Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Shopping with Goats

Well, I had an interesting experience last week.  It was one of those hazy summer days where we didn't really have anything that had to be done.  Our city is starting school on August 9th (sniff) so I decided it was as good a day as any to start back-to-school shopping.  So, pajamas are stripped off, clothes put on, teeth brushed (2 out of 3 anyway), shoes located and children pushed out the door while I grab my purse, refresh my coffee and furiously look for my sunglasses (which were sitting on top of my head).

Then, I close the door behind me, chase Meatball out of the front seat, where she's been happily pushing buttons, referee annother argument over whose turn it is to sit in the captain's chair and get the car started.  I'm a little sweaty at this point, which, had I been more caffeinated, might have served as a warning but, since I didn't have my brain fully fed, I couldn't hear it humming, "If you're sweating before you leave the house, you may want to rethink this impromptu outing!" 

We're off.  We're going to the store with a long shopping list but there are only three things on that list that we must have: milk, eggs and salsa.  So, along with school supplies, we should be able to get those three things.  Well, about halfway through the store, I feel that ball of anxiety growing at the base of my ribcage that always arises when my three little 'goats' go to the store.  I hear myself saying with growing intensity, "Please, wait for me.  Come back here, please.  Put that back, please.  No, it says large pink erasers that cost $0.50 a piece, not a $5.00 eraser covered in plastic.  Meatball, you MAY NOT play with scissors and by the way, why on earth are scissors being merchandised on the lower shelves!  Did you get the yellow folders?  No, it says yellow, I know your favorite color is blue, but the sheet says yellow.  Excuse me, Mam, that's my child throwing things in your cart by mistake.  Where is Meatball? All right, good-bye, I'm leaving you."

Finally, I herd my goats to the cash register.  We pay for new backpacks, half of the items on the first grade supply list, Pokemon cards, napkins, bandages and toothbrushes with various licensed characters, a jar of salsa and two lollipops with rubber fans on top.    (The two lollipops were scanned and then thrown in the trash can.  Why, you ask?  Well, when you find one on the shelf that has been previously opened and you start sucking on it while I'm not looking, you a) have to pay for it out of your own allowance, b) have to throw it in the trash right away and c)wait it out to see if you develop some sort of disgusting lip fungus.  And, when little sister sees you enjoying one and automatically pulls one open, you have to pay for that one too and throw it away while she's distracted by some other shiny object.) 

By this time, I'm frazzled and I'm sweating, I still don't have milk or eggs and I just need to get the heck home.  However, I'm starving and I figure I'll run through the drive-thru and grab something greasy to make myself feel better.  And, on the way to the drive-thru, I'll swing through the carwash because it's been months since I've had my mom-mobile cleaned. 

The reason it's been months is that Meatball is scared of the carwash.  But, it's been awhile so I figure maybe she's outgrown it.   Nope, the moment I pull into the line, the whimpering begins and by the time I'm paying for it, there's screaming, convulsing and enormous tears.  So, I reach around and unbuckle her carseat, thinking she'll sit on my lap as she's done in the past.  Nope, she races to the back to be comforted by Sharkbait (which is overall more cute than hurtful).   So, I take 2 minutes to chill.

As we're heading into the dryer, she decides she should sit in my lap and as I turn around to pick her up, I notice that my seat is wet.  And at that moment, everything slowed down.  It was as if, I couldn't quite process what was happening.  Wait a minute?...water from the roof?...I slid open the cover and as the rush of water hit my face, I finally grasp what has happened..."I chased Meatball out of the front seat where she had been happily punching buttons..."  With my mouth hanging open and beads of moisture soaking my clothes, I stare wide-eyed at this tiny creature cowering in my lap who, once again has brought me to my knees.  She, in turn, looks up at me and say, "Mommy, you got me all wet."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What a Stay-at-Home-Mom Has Spent Entirely Too Much Time Thinking About

I wonder if we can trace the pathway of our life by our intimate knowledge of the back of our toilet?  I mean, as a small child, I vomited in the toilet, much like most children my age, but I was rarely alone.  A parent, usually my mother, was there, holding my hair back, rubbing my back as I expelled the contents of my stomach into the porcelain bowl.  It was probably at that time that I took notice of that metal tube at the rear of the toilet.  I would have asked what it was if I'd had time between gags.

