Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Get Off My Property!


This sign showed-up out in the alley behind my house about a month ago. My elderly neighbor who has been pleasant for the last 10 years, suddenly decided that she did not like children and their parents playing in her driveway. Nevermind that my car got the windshield broken by teens who were throwing ROCKS, she is concerned about toddlers and their toys. (Think about it: toddlers are out there being supervised by their parents; the teens are out there throwing rocks. Who should she be more concerned about?!)

It all started one night when there were 15 or 20 of us (about 6 adults and their kids) out in the alley. When cars drive through the alley, we have to move to the sides of the alley to let the cars pass. This seems reasonable. As it turns out, the car in question needed to turn into the elderly neighbor's parking space but couldn't because we were all standing there. As soon as we realized we were blocking the driveway, we moved. Well the woman who was driving (my neighbor's niece) was VERY ANGRY and the next day the sign went up.

I immediately went over to speak with my neighbor and indeed, she was unhappy about the above incident. But she was also very upset with another neighbor for a couple reasons which I won't get into here. Her reasons seemed silly to me, not something over which to start a property war.

Then my neighbor put up his own sign in retaliation:

I'm not sure if you can read it or not, but it says GET OFF MY PROPERTY! Pretty funny and just in time for Halloween.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Kitchen Fun


Even though we have 10,000 toys, the boys find it more exciting to raid the kitchen cabinets and play with pots & pans! (No, those are NOT knives that he is wielding!)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Parade


The Halloween Parade was great! The weather was crisp, but not too cold and it was dry in spite of a rainy forecast. We lined up on the sidewalk near the start of the parade -- what luck! The kids got TONS of candy! So much that they couldn't pick it up off the ground fast enough! They had a FABULOUS time and so did I. (Although I think I enjoyed it so much because it has been the first time in 8 years that all my children have been developmentally old enough to enjoy the parade without needing fed, burped, put to bed, etc. Therefore I also enjoyed the parade.)

Had to post this picture of the back of the "snunk" costume! Too cute! He found out he was a skunk yesterday at a Halloween party. He got lots of positive attention so now he is happy to be a "snunk".

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dogs, Skunks and Bats, Oh My!

DOGS

We have had a difficult week here in LanganLand. One of our dogs, Molly has been quite ill. I've gotten little sleep this week as she needs to be let out every 45 minutes, even through the night. And she is still peeing in the house about 5x a day. The poor thing. She is nearly 13 and has been having kidney troubles for quite a while. Her condition has been undiagnosed but getting worse. So I finally took her for a doggie ultrasound ($325!) and found out that she has Cushing's Disease. She is at the vet now for further evaluation so I will know more about treatment options by this evening, but apparently it is treatable. So the bladder control should return and she should be feeling much better soon. A huge relief, because I really thought she was nearing the end of her life: pacing, panting, crying all night, etc.

SKUNKS
I realized yesterday that I needed a Halloween costume for my youngest by today because the Halloween Parade is tonight. I have come to resent Halloween because by the time it is over, I will have spent over $100 on costumes and candy (we usually have 180+ Trick-or-Treaters). $100 would feed my whole extended family for Thanksgiving or would be 1/4 of my kid budget for Christmas. So to spend this on Halloween, well it just annoys me. It is not even a real holiday. Anyway, the reason I needed a costume (I usually try to hand-down costumes as much as possible) is because my 4 year old son will be a dragon for the 3rd year in a row so I have no costume to hand-down to his younger brother. I put out the 411 to my friends and Linda came through for me with a hand-me-down skunk costume. I remember when her son wore it and it is SO DARN CUTE! I was thrilled: a cute costume, that I don't have to buy, that is also warm. Perfect. Except that my 2 year old son heard me say "skunk" and started to cry, saying, "I no wanna be a skunk! I wanna be a doggie!" So I told him he can be a stinky doggie and I plan to dress him in the skunk costume anyway. He has seen the costume and thinks it's a dog, so he's going to wear it and he'll think he's a dog but we'll all know he is a skunk. I will post some pics of all the kids in costume at the parade (unless it is rained-out, which is likely).

