Thursday, May 31, 2007

Want To Go To Hogwarts?

Saw this on the internet this morning - Harry Potter theme park set to open - TODAY: Books -

Earlier this year, we took a vacation to Disney World that involved months of research and planning on my husband's part. There were spreadsheets for everything, including comparisons of resorts, meal packages, rental cars, dates to attend, etc. Michael put so much thought into this vacation, you would have thought we were going to the Moon rather than a terrestrial theme park. But as he put it, this was all for Cassie's fourth birthday and he wanted to make sure our little princess had a good time.

Michael is not a big Harry Potter fan, but I'm thinking he'll put the same effort into a vacation to this place as well. He better. I may not be a princess, but I am a witch, and I'll turn my husband into a toad if he doesn't take me to see Hogwarts!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day - How Do You Say Thank You?

I’m trying to decide how best to observe Memorial Day. It should be a big deal to me, considering how many of my family have been in the military. My father served two tours in Vietnam and retired after twenty-one years in the Army. My mom was an Army nurse. I’ve got two uncles who served in the military during Vietnam, and I served in the Army Reserves for twelve years until I got pregnant with Cassie. Ironically, it was during Memorial Day weekend five years ago that I got pregnant at a fertility clinic. I had thought I would stay in the Reserves after having a baby, but after undergoing a rather scary emergency surgery at the beginning of my second trimester, I realized I never wanted to leave my child for anything, so I got out.

Even though I’m out, I still have an appreciation for the military. The Army Reserves was the source of some of the best and worst experiences of my life, and had a lot to do with the person I am today. And knowing what I know about the military, I have to admit I am very grateful to anyone who serves. It’s not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination, but someone has to do it. I believe that freedom comes at a cost, and as someone who benefits from the freedoms of being an American citizen, I ought to support the people paying that cost. Let’s face it, there are very few places in the world where a woman can get away with doing the things I do and not be stoned for it. My freedom to write, paint, express myself, vote, practice my religion of choice, read, have an education, drive, earn a black belt, marry as I choose, etc., all come from being an American citizen, and the military defends that freedom. So you’d think I’d have plans to honor said military in a big way today.

Well, I don’t. Michael and I made no special plans beyond getting together with friends for an afternoon barbeque. I will probably call my folks to see how they’re doing and tell them I love them, but I have no intention of heading out to any public events. I hate crowds and I am not keen on hunting for a parking space at some memorial event that is really no more than an over-sized barbeque anyway. Why should I? Memorial Day is not about barbeques. It’s about saying thank you to the people who serve our country. So I’ve been thinking. What is the best way to say thank you?

After a short search on Google, I think I found my answer. lets people send letters and care packages to service members serving in harms way. Basically, you send the stuff to whatever unit you want and it gets distributed to soldiers who don’t get much or any mail and would greatly appreciate the support. What I like about this is the following:

You get to choose what to send, who to send it to and when.

It’s more personal and more involved than a monetary donation. has a non-discrimination policy that includes all people, regardless of “race, color, national origin or citizenship status, creed, religion, religious affiliation, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, veteran status or any other protected status.” That’s a big deal to me.

So, I may not get a package out today, but I think I could send a letter, and I can certainly get a package out by the end of this week. And I can’t think of a better way to honor Memorial Day than this. Can you?

Swimming With The Little Mermaid And Banana Boat Girl

Summer is here and we started taking the girls swimming. I’ve been taking Cassie to the YMCA pool on Wednesdays, where she is a big hit with all the life guards. They think she looks adorable in her swim costume. Yes, I said costume. Grandmama bought Cassie a purple Little Mermaid bathing suit, complete with terry cover up and wrap. She also has a set of Little Mermaid fins, hand paddles and face mask with goggles. All of this is done up in aqua, green and purple. Her floatation vest is not Disney themed, but it is the same shade of purple as her terry cover up, so it fits in quite nicely with the rest of the outfit.

Grandmama also bought an outfit for Sam. It’s a little red and white Minnie Mouse swimsuit with ruffles sewn around the butt. It also comes with a matching cover-up, but no fins and goggles. Sam’s too little for that. She does however, have a float. It’s a sort of yellow inner tube with an inflatable palm tree sticking up the back and a banana-shaped back rest. The tube has a seat in it with two little leg holes so Sam gets to dangle her little tootsies in the water as she leans over the front trying to drink straight from the pool.

