Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008...

I can't think of any way to start this blog other than 2008 was a year to remember. Duh...

January: C-C-C-c-c-c-old... Violet is still sleeping in our room. This is the month where she started to reverse cycle and I started to sleep in the chair. Scott operas for CROT. Milo is hanging in there at daycare where things are tough due to the DCB (Day Care Bully). I am working with HR to help fill the position formerly occupied by a dear friend -- who happened to be my supervisor. This entail lots of extra work and no extra money, about which I am not happy.

February: Still cold, winter fatigue hang over the state like a fog. The end doesn't seem in sight. I swear that February is the longest month of the year emotionally. Violet is rolling over and sits when placed in a sitting position. Milo plays Cars like a maniac. Scott has shows, including Little Shop of Horrors. Taking Milo to rehearsal is amusing. He wanted to see the Audrey II puppet on stage, but was rebuffed by a conscientious student and comes bawling back down the darkened aisle. The student is appropriately horrified and guilty. I am still under the weight of extra HR work and am trying not to get cranky about it.

March: Still cold... winter will never end... Scott gone to Houston for USITT. Kids and I have fun while he's gone, but are glad to see him return. We offer Violet her first food. She eats well, yay! Milo builds the world's most brightly painted birdhouse, which, of course, we don't put out in the yard because there are still snow drifts out there.

April: Springish, finally! Grandma Sue comes with me and Violet to St. Louis for my Synchro Competition. We skate pretty well, at least for us. Milo and Scott were supposed to come, but Milo wasn't recovered from a tummy bug, so no traveling for lil buddy.

May: What a lovely month! I look forward to walking to the sitter's house every lunch hour to nurse Violet. The world is waking and one can feel the excitement of summer coming. A position as the Programs Assistant for the Berry Center and Dimensions is created on campus and I throw my name into the hat. And wait. And wait. And wait... Violet is crawling and cruising -- these things happened pretty much simultaneously. And Milo has begun singing, "When I am threeeee, I will give my binky to the babies that need them and go on the pottyyyyyyyy." It is adorable.

June: This was a big month this year. Huge, actually.

Trip to MN in the beginning of the month. I meet some of my online mommy friends and we endure a cold week. Good for fishing, apparently, but dull for those who didn't care to fish. It cost us more than we expected, so Scott and I decide that we will rotate our yearly vacations: MN, CA, FL. And we disliked having our bedrooms on the first floor near the door as both kids wanted to play more than they wanted to sleep and we were somehow annoying the rest of the family by asking them to turn down the volume.

We return from MN in blinding rain. It rains for three days straight, I swear -- torrential downpours. We anxiously monitor the river stages in Cedar Falls, learning that the first apartment Scott and I shared is dangerously close to where the flood waters have risen. We hear about Waverly's downtown under water and Waterloo's storm sewers overflowing. We watch as the river's crest starts creeping downstream... we figure that Ellis will be under water and that some other low-lying areas should evacuate. We hear that Independence is flooded, then Palo. Then it starts to rain... then pour... There is more water than anyone has ever seen. Cedar Rapids evacuates the 100 year flood plain on Tuesday, but the waters are still rising.

On Wednesday, as I am interviewing for my new position in the Berry Center and Dimensions, the program coordinator for Dimensions gets a call from her husband that they are going to close the highways into and out of Mount Vernon, so our interview is cut short as she packs up her tiny baby and we speculate about the flooding. Scott gets into his truck and drives into town to rescue his personal items from the backstage area of TCR. He makes two trips and by the second trip, the river is lapping the sidewalk one block from the theatre. He flies his scenery and helps move props and costumes into the balcony. The volunteers at TCR are in waist deep water in the dressing rooms and green room by the time he leaves. Eventually, the entire orchestra pit fills with water and much of the lower level house. The bottom two feet of the platforms for his Aida set are covered with brown, stinky, mucky water. Everything that he threw on top of the platforms, into the balcony and raised into the fly loft survives.

Water pours over all three bridges in downtown Cedar Rapids, the Czech Village is gone, the public library suffers the largest public library disaster ever recorded in US history. 9000 homes are flooded and the community stands agape and glued to their televisions as local news stations broadcast 24-7, powered by generators. Today, Thursday, in Mount Vernon is is a gorgeous day -- the sun shines on the lush green laws of campus and the trees sway gently in the breeze, their leaves sliding together to create a tranquil tune with the wildlife. The comparison is stark and jolting. I stammer on the phone to my dad to express how devastating this is.

Milo celebrates his third birthday about six times between the end of June and mid-July. True to his word, when we return from Kirstie's Denver wedding he tells me he's not going to sleep with his binky any more. The first night was rough going down, but he doesn't wake looking for it and sleeps soundly all night. If we'd only know how easy this would be, we'd have taken it a year ago! Incidentally, the wedding was fun and I enjoyed much of it until an unfortunate encounter in my sister's home.

July: I start my new job, yay! I have my own office and enjoy very much having some privacy. I decorate on a shoestring budget and appreciate the results. One morning, as Milo was snuggling in his customary position on the couch, he hops off and scoots into the bathroom. Scott and I hear him taking off his diaper, then hear him tinkling in the potty, flushing, and washing his hands. He comes back to the couch, naked from the waist down, and crawls up in between us as if nothing has happened. And that was the end of diapers for Milo. We did pull-ups over night until the package ran out, but he was dry anyway, so after a month, he decided that he preferred to sleep in pajamas without his underwear and that was the end of potty training. Apparently, the key for Milo was to stop talking about it entirely until he decided it was his idea. Violet starts walking this month and Scott scrambles to redesign the scenery for the displaced Iowa Summer Rep.

August: A gorgeous month. Warm, but without some of the 100 degree temperatures we'd seen in previous years. The kids start back to daycare, minus DCB and the transition is quick and painless. The sitter is happy at the end of the day, not frazzled and everyone is cheerful. Classes begin and I enjoy working with the students in a completely different way.

September: Scott does two productions this month. Milo learns how to give me a cheerful goodbye from daycare. And Violet turns one! She celebrates by enjoying cake and ice cream and spiking a fever, which she ran for three days. She's walking, talking, and feeding herself, so no more baby in my baby!

October: The political race heats up, but Scott and I are convinced that we're backing a winner. I help host several events on campus and find myself blazing a trail between my office, the plotter in the Library, and the Commons. Scott assists his parents in replacing their windows and blowing insulation into their attic. He also helps his high school alma mater with the scenery for their fall musical. We've learned this month that his brother and wife are divorcing, and this has him a little blue. The kids are great and enjoy fall, particularly Halloween. Milo dressed up as Jango Fett and Violet dressed as Yoda. They went trick-or-treating with the sitter and her youngest (Milo's best bud). I am apprehensive about Scott;s trip to NYC, but try to enjoy the little time we have with him before he travels.

November: We vote, and Scott flies to NYC as the polls remain open. We're on the phone together as Obama is announces as the next president-elect of the US. There is much celebration in NYC, on campus, and elsewhere in the world. Then reality hits and I'm home alone with both kids for 16 days straight. I get a few calls from my family, but hear not one word from the Olingers. I feel very unsupported, but do my best to take good care of the kids. Scott arrives home the week before Thanksgiving, but spends the weekend working on the touring show for which he designed the lighting. He also works the weekend after Thanksgiving on this show.

December: Scott takes his annual deer hunting trip with his brothers and bags two deer. They come home a day early, which is good for my sanity. My sister delivers Luke Wyatt into the world, welcome baby! One more weekend away for the touring show and he's home for the holidays. The kids enjoy our many Christmas celebrations. I am left with a warm fuzzy glow as I get to spend a week off work with them and with Scott.

What lessons have I learned from 2008? 1. Do everything I can to never be a single parent. 2. Don't buy a home in any flood plain. 3. Hope for change, but insist upon it when it is needed. 4. Facebook is fabulous. 5. There is nothing better than snuggling my husband and kids on the couch on a lazy Sunday morning. It is hands down the best part of life.

Monday, December 29, 2008

'Tis the Season..

Well, Christmas has come and gone and we're hanging out in the not-quite-holiday status of between Christmas and New Year's Day. Students aren't back on campus until January 5th, that's also when daycare opens. Scott is on sabbatical this spring, and it dawned on me suddenly last night that he wouldn't really be returning to his office this semester. Oh, he'll still GO to his office occasionally to retrieve things and such, but he won't be working out if it. He'll be working out of the lovely butt-imprint on the left-hand side of our family room couch. Where he sits to watch TV, read, pretend he's not getting irate emails, and plays World of Warcraft. Oh yeah, doing what he's supposed to do for his sabbatical, too. I asked him if this means I'll have a clean house for the spring and hinted that there's nothing sexier than a house I don't have to clean... I guess we'll have to see if that fantasy comes true...

The kids were awesome this Christmas. Both traveled to Clinton well and enjoyed a grand fun time with Grandpa Gil and Grandma Robin. Violet is at that wondrous stage of being old enough to understand how to unwrap gifts, but lacks any understanding of which gift is hers and blinks innocently at you when you suggest she wait to unwrap packages until after dinner. Milo can now read (and write!) his name, so he was able to sort his gifts and Violet's out of the pile. He knows that V is for Violet and that Scott has "S, O and two Ts" and that "g - o " spells go!

As the year draws to a close, both kids suddenly seem older. I really think that Santa brought them more than gifts this year, maybe he brought them some "grow-up" dust or something, because the change seems to have happened over night. Violet is now playing puppy -- she drops to all fours and crawls around panting. Don't most kids do stuff like that closer to two -- not at 15 1/2 months? Yesterday, she sorted her crackers by shape -- there was a pile of rectangular ones and a pile of circular ones. She took one bite out of all of the rectangular ones, then one out of all of the circular ones.

Miss Violet seems to be on the cusp of a language explosion. She is listening carefully when you ask her questions and has started following simple directions. More impressively, she seems to have an innate knowledge of manners -- you barely need to tell her that an object belongs to another person and she's running across the room to take it to that person. She says "thank you" unprompted and hands you her dinner plate when she's finished eating. I don't know if it's the difference between boys and girls, but at 15 months, we were still watching Milo like a hawk to determine when he was done eating so that we could whisk his plate away from him before he threw it to the floor.