BATS
Let me start by saying that we live in an old house. You should also know that in the past 10 years, we have spent around $5,000 trying to eradicate bats from our attics and basement. I have seen many, many bats in my house. I know more about bat behavior than I ever hoped to know. Some day I may post The Bat Chronicles, detailing all (or at least many) of my Bat Incidences. But I could write a book on that so I will start with last night's incident and leave it at that for now.

Very timely to have a bat show up in our house so close to Halloween. Usually we get bats in our house in the late summer, most specifically during the first week of August. (I have no idea why they show up at this time, maybe they are over-crowded or its too hot in the attic or something.) We had only only 1 minor bat incidence this summer (early summer) so I held my breath through early August and when we didn't see any bats, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Last night I was sitting at the computer in the playroom and I heard a sound that was like a cricket but louder, sort of a squeaky sound. I looked up because the sound was coming from the curtain, right in front of the computer. Just then, I see this shiny-ish, black wing slip out of the curtain. I jumped up and started making my bat noises (the panicked sound that I make every time there is a bat sighting) and ran into the family room (adjacent to the playroom). My husband said, "What? You didn't see a bat, did you?" So explained what happened and immediately my daughters and my 2 year old son started screaming and running for the mudroom. My 4 year old son said, "Cool. A bat. Let me see it." So my husband, not believing me, went into the playroom to investigate. He wasn't sure it was a bat but couldn't really figure out what it was so he went to get some supplies: a rubber glove, a plastic grocery bag, a placement, a badminton racquet, a baseball cap and a flashlight. He tried to dislodge the critter (using the glove and bag) but it kept moving deeper into the folds of the curtain so he assumed it was a bat and went into bat mode. At this point I too went to the mudroom while my 4 year old kept saying, "Dad! Hey Dad! Can I help? Can I help you with the bat? I'm not scared of the bat! I'm a big boy, I'm not scared!" But I wouldn't let him stay so we went to the mudroom while my husband worked on getting rid of the bat.

If you ever have a bat in your house, the easiest way to get rid of it is to turn off all the lights, open the front door and guide it out of the house with a flashlight. As my husband was preparing to do this, I was in the mudroom with the kids, who were saying, "I'm scared!!!!" Except for my 4 year old. He was saying, "Hey, girls. Did you know that bats in America bite you and suck your blood? Because they do. Yes, they really do." I was trying to keep calm in the mudroom, telling the kids that bats do NOT suck your blood. They wanted to know how the bat got in and why it was in our house. I really didn't know. I've never seen one in the house at this time of year. Since my kids have Bat Fears for years, I have told them that once the weather gets cold, the bats fly to Texas or Mexico for the winter (I read this on the internet and have no idea if it is true but it works for me) so that they don't obsess about bats all year long. I explained that maybe the bat came in the house because all of his friends already went south and he had no one to "hang out" with (ha, ha) so he came in because he was sad that he had been left behind. They seemed to buy this explanation.

As I was talking to the kids, I was watching from the mudroom and I saw the bat fly out the front door, and boy did it have a large wing span! Like I said, I've seen lots of bats flying around my house and this one was larger than most. My husband said that it must have been near death because when he knocked it out of the curtain, it laid on the floor and didn't move. He scopped it up (placemat) and sort of tossed it towards the door and it took flight. (It's not unusual for a bat to die once it gets in the house. It doesn't have access to food or water so it gets really weak and eventually dies or we manage to get it outside just in time. It's much easier to get rid of a near-death bat as they have no fight in them.) Anyway, needless to say, I will be calling the Bat Removal Experts ASAP!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

#1 Most Surprising Thing About Parenting . . .

And finally, the #1 thing that surprised me MOST about parenting: Toy management!

No one ever told me that toys would take over my life.

Before I had children, I had a room in my house that I liked to call the library. (Afterall, I used to be a librarian and will probably go back to being one at some point). See photo. Very grown-up looking, don’t you think?



After giving birth, this room did double duty as library/office AND as a place to store all the baby gear: pack ‘n play, car seat, baby swing, etc. Then it just sort of morphed into the playroom. And now, most days, it looks like this:



It’s no longer a library, that’s for sure!

