Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bee Season

RIP My Showering Buddy
I am pretty sure my mom's favorite phone conversations with me are the ones where I am outside with Maddie and I am telling her not to be afraid of bugs.

See, because I have a long history of being terrified of bugs of all kinds.  When I was a kid, I was a freak about bugs.  I would call my mom screaming if there was a bug in my room.  We went to a family reunion once during the summer of the cicadas at a forest preserve on the South Side. As we pulled into the forest preserve, you could hear the crazy bugs and their lyrical opera.  We had all the windows rolled up, but somehow one got in our car anyway.  When we got out of the car, they started dive-bombing us.  I happened to be carrying two lawn chairs and started screaming, flailing and throwing lawn chairs at them.  I spent the next 5 hours under the shelter and only came out for the water balloon toss.  My brothers teased me and told me that they would crawl into my french braid and lay eggs that would hatch in 7years.

Another fun bug memory was when I lived in the city in an old studio apartment.  I was on the phone with a friend when I noticed an ant on my windowsill where my alarm clock was.  Then I saw another and when I lifted my alarm clock to check the source I found a colony of carpenter ants.  I hung up the phone and ran to the store for every ant killer known to man.  When I got back I sprayed them and more poured out of my windowsill.  It was like the frickin' apocalypse.  Then I saw a huge one in my box fan.  I swear it was the Queen and when I sprayed her, she got up on her hind legs and screamed at me like some sort of creature out of a Japanese monster movie.
I slept on the couch for a week after that.

Now I am adult and a parent and of all the things my daughter could inherit from me, she got my unreasonable anxiety about bugs.  So now I have calmly explain to her that the bugs won't hurt her, she is bigger than them, to ignore them and they will go away and all the other lies my mom told me. 
I also have to put aside my own fears that still exist and sit there calmly and pretend not to be bothered by the creatures.  Still, I have fled the tower on the swing set because of a bee stalking us.  I have a hard time killing scary bugs because my biggest fear is that they will dodge the paper towel and land on my head or get pissed and come and attack me.

Twice this week I had two of the worst bee run-ins of my life where I had to be the "adult" and had to keep my cool under pressure. The other day I jumped in the shower while Colin took his morning nap and Maddie watched a show in my bed. When I reached up for my shampoo, there it was…a giant bee.  My heart started racing, I started to sweat (even though I was in the shower) and I almost screamed at the top of my lungs and went running out of the shower, down the stairs and in a closet.  I knew I NEEDED to take this shower for the sake of everyone I encountered throughout the day. So, instead I took a deep breath and with one eye on the bee I washed my hair.  Rinsed.  Conditioned my hair and rinsed most of it out before I jumped out of the shower, threw a towel around me and ran out of the bathroom and shut the door.  Luckily our master bathroom is set up where our shower and toilet are in one room separated by a door and our vanity is outside of it. I stood there dripping wet and Maddie looked at me like I was crazy and asked why I was done so fast.  I started to rinse the rest of the conditioner out in the sink, but realized that I could just go in our other shower to finish, duh!  I had to use baby body wash, but at least I was now acceptable to be around others.

I returned to my bathroom door and put several towels at the bottom of the door in case the bee decided to stage a prison break and sneak out under the crack.  I knew my best bet was to wait until Tom got home so he could take care of the situation.  When I talked to him later that day I told him about my frightening experience and his response was "Why didn't you just kill it?"  Who was this man?  After all the years he has known me did he really think I was capable of battling a giant bee in an enclosed space?  Was he nuts?  We mutually decided the conversation was over and went about our day.

I, however, kept thinking about that damn bee.  The movie "Candyman" kept popping into my head.  Clearly I've never seen this movie since all I needed to see was a preview and know that there was a terrifying scene that involved bees to keep me from catching that flick.  All day I kept hearing the Candyman's deep voice in my head and had a hard time looking directly in the mirror.

