“Liebster” Award! I Has One!

My dear, sweet friend and writing buddy, Joy, nominated me for a Liebster Award! Near as I can tell, it’s a sneaky way of collecting more readers and getting to know other bloggers (I’m not saying she’s sneaky, though — I’m quite honored, and it looks like fun!).

I don’t know that there IS an actual award (though I think there are buttons you can steal to add to your sidebar, or something). Being the curious person that I am, and an incurable Googler, I found someone who had already done the research. Here’s her post about it.

I’ve heard it described as a blog chain letter. It also resembles the MySpace quizzes I used to fill out by the dozen, especially when I was bored while my husband was deployed. I’m not judging, because I loved those quizzes. That is, until an ex-boyfriend became miffed over one of my answers and Huge Ugly Drama ensued (it had been bottled up for nine years, so it was probably time, anyway). And then I chose Facebook over MySpace and became too paranoid for quizzes. IRONY.

Where was I?

SQUIRREL!!1!

SQUIRREL!!1!

Oh, yeah: The challenge is fun, but the cake is a lie. 😉

ANYHOO… The rules (the current ones, anyway; they’ve changed quite a bit over time) are thus:
1. Write 11 facts about you.
2. Answer the questions given to you by the one passing on the award.
3. Come up with 11 new questions that you will pass on to your nominees.
4. “Tag” 11 blogs that have under 200 followers (preferably ones you like and follow, yourself).
5. Leave a comment on your nominator/awarder’s nomination post so they can come see your answers!

I guess there can be an award amongst the pool of nominees if you read everyone’s answers and pick your favorite? That’s not specifically in the rules, but the rules have changed a lot over the years, so it probably doesn’t matter if you add your own flair!

BUT I DIGRESS! Whew! This is already long, and I haven’t even started yet… Story of my life, I guess.

FACTS ABOUT ME:

1. I’m longwinded to a fault, and love telling stories with dramatic, often humorous flair. It’s possible you noticed this if you read my blog posts. Or even the first part of this blog post. 🙂

2. I’m only 35, but my hair is already going silver in the front. It’s my Rogue streak. Even though it was brought on by mere genetics, and not some crazy mutant power drain (unless you consider pregnancy and children to be that power drain), I think it’s cool, and it makes my husband — who has very few white hairs, himself, despite the Army — jealous, so I’m not likely to dye my hair to get rid of it.

3. I am the queen of the almost-but-not-quite run-on sentence, preferring a challenging, complex use of commas and other punctuation to pack as many ideas into several phrases as possible before the period shows up. #2 has a fine example of this. I also have a tendency to punctuate with emoticons. 😉 (I DO know the proper use of a semicolon, though; I don’t only use them for winking.)

4. I like cheap wine. Not TOO cheap; I’m a connoisseur of the middle shelf, and rarely pay more than $10. I prefer reds, generally, and am going through a zinfandel phase right now. Cheap beer, on the other hand, is suspect. Often, if it’s not a microbrew, I’m not interested.

5. I’m an inveterate perfectionist. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the state of my cluttered house, but I struggle with the all-or-nothing philosophy of cleaning: If I can’t do it all, and do it right the first time, I’d rather not do it. I don’t recommend this philosophy.

6. Caffeine makes me anxious, but I am and addict. I make an 8-cup pot of 1/3 caff coffee in the mornings. I’d given up coffee for a long time due to stomach issues, but I have little boys who wake up earlier than my brain does, and coffee is more substantial than tea most of the time. If I have a good supply of milk, I’ll opt for Earl Grey or Lipton. Also, my husband’s coffee tastes better than anything. I don’t know why; it just does.

7. I have a rather irreverent sense of humor, and I love a good parody. Overall, I try to be positive (emphasis on “try”) for people who don’t find my version of funny quite as satisfying, but sometimes a well-placed, witty remark about reality feels more appropriate than a silver-lining hope statement. Sometimes, I’d rather laugh than float, know what I mean? 🙂 That said, I don’t like making fun of people without a REALLY good reason. I even have trouble with trash-talk, until I’m comfortable with a person. Even then, I say “just kidding” reflexively, so they know I really am just kidding. I never know if someone’s going to take things personally.

8. Two of my favorite subjects for discussion are religion and politics (I’m non-denominational Christian and a conservative with libertarian leanings, respectively). I’ve taught myself to be diplomatic, though, so I still have friends. 😉 I have to bite my tongue a lot to keep from being a little too #7 when I see something that really needs it, and ad hominem attacks are right out. Seriously, if you can’t argue without attacking the intelligence of the person you’re debating, you will never, ever win a discussion. A good, reasoned debate or deep discussion is like steak: Rare enough to be enjoyable but tough enough that it takes a little work to sink your teeth into. Ad hominem attacks are the nasty gristle that totally ruins the experience.

9. I’m a visual learner, for the most part. If I listen to something, I don’t have as good a chance at remembering if it’s not paired with a visual, I’m not taking notes, or I don’t have a really good analogy to visualize. I love analogies, as evidenced by the end of #8. 🙂

10. Two things I’m good at: Writing and singing. But I’m not a song writer. Not yet, anyway.

11. I like posting to my blog, but it takes HOURS to write an installment. Often, by the time I’m done, I either have neglected kids (and husband), or the hours have become days, and the post is no longer relevant. That is why my posts are so few and far between. I have a LiveJournal from my pre-children days (started in 2004), which I used to update all the time. It’s a Twitter aggregator, now. 🙂 (For further illustration, I started this post last week.)

