Sunday, August 31, 2008

Looseyfur's Favorite Fictional Presidents

#3 James Marshall -- Air Force One

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Looseyfur's favorite fictional presidents

#2 Jed Bartlett, The West Wing

Our Urbana Morning

The guys and I went to the Farmer's Market today to get some sweetcorn for our Meatless Meet Up with our CARE friends this afternoon. Unfortunately the corn in our little garden isn't quite ready yet. So corn from Effingham took its place.

I had promised X-man gummi bears (his favorite candy). He likes them all, but his favorite are from Flesor's. So on our way from the market to the candy store, we took a tour through the new Common Foods Coop. OMG. I was in love. I don't know if it's just those of us who worked at the Coop at the IDC, or if it's just me, but it was beautiful. Six times bigger than the old place, and everything was so spanking new. 

In addition, the Coop is picking up where Strawberry Fields left off with the café. Sure their menu isn't as huge, but you can run in and get lunch and sit outside on their beautiful tables. Memberships at $60 per family have their perks too -- Discounts on select products every week. 

Then we went inside the Mall that Time forgot, grabbed X-man's gummi bears and Mama's Almond Bark and walked over to La Gourmandise (sp) for brunch. X-man shared my French toast and had samples of his first Blackberry Izze. Daddy had an omelette. 

While we were sitting there I learned something very cool -- The Furniture Lounge in downtown Champaign is opening a consignment store right next to the bakery and the art gallery on Main Street. 

I found X-man's Cold War light up Globe at the original Furniture Lounge for $20 with a set of 4 espresso cups and plates for another $10 before he was born. So, if you've got fun stuff to consign furniture wise... go for it!

Now we're home and I'm shucking corn, watching a kid, baking cupcakes and blogging at the same time while MacTroll takes a rest. To his credit, he took X-man at 11:30 to pick up his luggage from his travels that never came, picked up the cat's medication and drinks for our meet up so I could have a couple hours to myself this a.m. Fair play and all that.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Last Post Today, I SWEAR!

I want to announce that today for the first time since he turned 2 (almost 6 months ago), I got X-man to go to bed at home for nap on his own without having to be driven around town in his car seat. Sure he whined a bit. Sure he tried to make me read more than the one book that I promised. But in the end, he left my room with his extra books, went into his, crawled up onto his bed and fell asleep. 

Right now, in this moment, I feel more accomplished than I have ever felt in my life. I'm recognizing the miracle that just happened and the AWESOME Mom I am...

and I'm rewarding myself with a nap.

Looseyfur's favorite fictional presidents

#1 Andrew Shepherd from The American President by Aaron Sorkin.

Good news

I got my Death Cab tickets.

So, MacTroll and I have a date set up in mid-October!

Feeling the Dread

Seriously, any person with a brain knew it was going to go this way. Well, kind of. I thought he'd pick a woman who was more "liberal" than he was. I guess I just expected someone like Olympia Snowe... someone with all kinds of experience to back up his claims that Obama doesn't have any.

But if this race is really going to be about gender, then I don't think anything matters at this point. And I find that disappointing. I wanted a woman picked because she was the most qualified person for the job. Not because she has a vagina.

And, probably, for the third time in 12 years... we're going to have such a tight race.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I should be napping, but instead I read the Chicago Tribune...

And I found out the U of I has booked a political speaker on Oct. 14.

Guess which one?

To me the bigger question is: why did I have to read a Chicago newspaper to find out something happening in Champaign?

The Pop Protest: Rebel against the mommy funk

So I think Rob from High Fidelity said it best when he asked: 

"What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to Pop Music?"

I'm going to blame pop music for my funk today. Ms. Apple, Mr. Gibbard and others (You know who you are), I'm issuing a boycott of slow/sad music for the weekend. You'll have to deal without me looking to your emotionally crippling lyrics and achingly beautiful notes for life's meaning. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Itchy and Scratchy: Part 2

Last year we took Riley to the vet because he was itching and scratching so much that I couldn't sleep at night. We'd kick him out of the bedroom and he'd just lie by the bedroom door barking a single bark every 3 minutes. It was pathetic. 

We took him in to see our vet, Dr. Mary, who we love. She came in with his chart and noted that we'd been in for him chewing and itching every August/September since we moved to Illinois. There was no bacteria infection. There were no fleas. And given his history, we determined that Riley is allergic to something in the air this time of year in the C-U area. 

It's not a shock. I remember going to Peoria to visit Joel's buddy Ross for the first time June of 1993. I went to watch Ross in a soccer game and started sneezing. Then my nose started running. Then my eyes went all itchy. I'd gone for 17 years in Rockford, Ill., without allergies.
But something about Peoria overloaded me on histamines. 

So, after I gave X-man a bath and got him to sleep tonight (by 9 p.m. woot!). I gave Riley a bath with his special anti-itch shampoo. Then I rubbed him down with his special anti-itch, leave in conditioner. Then he got a benedryl and a dietary supplement. And finally he got a milkbone and a little rawhide stick chewy. 

He's still itchy. But I'm hoping it won't be as bad. I'm finding little tuffs of fur on my living room carpet that he's scratched off. Specifically, he's itchy under his armpits, across his chest, under his chin and by his penis.  Tomorrow, I'll be trimming his toenails so he does less damage to his skin (it's a little raw) and continuing pilling him twice a day to try and help. He'll have to be bathed and have the anti-itch stuff put on him every two days. If only they made an Elizabethan collar that went around a dog's waist. Mmm, I wonder what would happen if I put an Elizabethan dog collar round his waist? 