Lucky for me when Tom got home he went upstairs to assess the situation and the bee had died.  I am sure the fact that I sealed off any source of oxygen to the small bathroom did the trick.
Then today while we were running she started screaming because she said there was a bug on the stroller.  I didn't see anything, but she insisted on sitting forward the whole time, clutching the cup holder in front of her. When I went to take her out of the stroller at then end of the run, I saw a big bee crawl out from under the canopy.  I froze.  I felt horrible that was what she was so stressed out about.  I would have been too. But I had another issue.  I had still had to get Colin out of the stroller and the bee was still there.  Apparently having a bright yellow stroller tends to attract the bees.  Again, I had to suck it up and somehow get Colin out of the stroller without either of us getting stung.  Leaving him in the stroller on the driveway while Maddie ran inside wasn't an option. Imagine me trying to explain that one to DCFS!  I very gingerly removed him.  He just kept smiling at me because he was clueless that his life was in danger (overdramatized for effect).

We survived so you won't hear any reports on the evening news about a Lake In The Hills woman arrested for leaving her son in a stroller unattended while she and her daughter hid from a bee in a coat closet.   To my knowledge the bee flew out of the stroller after I hit it a few times.  But I can't be sure, which stresses me out.  I will have to do a thorough investigation when I pull it out later...or better yet, maybe Tom can do that for me when he gets home from work.  As for the shower, I still have to make sure I don't have any company every time I go in there.

So, the lesson of the week is 1) I still hate bees. 2) Both bees AND kids smell fear, so suck it up and do what you have to do and 3) above all else, never let them see you sweat.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This Woman's Work

This entry will likely come off as complaining, but I prefer to think of it as "venting."

As I awoke to the sound of my dog barking at 3 a.m. for the fifth night in a row, it occurred to me that somewhere along the line I must have drawn the short straw.  Or maybe I lost a game of rock, paper, scissors?  Did I lose a bet? Perhaps it is karma playing tricks on me?  Whatever it was means I get the shit end of the stick for all eternity. 

Because when the dog barks in the middle of the night, I get to be the one to go downstairs and let him out.  Same goes for any number of other middle-of-the-night occurrences whether it be crying, screaming, spitting up, puking, projectile vomiting,  nightmares, or aforementioned feedings (see previous entry entitled "BOOBIES.")  Which then leaves me wide awake in bed thinking about all of these things.

And it doesn't end with middle-of-the-night antics.  Any variety of daily activities that fall under the category of "dirty jobs, but somebody's gotta do it" belong to yours truly.

I change 99% of the dirty diapers.  I walk the dogs, which means I get to carry a hot bag of crap around the neighborhood.  I clean the litter box.  I wipe Maddie after she goes potty.  I give baths which means cleaning up pee or poo based on Colin's lack of bladder and bowel control once I turn on the bath tub.  I wipe up boogers and when the boogers get really bad, they usually mean someone gags on them and throws up.  Like tonight at dinner.  

I'm the one who scrubs the toilet that comes with any variety of disgusting elements.  I clean out the drains in the sinks that have some inexplicable black gunk that I am pretty sure is a fatal fungus that was featured in an episode of "House" capable taking out an entire civilization. 

Tupperware left at work for several weeks that hasn't been washed out?  Right here.  Cat spits up a hair ball?  Bring it on.  The highchair with crusted food all over it and in every crevice? Love it. Dustbunnies that could create another pet that I need like a hole in my head?  Oh me, please! Boxer shorts that should be considered grounds for divorce?  All mine, baby.

The other night I was cleaning up after dinner and heard a strange sound.  It sounded a bit like a breeze coming through the window, but the windows were closed.  Then I realized it was accompanied by the sound of liquid hitting the ground.  Then I heard Colin.  Turns out he had managed to pull down a 2 liter of pop that Tom left on the kitchen table without the cap.  I will give you 3 guesses who cleaned up that one. Ok, never mind,  you only get one.  Yup. Me.  Luckily it was Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper and I was also able to achieve a nice Cherry finish on my hardwood floor.  

And then like an angel sent from God, I walk in to my house the other day and the kitchen is immaculate.  The table is cleared of mail, toys and miscellaneous crap.  No recycling on the edge of the counter waiting to go out.  No dishes on the side of the sink, or in the sink, or even in the drying rack.  And there is Tom, scrubbing the fingerprints off the stainless steel refrigerator.  I love this man and suddenly all the poop, puke, pee, dustbunnies, gunk, pop, boogers, fungus and yes, even toxic boxer shorts disappear.  I can only wonder what bet I actually won?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Just Another Day In Paradise

In my last entry I made two notes to self; one of which was kids listen to everything you say.

