Uh oh ....

>> Monday, May 16, 2011

Hello.  Yes.  Hi.  It's me ... Karin?  Do you remember?

It's okay if you were starting to forget.  Sometimes things are so weird these days that I'm not sure I remember myself.

It's two weeks and counting until Baby Day, as well as about a month until Bubba's backyard birthday party, and things are ... like you might expect.  Nothing is quite done yet and I'm able to manage less and less each day. 

I've started at least four blog entries, but I've finished none of them in a month.  Yep.  That pretty much is a good analogy for life right now.

Bear with me, please.  I'll be back.  We just need a little time -- time to clean up, to convince Bubba that Daddy won't let him name the Baby "Max," to convince Bubba that there is only one baby coming (only one baby brother OR baby sister, not a baby brother AND baby sister), and of course getting all of the "stuff" ready.  You know.  "Where is it," "Has it expired, been ruined, is no longer cleanble, or just needs a wipe/run through the dishwasher/run through the clothes washer?"  And don't forget, "Didn't we have a ___________?  Who did we loan it to?  Or was it loaned to us in the first place?"

Oh, and yeah.  If the baby is a boy, he still needs a middle name.  We can't seem to resolve that one so far, so someone had better have a couple of coins to flip in the hospital.

Ah, well.  The world will go as it will, and as usual there is nothing I could do to change anything about it.

Stay tuned.  Bubba hasn't offered to name his baby sister "coupon" recently, but he is still mighty entertaining, and I promise the stories haven't stopped for good.


Shoenails and Mapnails

>> Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Learning language is a strange and complex thing.  As human beings (allegedly), we make associations between words and meanings, and we use those words to indicate those meanings.  Communication occurs when two people use the same associated meaning for the same word.  When two people use different meanings for the same word, a "mis" communication occurs.  (And, incidently, when those same two people are spouses, we refer to the miscommunication as "marriage".)

The fun and entertaining thing about having small children is the kinds of miscommunications that can occur, even when you all think you are talking about the same thing.  Take this story, for example.

For months now, we have been dealing with Bubba's "shredding" fingernails.  The poor little tyke has inherited mommy's soft fingernails, and they barely get past the edge of his fingers before they begin shaving off in strips that like to catch on everything.  When one of them starts to peel, he runs to me and says, "Mommy, can you help me with my fingernail?"  Dutifully, I peel off the offending shred, and Bubba goes on his way.

Incidentally, DH winces every time he sees my fingernails because they are so soft I can bend them and it doesn't hurt.  He says if he bent his nails like I do, there would be bruises under the nail bed and man-tears.  (Admittedly, I suspect him of exaggerating, but I don't know that for certain, and if he has accepted that belly button touching makes me faint, I can accept fingernail bending makes him bruise.  It's all good.)  When I was little, my mother used to tell me that my poor fingernail quality was due to my lack of milk consumption.  If I just drank more milk, which I hated because, as it turns out, I was allergic, I would have better fingernails.  Unfortunately, I no longer think my mom was right, and I no longer feel guilty about my fingernails.  You see, Bubba drinks milk like he's afraid he'll never see it again.  In fact, I have to bribe him to drink something other than milk sometimes.  And still, he has shredding fingernails.  Obviously low calcium is not the issue.

Long after "fingernails" became a routine, we still had to deal with toenails and Bubba's insanely unreasonable fear of toenail clippers.  At some point, the sharp ends of his toenails got so bad that, fear or not, those suckers were going to have to come off.  To make a long task into a short story, we eventually we got around to trimming Bubba's toenails, which took a lot of persuasion and coaxing and probably some other activities best not described.  Of course, we showed him the pieces of his claws -- I mean toenails -- that we cut off before we put them in the trash.  Bye, bye toenail pieces.  All was well that ended with a smile.

So far so good, right?  We have shredding fingernails, and we remove the shreds.  We have growing toenails, and we clip them, right?  Only ... that doesn't seem to be what Bubba understood about our discussions on fingernails and toenails.

My first clue came when Bubba was climbing into the car to go to preschool.  He said, "Mommy, can you help me with my shoenail?"

His what?

"Your what?"

"Can you please help me with my shoenail?"

Because, like all of the dumbest parents, I still wasn't getting it, he showed me.  His sneakers were wearing out, and part of the sole was had started to pull off a little sliver, much like the slivers that come off his fingernails.  Finally, the nature of our multi-month miscommunication dawned on me clearly.  A little shaving on a finger = a fingernail.  A sliver cut from the toe = a toenail.  A little sliver or shaving from the sole of a shoe = a shoenail.


