Writings of a teachermom, choosing to stay home with her kids, while loathing all domestic responsibilities! In late Aug. 2008, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. After surgery, chemo and radiation, I was given theall clear. However, in the late summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which metasticized to other areas.

Friday, March 31, 2006

kiddo update

Ella turned over for the first time yesterday. She has also discovered how to eat her hands.

Max has decided that although he wanted nothing to do with this swing when he was the proper size for it, he really wants to sit in it now…whether Ella is already sitting there or not. Also, he finally flicked his language switch and has discovered that he can say more than Sponge Bob. He is constantly repeating everything we say. No one can understand what he’s saying, but he is finally saying something. I love it!

As for Cameron, sometimes being a 4 ½ year old big brother is just plain hard work.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

the whole package

So when I fore go Target and purchase kids' clothes at the more expensive, trendy places....am I really paying for extra quality.....or am I paying for the bag?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Yet another reason why I should not be cleaning!

Thanks to Max, this is what happens when I vacuum.

These eyes continue to save his butt,

but not my wallet.

Anyone know of a place to have this fixed that is NOT Best Buy, who are telling me that I'm going to have to hand over $200 for a new keyboard!?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A little stir crazy

Whenever I tell someone I live in Minnesota, their first question is usually, “Isn’t it cold there?” Well, yeah. However, it’s not how cold it gets that bothers me. Whether it’s 20 degrees above zero or 15 below, I’m still not going outside. But rather it’s how long it stays cold that just kills me. Sure there are plenty of indoor play places for the kids to stay active in the winter….believe me, we’ve visited them ALL. The holes worn into the knees of all of Cameron’s pants are evidence of how many ropes he’s climbed up and tubes he’s crawled through. But by the time March rolls around, we are all just itching to get outside. Unfortunately, despite the fact that spring officially begins in March, actual Spring temperatures don’t fall upon Minnesota until much later. Average HIGH temperatures in Minnesota—March 42, April 58, May 72. Obviously, we have a ways to go before we put away the sweaters. As a matter of fact, until this weekend, when we finally started to thaw out, this has been the view out our family room windows.

So needless to say, we get a little cabin fever by this time of year, and the kids'boredom with the usual activities begins to surface as they find new and "interesting" things to do in order to pass another day indoors.

Max has discovered the thrill of gravity and likes to drop anything in sight over the banister.

Cameron has found new uses for raw vegetables.

And I'm not sure what their intended activty was here.

Incidently, today, as the temperatures soared to 52 degrees, we went for a walk/bike ride to a local park. Evidently Cameron was just as happy as I was to finally get out of the house to breath in some fresh air. As he and Max were swinging side by side, noticing every bird that flew by, Cameron leaned over to his brother and said, “Hey Max, isn't this the best day ever?!"

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Trip and The Return

Ella and I are back from our trip. I wish we could have stayed a few more days, because it was WONDERFUL!

The Plane Ride
First of all, traveling with one is MUCH EASIER, than traveling with three. I felt no stress whatsoever preparing for this trip. I didn’t have to worry about bringing juice boxes or snacks, toys and books, and decide how to pack it all so that it’s accessible on demand. My only fear was that Ella was going to poop in her diaper when I wasn’t able to get to the bathroom in time to get her changed before it leaks all up her back (generally, I have about 5 seconds before this happens). On our departing flight, she waited until just before take-off to do her #2. But lucky for me, it wasn’t as bad as it sounded, and even after having to wait about 20 minutes before we took off and the seat belt sign was no longer illuminated, all her dirty business stayed right in her diaper.

Now the flight home was a different story. This time she waited until we were up in the air, but it was one of those 5 second poops….and waiting 5 minutes wasn’t helping anything. When the bell indicating that we could get out of our seats rang, I immediately tried to take her to the bathroom, only to be blocked by the serving cart. The flight attendant then informed me that there were no changing tables on the aircraft. She must have seen the look of panic fall across my face (or her sense of smell kicked in), because she immediately directed me to an alcove at the entrance door where I could change her ON THE FLOOR. First class had a nice view of my big butt as I stooped to change Ella…and I had to change her completely, as the poop ran simultaneously all up her back and down her thigh. Thankfully I was prepared with a change of clothes and a major disaster was avoided.

The Phone Calls
While in New Jersey, I checked in on home a few times, making sure Melvin was surviving (I knew the kids would be okay). Apparently getting the kids up and ready and out the door for school on time is not that easy. Also, one of the days Cameron got breakfast for Max and himself because Melvin fell asleep on the couch, and they didn’t seem to be able to wake him up (or else they just figured that Mommy wasn’t around, so they’d have to do it themselves). Overall the boys had a good time with their dad. He took Cameron to an indoor waterpark, and they also got a new computer game to play. Max seemed to enjoy free reign of all his toys and also seemed to discover how to climb out of his crib.