Tonight at dinner I was watching the news and reports were flying about the Rod Blagojevich trial.  I heard "guilty" and said "uh-oh."  Madelyn asked me what was wrong and I said, "Our former Governor did some bad things and is in trouble."  She asked, "What happened?"  I told her he was found guilty of a "Federal Offense."  She asked me if it was at our house.  I told her he didn't do anything to our house.  She started to ask some more questions and it finally occurred to me she thought Blago did something to our fence.  I guess "offence" does sound a lot like "our fence."  And since our dog did have a fit of rage which resulted in a large hole in our gate earlier this week, I could totally see her logic.

It was actually probably the most intelligent conversation I've had in awhile and that was pretty much the last peaceful thing that happened before all hell broke loose.  From there, things got a little dicey.

Here's how it goes:
Colin starts flinging corn at the dogs.  Then screams to get out of his seat. Then my "other children" the dogs, begin their evening ritual of begging for a walk. Because we usually walk them right after dinner, as soon as I take my last bite of food, they start barking, jumping and yes, humping each other.

Madelyn wants ice and water in a cup and literally 15 seconds after handing it to her she drops it sending ice chips flying all over the floor.  I quickly clean it up so no one slips. I keep my cool about the spill because I know it was an accident and there was no use freaking out.  She immediately wants more ice and water and before I could help her with the water dispenser, she has the cup overflowing and leaves another mess.

Meanwhile, Colin is standing on the dishwasher door trying to literally climb in to grab a steak knife.  In my frantic race to unload the dishwasher before someone gets hurt, I cut my finger on the apple slicer. Better him than me I guess. I try to find a band aid, but since Madelyn is going through a "Band aid Phase," there isn't a band aid in the entire house.  I finally find one in my secret stash in the diaper bag and avoid needing a blood transfusion.

And speaking of blood-shed, I am just about done cleaning up from dinner and amidst the chaos hear a yelp followed by one of those silent open mouth cries when in great pain...Colin bit Madelyn's finger.  I looked at it and I am shocked he didn't bite the damn thing right off.  No broken skin, but a very distinct impression on her delicate little finger.  Immediate band aid application ensued (thank God there were two in that secret stash!)

Colin trots past me and I catch a whiff of something and realize that he needs a new diaper despite the fact I just changed a poopy diaper 5 minutes before dinner.  I change him and just then Tom arrives home from work.  I send Colin on his way with a fresh diaper and while I am catching up with Tom for 30 seconds, I hear a loud crash followed by several items falling on the floor.  Colin has managed to pull Madelyn's crayon box off the kitchen table and sends 100 crayons flying across the kitchen floor.

I think we lock Colin in a cage in order to get through the next 20 minutes while Tom eats dinner and I color with Madelyn.  Not real sure, but somehow we get through it and I am finally off to walk the dogs and Tom brings the kids outside to run around with the neighbors. 

Bedtime finally rolls around and everyone goes down without incident.  Just another day in paradise.

Monday, August 16, 2010

These Are Days To Remember

Yesterday was one of those days that make all the sleepless nights, temper tantrums, dirty diapers, spit-up, throw-up, loads of laundry, whining, crying and any other downside to parenting worth it.

It was one of those days where you didn't think about when you used to be able to lay around on a Sunday morning, likely hungover, watching Lifetime movies in your jammies.

Warning: This post might bore you to tears, but for me it was the perfect day.

Woke up at 6:30 a.m., had breakfast in peace before the kids got up. The kids got up about 7:15 a.m. and made them pancakes and eggs. Maddie went upstairs to see Tom, who was still sleeping. She got right in his face with a "Hey, Dad! Wanna watch cartoons?" Eventually Colin and I made our way up there and all four of us hung out for a little while. Colin went down for his morning nap, I got a quick core workout in while Tom and Maddie painted with water colors.