I'm pretty sure he'd look like a miserable ballerina.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lost in Transition

If you were to ask my friend -B. She'd tell you that I'm a lister. She'd tell you how much she mocked me when we were in graduate school for drawing out the seating chart for my wedding reception for only 38 people during every lecture until I had the thing memorized. Then I'd move on to making the dreaded to do list. 

As a grown up, you are usually tasked with taking care of the place which you live. You make your bathroom dirty, you clean it up. You need dishes so you wash them. Gone are the days when Mom or Dad or an older brother or sister do them for you. If you live in a pigsty, that's a conscious decision you make to do other things rather than those day-to-day items. (Or if you're MacTroll you've trained yourself not to notice them.)

I have three household chores that I hate. 1) Washing the kitchen floor, 2) vacuuming stairs and 3) vacuuming out my car. I hate them because these are the three items where, even if I did them every day -- they'd still be dirty by the next day. They're repetitive. And, of course, someone somewhere along the way said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. 

Now that I'm not at work, the house is my job. Every day I run the dishwasher. Every day I do some laundry. Currently, I'm working on my forever project of whitewashing my dog-eared fence. I also still have a list of pictures and curtains to hang. Among other projects that I just can't seem to knock out. 

You want to know when I do them? When I'm pissed off at something. Like so angry I could hit something. Instead of taking up boxing or spousal abuse, I take my hammer and drill and start hanging things. Sure, picture hanging when angry skews the science of it, but it's done and it's not gonna fall off the wall. 

I've skipped corners where I could to prevent the neverending to do list. I planted perennials. I put in decorative concrete rather than a deck to have less to stain, but there's just so much that is the same day in and day out. And so much that never gets done. 

It depresses me. In PR, you prepare for an event. You do stages 1-334. Then it's over and you move on to the next thing. In editing, the publication or story eventually gets published and you move on doing the same thing over again, but in the end you have a forever completed project. 

But how much purpose can my life have if I'm just doing the same things over and over and over again, and for some reason, still hopeful that they'll have a different result.

I miss a list with check marks. I think this is why I like organizing the family group. Each event has a beginning a middle and an end. 

I miss endings.

Monday, August 25, 2008

For Quigs

That movie we can't remember the name to — "Unfaithful."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Out of Control

Last night X-man had a night terror. He was screaming my name, but when I got to him he couldn't recognize that I was there. He just kept reaching out for me and grabbing for me as if I wasn't holding him. 

I tried to comfort him, but he was wild and disoriented and panicked. MacTroll tried to help, but whenever he touched X-man, X-man freaked out and would flail against him screaming, "Mommy!"

After several very long and scary minutes X-man fell asleep on top of me. I slipped out from beneath him and went to the guest room so he could sleep with MacTroll. It was simply too hot to have him on top of me all night. 

This morning, he's sleeping in a little late (after a 6:45 a.m. rising time yesterday). They say he won't remember, but we will. 

In response to the craziness, Riley wanted MacTroll to let him out four times last night. I guess he felt like he was on guard since we were worn out.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Almost Happy

Barack Obama sent me e-mail at 4 a.m. this morning, 30 minutes after I went to bed, announcing that Joe Biden is his vice presidential candidate.

The first thing I did after returning from a 7:30 a.m. breakfast at Le Peep with MacTroll and X-man was to refresh my mind (since I've been avoiding news) about who Joe is. 

Let's be real, I didn't watch anyone that wasn't Hilary, Barack or John in the primaries... 

From his bio, there isn't anything to not like about Joe. He even calls himself "Joe" on the website. He seems friendly, down-to-earth, bi-partisan and not an ego maniac. Plus, he's been in the Senate for 36 years. He fights for education, he's "tough on crime" as they say (especially violent crime against women in a domestic setting), he's got decades of experience in foreign relations... the list goes on and on.

Barack chose him because he is the perfect counterbalance for a youngish president. I'm not at all surprised by his very logical and reasonable choice for a running mate.

But here's my ugly truth—

I'm extremely disappointed that Joe has a penis

I guess I got my hopes up for too much change.

I got tagged!

Quigs tagged me for this meme so here goes:

1. Post the rules of the game at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read the player's blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer.

What were you doing five years ago?
In 2003, I had just recently moved to Champaign Urbana and was about to start a temporary part-time job as a Library Assistant I at the Champaign Public Library Douglass Branch. I would also have lived in my house on Buttercup Drive for about one month and would be sitting on the back porch decompressing and listening to how quiet Savoy was in comparision to living in Northern Virginia.

What are five things on your to-do list for today?
1. Send Joel a romantic e-mail.
2. Wash the bathroom towels.
3. Deposit the reimbursement check from United Healthcare.
4. Lunch with Chris Linden.
5. Do the dishes.

What are five snacks you enjoy?
1. Fresh fruit
2. Ice Cream
3. Crunch n Munch
4. Chex Snack Mix
5. Chips and Salsa

What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?
1. Buy a house in St. John and my favorite house on St. Louis Square in Montreal.
2. Make very large donations to Champaign Humane Society, A Woman's Fund and the food bank.
3. Hire Ben Gibbard to act as my alarm clock one friday every month, so I wake up to him playing the guitar or the piano.
4. Hire a chef and a personal trainer and a maid... ooh and a gardener and a masseuse.
5. Buy Joel his Lotus.

