Kate barely ate, and I barely got to eat, and I did not get to have a conversation with anyone. Despite Flora and Oliver being happily occupied, I was fielding questions along the lines of “How do you spell ‘publicity’?” from Flora and trying to keep Kate from falling out of her booster seat (although Mr. Clumber should be lauded for his ability to occupy two under-3s at the same time).

And then there is the whole potty issue. At one time, Kate was willingly peeing on the toilet — she had to be prompted WAY more often than she asked to go (I mean, like, 15-to-1), but I figured we were making headway.

But she refuses to poop on the potty. And lately, that refusal to poop on the potty has turned into a refusal to poop at all. She goes two days at a time between BMs, and by the end of the second day, she is a miserable, cranky, non-eating almost-3-year-old. This refusal to poop on the potty has lead to extreme reluctance to even sit on the potty to pee, so every half-hour turns into a struggle just to get her into the bathroom.

Dan says my expectations are too high, but we haven’t gotten to discuss this in depth yet. I’m not sure if he doesn’t think she’s ready to potty train (he has tried to be encouraging in this endeavor too) or if my exasperation at some of her other behaviors is out of hand.

She is a terrible listener; she is stubborn; she is aggressive (Flora was never aggressive). Trying to channel her behavior is futile, whether I’m trying to play a game with her, get her on the potty, or otherwise occupying her time. Hallmarks of a typical almost-3?

Conversely, I am impatient. I’m not sure if I am more impatient than I was with Flora or if I am more impatient in general, or what exactly. My stress levels are definitely different now, with Kate at this stage, than they were when Flora was here.

Good points: Kate will occupy herself (she just doesn’t like direction). Her attention span is good. She will clean up when asked (three times out of five, anyway). She still naps. (Whew.) She is dang funny.

I’m not sure what to do. Stay home a lot more for awhile on the weekends — I think that would be good for all of us, frankly. Pull back on the potty training? They are trying to get her to go on the potty at daycare, too. (I haven’t trained a kid as a WOTHM, so I’m not sure of the most effective approach to this.) Anything else?

*Just to clarify: Kate, of course, is not a problem child. She is, simply, MY problem and a child, and this is really about me and not about her. Okay, it’s a little about her.

Snippet: Words

While Flora misuses words, Kate is still at the stage where she is primarily mispronouncing them.

For example, Flora brought me a picture she had drawn of a big, fat cat.

“This cat has a lot of kitties in her belly,” she declared. “She’s permanent.”

“You mean pregnant,” I said.

“What does pregnant mean?”

“It means you have a lot of kitties in your belly.”

Kate says: to-moll-oh. It’s adorable. She knows what it means (the day after today). She just can’t say it yet.