Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Skanky Is as Skanky Does...

In a show of unprecendented sisterly support, Jamie Lynn Spears has proudly shouted to the world, "You can't call my sister skanky unless y'all ME skanky too!"

Thanks for sharing, Skanky.

The even better news is that, quite coincidentally I'm sure, Lynne Spears' parenting book is on indefinite hold.

Shocking, indeed.

Monday, December 17, 2007

One Small Step for Molly...One Giant Kick for Jo

The two younger girls have big news - - one just kicked her way to a yellow belt, and the youngest of the clan is trying her best to walk.

Try to ignore my enthusiastic maternal screeching.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Happy 1st Birthday Molly Bea

Well, it was bound to happen. Molly Bea turned 1 last week, and we had the good fortune to be surrounded by my entire side of the family, gathered to celebrate an early, but together, Christmas.

For her part, Molly seemed to really enjoy both the tissue paper, the attention, and eventually, the cake. We thought she'd simply cram her face with fistfuls of cake, but, proving she is her mother's daughter, she went for it 100%, determined to get her fill of chocolately carbs...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Big Time Baby Fun

Although she's not usually up in the middle of the night anymore, she was certainly ready for action a few days ago...this is the fun we had at 4:30am in our kitchen. Note the way she pauses for my reaction. Clever girl.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween Part II

A few pics of the kids - - -

MOLLY BEEStill Snow White...
"Grandma JoJo"

Monday, October 29, 2007

Before the Mold...

Happy Halloween!

Here is a lovely photo of our jack o'lanterns before the unfortunate mold set in:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Gratitude and Apologies to Mom

I've been thinking about gratitude lately, and while I don't keep a gratitude journal as Oprah suggests, I do want to pause here to say how thankful I am for all of the wonderful people, blessings and opportunities I have in my life.

But most especially, I'd like to thank my mom, Delphine, for not killing me when I was 12 years old. Thanks, Mom.

Thank you for letting me live to experience the joy of raising my own girls, who are lovely children by all accounts, but who don't take direction all that well, and don't get my passive aggressive hints, such as vacuuming the floor right in front of them while they crane their necks to see the tv behind me.

I get it now, Mom.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

It's Stomach Flu Season - wheeeeeeeeee!

This is a post about vomit.

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, people.

The hubby and I awoke to the sound of gagging, then screaming, on the baby monitor, which led to my racing up the steps to find Molly, sitting up, covered in puke. This was the moment we realized we never bothered to buy a back-up crib sheet. Johannah was so freaked out that she moved out of Molly's room and slept in her own bed for the first time in years; turns out her fear of puking is much worse than her fear of sleeping alone.

The rest of our night:

Clean baby, throw crib sheet in washer, put Molly in bed with us. She pukes again. This was the moment we realized our other sheets were still on the basement floor, next to, but not exactly in line for, the washing machine.

Put baby in the bath while hubby strips the bed. Put Molly back into our bed, now covered with beach towels in lieu of sheets.

Wake to baby puking on the towels in her sleep!

Clean baby. Listen to husband snore. Listen for baby gagging. Listen as alarm goes off at 5am.

I ended up racing to work, putting in some lesson plans, and racing home to drive Jo and Lindsay to school, and relievinb Brendan so he could make it to a big meeting.


All was well Friday night, and Saturday we had a great family day of hanging out, running errands, swimming at the Y pool, and going out to a fabulous Thai restaurant.

Then disaster struck.

Johannah announced that she didn't feel well.

"Will I puke? Will I?" She was nearly hysterical. And pale. Very pale.

"Of course you won't puke. You haven't puked in years. Just take some Tums," I say, knowing damn well she will be puking, and very soon, by the looks of her. This is the kid that went practically apoplectic when our friend threw up on a rocket ride at Oktoberfest. She wasn't faking it either - she was pale, shaking, and completely off her rocker at the IDEA that this girl puked.

And soon, she would be too. In fact, less than an hour later, her little body was hunched over the toilet, heaving, with one arm outstretched behind her - in the international STOP sign.

"Let me be," she croaked.

Of course, I tried to, but I'm a mom, and hovering is what we do best. Tried to get her back to bed, but Brendan and I woke up to that sickening sound of SPLASH on hardwood floor that would wake any parent from a coma.

I ended up sleeping next to her in the guest bed, helping her throw up in a bowl every 20 minutes between 1-4:30am. Then, mercifully, she slept, despite her 103.5 fever, and her mom wiping her sweaty brow every 10 minutes.

So...happy cold and flu season, everyone! May it be short and as painless as possible!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Craziest September I Can Remember

Some people say we look a little bit alike, the 5 Thomas Girls...I just don't see it. :)

It's been hopping around our house all September, with school (and work) back in full swing, the husband taking classes 3 days a week, a fabulous Sisters-Only weekend reunion, and our two weeks with Anna, a wonderful almost 14-year-old from Lauenburg, Germany here for an exchange program with Lindsay. This being our first "free" weekend, my plans were to recover and grade the 300 or so student essays I've accumulated over the past few weeks. Molly helped out by getting a fever and waking up the house at 2, then 4, then 5am both Friday and Saturday nights. So...few papers graded, and little sleep.


Sisters weekend gets first dibs on my time here , because, as those of you with a close-knit family will understand, sisters just come first.

This reunion weekend is a tradition we are starting young, according to many of my friends, who didn't start having sibling weekends by choice until their 50s - - we are starting now, and I wish we could do it every month! With two of us in Chicago, two in California, and lonely me here in Cincinnati (though I get to hog Mom and Dad in Columbus), it takes a bit of planning and budgeting to get everyone together.

But we managed it, and had a fabulous time.

Highlights included: hanging out in pjs and glasses, cracking each other up, Sarah's birthday party and her stories of the Nip/Tuck set, driving to Indiana to visit Grandma and Aunt Pat (Grandma is 96, I think, and still enjoys chocolate cake more than a person should be allowed), sitting outside and barely listening to the annual outdoor mass, trying to use Erin's timer so we could all be in the picture...