When I signed-up to become a parent, I didn’t realize how many hours of my life would be spent on toys: researching the most educational toys, browsing the toy isles, comparison shopping; assembling the toys; putting them away; stepping on them in the middle of the night; putting them away; cleaning them up off the floor; putting them away; begging my children to put them away; punishing them for not putting them away; finally putting them AWAY (like for 6 months) myself out of desperation. (NOTE: once my second child came along, I gave up the toy researching and shopping and switched to Management Mode. Managing all the toys that we were given and rarely buying a toy.)

I have tried many methods of toy management. These include:

*Trying to keep the toys cleaned up. This doesn’t work. Kids play with toys.

*Keeping the toys in the playroom only. I finally gave up and decided not to care about the mess in the playroom. I rationalized that as long as the toys stayed in the playroom, I could ignore them. This didn’t work either. For two reasons. The first reason being that when you have very small children, they want to be wherever you are so if you are in the kitchen, they want to bring all their toys into the kitchen. The second reason this didn’t work is because it would get so messy in the playroom that the kids would leave the playroom in search of another place to play because they said they didn’t have any room in the playroom to play because it was so messy.

*Keeping the toys cleaned up. I know, I know, I already said this. But I tried it again. Except I seemed to be the only one who cared about it. If the room got too messy and I issued Clean Up orders, the kids (my husband is guilty of this too) would just start chucking any toy into any bin and then whine to me later that they couldn’t find their “Little People with the blue hat” so I’d end up spending more time than I should have trying to find their misplaced toys.

*Keeping the toys cleaned up. So I decided that I would label everything, put everything in its place, share this information with my children and spouse and we’d all live happily ever after. Nope. Turns out that bins are really fun for dumping so that you can take 20 of them and build a tower and then there is an ever bigger mess than there was before.

*Rotating toys. I frequently pack up toys and put them in the basement for a few months. The curious thing about this is: my children RARELY miss them! They don’t even notice that the toys have been packed away. When I bring the toys out again in 6 months it’s like getting a new toy.

*Throwing away toys. Some times I get SO fed up that I threaten to throw away their toys if they won’t clean them up. I set the timer, give them warnings and then march into the room with the garbage bag. I am expecting them to hop to it and put away toys! Or at the very LEAST, beg me not to throw the toys away. Nope. Instead, I was met with, “Hey! Let me help!” And they start putting toys in the garbage bag! I would say something like, “Don’t you like to play with that?” And they would say, “Um, no, not really.” Or, “Well, that belongs to the boys so I don’t care if we throw it away.” What choice did I have? I had to follow through with my threat so I threw the toys away.

*Giving away toys. I felt guilty about throwing away so many toys so now I wait until the kids are in bed or out of the house and I make it my mission to get rid of 1/3 of the toys in the playroom. I stick them out in the alley with a FREE sign and hope that they are taken before my kids see them outside. My husband says I am the Meanest Mom In The World for doing this. But I counter with, “How many hours have YOU spent on toy management?” He knows the answer is ZERO so he pretty much leaves me alone but just wants me to know that he doesn’t agree with my philosophy on toys. However, he doesn’t disagree to the point of being willing to help me with the management.

I still have not found a good method for toy management. I think all I can do is just deal with it until the kids are too old for toys. People with grown children assure me that I will miss the toys once they are no longer in the house but I REALLY can’t see that happening. I will miss MANY things about having small children, but toys is not one of them.

P.S. To all who have given us toys that have 86 parts – jus wait until you have kids!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

School PIctures


Do they EVER turn out well? Apparently they do for some, thanks, Bec for the idea to post the school pictures!



Here are pics of the girls' (1st & 3rd grade) as well as my 1st grade school picture. I don't have my 3rd grade picture; apparently it was so bad that mother refused to buy it.

The Backpack

I used to love it when my daughter would come home from preschool so that I could go through her backpack and pull out her lovely artwork as well as notes from the teacher.

