Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mmmm Bison Shepherd Pie

I've got a thing for Shepherd's Pie, and I'm always trying to mix it up. Just like Rachel Ray. Only not as perkily.

One of the problems in my house is that for great Shepherd's Pie, you normally need left over roast, lamb, beef, turkey or er, Tofu, if you're a vegetarian.

Please, though, I wouldn't suggest trying to make it with Tofu.

The point is, we never have left over meat. Ever. I've got two hobbits,carnivorous husband who must have red meat or he'll die, and a growing daughter who shares her father's love of red meat.

But, I was inspired today.

Three things happened.

One) Paula Deen made some mouth-watering Shepherd's Pie.
Two) I have Bison
Three) I own a crock pot.

Sooo, we can't have Shepherd's Pie tonight, but tomorrow, it's all good. Here's my take on my recipe, using some of Paula Deen's twists:

Mashed Potatoes (Mash em yourself, and be sure to use Russets)
Frozen Peas
Frozen Carrots
Frozen whatever vegetable you want in place of peas/carrots
Seriously, ANYTHING goes
Cooked Bison Roast
Bisquick mix (thanks, Paula Deen!)

Day One:
So, take your bison roast, dump it in the crock pot. Add a cup of liquid (I used coffee) and a beef broth cube.
Put on low.
Cook on slow for 8-10 hours.
Let cool. Shred. Refrigerate until time to make the pie.

Making the Shepherd's Pie:

1) Mash the potatoes (Potatoes, butter, 1/2 cup of sour cream, you know what to do)
2) Put mashed potatoes in bottom of baking pan.
3) Layer bison roast that has been sitting in the fridge just waiting for the day you didn't want to cook much.
4) Cover with vegetables.
5) Pour Bisquick over the vegetables.
6) Bake until done (everything is heated and bisquick looks like a yummy crust)

This is a yummy idea. Trust me. And to prove it, when it's all done, there will be photos! And if you don't like Bison, well, there's pork, beef, lamb, venison, turkey and sausage!

Saving Money

I have three jobs. Two of them are kind of crappy. I keep them because the main job doesn't pay on time, and I can't exactly buy groceries with "no, really, the check will clear tomorrow."

It's kind of sucking away my energy to blog, but the real mojo-killer is the fact that I'm freaking lucky to have ANY job in this economy, let alone a patchwork quilt of jobs that lets me stay home with the little man. But at the end of the day, I have very little energy for creativity.

All of my creativity is going towards keeping the grocery bill under control. When I started food shopping for me and the mate in 2002, I spent fifty bucks every two weeks. Now less food is over a hundred every two weeks! And in 2002, if it wasn't finished and ready for the microwave, I didn't buy it. I kept dog biscuits in the kitchen canisters, because I sure as hell never bought flour or sugar. Not just any dog biscuits, either, the meat flavored brand name biscuits.

So I am totally cranky about my Mature Adult Virtue costing more money. Stupid economy ruins everything.

Here's what we've done so far:

- Cut the non-grocery items. Man, I did not quite grasp how much non-food stuff I was buying at Safeway until I stopped. Firewood, food storage, greeting cards, kitchen gadgets - all of it marked up to the rafters and unnecessary to boot. These things still occasionally jump into my cart, but I glare at them until they jump back out. I mean, a doodad that will dice a whole onion with two chops would be so awesome. However, it is twelve dollars we do not have, whereas I do have a set of knives.

- Coupons and club cards. I've used these for years, but it's amazing how much awesome you can get if you're diligent, and ONLY buy things you would have bought anyway. My mate and I love hot links and kielbasa. When the club card has a buy one get one free special, well, that's what the freezer is for. And the dogs don't seem to give a damn that their biscuits are generic or purchased only with half off coupons.

- Costco. I still need soap and laundry detergent, and if I'm not buying them from the grocery store, they have to come from somewhere. After surveying the options (Target, Walmart, Costco), Costco won. You need to be strong, and out of three trips, I've only made it out with JUST the items on my list once. A friend called it the Four Hundred Dollar Milk store. You go in for milk, you leave with a TV and a fake fur blanket. I comfort myself knowing that I haven't done too badly - my impulse grabs were tubs of pumpkin bisque soup that ended up serving as eight delicious hot lunches for five bucks, and a pumpkin cheesecake, twelve servings for eight bucks. But random pumpkin purchases aside, the membership fee has already been worth it in terms of the savings on a lot of staples - paper towels, TP, potatoes, detergent, bread, cheese, rice, beans, cereal, cooking spices, and pasta.

- Use less crap. I thought I was pretty good - I use plastic grocery bags as trash can and diaper pail liners, and when I've got a good stock of bags, I use canvas sacks to shop with - and not ones I bought, either, ones I collected over years of being a swag magnet. I use sponges instead of paper towels unless the thing I'm wiping up is totally disgusting, like dog pee. Clothes are not necessarily dirty after being worn. Toilet paper... you know what, there are some things you just use as much as you need to use. Anyway. I thought I was good, but you can REALLY go far without any lifestyle sacrifices. Sandwich bags can be reused. Baby food jars can store a lot of things. Tupperware bowls that leak are good toys. My grandfather used to chant "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." I thought he was nuts. I was wrong.

- Learn to cook. This was the hard one for me, the queen of "microwave for two minutes, stirring after 45 seconds." My husband is a brilliant natural cook, something he didn't know until I gave birth and suddenly it was cook or starve. I had partially stocked the freezer with Let's Dish food, but the baby was two weeks early. But he's got a long commute and I don't, so I feel better if I do the bulk of the food prep. I totalled up the costs of microwave Indian food and realized we simply couldn't keep doing it.

I'd been taking baby steps - baking squash, stir fries, jambalaya, cookouts. Last week I went TOTALLY INSANE and tried making chana masala from scratch. And, um, it was awesome. It was one million times better than the frozen chana masala (nine dollars, two "entrees"). There were six servings. Admittedly, buying the spices and making tamarind puree was a little steep in money and time, but I've got enough stuff on hand now to make this dish several dozen times over. All I'll need to buy now for each new potfull are the dried chickpeas - under two dollars for the size bag I need.

It's funny, but I was feeling really bitchy when I started this post, and now I'm feeling terribly accomplished and fortunate. Who knew it would take a recession and a baby to make me grow up?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

He made PBJ

It's not a big thing, really. He's almost five. He's asked a few times beforehand, and I believe in self-sufficiency.

It wasn't the sandwich, dreadfully mangled, that got to me.
It wasn't sticky grape jelly on a little hand clutching a butter knife.
It wasn't the patience he exhibited moving the jelly from the jar to the bread one small, tiny bit of jelly at a time.

It was the enthusiasm, the excitement, the smile, and the commentary.

Look mom! I'll get the Peanut Butter and Jelly! and off he went to the refrigerator.
Is this the jelly? He asks, holding up a bottle of Masala paste.
But this is the Peanut Butter?
Yes, but the jelly is on the next shelf up.
Oh, this isn't jelly. I'll put this back.

Then it was his getting the stool, so he could help.
And he was talking to me about it. About how he could make his peanut butter and jelly and use the butter knife, and just spread the jelly, but it's not coming out a lot, he explained. So it was taking some time.

Just this one, dull moment did it. One small thing in a day full of small things.
My little boy and his little hands and his big enthusiasm.

And I just wanted to hug him tight, and kiss him, and say oh, my boy, but I didn't, because it was just peanut butter and jelly, and that's not what he wanted anyhow.

So I said 'good job' and ruffled his hair, and watched him as he took off with his sandwich.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Teeth In The Right Wrong Order

There's a little chart that says when teeth come in, and in what order.

Tragically, I cannot read.

I thought it was bottom middle (got them), top middle (got them), bottom lateral incisor, top lateral incisor, canines, molars.

When our son just lost his SHIT in the middle of the night two nights ago, we did the routine we call "running the checklist."

Gas bubble in need of burping?
Anything pinching or poking?
Wants milk?
Wants to be walked?
Any new swollen spots on the gums? (Please note, on this last one, he's been resisting our fingers in his mouth, so we only check the spot where teeth are supposed to be cutting through next.)

Nothing worked. When I offered milk, he bit the holy ever loving crap out of me. He was so exhausted that he was screaming with his eyes closed and his head buried in Daddy's neck. He finally collapsed, utterly worn out, being rocked in my arms.

Last night he slept like an angel, but today he was a fussbudget from the minute he whined himself awake, and who skipped his morning nap. When I went to fetch a mercifully happy baby from his afternoon nap, I took advantage of the giggles to play with him. With his mouth wide open, I saw it.

A big lateral incisor... on top? What? That wasn't next! And from the size of it, it must have cut through... two nights ago. Oh. Some Tylenol or ice might have been nice instead of, oh, letting him suffer.

No wonder people have two kids. You just desperately want to raise a kid without screwing up the way you did with the first one.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tips for an Easier Christmas Morning

The dreaded wire-ties. If you have a child and have bought them a toy from a regular store, you know why I dread wire-ties.

My inlaws like to buy Fisher Price toys for my daughter, particularly the Little People. That's great, and they're fun toys, but it's usually very frustrating for my daughter because she'll open the present in 5 seconds and then have to wait 45 minutes for me to actually remove the product from the twist ties, wires, strings, cardboard, plastic and reinforced steel that toy companies use in their packaging.

