Saturday, January 30, 2010

Play Date

Hubs and I were rushing around trying to get ready for work. It’s a lot to do in the morning. I guess it’s good preparation for when the girls start school and we really have a schedule we have to adhere to. Get up, make the beds, get everyone dressed, make breakfast, eat, clean up the kitchen, get our work stuff together, feed the dog, walk the dog, clean up after the dog, and get out the door at a reasonable time. Some days go better than others. This morning we were behind, racing with the clock.

It always seems like when we are running late that the girls are underfoot. I don’t mind because I know tomorrow they will be teenagers and won’t want to be around us, so I am enjoying it as much as I can while it lasts. But today they were rummaging through bathroom cupboards, rearranging my make up drawer and trying on all of my shoes. Suddenly Joy said, “Come on, Marlo. We’re going to have a play date. Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll watch her for you. Go ahead and get ready. We’re going to the loft to play.” I thought that sounded OK—the loft is right outside my bedroom door. I could monitor them by listening and checking on them from time to time.

When I went to check on them, they weren’t in the loft. They had gone down the hall to Joy’s room. They were both on Joy’s little rocking horse which isn’t a horse, but an elephant. Marlo was on the front and Joy was right behind her with her arms wrapped around her. They were rocking back and forth and Joy was singing, “We’re having a play date…we’re having a play date…just us all alone…we’re having a play date.”

Both little girls had smiles on their faces. They were happy, playing together peacefully, enjoying their “alone time.” When I walked in Joy said, “Oh, Mom, I was baby-sitting her for you, but I told her it was a play date. I was making sure she was OK. We were having fun.”

Why are they so sweet and endearing when you are in a hurry or have to leave? I wanted to freeze the moment and just watch the two of them rocking together—my heart (both parts) sitting there on the elephant, happy, peaceful. Oh, my heart. Who knew being a mother could make your heart so full?

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.

Friday, January 29, 2010


The writing of today's blog post has been postponed due to

1) an aquatic emergency caused by "the geyser that was formerly known as the faucet in the sink in the computer room"

2) a computer virus

3) two of three children taken ill with strep throat

Please leave a comment with your favorite excuse. We hope to resume regular posting tomorrow. Thank you for your understanding. For your reading pleasure, please revisit some old posts, here and here and here.

Posted by The Editor who is wet or angry or worried...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lord, Have Mercy on Our Souls!

We went to church this week. It was the first time in about 2 years. It’s not that we haven’t wanted to go, but my children just don’t want to cooperate. I know, I know—that’s what they have nursery and Sunday school for. But I find it slightly contradictory…drop your kids off at the Sunday school/child care rooms while they are crying their little hearts out for you so you can relax and focus on the sermon? Ummm, either I am just d-u-m or I haven’t mastered dropping off my heart as well. I guess I am just hoping that God will forgive my poor attendance record and accept my excuses or else He can help me out by making them more amenable to staying with Sunday school/child care church-going folks.

Hubs got a phone call which made us late. (We were already attending the late service at 11 am because Hubs is not a morning person. The rest of us are. Marlo was actually ready for Nap # 1 when we were leaving the house. That does not bode well for success.) Then we couldn’t find a parking space in the lot. We found one in the boondocks with a muddy marsh and a few puddle lakes around it making the hike an adventure in and of itself.

Then we discovered that we parked on the wrong end of the planet because they have completely moved the Sunday school rooms around from the last time we heathens attended. At the Sunday school check in the sign was posted that check in was closed. Lucky for us, the check in lady was feeling generous.

Joy (bless her little heart) actually decided that she does want to go to Sunday school. She was very matter of fact about the whole thing. We took her over to drop her off, did the whole security check thing, had to request a hug and a kiss from her, and she was off and running.

When we picked her up she was very bubbly about it. She had a good time. She would like to go back next week. Great—one down and one to go.

Hubs and Marlo and I went to “Big Church”. The family room was full. Of course. We had to go into the big (adult) auditorium. We found two seats—together, even. We sat down and started the whole snack, toy, cell phone, purse distraction tactic with Marlo. It worked for about 15 minutes. (It probably would have worked 15 minutes longer, but I decided that the few thousand people around us did not want to have a slobbery bag of Cheerios and gold fish passed along to them while they were trying to listen.) And so she was done. We had to pack up the whole snack, toy, cell phone, purse thing (mop up the slobber, brush away the crumbs) and relocate to the foyer. In the foyer they have TV screens showing the sermon. Marlo lasted about 10 minutes out there. All in all I think I heard about 5 minutes. (Not a very good return on my invested time…4 hours of preparation, packing, driving, etc.)

Next week my plan will be better laid out and hopefully better executed. We will go to the early service—before Marlo is ready for Nap #1. We will find parking closer than 2 miles away. We will find seats in the family room. We will bring Marlo a trunk of distractions, and better snacks. And if these don’t work, we might have to sit out another year or two—or find a baby-sitter for Marlo, but not at church because I don’t think my heart can handle the tears.

One of these years we will have 2 children who will allow us to sit through a service with minimal separation anxiety issues (on both of our parts). Right now it’s a split decision for whether or not we will be able to return: Marlo was just not feelin’ it (making it difficult for us to be there). Joy, on the other hand, told Gigi all about Sunday school and that she was excited to include it on her “list” of activities (ballet, pre-school, Sunday school). Gigi asked her what her teacher’s name was and Joy told her, “I don’t know, I forgot to ask--I was havin’ too much fun!”

I would love it if we could find a happy medium. Oh, little girls! (And again, I have the distinct feeling that this is payoff for my “little girl” antics of several decades ago.) Gigi loves to tell a church story from when I was about three. It goes something like this: Gigi dropped me off at the nursery and went to the sanctuary for the sermon. When she sat down she heard crying. Not just a child crying, but her child crying. And when it didn’t stop, she had to return to the nursery and sure enough, it was me. I have always had very healthy lungs. Anyway, when she asked me what was wrong I told her I couldn’t stay in the nursery because the nursery lady smelled like horse. The smell made me gag. Lots of things made me gag, and this was a big one. (The nursery lady had gone horse-back riding earlier that day.) So, after embarrassing her in the nursery, Gigi took me to church and told me to be quiet and behave myself. When we got there we saw that they were just about to start communion. In my best stage whisper I told my mom, “Oh, I’m so glad I came with you—we’re just in time for refreshments.” Everyone within earshot was amused—except for Gigi.