So, what do I do?  Do I correct him and explain what a fingernail really is?  Well, I thought about it, and I really did try, but we were getting late for school, and my 2 second explanation didn't seem to sink in over the worry about the shoenail and why mommy wasn't fixing it.  I resorted to explaining that mommies can't fix shoenails, and the only way to fix shoenails was to buy new shoes.

About a week later, a little pull appeared on his plastic playmat from one of his books, that he likes to call his "map".  I didn't know about this little pull right away, but I figured it out soon enough when he started complaining about a "mapnail."

The worst part is, Mommy has no fix for mapnails either.


The Real Physics Forces -- A Gateway to Understanding the Universe

>> Thursday, March 31, 2011

I just saw a cover of a magazine that said that scientists either need to completely rewrite the big bang theory or abandon it altogether.  Per magazines, learning documentaries and articles the world over, our understanding of the universe is in serious jeopardy.  "Most of Our Universe is Missing!" warns a BBC television episode. 

Certainly, we don't understand how or why the great cosmic structures of the universe move and behave the way they do.  We also, apparently, don't understand the interaction of matter and invisible/unknown/theoretical particles.  We only seem to know -- or are slowly becoming aware -- of how very much we don't know.

Well, I'm not quite sure what all the mystery is about.  My friends and family and I are very much aware of a whole host of forces of nature that the physicists have neglected to discuss in any of their cosmological theories.  What is the power of a supernova when compared to the explosive capacity of a hungry child that missed a nap?  What is electromagnetism when compared to the compulsion of a shedding cat to find the one person in the room with allergies?  How can the strong and weak nuclear forces stand up to the attraction between dripping paint and the one spot of carpet that is not covered by cloth?  What is the measure of gravity considering the adhesive quality of cat fur to cloth?  What of cosmic black holes when there is one that exists in the clothes dryer of every American household?

What and how, indeed?

I think the secrets of the universe, and all of its unknown forces and powers, maybe explained not in the laboratories of great universities, but in the kitchens and living rooms of the average home.  Let's consider some of the great forces that we encounter and accept every day, without questioning their power or their origin.  Perhaps these are the forces that today's physicists need to better understand:

1.  The mysterious connection between white fuzzy particles and dark carpet (and vice versa)
2.  The nearly inconquerable attraction between a household pet and the one piece of furniture s/he is not allowed to climb
3.  The remarkable adhesive quality of cat snot  (Okay, this isn't a common one, but trust me on this.  The effect is more potent than chewing gum.)
4.  The mystical contact between grease and women's tops
5.  The impressive relationship between spaghetti and white things
6.  The ability of a person severely allergic to poison ivy to miraculously stumble on the only poison ivy leaf in a hundred mile radius
7.  The attraction between dirt and children's faces
8.  The magnetism between young children and puddles
9.  The mythical and powerful workings of the forces of Entropy and Chaos on a household

I could go on, and on, and on ... and I'm sure you could as well.  Any of us could.

Now, I am also sure that several of these phenomena can be combined into one cohesive explanation, such as a new attractive/repulsive force similar to electromagnatism, but in order to reach these cosmic conclusions, physicists will need to examine the phenomena in more detail.  For some reason, they have failed to do so before now, which is an oversight that I believe has contributed to the disasterous state of our understanding of the cosmos that we are encountering today.

In the spirit of scientific cooperation, I will make the ultimate sacrifice of opening my home to investigation, and this blog is my open invitation to the leading experimental and cosmological physicists. 

I eagerly await your reply.


The Long-Awaited, Probably Dreaded, "Pregnancy Post."

>> Wednesday, March 16, 2011

You knew it was coming.  You knew I couldn't go nine months without talking about my own biological state.  After all, I shared my eviction of my gall bladder with you, so what's a little obstetrics between bloggy-friends, right?

Don't worry.  I won't get too personal (except to mention that it is impossible to go through maternity and delivery and still avoid a sense that most of the world has seen everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING about you).

We have about 2 and 1/2 months to go, and I'm growing very concerned about my belly button.  I think it's no secret to anyone that has been paying attention that I have belly button issues, but this time, I'm really concerned.  When I was pregnant with Bubba, against all odds I managed to maintain an "inny" (innie?) belly button the entire time.  This time, I'm not so sure.  I'm petrified that any day now, with the excess scar tissue I am carrying, that little old belly button of mine is going to pop out into an "outie" (outy?).  If that happens, I just might go over the edge.