Seriously, what is the purpose? Was there such a rash of shoplifting Little People that they have to practically glue them into the box now? On Christmas Eve when I'm frantically wrapping all of the presents I thought I could get ready in under an hour (ha!) I have been taking presents out of their packaging so that the magic of Christmas morning isn't interrupted by needle-nose pliers and a blowtorch.

There are a couple of ways you can avoid having to do all of the unpackaging yourself:

1 - Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging! Yes, there were already so many reasons to love Amazon, and now here's one more. They are on a campaign to reduce packaging for the products they carry. This year they have a very limited number of toys and items that will come with minimal packaging. If any of these things are on your shopping list I hope you'll buy them from Amazon to send a message to manufacturers.

2 - Buy secondhand: someone else already did all of the unwrapping and assembling. I know a lot of people don't feel it's right to give a child a second-hand toy as a gift. Some of my friends have said that it would make them feel like a bad parent, or like the child might think they didn't love them. I think that's so interesting. Because the kids I've known don't care whether something is new or not, so long as it's all there and looks good and works. And if buying second-hand means mom and dad have money to spend on MORE presents, they're even happier.

Not only are these both great ways to save yourself a lot of unhappy Christmas morning (or Eve) unpackaging, they both eliminate some of the holiday waste destined for our landfills.

I'd love to hear any other tips you have for avoiding the wire-tie blues!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Long Live the Retail Season

It starts with Halloween.
It ends with the January sales.

All hail the Retail Season.
Happy Halloween.
Halloween is over.
Long live Halloween.
Happy Thanksgiving.
Merry Christmas.
Christmas is over.
Long live Christmas.
Happy New Year.
New Year is over.
Long live New Year.
Happy January sales bonanza.
January sales bonanza is over.
The retail season is dead.
All hail the retail season.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Amazon Giveaway Winner!

Well, I procrastinated this all day because I was scared the random number generator would give me a super high number and I'd have to count comments all the way up to 500. I finally bit the bullet and generated the number - it was 139. Luckily, right after that I noticed how to collapse the comments so they were in a big easy to read list. And THEN I re-sized my window so it was 20 comments long and it wasn't hard to count at all.

Like you care though, right? You just want to me to say the winner so you don't have to figure it out yourselves. The winner is Linda of Another Piece of the Pie. I zipped over there to check out her site and she did such a fun drawing, writing all of her entries onto cards and then pulling the winner out of a jack-o-lantern.

After I saw that I wished I'd drawn our winner out of a pumpkin. I'm afraid I'm way too perfectly normal (meaning not nearly as fun or creative) for handwritten notes or jack-o-lantern drawings though, at least tonight.

My husband decided to whisk the sleeping baby off my lap earlier tonight and stash him in his crib where he would remain conveniently asleep until his (meaning my husband's) Plan A was accomplished. Unfortunately, whisking and stashing are not high on the baby's list of things he likes to do, so Plan A backfired and resulted in an hour of crying, inconsolable baby.

Since my Plan A was hold the sleeping baby on my lap while I wrote for a quiet hour, I didn't interfere. After a (very frustrating for him I'm sure) while, he returned the baby to my lap and vanished into some other part of the house, probably to work on plan B which I imagine is watch football and mope.

But let's not talk about moping husbands. Let's check out Linda's site which looks like another blog I'm going to have to start following. Maybe she can use her prize to buy that super cute kitchen for her daughter.

Thanks everyone for participating in our contest. I hope we'll see you again soon here at Perfectly Normal!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Christmas shopping the Halloween sales

I went in to Target this morning to pick up some discount Halloween decorations for a party next year. (Look at me being all optimistic and organized, haha.)

When I got to the Halloween section it was just crammed full of Halloween kid costumes all marked 50% off or more. My 4-year-old's FAVORITE thing in the world is playing dress-up. It was like the discount Christmas shopping jackpot! She'll be getting costumes to dress up as Batgirl, an angel (which with a veil can also be a bride), a flapper dancer, a(nother) princess, and Cleopatra.

She was actually there shopping with me, and we had such a great time trying all of the costumes on her. I wonder where she learned her vain strut, hair flipping and self-preening. It couldn't possibly be from me.

After trying on so many costumes I had to get just one for her (I managed to buy the rest of the presents on the sly without her noticing). She opted for Daphne from Scooby Doo. Which, I should add, she wore for the rest of our errands today and is insisting on keeping on tonight for dinner out.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween, now lets talk turkey

I know, I should have the decency to save this post til after Halloween. But I can't.

Because, it's funny, and real.

Thanksgiving is coming up.

It's Hubby McRed's FAVORITE holiday because it contains two of his favorite things in the whole world: a Turkey Feast, and Football.

I know this, I've known this since I met him.

So you'd think with both his parents (divorced and remarried each) living here, we'd be in for two Turkey dinners... a Turkey Bonus Feast... something... but alas, no.

His mom is having the holiday in early November, and, decided to do... HAM!!!! He was horrified. He despises ham.

The other ones? They do a fancy Turkey feast. Homemade stuffing with walnuts, fresh green beans mixed with asparagus, but no green bean casserole, a 'turkey roast' that's lean and nice, healthy gravy... there won't be one 'bad' thing there. All the food will be fancy. Hoity Toity Turkey. Hoity Toity Feast.

"I'm not going."


"I can't go. I can't go there. I NEED Turkey, with stuffing, candied yams with too many marshmallows, green bean casserole, and NOT with the crappy low-sodium soup and NOT with fresh green beans. And piles of gravy. Piles and piles of it. I can't go and give up my Turkey Feast, I don't want healthy, good stuff. And I want leftovers. We can't go. You have to find a way to explain I can't go because I hate the food. I'm sorry, but you have to do damage control."

Well. I may not be able to get the PR job I'm most certainly qualified for, but it doesn't mean I don't know how to use my mad damage control skills in times of crisis.

The best damage control is preventative.

"Okay honey, look. Here's what we do...

"We go to your moms, and have her make you turkey cutlets, so you can eat.
"We tell your dad and step-mom you'll show up.
"The Sunday BEFORE Thanksgiving, we'll have our own feat. We'll do you up a Turkey, in the oven, with pan gravy, while you watch football all day. We'll buy bagged stuffing without walnuts, do mashed potatoes with way too much butter, candied yams with too many marshmallows, and green bean casserole. Even a pecan pie."

"You'll do this for me?"


"And I can have leftovers for a whole week!"

"Yes.... now, so... it's a big meal... do you want to invite any of our friends?"

"WHAT? And give away my TURKEY FEAST?!!!?!?!?!"

'No dear, of course not..."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Little Commando

After my 4-year-old got home from preschool today I sent her to change into play clothes. The school clothes aren't really nicer, but they are all either brown/pink and they are for cold-weather. By sorting them like this and keeping them in their own drawers, she actually wears outfits to school that are season appropriate and sort of match.

This little trick helps me avoid confrontations like the one we had to have over the outfit pictured here on the right, which was deemed (by her) appropriate to wear out shopping.

In any case, after I asked her to change her clothes she showed up with a new outfit in hand and proceeded to change in front of me. I don't understand why she prefers to change in the room I'm in, but I don't question these things.

What I DO question is why she went to preschool this morning without panties on. I had no idea until she changed her pants that she'd gone commando. Does this mean we're going to have to start doing panty-checks before she leaves the house?

I can't even imagine what kind of clothes issues we're going to have when she's a teenager.

My Wedding Dress...

...zips up.


It's a silly tradition, I put my wedding dress on at some point on my wedding anniversary. Last anniversary, I was five months pregnant and wasn't zipping up anything except an oversized hoodie.

Okay, so I can only hold my shoulders in one specific posture. But can't I blame that on temporarily enlarged nursing breasts? I mean, as soon as I'm back to flat chested fabulousness, it'll be zipping up and down like a toddler on diet cola. Probably.

I'm not trying to lose weight. Whenever I try to lose weight I put on five pounds. I'm not trying to diet, either. If someone gives me a bag of Cranberry Moose Munch, clearly there is a divine hand pushing it towards me.

I'm also not trying to care that things are just in new places. Like back fat. Why do I have these two little flaps of pudge on my back? I didn't carry the baby on my spine in some kind of camel's hump. And saddlebags. I'm sure I didn't have those before I had the baby, and again, I didn't have pregnant thighs, but there they are, little pony express bags.

But as promised... nine months up, nine months down, not counting ten extra pounds. How long did it take you to lose that last ten after your baby? Did you ever lose it? Do you really care, deep down, as long as your old clothes can zip?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Brain Is Cold

The house was freezing last night, and the wind was blustering like crazy. This morning, the entire outside world was glittering with frost, and the birds were fluffed up into feather puffballs in the trees.

So when I went to get the kid ready for his walk, I went Stone Cold Mama. Socks. Thick, lined pants. Long sleeve onesie. Sweatshirt. Fleece slippers. Once all that was on, I wrapped his legs in an afghan, and stuffed the resulting burrito into the bunting I'd already installed on the stroller.

(Side note about his bunting: You see it in ads being used on the car seat bucket. We used it on his car seat when he was a newborn, but we realized that at the speed with which we raced from the car to wherever, we might as well skip it. I felt kind of stupid for wasting the money. However, it's really nice to have on the stroller - a blanket that can't be kicked off and is always tucked in - and the velcro openings are so flexible that it works on all of his strollers.)

Then I popped a fleece lined knitted hat on his head, tucked a scarf around his neck, zipped him up with his hands inside the bunting, and went outside.