So maybe sitting out another year or two won’t hurt us. But if we do try to stick it out and attend regularly with a 15 month old, I am hoping that our fellow church-goers have a sense of humor. Maybe I’ll just have to pack a sense of humor for them--along with everything else Marlo is going to need to keep her there for more than 25 minutes at a time!

(By the way, I think God has a sense of humor. I can hear Him chuckling now.)

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I love Wednesday, yes I do...

I love Wednesday. I think it might be my new favorite day of the week. I know, I know—it’s hump day, how could it be my favorite? Well…I don’t have to work on Wednesday. At the office, I mean. I get to stay home and play with the girls. Joy asks me every night, “What are we going to do tomorrow? Where are we going to go? Who’s going to come over? What are we going to do?” (Those exact words, in that exact order, every night, no lie.) On Tuesday night I get to hear her excited little squeal when I tell her that I don’t have to go to the office the next day. (And then Marlo squeals, too. I don’t think she really knows what she’s squealing about, but she does it with joyful abandon.) That, in and of itself, is enough to make Wednesday my favorite.

Wednesday is also Ballet day. So that’s just an added bonus for Wednesday. Joy’s joy for dance class gets thrown into the mix. And then I get to watch her in class. It’s so endearing—she is so serious and she tries so hard. She is the littlest one, but that doesn’t mean a thing to her! Watching her sweet little face when she doesn’t know I am watching is priceless. And even though it’s Joy’s dance class, Marlo also gets in on the action. All she has to hear is a little snippet of music and she’s Little Miss Twinkle Toes for the entire school’s entertainment pleasure. When she’s not dancing she runs around making friends with and charming everyone. It’s a mother’s dream.

Don’t worry, I am not going to write about how I love Monday mornings. But I am really digging Wednesday. It’s the perfect middle-of-the-week day.

Yay, Wednesday!

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Night Monsters

It's 1 am. Time for me to head to bed. But, first, I must check on the children. It's my nightly routine, the final check, so I can sleep peacefully, and so can they.

I creep into the boy's room, check the temp, check the covers, are they still breathing? Yes. Ooops, someone didn't make it to the potty in time, remove the wet clothing from the carpet, check the likely culprit--yup, commando, find clean pants, wrestle them on the sleeping one, step on a toy, oh nooo, it was the bug toy, antenna now stuck in the carpet, disentangle curved wire antenna from the carpet using the light from the cell phone. Check room temp, check the covers, still breathing, yes, tuck in the favorite toy and creep out.

Then my daughter's room, creep in quietly in the dark, ooops! floorboard creaked, stand still, hold my breath, then creep forward quietly, now breathing heavier for having held my breath...where's her binky?* Oooh! Drop to the floor and crawl around, feeling across the carpet, sweeping back and forth with my hands in the dark, trying to locate the missing item...I remember that I saw an extra one earlier under the bed, so I flatten myself and slide my arm under the bed, bump my head on the leg of the bed, making rustling noises with the bed linens hanging down off the bed and, success!, I locate the extra binky. And then it hits me...are these nocturnal activities of a mother what starts the imaginings of a night time monster, especially under the bed--the creeping, breathing, slithering, rustling, bump in the nights?

Aaargh! Mothers, we can be blamed for everything!!

Posted by The Editor

*binky, plug, paci, pacifier, nuk, dummy, nummi, noni, knick-knack paddy wack or whatever you call it


What do you think of when you read or hear this word?

Someone not able to...?

Someone less than others because they can't...?

Someone who struggles to...?

Someone not up to par who needs the playing field leveled to compete in...?

What about all the abilities someone does have, are they less for having one area that doesn't function completely?

Unless...what if it were your child with a disability...what would you think then?

I don't like the connotations of the word, let's find a new one.

And while we're at it, let's think differently about those previously labeled with that word and be accepting of what they do have to offer this world.

And, finally, blessings to all of you who already are thinking and accepting and disregarding the label.

Posted by The Editor.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Cost of Water

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. If turnips were watches, I’d wear one by my side. If ‘ifs’ and ‘ans’ were pots and pans, there’d be no work for tinkers.” I love this nursery rhyme. It’s kind of like a child’s way of saying, “If I had a dollar for every time I (fill in the blank), I’d be rich.”

If I had a dollar for every dollar I wasted when the economy wasn’t so bad, I might have a few to spare right now. I don’t like telling the kids, “Not right now, we don’t have the money for that”, but sometimes it’s a good thing. This economy has made a lot of us get back to the very basics of life: food, shelter, family. We have those things, and for that I am extremely grateful.

We have added the people of Haiti to our prayers. Joy has been brainstorming about ways to help them. Even if her plans never come to fruition, at least she is thinking about being gracious and giving to others. It’s important to realize, at any age, that no matter how bad off you are, someone somewhere is worse off than you and you should be grateful for the things you have.

When the Editor and I were little, our family did not have a lot of money. We would have had more, but Gigi and the Norwegian sent us to private school, so that significantly decreased the cash flow in our home. Our school also had a dress code. We had to wear dresses every day of the week, except certain designated Fridays. Those days we could wear pants, but not blue jeans. Gigi sewed some of our dresses. We got some at discount stores. We got some at the thrift store, some were hand-me-downs. We got a special dress with a pair of “new school shoes” for the first day of school. This dress was usually the dress we wore for our school pictures. That dress was a big deal. The shopping trip for the First Day of School Dress was also a big deal. I, however, have never been a big fan of shopping.

