Tuesday, August 28, 2007

the girl who is a shutterbug

Today I finally did a little photo shoot I had been planning for a while with 11. I had all of these ideas in my head about what I wanted to do, but an infant's tolerance of Mommy's notions of artistic photography is low. Very low. Particularly when there are wardrobe changes. So I was able to get a few shots worth keeping, but not as many as I would have liked.

This frilly little outfit is courtesy of his Great-Grandmother on dh's side. She bought this for us when I was pregnant with Z. Each of the boys have worn it home from the hospital. He broke that streak though because the nurses at the NICU insisted I dress him in something warmer (even in July) because of his fluctuating control over his temperature. Still, They've each had their pictures taken in it if nothing else and one of them will get it for their children to wear. I like that we are going to have our own traditions.

I took these pictures in what passes as my backyard. It was shady and I worried about the light, but I worried more about what any passers-by might think should I venture onto the defunct golf course behind my house to get pictures in the sunshine. Particularly when I stripped off the frilly white confection and took pictures of him in the all together. Yeah, the only way to get myself out of that one is if the police officer who comes to investigate the infant sacrifice on the golf course report is a scrapper too. Then I'd just get an understanding look and we;d wind up talking for three hours about the latest CHA releases.

Mom, when you got me that pack of pastel paper and animal die cuts, did you ever think this hobby would become a way to torture your grandchildren? I promise no babies were harmed in the making of these pictures!

I took today off from work and used it as an appointment day. I had three appointments scheduled and only ended up keeping one. Frustrating.

Appointment Number One was 11's circumcision. That fell through because of an insurance snafu I am still trying to work out and probably will be for awhile longer.

Appointment Number Two was for my little Bulldozer, Matthew, who managed to give himself ANOTHER black eye last week. His legs are more black and blue than flesh colored so I wanted to just make sure he had a case of "Boy-itis" and nothing more sinister. We have some blood work to finish to rule out the nasties, like leukemia, but the pediatrician isn't leaning that way. It's just a CYA sort of thing. After examining him, she proclaimed him "All Boy" and said part of his problem was having older brothers to keep up with.

So that leads us to Appointment #3. Yesterday I did the same appointment with Mr. 2 and Mr. 3 and let me tell you, it took three hours, the waiting room was filled to overflowing with cranky kids and cranky parents and did I mention it took three hours? I had all of the boys with me except Z who was in school and I had a heckuva time keeping my public Mommy face and manners on. I came home and just collapsed. Well, I had no childcare today and I was SO not up for doing that again only this time with Z tagging along, so an hour before my appointment I called and rescheduled.

Trust me, EVERYONE benefits this way.

I think I'm going to go back full time soon. I am so going to miss having Little E with me. But it must be done.

The last picture is for my pals Jim and Holly who sent me these uber rockin' little tees for little E. Adorable, right? So they are a trifle large right now, they still RAWK!

And to wrap up this mundane little post of mine, I have a funny to share. I swiped it off 2Peas.

The boss of a Madison Avenue advertising agency called a spontaneous staff meeting in the middle of a particularly stressful week. (This is one pretty sharp boss!) When everyone gathered, the boss, who understood the benefits of having fun, told the burnt out staff the purpose of the meeting was to have a quick contest.

The theme: Viagra advertising slogans. The only rule was they had to use past ad slogans, originally written for other products that captured the essence of Viagra. Slight variations were acceptable.

  • The top 10 were:

  • 10. Viagra, Whaazzzz up!
  • 9. Viagra, The quicker pecker picker upper.
  • 8. Viagra, like a rock!
  • 7. Viagra, When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.
  • 6. Viagra, Be all that you can be.
  • 5 . Viagra, Reach out and touch someone.
  • 4. Viagra, Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.
  • 3. Viagra, Home of the whopper!
  • 2. Viagra, We bring good things to Life!

  • And the unanimous number one slogan:

  • 1. This is your peepee. This is your peepee on drugs.
  • (although I'm pretty sure they didn't use "peepee" Still, my Mother reads my blog so I'll keep the vernacular PG)
Hope that made at least one person giggle!