The Visit
My visit was just too short, but the time that I spent there was relaxing and enjoyable. Ella slept pretty well, and after I fed her in the morning, I was instructed to go back to sleep….no argument there. One morning I even slept until 10:30! What a dream. I did a little running..did a little shopping…visited my best friend. What more could one ask for? Ella was so smiley and enjoyed seeing new faces and receiving new clothes (Thanks to Gayle and to my Aunt Nancy, and her girls). Unfortunately, because I was only there for such a short time, I did not get to visit everyone I wanted to. But it was supposed to be a relaxing weekend, and driving all around visiting is too exhausting for me. Luckily my trip coincided with my Grandma’s (my dad’s mom) 80th birthday celebration, so I got to visit with all of my dad’s family. And with 14 kids brothers and sisters in his family, it’s rare that I get to see them all. I do apologize to those of you who I missed seeing, but I’ll be back in July.

The Return
Returning was bittersweet. I didn’t want to leave my parents or the stressfree environment. But of course I missed my boys…all 3 of them. And apparently they missed me, too. Cameron had a breakdown at school, and after he was done crying about missing his mom, he spent the last hour before I picked him up drawing 14 pictures…all for me. And Max screeched with delight, giving me a gigantic hug when I walked into his classroom. When we returned home (after he threw his chicken nuggets all over the floor and squirted his juicebox all over the table), he followed me wherever I went, insisting on sitting in the middle of my lap whenever possible (whether Ella was already there or not).

I debated whether to write about the condition of the house…after all, if I complain, I might not receive such a fabulous gift from my husband again. But I have to make a few comments, especially since my husband likes to give the impression that watching the boys and keeping an immaculate house is a piece of cake. And when I first entered the house, all seemed grand. There were no toys strewn across the family room rug (as it looked when I left last Friday), there were no breakfast dishes still sitting on the table, no papers were piled in the corner of the kitchen. But then I noticed some things. I think every single cup used that weekend was sitting in the sink…(the dishwasher was filled with 1/2 clean & 1/2 dirty dishes..????). When I looked in Cameron’s bedroom, I found a pile of peed-on sheets just sitting on the floor (which Cameron had informed me had been there for a couple days…Melvin “confessed” that he didn’t know how to use the washer), And when Ella was in her crib screaming, Cameron on the couch whining about something insignificant and Max crying for his before bedtime bottle of milk, I suddenly felt a panic before I even opened the refrigerator door, for I just knew there would be none of Max’s lactose-free milk. And the only regular milk that was there had an expiration date of March 21st. Obviously my husband did not go shopping for, or even inform me about, our need for absolute essentials. So I did what any mom would do in such a situation…stuck my nose up to the opening, and took a big whiff. Smelled okay, and Max didn’t reject it, so I guess it was still good. However, since it wasn’t Lactaid, whether it was spoiled or not, I will have a stinky mess awaiting me in the morning.

(HOWEVER, also when I was away, instead of doing the dishes or the laundry, my husband planned a Disney Vacation for us in mid April. And for that I am most grateful. I'll take that over fresh milk any day!!!)

I am glad to be home. The boys and I played for a few hours before bedtime, and I managed to not anger even once….even when I was talking on the phone as a naked Cameron was whipping stuffed toys at Max’s head. I didn’t even yell then.

So the trip did me good, and I think more (many more) should be scheduled in the future. Some with just my husband and I would be even better.

A big, giant, thank you to my husband....who is working tonight. Miss you dearly!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Girls Gone Wild

The girls are going away for the weekend....to NJ...to visit family and friends. Ella is very happy.

The boys are staying in Minnesota. They might need to wear these PJs all weekend in order to keep the affection of their father.

I'll be praying for him. (Thanks honey for the birthday getaway gift).

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Our water has been tinted brown. It started yesterday afternoon when Cameron and I were making juice. I noticed the water coming out of the faucet to be a strange color. When I filled up a clear glass, it was the color of ice tea!!!! After letting it run for awhile, it settled into an amber tint.

I called the City of Woodbury, and after being transferred a few times, running my water for 15 minutes straight, calling back and then having to wait for a return call, I was informed that the problem (some technical, scientific mumbo jumbo they fed me over the phone) would not be fixed until the end of the week.

However, they did inform me that despite the color, the water is safe to drink. Oh really? Did they see Erin Brokovich? Let me pour them a glass.

