Bye bye baby

You need a haircut.

You have tan lines.

You prefer to walk, shunning your knees, the stroller, and the grocery cart seat.

You chirp merrily in your own tongue incorporating a smattering of English phrases like “hey-wo, dada” (said into any object held to the ear like a phone).

You have definite preferences and are not shy in voicing them.

You laugh heartily, especially at Jenny’s antics.

You eat all sorts of foods and are willing to try anything. You love cherries and blueberries, and, alas, your siblings have already taught you about chocolate.

You dislike the high chair preferring to stand.

You can just reach things on the kitchen table and things overhanging the kitchen counters. You cannot be left alone in this room.

You know exactly where the toilet paper is in every bathroom and enjoy unrolling it.

You have, in your mind, mastered the stairs enough that you are no longer obsessed with climbing them. Your current project is climbing chairs or step stools to discover new fun things previously out of reach.

You are no longer a baby. Welcome to toddlerhood.

Happy birthday, Peter Damian.

The adventure for today is: road trip!

Our house in New Jersey is still not finished and does not yet have tenants.

But this has been a good week. First off, finding the chance to get up there to finish the job has been difficult. The boys’ sports ended, but then my sister came. My sister proposed that instead of Bill going up this weekend, we (as in me, her, her husband, and our combined 7 children under age 10) would go up today and get the work done. This is exactly the sort of ludicrous idea that I find appealing. She didn’t even have to double dog dare me to try it.

Bolstering my opinion that this was a great idea and all would turn out well was my success at Home Depot in finding the exact same medicine cabinet to replace the one that was broken. We feared having to patch and paint drywall if we couldn’t find one to fit the hole.

I was undaunted by the new knowledge that Home Depot no longer carries wallpaper. There is a small patch job (one wall) in the hallway, and I didn’t want to rip all the wallpaper down and re-do it with a new pattern the way I had to do the living room. A three-minute brainstorming session with Bill yielded agreement that one hall wall with paint and three with wallpaper was perfectly acceptable. Drive on.

Next issue: tenants. We’ve had two strike outs thus far; two families with multiple accounts up for collection. We’re not in a position to take a financial risk that threatens our mortgage payment, so we had to turn them away.

Another woman with twin toddlers, who seemed so very nice and polite and was persistant but not pushy, wanted to rent, but she was Section 8. For Bill, it was very easy to say no. For me, it still makes me sad that I wasn’t willing to give her a chance. Our neighborhood is modest, but very nice. The neighbors are the kind of people who work 40 hours a week, mow the lawn on Saturdays, rest on Sundays, pay cash for Christmas presents, and live within their means. It’s exactly the sort of neighborhood for someone who needs to break the cycle of poverty. But I admit I have a tendancy to romanticize poverty and simplify solutions, and fortunately, I have an extremely practical husband who is quick to point out that someone who isn’t paying for the rent is less likely to take care of the property since they have no stake in it. He knows it would grieve me to imagine weeds growing in the garden or soil or scratches marring the wood floors. And he’s savvy enough to know that I prefer to avoid interactions with the government, and Section 8 housing is way too intimate a relationship for me to stomach.

Thankfully, on Monday, another woman called about the house. I gave her the address and told her to look at the outside, peek in the windows and call me back if she thought it might suit her. We spoke last night. She and her husband had both stopped by and were very interested in seeing more. She gave me her credit info so we could do a credit check, and her husband will stop by today to see the inside and take pictures for her. And the best part is that they are looking for a long term rental having rented their current home for 12 years. Dare I get excited? You bet.

So today I’m off on a merry adventure which will hopefully be extremely successful. I can barely contain my exuberance!

Family planning

Danielle Bean has an interesting discussion about family size at her website.

My husband says he wants one more and then he’s done. Hmm. He keeps reminding me of the number I quoted before we were married as though it were part of the contract.

Father Hilliar: Michelle, do you promise to love, honor and cherish Bill all the days of your life?

Me: I do.

FH: Do you promise to be open to life, to having children and raising them in the faith of the Catholic Church?

Bill: Oh, Father, remember we’ve specified that number?

FH: Oh. Right. Michelle, do you promise to have between four and six children, raise them Catholic and all that?