Our neighborhood pool opened up this weekend, so Michael and I took the girls for a dip yesterday afternoon. I’m sure we looked quite the sight with the Little Mermaid and Banana Boat Girl. Cassie is finally tall enough this year that she can stand in the shallow end of the pool without drowning. With her little floatie vest, she can actually swim. She gets into the water and starts to paddle and kick like mad, splashing water everywhere as she screams, “Look Mommy! I can swim, I can swim!” Then she goes under for a few seconds until I drag her back up by the straps of her vest. She only sputters for a moment however before demanding that I let her go so she can swim some more.

Sam, meanwhile, floats along serenely, still trying to drink the pool water. She’ll actually stay in her float for a good long while before deciding to climb out of it to get herself a drink. She must really like the taste of chlorine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Looking For Replacement Family?

It's so nice to see I'm not the only mom who has a "challenging child."

East Coast F'Lakers: Seeking new family:#links

Cassie told me last week that I was ruinging her life. She said it with a smile, but I know after suffering through numerous time outs and other punishments for things like hitting, temper tantrums, refusing to brush her teeth, etc., she's probably ready to go looking for a new mom. I have threatened to sell her, but I'm not sure how much I'd get for a perpetually pink prissy princess-obsessed preschooler.

Okay, try saying that last bit five times fast.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Sign Of A Lasting Relationship

Come this June, Michael and I will have been married fourteen years. So far, we have outlasted:

Michael’s car (it lasted over 100,000 miles; then the odometer died)...

the washer...

the dryer...

two vacuum cleaners...

the toaster...

and the microwave.

Except for the microwave, the above items were either new or not yet purchased when we got married. They’re now all gone except for the dryer, which we will be replacing tonight, but Michael and I are still together. How’s that for a warranty?

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I love my husband so much that for Mother’s Day, I gave him a present. I gave him both kids to enjoy by himself all day long.


Excuse me. I didn’t mean to laugh quite so hard.

Ah yes, for Mother’s Day I let my darling husband take care of both kids so I could enjoy a little peace and quiet. I slept in... until 8:30 AM. And believe me, that’s sleeping in for me. I got to dye my hair with no interruptions. I even took a shower without anybody banging on the glass door, saying, “Mommy? What are you doing in there? Can I play in there too?”

Michael made me breakfast, lunch and dinner. Okay, Michael almost always makes me breakfast, lunch and dinner on the weekends, but breakfast was extra nice AND he took us all out to Dairy Queen for ice cream on top of all that. We even went to a bookstore, although I didn’t pick up any books. The only thing I wanted was $50, and I figured I’d already gotten plenty of gifts, considering Michael gave me ten brand new CDs (BMG Music had a sale!).

Poor, darling Michael. He even cleaned up cat poop for me. But now we’re back to normal life. I was up this morning before five nursing Sam, who decided to nurse until 6:30 AM. And then Cassie threw her usual morning fit. She doesn’t want to wear shorts under her dress. I say she has to if she intends to play at preschool. Oh what a scream-fest we’ve had over that. And now I’m looking at a baby who has no intentions of taking her morning nap, thus totally screwing my plans for the day. Oh well. I gave Michael the kids for a whole day and now he’s given them back. But it’s okay. Guess what he’s getting for his birthday next month.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Disciplining My Four-Year-Old

We’ve been having some problems lately. Cassie is starting to test the limits of what is and is not acceptable behavior. And boy, do I mean test. We’ve had open defiance, full-blown melt-downs, hitting, whining, etc. I have been at a loss as to what’s been causing her bad behavior, and also at a loss as to how to handle it.

It used to be a simple matter of threatening to take away Cassie’s movie time or her treat to get her to straighten up. But for a while now, she hasn’t bothered to eat enough dinner to earn a treat, so that obviously doesn’t matter to her. And since she started taking karate, she doesn’t have enough time in the evenings to watch a movie, so yanking that is no threat either. I suggested to Michael that we refuse to take her to karate class, but he pointed out that it’s a physical activity (which she needs) and it’s purpose is to instill a sense of self-discipline in children, so he won’t agree to that tactic (and yes, we both have to agree to the punishments; otherwise we end up undermining each other while trying to discipline Cass).

