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Tuesday, 2 December 2003
Babygirl at 15 Months
Babygirl is fifteen months old today.

She has nine teeth (four molars, five front teeth).

She adores: reading, vacuuming, washing stuff with a washcloth, playing in the freezer, running back and forth in the family room, especially with her brothers, hugging and wrestling DaycareKid to the ground, the Wiggles, Big Bird, dancing, the cat, riding in her stroller, going outside, throwing diapers into the outside trash can, bath-time, turning on the VCR, "talking" on the telephone, pushing the answering machine buttons.

Her hair is reddish blond--people always comment on it. It's not really red, but has a golden-red glow, very unusual.

She actually likes to wear shoes, but hates to have her clothes changed or her diaper put on.

She wants my undivided attention at all times. She understands just about everything we say.

She says a few words, but not many. "Da-da" means daddy, Big Bird and baby, for instance. Her most recent words are "up" and "pop" (which is what she says when she finds a piece of leftover popcorn on the floor).

She's tired of me writing this. Silly girl.

Posted by Mel at 3:03 PM PST
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 6:49 PM PDT
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Embracing Reality
Babygirl quit taking naps. She is too young for such nonsense, but no one told her. In October, when she skipped her first nap, I panicked. Complained. Worried. A lot. Loudly.

It's not that she doesn't sleep. She falls asleep when I nurse her after lunch. YoungestBoy would leave for kindergarten at 12:30, I'd put DaycareKid down for a nap, then I'd sit in my gliding rocker and watch People's Court for half an hour and nurse her. Then I'd put her in her crib and enjoy two hours of solitude.

But not anymore.

I spent a few weeks bellyaching. I muttered and complained until people knew exactly how much I was sufferering. But now, I have surrendered.

I expect to hold her while she sleeps. I expect to accomplish nothing during nap-time. I expect to spent twelve straight hours with her.

And since I've adjusted my expectations, it's not so bad. This, too, shall pass. I've embraced my current reality and found that it's kind of cuddly.

Posted by Mel at 2:56 PM PST
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 7:52 PM PDT
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Saturday, 29 November 2003
I Should Be Sleeping
During the days, when Babygirl is demanding that we vaccum for the third time or when I'm peeling potatoes with one hand while I'm holding her, during those moments, I think, "I can't wait until she's in bed!" I daydream about the big projects I will tackle when the kids are sleeping.

I'm quite a dreamer.

I say to myself, "Self, tonight you can work on Babygirl's scrapbook." Or "Tonight, you can clean out that front closet," or "Tonight, you can get all the ironing finished." Or, my personal favorite, "Tonight, I will balance the checkbook."

The sad truth is that when the kids finally sleep, I'm tired, too. I end up reading email and posting on message boards and occasionally, reading a book. Last night, I fell asleep thinking what I loser I was for wasting all those hours. Why can't I be more industrious from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.? Or better yet, why do I need sleep? I could get so much done if only I didn't sleep.

Changing topics, tonight my almost-6 year old asked me if I could change his name some day. "Why?" I asked. "Well," he said, "They will still have to call me my name at school, but I want a different name."

"Okay," I said. "Like what?"

"Flame," he said.

Last night, I actually scolded the boys, "Do not fart on each other!" I have come perilously close to living in a boys' dorm. I remember being in college and my friend and teacher telling me that she refused to listen to anyone tell her about the going-ons in men's dorms. She did not want to know about such vile things. Now, I live in a house where boys pee in heating vents and fart on each other and avoid brushing their teeth. The burp words and spit popcorn kernels onto the living room carpet.

It's a good thing that Babygirl is obsessed with vacuuming, I guess.

The twins are about to get a new room. I'm transforming the downstairs "spare" room--it was a garage once upon a time--into their bedroom. Since we had the baby, we've been all jumbled. The baby has somehow ended up with her crib in the master bedroom and she also has an unused queen sized bed, too. So, we're all shuffling. Next week, two new beds will be delivered.

I also managed to rearrange the living room in preparation for putting up the Christmas tree. (Tonight, I told myself, I could put up the Christmas decorations. Yeah, right.) I lit a Yankee candle today--"Mistletoe"--and the kids said, "Hey, it smells like a Christmas tree." Later on, they wondered about the empty space in the living room.

"That," I said, "is where I put up the Christmas tree. Do you like it? It's invisible." They looked like they believed me for one second. I only wish I could put up an invisible tree. Imagine the ease! And invisible presents, too! I wonder if I could start a trend?

And so the day ends. Two full baskets of folded laundry, a few toys on the floor, some dishes waiting my attention before bed. Tomorrow, my husband returns.

Posted by Mel at 11:15 PM PST
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 7:55 PM PDT
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Thursday, 27 November 2003
Thanks Giving
I'm thankful.