QUESTIONS FROM MY NOMINATOR:

1. You’re stuck on a deserted island with a vacuum cleaner, a bowling trophy, and your jerk ex-boyfriend, what do you do? I’d build a raft — with or without his help — and tell him to go find someone to rescue me. He could take the bowling trophy to use as a signal if he runs across a ship. In the meantime, I would enjoy some peace and quiet, using parts of the vacuum to build things I’d need to survive on the island. Either way, we probably couldn’t get along in close proximity, so even if he didn’t want to take the raft (and I’m not gonna; I get seasick), he would have to live on the other side of the island and find a way to trade sincere apologies for vacuum parts.

2. If money were not an issue, what would your dream career be? Or would you even have one? Would you just lounge around in a hammock drinking Mai Tais all day? While lounging in a hammock drinking Mai Tais all day sounds SOOO fantastic (and definitely on the list of things I would do on a tropical vacation where money was not an issue), I would be a full-time, market-be-darned writer. I would take regular mini-vacations (by myself!) to write and get my head on straight, and then I’d come home and write in a real office. Or a recliner; since I’m dreaming, my house would be big enough for one. And I would have a professional organizer, decorator, and housekeeper. Maybe even a nanny. 🙂

3. What is your biggest pet peeve? Inconsiderate people, especially drivers. I don’t mean accidentally inconsiderate, either, but people who spend their lives making other people angry, miserable, or uncomfortable, because they can’t be bothered to be polite, acknowledge the rules, or be selfless for a minute.

5. Who is/was the most influential person in your life? Probably my dad. If you’ve heard me tell a joke or make a pun, then laugh my butt off while my audience groans, you’ve just seen my dad’s sense of humor in action. I have his same way of speaking, same thirst for knowledge, same sense of humor, same favorite foods, and same ability to fry in the sunlight. I wish I could have inherited his work ethic and organizational skills, too, but I can’t have everything.

6. Who is your favorite horror writer? If you don’t like to read horror, who is your favorite author? And why? I don’t read much horror, but R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series has a special place in my heart. I devoured those books when I was a teenager! However, I’d have to say my favorite author is Lois McMaster Bujold. I love her turn of phrase and the characters she creates. She writes deep, emotional plots that have lots of room for humor and action. I want to be just like her when my writing grows up!

7. What kinds of things inspire you the most? Visual cues (abandoned or empty buildings, dark forests, people-watching); vivid, emotional dreams; old RPG characters who either got some time in a fun campaign, or not enough time to live up to the backstory I took hours creating; tragic “what if” scenarios I mull over to entertain myself on boring stretches of highway; and really great music that invokes my emotions or imagination.

8. What scent or taste reminds you of your childhood? Why? Ooh, this is a hard one. I think seasonal smells are the strongest: Cut grass and dust remind me of summer vacation, the sharp bite of a frosty morning reminds me of going back to school, roasting turkey and cinnamon-laced desserts remind me of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and there’s a certain smell of humidity and sun-warmed vegetation that reminds me of summer car trips to Louisiana and Florida with my family (as well as the smell of the cool of the early morning as we’re packing up for the next leg of the trip). Perfumes and colognes bring me back, as well. My dad wore a certain cologne on Sunday mornings that I could smell from my bedroom before I got up in the morning (waaaaayyy long time ago) and Mom always wore perfume. Windsong was my favorite. She still wears perfume, but not as much the ones that trigger childhood memories.

9. Determined Dexter the Diplodocus was walking home from work one day and he happened upon his arch-nemesis: the evil Doctor Mumbado. What does he do? He steps on him. What’s the use of being fifty tons if you can’t throw it around once in a while?

10. What is your favorite memory of your parents? My mom: When driving cross-country without my dad (he was either about to deploy on a submarine, deployed, or coming back in and would meet us at our destination), I got to ride shotgun and be Mom’s navigator. We’d play trivia games, especially “name the state capital”, and the Alphabet Game. In the hotel or at my grandparents’ house, we’d play cards. “Spite and Malice” was our favorite; I had at least a chance at beating her. I tried to teach her “Speed”, and she wiped the table with me every time — even the round where I was teaching her. My dad: Just about any time he was coming home from sea. Also, the day he shaved off his beard, which he’d had forever, and scared my little brother, who didn’t recognize him at first. That is hilarious, even now.

11. “Excuse me, madam. Do you have the time?” Always. I can’t go anywhere without my watch. Managing it is a completely different story.

12. What happened to number four? It’s looking for the cake.

Now I’m supposed to come up with 11 questions for the 11 people I tag. Um. I don’t have 11 people to tag. I have just one, and I don’t think he’s going to do the challenge, but I’ll tag him anyway. He’s my Sweetie, and he’s an 11. 😉 I’ll try to make his questions fair, at least, so he doesn’t feel like I’m giving him the third degree, and I’ll make them generic enough that I could tag someone else with them later.

