Saturday, January 31, 2009

Book Review

The American Way of War

This book lays out how Bush has trampled on our constitutionally guaranteed rights in a much more coherent manner than I can. Please, please read it!

How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq

This is a great book! Find it and read it! It’s unbelievable. We don’t have to drown people, strip them naked and terrorize them to get information! Who knew?

The only way the terrorists can win is if we allow ourselves to become like them.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Conversation with the Nurse at Williams’s School

A: “Will has diarrhea. Could you please come pick him up?”

Me: Sighing, “No, he really doesn’t.”

Every time Will gets a new teacher at school or goes to a new school I get the same frantic and disgusted phone call. I talk to them about poop for 5 minutes and usually they deal with it. (I could write a treatise on Will’s poop but I will spare you.)

The conversation continues thus:

A: “It really looks like diarrhea.”

Me: “I know. He’s had it for 7 years.”

A: “He sat on the toilet for 15 minutes.”

Me: “Often he’s in there for a half hour. It’s kind of a special place for him because everyone leaves him alone.”

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Will and the Toilet

We have only changed two things in our glorious peach bathroom. I attempted to remove the peach, baby blue and green 80s era wallpaper and we replaced the peach toilet with a less garish white one.

Will broke the toilet lid. I can’t even fully express my happiness at the fact that he broke the one thing that was not ugly in that room. Why not the Formica makeup counter or the tan specked soap holder? I’d even be happier if he had broken the tan specked tile towel holder! But, no; I think Karma either has a wicked sense of humor or is severely pissed off at me. And if it is the case of the latter I want to take this opportunity to sincerely and humbly apologize to Karma.

(I try not to mess with Karma because it never works out well for me – because well, I have a couple of kids that freelance for her.)

I need to buy a replacement lid and quickly because an open tank is an invitation to Will to be inventive. Case in point, I kept hearing the water run in the toilet and when I investigated I found that Will had stuffed a package of wet wipes down the drain. I don’t know what he’ll stuff down there next but I have a feeling I won’t like it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I’ve Seen My Future – and It’s Not Pretty: Part II

The reason I’m anxious about my future is that Lizzy is already a teenager in many ways.

1. It’s hard to wake her up.
2. She takes a long time to get dressed!
3. She will wear what she wants to wear.
4. She spends forever in the bathroom!
5. She wears my makeup.
6. She likes going to the mall.
7. She’s got the whining down.
8. I already ruin her life.

Everyday I do something that upsets her. Now, fortunately, she forgives me as soon as I ask; but I see the day coming when it might not be so easy. I used to say to her in jest that I ruined her life; but she quickly picked up on that and when I displeased her Highness she started telling me, “You wreaked my life.”

I eventually stopped using that phrase.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I’ve Seen My Future – and It’s Not Pretty: Part I

When I was young and foolish I thought, “Ahh, wouldn’t it be nice to have a girly girl who loved dolls and whom I could dress up in plaid skirts and Mary Janes.” Instead of looking at Bri who was sweet, kind, easy going and reasonable and being satisfied, I wanted a girl I could dress up and buy dolls for (to live through vicariously because I never got a three story doll house with furniture and I WANTED ONE and obviously I'm still scarred because I didn't get one).

Then I had Lizzy and she is more of a girly girl than Bri but in her own unique way. For instance, she started dressing herself at one and a half and she would only wear what she wanted to wear. She wanted pockets and belt loops. Knit pants or leggings? She wouldn't be caught dead in either. I would parade the most adorable clothes in front of her to hear, “No.” And she meant it!

When she was younger I would keep some of the clothes she refused in her drawer in hopes I might be able to get her to wear it at some future date. I think it worked once. I remember Brianne spent a half hour one morning convincing Lizzy to try on a non-preferred item of clothing. Lizzy put it on for her. But since I can’t waste 30 minutes every morning only to fail in my aim, she wears what she wants to as often as she can.

Lizzy is a child who literally wore a hole in plastic rain boots! Yes, she did. She will wear the same dress to church week after week after month after month. Case in point, she has four dresses in her closet. She’s worn the same one every week since November. But that isn’t even her record. She once wore the same skirt and top every week to church for five months straight. If I had any pretensions left at that point I would have been humiliated, but since I was mostly worried about Will stripping down to his underwear and parading up the aisle I was just relieved she had clothes on.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Brianne's Winter Concert

Thursday night was Bri’s winter concert but my husband was flying back from California so I couldn’t leave the children home with him. I asked Bri if it would be ok if I just dropped her off and picked her up. She said yes but it wasn’t true, because she came up to me later and said that both Lizzy and Jake wanted to see her concert and this was the last time we would hear these songs. Marcy had offered to watch Will earlier in the day but I figured “in for a dime, in for a dollar.”