I took a quick shower and dressed for church. I have to admit, I haven't been to church in a REALLY long time. However, we are at a place where the kids are getting older and going to church can be a peaceful experience and we want to make sure we raise them with a strong faith. Colin's morning nap prevents him from joining us on a regular basis, but Maddie and I went and she did really well. She brought her books, cars, Goldfish crackers and mostly took in everything around her. When we knelt, she knelt and folded her hands in prayer. The ultimate was when she genuflected after I did when we left the pew. She even hit the holy water before exiting the church without prompting. I wonder if she was a church lady in a former life. Note to self, kids watch everything you do, so watch what do in front of them.

We got home, had lunch with Tom and Colin and headed off to the Discovery Zone park. I was in charge of Maddie and Tom chased Colin. It was nice to be able to give her one-on-one attention without having to keep up with Colin.

After wearing the kids out, we all had just enough energy to hit Dairy Mart, an old fashion drive-in. We had some icecream and then headed home for naps...all of us : )

Maddie has been potty trained for almost a year, but she still wears a Pull-Up at nap time and bed time. 80% of the time she is dry when she wakes up, but since she won't get up out of bed by herself, sometimes she can't hold it. I tried to explain to her that she needs to call to me or "hold it" until she gets up. Whe she awoke for her afternoon nap, she said she was dry and that she was holding it. I looked down and she was literally holding her Pull-Up at the crotch. Note to self, kids really do listen to EVERYTHING that comes out of your mouth, so you really need to watch what you say.

From there, I made steaks, baked potatoes and corn-on-the-cob from Tom's Market (the BEST place for fresh corn). When I told Maddie I was making steak, I got a double thumbs up and a "Yes!" After dinner, Tom played with the kids while I took an extra long walk with the dogs and then we all came inside to watch a little T.V. before heading up to take baths, brush teeth and read stories.

Once the kids were safely in bed, Tom and I were able to relax, (well, sort of...I folded laundry for a half hour!) have a glass of wine and watch "Hung" and "Entourage." Two shows that are quite a contrast to our simple and quiet day, but at this point in my life, I'll take my "living" over their's any day.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Gisele, Gisele, Gisele. Tsk, tsk, tsk. You have a lot of nerve. Don't you know most women already hate you well, because you are you?

You are probably a perfectly nice person and I know your intentions are good, but you might as well be a man giving advice about having a baby. Because realistically, I am sure everything you do is much easier and seamless, because once again, you are you. I am sure you have a team of nannies and nurses available at your fingertips to assist you in everything from wiping your babies ass, to wiping yours. It is likely that you can hand your baby off to a member of your entourage to go workout with a personal trainer to shed your baby weight and shoot the cover of a Vogue 6 weeks after having a baby.

So, you can say women should be required to breast feed for 6 months by law, but maybe you should know what REAL women go through when they have babies and breast feed before you start drafting the bill.

Yes, this post is about boobs. Tits, teets, racks, breasts, boobies, bubbies, whammers; whatever you want to call them, to me they are just utters.

I'll start by saying that I breastfed both my kids, Madelyn for 9 months and Colin for a whole year. Since Madelyn and Colin are exactly 23 months apart, which means that for 39 of 48 months my body has supported another life in one way or another. I am now past that stage and happy not to have anyone literally feeding off me. I am a firm believer in breast-feeding, but I am the last person to go all La Leche League on other women who decide not to.

I am definitely not one of those wacko women who loved being pregnant. I didn't have especially difficult pregnancies, but having my body, my mind, my emotions and other various areas stretched, pushed, shifted, and turned upside down wasn't my idea of fun. And as relieved as I was to not be pregnant anymore, there was the next phase of having no control of my body. Never mind the lack of bladder control, or that I still looked 4 months pregnant, I'm talking about the two massive pistols protruding from my chest. Sexy? No. Probably nice for Tom to look at, but if you dare touch out. It's all fun and games until you get a shot of breast milk in your eye.

No, they have nothing to do with sex. They are big and painful at times. They are uneven and hurt from a little leach sucking on them all day. And I do mean ALL DAY and night for that matter. See, because feedings take at least a half hour if you include fussiness, burping, cleaning up spit up, etc. Then they eat every 2 to 3 hours and that time goes from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next. You also hear a lot of women proclaim that they enjoyed the bonding experience that nursing provided, especially in the middle of the night when it was "the baby and I" and the house was quiet. Call me selfish, but all I could think about was getting back to sleep.