Let's face it.  There is a "no touch" zone around my belly button that is as serious as Israeli airport security, and nothing is going to change that.  Any deliberate move in the direction of my belly button by DH is grounds for immediate divorce.  Similarly, if any of my so-called "friends" ever wish to see if I am serious about this issue, I will kick them into Canada with one blow and then install an electric fence.  My only concession to the "no touch zone" is for sonograms, and that takes serious effort.  I understand sometimes that icky cold gel and that stupid wand need to encroach near (sometimes *gasp* on) my belly button to take some crucial baby-measurement, but that doesn't make it easy for me to tolerate.  I have to know it's coming, scrunch up my eyes, and hold someone's hand in my fist like I'm making hamburger out of it before I can force myself to hold still and let them do it.  (In my mind, I imagine it is as close as I will get to an actual labor-experience, because all my kids will probably have to be via C-section.  Certainly I have wounded DH's hand enough to make him THINK it was labor.  Maybe it's as close as HE will get to a labor decision.  Yeah, that's probably better.)

So, if that little belly button pops out, what will happen next?  Catatonia, maybe.  I can barely even fathom the idea of having the inside of my belly button actually outside, rubbing against my shirt.  In fact, I'd rather  .... honestly, I can't hardly think of something I WOULDN'T rather do that deal with an outie belly button, but I'm afraid most analogies would seem rather cold and insensitive, so I'll just leave that thought unsaid.  (I once nearly fainted when I was pregnant with Bubba and *saw* another pregnant woman with an outie belly button.)

Last time, with Bubba, I was carrying excess amniotic fluid, and so far we've no sign of that this time.  Then again, it is a little early to know for sure. (I think.  Those memories are getting blurry.)  Either way, as I got to the middle of my third trimester last time, random strangers were stopping me in parking lots asking if I was having twins or triplets.  These days, people who actually know me on sight have finally stopped saying, "Oh, you're pregnant?  Congratulations, I didn't know!"  Hopefully that means I actually look smaller (although I don't see it), which means the risk of developing an outy-button isn't as high as I fear.  Hopefully. 

All I can do is hope that normal biology and my pathological aversion to contact with my belly button don't collide.  Pray for me.

And as for those so-called acquaintences of mine that didn't know I was pregnant, I choose to conclude that they were being overly polite, and that my big belly was cleverly disguised by my voluminous winter coat.  Otherwise I am forced to admit that they think I have a really big ass when I'm not pregnant and thus failed to notice my maternity pants and expanding belly.  I choose to think optimistically on this one.

Finally, for your random fact of the day, while I was writing this post, a fox ran through my back yard.  Now you know.

Thus endeth the pregnancy post.


The Year of Entropy and Chaos Part IV -- I Can Win Sometimes

>> Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I think Entropy has caught a cold.  Or something.

He seems to be spending a lot of time sitting on the couch lounging, doing nothing to stop me from cleaning the house. 

I've got to give the guy credit -- he has been expending a lot of energy recently trying to disrupt our lives, and he's done a pretty good job of it.  I mean, first there was the toilet disaster.  That, you have to admit, was inspired -- letting us fix everything that was wrong with the toilet except the one thing that worked before we started the "repair."  I have to award points for cleverness.

Then there was the heat pump.  That thing froze, solid, but we managed to thaw it after only two days.  Our neighbors called repairmen, but we, WE managed to fix it ourselves ... sorta.  It worked for a day, then froze again (and we fixed it again).  Then it froze again ... on a day that the temperature outside was above freezing.  Ooookaayyy, clearly we were no longer dealing with an ordinary mechanical repair.  Clearly Entropy was invoking the supernatural powers of Chaos to affect problems mere natural law cannot achieve.

Still, we perservered.  We refused to panic when the heater failed to respond timely to a drop in the temperature, and we just turned on the emergency heat or wall heater and put on a sweater.  Eventually, the heat pump caught up.  In the meantime, we apparently exhausted Entropy.  He had one more trick up his sleeves, by trying to upset my stomach over the weekend so I couldn't clean the house, but we foiled him.  I sat and directed Bubba and DH what I wanted brought to me, and I sorted while they put away.  It wasn't a perfect solution, but it did the trick.  DH even managed to paint the baby's room on Saturday afternoon while Bubba was sleeping.

And that seemed to be the last of Entropy for at least a few days.  We had a monster rain on Sunday, and there was no flood in the basment or the backyard.  Given our prior problems in that area, "no floods" is a bloody miracle.  The land surrounding our backyard was taking deposits for duck condos, but we were doing fine.  Then, on Monday, I managed to do laundry and clean a large chunk of the house without so much as a child-toy-dumping.  Clearly, Entropy is not himself.

I could get used to this ... but I know better.  Entropy just has the flu and will be back any day now.


You Can't Blame Me for This One ....

>> Friday, March 4, 2011

And still I'm slow in getting blog posts out.  I have a couple "in the works," but Entropy and Chaos have been doing their darndest on me recently.  The toilet is fixed, but now it looks like our heater won't be quite so easily solved.  More on that later.