We promptly came back, so I could put on shoes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Amazon Giveaway

It's a week of giveaways over at Bloggy Giveaways and we want in on the fun! We're giving away a $40 giftcard to Amazon just in time to use for holiday shopping or maybe a fun splurge for you.

All you have to do is leave us a comment and you're entered. Easy!

If you want to score an extra chance to win, subscribe to the blog and leave another comment saying that you did.

For a third chance, you can do anything you want to give us a shout out, whether it's a link on your own blog, a Stumble, Digg or Twitter, adding us to your blogroll, whatever you want. Just add one more comment letting us know what you did.

This giveaway is open until midnight EST on Saturday, Nov 1. We'll pick a winner at random and then contact you by email to let you know you won, and we'll post who the winner was as well.

Good luck! And once the contest is over and you are recovered from entering so many giveaways (I know I'm exhausted anyway!) we hope you'll stop by Perfectly Normal again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's In YOUR... Diaper Bag?

This was a thread on a mama message board I was reading today. Here's what I posted:

For errand running, I have a nifty little thing that looks like a large wallet or a small purse. It unfolds into a changing pad, and has a pocket for a diaper, a few wipes, and a clean shirt. For the baby, not me.

For occasions when I'll be gone for half the day, away from running water, or out to a restaurant, I have a diaper bag. It contains:

Four diapers
Clean shirt
Clean socks (the "heel strike into poop" is his best karate move)
Two small toys that only come out at restaurants
A plastic grocery bag
A flannel receiving blanket (it's a blanket! It's a burp cloth! It's a DESSERT TOPPING!)
Hand sanitizer
Pashima (acts as a second blanket, a nursing cover up if he gets too distracted to eat properly, or, when artistically draped about my person, covers my leaking personal bits and/or baby hork and/or pee spray)

Now that it's cold, I keep a little sweater in there as well as the clean onesie, since he's a thousand times more likely to spill or spew on his sweater than his shirt. One of the side pockets has sanitary napkins, lip balm, and nursing pads.

And of course, I never carry a purse when I've got the diaper bag - I just transfer my cell, wallet, and a little travel hairbrush over to the outside pocket.

Me? Attachment parent? Co-sleeper in Denial?

"I don't believe in attachment parenting," I explained to Rainy. "I envision my two boys clinging to me perpetually."

"You so do believe in attachment parenting, it's what you do, and you're so in co-sleeping denial," she said.

Co-sleeping denial.

I thought about that, at 2 a.m., when my little Bear stretched out his legs into my back. He had started the night falling asleep in our bed with his brother, Turbo, and then, after they fell asleep, Hubby McRed moved them to their bed. Around midnight or 1 a.m., little Bear came crawling into our bed. Usually, within the hour he's followed by Turbo. It's the rare night only one shows up, an even rarer night none show up til morning. They do it so often that it's very common for me to not wake up when they show up, only to find them in the morning, the cause of my aching lower back and drooled-on pillow. One will take my side, and the other will shoo Hubby McRed over and take his side. Usually, it's Turbo on Hubby McRed's side, and there is often a little altercation, whereas Grumpy Hubby McRed tells Turbo to go to his own bed if he doesn't like it and Turbo tells Grumpy Hubby McRed to just scooch OVER.

But we didn't start this way. They were in bassinets by our bed and occasionally in our bed for the first three or four months, then it was the crib. It wasn't until we turned the cribs to toddler beds that suddenly, we had nightly visitors. At first, like all parents defending their territory, we resisted. We would get up, carry them back to their bed, determined to have our own space. I mean, we only have a Queen! But they'd come back. And stealthily. They'd be quiet, and crawl in the center, where at 4 a.m., when we found them, we were just too tired to move. Or, on the edge of the bed, teetering precariously, clutching their little blankies, looking so cute and fragile we'd make room for them, lest they fall and hit their cute little heads.

I concede the point, we're co-sleepers, in denial.

But what about this whole 'attachment parenting' thing?

I found a blog that defined it finally. This blog was a totally random find, but it defined attachment parenting.

Attachment parenting is the backlash against uber-independence in our younger kids. Independence is great, but not for a four year old, not really. There's nothing wrong with keeping our young kids close to us. It's how families were meant to exist: in close proximity, where the young can be protected, nourished and nurtured, where they can feel safe, and the parents can grab them if you know, a sabre-tooth tiger came along, or big huge Vikings with axes... close proximity was key to a family's survival, but it also provided the children the basic needs they have for safety, love, nourishment and security -- the very needs that, when met, create a strong core of self, a foundation where great independence can be built, where they can then, on this foundation of love, safety and security in youth, build their own character, and forge their own lives, and go off merrily knowing that at the center of their being is the strength of their family.

Attatchment parents carry their babies in slings for, like, EVER. Well, I toted Turbo in a sling, while bouncing Bear in his bouncer with my foot. I took turns holding them in my lap when I worked part-time from home, at the computer, and yes, even while 'relaxing' and playing games, they were on my lap, occasionally causing my in-game character to, well, die. So yes, I am a big believer in that. I lugged my boys around forEVER. Ask my friends. Or any of my neighbors, who've seen me carry both boys at the same time. They were always, and still are, close to me. If I sat on the couch, I'd get mobbed by my twins, and my elder was often referred to as Klingon, as in 'Cling-On' for all the times she was also physically attached to me in her younger years.

Attachment parents extend breast-feeding. I didn't, but I would have liked to. But for the most part, I fed them while holding them, and did breast-feed for, oh, well, a bit....

Non-violence toward children -- well, duh.

I also didn't do pre-school. I felt there wasn't a real 'need' for it as long as they were getting social interaction with other children. They got tons of that. Now, they are in pre-kindergarten, and the lack of former pre-school's hasn't affected them in the least. In fact, most parents comment to me on how well my sons play with others, with each other, and how well-mannered and behaved they are (for the most part, they are after all, four year old boys).

When one of our sons are sick, he will spend an extended period in our bed before we move him to his own bed. It's so we can monitor him, his breathing, his fever, and it isn't until we're satisfied that his fever is down, his breathing is regular, and he's able to sleep, that we'll bring him back to his bed. (Of course, he does return to ours, so it's rather silly to move him, but hey..._

As for television? Oh sure! DEFINITELY! But, not a lot. And no commercials. Only mom-approved shows. And lots of trains. I concede more attachment parents probably let their kids watch less television than I do, but we do truly limit our kids television to about an hour a day... I know I know, they don't even need it, and we work on it, but, remember, I'm in denial about my attachment parenting and co-sleeping, so there.

So, yes. I guess Rainy's right.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mesh Madness

I got a mesh feeder, despite mixed reviews from my friends. Hey, it was on sale. I wasn't overly excited about it, given that the boy has no interest in self-feeding. Also, he's really not terribly oral. I know some babies put everything in their mouths, and he'll give some things an experimental chomp, but the default move for him is grabbing and thumping, not grabbing and biting.

Also, I'm afraid to give him chunks of anything with more texture than an avocado. And he is his father's son, and hates avocado. If the moment of his birth wasn't seared into my brain forever ("you forget the pain of your dainty bits stretching beyond all recognition" is a total LIE, just so you know), I would question his being mine. How did I make a baby who doesn't like avocado? Anyway, I'm nervous about choking, and I'd feel better about letting him try more stuff if it were in something safe like a mesh feeder.

Oh, my goodness, but this is the most fun thing since putting peanut butter on the dog's nose. Not that we did that more than once and we're very, very sorry, please do not tell me how horrible I am.

The first thing we tried was carrot. I keep carrots in the fridge, so they're nice and cold. This one was peeled, which seemed to help him figure out that the end result would have the same smell as the stuff in the jars.

You would not think someone with three teeth could damage a carrot by much, would you? Listen, wolverines do less damage to weak, drugged cows tied to a stake.

He made these little "narf narf narf" noises, and had this vaguely feral expression on his face the whole time.

Next we tried apple ("honey crisp" apples from the farm stand). He loves applesauce, so we figured this couldn't go wrong. The look on his face at the crispy crunch noise that his three teeth made was priceless. I was a little surprised that two tiny chunks of apple could create enough liquid to soak the onesie from the neck all the way to the waist of his pants. But he was thrilled.

The next night I gave him some refrigerated apple. He was totally uninterested until it warmed up, and then he dove on it like a starving jackal dives on a discarded hamburger. All that was left in the bag was the peel.

We took him to the pediatrician yesterday, and I mentioned our adventures in mesh feeding. She told me to try... pickle.


She swore up and down that she'd never met a baby who didn't adore a dill pickle. She said she recommended cold whole ones for teething.

All we had at home were dill slices for hamburgers. But I popped two of them into the bag, and handed it over.

He grabbed it with a gleeful shriek and bit down. Clearly he had been expecting fruit or vegetable - you know, the only stuff besides breastmilk that he'd ever eaten in his life? He took it out of his mouth and looked at it. Tried it again. Stared again. And then he went to freaking TOWN. He managed to get every molecule of pickle out of the bag, too.

Try it!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What Would It Take To Make Breastfeeding the Norm?

I've posted before about breastfeeding, and how it's okay not to be all delirious with joy. I mentioned in that same post that La Leche League kinda bugs me. However, as part of my job today I was explaining that in order to win a fight, you must establish your position as the norm, and the opponent's position as substandard. It helps if your opponent's position really IS substandard.

Then I remembered I GOT that from LLL. It was an essay on making breastfeeding the norm.