When I was giving Max a bath in this odd colored water, Cameron came in and said, “EW! Did Max use the bathroom in his bath water?” I decided to skip the hair washing and get him out of there as soon as possible.

Anybody thirsty?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Just not sure

I continue to wrestle with this notion that there was some swapping going on in the hospital nursery.

Seriously, it makes no sense. While Max is pouring out his bowl of cereal, or is pulling all the tissues out of the box, or is emptying the video drawer and stabbing them with a pair of scissors that he found, Ella just sits.

When Cameron is lying on the stairs pouting and whining because I won’t take him to McDonalds, or is screaming his head off because while running through the kitchen, he slips and falls, bruising his knees yet again, Ella just sits.

While Max is literally crawling up my back, over my head and down my front screaming, while I am nursing Ella, or he’s emptying the diaper bag all over the kitchen table, or he’s shoving his potato chips into my lipstick tube, Ella just sits.

When Cameron is crying in frustration because he can’t get his desk drawer open, or when he’s spreading 52 flash cards all over his bedroom floor, then proceeding to hop all over them, Ella just sits.

I think even Ella her self is wondering about her place in this family.

And as I write this, Cameron just came over to me laughing his head off, “Mommy, I just burped in Ella’s face.” Poor girl.

Monday, March 20, 2006

What was I thinking?

I've been having to talk to Cameron A LOT lately about his poor choices. Tonight, I needed the lecture.

It was not a very good choice to go to the car dealership at 7 PM on a Monday night for an oil change. What I thought would be a quick 20 minute wait, turned into a 90 minute ordeal. I had at least 5 people remark, "Wow, you have your hands full!" (as if I needed the reminder).

A very poor choice indeed.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The big 33

This morning Cameron came bounding in our room.

"Mommy! Max is standing in his crib, yelling 'Mama, Mama!'"

What a wonderful birthday gift from my little monster...except it was 6:30 AM, and I refused to get up so early on my special day. Although my entering his room would have reaffirmed his finally using my name...at 6:30 AM, sleep won out. He had to be satisfied with Dada instead.

Nonetheless, I had a marvelous birthday, doing all the things I loved.
  • I slept in.....well, if you call 8 AM sleeping in (these days I do). My husband can't exactly nurse Ella, so her cries for food usurped my desire to sleep.
  • I went to church...and they even sang my favorite songs.
  • I went out to brunch with my family.
  • I took a nap.
  • I went to the gym.
  • My husband arranged dinner.
  • The kids went to bed early!!!

And now, I must get off this computer so that I can end my birthday marvelously, watching Desperate Houswives and Grey's Anatomy, sipping on some wine. I hope my husband gets home from the hospital in time...then all will be perfect.

Cheers to 33 years!

Friday, March 17, 2006

All before 8AM

Ella was up 5 times last night.

Cameron was told 4 times to put on his green shirt, that I washed and dried just so he could wear it for St. Patrick’s Day…”Oh, I forgot.” he said, reciting his favorite phrase of late. Forgot the bright green shirt that was literally in his face on the arm of the couch, directly in his view of the TV? Just like he forgot to put his socks on when I sent him upstairs to do only that. Just like he forgot his bag of winter outwear for school….literally 5 seconds after I told him to bring it in the car. Tired of his forgetting, I just stopped reminding him…so he’s wearing red today.

Max started screaming from the moment he woke up this morning, and didn’t seem to want to stop. I stand corrected, he wasn’t crying when he brought his cereal over to Ella in her swing and put Fruit Loops in her mouth. And he was quite amused with himself when he dumped out his cereal all over the floor…twice. And when sitting in his timeout area, he discovered that he could pull up the floor vent and put things down the hole. No, he wasn’t crying then. But the rest of the morning he was. He cried because he didn’t want me to take off his pajamas, (but I did manage to get a sorta-green sweater on him) cried because I couldn’t hold him and change Ella’s diaper at the same time, cried because he wanted more than one vitamin.

Hearing all the commotion and frustration, my husband tiptoes down the stairs as I’m rushing the kids out the door.

“Do you need a break?” he asks.

As a matter of fact, a nice little break, on a secluded Caribbean beach sounds wonderful. So when do I leave?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Good stuff

And amongst all the "No's" emitting from my mouth ALL DAY LONG, there is an occasional affirmation of Max's behavior.

Yes, Max, yes!!!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Contents of a Book

There's an award-winning picture book by David Shannon called No, David. It is reminiscent of his time as a naughty child. In the book, a little boy is constantly doing something wrong. The words are few, but the detailed pictures of his naughtiness tell the whole story.