In the meantime, my fellow blogger @BustedKate recently posted a link that I feel compelled to share with you about what can happen when you don't shut off auto-correct on your iPhone.

Please take a look at this link:  http://damnyouautocorrect.com/ and feel free to laugh yourself silly.  We sure did.

Fair Warning:  The material at the link is not PG-13, so please be aware.  There are no graphic pictures, but apparently the iPhone has a dirty mind when left to it's own devices. 


The Year of Entropy, Part III -- Of Illness and Plumbing

>> Thursday, February 24, 2011

So, we survived the preschool plague with only minimal setbacks and casualties.  The laundry, for one, seems in a perpetual state of delay, but I'm not sure that blaming the plague is really fair.

As DH and I reached a fairly stable point of recovery, we made the rather dangerous decision that the time had come to finally fix the downstairs toilet.  It was functional, unless you were squeamish or easily embarrased, because it did flush -- once every 2 or 3 attempts, so .... you get the idea.

But, plumbing is ... well ... plumbing.  Do-it-yourself projects are never what you hope they will be, but of all the possible options, plumbing is possibly the worst.  First of all, it's bad because you know it won't ever, and can never be, a one-stop fix.  Second, messing with a plumbing system might fix some problems, but the chances of something else breaking are pretty darn high.  Third, once you start, you cannot stop, because plumbing is usually equal parts destruction and reconstruction, requiring at least local water to be turned off, and often the water to the house, and if you are really lucky, the water to the entire neighborhood.

Then, in my house at least, you need to factor in Entropy, above and beyond the normal laws of home repair.  You see, the normal laws of home repair state that no matter how many supplies you have at home, no matter how careful your shopping list, and no matter how many times you have done the same repair before, you are not allowed to make it through any job without at least one trip to the hardware store.  (Just accept it.  There is no way around it.)  Entropy can do so much more than this.  Entropy will wait until you have reached the point in your toilet repair when all the old fixtures are broken beyond repair and you have no choice but to finish the job or learn to live without water.  Then, he will arrange to have the child of the house come down with a fever and a huge spreading rash that look disturbingly itchy and painful.  For icing on the cake, he will also make sure someone comments on how much the rash looks like measels (of course, making sure that the pregnant woman in the house is aware of how bad this could be), and then he will hide the child's vaccination records somewhere mysterious so that no one can confirm when the MMR vaccination was.  Yep.  That is what Entropy will do.

But wait. 

The laws of home repair dictate that once the (longer than you wished, harder than you'd hoped) repair is finished, something about it won't work right.  Entropy will make sure that the part that is broken is the only thing that worked before you "fixed" it.  For example, if your toilet innards are malfunctioning, and the toilet runs, fails to flush regularly, and fills slowly, and you manage to fix all of that, Entropy will make sure that the water connection between the toilet and the household water supply starts to leak. 

(Trust me.  I now have co-opted the bathroom wastebasket as a drip bucket and have a constant supply of towels on the floor.  So now the toilet works far better than it used to ... provided you don't mind the leak.  Of course, the leak does not stop if the water to the toilet is turned off.  No.  The leak is coming from the tank side of the connection, so the only way to stop it is to turn off the water AND drain the toilet tank, rendering the toilet completely unusable.)

Then, the moment you identify the new and intractable problem your home repair has caused, Entropy will throw in another wrench.  While you have the water to the entire house turned off to try to fix the problem, Entropy will make the last completely healthy person in the house queasy and ask for a bucket.

Finally, perhaps days later, when you think you have 3 or 4 more solutions to try to fix the leak, Entropy will make the heat pump freeze and might even throw some added GI distress your way.

Yep.  Entropy loves plumbing.


...And You, Scarecrow, Are the Sickest of All

>> Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I have just two words for this blog post.

Scarlet Fever.


I Now Pronounce You Sick and Sicker

>> Friday, February 18, 2011

Hey, wow, look at how time flies.  I've been ....


I'm rather stuck here.

I am not sure I can tell you what happened.

You see, I have said on more than one occasion that I do not wish to be known as the "potty-mouthed blogger."  I also have it, on good authority, that I am NOT "the woman who talks about poop all the time" because that title has already been claimed (see comments, here), and I must not upset the apple cart by intruding on the territory of the REAL woman who talks about poop all the time. 

I also swear to you that at one time I had a comment to this rather innocent post about toilet paper that it was "funny" but at the same time made someone gag just thinking about it.  (Really?  A clean toilet paper roll falling in a bathtub is a gaggable offense?  Then again, who am I to question?  I have belly-button issues, and no one believes me either.)  Okay.  I'll accept the gaggable label, although I admit to not quite understanding it and thus I cannot predict when I might commit another offense.