For kids who yell. At least they are not languishing in a hospital bed, fighting for their lives. They are just fighting.

For the hole in the wall. At least I have a wall painted with red stripes with a hole to remind me of the gigantic dog we had, loved and lost.

For the baby who clings, making my left arm ache while I tend to kitchen chores. I remember well the desperate days when I begged God to give me a baby. Now He's given me four. He's probably cracking up. I'm just glad we weren't able to adopt that set of twins a few years back. I was peeved at the time. God has so much patience with me.

For dirty laundry. We have so many clothes to choose from. (I'm not really thankful for the ironing pile, though. I hate ironing. Gratitude only goes so far.)

For scattered shoes by the front door that always trip me. Some people only have a single pair. We have millions. Or so it seems.

For the green slimy stuff I find in the refrigerator. Some people go hungry, while we have leftovers no one will even sniff.

For my husband who is gone more than he's here. He has a challenging, fulfilling job that he loves. He thinks he'd like to stay home full-time because it would be so relaxing. He's always been overly optimistic. I love that about him.

For my family. We share history, genetics and a lot of laughs. I'm especially thankful for my sister and my mother. They think I'm funny and they always laugh at my dramatic re-enactments. Everyone should have such a great audience.

The day went well. I organized myself last night (as I like to say, I'm only a hand-wash away from a full-blown case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and this morning managed to cook dinner with a baby perched on my hip. I even had time to sit and nurse her while she napped at noon. Ten of us crowded around the table while my 97-year old grandmother prayed, then we ate off of . . . yeah, paper plates. They had turkeys on them, but still. Paper. A couple of years back, the night before Thanksgiving I managed to plug up my kitchen pipes with potato peels. I had to wash all the dishes in the laundry-room sink. Ever since, I keep paper plates on hand and last night I thought, "Hey, why not?" Martha Stewart would be very displeased that I didn't use my Mikasa French Countryside.

Now, the food is put away, the company is gone, the baby sleeps, my husband telephoned, the big kids are almost in bed and all is well in my world. Well, it will be well in my world as soon as I have another piece of pumpkin cheesecake. Life is good.


Posted by Mel at 9:33 PM PST
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Wednesday, 26 November 2003
Home Alone (Almost)
I'm home alone again. Well, almost. My husband left me.

Well, not "left me" left me. He just went to Texas for Thanksgiving to spend time with his mother and stepdad and dad and stepmom and bio-dad and bio-dad's wife and brothers and sisters and assorted spouses. You get the idea.

He left Tuesday morning at nine or so. I was in a dark mood. The baby had been awake for an hour in the middle of the night. I was tired, head-achey and wondering why I thought it was a good idea that he take this trip. Overnight, someone had broken into our house and strewn laundry and papers everywhere and peed on the toilet seat. Oh wait. No. That was my family. The day before.

At any rate, I stormed around a bit, grumbling and complaining to my baby and then thought, "Oh wait, I don't have to react this way." I actually stopped myself cold! I felt like such a grown-up.

Later in the day, I sat nursing the baby, expecting the kids to return home any second. The door bell rang. "It's open!" I hollered. I'd already unlocked the door in anticipation of their arrival. No answer. I think I actually said, "arg" and untucked my legs and unlatched the baby and went to the door, muttering.

A second before I reached the door, I thought, "Oh wait a second. That was probably a delivery." The boys don't ring the bell. They knock. Then I thought, "Oh, he sent me flowers! Because he knows what a big sacrifice I'm making!" and then, "Oh, he knows we don't have extra money! I wish he wouldn't have."

I opened the door to see the brown UPS truck pulling away.

I see a box.

Of books.

My husband is addicted to books the way other men are addicted to power tools.

Only four more days home alone. Sort of.


Posted by Mel at 10:15 PM PST
Updated: Thursday, 27 November 2003 9:14 PM PST
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Saturday, 22 November 2003
My Bad Judgment
This morning, the phone rings. It's N., one of the boys' friends from fifth grade. They've known him since kindergarten. As a kindergartener, he was adorable--a very round, dreadlocked, smiley kid. Let's just say he's not so cute anymore.

So, N. calls. TwinBoyA always answers as if he's channeling Jerry Seinfeld ("Newman"). "Yeah, N.?" he sneers.

Then, "Mom, can I go to N.'s birthday party today at 3?"

I pause. We normally do not allow our kids to play at their friends' homes unless we know the parents very well. We do not know N.'s parents well. N.'s dad has dreadlocks, too, and plays in his own steel drum band. N. has two older brothers. N. gave TwinBoyA two videos for his ninth birthday: Jurassic Park and Lara Croft: Tomb-Raider (both rated PG-13). TwinBoyA's never been allowed to play at N.'s house, though N.'s been to our house lots of time. But this is a birthday party. And TwinBoyA is ten now.