One shopping trip stands out above all others. I might be confusing this trip with the First Day of School Dress shopping trip, but it was significant nevertheless. We were at one of those department stores that had a little café in it. The Editor and I were getting tired and no doubt cranky and whiney. Gigi was probably getting tired of hearing us being cranky and whiney. And so the unusual happened—Gigi found some extra money for the Editor and me to go to the café for an ice cream sundae. Suddenly, miraculously, we were not tired, cranky or whiney any more. We were ecstatic. We loved going out to eat—it was a special occasion treat. We loved ice cream and hardly ever ate sundaes. After specific directions from Gigi to stay at the table, to eat our ice cream, and not to move until she came back, we were left to savor the hot fudge sundae. Gigi had also left us the money to pay for the sundae and money to tip the waitress. It was an exact amount. The Editor knew what to do—she was older and knew about these things.

And so it was, two little girls at a department store café, sitting across the table from one another, enjoying a hot fudge sundae, trying to pretend that we did stuff like that all the time. And we ate, and chatted like old friends over this sweet treat, spoons dipping into the gooey goodness, loving every bite. But then we realized that we had miscalculated our bites—we were out of vanilla ice cream, but there was still a considerable amount of fudge. And we never got to have this kind of treat, at a department store café, no less, so we determined that we would eat it—every last bite. The experience lost some of the excitement and joy with each sickly sweet bite we took. But then, an idea! Water! Water would make it less sweet. But, as hard as we had tried to pretend that we knew what we were doing, we didn’t. We wanted to “order” some water, but we didn’t know how much it would cost. And then the Editor counted out the money again and we only had enough to pay for the sundae and to tip the waitress. We couldn’t take any money from that or we would be short. We couldn’t short the waitress, that would be rude. And we couldn’t waste the treat. And we didn’t know when Gigi would return. And we didn’t want to make her feel bad by not eating it all or acting like we didn’t love it or asking for something more than what we had already gotten. So we gagged down every last bite of the now too-sweet concoction.

To this day we get a good laugh about our naïveté. (Gigi got us some water when she returned… and enlightened us on the fact that water does NOT cost anything.)

But, there is something to be said for not getting everything your little heart desires the moment you desire it. (No, I am not referring to the water.) That sundae was momentous in our little lives because it was so rare. Our First Day of School Dresses were so special because we didn’t have a closet full of them. Our new school shoes were cherished because they were something to look forward to every year.

So, if I had a dollar for every dollar I wasted when times were better, I would use the money for the necessities and save the rest of it for a rainy day…and an occasional sundae. (But not for water to go with it, because the last I checked, a glass of water at a restaurant is still doesn’t cost anything. So I guess it is true—the best things in life are free!)

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Little Miss Manners

We all worry whether or not we are teaching our children the right things—how to act, how to treat other people, how to handle certain situations.

When the Editor and the Italian were visiting for the Holidays, they had a birthday party for Bubba, Stump, and Samantha Jean Pocket. The house was crowded with family and friends. Everyone had a great time, but little Marlo, the littlest guest of all, got tired. Too much partying, too many people, too late in the evening and she was done. She wanted to get home to her own pjs, her own room, her own bed, her own blankies. And so we began the good-bye ritual. Hugs and kisses to everyone, say something nice and then say good-bye. I told Joy and Hubs that we were leaving, but since Marlo was already in Done Mode, I was just trying to get our good-byes done as quickly as possible.

Then I realized that we probably wouldn’t see the Editor et al until summertime, so then it was way more important to remind Joy to say good-bye to everyone. When I turned around and told her to say good-bye and give hugs and kisses she said, “I did.” Really? To everyone? I hadn’t seen her, but then again, I had been busy with Marlo, so, just to be sure, I began checking…did Joy say good-bye? Yes, Yes, and Yes.

When I told Joy we were leaving, she went around to everyone in the room, gave them hugs and kisses and said good-bye, without being prompted or told to…hurray! One point in my favor to get me off the worst mother of the year list! What a Joy!

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body

Friday, January 22, 2010

Potty Talk

Joy is at that point in her potty training where she can do everything all by herself, except wipe when she has a bowel movement. OK, so this isn’t the most pleasant topic to be talking about, but it’s not really about Joy—she just reminded me of something…

When I was about Joy’s age, I too was at the same point in my potty training, but I didn’t want to/couldn’t/wouldn’t wipe myself. Gigi was usually close by and I could just call her. When I was that age we lived in a very small apartment, so anywhere in the apartment was close. This situation became slightly more problematic, however, when we went to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Their house was bigger and little more spread out—and they were there and could hear me calling, and chances are, they would know what I was calling about. I had a real dilemma.

Lucky for me, my big sister, the Editor, was there to save me from excruciating embarrassment. She was either in Kindergarten or First Grade and she was a woman of the world. She knew how to handle these delicate situations. And she was smart. She was very, very smart. So one day, my hero, my protector, took me under her wing and offered to help me out.

She said, “BB, when you have to call Mom, and you don’t want everyone to know that you need to be wiped, you should spell bottom. Lots of people don’t know how to spell it, but if they do, then they will think you are smart.” And there it was—my saving grace. That very day she taught me how to spell bottom. And the very next time we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, sure enough, I had an opportunity to use my newly learned information.

I went into the bathroom, did my business, then in my best and clearest and loudest big-girl voice I called to Gigi, “Mo-om! Come wipe my B-U-T-T!”

I didn’t know Gigi could run so fast. I think she was afraid I was going to yell it again. (I am told that Grandma and Grandpa (and probably the Editor) thought it was hysterically funny. They laughed until they cried, and possibly until they needed their b-u-t-ts wiped. When Gigi explained it to me, I didn’t think it was quite so funny.

I am getting nervous, however…although Joy just politely calls, “Mommy, I need your help!” she is almost 3 years older than Marlo. When it’s Marlo’s turn to be potty trained, I am keeping my fingers crossed that her big sister doesn’t think of any ways to help her out. Oh, the joys of motherhood!

And by the way, Ed—thanks, Smarty-Pants, for giving me a potty mouth while I was on the potty. I owe you one for that!

Note from The Editor: What? I was only trying to make it easy for you to spell. B-U-T-T is much shorter than B-O-T-T-O-M, at least I knew there were two T's on the end (unlike Richard Ramos in Kindergarten who would look at the National Geographic and laugh when he said the word "but") you should be glad that I didn't know to give you an even shorter word to spell (starts with A, ends with $)!