Of course, I certainly forgot to ask and by the time I revisited that area, I was a belligerent preteen, most certainly alone.  I was alone back there because, as a 12-year-old, it was now my job to clean the entire bathroom and I was belligerent because I was, of course, 12.  And, since belligerency had crowded out curiosity, I did not wonder what the metal tube was for and why it was so cold, I merely hated it.

So, time passed and my preteen angst went away and my curiosity returned. However, as a college student, my curiostiy was otherwise occupied with boys, Marketing 101, alcohol, overseas travel and finding a job (yes, probably in that order).  There were several times my curiosity with alcohol got the best of me, and I, once again, found myself hanging out around the back of my toilet.  But, at that point, the metal bar was covered in several months of dirt and grime and any thought given to it made me wretch more so I tried to avoid it. 

Now, as the mother of small children, I again find myself spending time in close quarters with the back of my toilet.  I'm once more charged with keeping that area clear of vomit and urine.  However, once again, my curiosity is distracted from the function of the parts by questions more along the lines of 'why it is so hard for some young males to discern the toilet from the trash can?'  And, 'the opening is HUGE, what exactly makes it so difficult to hit?' And, 'Oh, how disgusting is that?!'

Who knows where my relationship with my toilet will take me in the future.   I just take comfort in knowing that some things do not change:  Moms will continue to rub the backs of vomiting children, someday, it will definitely be the responsibility of one of my daughters to clean it,  the metal bar is still there and it's still strangely cold.

By the way, in the course of writing this, I stumbled upon someone else who has asked, and unlike me, answered questions about their toilet.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chuckles, No More

Sweet Chuckles
As everyone knows, nicknames are earned, not given.  And, shame on me for trying to give a nickname to my youngest.  (Even though I think Chuckles is really cute, as she is.)  However, she hadn't really earned one, as Sharkbait and DQ had, simply because she's just two, and it's hard to find that defining quality in such a short amount of time.

The signs have been there from the very beginning.  When I was seven months pregnant, I made my husband drive to Saint Paul to pick up chocolate covered cannoli.  There were several new foods I got her to try as an infant only when I mixed in some marinara sauce.  And, before she could eat solid food, she would literally suck entire Italian dinners (meatballs mostly) through the net of a Muchkin Fresh Food Feeder. 
The first meatball.
So, tonight, at a family dinner with many witnesses, I watched this tiny, sweet two-year-old eat more golfball-sized italian meatballs than me.  In fact, the only person at the table of nine (six adults) who consumed more meatballs than her was, her father.  She matched my brother-in-law, but in fairness she did it in one sitting and he started sampling them about 2 hours prior to dinner.  The number that she consumed, anyone...anyone...?  EIGHT!  Yes, that's right, this 28-pound toddler consumed EIGHT meatballs in less than an hour.

As a result, it is time to say farewell to Chuckles.  Henceforth, she shall be known as Meatball.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

They always return to the scene of the crime

It's been two years since Sharkbait earned his nickname.  And to kick off the July 4th weekend, I took the kids back to the zoo for the first time since that fateful day.  I won't lie, I was nearly drooling at the thought of what might happen at the shark petting tank.  I believe that most of you know the story, but for the few newbies, I'll briefly tell you the story.