What are five of your bad habits?
1. Emotional Overeating
2. Bad talk about myself
3. Hiding myself away
4. Procrastinating from doing any kind of indoor housework.
5. Not checking my cellphone messages -- ever.

What are five places where you have lived?
1. Rockford, IL
2. Decatur, IL
3. Falls Church, VA
4. Alexandria, VA
5. Savoy, IL

What are five jobs you've had?
1. Newspaper editor
2. Technical editor
3. Publications/Communications Coordinator/Specialist
4. Library Assistant
5. Adjunct Professor

Five people I tag:
1. Andrina at "Ma Fibre wire Done Come Unhitched"
2. B. at The Spit Up Diaries
3. Cyberchik at "Oh My Blog, You Guys!"
4. Loretta at "Circadian Celebrations"
5. Denise at "One Lucky Girl."

Friday, August 22, 2008

My new crush

Ben Gibbard from Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie.

I think I might become a groupie and follow him around when he performs acoustic and solo... and, yeah, that would be me in line at Assembly Hall next week waiting to purchase Death Cab for Cutie tickets so I can sing this song and "Cath" along with thousands of other overdramatic nimrods who love angst and great music that live in Central Illinois.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Itchy and Scratchy

So earlier this week I was painting the back of my fence. I live in new construction so there's nothing but weedy open field (that used to be corn fields) behind my house. The builder very graciously came and cut down the 4-7' weeds, so that I'd have an easier time reaching the fence.

I got 1/3 of it done and when I went in and showered I noticed a scratch on my left wrist. I scrubbed the white latex paint off of my legs and arms and hands as well as I could and then climbed into bed and played on Facebook. When I looked at my arm an hour later, I had blisters where the scratch was and another cluster five inches higher.

Shit. Shit. Shit. Poison ivy. 

A plant that I know I'm allergic too, but is hard to identify when it's been mowed down by my request for my own convenience. I went to bed and woke up the next morning, the rash had spread up my left arm, under my neck and down the back of my right arm. Since I'm single parenting it this week, I got X-man up, dressed and fed and dropped him off at school and sped over to the new Convenient Care Clinic on Curtis and Mattis. 

There a very nice nurse gave me a shot in the ass with steriods to stop the spreading. It's worked, for the most part, but I'm still covered in calamine lotion to try and stop the itching of the blisters I do have. And if you've ever had poison ivy, you know how things like warm water in your showers brings out the itch, as well as washing with a washcloth... so I've been miserable running around town with big pink splotches on my body.

So, if I ever piss you off -- you now know my kryptonite.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Clone Wars -- Spoiler Warnings

Tonight I went out to see Clone Wars with 1/2 of the Freak Family, 1/2 of Libbygirl's family and Mr. Quigs. It was four boys and me. I ended up sitting next to RF and we Mystery Science Theatered our way through the film. 

And all I can say is: 

A pitcher of margaritas and no kids would have made that film one of my favorites. As it is, it just shows that George Lucas has become an old dirty, dirty man. 

Fight scenes were pretty in space. Lightsaber scenes weren't very stellar. Apparently it's perfectly fine to kill droids and clones (as long as they don't have a first name -- Captain Rex -- I'm talking to you.) 

After the first 10 minutes Mace Windu completely disappears, even during the ending scene when the group is all together again which makes me wonder if he was taking a bit of relaxation on Coruscant with the now unemployed dancer of Jabba's Uncle Zero. I mean, he is Samuel L. Jackson after all. 

I did have a great time with the guys though. And I extend thanks to all of the moms who took care of the little ones not present. 

Most of the voice actors did multiple characters. At the end of the credits, my favorite name appeared: I-FU YU. 

Yes, George. Yes, you did. And I paid you $8.50 for it. 

But still the free movie popcorn is never a let down. Thanks for the bucket Rogers!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Things I am perplexed by. 

1. There's another article in the Chicago Tribune yesterday again about Obama's inexperience and how it's causing his numbers to drop  in the polls. Regardless of where ever my vote goes, I was curious to see how different he might have been from other "youngish" presidents. (Dude still has 15 years on me, so I wouldn't consider him young.)

In 1992, the United States elected Bill Clinton to office. He was 46 years of age when he took over the oval office. He had a law degree from Yale and had served as a law professor at the University of Arkansas. Behind him were 12 years serving as the Arkansas State Governor and 2 years as the Arkansas Attorney General. He had no military experience and served 2 terms as the commander and chief of our armed forces. America enjoyed a very prosperous economic recovery and had a much friendlier image around the world. Midlife sexual crises and all...

Barack Obama just had his 47th birthday. He has a law degree from Harvard and a history of grassroots organizing to try and better the Chicago community while he taught law at the University of Chicago. He has no military experience. His political life includes serving 8 years as a state senator of Illinois and 4 years serving as a U.S. Senator.

I don't find these two really that different in their experience.

But putting them both to shame (IMO) was JFK. Granted JFK had connections neither of the above men had growing up, since he was from a political family. But for a man who died at 47 as president of the United States, he had 14 years of working as a congressman and a senator. He was a Navy officer and studied and held degrees in economics and business from Harvard, Stanford and the London School of Economics. But JFK was bred to be a mover and a shaker. 

I've seriously got to stop reading the news because I'm so sick of flipping politics, reporters and Washington. I had to do this in 2000 and 2004, too. Both of those elections made me lose my lunch a time or two.