You had to be there. But of course, unless you were one of the 5 Thomas Girls, you weren't invited. Sorry. We're a pretty select bunch, I guess :)

All the gals hanging with Grandma in Indiana - taken by the lovely Aunt Pat!!

Sarah showing off a favorite item at Grandma's house since we were kids - - the candy Hen.

Molly managing to look sweet and serious at the same time. Her hair IS growing, by the way...but it's almost a mohawk right now, and thankfully hidden under the hood.

Up next: the lovely Anna from Germany! But first...papers to grade before I fall over.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oh No - it's OJ!

A few comments about OJ's recent troubles:

1) FORD missed a golden opportunity for product placement here - why not pick him up from the courthouse in a white courtesy Bronco?

2) OJ has apparently asked if people really think he's so stupid that he would openly try to rob someone. Yes. Yes we do think you are that stupid. And narcissistic.

3) OJ has also been quoted as saying that he didn't do anything wrong; he had the right to get back what was his. Add the word "at" after the word "what" and I think we have a pretty good idea what was going on in his head when he killed his wife.

It will be interesting to see how he plays the victim card this time around.

Speaking of victims - - how happy is Britney Spears to have OJ on the front page? She has a few weeks to get her act together before the media gets back to her. I hope she uses it wisely! (I suggest a correspondence course and an outfit that suits a mother of two.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Maine Event

Maine was outstanding. Our end of the summer trip has taken on some kind of mythical elements for the girls that can sometimes backfire. (Just ask Johannah, who sobbed on top of Cadillac Mountain because it was too foggy and windy to do our annual blueberry picking. "It's never been like this! Never!" she sobbed.)

The older girls had a grand time with their cousins, Aidan and Francesca. They wrote and performed a play, "The Jest," which was quite a hoot. It had all of the elements of our regular life - the older child pulling one over on the younger child, only in the play, she finds a way to get back at the older kids. Thanks to the pile of debris waiting for the junk man, they even had a set and props. Although they wanted more time to rehearse, the truck was coming at 3 to take the set to the trash heap, so they had to rush right into the performance.

All things considered, I was impressed.

It was great to catch up with family members, especially as everyone headed in different directions. Now Portia is home from Haiti, Phil is in San Francisco for grad school, & Tony is somewhere in France (taking controversial pictures of swans which I quite liked).

We especially enjoyed living comfortably without air conditioning for 10 days; there were nights where we actually needed to pile on a blanket or two. Ahhhh. Molly loved the trip, too - from the ocean to the "big girl swing," from Nervous Nellie's Jams and Jellies to pulling on Uncle Phil's face - - she seemed to love it as much as the other kids.

Some random pictures for your amusement, with no explanation:

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

No Likey the Sweet Potatoes

This is what kills me about Molly; two days ago, she LOVED this meal. LOVED it in a scarf it down as fast as a baby can kind of way. Clapped hands for more. Mom declared hero.

Yesterday was a different story.

She was appeased a few minutes later with some Cheerios and a good portion of banana, so don't worry that I'm starving the poor child!

She's an opinionated young lass.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Golden Oldie

R.I.P. Bridey

Got word tonight that Bridey, my in-laws' wonderful 3-legged Golden Retriever, passed away today. I only hung out with Bridey a few times over the last few years, but she was a lesson in patience and perseverance...what a complete sweetheart. I know her family will miss her terribly. If you've lost a pet, you can understand the grief that accompanies the death of a faithful family friend.

Lindsay will be upset, but Johannah will be devastated, so I can only imagine how Bridey's family feels.

It's amazing to me how our pets weasel their way into our lives and our hearts. Johannah fell head over heels for a 3-legged dog within minutes of meeting her. (She was so taken with Bridey that I had to convince her NOT to cut off the 4th leg of her stuffed animals in tribute. I'm not kidding.)

We rescued our Golden, Duke (through a great organization, GRRAND) in large part because of Johannah's love for Bridey. Molly's first laugh was because of Duke, and even when he drives us crazy, I think about how sweet and loving Bridey was, and I have to give Duke a little extra love. She influences us daily, and she never even knew.

So rest in peace, Bridey.

Good dog.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Booby Trap

Well, since you know about my anxiety, you may as well know about my breasts.

I may be the only woman in the history of the world who ventured to LA and hoped to return with smaller breasts.

It helps that my trip to California coincided with my efforts to finish weaning Miss Molly. I'd hoped to nurse longer, but now that we're all finished with that part of babyhood - FREE AT LAST! FREE AT LAST! GOD ALMIGHTY I'M FREE AT LAST!

Finally put away all maternity blouses, bras, pads, shields. Packed up the pump and all of its parts. Happily dragged out pre-pregnancy bras from...GASP! Victoria's Secret. Ahhhh...the girls are happy again. And small(er).

Now if only I could go to LA and return with a smaller butt, that would really be something to post about. Maybe next trip.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Welcome to Crazy Town

For those who are lucky enough to have nice, normal thought patterns, this post will probably sound like the rantics of a lunatic. I'm ok with that.

Living with (an unmedicated) anxiety disorder is like opening a white elephant gift every single day - - an unwelcome little surprise that occasionally makes you laugh at its absolute absurdity. Sometimes that laughter is a little high pitched and crazy, often through tears.

On a good day, I can laugh at myself and my spiraling thought process; on a bad day, I feel paralyzed by a hopeless despair and a frantic need to control whatever I can. Or maybe that's just a regular part of work, marriage, and parenting.

Last night was a bad night. I've tried to explain to my patient, wonderful husband what's going on in my brain, and his response is along the lines of "But that's ridiculous. Just stop thinking about it." That's the point though - I can't.

Anxiety is a maze of apprehension-you frantically race around corners, and on top of that, you're running late. The more you try to navigate, the more turned around you become. Your breathing picks up and becomes shallow - you break into a sweat - and you just think if you run a little faster, the maze will make sense and you'll be able to break free.