Friday, August 24, 2007

the girl who is going crazy

Matthew is in his "why" phase. (Please God, let this be a phase. A short one.) Every action or request for action inevitably ends with "why-y-y-y-y-y-y?" in a particularly piercing tone of toddler that can only be described as dog whistle meets dolphin meets the Macarena. (Translation: high, piercing and extremely annoying)

What has worked with the other two (well, really only Zack, Ian hasn't succumbed to this phase. I'm still waiting) was to answer the "why?" with a detailed explanation. I mean really detailed. Bore the paint off of walls detailed. And no dumbing it down either. Just the facts. All of them. This doesn't work with Mouseling. Particularly since most of his why's are in response to such basic requests as "Go clean your room" "Stop hitting your brother" and "When feeding the kitty, do NOT put his food dish inside the litter box." (you think I'm kidding on the last one, don'tcha? Shows how well you know my kids.) My "bore-'em-to-tears-so-they-quit-asking" technique doesn't seem to work here because he just throws himself on the floor in a snit anyway and usually starts the "why" barrage before I'm more than a breath into my explanation. In panic, annoyance and perhaps some primal parenting instinct, I find myself eventually abandoning all hope and simply replying "Because I said so!"

Beyond the "why's" there are the "where's." This is not just Matthew's game. This is ALL of the kiddos. (Well, except 11 of course, but we're not counting him until he can throw himself on the ground in a flurry of tears, pounding fists and shrieking wails) Any time I head to the door to go out, I get the "where are you going?" question. It's like being 16 again! They want to know where I'm going, what I'm going to do while I'm there, and when will I be back. And if its somewhere they WANT to go, they insist on going with me.

Nope. No Way. I am the official errand runner to get me OUT of the house. ALONE. I actually did my first grocery trip with all four yesterday: one in the sling, two in the cart, one running around trying to seem responsible so we'll let him have a bicycle. It wasn't terrible, but it is NOT my favorite thing to do. I'll continue to pawn the kids off on DH and spend the weekend "Momming" with all the saved up errands. Alone.

So I was leaving to go pick up some more milk the other evening and I get the usual barrage at the door. Trying to flummox them, the conversation went a little something like this:

Mouse: "Mommy, where you going?"

Me: "Out."

Mouse: "You go to the grocery store?"

Me: "Nope." (They always want to come shopping. It's cute that after years of being denied, they still cling to the hope I'll actually buy them everything they point at and say "Mommy, I want that!" Of course I'm not going to give them an excuse for a tantrum by spilling the beans of my actual destination. So I lie. There. I admitted it. I lie to my children. And to all of the sanctimonious people who have a problem with that, go ahead. Tell on me to Santa Claus.)

Mouse: "You go to the Dockers?" (translation: Doctor's office. Did I mention the two middle-men are hypochondriacs and enjoy going to the Doctor's?)

Me: "No."

Mouse: "You going..."

Me (cutting him off as I try to sneak out before Ian notices and joins the interrogation): "I'm going crazy. That's where I'm going."

Mouse: "You going crazy?"

Me: "Yep, crazy."

Mouse: "Oh."

then he takes the briefest of pauses while he digests this.

Mouse: "You going to work?"

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

the girl who has a third grader!

My baby started third grade on Monday. And I was NOT allowed to take pictures! (Apparently third grade is when it isn't cool for mom to play paparazzi in front of your friends.) I wasn't allowed to kiss him goodbye either. Hmph!

I really can't believe how big he's gotten! My goodness, I look down at Eli and totally wonder that Zack was ever that small. It seems insane to me.

He has the same teacher as he had last year, which I'm thankful for. She understands. At least understands him enough to not want me to drug him. I was so upset at his first grade teacher who told me on multiple occasions that I needed to have him tested for ADHD. It brought me back to my days with Ms. Besek in the third grade. I have zero fond memories of that woman. At least she tried to manage me by having me moved to fourth grade. As far as I know she never actually tried to drug me!

little man

Another sign of how much Zack has grown--he loves being a big brother to a baby. He is constantly asking to feed or hold the baby and is the first one at Eli's side if he so much as whimpers. He is so proud of his baby brother! At the Open House he was telling everyone about Eli's birth. (I think his teachers were more impressed than he classmates.)
You'll notice I said big brother to a baby. Yeah, the littles are wearing on him. He's a sneaky one though. He constantly scams his brothers out of prized possessions and snacks. I guess that's one of the perks of being the biggest, but I really can't let it continue. If only to spare my ears from the shrieks of "Zacky took this...Zacky did that!"

Eli update:

He had a Dr.'s appointment yesterday and had gained one ounce shy of a pound since his last visit. He has officially lost his "sack of sugar" status and is weighing in at a hefty 5 lb 13 oz. He's also sprouted an inch. Look at those chubby cheeks! I look at this face and I see a LOT of my Opa shining through. Maybe he'll be a musician too.

