Friday, September 28, 2007

How Not To Enjoy Blow-Off Day

Michael's been away on a business trip all week, so you know what that means. After a week of struggling with two kids on my own, Friday arrives and with it comes Blow Off Day, the day where I do absolutely nothing but what I want to do, outside of taking care of the kids.

It should have been a breeze. My plan was to get up extra early and blow some fun time on computer graphics. Then I would wake up Cassie, get her dressed and fed and dropped off at preschool. Then Sam and I would head out for a nice lazy walk. Then we would head out for the morning. First stop, the hospital to pick up copies of my last mammogram (yep, coming up on time to get the boobs ironed out). Second stop, Barnes and Nobles because I have a coupon burning a hole in my pocket. I thought we might look through some manga and cook books and whatever else caught my eye. I'd have a frou-frou coffee with extra whipped cream (the baristas always give me extra whipped cream when they see Sam because they think she's so cute). Then I'd hit the toy store and pick up a small gift for the party Cassie is going to tomorrow. All of that would be followed by a trip home, during which Sam would fall soundly asleep. I'd carry her to her crib, lay her down, and sneak off to do some more fun stuff on my computer. I'd pick Cassie up from preschool around 4 PM. At home, the kids could enjoy cartoons while I whipped together a quick dinner. We'd eat, pop in a movie (we only watch TV on Fridays and Saturdays around here, so yeah, Friday is a big day for the boob tube), and head up for bath and bed around 7 PM. After stories, both kids would be in bed by 8 PM, 8:30 PM tops, and I would have the rest of the evening to myself.

Yeah, that was how the plan was supposed to work. Here's what really happened.

I got up early, just like I planned and spent some quality time with my graphics programs. I put together a really nice graphic for the podcast I'm starting up next month. I puttered away on my laptop happily until 6:25 AM, and then went to wake up Cassie to get her ready for school.

Only to discover that her right eye was glued shut by greenish-yellow goop. Twenty minutes later, when I had finally soaked away the last of the super-goop, I discovered my child had pink eye.

You know that put a kink in my plans.

I can't take Cassie to preschool when she's got pink eye, so I called the school to let them know she'd be staying home today. No biggie, I can still enjoy Blow Off Day with both kids. Of course, I'd have to take Cassie to the doctor, and to do that I'd have to make an appointment...

Since the doctor's office doesn't open until 9 AM, I had to delay my walk. I let Cassie watch some TV while she ate a waffle and I went back to work on my computer graphic. It was really turning out beautifully. I decided to let Sam sleep, since we weren't going anywhere until after I called the doctor. When she finally woke up around 8 AM, I pried myself away from my graphics program and fed her breakfast. Then I let her wander around the living room, destroying everything she could get her hands on while I went back to my computer graphic. Cassie continued to nibble at her waffle and watch the Wiggles with one eye glued shut again.

At 9 AM, I made the call to the doctor's office and spent fifteen minutes on hold. When I got through, I was told I could have an appointment that afternoon at 2:30 PM. Great. That would be right smack-dab in the middle of Sam's nap. But Cassie has pink eye so I had to take it. I hung up the phone and started herding kids upstairs to get dressed. The afternoon was shot but I could still make it to Barnes and Nobles and enjoy browsing through books.

Unfortunately, we didn't exactly hustle. For various reasons, we didn't make it out of the house until 10:30 AM. No problem, though, I could still get in a short trip before lunch, and then put Sam down for a short nap so I could have some quiet time. Cassie could read in her room while I went back to work on my graphics. Right before we hit the parking lot of B&N, I remembered I was supposed to pick up my mammogram films, so I had to keep going and circle around to the hospital. Not a huge trip, but it did eat away that much more time from my book browsing.
At this point, Cassie started complaining of being hungry. "We'll get something to eat at the book store," I said, envisioning us all smiling as we shared a cheese-stuffed herb pretzel and I happily sipped my frou-frou coffee. "But I don't want to eat at the book store, Mommy. I want to eat at Wendy's."


"It's my favoritest place in the whole world!"

We debated the advantages of the B&N café versus Wendy's all the way through the hospital and back out again. We were still debating it as we headed into the bookstore. Sam started to fuss. I gamely tried to pick out a cook book while Cassie went on and on about Wendy's and Sam's complaints about being stuck in the stroller grew louder. Then Cassie said she really needed to go to the children's section of the bookstore, so we went. I thought maybe the kids would get engrossed with the train table and I'd get to look at the cookbooks I'd picked out at random. Instead, I spent most of my time chasing after Sam as she ran amok in the kid's section, yanking books and toys off the shelves. We didn't stay very long (although somehow I did manage to pick out one cookbook and use my coupon; I hope I bought a good book...).