Last night I helped Johannah pack up for her trip to North Carolina with her dad and his family.
For several reasons it's a stressful situation - even in the best scenario, I don't see how joint custody can be perfect.

She was anxious to start, which was helpful because I could focus on calming her down: Outwardly, I am calm and loving. Everything will be fine, we've packed your favorite toys, here are some phone numbers for you -call anytime you want.

But if you've wondered what someone with high anxiety thinks on these nights, lying in bed thinking about sending her child off on a vacation, this is it:

I tuck her into her makeshift bed on the nursery floor (she, too, has some anxiety and needs to sleep near her baby sister).

"Good night, Mama. I love you." She has finally stopped crying and seems ready to fall asleep.

"Good night sweetie. I love you. Just get some rest; I'm going to wake you up in 9 hours and it will seem like a nap - you're so tired." I brush her hair out of her eyes. One more kiss, one more hug.

I sit next to her on the floor for a minute, studying her face. This is the last night I will see her face like this. Why didn't I take more pictures today to remember this moment in her life? If it's a car crash on the way down to the beach, the call will probably come sometime Monday, so I should make sure I'm home then. Or would they send the police if it's an out of state crash? Hopefully the crash isn't so bad that they would have to use dental records. When did she last go to the dentist?

She is asleep finally, and I kiss her forehead again before heading downstairs. The first thing I'd have to do is call my family. Would I call my parents first? What would we tell her sisters? I'll have to get some of the pictures I took today printed out for the baby so she will remember her. Nobody makes Molly laugh like Johannah. I will have to write down some of the funny things she said so Molly will have at least that to remember her by.

I'm lying in bed next to a snoring husband,staring at the ceiling fan. If they make it to the beach, she will probably drown. Last year she and her dad were caught in that riptide - he says he will be more careful this year, but I think they will both be over-confident because she was on swim team. She will be clinging to his neck and crying. He will be talking to her softly, trying not to panic. They will finally find their nearly unrecognizable bodies a few days later - when I go to the morgue, they don't want me to look at her so I remember her the way she was.

I go back upstairs to look at her again. I end up sleeping on the floor, knowing I look like an idiot and my husband will be annoyed at my ridiculous anxiety over this stupid yearly trip. And I do know it's ridiculous, but I can't stop.

Over the course of the night, I go through what will be said at her funeral. There is a letter she has, from a friend she made at camp. It describes how Johannah is the perfect friend. I will read it, doped up on sedatives. I arrange the program, which pictures will be used in the inevitable collages, what she should wear. I practice the phone calls in my head. I imagine the horror that a child's death can wreak upon a marriage. I imagine going back to the days of my own lonely apartment.

Then, somehow, I sleep for a few hours. When the alarm wakes me, I wake Johannah up, we feed Molly together, we sing some songs as we load up the car. Happily we head to her grandparents' house where the family is gathering to pack their cars. We stop for some Munchkin doughnuts for her to share with her cousins. We stop for a disposable camera- she wants a waterproof one to take to the beach. They'll find this camera after she's gone and it will have the last things she saw. I buy her two.

She falls in the parking lot and scrapes her knees, her forarms, even her cheek. She is crying, which is perfect - I go into responsible caregiver mode, washing off wounds and wiping away tears.

We say goodbye at the door, hug and kiss a few more times. Her younger cousins gather around her, first to make a fuss over her new wounds, but then to descend like little scavengers on the doughnuts.

She waves to me as I drive away. I will never see her again. I love her so much.

I arrive home, drink 3 cups of coffee, and write.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

California Girl (Temporarily)

A nice picture of the sisters #1-#3 after Sarah's show...

Back from a whirlwind weekend in Pasadena, California with two of my lovely sisters (#2 & #3 for those who are counting). Although I desperately missed my kids and my husband (who called frequently not because he needed anything, but just because he wanted to share cute Molly-isms), I did as I was told and relaxed. I learned several interesting facts this weekend:

1) "Just Groovy" by OPI is a fine shade of blue for a pedicure by a little Korean woman named Cindy, especially when it is sponsored by your sister, 15 minutes after landing in Burbank.

2) Coffee tastes better when it is sipped slowly in a living room, listening to hilarious stories by your brother-in-law.

3) Pasadena isn't the "LA" I envisioned. It's a nice normal place to live, except it costs about 8 times more than Pleasant Ridge.

4) Pilates is a fun class when it's taught by a sister!

5) Not just anyone can perform Shakespeare well...luckily, my sister Sarah is one of those few - - an outstanding Titania!

6) Working for Disney is as cool as I imagined, and not just because the Commissary kicks culinary ass. (Although my family does value good food quite highly.)

7) The Equinox gym in Pasadena is just like the YMCA I go to in Cincinnati, except there are no fat people. At all.

8) When you want to quit nursing a baby, it helps to actually LEAVE the baby for 3 days. Suddenly, my regular tops fit again! Woo-hoo!

9) Jason at the Burke Williams Spa may have changed my life. NOW I see why people get massages. Goodness me.

10) Skybus is the way to fly if you're into cheap flights!

11) The film industry is crazy. Listening to my brother-in-law Alex describe the hoops that must be jumped through just to get people on board for a project is mind-blowing.

12) My sisters and their husbands are truly interesting, talented people and I wish we all lived closer to each other!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Camp Requiem

First day of camp:

Last day of camp:Note that nervous smile of a newbie has been replaced with one of a confident, if toothless, camper...

Jo is home from camp, and loved it every bit as much as we suspected she would. She loved it so much, in fact, that she spent most of the day yesterday weeping. First she'd cry because she missed being at camp, and then she'd weep because she felt she might be hurting our feelings. Ah yes, that's our Jo - she came with built-in guilt trips.

We've been hearing camp song after camp song, which is killing Lindsay, who chose drama camp over "normal" camp this year. She moped the entire car ride to pick up Jo, but luckily (for her) managed to suck it up at the last minute and look excited to see her sister. (And she did a great job of giving Jo her moment in the sun.)