Violet has also taken to imitating faces and body positions. This is endless fun as she's dang cute as she tries to wrinkle her nose like I do or squints her eyes like Scott. The one look she has mastered already is a very strong Death Stare. She tried it out on Daddy yesterday when he told her she couldn't chew on the skirt of her Christmas dress. Grandma Sue and Mommy had a good laugh over that one. I don't think this Violet will be a shrinking violet...

We've had to teach Milo a new word: sassy. We defined it as saying something in a mean voice to mommy, daddy or another adult. Although, perhaps the funniest quote from the holiday break was completely innocent:

Me: Milo, why don't you put your socks on. Aren't your feet cold?
Milo: (looks at my bare feet) Aren't yours?
Me: Not really... I guess you don't need to wear socks in the house if you don't want to wear them.

For a bittersweet note, he has dropped his mispronunciation of pretzel (cretzel). He has also begun taking over all of his pottying care. We pretty much do a "bum check" after he's wiped. He completely remembers to flush, wash, and return the bathroom to the state it was upon his entrance. And he's no longer afraid to go upstairs by himself.

On a positive note, he has been using the word "May" correctly when asking for things, greatly impressing all of his grandparents. In fact, Grandpa Richard thanked me and Scott for teaching him manners as he grows. Scott said simply that we'd be appalled if he was egregiously impolite, so we never want him to think that being impolite was acceptable in any way.

And as for me? I'm gearing up for my perennial resolution to lose weight. Once more unto the breach...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Last Mom Standing

So, a plague and pestilence has descended upon my house. Scott, Milo, and Violet all have ear infections. I'm completely healthy (unless you count being fat). But Scott is home for the short-term and I am so glad that we're all together for the next couple of weeks, yay!

I'm not intimidated by taking care of my children alone -- they are always the top of the list. I am, however, completely overwhelmed when it comes to taking care of my home when all alone. As in the laundry and dishes get done and I'll vacuum when I can, but the rest of it? Nope... and I hate feeling like I'm living in a pit. And that's exactly how I feel right now. Like my house is a frat house or something. I swear I take out the recycling daily, but it multiplies when I'm not looking. Glasses and sippy cups wander all over the house, rolling into buckets and behind furniture, gathering like sentinels on Scott's nightstand. I am failing miserably at housekeeping.

Winter has officially arrived on campus. My office has a window under a set of stairs and the draft that sneaks in around the window air conditioner unit quickly defeats the wisps of heated air that creep from the radiator. There's a six inch band of warm air right next to the heating pipes, but the windows are directly above the radiator, so I'm assuming that the cool breeze (yes, breeze) that I feel on my neck has simply overpowered the old, old steam pipes.

I came up from my basement office to find that almost an inch of snow had fallen since I'd arrived at work. I actually love listening to the snow fall. Yeah, it doesn't really have a sound, but I love how muffled everything is when the snow is falling deep and fast. It feels so insulated and calm. It reminds me of the blizzards Laura Ingalls Wilder (my childhood hero) describes -- how the winds whipped the snow through the air, indiscriminately burying everything and everyone. Last year was our Long Winter and I'm not really looking forward to another one this year, but I do love a good occasional snowstorm.

Mount Vernon is sleepy enough that a storm like this really takes me back 100 years to when the town was young. I can just imagine it before paved roads neatly divided the blocks into floating parcels of neighborhoods. There is a sledding hill on a street -- the street closes as long as there is enough snow upon which to sled. Milo has been to young to try sledding on this hill as older, bigger, and heavier kids use it, too. But maybe this year he and Scott will give it a try.

In cute kid world: Violet calls, "Buh-duh" after Milo -- as in "Where are you, brother?" Probably because I always scoop her up and say, "Let's go find your brother!" or tell her, "You have the coolest big brother in the world!"

And Milo can write his name. He doesn't always get the letters in order, but he does write them all. Milo, oliM, oMil are the most frequent versions that he writes.

And my baby sister has had her baby boy! He's a tiny little peanut -- 6lbs, 12oz -- and early photos show that he had quite the conehead after birth. Not surprising as he'd been really low for a lot of the last part of her pregnancy. Both are doing well and I am very excited to meet my new baby nephew! Yay for babies! He's a cutie with loooooong feet that crack me up.

So think a good thought for me as I prepare to had out into the blizzard to pick up the babes. I think we might make and frost some sugar cookies for fun tonight. And for me -- I love icing! Hopefully I'll get to the car and home upright...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkey Day Meal

Well, besides being one of "those People" who voted for Barack Obama, I have yet another un-American sin to confess: I don't like Thanksgiving dinner. I adore getting together with family and friends, but cannot think of a more bland menu than turkey, stuffing, potatoes, corn and bread. Although, I love pumpkin pie and would eat that anytime, anywhere, for sure.

But the actual bird? Eh... I usually think turkey is pretty dried out and crumbly. And most stuffing is, well, wet bread. Mashed potatoes are fine, but I don't like gravy, so I prefer garlic or wasabi mashed potatoes, but that doesn't go over well with the "likes gravy" crowd. I don't like traditional meals. I'm an adventurous eater and really like to cook, so I enjoy trying new recipes and have little emotional attachment to the traditional trappings.

I've had some interesting times when I try to cook for family, particularly Scott's family. Mine is a little less mired in "the way it's always done," so bringing experimental dishes by isn't quite the transgression that it is at the Olingers.

Here are the rules:

1. Scalloped corn: apparently, it is traditionally NOT made with Swiss cheese in it. Who knew? That's the way my mom traditionally makes it. But bring it to Easter with Swiss cheese and you'll be bringing a lot of it back home. Which is fine, Scott likes it the way I make it. I also add onions and a touch of paprika to my mom's recipe and I think it's good!

2. A vegetable medley must always include corn. Even if scalloped corn (minus Swiss cheese) is served. Otherwise, no matter how bright carrots and broccoli look when combined with the cauliflower, it will go largely untouched.

3. Do not ever bring garlic mashed potatoes to an event at which gravy will also be served. One must never mix garlic with reconstituted powdered gravy. Even though when I make the gravy from drippings, I do throw some roasted garlic in there before adding the flour (not cornstarch) and milk slurry. Hey, I can make kick-ass from scratch gravy, even if I don't care for it.

4. Relish trays should not include exotic fare, such as garlic-stuffed green olives, pickled asparagus, or sun-dried tomato dipping sauce. Ranch only, or else.

5. Pies must always have crusts. Pumpkin mousse is, apparently, weird. And will also come back to your house looked-at, but not eaten.

6. Whatever the case may be, do not ever host Thanksgiving with your mother and Scott's parents. If you do, do not serve duck, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, mushroom wild rice, and said pumpkin mousse. Your mother will go home and roast her own turkey breast so that she may savor the dry crumbles of left-over turkey for a week and your in-laws will politely decline to attend any gathering which you have offered to host where a traditional meal is expected.

Otherwise, enjoy the day!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

All those Whos down in Whoville...

My children are upstairs on what should be their nap. I'm listening as they squeal, giggle, and drop things (loudly) on the floor. I think that Violet is now sleeping as I can only hear the staccato of Milo's voice and the shushing waves of the white noise machine. And now I hear him whispering -- which is what he does when his sister is fast asleep and he's still fighting sleep like it's a mortal enemy. The child needs a nap -- he's been more emotional than a PMSing teenager today. Now he's calling, "Mommy!" hopefully because he thinks I'll bring him downstairs. I love listening to the kids over the monitor... Milo frequently narrates books and one can truly appreciate the bond between their children when the kids think they're conspiring to pull one over on mom.

It's been one of those mornings and I am not going to be quick to rescue Milo from his room. He's been pretending that he's the Grinch and is stealing all of the "holly-dolly Cwistmas" stuff from Cindy-Lou Who. Which means that he's filling any bucket, bag, or box with all of the toys from every container in the house. Violet is acting the full-on sidekick, having pulled a pair of his underwear over her footie pajamas and spiked her hair with applesauce. My patience has run thin today, and for that I am ashamed.

I am daunted by knowing that the rest of this month and most of next month will still be isolated for me. Scott is at work on a production for a touring Christmas show. The very amature organizers are needing lots of hand-holding and the dinky spaces into which it has been booked are thwarting his technical efforts. Then he will be out of town for deer hunting, too. The following weekend, he's back to touring and, I think, he's at that until practically Christmas. I know that he's doing this to ease our debt, but part of me is exasperated -- with him gone for 2/3 of the month, I managed to keep our checking account in the black and not dip into savings to make ends meet -- a first since June... I am having big misgivings about a trip to California that he desperately wants to take in May. It's not that I don't want to see our friends, but maybe if we didn't take that trip, maybe we might see more of him in an average month because he wouldn't feel the need to freelance for cash.

I want very much to go see my sister after she welcomes her little boy to the world, but I don't know how to pay for a plane ticket at this point. And when I mentioned it to Scott, I actually felt a bit like Sarah Palin because he immediately asked, "You'll be taking Violet, won't you?" Why? Why can't I take three or four days without my kids? I adore them, but I haven't been separated from Violet for more than a work-day her entire life. Yes, she's still nursing twice a day. But she doesn't NEED to and, I think, it doesn't occur to her if I'm not aruond. I think that when he mentions the first of his sabbatical trips, I'll likely ask him, "You'll be taking Milo, won't you?"

I'm quite certain that I'm feeling this resentment because I'm so very used to Scott being an equal parent -- our philosophy is that the only thing I can do that he can't is breastfeed. The kids adore him and he is tremendous with them. And, hey, when he's alone with the kids for more than an afternoon, his parents leap to the task, inviting them out for the afternoon to help out and such. I guarantee that he wouldn't have to spend weekend after weekend without seeing a soul... I guess one gets used to the functionality of a two parent home and, knowing that the home is one-parent at the moment (mostly by choice) is worse than knowing that your the only parent, ever. I dunno... now I feel all whiny.

It must just be different for mothers. Nobody assumes that our children are the fifth and sixth appendages of their father, but any time I'm anywhere alone, I am always asked, "Where are the kids?" This makes it pretty clear to me that I would be a terrible stay-at-home mom. Like, seriously bad. And that my temper would quickly get the worst of me about which I would feel endless guilt. Kinda like the Grinch after he's stolen Christmas from the Whos.