...I laughed really hard again while reading this and Bubba came into the room and said, "What's so funny?" and I said, "Oh, it's funny words." (not wanting to relay the story at this point in time) and he said, "What words? Sprickty-boop? Ha, ha, that IS funny!"

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The First Parent-Teacher Conferences

I thought the first day of school was hard...and it was, for many reasons, but tomorrow is the day for the first parent-teacher conferences for Bubba and Stump. My stomach is in knots and I'm not sure why. They really haven't been in trouble, save the occasional time-out for forgetting the rules. They participate well and seem to enjoy their time spent there, for the most part.

I guess I'm just afraid that I will sit down with the teacher and expect to hear, "Bubba is a stellar student, we wish all of them could be like him." And, instead, they will say, "Bubba is a wicka-wacka spotted, three-horned monkey cow jelly roll who insists on speaking 'kualish'*-- a language he tells us he spoke on the planet Ronkria* where he lived in a ruffulia* rock cave and only ate miszelka* bread, because he sure won't eat any of the apple slices we serve here!" Not that it could really happen, but I might just be so nervous I will hear this no matter what is said...

Posted by The Editor.

ps. please wish me luck or say a prayer for me for grace and composure, no matter what...thanks!

*any similarity to actual languages, planets, rocks, or bread is purely an accident

Clearance Puppy

Joy saw the movie “Marley and Me” and wanted a puppy. Well, let me back up, she had been wanting a pet for about a year. And this is why…

I was born in Arkansas, but was so little when we moved to SoCal that I have no memories of it. (Actually I do have memories, but everyone tells me I was too little to remember it, so I just say I don’t. But I do. I have a really good memory—just not for anything useful.) I have basically lived in SoCal my whole life. OK, so about 10 years ago I started a graduate school program up in Fresno. That was the first time (of the times I am allowed to say that I remember) that I haven’t lived in SoCal. It was culture shock. It was awful. I didn’t know anyone. It was not fun. So one day when a little gray cat showed up on my doorstep and didn’t leave, I invited her in. She accepted and stayed for a meal and a little conversation. The next day she came back. I was desperate for company so I invited her to be my roommate. She accepted—on her own terms, of course, she was a cat after all! I was going to school for forensic psychology so I named her Psyche because she never did tell me what her name was before that.

She was a good cat. She didn’t get up on the furniture unless invited. She loved to be petted—except right in front of her tail. She wasn’t picky about food, but she was picky about her friends. She loved soft blankets but did not particularly like dogs. She didn’t mind riding in the car unless you put her in a cat-carrier. That was a problem. She was also tolerant of going to be groomed, but was humiliated if you put her in a dryer. She was sweet. She moved with me six times. She never played in the street, she never stayed out over night. She was a good cat.

Hubs, however, is not a cat person. He never fully appreciated all of her good qualities. He was tolerant, usually, but when she got older and started to barf all over the place on our carpet, he got less tolerant. Once morning when she barfed in front of our bedroom door and he stepped in it, he decided (Hubs v Psyche, 2008) that she needed to retire to cat quarters in the garage. I tried to reverse this decision as much as I could, but with a 3 year old and a newborn, he seemed to win that battle most days.

In December of 2008 I had to run to Target for something. When I got home Hubs was waiting outside for us. Because I needed to get Joy out of her car seat and get Marlo’s infant seat out of the car before it was parked in the garage, he offered to pull it in for me. Joy was almost in the family room and I had just stepped inside the house with the infant seat when I hear a strange ‘popping’ noise. Hubs got out of the car and said, “I think I ran over something.” He got down on his hands and knees and immediately got upset. He punched the ground and said a few choice words and said, “I hit Psyche.” The world started to go gray and to move very slowly. I set the infant seat down inside the house. Hubs told me to go inside because Psyche was still moving, but asked me what to do. I knew from the noise it was bad, but I thought it would have instantly killed her. I told him to take care of it but he said he didn’t know how. So I told him to get the next door neighbor to help him but to hurry up because I didn’t want her suffering. They were outside in the garage for about an hour, “taking care of it”, cleaning up, and putting my little friend in a box.

My heart was broken. My little friend who had been with me through thick and thin for the past 10 years was gone in an instant. I didn’t even have the courage to go out to say good-bye. I should have been the last person she saw before she left this world, but I was too much of a chicken. Instead, the last person she saw was Hubs, who never really liked her.

As I sat there crying, Joy wanted to know what was going on. I tried to keep it from her, but she is VERY persistent. So I explained, as best as I could, that Daddy had accidentally run over Psyche with the car and that she died and went to Heaven to be with God. Somehow, in her 3 year old mind, this is what she heard: Daddy squished our cat with the car and killed her so she flew up to Heaven in a space ship. This became a very juicy bit of news for her and she told anyone and everyone within earshot this story, over and over and over. So not only was I broken-hearted about the whole incident, but I had to have the wound raked with the sharp prongs of the story 25 times a day, every day. I was not able to go into the garage for about a month. I had to park my car outside in the driveway, and any items needed from the garage had to be handled by Hubs. (Later Hubs told me that she wasn’t really moving, it was just reflexes…a bit of information I would have found useful earlier in my grief and guilt over not being able to say goodbye to my friend in her final moments.) After a few months, the novelty of telling the story wore off and Joy moved on to something new, and the hole in my heart started to heal a little. We buried Psyche, that great little cat, under a tree in our front yard.

In 2009, around June, Joy started mentioning that she wanted a pet. Specifically, she wanted a kitten. Her requests would ebb and flow, but in August, on the way home from Jennifer’s baby shower (see the shower mea culpa for further), we saw a mobile pet grooming truck. Joy asked if it was the ice cream truck. I had to explain to her what it was—a truck that comes to your house to groom your pet so you don’t have to take them anywhere. Joy found it fascinating. But then she pointed out the obvious. “Mom, they can’t come to our house because we don’t have a pet. Dad squished Psyche.” (Ouch—it still hurts.) Then she asked if she could call Daddy on my cell phone. So we called him and asked if we could get a pet to replace Psyche (who he squished). He said we could talk about it when we all got home that night. So, as luck would have it, we went to the park when we got home (me, Joy, and Marlo) and when we got there, the most adorable little black kitten with beautiful green eyes was wandering around. Joy thought it was fate. And so the requests began in earnest…and then we saw “Marley and Me.”

