Thursday, July 30, 2009

Someone Needs to Shut Up (and it's me)

Today was blessedly uneventful. The girls and I met two of my sisters and most of my nieces and nephews at a park, where they all ran around and played and got out some energy. My mom called to tell us that one of our favorite stores had just marked down their summer and a lot of "non-seasonal" toys 75%. Shortly after that, my sisters decided it was time for them to leave, so I took advantage of the time left before lunch to head over and check things out. Shockingly, my sisters and all of the hoodlums who had just been with them at the park were there too. Let me tell you, I cleaned up. I bought birthday presents and Christmas presents to last for a while. My daughters even got "right now" toys, which thrilled them! Several weeks ago, they found a book that my husband's grandmother had left at our house in March when she was visiting. I mailed it to her, and in return she sent $20 for shipping "and then some." I interpreted this as being for the girls, so when Ellen saw a Sleeping Beauty Barbie (she can quote parts of the movie), I explained that we would get it because G.G. had sent money for them for finding her book. This was the only thing I paid full price for (it was roughly $10). So then we set out to find something for Sarah. Her pick was a baby doll that has motion-activated sounds. AAAALLLLLLLL the way through the store, AAAAALLLLLLL the way home, and AAAAALLLLLL the time that I was getting lunch ready, this blasted doll laughed and made some kind of crazy gibberish sound (which Sarah now imitates)--even when no one was playing with it. As soon as Sarah was in her high chair, I found the "off" switch. :)

Naptime went smoothly, except that Ellen didn't sleep. However, she played very quietly with her Sleeping Beauty, so Sarah was able to get her full nap, which always makes the day brighter! The weather was good, so we were off to swimming lessons. For a while, Ellen had a little anxiety about lessons, which presented itself through nasty, nasty bowel movements right before she got into the pool (and sometimes once she was in the pool). Because of insurance reasons, the students cannot go inside the instructor's house, so I bring along that famous Dora potty for Elise to use. When she makes a deposit of some sort, I dump it into a Ziploc bag and dispose of it as soon as I find an appropriate place. A couple of times, she pooped in her potty right before her lessons, sitting in the minivan in front of the instructor's house. She hasn't had this problem in a week or so. The last two lessons we've had this week, I've been in the pool with her so the instructor could show me some things to do to help her use the skills she's learned. Ellen was so excited when she found out I'd be getting in with her! Today, though, it was back to the usual lessons--only Ellen and the instructor in the pool. As usual, I had her sit on the potty before we even left the van. She did nothing, which was fine, since she had peed before we left home. But while she was playing, waiting for her sister's turn, she told me she had to go potty. So I grabbed Sarah, and we all ran out to the potty. She said she had to poop, but sat and sat, and did almost nothing. We've done this before, and what usually happens is she goes in her bathing suit either as soon as we get back in the pool area, or in the pool, which means the pool is shut down for the rest of the day. Ellen insisted she no longer had to go, even though she had only produced a little squirt. I explained to her that I did not want her to go poop in her bathing suit, or in Miss (Instructor's) pool, and that I would be very upset if she did, because she was sitting on the potty already. She was adamant that she was finished, and didn't have to do anything else. So we went back by the pool, and a minute or two later, when it's her sister's turn, and I'm technically supposed to stay by the pool when one of my children is in it, she tells me she has to poop again. My response? "Ellen, this is ridiculous!" After I finished getting Sarah ready for the water and handed her off to the instructor, we ran back out to the van. By this time, of course, she had produced something in her bathing suit. I didn't yell at her, but I let her know how upset I was about what she had done. I mean, I was really upset. We could hear Sarah crying, and I told her I was upset that I wasn't by the pool with Sarah, since she was scared, and I was upset that she had pooped in her bathing suit after we had just been at the potty. And I was a jerk. What was so ridiculous about a 3 year-old being nervous about getting back into the pool without her mom, which she had become accustomed to? What was ridiculous about her not having complete and total control over her bowels at 3 years old? What was ridiculous is how I reacted to the situation. No "Thanks for telling me you had to go poop." No "I'm sorry I didn't have Sarah ready for the pool yet, and you had to wait while I got her ready." Just me saying a bunch of things I shouldn't have said. I want to wake her up right now and hug her.