Not a great picture but when they are
constant motion, they're hard to capture.
My father-in-law and I took my three kids, then ages 4, 3 and 4 mos. to the zoo one afternoon.  We anxiously ran into the aquarium and straight to the shark tank.  We soon discovered that the arms of three and four-year-olds aren't quite long enough for a feet-on-the-ground petting experience.  So, DQ waited with her Pop Pop for just the right timing while I held Chuckles in her Baby Bjorn and Shakrbait stood next to me.  It did not take long for the boy to realize that if he wanted to touch a shark, it was going to take a big 'reach.'  So, he sees one headed toward the side just three or four feet away from where we're waiting.  He quickly (really quickly) runs there, hoists himself on the edge of the tank and leans as far as he can. 

What happened next is what I've coined the teter-totter effect.  He leaned so far, that his whole head and upper body fell in the water while his legs flew up in the air.  And, this brings us to the only scary moment of the whole ordeal.  His hands were planted firmly on the bottom of the pool while his legs and feet were still stuck on the side (look at the side of a five-gallon bucket for an illustration).  He lacked the strength or the arm length to push himself up and out.  So, I simply pushed his legs down and his head/hands lifted right out of the water.

There we were, the three of us reacting in our own way to what just happened. One was soaking wet from the waist up and crying that the water was cold and tasted yucky.  I was fighting back the laughter that came much quicker than I would have thought.  And, Chuckles, helplessly stuck to my chest had eyes that were the size of silver dollars.  An attendant, who I'm guessing was about 17 and in her first week of work, came over.  I apologized and she said, "that's okay, um...that happens sometimes...they tell me..."  She offered us some towels that they keep in the aquarium.  We paraded to the other end of the exhibit (not a short walk) while adults and children alike stare at the soaking, crying mess who's mother is giggling.

We have rarely talked with Sharkbait about falling into the tank.  He doesn't remember it now and, he never once showed any concern for the fact that he was swimming with carnivores.  He's a boy who appreciates animals but doesn't exactly trust them.  He's the first kid to offer his little sister the first pet of any new animal we come upon.  So, the day we returned to the tank, I wasn't totally surprised that he watched but did not try to touch the sharks.  He did, however, humor his mom and pose for a picture.

My son has always been exuberant.  I mean, extremely exuberant, like I've been chasing him since he took his first steps at eight months of age.  And, for those of you who know him, you know that I am not exaggerating.  He turned seven last week and he can currently out-run me, out-talk me and certainly outlast me in nearly every aspect of parent-child relationships.  But, I like to put a positive spin on these situations and think of him as determined and self-sufficient and adventurous.  And when he is asleep in his bed at the end of each day, I remind myself how all of these qualities will serve him well in his future.  And, how this specific set of traits has provided me with enormous entertainment (and blog material).  Then, I promptly pass out from exhaustion.

Happy Seventh Birthday, Sharkbait!
This is more like it.

Checking it out

Sure, I'll hang out with the tiger
if there's 1.5" of plexiglass in between.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Have I Got An Enhanced Interrogation Technique For You!

 For a long time, I enjoyed car rides with my children, especially during those months when they were transitioning out of their nap.  We might head out in the later afternoon to "house shop" as we were preparing for a move.  I would strap in the youngsters, plug in my iPod and hit the road.  Usually, I had to wait about 6 minutes before they were fast asleep behind me.  And then I had a nice little respite during the roughest part of my day.  I would play all my favorite songs as I cruised sub-divisions checking out For Sale options and getting a feel for different neighborhoods. 
Nowadays, my rolling fortress of solitude is more of a mobile torture chamber.   No one sleeps now.  And, not only do they not sleep, they argue, and it's normally about something important and requiring high volume like "my piece of pink Trident is the tastiest!" or "I am not going to play puppy dog anymore so stop trying to give me pretend dog biscuits!" or "He got to see the helicopter and I didn't! You HAVE to turn around, Mom!"