2. Having a girl is easier than having a boy. See Freak on this one. Why can't we just see our kids as individuals while acknowledging that what estrogen and testosterone do to the bodies is different but doesn't make every girl this way or every boy that way?

3. That experiencing something new from a different place other than where you live immediately makes that thing less good. Like being from Wisconsin and saying Wisconsin cheese is better than French cheese, because it's from Wisconsin. Like your loyalty is what makes it better. Seriously, it's cheese. Can't people just have preferences without there being some kind of "superiority" complex to it? Better yet, can't we avoid assigning morality to choices. Like you're a bad person if you eat fast food?

4. Why did I waste all day yesterday reading a book and going to the Homer consignment shop for fall clothes for X rather than cleaning my house? 

The Belly Gene

So last week, we went to Peoria and saw MacTroll's family. It was the first time in four years the four brothers were together. And now each of them has children. So we took family photos. The first one was the group picture. 

MacTroll's family is very left brained, so we had to stand near our spouses and children, to clearly identify our familial units. Missing is my SIL Jun Mei, who is due in December.

When we tried to line up the grandkids with the grandparents, X-man decided it would be more fun to help out with the photo taking than being a participant. This is an attribute MacTroll and I both have. We both think it's much better to be the photographer than the photographed.

But the older kids waited patiently for X-man. My nephew Nathan was stellar at toddler rounding. There should be a competition. "After the toddler round up, we'll see the cat herders."

I also learned something new by looking at these photos. MacTroll has this habit of lifting his shirt and exposing his belly. He'll sit on the couch, with the shirt pulled up to his chest. For a decade and a half I've been asking him what that's about.

He always says, "I'm hot."

He means he's warm, but I always joke about how poorly located his venting system is if he has to cool off  at the midsection.

And then I noticed similar traits in these photos with a niece and two nephews. Mmmm. 

It appears to be a genetic venting issue and not a psychological one. I think we'll have to wait and see if X-man is a stomach venter or not. 

The last photo is my favorite. There's just something about a pile of kids ages 2-13 that is heartwarming. 

Particularly Nathan holding Mikayla in the middle But they're all mixed up here, sitting where they want to sit. And you can kind of tell by the photo, but X-man is in the middle of sitting down next to my niece Alex. He gave her a hug and then went down the line hugging kids. 

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day Out with Thomas

Last spring, I was cruising the internet for items to add to the CARE calendar. On the HIT Entertainment website (home of Bob the Builder, Fraggle Rock, Thomas the Tank Engine and more), I found out that Thomas has his own special summer tour called, "A Day Out with Thomas." 

X-man loves trains, and although his every day obsession with Thomas might have waned, his love for all things that go has not. So, I tried not to wince too hard when I paid $21 a ticket for the three of us and my father (X-man's usual train fix provider) to go see Thomas on August 16th at the Illinois Rail Museum in Union, IL (Between Marengo and Huntley in what I lovingly and laughingly refer to as the new NW Chicago suburbs).

We went on Saturday, and boy was I glad that we did. After three weeks of X-man being driven around to some pretty untoddler friendly places, "A Day Out with Thomas" was perfect. It was low key, easy, and if you go there early enough, it wasn't even that crowded. The weather was perfect and some of the highlights included: Riding in a train car pulled by a life-size Thomas the Tank Engine; bouncing in a bounce house; playing on a kid-powered rail car; sucking back snow cones, playing in a giant sandpile, building at the Duplo Imagination Station, meeting the local fire department firefighters and a sitting in their truck; riding and walking through many, many, many various trolleys and trains, enjoying the shade, listening to live music, watching a magic show and more.

We were there from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and I gotta tell you,  my blood pressure was low. It was crowded, but not so bad because we found a shady table to have snack at. And it was great just to watch X-man smile at every new thing he got to do -- as a big boy. It was worth every penny of admission.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Feist on Sesame Street

So, on Monday, Sesame Street updated their podcast to being widescreen and HD... and at the end of learning about Octagons with Elmo (which X-man loves) was this.

He loves it... and asks for Octagon over and over again.


In an effort to be more positive (following Mrs. Chicken's lead), I will promise never to use my "bad parenting" tag again... instead choosing to use things like, "Parenting Challenges" or "Puzzles of Parenting." 

Things that are more positive in nature. We'll see if the positive talk inspires me to be less critical of my abilities and help build my self-confidence. 

Safe Assumptions

A few weeks ago, my friend Rogers approached me concerned about her former place of employment. As a Savoy Recreation Center employee, she had learned that the Village of Savoy by law does not have to do background checks on their recreation employees. They apparently try do as much as they can with sources that are free (like checking the registered sex offenders list) for all full-time people, but according to Rogers' interactions with Village Board member Dick Helton, the village board feels that their minimal efforts are enough.

Rogers was disappointed in his response, so she decided to do more research. Apparently park districts are required by law to do background checks on their employees. So places like Champaign and Urbana do them for all of their employees, but they also go above and beyond and do them for their volunteers. 

Monticello isn't required to do background checks either (not a park district), but they don't pay the $10-15 to do the state-level check. Instead, they ring up the local law authorities who do local checks. So if someone had charges in Chicago and then moved down here, they may not know about it. 

As a parent, I always assumed when I sent my kid to summer camps or into the kid room at park areas that my elected officials and their employees would have found the children in my community worth $10-15 an employee to try and ensure a safe environment. I'm disappointed in the Village of Savoy to find out that's not the case. What's worse, is that they don't tell families that they don't follow the protocols that partnering recreation facilities in park districts do as a norm... 