Scott came home from NYC to find Milo not only pooping on the potty, but doing it entirely by himself, wiping and all. OK, I still do a quick bum check, but the process is all him. And Violet is talking about three times as much as when he left. And who knows what our little Whos will do between now and Christmas that he will miss... By the time he's around, it just might be my (finally napping -- I hear the snoring) Milo carving the "woast beast."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday, at Last!

Ahhhh... it is Friday, yay! It's been a stressful week at work, and somewhat at home. The kids have been delightful, though poor Milo is still having coughing fits in the middle of the night and Violet has resumes a once-a-night feeding habit. But at least I can feed her and lay her back down and even if she's awake, she's not fussing about it -- that is a huge step forward!

Scott returned home from New York City yesterday afternoon and I am so glad to have him back! Of course, he met me at the door (actually at the CAR door) with a hug and a kiss and a, "Don't freak out, but the dogs got into the garbage." Our crazy mutts have a habit of wreaking havoc when Scott's not around -- even though I am usually the primary food and water giver and snuggle-meister, they like having the man around.

I'm about to pick up the kids from daycare and it is likely that when I walk in the door, they will both smile at me and run the other direction. I'm not nearly as entertaining as the other children, after all. This has been common for Milo, but Violet has started doing it, too. She has a particular mischievous look that she gets as she's about to do something (mildly) defiant -- she purses her little lips into a tight smile, as if she's trying to contain a giggle. Her little eyes turn up in commas as her eyelashes lower like a screen to block her intentions. Of course, like any 14 month old, her sense of reasoning isn't terribly advanced and it's pretty apparent to anyone over 12 that she's about to take off like a pinball, binging and bonging into any obstacle between herself and her destination. Still, she makes a decent go of it and, more often than not lately, I have to ditch my shoes and pursue her into the house.

Milo isn't nearly as subtle. He sees me, smiles, sometimes even runs over for a hug, then begins arguing, "Mom! I don't want to go home. I want to stay and play!" or "I didn't have a snack yet!" or "I didn't have water yet!" or whatever. "I've got a GREAT IDEA! How 'bout I stay and play and you come back and get me later?"

You see, any time Milo has a "GREAT IDEA" you pretty much know you're standing in the quicksand of three-year-old logic. As in a GREAT IDEA might be for him to do exactly as he wants, me to not stop him, and then get a hug on top of it. Right? Milo's GREAT IDEAS are always followed by a cheesy used-car salesman smirk and a quick head nod -- as if that alone was a contract. They usually end with, "Okay?" or "Right, Mom?" and sometimes, the most audacious ideas end with, "Don't you think that's a GREAT IDEA, Mom?" Not really, little buddy...

If I put together the sum of Milo's behavior in an attempt to predict his future, he has outgrown my earlier prediction of mountain-climbing veterinarian and will likely become a charismatic leader of a pack of prowling teens, bent on living life according to the principles of Star Wars, playing with action figures long after they're too old to really enjoy them, and diving into bags full of Halloween candy (That looks cool, mom!). He will pepper his dialogue with "cool," "cwazy," "actually" and "of course." And whomever he lives with will have to dress him and remind him that "the tag goes in the back!" Because such things are so far below his RADAR they might as well not exist. Wait a minute... this is sounding very familiar... Ah, yes, I think I just might be describing Scott here... Except for the Halloween candy -- Milo attempted to give back a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and Scott might have died a little after that.

Anyway, happy Friday! and Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Call Me Mom

Well... we are now almost to the halfway point with the Great Single-Parent Experiment (aka Scott's trip to New York) and I got a little cranky last night. Darling Milo was overtired -- poor little guy coughed half of the previous night's sleep away and took a very short nap, so he was whinier than usual. And Miss Violet was completely interested in everything that I was doing. So I was running around the house in a vain attempt to clean up and her little hands were coming long after me undoing everything I'd done. Not inappropriate for a 14 month old, but frustrating nonetheless. So when Scott called to ask if his brother Matt had called me to let me know that they are expecting this summer, I was a little miffed. Not about the baby -- that's great news.

You see, I've been doing the single mom thing now for a week and no one has called to check up on us. Maybe it's because everyone believes that my parenting skills are outstanding and that I couldn't possibly, you know, want to talk to another adult or anything. But my mom hasn't checked in, I called my dad to thank him for the kids' Halloween box, and my sister didn't call this weekend, though she said she would. She has been keeping up with email, but with her little boy due next month, most of her conversations are about baby, birth, and familial boundaries. As they should be -- I remember the fog of being an almost-parent where nothing was as important as what my body was doing (and I apologize if I was overbearing in the least -- it never seems that way while you're in it). My mother-in-law called the day Scott left to see if he made it safely. But no one has called specifically to ask about us. Maybe I'm just being whiny... I can't tell.

In the mean time, my children have been keeping me busy and entertained. Here are a few instance of said entertainment:

Me: Milo! I don't want you to climb on the table.
Milo: I'm not climbing, Mom, I'm practicing not falling.

Violet, as she points to parts of my face: Eyessss, erssss, air, ose...
Me: Did you just say, "eyes, ears, hair, nose?"
Violet: Yeah
Me: what's this? (pointing at my hair)
Violet says nothing, but smiles and dances her little head in a pleasant rebuff of my attempts to goad her into performing.

Violet has begun saying "Mwah, mwah, mwah" when she's ready for bed -- as in kisses goodnight. She leans into Milo's bed to give him a "mwah".

The other day, while I was breastfeeding Violet, I was pretty much topless as Violet has begun this thing where she sucks for a moment on one breast, then switches to the other, back and forth the entire feeding. Milo snuggled up in my armpit and asked, "Is she nursing milk from that breast?" as he indicated the breast she was suckling.

"Yes, honey, she's drinking milk from this breast."

"OK," he says, burrowing even deeper into my side. His little square hand slid under my arm and onto my exposed breast, where he rested it gentle and cool against my skin.

"Ummm... what are you doing, buddy?" I ask hesitantly.

"Well, Violet does it. I think it makes her calm so I can do it, too."

I never really expected any other male than Scott to be feeling me up on the couch...

Oh, and if you want to know how we're doing, give me a call: 319-895-6349. But not tonight. Tonight I'm skating and the sitter won't answer the phone if you do try to call. I'm available tomorrow, though.

Friday, November 7, 2008

All By Myself...

Well, yesterday signaled the end of my Election Day and Post-Election Day high and the beginning of my descent into temporary single-mom status.

Well, to be fair, that started Tuesday night, but my enthusiasm for the election really covered my stress at being a single parent. As in on Tuesday night there was a moment when I was naked, fresh from the evening bath, holding a very slippery wet son as he scrambled frantically to not fall into the toilet, and my daughter (also wet and slippery) was attempting to climb out of the tub. I snagged her and shut the bathroom door quickly lest naked wet toddler tried to run and potentially slip on the hardwood floor. While I was wiping the stinky bum of my son, said toddler grinned, squatted and peed on the floor. She's very coordinated, though, she managed not to step on it as she darted away to sit on the little potty chair. She just got it in the wrong order, d'oh! Milo was pooping again when they called the results for Iowa, something I really wanted to see since I was one of the people who participated in the exit polls on which they based that result.

Anyway, Milo came home from daycare on Wednesday night running a fever and with a headache. Though he was not running a fever yesterday morning, he was still pretty pale and still complaining of the headache, so we all stayed home yesterday. In reality, he was easily fine by noon, but the thought of getting us all prepared and out of the house for the day seemed unappealing by that point. So we all stayed in for the day. Aside from some naptime shenanigans on the part of both of my babes, it was a pretty mellow day. I did some dusting in the family room and scrubbed the sink and tub while the kids were playing. I was also able to get the dishwasher unloaded and the garbage out, so one cannot say I spent the entire day goofing off. When the kids did finally nap, I updated my work webpage.

The day was a funny one for Violet as had three baths yesterday. She decided to give herself a full-body spa treatment with her oatmeal then I was calling in to work and telling Coralie we weren’t coming. Bath 1. Then she painted her face with spaghetti at suppertime and put applesauce in her hair. Bath 2. Then she came running when I was drawing Milo’s bath because she wants to be in the tub any time there’s water in there. Bath 3. She also threw a puzzle piece in the toilet and ate half a crayon yesterday. Welcome to toddlerhood!!

Milo, well... Milo has had a gargantuan case of the whinies -- which I tolerated when his head hurt, but he was feeling fine this morning. He whined all the way to daycare because I shut off the show he was watching so we could leave (I told him he wouldn’t be home to see the end, grr…) and then because his winter coat is too big (it’s a Carhartt with Richard’s company logo on it and it really IS too big), and then because his car seat straps were too tight and I didn’t warm the car or give him a blanket this morning. Argh! And the radio was playing a song he didn’t know and Violet was laughing too loud and I tied his shoes too tight and whatever… When we finally got to daycare -- it was an excruciating four minutes -- he told me the real issue: I wanted daddy to hug me this morning. Me, too, baby... me, too...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Where Were You?

At 9:50 last night, our phone rang. Scott was calling me from NYC. He was standing in Times Square outside of CNN with about twenty-five thousand of America's children, anxiously waiting for polls to close on the West coast. My phone was vibrating with energy from the crowd around him, clustered close to Jumbotrons with the map of our country prominently displayed in blue, red and yellow. His voice hummed with palpable excitement, the students with whom he gathered were watching the results of the first national election for which they were eligible to vote. He held his cell phone above his head so that I could hear the throng chanting, "O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!" and "Yes we can! Yes we can!"

I told him that I was jealous. I told him that I wanted to be with him -- at home or in NYC -- for this moment. He interrupted me to say that they were calling another state, but that they weren't sure which one. I saw at home before he did that it was Virginia, I squealed into the phone, "VIRGINIA!" He repeated me, awed, and the kids around him cheered at the news.

The anchors on CNN looked as if they were collectively holding their breath as the seconds counted down to the polls closing in California. I counted aloud, "10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 2..." Before I could say "one" the graphic flashed on the screen, "President-Elect Barack Obama." The world erupted. Over the phone I could hear Times Square lifting a communal voice, roaring approval.