Music soothes the savage beast, right?  Um, no.  My kids "take turns" choosing which song to play on the iPod.  This consists of first, an argument about who's turn it is to choose the first song.  Then, once they have established the order in which they choose and their choice has been made, the song begins.  Now the chooser of song begins spouting off the rules which usually include several of the following:
  • Only the chooser may sing
  • I can sing and you can ONLY play the air drums
  • Absolutely no singing and no air drumming
  • There's no dancing
  • There is no silently mouthing the words
These rules are diligently policed and more arguing insues as the rule breakers are verbally reprimanded.  By now the song is in it's last 30 seconds and there is yet another argument on why we can or cannot listen to the song again because the chooser has missed the whole song while they were reciting the rules and admonishing those who were disobeying them.  The most interesting thing about this argument is that 66% of the time, the next chooser chooses the exact same song.  And, even though it is the same song, they must run through the list of rules as they have been altered slightly to suit the desires of the said chooser.

So, you ask, why don't I just turn off the music completely, right? When the music is off, the atmosphere consists of arguing about other topics, such as who can and who cannot kick the back of the seats, as in, 'the one in front of me is empty so I CAN.'  (Of course, Chuckles sits behind me and is particularly fond of this game.)  Or, if they are not arguing, someone is putting on an elaborate show that inevitably leads to a request for approval, as in, 'Look Mom, I've tied myself up in silly bands!'  These actions, if acknowledged in any form, require that the others must outperform the performer.  Then, the van begins to sound something like this, "Mom look, Mom look, Mom, Mama, Mommy, Mom, Mom, Mommy, Mama, Mommy, Mom, Mommy, Mama! Mama! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! MOMMY! MOM! MOM! MOM! MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM!"

So, what happens when someone is subjected to this torture on a regular basis?  Well, those in the greater Indianapolis area may have heard a strange sound Thursday.  You see, it was the fourth day of theater camp.  It's a 30-minute drive to theater camp which means one solid hour in the car at 8:30am for dropoff  and again at 11:30am for pickup.  So, at approximately 12:24pm Thursday, my head exploded at the intersection of 465 and Allisonville Road.  My apologies to the driver of the black Subaru in the lane next to me as I believe the shrillness of my scream actually cracked his windshield.  Birds made emergency landings on the nearest telephone wire, brakelights blinked for miles in either direction, computer connections momentarily froze in nearby offices and my van was filled with a sound I haven't heard in years...silence.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rants - "...a rose by any other name..."

I don't consider myself an overly opinionated person but I do have a few things that send me into a grandpa rant.  For example, can we review the reasons we stopped calling a girdle, a girdle?  When you mention the word girdle, most husbands quickly turn their heads  and bolt.  And not only do they leave the bathroom so you can get ready in peace, but they keep the kids away too, in an effort to shield them from whatever a freaking girdle is.  It's blissful!

Now we call them 'Spanx' or, if you shop Target, 'Assets.'  When I first mentioned needing a pair, my husband told me to go to the store right then.  He had no idea what a spanx was, but with a name like that, it couldn't be bad for him, right?  When it was time for me to get ready to go out, I lost my solitude as he would make up excuses to keep coming into the bathroom, hoping for some sort of view.

So, why the name change?  Is it less humbling to squeeze your cellulite-wrinkled buttocks and upper thighs into something with a sexy name?  No, I'd much rather call it by a name that is as disgusting as the act.  I'm not striving for Barbie (thank goodness, cause look at this!), I would just like to go out without the extra jiggle.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to clean my dentures...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Catching up

So, it's been awhile and I thought I would play catch up of on some of the hi-jinx taking place over the last month or so.  Here's my top five:
Just like her Mama

5. Chuckles has a new game she plays with her Pop Pop.  She stands up, puts her hands on her hips and shouts, "I've HAD IT!"  Then, she stomps into another room and slams the door.  Though many others enjoy watching her play this game, I actually do not.  Mostly, because I know where she learned it and there's nothing quite like having your two-year-old put on a performance of your greatest moments.  (See  also "To Mimitate").