1. What is your favorite dessert?
2. Who is less of a pansy-whiner, young Anakin Skywalker (Ep II & III) or Luke Skywalker? Why?
3. What is your favorite holiday?
4. If you had your choice to live anywhere in the world, where would you, and why?
5. The last two jobs on earth are being an IRS agent and cleaning swimming pool filters. Remarkably, they pay the same. Which would you choose, and why?
6. “I think, therefore I _______.” (Fill in the blank)
7. Do you believe in supernatural phenomena?
8. If you had to be too hot or too cold, which would you prefer?
9. You’re stranded in a desert and find a genie in a lamp. He offers you one wish. What would you wish for?
10. What is your earliest memory?
11. “Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?”

Until I find more to tag, I tag my Sweetie, Sigspace.

Can’t we just trade him in?

Beanie clocked Pie over the head with a toy car earlier today. As often as you tell kids not to hit their siblings, nothing you can do or say will curb all their impulses. This is especially true if the target audience is two.

Anyway, Pie whined, I reprimanded and started to get up, then Beanie ran into his room. It was almost like a self-imposed timeout, but not as effective a brother-striking deterrent as one might hope for. Pie began to cry and carry on, probably because I was giving him attention (and maybe because it hurt, so I gave him hugs and kisses — and permission to smack his brother back if he gets hit again). (What? He probably won’t even do it. He’s bossy, not violent.)

When he was sufficiently mollified, he began to chatter, as he is won’t to do. Then, the following gems fell out of his mouth: “I don’t think [Beanie] likes to live here anymore. We should get a different baby . . . that’s smaller. And nice.” [Chatter chatter while I’m trying not to explode with laughter.] “Maybe I need a sister!”

HAHAHA. Dream on, kid! 🙂

(A few minutes after this, Beanie comes out of their room with a toy piano, and invites Pie to come play with him. Pie agrees, after lecturing Beanie on the fact that they can’t fight over it, ’cause Mama said no fighting over it. (Sometimes he listens — that lecture was a month ago.) They played and danced for a whole FIVE MINUTES before the next fight broke out. Oh well! At least they’re cute. 🙂 )

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My Son’s Oatmeal

image

(Created using Sketchbook Pro on my Google Nexus 7)

I do love that this ended up sort of in the style of The Oatmeal, and is also about oatmeal. Kinda proud of that. 🙂

I’ve mentioned before that my five-year-old is what might be called . . . particular (a.k.a. “picky”, but about a jillion on a scale from one to infinity). He likes his oatmeal a certain way: With peanut butter, honey, flax meal, and HOOOOOT. He can tell with one sniff that it is missing some element (or that’s what he’d like us to believe), especially heat.

I make it with boiling water. Like, “the kettle must be at peak whistle” boiling. It mustn’t sit cooking for more than a minute, or it will drop below 285°F, thereby becoming unfit for consumption (who knew?!). For this reason, I am continually baffled about how he could possibly not like the taste of other foods, because surely he has burned off all his taste buds by now.

Kids are weird . . .

Our Midnight Adventure

FUN TIMES last night!

Poor Beanie is on round two of this nasty flu bug going around — probably a different strain — and I thought he wouldn’t have as hard a time with it as he did before. He coughed a lot last time, but had no fever. This time around, he’s not coughing (yet), but after relatively few symptoms, he spiked a 104.6°F fever last night that, admittedly, freaked me the heck out.

I’d tried to give him medicine twice yesterday to bring down the fever he had (which was reaching 101-2°), but each time, he gagged up everything he’d eaten or drank in the last couple of hours. Fortunately (or unfortunately), he only “eats” formula mixed with a little baby cereal in a bottle, so the volume was great, but the consistency was not really that gross. I doubt the reason he threw it up then was because of his fever, but because it was thick and hit his gag reflex wrong, like solid food does.

However, after I put him to bed, around 9pm, or so, I went to bed and stayed up till about 11pm, maybe 11:30, before going to sleep, myself. I woke up at midnight to him crying, and when I went into his room to check on him, he was off his bed — and radiating heat. Yikes! That time, he did throw up, and I’m sure it was from the fever.

I got him onto the changing table, got his clothes off, and checked his temperature. The thermometer I have, which is designed to go “where the sun don’t shine”, so to speak, usually seemed to read a few degrees too low when I’d used it before (like, in the 95s and 96s, when the temperal thermometer — which also reads low — read in the 97s or 98s). So when it read 104.6° in ten seconds, I had to seriously rein in my panic mode.

When he was an infant, just a few months old, we had a bad flu that is similar to the one we got this year. He was coughing and vomiting (because of the coughing) and carrying a temp of 100-ish. I was able to cool him down by nursing him and putting a cool cloth on his head. I couldn’t give him medicine at that age, and unless he was showing signs of lethargy, I wasn’t going to drive him 30 minutes to the ER just to have them tell me to nurse him and bathe him in cool water.

Now that he’s a toddler, and his temp was in the “danger zone”, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to shock him with a cold bath, and I didn’t have the time (I felt) to look up tips on the internet. Also, I had just (like, Monday) transfered our TriCare insurance to US (Uniformed Services) Family Health Plan, a TriCare option using the civilian Franciscan network local to us. I had never been to St. Anthony’s, a brand-new hospital just five minutes from home, and had no idea what to expect. But I knew this wasn’t something we could deal with at home.