People are always asked, "Where were you when..." In my lifetime, the only "whens" have been bad news:
Where were you when the space shuttle exploded? (home sick, eating peanut butter toast and watching the launch)
Where were you when the first Iraq War started? (in a dance lesson, Lesley Harrington ran into the class in tears to announce the war)
Where were you when the Twin Towers fell? (sitting in stunned silence in my father-in-law's office, glancing at the clear blue morning sky, unsure)
Where were you when the second Iraq War started? (in a rehearsal for a one-act play I was directing. I begged the cast to turn off the TV as the live footage looked like a video game and it all felt too cavalier.)
Where were you when Katrina hit? (the Norfolk, VA, airport on the way home from my borther's wedding, cradling our two-month-old Milo in my arms, mourning the loss of a city to which I have never visited)
Where were you when Cedar Rapids went under water? (At work, nervously clicking local news websites, watching as the floods swallowed Quaker Oats, the library, the museums, the theatres, the cultural center of my town and all of the homes surrounding the downtown)

I haven't gotten to answer the good questions:
Where were you when we declared Independence from Britain?
Where were you when George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States of America?
When our legislature created the Bill of Rights?
Where were you when Lincoln abolished slavery?
Where were you when women got the right to vote?
Where were you when the nation desegregated?
Where were you when man stepped on the moon?

And now I can answer the question to which all of those questions have lead:
Where were you when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States?

I was in my living room, wearing my pajamas, on the phone with my husband who was standing in Times Square and we were connected to the entire world.

I teared up as I kissed my sleeping babes, knowing that the first President they are going to remember is the face of the America to come, the America of our future. They went to sleep when our country was a land of opportunity for most, equality for some, and woke this morning in America, the land of hope.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Gone, Gone, Gone...

My sweet Scotty is on his way to New York City. I will miss him a lot. I like snuggling with him at the end of the day, my ear resting on his chest, his breathing and warmth lulling me to sleep. I am at home in his arms, his familiar touch is soothing and grounding. Come home soon, my love!

We took the kids to vote this morning. Milo put our ballots into the machines for us and I took part in the exit poll -- I think that may end up counting more than my actual vote. When you hear early results from Iowa, that's me! And I do mean early as I was the last person that was polled from our precinct and it was 7:45 AM when they polled me.

I hope that maybe in the next election I will have the time to volunteer to attend the state convention and help shape and ratify the party platform. I would love to attend a national convention before I die, too. Since having children, I am feeling like I need to make more noise and move the country in the way that I want to raise my children.

The next two weeks are going to be long -- today will be exciting and I am sure that the excitement will make the time fly by, perhaps tomorrow, too. But then it's going to set in that I am the only adult in the house, unless you count the thumb-less wonders, Mocha and Tess. And I don't think that they have the skills, desire, or knowledge to care for the kids. I can't even imagine one of the mutts trying to change Violet's diaper... And dinner wouldn't get on the table because they'd have eaten it. They don't really help clean, either...

Anyway, I hugged my darling Scotty a long time this morning. I was trying to convert some of his energy into an affection battery since I'll be on the giving end of all the affection for a while -- I wanted to store some of it for tonight, when I'll be watching Barack Obama make history as our sweet babes slumber, unperturbed by politics, dreaming of child-like wants (Star Wars guys and boobs, no doubt). I'm sure that one of the dogs will be curled up at my side on the couch, but they pay no heed to the media. I'll imagine him reclining on his hotel room bed, hearing the sound of metropolitan traffic as he scans CNN online and watches CNN for that moment when the election is called and we turn the page in the history of America. He's likely to be munching on Starburst candy and sitting there in his pajama shorts with the waist twisted ever-so-slightly off of his center line. I hope that his thoughts drift back towards us, back towards home and towards our very long hug this morning when the world was a different place.

Friday, October 31, 2008

This is Halloween

Everybody make a scene...

Yay! It's Halloween! I sent the kids to daycare in their Halloween clothes -- Milo has a glow-in-the-dark skeleton hoodie and Violet has a pair of orange and yellow pants and a black owl t-shirt with orange and yellow sleeves. Mr. Milo was very excited this morning and is looking forward to trick-or-treating with his daycare buddy. Violet will enjoy herself, but likely won't quite understand what's going on. This year, anyway... next year she'll get it, LOL!

Milo intends to dress as Jango Fett. He's had the costume for almost two months now and put it on to play dress-up weekly. Violet will be Yoda and she's going to ride in our backpack carrier on daddy's back. Daddy might figure out how to dress as Luke Skywalker, we'll see... And, if there's time, I'm going to wear the flapper costume I procured for my sister's themed wedding reception.

I'll stay home and hand out treats. In his infinite wisdom, Scott has hidden the candy from me. And, since he didn't buy anything chocolate, I haven't been able to sniff it out. Which is rather unfortunate as I'm thinking a bit of chocolate sounds pretty yummy today.

I'm actually pretty surprised that we've bought the kids costumes so far. Scott takes great pride in costuming for Halloween, but we haven't been on the ball enough to make costumes for the kids yet. I have the feeling we'll get the chance next year, as Violet will likely opt for something sparkly and cute. Milo will still fit into his Jango Fett costume and, I suspect, he'll choose to wear it again. I could be wrong, but the Star Wars obsession is still raging -- the Force is strong in that one...

My most memorable Halloween wasn't memorable because of a costume, or a party, or anything even related to Halloween. When I was thirteen, I got my first period right before Halloween. And that's why it is most memorable. I didn't have a horror story with blood everywhere like Carrie, and I don't remember any pain or anything. But overnight I felt grown-up. And suddenly Halloween seemed childish. I had stopped trick-or-treating -- mainly because I always seemed to have a dance lesson at TOT time. I dressed up for school because, in those un-PC times, wearing a costume to school was still considered fun. Even though half of the boys in the eighth grade showed up wearing dresses with balloon boobs.

Oh, the joys of middle school. I remember I spent half of sixth grade pining away for the boy who sat in front of me in class -- overjoyed when he agreed to dance with me at that most torturous of all events -- a middle school dance --then devastated when he ducked away halfway through the song. It was a completely unrequited crush. I crushed on no one my seventh grade year. I was focused on out-performing my best friend academically and was devoting my time to ballet. In eighth grade, my crush liked one of my best friends. I was hurt and disappointed and, since it was the end of the school year, the situation was left hanging. I couldn't get around town by myself, so friendships were mainly a school year thing -- they often dwindled and vanished over the summer. When I started high school, both my friend and the crush had moved away.

By eighth grade, I had determined that no one was ever going to dance with me at a school dance, so I went to mostly poke fun at the oh-so-fresh sixth graders and their terrified wide eyes. My sister included, though her eyes were never wide and her life experience quickly outpaced mine.

It seems so long ago, yet if I concentrate hard I can smell the Industrial Arts room, hear the bustling cafeteria, and feel the cold solidity of the tops of the science tables. As always, I remember mostly biding my time in anticipation of high school...then college... I know I wasn't an easy fit with my peers -- I wasn't good at playing the popularity game. I don't think I was particularly mean to anyone, but I'm not sure you'd remember me as the chattiest girl around, either. No worries, though, I think I came out just fine. Unlike Brenda and Eddie, I didn't peak too soon. But I guess that the costume of my own skin didn't really fit until adulthood, and I'm OK with that treat.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


So, Barack Obama called me last night and urged me to do early voting. And I hung up on the likely next President of the United States. Well, I hung up on his robocall. I have no intention of early voting. I also have no intention of forgetting to vote. I just like the celebration that surrounds actually voting at my precinct. I like to get my little "I voted" sticker and wear it with pride all day.

We plan to take the kids with us to the polls. We took them on a freezing evening last winter to the Iowa Caucuses and kinda want to see the entire election through with them. Violet was the youngest caucus-goer at our precinct last year. And Milo might have been the most entertaining... He kept the Obama caucus-ers in stitches as he played with his Transformers in the aisle of the district auditorium. It was packed, by the way. When the entire group was in the auditorium it was standing room only.

I have to admit that I am becoming more and more politically vocal. Maybe it's that I'm hitting middle age and becoming cantankerous. Maybe it is that I'm just fed up with the direction in which the US has been moving. In any case, I am not at all amused by the statements made by some (NOT all) right-wingers that I'm not a real American. I most certainly am! I work hard, have achievements, and don't ask for hand-outs anywhere. I pay my taxes and participate in my government. I haven't broken laws except underage drinking, but really, I can name few who haven't broken that law. I don't litter and do recycle and treat my neighbors respectfully (even the US government can't make all of those claims).

I am frustrated that so many choose to say negative things about so-called "entitlements." Ok, there are some people who abuse welfare and scam the government through Medicare/Medicaid. I understand that. But the same money funds things like roads, libraries, Federal student loans, Federal work study, free/reduced lunch programs, before and after school care, the VA hospitals, subsidized housing and so many other things. Yes, our federal and state taxes do these things. I drive on Federal Interstates and repaid in full and on time Scott's Federal student loan. And for this, I'm gonna have to lump myself in with everyone else who gets money from our government. Which is pretty much everyone. I benefit from having secure borders and national parks. I use the infrastructure of this nation daily, therefore I do not feel bad about paying for it. I don't even mind paying MORE for it than the less fortunate.

I guess my leftist viewpoint is showing through, huh? I don't consider some Socialism to be a bad thing -- I always hear coaches saying that the team is only as good as it's weakest player. I believe that our country is only as good as it's weakest citizen. I can honestly say that if someone walking on the street in front of me stumbled, I would stop an offer them a hand back up. Isn't that what I'm doing my paying my taxes?

I think about how precariously so many of us are perched on the wire. One chronic illness, one devastating accident, one unfortunate death could knock us off the wire. Government programs are a safety net. I, for one, am glad that they are there.

And, hey, Barack? Please don't call and interrupt my supper again. I don't care if you ARE the next POTUS -- it's downright rude to call during a meal. I'll be voting. I'll be voting for you, so get to work! Stop lolly gagging!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Nighttime Issues, Part 403

So the last week has been an interesting one around the Olinger Homestead. I am recovering from a nasty cold and have returned to the status of "fertile" again. As in one day after I asked Dr. Z (my OB/GYN) if it's normal to not menstruate for a year post-partum when my monthly-ish visitor reared her ugly head. She's not visited for almost two years and I really was fine with that... Too much information, I know, but it's my dang blog -- so there!