Off to kindergarten
4.  The last month of school Sharkbait would wake up at 5:30am, get dressed and come into my room asking for breakfast.  Now, in order to make a 7:45am bus, he would have to get up at 7:15 at the latest.  So, you can imagine my reaction to a fully dressed six-year-old in my face at 5:30am.  By the last Tuesday of school, I'd had it (see also #5).  I marched him back to his room, tucked him in (still fully dressed) and managed to get him to go back to sleep (yeah!).  Then, at 7:15, I got him up (still fully dressed) marched him through toothbrushing, breakfast and handed him his backpack at 7:43.

Well, apparently the experience made an impression on him, as well.  That night, after finally getting everyone in bed and sleeping,  I went in to check on him and found him completely dressed for school in jeans, two t-shirts and socks.  He had decided that pajamas really aren't necessary at all and changing in the morning was just too inconvenient.  After much negotiating, we stalemated at "I-don't-care-if-you-sleep-in-your-clothes-you-will-change-in-the-morning."  This agreement is still in place.

3. As many of you know we traveled to Florida in May and I have to admit, my kids were ROCKSTARS on the plane!  I was so freakin proud (yes, that's what it takes to get my juices going these days)!  Of course, they were dialed into a movie for a lot of the flight, but whatever.  On the way back, we even decided they could have a 'real' coke (as in, caffeine and all) on one of the flights which they were pretty excited about because caffeine ranks right up there with full-sized candy bars on the list of banned substances around our house.  (You can all imagine why there isn't a lot of caffeine floating around our house, I mean, accept for mine, that is.)

Time at the beach!
So, the flight attendant comes around during the middle of the movie and my husband asks DQ what she wants.  Without taking her headset off, she answers, "WELL, I'LL HAVE A SPRITE BECAUSE I KNOW IT DOESN'T HAVE CAFFEINE AND I CAN'T HAVE ANY MORE CAFFEINE TODAY BECAUSE I HAD ONE ON THE LAST PLANE.  AND, I DEFINITELY CAN'T HAVE ANY ALCOHOL, RIGHT DADDY?"  With the headset on, you can imagine the volume level at which this conversation took place.  My poor husband looked at me across the aisle in shock and all I did was slouch and turn away, leaving him to explain to the flight attendant.  It went something like "our-children-do-not-partake-of-alcohol-but-we-have-taught-them-that-they-must-ask-us-before-taking-a-drink-from-our-cup-because-sometimes-we-do-I-mean-not-too-often-but-occasionally-so-they-have-to-ask-because-they-know-it's-not-for-kids-and-can-make-them-sick-and-Oh, hell, give me a vodka tonic and a Sprite for the little one."

2.  A couple of weeks ago, I spent about 20 minutes watching a group of five neighborhood boys (Sharkbait included) trying to light something on fire with a Razor scooter that throws sparks when you apply the brake.  They were running, hunched over, holding out a piece of grass or twig or something, behind the scooter.  The rider would apply the brake, throw the sparks and the runner would go face first into the rider's butt and the item would, of course, not catch on fire. Each boy was so sure he could accomplish what the others could not and I enjoyed the hilarity of watching seven-year-olds trying to make fire.  My question was, what would they do if it did catch on fire?!

1.  So, this weekend I was in charge of picking up 25 (five bunches of five) balloons for our neighborhood pool party.  I decided that this would be a cool time to take DQ out and between placing and picking up the balloon order, we could check out the new costume jewelry store at Clay Terrace.  We always prefer Dad's car over the mini-van (shocking, I know) so we hopped in, opened the sun roof and we were off.

We placed the order and headed down the street to the jewelry store, which was closed.  No big deal, we had lunch, window shopped and headed back to the party store.  I was beginning to wonder how the balloons would fit in the car, but, I figured we would manage.  Well, after 18 minutes and three separate strangers stopping to offer their assistance/commentary, I had 18 balloons (I had purchased three additional balloons, one for each of my kids) and one kindergartner in the backseat.    However, the two remaining bunches (ten balloons total) were now hopelessly tangled with the first group yet would not fit in the car.  Now, please note that it's 78 degrees and the car is black, with a kindergartner inside.  So, as ten balloons are blowing around in the breeze, I very carefully (and I'm sure quite comically) reach into the front to turn on the car and crank the air conditioning.