Brendan didn't come with us at the last minute because he injured his back the day before, and I told him to rest; I underestimated how much Jo wanted him there. A quick phone call alerted Brendan that he better look on death's door when we get home so Jo really understands he couldn't have come to pick her up.

When we arrived home, the house was dark, and in the back bedroom, Brendan lay motionless on the bed, wrapped in a sheet, with his hands on his chest like a corpse. Mozart's Requiem played on the cd player, and he reached blindly for Jo's face - "Jo? Is that you? Come closer?"

All was forgiven...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Camp Crazy Mom

The 8 year old is at camp this week. All week. Overnight camp, all week, without me.

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

When we dropped her off, (we - her entourage - Dad, Mom, Step dad, baby sister), she was reserved and into shy mode, which doesn't happen often. Her pitch goes up a few notches, her speech slows down, her eyes barely graze eye level before shooting back down to her feet. Definitely not the same kid who bounds around the house, giggly uproariously, farting on cue, hugging me every chance she gets.

I wanted to shake the nice teenage Counselor. Shake her hard and yell, "Do you know what you're doing? Will you keep her safe?" Of course, I just smiled and made some insipid joke about her state of mind to do this by choice.

I imagine she bounced back quickly last night when she figured out that a cabinful of 8 year old girls is a receptive audience. She won't be the ring leader, but she'll be the friendliest of the bunch. She's probably not the instigator of the pranks, but she's the one who will laugh hardest at the outcome.

I've done what I can do from this end - mailed letters ahead of time, sent a package, tucked secret notes into her luggage, along with some contraband bubble gum. Now I'm going about my day, occasionally checking her camp schedule and wondering what songs she is learning in the mess hall, what devilish plan they've cooked up to raid the boys' cabin, what she's thinking when she is going to sleep on the top bunk by the door.

I hope she's having fun.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Birthday America!

Since no one says it better than my wonderful husband, I direct you to his blog tonight...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Baby Cakes

Just returned from a wonderful trip to Michigan where we had the chance to visit with one of my sisters and her lovely husband, in from California for the week. It was a great mix of folks, and a good mix of kid-inspired games (when's the last time you played CLUE? CANDYLAND?) and serious adult conversation...

The eldest of our little clan is now officially 12 years old, and we had her birthday party up at the lake - as much of a surprise party as it can be when it has occurred every other year.

The picture was snapped just after the baby put her fingers in the birthday cake's chocolate icing. What I love about this picture: 1) The 12 year old isn't self-aware enough yet to know to lick her lips and teeth after eating chocolate before a picture is taken 2) The baby has a little icing on her fingers and her nose 3) the 8 year old is tan and deliriously happy about the entire weekend, and looks a bit crazed.

Good times.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

15-in-5 Campaign

Recently I had the good fortune to be a part of something very exciting that renewed my faith in my fellow human being, if only for a few days. You can read about it here.

Naysayers have commented that it's not hard to raise money in Mason, and they're partially right - there's money to be collected, for sure. But to get people to agree on how to spend that money? To rally behind a cause that immediately benefits a friend in need?


Thursday, June 14, 2007


I'm pretty sure this is a sign of the Apocalypse: Xanadu Skates Again Off-Broadway

I'm skeptical, and probably wouldn't pay to see it, unless they're planning to bring back Gene Kelly through some sort of voodoo.

The wheels are so far in motion that one of the stars has already been replaced due to an ankle injury, and the curtain isn't supposed to go up until June 26. Hopefully, the former cast of Starlight Express can offer some tips on healing quickly.

But to be fair, Xanadu isn't the first or last bad movie (soooooo bad it's good and good for ya) to be made into a musical, and Spiderman and the Addams Family are supposed to be coming up in the near future. Xanadu may be the least of our concerns. Judging from their website, they don't take themselves too seriously. Not a bad marketing technique. In the end, it might not be sooo bad... You have to believe we are magic.

Pool Mohawk

The kids have been out of school for a few days, but today is my first day of summer freedom. It's not true that summer break is the best part of teaching - not by a long shot - but it IS a damn nice perk. The kids were already at the pool last night, living it up - or at least the 8 year old was living it up. The baby had no clue what to make of it, except that her sister kept giving her very wet kisses, and the pool mohawk that may become a regular hairdo until she gets more hair.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Taste of Heaven!

First time for rice cereal last week, and apparently, it's delicious when you've only been tasting breast milk or formula for 6 months. So far, so good! At the very least, she is completely fascinated by spoons and will chew on one all during dinner, making it very easy for us to eat slowly and peacefully. Woo-hoo!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Maybe it IS Adam and Steve

This made my day:

June 7
Creation Museum's "Adam" Shared Sexual Exploits Online

Posted By: Neil Relyea

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The man picked as Adam by a museum based on the Bible's version of Earth's history led quite a different life outside the Garden of Eden, flaunting his sexual exploits online and modeling for a line of clothing with an explicit mascot.

Registration records show that Eric Linden, who portrays Adam taking his first breath in a film at the newly opened Creation Museum, owns a graphic web site called "Bedroom Acrobat."

He has been pictured there, smiling alongside a drag queen, in a T-shirt brandishing the site's sexually suggestive logo.

Linden, a graphic designer, model and actor who grew up in Columbus, also sells clothing for SFX International, whose initials appear on clothing to spell "SEX" from afar and serve as an abbreviation for its mascot, who promotes "free love," "pleasure" and "Thrillz."

The museum's operators, informed on Thursday by The Associated Press of Linden's online appearances, acted swiftly to suspend airing of the 40-second video in which he appeared.

The clip is one of 55 featured on tours of the museum, near Cincinnati in Petersburg, Ky., which tells the Bible's version of Earth's history that the planet was created in a single week just a few thousand years ago.

"We are currently investigating the veracity of these serious claims of his participation in projects that don't align with the biblical standards and moral code upon which the ministry was founded," Answers for Genesis spokesman Mark Looy said in an e-mail statement.