Joy fell in love with what she passionately referred to as ‘Clearance Puppy.’ She wanted a puppy or a kitten, but probably a kitten because a kitten could stay inside with her and sleep on her bed. (That was her rationale.) The marathon that is my life began to speed up and suddenly it was December and Hubs and I decided that we would get the girls a kitten for Christmas. So we went down to the county animal shelter on December 17.

The cat section comes first in the shelter. There were several adorable 2 month old kittens. Joy was willing to take any one of them—or all of them, whichever we wanted. (Yeah, right.) I thought we were home free…but just beyond the cats was the dog section…and Joy heard the barking and said, “Let’s just go look at them.” So we went, and when we got to the end condo, she saw five little shepherd-mix puppies. There were four little, roly poly, fluffy boy puppies and one little teeny-tiny girl. Joy said, “That’s our Clearance Puppy.” And that was it. Kittens were forgotten. Joy wanted this puppy.
And indeed, she was a clearance puppy—they were having a Christmas special…all adoptions were 75% off. We got a new puppy, spayed, equipped with a micro-chip, to be picked up 2 days before Christmas.

We picked her up on December 22—a day early. The girls were ecstatic. The puppy was playful. She was excited, too. We decided that it was too cold for her to be outside, so we kept her in the laundry room. (I still don’t think the floors have recovered from the shock.) She was a little rambunctious to just run around indoors, so when we weren’t able to devote our attention to her 100%, she stayed on a blanket in her room. (The girls stayed on their tummies on the floor in front of the laundry room, looking under the door just to see the new puppy.) Joy named her Rosha. That night, Hubs, the pet police, thought she was too little and lonely to stay in the laundry room and let her sleep on a pillow in our bed. Excuse me? We ironed out that kink real quick. We try to minimize kid visits to our bed, we do not need a puppy there instead!

After a couple of days, we thought we hit our stride with Rosha. We enjoyed Christmas with a new “family member.” Things were going well.

On Monday, December 28, we found out that a dear friend that we used to work with at the police department had passed away on Christmas Eve. His funeral was on Wednesday, December 30. We arranged child care for that morning, but on our way out we noticed that Rosha was a little out of it. She was just lying in her little bed in the laundry room, not moving, not eating, not really doing anything. We left for the funeral, obviously concerned about our new little pet. When we got home, she was a little better, but not much, so we decided to keep an eye on her. That night, after the kids went to bed, she was seemingly her normal self.

The next day, New Year’s Eve, she was lethargic again. She did not want to go for a walk and she vomited. So I called the vet at the shelter. They told me to bring her in after 2 pm. So, we put Marlo down for a nap, and then Joy and I took Rosha back to the animal shelter. The vet seemed annoyed (it was past our contingency period to bring her back in for any reason), but when I started describing her symptoms, he went to check the computer. Bad news. The other four puppies that had been in her litter (all found in the river bed) had been brought back in and had tested positive for Parvo. I had never heard of this puppy disease before, but apparently it is very contagious and is usually fatal, if not caught early enough. Even if you catch it early, there is only a 75% success rate for recovery. So I asked the vet what our options were. This is what he told me—in a flat, monotone voice: you can leave her here and we will euthanize her within 30 minutes, or you can find your own vet to treat her. Treatment can cost upwards of 2500 dollars. If you are like me, you are still stuck on the word ‘euthanize’ back there.

I had to call Hubs. He talked to the vet on the phone. We took Rosha home. We found an emergency pet hospital that would take her. They just failed to mention that they didn’t open until 6 pm. (It was 3.) We didn’t find out this information until Hubs had driven the 2 counties over to get there. So then he called me to find somewhere open earlier that would take her. I finally found a place (15 minutes from our house) that said to bring her in. Hubs spent several hours at the vet. I spent several hours home alone with 3 heart-heavy little girls. (Hubs’ daughter was with us for the week.) When Hubs got home it was bedtime for the girls. And then the more affordable, do-it-yourself Parvo at-home treatments began.

We had to administer an IV twice a day, oral medication three times a day, and give her a special diet 6 times a day. It’s a good thing we’re not busy or anything.

The good news is that Rosha has pulled through and survived the Parvo. The bad news is that, in celebration of her clean bill of health, Joy accidentally shut her paw in the laundry room/garage door, which landed us back in the vet’s office for x-rays.

The moral of the story is: screen your children’s movie selections very carefully! They can end up costing you (financially and emotionally) more than you can even imagine!

Posted by The Editor for busy, busy Busy Body

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

That girl

Oh, little Marlo. She is so funny. She takes her socks off and smells them, crinkles her nose, and grins. Then she sticks her toes in her mouth. Yes, it’s kinda gross…but you have to admire her flexibility.

She is getting teeth at an alarming rate. Her drool production is off the charts. She needs to wear a bib 24/7 or I have to change her hourly. But it’s impossible to get upset with pools of drool everywhere when she leans over to give you a big, wet, heartfelt kiss.

She refuses to let me put anything in her hair so she constantly has hair in her face. It looks messy and unkempt, but it’s so her.

She’s a little klepto. Whenever we can’t find something we have to retrace her trail—eventually we find the TV remote on the stairs, Joy’s boot in the DVD drawer, the tortilla warmer in the play pen, and the toilet paper from the toilet paper holder in the downstairs bathroom in the pantry.

She is a big fan of eating. It’s like a hobby for her, but she hates to get into her high chair. You have to distract or bribe her with some kind of unusual food or perhaps a toy or something she can’t usually get her hands on to get her to sit in her chair. Then you have to strap her in super fast or she will try to climb out. Once she’s in, she is ultra happy about the food put in front of her. She is usually the last one to finish eating. Go figure.

Marlo loves being in the bath. She loves to splash, she loves to play, she loves the tub. She has eaten the soap, drank the bath water, and sucked the washcloths. She smells so soapy sweet when she gets out of the bath. I wish she could bottle that smell!