After having a roll of film developed recently, I think I could probably create my own book, entitled No, Max. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

No, Max

Sit down, Max.
Not again!
Stop playing with the radio!

No! No! No!

Get down right now!

Stop playing with the phone!

No Max, no!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Still there

Before I became a mom, I was a teacher, a very passionate teacher. I spent hours upon hours creating lessons and grading papers for my incredibly interesting middle school students. (Plus, my husband spent hours upon hours at the hospital, as he was a resident during our first few years of our marriage. So I didn’t really have much else to do).

I was very nervous about having my first child because I knew that I was going to stay home for the first year, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to give up teaching…something that was so much a part of me, that brought me such satisfaction. But it was best that I stayed home with Cameron for the first year. It was by no means easy, but we survived, and the next two years I was able to go back to teaching part time, with Cameron attending preschool where I taught. A beautiful compromise for us all.

When Max came around, I faced the same dilemma. Again, I would be giving up teaching for a year to stay home with him. Again, it was a struggle, but I managed, knowing that I could return the following year to a part time position.

But then God threw a loop in my plans, and the lovely Ella came along. So now I was going to have to stay home yet another year to care for her. How I was going to do this happily, I wasn’t quite sure, because I really did miss being in the classroom…gaining satisfaction from something more than just having all the laundry folded and in drawers...or the dinner dishes actually cleaned the night we had the dinner. I missed the laughing I had with teenagers, the excitement of sharing a good book with them and vice-versa. I missed seeing them grow as writers and listening to the drama of a modern adolescent. I just felt something indescribable…more worth or something…when I was teaching.

But God also knew that in giving me Ella, he would throw me a lifeline to handle being at home again. For one, he helped me decide to send Max to preschool part time, keeping my sanity in tact. He gifted me with a very laid back baby. And he lead me to a group of women at my church (Mom’s Spiritual Spa), all seeking the same kind of companionship and connection that I was missing the previous years I stayed home. Once a week we meet to discuss issues in the Bible and usually at least one other time we meet somewhere for our kids to all play together. We also connect over the phone and through e-mail, discussing the trials, tribulations and joys of being a stay-at-home mom. This group truly has been a Godsend for me.

And because of them and through prayer, I’ve decided not to seek a teaching job next year. I just feel like it will be too much to juggle. First of all I have 2 more grad classes to finish up to earn my Masters. Then Cameron will be in Kindergarten, so I’ll have to find something to work with his schedule, and then I’d have TWO in daycare to cart around and try to match my schedule to. Just thinking about it makes me stressed. So I decided with my friends and my faith, I could endure, and even enjoy, another year at home.

But part of me has felt somewhat worried. This would be my 3rd year in a row out of the classroom. I was beginning to feel a loss of passion for teaching. Ever since the summer passed last year, I haven’t finished a single adolescent literature book, nor have I been interested at all in reading any of my professional literature or journals that are resting on my shelves. Usually I cart them around where ever I go, trying to sneak in a chapter here or an article there. But lately, I’ve had no desire. I’ve started so many books over and over, just to end up abandoning them for lack of interest on my part (mixed with fatigue). My fear is that I’m losing something that has been such an important part of me, something that I’m actually really good at.

Today, I went to take the kids to an indoor play place at a community center which currently houses the school where I used to teach. While there, I stopped in to talk to some colleagues I hadn’t seen in a while. One teacher, who used to teach 4th and 5th graders, was teaching middle school language arts. The first thing she said to me after commenting on my “cute little family” I had now was, “I don’t know how you taught middle school!” She then went on to inform me that she had turned in her resignation and was leaving in a couple weeks (this dealt primarily with daycare issues with her son, but I’m sure her lack of enthusiasm for her kids played into the decision).

“Who’s going to take your place?” I asked with interest as I peeked into her room, noticing too much silence.

“I don’t know, and neither do they,” she responded.

As I sat in the play area with my kids, I thought about what she said, and for a moment, I felt butterflies in my stomach. So they need someone to teach language arts parttime. It would only be for a couple months, state testing is all over, and the kids have probably been bored all year. It would be perfect. I could come in and do all my fun stuff…do read alouds, introduce new authors, share the books that have been collecting dust at my home, read fun novels together as a class, or do lit circles. For English we could share memoirs and do the “Poetry with Passion” unit my kids always loved so much. My heart starting pounding, and I had this smile glued to my face.

But then reality set in. I’d like to say that witnessing Max eagerly follow Cameron through the tubes, around the ropes and down the slides (ending in cheers), or feeling Ella sleep peacefully in my arms, brought me back to what I really wanted and should be doing. But that played a minor part, and in all honesty, it was the realization that I’d have to get childcare for all of my children and it would probably cost more for daycare than what I’d be making at this financially troubled school. It’s not even like I was offered the job or anything (but I know enough people there where if I expressed an interest, I probably could have the position).