And the time you spend nursing, while a great opportunity to catch up on old episodes of CSI, doesn't allow you to get up and cook dinner, clean the house or get a sippy cup of milk for your 2 year-old. You can't have your husband or mom take over feedings for you without a well-orchestrated system having milk available and then pumping at some point to make up for the feeding you missed. And that is assuming your baby takes a bottle. In Colin's case, he decided at a very early age that he was more of a "breast guy" and wouldn't take a bottle unless he was starving. And then one day when he was nine months old, he decided he was "too cool" to nurse and would only take a bottle, so I spent the next 3 months attached to my breast pump so I didn't have to fork over $30 a container for formula.

I will say, I did get pretty good at multi-tasking the second time around. At one point I sat on the back porch and did sidewalk chalk with Madelyn while breastfeeding. Sanitary? Nope, but too many times she had to watch TV while I nursed and I had to do what I had to do. I even drove 30 miles with my breast pump attached to me because I wanted to get home after being away all day, needed to pump and thought I could get the job done before I got on the expressway. They say texting and driving is unsafe, try detaching a milking device while driving.

And then there is the chance they can get infected. Oh yeah, because it isn't painful enough, they can get clogged and you can get Mastitis which includes a large painful mass in your breast accompanied by fever and chills. And as if you don't feel utterly exhausted (no pun intended) already. another symptom is fatigue. Luckily after antibiotics and warm compresses, the pain subsides unless you burn your boob with a warm compress, then you get a blister on your already infected tit. Again, it kind of takes away from the sex appeal of boobs. Speaking of sex appeal, after all is said and done when you are finished nursing; you are left with what I like to refer to as "low hanging fruit." And in my case that fruit would be raisins.

With Madelyn, I went back to work when she was 12 weeks old and lugged my 20-pound breast pump with me to work every day. When I got back to work, I had to convince my employer that expressing milk in a bathroom with a toilet 3 feet from me was not acceptable. I even had to go so far as to bring the Illinois State law to my HR director who wasn't aware that state law required employers to provide an acceptable and private place for breastfeeding mothers to express milk and that restrooms weren't considered private or acceptable. My argument was, "Would you eat your lunch in the bathroom? Then why should my daughter?" Needless to say, I got blinds put on an empty office that had two windows on it so people couldn't see me.

For as much of a stink I put up regarding pumping in a bathroom, that all changed when I ended up potty training Madelyn when Colin was 5 months old. I can't tell you how many times I either nursed Colin in the bathroom while coaxing Madelyn to go pee or had to bring her in to the bathroom with my breast pump attached to my chest because she would proclaim she "had to pee!" If you've ever potty trained a two-year old you know there isn't a huge window of time between that statement and an accident. At that point, standards of cleanliness went out the window...or down the toilet for that matter.

I walked around my house with my boobs out or with a damn breast pump attached to me so much, I was worried that some day I would answer the door or leave the house like that and not even notice.

Now, while I think Gisele is pretty bold in saying that there should be an international law, I do understand that her take on breastfeeding is probably a lot different than what we in America are used to. I know a lot of women who have breastfed, but it is always discreet. I know more women who did not breastfeed.

I think what was most difficult for me was not getting the baby to nurse, or the other details, but more the isolation it created. It prevented me from just running out whenever I wanted. It prevented me from hanging out with friends because in most cases I couldn't just whip my boob out and nurse. Hooter-hiders were out of the question, because Colin didn't particularly like being smothered by a piece of cloth while he was eating and ultimately people were still uncomfortable knowing what I was doing under my "shroud of secrecy" which happened to be bright turquoise with polka dots. I did have several friends who were accepting, but for the most part, I spent most parties, gatherings, and holidays in a room by myself nursing the baby or pumping.

I know they say "Breast Is Best" and I did choose to nurse because I felt it was the best thing for my babies, but they didn't reach any milestones faster, both got ear infections and ultimately are no different than any other babies we know who were bottle fed. Now maybe down the line, Madelyn will be accepting a Nobel Peace Prize and thank me for breastfeeding her or Colin will dedicate his Heisman trophy to me for my efforts, but I'm just glad that chapter of my life is over.

