Saturday, November 22, 2008


Yesterday as I was moving around my kitchen making dinner for myself, I stepped on something.

Usually if I'm going to step on something small on the kitchen floor, it's a piece of kibble that the cat knocked out of his food dish and swatted around. He'll do that occasionally in protest of the brand of cat food or as a reminder that he needs a fresh can of tuna.

He's very thoughtful that way.

What I stepped on, however, was small and hard and did not go *crunch* underfoot.

It was a tiny, hard plastic cherry from one of the girls' games Hi-Ho-Cherry-O.

The game board has long since disintegrated, but the girls hung on to those little cherries tenaciously, first in a ziplock bag, then in a plastic pencil case. Eventually, I thought that the cherries had finally made it to that Great Toy Land in the Sky where missing checker pieces and Barbie's socks, stilettos and scrunchies spend their eternity decomposing.

Somehow that little guy survived and ended up, like so may other things in this house, underfoot.

Spunky Critters Underfoot:

Stepping on the cat is usually fraught with greater peril since he has a full set of claws and teeth and will use them as needed.

The kids are bigger now, so I'm not likely to stomp on them; they're more likely to tackle me these days, but they still manage to get in my hair.

Special "Offerings" Underfoot

The girls are pretty good about letting me know if they've thrown up somewhere so I'm not likely to step in it. Unfortunately, kids tend to throw up in the wee-est of wee hours of the morning, like, say, three in the morning, at which point all they want to do is cuddle with Mommy. At three a.m.

The cat, on the other hand, is not quite as diligent about keeping me informed, regardless of what time he pukes. He's just as cuddly though.

Scattered Toys Underfoot:

The catnip toys don't pose a huge danger, although the kitty-drool that saturates them may be fairly high on the Ick-o-Meter.

Stepping onto one of the kids' toys, whether it's a teeny-tiny Barbie accessory or the most dreaded of toys: the Lego, is excruciating.

Ok, so it might not be as painful as childbirth, but those Legos hurt! They just might be indestructible.

On the list of the worst children's toys to feel under your feet, I think that Legos have to be at the very top of the list, although when I was a kid, I think that jacks would have taken parents' vote for the least favorite toy to step on when they're navigating a dark house in the middle of the night.

Do kids even play with jacks or marbles anymore? I loved them. One of my most vivid memories of playing with jacks involved flushing them down the toilet to see if they'd get whisked away.

They did, in case you were wondering.

Better that than impaling your foot on one and then having to go to the Emergency Room for a tetanus shot, right?

Right. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Poop, Glorious Poop

I swore I had blogged this here once, but as I perused the archive, I did not see it anywhere. Hmm, such are the perils of opening 678,953 blogs all over the internet. I really need to consolidate them, because truly, it would be a crying shame if this fine bit of family history were lost forever. My kids still ask me to tell them this story.

This comes from way back in March, 2001, when I was rather pregnant with my son. My older daughter Natalie was not quite 2 at the time and totally uninterested in potty-training. That was ok by me. Frankly, I'd rather just toss a dirty diaper into the trash than have to follow a half-naked kid around the house with a spray bottle of Murphy's oil soap and a roll of paper towels. Also, consider all the money, water and time saved on laundry just by tossing a soiled diaper in the trash, right?

Well, this one day, I had put Natalie down for her morning nap and decided that I would take one too. I'd been sleeping pretty poorly, being preggo and all, so I thought it would be a fantastic idea. Sure. I woke from my nap feeling refreshed, and from the gentle babble coming from her room, heard that Natalie was up too. She was just talking gently, so I wasn't expecting any sort of disaster when I opened the door.

But really, who ever expects disaster? It's a lot like the Spanish Inquisition.

First, some background. At the advanced age of not-quite-two, my darling daughter did not like wearing clothes. I didn't really mind; she would just run around with a diaper on at home. She managed not to strip in public, so I hadn't thought it would hurt anyone. Up until that fateful March day, she had been good about keeping her diaper on. Can you see where this is going?

I opened the door and this is what I saw: Natalie, curled up in a ball on her security blanket, a sodden diaper in one corner, her wet clothes, wadded up in a ball in another corner, and right next to where she lay, a big pile of (for lack of a more colorful word...) poop. I closed the door and gave my husband, the cleaning wizard, a call at work and asked him what the best cleaning strategy would be.

Some minutes later, armed with a bucket of hot, soapy water, a sponge, some carpet stain remover, roll of paper towels and baby wipes, I trudged back upstairs. Again, I opened the door and Natalie, pointing a poop-encrusted finger at the stained carpet, chirped, "Hi Mommy! Mess!" I opened the windows, got the ceiling fan going and went in for a closer look. The pile of poop had been trampled into the carpet. I think she may have even danced on it.

First step: I cleaned her off. It was caked on her legs, between her toes and fingers, on her cheeks and in her hair. Maybe she rolled in it like a dog, who knows? At this point I was not ruling anything out.

Second step: I started in on the carpet. My darling daughter tried to "help" Mommy, but I'm afraid I wasn't very appreciative. She wanted to help with (read: play in) the bucket of water, and shake the carpet cleaner, and unroll the paper towels. Oh yes, a big help indeed.

I'm afraid that the whole neighborhood knew that I could swear like a sailor on occasion- ok, so not my proudest moment, but there it is. I knew that if Natalie ended up swearing in her temper tantrums in the following week, that it'd be all on me. Oh well.