So, here MacTroll and I are drafting a letter to go to Dick Helton and Savoy Recreation Center Director Tiffany DeSpain about how we won't be enrolling X-man in any kid-related programs at the Rec Center until the policy changes (now that he's finally old enough to take part in them). We'll instead pay non-resident fees to use other facilities who do the administrative legwork to try and keep kids safe.

If there's one thing I learned by going to the Child Assault Prevention Education seminar last fall, it's that the people that are most likely to hurt kids are the ones they feel safe with like their neighbors, family members, teachers and coaches. A creepy 90 percent of the time that fact hold true.

I know I can't protect him from everything, but the least community officials could do is help me out on the HR end. I'd much rather have tax dollars go to that then to maintaining a dock at the Dana Colbert Park.

If you'd like to help protect kids (even if you don't use the SRC) in our community, I'd urge you too to send an e-mail to Dick Helton and Tiffany Despain inquiring about the issue. Hear them tell you about it themselves and then decide if you want them to take action. 

You can also contact the Monticello Park District and ask them to do a more thorough state-level background check, too.

The 2nd to last trip of the summer

This is almost it! 

After going to Montreal for 4 days, Rockford for 4 days, Rolla for 3 days, Peoria for 1 day and having Ktdid and Karen and crew visit on the days I was home... I leave today for Rockford for 2 days and then I'm home for three weeks before our vacation to Wisconsin in September.

It has been crazy insane for the last three weeks. Last night I had the CARE book club at my house. We read the Awakening by Kate Chopin, which was one of my favorite books in college. I hadn't read it since I was 22, so it brought out something completely different this time. And mostly what it did was depress me. Looking at historical fiction of the early 20th century through 21st century eyes is rough. Most of the time I stick with garbage books. You know -- ones that make you laugh out loud to the point where people stare at you on the airplane. The ones that don't use words that I don't know. The kind you can tear through without considerable thought or emotional involvement. So this was something different for me. 

I don't read a lot. Scratch that. I don't read a lot of books. I do read a lot of newspapers, and I'm intrigued by a new-to-me magazine by the editor of Brain, Child called Only Child

But today, I have to get up, get Riley to doggie camp for our trip (he's staying an extra day for fun because he LOVES going to see Carla at Doggies on the Farm in south Urbana), get X-man to school and get home before our 1 year anniversary walk through with our builder at 9 a.m. for our maintenance issues. They are few, but it has to be done. So I guess I better get my ass up.

Six hours of sleep is never enough. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Quality control needed

We had a big day today full of more and more family. This time it was MacTroll's side. X-man didn't get a nap. He'd never sleep in a strange place, so trying to find somewhere for him to go down at my in-laws was out of the question. Instead, he fell asleep on the way from their house to the swimming outing. 

We went to a swim club called Wedgewood in Peoria. It's an older pool similar to Crystal Lake in Urbana but not as well kept. And it wasn't entirely welcoming to kids X-man's size. 

There were signs in the bathroom requiring tight plastic pants for the untrained potty users. We didn't have any, so I just kind of skidded by with a swim diaper under his trunks and hoped no one would notice. Then there was a second sign that banished all non-potty trained people to the baby pool. I know why they do this. I do. It's because if there's a poopy incident they just close the baby pool and not the big pool, but it still bummed me out. Not that X-man cared. He had a grand time being kind of snotty about sharing toys with the other toddlers. And his cousins were really awesome about hanging out with him. I think it might have had a lot to do with the main pool being so cold. :-)

Anyway, we had to drop MacTroll off at the airport and then I drove X-man back home. He ended up falling asleep immediately departing the airport and he slept the whole hour and a half home. The problem with this is that now he's having a lot of trouble going to bed.

He was being so rough and wouldn't stop. So I started to flip out. I told him that I had had enough of him and that he needed to stay in his room because Mama was going to bed and would not lie with him. He cried and cried and chased me into my room trying to get me to lie with him. I carried him back to bed, got kicked for it, and said goodnight. 

But this -- this shit's gotta stop, and at this point me walking away, seems to be the only thing he understands as a real consequence to his behavior. 

Update: He's completely asleep in his big boy bed, but I feel uber shitty.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


My mom just posted this photo, so I stole it. I'm the one holding the toddler on the bottom right... Now, in your comments, you tell me, why I look the way I do and everyone else looks -- serene.

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's only natural

I've been part of a lot of relationships that seem forced. You know the ones -- where you're definitely a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. 

But one of my most favorite fellow square pegs is my sister in law Karen. She is the mother of three awesome kids who X-man refers to as Naynay, Sumal and Ellex. She is also married to MacTroll's oldest brother. And boy, do we all like to just hang out. We eat too much, play too much and just have a great time.

Today we hung out at the house when they got here and had lunch. Then we walked to the park, where Rogers dropped off Curious J while she went to see someone about her inability to get a root canal job that doesn't get infected (I feel really badly about this. Seriously. Once is enough, and now she's on 3!). 

Then we walked back home, had some drinks and got in the car and headed over to Curtis Apple Orchard. Sure, it's too early to have apples, but the kids got to pet kittens and do a maze and feed some goats and have some apple sippers. 

Then we came back for more playing and grilled out dinner. I love summers like this. Where kids get to swim in the pool (or in our case the hot tub) until it's time to shower and go to bed.

Amazingly, X-man was down by 8:30 p.m. with only one episode of Bob the Builder. 