Upon leaving the bookstore, Cassie immediately announced that it was now time to go to Wendy's. Since I obviously wasn't getting any frou-frou coffee now anyway, I relented. It was close to home, so why not. We headed back across town, found the Wendy's and I enjoyed what had to be the absolute cheapest meal of my life. I can't really eat the food at Wendy's - the burgers give me heartburn - so all I ever get is the baked potato and chili from the value menu. Cassie and Sam seemed to enjoy their meals though, so at least someone was happy with the cuisine.

After lunch, we went home and played outside for a while. Sam was thrilled with this. She'd had enough of the car for the day and was anxious to stretch her fat little legs. Too bad we only had 30 minutes before we had to head out for Cassie's doctor's appointment. Oh, the screaming we had when I put Sam back into her car seat. And the thrashing too. Kid nearly knocked me on my butt in the driveway. Somehow, I managed to get her strapped in and we all took off again. Sam's screaming sounds a lot like a police siren, so we made good time as other cars pulled off the road ahead of us.

We spent an hour and a half at the doctor's office, most of that in the waiting room. I had expected to spend much longer there, but I guess they were having a quiet day. My diagnosis of pink eye was confirmed and the physician's assistant prescribed an antibiotic. It was at this point I remembered that I still had to get a toy for the party Cassie is going to tomorrow. Naturally, the toy store is on the exact opposite end of town from our pharmacy. Could the doctor's office call in the prescription for me, so I could pick it up on my way home? Of course they could! Thinking I had just made life easier on myself, I took the kids back out to the car and headed for the toy store.

By now, Sam was getting seriously pissed. She'd missed her nap and had been stuck in the car seat most of the day. When she wasn't in the car seat, she was in my arms to prevent her from trashing whatever location we happened to be visiting at the time. She screamed all the way over to the toy store and...

Fell asleep. I had to carry that little lump all through the toy store, and man was she heavy. I also had to argue with Cassie over what to get her little friend for the birthday party. Personally, I can only afford to spend so much on birthday gifts, especially since all of Cassie's classmates seem intent on inviting everyone in the class whenever a birthday rolls around. The present buying thing gets expensive, you know?

Cassie eventually found a toy horse set that fell within my price range. After paying for it, we headed off to the pharmacy. I had this plan (again with the plans; you think I'd learn by now) to pick up Cassie's prescription, rush home, turn on the cartoons, and whip together a quick dinner just like I'd planned. We'd all relax after running around all day and maybe even have time to play.

That plan went to hell in a hand basket when I got to the pharmacy and was told I'd have to wait another 30 minutes to get my prescription. It had been called in, but they were busy, so that was that. It turned out to be an hour long wait in the end, during which time I once again chased both kids around the store, trying to prevent them from breaking anything. Cassie started to complain about being hungry again, so I bought a ginger ale and a granola bar and the three of us split that while we waited. When we finally got the prescription, we headed home. By now Sam was furious about being stuffed in the car seat again, and not only did regular cars pull over as we drove, but so did a police car as well. At least we made good time on the drive.

Well, I did manage to get dinner out quickly. I had cooked chicken stew the day before, so all I had to do was heat it up again and serve it. Neither Sam nor Cassie wanted the stew though, and that started the nightly food wars up again. I did cave to Sam and let her have some baby raviolis, but only because they're so easy to fix. With Cassie, I finally had to turn off the TV and tell her no more cartoons until she'd eaten her dinner.

"How many bites?" she asked me.

"All of it," I said.

"But how many bites is that?"

"All of it means you eat every bit of food on that plate, young lady."

"But I can't do that! I don't want stew!"

"Well too bad, because I'm not cooking you anything else. You either eat the stew or you go to bed. TV is not coming on until you've cleared your plate."

And so on and so on... That particular argument lasted for over half an hour. I let Cassie sit at the table and whine over her stew while I finished eating and then went on to do my evening chores. I told her once I was done with the chores, her plate was going away and she was going to bed. Did she listen? Did she even attempt to finish her stew? Nooooooooooo. She sat and whined and cried and pouted and then threw a screaming fit when I finally came for her plate. Oh well.

Cassie did calm down in time to get a bedtime story. Sam sat through one board book and then tried to mug me for breast milk. I made her wait while I read to Cassie. Then we did our usual bedtime routine of rounding up monsters (we give them to Cassie to eat before she goes to sleep) and saying good night. Well, I said good night. Cassie said, "Mommy, I need someone to stay with me tonight!" This is her latest delaying technique. I always answer with, "I'll be right down the hallway if you need me. Good night sweetie." Then I walk out of the room. We've done this often enough lately that Cassie no longer cries when I leave.