After another 7 minutes, (and two balloon pops), I disentangle the remaining balloons and cram them into the front passenger seat.  Sweating and quite annoyed, I crawl into the drivers seat and realize there is no freaking way I can back into traffic because I can't see anything but red, blue, yellow, green and orange latex.  I take some deep breaths and with the assistance of the five-year-old in the back, I manage to see through the yellow and orange ones enough to safely back onto the street.  Once we were on the road I take a minute to determine that I only have to make right turns to get home. THANK GOODNESS!   Not to mention my kid thought it was totally awesome!  (And, it sort of was.)

Chuckles was torn between her desire to have a balloon and
fear that she, too, might be eaten by the Balloon Car.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I've decided that DQ can go to Theater Camp this summer.  At first, I thought to myself, why throw gasoline on a fire?  However, I've offered up soccer, golf, tennis and dance hoping to elicit a reaction fitting an excited five-year-old with no success.

Her onstage debut May, 2010
I had never mentioned theater camp to her, because, let's face it, she doesn't need an actual stage to perform.  Yesterday, she had my 65-year-old mother and her two-year-old sister positioned as backup singers on our front porch.  Today, while a friend and I snacked on overly processed grilled cheese, she presented her 2011 swimsuit line for us.

Our family has spent countless hours positioned just so on the couch watching her parade around in different costumes while singing, dancing and waiting with fake modesty for the rousing applause due to her at the end of each performance.  I usually spend this time oscillating between amusement at this little girl lost in fantasy and horror at the prospect of someday having to do the pageant-mom thing.

Over the last few months, she has become very interested in helping with household chores.  Specifically, dousing the windows with Windex and smearing it around until they are so cloudy you wonder if it's foggy or if the neighbors house is on fire.  Of course, the best part about her 'help' is that she has to 'get dressed' before beginning.  She has a sundress with matching kerchief that is 'perfect' for doing chores.  It's the kerchief that makes it so perfect...she wears it while walking slowly around the house, singing and cleaning like the most down-trodden of all the princesses!

This really had to be the final straw.  If I'm going to spend the money on a week long daycamp, it might as well be something she enjoys because, after all, it's not about me (oh yeah, and I spent four summers in a theater group).  I reluctantly mentioned that a nearby candy store (yes, downstairs candy store, upstairs theater) offers a weeklong "theater camp."  Her interest piqued, she asked, "what's theater?"  I explained it's a camp where she and other kids her age get to sing and dance on a stage.  The response was ridiculous...and loud.  Who knows, maybe she'll learn to channel her drama, to save it for her fans in the audience instead of those on the couch.  (Can I pay extra for that?)  Wish me luck.

PS - I did manage to get her to agree to soccer.  When she's concentrating, she's great and she is actually incapable of running without a smile.  Oh, she's also pretty good at working in the occasional post-score twirl.  And, the only pink she wears in the game is on her shoes...awesome!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Welcome to the Neighborhood

When you move into a new home, you have many hopes for what your house will have.  For me, I hoped granite or Corian countertops, a main floor 1/2 bath, solid-core doors and neighbors with a great sense of humor.  What was that last one?  It's not because of my great joke-telling prowess, but because with my family comes a certain amount of chaos that could lead to a) a lot of laughs for the witnesses or b)my family being run out of the neighborhood.

Many of you remember my FB post about my daughters' Crayola 'huffing' habit.  Yes, Crayola made scented markers and my girls now associate their coloring books with the sweet smell of artificial pine, lemon, raspberries and lime, among others.  This 'addiction' has led to many an afternoon spent wandering around the Rizzuto homestead with a rainbow-colored mustache that would put the Lucky Charms leprechaun to shame.