I haven't changed my mind, by the way. I ended my last post on this topic by pointing out that formula isn't rat poison. If you really tried breastfeeding (REALLY tried, with support and helpful books and lactation consultants), sometimes you still gotta choose formula - and you have the right not to feel guilty about it.

But you have the right to feel angry about not being allowed resources to learn, and the time to do it. I was talking with another friend today about how our society fetishizes motherhood, but only if the mother in question asks nothing of society in return.

It took THIRTY DAYS for me, a brand new mother who had never seen regular breastfeeding, and only two friends in the universe who'd even tried, to establish a nursing relationship that didn't make me want to scream. It took longer to figure it all out, to learn the holds and the positions, to learn the baby's cues and my needs, to find our rhythm. As a consultant who works from home, I had to be back at work after three weeks, but I didn't have to disrupt the nursing process. I had the luxury of being able to offer milk every time he asked for it, and this developed my supply and our trust in each other.

He was four months old before I had to leave him for more than an hour.

You think I'd still be exclusively breastfeeding my eight month old without all those advantages? I don't.

And yet maternity leave is six weeks long if the mother is lucky. She can have three months if she's willing to go a month without pay. Any woman who suggests that a European model is healthier for the infant, for the mother, and for society is a scumwad pinko commie who wants higher taxes and to eat bonbons at the expense of the working man.

My breastfed infant will get sick less often. He and I will both have long term benefits that have accrued from nursing. If we only consider our lessened impact on health insurance premiums, we've given back to society the money it would have taken to pay me for a real maternity leave. If I'm spared the various cancers that breastfeeding wards off, society could have taken the money it would have spent on the treatments and given my husband another week to get to know his son.

Breast is not best - breast is the norm. And parenthood is not a fetish, it's a societal benefit.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The current financial market situation explained to children

...and Chicken Little ran into Henny Penny... Henny Penny, Henny Penny, the sky is falling the sky is falling....

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fear of Flying, Vanquished

We went to visit Gramma and Grandpa. I would normally call them "Mom and Dad," except that I no longer exist for my parents. My function is strictly to accompany The First Grandchild to their home, and then allow them to snuggle him and pinch his fat little cheeks.

If you think this bothers me, you did not see the speed at which the mate and I raced for the door and out to a restaurant sans offspring.

Unfortunately, Gramma and Grandpa live a four hour plane ride from here. The prospect of flying with a baby horrified me when we first contemplated the matter. I am told I screamed bloody murder from Bangkok to LA as a six month old, and I was pretty sure karma was going to kick my ass and use my eight month old as the foot.

But it went pretty well, as it happens. It helps that the flight home was absolutely packed with infants and toddlers - count 'em SEVEN rugrats under the age of two within five rows of each other - so when our little miracle decided to see if the Shriek button went to eleven, no one even noticed.

Here's what we did:

- We did not buy him a ticket. Instead, we took his birth certificate to the airport and got a "non ticketed passenger document." That's the airport term for "lap baby." In hindsight... we should have shelled out the dough for a seat. He finally started sitting unassisted a few weeks ago, and as you know, any time they learn something new, that's all they want to do. Sitting on laps is for babies. We spent some time standing in the aisle so he could have the seat.

- I wore him in the Ergo from the minute we got out of the car until the final, preboarding diaper change. That got him all warm and relaxed, instead of amped up and ready to party.

- I skipped a feeding on the ground to make him hungry in the air. Wearing him and walking around distracts him. It doesn't work for long, but it worked long enough that when I offered him milk as the plane was taking off, he hit it like a starving trout on a handtied fly. Between the Ergo and the milk overload, he was out for ninety minutes. And if he noticed his ears popping on the way up, he didn't say anything about it.

(Bonus tip: Wear nursing pads. The pressure changes cause even my non-leaky breasts to squirt.)

- I told our seatmate not to worry about noise, because I was going to be nursing the baby. I asked the person in front of us to please tell us if his seat got kicked, because we were teaching our son not to kick seats. This was to establish a friendly connection, lay out our plans, and let them know that we were doing our best. It certainly pre-empted any angst.

- Restaurant toys were in the seat pocket. We have three little toys that only come out at restaurants, so they're always super awesome fun. The mate fastened his wallet leash onto one of them for bonus fun.

- Everything is in fact a toy. Crinkly peanut packets are swell toys. So is a partially flattened water bottle with a few peanuts inside and the cap screwed back on. I'm not ashamed to admit that the flattened, rattling bottle was my dog's teething toy of choice. That's how I knew it would work for my son.

- Trips to the galley are great fun. Also, gleeful shrieking and gabble are cute in the galley in a way that they are So Not Cute in your little narrow coach seat across from another baby who has finally fallen asleep.

- As soon as the pilot said he was descending, I started nursing. Again, if he noticed his ears popping, he didn't mention it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Food Confessoin

I love raw eggs.

Well, they might as well be raw. I like my eggs so undercooked that there's barely a thickening of the coat on top of the yolk.

If my white isn't slightly less than firm, and my yellow isn't running like a river over my toast, it's cooked too much.

Yes, I eat dangerously.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brilliant dinner ideas!

During the week, you'd think a mom who stay home would have time to cook dinner.


So, for those moms who don't stay home, and who do stay home, and who live in a constant state in between home and somewhere else, here's my latest brilliant idea!

It always involves the crock pot, mind you. The crock pot is a great invention, whoever thought of it deserves to be sainted.

Anyhow, we always do a Sunday Crock Pot Chili, and then eat the leftovers another night.
So, on Saturday, I can prepare a crock pot meal and NOT eat it... then, I have two weeknight meals in tupperware in the fridge waiting for the day when I realize it's 5:30, and I've just BEGUN to think of dinner.

Anyone else have any better, or good, easy dinner ideas that don't involve processed foods? :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wall Street -- why moms should care

Okay, okay that sounds a bit funny, doesn't it?

Moms should care about Wall Street. Everyone should care, and I believe most people do, but we're in a watching state. We are aware of the giant catastrophe that is our financial sector, we are aware that it got this way only because of gross mismanagement, greed and incompetence. And we're about to give the industry 700 billion dollars. But, this post really isn't about Wall Street.

It's about what moms should take from this financial garbage heap we're in. It's about how to shape our children's future, and how we need, some of us, to reconsider how we handle our money.

We need to rethink how much we give our children. We want them to have all the best, fun stuff, we want them to enjoy the luxuries of modern technology -- from Ipods to MP3 players to lap tops to game consoles -- we want them to enjoy the clothes they own -- designer clothes, pricey tops, the 'in look,' we want all of that for them. Maybe it's not so good for them, though. Lets face it, one of the top target markets are our children. Yes, our children! Not the moms who shop for them (and any dads that may) but the children themselves.

Maybe, just maybe we should take that power back. Now, I'm not saying this is going to save Wall Street. But it just might save our children. Which, in turn, might save America, because it's our children, with the financial lessons we instill in them (or don't instill) that will one day be working on Wall Street.

Lets look at what our children do to earn their extras. Lets look at the financial responsibility we place on our children (be honest, I know some people do marvelous jobs of teaching their children finanical responsibility, but if alll of us moms did, frankly, companies wouldn't be targeting our children). Lets teach them now, the lessons that we keep getting slapped with by our government, Wall Street, and our own financial habits.

Lets teach our children to take care of their finances now. Lets redefine American consumerism. Lets not be such blatantly easy targets for corporations to market stuff we don't need or even really value. Then, when our children grow up, maybe, when the ones who go to Wall Street get there, they will take with them sound financial principles taught in their own homes.

What do you say?

And, now, returning to the topic of Wall Street, do you think they could spare about 15K for me? You know, maybe one of the jerks who got us into this mess could take a 15K hit on what is sure to be a whopping compensation package funded by us, the taxpayers, and just hand it over to me. Since we're stuck with helping them stay comfortable as they leave Wall Street. And, just one more small thought... could we exile them from Wall Street, and put restrictions on how much money they are allowed to handle? You know, to keep them from jumping right back in and destroying our financial markets some more?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Planets aligning in perfect pet harmony

Something has happened in the cosmos.

Something strange. Something... a harbringer, a sign, a message from the Creator of the Universe itself...

and we'd all be fools to ignore it.

My cat, the vicious old fart, and my dog, the crazy spastic gal, are co-existing on the same floor as I am...

This can only mean a few things...

a) The earth has tilted on it's axis slightly, throwing off my cat's inner hate beacon.

b) the third horseman from the four horseman of the apocylypse is about to arrive, shortly followed by the other three (but don't panic, they have to make it through customs first)

c) the lion has laid down with the lamb, which can only mean d will occur.

d) a comet is going to fly really close to our planet and set us into an early ice age.

Yes, it's that big.

Dear children,

I am asking, begging, no, pleading with you...

Can you please wake up in the mornings? Is it so hard?

Why must I grab the foot that is hanging over the loft bed and shake, pull and prod it just to get a response? You must get up preferably at 6, at least by 6:30, and go to school at 7 every morning five days out of the week. You would think that you'd get up naturally, or with a little less prodding.

And Bear, why, why must I cajole you out of bed? Why do you need to come crawl into our bed in the morning before you will even entertain the idea of waking up. I'm not even sure you open your eyes on the way to our room. Why must I spend so much time convincing you getting out of bed is a good idea?