I grabbed a book and Will’s tunes with the hope they would entertain him. I truly didn’t see any irony in bringing Will’s iPod for him to listen to at that point. We arrived at Bri’s middle school and headed for the balcony because I thought we might be less obtrusive up there. Jake and Lizzy wanted to sit near the middle instead of by us which was as close to the door as possible, I thought that was fine until I saw them walk down an aisle and sit in the middle of a group.

Will really enjoyed the music, sometimes loudly enjoyed the music. He figured out applause and was still trying to applaud during the start of the second song. At which point I handed him his iPod and tried to keep him quiet for the next hour. I watched Jake and Lizzy and noticed them occasionally dancing, talking to the people next to them and at one point disappearing. That was a quandary. Did I really want to drag Will around the building looking for them? Answer: No. About twenty minutes later I found them. They had just walked up a few rows and were sitting on the stairs.

Friday, January 23, 2009

One More Reason Not to Be a Boy

My son and my husband are OUTSIDE SLEEPING IN A TENT! Yes, right now. And no, it’s not because they are homeless. It is because Jake is a boy scout and boy scouts do those kinds of things -- things that don’t make sense to the rest of us. Frankly, my brother’s decision to drop out of boy scouts is becoming easier and easier to understand. I imagine the conversation my brother had years ago with his scout leader. “Yeah, we’re going on a camp out. It’ll be awesome!”

My brother in response, “Uh, it’s January.”

“We’ll build a snow cave to sleep in.”

“My ancestors came from Europe. We don’t know how to do that kind of stuff. You know, camping in snow when it's below freezing sounds great if you’re into that sort of thing but I’d rather sleep in a house with heat and plumbing.”

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wasn’t the election of Obama supposed to fix this kind of crap?

The trail of cocoa mix ran from the kitchen to the dining room. There was some kind of dry art picture on the table but the crowning glory was in my kitchen. My kitchen sink was full of cocoa mix and granola because Will dumped an entire canister down the sink and added cereal for some inexplicable autistic reason.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Going Out Of Business Sale

Say What?

Bri has a grill. Well, not exactly – she has braces. And the best news ever? The dentist said I should take Lizzy to the orthodontist next year. Excellent! Maybe if I’m really lucky I can pay for braces for four children rather than wasting the money on a trip to Europe or South America.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Bright and Glorious Day Finally Dawns

I feel like I’ve been crawling around in a desert for the past eight years hoping desperately to find my way out of the barren, ugly, dusty, life-sucking sand!

I know that water is ahead. I hope that today I will arrive in an oasis of happiness where no one is water boarded and where the government must get a warrant before they listen to my phone calls. Happy, happy day!

I can be proud of our President rather than frightened, disgusted and embarrassed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I have a Dream

I like to listen to his speech every year -- the dream seems closer this year.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lizzy is a Punk!

One problem I have with New Math is the lack of drills. I may not have known why we did things in math but I knew my multiplication facts. My kids know some great math but learned 11 and 12 times tables in 5th grade! So, I’ve had the kids practice their math facts. I made a multiplication worksheet for Bri and Jake to fill out. I said when they could fill it out in under a minute I’d take them out to lunch.

Because I’d been told that Lizzy was brilliant I thought that I didn’t have to teach her anything because she would learn it all by herself. We all know that that idea hasn’t worked out really well for Lizzy so far. So, I decided to make her the same worksheet but for addition. Unfortunately, I didn’t remove the multiplication worksheet from the table before she started. She started working on it but hid her work behind her arm. She brought it back to me quickly. “Look mom,” she said. “I noticed this pattern in the other worksheet and it worked in mine.” The punk didn’t work on addition she just filled in the pattern! Now I have to come up with a new worksheet.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

And So It Goes

Will started writing the ABCs and finding food to go along with the letters. He had an apple, a banana and a piece of cornbread; and was trying to write something on the banana peel when I stopped him.

Friday, January 16, 2009

And Will said, “Talk to the hand, Michelle,” to me.

I took Will to Target on Wednesday. He wasn’t thrilled to be there because we looked at things he wasn’t interested in. Lately he’s taken more interest in what he wears. I used to put him in clothes and he’d wear (well, usually not wear) whatever I choose. Now he has definite preferences; which leads to him wearing shirts that are too small -- shirts that I’ve pulled from his drawer to give away. But I let him wear them anyway even though his teachers at school probably think we’re too poor to afford clothes for him.

