I realized just now that Babygirl turned 21 months old yesterday. Where, please tell me, where did the time go?

Just a while ago, I heard her babbling and looked over to see her “reading” a Teletubbies book to DaycareKid. DaycareKid, typical boy, was too busy putting a pair of underwear on his head to notice. He has a horrible cold and while we were in the back yard, he blew a snot bubble that was bigger than his actual nose.

While in the back yard, I mowed the lawn and clipped ivy with giant scissor clippers that I just remembered we owned. I keep them in the front closet with the winter coats and my wedding dress so that the children don’t use them and accidentally cut their brother’s hands off.

Tonight is YoungestBoy’s last baseball game and my ever-vigilant husband already purchased snacks for the team. Yay, husband!

Last night, I was at the pool with my four kids and our friends’ three kids. We were standing on the grassy hill just outside the gate. Babygirl was running down the hill as fast as she could and the boys (and L., the outnumbered girl) were eating candy they bought from the new vending machines. The other kids’ dad was coming soon and we were just waiting around.

Then four people came heading alongside the tennis courts and towards the pool. They didn’t come from the parking lot, but on foot from the apartment complex that adjoins the pool property.

My immediate thought: They are not members.

My next thought: Shame on you. You just thought that because the two teenaged boys are black. You racist!

Then: I wonder if anyone will say anything. They are not members. They do not look like members. Gosh, I’m racist.

I watch the teen with corn-rowed hair and a tattoo covering his stomach try to convince the blond girl that the water was warm. Two boys, two girls. Not members. I was sure of it.

Finally, the lifeguard said, “Hey, are you guys members?”

I was too far away to hear the entire convesation, but the gist of it was, “What? Members? How much does that cost? You’re kidding! Four hundred dollars?”

The lifeguard says, “You can come here as a guest of a member, but otherwise, you can’t swim here.”

And then, the tattooed guy floated over to a clean-cut young dad who was swimming with his toddler. “Hey man, can I be your guest?”

Clean-Cut Dad looks him in the eye and says, “No. I don’t know you. How could you be my guest?”

I wanted to say, “Yeah, and besides that, it costs $5!” Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!

I apparently am actually seven years old inside.

But the little voice that talks inside my head is usually right. They were not members. And that actually didn’t have anything to do with their skin color.

At times like that, I realize that I live in a society where I’m afraid to say anything negative about a person of color, for fear that I will be perceived as a racist. If I were truly color-blind, I would have confronted those teenagers the second they approached the fenced pool. I don’t have any problem at all standing up to teenagers. Earlier in the pool, a tall, blond teen boy took my 11-year old’s goggles and refused to return them. Until, of course, I went over and demanded that he do so.

If he were black, that blond goggle-stealer, would I have bit my tongue? I don’t know. What I do know is that I seem to make greater allowances for people of color so as not to appear racist.

And are you racist if you are aware of the race of others? Or are you racist only if you discriminate? And is it discrimination to look the other way when you see a person of color breaking a rule?

The Fine Art of Complaining

Yesterday, I received a large envelope from Proctor & Gamble. Inside was a big, green envelope with a postage-paid return label on it and instructions to put the remaining product inside for examination.

Product? What product? The form letter added to my confusion. Then, I realized this was all about Secret. A few weeks back, I decided that my sticky underarms were just not satisfactory and that Secret’s new “sheer dry” formula was to blame. So I emailed them and complained. “I’ve been using Secret since I was a sweaty teenager,” I said, “and I hate your new formula. The original formula works, but not this improved formula.”

They emailed me back, advising me of the correct way to use deodorant. I ignored the condescending tone and gave my address as requested. That’s why I received the envelope yesterday, the coupon for a free deodorant and the request to return the old deodorant (which fortuntately, was still in the corner of the bathroom shelf).

So, hooray for Proctor & Gamble. Though, I remember an old urban legend from when I was a teenager about how Satan controlled the company and you could tell this by looking at the configuration of stars on the toothpaste tube. Look here. It wasn’t just my imagination!

I have an unexpected day “off” today without my daycare baby. He has a cold and his mother stayed home with him. I spent the morning sorting through toys. I have a big, black trash bag ready for Goodwill.