Now that I have children who are in elementary school, I no longer look forward to emptying the backpack. It contains all sorts of goodies: acorns, rocks, half eaten food, broken pencils, etc. Not to mention all the papers: homework papers, PTO newsletter, reminders, fundraisers, study guides, etc. It rarely contains anything exciting.

Yesterday I opened the backpack to find 3 letters (mass mailing) from the school nurse. The first one said there has been a school-wide outbreak of pink eye. It gave details on what to look for and how to treat it. The second letter warned of a school-wide outbreak of strep throat. The third letter discussed the outbreak of lice. I am intimately familiar with all these illnesses so I didn't bother to read the details.

A little while later I got a call from a panicked friend (as I am now the lice expert). When she read the details of the lice letter she freaked out because the attachment to the letter starts out with: Evidence of lice infestation has been found on your child. I took a look at the letter and realized that although it was sent to every child, it was really meant for children who actually HAVE lice and it provided guidelines on ridding your children and your house of the the lice.

This document was sent to EVERY family at my children's school!!! 600 children came home from school with a letter saying they have lice!!! Can you IMAGINE how many panicked parents ran right out to the store to by RID (lice shampoo) and are driving themselves crazy over this when their children do not even have lice?! I assured my friend that it was a mass mailing and that her son did NOT have lice. I assured her that the school would CALL her IMMEDIATELY and make her pick-up her son if he really had lice. They would NOT just send him home with a note. Unfortunately I know too much about lice and dealing with the school nurse.

Couldn't they have sent a letter that said, "If you detect lice on your child . . . " or something like that? Or used white-out to block that sentence from the letter? What an oversight!! I am sure the principal will be inundated with calls from angry parents today. Oh my. Glad I'm not a principal. (Maybe I'll talk about that sometime in a future post.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

He Thinks He's A Dog

As mentioned in a previous post, my youngest son was found licking milk off the floor as if he were a dog.

Recently as I was scooping dog poop off of the grass, he was running around the yard pointing and shouting, "Poop here, Mommy! Poop here!" And then I would go over and clean it up. As I was busy hunting for poop (which was hard to see with all the fallen leaves), apparently he was busy too because he shouted, "Mommy! I pooped! I pooped!" I turned around and discovered that he had taken off his pants and pooped in the yard! I tried to explain to him that boys poop in the potty, not in the yard, but he just kept jumping up and down and pointing at his poop and saying something about "Me poop and Molly poop." (Molly is one of our dogs.) I didn't realize that potty training would include a lesson about pooping indoors instead of out.

I am more convinced than ever that he is not quite sure whether he is a boy or a dog.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Good Things

Good things come in three's (or is that bad things, like plane crashes?) Anyway, three good things have come in the mail this week:

1. I received my Declaration of Irish Citizenship so I am now officially a dual citizen of the United States as well as Ireland.

2. We received free day-passes to the water park at Great Wolf Lodge as compensation for the power outage.

3. We received travel vouchers from Continental Airlines for $210 as compensation for a snafu at Newark Airport in July.

I wonder what goodie will arrive in the mail today?!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wardrobe Management

Wardrobe Management ranks as #2 on my list of the Top 5 Things No One Told Me About Parenting.

#2 Wardrobe Management
I had no idea that children and their clothing would take over my life. Sure, I knew I’d have to do laundry. But I’m not talking about laundry. (But if I were, I would mention Sock-locks because I love them so much.)

I’m talking about Wardrobe Management. At this time of year and again in the spring, hours of my life are devoted to weeding through kids' clothing to determine what no longer fits versus what might fit next year, packing away anything that might fit next season. Next, I have to determine which articles of clothing/shoes/jackets/coats/hats/gloves/scarves/boots should be passed down to a younger sibling; which ones should be given away (and to whom) and which items should be thrown away. That’s the easy part -- whatever items are left over are usually deteriorated beyond use so those items get thrown away. Multiply this task times four because I have to do this for each child. (I wonder if I will do this forever or, if one day, they will be able to take on this task themselves?)

