Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Celeb vote on the back seat of the station wagon issue...

It must be noted that last night on American Idol, Ryan Seacrest used the term "way back" when discussing sitting in the very back seat of the family station wagon growing up.

(Yes, I watch American Idol. Heck, I even participate in an AI pool. Sadly, my choice to win it all left last week, and I fear my runner-up choice is going to be leaving tonight....)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Six random things

Whee, another meme - this one from my dear friend Coco's blog...

Six Random Things About ME!

1. I can wiggle my ears. (This may not sound like much, but it has already garnered me Coolest Aunt Ever status in the eyes of my four-year-old nephew, who was quite disgusted to learn that his own mother can't do this. "But Aunt Heather can, Mom!" Hee!)

2. My feet are two different sizes, both unfortunately large. My left foot is a 10, my right foot is a 9. I generally buy size 10s and then deal with always having one shoe being a size too large. I recently read Helen Mirren's new memoir and she mentions in it that she too has two different sized feet, and mentions the first time she ever had shoes that fit both her feet, which happened after getting two different pairs - this was the year she won all the awards for playing Queen Elizabeth, so apparently I just need to get nominated for an Oscar (or at least a Golden Globe) and then I'll be able to have two matching-yet-different-size shoes brought to me, along with fabulous, couture gowns. At the very least, it is something that Dame Helen and I have in common, so that's kinda kewl.

3. I eat my food one thing at a time. Always have, ever since I was a child. I also have issues (aka another one of my things) with foods touching. I don't have a conscious pattern or plan to the order in which I eat my food, but after trying to figure out what my subconscious pattern is, I've found I generally eat the meat item last and I usually start with the vegetables, unless there's salad and then I eat that first. I must say one of the things I enjoyed when I lived in Italy (student exchange the summer before my junior year of high school) was the fact that meals were served one thing (course) at a time, even at home for plain, old, non-company, informal meals. Also, I rotate my plate so the food that I'm eating is closest to me. Yes, buffets and holidays are rather nightmarish, and yes, I'm the butt of many jokes (my uncle never fails to ask me if I want one of those plates with the dividers at Christmas dinner) because of it, but I just can't help it!!

4. I was on Jeopardy once. (March 11, 2003 to be exact.) I came in second thanks to a killer Final Jeopardy question, but Hubby was proud of me for "not betting like a girl" on the Daily Double or FJ and I don't think I embarassed myself too badly at any point. (Of the questions I answered, I only got two wrong. Not too shabby.) Even though I didn't win (cue Weird Al here), we still threw a huge viewing party - over 100 friends came, ate pizza and cake (that featured the picture below on it - no one would eat my face HEE!) and watched my 22 minutes of semi-fame. So much fun!!

5. I cannot for the life of me dance. I have zero dancing ability. I cannot, even with lessons, adequately or accurately perform any real dance steps. This was more of an issue back in school, when I longed for a career in musical theatre but dreaded (and failed miserably) each and every dance required of my part in the various school shows. The worst of the school show dances was senior year when I had to jitterbug... I still feel the need to apologize to the unlucky boys who had to suffer through being my partner back then. Nowadays, my public dancing opportunities are much more limited, and it's a good thing, too. The Electric Slide? I'll invariably wind up facing the wrong direction. Forget anything more complicated than that. I did briefly master the Macarena (the year it came out and was all the rage, several of our friends had weddings, so I had the opportunity to see it, if not do it, on a pretty regular basis) but even that has left me. Just about the only dance I can do is the Hokey Pokey - I even manage to screw up the Chicken Dance. Yes, I am that stereotypical Rhythmically Challenged White Person. I'm not quite as bad as Elaine Benis, however...

6. I know how to dock tails and perform castrations, and I've done both many times in my life. (To lambs, folks, let's not let imaginations run wild here...) I actually know multiple methods for properly castrating and docking tails. When I was in fourth grade, we had a public speaking assignment for which we were to do a five minute presentation on a topic that would be "different, interesting and educational" for our classmates. When I mentioned this assignment at dinner that night, my father (he of the perennial jokester personality) suggested I do docking and castration, pointing out it wasn't something anyone else in my class was likely to know much about. (True enough - the only other kid in my class who lived on a farm was a boy named Dale, and his family just kept chickens - no docking or castration required there.) Unfortunately for my future chances at popularity, I took Dad seriously and duly created my five minute presentation on just that subject, complete with illustrated diagrams drawn carefully on large sheets of OakTag, and memorized my speech. The morning of the presentation, I asked my mother if I could take our elastrator to school as a prop. It was then my parents realized what my topic was, and this was not the most opportune time to learn Dad had been kidding. It was too late to change subjects at this point, and I was darn proud of the effort I'd put into it and insisted I wasn't redoing anything. So, I sealed my fate as Weirdo Nerd Girl by confidently and loudly describing the various methods of docking and castration, with color diagrams and props. No one had a single question for me (I'm sure if we'd been in junior or senior high, they would've come up with something), but the teacher, who had left the room and returned with a few other teachers specifically to watch my presentation, could barely stifle her laughter. She was crying from the effort of not laughing. Thank goodness this was before the digital video, camera phone and YouTube era. I did, later that year, do the same presentation to fulfill an annual requirement for my 4-H club, and no one - not a child or adult - found my topic the least bit funny then. It seriously was several years later before I realized the true extent of what I'd done that day. Obliviousness and innocence saved me on that actual day in 4th grade, but retroactively, I was horrified!

So there you go. Six random things about me. Feel free to join in the fun, either in the comments section here or on your own blog, and please link back if you do!

(Oh and in non-random things about me related news, the kiddo is doing much better. No more vomiting, no more fever, enough antibiotic in her that school looks like a probability for tomorrow.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

The first bout of strep

The kiddo is currently in the midst of a crisis-level bout of strep throat. It came on out of nowhere today. Things started out unextraordinairily enough - she woke up slightly earlier than normal (5:45 instead of 6-6:30ish) but was in good spirits, ate her full breakfast, etc. She went to school and at pick-up time, I got a good report from the teachers - nothing out of the ordinary at all.

In the hour after school, however, she went from being fine - telling me all about the life cycle of a butterfly (frogs and butterflies were the theme for preschool this week) - to limp, practically passing out with glazed eyes rolling back into her head, draped across me. She also went from cool as a cucumber to burning up in - I am not kidding or exaggerating here - less than ten minutes, and began complaining of a "bad" headache. We were not at home when this sudden change occurred, so I promptly bailed on our lunch date just as she was setting the food on the table, hauled the kiddo out to the car and headed for home. The twenty minutes it took me to get across town were the scariest twenty minutes I've had with the kiddo in a health-related situation since the time when she was an infant and spiked a high fever, resulting in a trip to the ER in the middle of the night. I debated going straight to the ER as I watched her in the rearview - her leg, where I could feel it when reaching back, just above the ankle, was so hot and she wasn't very responsive. I drilled her with questions, trying to ascertain her other symptoms. I seriously thought it could've been meningitis, and was trying hard not to let my mind race eighty steps ahead even as I broke every single speed limit between where we were and home. As soon as we pulled in, I carried her upstairs - she said she was too tired to walk - and took her temperature. 102.9. I was on the phone with our pediatrician's office even before I got the children's Motrin into her. Fortunately, their office is five minutes from our house, and with the luck of getting all green lights, I was carrying my feverish, dazed child into the waiting room three minutes after hanging up the phone. (The pediatrician's office is closer than the nearest hospital, which is why I brought her there.) Within half an hour of our arrival, we were on our way to the pharmacy, the doctor having diagnosed her with strep following a remarkably positive strep test, despite her not having any complaints of a sore throat. (Thank goodness these tests now take less than 3 minutes - I remember as a child, the cultures needed at least a day or two before the results could be determined.) We waited for the Keflex prescription to be filled, and as we waited the kiddo briefly rallied, most likely from the Motrin finally kicking in to lower her temp. The doctor's instructions were to give her a dose as soon as we got home, another before bed, then again in the morning and the hope was that with the three doses in her, we'd be all right to keep our plans to attend the circus with some friends tomorrow - plans we've had for almost two months and about which the kiddo has been mucho excited.