He has now developed a new skill, a precocious teenage skill, that of saying, “Yeah, whatever, anything to get me out of here.” We were standing in the boy’s clothing section of Target. I showed him shirts and asked, “Do you like this one?” When I turned back around with a new shirt to show him, I happily noticed that he had taken off his shirt and was trying to squeeze into a Sponge Bob tee-shirt several sizes too small. “Will that shirt is too small. Do you like it? Do you want one? Put your shirt back on! It’s not your shirt.” I alternatively asked, pleaded and demanded as we tussled over it.

But I’d ruined everything and he said yes to everything just to get us out of there. But the next morning when I tried to get him to put on some of the new shirts I’d bought for him; he looked me square in the eye and sternly said, “All done!”

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It Figures!

I made Will a nutritious lunch of a mini pizza, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and baby carrots. Then I went to find him. I followed the crunching sound downstairs to find that he had opened a box of hard taco shells and was eating them!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Littlest Part III: The Continuing Saga

I sent an email to Lizzy’s teacher asking if her reading had improved. It has but the teacher’s response included and I quote, “I think we still need to keep at it from both the home and school ends.” Yes, truly. Now that’s a little pathetic! After admitting to her that poor Lizzy gets the short thrift at home her teacher feels that it’s necessary to encourage me to keep having her read. And rather than being embarrassed by that, I think it’s funny. Poor, poor Lizzy, “No books for you!”

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It Tastes Like Egg!

Monday morning I had a quandary about what to feed my children for breakfast. The toaster oven was blackened so toast and waffles were out. Unlike my sister Jane who literally crams gallon after gallon of milk in her fridge, I had run out of milk and my children really complain about eating dry cereal.

So, I made them an omelet. Because I was in a hurry I didn’t dice onion and green peppers to add to it – well, actually we had run out of green pepper too. Jake eyed the omelet suspiciously. His Something is Wrong meter was pinging. He took a bite. “It tastes like egg!” He complained. “I can’t taste the cheese because it doesn’t have green peppers!” He started complaining to Lizzy. “It’s not a true omelet! A true omelet has two things like: tomatoes and cheese, or green peppers and cheese, or red pepper and cheese!”

I interrupted him, “Put salsa or ketchup on it.”

“It tastes like egg!”

This is a child that only started eating green peppers willingly over the Christmas holiday. Truly, I wonder what he would have done if I’d added tomato. But I love the idea that I fed him a false omelet. Is that the culinary equivalent of a false church?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tales of a Pyromaniac

On Friday, Will came up to me when I was in the bathroom attempting to seam off the ugly 80s wallpaper and said, “Waffle, please.” I responded, “No,” as I was preoccupied with the idea of having a pastel blue, green, peach and pink free bathroom. I didn’t stop to think that it might be a good idea to give him a snack. About five minutes later I noticed a smoky haze. I went in the kitchen to find burnt waffles in the toaster oven. As I was still preoccupied with wallpaper boarder removal and thinking that well now he won’t want to eat them, I put them on the counter and went back in the bathroom.

I had entered a state of wallpaper removal that I like to call the anti-zen. I was steaming and scraping off the wallpaper when I noticed a repeating zapping sound. I thought, “Darn it, I’d better check on that.” And stepped down to the chair to notice an even larger smoky haze had spread. I ran into the kitchen to find that Will had put the already burned waffles back into the toaster oven and turned it all the way up. A little flame was curling out of the toaster oven and charring the wicker napkin holder filled with paper napkins that was on top of the oven. I paused, wondering how to put out the fire. The zapping noise reminded me that I should pull the plug. I did, but smoke was still pouring out of the oven; so, I put it outside in the snow lest it should explode. Our house was still smoky when the kids got home from school and later when we opened the toaster oven we found ashes perfectly shaped into miniature waffles.

But sometimes, I just don’t learn the first time! Because later that day when Will wanted popcorn. I put the popcorn in the microwave, pushed start and walked away. Jacob found Will holding a towel in front of the microwave futilely trying to stop the clouds of white smoke pouring out from the microwave.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Removing Wallpaper is an Advanced Interrogation Technique

Something is drastically wrong with wallpaper when it is easier to remove an actual wall layer than the plastic under layer of the wallpaper. At this point in my career as the owner of a chronically underpaid wall paper removal service, with the only person worse off than me being Marcy as she is neither being paid nor improving her own home and removing wallpaper is taking her away from her Wii Fit, I’m not really sure that I want to stay in this business. It is potentially dangerous. I have felt painful steam burns that smart (both mentally and physically), especially when I caused the burn by doing something stupid.