Milo helped carve his first pumpkin over the weekend. "Helped" is a rather loose term as he touched the pumpkin guts once and decided they were icky and spent the rest of his time wonder aloud (repeatedly) if Daddy was ever going to finish carving C-3PO and R2-D2 into the pumpkin. He did and it was glorious for a few days, then quickly turned to a moldy, runny stinky mess of pumpkin goo on our front porch. Scott, who is generally pretty level headed concerning all matters of ick, reacts very negatively to mold, claiming an allergy. I don't doubt that he has an allergy, but from what I can tell it is not life-threatening, nor even sneeze-inducing, so I always find the skittery dance he does around moldy objects to be kind of funny. In the same way I find it funny when he jumps when coming upon a snake.

The days are getting short around here. Late sunrise has stymied Milo's sense of overnight time. One morning this week, as I was dozing while nursing Violet in the glider, I heard his door open. I peeked around my hair to see what he would do as it was 6:45 and nearly time to get up anyway. He hesitated in his doorway, stepped out of his room, stepped back into his room, then stepped out again. He tried to pull his door shut, but it didn't close, so he pushed it wide open and then took two steps closer to our bed. I could tell by his pause that he wasn't sure if it was morning or night, but he believed me to be asleep and knew that Scott was sleeping soundly. He looked around our room and the only thing stirring was Tess, whose internal alarm clock rings loudly at 6:30 each morning.

Then my little man padded back into his room, shut his door and climbed back into bed. I heard him on the monitor as he told himself, "Good night." I roused Scott and told him that Milo was awake, he pulled on his lounging clothes and stumbled to the kids' door. He opened it and asked Milo if he was ready to go downstairs.

"No, Daddy, it's still nighttime. Go back to bed!"

Last night was one of those nights... I have finally hit a breaking point about Violet nursing all night. As in I'm tired of my sleep schedule being dictated to me by my toddler. She woke to nurse at 11:30PM last night and, by 1:30 she still hadn't really gone to sleep. She tossed, she turned, she squirmed and wriggled, but she did not fall asleep soundly. Each time she'd get drowsy, she'd roll off of my breast onto the pillow on my lap with a loud "pop!" as my nipple slid from her mouth. The she would decide that she needed to suck again, so she'd roll back onto my breast. Lather, rinse, and repeat for two hours. I was getting sore and she was, as I say affectionately, engaging me in "midget wrestling."

I stood up, kissed the top of her little blonde head and said, "Good night. I'm done being you pacifier tonight" and walked around the bed to apologize to Scott, "I'm sorry. I can't do this any more. I'm going downstairs so hopefully she doesn't scream all night long." And then I did.

I could hear her crying over the monitor and I decided I was likely the world's worst mom in that moment -- well, maybe Violet's worst mom in that moment. Then I heard Scott open the kids' door and scoop Milo out of his bead. Within seconds, I hear him deposit Violet in the crib. She cried for five minutes, then slept all night. Milo slept pretty well in our bed, though he did roll out once, surprising himself, but not hurting himself. Apparently he danced around the bed like a fish on a line while sleeping. I don't know -- I slept four whole hours in a row on the couch.

I do feel badly that Scott had a long night. But in all honesty, I haven't slept in my bed in 13.5 months. And he told me he was going to help get Violet into the crib in the other room way back in July. We'll see how tonight goes...

Friday, October 17, 2008


So I had a moment of complete insanity (on my part) at skating practice this week. Seriously -- I kicked a wall. So not me...

I'm trying to decide if I'm just tired and hormonal or if there is something deeper going on with my psyche -- like delayed postpartum depression. I AM tired, yes. And I AM hormonal (still nursing Violet plus my cycle hasn't started back up yet). And I am dreading the next month with Scott being gone for, well over half of the month. But my frustration and lack of motivation seem primarily to be tied to the skating, which is why I'm not yet sure if this is a medical issue or not. Plus, I've now come down with a whopper of a cold, so I don't know how that was affecting me on Wednesday night.

I do know that I felt sort of claustrophobic on the ice -- and that my every thought was one of negativity and annoyance. I lacked focus as I mostly thought about playing with the kids. And then we hit a point in practice where we were trying stuff and I was failing time and time again... that's the moment when I kicked the wall. The delicious pain in my toe was endlessly more comforting than the anger I was feeling. I was mad at myself and trying not to cry and somehow, kicking the wall made sense in that moment. But it didn't seem to work too well as mere minutes later I had spilled over and was stammering a confession to my shocked team: I don't really want to skate anymore. I'm tired of practicing and practicing and not getting things, of watching other skater's skills pass me by... of feeling desolate on that thin sheet of ice... deserted...

Most of my stunned teammates rallied around me, something which has actually embarrassed me. I don't do things to seek kudos from people; I dislike superficial back-patting. I started skating as a personal journey and have gotten sick of the ride, quite honestly. And no amount of "we need you" or "you are a very valuable and iportant member of the team" or "we'd be lost without you" is going to help me enjoy the scenery right now -- I didn't have that little meltdown to gain praise, it was something that slipped through before I could contain it. I know that without me, the team is down to the bare minimum required for competition, so if I leave and any other team member has a life change, we're (they're) not able to compete. And I'd be forever guilty of ending that because I truly love my teammates.

Practically, my mind knows that I could likely get the same amount of non-work/non-mom time if I took an hour long Pilates class at the local gym. I wouldn't have to worry about driving late at night in bad weather or, likely, hiring a sitter as often for when Scott is at rehearsal. I would get entire evenings back -- it's a three-hour round trip every time I go to the rink: drive 35 minutes there, skate, drive 35 minutes back. I'm sick of the drive -- most days. Some early spring mornings I am struck by the pastoral beauty of our state. But most evenings, I'm either driving into the sun or watching for deer in the dusk.

As always, Scott is supportive. He doesn't seem to think that I am stuggling in other aspects of life, but I feel my base laziness has been eroding some productivity -- mostly at work, though some of that involves me waiting on other people, so that may not be me, either.

It's just that I believe that I am one of the most patient people I know -- just apparently not with myself. I don't like causing drama, but that's what happened on the ice, in front of my teammates. I'm a workhorse, though, and refuse to leave the team mid-season, and know that the team is only as strong as it's weakest skater, so I strive to never be the weakest. I just wish that I had the physical capability to be one of the strongest. Or maybe the mental toughness to weather the storm in the mean time.

Maybe the wall I'm kicking isn't just at the side of the rink.

Monday, October 13, 2008


So the kids and I went to Playhouse Disney Live on Friday night. Scott is in tech for a play, so the kids and I drove to the Quad Cities to see the show. All the way there, Milo asked me if he could have popcorn at the movie and "Will I see Clifford, too?" Violet protested the sun in her eyes, poor babe, and I drove along behind several of the most annoying drivers ever to take the road: lil' old lady who can't remember where to turn, Purple Heart guy who won't drive the speed limit, and truck-with-no-cruise-control guy.

Anyway, as we're driving along, Milo has kept up a running commentary as he looks for pumpkins on porches. Soon the commentary becomes, "Mama! There's another field. And another one... the corn looks like battle droids, Mama!" I tell him that we're going to be seeing a lot of fields, living in Iowa and all. But as we turn onto the big highway from the little highway, the speed limit goes up and so does the road noise. My conversation with Milo becomes, "Mama... mumble mumble mumble?"

"Milo, I can't hear you. Please speak more loudly."

"Okay. MA-ma... mumble mumble mumble?"

"Milo, please say ALL of the words more loudly."

"Okay. MA-MA... mumble mumble mumble?"

In fact, the only thing getting louder is Violet as she complains about the setting sun burning her little eyeballs. So we pull off the road for supper. And so that I can use the bathroom. Milo protests as he wants to eat food "from the window!" I explain to him that I need to use the bathroom and that Violet is too little to eat in the car, but he's still grumbling.

So we get into the restroom and the handicapped stall is in use. Now, I will admit to breaking the convention and using the handicapped stall when in a public restroom with one of my children, but with both it is practically a necessity. However, since it is in use, we cram telephone-booth-joke style into the regular stall. I ask Milo if he needs to use this toilet, since we're already there, he insists, "Nope!" I'm wearing the diaper bag back-pack and leave it on. In fact, I manage to pee whilst holding Violet and cornering Milo against the door with the firm adminishment, "Don't touch ANYTHING!" Of course, he touches everything, so we squeeze back out the door and all wash our hands so we can order our food.

Naturally there are no high chairs available, so we pick a booth and I get Milo started on his meal while carrying Violet and our drink cups across the restaurant to get lemonade. You know, I understand that most people would like the option to fill their own drinks, but in that moment, I found it to be most annoying... Violet and I get back to the table and I tear apart a chicken nugget for her. I munch on a fry or two and take a sip of my Diet Coke -- a departure for me as I try to avoid caffeine after noon, but realize that I am responsible for driving both of my babes home from this event and therefore need to be awake. Milo looks up from his food with a panicked little face, "Mom! I need to tinkle!"

Now?? I glance around the restaurant and decided that maybe it was a good thing that Violet wasn't strapped into a highchair. I sheepishly ask the woman sitting in the booth near us if she would make sure that the employees didn't clear our table while I ran the kids to the bathroom. She gave me one of those "been there, done that" smiles and agreed to watch our rapidly-cooling food. And we ran off to the bathroom again.

Of course Milo is one of those boys who will not pee sitting down and of course the toilet in the handicapped stall is a real handicapped toilet -- so standing to pee at that one would only work if the child could pee out his armpits, so we fold, once again, into the regular-sized stall. Milo does his duty and we all wash our hands AGAIN.

Back to dinner. Violet grabs the empty paper fry holder from the tray and stuffs two nuggets and a couple of fries inside -- she's into the whole "putting things into other things" phase toddlers go through, so I am not surprised that she's re-compartmentalizing the food I just un-compartmentalized. I look over and Milo has started squirming. "Mama! Rub my bum!"

"Milo, do you have to poop?"

"No. I just need my bum rubbed."

"Are you sure you don't need to poop?"

"No. I just...YES! Yes! I need to poop!"

Again I ask the nice woman if she wouldn't mind guarding my food. Again she agrees. And again we are off to the bathroom. This time, knowing that Milo is only going to be sitting, I am able to opt for the more spacious and accommodating... accommodations. Milo again does a good job. As I flush, I notice two chicken nuggets, the paper fry wrapper and a fry sailing over my shoulder and into the toilet. Violet claps her hands and cheers, "Aaaaay!!!" And again we all wash our hands. Again.

