Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Purple Piggies and Pink Pinkies

There are no words to describe the delight I felt when I finally found out I was having a girl. I love my boys, and would never trade them for anything. That said, my heart longed for a dainty little girl. I just imagined all the fun things I could do with her hair, the tea parties we could have, and the shopping we could do. It is, after all, common knowledge that girl clothes are much more fun than boy clothes.
Then she was born.

As a baby, and really up until the last month or so, Pretty has been essentially bald. She does sport a lovely mullet, but that really doesn't count. In desperation, I did try putting pony tails in her mullet, but she just pulled those out leaving a tangled mess, and people wondering why this strange little orphan child kept following me around. The King and I are just sure she'll be crushed when she looks back on her bald-headed little baby pictures. We've vowed to just tell her it was very windy in the delivery room.

I could get past the bald head because I was just sure she would still be the dainty little pixie I'd planned on her being. She'd want to play house with me, cuddle with her baby dolls, and wear all her pretty little dresses every single day. She'd be gentle and cuddly and soft spoken. This is what I pictured my baby girl to be. Boy was I wrong!

The very important thing I forgot to take into account is that Pretty has two stinky brothers. They run, jump, yell, play with balls, and do other disgusting boy-type things. They are also her two of her three favorite people in the world. (The other is her daddy). And, they've taught her everything they know. She would rather die than wear a dress, baby dolls and cuddling are the last thing on her mind, and she's anything but dainty and soft spoken.

I was just getting ready to give up on ever really having a "girly" daughter (unless you count the drama that comes with girls. She's got more of that wrapped up in her pinky finger than all the daytime soaps put together). I had come to accept that she was forever going to prefer blue jeans and sneakers and messy hair and blocks and balls and bats over anything else.

And then it happened. I could never have expected it, but it really did happen. While I was getting ready for the day (at 11am...yeah, I'm slow sometimes), she came into the bathroom and found my nail polish. She delighted in all the pretty colors in the bottles, though she wasn't totally sure what they did. She inspected each and every bottle sometimes even banging them on the side of the tub to see what they do. I wondered what would happen if I tried to paint her nails. Would her head spin around several times before finally exploding?

I put her on my lap and we counted her fingers. Then, I applied the paint. And she liked it!!!! She sat and scrutinized every single nail with delight. I'll never forget the giggles as I put that cold paint on her tiny little nails. When we were done, she tried to eat the polish off, but I'll pretend that part didn't happen so I can bask longer in her girl moment.

She went back to the collection of bottles and brought me another one. This one was pale purple. She put it in my hand and turned her back to me, so I could pick her up. She wanted her fingers done again, but I wasn't ready to go there. So, I painted her tiny little toenails. She sat quietly mesmorized by what I was doing. When all was said and done, she was so proud of her fingers and toes.

From there, she went back to tearing apart the play room and banging on walls and looking for bats. But, for a fleeting moment, I got to enjoy my little girl in a quiet little "Mommy and Me" moment.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Another Bad Idea: Low Flow Toilets

I am certainly all in favor of trying to save the environment. I try to do my part to recycle, minimize automobile emissions, and bathe as infrequently as possible to keep down water usage. I can certainly understand the desire to protect the Earth and all she has to offer us.

All of that said, I have to ask: What sadist came up with the brilliant idea of low flow toilets? Who was it that thought to themselves, "I think it would really save the world if we had toilets that even hampster turds can't go down, therefore requiring the user to flush it at least half a dozen times every time they even think of pooping."? Further, I'd like to know who the moron was that agreed with the first guy.

I know some of you are thinking, "Well, you know you can't be using two-ply or Charmin. Those are guaranteed to clog your toilets. Besides, two ply uses too much, and Charmin isn't recycled. Both are bad for the environment". Let me just assure of the fact that I am NOT using Charmin. That is a luxury that only Canadians can enjoy. (I hear they have amazing TURBO flush toilets there!) I use Northern toilet paper, the quilted kind, of course. And, I'll admit that I have two ply. That's because I like to be a vigorous wiper, and two-ply insures that my finger doesn't rip through the paper causing further embarassment.