So ... how to tell you where I have been and what we have been doing?

Let's see.  How about this:

Bubba's friends at school are very good at sharing many things, including coughs, sneezes, and ... other things that might come with coughs and sneezes.  As a result, we recently had to teach Bubba the first steps in the art of the "porcelain prayer."  After only one night of practice, and a little help from us, he isn't that bad at it.  Now, granted, he's too short to kneel or crouch, and generally does his devotions standing up (or hanging from Mom's arms), but his aim is pretty good.

Bubba also recently learned that after you have spent time doing the porcelain prayer, not all gas is ... well ... gas.  We, in turn, have had to learn new and previously untried ways to remove "dirt and odor from your carpet."  A dog has nothing on a sick kid.

Largely due to the excellent example of his friends at school, Bubba also made sure to share his cooties, in part with his mom and in part with his dad.  In self defense, we were forced to designate one bathroom as the "danger zone" and one bathroom as the "prayer zone".  Crossing the line was not forgivable.

And, to be fair, Bubba's soon-to-be baby brother or sister was not impressed at all with any of these events, resulting in several comments such as, "If you kick me in the stomach again, we're just going to end up right back in the bathroom, so cut it out already."

Yep.  That about sums up what we've been doing.  I hope that is sufficient excuse for the lack of blogging.

How about you guys?  What have you been up to?


Dear People (Men) Who ...

>> Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oho, look at that.  I wrote a gender-biased title.  I'm engaging in wild and wholly partially slightly unsupported stereo-typecasting.
I have a feeling I'm still right.

You see, I've decided that in today's post, I am going to "call out" the designer and/or installers of some products/services I have used recently.  Quite clearly these individuals never used their product, nor did they even think about what life would be really like for someone who did try to use it.

1.  To the man who installed the toilet paper holder in the woman's bathroom at JC Penneys in the next town, next time please install the holder while sitting on the commode.  I know men customarily do not sit on toilet seats in public restrooms if they can possibly wait, but please, give it a try.  If you do, you will quickly see that when the toilet is only 6 inches from the wall, the big giant multi-roll toilet paper holder should not be set immediately next to the toilet seat only 3 inches higher than the seat itself.  No one wants to do their business with a toilet paper holder on their lap, and no woman wants to think that it's only her thighs that won't fit under it.

2.  To the non-parental, non-shopper (probably a man) that designed "kid friendly shopping carts," designed for parents to push -- please stop.  Feel free to continue manufacturing the little mini carts kids push themselves, if you must, but those big, hulking carts with cars attached to the front, or designer staircases for kids to climb in the back have GOT to go.  First of all, they are 20 feet long and cannot corner around a traditional grocery store without knocking over display cases and the occasional fellow shoppers.  Second, they are heavy enough before the cart is full of whatever the store is supposed to be selling you.  Third, they put the child too far away from the parent to reach out and grab when said child decides now would be a good time to do the "drop and roll" out the "car" door onto the store floor in front of another monstrous cart.

3.  To the employee of Target that designed all clothing racks and placed most special display cases in such a away that no regular shopping cart can maneuver through, you need some perspective.  I suggest that you be given a cart, a Christmas list, and a handful of children under 7, and told that you cannot leave the store unless your shopping list is complete, all children are accounted for and have not been left alone for rampant destruction, the cart is not caught between the wrapping paper and the valentine display, and all knocked over display cases have been properly re-assembled.  Then, if that isn't sufficient attitude adjustment, you shoud have to repeat the exercise using one of those ridiculous "kid friendly" carts with the special back-end kid's seat that your store seems so fond of. 

4.  To the employees of KMart that keep moving the Toddler underwear display, just knock it off.  Figure out where you want to put it -- in baby, or in the appropriate gender section of the older children and leave it there.  Otherwise I will leave my child tugging on YOUR sleeve asking to go potty while I try to figure out where it is.  If you are not inspired by this threat, you have never experienced crack-peeingAnd sometimes he falls in.  Oh, and you cannot take any girl-children I might have with me into the men's room.  Figure it out on your own time.

5.  To the airline managers that have decided families with small children do not need extra boarding time, you are welcome to a view of my butt while I hold up the entire line to install my airline-approved, bigger-than-most-suitcases carseat in the window seat where you require it to be.  You are most welcome.  And by the way -- where am I supposed to change the baby's diaper on my cross-country flight to the funeral?  Hmmmm?  Any suggestions?