I have about $200 worth of large, plastic storage bins that are stuck in every closet, under beds and in the basement. Not to mention the piles of clothes in various places throughout the house as I figure out whether they are being packed away, given away or thrown away. I often think how nice it would be to live in a climate where it is basically the same temperature all year. That way, you’d only have to go through Wardrobe Management when the kids hit a growth spurt, instead of every time the season changed.

It always amazes me that we are living in year 2007 but have not developed an easier way to do laundry (and Wardrobe Management). So I have taken this task upon myself. I have 2 laundry/wardrobe solutions.

1. Sock-locks. They seem so simple and one might wonder how they could possibly be worthwhile. TRUST ME. Using Sock-locks saves me at LEAST 2 hours a month in sock-sorting. I highly recommend them to anyone who is interested in becoming more organized but I ESPECIALLY recommend them to anyone with small children, especially if those children are close in age, making it difficult to figure out which socks belong to whom.

2. The Dot Method. I use a permanent marker to label clothing tags with dots. My oldest child’s clothing gets one dot; the second oldest gets two dots; the third child’s clothing gets three dots and my youngest one’s gets 4 dots. That way, when I hand something down to a younger sibling, all I need to do is add a dot to the tag. Then I know who it belongs to and I don’t have to rack my brain trying to remember who it belongs to. This also helps when folding laundry because sometimes I buy matching outfits or jammies for the kids. Instead of trying to remember which size belongs to which kid, I just check the dots.

Check in next week to read the #1 thing that surprised me most about parenting!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Yipee! We're nit free!!

We visited the school nurse this morning and she gave the OK for my 3rd grader to return to school. (My 1st grader passed the No Nit Test last week.) I am so happy that we are nit free!!! I am now ready to tackle my To Do List, which has been neglected since this whole lice thing started a week ago. But after hours of combing and laundry and combing and vacuuming and combing, all I want to do is lay on the couch and watch TV and then take a nap. Instead, I will begin Wardrobe Management, which you can read about in a future posting.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Nits Not Over

We have been battling nits for a week now.

I have learned more about lice and nits than I ever hoped to know. If you ever have a problem with either, give me a call. I am now an expert.

I sent my oldest daughter to school today, only to get a call from the school nurse to say that I needed to come pick her up because she had ONE nit on her head and the school has a No Nit Policy.

A nit is not a louse. A nit is not an egg. A nit is a discarded egg shell left behind by a louse. The lice are dead and gone. The eggs have been removed. The nits are harmless.

I have spent at LEAST 2+ hours EVERY DAY for the past week trying to comb out these darn things. Apparently I missed one. The nurse said she removed the remaining nit and that my daughter seemed to be "nit free" but said she had to be sent home because she arrived at school with a nit. The nurse said to take her home, comb her hair (uh, YEAH, that's what I've BEEN doing for the past week!) and try again tomorrow.

Hopefully we will be nit free tomorrow. Please God. I cannot take much more of this.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Great Wolf Lodge = Great Big Disappointment


Our much-anticipated trip to Great Wolf Lodge finally arrived! We left after school on Thursday (the kids were off on Friday) and arrived in time to play in the water park for 2 hours. Everyone had a good time! My 4 year old reports that his "favorite thing" was the log cabin and the Woo-pa Woo-pa Slide (whatever that means).

You might be wondering about the title of this post . . . well, we woke up Friday morning and arrived at the water park when it opened at 9am. Around 10am the power went out! We stayed at the water park for a few minutes but the power didn't return so we decided to check-out. (Check-out was at 11am. Our original plan was to check-out but stay at the water park for a few hours and then head home.) I asked at check-out if there was some sort of compensation for the power going out but was told, "No. The power is not in our control. You are welcome to stay and enjoy our other amenities." Really? What can we do without power? I guess we could have listened to story time while munching on free cookies until the power returned. Instead, we opted to visit the nearby outlets and eat lunch somewhere where power was available. So we did this and of course, we heard whining the whole time about wanting to go back to GWL. We called the Lodge around 1pm, thinking we would go back to the water park for a few hours but found out that the power was STILL out so we decided to give up and drive home.