I think his cousins just wore him down. :-) Sorry, about the fuzzy photo. MacTroll's old iPhone doesn't have an exceptional camera.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Home -- AGAIN!

So we're back from Rolla. We rolled in and X-man jumped out of the car and immediately went to his sandbox. I noted the yellow grass and turned on the sprinklers and then ordered pizza from Old Orchard Lanes (they deliver if you live in Savoy). It was really good -- very Monical-esque.

I have sugar snap peas in my home garden, two tomatoes are finally turning red, the two pumpkins are turning orange and I have a few baby acorn squashes on the vines. Hooray.

Mostly, I noticed MacTroll finished the northwest side of the fence for me in my absence (we apparently need more paint). Plus, he wiped down the kitchen and the breakfast table. Tonight is also clean sheet night. Hooray!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

X-man's state list

X-man's been to: Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Texas, California and now... Missouri. 

We're sitting at Zeno's Steakhouse and Motel in Rolla, Mo., post my cousin's wedding but before the reception. X-man is very thankful for the pre-school room at the First Street Methodist Church, where he and I spent the 25 minutes before the ceremony and the 15 minutes during the ceremony and the 10 minutes after the ceremony playing with Little People and cars and trucks. 

We've just finished our Happy Meals and now X-man is playing on the floor with his bus and his Cars cars. 

Melissa and I are alternating changing Mom's bandages on her burns. Mom's eating regular food these days though, which is good. But she has formed a new attachment to the Hazelnut iced coffee from McDonald's. 

It was a long 4.5 hour drive down here, but we made it okay. X-man, Uncle Chris, Aunt Melissa and myself have been in the hotel pool twice. X-man shows no fear of the pool, which freaks me out a little. He seems to know not to jump off the ledge without me there to catch him, but will step off a stair into a deeper section of the pool without thought.  So, the three of us are all over him all the time. We also played at a park full of dinosaur climbing parks and slides. 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Running on Empty

It is 2-something-o'clock in the a.m. right now. I've just spent four hours staring at the Internet avoiding using my brain. Sure, there were some word games on Facebook in there. Sure, I read the newspaper... but I mean, it was avoidance. I didn't want to read about political polls or shootings in town. 

But mostly what I didn't want to do was read other people's blogs and find out how fascinating and wonderful their lives are, when mine currently seems very -- stand still-ish.

My friends in town use our blogs to catch up. It's kind of funny for a group of women who see each other more often than any of us usually see our spouses. 

Libbygirl had her baby on July 31. Lightning McColin's little brother is a spitting image of him. He eats and sleeps well. It was sweet to meet him and hold him this week. 

But it also made me think a lot about the last 2.5 years. Half of me wanted to get a little ribbon for just surviving. The other half mourned a bit because I became very conscious that I was crossing a line I never wanted to cross when I became a mother.

That is to say, I never wanted to become a bitter mom. The one with much older children that stands next to you forewarning you of all the ways your sweet infant baby will one day hate you. The one that tells you how outside of work and motherhood she doesn't have a life. That by the time she gets it back, she'll be old and gray and her unappreciative children will never call her. 

When I had a newborn, I found a lot of solace in other newborn moms. We had the same wide-eyed deer caught in headlight looks. We hadn't slept. We hadn't showered. We hadn't eaten. Our babies couldn't turn over. They had no teeth. And you could spend hours, days, weeks just staring at your kid. 

Then as my baby began to really move and interact with is world, I was fascinated by his exploration. Pushing buttons on the dishwasher was a huge achievement. He used a fork. He opened a door. He built with Mega Blocks. He pulled a string toy across the floor. 

Then he got to 18 months and the molars starting coming in. We're just now finishing with the last of his teeth, and as they came in and the speech started really flowing -- my child explored and punished others (mostly me) through biting. 

Now I realize my son will be 2.5 in September. He's no longer a baby. Besides the diapers, any infant aspect of him has disappeared. He's his own little man. He hugs and jumps and skips. He doesn't want to share his toys. His mood swings challenge me in every way. But for the first time, I find myself being angry with my child when we have bad days, when his behavior is out of hand. 

I never had that anger before. Until he was 2, he could do anything and I had this endless patience with him. That was before he decided I was the mortal enemy when I did things like force him to stay out of the street or put away a toy he threw or not allow him to have ice cream for breakfast. And I know I'm being a good mom by doing all those things. I know I'm being a better mom for sticking to my guns. 

But it feels like there's this huge separation there now. Like I've staked my claim and he's staked his, and we'll never get back to where we were. 

I see that kind of separation in a lot of families. There's this giant gap that exists. And it's not that they don't care, but it's just that there's so much shit in the gap that it's hard to ever really find a common ground that's strong enough to start all over again. It's a weird crazy tangle.

All I know, is that I don't want it to happen to X-man and I. I wonder if we've been provided enough of a map of what to do -- by learning what not to do or by learning what's not normal -- at any stage or age of a child's life. 

For example: You don't tell people that when you found out that you were pregnant you wanted to walk in front of a bus, because your kid will somehow be told that some day and boy, isn't that a great therapy conversation? 

You don't have your 12-year-old sit down next to you and tell the child if they weren't around you'd kill yourself, again, more therapy fodder.  

You don't just show up for honor society and plays and other public events where people "see" you "parenting" and yet in reality you're completely disconnected from your kids' lives to the point where they feel they look after themselves. 