I can honestly say that I do make a dedicated effort to poop as minimally as possible, and still my low flow toilets clog every single time. This is especially true when I know guests are coming over. Without fail, the toilets are clogged. There is nothing classier than allowing a guest to use your toilet, but explaining that they'll simply have to expect that their poop won't go down the drain, despite their repeated efforts at flushing. We've all been in that embarassing moment at least once where we're at someone's house and realize we've clogged their toilet. We try as quietly as possible to flush it and make it go down. We run the water in the sink to try and cover the sound while we hurriedly try and find some solution to our problem, even considering (but hopefully never trying) removing the poop and putting it in the trash. For guests in my home, that moment is a recurring reality.

There are several tactics we've tried to help make things go down a little smoother. One thing we've tried is simply waiting it out, thinking that perhaps the poop will soften and go down with the next flush. This never works. Instead, a cloud of brown poop dust fills the toilet when it's flushed, causing millions of tiny brown spots to adhere to the inside of the toilet. This, of course, forces me to use environmentally un-friendly products to clean it out.

Another method we've tried is squeezing the poop as it's coming out to try and break it into smaller pieces before it ever even hits the toilet. This doesn't work, either. It does, however, cause hemorroids. Hemorroids are environmentally harmful as well. I don't have any real reason to explain why they're bad for the environment. They just are. Take my word for it.

We've resorted to even thinner toilet paper. This would be a brilliant idea, but most people just use twice as much paper when it's half as thick. That doesn't solve any problems. For those who don't use twice as much, there's the problem of a stinky finger after it's torn through the paper at an inopportune time. Yikes!

Some of you may have noticed that I have children. Children and low flow toilets should NEVER live in the same house. For whatever reason, small children believe that everything they own should, at one time, live in the toilet. Pretty even put her toy cell phone in the toilet. Remarkably, it still worked after that whole ordeal. (Not bad for a Dollar Tree toy, eh?) Yes, I did wash it before giving it back to her. When Number One was much younger, he tried flushing a binky down the toilet. Since it was low flow, the binky simply got stuck. This resulted in us hiring a young friend from church to fix it. That decision resulted in The Great Backyard Toilet Explosion of 2002, and will require a whole other blog entry.

I worked for a family who actually smuggled in Turbo Flush toilets from Canada. That mother's toilets never clog. Her husband can poop, her sons can poop, and even guests can poop. No one ever worries about getting the plunger because it isn't needed. And, I hear they use Charmin. That is the ultimate test of a toilet's flushability. I've considered employing some rogue Canadian to help me secretly import the Turbo Flush toilets, but I fear I'd get caught and be ex-patriated for not caring enough about saving the environment. Then, I'd be forced to live out my last days freezing to death in Canada.

There have been many, many great inventions in the history of America. Some of which may even help the environment. For example those highly overpriced cloth bags you can buy for when you grocery shop. Those help by eliminating the need to use plastic bags while at the same time advertising the fact that you were too stupid to just use the plethera of canvas bags you have in the back of your closet somewhere. I can understand why you'd buy them, though. Everyone needs all of their groceries to go home in matching bags. There is also the fine invention of the Chia Pet. If you're really loyal to it, I'm sure you could transplant what you grow in your yard to help with local vegetation. And what about the ever-popular invention of solar power? Sure you're in the dark when there's no sun for a few days, but it's still good for those of us who don't live in London or Seattle.

I am willing to make sacrifices for the environment. I'm willing to drive a car fueled solely by urine. I'm willing to go naked three out of seven days a week to minimize energy usage on my washer. I'm even willing to eat foods grown in cow manure to limit the amount of whatever it is they put in my foods to make it yummier. But, I feel that it's a lot to ask me to utilize low flow toilets in my home.

Consider this a plea to the powers that be. Please, please, please stop requiring the use of low flow toilets. Give me back my sense of security in knowing that my poop is going to be taken far, far away every single time I deposit it. Allow me to live in a world where toilets flow freely. Grant me the gift of a Candadian Turbo Flush Toilet.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ah, the joys of parenting boys

I am a female. That's why my children call me "Mom" instead of "Dad". The fact that I am female is an indication of my anatomical make-up. I have parts that require me to wear a bra. I pee sitting down. I don't have facial hair. Well, I'm not supposed to have facial hair anyway. Most importantly, I don't have a penis.