But we’ve got to do something. Things have just gotten out of hand. Cassie ended up in time out three times last week, once for telling her teacher “No!” when she was asked to be quiet. And then this week she hit another child in the face with a toy when that child refused to share with her.

What to do, what to do? The thing that bothered me the most about all of this was that I was hearing about most of these incidents from Cassie herself, and not the teacher. I don’t always see the teacher when I come to pick Cassie up, so when Cassie tells me she ended up in time out that day, I’m forced to decipher her 4-year-old babble to figure out why. That really doesn’t help. The “No!” incident was apparently bad enough behavior that the teacher took time to tell me, and I made Cassie apologize on the spot for that. But then two days later, as we were leaving the school, Cassie told me she was back in time out again for refusing to wash her hands, at which point I got out of the car, hunted down her teacher and told the woman that I wanted to know every time Cassie misbehaved. Why this surprised the teacher is beyond me, but her response of, “Oh, so you’re one of those parents who cares!” did not leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Yes, I care. On Tuesday, when I found out about the hitting incident, I made the teacher write it up in a note. I get notes all the time about how Cassie needs to practice writing her X’s or her Q’s, or she needs to practice writing her name. But I’ve never gotten a note because she was in time out. “We don’t normally write notes for things like that,” the teacher explained.

Well you do now.

I took Cassie and her note to karate class that evening, and made her hand the note to Sensei. At over six feet tall, he is an imposing figure to small child. His voice is deep, and it sounds like thunder when he’s not happy. Cassie got only a fraction of its full force as he read the note, but I think that was enough. Then she had to come home and show the note to her father as well. She’s kept her nose pretty clean the rest of this week.

I could have just let Michael and I handle this, but obviously our disapproval doesn’t matter as much to Cass at this point as someone else’s, like say Sensei’s. So I’m thinking if enough adults show disapproval of what she does, that may work better than just yanking her movie and treat every night (although she now automatically losses those privileges as well if we get any more notes). We’ll see how it works.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I’m Worth It Baby!

According to the Mom’s Salary Wizard at, I ought to be paid as much as $156,000 a year for the work I do. What I want to know is can I get hazard pay for cleaning up all the cat diarrhea?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

My Lovely, Lovely Day

6AM - I clean two piles of Fritti’s cat diarrhea off the living room carpet. Joy.

7 AM - Fritti returns to the scene of the crime and turns himself inside out by vomiting. Verily, it is explosive and wet, and I dare you to find more impressive special effects in any horror movie known to mankind.

7:45 AM - Cassandra stages a pacifist protest against the current tyrannical parental regime by putting her toothbrush in her mouth, but then refusing to brush. Do I possibly have the next Ghandi on my hands, or is my child deliberately trying to make me strangle her?

10:30 AM - Sam has a poop to rival Fritti’s early AM offering. But since it’s contained in a diaper, it’s far easier to clean up.

2:30-4:30 PM - I bang my head against my laptop as it repeatedly locks up while trying to make a DVD. Tell me, what is the point of having a DVD drive if the frikkin’ thing will not burn DVDs?

6:15 PM - Once is never enough. Fritti wanders back into the living room, faces east, and then vomits. Then he faces south, west, and north, each time leaving more vomit. I swear, he pukes more than his own body weight. Has he somehow become a receptacle for other cats’ vomit? Is he puking for Lydia and BJ as well? I ponder the metaphysical possibilities as I yet again get down on my hands and knees to scrub the carpet.

7:30 PM - Sam rams her head into a dining room chair and leaves a big red mark on her forehead. Ouch!

7:45 PM - Anything Sam can do, Cassie can do better. While getting a horsie back ride on her daddy, Cass throws up both her arms and legs, balances her pointy little butt for two seconds on Michael’s spine, and then topples head first into the exercise bike in the living room, smacking her head on one of the pedals. After the screaming is over, I see she now has a huge goose egg between her eyebrows and a small cut on her left cheek. It’s a miracle she still has her left eye.

7:55 PM - As a grace note to the evening, Fritti wanders into the dining room and attempts to turn himself inside out again, this time by crapping next to my chair. Oh joy of joys.

I am now going to bed so I can look forward to yet another day in the life of Helen Madden. If I do not show up for the playdate tomorrow, it is because either Social Services or the ASPCA has shown up to take me away. God knows I could use the vacation.