I am going to call GWL on Monday and try to work out some sort of discount for our next visit. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

That's What Friends Are For



A truly good friend is someone who will come over to your house and comb through your hair to see if you have nits. Thanks, Jeannine!

A truly good friend, who also happens to be a neighbor, is someone you can call in a panic when you are 30 minutes from home and realize that you left a pot of boiling nit combs on your stove and fear that your house may already be up in flames. A shout-out to Phil, the Handsome Hero next door!

A truly good friend will drop everything to come to your rescue when you think your kitchen is on fire. Another shout-out to Kim, who hung up on her husband, grabbed her kids, and ran to my house to turn off my stove. Phil beat her to it though. She called me back and said, "The stove wasn't on. But there is this weird note that says there are cooties everywhere." She was clearly confused. I started laughing, knowing right away that it was Phil who wrote the note. I laughed even more when I got home and saw that the note was written on a paper towel tube!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

We Share Everything


Even lice. As mentioned in a previous post, all my kids sleep together in the bottom bunk. It's great for bodily warmth and brotherly love, but it is not good for containing lice!

7:30AM While getting the kids ready for school this morning, I started to comb my oldest daughter's hair and realized that she had lice. I stood in the bathroom for nearly a minute, repeating over and over, "OK. OK. OK. OK." I was trying to figure out my plan of attack and if I could still get her to her morning doctor's appointment (that we scheduled back in July). I ran downstairs and called my husband as he was on his way to work. (Luckily he had his cell phone with him, there are days when I call him on his cell, only to hear it ringing in the other room.) I practically shouted, "I need you to come home RIGHT NOW!" I explained the situation to him and he turned around and headed for home. I quarantined all children to the bathroom until I could de-louse them. I started the process of stripping the beds, bagging the stuffed animals and pillows and gathering all the laundry to be washed in HOT water.

8:20AM My husband arrives home with $100 worth of RID, the shampoo treatment for lice. We begin the tedious process of washing and combing out the nits. LOADS of fun.

10:00AM Both the boys and my husband are lice-free, whew! But we treat their hair anyway. Both girls have lice and combing through their long hair is my job. Meanwhile, my own head is itchy but I cannot treat it until after I've finished with the girls.

10:15AM Treatment on oldest daughter was not successful. (My husband treated her hair and did not follow the directions properly, so I had to do it again. That is why it is MY job to comb out the nits. If I left it up to him, we'd end up shaving their heads to get rid of the lice. But wasn't he great to come home and help? I mean that.) At this point, oldest daughter starts freaking out. She was shouting, "I am the most unluckiest person in this house and maybe in the whole world! I don't like bugs that get in your hair! I only like NICE bugs! WHYYYYYYYYYYY do they have to be in my HAAAAAAIR????? This stuff smells REALLY bad and now I am going to smell bad ALL DAY!" At this point I calmly point out that I probably STILL have bugs in my hair because I am spending all my time getting them out of everyone else's hair. I also tell her that when Grannie was a little girl, if a child got lice, they had to have their heads shaved to get rid of it. (True. Have you read Angela's Ashes?) I also tell her that she is very lucky to have a mom at home who can get rid of them for her and lucky to have a dad who could come home from work to help. I remind her that if this happened on Thursday, instead of today, it would ruin our trip to Great Wolf Lodge so I tell her to STOP complaining! And she does. (Note: the Drama Queen was not at all dramatic during the de-lousing process.)

At some point while my husband and I were busy de-lousing, our sons were busy too. They got the knife sharpener (at least they didn't get a knife, right?) and dug a hole in the bunk bed. (See photo. Notice wood shavings on floor.) When my husband discovered this and asked, "What happened?!" Our 4 year old son said, "Uh, Dad. I think the bugs got in there and made a big hole!" Clever. But still worthy of a Time Out.

11:00AM All clear. All lice and nits removed from all heads. At least I hope so. I relied on my husband to check my head. He wondered aloud how he could see anything in my head of hair. Then he said, "You have really lovely hair, honey." And my oldest daughter (who was helping him spot nits) said, "Mommy. I think he is really trying to say that your hair is a tangled mess." Yes, she is very perceptive.