Uh, no. Perhaps at the time I would have, but since that wasn’t an option, and it wasn’t vowed before God and man, I won’t be held to it. I don’t think a prior verbal agreement is legally valid over a latter verbal agreement made before witnesses.

That said, I plan to take things one pregnancy at a time. No sense in wasting energy on what could be a moot point. I know two women who each lost her uterus, one after her fifth child and one after her second. They didn’t choose instantaneous infertility. I know another couple who unhappily discovered they were having their fifth. Now, they both eagerly await the arrival of their seventh.

Another woman I know, while pregnant with her sixth, said that her husband often worries about having so many children. “I just get into bed naked. It’s not my fault if he finds me irresistable.”

Circumstances and people change. At least Bill and I agree that permanent, self-inflicted infertility (vasectomy or tubal ligation) is not a good solution for what may be a temporary desire to limit family size.

Right now, neighbors and friends who see the typical 2 year space between my children are already starting to ask me if I’m pregnant yet. The Army Ten Miler is in early October. I’ve paid the entry fee, I know I can do it having done 8 miles a few weeks ago, and I don’t want nausea or sciatica to keep me from that goal.

My answer: ask me in November.

Rejoice and be glad

This is the day that the Lord has made…

450 am Baby in his crib, hungry, crying. Situation: normal. Outlook: cautiously optimistic.

520 am Baby in master bed, not hungry, not crying, not asleep. Situation: not normal. Outlook: slightly pessimistic, but adopting a wait-and-see attitude.

600 am Baby in his crib, asleep. Master bed made. House quiet. Coffee fresh and hot. Situation: not normal, but in a fantastic way. Outlook: this will be a great day.

700 am Fritz and Jenny awake. Jenny demonstrating negetive side effects of too little sleep. Situation: normal. Outlook: doubtfully optimistic.

800 am Billy and Katie awake. Baby and guests asleep. Situation: normal. Outlook: unchanged.

805 am Baby now also awake, thanks to Jenny. Situation: unfortunately normal. Outlook: stubbornly optimistic.

1000 am Everyone awake. Pouring rain. Children already squabbling. Blogging on laptop with sticky keys (Gatorade disaster). Typing entry for second time due to some technical error that wiped out my entry the first time. Situation: hopelessly normal. Outlook: desperately optimistic.

…we will rejoice and be glad.

Better than Christmas

This past Christmas, we had to wake up our children. It was pathetic. The little ones were up, but the older three were snoozing away long after 7 am.


Today, my sister, her husband and their 2 children are coming to visit. They will arrive sometime around lunchtime, perhaps. I’ve told the kids they won’t be here until dinner.

It is not yet 6 am. I would much rather be in bed, but instead I’m allowing myself a few minutes to check email before I do laundry, unload the dishwasher, tidy that one section of kitchen counter that collects all the clutter, and then finish cleaning off my desk (the one at which I’m sitting right now, which is in the den/guest bedroom where my sister will be sleeping), and I can hear the thudding of two boys bouncing out of bed.

Christmas is Christmas, but Jack and Morgan coming to visit is a really good reason to get out of bed early!

ready, set, slide

When he got home last night, our three older children approached Bill looking for the sympathy that their mother was unable to offer them. They each had hurting tummies. I thought they had bruised them, and didn’t even bother to look.

These three had been racing down the stairs on their stomachs. At first, I thought they were going down head first and yelled at them, threatened them, and warned them of the possibility of death should their heads hit the ceramic tile at the bottom. Then I found out they were going down feet first, and I said, “Well, you hurt your stomachs. That should be lesson enough.”

When they told Bill about their adventures, he didn’t offer them sympathy either. He just started laughing. And then they showed him their injuries and he laughed even more! They had rug burns! And then he asked them how many times they did it, and when they said more than once, he rolled on the floor with tears in his eyes.

I guess when he was about their age, he did something similar: feet first down the stairs. Only he was on his back. And the stairs were hardwood. His younger brother watched, but learned from Bill’s maiden voyage that this was a really stupid idea. So, Bill thought it was really funny that they raced down the stairs not once, but two or three times, disregarding the pain and only stopping when I yelled at them.