Now, I realize some of these inconveniences are the result of old equipment and old ideas.  I get that.  No one will retrofit an airplane just to install a changing table.  That's fine.  It's the new stuff and the stupid stuff that can drive otherwise rational people up a tree.  If you are going to retrofit an airplane, then for crying out loud have a heart.  Flight attendants don't appreciate you changing the baby on the floor in the galley, and don't even get me started with the man in the seat on the aisle.

6.  To airport policy makers and airport bathroom designers (apparently men), please coordinate.  I am not allowed to leave my baggage out of my sight for a second while in the airport, lest it gets taken and "subject to search and destruction."  Or so you keep telling me over the loudspeaker at least 500 times while I wait for my flight.  If I should have to go to the restroom while waiting, though, I can assure you that most women's restroom stalls are not wide enough or long enough to allow me to wrangle my carry-on in with me, even if I am willing to hold it on my lap (which is a feat only for the truly experienced, I must admit).  In some extreme cases, the door will not open wide enough to allow anything more than a person through the stall entrance.  Is it possible you forgot women do not pee standing up at a trough with their luggage (and other things) in plain view of the entire crowd?

7.  To auto manufacturers -- a little help, please.  With the invention of front wheel drive, we lost the "hump" in the back seat to put a weighted trash can.  With "non-pickable" door locks, we can no longer hang trash bags over the door lock button.  With "modern" styling in many cars, we can no longer even rely on having that little 2 inch cubby-hold in the door to hold small things like tissues.  So, I ask you, what is your plan to handle my cross-country car trash?  I have cupholders galore, individual temperature controls, and in many cases, individual media centers, but in all this, not a single place to hold trash.

8.  To God, can we talk about cowlicks?  What are they, some kind of inside joke?  Because I just don't get it.

Yeah.  I stand by my opening statement.  Most of these people are probably men.  Of course, I don't actually know that, but I have a pretty good hunch.  Daddy Bloggers and  #mancode followers, what do you think?


The Other Side of the Fence for a Change

>> Saturday, January 22, 2011

Today was the "big sonogram" day in our house.  To give you a little background, by the time we got this far with Bubba, we had already had genetic testing, been to see a fetal cardiologist, and had numerous warnings that things were not quite what they were supposed to be.  As it turns out, all of the "authoritative" tests came back negative, but the pregnancy was, in the words of one of the doctors, "harrowing, and not the kind of thing you can sit back and enjoy."

Of course, as many of you already know, when Bubba was born, he had a lot of problems breathing.  None of his problems, though, were in any way related to all those screening tests he flunked.  Those, apparently, were just random coincidence.  Gotta love it.  Thanks again, Murphy.  Really.  Love ya.  Mwah.

So, as exciting as prenatal sonograms can be, DH and I find ourselves this time around approaching them with at least a small amount of reservation.  We aren't accustomed to hearing much positive news.  Today was no exception.  While I was largely convinced that lightning wasn't going to strike twice, I wouldn't want to know for sure what my blood pressure and pulse rate were when I was sitting in that waiting room.

First of all, the place we were going was run by some of the finest neonatal diagnosticians anyone could ever hope to meet.  Unfortunately, all of this talent comes with the compassion of moss.  They are just the folks you want to go to to be sure you've found all that could go wrong, but the last people you want to actually tell you what they find.  Yes.  What a lovely combination, no?

Today, I had a lot of time to observe the other people in the waiting room and the hallways.  Why?  Well, of course our little baby refused to cooperate.  When they wanted to see a face, s/he turned away.  When they finally convinced him/her to turn back, s/he covered her face with her hands.  We were set to rolling around, walking to the cafeteria and back, and lots and lots of shoving around on my belly.  Do I even need to mention how close they had that stupid sonogram tool on my belly button?  Of COURSE they did.  Of course they did.  I have belly button issues.  Of course they did.  S/he is going to be a stubborn one.  Are we surprised, in this family?  No.  No ... no.  No.

While we walked, and while we waited, I saw hopeful moms, and fearful moms, and I could guess maybe what they were thinking while they waited.  One mom walked past me with tears in her eyes and a tissue in her hand.  I don't know what she was told, but I could empathize with how she was feeling.  That was me four years ago.  Of course, me being me now, I felt like running over, putting my arms around her and giving her a big huge hug.  I didn't want her standing there all alone, sad and fearful.  Then again, she did not look like the kind of woman who would appreciate being randomly assaulted by a short pregnant woman in the middle of a hospital.  I couldn't help but think of what she might say if I did come over and invade her personal space like that.  With my luck, the poor thing wouldn't even speak a word of English, she'd call hospital security, and I'd find myself on the psych ward before my appointment was even over.  For all I know, she hadn't even been back to the rooms yet and was sniveling about something completely unrelated to where we were and what we were doing.