What is it about having a penis that changes the entire mindset of boys? I obviously can't speak from experience because I have not ever been a boy. I have, however, had lots of friends who were boys. They never really clued me in to what goes on in the brain of a boy. I married a boy. Well, he was a man when I married him. Marrying a boy would be sick and wrong and illegal in most states. (I can't be totally sure about Mississippi). At any rate, being married to him didn't prepare me for being the mother of boys, either.

So, with no real knowledge of boys, I eventually became the mother of three. Three boys!!! So far, I'm surviving it. Every now and then, though, I think about the adventures that have come from parenting boys.

Number One, being my first born, has been my guinea pig. He's had to endure all the kinks and quirks of having a mom with no penis and very little experience in parenting people who have one. I had heard (from someone who apparently never had a boy) that it's best to tell young children the correct names for their parts. Not wanting to be out of the loop of good parents, I did exactly that. I sat him down, explained the correct names for his parts, and allowed him to use those terms without ever batting an eye. He was about three when I taught it to him. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I'd taught him well, and never even raised a brow when he said those words matter of factly, just as easily as he used words like car, truck, and block.

About three months after I taught him the names of his parts, he came down with strep throat. I, of course, took him to the pediatrician so he could be prescribed something for relief. It didn't occur to me that such an innocent trip to the doctor could result in utter mortification. Again, this was my first time parenting a boy, and I was unaware of just how much that one little part could impact their way of thinking.

Our pediatrician believes in letting the child describe his ailments. She got my report and then asked Number One to tell her what hurt. I could see that he was putting a lot of thought into his answer. "Well, my throat hurts. And my ears hurt. And my head hurts, too". He paused for a minute as he went further into thought. Then, a smile came across his face. "But my testicles feel great!".

After that appointment, we had another talk. It centered around the fact that it's okay to talk about our privates with our parents, but it's best not to discuss them with anyone else unless it's totally necessary.

You'd think I would have learned my lesson after that first incident with Number One. Nope. I, being a female, am a glutton for punishment. So, I taught the Beast the correct name for his parts when the time came. This time, though, I went a step further. I taught him the correct name for everyone's parts. He had walked in on his dad in the shower and then saw me changing his baby sister. Apparently, he noticed that something was missing from his sister because he asked me what was wrong with her.

Calmly, I sat down and described the differences between boys and girls. Knowing that he has a hearing impairment, I made sure I went over it a few times in different ways. He definately understood. I ended the conversation, and off we went as a family to church.

I learned after church that he apparently still had some questions regarding who had what. It seems he spent the entire Sunday School time asking his teacher who had a "go-china" and who had a "bean-it".

Both of my boys have demonstrated that the all-time greatest perk to being a boy is peeing standing up. They delight in the joys that come from peeing standing up. I have to be honest. I don't delight in the fact that they are apparently unable to hit the broadside of a barn. Why is it that people who are standing up and are able to see what they're doing find it so totally impossible to aim? And why is it that hearing my boys yell "Look, Mom! No hands!" when they're in the restroom causes chills to go down my spine? We won't even talk about the aftermath when they say "Hey! Look what I can do!" while they're in the midst of peeing. The King tells me this is all a normal part of being a boy. He says I probably don't want to know about what they do to put out fires at scout camp. I'll just take his word for it.

I know it's only going to get worse. I'm trying to brace myself for it, but there's nothing I can really do to prepare myself for what's to come. I thought I was ready for anything that came at me until Number One got into the shower a couple years ago. The King and I were sitting in the kitchen enjoying dessert while Number One was taking care of his shower. He'd decided that, at five years old, he was big enough to bathe himself without our help. We allowed him to give it a try. Suddenly, we heard him screaming from the shower. "Mom! Come now! I need you!" I was just sure he'd slipped and broken a vital body part, like his spleen or something. I ran in. When I got to him, his eyes were huge! "Mom! I was washing my penis. Did you know that the more you wash it, the bigger it gets? AND, it changes colors!".