Linden told the AP that he is no longer affiliated with the site. He described it as "from my past."

"It's a different story when you grow up a little bit," said Linden, 27. "I'm a web designer and I was trying to think to the future and capitalize on different domain names, just trying to be clever. I handed the domain name off to somebody, so I really don't know what's going on with it."

Ownership records available through the NetworkSolutions database show Linden registered the site 18 months ago.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Puddle of Poodle

According to my father-in-law, this is a sign of the Apocalypse...
this Japanese born French Poodle is named SMASH. Isn't that like naming a child SMACK?

Either way, his name is Smash, and that's what I'd like to do to him.

Right after I take care of the Snuggle bear and the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Shower with a View

Well, good morning, everyone! Thanks for coming to my shower. Next, you can watch me brush my teeth. Wheeeeeeeee!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Not a bad picture from a cell phone...

Home alone with baby and over 400 essays to grade this weekend, so naturally I had to take lots of pictures to send the husband, as he has demanded hourly updates on her progress. (And it helps me procrastinate.)

Happy Graduation to Phil, DA MAN of the hour, who leaves Cornell and heads to grad school in San Fran (He's an ActOR, don't ya know.) Congrats, Phil, and I'm so happy to be related to you, even if it's only by marriage. Go make us proud! We want more "Guess what your crazy Uncle Phil did" stories for the girls.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Temporary Innocence

For a girl who initially said she "didn't care at ALL" about dresses and veils, she sure enjoyed being gussied up on her First Communion Day...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sunday, May 6, 2007

"Would you give me money for my child?"

A local story here caught my eye about a man whose vague grammatical construction nearly cost him custody of his child.

Luckily, as it turns out, he wasn't actually trying to sell his son, but was only using him as a prop to garner sympathy donations for his drug habit. That's all. Whew.

Let's be specific with our prepositional phrases, people.

But just in case you're in the market:

Sunday, April 29, 2007

French New Wave cinema? Or Transcript from Boohbah episode?

An actual transcription of a Boohbah's episode...enjoy. Wear tight black lycra bodysuit, a monocle, and read in a monotone voice-over after a few drinks for maximum effect.

A window.
Someone's coming.
It's brother and sister.
Sister closes the curtain.
Brother closes the curtain.
Where's sister?
Two windows.
Someone's coming.
It's Grandmama.
It's Sister.
It's Grandpapa.
It's Sister again.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Boohbahs Exposed

Regarding my previous "Separated at Birth" post: I've received a fair number of emails lately, primarily asking, "What IS that blue thing?" That, my friends, is a Boohbah. When the Teletubbies get together after work and drop acid, they see Boohbahs. For drug-free fun, click here and see what the newborn set is agog over these days. The sound is simple but engaging, too. Good times.

To me, they look a little sexual. I'm just saying.

My husband and I have a special affinity for the Boohbahs since we first encountered them after our first or second night home with the newborn. After a night of no sleep, we watched, completely mesmerized for a few minutes. We eventually snapped out of it, and started adding our own voices, imagining what the (most likely classically- trained, waiting for their big break) actors in the Boohbah suits must be wondering about their own characters: "But what's my motivation to look to the left?"

In case you're wondering, my favorite is Zing Zing ZingBah.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Why I'll Keep the Dog


Here's one good reason why I tolerate our wonderful dog: the baby clearly thinks he's hilarious.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Proof That She's Mine...

She may look like her dad, but she eats like her mom. Luckily, her cute dress was pink, so the Peep stains blended right in...

Just before the Peeps fell victim to chubby little hands (and she's still only nursing! I can only imagine what she'll try to shove in her little mouth after she's actually TRIED solid foods).

Sunday, April 8, 2007

What Would Jesus Do?

As it turns out, LOTS of people like to color eggs on Easter, and they all bought eggs and white vinegar before we did. Still, I was a little surprised when Brendan called from Kroger and announced that there were no eggs to be found. Anywhere. In the city. At all.

After I'd promised the 8-year old a night of egg coloring fun to take the sting out of the 11-year old's absence (she's with her mom and family in Michigan for Easter. Joint custody can be amiable, but that doesn't make it fun.)


We had 6 eggs in the fridge, but plans for Mom's Morning Strata, so we strategically bought some Egg Beaters and explained patiently that really, you only need to color about 6 eggs to have a good time.

It worked. She had a blast.

This morning, as I reached into the fridge to grab the Egg Beaters we bought last night, my arm brushed up against a styrofoam carton. A complete dozen eggs.

"Did you know these were in there?"

"They couldn't have been there yesterday. I would have noticed. I wouldn't have run around town looking for eggs if they'd been there."

An Easter Miracle, indeed.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Why 8 Is Great

Although she received tons of lovely birthday gifts (and she WILL be sitting down to write thank you cards to everyone very soon), my now 8-year old went outside yesterday by herself in the freezing weather, and asked if she could use the trash in the recycling bin.

She later explained the necessity of this bird house for the birds to get out of the cold:

Of course, being the cruel parents that we are, we made her take it apart later, as we looked like the white trash neighbors.

But she recuperated quickly and had a sleepover with her good friend Anna last night; they're two peas in a pod - very dramatic. They were pooling their money last night ($28.03 thanks to recent birthday money) to try to hire the Naked Brothers Band to play Anna's birthday in May. So optimistic - when I told them it would be thousands of dollars, they said, "Well, we'll have a bake sale."

Given some cardboard and some markers, they'd have a clubhouse within minutes. I'm used to that. But today, after they'd played outside, we found this on the driveway:

I didn't ask her what it meant, because I'm sure the elaborate drama was just outside of my adult realm of understanding.

I'll miss these days as they are slowly replaced with complaining about school, and boys, and who called who a bitch on the playground. For now, I'll take cardboard birdhouses, impossible dreams, and an inexplicable SOS sign made of sticks.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Brownie Thursday

Overheard yesterday at our 2nd grade Brownie meeting while we discussed food chains and habitats:
"We don't need the sun to live. We would just live in the dark."