After getting Cassie down, I tried to nurse Sam. She was more interested in chewing on my nipple than in nursing, so she went to bed early too. She screamed all the while as I worked on this blog entry, but now she's quiet. It's 8:30 PM. I finally have the house to myself. I'm dead tired and the only thing I got done that I had planned to do was my graphic for my podcast. Everything else just got derailed. I'm so pissed. I hate it when Blow Off Day gets screwed like that. Maybe I should try again next Friday. We'll see.

Anyway, Michael will be home later tonight. Once he's home, he gets the girls all weekend. I'm going to be busy working at Fantasci 6 this weekend, handing out brochures and promotional materials for EPIC. Should be fun.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Conversations with Cassandra

This morning, Sunday, around 10:30 AM. I'm upstairs checking e-mail. Sam is playing in her room. Michael and Cassie have just returned from church. Cassie comes running upstairs...

Cassie: "Mommy! We're home!"

Cassie bounds into the room.

Me: "Hey, sweetie. How was your first day of Bible school?"

Cassie, flinging her arms wide: "Excommunicated!"

Me: "What?"

Cassie, huge grin on her face: "I got excommunicated!"

Me, wondering who put her up to this: "Why were you excommunicated?"

Cassie, now laughing: "For asking questions!"

Me, shouting downstairs: "Michael! Get up here..."

The funny thing is, Michael told Cassie to tell me she was excommunicated, but he didn't tell her to tell me she was excommunicated for asking questions. When he heard about that, he fell over laughing.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Say What?

Now that Sam is almost 16 months old, it seems she's learning new words every day. At least I think they're words. It's hard to tell. She points at something and babbles, and somewhere in there is something that sounds like a word, so I guess that's what's going on. Here's a lexicon of what I think she's saying:

Ma-Ma - Mama (naturally)

Da-Da - Daddy (of course)

See-See - Sissy, or Cassie, her sister

Bee-Bee - depending on the context, this could mean 'Baby,' 'BJ' (the name of one of our cats), or 'kitty.' Sometimes it also means 'dog.'

Shoo! - shoe; also sock, apparently. Always said with emphasis

Shoo! - juice; may sound like shoe or sock, but if she's pointing at the fridge or table instead of a smelly sneaker or a foot, it's definitely juice

Sa - Sam (I think; this one is very new)

Bbbbbppppttzzz! - a complex statement, usually accompanied by flying spittle; means, "I have pooped my diaper"

Ma! Ma! - when accompanied by a banging of Sam's head on my chest it means "I! WANT! BREAST MILK!!"

Uh-Oh - "I have entered Sissy's room and knocked something breakable off of her dresser. Do you think she'll notice?"

Noooooooooooooooo! - means "I don't want to... take a bath, change my diaper, take a nap, give back Sissy's favorite toy, spit out the cat food I just ate!"; usually followed by the pitter patter of tiny feet fleeing the room.

So much for communicating with Sam. Cassie, of course, has learned a new language that no one else but she understands. We're calling it "Whinese." A conversation in Whinese sounds something like this:

Cassie: "Mooooooooommmmmmmyyyyyy! Iiiiiiiah wa-wa-wa-want miiiiiiiiiiilk!"

Me: "Huh?"

Cassie: "Iiii-aaaaah-iiii-aaah-uuuuuhh wa-wa-wa-wa-want miiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaeeeeeelk!"

Me: "What on earth are you saying? Stand up straight and speak clearly, please honey?"

Cassie: "Waaaaaaah! Waaaaaaah! You-ou-ou-ou ma-ma-maaaaaaaaaaaake meeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiieeee unha-ha-happyyyyyyyyy! Waaaaaaah! Mooooooommmmmmmmmmyyyyyy i-i-i-i-is so-so-so-so meeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaan!"

Me: "Oh for pete's sake, could you just speak English please?"

If anybody can figure out what it is either of my kids are saying, please let me know. Meanwhile, I'm going to start answering in pig Latin. Hey, if I can't understand them, why should they understand me?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Who Is Harold Rockin'?

Cassie has come up with a new nick name for Sam. It's Harold Rockin'. I have no clue why she calls Sam this, but she does. For those of you who don't know, Sam is short for Samantha so the name Harold Rockin' really confounds me. The first time I heard Cassie use that nick name was a couple months ago. It was right after I had applied some sunblock to Sam. Sam has this very fine blonde hair and she hates to wear hats so to protect her scalp from burning, I doused her head with sunblock and worked it into her hair. The end result was this wild, crazy hair style, sort of like Albert Einstein on a bad hair day. Cassie took one look at Sam and shrieked, "That's Harold Rockin'!" Then she collapsed in a fit of laughter. Sam has been Harold Rockin' ever since.