"Okay."

I dropped him off at 3 p.m. on the dot. I walked him to the door and one of N.'s teenaged brothers answered the door. When he opened the door, I smelled dogs and cigarettes. I said, "You're having a birthday party for N.?" And he kind of shrugged and said he didn't know. "I just got home, but there is another kid here, so I guess so."

Oh. "Can I talk to your mom or dad?" He hollered for his dad. I waited, peering into the stink of the house from the porch.

His dad came to the door, looking a little weary. "Are you having a party for N. today?" I said.

He kind of look confused. He didn't seem to know. "Well, yes," he said. At least he sort of said something like that. I said, "Well, I'll be back at 5 p.m. to pick him up."

That was my error in judgment.

At 5:05 p.m., I drove up N.'s street. The street was dark, but ahead I saw a bunch of kids riding a bicycle-cart contraption. I recognized N.'s dreadlocked bulk and saw four or five little girls hanging on the thing, but couldn't spot TwinBoyA. N. waved for me to pass him, but I rolled down my window and shouted, "I'm here to pick up my son!"

"He's in the house," N. said.

Oh. In that smelly house with N.'s dazed dad and his two teenaged brothers? Alone?

Okay, I know that I'm a little on the overprotective side. Even paranoid, I admit. But I would never allow that. Why would N. have left my son alone inside his house?

I rang the bell. Twice. Finally, N.'s dad came to the door. "I'm here to pick up my son," I said. He called for TwinBoyA, then disappeared down a set of stairs to find him. TwinBoyA came into sight and was at the door when the dad came up the stairs. I said, "Tell them thanks," and TwinBoyA said, "Thanks!" And we left.

He smelled like he's been at a bowling alley. I said, "So, tell us all about it. What did you do?"

TwinBoyA said, "Well, first we just played some games that were all rated E."

Good.

"Then, we walked down to the 7-11 and bought some stuff."

The 7-11? "Who walked?"

"Me and J. and N."

Oh my. I don't even let my boy play in the front yard without an adult watching! I would never in a million years have allowed him to walk a half a mile to the 7-11 to buy anything!

I managed to just breathe.

Then, he said, they played in the yard. And then played more video games.

He was starving.

"Didn't you have birthday cake?" I said.

"No."

"So, N. did not have birthday cake?"

"No."

Sigh. Never again, I thought. Never, ever, ever again.

I said, "I hope you had fun," and inside my head, I added "because you will never, ever do that again."

I should have known better. We overprotective mothers have standards to maintain!

Posted by Mel at 10:10 PM PST
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 8:04 PM PDT
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Thursday, 20 November 2003
Random Babygirl Thoughts
Babygirl hugs now. She hugs DaycareKid to the ground, but she also hugs me tight around the neck. She still does not give kisses, however. She likes to hug the kitty, too, but the kitty doesn't always appreciate her affection.

She is obsessed with cleaning, which is ironic, considering I am not. Today she insisted we vacuum no less than four separate times. What's funny is that DaycareKid is terrified of the vacuum, but the last time we used it, he didn't even whimper. We're doing aversion therapy and getting the carpets clean at the same time!

Babygirl also uses the broom twice a day, at least. I'm surprised she hasn't whacked herself in the head with it since it's full-sized and she is not.

Give the girl a washcloth and she'll get busy washing the floor or the wall. Put a baby on the floor and she'll wipe him with a baby wipe. Leave a piece of trash on the floor (as my sons do) and she'll pick it up and ask me to open the trash compactor. She likes to take the dirty diapers outside to the trash can.

She's had a cold for two weeks and snot continually drips from her darling nose. She lets me wipe it, sometimes even blows a little. I can't wait until she is well again.

Miracle of all, she napped today in her crib! It was literally the first time in over two weeks. A miracle. God is still on the throne.


Babygirl loves her stuffed animals. Big Bird is her favorite. She hugs it around the neck and tucks it under her arm. She is the first child of mine to play with the enormous assortment of stuffed animals that we've accumulated.

Her eating habits are different from my boys, too. She likes meat: turkey cubes, tuna, crab, salmon. She eats vegetables without pause, but will spit out perfectly good home-made cookies. What's wrong with this child? I'm trying to fatten her up, but apparently she inherited some weird skinny-girl genes from my husband's side of the family.

She had two baths today because she insisted that she be allowed to jump in the tub with her brothers. One this morning, one this evening. She's extra clean, but tomorrow morning she'll probably have dried snot on her forehead.

Today, I made either the biggest mistake ever or made the best discovery ever: I put Babygirl on the kitchen counter while I shrugged off my sweater. She likes to be tucked in one arm, sitting on my hip while I work in the kitchen. It's very annoying to work with one hand.