We got back home and I gave her the Keflex. This is only the third time she's ever had antibiotics in her almost-five years, and the first for this particular one. She hadn't eaten anything since snack at preschool (which featured a birthday cookie cake for one of her classmates) so I gave her a glass of juice to wash down the rather foul, sulfury-smelling medicine.

Not twenty minutes later, the vomiting began. The first bout brought up everything she had ingested since waking this morning. (I recognized various bits of curdled things as they poured over my hands, arms and into my lap...) But that wasn't the end of it. The kiddo proceeded to keep throwing up about every twenty minutes for the next five hours. After the first, massive heaving, I called the doctor again while the kiddo stood under the shower (we were both contaminated from hair to feet). I figured it was the Keflex that caused her to throw up, but he assured me it was actually the strep. Now, as a child, my one sister would hear the word "strep" and develop a raging case, but I don't recall her ever throwing up from it. It was a sore throat kinda thing - same thing holds true for the two times I ever had it myself. (I - knock on wood - seem to be fairly well immune to coming down with strep. Knocking wood again.) The doctor's advice was to wait 30 minutes for her stomach to settle, then to push some liquids, one tablespoon at a time, for an hour, and if they stayed down, give her the next dose of Keflex and Motrin at bedtime (7pm). Well, the vomiting continued and not a single drop of anything - not water, not Gatorade - was staying down for more than 20 minutes and then her fever started going up again, which really had both Hubby and I concerned. Back on the phone with the doctor's office. The doctor on call was neither our usual doctor (who was off today) nor the doctor we saw and then with whom I spoke earlier in the day. He was immediately concerned about dehydration, as Hubby and I had been. His instructions were to give her one tablespoon of Gatorade every five minutes, regardless of whether or not she threw it back up, for as long as she would stay awake. Once she was sleeping (at this point it was 7pm, though she was still awake and watching her zillionth episode of Word World of the night), he said to let her sleep. If the signs of dehydration worsened, we were to call him back and then head to the ER. Additionally, he recommended giving her some Tylenol to see if that would stay down and bring the fever down.

Well, we pushed the fluids as instructed, and Hubby ran out for children's Tylenol. He measured off a tablespoon and marked a cup for me, and every five minutes, the kiddo sipped another tablespoon. We got almost 8 ounces into her this way (and thanks to several more episodes of Word World - I think she saw every one on our extensive TiFaux list) before she asked to go to bed. Better still, she stopped vomiting by 8pm (knocking wood) and seemed much more comfortable with the Tylenol in her system. She went to sleep around 9:00, and now I'm just staying up until her next dose of Tylenol. We've got her door open so we can hear any telltale sounds of trouble, and I'm just hoping and praying that her stomach has settled and she'll sleep well tonight. The circus is obviously out for tomorrow. If the rest of the night goes well and we don't wind up in the ER, we'll try the Keflex again in the morning (per doctor's instructions) and hopefully knock this freaking strep out of her system.

I made the same mistake I always do whenever I'm told any diagnosis, either for myself or anyone in my family or friends. I hop on the computer and google it. Since my recollections about childhood strep were fuzzy at best and didn't affect me directly (the first time I ever had it myself, I was 19 years old), I wanted to refresh myself on the symptoms and treatments. Now, of course, I'm worrying that the kiddo will develop acute rheumatic fever and its accompanying heart conditions since we can't get the antibiotics into her and the strep onset was so sudden and severe... Ugh.

I am telling you - and all parents already know this, there is nothing scarier than a very sick child. The feeling of helplessness and powerlessness is unbearable and heartbreaking. I am so grateful that she is, for the moment, resting comfortably and that we are not on our way to the hospital. If this is how strep manifests itself in her, I fervently hope she never, ever gets it again.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I? Am an eeeediot, with a capital EEEEEE.

Seriously, I'm losing whatever few remaining marbles I once had rolling about the vast cavern of my noggin...

The latest YMCA session brochure came in the mail a few weeks ago. We've been planning to sign the kiddo up for swimming lessons again for the summer, so I figured I'd start with the Spring II session that goes through June as well as the June-August summer session. (The kiddo is seriously part fish, and has adored swimming lessons since we first started taking her, back when she was two and a mere "Shrimp-Kipper" in the pool with Mommy or Daddy. At the end of last summer, she passed the test to move up from "Pike" to "Eel" which is when the kids are in the deep end of the big, cold pool, instead of in the shallow, warm-water instructional pool. The Big Time! Oh, and also thankfully well beyond the "parent in the pool" level as well, woot woot!) I procrastinated, as is my style, on doing the registration (which could be done many ways - online, over the phone, by mail.....) until the other day when I was at the Y to work out and therefore had to be at the front desk anyway to check in, so I finally got around to it, since after all classes started for the new session this week. Yes, I patted myself heartily on the back for finally getting her registered on Monday for the class starting this afternoon. Talked up the whole swimming lesson thing to the kiddo all week, getting her even MORE psyched than she already was about the recommencement of swimming for the season. Today was an agonizing trial of patience for her, since school lets out at 11:30 but swimming doesn't start until 4. I tried to fill the time up with various tasks and errands that had to be done anyhow, thinking it would help time pass - things that she usually enjoys, even, like the post office and the drive-thru teller lane at the bank (y'know, where the cannister shoooooops up the tube and into the little banking outpost office like magic...). She got progressively more grumpy that it wasn't yet time for swimming with every passing millisecond. It was on the verge of getting ugly. She had her (brand new, chosen by the kiddo herself from the Land's End catalog and delivered to her by the UPS dude last week) bathing suit on by 2:30 and everything.

FINALLY it was time to head over to the Y. She was literally BOUNCING with glee at the impending swimming lesson - a bundle of pure excitement and joy. She didn't even complain about the pre-pool shower (which in a few weeks I'm sure will revert to its previous PITA status and become once again the thing I try to avoid if the lifeguards aren't paying attention) and was sitting poolside with the other kids with a few minutes to spare 'til 4pm.

I say hello (being the "talk to anyone" sort that I am) to the other mothers who are sitting on the bench opposite from where the kids are sitting, and catch an odd look or two in response. Well, I'd be lying if I said that catching odd looks from folks was an unusual occurrence for me - alas, it isn't. I usually chalk up this particular level of look as a "wow, this total stranger sure is chatty" type and don't really give it another thought. (As opposed to a serious Hairy Eyeball look, which is just one reason why another of my things is a total phobia of being out in public with my fly inadvertently open, and why I therefore typically safety-pin my zippers to the back of the button placket on any pants/jeans/shorts I am wearing. Also why I will never eat Oreos in public - they are the one food that invariably encrusts itself between all my teeth in a weird, chocolate grillz sorta way that makes me therefore horribly self-conscious about eating them outside the privacy of my own home/minivan, where floss and/or toothbrushes are handy. But I digress...) I wandered back over to where the kiddo was sitting poolside as the teachers swam up. I'd only intended to introduce the kiddo and explain that she was a brand-new Eel who hadn't taken lessons since the end of last summer, and as such might be a bit rusty on certain things, but as I was launching into this little spiel, I noticed I was getting the same Odd Look from the teacher.