Now, Turbo, you are my exception. And I hate to mention you, because you are like the sun. You rise every morning, bright eyed and cheery, ready for anything... school, gymnastics, the hordes of Attila the Hun, anything... and Ipromise you I am not complaining or whining one bit. But I just ask one small concession. Before you inflict your cheery, bright-eyed gonna go tackle the day gleefully attitude on me, could you, you know, let me have some coffee first?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

6-day old pajamas

I am tempted not to post this, even though we try to write honestly about the ups and downs we encounter as we try to be good moms. Here goes. See those brown stripy jammies my baby is wearing two posts down as he happily chews on the rubbery lid of that medicine dropper? I haven't done laundry this week AND I changed him out of those tonight. TONIGHT.

So my mind is racing. Did he wear those jammies for 6 days in a row? Did he???


*LIGHTBULB ON* I remember! I for sure had him in a stripey shirt and overalls on Friday. Thank goodness. 3 days in same clothes IS acceptable, if not desirable. 6 days and my brain starts to melt.

I was gone all day yesterday and my husband had the kids on his own. Maybe he picked the jammies up out of the hamper (I mean off the floor, who am I kidding) and decided they would be fine. Maybe I even did it last night, I was very exhausted.

This is in direct contrast to his sister that changes her clothes at least 3 times/day.

Friday, September 12, 2008

He'll Cry More If He's Homeless

The title is a mantra in our household, and as with most kinds of whistling in the dark, it doesn't always keep the hobgoblins of fear away from us.

I work at home. Not just the work of a household, but the kind of work that has deadlines, that depends on other people and has other people depending on it, and that brings in money. In order to do this work, I must be accessible for certain hours during the day, and I need a several hours, usually in a row, in which I can concentrate.

Sometimes I think my son would be better off in daycare instead of with a mama who can't always play with him when he wants to play. He used to jabber away with mock conversations, but he hasn't done that in weeks. Is it because I'm not paying him the attention he deserves? Am I not talking enough, responsive enough, smart enough to handle both him and a job? Daycare with all the stimulation and other children must offer advantages over and above what his constantly typing mother can give him.

Eye contact is the big one, of course. Lack of eye contact is one of the early warning signs of autism. He was never fascinated by my face, even as a tiny newborn - but I had to go back to work when he was three weeks old. He was in my lap, or beside me, the whole time. Still, my focus was on the screen and the keyboard instead of his sweet face. I know rationally that I did him no harm. Probably. But it doesn't keep me from breaking out in a cold sweat when I can't get my wide eyed son to look at me.

We nurse on demand in this house. But I feel like a cow, and from the first week of his life he has hated nursing in my office chair. Anywhere else, he's happy as a clam, and it seems to me to be a reasonable concession. But good lord. I'm bored just sitting there getting milked, and daytime television strikes me as a horseman of the apocalypse. So I've always had a book open during nursing. And now I'm wondering - have I taught him that he's not important enough to focus on? Is that why he gets upset after a long day of not having my full attention?

I know he hates the home office, some days - he'll cry and cry in the office, but the minute we go to another room everything is fine.

I do everything I can. I write these posts when he's napping. I try to schedule conference calls for naptime, or at least a time of day when he's usually happy to watch the wind blowing through the trees. I hold him on my lap when I'm doing research. I try to play on the floor with him for a few minutes every hour that he's awake. We go for walks every evening. The Perfect Husband reads dozens of stories every night. We cosleep. And yet I keep hearing the refrain "not enough, not enough." I look at his smile, I hear his laugh, and I think, my god, who thought I had the chops to get this kid to adulthood with the same perfection he had when I got him?

I have to work. TPH says "he'll cry more if he's homeless," and it's true. My friends whose babies go to daycare say I'm lucky I'm home with my son, my friends who don't have paying work say I'm lucky to have professional gratification and success. I am lucky, a hundred ways, I know that. But there are still days where every choice feels incomplete and every decision feels wrong.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Linkin In


It is near nigh impossible to get a job without networking. I only know other moms and people who work in other states. Oh, so how oh how can I network?

Well, Hubby McRed gets about a gazillion e-mails a week from his LinkedIn account (okay, more like three or four a month) inquiring as if so and so from such and such a place could 'connect' or 'network' or 'chat' with him about various things involving employment.

So I updated my linked-in account with actual relevant information, besides my trite 'dude, I like to write stories about made up crap' statement I wrote back when I didn't care, and now, I am waiting to see if there is an anti-networking curse upon me that is blackening my soul slowly, day by day, or if LinkedIn can be my key to networking in a life that otherwise is networkless...

And no one need worry, Rainy, I won't be holding my breath. I'm not honestly sure what I"m doing, so I'm just doing it. But I admit to a bit of curiosity, while acknowledging that I still have to hone my network profiling skills and 'key word' usage...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'd Rather Have An Exclamation Point

For the last couple days, I've been desperate for salty crunchy things, I've been feeling a little bloated, I've been short tempered, and as I gaze at my beautiful, practically seven month old baby who is the light of my life and the apple of my husband's eye, I've been thinking OH HELL NO I'M NOT HAVING ANOTHER ONE, IF I AM PREGNANT AGAIN I WILL GO INSANE.

Well, the good news is I'm not pregnant.

What's sad is that I had totally forgotten that menstruation was even on the options list of things my body could do.

I remember being twelve, and desperately hoping I'd get my period soon, so I could sigh weakly, float to the nurse's office, ask for some Tylenol (this was the Dark Ages where they didn't need a signed waiver and your mother's name written in blood before you could get Tylenol from the nurse) to ease the pain of "my time of the month," and wear the little belt I'd read about in that Judy Blume book you had to read if you were a twelve year old girl.

When my period finally came, I was completely disgusted when I found out belts were decades out of date and I was going to wear a peel and stick thing that felt like a diaper.

I have not enjoyed my menses since. When it ceased, and I realized we had in fact made a baby, I was thrilled about not having a period. The main thing I was looking forward to about breastfeeding was not menstruating. In fact, I demand a refund from my uterus. I'm still breastfeeding all the time. I have a twenty pound seven month old to prove it! No, I can't say "exclusively breastfeeding," we give him smushed fruits and veggies now, but trust me when I say the nutrition is still entirely from my dairy bar here. He's eating tops a half jar (the small size) a day.

In the face of that, why am I back to snarfing pretzels (delicious, perfectly crunchy salty pretzels) like they were manna from heaven?


Monday, September 1, 2008

The Price of Lunch

If you haven't been in America recently, you may not have noticed that food prices have gone up. Of course, most of us had noticed it, way before the media kindly pointed it out for us, but one thing that is really affected by it, of course, is school lunches.

I've already cut costs down food-wise by shopping once a week by a list, and only for meals and snacks. I hardly buy prepared foods, because they are expensive. My kids don't get junk food for snacks, because I want them to eat healthy. The benefit to that is I don't pay crazy high prices for food that's bad for you anyhow. I occasionally think it'd be nice to buy organic, but not so nice that I'll fork out the extra bucks for it.

But school lunches? Well, now I have another reason to continue making my kids lunches at home. First, you can buy hot lunch at school, but it adds up to about $2.25 a day for my daughter. That doesn't sound too bad, and it's not if you're only feeding one kid and they're not snacking out of the vending machines loaded with junk food (another post, for yet another day).

It's far cheaper to make lunches at home, and throw in the home-made snacks -- all brandless trail mixes, fruits, home-made muffins and bars and granola. I rarely do store-bought anything for snacks anymore, because of basic economics. For the price of a bag of granola, I can buy all the ingredients and make five bags of homemade, for the price of a dozen muffins, I can make a dozen dozen muffins, and so on. It's just economical to spend an hour on Sunday baking snacks for the week.

So have higher food prices affected what you eat/your kids eat for lunch? What do you do for your kids lunches and snacks?

Actual Chat Excerpt

[17:46] Sanya: Oh, speaking of grossness immunity, I got human feces under my fingernails, didn't notice, ate a bunch of grapes, noticed the poop, and just washed my hands.
[17:47] Sanya: Then later I was cleaning myself off, the paper tore, and I scrubbed my hands for at least a minute while I gagged.
[17:47] Sanya: And the boy doesn't have precious baby poopsies, he shits.
[17:47] Sanya: We started giving him fruits and veggies a couple weeks ago.
[17:48] Lahdeedah: roflmao
[17:49] Sanya: So why does my own shit bother me, but the boy's crap under my nails make me shrug?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

How Lahdeeda Spent Her Week

Warning: This is long... a bit winding... a bit of a long conversation to no one in particular. And I apologize for being windy and long today.

Few things are more scary than having a very sick child. There are worse feelings than the feeling that SOMETHING is wrong with your child, but you don't know what. There is that brief period of time, when you're watching your child, the time between a niggling sense of something and action, where you decide that something just isn't right... the fever is lasting too long, the cough is wrong, he's looking funny, something... just...something... then you make the decision and call or bring them in.

Now, he's fine. He's home and happy, and we're very happy he's home. But, you can understand, how scary it is, when your child is sick, and you have to make that decision to bring him/her in.

I didn't make the decision Monday night. He had a cold and a cough most of the weekend, starting on Friday, along with his brother. He played outside just fine Monday evening. On Monday night, he broke into a fever. He seemed a little uncomfortable, but he was sleeping, and sleeping is good. He was breathing a little fast, but nothing that registered as dangerous, though I noted it. He settled down with the Tylenol, sucking his fingers like he does.

I didn't make it Tuesday morning. He got up and came downstairs by himself, and got a sip of juice. He asked for breakfast, and decided not to eat it. I took his brother to gymnastics and kept Bear with me. He cried at Target. But he didn't have a fever.