She is funny and animated in a quiet way. She doesn’t draw a lot of attention to herself, she just goes about her day doing her funny little things, and if we’re lucky, we catch her doing some of them.

She’s our baby and she knows it. She milks it. She plays all of us, purposely, masterfully. She’s might powerful for such a tiny little thing.

Oh, sweet baby—I wish I could slow time down. It’s going by in a blink. I’m afraid when she wakes up tomorrow she’ll be leaving for college. Every mother out there knows what I mean.

I gotta go smell her soapy sweet little head through the slats in her crib…

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Now I lay me down to sleep

Hubs and I are in real estate. Not such a good profession to be in these days, but thankfully, it is getting busier for us. (The last two years have been really bad.) Anyway, I go in to the office 3 days a week. Gigi watches Joy and Marlo for me. (I have trouble trusting anyone else…they haven’t yet approved of another babysitter…Gigi is the ultimate MOM, but they even give her a run for her money.) But I digress…

Working three days a week means that I need to be super organized and super prepared. And I was…in my former life—the one Hubs (sometimes) nostalgically refers to as ‘BK’. (That means ‘Before Kids’.) These days, organized and prepared? Not so much. I try, I really do, but some days it is just out of my reach. (My high school friends swear I am the energizer bunny. I think my battery needs to be recharged!)

By the time we get home from work on those 3 days of the week it is past time to make dinner. It either has to be something I have prepared ahead of time or thrown in the crock pot or (as a last resort) something I have picked up on the way home. We eat and then it’s “Tubby Time!”

We go upstairs and do the whole bath routine. Then we do the bedtime routine. First Marlo: I nurse her, read her a story (usually “Guess How Much I Love You”), sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, say a prayer, LOTS of hugs and kisses, then I put her down in her crib, tuck her in and say goodnight. She goes to sleep on her own, usually within 10 minutes.

Joy is next: negotiate how many stories we are going to read, rub lavender oil on her feet, lie down beside her, read the story, go potty one last time if necessary, tuck her in, say her prayers, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, chat, chat, chat, chat, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, chat, chat, chat, chat, and so on, until she falls asleep. But back to the prayer…

Joy says the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer and then I say an original one for her. It starts out thanking God for the day she had, her activities, her family and friends…then we ask for God to watch her through the night, to protect her, to help her to have sweet dreams and sleep soundly, to hold her in the palm of His hand…then I thank Him for choosing her for me. On good nights she sleepily kisses me after the prayer, says something sweet and funny like, “That was a good one, Mommy” or “Good job, Mom, I think He heard that” and then she goes to sleep. But lately…

Lately she has been saying, “No, Mommy, we need three prayers tonight!” and when I ask, she tells me, “Mom, we need to pray for Marilyn’s family. They are sad and miss her because she’s far away in Heaven.” And so we do, (around the lump in my throat) because it seems so much more authentic when we pray about it together, than when I just pray about it by myself.

And I do pray about Marilyn’s family, everyday. I am just touched and proud that Joy thought to remember Marilyn’s family, too.

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Grandma Chronicles

Grandma is Gigi's mother, The Editor's & Busy Body's maternal grandmother. Gigi lived within 10 miles of her house her whole life, except when she went off to college for a few years.

I miss her all the time. Not in a crying, sentimental way; but in the way you miss something you never thought you’d have to learn to live without. On holidays, I miss her most: This is one story about her at this Christmas season.

My mom was a high-maintenance person. I don’t know if she planned to demand so much of my time and attention or if it just happened that way. She had a soft voice with a touch of the south in her speech and she cajoled more than demanded. And so it was that I was at her house one afternoon to take her somewhere to do something. She had combed her hair, but it wasn’t smoothed down in the back. I was standing in the doorway of the bathroom, willing her to hurry up, and realized she was only combing what she could see in the mirror. She hadn’t turned on the light and it aggravated me that she wasn’t ready to go and it was probably her fault because she couldn’t see what she was doing. I took the comb from her and started to comb the places she had missed.

She was given to saying things that were out of context and made sense only after I searched through my memory bank to figure out what she was saying. She came up with one of those phrases, “Honey, don’t forget me.” Oh, forevermore. I am here. I am ready to do what you need to do, want to do, have a whim to do. Please don’t guilt trip me with some of that mother talk. And so I said something impatient like, Don’t be silly. How could I forget you, you’re my mother.

The semi-darkness of the bathroom was a symbol that I didn’t recognize or chose to ignore: A sign of the darkness that was about to overtake her life, and also, mine. All the signs were there, I guess I wanted to ignore them. I would rather have been impatient and aggravated than have to come to the realization of what was happening. Now, in retrospect, I think she knew. I don’t think she meant that I shouldn’t forget her, but that she didn’t want to forget me; although that’s exactly what happened.

I wish I had said something profound to her that day, something that would have conveyed to her the depth of my feelings for her. I wish I had hugged her and said, “Oh, mom, you are unforgettable.”

Although we eventually had to have a full-time caregiver for her, she still needed more time and attention than we could provide, and someone told me about a day care at the senior center. They would send a van to pick her up and bring her home. There were activities and special entertainments and outings and a hot lunch. It sounded ideal to me: She didn’t want to go. It turned into a battle of determined wills.

Her favorite admonition to me all my life was to be a lady.
When I was in my forties, she even decoupaged the above plaque for me about the value of being ladylike. She was sincere in her role modeling and so I sincerely tried to meet her expectations.

She remained lucid in whatever subject she wanted to be lucid in, and she reminded me –often—that she had never gone out looking tacky and I better not do that to her now. She had always worn skirts and when she went out somewhere she wore “stockings”. But trying to put panty hose on a flailing, resisting mother as she stiffened her legs and rotated her ankles was impossibility. Trying to get her out of the house “bare-legged” was more impossible. I had an aversion to knee-highs because they were unbecoming, certainly not ladylike, with skirts.