My co-leader absolutely rocked as she explained food chains on a white board, and patiently explained WHY we do, truly, honestly, need the sun to live. For my part, I was No-Patience Sally and finally just yelled at this particularly heinous child,
"If we didn't have the sun, the world would become cold and dark and we'd all die, even you."

Maybe next week, we'll talk about the Bird Flu.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Do they make baby wigs?

Out of respect for the birthday girl yesterday, I held off on these cute pictures of her baby sister.

April Fool's Day last year was a pretty interesting one, as I told my husband I was expecting, and he thought I was kidding. For hours.

But here she is, happy as a pea, at precisely 4 months old. No joke.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Happy Birthday, JoJo - No Foolin'!

My wonderful, crazy 7-year old is now my wonderful, crazy 8-year old, as she is an April Fool's Day baby. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! :) Birthday pics will be posted later, I'm sure. She still sucks her thumb, but changes are afoot, slowly but surely. On Wednesday, she marched her little self upstairs and did all of her homework (Wednesday night homework is usually excrutiating for all of us, as it is using spelling words to write sentences. It's usually hours of searching for just the right sentence idea, then erasing every single word when one little mistake is made on a letter. Her teacher made the mistake of telling her she had S+ handwriting, and every since then, she's so afraid to disappoint him that every letter has to be perfect.)

But Wednesday, she didn't emerge until it was FINISHED. Wonderful, witty sentences, using correctly spelled, perfectly written words. I complimented her on doing it all by herself, and she said,
"Mom, I'm almost 8-years old. Some things are going to have to change around here."

Then she packed her backpack with one hand, because her thumb was back in her mouth.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bad Taste, Yet So Delicious

I have mixed feelings about the chocolate statue of Jesus on the cross that's been causing a minor uproar in this holiest of seasons.

On the one hand, it's obviously in bad taste. Would a chocolate buddha go over well? How about a chocolate Mohammed? (didn't they do that on South Park?) Chocolate pagan bunnies and eggs are one thing, but a chocolate Jesus seems to me so far over the line that we can't even SEE the line.

On the other hand, we Catholics are full of strange contradictions. In my parish, and many others, the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays has been warped into a good way to make money. The Friday Fish Fry is full of tasty beer-battered fish, french fries, and homemade desserts by a Girl Scout troop. The line is so long that a familiar parishioner walks through the crowd selling cups of cold beer to ease our Lenten suffering. (Perhaps in a satiric reference to the women who tried to give Jesus water along his route - or perhaps the soldiers who gave Jesus the wine on the sponge...) Some parishes take it a step further and fry up muskrat, which is apparently not a meat (but probably more of a sacrifice than tasty fried cod).

Can't we have a sense of humor about a chocolate Jesus? As long as there's no chewy center or cherry cordial heart, I think I'm ok with at least having a good laugh - though we'll be sticking to bunnies and Peeps for our Easter baskets.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ticks for All

To protect the kids from the inevitable ticks that come from walking in the woods at Great Grandma's farm, I forced them to wear jeans and long-sleeved shirts, even on what turned out to be a surprisingly hot (80 degrees) spring day.

Long sleeves weren't enough.

It started when the 7-year old found a tick crawling on her sock. Then the 11-year old found one, and we were off to the tick races. Brendan's city boy eyes grew wider and wider, and he grew a little paler. After we found one on his back, I made the mistake of telling him that ticks like to crawl...uh...into hairy places. At that, he practically had his pants off IN MY GRANDMOTHER'S LIVING ROOM. I persuaded him to move the party into the back hallway, where I inspected him and he was tickless.

The others weren't so lucky.

Aunt Pat didn't help, as she casually mentioned that she'd tested positive for several tick diseases, but if you can "get the ticks off within 24 hours, you're pretty safe from disease."

By the time we left, my kids were in the back of the van with their pants off, inspecting their legs and feet for ticks. Brendan kept telling me to hold their jeans out of the window to let the wind get rid of any ticks. But at 80 mph, I envisioned the wind getting rid of the jeans, so I inspected the seams, pulled off a few ticks and squished them.

That night, I inspected everyone again, including myself - - 3 ticks. Yippee. I was calm and kept everyone else calm.

At 3am, however, I woke up with my hands in my hair, holding (what I subconsciously must have known was) a tick between my fingers. I was lying there for a good 10 minutes, trying to decide if I really wanted to get out of my nice comfy bed to walk into the bathroom to see if I was really holding a tick between my fingers.

I did. It was. So my friend the tick made it through 2 showers, a pony tail, and a solid hair-brushing to surprise me at 3am by moving around on my scalp.

I decided against telling Brendan, because the sheets would have been stripped at 3am. Forgeddaboudit.

From 3-4am I lay awake, debating whether or not I should sneak upstairs to the kids' room and inspect their little scalps with a flashlight. Fret. Fret. Fret.

Then I realized that waking up to a flashlight on your head at 3am would do more harm than good, and I went back to sleep.

Next time we visit Great Grandma on the Farm, we will wear lots of layers again, and bring a good supply of Deet.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

She Screams for Ice Cream

Took the entire family on a roadtrip yesterday to see "Great Grandma on the Farm" - my 95-year old grandma in Southern Indiana. Many posts will follow about this event. But first, I have to report that for 95 years old, living alone, my Grandma is pretty outstanding.

When I asked her how she managed to get two black eyes (you can barely make then out in this slightly blurry pic), this was her account, as close to verbatim as I can get:

"I was carrying a lovely bowl of ice cream in from the kitchen, when I caught the toe of my shoe on the edge of the door frame. Then I fell and hit my eye on the corner of the china cabinet. There I was on the ground, and it was so sad. My ice cream bowl was broken and so I couldn't even eat my ice cream after that!"

95, people. 95.