Hmmm. This was a bit puzzling, I mean, after all, she's the teacher, shouldn't she be expecting my officially-registered child? Doesn't she have the list somewhere with the kiddo's name thereon?

Well. Turns out that the class that the kiddo is in starts NEXT week. Today was the final class of the session that's been going on for the past two months.

Damn. I am an eeeeeeediot. I must've looked at the YMCA brochure at least a dozen times in the past few weeks, and I'm telling you that I was absolutely positive it said that this session was starting this week - the 21st. Nope.

The panic that filled my heart must've been showing on my face at this point, because all I was thinking was "Oh holy heck, now I've got to pull the kiddo away from the pool while the other kids hop in the water, strip her of her bubble and haul her out of here and that is no going to be pretty AT ALL" because the oh-so-kind teacher then went on to say "But she can stay for today, that's fine."

Bless that woman. She saved me from what would've been the Meltdown to End All Meltdowns. I made a thousand apologies to her at the end of class, and she graciously said that she totally understood where I could've gotten confused, since normally the sessions are timed with the school calendars, and as Spring Break was last week, it was eminently sensible for one to assume the new session began this week, but for some reason the sessions didn't match up with the calendar just this one time.

Eminently sensible for one who didn't see the lime-green lettering on the brochure on one's kitchen counter that reads "SPRING SESSION II: APRIL 28" across the front in 36 point font, that is...

So, my latest Bad Mommy Moment was averted thanks only to the kind-heartedness of the YMCA swim instructor. The kiddo went on to get right back in the groove and was happily swimming laps (in the big pool!) and jumping in off the side in no time. I think I may bring her flowers next week...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Five Scents Challenge

My good friend Andy issued this challenge on her blog, so here goes my first official blog meme!

You are walking down the street when you get a whiff of something. It's a nice smell, but you can't immediately figure out what it is. You close your eyes and inhale deeply. All of a sudden you are overcome with a feeling of happiness and a sense of contentedness washes over you. The scent conjures up a wonderful memory that you haven't thought of in years. And that sense of inner peace stays with you throughout the day, and each time you close your eyes and think about it you can "smell" the scent again.

Here are my five scents:

Play-Doh. Man, one whiff of a just-opened can of fresh Play-Doh and I'm a kid all over again.

While not quite Andy's "horse manure" specifically, the smell of a barn on a working farm. That mixture of hay, straw, the sweetness of the grain, the undertone of fertilizers and lime and yes, a note or two of manure... We visited a local farm with the kiddo over the weekend, and as we approached the first barn, I caught a whiff of the smell and while others wrinkled their noses, I breathed in deeply because it took me right back to growing up on the farm. (Yes, I'm blocking out the memories of pitching manure, lugging water buckets and being up in the wee hours of a frozen winter's morning during lambing season...)

Certain brands of sunscreen. One sniff of them and I'm down the shore with my family on summer vacation. It isn't mere coincidence that the sunscreen brand I buy most often to use on the kiddo has the "right" smell.

This one might sound weird, but the smell of a New York City sidewalk in winter. I'm not talking eau de bum or anything, but more the smell of a hot chestnuts vendor's cart and hot chocolate mixed with yes, some exhaust fumes and also of snow in the air. It reminds me of going into the city with my family at Christmastime to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and go skating at Rockefeller Center.

That almost undefinable new baby smell. It's the smell that can be mostly forgotten, then you find yourself holding a new baby and bang, there it is again. I rediscovered this one last week when I was holding three week old baby Josie... How does one quantify that smell? A mix of baby soap, possibly powder, maybe a dash of Desitin... it is just that smell that says "new baby" (minus the spit up and poop, of course). I'm sure that there is something primal to it because when I smell it, I am overwhelmed by the urge to care for and snuggle up to the baby providing the scent!

Okay, there are my five. Care to share yours? Please do either in the comments section or on your own blog - please link back so we know where to read your answers!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring Break, preschool-style

Today is the last day of the kiddo's Spring Break (all the area schools have the same week off for break, I do believe). Our week off started out with the kiddo suffering from the stomach bug that has been going around, so not exactly the best start, what with the barfing and all. However, by midweek she was back in form and we could take advantage of the ridiculously gorgeous weather we've been having. (Seriously, highs in the 70s to upper 80s is unheard of 'round here - the year before last we were still having SNOW this same week!) We hit the playground at our favorite park a few times, did the zoo with some friends, visited our favorite local farm (where the week old lambs were giving me major flashbacks), played in the yard, did some actual yardwork - Hubby and the kiddo even got all the deck furniture scrubbed down and set up, so we had lunch outside yesterday afternoon - and capped off the week with our first trip to the gardening store, where we purchased many seeds, all from the kiddo's carefully written and illustrated list. This afternoon, we started many, many seeds... sunflowers, pumpkins, watermelons, cukes, green beans, sugar snap peas, corn, romaine lettuce and spinach. With any luck, this warm weather will hold and we'll have seedlings ready to go into the ground in a month to six weeks... The kiddo also spent a day at her best friends' house while I drove down to Meadville, PA, and spent the day with one of my oldest friends (as in longest-time - we've been friends since freshman year of high school, so 23 years and counting!) and her brand-spankin'-new baby girl, who was born 5 weeks early just like the kiddo was back in the day. It was strange to be holding such a peanut of a babe and to think that there was a time when the kiddo herself was even smaller than that! Baby Josie is cute as a button and I had a great time getting my newborn baby fix in and visiting with my friend and her husband.

Tomorrow morning, we return to business as usual. The kiddo is back to school and I'm heading back to the gym, which hopefully won't be too crowded now that break week is over and the weather is nice. We have been getting up pretty much at our usual time over the past week, so there shouldn't be any grumpy kids or moms here in the morning, but we will have to get out of our jammies a bit earlier than we have been!

Oh, and on the birthday party front, thanks for the suggestions! I discovered last week that we *do* know some people who live in the same town as the park we love and who are willing to make the reservation for us, so that will save us some serious cash. That puts the "renting a park pavilion" plan at the top of the current list, but the downside there is that if it rains, we're kinda screwed. So far, there's only been one rainy birthday so I'm a bit afraid we'll be tempting fate by scheduling a mostly-outdoors party. Stay tuned for further developments.......

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Birthday party budget blues

So, the kiddo has asked us if she can invite her entire preschool class to her birthday party this year. Other parents at preschool have done this - the party we went to a few weekends ago had more than 2/3 of her class in attendance. On the one hand, we'd be totally happy to honor this request, especially given the fact that we didn't have any sort of big, kid-centered birthday party last year. On the other hand, however, the kiddo has a HUGE class - we're talking 22 kids. Add to that her two best friends, who do not attend her preschool but who would definitely be invited, and my nephews, who will be in town that weekend, and we're up to 26 kids. Then there's the fact that the kids are not yet at the "drop them off and pick 'em up again in a couple of hours" age, either, so we have to take at least one grown-up per kid/sibling group into account as well. And that? Is a LOT of people.