Victoria’s Secret had beautiful thigh-highs with lacy, filmy tops. Their target market was not to those in their eighties, but I thought they might work. She loved them. She valued them. She wanted to wear them. So every day she was dressed up in the dresses she had been saving for “special occasions”, her long string of faux pearls were wrapped around her neck and her thigh highs were smoothed and a beautiful pair of slippers put on the feet that had become so twisted that hard shoes no longer fit, and she was off for the senior center where, because of the way she insisted she be dressed or the imperiousness with which she bossed everyone around, they called her the Duchess--and she never corrected them.

We each had won our battle or so I thought.

Until one morning, when the caregiver was given some time off and I was “on duty”, she decided it was payback time for some of my early years shenanigans—at least I think that’s why she acted so willfully. I couldn’t please her with anything, and then she informed me (selective lucidity) that she could dress herself. I laid her clothes on the bed and said, fine, I will go and have the cup of coffee that I missed while I was trying to help you. I clicked the bedroom door shut (knowing that no matter what her mental or physical state, I would not get away with slamming it) and waited a sufficient amount of time to prove my point—that she needed me.

Opening the bedroom door, I gasped. Mom, my mom, had managed to put on those thigh highs perfectly: The thigh highs and nothing else. In her diaper and thigh highs, she was the embodiment of justified indignation. I said the first thing that popped into my head, you cannot go to school looking like that, it isn’t ladylike, (a direct quote from her to me on countless numbers of my school mornings.)

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I was struck by their ridiculousness. I started to laugh and the laughter built and built. She sat down on the side of the bed with her arms crossed and defiantly tried to stare me down. I laughed louder. I sat down beside her and put my arm around her and we rocked from side to side, but I was the only one laughing.

Alzheimer’s doesn’t have a sense of humor—at least, not to the one suffering its terrorist take-over. "Oh, mom, you are so unforgettable."

Posted by The Editor for Gigi

What if...

A seven-year-old child gets medical attention after being pulled from the rubble of the Carib Market on Sunday.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

I had to tell my children today about Haiti. We don't watch the news in our house and, generally, they are uninformed about current events. BUT, they were fussing over toys and food and who would play what and when...typical squabbles amongst siblings who are 7, 5, and 2. But, what if this were my son in the picture above--five days buried in the rubble of the market? How would he fare? I was tired of the whining here and ashamed that they fuss over so much when so many have so little. I want them to be grateful, compassionate and caring wherever they are, with whatever they have. I don't want to raise them to feel entitled, because, really, the circumstances we are born into are beyond our control, there but for, and all that. So here is what I said and what I showed them:

This is a country called Haiti. They do not have a lot of money. They do not have a government that takes good care of its people. A lot of people that live there do not bother with following the rules and doing the right thing. When they built their buildings, they did not follow the rules to make strong buildings that could survive an earthquake. So, when they had an earthquake, almost everything was destroyed. It looks like this now--these are their shops and their homes:

Gregory Bull / AP

See all these people. How many are there? How many hands are reaching? They don't have any food and they are reaching out to get some. They have no homes anymore. They are sleeping in the streets. They are hungry and tired and scared.

Win Mcnamee / Getty Images

This is one of their stores where they used to buy their food. See what the earthquake did? Now they have nowhere to get food. And that boy (at the top of the post), he is seven years old, just like Bubba. He was in the market when it collapsed. He was just rescued today--five days later. Five days of waiting to be rescued, alone, scared, hungry and now he is injured and needs a doctor.

Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

If you think about fussing again about your toys or crackers or play, please remember these pictures and don't. Look around. See how much you have and be grateful. If you continue fussing, I will get some boxes and pack up some of your things and your food and send it to these people who really need it and would be grateful to have it.

Posted by The Editor

Note from The Editor: Dispositions improved greatly after the talk.
All photos from, we don't own them, originals can be viewed here:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Swinging Song

It is the simple things the children love.
When we go to the park and they swing, I sing this song while I push them:

Samantha, Samantha, Samantha is a butterfly*.

Samantha, Samantha, Samantha is a butterfly.

Samantha, Samantha, Samantha is a butterfly.

She flies up into the sky.

*If it's Bubba or Stump that I am pushing, they are a dragonfly, bumblebee or any flying creature of their choice.

Posted by The Editor

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bubba's Birthday Story

Have you wondered about my children's names? Bubba, Stump, and Samantha Jeanpocket? Obviously, they are nicknames but maybe you are curious about why those names, and maybe you aren't, but I'm going to tell you anyway. Long before there were any kids, we (I) used to talk about baby names. I brought up all those I used to list on the MASH game (remember Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House)? See these links for a refresher:

The Italian didn't like any of them, even though we weren't even pregnant yet, we would fuss over the names, like "that's horrible" or "no! you have to admit, that's a good one!" The discussions would then degenerate into the Italian telling me he had his heart set on Bubba and Stump in counterpoint to my Esme and Gibraltar. Finally we agreed that he could name the boys and I would name the girls (first names only and the other spouse would choose the middle names). But, I warned him, if he settled on Bubba and Stump, his daughter would go through life carrying the Samantha Jeanpocket moniker. The children actually have great names that we both like, but in virtual reality, it's amusing to me to use Bubba, Stump, and SJP. But, I digress, this post is about the day Bubba was born, seven (short) years ago.

The story I tell him every year goes like this:

On the day you were born, I woke up early, very early. Daddy was already getting ready for work and I was afraid he had left.

I called downstairs, "Daddy, daddy! Today is the day the baby is coming."

But, he didn't hear me. So I called again, louder this time, "Daddy, daddy! Today is the day the baby is coming!"

But, he still didn't hear me so I yelled really, really loud: "DADDY! DADDY! TODAY IS THE DAY THE BABY IS COMING!"

And, that time he heard me and came running upstairs. "Are you sure?" he asked. I said, "Yes, I am positive." He said, "OK, let me call work and tell them." So he did and then I ate a bowl of Cheerios, called Gigi to tell here that today was the day and we got our stuff and got in the truck and drove to the hospital.

At the hospital, we waited and waited and waited some more. Gigi and The Norwegian came to wait with us and we waited all day. Finally, you arrived. They wrapped you up and put a little hat on your head and placed you near my heart and you looked up at me and we looked at each other and I smiled and said, "Oh my baby, you are finally here!"