Well, today, we took our habit a little too far when I found them peer-pressuring the neighbor girl in our game room.  I walked in to find her with a marker up each nostril and Chuckles and DQ shouting, "Heew, mell dis wun," and "Oooh, this is my very favorite!"

I venture a guess that we have made quite an impression on our neighborhood, the current situation not withstanding.  My toddler, who was potty-trained before age two (there, I got in a snarky, braggy parenting remark), is quite capable of taking off her pants, scaling the toilet and doing her business all by herself.  But, being a toddler, she has not mastered the all-important skill of putting the pants back on.  And, being a Rizzuto, she does like to be naked.  So, neighbors, landscapers and door-to-door solicitors have all had the unfortunate experience of witnessing my toddler streaking the neighborhood.  (Sad thing is, her brother is totally jealous and yes, he's six).

And, you have all heard about DQ's propensity toward the scream.  Well, she uses the scream without discretion and the volume is quite impressive (again, her father's side of the family).  Whether she is being pulled around by a canine or her brother has turned the hose on her or her sister is holding her watering can, she has managed to bring more than one neighbor to their window to make sure there isn't a murder being committed on the sidewalk.

And, then there's Sharkbait.  Where to begin.  Actually, I'm not going to begin because I only have a few minutes to write.  I'll just share with you that within the first three months of living here, one neighbor made the comment to me that "he's the most appropriately named kid I've ever met."  And we'll just leave it at that.

So, here we are.  We cleaned up the friend before she made her way home, but who knows what information is now being delivered to her parents.  I'm sure this is only the beginning of the excitement we'll be bringing to the neighborhood.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monon Mayhem

So, since we've moved to Indiana, I've been purposely avoiding the Monon.  The Monon Trail is 16.7 miles and stretches from 10th street in downtown Indianapolis to the north side of Carmel.  It's loaded with restaurants and art exhibits and people.

My kids spent their first years walking, wagoning, triking, biking, skipping, scooting and running the 35-plus miles of paved walking trails in Maple Grove, MN.  Our neighborhood had direct access to one of the larger trail systems, complete with a brand-new footbridge over CR-81 and directly into Elm Creek Park.

These trails are great for kids and full of fantastic views, scurrying wildlife and, of course, dog poop.  They rarely cross a major road and even on weekends, they aren't very crowded. (Which is handy when your kid unexpectedly drops his pants and urinates on nature.)

The Monon trail 'culture' is radically different than the trail culture of Maple Grove.  The Monon is serious business.  It's busy at nearly all hours of the day and the runners, bikers and walkers who use it are there with a purpose.  It also crosses several major roads.  So, you can imagine the concerns I have had for my offspring who are used to treating trails like a golden path on which chaos is king.

But, last week, I decided to try it.  My friend, Raygan, lives right on the trail so I thought, what the hell, we're Hoosiers now and we should experience the Monon.  Which brings me to the other theme of this story: my less-than-stellar parenting decisions.  Raygan is the very proud owner of Charlie, a 3-year-old Springer Spaniel (he's actually a special sort of Springer who, funny enough, was born in Minnesota).

So, after much shuffling and coordinating and urinating (in advance this time), we hit the Trail.  The kids couldn't wait to walk Charlie and DQ (the Drama Queen) was up first.  Because my kids lack dog-walking experience, I suggested to Raygan that we tie the leash around her waist in case she dropped the leash. WHAT?!  Yes, I actually suggested that for Charlie's safety, we should tie a 50-pound hyperactive pooch to my 38-pound five-year-old.   From my perspective, what happened next took place in slow motion.  DQ's waist was pulled forward and her long skinny legs tried desperately to catch up but to no avail.  Within a moment she was facedown on the pavement being drug forward by a most-excited dog.  She went maybe five yards but as I felt the guilt set in, it looked more like 50.