We've been bouncing around various ideas for party venues. (Hubby is adamant that such a large party will NOT be taking place at our home. I'd be more inclined just because there are no additional rental fees involved, but yeah, that is a lot of people. The most we've ever had here before is 36 for the kiddo's baptism, but that was all adults besides 3 kids, and adults are less inclined to create total mayhem, and even then it was a bit crowded and a lot of cleaning up afterwards.) Top places we've been considering include the YMCA (we're members), the zoo (we're members there as well), a really cool farm that is also kind of a hike (45 mins - an hourish away, depending on from where in town one is driving), another farm that is significantly closer and renting a pavilion at a local park. Unfortunately, the going rate for a birthday party at the venues I've mentioned is in the $12-15 per kid range, and that doesn't include feeding the adults present. Yikes.

Even the park idea isn't cheap. There's a park 10 minutes away from our house with an awesome playground (the kiddo and I are planning on visiting it later today, as a matter of fact), and they have some nice pavilions there as well. Unfortunately, this park is not in our town, but the next town over, and since we're not residents, the fee more than doubles to rent a pavilion. Add to the rental fee the cost of feeding the masses, decorations (even if it's just a bunch o' balloons), paper products etc, and it starts looking about as expensive as going to the YMCA or the zoo or wherever, plus then we'd be doing the set-up and clean-up.

One thing I'd suggested to the hubby was having the party at such a time that a meal wouldn't be implied. Most of the venues will do a party with just cake, ice cream and juice but no pizza (the meal option of choice) and that way, we've eliminated the whole "feeding the grown-ups" cost altogether. Hubby wasn't too keen on that idea, however. He thinks that it is expected and also customary to feed everyone who attends a party an actual meal.

So, I've got the birthday party budget blues. I don't feel that we're being overindulgent parents or that we're spoiling the kiddo by attempting a whole-class party. Goodness knows, she hears "no" a heck of a lot more than she hears "yes" about things in our everyday life. She truly adores all the kids in her class and wants to have them come and play with her and have fun with her for her birthday. We may wind up having to limit the number of kids, though, since it seems a bit risky to just hope/assume that a good portion of them will not attend. The number we've been using for cost estimates is 20 out of 26, which may be high but doesn't seem improbable.

At this point, I'm leaning towards doing the park thing, (so if anyone out there lives in Parma and wants to help us save $65 in rental fees, we'd be most grateful and appreciative) but we're still crunching numbers. If we do have a whole-class party, this will most likely be the last year we'd do it. Once the kiddo gets to elementary school, we'll start limiting the number of friends she can invite, in part because I'm assuming friendships will start being more selective as the kiddo get older. I don't want to use the "clique" word, but you know what I mean - different social groups start forming, and it seems like that starts a lot earlier nowadays than it did when I was a kid. I guess I'm thinking of this as sort of the end of an era in a way, because it feels like a certain amount of childhood innocence will be disappearing forever once the kiddo climbs on the school bus in September and heads out into the big, bad world of elementary school. Hmmm, I just don't know.

So tell me, dear readers, what are your thoughts on the whole children's birthday party subject and our budget-busting dilemma? Do you think that people have a general expectation of being fed an entire meal (even if that's just pizza and juice) at a birthday party? Would it be chintzy to just have cake and juice and let the kids run around the playground together? Are we being hideously overindulgent by even considering the kiddo's request? Any brilliant suggestions?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hair-raising matters...

I've never had good hair. Well, I guess when I was really little, it wasn't too bad...

But as I exited toddlerhood and headed into little kid-hood, my hair became, at best, a nuisance. It was curly enough to achieve the "bed head" look without much effort, but not curly enough to look cute. Also, I hated having my hair touched, especially with a comb or a brush. (My, poor, sainted mother, who had to deal with my screaming fits whenever she'd approach me with any hair styling implements...) This didn't help matters, and there were many days when I cheerfully went about looking like this:

On those very infrequent days when I would consent to stand still long enough (still producing many an OW! or STOP IT!), my mom managed to get my hair into some semblance of neatness. Usually these days coincided with some Big, Important Event, like the first day of Brownies for example...

My mom never really knew what to do with my hair. It was the complete opposite of my younger sister's hair, which was stick-straight and fine. Her hair looked cute no matter how it was styled - pigtails, pony tail, barrettes, all looked great on her and with a minimum of effort. Mom's ultimate solution was just to keep my hair on the shorter side, so that it couldn't get too crazy.

As time went on, things went downhill for me in the looks department. By seventh grade, I was sporting braces to go along with my ginormous glasses and was hideously unfashionable in any and all clothing choices. I mean, this was the late 70s and early 80s, so it isn't like "fashion" was really all that great anyhow, but I was definitely not cool. So, the only hair solution for my entire look, of course, was a perm. A very, very tight perm.

Yeah. I rocked this look, or a variation thereof, throughout most of junior high and high school. The only difference, really, being the size of my hair and the color. I availed myself of some camomile soap with which I periodically turned my hair a rather odd shade of orangey-red. (As if any more evidence of my bookworm nerdiness was needed, I got the camomile soap tip from some novel or another, and by "novel" I don't mean anything popular. While I don't recall which book I read to glean this kernel of arcane beauty wisdom, it was undoubtedly some Victorian author's work that gave me this brilliant inspiration. Sad, I know.) Apparently my hairstyle icons were Ronald McDonald and Little Orphan Annie...

By senior prom, my hair was huge, as befit a teenage girl in New Jersey in the late 80s.

College, while not in NJ, didn't help much in the "get away from the large, permed hair look" department.
If anything, having the freedom to go get my hair styled however I wanted was worse than the Jersey Perm. I think the worst it ever got was when I tried going blonde (with professional help, mind you - I didn't attempt bleaching it on my own):

That was the zenith - or was it the nadir? - of my hair follies. After that, I went back to something more closely resembling my natural color (though still dyed) and started growing my hair out. In a few years' time, it went from this:

to winding up looking something like this by the mid-90s:

As you can see, medium-long wasn't any better for me, as my hair resolutely clung to its Jersey roots and tried to be big no matter what. Eventually, it got long enough that I could do things with it. Alas, it turned out that having had shorter hair my whole life, I missed out on crucial hair-styling experience. My long hair style repetoire consisted of a ponytail, braids (referred to by my coworkers as my "Pippi Longstocking" look), a faux-French twist using a massive butterfly clip, a barrette at the back of the crown of my head, or just plain down. I would try to blow it out straight sometimes, but it wouldn't last thanks to its natural curl. Occasionally, I'd implore a friend of mine (who insisted that I was ridiculously tender-headed, *humph*) to French braid my hair for me, and when she did it always looked nice. She couldn't be persuaded on a daily basis, however, so usually I wound up in the barrette or scrunchie. I stuck with the long hair -

- until the kiddo was born and developed a passion for wrapping my hair around her itty-bitty wrists and yanking with all her baby might. By the time she was 8 months old, my tender-headed scalp had endured quite enough of that, and I marched into my hair stylist and asked her to cut it all off. This led to the next phase, that I think of as "the Mom 'do" era -

Throughout this latest phase, I've felt, at best, ambivalent about my hair. I like that I broke my decades-long dyeing habit and have gone au naturel, color-wise (and my bank account likes that as well). I liked the concept that having it short enough meant I wouldn't have to worry about it, but even at its shortest, it isn't ever truly "wash and go" - that was more the case when it was longer. It still has just enough curl to be problematic and require more fussing than I care to deal with, and even when fussed with, the end result is still Mom Hair. So, I decided about 6 months ago that I was going to grow it out again. Apparently I suffer from some sort of amnesia regarding exactly how painful it is to grow out one's hair. I've been stuck in that awkward "in between" phase since practically the day I decided to grow it out. As it has gotten longer, my hair has taken on a life of its own. It defies styling attempts - no mousse, gel, or spray can tame it. My current style is best described as "Wolverine Van Beethoven" as you can see here:
So, what to do? It's like my hair is trying to be six years old again, albeit with several more (coarse, wiry) gray strands than I had back in the day.
I know it's reaching a crisis state because lately, I've been considering (and I can't believe I'm going to type these words) getting it permed again. Not the crazy perm of my youth, but a light wave just to give it some style as it gets longer. I'm thinking if I could regress my hair from age 6 back to age 3, I'd be all set...

