Friday, February 27, 2009

Yes, My Organic-Fed, Breastfed Baby Eats Funyuns

So does my organic Cliff Bar eating four year old. But only in desperate times.

I love grocery shopping. It's such fun to walk through a good produce section and feel the oranges, tap the melons, sniff the tomatoes. We're pretty fortunate in the Austin area to have some excellent grocery stores. Grocery stores with playscapes on the roof, parks out back, gelato bars, and a nice furniture section.

That's right. A local grocery store chain has added a "Plus" to its name, creating a massive superstore that smacks of something like Wal-Mart meets The Roomstore meets Babies 'R' Us. Excuse me while I puke. But, there's something wrong with strolling through a fabulous wine section, looking up and seeing bunk beds and mattresses on an endcap.

I rarely go to the "Plus" version of our dear grocery store. I tend to shop at the stores that offer the best produce selection and the best organic selection. Today, though, the "Plus" store was convenient (at least in location), and we are out of milk, eggs, grapes, and oranges (Spark's four food groups these days). I plan to stop in, grab the essentials and something to cook for dinner tomorrow night. Instead, I leave with a final bill of $113.82 and that's after I use my handful of in-store coupons. "Plus" indeed.

I should have known to back away from the store when Spark finds the car-carts. You know, those Godforsaken shopping carts that look like race cars. I admit at first I was infatuated with them. Spark has always loved anything with wheels, so it was such fun to put him in the car-cart when he was younger. Until I actually tried to push the thing and learned the first rule of car-carts: no power steering. The second rule? Very heavy. The final rule, and this one's a kicker: Lots of stuff stuck to it. Gross stuff too. I mean, nasty half-eaten lollipops, leftover sticker adhesive that has attracted gnats and dirt, some brown gunk that is surely a partially petrified stain from a former car-cart driver's diaper blowout. Those kinds of things.

So, I sigh when Spark screams, "I see a car! I see a car! Let's get it Mommy!"

As we pull into a parking spot, Spark is desperate to get out. He has spotted a car in the past and gosh darn it, someone else beat us to it. Well, today is a similar story. As we race toward the cart stash, another mom places her daughter in the car-cart. Inside, I'm singing some angelic chorus. But Spark has started his whine. Completely fed up with his whine, I just let him have it. He gets over it, and we head into this mammoth store that is larger than the town I grew up in.

Suddenly, I'm sucked in. There are product demonstrators everywhere. The products, though, are HEB's own recipes. The demonstrators, aka chefs, have microphones as they attempt to sway customers in. Right next to the demo areas are stacks of all the necessary ingredients. That way, if you like the recipe, you can just pick up the things you need to recreate it at home right away! Genius!!

And the samples. Oh the samples! Spark has a hey-day at the Pop-Tart station, what with their high-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils, rarely make an appearance at our breakfast table. But, he's taken in by them. "Oh, Mommy, I like the strawberry." The demoer of the Pop-Tart mentions they have a coupon for their "new" Pop-Tart, one with more fiber. With the $1.00 off, the WHOLE BOX is JUST 68 measely cents! My!

I've started to itch all over. I can't find the canned tomato products aisle because I'm lost somewhere in the batteries and flashlights. Then, I get twisted around and wind up in Party City. But I haven't left the grocery store. It's just that in the center of the store, there is an entire party store, completely with a balloon/banner station. Mercy! Why would I EVER leave this place?

I turn down the "picante sauce" aisle to grab a jar of salsa. And we see her. The girl who stole Spark's car-cart. Her mom is trying to push the cart. It's hard. I tell her how happy I am that she got to that cart before us because I hate those things and their despicable diaper blowout leftovers stringing from the seat. Well, I don't say it out loud, but I'm thinking that. Spark, on the other hand, is more vocal. In the saddest voice, he murmurs, "That's the cart I saw. The one I wanted. It was mine." He's quickly consoled because the driver of the cart is a cute blonde girl about his age, and she brightly greets him. He's in love.

Soon, though, we're back in Party City, and I've got to get out of there before I start buying Disney Princess streamers and Incredible Hulk kazoos. So, I turn out of there, and realize I've been going in circles for a while. I see a line. It's people waiting on cake samples. "Oh, I want some chocolate cake," sighs Spark. And Flower starts to do her "I want food now" dance when she sees the stuff. In a trance, I move our cart to the line. We get our cake and eat it, too.