You don't insult your kids' career choices. 

You don't say bad things about the people they date or marry. 

You don't criticize their parenting. 

You don't tell them bad crap about the other parent. 

You don't talk about sex as being dirty. 

You don't shame them. 

You don't guilt them. 

You don't neglect them. 

You don't make up some kind of alternate reality where you tell them things in their lives didn't happen because you're happier denying any proof that your kid endured any pain on your watch. 

You don't criticize your kids' weight. 

You don't get to get angry with your kids for thinking for themselves, even if they choose to think differently from you. 

You don't force feed religion to someone who is reluctant.

These kinds of lessons go on and on...

I know we're going to continue to make mistakes, lots and lots and lots of them. The big thing I've learned from becoming a parent is that you do your best. It's all you can do. It's all any parent can do, even parents that do the things mentioned above.

But then again, there's Yoda telling me how it is when my best isn't good enough no matter how hard I work, no matter how many bruises I have, or how much my son, after he hits me, hugs and kisses me to try to make things better. 

I get frustrated with his natural, 2-year-old ways. I get angry with him when he hurts others. 

It still has me up at now 3-something-o'clock at night. 


I'm going to go sleep with my child and hug his Bob the Builder. And tomorrow, while the gap is still small enough... I'm going to start shoveling some of that crap out of there. And I'm going to start building the world's biggest, strongest cantilever. Not so much to smother, but enough to keep my eye on things and hope that I can do a better job.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We did it!

We've been on a fixed budget for a month, and I just paid and processed our credit card bills. 

Quicken lets you run all kinds of charts and graphs. My least favorite one last month has become my most favorite one this month. That is, the blue income line is 20 percent higher than the green expenses line. And mostly, we ended up cutting back on the grocery bill by 60 percent. Yes, it means we had to shop for the usual stuff (cereal, peanut butter, etc.) at Wal-mart after avoiding shopping there for three  years. But we still did 90 percent of our shopping at the ever expensive Schnuck's (for fresh fruit and vegetables). 

The other good notation was that our eating out was cut almost in half. 

The big news, our gas consumption went from filling two cars every week to filling one twice a month and the other once a month. That means we're doing more around the house... not taking as many trips and we're biking or walking more places.

Psych out

Have you ever done something a million times and thought nothing of it and then you have to do this regular, every day thing with someone you don't want to and suddenly all these reasons why you shouldn't do that thing you've always done overwhelm your brain?

I'm having one of those moments. 

You know, like you go out to dinner all the time, but then you go with someone you love -- but who turns out to be a former wait staff person and goes all uber-critical on your server to her face to the point where you're sure there's poison or spit or worse in your food?

Have you ever been forced to go bra shopping with your grandmother, who has very different ideas (and lots of them) of the kinds of underwear a "good girl" buys?

Or you go to a Weight Watchers meeting where someone joins because she can't lose that last 5 lbs of her size 4 body without a little help, while you're still staring down the 50 lbs you have to go to weigh 50 lbs more than she does? It's not that she's not perfectly nice, but um, at that point you're overwhelmed in your neuroses and want her to reach her lifetime goal and go away. 

Or maybe, you and the rest of the herd of fat people at WW will turn on her ... MacTroll has to have a bottle of Chianti around here somewhere. Mmm, how many points would that be. I'm pretty sure even though they have a possum meat count in the guide, they didn't take the time to figure out "skinny girl."

Anyone whose been reading knows I have a lot going on this month... and that I'm scheduled down to the hour pretty much until August 18. In dealing with that, all my good habits of this summer have gone completely out the window, and I don't seem to have the time and energy right now to crawl back on the wagon (Screw the damn horse).

Seriously, I'm craving cherry limeade, butter tarts and quick food solutions that I don't make myself. I stopped walking after my vacation and it feels like months since I've gone on one rather than a little over a week. The weather is not cooperating for outdoor time. And I really, really want to blow my budget and go buy my kid a cart full of toys at Toys R Us for retail therapy, since the food therapy doesn't seem to be working out so well. 

But I just need to get through it and get over my neuroses... 

Monday, August 4, 2008

It's too effing hot

Never mind the intended fence painting today. Instead, I'm on my hands and needs scrubbing my kitchen floor in the air conditioning. 

Don't like it? ... tough. Paint fumes and heat and humidity are not on my agenda this afternoon. Maybe if it cools down this evening...

I love Sundays

Sundays are my favorite days because we don't have anything on the schedule, except fun stuff. Yesterday was perfect.

I picked up Quigs and we went to the CARE garden plot at 7:45 a.m. to escape one of two weather forecasts. It was either going to be really muggy and hot or it was going to dump rain on us. In about an hour and a half we got everything weeded and looking pretty. It helped that the ground was damp. When we left we were covered in mud, but weren't going to get our garden mowed under.

We have sweet corn growing on our stalks as well as an awesome cool pumpkin... and our sunflowers are finally mammoth, mini and medium. :-)

Afterward, I went to our neighbors and fed their cats. Then I went home to find X-man playing "postman" with MacTroll and Riley in the front yard. His new fascination is taking the mail out of the mailbox, putting it into the trunk of his Little Tikes car and then driving away, only to return and put it back... along with things like chalk and toys.

The rest of the day was spent playing in the backyard or napping until 3 p.m. when we headed over to the Orpheum Children's Museum. On a day when the weather is questionable, it's a good place to be. X-man ran into his friends KRUF and TEUF while we were there. But the boys were heading in two separate directions, so we didn't get to visit much. Unfortunately, as I was taking pictures of an exhibit that always makes me sad at how poorly it's been maintained, I dropped my camera -- and it broke.