I made it Tuesday afternoon. Bear had watched a show while Turbo ate lunch. He got up, brought over his blankie, and sat down on the floor by the stairs in front of me, indian style. He looked up at me with a slow, sweet smile. I remember it, the sitting down and the smile, because I wondered why he just sat down. Then I realized, it was because he was too tired to go upstairs. So I carried him upstairs, gave him some Tylenol and checked on him. Continuously. Something was just not right. I laid down next to him and listened to him breathe. He'd already had Tylenol, but he still was hot, still breathing fast. I counted his breaths. 61 a minute. I pinged a couple of my friends online about it at the same time I called the nurse. I left a message, but by the time I hung up the phone, I was getting ready to take him in. I wondered idly why I even bothered calling, but it was good I did, because she reinforced my concern, and said to bring him to Urgent Care. She also told me the urgent care in their building was linked to the pediatrics. So I knew to bring him there, instead of the one closer to my house. It's only a ten minute drive, so no real time was lost. She also told me they were seeing a 'lot of this' in peds.

I picked up Drama Girl at school on the way, it was dismissal time, and dropped her off at the entrance to our neighborhood. She walked to the neighbor's. I took Bear straight in, there was no traffic, and once there, we didn't even wait. After two breathing treatments I called Hubby McRed and told him where we were. After some chest x-rays, the urgent care doctor called the on-call pediatrician. He wanted to have us admitted and need the on-call peds to do it. The good news about the chest x-ray were they showed no pneumonia. The bad news was, the chest x-rays looked good, but that only made them meaningless. His oxygen levels were too low, and he was struggling. He was very sick, the dr. said, and he didn't treat clinics and labs, he treated patients and symptoms. Despite what the x-rays showed, Bear was struggling for breath.
I called Hubby McRed. Change of plans. We're going to the hosptial. Come straight here. The on-call peds called in orders. For us, the hospital is right across the street from urgent care. Very convenient. They gave us an oxygen tank. Bear was too tired to even walk. I'd been carrying him everywhere. He threw up on Hubby McRed. Not much, just a bit of liquid acid from his now-empty stomach.

But he was still sweet. And, still smiling at everyone. And when it got too much, he cried a little and I held him. Turbo had his stuffed bear. He explained to everyone how very sick his bear was, and demanded they take care of it.

We didn't have to wait long to be admitted, either. In fact, I was just beginning to fill out admittance paperwork when they called down that they wanted their patient upstairs now. Hubby McRed went upstairs with our little Bear while I filled out paperwork.

When I went upstairs, my little Bear was in a big bed, with oxygen tubes in his nose. They didn't look scary. He looked scary. Scary sad. Scary sick. A respiratory therapist was taking a good long listen at his lungs.

They told me they were treating it as though he had an asthma attack.

When the on-call pediatrician arrived, he reinforced that. He told me he had an asthma attack, a pretty bad one. He said when my normal doctor visited tomorrow, we should discuss preventative type treatments, especially with the seasons changing toward winter. He said they were going to watch the crud in his lungs to make sure it didn't become bacterial. It was just viral, and the viral infection is what triggered the attack.

That was all Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the doctor visited and said essentially the same thing. By now, Bear was sounding much better, and was talking. He still didn't have a lot of energy, but he sure was drinking a lot. This was the day I mostly forgot to eat. It was Hubby McRed's turn to spend the day and night with Bear, and he took Bear to the playroom, following him around with a little oxygen tank. He said that was nothing, compared to the guy following his daughter around with the IVs. I brought Drama Girl to visit after her dinner. I took Turbo to a neighbor's. Turbo was exhausted.

On Thursday morning, the doctor told Hubby McRed, not until Saturday. He did good most of Wednesday, but Wednesday night, his oxyen levels went down. But, on Thursday afternoon, he perked up. He got energy back. We spent most of Thursday in the play room, he just wanted... out... of... that... room. By Thursday night, he was running up and down the peds ward, breathless, but so much... better.

It was then the nurses told me it looked good for taking him home on Friday.

And on Friday, after a long week and an interminably long wait that lingered well into the noon hours, we finally got our papers...

Bear is home!


We have a nebulizer, and a follow-up appointment, but most of all, our little Bear.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How to Raise Kids That Can Say No

Sanya asked what I'll do to keep my kids from smoking. Honestly? I'm already working on it.

The trick is to start now to stack the deck in your kids' favor. Teach your kids by your own example. Don't say, "Do What I Say." Make a commitment to live how you want your kids to live: "Do What I Do." Give them a sense of identity as part of the family that doesn't do 'those things.' And surround them with friends and adult confidants that will be there later when they need it but won't come to you.

The only way I know how to do this is how my parents did it. They took us to church every week as a family. But not only did we go to church, we lived religion at home too. We had a night each week dedicated to spending time together as a family. We prayed together. My friends were mostly church friends, and my church leaders were friends too.

I know the idea of joining a religion to keep your kids out of trouble is not incredibly attractive! There should be more to conversion than that. But I grew up in a religious (not fanatic) home, and I know it's what kept me out of trouble. My siblings and I didn't smoke, drink or try drugs during high school or college. I even remember when my folks were trying to get my brother to stop watching R-rated movies and had to give them up themselves.

Here are some things you can start doing now, whether you're active in a church or not:

* Find other parents that have the same values you have, that have kids the same age as yours. Church is great for this, but maybe playgroups or gymboree classes or things like that could help you find families like yours too.

* Get together frequently and encourage your children to make friends with this group. Continue to augment your group of friends with families that you think will be good examples and support to your child.

* Give your child freedom now to make choices, and let them suffer the consequences when they make bad choices. They need to learn early how choice and consequence works before the consequences are the serious kind they'll be facing when they're older.

* Spend time together as a family doing fun things, and also use this time to teach your family a system of moral values.

* Live those values yourself. If you don't want your kids to smoke, you don't smoke either.

* Set long-term goals as a family regarding what kind of family you want to be, and then constantly encourage and help each other achieve those goals.

* Don't forget that even the best parents that do everything they can still end up having kids that have problems. All we can do is our best, and then never give up and keep loving our kids no matter what.

Of course, it's really easy to say this stuff now. I was also a great parent before I had kids. So ask me again in 10 years how I'll handle these things. ;)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Do As I Say, Not As I Did

I quit smoking in October 2002, after just short of twelve years of the cancer sticks. I didn't smoke a LOT for the first two years, but once in college I got to a pack a day pretty fast. I never wanted to quit, either. I wasn't one of those whiners who hates herself. I enjoyed every minute. I loved the rituals, the accessories, the friendships, the easy camaraderie with other smokers. It calmed me, soothed me, gave me an excuse to bail from bad situations or linger in pleasant ones.

And frankly, it was an image thing, at least in college. I had a leather jacket and a zippo and I didn't give a damn if no one asked me to dance at clubs, because I was Mysterious and usually ended up with someone else being Mysterious. If I didn't hook up, I didn't care that much because I could spend the rest of the night carousing with my best friend, the one I met at orientation because we smoked the same brand. Playing pool was more fun. Darts were more fun. Road trips, work breaks, sanity breaks, all of them were better with cigarettes.

I should mention that I was a complete idiot about this. Some families have the genetic luck to be less than susceptible to cancer and smoking related illness, but I am not from one of those families. Ever see someone die of emphysema? I have. Not pretty. I smoked anyway.

My parents certainly didn't smoke, approve of smokers, encourage smoking, or in any way suggest that smoking was cool. They disparaged smoking and smokers from the moment I was born. I smoked anyway.

When I left The Horror (aka my ex), and into my first Very Own Apartment, I decided it would be a non-smoking apartment. I smoked on my patio, but never inside. I used to claim I didn't know why, but actually, it was because The Perfect Man didn't smoke. I knew my habit stunk like Satan's underwear marinated in elephant crap, but until the Perfect Man, I didn't care. So I steam cleaned and Febrezed my beige couch (and it turned out it was white with pink and blue flowers), washed all my bedding, and kept my sweet vintage ashtrays outside.

Then I noticed my dog choking up wads of brown phlegm.

She had always lived with chain smokers. The three years prior to the apartment were spent with four of us sucking down the coffin nails in a tiny unventilated basement. (You see how the couch turned brown.) I realized to my horror that second hand smoke was in fact BAD, that trapping other life forms with my smoke was bad, and that I'd done it to a helpless little beagle.

I guess that planted the seed. I still didn't want to quit, and I still don't understand how I quit cold turkey that fall. But I did. Haven't had a single puff since, because I'm pretty sure I can't quit a second time - and I'm pretty sure that if I were the type to have a single ciggy with a beer and stop, I wouldn't have smoked a pack a day for a decade.

Now I look at my beautiful son, with cancer on both sides of his family tree, and parents that border on OCD sometimes, and I think... well, I don't think anything, because I freeze in raw panic. I joke that my non-smoking, non-drinking, never even TRIED drugs husband is going to have the talk with the boy, but that's a copout.

What will I do? What did YOU do?

Monday, August 25, 2008

I Had a Brilliant Post All Ready

I had a post in my head last night, all planned out and everything. However, I was in bed when I did that planning. As an experienced writer, I long ago learned to keep a notebook and a pen by the bed for such occasions. Last night, I opted to just try and remember the post instead of reaching three feet across the bed and possibly touching the land mine, I mean my son.

You see, he was asleep.

Prior to that moment, he had not been asleep for nearly sixteen hours straight.

Those of you shuddering in sympathy agony obviously have a baby.