11:05AM My husband heads to the laundermat with 2 kids and about 15 loads of laundry.

11:10AM My husband calls to say he forgot the detergent and asks me to leave it on the porch so he can come pick it up.

11:25AM My husband calls to say that he needs $3 more dollars. I say I will be there in 20 minutes (I'm not dressed, neither is my 2 year old and I need to go to an ATM.) He says nevermind, he'll get it himself and hangs up on me.

11:30AM My husband calls to ask why he has 2 kids with him at the laundermat? Like I know. Didn't he take them? He claims I told them to go with him. (But surely he knew they were getting into the car with him, right?)

11:32AM My husband drops the 2 kids off. They come inside and tell me, "Dad is mad. He parked somewhere that you're not allowed to park and some man came out and talked to us. But then he let us park there."

11:40AM I am finishing this post and want to sincerely apologize to those of you who have had contact with the Lousy Langans in the last few days. We would not knowingly spread lice.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Top 5 Countdown

3. Running Errands is Nearly Impossible!

To people without children, going to the store to get a gallon of milk is a 10 minute process (unless you live far away from the store). The first time I decided to “run to the store” with an infant in tow, it took me about 30 minutes to first nurse, burp and change the baby’s diaper. Then I had to pack the diaper bag in case the baby pooped or spit up while we were gone. I spent another 10 minutes wiping spit up off my shirt, combing my hair, and getting the little darling buckled into the car seat and out to the car. Then I spent about four minutes driving to the store. Then it took five or so minutes to get the car seat out of the car and to navigate through the store. As I staggered around the store under the weight of the infant seat, I realized that I could not possibly carry a whole gallon of milk AND the 20 pound seat so I settled for a half gallon (which meant that I’d have to go through this same routine in about two days) and made my way to the register. Another few minutes went by as I got out to the car, un-strapped the baby from the car seat, did a complete wardrobe change as the child had pooped all over herself and then strapped the baby back into the seat. After a four minute drive home I spent another five minutes getting the baby, the seat, the diaper bag and the milk into the house. What should have taken less than 15 minutes turned into an hour-long trip!

Things ARE easier now that I no longer have an infant. But believe me, it is MUCH easier to run an errand solo than it is to take 4 kids along! I am not exaggerating when I say that it takes less time for me to to the store and back on my own than it does to get four kids out of the car, into the store to get milk, out of the store and back into the car. I am also not exaggerating when I tell you that one time I dislocated my thumb because I had to strap/un-strap my children from their cars eats TWENTY ONE times in a couple of hours. I had three children at the time -- none who could depress the seat belt latch on their own. I needed to run errands to seven different places so I had to strap and un-strap the children a total of 21 times in the space of three hours. A dislocated thumb sounds minor but I really could not function. Every time I picked something up, my thumb would give out and I would drop whatever I was holding. This is not a good thing when you are holding a baby! (Thankfully I never dropped the baby -- I learned to grasp him like he was a football. OK, maybe I dropped him once but it was not due to the thumb). When I went to the doctor about my thumb, I got the third degree. The doctor asked, “How did this happen? Are you in an abusive relationship? HOW did you do this? Car seats???” I really don’t think he believed me that my thumb was dislocated as a result of car seat overuse.

When I was working outside the home, I would stop on my way home from work to run my errands. Now that I work at home, I have to take one, two, three or four children with me. Of course I could always wait until my husband comes home and run the errands solo. BUT now that we have four children, we decided that whenever one of us has to run an errand in the evening, we have to take one child along. That way, each child gets a chance to have some one-on-one time with either Mommy or Daddy. This is such a popular event in our house that the children fight over who gets to go. We had to develop a system that we call Store Score. We have a post-it note attached to our family calendar that we use to keep track of whose turn it is to go with Mommy or Daddy to run an errand. Even so, there are usually tears involved because each child wants to go whether or not it is his or her turn.