As for Gisele, I would recommend she concentrate her efforts on making America a more accepting place for nursing mothers first. Maybe she could stage a breastfeeding "nurse-in" at one of her husband's football games. That would give Janet Jackson and her wardrobe malfunction a run for her money. Or maybe she should start a campaign for all sports arenas to have Mother's rooms so nursing moms can enjoy a day a the ballpark without worrying about lactating all over herself or pumping next to a drunk girl in a stall? O.K., O.K, maybe that is a bit extreme, but my point is I think her time could be more well spent educating the public rather than dictating what women should do with their bodies. Seems pretty counter-productive if you ask me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hell on Wheels

I'm not quite sure how to express just how much I despise grocery shopping, especially when it involves a 3 year old and a 15 month old.

I've suffered through the usual tantrums over wanting a toy. Crying over seeing the fish tanks that run the length of 3 aisles, which means a separate tantrum each time we pass them. Madelyn's desire to "help me" by grabbing things off the shelf of throwing them full force into the cart. Telling me she had to go potty as soon as she saw the restrooms, which simply meant she wanted to check out the digs and never actually go to the bathroom. Ignoring her plea to go to the bathroom and hearing the sound of liquid hitting the floor and being relieved to see she was simply pouring a bottle of bubbles on the floor. I've raced around the store with a hungry screaming baby because I wasn't able to cram my shopping trip between feedings and then nurse the baby in the backseat of the minivan while my ice cream melted. I've tried to squeeze a trip in before dinner and then have to sit in line for a half-hour because there are only two lanes open and the person in front of me has to contest the price of EVERY FRICKIN' ITEM they bought from the clearance rack. Meanwhile I solidify my "Mother of the Year" nomination by feeding my kids Chips Ahoy Cookies that they strategically sell in the checkout line since they haven't had dinner yet.
Tonight, I thought things would be different. I got suckered in to forking over a buck for one of those cartoon carts that until a week ago swore I would never succumb to. But, never say "never" and there I was situating the two kids into the Barney-mobile. As I was pulling the cart out, I read the sign that said, "Relax and enjoy your shopping trip while your kids enjoy their favorite cartoons!" Yes, I use TV to get things done. So many may disapprove, but if it weren't for a good dose of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse once in awhile, we'd be eating Easy Mac every night for dinner.

For the first 15 minutes, the shopping trip was pretty peaceful. Then, I started to hear rumblings from the car below. They were fighting over who would take over the steering wheel. Then things really got hectic. I was nearing the end of my shopping trip when I looked over and saw Colin with his face up against the window licking the Plexiglas. The thought of how many germs and diseases began to fill my mind and all I could think was, "Thank God he is already on anti-biotics."

The next thing I see through the window is him attempting to take a bite out of his sister's arm. While the car provides a "safe" place for the kids to sit, it prevents me from reaching in and grabbing him before he breaks skin.

The woman picking out lettuce next to me simply chuckles when she sees me knock on the window of the car and say, "Colin, stop biting your sister!" All I can do is smile and say, "He's learning to express himself. Good times."

I feel like writing a strongly worded letter to the makers of those Godforsaken carts and tell them they should make the cartoons they show longer than 15 minutes. I don't know who can complete their grocery shopping in 15 minutes, but I would have surely paid $2 for an extra 15 minutes of Barney.

By the time reach the checkout line, Madelyn has already managed to unbuckle herself and climb out the front of the car and then get back in and Colin's claustrophobia has set in and he wants OUT NOW! I end up taking him out and holding him as I unload the cart. As I put a bottle of wine on the conveyer belt, I feel a secret nod of approval from the checkout guy and the people in line with me for my purchase. Oddly enough I get carded even though I feel as if I have aged 20 years since walking into the store. Just then, I put Colin down momentarily while I grab my debit card out of my purse and he runs off into the Manager's office. I grab him and order Madelyn to get back in the Hell-on-Wheels-mobile and move towards the exit only to have to switch carts since you can't take the kiddie carts out of the store. Sweet Jesus, get me home. The only thing I can say is at least my $1 went towards a children's charity.