There's a song I've heard a lot recently that gets me choked up every single time I hear it. I finally looked on YouTube today, and found not only a video for it, but the story behind its writing. The song is Cinderella (click the word to get to the video), and it's by Steven Curtis Chapman. The date on the interview is significant. The very next month, one of the little girls who inspired the song was killed in the family's driveway. Their 16 year-old son was backing out in an SUV, and she ran behind it. Anyone who drives any vehicle can imagine how difficult it is to see small children behind you. From news stories I read, the whole family was outside, and witnessed it. Knowing that she was still alive when the song was written, and hearing how he speaks about needing to slow down and savor every moment just made me sob, and also makes me think about how sometimes, I just need to shut up, remember my kids are kids, and enjoy them.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Plumbers, Plungers, and Bodily Functions

I wasn't going to post twice in one day, but I need to get out all crazy things that have happened today. I will promise you that everything you read here (and in every other post of mine) really happened. My children make life crazy enough that I have no need for embellishment. I said I would not use my children's real names, so I've given them each a pseudonym. I thought that might be more interesting than "my older daughter" and "the baby." So henceforth, my three year-old will be "Ellen" and my 16 month-old will be "Sarah."

My day today actually kind of started last week sometime, with a slow toilet. Ellen is basically potty-trained, and has become more independent, so my husband and I have been letting her go to the bathroom, wipe herself, and wash her hands by herself. We monitor by listening. She's very good at following directions (for the most part; she is still a three year-old), and we've not had any problems. Until recently. I've gone into the bathroom to find her sitting on the toilet painting her toenails, wearing her little potty seat on her head, and washing her hair with an entire travel-sized container of shampoo. The toilet suddenly wasn't flushing properly. Ellen is known for over-use of flushable wipes, so my immediate assumption was that there must be a wad of wipes stuck somewhere. After plunging frantically to keep the toilet from overflowing, I went to get some Rid-X. If you're not familiar with Rid-X, it is a substance made of (helpful) bacteria and some other things that basically eats anything organic that might be clogging a pipe (toilet paper, wipes, poop, that goldfish that lived an unnaturally long life and was really just a little too big to be flushed when he finally went to that big aquarium in the sky). It's primarily designed for people with septic tanks, but it works for us "city folk" as well. I put an entire box of Rid-X down the toilet, which was a two-month supply. It worked slightly better for maybe half a day, then started getting scarily close to overflowing whenever you flushed. So I snaked it--many, many times. I even went to look for a longer snake when that didn't work (BTW--the plumber who came today said it's not so much a longer snake that works best in toilets, but a wider one). I couldn't find a longer snake, so I found this cool tool that uses a small cartridge of CO2 to push a blast of air into the pipe. Nothing worked. My husband and I discussed taking the toilet off ourselves to fix it, but it just never happened. In the mean time, we were down to just the toilet in our master bathroom. This was not a problem except when someone was in there and someone else really had to go. Last night, for instance, after I had tucked Ellen in, I realized I had to go. There was no more holding it. I couldn't remember the last time I had gone, but it was now 8:30 at night, and it was not going to wait any longer. Since my husband was on the working toilet, my options were to either go in the non-functioning toilet and risk the toilet overflowing, going outside, or taking care of my business in the training potty. The first two options weren't really options, so I locked the door to be sure my daughter wouldn't walk in on me, squatted, and did the deed with Dora, Boots, and Map grinning at me. When I was sixteen, I went on a mission trip to Thailand, where the toilets are "squatties." They are basically large square toilet seats set into the ground (or maybe slightly above) with a spot on each side for each of your feet. You get yourself into position, and...squat. It was terrifying at first, but I learned three important things regarding using a squatty: (1) Aim is essential. I'm sure it's much easier for men than for women; we just don't have the proper equipment (2)Balance is essential. I encountered a strange squatty on a train that was taller than most toilets here in the States. I was okay until the train started moving, and I almost exited to the tracks below with what I had just done. (3) Controlling the flow is essential. If you can keep it a little slower, you're less likely to get it all over your feet. And ankles. And in your socks and shoes.
Back to topic (sorry)...
Yesterday afternoon, I scheduled a plumber to come between 8 and 10 this morning. He came around 8:30, and asked what the problem was. I explained what was going on with the toilet, and what we had tried in an attempt to fix it. I also explained that the toilet paper holder had mysteriously disappeared when we started having problems. He said he could get it out, but would have to dismantle the toilet, and "it will be costly." And he did. And it was, but no more squatting with cartoons for me!!

After the plumber left, I went to change my shirt (which had some of Sarah's breakfast on it) and use the restroom. As I was coming out, I heard Ellen playing in the living room. It sounded like she was throwing blocks into a plastic bucket. Then I saw her. About the time my brain registered what I was seeing, she asked, "Can we put blocks in plumbers?" She had the plastic plunger, which had been down in the toilet more times than I can count. The blocks were being tossed inside, then dumped on the floor and tossed back in. I grabbed it, and went to dump the blocks in the bathtub where they were to await a nice, soothing bleach-water soak. At that exact moment, Sarah was walking out of the bathroom, squeezing her toothpaste onto the toilet brush (how did she get the toothpaste, and when did she figure out how to get the lid off???). I can only hope she didn't actually brush her teeth with it. Evidently, I did not close the bathroom door after the plumber left.