Taking Eli to work with me is actually working out pretty well. This is his little set up in the corner. That's the cradle my other Gradfather made for the grandchildren and it fits perfectly in that corner. He's usually a calm baby and when he gets fussy, I just put him in the sling and he calms down pretty quickly. Look carefully at this pic--he's SMILING!

And then there is THIS picture. Not something you'd expect from sweet, sensitive little Ian. Who's been teaching him bad habits?

Lol, what really happened is that he has a teeny, tiny cut on his finger and he was showing it to me. Had to take a picture you know, it's one of those things you just are obligated to do.

Plus, his "first pictures" from the hospital shows him giving the feathered salute as well.

He only LOOKS sweet and innocent!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

the girl who is nostaligic

It's the summer of 1989 and the family is spread out all over the place. My sister is in Australia as an exchange student, my father is on a business trip in California. It's just me and my Mom for a few weeks of summer. My 15th birthday is fast approaching and my Mom comes to me with a proposition. She really misses my Dad, so how about we go visit him and check out Disneyland? Well, I really didn't think that was the definition of fun. I mean, Disneyland? For my 15th b'day? My teenaged angst wouldn't have such a thing. Besides, if I don't go and my Mom does, I'll have the house all to myself.

Fat chance.

Mom went to CA to be with my Dad and left my sister's bff in charge to "babysit" me. (Basically just spend the night and check in) Pshaw! This is a teen movie waiting to happen! Dreams of popularity and parties danced through my head. They are only thwarted by the fact that I am hardly popular and I really have no network, grapevine, or even idea of HOW to throw that rocking and compulsory "parents are out of town" bacchanal bash.

It's a good thing too, because I was so much of a goodie goodie (although my Mom would disagree) I wouldn't have had any fun at all.

Which explains why I was home, alone on my 15th birthday.

My mother calls me about mid-afternoon to wish me Happy Birthday and tell me where my present was hidden. She directs me to go out to the storage shed in the carport. Since we didn't have a cool cordless phone (still relatively a new thing at the time) I had to lay the phone down, go and hunt and come back.

I searched that storage closet up and down and simply could not find my birthday present! I must have made three trips back and forth from the phone to the shed and back again with no success. I exasperatedly told my Mom, "There's nothing there! Just boxes and luggage and Christmas decorations."

"Julie, the luggage is your gift."

Well, I must admit, I was severely disappointed. Luggage? I'm newly 15 and you get me luggage? I tried not to let my mother know, but I think she figured out I was less than thrilled.

Really? Luggage?

Now, in my parent's defense, they always tried to fulfill both my wants and needs at the same time. Since my sister had received new luggage for her trip to Australia, they figured I must want some too and I would likely need it eventually (it actually got quite the workout my jr and sr year of HS).


So I decided if my parents weren't going to get me a gift I liked, *I* would get me a gift I liked.

So I called my bff, Laura, and told her that she was going to get me a kitten. Her job was to find a "Free Kittens" ad in the paper and find one for me.

So that is how I got Zephyr, or Zeff.

She was such a cute little kitten-a mackeral tabby with a perfect "M" between her ears. But she was dumb as a box of rocks. Sheesh. She had a habit of running into closed doors. The running joke was that when she backed up to try again, it was because she was just testing to see if it had changed its mind about being solid. The Zephyr of her name referred not just to "gentle western wind" but the gentle wind that must be blowing between her ears, lol!

Over the years she mellowed and, evidentially, gained some wisdom. When I left home, she stayed behind with my parents. She went through a "Vampirella" stage, as my dad called it, when she only went out at night and came inside in the morning to sleep. That ended when she was evidentially attacked by a dog and found bloodied and battered on my parent's front porch
one morning.

As I approached my 30th birthday, it dawned on me that Zephyr was still with us and going strong. A little slower, maybe, but still active and loving. Definitely the Grand Dame of the house. The running joke then became "she doesn't know she's supposed to be dead." Since then, I've just been waiting for the call that she was gone.

That call came today.

She turned 18 in May and was going downhill fast. Skinny as a rail and starting to get that raggedy look, she had taken to being rather indiscriminate about her hygiene (always a bad sign) and started just "letting go" whenever she had the urge. While cleaning up one of her presents yesterday, my Dad noticed what looked like blood in her stool. Being a good animal owner (pets are really FAMILY to my parents. Your kid is sick? Take her to the pediatrician. Your pet? Instant vet visit.) he took her to the family vet today. The diagnosis?

Intestinal Cancer.

So Dad had her put down today to spare her any further pain. Tonight she will join Hot Dog, Jordan, Lucille, Tut and Smokey in the family pet cemetery. I wonder where her spot will be.