Nobody else was laughing.

my swollen foot

If I were a horse, they’d have shot me. But luckily, I’m only half Zebra. Like my tan lines?

Foot is doing much better. I’m walking. Went to the grocery store (running out of everything!) and managed without too much thought about my foot. Just some limping.

You can’t really tell in the picture, but I have a bruise that runs from the outside of my left heel, across the top of my foot and toward the toes. I think my training program for the Army Ten Miler is on hold until next week at least. Bummer. I so like going out at 430 am to run 3 miles before dawn.

A day of rest…or a day of agony?

Yesterday, while rushing down the stairs with baby in arms, I thought I was at the bottom, but – no! – one more step to go! I didn’t land too well – 20 extra pounds of baby really threw me off balance – and the end result is a very badly sprained foot.

For dinner last night, we ordered Curbside to Go from Ruby Tuesdays. When Bill returned with it, I was three rooms away from the dining room. The fastest and least painful way for me to get there was to crawl. I asked Bill to get the baby, but he didn’t need to do so, because the baby was highly amused and happily followed me. So we had a nice parade: me leading on my hands and knees, Pete staggering behind me with a huge grin on his face, and Bill taking up the rear telling me exactly how pitiful I looked.

Perhaps some people might relish the opportunity to put their feet up for a few days. For me, this is torture.

I didn’t mind handing the baby off to Bill for a stinky diaper change. But he and the boys were playing ball in the backyard after dinner, and I had to constantly interrupt him for things like the diaper change, locating Jenny (who wanders into the house just looking for mischief), and similar tasks that I normally handle and he rarely does. He was annoyed, of course, and even though it’s good for him to occasionally experience the drudgery that is my life {please visualize me with my hand on my forehead and my body strewn across a chaise lounge as you read that line}, I honestly don’t feel that he needs this experience, especially since I have no desire to experience the drudgery that is his life.

Besides the urgent tasks like a diaper change that I clearly could hand off to Bill, there are millions of smaller jobs that I do without thinking all day long. What mom walks through a room without seeing and doing one or more minor chores on the way to get or do something else? On the way to the kitchen to refill the sippy cup, most moms would likely spot several toys or books or personal items that needed to be returned to their proper location, maybe a spot on the kitchen counter that needed wiping, a dish or two that needed to be put in the dishwasher, or some miscellaneous items of trash that needed to be put in the garbage bin. Perhaps some dads might see these things too, especially those who might happen to be responsible for these chores anyway. But Bill doesn’t normally worry about these things, and so he doesn’t even notice them.

And those are the jobs that nag at me from what should be a place of rest. My body is resting, but the soul of my inner hausfrau is in agony as it sees the undone work and tries to ignore it.

The foot feels better today, but dangerously so. In other words, I limp around ok, but if I do so all morning, by afternoon, I will be in severe pain. I will need to keep my feet up as much as possible to recover as quickly as possible. I can hear the inner hausfrau screaming already, but off to the couch I go.

Calgon take me away

How did I get to Wednesday?

I thought summer was supposed to be relaxing?

My sister will be here in less than a week to visit for less than a week, and then I’m supposed to go with her to Alabama and then on to Florida to visit her home and my parents’ home for about 2 weeks. I still feel my house isn’t in order, and just leaving it won’t make the disarray any better, won’t hang curtains, won’t organize the big storage closet and pantry.

And I been asked to attend another meeting.

Three last week. Two this week. Ugly meetings. Meetings that don’t involve me and which I’d rather not witness.

Oh, why can’t we all just get along? Is it really that difficult?

Bill suggested locating the nearest exit door. I’m looking…

I prefer Gin.

Me: Next Sunday the kids have a birthday party to go to for Jack.

Bill: oh.

Me: It’s at Chuck E Cheese.

Bill: no.

Me: I promise, you don’t have to go.

Bill: oh. no.

Me: I’ll take them, Bill. You stay home. Don’t worry. You don’t have to go.

Bill: That kid…in that place…

Me: You don’t have to go.

Bill: Are they going to give him Ritalin?

Me: Bill!


Me: Oh, Danielle is going too! {another neighborhood friend}

Bill: Are they going to give YOU Ritalin?