SO, I threw on a sweatshirt and boots, gathered my stuff, got Beanie all secured in the Subaru — and realized the dome light was not coming on when I opened the car door. Neither were the door-open indicator lights on the dash. I got in the car and turned the key — nothing. Not even a click. I tried to put the car into neutral so Sweetie could help me jump it with his car, and I couldn’t get it out of park. The brake was super-stiff, and the gear would not release.

ARGH.

Fortunately, my husband was right there, so he put Beanie’s car seat in his car for me and got his keys (I tried to find them, but got the wrong ring. Did I mention I’d had about an hour of sleep, and am getting over this flu, myself? I was alert, but only running with emergency faculties). I had to rein in panic mode a little further, because I was going to be driving Sweetie’s 40-year-old Mercury Capri, by myself, in the middle of the night, to a destination I was vaguely sure of (I knew where the hospital was, but not how their Emergency parking area worked). No fear, right?

I successfully backed the car out of the garage and didn’t kill it or spin out throttling into first gear. Yay! Success! There’s no radio in that car, and I wasn’t going to fiddle with one, anyway, so I started singing the first song that came to my head: “Be with me Lord, I cannot live without Thee, I dare not try to take one step alone . . . ” There were a lot of “la-la-la”s and humming, because I don’t remember all the verses. I made up some, though: “Be with me Lord, I don’t know where I’m going . . . ”

I got to St. Anthony’s and found the Emergency room, and parked in the first spot I found. Beanie immediately threw up all the juice he drank on the way there before I could get him unbuckled. Argh. Didn’t think to bring a change of clothes in case that happened. I also bonked his poor head on the door frame getting him out of the car (the car is two-door, so I had to pull him out of the back seat through a door much lower than my car). Sweetie’s sweatshirt was in there, so I wrapped him in that and carried him, my 200 lb purse (containing Beanie’s juice cup and my water bottle, among other things — but no diapers, I realized later), and his coat approximately two inches, before the juice cup fell out of my purse and I had to stoop down to pick that up and carry it in by hand, too. Not sure how I sprouted those extra hands, but hey. I’m a mom. It must be a mutant power.

I will say right now that, despite the circumstances, I have never had a more pleasant, friendly, dare I say it, enjoyable trip to the ER in my life. I’ve never personally been seen to in a civilian ER, though I’ve been to civilian ERs with other people. Most of my experience has been with the Naval Hospital here, which I’ve been going to for a large portion of my life (also doubles as the military Urgent Care for the region, so it’s usually busy). I’m used to all-business, no smiles, and a vaguely exasperated staff, even during the day. This was 1am, and the ER staff was all smiles and intently helpful. The place was deserted, too. I didn’t even have time to sit down to regather all the stuff I had in my hands before there was someone coming through the door, offering to help me carry stuff, joking with me — I really could have cried, it was SO different than what I was used to.

We were in and out in two hours. Beanie got nausea medicine and a Tylenol suppository (can’t gag that up!) and chest X-rays to rule out pneumonia (that was fun! No, really! Another smiling, sweet tech just rolled the bed out of our room and down the hall into an X-ray room, with us and all our stuff! And Beanie cooperated just well enough that X-rays took no time at all). The doctor didn’t even get that judgey look on his face when I told him we opted out of vaccinations. The nurse hung out with Beanie while I went to clean Beanie’s car seat — she even gave me a towel to use.

The last time Beanie and I went to the ER, it was at Naval, and I’d sprained my ankle in a wet parking lot and thought I’d bounced Beanie’s head off the pavement when I fell, because I was carrying him. He wasn’t quite two years old at the time. It was the middle of the day, the ER was deserted, and though our trip was quick, I felt on edge the whole time, because no one was smiling. I felt like we were intruding on them. They determined Beanie was fine, but they were going to X-ray my ankle. I got to ride in a wheelchair to X-ray, but the guy didn’t even put the foot rests down. I suppose I could have asked, but wouldn’t that be, like, automatic if you’re wheeling someone somewhere? I waited in the X-ray lobby for over five minutes, alone, with nothing to do but read the walls and learn how to roll my chair around. I suppose I could have gotten up and put the foot rests down, but I didn’t think about it. X-ray took no time at all, and they rolled me back to the ER, where I picked up Beanie before they got us in a room. Where they offered me no ice for my ankle, or for Beanie’s head, and an unsmiling, mildly patronizing doctor came in after a long, quiet wait to tell me my X-ray looked all right and offer sidelong criticism for carrying my child through the wet parking lot when he is perfectly capable of walking by himself. They gave me the standard paperwork on caring for a sprain, then left me alone to walk out of the room, through the ER floor (they all kind of watched me go; it was actually creepy) to the lobby, and into the parking lot. No wheelchair, no painkillers, no ice, not even an Ace bandage. I had a half-hour drive home before I could ice and wrap it, myself. At least that doctor called later to tell me he thought he saw what could be an old fracture on the X-ray and to follow up with my primary care physician (who I can’t even remember the name of, because I have never seen him or her, just other doctors on the “team”) that Monday. I had a good experience with a medical practitioner of some level on the Family Practice floor, who may or may not have been on my “team”, and he hooked me up with a brace. I never saw him again after that. I don’t even remember his name.