The night BEFORE last, my husband and I were dancing around the bedroom like idiots, because our son achieved a milestone previously reserved for the greatest and strongest of our entire species. No other baby ever achieved such magnitude, no other parents ever experienced such exultation. His first tooth came in. And by "came in" I mean "half a millimeter of enamel was above the gumline."

The miracle, of course, is that he didn't cry. He wasn't feverish. He appeared to cut that first tooth completely effortlessly. And then yesterday happened.

He woke up cheerful, and when the first naptime came around, he was still cheerful. He had his milk and drifted peacefully away. I was downstairs writing when we heard him chirp... twenty minutes after falling asleep. Uh... usually that first nap is two hours. We didn't worry - we were on our way to Grandma's house for family time, and that hour long car ride is good for catching up on naps.

Only he didn't catch anything but the view from his car seat.

We tried putting him down for a nap three times during the visit, as he got steadily more and more cranky from exhaustion. All attempts failed, although each time we snuggled up, he nursed greedily. His cousin was peaceful and charming, and our shrieking, squalling, red faced rageaholic was looking even worse by comparison. Finally, we bailed. He seemed to fall asleep before we hit the end of the driveway, but every time I checked the mirror, his eyes fluttered open.

"Mama, for god's sake, I'm wiped out, help me," ran the entreaties from his baggy eyes.

As soon as we got home, we did the bedtime routine. No dice. We fed him sweet potatoes, took a walk, sang songs, offered chilled teething rings, rocked, danced, and left him alone (the latter being a trick that almost always works when all else is failing). Through it all, he cried, and made the sign for "milk" over and over.

"I do not think that means what you think it means," I said to my desperate son, considering he was frantically making the sign WHILE ATTACHED to my breast.

At 11:30 PM, despite his not appearing to be in pain or particularly chewing on anything besides my nipples, we threw up our hands and gave him a shot of infant Tylenol. I snuggled him up and let him nurse from the side I'd been "reserving" for two hours just to make sure there was something there.

At 11:33 PM, I had my brilliant blog post idea. Then I looked down.

You wouldn't have reached for the notebook either.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Potty Training Tips

Now that I've told you not to potty train your kids too early, let me give you a couple of tips that made all the difference when I potty trained my daughter. They won't work for everybody, but they were the right thing for us.

First of all, don't over-praise. The more you make a big deal about potty-training, the more "power" the child has and at that age they'll use every bit of power they can get. If they know you want them to do something, there's a good chance they won't, just to be contrary.

I did try letting her wear just underwear for a day. That lasted about an hour, until the first accident. She pointed at her puddle on the floor and ordered me, "You clean it, Mama." Um, right.

What actually worked much better was putting her in snug fitting leggings over her panties. When she had an accident the leggings absorbed everything. Then when she told me she needed a change I told her, "Just a minute," and pretended to ignore her for about 5 minutes. She hated the feeling of the cold pants and didn't even want to move. Instead of me making a big deal about it (she loves any attention, even negative), I just told her she needed to wait until I could help her.

Try expressing some doubt in their ability. Kids love to prove us wrong. My trick was to get her stuffed animals talking about it. The bear would tell the bunny, "I don't think Olivia is big enough to sit on the potty." And the bunny would tell the bear, "I think she can get up there, but I'm SURE she can't go pee-pee."

This next trick STILL works for me. She loves to race, so all I have to do is say, "I'm going to go potty FIRST," and then I start running for the bathroom. She practically runs me over trying to get there ahead of me.

And now that I've said all that, I'll just reiterate the best tips: Don't start too early, and take your time. Having a potty trained child isn't any less work for you as a parent, it might even be more. So don't rush it, just follow your child's signals and keep reminding yourself that we all figured it out eventually - your kid will too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Potty Training Secret

There are a lot of "sure-fire" procedures you can use to potty train your kid. Here are a few of my favorites:

"Feed your child lots of salty foods like pretzels and chips so they will be extra thirsty and drink a lot, and then make them sit on the toilet every 30 minutes. They will experience success and like it, and VOILA."

"Don't let your child wear a diaper, just let them run around au naturale in the house. S/He won't want to make a mess on the floor, they'll just automatically want to go use the toilet. VOILA."

"Don't leave the house for one whole weekend and spend the entire time doing intensive potty training with sticker charts, potty training books and movies, and positive reinforcement. By Monday: VOILA."

Yes, they all make it sound that easy. Like you just have to follow a simple plan for a very short period of time and "TA-DA," you will have leaped the hurdle of potty training in a single bound.

I'm going to let you in on two secrets now.

1 - It's almost never that easy. There will be puddles. There will be pee running down legs into shoes. There will be such horrible, terrible things I am not even going to tell you, but even your imaginations cannot dream up the depths of the grossness.

2 -

Before I get to this second one I want to make sure I have your attention. NO ONE is going to tell you this but me and it will change your whole life for the better. Pay close attention now...

2 - Wait to potty train. Yes, I just said it. WAIT. Stop trying to train your 1.5-year-old. I know you want to brag about your potty-training prodigy, but seriously, just wait.

No one tells you what things are like post-training, so I'm going to share a few of our horror stories:

- Pulling over on the 4-lane freeway to use the portable car potty on the side of the road. The wind from the passing cars sprays the pee all over mom's legs, the car and the child.

- Standing in line at an event bathroom, no one will let us go ahead, while toddler has an accident on the floor.

- Every single dinner being interrupted with, "I have to go potty!" and then assisting on wiping as needed while dinner sits on the table. (And yes, I try to make her go before-hand but, "I don't need to right now!"

- Laundering the carseat over a dozen times thanks to accidents where we're stuck in traffic or no where near a bathroom when she announces (for the first time), "It's about to come out!!!"

- Having to use public restrooms all over the country, pretty much every time we go shopping or out to eat. I have been in so many gross bathrooms.

So now you know the secret. I know when you've got a kid in diapers you just want to reach that holy grail of potty-trainedness. And I know sometimes diapers are gross and inconvenient to change. However, you'll still be wiping that bum for years after you've potty trained the kid. Don't be in such a rush to make yourself a victim of your 2-year-old's every potty whim.

Diapers are tiny little miracles. Appreciate them while you can.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Rosetta Stone

The books assured me I would know my child's cries in their infinite variety. And as a good mother, I would read the eloquence of his tears and ride like an avenging angel to his rescue.

Yeah, well, six months later, I can tell you what the "tired" cry sounds like, because it's so much more keening and desperate and heartbroken than the other cry. Uh huh. "The other cry." As far as I'm concerned he's only got two. I'm desperate for him to learn to talk.

The other cry has tiny variations, but today, staring at this small person who has taken the place of my baby, I had an epiphany. His other cry means just one thing - "I have seen the status quo, and lo, large and powerful life form hovering nearby, verily it sucks monkey testicles. And I say unto you: Cause a change to occur."

Seriously. Besides "tired," what else is there? He's hungry, he wants someone to make it so he's not hungry. He's bored, he wants someone to entertain him. He's overwhelmed by the noise of the Stargate episode we're watching, he wants it turned off. He's tired of the bouncy seat, he wants to be moved to the toy car. He's squishy in the pants region, and he wants to be cleaned off and dried. Whatever "it" is, it's something he wants changed and he lacks the power to change it.

This is why half the time, it doesn't matter what he actually wanted, being picked up and bounced makes the crying stop. It's change, and that's all he really wants. I feel like I understand him a little better.

I still can't wait until he learns to talk and blows my theories to bits, though.

The First Day

The first day of middle school was yesterday.

I suppose I'm okay.

It started out fine, with me just waking up like normal.

Then I looked in the mirror and realized, are those lines, ETCHED in my face, my lines? Is that my skin? My FACE?

Then I went and grabbed some coffee, pretending it was bad lighting.
Drama Girl was already up and dressed. It was the FIRST day of MIDDLE SCHOOL after all.
She'd been nervous all weekend.

I packed her lunch, answered questions about the vague memories of middle school I have, and made sure she had everything she needed.

Then we drove to school. We live in one of those places where it's more than a mile and a half to walk, there's no bus service, and while it's probably fine to walk, if you want your kid to actually get to school on time, you need to drive them.

So I drove and entered the 'kid drop off lane.' I hadn't bothered with make-up, I mean, it's not like I was getting out, and figured it'd just be a quick drop-off, go home, have more coffee kinda thing. This school's drop-off lane extends out onto the main road and works pretty much like the pick-up/drop-off lanes at the airport, only there's only one lane, and inside every vehicle is the same picture: parent driving, child in passenger seat.

It dawned on me, as I waited in line for my turn to drop Drama off, that I had a daughter in middle school. I remembered a scene from Buffy, where Buffy's mom is dropping Buffy off at school to have her day, her life... and it hit me... I'm not Buffy. I can never be Buffy now, either.

Not only am I not Buffy...
I'm Buffy's mom.
Those etched lines in my face. The skin that doesn't look dewy or glowy without product. The fact I have a middle-school daughter. My complete indifference to my morning wardrobe.

Buffy's Mom.

While Buffy was out slaying vampires and having all sorts of experiences in life, her mom was driving her around. She was the chauffeur who showed up at the most inconvenient times. The one who grounded her from life, lectured her on morals, punished her for breaking rules...dressed in fairly frumpy clothes.