I can only imagine what more is to come. Rumor has it nothing I do will really prepare me. According to those "in the know", the mere fact that I have girl parts and my sons have boys parts means we'll never really think that much alike. I am, it seems, doomed to a life a humiliation simply because three of my four children were born with one extra tiny little part.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Proud MOFia member

I joined the MOFia about three years ago. It was shortly after the Beast was born actually. In fact, I was one of the first members when it was founded. We've grown since then. Some members have left the group never to be seen again. Some have gone, but realized they can't live without us, so they came back. Some members turned on us. They were promptly deleted from our group. Most of us, though, have become lifelong members, and we'll be loyal to our dying day. I'm one of those members.

I check in with the other MOFia members just about every single day. I sit around and shoot the breeze with them, telling jokes, offering suggestions, or just enjoying the fact that I'm not the only one like me. It's true what they say about birds of a feather.

"What the heck is the MOFia?!", you may ask. It's an online message board for LDS women. MOF means "My Online Friends". We added the "ia" later when we started having to band together on behalf of other members. MOF doesn't sound scary. But, who in their right mind wants to haggle with the whole MOFia?

We're a pretty big group, sometimes having a total membership of about 135. We're each wildly different from one another, and yet we're all so much the same. We understand each other's jargon and terms like dh, mil, rofl, ttc, pg, gno, gwo, imo, ita,dd, ds, and eta all make sense to us.

We just "get" each other. I think it's because, even though we're all so different, we have one major thing in common: We're all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Some of us are strong, active, wise beyond our years members of the Church. Some are newer members still struggling to get our bearings. Some of us are lifelong members also still trying to gain an understanding of where we fit in the mix of it all. No matter where we are in our religious progression, though, that's the thing we have in common. It's amazing what being of the same faith can do for people, isn't it?

Oh, don't think for one second that we just sit around and quote scripture, suggest new and exciting techniques for darning socks, or hero worship our husbands all day. The MOFia couldn't be further from all that. (In fact, I don't think sock darning has EVER been mentioned...and we certainly don't WORSHIP our crazy husbands!). I suppose we do talk about church, and our callings and try to discuss some aspects of our faith as they come into play. Mostly, though, we talk about everything. Really, we talk about just about anything that you can think of. And, remarkably, we have specialists on almost every topic.

Want to know the safest carseat for your baby, and how to put it in the car? We have someone for that! Want to know what your fertility signs are and how to get pregnant quicker? We have someone for that! Need some tips to spice up your life in the bedroom? We have a lot of people for that one! (Certainly not me, though. I'm much to shy to talk about...um....well....you know). Are you wanting to learn a new talent like photography, sewing, scrapbooking, singing, playing an instrument, bargain shopping, teaching, or using Photoshop? We've even got people for all of that! Ever wonder if that weird rash you keep getting is normal? We can tell you whether it is. Ever wonder if your mother-in-law is normal? Well, she's probably not, but we can confirm it for you. You know those crazy neighbors you have that are driving you nuts? We call them the McTrashy's, and you can come over and vent about them all you want. We'll join right in and support you. Need house decorating advice? We can help you with that, too. We can help you find that totally obscure recipe you've been dying to make. We can reach out and work with you while you deal with your child's special needs. We can help you survive your kid's first day of Kindergarten or *gasp!* their first day of a very long summer vacation. Does your kid have green goop hanging from their nose and a whole list of other disgusting symptoms? We can probably diagnose your kid for you and have them cured before you ever make it to the doctor's office. Really, there is NOTHING the MOFia can't do for you.

We hang out in our underwear chatting away, posting nonsense in one thread, and serious topics in the next. We're a team. I guess I should clarify that we're only in our underwear because we can't actually see each other while we're typing. We do see each other once a year at our annual Girls' Weekend Out. And, depending upon where we live, some of us even have regional Girls' Night Out events. We send cards to each other when someone is sick and have an annual Christmas card exchange. The really nice part is that everyone there knows someone else in real life. That's the only way you can become a member. Well, almost everyone knows someone else in real life. We have one special member from Australia. None of us have met her in person yet, but she's coming to the States someday. In the meantime, we talk to her on the phone. She's the real deal. Cute accent and all. And, I can assure you that she's not some dirty old man reading our posts and having a grand old time. No dirty old man can fake a cute voice like that.