We were almost never alone at St. Anthony’s, and we got extremely detailed paperwork when they released us, including some with conclusions from the X-rays with technical terms basically stating he had a virus rather than something they could treat with antibiotics. Wow! I was impressed! Also, though USFHP, we are assigned to ONE doctor, who is immediately notified when we have to visit the ER, and is required to follow up with us ASAP (I don’t remember who contacts whom, but if I don’t get a call early Monday, I’ll call her). I haven’t met our doctor yet, but at least I know who we’re seeing, and that we should be pretty much guaranteed to see her tomorrow.

Back to last night: Beanie drank all his juice and some Pedialite while we were there and kept it down, which was a good sign. We gave him a dose of children’s ibuprofen when we got home, per instructions, and his fever broke by 3:30am, well after he’d fallen asleep on the couch watching Blue’s Clues. I couldn’t sleep till after 4am. I woke up a couple times to Beanie shifting or making sounds in his sleep, but his fever stayed down all night and he didn’t fall off the couch. 🙂 Later, I woke to Pie moving around, and was surprised to see it was 8am. After a brief session of trying to relocate to the bedroom and failing (Pie wanted to stay in our bedroom and Beanie wanted to stay on the couch), Beanie and I went back to sleep on the couch and Pie and Sweetie watched Netflix in our room. Well, Beanie might not have gone back to sleep, but I slept another 45 minutes, or so, till 9am.

Beanie’s fever is staying down, mostly, but he’s really stuffed up. Sweetie skipped church in case we needed his car, and when we determined Beanie wouldn’t need to go back to the hospital, he went to the store and got a starter to jump my Subaru’s battery to try to get it running again. Fortunately, it appears it was just a dead battery, and it’s working now.

In addition to taking the baby to the doctor and the car to the shop, I might have to take the dog to the vet, too, because she’s off her feed and her stomach is making weird noises. Could be the coconut oil in her food, though, so I’m going to try a few tweaks to her diet first.

Crazy weekend! Fun times. Now I need a nap . . .

Growing Up

It was time to change the theme (and I was being picky, so I went with PLAAAAIN) and the title of this blog. My kids don’t really nap anymore. Well, Beanie does, when he passes out on the couch sometime in the late afternoon (though he’s actually been ASKING TO GO TO BED in the late MORNING, and staying there for half an hour, at least. Creepy). But, for the most part, my children are stalwart defenders of the NO NAP, MAMA! camp. Which means Mama never gets a nap, either. Sometimes I don’t notice. But there are days when I’m passing out, myself, and hoping they don’t burn the house down while I’m snoozing.

I have a lot going through my head most of the time. Sometimes it’s politics, sometimes it’s spiritual, sometimes it’s just stressed-out mindfreak and I need someplace to put it where someone might come out and say, “You know, you’re really not THAT crazy” or “How about you come down from that ledge? I have chocolate!”

Lately, I’ve just been working through STUFF. I need someplace to be funny, or snarky, or otherwise loquacious when I can’t be in “real life”. Unfortunately, this is still the Intarweb, so I have to leave most of the filters in place, but maybe I can write funny stories and no one will know what I’m talking about, but it might make me feel better to know someone else is reading and laughing (and thinking I’m not TOO crazy) (or giving me emergency chocolate).

See? Blathering. I woke up at 3:30 this morning with general anxiety. I couldn’t go back to sleep till almost 5. My alarm (radio program I tune into every morning) went off at 6. I dozed till 7. It’s been a crazy couple of days with bad attitudes, crankiness, hormones, and whining. But it wasn’t all me! I should probably get to sleep, because my kidlets will be up by the crack of dawn (“Rise and Shine” as Pie calls it. “Look, Mama! It’s time to get up! It’s Rise and Shine outside!!”)

Anyway. That’s me lately. 🙂 There are other things coming down the pipe, some of which are the cause for anxiety, but I’ll dwell on those later. ‘Night!

Testing…sorta*. :) Making Fun of the L.A. Times [Blog]

This seemed redundant to me:

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson expressed shock at the New Year’s Eve slayings of two people in the crowded Old Sacramento area.

“I was shocked and saddened by the news of last night’s shooting in Old Sacramento,” he said in a statement.

Duh? (Story here. I know it’s just a blog, but it still strikes me as merely padding a word count. Sheesh, they let just ANYBODY have a blog these days! 😉 )

*I’m posting this from my phone on the WordPress app, after copying text from the browser — mostly just to see if I could. Fun times! Also, I’m procrastinating on other things I should be doing, so this isn’t a “real” post. 🙂

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Tragedy Brings Celebration of Life

I don’t know why I followed a link to a story about two little boys, four and two, dying in the storm surge on Staten Island during Hurricane Sandy after being ripped out of their mother’s arms while she was trying to carry them to safety.

My boys are four and two. I can’t imagine . . . I just can’t. (Read at your own risk!)

I’ve been so irritable the past few days. Weeks? I don’t know. Ask my husband. 🙂 Pie must contradict my every word, even in the face of facts. Beanie is deriving enjoyment from hitting his brother over the head with whatever is in his hands at the moment. He has the most maniacal little laugh for a two-year-old!

I feel like I’ve been at my wit’s end for days, angry at the drop of a hat because Pie’s arguing gets my goat every time. His eating habits are frustrating at best. Beanie’s not as picky, as long as the food can be consumed from a bottle. His sleep habits are the frustrating thing about him right now. Between the two of them, I am begging for a Calgon moment by 10am.