But it was just good to know that the passion that I feared was diminishing, that excitement and enthusiasm that I have for teaching, is still there. And when the time is right, I’ll be back in the classroom, doing what I truly believe God has called me to do….just not right at this moment.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I don't really mean it.

(Before reading this, please note, I have a wonderful husband, who would never hurt a hair on my head. I certainly wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea).

I should really watch my use of idioms around my 4 year old…especially my violent ones.

On occasion, I may let my sons do something my husband may not approve of. Nothing major, nothing too dangerous, just something that may involve a difference of opinion. It usually involves something that he’s right about, and something I should really not allow to happen, but based on the circumstance at the time, I let it happen.

“Don’t let them play with those toys in the doctor’s office. No one washes them.” Okay, that’s easy for him to say. . He’s not there with the kids who need a distraction (like a toy) to divert them from opening and emptying every drawer within their reach as we wait for the pediatrician to arrive.

“You shouldn’t let them crawl around on this floor. Do you know what falls on this floor?” That’s easy for him to say. He doesn’t have a toddler who is trying to push every blinking button on all the equipment as I’m connected to several of the machines and having contractions every couple minutes, while my husband finishes up at the clinic before he comes to the hospital.

Like I said, nothing major. But when I let my boys do something they shouldn’t do, they might hear me mumble something like, “Your father will kill me if he ever finds out I let you do this.” I never knew they were actually paying attention to me when I said this.

Yesterday I was utterly and completely exhausted. With little sleep the night before, no nap, and my husband on call, I was lucky that I made it to the evening without pulling out all my hair. While I was cleaning up in the kitchen, Cameron managed to put on Power Rangers. We let him watch too much TV, but we don’t allow the violent shows. And he knows this, but I was just too tired to even tell him to turn it. I didn’t feel like dealing with the whining anymore. I just wanted some peace. So I let him watch it. But I did say to him, “You know you shouldn’t be watching this. Just don’t tell your father, okay?”

“Yeah, I know,” he responded, his eyes glued to the TV. “Because then you’ll get killed.”

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Just e-mail me.

Have I not returned your phone call? Or have our phone calls been abruptly cut short? Does it seem like every time you call, you get my voice mail? Please accept my apologies.

You see, it is almost impossible for me to have a decent conversation on the phone these days. Just this weekend, as I tried to talk to my best friend (who lives 1000 miles away), I was not on the phone for 1 minute before a screaming Max was handed to me (he was rightfully upset because his daddy had just brought him outside onto his swing set for the first time in months, and within a couple minutes had to force him back inside because he was called to the hospital for an emergency). Also, I tried to take a moment to call my sister, and within 30 seconds I had Max grabbing at the phone. He’d mumble a few sounds, then hand it back to me for 2 seconds, then pull it back to his own ear, then start punching the numbers, then hand it back to me, then pull it away to hear who’s on the other end…repeat…repeat….repeat. The conversation ends there with me apologizing and telling the person on the other line that I’ll have to call them back. Now this promise is often broken, because often the person is calling from a different time zone, and when 9 PM rolls around, and if Ella is cooperating and I have a moment to myself to call someone, it is 10PM their time, and too late for a phone call.

A few times I have managed to sneak in a phone call. If the kids are busy in the kitchen or in the family room, I’ll try to quietly converse with someone in the living room or in the piano room. But after the uninterrupted conversation finally ends, I almost always have a surprise waiting for me. One time Max emptied out the entire bottom two shelves of my pantry, bringing all the food into the family room. Another time he dumped a whole bag of cheerios all over the kitchen floor. And yet another time, he had found some glue in Cameron’s art box, squeezed it onto the kitchen table and took a paintbrush to rub it all around.

Please understand…if I don’t call you right away, it’s nothing personal.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Mommy heaven

After dropping off the boys at preschool, Ella and I decided to go shopping. I wanted to see if Hanna Anderson (which has the most adorable kids clothes, but a little on the pricey side) had any clothes on sale. In my rush to get there, it didn't dawn on me that most of the stores don't open until 10:00 (it was 8:45 when I arrived). So Ella, myself, and the rest of the senior citizens in Minnesota walked the mall.

Eventually Ella became hungry and wanted to eat. In my search for a place to privately feed her, I came across Nordstroms. Boy did I strike gold. A word of advice, if you ever need to go to the bathroom in a mall, find the most expensive department store and use theirs.