I've tried asking Cassie where she got the name Harold Rockin' from. Is it a cartoon character? No. An imaginary friend? No. Is it the name of one her friends at preschool? No again. Best I can figure, Cassie just came up with the name on her own, and she uses it every time Sam's hair gets wild. Whether it be spikey with sunblock or tousled from the tub, wild hair gets Sam dubbed Harold Rockin'.

Maybe he's a rock star? Who knows.


Harold Rockin' and her sister Cassandra Jane.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Walking Down Memory Lane

It seems like I can't get much done these days. Everything and everyone is conspiring to foul up my work schedule. From never-ending vacations in Hell to federal holidays and a husband who seriously needs to get out from under my feet, my schedule is in the crapper. The biggest problem I have right now is getting up early enough to get a jump on the day. I try to get up before 5 AM (yes, that's right; the crazy lady likes to get up before the butt-crack of dawn) in hopes of getting in some physical therapy for my knees, getting the laundry started, and doing a little work, but I've been having a hard time of it. The biggest problem I have of course is getting to sleep early enough to get up at that (ungodly) hour of the morning. But this weekend I made a concerted effort to get to bed by 9 PM every night.

And things still got fouled up.

Ah. Remember those nights early in Sam's life, when she was just a wee baby, and she'd waking up crying every two hours to nurse? Remember that? Remember how exhausting that was? But those days are long gone, right? Sam's 15 months old now, and sleeping through the night, right? Right?

Hell no. The little twerp has woken up around midnight each night since Saturday, screaming her noggin off. I let her scream for a bit at first, hoping she would quiet down and fall back to sleep. Babies are supposed to soothe themselves to sleep. But she didn't do that. Instead, she got really pissed off that no one was running in to get her and she screamed even louder.

It was really bad Sunday night. She woke up at midnight and screamed until 3 AM. So much for getting up before 5 AM. Then last night, she nursed herself to sleep, only to wake up the moment I put her down in the crib. Screaming ensued. Michael had to go in and sit with her for an hour. She finally nodded off and woke up around 4 AM to pick up where she'd left off. Well, at least I did get up early this morning.

All this late night waking and screaming really reminded me of how hard it is to take care of a baby that doesn't sleep through the night. I would have to be crazy to have another child (as if the whole "get up before 5 AM" thing left any doubt on that subject).

Then Michael pulled down the boxes of old baby clothes for me to sort through yesterday morning and I discovered that crazy is exactly what I am.

Yep, going through all those tiny little outfits, trying to find old dresses of Cassie's that might fit Sam, really made me want to have another baby. In fact it made me long to have another baby. I got so teary eyed picky through old bibs and mismatched socks, sorting the newborn onesies from the 6-month clothes, stashing Sam's outgrown outfits into old cardboard boxes to make room for Cassie's old cold-weather gear. There was one particular line of outfits that really killed me. There was a time between Cassie's first and third year when she was my little angel. She went everywhere with me and did everything. We were best buddies, and it was just the two of us. Cassie was so sweet and loving then, and unquestionably my little girl. Now she's four and she's a handful. Still my girl, but more of a tantrum-throwing devil child than the little angel she was when she wore those cute little outfits. It just made me want to cry, pulling those shirts and pants out of their boxes and seeing them again after all this time. Sam is already sprouting devil horns. She still loves me, but she's got a defiant streak in her that will not quit. I feel like she's my little girl only because I'm still the mommy with the magic, milk-producing boobies. Will she ever love me for anything more? I wonder.

Sam's cuddle bug phase came and went much earlier than Cassie's. While Cassie started out as a red-faced, screaming, colicky demon-spawn, Sam was the quiet, cuddly angle baby that clung to me and stared at me with adoring blue eyes from the moment she was born. I miss that unconditional love. I miss being able to kiss my child without getting smacked in the head. "No, Mama!" she says every time I go for a smooch. She's too big to cuddle now, too busy to be my lovey girl.

So I want a third baby, just so I can have that cuddle time again. Yeah, I know. It means wearing maternity clothes again, and getting all swollen and round. It means my knees will be shot to hell by hormones and loose ligaments, and may never work properly. Or it means that Michael and I will pay big bucks to adopt, in which case we will not be bringing home an infant but an older child who hopefully needs to have some cuddle time with a mom who wants to give unconditional love as much as she wants to receive it. Either way, I want that third kid. Will I have it though? Give me a few years and we'll see. I need to walk down Memory Lane a few more times before I finally make up my mind.