In the meantime, I'm just glad my kiddo has good hair. It is curly but not crazy, relatively easy to style and looks good more than not. Whew!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Our big, fat, carnival goldfish

I've had a few inquiries in recent weeks about whether or not the kiddo's pet fish, Swimmy, is still with us. Swimmy, incidentally, is the goldfish that the kiddo quite improbably won by chucking a ping pong ball into a teensy fishbowl at a midway booth at one of the many summer festivals in our area last July. You know the booth I mean, dontcha? The one where you get 5 ping pong balls for a buck and the odds are stacked against you, because after all it is a carnival midway game booth? The only reason we even let her try was because we were soooo certain there was no way we were leaving the festival with a fish. Whoops.

Anyhow, that $2 goldfish (Hubby paid for 10 ping pong balls) has now cost us probably somewhere in the $100 range, between the original bowl, gravel and food we bought on the way home from the festival, to the 10 gallon aquarium, additional gravel and filters we bought a few days later, to the various other fishy accoutrements and "treats" acquired over the past 10 months. (Yes, there are such things as "treats" for a pet goldfish, didn't you know that? The kiddo would be happy to point them out to you in the fish aisle of your nearest big box store...) The biggest recurring cost is the filters for Swimmy's tank, though the hubby was mentioning to me the other week that he'd read somewhere online an article detailing how one can make one's own fish tank filters. It sounded vaguely MacGuyver-y to me, and for now we're still sticking with the box of 3 filters for $5. So, after all that expense and effort, I'm pleased to say that
Swimmy hasn't just survived since that day at the festival last July, this fish has thrived!

For photographic proof, when Swimmy first arrived, she (the kiddo says she is a girl) looked like this:

As of this week, Swimmy now looks like this:

(Yes, we were alarmed when the black edging on Swimmy's fins and tail first started fading. What can I tell you? We're not goldfish experts - thank goodness for Google!)

As you can see, besides turning all orange, Swimmy has grown rather large and robust. Swimmy's weekly diet of goldfish flakes, blood worms and algae cakes have served her well. She now can make a definitive THUNKing noise when she swims up to the top of her tank and then flips and heads back down. It's startling to hear this noise from another room, because my biggest fear is that it wasn't the fish causing it, but rather this:

We don't think that Swimmy thinks of the cat as a threat, per se... Swimmy seems to treat anything moving outside her tank as a potential source of feeding and responds as such - swimming frantically back and forth across the top of the tank, making surprisingly audible "pah-pah-pah" sounds as she smacks her little, fishy lips in anticipation. The cat, however, likes to whap at the glass of the tank with her paws whenever Swimmy gets close, and that doesn't seem like a very good idea...

The kiddo actually is fairly good at her pet-tending responsibilities. She feeds Swimmy her daily flakes and she helps with the weekly 20% water change. The kiddo is also responsible for all of Swimmy's tank decoration (interior and exterior) and rotates various "friends" from her toy collection to keep Swimmy company by sitting next to the tank.

So, yes, we still have our carny goldfish, and whew, what a big fish she has become!

Garden 2008 plans...

The kiddo and I (presently stuck indoors with her stomach bug) have been discussing what we want to plant in our food garden this year. So far, this is the list:
  • tomatoes (cherry and full-size)
  • peas (usually we do sugar snap peas)
  • green beans (we had much better success with pole beans than bush beans last year, so will probably do them again)
  • basil
  • parsley
  • cucumbers
  • potatoes
  • watermelon
  • pumpkins
  • sweet corn
  • spinach

Now, the last 5 are the kiddo's requests. I have a sneaking suspicion we'll wind up with very sad looking potatoes if we try them, given how craptastically the carrots turned out last year. As far as the spinach goes, I'm happy to try planting some this year, as it is presently her favorite veggie (raw, with ranch dressing for dipping), and it seems silly (and expensive) to keep buying if I can grow it myself. I had decent results the year I planted romaine lettuce, so I'm hoping that spinach will be similar. Hmm, I might even plant a few heads of romaine again this year, too...

We tried corn one other time, and it failed miserably. I'm going to have to do some research and see if there's anything I can do to grow corn that is higher than a bunny rabbit's eye. Pumpkins and watermelons similarly have not been good crops for our little garden plot, but I'm hoping to use a method I inadvertently developed last year with the cukes and see if that helps. You see, last year my cucumbers went crazy and were taking over not only their section of the garden, but the lawn surrounding it as well. Out of desperation, I stuck some tomato cages around them and wound the vines up and around the cages. Whaddya know - best cuke crop I've ever had! I've read about growing vined fruits and veggies on a trellis (with appropriate supports for the fruit as it grows) and I think I may try that for the melon and pumpkins. Maybe we'll get a few melons and a pumpkin or two out of it - something larger than a golf ball, even! I'll also need to step up my vole and Bunny Foo-foo garden defenses, as last year Bunny Foo-foo ate my tomato seedlings down to the ground overnight and the voles took out most of my melon blooms before they'd had a chance to fruitify. The netting I used to protect the berry patch from the birds worked well - I might try to do something like that over the food garden too, or at least some sort of edging/fencing to keep the critters out.

We haven't started any seeds yet, actually we haven't even bought any seeds yet. I'm thinking in another week or two, we might be ready for our first trip to the garden supply store of the year, so long as the weather stays warmish and sunny... Woo-hoo!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Warning: this post is not for the squeamish!

In the wee, small hours of this morning, the kiddo came in to our bedroom to announce that she had just thrown up. She was carrying the "barf bucket" that we'd set next to her pillow last night at bedtime, and sure enough, the paper towels lining the blue, Tupperware bowl were no longer pristine.

Naturally, no parent ever particularly wants to hear the words "I'm going to throw up!" or "I just threw up!" spoken by their child, especially when those words rouse them from a nice, quiet sleep. This invariably leads to a scene similar to the one that has now occurred twice in our household in recent hours: one parent grimly stripping down bed linens, checking stuffed animals for spatter, marching down to the washer with the assorted contaminated items and then scrubbing up the spots on the carpet while the other (looking equally grim) waits for the barfing to subside, provides the necessary comforting and calming (which may involve getting spattered or doused oneself) then strips and cleans up the kiddo, usually involving a shower, thorough tooth-brushing and complete change o' jammies.