The rest of the morning was uneventful. We went to the store for a few items, came home for lunch, and then it was time for the girls' naps. Normally the girls have water survival/"swimming" lessons after their naps, but it was storming today so they were cancelled. This gave me the opportunity to finally vacuum the living room! I turned on a movie to keep the girls distracted long enough to finish getting the toys, books, etc. off the floor, then put them in the play room (formerly Sarah's room) to occupy themselves while I went to get the vacuum cleaner. My mom had borrowed it, and I got it back from her on Monday, but it was still in the van due to rain and general laziness on my part. It took me maybe 40 seconds to walk to the driveway, get the vacuum cleaner out, and come back in the house. When I did come back in, Ellen was screaming, "Sarah pooped!" She is usually quite concerned with letting me know immediately when this has happened, so I thought it was just a normal, run-of-the-mill poopy diaper. If only such dreams were to be reality!! What you will read next is the grossest thing I have ever experienced in my life (and I have experienced some NASTY things). I watched in slow motion as Sarah leaned over and put her fingers on the floor. As she was putting them into her mouth, I realized that that spot she was touching on the floor was a fresh, puddly blob of... yes. It really was. Poop. I screamed and grabbed her, pulling her hand out of her mouth. As I laid her on the changing table, I saw that not only did both hands have poop on them, she had it smeared around her mouth. I had a horrible feeling that what I witnessed was NOT the first taste. As I write that sentence I want to cry, laugh, and vomit all at the same time. I began frantically wiping out her mouth (yes, with baby wipes--I was crazed at the moment), wiping off her face, and wiping off her hands. Once she was cleaned up, I banished the girls from the room while I began the fun task of cleaning poop out of the carpet. As I was cleaning up, I saw that it had splattered an insane distance. I'm not sure what she was doing, or how it ended up falling out of her diaper, but it was all over the place! Those darn blocks had once again fallen victim, and joined the others in the bathtub. When I went to the garage to get the carpet cleaner, Ellen went into the bathroom and closed the door. I thought she was going to go sit on the toilet and do whatever she needed to do. When I came back inside, she was running out of the bathroom, telling me that she had to go pee-pee. I asked her what she had just been doing in the bathroom, to which she replied, "I already went." Confused, I walked into the bathroom to discover she had peed from one end of the bathroom to the other. Truly, literally, a little yellow river running through the bathroom. She was already in her two-piece bathing suit when we found out swimming lessons were cancelled, and she insisted on wearing keeping it on. She has trouble getting the bottom part down, even when it's dry. She went into the bathroom, but was unable to get the bottom off in time. So, I set aside the carpet cleaner and grabbed the mop.

Not long after, my husband came home. I found a new sauce at the store, and used it to baste the pork chops I broiled for dinner. The sauce was a little spicy, so I cooked another pork chop which was coated in cooking spray and then dipped in Rice Krispies (sounds really strange, I know, but we ate it a lot growing up, and it's actually really good) for the girls. My husband also really likes the Rice Krispies pork chops. Knowing all that had happened today, he walked into the kitchen, looked at all of the pork chops, and said,"I don't get Rice Krispies on my pork chop?" I turned around, reached past him, grabbed the box of Rice Krispies, and dumped them onto one of the pork chops. I'm so thankful he has a good sense of humor.

My precious girls are asleep now, and I will soon be as well. I have to get to bed early to prepare for whatever they have in store for me tomorrow.


Why am I now keeping a blog? Several reasons. First, I need something else to distract me during the day. Second, I have always loved to write. It is an outlet for me, but I don't have much opportunity to do it. Third, my Facebook page is getting filled up with all of these stories, and I'd like to have them somewhere else.

Why would I refer to my mother in such a way? My blog title does not refer to my own mother. It is what I predict my own sweet children will be saying about me one day if their antics continue until they are no loner living under my roof (the thought of which makes me very sad). I've been told I should write a book about my adventures; I've considered it some, and I decided this morning that the title of my blog would be what I would call the (imaginary) book.

Why am I not using my kids' names? I teach computer skills to elementary school students. When I speak about Internet safety, I stress to them that they should remember two very important things when posting anything online: (1) little bits of information add up to a full picture of who you are, meaning someone can piece together who you are and where you are over a period of time if you're not careful; (2) assume anything you post online will be there forever, and that anyone can see it (do I really want my daughter's future employer to know she went through a phase of examining her poop so she could tell me what creature or object it resembled?).

I know there will be times when I will, despite my best efforts, give out little pieces of information. I know those of you actually know me (which will probably be anyone who takes the time to read this) might, on occasion, comment, and use my name or a child's name. I'm just going to do as much as possible to minimize the identifiable information I post on here.

So my challenge is this: write something entertaining, but as anonymous as possible. I promise all future blogs will be much more interesting.