Once I got the carpet as clean as I could, and let the stain remover soak in, I hauled the child off to the tub. Somehow, I did manage to get her clean. Don't know how I did it, but I did. I took her downstairs, put her in the highchair and gave her some food while I did some dishes. Turning my back on her was, as ever, a huge mistake, because after I finished the dishes I saw that she had taken huge mouthfuls of juice and spit them out onto her tray and was splashing it all around. I couldn't even yell anymore. I just cleaned it all up, did some more laundry- her clothes, blankets, bedding, and put her in the play pen.

Next, I put some deep-cleaning foam carpet shampoo on the stains (I bought the stuff once on a whim- I'm glad I did), let it dry and vacuumed it up. I had a little lunch and logged onto the computer to tell my internet friends about Natalie's recent exploit. My head throbbed and my back ached and I felt like crying. Afterward, I had to apply yet more carpet stain remover. Still, it didn't really work.When my husband came home from work that night, he checked out the room. I had done a good job, but there was an aroma of kennel lingering in the room which was there even when we moved later that year. Some messes have a way of sticking around.

I no longer shudder when I tell this story. I smile at my kids' unholy glee at hearing this story old over and over. I suppose that a distance of 9 years is enough for even the stinkiest story to sweeten up a bit. After all, life goes on, and, as any parent will tell you, it is filled with poop

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 18

Forgive me if I'm not responsive today to messages or phone calls. I may not even answer the door.

Today, all is ashes in my mouth, and I can't see through the tears.

I received this not long after my son's death 7 years ago:

Oh Mother, my Mother

Oh Mother, my mother
I touch your tears
invisible fingers
soothing your skin
I know you think of me often
in the day, in the night,
in your dreams
going into an empty nursery
knowing I'll never be there
but I am... in your heart
in your soul, I shall always be
for you gave so unselfishly
of yourself.
Inside of you, you created
such a world for me
a world of laughter, of love,
of sadness, of sorrow
every emotion people come to know
you shared with me.
And even though I may never
feel your arms around me
I felt your heart beating,
like a lullaby, singing me to sleep
and your spirit giving me a safe haven
already protecting me
nurturing me
preparing me of things to come.
But sometimes the journey
of life pulls souls apart
and yes, I had to go on
to another place.
I wish I could stay
I wish this was a decision
I could make
and I know you do too.
Know this wherever you are:
I will always remember
that yours was the first love
the first joy, the first soul
I will ever know
you gave me courage to
go on in my journey
I hope I can do the same
for you
Your heart beat will always
call me to you

Love, your child

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happiness is three pairs of fuzzy socks


Yesterday, in the final blow-out of our extended pajama-party/lazy-slug-fest that was Christmas vacation, the girls stumbled upon the bag of stocking presents I'd hidden away so cleverly that even I'd forgotten where I'd concealed it. (Note: not the first time that has happened...) Kids' noses are extraordinarily keen at sniffing out those presents, and my 8 year-old seems to be especially adept at it.

She went into my room for some made-up reason; I heard a rustling and then, "Hey Mommy! I think I found something that you forgot to put away!"

Well, I knew that could only mean a box of feminine hygiene products or the bag of stocking gifts which I'd been unable to find in that mad dash to pack and get the hell out of the house and on the road to my parents' house. I did a quick inventory in my head and realized that I'm very good at concealing the first items and figured she meant the gifts.

I bellowed back, "Get out of that bag! And get out of my ROOM! ARGH!"

The wretch sneaked back out with the hugest grin on her face, so I knew that she'd seen the Hello Kitty purse I'd bought her. Lucy, now aware that something was afoot, then got up off the couch as unobtrusively as a 5 year-old could manage (read: not at all) and tip-toed into my room to have a look for herself.

By her squeal, I judged that she'd found the Dora purse I'd gotten her.

"Get. Out. NOW!!" I hollered.

Giggling, she ran out. The two of them looked at me with those twinkling eyes and any hope I'd had of keeping the bag of gifts as a fall-back for Natalie's birthday in April had crashed and burned. Monstrous children.

"Ok," I sighed. "Go get the damn bag and let's see what we've got."

We had: a purse and a locket for each of the girls, some ordinary socks (hey, I'm a mom and a practical one), some Hello Kitty glamor pens, a bag of chocolate coins, a colony of chocolate santas, and three pairs of fuzzy socks. We divvied up the chocolate among the three of us, and looked at the fuzzy socks.

"Hmmm," I thought, "How do I split up three pairs of socks among two kids," when Natalie said,

"Hey Mommy! You get a pair too!"

Cool. Problem solved.

We all put on our fuzzy socks and giggled. I swear, I think we were high on chocolate, or maybe it was hypothermia, it is pretty cold here after all. For some reason, it tickled all three of us that we each had our own pair of fuzzy socks. We sat all snuggled up on the couch and admired our feet clad in slippery, fuzzy, shiny socks.

"OMG, Mommy! Take a picture!" shrieked one of them.

So I did.

I'm amazed at how happy I am lately.

Maybe I'm just high from some sort of radon leak in my house. Who the hell knows.

I do know that my times with the girls the past few months have been better, happier, more content. Sure, they still push my buttons and I send them to their rooms, but we've had so many more times all snuggled together on the couch watching cartoons, movies or reading books. On occasion, they even like to nap with me now, sucked up to me like a remora on a shark.

Could it be that they've finally adjusted to the separation and consequent bouncing back and forth between two houses? Now they're happy when they're here and not missing their dad as much as before because they know that they will see him in a few days and that they'll be back here after that and so on.

Or maybe, sometimes happiness just comes in the form of three pairs of fuzzy socks.