First of all, their bathroom is not called a bathroom, but rather the "Women's Lounge."

Secondly, it's divided into 2 separate rooms. The first room is more luxorious than any room in my house. It had beautiful chocolate fabric walls, with what felt like very pricey lounge chairs and couches, a console table and end tables with lamps, all appropriately arranged as if you were in someone's living room.

Thirdly, the actual "bathroom" had a changing table that was solid (no cheap flip down plastic thing), clean and padded.

Lastly, the handicapped stall was so large it fit myself and my double stroller.

In all honestly, I'm too cheap to spend my money at such an expensive deparment store. But in the future, I think I'll definitely be doing a lot of other "business" there.

False victory

Max actually said Mama today!!!! I was sitting at the computer, Ella on my lap, checking my e-mail with my back to him. He was standing on his booster seat, as usual, playing around with his cereal.
"Mama!" he screamed.
I turned and said, "What?" thinking maybe he was really saying Spongebob.
"Mama! Mama! Mama!" he screamed again.
"YES I squealed!" and I went pick him up balancing Ella on one side, Max on the other.
"Mama!" he said again.
My heart fluttered, I was so excited. After 19 months, he was finally calling out to me.
Just to make sure he knew what he was talking about, I then asked, "Who is Mama?"
And without missing a beat, he looked right at his little sister, pointed to her, and repeatedly said, "Mama!" while poking her in the back.

False victory. I give up.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

One of those days

Minnesota has a lot of playgrounds. Take a five minute drive to anywhere, and you’re bound to pass about 3 parks along the way. In the summer, EVERY TIME we pass one of these parks, Cameron would ask if we could stop there. At first I would respond with “Maybe…” but he soon learned that maybe usually meant “No.” Then I tried, “On another day.” To which he would respond, “Which day?” And on a rare occasion, I would actually just stop, and let the boys play for a while before heading to our intended destination. But my point is, Cameron really loves parks.

Today I was having a really bad day. You’d think yesterday would have been my bad day with as many bodily fluids that ended up on me (Cameron’s snot, Ella’s spit-up, Max’s boogers, ear wax, slobber and poop that had leaked out of his diaper, down his leg and onto my favorite pair of jeans), but I remained quite calm and happy yesterday. Today was a different story. I think I can only handle so many days in a row of constant sleep interruption, with no naps during the day and a gremlin of a toddler, before I just become evil. Today I could not keep up the “smile” when within a 7 minute time period, Max managed to pour out a bag of crackers all over the kitchen floor, purposefully drip red juice drops around our cream carpet and then while I was running upstairs to get the carpet cleaner, he felt the need to sit right on top of Ella. And it really didn’t help that he screamed all through dinner and felt the need to cling to my leg screaming for me to pick him up as I was trying to assemble everything to go to the gym. As I said, today was a bad day. One of those days when I literally held up my hands and yelled, "I quit!"

But at the end of the day, I decided to just add to the gloominess by doing a task I completely dread and usually avoid…mopping the kitchen floor. When doing so, Cameron joined me and actually was a big help by drying the wet wooden planks as I continued washing.

And when we were finished, for no reason whatsoever, he said, “Mommy, I love you.”
I responded with, “I love you more.”
“I love you a lot more,” he continued.
“I love you much, much more,” I said.
And his final response put a real smile on my face, one that reminded me of how fortunate I am, one that made me forget about all the bad of the day and brought out all the good of staying home with my kids, a response that will hopefully take me through tomorrow.

He said triumphantly , “Well I love you much, much, much more than going to the park!”

My Dr. Doolittle

Max is much more verbal than he used to be. He makes lots of noises….but still screams a lot. He says a few more words like ball, water (sorta), teeth, nose and dada. But he still does not say Mama.

However, he can tell you what a cow says, a dog says, a cat says, a snake says, and what a monkey says.

But he can't say my name.

I was thinking that next time we go to the zoo, I’ll just leave him there.

Photo courtesy of my friend Kimberly

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Petite Picasso

I don't know why my husband keeps telling me we should make an appointment with an interior decorator. I see nothing wrong with the artwork we're currently displaying.

Monday, March 06, 2006

My guilty pleasure

Reasons to Watch Flavor of Love over the Bachelor

It has a cheesy commercial with a catchy tune that you find yourself singing all day....Savor the flavor...the flavor of love.

Instead of giving out a rose, Flav gives you a big fat/phat clock with your picture on it. And if you don’t get one, “Your time is up!”

If you are eliminated that episode, Flav pours out a bottle of champagne in your memory. How sweet is that!