The sunshine has returned. Blue sky, warm air. Too bad the kids still have two weeks of school. I am so finished hounding them about homework and caring about spelling words. But don’t tell them.

Cutest Boy Ever

YoungestBoy, the summer of 2001, when all he wanted to do was swing, swing, swing.  Posted by Hello


Random Cute Picture of YoungestBoy Posted by Hello

I Could Have Been A Surgeon

I woke up this morning and felt my gold hoop earring under my fingers, near my pillow. I fingered my ear and sure enough, no earring. Then, I probed my other earlobe. No earring. Apparently, I had some kind of dream in the night in which I had to remove both earrings. I have no memory of this dream or action. Weird, huh?

Babygirl woke up with a runny nose today. Alas, we had to go to church anyway because I was in charge of leading the music. Despite her snottiness, she was fairly cheerful, unless, of course, someone said, “Hi Baby!” to her, in which case she buried her mucus-y nose in my shoulder.

Later in the afternoon, I took the kids to the pool. The sun actually shone and the rain stopped and despite a stiff breeze, the kids said, “It’s hot! Let’s go to the pool!” Babygirl was happy to go anywhere in the car. Lately, she wants to go places and do things.

YoungestBoy passed his swim test the second time he took it today. The first test today, he swam underwater nearly the whole way. Not good enough. He needed to do the crawlstroke, so he swam back to the rope (underwater) and then did a flailing crawlstroke back to the other end of the pool. The lifeguard looked dubious, but then said, “He wants to go off the diving board, doesn’t he?” I said, “Yes!” and he said, “Well, okay, but if he gets tired, tell him he has to get out.”

YoungestBoy said, “But mom, I never get tired!” Then he proceeded to jump off the diving board about twenty times in a row.

At 5:00 p.m., my husband arrived with hot dogs for the grill and the necessary accompaniments. (Chips, ketchup and mustard!) I took Babygirl home and left the boys under his care. They swam for another hour.

At home, Babygirl and I went in the back yard and she wandered around while I pulled a few weeds and trimmed some ivy.

When the kids came home, my husband mentioned that YoungestBoy’s swimming trunks were stuck to his . . . private parts. Oh no! This happened once last year and it was a pain, literally, to get it unstuck. Same swimming trunks, too. Last year, I figured it was a fluke. Apparently, I was sadly mistaken.

I went up to the bathroom to find my boy sitting in the warm tub water, swimming trunks still on. Upon closer examination, I discover that the delicate skin has somehow poked through the tiny mesh holes and is stuck in two places. Can everyone say a big “ouch”?

My first thought was lubricant. Unfortunately, I don’t even have baby oil in the house. I thought maybe hair serum would work–it’s greasy and slippery stuff designed to combat friz.

My baby and my husband are looking over my shoulder. My husband says, “Are you sure? The area is . . . well, sensitive, you know.” I decide to pour baby shampoo on it instead, though in hindsight, I’m not sure how I thought that would help. Poor kid is yelping whenever I tug on the mesh. I decide to cut off the swimming trunks, leaving just a square of mesh around the “area.”

First, hair shears. No. Not sharp enough. Then kitchen shears. Again, no. Not sharp enough. Finally, I resort to my sewing scissors. This works and I leave a small square of mesh fabric hanging off the end of his tiny little member.

Then, I think, Wait! Heat expands, cold contracts! Let’s put it in a bowl of ice water and see if the tissue shrinks. At this point, tissue is stuck in one single hole, but it pokes through like a little water balloon which has been stuck through a chainlink fence and then filled with water. Can we all pause and say, “ouch” again? Thank you.

So, I fill a small Rubbermaid measuring cup with cold water and an ice cube. I hold this chilly cup to his little willy and he flinches. If he could stand the frigidity, this might work. Alas, too cold and the little bubble of flesh remains stuck.

I pick up my sharp shears. I clip, I snip, I work slowly, painstakingly, one miniscule thread at a time. I realize I cannot cut the final edges or I’ll prick his, well, his skin. But I get very, very close. He wiggles the fabric and it completely frays, leaving him free of the strangling mesh.