Lately, I've had the brain power of a tulip. So I wasn't surprised. But it was pretty sad. 

So, MacTroll took us out to dinner at Fiesta Café. Where X-man showed us that besides super sonic urination, jaws of steel and healing hugs, he can also CRUSH small packets of sour cream with one bare hand -- and send it squirting all over the wall. We were happy we chose to eat outside, but we still left the required, "I'm so sorry we have a 2-year-old" big ass tip. 

Mostly though, it made MacTroll and I laugh uncontrollably for a good three minutes, which was nice. Then at home we got to have a neighborhood kids outing in our front lawn. Our new neighbors, the Flynns, and most of the Wright clan were out and about. So the kids played and played, and the parents did the best they could to keep them out of the street. 

Excitement for this week includes: babysitting Curious J, picking up painting the fence again, KTDID's 2-day visit and a trip to Rolla, Mo., with my mother and toddler, while MacTroll stays behind to pet sit. 

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Home again!

We're back in Savoy where the weather is hot, hot, hot. Apparently there were torrential rainfalls while we were gone because we had 6 toads waiting for us in the emergency exit windowsill from the basement. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, it'll get covered at some point. Probably next spring.)

Anyway, Quigs took awesome care of my furry babies. The old gray cat seemed to have hit the litterbox every time in her quarantine in the bathroom. So we're going to hope that her increase in Tapazole (the drug that helps her with her hyperthyroid) has corrected the fact that she seems to have a place in the basement where she pees. (We know it's her because I'm a professional pee smeller, and I had to be right on top of it to notice it right before I left to go to my Mom's. This means that the cat peeing there has really diluted urine. And the old gray cat is on daily IV fluids for her kidneys.) Since we take the black and whites into the vet on Monday, we'll talk to Doctor Mary about the old gray's issues then too.

X-man entered our house completely excited about playing with all of is toys. He was in the family room, in the basement, in his room. He even requested his Goldfish crackers as a snack to be put in his Nemo bowl (that was a new one for me).

I had come back from Montreal to a house that was less stellar than the way I left it. It's not a surprise, but I ended up spending the 3 hours I had before I left on Tuesday morning cleaning it up rather than at the Organic Garden weeding the CARE plot. And therefore, we got the nasty e-mail threatening to mow our plot under, if our weed situation isn't taken care of in 10 days. When I asked the group about the plot last March, I had 4-8 parents who were willing to come out. I try to make meet ups every week, when my schedule allows. But it hasn't fit in on anyone's summer plans to go out and help out even at non-meet up times. 

Mostly because it's a miserable experience for young children. They don't want to weed or help. They climb the trees and run through the sprinkler we put out. But it's turned out to be a crappy activity. Oh well, live and learn, right?

And I think the regulars who do go out there, do it more because they don't want me to lose my $30 deposit (and because they like me and we can gab while we bitch about how not worth it the plot is). It's nice to know that I'm loved, cause it's a whole lot of work.

Now we're home and X-man and I took a shower since it's too hot to go out and play in the kiddie pool. He was so happy playing in the water, he stayed in and took a shower with MacTroll. Now the family is clean and ready to watch Bob the Builder.

Either way, it's great to be back home.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The "outpatient, non-invasive, no-restriction" surgery

At 2 p.m. yesterday my sister and I finally got to swap places. I drove X-man over (he fell asleep in the carseat). She met me outside, drove him back to the house and put him into bed for a 2.5 hour nap.

I sat with my mom. She was having incredible throat pain 24 hours after the surgery. It was preventing her from drinking and hence urinating.

While I was there the doctor came in. We asked him a bunch of questions about the throat pain. He dismissed it as a passing issue. When he had first told her about the surgery, he had told her that she would have it in the morning and go home later the same day. But when she talked to his office before the surgery, they changed it so that she would spend a night in the hospital

Since that changed, Melissa, Mom and I kept asking if she had any restrictions. He kept saying, "No." The last time Mom asked, "So technically I could be out mowing my lawn tomorrow?"

"Yes," he said.

Then the discharge paperwork came.

No driving for 4 days. No bathing for a week. No exertion for 4 days. No lifting over 10 lbs for 3 days. And it made me wonder what the hell "No restrictions" meant to him.

Last night we changed Mom's bandages on her burns. Melissa showed my mom's best friend Cathie and I how to do it. So we're all in the know-how. The doctor said the burns came from the chemicals in the adhesives used putting things on her back. There are three. One is definitely a large (size of the palm of X-man's hand) second-degree burn. I'm not sure we're supposed to be happy that it's a chemical burn rather than a heat burn, but whatever. She's schedule to get them all rechecked at her regular doctor's office next week.

Mom's throat still hurts, but she was able to swallow some applesauce for dinner. We also got them to prescribe her some pain meds (Tylenol 3) for the throat and burn pains. My sister went home last night to do some laundry and go to work today. She's coming back tomorrow. The plan had been for MacTroll to take the bus from O'Hare to Rockford and then for us to go home this afternoon.

I'm going to wait and see how it goes. We might leave later -- or just wait until tomorrow afternoon. (Quigs, if you're reading this, I'll give you a call when we know what's happening).

Either way, this was way more invasive than anyone ever told us. And it makes me scared of what it would be like if she had gone through something far more serious.