There is some good news to the barfing announcement in our family, however. You see, there was a time not too long ago when our kiddo couldn't tell that she was throwing up, either before, during or after the act. The first time she ever threw up (like from a stomach bug, I mean, not just like spitting up as an infant), she was about 16 months old, and she had been sitting on the floor playing with some toys while I sat on the couch a short distance away. She got up, came over to me, and said in this confused and questioning-y sort of way "Mommmmmmmy?" and then proceeded to vomit all over my lap, the couch and herself. She then turned back around, completely calm, and returned to the spot on the floor where she'd been playing, while I sat stunned and dripping. As I was trying to figure out the best way to get to the necessary cleaning supplies - this was going to require a LOT of paper towels at the least - she turned her head to the side and vomited again. (Isn't it weird how a kid can barely have anything in their system, yet somehow manage to yack up gallons upon gallons of stuff that doesn't even resemble anything they had eaten in recent memory?) Once again, she was utterly calm and not in the least concerned about the volcanic eruptions pouring forth from her mouth. She barfed and then went right back to her blocks, wholly unfazed. It was just....weird. No tears, not the least bit upset, certainly not any sort of reaction I'd ever witnessed in a person involuntarily vomiting before.

In the years that followed that first vomiting episode, the kiddo had a few other stomach bugs. As with that first time, she never seemed aware of or bothered by them. More than once, we didn't discover she'd thrown up until the next morning, when we'd walk in to find her sleeping soundly in a bed covered in hours-old, drying ick. (I warned ya - this post is not for the squeamish!) It still seemed odd that throwing up would rank so low on the "child upset-o-meter" but it was the way it was.

It wasn't until the kiddo was three and a half that we learned why she was so under-responsive to the whole vomiting thing. It was at this point that we had her evaluated by an occupational therapist and learned that our kiddo has Sensory Integration Dysfunction, nowadays more commonly known as Sensory Processing Disorder. Basically, this means that her brain doesn't process the information it receives through the various senses in quite the right way. In her case, the kiddo is a sensory seeker, who tends to be under-responsive to sensory stimuli. This would include the "oh my goodness I'm about to barf!" sense. Another, less icky example is that for the longest time, the kiddo's brain didn't register the sensation of being dizzy. She could (and would) spin and spin and spin and never feel dizzy, even when her body would physically react the way anyone's would after such spinning around. She'd be weaving like a drunken sailor and still want to spin (or be spun) some more.

When we first learned of this diagnosis, I did a crash course on SPD. I read every book I could get my hands on about the topic. (If you're interested in learning more about it, my favorite book on the subject is Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD. Well written and not too dry, it is comprehensive and easy to read without getting caught up in technical terminology or highly academic language that would go over the average reader's head.) Not every person with SPD has the same issues. Some people go the other way of our kiddo - they are hyper-responsive instead of under-responsive, whether it be to the way clothing feels on their body to noises or lights or commotion. In our world, though, we've got a classic example of a sensory seeker. The kiddo needs more (in some cases, waaaay more) sensory input than the average person to be able to register the different sensations properly. This, as you can imagine, led to some difficulties for her, especially once she was out in the world outside our home (like, say, preschool or church or a shopping mall).

The good news is that occupational therapy is doing wonderful things for the kiddo. In just over a year of OT, she has made some huge improvements. They say that there is the possibility for the brain to "rewire" itself to a certain degree when kids with SPD receive the appropriate OT type help, and we can see that this is true. One example is that now when the kiddo spins and spins, eventually she feels dizzy. Yes, it still takes her brain a lot longer than the average person to recognize the sensation, but two years ago that sensation wasn't there at all. Also, the barfing - she now feels that horrible "I'm gonna barf" feeling, often times with enough advance notice to make it to the bathroom or the barf bucket, and to alert us to the coming ick.

They say that one in every twenty children has some form of SPD. They are finding that many children on the autism spectrum have SPD (though not all children with SPD are on the autism spectrum). Even with this prevalence of SPD, it is still a largely unknown, under-researched and understudied disorder, though there are a few places out there trying to change that. There are people out there too, though, some of them "experts" even, who don't believe that SPD is real, or who think that it is a lot of hype - that the folks who are talking about it are making it up, or blowing "bad behavior" out of proportion, and others who think this is just the "new ADD" or something, like a fad or the latest train to jump on - the latest excuse parents use for the less-than-perfect-appearing behavior of their coddled child(ren). (The kiddo even was evaluated by an occupational therapist who didn't "believe" in SPD and gave us a line of hooey about what the kiddo's supposed issues were. While we knew enough at the time to know that she was full of crap, we still wound up losing several months of OT time because of her, and yes, I'm still angry about that more than two years later.)

To those people, those detractors or disbelievers who think that SPD is a load of bull, well, I say take a look at my child. Look at how she was two years ago, and look at her now. There is no denying the signs, the behaviors and the improvements since she began OT. Otherwise, we never would've gotten that early morning wake-up call about the barfing today. I hope that someday in the not-too-distant future, people know and understand SPD the way they do ADD or dyslexia or any other number of issues that impact children in their formative years, but for now I'm just glad that we know about it and that the kiddo is getting the appropriate services to help her with it and hopefully remove some of the challenges that she might face as she enters elementary school in the fall.

(Oh and PS - the barfing? Not the way I'd have chosen to start off the kiddo's Spring Break from school. Not at all!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The sound of silence

I am not going to moan about my sinuses and germies any longer, because I'm feeling mostly better and because I don't want to dwell on it - the pity party is over and I'm sweeping up the leftover confetti and loading the dishwasher now. I say mostly better because I appear to be losing my voice as the rest of everything improves. At the moment, I'm in between "phone sex operator" and "Barry White" which means that by day's end, I will likely be somewhere between "Darth Vader" and "no voice at all" if history is any guide. I'm trying to combat this in two ways. The first way is by not talking as much as possible. (Everyone who knows me, join in: HA HA HA HA HARDY HAR HA HA HEE HEE HOO HOO HAAAAA!!!) I know, I know, it is a Herculean task for Heather to not talk. BUT, it hurts like heck when I do, so I am trying to rest my voice until it heals. I haven't spoken since 9:08 this morning when I left preschool, and I don't intend to speak again until I'm back picking her up at 11:30. See? That will be over two whole hours without me uttering a peep! (Not a record, but surely close...) I've even written out my order for the butcher shop so I don't have to talk (um, as much) when we go in there.

The second thing I'm doing is drinking lots of tea, with honey and lemon.
Salada white tea, to be exact. No, I'm not just saying that because my dad is their VP of Marketing, either - it's seriously good stuff!

*brief pause*..... and I've just gotten off the phone with my sister. Yep, that means I didn't make it the full two hours without speaking, but she had to take my year-old niece to the ER last night for jumping out of her crib (one big lump on the noggin, no concussion, she's fine) so I kinda had to take that call. Well, I went over one hour without talking and am now back to my vow o' silence, at least 'til I arrive back at preschool in a bit.

One other thing. My dear friend Coco recently honored me with this lovely "blog bling" -

It was a very sweet thing for her to do, and I am humbled by Coco's gracious and kind comments about me. All I can say is, it is a mutual admiration society because Coco is one of my favorite people, ever, too. So, thanks and *mwah* Coco! I look forward to our eventual trip to Vegas mostly because it will mean getting to hang out with you, and not even so much because it would mean I'd be on a kid-free vacay for the first time ever since she was born (which was the last time I was in Vegas, too)! Not that any trip is imminent or even in the vaguest of planning, but someday.......