We high-five and he hugs me and thanks me for saving his life. I say, “Well, even if it were cut, you wouldn’t die.” “I wouldn’t?” he says. This leads into an deep discussion of amputation and when it would and when it would not lead directly to death. He also makes me promise to always let him wear underpants under his swimming trunks. I promise and think to myself that I will write a scathing letter to Ocean Pacific and demand to know why they use mesh which can entrap a little boy’s, uh, little boy. If you know what I mean.

Saturday: A Quick Summary

Wake up. Hear stomping, then bedroom door opening. Feign sleep. Continue to drool, arm flung over face. Hear husband say, “Yes?” and YoungestBoy answer, “Can I have a Go-gurt?”

Doze. Wake up when husband’s arm bumps my hip. “Hey,” he says, “You should shower before the baby wakes up.” I pry one eye open and squint to see the clock. It’s 7:08 a.m. Whatever happened to sleeping in on Saturdays?

I roll over and deny that morning has arrived, despite the evidence of children downstairs. STOMP! SLAM! THWACK!

I hate mornings. Have I mentioned that lately?

I shower while my husband lies in bed. This is clearly wrong, but I cannot figure out why it still happens. I should be the last person in bed. I am the person who makes the bed. It makes sense, right?

I have time to rotate the laundry (washer into dryer, dryer into basket) and fold a load of clothes. I pick up an enormous pile of cards from the floor where I’d ignored them last night. Then I get Babygirl from her room. She greets me, saying, “Sheet. Mommy. Sheet. Chair. Mommy.”

My husband showers and goes to work until noon. I tell the kids we can go to the pancake breakfast at the pool–it’s opening day–and that motivates them to shower and get dressed. I give YoungestBoy a bath and wash his hair because he has a birthday party to attend.

I feed Babygirl oatmeal. Coax her into clothes. Wrap the birthday present. Clean the litter box. Feed the kittens. Fill out the pool membership application and write a check. Get a snack for Babygirl. We finally leave the house at about 10:15 a.m.

We arrive at the pool and it’s sprinkling. No matter. We aren’t made of brown sugar. We won’t melt. We eat pancakes and eggs and sausage. The rain stops. The kids decide to roll down the grassy hill. Except Babygirl. She runs.

We leave at 11:00. I have to pick up Babygirl and carry her to the car while she shrieks and kicks and cries. She likes the pool, I guess. We are home a short time and my husband arrives home, too. I realize that I don’t need to make lunch because the boys just ate pancakes. I change YoungestBoy’s clothes and at 11:45 a.m., take him to the birthday party. Mr. Over-Protective Husband advises me to check out the party house. “Be sure there aren’t three ‘uncles’ lurking around,” he says. I roll my eyes.

Noon. I drop off YoungestBoy at the party.
12:30 p.m. I go upstairs to nurse Babygirl before her nap.
1:00 p.m. Mission accomplished. Babygirl is asleep. Husband is also asleep. I tell him I’m going to the grocery store. I have a short list, a handful of coupons and I shop fast. By 1:45 p.m., I’m back in the car, heading to pick up YoungestBoy from the party. He had a great time! His good little group of buddies were at the party. He was red-cheeked and happy.
2:00 p.m. Arrive home. Tell husband I’m taking the boys to the pool to swim. He looks at me like I’ve clearly lost my mind. But the boys want to swim, even though it is sprinkling off and on and about 60 degrees. The water is heated, after all.

At the pool, TwinBoyB immediately takes the swimming test–he swims the length of the pool to the satisfaction of the life guards. YoungestBoy wants to dive off the diving board, so I tell him he needs to take the swimming test, too. He seems tired and bobs a lot in the water and once comes to the edge of the pool–I don’t think he actually realized he was being tested. When he got to the edge of the pool, the lifeguard (a new girl with freckles) shook her head “no.” He didn’t pass! This is the boy who can dive 10 feet to the bottom of the pool to retrieve a penny, the kid who swims like a fish.

He was crushed. He swam back under the rope, though, and continued his underwater acrobatics. He practiced swimming with his arms whirling above his head. Then, while playing a chasing kind of game with his brothers, he bashed his head into the side of the pool and gave himself a lump on the back of the head. He came out of the pool, crying and I wrapped him in towels and hugs while tears rolled down his face. He was upset about the lump, but also upset about not passing the swim test. “Mom,” he said, “I feel like I’m a bad person. I will never pass the test!”