More later, because I MUST report on the tick population, and my husband the city boy. But first, I have to get the troops out the door to church on this fine spring morning.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Caffeine and the Diet Coke Cult

There seems to be a slight misunderstanding with my last post. I did mention the idea of giving up caffeine, but when I say caffeine, what I really mean is COFFEE. The idea of giving up DIET COKE is another matter altogether - an idea that is off the table. Sisters of the Diet Coke Cult- back me up on this. Diet Coke doesn't count as a caffeinated beverage, but it DOES count as one of your 8 glasses of water for the day. And I have it on good authority - have seen it with my own eyes - that Diet Coke is coming out with a new species of Diet Coke that contains VITAMINS. Soon my bevy of Diet Cokes will also count as a nutritional supplement. (insert evil laugh here)

They had me at Tab.

And, by the way, the caffeine dilemma was solved at 2:37pm with a tall Americano with a little half and half and a single Splenda. Not too bad for my jump back into the caffeinated pool

Down but not out!

Darling husband was hit by a stomach flu Sunday morning, which I did not take very seriously, considering Saturday was St. Patrick's Day, and he enjoyed quite a bit of the brew. I changed my tune when I crawled home from work Monday morning (do you know what it's like to have to get sub coverage mid-day?) and spent most of Monday afternoon and evening reliving some not so pleasant college memories on the cold tile of the bathroom floor.

Tuesday was a blur.

And now I'm back at work. Whheeeeeeee!

I just want to send a shout out to those ladies who puked their way through their pregnancies. Way to go, ladies! I didn't puke once this time around, but I made up for it a little bit on Monday.

Now I have a dilemma - feel free to weigh in on it - - I've been without caffeine for 48 hours, and am suffering from the dreaded caffeine headache. Do I take this as a sign that I should GIVE IT UP? Or should I high-tail it to Starbucks at 3pm for a LATTE?

Please advise.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Elusive Pout

Hard to capture on film...but here it is: The Lip.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Good Clean Fun

Here's a great article on a super-clean, very funny comedian I've grown particularly fond of lately, Jim Gaffigan. Most people will recognize him from the Sierra Mist commercials he does with another great guy - Michael Ian Black.

Those that know me may be baffled at my affinity for a stand-up comedian who has stricken curse words from his act. Me too. But we watched his special "Beyond the Pale" and laughed outloud repeatedly, and now think of Jim Gaffigan when we walk past the Hot Pockets at the grocery store.

Friday, March 16, 2007

One week down...

I'm officially a working mom again after surviving my first full work week. A few lessons I've learned this week:

1. Pumping in a Science lab supply closet is pretty interesting. Pipettes, beakers, the occasional odd item (a pair of sneakers, a volleyball, a case of microwave popcorn) all kept me company while I tried to envision my little pumpkin nursing. Visualization is supposed to increase your milk supply. Whatever.

2. Four hours of uniterrupted sleep truly is a luxury, and it's JUST enough to make it through the day. Of course, I was actually slurring my words by Thursday night and had to take a little nap just to make it to dinner.

3. I missed my work colleagues and my students, but they'd understand if I won the lottery and quit working tomorrow.

4. Coming home and getting a huge 3 month old grin makes it almost ok.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Disney's New, Improved Hundred Acre Wood

Disney fans all around the world are in shock following Disney's announcement that a 6 year old girl has been spotted in Winnie the Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood.

You mean that's not Christopher Robin?

No, no, definitely not. This girl is described as "tomboyish" and wears a safety helmet.

Eeyore also pops Prozac and has a little spring in his step.

Pooh is on Atkins, so he's off honey, and has eaten Piglet.

New and improved, indeed.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Hittin' the Bottle

She took a bottle on her first day of daycare.

This same sputtering, puking, crying she-devil that stalwartly refuses to take a bottle from my husband, happily took a bottle of my breastmilk from her wonderful new daytime caregiver.

Trying to get everyone used to what will be our new schedule, I dropped the baby off at her baby-sitter (a woman, incidentally, whose own daughter was my student years ago) for a half day "trial run" to see how she (read: I) would do. As I left, I joked with the woman, "She's not on a schedule, won't sleep unless you're holding her, and she won't take a bottle. Good luck." Except I wasn't joking. At all. Ha. Cough. Ha.

I made it until 10:30, when I broke down and called, expecting to hear that familiar "I refuse to take a bottle and now I'm officially starving" wail in the background, but it was completely quiet on her end.

"I hate to ask, but how is it going?"

"It's going great! She only took about 3 ounces though. Is that ok? Is that her norm?"

I almost dropped the phone. 3 ounces? Are you kidding me? Out of a bottle? I got used to freezing milk in one ounce bags, because she wouldn't choke down more than that if forced to use a bottle. We tried a shot glass (don't send me email about how this will effect her life), we tried a dropper. Nothing doing.

So as it turns out, as I've been told by others, some babies will take a bottle from anyone other than Mom or Dad. You'd think Dad would be a great choice because clearly he can't offer the same goods as Mom, but NO. Our doctor explained that some babies assume that if they're getting it from Dad, then Mom must be close by and choose to fight it out.

Of course, this is an assumption. Who knows what a 3 month old thinks. But think they do. And act. And manipulate.

I'm relieved that at least she won't be freaking out with hunger while I'm at work freaking out with maternal angst.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

What is it with Michigan??

First there was the dismembered body of a Michigan wife and mother; now this.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Maybe she burned the roast

I'm completely fascinated by the disturbing dismemberment story (as if there is a cheerful dismemberment story); now the husband has confessed to killing and dismembering his young wife. The article ends with a mention of the couple's two young children, 6 & 4, and the husband's statment that he "looks forward to seeing them again as soon as possible." Most likely through a thick glass partition, is my bet.

From all accounts I've read, things seemed this side of "normal" for the couple and their family; neighbors mentioned barbeques and watching them teach the kids to ride bikes. Either this guy completely fooled everyone, or somewhere along the way, he completely snapped. I'm far more interested in WHY this happened than how he actually did it -I can watch endless episodes of CSI on Spike tv to find out how he did it.