Back to the table once more, this time with no incident. Into the car and to the arena. I pull into the parking garage attached to the arena and discover that I have no cash. The helpful guard suggests I utilize the ATM on the lower level, but when I drive down there I realize that to use the ATM I will have to park and leave the kids or park and drag them twenty feet to the ATM. I decide to circle the block and find a completely free space. Yay! No outrageous ATM fees for me!

I park the car and get Milo out, instructing him to stand by the tree in the easement. He does a lovely job with this while I get Violet out and pour her into my sling. Then the diaper bag back-pack. And finally, I grab Milo's hand for the block walk to the arena. Which turns out to be sort of a nature walk as Milo instantly spies a "grasshopper" that was actually a praying mantis -- so cool! And then he finds a stick that he's convinced needs to come to the show with us. I entice him to leave it at the base of a street light since the police waving the "light sabers" wouldn't let us in if we were armed with sticks.

We get into the arena with no fuss, but I stop at the restroom to change Violet's diaper and Milo decided he needs to use the toilet, so we all smoosh into a stall where he suffers performance anxiety and did not use the toilet. We all wash our hands again.

We are able to walk right in to our seats as they are on the floor, but off to the side. I am momentarily hopeful when I see that most of our row is empty. If the other patrons don't show, I'm all for sliding in to the middle of the row so we can see better. I send a quick text to Scott (who has called four times and left one voice mail). It says, "We're here." And then the rest of our row shows up. They look to be a perfectly nice family, mom goes in first, followed by two darling little girls and a man the size of the playhouse at Playhouse Disney. Milo can't quite see around him, so I help him sit on his knees on the front of his seat.

Curtains up!

Act one flies by and both kids are mostly paying attention. Milo is thrilled to see Rocket and both kids pat along. Violet only gets a little antsy towards the end of the act, but is riveted by Winnie-the-Pooh. Seriously -- she was like a screaming Beatle Maniac calling "Beh! Beh! Beh!" (bear) every time he was onstage, pointing her little index finger at him and clapping wildly.

Intermission comes and, worn down from Milo's whining for popcorn, we venture into the lobby for refreshments. After waiting in line long enough to have grown and popped the corn, I get to the front to realize that they don't take plastic, so I trudge away to the ATM to pay a stinkin' ATM fee anyway... We wait through the concession line AGAIN, and I order a small popcorn, soft pretzel, and a bottle of water. There is apparently no such thing as a small popcorn. So I ask for one that's not filled all the way. Which is apparently not done either, so when they hand me the popcorn, I tell Milo, "Hey! Look! It's Mickey!" and dump two thirds of the contents into the wastebasket. Fortunately, they've started the entre' act and we're off to the audience again!

We manage to scoot in before the house dims completely, so we avoid having to wait for an usher to guide us back to our seats. Either that or I outran the usher. Not sure which, actually... And after we get settled, the same family who was late to the beginning of the show filed in past us, late to the second act of the show, too.

Violet is less inclined to sit for the second act, so she squirms away from me and rushes the stage like a hormone-crazed fan-girl. I cathc her and ply her with a warm soft pretzel. Which she drops on the floor. I scoop it up instantly and think, "Five seconds? Right?" As it turns out, I needn't have worried about her safety -- she crammed the whole piece in my mouth and giggled. I am actually putting Milo in peril each time I run to retrieve her -- he doesn't weight quite enough to hold down his spring-loaded seat, so I have visions of him being catapaulted through the air, trailing popcorn as he flies backwards into the audience.

I don't recall what Handy Manny did in the second act... That must have been when I was chasing Violet and joking with another parent, also chasing a tot, about the "toddler mosh pit." But the show has concluded and Milo is beaming and Violet is pulling at my shirt, wanting to nurse. I figure that this is as good a time as any as the arena is emptying and the lines for the restroom are likely to be long, so I nurse her as unobtrusively as possible. I have just let down when Milo cries, "I have to tinkle! Now!" So I pop poor Violet off and pack up all of our stuff and dash to the line for the restroom. Which, thankfully, is not terribly long. We all contort into yet another small stall and Milo does his business, then I do, too, since we're driving home after this. And we wash our hands... again...

In the lobby, I dig into the diaper bag for the kids' coats. I'm helping Milo zip us as he asks me for a "prize" when Violet decides to make a run for it. She trips over my shoe and falls headlong to the floor, banging her cheek and screaming. And screaming. And screaming. I hold her close and she calms, pretty quickly, considering it's her bedtime and she's not snuggled up and nursing (for which she is still giving me a dirty look). I pull her jacket on her and put her in the sling, which must have a contact sedative effect as she relaxes instantly, snuggling in to my neck like she's a strange appendage. Milo continues to ask for a prize, specifically a Star Wars guy. As many times as I tell him that they do not have Star Wars guys at Playhouse Disney, the only thing that diverts his attention is me wondering aloud if his stick will still be at the lamppost. It was. Thus we have branded the "magic stick."

The ride home was not plagued by bad drivers, though the road noise was still loud enough for me to not hear a thing Milo was saying. He was disappointed that he did not see the praying mantis after the show -- after all, the stick was there, right? And Violet fussed for a while until I handed her the remainder of the soft pretzel, which was clasped in her tiny hand when she finally conked out back there. Milo fell asleep, too, though he was excited enough that it took a while longer than I expected.

I pulled into the front of the house with two sleeping babes, though Violet woke as soon as the car's interior lights came on. Milo, who sleeps more soundly, did not notice when I pried him out of the carseat, took him upstairs, removed his shoes, coat and pants, and laid him in bed. Violet did, though, and I came back to the car to find her little cheeks wet with tears and sticky with pretzel dough. I dressed her in her pajamas and nursed her to sleep. Scott came in a few moments before I laid her down, the dogs greeted him noisily, then I set sweet baby girl into her bed and went downstairs.

To use the bathroom by myself.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cranky Mama

Well... I haven't written in a while. D'oh!

Life is busy and good. As in lots of stuff to do and to get done and not quite enough time. I'm having trouble focusing, it seems. I don't know if this is a by-product of not quite enough sleep for the last year or if I'm just old and fat and tired of it.

The kids are good -- we went to our first parade this weekend. I'm not sure why we haven't been to a parade yet, other than we haven't seen one that fit conveniently into our schedule. Anyway, both kids were entranced for the first fifteen minutes, then Violet's attention wandered and she thought running out into the street would be a better idea than staying close to mommy and Milo. Milo was amazed and excited and awfully dang cute -- his jaw scraped the pavement when he realized that the paraders threw candy, "Mom! I didn't know that they would be throwing CAAAANDYYY!" He dutifully handed the chewing gum to his older cousins without protest -- mostly because his bag was full of Tootsie rolls and what could be better than that?? We listened as the marching bands came by, I pointed out the instruments. Milo thought those were "coo" (cool). Violet didn't flinch at the noise, so I assume that she enjoyed them, too. Although, neither was impressed by the horse brigade. I assume that Milo is sharing his new-found parade expertise with his buddy at daycare this morning.

I seem to have kicked the cold from which I was suffering last week without any lasting damage. Milo did not catch it and Violet has learned to dodge approaching tissues with great accuracy. She's perfected the head bob and wipe nose with own hands technique -- which she has yet to realize means I'll then wipe her nose AND wash her hands.

I've had a rotten time on my skates lately -- not falling or struggling or anything, just not motivated and pretty down on myself for not doing things. I was pretty grumpy at synchro practice last week, though my teammates insist I wasn't, but I feel like I was cranky and pushing the coach a bit. As in whining because others just weren't skating fast enough. Although, I simply refuse to try and slow a spiral -- it's impossible to slow going forward because using my toepick would mean tripping and that's just a bad idea. Although I really like our new program, history has shown that when S and I skate together, we generate a lot of speed. And then some shifting has meant that L is on ine side of me and S in the other -- so we're off to the races and may very well leave many in the dust. The back end of our spiral line (L, me, S and J) are the one who push into the element, so we're pushing from the back, which causes this whole caterpillar thing and ... anyway... I kept coming back to it and so on. Sorry guys! I guess pissy = power when I'm skating, because I surely was in a pissy mood.

I actually felt a little hormonal -- like I was cranky just for the sake of being cranky. It happened again on Saturday morning -- I felt completely out-of-whack and stubborn and generally negative. I don't like feeling like that, but I seem to have hit a wall woth my progress and since I can't afford lessons at the moment and my practice time on Saturday morning has steadily eroded as life gets a later and later start that morning I feel hopless and like a lost cause. My skills just aren't going to get better because I don't have the time, enery and now motivation to make it happen. Ugh... I hate admitting defeat like that. I hate feeling so negative and I'm really frustrated with myself about it.

I guess we'll see what this week brings...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Big Boy

My little man is seeming awfully grown up lately. He's suddenly grown this sense of maturity -- we might go all day without tears, for example. He's not arguing when it's time to leave the house in the morning anymore. Things like that.

Don't get me wrong, he still has those moments when he tenses every muscle in his body, leaning so far forward that a breeze could topple him, fists clenched, eyebrows drawn down, with a laser beam of intensity shooting out his forehead, insisting, "I TOLD YOU, I WAAAAANT CHO-CLATE MILK!!!" But they are, right now, fewer and farther in between. Knock on wood.

He's become helpful at daycare, asks to put away laundry (I think it's because it means we play upstairs and we don't really do that often), and isn't squishing Violet any more. For the record, he is three and three months and one day today. Life just seems peaceful in his world right now.

Sure, he claims every night, "But I don't like to go to sleep!" and he protests both getting into and out of the bathtub, but for the largest part of the day, he's pleasant and cheerful. It's nice!

I just came from home -- no daycare today, so daddy is home with the babes -- and just before I left, we were all in a pile on the floor, snuggling and teasing each other, playing "Let's all kiss someone!" and just feeling each other breathe.

I kiss Violet, who kisses Daddy, who kisses Milo, who kisses me.

What could be better?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Money, Money, Money...

1/2 & 1/2
My deodorant
Dishwasher detergent
Dish soap
Canned veggies: carrots, green beans, butter beans
Frozen veggies, all but broccoli
Fresh produce

What's this list?