I watched TwinBoy, too, with an aching heart. He is not a good swimmer. In fact, he doesn’t really swim. His arms and legs are just not in sync with his brain and he cannot propel himself through the water. Besides that, he does not like dunking his head under water. He comes up sputtering every time. But he wants to play water-basketball with the other boys and the hoop is just on the other side of the rope. I watched him hugging a basketball under water, floating on it, and gazing at the kids on the other side of the rope. Seldom do you see such a stark picture of a kid who is not included. Usually, the rope is invisible. I hope he can learn to swim this summer. He did shoot a few baskets, but when the ball doesn’t float back within reach, he can’t retrieve it.

After YoungestBoy calmed down and decided to go back into the pool, I sat shivering because my jeans were wet from hugging soaking him. I tried to read an old Vanity Fair magazine (I’m so behind–this one was never opened, from December 2003), but mostly I watched the kids swim.

We left at 3:45 p.m. and the second I got home, Babygirl ran to me and insisted that I hold her. My husband left to run errands (pick up dry-cleaning, wash car) and I felt so annoyed! Even when he’s home–when he’s not working–he never seems to stick around! So, I had to cook dinner with a nosy, pesky toddler in my arms and underfoot. We had tacos–hard and soft–and I had to laugh secretly because my boys raved about the “meat” I cooked. It wasn’t meat at all, but a ground beef substitute called “Morningstar Grillers.”

My husband returned while we were eating dinner. Then he mowed the lawn. Finally finished, he decided to take Babygirl for a car-ride so I could practice music for church tomorrow. I sat at the piano and went over the songs while the kids make a big racket behind me.

Then TwinBoyA said, “Mom! Mom!” I turned and looked and there was YoungestBoy, sitting upright, legs crossed, head completely drooping sideways. Sound asleep. I took two pictures and then my husband returned and laid him in TwinBoyA’s bed. He slept until 8:30 p.m., and was awake and off-kilter until 10:30 p.m.

Now, this is what you call really, really tired.  Posted by Hello

My husband and I watched “The Restaurant” on television. I read the newest Vanity Fair while I watched television. My husband was teasing me about it because this is the issue that features Brad Pitt on the cover and much ado was made about nothing (his naked photos inside). I told him, “I only read this for the articles.” At the moment, I was reading about Stephen Hawking, eminent scientist who is trying to figure out the origin and purpose of the universe.

And now, it’s past 11 p.m.

Everyone is asleep. I never finished all the dinner dishes, nor have I put all my music for tomorrow in a notebook. I have no idea what I’ll wear to church tomorrow, but right now–right now–I’m going to put a chicken in the crockpot and go to sleep.

Saturday sure ain’t what it used to be. (I remember when it was a day of leisure. Now, that memory seems like a lie.)

Buddha: The Finger

Perhaps I just haven’t gotten out of the house enough recently (although I did manage to shop at Old Navy–it’s flip-flop season for the kids–and Target before taking YoungestBoy to the public library this morning before kindergarten). Even so, this news report about Buddha’s finger being on display in Hong Kong just tickled my funny bone.

HONG KONG, China (AP) — Beijing is lending Hong Kong one of the Buddha’s fingers for public display, but critics have belittled the move as a political gesture to soothe anger over China’s recent decision ruling out full democracy in Hong Kong.

“This is part of China’s propaganda exercise,” said pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan.

“Beijing is trying to get close to Hong Kong people and cool the heated political atmosphere.”

The relic, held in a bulletproof glass box, was flown in Tuesday afternoon — just in time for the Buddha’s birthday celebrations here Wednesday. It will be shown for 10 days in this largely Buddhist territory. . .

. . . Saffron-robed monks escorted the finger off an airplane that brought it from Xianyang in Shaanxi province. It was transferred onto a truck decorated in gold paneling and lotus flowers as a band played welcoming music.

Senior monks prayed and sounded horns before the finger was driven to an exhibition venue.

Buddha died about 483 B.C. After his cremation, some historians believe his bones were saved by Indian monks and that a few pieces were brought to China later.

The finger bone to be displayed in Hong Kong was among Buddhist relics discovered in an underground shelter at Famen Temple near the ancient capital of Xian in central China in 1987.

