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Saturday, 13 December 2003
Negotiations
I let my boys rent two Nintendo Gamecube games yesterday. All morning they've been fighting over it. Finally, I told them they have to sit and negotiate an agreement. Now they are screaming at each other, trying to work out a satisfactory plan.

TwinBoyA is shouting, TwinBoyB is crying. He says we should return the games because no one will agree. TwinBoyA says, "Give me a hug and we'll compromise." TwinBoyB says, "No, I'm too mad." YoungestBoy brought a coin to flip.

The baby screams.

I love these Saturday mornings. Family time!

Posted by Mel at 10:03 AM PST
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 6:43 PM PDT
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Monday, 8 December 2003
Yawn
I started at 10 p.m. last night, but I managed to get the checkbook balanced. I finished at midnight. I went straight to bed, but I couldn't sleep. Christmas carols were jingling around in my head, driving me crazy. At about 1 a.m., I started to feeling sleepy.

Then Babygirl started crying. She cried without much passion, in bits and pieces, giving me false hope during each silence. After forty-five minutes, I gave up and went in to nurse her. By 2:15 a.m., I was in bed again.

The alarm rang at 6:30 a.m. And how do I feel after getting four hours of sleep? Well, my eye twitches, my head has a dull ache and my eyelids are puffy. Where is my plastic surgeon when I need him?

Tonight is the church women's Christmas salad potluck. I made my salad already, so all I have to do first is: 1) Make dinner for the rest of my family; 2) Get myself ready (make-up, festive clothes); 3) Put Babygirl to sleep. Before then, the kids will be home (with an additional child I'm watching for an hour). Homework, instrument practice, and lots of noise! All this within the next three hours. And I must do it all without falling asleep.

Babygirl is watching Teletubbies at the moment with her hands down the back of her diaper. She looks like a miniature rapper with her pants and diaper hanging down so low. She's screaming now because it's the time in the show when they show real kids, not the Teletubbies. She hates that. She just changed the channel!

I'd better go fix it!

Posted by Mel at 2:29 PM PST
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 6:45 PM PDT
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Saturday, 6 December 2003
Late Saturday Night
Sigh. After another long week of vacuuming four times a day (can a baby have OCD?), I managed to get out of the house alone. I went shopping last night to a department store which was opened until midnight. I bought new sheets for my twin boys' twin beds and very helpfully did my husband's Christmas shopping for me. ("He" picked out a very cute purse [75% off] and a beautiful Spode Christmas tree votive candleholder at half price.)

Today, I went to Costco for an eye appointment and did more shopping. I was gone two hours and Babygirl lived without me. Tonight, after I put her to bed, I went to Marshall's, Target and Old Navy, and just about finished my Christmas shopping. Now I can quit panicking everytime I see the calendar! The tree is up, presents are purchased (with the exception of the last-minute Nintendo games for the boys--they change their minds approximately every fifteen minutes so I don't want to buy too far in advance!).

I am the church nursery volunteer in the morning. I failed to make a new schedule and the old schedule ended last week. Oops. I hate dressing up just to sit on the nursery floor. I will avoid pantyhose at all costs! Babygirl likes playing in the nursery, but she is not friendly at all. Everyone wants to pet her, but she turns away and burrows into me. At least she's not as bad as TwinBoyA. When he was two, he used to actually growl at church people.

Friday, TwinBoyA was honored as the Student of the Month for his class. And it wasn't one of those "give everyone an award by honoring them for using respect" (the non-academic awards). It was an academic award. He's been doing so great this year. He adores his teacher, though he told me the other day that she is "persnickety." He, himself, is a very persnickety kid, so he would know.

This morning, TwinBoyB gave me the perfect material I've been needing for my Christmas newsletter. My husband went to his eye appointment, so I was trying to put away six full baskets of folded laundry while taking care of Babygirl. I left the room where the boys were playing Nintendo and entered Babygirl's room to find an empty cracker box and cards all over the floor. A minute earlier, it had been perfectly clean.

I marched into the hallway and asked, "Why do you kids constantly make messes? Whenever I'm in one room, you're in another room making a mess! Why do you do that?"

And TwinBoyB said, without looking up, "We're kids. It's what we do." Deadpan. This kid is so funny! Who cares if he can't do long division?

Tonight, after I put Babygirl to bed, I cleaned up the kitchen before leaving for my shopping adventure. Just as I finished, I noticed water seeping out from the cupboard below the sink. I pulled out all the cleaning supplies, the crockpots, the blender and the bread-machine (which I paid $100 for years ago--I saw them on sale for $29.99 last night) and sopped up the water. Then I figured out that the tube running from the faucet to the sprayer has a leak. I patched it with electrical tape and put a pan under it. That should hold it until I can buy a new sprayer. The question is, do I attempt to install the sprayer myself, or do I fork over money to have someone else install it? It appears to be a simple job.

So tomorrow, I write the Christmas newsletter. I balance the checkbook. I clean off my desk. Tomorrow! Really!

Posted by Mel at 11:16 PM PST
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 6:48 PM PDT
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Thursday, 4 December 2003
Ho Ho Ho
Ho Ho Ho and a bottle of rum. Or something like that. I should have written a Christmas newsletter tonight, but the pressure was too much and I reread my journal instead for inspiration. Then I fiddled around with html code and turned my site snow-white (how seasonal) for a frantic half-hour. I should know better.

Now it's 11:42 p.m. and I'm not sleeping!

Christmas is coming and I'm not ready. The Christmas tree is up and some decorations are in place, but I haven't shopped and I certainly haven't wrapped.

To bed now.

Posted by Mel at 11:42 PM PST
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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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