Better restrain myself.

No good can come from randomly hugging crying women in hospitals without warning. 

So, we waited, and walked, and poked and prodded the baby, and I did not hug anyone whatsoever. 

Finally, we got all the pictures, they wrote up all the reports, and we walked back to meet the doctor, and I had yet another out-of-element experience. 

What are the parents supposed to talk to the doctor about when they call you back and tell you everything is fine?  Honestly, I stared at the doctor and tried (unsuccessfully) to make small talk. (Well, in my case, small jokes, you know.)  Questions?  No, no.  How can I have a question about nothing at all?  What am I supposed to say?  (My friend @kadiera suggests that I say, "Are you sure? I've never had a doctor tell me that," just to see what they say.  I'm thinking that could be fun to try.)

I guess when they tell you the second kid is the opposite of the first, they really mean it.  Bubba wouldn't hold still.  This baby won't move when you ask.  Bubba liked medical drama, and this kid wants to be left alone.  Bubba was an extrovert, and this one seems pretty introverted.

Now what?  Not that I'm complaining, but what's a mom supposed to do with all of this waiting around and nothing to worry about?  Well, for starters, I will try to remember not to hug any random strangers.  That's a good start.  I also know by now not to expect this baby to act like the last one.  Beyond that, I'm at a loss.  I'd better be careful, though, because I'm sure Bubba would be happy to step in and bring a little excitement to the proceedings, like by knocking another tooth out or something.  He's very accomodating that way.


The Year of Entropy, Part II -- Where Will We Put Another One?

>> Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yesterday, DH, Bubba and I struggled to sort through Bubba's endless supply of toys in order to find a way to have them all fit inside the toybox (except for those toys that are bigger than the toybox all by themselves, of course).  We had to get pretty creative. 

If it was part of a "costume," then it could go into a costume box in the closet.  Okay, that helped a little.

If it was a "game" and not a toy, then it could go into the closet on the game pile.  Okay, that helped a lot, especially if we were liberal with our definition of "game".

Then we had the delicate discussion of what toys we were going to put aside to give to  "my new baby brother and sister," as Bubba likes to put it.  We've tried to explain to Bubba that there is only one new baby coming, not two, but I'm not sure he is getting the picture.  Either way, he agreed to part with some of his things for the sake of no longer being an only child.  Boy, is he going to be surprised, I think.

Then, sometimes openly, and sometimes clandestinely, we discarded some "toys".  We were successful in dumping a lot of unopened McDonald's prizes, but we were not successful in parting with a rather beat up box that used to contain 12 K cups of Chai Tea.  Apparently, this box is still a very treasured dog house for the ever-so-important Pluto. 

And that was it.  With precious little (read "no") room to spare, the toybox is closed.  At least, it is closed until I find the next stash of toys that we missed from some other room.  Unfortunately, all of this work has lead me to some troubling questions.

Where are we going to put that new baby's stuff?  In a family where three people sometimes struggle to fit into a four bedroom house because we have an unnatural attachment to crap, where will we fit a whole new person and all of his or her accouterments?

Of course, the fact that we are almost at the bottom of a hand-me-down chain right now (and will be at the bottom when the baby arrives) is both a blessing and a curse.  The good news is we have a whole bunch of neat things we might not otherwise be able to get, like a work bench, a child's table, an art easel, a big giant castle to crawl in, and a teeter toter.  On top of that we have a tent, a slide, a ball pit, and miscellaneous other toys that Santa has brought over the years.  The bad news is we have all that stuff in one house, for one kid, in a family that can barely stand to part with calendars from 5 years ago.

You see, it was more than the Christmas chaos that made me think Entropy was moving in for an extended stay.

I think we're doomed.


Nonverbal Social Cues

>> Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recently, I have had several conversations with various people about "nonverbal social cues."  You know, those things we do with our hands and face that tell people without words what we think about what just happened or how we are feeling.

What I have learned recently is that some people are no good at reading nonverbal social clues, and others just take them for granted.  Putting someone who fails to recognize nonverbals into a close relationship with someone who uses them all the time and expects that everyone knows them is a recipe for conflict.

Have you ever thought about nonverbal social cues?  I'll admit, until recently, I never gave them much attention at all.  I just assumed that anyone who missed the obvious frowns, head shakes, or nudges were just being rude or not paying attention.  It never occurred to me that some people didn't "get" nonverbal social cues.  My Darling Husband also has seldom (dare I say never) even thought about this topic at all.  When a mutual friend asked about them one day, DH said, "nonverbal what?"

So, after talking about these sorts of things for awhile, we decided to put our heads together and come up with a little quiz to see how much you know about nonverbal social cues in common family and social situations.  Let's see how well you score.