In the moment after that, a funny thing happened on the Monon Trail:  there was silence. There were no birds singing, no rhythmic tennis shoes hitting the pavement and even my oldest, who was already 1/2-mile ahead, paused to take notice.  They were waiting, as was I.  They were waiting for the wail that only this particular five-year-old can produce.  And, she delivered.  Blood began running out of the hole in her new leggings and that's all it took.  The screaming could be heard for what I imagine to be miles.  So, there we are, two adults trying to catch a dog, call a six-year-old back from his 1/2-mile lead and wrangle two toddlers back the way we came all while I was carrying a five-year-old who is screaming repeatedly, "WHY?  WHY OH WHY did you tie me to the dog!!!!!????" (A valid question for which I did not have the answer.)  Needless to say, we left the Monon.

I am still paying for this particular bad parenting decision as she keeps banging open the scab and reliving the 'pain' with every bath.  The screaming begins as the water starts to run and I scurry around the house closing windows.  We are new to this neighborhood after all.  We avoided any reports to CPS while I was on the Monon but you can't get in your car and drive away as fast as possible when you're in your house and half your offspring are naked (that's a different division of CPS).  It's not the first time that punishment has been spread out over weeks, maybe years and I know it won't be the last.

AFTERWARD: I spoke with Raygan today and found out that Charlie and another of her friend's had a similar incident this weekend.  The latest victim was an adult who sacrificed her wrist and knee in order to shield her camera.  After our incident, we hit a park, where Charlie was let off his leash and had no less than six kids throwing sticks for him to chase.  We didn't realize that by moving our party to a more manageable location, we were in fact, creating a canine monster.  So, if you see someone being pulled along the Monon by a crazed Springer, throw a stick toward Raygan and be sure to say 'hi' to Charlie!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Take your sunshine and ...

Well, I opened my blog three months ago and now, here I am, actually writing a post.  Better late than never?  Most likely, I won't be actively be working on this site until July but I have a lot of thoughts rolling around and wanted to get some of them down as a promise to all of the other thoughts so desperate to get to print.  

Why July?  Well, because at the end of June, my job is going away and I have no replacement.  Nnooo, Child Protective Services is not taking my children away.  I'm referring to my part-time job, consulting in the retail industry.  My current gig has offered a manageable workload and its accompanying paycheck have been most welcome for the last three years.  However, California employment laws and our relocation far, far away from my beloved Twin Cities have brought me to a crossroads.  To stay in the game will require a full-time effort for an uncertain outcome.  Or, I could walk away completely...again.

Let's be honest, it's a pretty easy decision.  But, there's more.  For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to write.  When I joined Facebook a few years ago, I finally had an easy outlet.  I began using the 240-character statuses as a Cliffs-Note version of a journal but it wasn't enough.  I promised that I would go back and write about each instance in greater detail when I had more time.  And, that brings me to July...

I'm not young enough to be afraid to do this anymore.  I believe that at 34, lack of self-confidence isn't a valid reason.  Plus, I'm finding that the words are getting out anyway and possibly impeding my ability to do my full-time job as parent.

Well, practicing writing with my kindergardener
didn't go so well.  I'm not sure but I think taking his
 writing book and starting a journal, didn't help.

 There have been great supporters all along the way like my husband, TJ, Raygan Swan and my mom, among many others who deserve (and will get) a shout out.  It's time to start and if nothing else, someday my kids will have type-written blog posts to provide their therapist.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Um, creativity will have to come later

I've been promising I'd do this for years (yes, that's multiple).  So, here I am.  Today, I'm not sure what I'll write about.  I've been convinced that my not-yet-two-year-old is ready for potty training and since she removed her own poop-filled diaper at someone else's house Sunday, I decided that today was the day.  Well, it has been less than successful for her, me and my older daughter (who decided that today was a great day to pull out her middle-child behavior textbook and act accordingly).  Anyway, now I have a blog.  Hopefully I'll get back to it soon to write some more.  :-)