You don’t have to worry about any of the contestants having the same name, since Flav gave them all nicknames in the first episode. Who can forget names like Hottie, Smiley, New York, and Hoopz.

You don’t have to feel bad that you don’t have a Size Zero body, since most of the contestants don’t either.

It can easily fit with your TV schedule. If you miss it Sunday at its regular time, you can catch it again late that night or it’s on twice again on Monday. Or since it’s on VH-1, there’s sure to be a Flavor of Love marathon one of these weekends.

When Flav meets the parents, instead of being all proper and excited for their daughter as on the Bachelor, one of the mom flirts with Flav the entire time and even said, “If my daughter doesn’t want him, I’ll take him,” and the other one, who forbids the relationship says to her daughter, “We’ll look back on this and laugh.”

You have to actually use your brain when watching it…to synthesize information in order to fill in all the “bleeps” from the editing of the language.

Since they live in the house with Flav, and often have sleepovers, you don’t have to wait until the “Fantasy Suite” episode to see who’s a slut.

The ex-girlfriend (Bridgette Nielson) comes on the show and gives the contestant lie dectors tests…where you learn that one contestant is a pathological liar, one is a former stripper who is still in love with her ex-husband and another had sex on a previous reality show.

The last two contestants get a mold taken of their teeth, so they too can sport a gold smile.

Girls who get kicked off don’t walk away gracefully, but rather spit wet loogies on other contestants who remain.

You can catch the recap show tonight on VH-1 if you missed it last night, and then the finale the following week. I’m definitely torn about who I want to “win.” Usually I’d choose the pretty, sweet, down-to-earth one over the rude psycho one. But if you consider the “prize” I’m not sure anyone really wins!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Are you hungry?

Why in the world would anyone invent tissues, which are never around when you need them....if you can just pull up your shirt collar and wipe your boogers there. 4 year olds are geniuses!

On another note, today, Cameron was tired of waiting around for us to make him lunch and decided to take matters in his own hands.

While I was giving Ella a bath, he made himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich...ALL BY HIMSELF. He even figured out how to twist open the new squeezable jelly to take off the white tab before he could use it. And his sandwich looked perfect, cut into perfect fourths. However, the kitchen didn't look perfect, with an entire loaf of bread out of its bag, peanut butter returned to the pantry without a lid and sticky stuff everywhere.

But the best part is, not only did he make himself a sandwich, but he made one for Max, too. Since Max was napping, he even put it on a plate and wrapped it in foil until he was awake.

However, I'm glad he stopped there and didn't make me one, too. Knowing where this four year old often has his hands, I don't think I could stomach a Peanut Butter, Boogers, and Jelly sandwich.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Missing Persons

I like to take pictures...mostly of people. It's fun, takes any attention off me, gives me something to do and rewarding when you get a good shot. I especially love sending the pictures to those posing in the photographs. At family dinners I've taken pictures of couples, on the beach taken family pictures, etc. etc.

But now that I have 3 kids, my picture taking days have been altered. It's difficult to take photos of everyone when you're trying to appease a 4 year old, nurse an infant and chase a toddler. For some reason, getting a good shot seems to simply escape my mind.

So my Detroit relatives will have to forgive me for the pictures I WON'T be showing from the 50th Wedding Annivesary celebration of our grandparents Minnie and Melvin Porties. I didn't even get a picture of the happy couple. How pathetic is that! But a wedding is all about the bride..right? So I did get some shots to share of her. But no shots of my husband looking incredibly handsome in his tux. No shots of Cameron as the ring bearer with his cousin Ajah, the flower girl. No pictures of Max bouncing around the dance floor.

But do enjoy the ones I have posted here.

The gorgeous gown.

Cameron...loathing the fact that he must wear a "button shirt"

Daughters of the celebrated couple, my mother-in-law Rosalyn and her sister Anita (3rd sister Sylvia missing from the photo...sorry).

Cousins Tajuana (Boonie) who planned the entire event and Charmaine (Cha Cha).

The lovely Ella.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cheers to 34 years!

Today is my husband's birthday. 34 years old. Happy Birthday to him.

Unfortunately, our birthday celebration plans aren't going to work out as I had planned them...for the 2nd year in a row!