I wish I had a good picture of her, but my only recent one is this of her looking like a shadow of herself. I'll have to go hunting.

So a glance into my past to explain why I'm sad in the present.

Hug your furbabies today.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

the girl who has all her peeps in one place

Happy to be home!

Little 11, home at last! We are so happy to have him home and healthy! It's been almost two weeks and we are still working on our routine. Of course it is about to get all messed up again since both Aramis and I are returning to work on Tuesday, but there is a certain amount of bliss involved with having been able to spend this time together as a complete family. The boys love their littlest brother and he is the favorite new toy. We have to really keep an eye on them because sometimes they can be *too* helpful, lol. Eli is putting on weight quicker than he did in the NICU, which makes me think that maybe he wanted to be home too. He was released from the NICU on a Monday at 4 lb 6 oz. Three days later at his first pediatrician's appt, he had already gained 2 ounces! At his checkup a week later, he had gained another six! Little guy is topping out at 4 lb 14 oz and will soon be past the 5 lb mark. Quite an accomplishment for the little Slurpee!

GrandMary and all of her boys

My parents drove over from Texas to see their newest grandchild. We had an awesome visit: very low key and full of lots of "just hanging out" moments. We did a little shopping, a little playing in the park, a photo shoot and some wonderful family time. I really miss having my family close. We are actually discussing moving to Texas, which would please my fam to no end. Mom has been apologetically bringing up the subject for a few years now. My grandmother is not quite as subtle: she flat out tells me I need to move almost every time we speak, lol. My sister just jumped on the bandwagon too--which surprised me, but somehow carried more weight as she usually keeps her opinions to herself.

And I miss them! We've been doing things on our own for so long with long-distance support and our Florida Family's support, but it just isn't the same as having your fam right there in the same city. (or town--I don't think my hometown quite has earned "city" status, lol) And as the kiddos get older, I wish I had the luxury of allowing them to play outside. Somehow my hometown seems "safer."

3 generations

This was taken the last day of their visit. My Mom looks so sad! This is what I will look like in 30 years--not a bad future to look forward to. I love how well my Mom has aged and really hope genetics are as kind to me. She does not fit my internal picture of a 60 yo woman.

Pa plays with his favorite furry grandchild, Parker

This is my Dad with Parker. I think he had more fun playing with the dog than seeing his grandchild! lol! Dad has this "way" with animals. Every stray in the area will seek out my family because they know we will feed them, pet them, love on them and try and find their home. And if you don't have a home, well--something is usually arranged. This is probably why they have 5 cats and 4 dogs. Most of whom were strays that just "showed up." )and I'm not counting the two feral kittens, Hiss and Spit, that they are currently hosting.)

Pa carrying Eli

What is it with men and this kind of hold for carrying a baby? ALthough, I must say, Eli was perfectly content to be carried this way. Still, it is such a "guy thing" to do.


Class clown in training

Two funny Matthew stories from the visit. The first comes from him playing with Pa. My Dad got a bridge recently and was pushing it in and out of his mouth, trying to freak out Matthew. I asked him, "Can you do that with your teeth?" and he said "Sure" in that faintly Bronx accent of his (have no idea where that came from!) and started thrusting his jaw out, trying to emulate Pa. Then my Dad said in a deadly serious voice, "But can you do this?" and takes the bridge out completely, showing him the four teeth on it.

Matthew had a combination of shock and curiosity on his face and responded with a very smal "Oh!" It may be one of those things where you had to be there, but considering how LOUD Matthew is most of the time, this subdued and simple "Oh!" was hilarious to us all.

The second cute Matthew comment comes when we were playing at the playground. First, Matthew's outfit was hilarious. He managed to find the shortest pair of shorts--which ordinarily, no big deal since most of his shirts come to his waist, but on that day he was wearing a shirt handed down from his cousin that was about 2 sizes too big, but HAD to be worn because it had Lightening McQueen on it. Couple that with a pair of hand me down hiking boots that he insisted on wearing as well and he looked adorably mismatched! How did I not take a picture? Anyway, we were at the playground and he came to a part where he could choose to go down a slide, slide down a pole or climb down a ladder. I was coaching him to go down the slide as I didn't want him to attempt any of the other options. He turns to me and yells out, "Mommy, I can't fly, I go there!" (pointing at the slide) It was adorable!

Anyway, that is the past two weeks in a nutshell. A too short visit, a couple of cute stories and an update on 11's status. And I will leave you with my Mother's observation to add to the coincidences of Eli's birth: he is also the seventh grandson on my side of the family!