But after reading that story, maybe I should think about how I would feel if they were taken from me so tragically, and hug them instead of losing my cool for the tenth time that morning.

Well, now Beanie is fussing again, probably because he just woke up to discover he’s in his bed. Which he apparently really hates. Seems like a good time for some late-night cuddling . . .

Wherein Bathing the Dog is Easier Than Bathing My Children

Bath time is one of the most exciting and vexing times in our household. Both boys love the idea of bath time, but only one of them (Beanie) actually digs everything about the bath, including water in his eyes. It’s hard enough when both my husband and I are doing bath time together; it can be even more challenging if it’s just one of us, like it was last night while my husband was at Drill.

I have mentioned before (I think) that my children have sensory issues. Pie has the worst of them, but has grown out of a lot of it (thank goodness!), but Beanie is exploring new ways to be like his brother, which means that “change” and “infanticide” are often synonymous, and greeted with the same fits of terror one would expect with the latter.

Pie, who thinks bath time is just the greatest idea ever, is usually quickly disenamored of it once the first droplets from his brother’s splashing get within a six-inch radius of his eyes. Then we have the “Uuuhhh! UUUUUHHHHH!” whining until a towel can be found to wipe the offending substance from his face. Then, of course, there’s the fight to wash his hair. This has gotten harder over time, because his hair has gotten so thick that it requires several rinses to get the shampoo out, and he doesn’t even desire the first rinse that gets his hair wet before the shampoo. Fortunately, it’s not a screaming war anymore, but we have to be pretty heavy-handed just to get him to sit still and not open his eyes while we sluice his head down with the special hair-rinsing bucket.

Beanie’s hair is still wispy and thin, but he thinks it’s funny when we dump water on his head.

I’ve been trying to introduce some new, fun things during bath time to make it more interesting for everyone involved, and give me and my husband a moment’s peace before we have to start getting them out and chasing them around with PJs. Bubble bath has been widely accepted, especially since Pie got over his fear of bubbles in the water when he was Beanie’s age. Beanie just loves bubbles in any form, so he’s thrilled when they’re in the water. Colored shaving cream was met with excitement by Pie, and gradual acceptance by Beanie. Uncolored shaving cream was not as fun, though Pie finally got into pushing it around a little with his fingers. I think Beanie ignored it.

But yesterday . . . Yesterday I decided to get them some fun bath time crayons! Yay! Beanie LOOOOVES crayons! He is my scribbler, and I finally had to take his favorite red crayon away, because he was coloring everything (though he did not scribble on the walls, for which I am grateful). I might just put him in blue footie PJs for Halloween and give him a purple crayon, because he reminds me of Harold. 🙂

I also got them some fizzy tabs that turn the water different colors. Yay! Fun bath water! Because I know their dislike of Things That Are Different, I made sure they (especially Pie) saw me put the tab in the water, watched it fizz around and change the color of the water, and heard me say over and over how fun it was and how it was just color and nothing else, and there would be CRAYONS (Yay! Crayons!)!!

Well, we got all ready for bath, two little naked boys dancing around in the bathroom, SO excited! And then . . . then I put Beanie in the water. I mean ACID, to hear Beanie tell it. He would not sit all the way down, and he cried and cried like it was child abuse. He liked the idea of the crayon, and scribbled a little on the side, but kept crying and trying to remind me that the WATER IS PINK, MAMA. You’re DOING it WROOOONG!!!

Pie greeted it with nervous giggling trepidation, and resisted a little when I tried to lift him into the tub. He, too, wouldn’t sit all the way down, and when I handed him a crayon, he poked a little at the side of the tub, then began to get flustered that a) the crayon was wet, b) the tub was getting marked up, c) the white towel, which he’d used to wipe off the wet crayon, now had blue on it, d) the white washcloth I gave him for an eraser had color on it and needed to be wiped off, apparently with the white towel he’d already marked on, and e) there was crayon ON HIS SKIN (because he colored on himself — the crayons were encased in plastic). He didn’t scream or cry, but he was obviously tense and frustrated. AND water was getting in his eyes.

Finally, sick of the crying (it was also very warm in the house, humid in the bathroom, and I felt like a sweaty mess), I drained the tub and filled it with clear water. Beanie immediately ceased crying (and coloring), and was content with holding his red crayon under the running water. Whatever, kid. Go to town.

Pie, who had already gotten out of the tub once to go potty (after I’d asked him at least three times before he got in whether he needed to go), got back in and, again, wouldn’t sit down all the way, but wanted to know where the colored water went. I told him I drained it. He tried the crayon thing again, complained that Nathan was coloring on the tub (*FACEPALM*), and then began to have issues with color on his own skin and decided he was done with the bath and wanted to get out. I hadn’t washed his hair yet, so I had to go through the agonizing hair washing process detailed above, with more whining than usual, and found myself exclaiming, “SIT! STAY!” to him while I went and fetched a towel. Poor Ladybug, laying down quietly on the bathroom floor, was probably thinking I’d finally gone off the deep end.

In addition to all that, there was an excessive amount of dog hair in the tub, probably from Pie getting in and out with wet feet. Pie gets freaked out by my hairs getting on him while he’s in the bath, but Beanie freaks out over every little strand — person, cat, or dog — that sticks to his fingers, so it was a never-ending process of trying to get the invisible hair off the whining baby while also getting the kid out and dried and dressed before the baby could slip and drown (as all children are going to do if you leave them alone in the bath for one second, according to parenting experts).