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Why I will never, ever use a neti pot, except on one (highly improbable) condition

I know, I know, neti pots are fantabulous and using one would cure me of all my ills. Here's the thing about why I will never, ever willingly use a neti pot. I haaaaaaate getting water in my nose. Actually, in my nose, eyes or ears. Now, regarding the ears, I have good reason - I'm super-prone to getting ear infections and even getting a drop or two of water in them in the shower can bring on a doozy. As a kid, I had loads of ear infections, including a double-eardrum-rupture sitch on an airplane en route to Florida. Ow. So, my over-caution with water in the ears, not an unfounded concern. The eyes and the nose, I have no valid reasons, it's just a thing of mine. You know, a thing... we all have 'em, right? When I had to swim underwater as a child, like for swimming lessons, I would suit up from goggles through nose clips and ear plugs. Seriously. Nowadays, I have no reason to go underwater. If I'm in a pool (and I am quite a bit these days as the kiddo appears to be part fish), I do that genteel, leave-my-glasses-on, half-assed backstroke or pseudo-doggy-paddle/frontstroke that keeps my ears and face nice and dry. If heat-induced insanity or other madness takes momentary hold and I do decide to dunk underneath the surface, I will close my eyes and hold my nose and ears closed for the entire time I'm submerged. Yes, it is a tremendously funny sight, I know. But, it is a thing of mine, and thus, I will never willingly insert anything up my nose that will flood it with water or any other liquid. Unless George Clooney asked me personally to do so, and I seriously doubt that George is overly concerned with or even aware of the state of my sinuses. I won't even do it at my doctor's suggestion/advice/order - when we lived in NH, I had a crotchety, old country sort of doctah who advised me to fill a serving spoon with warm water and salt and snort that concoction every two hours 'til my sinus infection cleared. Never did it once, though I have become accustomed to using the saline nasal misty spray stuff. So, there you go. I have many things and this is one of them. Maybe I'll post about one of my things each week... that'll be sure to entertain and amuse the masses! Hee!

At least the nasal steroid spray (which smells weirdly of roses and geraniums - kinda like an old lady-esque perfume) is not that bad to administer and working very well. By this afternoon, fully dosed up on the nasal stuff, Muccinex, Tylenol and Advil, I felt up to the task of bringing the kiddo to a classmate's birthday party. I lasted as long as the kiddo did, but an hour and a half inside one of those "greenhouse-style-glass-from-floor-to-ceiling" McDonald's Playplaces with 18 screaming, crazy 4 and 5 year olds? Not what the doctor, George Clooney, or anyone else ordered. Whew. I'm so beat now that I'm planning to be in bed by 8pm. Maybe 7...

Oh - one last thing, have to give a quick shout-out to my hubby for subbing for me as worship leader in church this morning, which was a Communion Sunday on top of everything else. Thanks, dude!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Germtastic update... pity party commencing now

Just got back from the doctor. Well, the pharmacy after the doctor. Turns out I have a sinus infection and also, possibly, the flu. That's the bad news. The worse news? The doc thinks that what I have is viral, not bacterial, in origin, so no antibiotics for me. I did get a prescription for a nasal/sinus steroid, which should be fun, based on the administering instructions the NP gave me when she brought in the scrip. I'm supposed to use that, Muccinex, alternating ibuprofen and Tylenol, nasal saline spray (no neti pots in this face, thankyouverymuch), liquids and rest. Pity party commencing now - it is a gorgeous day out and supposed to be even nicer tomorrow. Waaaaah!!

Friday, April 4, 2008


Bleargh. The kiddo and I both brewed up a nice, steaming batch of germs overnight, and have full-blown colds this morning. I swallowed some ibuprofen around 4am and am still running a fever even with the drugs in my system, and the kiddo's got herself a low grade fever and stuffed up head. The ibuprofen is also not doing much to get rid of my pounding headache or to relieve the "on fire" feeling going on in my throat. *whine, moan, whine* So, no school or after-school playdate for her today, and not much of anything for me, either, beyond huddling up underneath several blankets and moaning. Since we're both stuffed up, I'm going to start up what I like to call the Mentholated Rainforest, wherein I get the humidifier cranked up to 11 and Vicks-ified, along with running hot, steamy showers and hanging out in the bathroom. Yep, it's definitely a Mentholated Rainforest-and-several-cups-of-tea kind of day. The kiddo doesn't mind such days because the TV time rules go out when the window when she's sick, and she gets to watch a lot more than normal, which also aids Mommy in being able to sleep - thank heavens for the commercial-free, children's programming channels! I *heart* our digital cable on days like these! At least it is rainy and dreary out so we won't feel like we're missing much by staying indoors in our jammies...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


You know how "they" say that you should take at least 10,000 steps a day? I've read that many times, along with helpful hints on how to get more exercise into one's day - you know, park in the farthest spot from the entrance instead of driving around looking for the closest spot, taking the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator, etc. Well, I found out that I do not take nearly as many steps as I thought I do by actually wearing a pedometer for the bulk of one day earlier this week. I put it on when I got dressed around 8am and wore it until 4pm, at which point it registered that I'd taken 2,703 steps. Now, this was not a fancy-shmancy pedometer - it was a freebie that Hubby had been given while touring an assisted living facility (um, not for us or any of our relatives, btw; it was a work-related thing). So, Hubby warned me the guy that gave it to him said that it has a 10% error rate, so while the good news (ha, ha) is that I could've taken closer to 3,000 steps, the bad news is it might only have been around 2500. In reality, 10% either way wouldn't get me so much closer to the 10,000 step goal, so that's a non-factor, I suppose, and while I did more walking (up and down stairs after the kiddo, etc) between 4pm and bedtime, it isn't like I took another 7,000 steps. So, I'm woefully under-moving, is the conclusion I've drawn. Depressing to admit, but also nice to have a realistic picture since I honestly had no idea how many steps I typically take in a day. I wore the pedometer on a pretty average day in terms of movement for me - I didn't go to the gym or run a marathon (ha!) or anything, but I didn't sit on the couch reading or in front of my computer for hours on end, either. I guess I'd figured that my routine day (hey, I'm always running upstairs or downstairs for this or that when I'm home, and there's that flight of stairs at the kiddo's preschool, and we're usually out and about doing things during the afternoons....) included more steps. One more reason to renew my commitment to get to the gym at least 3 times a week - to get those extra 7,000 steps in and get me up to that 10,000 mark!

Things that have physcially delayed us while driving the kiddo to preschool in the past 15 days:
- getting stuck behind a snowplow
- getting stuck behind a funeral procession (twice)
- getting stuck by the drawbridge being opened (yeah, kind of an unusual one, but our drive takes us over a drawbridge, so while it is rather cool to see the road just suddenly going straight up in the air as the boats go through and out onto Lake Ontario, it's also a real, literal roadblock and there's no alternate route - we just have to sit there as the road becomes a parking lot for about 10 minutes while the bridge does its thing)
- getting stuck behind a school bus that was picking up kids for about 2 miles before it turned, thankfully, onto a side street (I don't know if the bus was really early or running late, but we usually don't get stopped by buses so I'm guessing this was just a freak thing and hopefully a one-time occurrence!)
- getting stuck on our street by a flock - whoops, I guess technically it'd be a gaggle, now wouldn't it? - of Canada geese who were moseying on across the street en route to the pond behind our property. When I say "moseying" I mean it, too - they were going soooo slowly and I swear honking the horn just slowed them down more!