So, there you have it! That's what the MOFia is. Those girls are my best friend. Oh! Did I mention it's girls only? No men allowed (although the King does often read over my shoulder). If you put all of those girls into one, though, they really have all of the qualities you could ever want in a best friend. So, I say they're my best friend. They were there with me when Snort was so sick. They've been with me through at least 5 miscarriages. They held my cyber hand when the Beast had his surgery. They were one of the first to know when the Beast could hear. They rejoiced with me when we first heard heartbeats on Pretty and Snort. We go with each other through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the McTrashy's.

Honestly, I think the world would be a better place if everyone had a MOFia chapter they could join. It might be the answer to world peace. Alas, there is only one chapter of the MOFia in the whole world. And it's by invitation only.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Parenting 101: Taught by Number One

I've been blessed to have smart kids. I know, every single parent says they have smart kids. But, truly-mine are too darn smart for their own good. The other day Number One decided to prove that he is, indeed, too smart for his own good.

I asked him to pick up some of his clothes and put them in the hamper, and probably asked him to do a couple other "totally unfair" things, like put his trash IN the garbage rather than next to it. You know, all those cruel things that only really mean parents make their poor, innocent children do. He decided he didn't want to do the tasks I asked, and explained why. "I'm on vacation, so I shouldn't have to do anything. And, besides, you're the parent. Parents should have to clean up their kids' messes".

While I was grateful for the memo and accompanying parenting tip, I have to say this was not the wisest thing he could have said to me. My response: "You're right. It's vacation. I shouldn't have to do anything, either. When you get hungry, go ahead and make something yourself. I'm on vacation. You know that shirt you wanted me to wash? Good luck with that. I'm on vacation. Oh, and I know you wanted me to take you to rent a movie or play with a friend. Yeah, I forgot. I'm on vacation. You have fun, though."

I also let him know I'd be writing his parenting tip in a safe place (like on a blog or something) for safe keeping so he can return to it for reference when he is a parent. And, just for good measure, I said a special prayer that night. I prayed that he'd be blessed with great fertility (after he is married and NOT living in my house) which results in quintuplets that are all just like him.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Fun stuff in the last few months

After almost a year, I got a new haircut...

...and I LIKE IT! It's a little more dramatic than anything I've ever done. I was just SURE the King wouldn't like it. To my surprise, he kind wants me to add some bright reds or pinks to it. Hmmmmm....I'll have to think on that. What do y'all think?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

So, This Was Christmas

I wanted to give my kids a memorable Christmas this year. I had the gifts purchased, wrapped, and ready to place lovingly under the tree. I had the turkey feast purchased and ready to bake. I had even selected the outfits the kids would each wear to open their gifts so that I'd have fabulous pictures to look back on. It was going to be an exciting Christmas for all of us, and I was ready.

We had noticed in the week previous to Christmas that Snort, Pretty, and Number One had little colds. I contacted the doctor, and got them what they needed to get over it. I don't like to medicate my children much because I'm a believer in letting their bodies grow their own immunities, but I suppose that's a whole other blog post for another time. Snort is, of course, too little to have medications anyway, so the doctor. gave us suggestions to help make him more comfortable.

I monitored him each day, and sometimes it seemed like he was getting better. Other days, he seemed a little more off. Finally, the Saturday before Christmas, I opted to take him into the Saturday pediatric clinic just to be sure all was well. The doctor looked him over, listened to his lungs, and gave him two thumbs up. I couldn't have been happier. This was a sure sign that the holidays would go off without a hitch.

Sunday, I kept Pretty and Snort home from church with me. I haven't quite been ready to take my beautiful new baby and expose him to all the germs that are floating around in church. I noticed throughout the day that he was really sleepy and hadn't eaten much. I guess I just wasn't on top of things enough to realize that these were signs that something more was wrong with him. By that night, he was rather pale. Even our close family friends noticed that something wasn't right with him. We were hoping to wait it out until Monday morning, Christmas Eve, so we could get him to the pediatrician. We also got him a blessing, just for peace of mind and to bring him comfort.

As the night progressed, we noticed his breathing seemed off. I didn't jump into action because Pretty used to do something very similar. I panicked when she did it, and it turned out to be her reflux. I did NOT want to take her to the ER for reflux. So, the King and I watched him...and watched him...and watched him. There was no change. But, I was starting to feel like he needed to be seen by a doctor. I told the King, and he agreed with me. (He never argues when I feel like something important is happening and needs to be addressed. Thank goodness!)