Fortunately, I did not need to fight Pie over PJs, but I did have to corral him to get him to put them on with less twitching and flinging and roaring like a dinosaur. Getting Beanie out wasn’t so bad, because, though he was content with his red bath crayon and clear water, he was tired and lonely.

It wasn’t even too much of a fight to get them into bed after that. Beanie screamed, as he is wont to do when he is put down for bed, but stopped not too long after I shut the door.

I had hoped I might get them into bed before it got dark, but no dice. At least it wasn’t very cold outside yet. I was going to wash the car and then the dog, but I decided the car could wait, and I would just wash the dog while I still had energy.

I would have let a groomer do it, except that I’ve been having a lot of allergy trouble lately, and I’m not sure whether the shampoo or something the groomer used when we brought Ladybug in last might have set off this cough I’ve been struggling with for two weeks (and allergy symptoms for four). Or it’s the grass Ladybug’s been walking through and bringing into the house. Also, it just seemed like it was time. A clean dog is a happy owner. 😉

Compared to the kids, washing Ladybug was WAY less frustrating! More labor-intensive, but much more gratifying. She sat still on the porch while I brushed her out, did her ear wash, brushed her teeth, and shoved cotton balls in her ears so more water wouldn’t get down there while I bathed her. She did run away and lose the cotton balls when I turned on the water, but I needed a few minutes to wash the spiders off the hose and sprayer, so I let her cringe for a bit. She came right to me when I called, though, and let me put new cotton balls in her ears and prep the hose, because she’s just awesome like that.

She stood still while I sprayed her with cold water from the hose, and she didn’t move as I lathered her up and sprayed the soap off. She stood still while I toweled her dry, except when I let her shake. She ran away when the neighbor’s son drove up their driveway, but came back when I called her so I could finish toweling her off.

The only setback was this little ornamental bed around the porch with black bark mulch in it, which, naturally, she ran right through on the way back to the porch from the driveway, where I washed her, so I had to spend a few more minutes toweling the dirt off her feet before I could let her inside.

Before anyone freaks out over the fact that I washed my dog with cold water in the dark, it wasn’t cold outside, and it was 80+ degrees in the house (I forgot to look at the thermostat last night), so she was quite comfortable while she dried inside. 🙂

But, MAN! What a difference! It was hot enough during the day that it might have been more effective to hose the children down on the driveway, and they probably would have enjoyed it more. I just might try that next time, instead . . .

2

Meet Ladybug!

A long time ago, when we first bought this house, we had intended to adopt from some friends a sweet, well-behaved, loving, and calm Pembroke Corgi, who really needed to be an only dog in a home full of people who will pay oodles of attention to her all day long. My boys could be up to that challenge, boy howdy. We were getting ready to prepare to bring her home after our second child was born.

However, before that happened, we got a call from our friends to let us know that they just discovered this beautiful, sweet dog had lymphoma, and not long to live. 😦

She had to be put down a few months later. I wasn’t extremely heartbroken, because she hadn’t been ours yet. I hadn’t seen her (or our friends) much in months. Life just kind of got in the way. Perhaps providence. I don’t know. But I really wasn’t sure how we would ever find another perfect dog like her for us.

Fast forward a year or so: I left my boys with some friends from church one evening while I was at a choir practice, and when I went to pick them up, I met our friends’ newly adopted Golden Retriever. She was about a year old, a little timid, but sweet as could be and the perfect energy level for my boys (which meant too much for me!). My friends mentioned that another set of friends from church, who are getting ready for a big cross-country move, were trying to find a home for their older Golden, because they just didn’t think the move would be good for her.

I kind of wonder if God put a few of these Golden Retriever owners in my life at this time to get me ready for this new addition to our family, because Ladybug would be the fourth Golden Retriever (maybe fifth, if I count an older one who died a few months back, who belonged to the people who just adopted the one-year-old) I would encounter in a few months’ time. One of my friends owns two Goldens, that are her ninth and tenth in her adult life, and tells me there is no better breed, especially for raising boys. She said she couldn’t have raised her three boys without her Goldens.

I thought about it. At first, I didn’t want to promise anything. I wasn’t sure I could be a big-dog owner. I’d tried before, and I couldn’t handle it. I was sure I would need something with big-dog attitude, but of a controllable size (like a Corgi; I really wanted a Corgi). Well, in truth, the big dog I’d tried before was not a dog I had any business trying to own and train myself. He needed special keeping, and I was definitely not a good match for him. Bringing him back to the shelter was not, on the face of it, my proudest moment, but looking back, it was a very smart move on my part. He was aggressive and too energetic. At this point in my life, I KNOW I could not have handled him, especially since I found out five days after bringing him back to the shelter that I was pregnant with our first child.

Since then, I’ve researched Corgis. I’ve looked up adoptable older or senior female dogs who just need a loving family and a good home to spend the rest of their days. But I didn’t know if I could do it. We don’t really have a good yard set-up (yet) for a dog, nor a fence. We could adopt a sweet dog, but if she was a runner, we would be forced to stay outside with her the whole time she was going potty, rain or shine. And what if she wasn’t good with cats, or children? Most petfinder sites are good at screening those, but I found my first dog through them, and they did NOT have the full scoop on Maxie. I just wasn’t sure whether to trust them.