So, I plopped her on the edge of the counter and she looked around like she had landed right smack in the center of heaven. She sat on the counter for the next thirty minutes while I did dishes and fed DaycareKid. She adored the vantage point and is a careful baby who stayed in the middle of the counter so she was in no danger. I have a feeling the counter will be her favorite spot.

She's a tyrant, but she's a cute tyrant!

Posted by Mel at 11:01 PM PST
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 8:08 PM PDT
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High-Speed Excitement
I have a new computer. I have a new high-speed internet connection. I have a new color printer which also scans and copies. I've pretty much left the old century behind. Finally.

But it took some time to get all these things synchonized, so in the meantime, I've been silent here, despite the wacky world-happenings and domestic happenings closer to home.

Babygirl is running across the living room, hollering, as babies like to do. She's saying "bap", which usually means "apple", but today it means "bap."

YoungestBoy is due home from kindergarten any moment. He amazed me today by doubling numbers all the way up to 1,024. This kid has a sharp mathematical mind and seems to be able to hold numbers in his head--he adds the hundreds, then the tens and ones and adds it all in his head.

TwinBoyA came in the door announcing, "no homework" and "A on my spelling pretest."

TwinBoyB came through the door literally dragging his coat on the rainy sidewalk and said he's sick. His illness disappeared, though, and now he's kind of vague about his symptoms. He has to study spelling and social studies for tests tomorrow.

Babygirl is now crying in my arms. She doesn't care for the internet, high-speed or otherwise.

Posted by Mel at 3:17 PM PST
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 8:05 PM PDT
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Thursday, 13 November 2003
Lessons I Learned by Watching Entertainment Tonight
I've learned three things tonight while watching Entertainment Tonight:

1) Always be sure to put on your makeup when going out for a drive, or you will look washed out in your mug shot. (Thanks, Wynonna, for this tip!)

2) Even scary-looking men with straw-straight hair and teeth two sizes too big and eyeliner can critique women's fashions. (Thanks, Stephen Cojocaru, you freakish man.)

3) Women who weigh only 58 pounds also think that their stomachs are fat and bloated. (Thanks, 58-Pound Anorexic.) What's ironic is that the Victoria Secret models profiled after her were nearly as thin, only they had fake breasts.

I've also decided that the words "ninny" and "dunderhead" are underused.

* * * * * * * * * * *

And now, for the cold, hard facts.

Today I:

1) Changed 5 poopy diapers;
2) Grabbed a wet girl from the bath immediately after she pooped in the tub;
3) Wiped noses approximately eighty thousand times. Okay, only 80 times. Still, it was a LOT.
4) Washed dishes three times.
5) Helped YoungestBoy find four pictures of things that start with the letter "N." Very few items in catalogs start with the letter "N." Glued on pictures: necklace, neck, noodles (ripped from the Campbell's can!) and "Noah's Ark."
6) Played outside with the babies and blew bubbles.
7) Laughed heartily at Baby Wrestling. Babygirl loves to hug DaycareKid, but always ends up trying to tackle him with a look of pure glee on her snotty face. DaycareKid looks bewildered, Babygirl cackles with joy and I burst into laughter. As Martha Stewart would say, "I don't want to go to jail!"--oh, I mean, "This is a good thing."


Well, that's enough for now. Now, I must watch Diane Sawyer interview Britney "I Can't Seem to Keep My Clothes On" Spears.

Posted by Mel at 9:50 PM PST
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 8:07 PM PDT
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Wednesday, 12 November 2003
Buying a Box
My kids are thrilled with me today. I bought them a huge box. Well, a huge box which contained a new computer . . . but in their view, the computer is incidental. It's all about The Box.

This is no ordinary box. The Box is large enough to enclose a ten year old and an 5 year old. It's the largest box we've ever owned. Two of them sat in it and watched television tonight through the little slots that are meant to be handles.

My first three children are boys. Since I began this parenting journey ten years ago, I have learned the following things from my boys:

1) The only playthings really necessary are sticks, rocks, mud, water, boxes and Nintendo products, in that order.

2) Peeing directly into the toilet water is a skill which small boys do not possess.

3) Slinkies will last approximately twelve minutes after being removed from their boxes on Christmas morning.

4) Justice is the most important thing (ie. "That's not fair!").

5) Silly Putty will melt into your shorts if you sit on it.

6) The more expensive the Nintendo game, the more likely that it will be scratched and destroyed.

7) If a little salt is good, a lot of salt is better.

8) Sleeping in on Saturdays is against the Law of the Universe.

9) Screaming is an appropriate way to settle disputes. If screaming fails, use elbows. (To the gut, to the head, whatever is closest.)

10) Cleanliness is pointless and unobtainable.

So, I have a new computer. They have The Box. We're all happy tonight.


Posted by Mel at 10:03 PM PST
Updated: Wednesday, 12 November 2003 10:09 PM PST
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