Last year, I made reservations at this trendy, fancy-schmancy restaurant in Minneapolis. However, that day our babysitter called to say she was sick and couldn't watch the kids. We decided to take them with us. HUGE MISTAKE! Max was only about 8 months, and as we were leaving to attempt to make our reservation within the 15 minute grace period, he had diarrhea leak all out his diaper onto his and my clothes. I quickly rinsed him in our laundry sink, changed him and me and we headed to the restaurant, where he managed to do it again. Because this definitely was not a kids' restaurant, there were no changing tables in the bathroom, and I had to work with his squirmy body on the bathroom floor. Then back at the table, he threw up everytime I tried to give him a bottle, which I felt the need to do because if he wasn't drinking, he was screaming. Cameron was not at all interested in being in this restaurant and was falling out of his chair, knocking over his drink, lying on the floor, etc. Another typical Ashford dinner. An unhappy birthday celebration to say the least.

This year, we had tickets to an INXS concert for the beginning of February. Melvin doesn't even listen to their music, but he knew I really liked them, so he agreed to go with me. However, the concert was post-poned due to an illness and the rescheduled date fell right on his birthday. I told him we could cancel the tickets, but he said no, although I could hear the hint of disappointment that he was going to spend his birthday at a rock concert listening to "white music."

To make the evening more special, I decided to make reservations at the same trendy, fancy-schmancy restaurant we attempted to celebrate at the previous year. Despite my last minute planning, they had a reservation available and everything. But then everything started to fall apart. Instead of Max being sick this year, it's Ella. However, we thought that if she was feeling better, we'd still go, because we totally love and trust our babysitter, and know she'd be able to do the whole nebulizer treatment if needed. But then she called to tell us that she couldn't make it because her uncle had just passed away. And although she suggested a back-up babysitter for us, with our baby so sick, we didn't feel comfortable having anyone with our kids but her.

I've tried to make the day somewhat special. Yesterday I decorated and left some gifts at his office. Cameron and I made him a fruit pancake with candles this morning (but he got called to a delivery and didn't get to eat it). Cameron made him a "Doctor Book" (with one page saying "This is a picture of a man who threw up all the way up to the ceiling). Since he was so tired I'm giving him time to nap. We're going to order in some Red Lobster, and hopefully watch a movie while sipping some wine while the kids are sleeping. Nothing too exciting, but when your kiddos are sick, what can you do?

I'll end with a cheesy acrostic poem:
M -- Magnificent Man
E -- Eloquent Speaker
L -- Loving
V -- Very Handsome
I -- Incredibly Intelligent
N -- Never Wrong (so he thinks!)

Happy Birthday Honey! (and his response will be, Thanks Syrup).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

More than just the sniffles

Ella has been battling a cold for a week now. However, it has gotten significantly worse over the past few days. So bad that you can hardly hear her scream she’s so hoarse. And she starts coughing so much it almost sounds like she’s going to vomit. Today we decided to take her to the pediatrician. Melvin was on call, and even though he agreed to watch the boys and just hope he didn’t get called in, I didn’t want to risk it. I assumed it would be a quick doctor visit, where her pediatrician told me she just had some virus and there was nothing I could do but wait it out.

Well, she did tell me that she had a virus, RSV, but the solution was to give her a nebulizer treatment for about 20 minutes! So my quick visit with some very active boys and one very sick infant turned into something much longer and much more complicated.

Cameron was already crabby, because he fell asleep in the car and I had to wake him up. Not wanting to deal with another doctor's visit fiasco (see Nov. 22, "Just Another Day" in Archives), I knew I had to use a drastic tactic to gain his assistance in making this a smooth visit...bribery. I promised to buy him a new cartridge for his Leapster if he didn’t cry, helped with Max and was a very good boy. Not something I have ever used before, but necessary for my sanity in this situation. Because when Cameron is tired and breaks down, there’s nothing you can do but ride it out. And sometimes that takes a VERY LONG TIME with lots of tears.

So while I was giving Ella the treatment, all was working wonderfully, at first. She was just sitting calmly as the medicine flowed through the steam into her nose, as the boys played nicely with a barn and farm animal set the nurse gave them. But then Ella started screaming and kicking and twisting her head around and just wouldn’t stop for the last 15 minutes of her treatment. And Max clocked Cameron on the head with a plastic cow. So he started screaming and took a while to calm down. Then Max kept opening the door, saying “bye-bye” (which I’ve never heard him say before), and then proceed to walk away from the room. I would then ask Cameron to be my “good helper” and bring him back. So he’d run out the room, and literally drag Max back, screaming. Only with God’s help did I remain reasonably calm throughout the whole ordeal. It almost felt as if I was watching a TV show occurring before my eyes…I’m just not sure if I was watching a drama or comedy.

After her treatment, Ella was sounding better. And now I get to give her the same treatment at home at least 3 times a day for the next 5 to 6 days. I’m thankful it’s not too serious, and right now, she has the biggest smile and is actually, for the first time, laughing at me. And that makes all of the above difficulties, completely worth it.