I finished removing the wallpaper from the dining room and I thought I’d take down the 80s era wallpaper boarder in my bathroom. How long could it take? I asked myself. I foreshadowed myself and didn’t even realize it! Needless to say, that 80s wallpaper has superpowers. Its’ ability to adhere to my wall is epic! I peeled off the colored part but either a plastic/papery part is left curling off the wall or when the wallpaper came off so did a strip from the wall. (Is it horrible to admit I prefer the latter?)

So, to do a sum up of my house: Office: mostly done just touch up painting and a piece of crown molding to put back up – of course, it has remained in the same state for 4 months now. Bedroom: wallpaper removed, three walls painted with horrible smelling lacquer primer that nearly caused me to asphyxiate, one wall a pink and white splotchy mess. Dining room: the wallpaper is removed, but it needs to be painted and patched. Bathroom: kicked my butt.

I think the house is winning.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pink Eye

Pink eye has raged through my family. Bri had a sleepover last week and the next morning I heard her friend say that she thought she had it. Great! Well, Bri got it. I took advantage of her having it to show Will that Bri would lie down quietly and let me put drops in her eye. Will was distressed for Brianne and cry a little in solidarity. But he watched it a few times and except for trying to eat the eye drops, because he felt it should go in the mouth rather than the eyes, he seemed to become a little desensitized to the process.

Next Lizzy got it. Then yesterday I got a call from Will’s school. When I got there I looked in his eyes. They weren’t pink but there was a tiny bit of goop in the corner of one. I had actually considered bring the eye drops to school and asking the nurse, a man, to help me hold him down. But I didn’t.

I brought Will home and asked my husband to help hold him down. We approach things differently. I wanted him to just lay down on Will while I pried his eyes open and doused him in eye drop solution. My husband’s approach is different. He wanted to Will to be ok with someone holding his eye open and approaching it with a giant finger. So, he played a fun wrestling game with Will. But Will knew I was there with the eye drops and kept a wary eye on me the whole time. Finally, we just sat on him and I think I got eye drops in both eyes but by that time his eye was red and blood shot from fear!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mall Walking

Last year Marcy and I did a lot of walking in the mall. I haven’t gone to the mall very often in the last eight years because I stopped shopping there after a very scaring experience eight years ago.

My husband was working (including the commute) 12 hour days and I came up with an absolutely brilliant plan that would save him time so he could spend more time with us. The car needed new brakes. I thought I could take the kids to the mall, drop the car off at Sears and then take the kids to lunch and play in the play space.

The first inkling I had that my plan was actually a really, really bad idea was when I tried to take the children into an actual store! I had Bri and Jake in a stroller and Will in a backpack but Jake wanted to touch everything and he wasn’t necessarily gentle with things. As I was already a ridiculous sight we quickly left the store. Then Jake saw an escalator. He really, really liked escalators and wanted to play on it. When I said no he started to scream and lean out of the stroller. I tried to distract him with a hamburger. It didn’t work. I tried to distract him with the play space. It didn’t work. In fact, I had three separate woman come up to me and ask if they could help me. But they couldn’t. I was trapped at the mall with three children five and under, two of which were autistic. The obvious response would have been to leave but my car wasn’t done yet! So, I walked the mall with a screaming three year old leaning out of the stroller.

I decided that I didn’t ever need to go to the mall again. And I didn’t go often and only by myself until I started going with Marcy. Today we went because I still hadn’t bought a calendar and the one I wanted was at the Calendar store. But I did a lot more shopping than walking today!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Best Sum Up of 2008

I've read a few 2008 sum ups and this one made me laugh out loud.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Will has been interested in finding out people’s names lately. It can be funny – like the time he kept calling Josh and Merrill, Mike and Barbara. It can be distracting -- when he needs to work but won’t stop running over to new people and asking their names. And unfortunately, it is also usually involves touching someone’s chest.

I’ve shaped his behavior enough that now he usually adds a “What’s your” to his previous query, “Name?” But now I have to stop the chest touching. The problem is that usually it makes me giggle. It’s ironic that we spent years trying to teach Will to point, and now he does, but . . . at the wrong thing!

Friday, January 2, 2009

She'll Come When She's Good and Ready

Yesterday Lizzy and I went shopping together. I forgot that when I take her I need to plan on an additional 30 minutes per store. It’s like trying to hurry a cat. Yes, she’ll come but only after she looks at everything she wants to and I better scratch her back and buy her a cat toy! It took about 15 hours but we finally finished shopping at two stores.

On the way home NPR was doing a segment on Jazz. I heard a snapping sound from the back seat. I sneaked a peak only to see Lizzy swaying back and forth, waving her hands and snapping her fingers along to the music.

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