The list of stuff we're out of at home and cannot afford to buy until payday -- in six days. How is this possible? Scott and I both work, that's true. We pay nearly all of my wages for daycare -- I think I make $150 or so when it's all said and done. It IS worth it for me to work because of how the college pays our health insurance, so that saves us $370.00 per month that would otherwise be deducted from Scott's paycheck. Added together, that makes $520.00 that I make a month. Which we need.

So things got a little out of control this month, that's obvious. But not REALLY out of control -- we did eat at Texas Roadhouse once and did buy the kids some fall clothes and a Halloween costume for Milo. I paid for one skating lesson and we bought birthday gifts for Violet and Huey. We had carry-out twice this month, too.

We will be getting cost-of-living increases in our next paycheck, but it's still not going to be pretty. I don't know how families make it on one income. Home ownership has been the cause of our financial distress -- we financed some improvements on credit card, then ran into trouble when our pipes burst and family obligations made us take trips that we haven't been able to afford. We've charged too much, I completely understand, but have been making steady progress repaying that debt. We have delayed purchasing a larger vehicle until this is under control, so for now we'll pile into and out of my clown-car Jetta.

But this summer the price at the pump and in the aisle have really hit us hard. Simply put, a family of four with two working parents shouldn't have to scrimp as much as we've had to do. If, Lord help us, the plan to tax health care benefits goes through, we're going to be in a very bad spot. The college subsidized an enormous chunk of our health care this year, but will likely not be able to in the future. We are considering cutting our contributions to our retirement funds to the minimum as the funds are currently losing money.

I don't know what we'll do and how to further save money. We'll start canceling some things we enjoy: cable, DSL at home, Netflix. These are all non-necessities. If I can remember to charge my dang cell phone, we might be able to cut our land line entirely. That will likely make up the difference in the cost of our utilities this winter.

I can give up skating so that I'm not spending gas money to get to and from the rink twice, though because I teach, my ice time is already free. Or maybe we can combine the trip to the rink with weekly grocery shopping. I could clip coupons, but I'd have to buy a subscription to the paper to do it. It's hard to shop around with kids in tow, particularly because we live 15-25 minutes away from the major shopping areas, so stopping by one store to pick up soda on sale isn't necessarily cost effective and is certainly not time effective. I hate the thought of my weekends turning into a game show, "Cheap Food Hunt."

I can go back to shopping at, shudder, Wal-Mart for food and such because I already buy generic stuff when the quality isn't different. Maybe I'll have to start buying generic all the time, quality be damned. The biggest impact there will be Violet's diapers. She's long and lean and generic diapers don't fit as well (Hello poop up her back!). Plus, I'll have to wave goodbye to healthier snack options -- Organic Cheddar Bunnies come in a more expensive package than Whole-Grain Goldfish Crackers that are more expensive than Cheese Whales (or almost-cheese Whales).

We're really OK right now -- I just don't want to dip into the Christmas money if we can help it. Feeding us for the next week might be reason enough to spend some of our gift money on the essentials (so no deodorant for me -- I'll smell like Scott for a few days). We should be fine-ish through the new year, but who know what will happen after that? I know we're in a better place than a whole lot of households out there so I can only assume that people who make half of what we make are cringing about my whining.

Hmm... I guess I just might lose some weight since we won't be buying any junk food or making any spur-of-the-moment trips to DQ. That's not all bad...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


As it turns out, I did not get the cold last week. I did get it last night, though. I don't feel that bad, but am very sleepy.

Sleep is tough to come by right now. Miss Violet is still waking twice a night and needs me (well, my boob) to get back to sleep. I don't know how to stop this without causing more trouble. I love nursing her, but would be OK with just nursing for breakfast and before bed. Because she's still waking twice a night, I don't feel like I can put her in Milo's room just yet, though he has been asking for her to sleep in the crib. So she is still in room with us. Which means it could be the dogs waking her at night or daddy's snoring.

The snoring is bad again because Scott has a cold and cannot breathe with his bi-pap on -- but he also cannot breath with it off, so he's just not breathing. If the snoring weren't so thunderous, we all might be sleeping better. After a visit to his doctor discussing his bi-pap and restless leg syndrome, the doctor asked if we were still sleeping in the same bed. He answered, "No, but it's mostly because my wife is falling asleep in a chair while nursing our daughter." True, indeed.

I do not know when, if ever, I will get to fall into a calm bed and sleep for more than an hour at a time. I won't know what to do with myself if I'm ever actually rested. My quality of sleep is so poor that I don't know how I am able to function day after day after day. Scott is headed to NYC for 16 days with a class -- maybe I'll use that time to figure out what's waking Violet. And if it is daddy, maybe she and I might get a whole night of sleep in there. Not that I'm happy he'll be gone -- single-mommin' it for two straight weeks isn't going to be easy by any stretch of my active imagination. The kids will miss him terribly and we'll all be grouchy for most of the time he's away, I suspect.

Last night, Milo had a nightmare that he clearly remembered (this is a first). He woke crying and told Scott, "Mommy left me at the movie theater!" Well, I have never done such a thing -- he and I went to see Clone Wars last Friday and I stepped into the lobby to get him more lemonade, but leave him at the theater alone? Heck, no. And yet I somehow still felt badly about it -- even though I have never done it. I asked him about it this morning and his version made me even more guilty -- he said, "We went to see Madagascar and you left me at the theater all by myself and I cried and cried and you didn't come back."

All I could do was to promise that I would never leave him at the theater. So clearly my baby is subconsciously worrying that I am going to leave him somewhere. If only he knew I'd take him everywhere with me as long as he lives! The time for him to shove me over for a friend is approaching more rapidly than I can believe. I don't have too long before the thought of me leaving him somewhere is anticipated, not feared.

In other news: Violet is a nodding fool! She nods when you ask her questions now, sometimes accompanied by a "hmm-hmm." She hasn't quite got the idea that nodding is a neck-upwards movement, so she's nodding her shoulders, too. It's cute. She also bring us things and holds them up, saying, "dis? dis?" which I am taking to mean, "What's this?"

So I tell her, "That is the battery door on the remote. Have you seen the batteries?"

Nod, nod, "hmm, hmm."

"Should I be worried that you have eaten them?"

Nod, nod, "hmm, hmm."

In fact, she did not eat them -- that would have been a nightmare of a different sort.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I think I am catching a cold. Rats!

I haven't been sick in a very long time. I am glad for that. Something about pregnancy and motherhood has brought on extra immunity for me, I believe. It's as if the creation of new life has strengthened my defenses -- my body's way of knowing that moms just don't get the down time to be sick. I have never once caught a tummy bug from my kids and have only caught a few colds. But Milo was feeling puny last Saturday and Violet ran a fever for four days last week and they passed on illness to Scott, who has shared with me. Family style dining... with germs. It's OK, it's not going to be fatal or anything, but I was sort of enjoying a long run of being healthy.

I was one of those kids who caught everything. I had frequent colds, yearly bronchitis, and pneumonia every other year. Allergies year-round, ear infections that would rupture my eardrums... you get the picture. I can remember pretending I wasn't that sick so that I could get to school because I had play rehearsal and AP classes and all that stuff. Mostly because I didn't want to miss rehearsal lest the drama director decide I was unreliable. So I toughed it out. I guess that was good mom training -- you just can't shirk mom stuff because you're coughing.

I will be fine as long as I'm not running a fever. If I run a fever, then all bets are off because I crash and burn with a temperature of 100. Gert delirious and loopy if it ever gets over 101. I wilt and get confused and find that everything hurts my whole body. I have no control over my emotions and it's best just to send me upstairs to bed until the fever breaks. So, I hope I never run a fever. My poor kids would have to fend for themselves... Maybe the dogs can change diapers and fill endless sippy cups with milk? Nope -- they are thumb-less wonders. Good thing I've got a husband who agrees that the only thing that Mommy can do that Daddy can't do is nurse Violet. She wouldn't like his chest hair, anyway...

I dream vividly when running a fever. Crazy, incomprehensible fears tumble through my unconsciousness colliding and bouncing, building and cresting until I wake thoroughly frightened and occasionally inconsolable. The fever burns a tiny pinprick of a hole in the membrane that keeps the fears at bay, holding them sterilized away from my day-to-day thinking. The fears slip and slide through the portal, insidiously filling in between my normal thoughts like mortar between stones, pervading the structure of my life and turning the rational irrational. I have delusions of panthers stalking me in my bed, their hot breath whistling under my sheets, curling around my pillow, nestling into my hair. Social order is upended; I recall charging downstairs, sobbing uncontrollably to my parents that I had dreamt I wouldn't ever marry because my allowance was higher than my fiancee's... I was twelve and not engaged at the time. But the doubt had shown itself and I could not quell the impulse to share it. I imagine that this is what mental illness feels like to it's sufferers and am thankful that the inability to reason, to put a coherent thought together, to function is temporary and not a constant. I am thankful, so thankful. I am so very, very thankful that any illness which I have had has been curable -- just a transient wayward moment in an otherwise calm existence.

I am thankful.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Happy birthday, Violet!

This is the conversation that Scott told me he and Milo had last night:

Scott: Tomorrow is Violet's birthday. She is going to be one year old!

Milo: Her birthday is tomorrow? She will be one we can call her beautiful. She's so beautiful!

Happy, happy birthday my sweet, sweet baby girl. So far, she's celebrated by sleeping all night last night, nursing a good long time this morning, and eating "cra-kah"s to her heart's content.

This past year seems like a blink -- time had flown by faster than I ever anticipated. Last year, right about this time we were getting ready to go grocery shopping for the week. I had been having contractions every five minutes for the entire week, but wasn't making any progress with dilation. I discussed with Dr. Z that I wasn't ready to be induced because I was hopeful that by going into labor on my own I would be able to avoid a difficult epidural and minimize the amount of medication in my system so that I could have a better shot of breastfeeding.