Enter my friends from church. Suddenly, they have to find a home for their dog in a matter of weeks, and here I am, wondering if I was going to make a big mistake by asking them about it. Was I setting myself up for heartbreak? Failure? Future bad behavior from my cat, who still resents the fact that we brought children into her territory? (She’s not aggressive, just irritable.)

I talked to my friend, then agreed to meet with her and Ladybug at a local park, so we can see how she handles the kids, the strangers (both men and women), strange dogs, etc. Fortunately, all those things were present! A family brought their dog, which was the same size as Ladybug, and sat not far from us. The dog was off-leash and came to say hi to Ladybug at one point, and Ladybug, though a bit stressed, did not react at all. She did not react to men coming to talk to her. She did not jump on my boys or lick their faces. She was pretty much perfect, and I couldn’t help but feel that she would do just fine with us.

She is six years old, has gorgeous curly hair on her chest and hindquarters, the sweetest brown eyes, and such an immensely loving disposition that transfer to our house was nearly seamless. I say “nearly”, because she does have an issue with submissive urination. After a couple days of cleaning up messes because she didn’t want to go do what I wanted her to do, and didn’t like it when I approached her to correct her, we’re starting from the beginning with some crate training (to get her comfortable with smells and sounds, and so she’ll realize that she mustn’t mess the crate, since that is where she will be spending a lot of time), then we’ll work up to “who’s the boss” (roped to me all day, following me around while I do daily stuff, learning sit-stays and down-stays), and hopefully we can get her more confident around us so that she won’t feel like she needs to wet herself, her bed, the floor, her crate, or anything else because she feels threatened or timid.

Tonight was great, because we all went for a walk, and it only took a quarter or a third of the walk to get her used to my walking rules (walk next to me, behind my husband (for today); don’t pull; sit when I tell you (she’s kind of hard-headed about that one sometimes); and stay till I tell you (that one, too)). By the end, she was barely pulling on the leash, and I could hold it loosely looped in one hand while she walked next to me and Sweetie. She even mostly ignored the boys when they turned around in the stroller to call her. Such a smart girl! 🙂

She is still getting used to a potty schedule, but as far as I know she has had no more accidents in the house after Friday morning, when I decided we’d go back to crate training for a while. She’s been a good listener, has let me clip her toenails without complaint (or peeing!), put in her ear medicine in (she’s fighting yeast infections, which should hopefully clear up soon), and has been happy to play ball in the yard with the kids. She hasn’t barked but once. She would rather be by my side or chasing a ball — and bringing it back — than running off into the sunset. And she’s a calm car-rider.

But the best thing about this dog? I’m not a total big-dog failure! And she’s so dependent on our love and companionship that I feel like I can actually be a good leader for her. She’s helping me be a bit calmer toward the boys, especially since loud noises freak her out a bit. 🙂 AND I’m getting the house cleaned. Slowly, but she’s good motivation. 🙂

I’m really glad we could help our friends out, because they were so worried about finding a family for her, especially if it would have to be strangers. And she is just about as perfect a dog for us as we could ever ask for!

Here she is, lookin’ for love:
Ladybug outside

Pie torturing her:
Ladybug inside

2

JetPens Review!!!

JetPens.com — a great site for finding unique writing utensils, stationery, and office supplies from Japan, Korea, Germany, and even the U.S. — recently had a request on their Facebook page for people to sign up for the opportunity to review products on their blogs, and, naturally, being the lover of writing utensils that I am, I signed up!

I know my blog isn’t exactly a high-traffic area, and I really didn’t think that I’d be one of the people selected, but it sure sounded like fun! Honestly, I didn’t even know the pool size or how they were going to do it — I just wanted to write about [free] pens! What did I have to lose?

So imagine my surprise when I got TWO packages from JetPens.com, one being my order of Pilot FriXion 0.4mm and Uniball Style Fit refills (which I will review later). I thought that maybe they came in two shipments, or something, but when I opened one and got a pen that I was pretty sure I didn’t order, I worried a little. Oh my goodness! There’s been a mixup somewhere! I thought I’d gotten someone else’s pen!

But NO, when I read the paper accompanying it, I realized that my request to review products had been fulfilled! They sent me a lovely Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner Marker Pen!

It's what's on the inside that counts...

This juicy felt pen probably wouldn’t have been something I would have considered for myself (mostly because I’m afraid to draw in anything that isn’t erasable), but it’s kind of like JetPens.com read my mind regarding my desire to try out more felt-tip pens just for writing purposes. And how did they know that orange is one of my favorite colors? 🙂

I played around with it a bit:

The alphabet and 'the quick brown fox...' are my normal tests

Proving indelibly the reason erasable drawing medium is a better choice for me:

Let's get a close-up on that boo-boo!

It’s a fun pen, and it’s going into my “favorite pens” box for future fun uses! I might even consider buying a couple more to play with. I like having good, strong pens for writing.

As for JetPens.com, itself: I LOVE that website! There are so many pens! I find myself drooling over something new every time I visit there!

I’ll tell you about the FriXion pens later, when I take more pictures. For now, go check out JetPens.com, and “Like” their Facebook page!