On the complete other end of the marital dischord spectrum, my husband and I caught the last half of Shalom in the Home last night while biding our time before Battlestar Galactica last night. The couple just needed a little boost; the husband was repeating a pattern of behavior and making himself (and everyone around him) miserable. The highlight for me was seeing Rabbi Shmuley running around with balloons on his head, helping the wife and kids plan a "Welcome Home" party for the husband. Can't picture a Catholic priest doing the same, but you never know. I'm just glad they worked it out in the end; sleeping on the couch is temporary...but dismemberment lasts a lifetime.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Must be an impressive pair

Oh, to have this much influence just by showing my ta-tas...

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German man who spent 10 days in a self-made box atop a 72-foot-tall pole to protest a looming jail term was lured off his perch by his wife -- who sent up a topless picture of herself in his lunch box.

Fred Gregor, 45, was bidding to have his 15-month conviction for fraud overturned by squatting in his tiny cubicle atop a converted television mast. He told Reuters in a telephone interview last week that he wanted a new trial.

His wife Susanne, 25, backed his protest until the former stripper and mother of their five children decided she had had enough.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Brownie Thursday

Overheard at my 2nd grade Brownie troop meeting while we worked toward our Caring and Sharing badge:

"I hate the Germans! They killed my grandpa in the war!"

Sleepless Houses Across America...

We had a relatively easy night last night, with the 7 year old only getting up twice. She usually slinks into the guest room, but since my husband was sleeping there last night (banished because of snoring), she lucked into a spot next to me in the Sacred Parental Bed. The 3 month old was sleeping peacefully in the bassinet, which is a relatively new phenomenon that I hope continues.

According to the New York Times, we have it pretty easy every night. In homes all across America, and dare I say the world, parents are up at various hours dealing with "migratory children." Especially between 1-3 am. Expensive princess beds are abandoned in favor of the parents' bed; or, even better, Mom ends up in the princess bed while Dad sleeps with small flailing children.

On one level, it's reassuring that our children are not the only ones up at all hours, unable or unwilling to sleep alone. But on a deeper level, the article brings up the idea that it's our lack of strict boundaries that may be causing the problem. Are we the problem? Are we the same parents who know that our parents probably had the right idea, but we somehow feel guilty for applying the same rules to our own children?

I have fond memories of crawling into my parents bed once in a blue moon during a thunderstorm. Sleeping on Dad's arm, (or better yet, sandwiched in between Mom and Dad) was a luxury I instictively knew not to ask for too often. Why is it so hard for my generation of parents to say "Sleep in your own bed!"? Because sleep is like crack. You get a few hours, and you just want more. We will do anything to get a little sleep, including let a few rules slide here and there.

As of toay, the new rule is that the 7 year old can sleep on the floor, on the couch, in the guest room - anywhere but in our bed. We just got the 3 month old out of it, and if my husband can stop snoring, we will once again share the Sacred Parental Bed. Not much happens but sleep, but for now, I'll take it like the sleep whore that I am.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Oscar

They were way too long, and a little pretentious, but damn it, I love me some Oscar.

I thought Ellen was great, and it was a kinder, gentler awards.

Loved the dance troupe; very quick, clever, and to the point. I kept yelling things to my husband, who was in the bedroom: "Cool! They're making a shoe!"

Very very happy for Best Short "West Bank Story" - my college roommate's husband was one of the leads, so I was happy on his behalf.

Favorite bit - Jack Black, Will Ferrell, and John C. Reilly's song. Loved the homage to Helen Mirren, and she seemed to get a kick out of it. How they managed to be so cool and collected in front of a BILLION viewers is beyond me. Funny lyrics and flawless. Good to see Marc Shaiman at the piano.

Other favorite bit - Al Gore's attempt to be funny. I thought he was about as funny as Al Gore can get.

Was rooting for most of the winners, and was so psyched that Alan Arkin won. He seemed genuinely shocked and humbled. Loved how awkward Abigail Breslin was through the entire night. Happy for Jennifer Hudson, but am now officially OVER IT.

Diane Keaton is my hero. Is she the most gorgeous woman ever?

Dresses: Reese Witherspoon looked beyond stunning to me. Divorce agrees with her. Also loved Kate Winslet's dress. Jodie Foster looked great, too. Kate Blanchett. Hubba hubba.

Men: Leonardo is growing on me - he is getting more handsome as he ages. Forest W.'s speech was sweet and a little out there, as I think he is. Steve Carrell is so darn cute. Greg Kinnear: take me. Haven't you gotten my calls?

Actresses who should not be shot in High Def after recently getting Botox and collagen- Nicole Kidman. I could bounce a quarter off of her face.

Beautiful but looked pregnant in her dress: Jennifer Lopez.

It was long, but it's once a year, for Pete's sake.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Less than a month before I return to work, and a more normal schedule. As much as I hate to admit it, I am more productive when I am so over scheduled that I can't see straight. How this will play out with a three month old baby, I have no idea, and no choice. I'm worried about how the breastfeeding and pumping will go - everything I've read talks about the possibility of having your baby brought to you at work to breastfeed(now THAT would be interesting in a classroom full of 14 year olds), pumping on the same schedule you would be feeding, or trying to work from home. Sounds great, but completely impractical on a teacher's schedule, which inevitably dictates even your bowel's schedule. (Don't believe me? Ask a teacher. Your body becomes very quickly accustomed to those 3 minutes between classes and your 20 minute lunch period.)

So on top of this impending schedule shift, whereby I will be looking out at a sea of fresh faced 14-15 year olds instead of focusing on my beautiful baby's face held at arms' length, I've decided to try Tracey Mallett's new program. As part of the test group, I will follow her "healthy eating plan" - a possible throwback to Richard Simmons' "Deal a Meal" - and her workout schedule and dvd. I am to keep track of my results, feelings, and opinions, and then let her know. She may or may not be able to use some of my comments in her fitness book when all is said and done.

My first workout was last night, and although my initial reaction to the workout was skepticism -like pilates with weights - this morning I am SORE. So it must be working!! More as it happens...