Scott, Milo and I headed into town. We walked through Menard's looking for something that I can't remember now. I could feel the contractions getting a little more ouch-y, but they weren't exactly painful. And I carried Milo through half of the store. On to Target for groceries! Scott and Milo high-tailed it to look at Halloween decorations while I went to the restroom. I noticed bloody show and started to think that today just might be the day that we get to meet you! I didn't feel that birth was eminent, but also knew that we were dangerously low on food, so I continued shopping. After about fifteen minutes, Scott and Milo came upon me in the frozen food section, breathing through a stronger contraction. I told Scott, "You'd better call Mike to watch Milo, we're going to have a baby today!" He blinked and asked me if I was sure, I said "Yep!' and he got on the phone to Mike and Corey right away. Grandma Dianne and Grandpa Richard were supposed to have watched Milo, but they decided they needed a weekend away after Matt and Sasha's wedding, so they had driven down to Branson, MO to visit some of their "cruise friends".

I decided that we had enough time to get home and unload the groceries, which we did. We loaded back up and drove to the Blair's Ferry Walmart parking lot to meet Aunt Corey, who was headed back to Mount Vernon for a football game. Scott had asked me if I'd rather stay at home until the game was done, but I didn't think we'd make it that long. I was right!

We got to the hospital about 1:15 or so, checked in and nurse Jenny said I was about 2cm, but the bag of water was bulging. The monitor said I was contracting every 90 seconds or so. She said I needed to walk the halls for about an hour because they couldn't admit me until I was 4cm. I walked for about 45 minutes and I was starting to get really uncomfortable. Dr. M (our pediatrician) ran into us, but he stopped to say "Hi!" as I was in the middle of a contraction, so he wished us well and said he was excited to meet our new little one! Nurse Jenny checked me again and said I was at 4cm, so I was allowed to be admitted. I laughed and said, "If you weren't going to admit me, I wasn't going any farther than the parking garage because we will be having this baby today!"

I got all settled into a room and Dr. JKO came along to check us out. He disagreed with Nurse Jenny and said I was only at 2cm, but he wasn't going to discharge me. He broke my water and it was meconium stained, so I wasn't going be able to get too far away from the bed this time, either. After about an hour, Scott's favorite nurse Ann and her student came in to take over the labor/delivery part. We asked nurse Jenny to take pictures, and she was glad to do so.

Labor went very quickly. I went from the doc's 2cm to complete in about 3 hours. A couple of pushes and a leg cramp later, Violet came whooshing out! She was gorgeous! She took to nursing as soon as I was able to try (about 15 minutes after birth).

So, that is the story of Miss Violet's beginning. It was as easy as she has been this year -- I couldn't as for a more wonderful daughter. Her gentle spirit and sweet disposition make loving her oh so easy. She's been the healthiest, happiest, most easily contented child I have ever known and Milo, Scott and I adore her. She thinks her big brother is the bee's knees and is quick to follow him wherever he goes.

Today Violet is one and she IS beautiful!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Busy Weekend

Another busy weekend has come and gone in the Olinger household. Here are some highlights:

Friday evening: Scott and I took the kids to the picnic outside Riverside Theatre to celebrate the opening of the show Stones in His Pockets, which Scott says is excellent and which I am sure I won't get a chance to see as I hate to spend any more time away from my babies than I do with work and skating. Kids ate baked potatoes and corned beef sandwiches. Well, Milo did, anyway. Violet has been suffering a little tummy bug and she was not interested in eating much, though she made the discovery that by crumbling her roll, she could make it snow on mommy. Scott and I chatted while Milo begged to go home and Violet charmed the pants off the small crowd. At one point, two little brothers were sprawled at her feet, blowing her kisses. I think we might be in trouble...

Saturday morning: Skating lessons! I toiled away, not particularly successful at anything. Taught one group of tots and had a pretty good class. Then Milo came for his lesson. He got on the ice with me and I gave him a good morning hug and kiss, since he'd been sound asleep when I left the house. I spoke with the group instructor about moving him into this class as he was beyond bored with the Parent/Tot-Snowplow 1 group and when he's bored, he clings to my bum like a barnacle. Really -- he presses his face into my right cheek. Makes skating terribly difficult. Anyway, I held one hand and the other instructor took the other hand and we went across the ice that way. He was reluctant to introduce himself, but quickly amended my suggestion that he was George. "I'm not George! I'm MILO!" and answered correctly that he is "Three!" When the instructor realized he'd misplaced his clipboard, I took the opportunity to find it. I came back and Milo was absorbed in an activity, so I slid the clipboard behind the instructor and skated away. Thus began Milo's first lesson on-ice without mommy. He did pretty well -- I ducked and hid behind the boards and the vendor cart so that he wasn't able to see me peering out onto the ice at him. He skates pretty much like you'd imagine a three-year-old to skate -- not very fluid nor fast, but he doesn't fall often and he keeps plugging away at it. I think he's doing pretty well considering he started skating at the end of May and has been out there maybe a dozen times.

Saturday Evening: Scott moved scenery that had been evacuated to Cornell after the flood waters receded from Theatre Cedar Rapids while Violet napped and Milo played. We ate and took a long walk. Both kids tired of the stroller before we got back, so we came back carrying children and pushing an empty stroller. Milo did not think it was funny when we suggested that he push his parents in the stroller.

Sunday: The day started off pretty lazy for me. In fact, it took me a good hour and a half before the coffee kicked in and I was willing to open my eyes fully. We went for brunch and had a pretty good meal, though I was kicking myself and pretty upset because I'd given Violet a molten bite of my sweet potatoes and her reaction was swift -- poor little thing looked so panicked. I did cry about this because I felt so awful. It wasn't really a good weekend for the poor girl and her parents. Scott had accidentally guided Milo's skate-clad foot into her eyebrow and I tried to burn her tongue out with sweet potatoes. Good thing she's tough...

Then we went to Toys'r'Us to shop for Violet's first birthday. Which is tomorrow. She is pretty tough to buy for as she's mostly interested in playing with whatever Milo's doing. In fact, she often drapes the other Wii controller over her neck like a boa. She's very much into exploring right now and doesn't settle into playing with toys per se, yet, but that's totally normal. Interestingly enough, she was the only one who didn't poop while we were at Toys'r'us. I'm sure the staff was wondering what our issue was -- couldn't we afford to flush at home? Anyway, we ended up purchasing a soft June doll (from Little Einsteins). Violet did hug it -- which was about as interested as she was in anything -- except for an odd package of Floam that she brought us three times. Floam is not recommended for children who would eat it, and she likely would as she was calling it "cra-kuh" -- which, in Violetese means "food I can feed myself." After wandering through the store twice (and to the bathroom thrice), we finally went on our way with the biker scouts that Milo was promised as a "pooping on the potty" prize two months ago when he started potty training. They vanished from store shelves the instant that he decided that he was ready for underwear grrr...

On to Target where I manage to get everything we needed for the week while trying to entertain Violet, who is an hour past her naptime. We're checking out when Scott goes over to the service desk. I think he's going to complain aobut something, but no... He practically ambushed the poor stockperson that he notice stocking Wii Fit games onto the shelves. So now we have a Wii Fit.

More on the Wii Fit at another time, but suffice it to say, I did every exercise currently open to my very unflattering Mii. Because looking in the mirror at myself isn't depressing enough, now my Wii alter-ego is looking back at me as fat as I am in real life...

Then we had a lovely dinner at Scott's parents. Kids were relaxed, Dianne had been jammie shopping, and Richard was agreeing with us about voting for Obama. Dianne's choice in jammies for Milo was a point of hilarity. Apparently my sized 3T son isn't ready to wear big boys' size XS. Which is probably a 6-8. So she took up the pants, but did not take in the waist. The result: a pair of pants as long as they are tall... and a shirt that comes down to his knees. It's fine, though, he'll be able to wear them for four years...

My father-in-law, with whom I have not always agreed, asked me if I had ever considered running for public office. I said, "Why? Am I that full of sh*t?" Nope, he just thinks that I have a good way with words and can tell a person where to shove it in the most positive way possible. I dunno... I guess we'll see what happens when I get involved with the PTA, LOL!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


This morning, after I unfolded from sleep, I was about to step in the shower, but discovered it already occupied by a large brown spider. I gave a quick yelp and Scott came running in, smooshing the creep in a wad of toilet paper. I flushed it to make sure the beastie was really dead. Goose bumps crawled up and down my arms until I was almost done with the shower.

I don't care for spiders.

Later, as I was nestled into the couch, nursing my wiggly girl, I saw another spider scurry across the rug. I said, "Oh! There's another big spider!" Scott was, again, to the rescue. However, this time the note of panic in my voice reached Milo, and he dove onto the couch as if avoiding a man-eater. In fact, his question was, "Was it big enough to eat me?"

No, the spider wasn't big enough to eat him. We explained the jobs that spiders do for us -- killing other bugs and making beautiful webs. I'm not sure he bought it, but then, neither do I. Spiders are creepy no matter how you look at them.

It made me think about how much of our own fear we impart on our dear children. Milo is usually a bug-a-holic; he's a champion bug stomper. Or, at least he was until he saw how afraid I was. What other things have I taught him to fear?

Not water -- I barely blinked as, at the ripe old age of four months, a wave of water washed over his head while he was in the pool, swimming with daddy and his cousins and daddy's cousins. Everyone else sitting on the side of the pool about leapt in the water, even though the babe was safely cradled in his daddy's quite capable arms. I didn't flinch, Scott didn't flinch, and Milo didn't flinch.

Not crowds -- he'll bravely charge into a group of strangers if there's something interesting in their midst. We went to the Brookfield Zoo when he was about 13 months old. He decided all on his own that he was more interested in following any family with more than one child than in sticking with his boring old parents.

Not heights -- Although you'll never catch me balancing atop a ladder atop a piece of scenery fifteen feet above the deck, Scott is remarkably comfortable up there and, apparently, he has passed the monkey gene onto his progeny. It makes me nauseous to watch, but they can all climb all over anything.

What I truly hope that he never fears is people. Especially people who don't look like him, talk like him, or live like him. I cringe when I hear other family members pass racial and cultural slurs as easily as passing the stuffing at Thanksgiving. I hate it when I hear people who raised us say things that illuminate their fear and ignorance about other cultures. It's my biggest issue about living in the Midwest -- we're a bunch of homogenized white milk around here. I want my kids to understand that there is more than one way to look at our world, to recognize that your point of view is as valid as mine is.

Sometimes I feel like that spider in my tub -- trying like hell to climb out of the shiny white world into which I've slipped before I get squashed. I guess that's my fear -- never getting the chance to experience more of my world. Maybe it's OK to pass that one on...