No one ever told me that running errands with small children in tow would require the endurance of an Olympic athlete. Nor did they tell me that I would be willing to pay an inflated price for something, just so I won’t have to go to another store to get the item at a lower cost. You would be amazed at how much I am willing to pay for an item at Wawa, just so I don’t have to drive to the grocery store to get the same item on sale.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Drama Queen & the School Nurse

The Drama Queen wasn't feeling well on Monday night. She took a nap around 6:30pm and was exhausted when bedtime rolled around at 8:00pm. She said she didn't feel well so I took her temperature, it was 103.9. So I gave her some Motrin (note: Tylenol only lasts for 4 hours, Motrin lasts for 8) and put her to bed. In the middle of the night she was shivering and her pajamas and the sheets were soaked with sweat. Apparently the fever broke. I changed her into dry jammies, put a towel down between her and the sweaty sheets and then she stopped shivering. When she woke up Tuesday morning, she said she didn't feel well. She didn't appear to have a fever but she didn't look well so I let her stay home from school.

I think I was scammed. Around 10am she was dancing around the kitchen, singing along to HSM2 (High School Musical 2). I asked her why she had so much energy and she said something about missing PE. (She prefers to wear her Crocs to school and doesn't like wearing sneakers for gym class, therefore she does not like PE). I felt her head; it felt fine. I took her temperature; normal. So I said, "OK. Get dressed. You are going to school." The drama started. The crying turned to wailing as she pleaded with me to keep her home. I set the timer, told her she had 10 minutes to get dressed or I would take her to school in her jammies. She was back downstairs in about 3 minutes and we left for school, although she was still crying.

I need to explain the absentee policy at her school. When your child is absent, you have to call the Absent Hotline and leave a message detailing: the child's name, the teacher's name and the reason for absence. Being a detail-oriented person, I left a message that said she had a fever. (I meant HAD, past-tense, as in "had last night, is still asleep so I don't know if she still has one".) BIG MISTAKE.

When we arrived at the school office and I started to explain why she was late, the Attendance Secretary said, "Didn't you say she had a fever?" So I explained that she DID but no longer DOES. She said, "Let's talk to the nurse." So we go to the Nurse's Office and explain the situation again. The nurse asks when she had a fever and I said it broke around 2am. She told me that I would have to take the Drama Queen home because she needs to be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school. And then she said, "Look at her! Her face is flushed! Her eyes are glassy! She's probably still sick!" I tried to explain that she looks like that because she was screaming and crying less than 5 minutes ago at the prospect of having to go to school (she was probably really crying about having to go to gym class) but she was standing next to me, quietly, and looking very wide-eyed and innocent so I don't think they believed a word I had to say.

Needless to say, she was dancing her way to the car, thrilled that she got her way. The next time I call that darn hotline I am going to say something vague, like: she's not feeling well. That way my words won't come back to bite me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Top 5

I have only been a parent for approximately 8.5 years so I still have a lot to learn and experience. However, in the short time that I have been a parent, I have discovered some things about parenting that no one tells you about and so I am sharing them with you. I started last week with #5: Pregnancy ROCKS.

This week's topic:

4. The Irony of Sex

Maybe no one told me about this or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention or maybe I just didn’t believe them. But I find it completely ironic that it is impossible to create a child without having sex (AI and IVF excluded), but once you have a child, or two, or three, or four, it is nearly impossible to create time for sex!

When I discovered that I was pregnant with our 4th child and I shared this news with my husband, the first words out of his mouth were: “Great. No sex for two more years.” In Langan-speak, that means less-than-regular sex during the year of pregnancy (I guess my husband is not good at math because everyone knows women are only pregnant for 9 months) and even less sex during the next year of me nursing a baby. In defense of my husband, our four children are each two years apart so just as we would start to settle into a somewhat more regular sex life (when the baby weaned at age 1) what do you know, I’d get pregnant again. (Which goes back to why this is so ironic!)

The other thing that I find completely ironic about sex and kids is that my periods were completely irregular during my entire childbearing years until AFTER I gave birth to my 4th child. NOW they are regular! I cannot believe that when I was TRYING to get pregnant, I wasn’t ovulating regularly and NOW that I am finished being a Human Hotel, I am ovulating every month!