Not only am I Buffy's Mom, I can't even PRETEND to be Buffy anymore, because, sitting in that car lane, letting my Middle School daughter out to have her experiences, I realized, I'm her limits, I'm her structure and order, her place to go when the world is too much, when the middle school students turn into zombies and vampires that are out for her blood and want to eat her brains, I'm the one she runs to, not to fight them, that's her job, but to hide from them for a while, and to make annoyingly healthy snacks. And if I dress too clever, or too fashionably, and I'm too cool, well, that's not okay, not that it's ever happened.

And not only am I Buffy's Mom, but even Buffy, well, how many middle schoolers know Buffy?
I'm old too!

I think, if perhaps I had just worn make up this morning and jeans, to drop my kid off, instead of 'ahem' loungewear, I'd have not had quite a severe reaction. If perhaps I had gotten up, thrown on some product of some sort, felt a bit spiffier this morning, than I would have been fine.

But, looking at all those spiffily dressed kids, with their long hair and 'pretending to be grown up' 'tudes, well, it had an effect. And as I dropped my kid off, she melded into that group, and I knew, that at that moment, when she melded, I disappeared into that black hole where all kids imagine their parents go during the day.... since parents, and Moms especially, don't actually exist once the child leaves their presence.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A word about the Olympics

I'm jaded on the Olympics.
I don't know what did it.

I wasn't bothered that the fireworks display was 'fixed up' so it'd appear brighter and bigger.

I was annoyed, but not all that surprised, given China's nature, that they pulled a bait-n-switch with the endearing little girl that lip-synced at the Olympics.

But the Chinese girl's gymnastics team did me in.

Nobody really believes these girls are old enough to be in the Olympics. They don't look 16. They look like the pre-pubescent 13-year-olds everyone suspects them to be. And it's not that they won the gold in the team events that upsets me. It's the aura of deceit that the Chinese are pulling, an aura that other nations and the Olympic Committee is helping uphold. The age on the passport is the only thing that matters, and they are holding to that caveat as an excuse to not investigate the allegations that three of the members on the Chinese gymnastics team may be too young.

Are we really surprised though?

This is a nation that starts training before the kids even get to be kids. They live in training camps and faciilties and their entire lives are sports. It's not enough to be good, they have to be great. And if, at 13, a girl can win the gold, what is it to change the age on a passport in a nation who's government is involved in every aspect of an Olympiad's life? If a 13 year old is better than a 16 year old because she is lighter, limber, less 'mature' physcially, than what is it to change a number?

I think our girls are great. They are world-class, and I think they can hold their own against girls a few years younger, but the truth is, it's not okay, and it's not right, because we don't let our 13 year olds compete for very good reasons. If we're keeping our best athletes home because they aren't the correct age, is it really 'okay' to let other nation's get away with it?

And, if it isn't (which it's not) why won't the Olympic Committee do something about it, investigate it, find out the truth?

They won't, because in an event that is supposed to have nothing to do with politics, politically, it would be a huge slap to the Chinese if it's found they lied, and politically, slapping the host-nation of the Olympics isn't a good idea.

And that is why I'm jaded on the Olympics.
Because this Olympics, more so than any other, is all about the politics.

The Chinese girls who are most likely too young to be performing will win their medals. The American girls who win their medals will pretend to not have an opinion about whether or not the girls were too young, because it IS all about the competition for them, but it will be in their minds... what if they got to compete against the 16 year olds....

In soome sports we'll dominate, in others, we won't, and Phelps will be hyped up for being the most winningest athlete ever, (he's part merman, didn't you know?), and the Olympics will fade from our minds as fast as they dominated our television screens, but the sour taste that the aura of deception the Chinese left won't fully fade.

It's just a reminder that this nation is a nation who shows you only a careful mask. What you see is never what you'll get. I think it'd be good to remember the olympics for the future... because the Chinese are becoming big players in the world. It would be wise to deal with both the mask and what is behind it as well.

Friday, August 15, 2008

School Shopping -- a nightmare

Did you know the only difference between Justice for Girl's Jeans and Arizona Jeans are one has an extra wave thingie on the back pocket?


There is nothing more nightmarish than back to school shopping, and I started early. But today, the Friday before the First Day of School, I had to go out... in the unseasonable rain and even more unseasonable cold, to Justice for Girls, J.C. Penney, and the grocery store. It was mad chaos. First, Target has the cutest shoes, but nothing at all, LITERALLY nothing at all, for any girl who is above 8 years old. We left empty handed.

J.C. Penney had their lovely buy one get one for $1 sale which comes in handy when you have twins, but their shoe selection for kids is, and has always been, very dismal, at least at the shop I went to. Turbo and Bear talked (begged) me into Star Wars Lego T-shirts, the most unpractical and unnecessary clothing item I purchased. It's summer, they've got TONS of t-shirts. But I did end up with cute shoes.

But the hordes and crowds were out. Nobody seemed to be buying a lot, but everyone was out today buying... something. It didn't help I had to do groceries today as well.

All I can say is it's done, I'm glad of it, and Drama Girl and Turbo and Bear aren't getting a piece of clothing unless absolutely needed, in December, when it begins to think about snowing, because if I think about how much I spent on clothes that will get stained, ruined, ripped, and outgrown by December... lets not think of it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dear Snarky School Counselor's Secretary... regarding an IEP

My daughter has an IEP. She's had one since she was 9. I just would like to clear that straight up.
I am her parent, and I like to be involved. I'd also like to make that clear.

I understand you were in the middle of chatting with your BFF about adopting poor children overseas, and I'm sorry to hear that Ukranians are no longer adoptable, and I realize I'm interrupting your most interesting conversation, at 10:45 a.m. during your workday.

It's just that, when I asked you to take a message for the counselor because I wanted to touch base and have a short conversation with her about my daughter's IEP, you seemed to misunderstand me.
Somehow, you believed I needed a lecture on IEP Process 101.
You explained to me the IEP process, the same one I've been working with since Drama Girl was 9, but thank you kindly, for assuming I never actually bothered to read her IEP. But you didn't take down my message.
You then proceeded to explain how the special education teachers and regular teachers and principles from both schools all met together to have a nice little chat about my daughter and her IEP. I already knew this. It's mandated by law that I receive notice of and invitations to all IEP meetings and reviews, and I'll be damned if I never miss 'em.
I'm sure it surprised you, what me being a parent, and all, that I was disrupting what you perceived to be as sound process.
Anyhow, what you clearly should also know, since you know so much, is that last year, your counselor was in a foreign country, and didn't make my daughter's IEP meeting. Neither did I, although I did send an e-mail and discussed beforehand with her current teachers what I felt were important things that hadn't been dealt with before. The fact your counselor was absent is the reason I'm sitting in your office smiling through teeth that really want to gnash you to precious little bits, trying to get you to give me a piece of paper so I can deal with someone I really need to deal with.

That was all I wanted -- a simple piece of paper so I could write a note to the counselor requesting a brief chat about the transition.
I understand that you are a process person, so clearly caught up in the process that it never occurred once to you that all the while when you were discussing meetings about MY child with counselors and teachers and special education helpers you neglected to mention me, the parent. You seemed to think I was an unnecessary complication. My presence or involvement in the matter unnecessary. Your precious process handled it.
And you still didn't give me a piece of paper.

Well, Snarky School Counselor's Secretary, I'm afraid you've given me the impression we'll be seeing a lot of each other these next three years, so let me start all over and reintroduce myself properly.

I am a mother of a child with an IEP. I care about her education, the help she's getting or not getting, and what goes on during her day at school. I am an involved parent. I am not satisfied with any process that involves my child, specialists and teachers, but not me, the parent. You'll be hearing from me fairly frequently. Try to be less snarky. Oh, thank you, now, for finally giving me the piece of paper. Don't think to toss it. If I don't hear from a counselor soon, I'll be calling Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday... you get the idea.

P.S. By the way, regarding your precious process, let me assure you, no one can spin in and out of process, paperwork and red-tape than someone who's worked ten years in government. I know what process is. It's why I'm damned if I'm going to leave my child to it.

Being Crafty, oh and Curious Dragons

It doesn't take a crafty person to be crafty.

Take my chore chart, for instance. This masterpiece is functional and crafty, but messy, but a huge success.
But I want my sons' room to be crafty. Turbo and Bear deserve a crafty boys room. They just do. They want one, too, desperately. I can tell, it's in their eyes. Trust me. It's really for them.

Anyhow, because I know deep in their hearts what kind of room they want, I'm giving it to them. They want a blue room, because they asked for blue. They want airplanes. They love letters. They want cool cube shelves to put the wood cars and trains and planes they paint on display. They want a mom crafty enough to do all of this.
They got me.

So, here is craft no. 1 of the boy's room.
Craftily painted wood airplanes that will fly along the walls amongst craftily painted wood stars.
Witness Exhibit A:
The first of five airplanes hand painted. Cost of plane -- $1. Cost of reusable paint -- $8.
(The stars are only 25 cents)

And After:

The little mistakes won't be obvious when hanging on the wall! It's just good ole crafts paints and cheap paint brushes!
Stay tuned for next weeks' installment: Painted letters that spell out a silly math wordquation.
Oh and btw, for those curious about curious, open-minded dragons who could just as easily be really confident with themselves.... Fleming was created at a pottery studio. Remember, I'm not crafty, and I'm not really good at oh, painting neatly... or doing anything neatly. I like to think it gives my creations 'character.' Anyhow...
Meet Fleming.

I am not so much pink, as rose.

I am most definitely mysterious.

But most of all, I am Magnificent...

Fleming, The Magnificent!

... and curious... oh so very curious....