A senior Communist Party official, Liu Yandong, was set to officiate at an opening ceremony for the finger’s display from Wednesday through June 4. The relic is believed to bring peace and luck.

Now, far be it from me to belittle another faith, but come on. People are swooning over this dead man’s finger. I don’t get it. How does a dead man’s finger bring anyone peace and luck?

Sincerely yours,
Skeptical Mel


My baby seems better today. No sign of any illness whatsoever.

My husband sat by the bedside of yet another dying man today. This man was 72. I can’t remember what he died from, but my husband drove the widow home and then came home a little after dinnertime. Poo husband fell asleep before 8:30 p.m. He’s emotionally drained from taking care of so many grieving people and preaching funerals back to back.

My daycare baby is going with his parents to Georgia for five days. I will have a break–which is hilarious considering I now think of a break as days when I “only” have four kids to take care of.

The pool opens Saturday. YoungestBoy, especially, is excited. TwinBoyA loves the pool mostly for the “Snack Shack.” He plans to “work” at the Snack Shack this summer to earn money. They earn a pittance, but he’s jazzed about it.

We’ve had two days of rain. Being the Old Woman that I am, I am so thrilled that the rains came just a day after I planted my flower bulbs and wildflower seeds. Now, one more day of rain and then it must stop so YoungestBoy can swim at the pool on Saturday. He’s going to have a great day–he was invited to a birthday party on Saturday, too. I love the earnest enthusiasm of a six year old. I wish I could stick him in a jar and preserve him.

TwinBoyA has been unusually cooperative and sweet lately, which makes me nervous. TwinBoyB waited until the last minute tonight to write a speech on Martin Luther King, Jr., which made me want to bang my head on the computer keyboard.

I am tired.

Irrational Thoughts

Here is my train of thought upon realizing that my daughter is feverish.

Oh no. She feels warm. She probably just has a virus. I hope it passes quickly. That explains my aching head. I probably have it, too. I wonder if her head hurts? Wouldn’t it be horrible if this doesn’t pass quickly and if it actually turns out to be cancer? She has been clutching her knees and saying “ow.” Maybe she has bone cancer. My friends’ daughter had bone cancer when she was 12 and she died. My grandpa died from bone cancer. That’s a horrible way to die. But Babygirl is too little. Then again, she can’t tell me if her legs really do hurt. If she died, I would curl up on my bed and never come out of my room. People would understand. But my other kids would still need me. Boy, look at that rain. I wonder if my kids would think I didn’t love them as much if I fell apart after Babygirl’s death? I would have to carry on so they would be all right. Oh, I would totally love to take to my bed for a month. On the other hand, if I didn’t have this baby, I could go to school and work as an RN. You know, the youth pastor and his wife will be making more money than we are since they’ll both be working. I wonder what it would be like to have enough money? Why didn’t I work more before I had kids? I was in such a hurry to be a mother. Someday, I’ll work again and then I will shop. A lot. Is it almost nap-time? I wonder if I should give Babygirl a Tylenol suppository? Nah, fevers are good. It just shows that she’s fighting an infection. I hope she sleeps for two hours. Oh, look, her eyelids are drooping. I can’t wait until naptime.

I Need A Room for One, Please

Yesterday, Babygirl woke up early from her nap, but she went back to sleep. That was the first sign.

This morning, she woke up at 6:30 a.m., a full hour earlier than her usual time.

Throughout the morning, she was very clingy and crabby. She has taken after me, I’m afraid, and is sullen and apt to give dirty looks to anyone who is too chipper first thing in the morning. We hate mornings. But, this went beyond our usual slow start. She only wanted to sit on my lap and nurse and she didn’t want breakfast. Then I noticed she felt warm.

She is sick. And furthermore, I have a headache I can’t shake, despite ibuprofen and caffeine. I guess I’m sick, too, though I refuse to embrace it. She’s napping and I hope she naps a good two hours.

I think she caught this from DaycareKid–last Friday he was out of sorts, red-eyed, crabby and tired. I wiped his nose a few times. But he never became really ill, so I am hoping that we have that sort of not-quite-an-illness.

How sick is it to dream of checking into a hotel alone for a week? These are the fantasies of a housewife.

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