Things that have made the drive seem much longer while driving the kiddo to preschool in the past 15 days:
- the kiddo repeatedly whistling her version of Flight of the Bumblebee, utilizing her recently acquired mastery of the skill of whistling as well as her entire whistling range which is about 5 notes (Thanks, Little Einsteins, for teaching the kiddo the tune in the first place...)
- the kiddo deciding to count every garage we passed on the way to school, getting up to 119 (not sure if she was counting multi-car garages separately or just one garage per house) and then deciding she "just felt like counting," which she then proceeded to do starting from 1 again
- the kiddo repeatedly singing a snippet of a song they're learning in music class despite repeated pleas to STOP FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, JUST STOP PLEEEEEASE! from her quickly-losing-her-not-very-tight-grip-to-begin-with-on-sanity mommy (the section she keeps singing goes "listen to the water, listen to the water, rolling down the river" and is not recognizable to me either by tune or lyrics.... anyone recognize the words that can maybe help me out? Otherwise, I'm going to have to hunt down the music teacher at preschool, ask her to sing me the song, then bribe her with whatever means necessary to never, ever sing that song again with the kids)
- the kiddo telling the "Knock Knock" classic:
Kiddo: Knock knock!
Mommy: Who's there?
Kiddo: Banana!
Mommy: Banana who?
Kiddo: Knock knock!
Mommy: Who's there?
Kiddo: Banana!
Mommy: Banana who?
Kiddo: Knock knock!
Mommy: Who's there?
Kiddo: Orange!
Mommy: Orange who?
Kiddo: Orange you glad I didn't say banana again? *gales of maniacal laughter*
and by "telling" I mean "repeatedly yelling 'KNOCK KNOCK! I SAID KNOCK KNOCK, MOMMY!!! KNOOOOOOOOOCK KNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOCK!!!!'" when I stopped responding after about the thirtieth repetition, and then mangling the "orange" punchline and having to say "No, wait, I mean, um...." and starting it over three or four times before getting it mostly right.

Another sure sign that spring has sprung? I was brushing our cat this morning and while brushing her, she shed enough fur to make another whole cat, at least. Maybe two, or possibly three smallish kittens... Around our house, Spring = Hairball season!


Oh, I wound up not doing anything for April Fools' Day this year. Turned out I couldn't find the supplies I needed in time. Next year, I'll be all over it though, and will get what I need in advance. Stay tuned - we're just 363 days away!! *evil eyebrow wiggle*

My new favorite clothing in the world? The "lounge pants" (brand - Gilligan and O'Malley Ultimate) that I found recently at Target. Soooo comfy and cheap, too! I'm practically living in them when I'm at home. I was tempted to not change into real clothes the other day when I had to run to the store, but I refrained and did put actual jeans on for the trip. I love comfy clothes and jammies, and these lounge pants fit excellently into both categories! Heavenly!

I may be approaching my late 30s, but I'm still hip enough to have downloaded six songs from this season's American Idol finalists to my iPod. Okay, maybe admitting that I downloaded songs from American Idol isn't hip, but I did, and I enjoyed them thoroughly while running errands when the kiddo was in school this morning! I guess I should score a few "hip" points for having an iPod, at the least. Or is it not even hip to say "hip" anymore? What should I even say? Cool? Happening? With it? Hmmm, this reminds me of one of my favorite Simpsons quotes, with which I shall wrap up this post and get downstairs to test the latest batch of monkey bread that the kiddo and I baked earlier this afternoon (love the way the whole house smells like cinnamon now, too!):

I used to be with it, but then they changed what “it” was, and now what I’m with isn’t it. And what’s “it” seems weird and scary to me. ~ Abraham "Grampa" Simpson

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools' Day

My dad is a master jokester. Seriously, I could go on for pages about the various jokes and pranks he pulled. One that comes to mind every April 1st, however, is the one I'm going to relate now. It was the best April Fools' joke I've ever had pulled on me personally, and one of the best I've ever heard of anywhere else.

It was the year that I was 13 years old. Dad hadn't tried anything yet all day, which was unusual because he was typically good for at least a mini-prank before we left for school. By evening, we'd mostly forgotten about April Fools' and were going through the motions of a quite mundane day. Mom and Dad decided that we'd get pizza for dinner, which was a huge treat back then. Any take-out food was rare in our house, and certainly something to be celebrated. Mom called in the order to our local pizzeria (which we supplied with tomatoes for a few summers when Mom and Dad's gardening got way out of hand and we had an entire, large plot dedicated to tomatoes and cucumbers) and after the 20 minutes were up, Dad headed out to get the 'za. As he pulled back up our very long driveway, he was honking the horn of the truck. This wasn't an entirely unusual occurrence, as we had all manner of cats and dogs as well as a goat that used to let herself out of the barn whenever she darn well pleased, and various combinations of these critters would often hang out in the middle of the driveway, blocking traffic from going any further. (I once, in later years, came with an inch of pancaking that dang goat as we played Chicken with her goaty, swaybacked, saggy body and my beloved Oldsmobile Delta 88. I kept creeping forward, inch by inch, as she stood firm, bleating and spitting at my car. Oh, Skeeter...) The honking did serve to draw our attention to the kitchen door, though, so my sisters, mother and I were all gathered in the kitchen as Dad came in bearing three pizza boxes aloft.

Now, the fact that he had THREE pizza boxes should've tipped us off, as we normally only ever ordered one or at the most two pies. Maybe my mom realized something was up, but before any of us had time to process anything, BAMMO! Dad tripped on the doorstep and landed smack dab on his face and on the pizza boxes, now instantly crushed beneath his chest. There was one eternal second of horrified silence, then the wail went up: "OUR PIZZAAAAAAAAA!" Our faces fell as low as Dad, prone on the floor, pizza boxes squished flat as could be. I think my mom may've asked whether he was okay, but for us girls, it was all about the food. That made the moment even sweeter for Dad, as he groaned and slooooowly got up, shaking his head and saying "well, I guess there won't be any pizza for dinner tonight after all." I believe at least one of us kids was in tears at this point, and we were all equally devastated at the thought of no delicious, cheesy pizza - any alternative menu just couldn't be as tasty and might well include *shudder* lamb, as we had a freezer full of previous barn occupants ever at the ready. We begged him to check and see if there was any slice left that could be salvaged, when he sprang it on us - "APRIL FOOLS'!!!!!!" He opened the boxes to show us that they were empty, while the real pizza was waiting out in the truck. He'd convinced Phil, the pizzeria owner, to give him a few empty boxes so he could prank us, and oh yeah, he got us good that year.

The kiddo is a little on the young side for April Fooling, but that isn't going to stop me from trying to come up with something we can do to Daddy when he gets home from work tonight. I have a few ideas, all of which I think would make Grandpa proud. Shhhh, don't tell him we're plotting, and happy April Fools' Day!

Burning question of the day - the way back

You know how, when we were kids, families drove around in station wagons instead of minivans? And how those station wagons had a third row seat that faced backwards, out the back window? What did you call that third row seat? (I guess it even applies to the minivans of today, now that I think about it. Though our third row seat is usually folded down or removed entirely, so as to better utilize the space to cram things like sleds or wagons or bags of mulch into our Sienna.)

In my family (and I think in my neck of the woods in general), we called that last row seat the way back (as in: I want to sit in the middle because I will get really car sick if I have to sit in the way back for the ride to Grandma's), but Hubby insists the proper term is the back back, and the debate has raged on for over 15 years now in our house. I wonder if this is a regional thing, like soda vs pop. (Side note: I refuse to refer to soda as "pop" even though I'm presently living in a part of the country that is weirdly, firmly entrenched in the pop camp. Drive about an hour east of here and it is 100% soda territory.) I wonder if there are other, completely different terms folks use out there in the great, big world. So, I'm putting it out to you, dear readers: What do you call the third row of seats? Way back, back back, or something completely different?