Then you went with daddy to get your first bath and later they brought you to me and we snuggled and cuddled all night. You were so sweet and you kept stretching your arms and legs, a little further each time to see how far they could go. You picked your head up to look around and all the relatives and friends came to meet you.

We left the hospital together with Daddy and Gigi on a cold and gray January day. When we got home, we walked you through the house and said, "This is your home and we are so glad you are with us." We still are.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart.

Posted by The Editor

Friday, January 15, 2010

Think Pink

For the Spohr Family, awaiting the birth of their daughter:

I had a dream before the birth of my second where I was riding a horse up a hill and having a hard time of it. I was bumped and jolted and trying not to fall off, just hanging on for dear life. Then I heard a voice saying, “Ride the horse. Don’t let the horse ride you.” So, I relaxed in the saddle and leaned forward and flew up the hill on the horse.

Take a deep breath and RIDE THAT HORSE.

Posted by The Editor

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Grandma Tales

She was born into royalty. There was a tiara on her bassinet and everyone called her princess—and so it was so. By the age of three, she was asserting her regal rights. She had everything defined and catalogued. It was by her whim and approval that things were done. . And so it was on a certain afternoon that she decided to move the royal entourage from inside the house to the backyard. The impending plan was to take all the babies (stuffed toys, dolls, plastic figures, and paper playthings) to the deck chairs and then formulate a game to play with them. On the way outside, she came up with the perfect “pretend”. “Let’s pretend the babies are sick and you have to call emergency (*royal term that means 911, ambulance, personnel or hospital) and they have to come and get the babies and take them to the hospital.” It had been a long day of play and this sounded like something that Gigi could accomplish with her mind in neutral and so she willingly agreed. By this time, all the babies were in a deck chair and Gigi was sitting in another chair beside them. Princess Joy almost never sat and so she was out in front giving directions as fast as they came into her mind. “O.k., pretend the babies are sick and you call emergency.” Gigi says,” brring, brring,. Hello, we have some sick babies, please come and get them.” The princess starts jumping up and down in excitement and yelling “here they come, here they come to get the babies. O.k., now pretend they’re going to the hospital.” Gigi starts picking up babies and plopping them down in the chair on the other side of her (which does not require her to stand up or walk). “No, Gigi, that isn’t the hospital, this is. “ She’s pointing to a chair three spaces down (which WILL require standing and walking). “ They are exactly the same kind of chair. “Why can’t this one be the hospital? “ “ Because it isn’t, Gigi..” Gigi sighs a sigh of defeat and picks up an armful of babies and starts to put them in the hospital chair. “No, no, no, they are really sick and they have to be taken one by one so they don’t get sicker.” “ I am being very careful and I think the emergency (*ambulance) can hold this many at once.” “ No, no, no, Gigi, you have to do it this way.” “ Why?“ “ Because it’s just pretend and just pretend is whatever I say it is.” Royalty speaks; commoners obey. For the next half-hour, sick babies are transported from one chair to the identical chair farther down. During that half-hour, Gigi learns that you take the little babies first and then the big babies, but you have to put the big babies in the back of the group and the little babies in the front. This presents another problem of arrangement, because the ones you transport first sort of get put at the back. The babies have to be evacuated to another chair and then rearranged in the hospital chair. But even a princess sometimes tires of her kingdom and so she decided to leave the babies for awhile in order to make chalk pictures in some appealing squares of concrete. Gigi wanted to be the idea person and let Princess Joy have all the fun, but the princess said, “Just pretend that you are my friend and this is our work. And you have to work too, because it’s just pretend and can be whatever I say.” Thankfully, there were some bottles of bubbles by the chalk, and the princess decided to blow bubbles up in the sky. She didn’t have time to wait to give the new directions on how to play this game, but sent a few bubbles quickly skyward, when her attention was drawn to formation after formation of migrating birds. She came over and crawled into Gigi’s lap and they took in the wonder. The princess thought they must be blackbirds because that was their color. Gigi agreed…distance and color perception shouldn’t be explained when it required all the senses to revel in the splendor of the sight. Minutes passed and she asked in a quiet voice, “Gigi, do you know where they’re going?” Not waiting for a reply, she continued, “South. They’re flying south.” “Where in the south?,” Gigi asked. “ I just told you” was her quick response, “ South.” She said it confidently and affirmatively in the way she would say the desert or the ocean or the top of the mountain. South. The formations were beginning to be scraggly and she hopped down and thought of a new idea. “Let’s blow bubbles up in the sky and see if they’ll look like the blackbirds, and they can fly south with the blackbirds, o.k., Gigi? “ Gigi thought this was the best idea of the day: After all, this COULD happen in the realm of just pretend-- An orderly universe, an agreeable companion, a wondrous sight on a storybook day.

I love just pretend!

Posted by The Editor for Gigi

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Joy had her very first of ballet lesson today. She has been waiting forever. FOREVER. The countdown started on Saturday. We had to discuss the number of days, hours, minutes until she could go.

She practiced in her new ballet shoes. She practiced in costumes. She practiced her moves, her facial expressions, and her entrances and exits. She practiced so much that we had to buy new tights.

We got to class 40 minutes early. She watched the class before hers with stars in her eyes. She looked adorable.

She had her hair in a bun. She wore a pink leotard, pink tights, pink skirt, pink ballet shoes. I wanted to gobble her up! (She was the cutest little thing. Definitely the cutest in the whole school, and no, I am not biased!)

When class started she went right inside, no hesitation. There were only three other girls in her class. It was for 4-6 year olds. (She just turned 4.) The other girls were 5, 6, and almost 7. She looked so little. I was worried. I didn’t know if she would be intimidated. She wasn’t. I didn’t know if she could do it. She could. I didn’t know if she would like it. She did. I didn’t know if it would be all she had built it up to be—it was!!!!

After class she floated to the car. She told us that she needed to call everyone to tell them. Tell them what? “I’m a ballerina dancer now!” Oh, of course. Where can I get some of that moxie?

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body