1.  You are lying on the floor playing a game with your son when your wife throws a box at you from the next room.  What is the message?

A.  She is really mad at me.
B.  She was really aiming for my son and missed.
C.  She wants me to do something with the box.
D.  Nothing.  It was a random act of box throwing, and I don't need to know anymore.

2.  You are standing in a crowded hotel lobby, looking at a sign for directions for your company meeting, when your office mate comes up behind you and strikes up a conversation.  While he is talking, he places his hand on your upper back and gently begins pushing into your back, in the meantime, he takes a step away from you.  What does he want you to do?

A. He is hitting on me!  What do I do?
B.  His wife made him read a book about attachment parenting, and he is confused.
C.  He wants me to walk with him in the direction he is pushing.  He must know which way to go.
D.  It's some new metrosexual thing I don't understand, and I'm going to try to ignore it.

3.  Your son is tugging on your pant leg and saying something incomprehensible.  When you don't respond to his words, he begins pulling on your hand.  What does he want?

A.  He has invited me to wrestle.
B.  He wants me to turn him upside down.
C.  He wants me to come with him to the other room.
D.  I don't have an obligation to answer until he can speak English.

4.  Same as #3, except instead of pulling on your hand, your son is attempting to climb your leg by pulling on your arms and your belt loops alternatively.  What does he want?

A.  He needs to go potty.
B.  He's hungry.
C.  He wants me to pick him up.
D.  "Honey?  What does the kid want?"

5.  Your mother points to a box of batteries that you left on the piano bench, in reach of small children.  Her head is tilted to the side, and she is not smiling.  She says, "You know how I feel about batteries left out in the open."  What does your mother wants you to do with the batteries.

EXTRA CREDIT:  You and your spouse go to your child's teacher-parent meeting. The teacher says your child has trouble with nonverbal social skills. The teacher and your spouse both look at you. Write an essay on what they are thinking.


Okay, how did you do?


The Year of Entropy, Part I -- The Attack of Christmas

>> Wednesday, January 5, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  (Sure, sure, I'm a few days late.  I woke up this morning feeling like it was Monday. I know that's not a good sign for the rest of the day, but it's a good excuse for a late blog.)

Entropy and Chaos came for Christmas and Entropy has now effectively moved in. You should be receiving a change of address cards from him soon, and  I don't see us successfully kicking him out in all of 2011.  (But I sure as heck am going to try.)

See, it all started when DH and I struck a deal. The house would be spotless by Christmas morning (his part of the deal), and then I wouldn't bug anyone else about cleaning until after New Year (my part of the deal).  This was a very Faustian bargain, without all the upside.   According to Entropy, our deal was an open invitation to take up residence, and he accepted immediately on behalf of himself and Chaos. Chaos arrived quickly, with the wrapping paper on the floor on Christmas morning, but for the most part, he has retreated to the basement. Entropy, however, is living large in the family room, playing with the toys, eating the food, and in general making a pest of himself.

Before he got so bold, I honestly missed Entropy's arrival. I thought it was just Chaos roaming free, as so often happens at the holidays. You know -- small children, wrapped presents, singing holiday decorations -- it's a great big party of Chaos. I figured, if the house was spotless on Christmas morning, then except for finding a place to put all the new toys and games that arrived, we shouldn't have all that much to do to keep the place looking nice. Granted, things weren't tidying up quite as quickly as I thought they should as the day progressed, but I had made a deal -- no harping on the mess until 2011.  I kept my peace and tried to focus on the great family affair of holiday-gathering.

So, in the middle of all the excitment, I somehow missed the exact moment when the dishes began multiplying in the sink and the laundry began breeding in the basket. I failed to notice that the number of mismated socks was increasing to an improbable number (how can you have more mismated single socks than you had pairs to begin with?). Of course, since DH will do all laundry when necessary except match and fold socks, I didn't think too much at first about the increasing pile of footwear growing on top of the dryer. Only when I went to mate the little suckers myself did I realize we had some sort of extra-dimensional problem.

As I began "undecking" the halls, I could not figure out why it was taking more days to "undo" than to "do." I also could not figure out how there were now more ornaments than could possibly fit into all of these boxes, and we didn't even buy any new ones.  Then I figured it out.  That was Entropy hanging out there on the couch.  I thought it was Uncle Steve. 

Every time I turn around, there is another holiday decoration that managed to hide itself while we were packing things way. I'm sure we will keep finding them until February at this rate. Hopefully they will be the red ones, becaue at least that color goes well with Valentine's Day.  With luck, though ...

Yeah. I have a feeling that Entropy has really got my number this year.  Take a look.  What do you think?

Attack of Christmas


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