So, we took him in at 12:45 in the morning. It was now Christmas Eve. We figured he might need a breathing treatment, and would be home shortly after that. We couldn't have been more wrong. He was quickly taken to triage, probably because I wrote "labored breathing" on the form asking why he was there.

I calmly took him into the triage room while the King waited in the waiting room for us. The nurse took his vitals and observed his breathing. He stayed straight-faced the whole time, even as he took Snort's oxygen saturation level. It hovered at 67%, and went up to 80% with a good breath. Having had a child with asthma, I knew these were NOT good numbers. The nurse said he was going to get a room, and would be back shortly. He went in back, a code was called, and within twenty seconds, Snort and the King and I were being brought back. From there, all Hell broke loose.

Before I knew it, my sweet 30 day old baby was in pediatric critical care and there were about twenty people in there feverishly working on him. I turned around to find the King gone from the room. Apparently, he had been taken out to register the baby, leaving me alone. There I was in my own personal Twilight Zone. Doctors and nurses were scrambling around the room trying to help Snort. They cut him out of his clothes to get to him faster. Questions were coming at me left and right, and I couldn't begin to answer them. I just panicked. I stood there like an idiot crying trying to figure out how I had missed that my precious baby was in serious distress for hours and hours. My mind was just spinning out of control. It was like time was frozen around me. I could see it all happening, but I couldn't become a part of it. I just stood there terrified that I was losing my baby, and on Christmas Eve no less.

He was finally stabilized, and tests were run. Shockingly, his lungs were totally clear. Whatever was wrong with him was viral. Obviously, he was staying there in the hospital. Luckily, we got a doctor to agree to take him on and not force us to rush him to the Children's hospital in the bigger city an hour away.

So, at 4:45am on Christmas Eve morning, we were officially admitted. This was so not part of my holiday plans, and I was beyond shell shocked. The King stayed the rest of the night, what was left of it, in the hospital with Snort and me. He went home to care for the other three kids later in the day. So, there I was alone in the hospital just grateful to still have this beautiful baby I had been blessed with.

I got to go home for an hour that night to set up the Christmas tree for Number One, Beast, and Pretty to find on Christmas morning. Our babysitter came and stayed the night with us at the hospital so I could come home right when the King called to say the kids were awake the next morning. I got no sleep that night. None. My heart was broken in so many ways. I wanted to curl up in a corner with my little family and hide and never come out.

The King called me bright and early in the morning when Number One woke him up. I came straight home and got to enjoy watching the gifts being opened. And then, I had to leave again. I cried all the way back to the hospital. I had just had Christmas without Snort. And then, I was leaving my children to spend the rest of the holiday away from them. I couldn't play games with them, make them the feast I'd planned on, or just generally enjoy the holiday the way we had hoped.

A few days after being admitted, Snort developed pneumonia, and a whole new treatment plan was begun. Thankfully, the treatment plan worked, and we made it home that Friday. We are home with breathing treatments, apnea monitors, medication schedules, and special feeding plans. But, we are home.

So, Christmas wasn't what I thought it would be. In fact, it was a nightmare. If I could cancel it every year from here on out, I think I might. We're shooting for a lovely Easter...or Halloween. Either way, I'm not counting on Christmas going very well ever again. (For those that don't know, last year was somewhat similar to this one.

What I did get out of Christmas this year, was an opportunity to count my blessings. I learned how loved we really are. My visiting teacher brought us dinner on Christmas Eve, and it was no small dinner. It was AMAZING! And, she cooked my turkey for me before delivering it to my family. If I couldn't be there, at least the dinner could be, right? She then called our Relief Society president who arranged for someone to take the Beast off our hands for a few hours and meals through the holiday weekend. Wow! That is some big sacrifice on the part of people who should have been enjoying their own holidays, not worrying about mine.

I also realized how lucky I am just to have my amazing husband and four beautiful children. No amount of turkey or beautifully wrapped gifts or holiday fun can outshine having a family who I love and who is together. I'm just grateful beyond grateful to have them all okay.

So, this was Christmas. And I'm glad that it's over. And I'm not looking forward to next year's Christmas, but I am looking forward to making special memories all year round.