We walk by two other "demos." One is a spinach-strawberry salad. I know people like that kind of stuff, but I just don't like fruit with my veggies. The other is some fish concoction. And, for some reason, probably because I'm in my trance, I tell the lovely lady who offers me a bite of Tilapia that "we don't eat dead animals." She just looks at me. Spark looks at me. It's not really true, but we have given up animal flesh for Lent. I move on, tranced.

Then, we make our way to the checkout line. I don't know it, but this store is so huge that there are two sections of checkout lines. A friendly checkout guide tells me that the other side of checkout lines has little or no waiting. Compared to the four carts loaded down in front of me, I readily agree to move over to the "other" side. I didn't realize that it was approximately 2.6 miles across town to get there with my 92.8 pound cart and kids. Spark, meanwhile, is yelling, "No dead animals! No dead animals!" as he makes crazy Star Wars moves in the direction of people toting their defeathered chickens to the checkout lines. I wonder when we became hardcore PETA vegans.

Finally, we can exit the building. I step outside, and the 88-degree day greets me like a plastic bag over the head. It's so freaking hot. And the sun is so bright. I'm disoriented, like I just left a matinee and forgot I wasn't seeing the evening show. I have no idea where our car is. So, I stop just outside the door, blinking. I'm sure others thing I'm some crazed one with two kids and $100+ worth of items aboard.

I forget for a moment that the kids bought the Funyuns. But, Spark doesn't. He wants them, and I mumble something about waiting until we get in the car. Then, I change my mind. They're getting antsy, and God knows where the car is. Might as well let them have an overly processed puff of some kind of refined grain with a sprinkling of artificial onion powder, right?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Good Grammar Works for Me

I got a message through Facebook a while ago from a character from my past. We'll call him JB. JB and I dated in high school. We were good friends, then high-school sweethearts. Then, I went off to college and ended our relationship because, well, I had grown up. So had he.

Unfortunately, as breakups tend to be nasty, this one was a bit gnarly. I've always had trouble ending things, whether it be caffeine or nail-biting or work committees or boyfriends. The end to this relationship dragged out for about a semester of my college career. I finally packed up every last morsel that I could find that either belonged to him or he had given me or had anything to do with our relationship. I took the package to him, said, "Here's your stuff," spun around, and left. Finally it was over.

It felt so nasty. And, I haven't really given much thought to him since. Two days after the "here's your stuff" conversation, he joined the armed forces. I heard through the usual grapevine that he had married a gal from our hometown. I finished college, married, moved away, went to grad school, got a job, moved again, had kids. But, then, suddenly comes the wonder that is Facebook. And there he is. In. My. Inbox.

If I'm being honest when I say I have trouble ending things, I'm even more honest when I say that I hate going back where I've been. I get goosebumps (the creepy kind--not the good kind) when I drive near my old high school. Thinking about going to old places of employment "to say hi" makes me feel queasy. I just hate going back.

But there I was, sitting in my chair, looking at the Facebook inbox. Sender: JB. It was a simple message:

just wanted to say hi and see how everything is going these days. I saw you at the game. Wish I had taken time to meet your children. My little girl and I was
there. How is your mom and dad and brother and sister doing? Well I hope.
The first thing I noticed about this message was not the fact that he had been watching me at the hometown football game I attended as part of my 10-year high school reunion festivities. I didn't even notice all the finer rhetorical things going on. Even though Welby and I did discuss the rhetoric of his message at length, burning at least a half hour of time, instead, I noticed the horrible grammar. Because grammar is my weapon of choice.

I should mention here that I am not a grammar snob entirely. Plenty of folks in my life don't use impeccable grammar, and that's fine. I understand. Seriously, I do not go around judging folks based on their grammatical choices...all the time. But, I do reserve that power for desperate times.

I started typing my response, and I just couldn't help myself. I had to bring out the high horse. I used a semicolon.

I'm doing well. I just got back from my ten-year reunion. I can't believe the time has slipped by that quickly. We didn't stay at the game very long. Spark and Flower were both getting tired, so I took them back to their grandma's
house. You have one daughter? And a son? My parents are great. They love being grandparents. My sister married a guy this summer; they just bought a house here
in Austin. My brother has two kids and works construction with Daddy. Right now, they work somewhere near Texarkana.
And I felt much better.

Check out the other Works for Me Wednesday posts at We are THAT family.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Snakes Don't Die Until Sundown

Papa came into town this past week. He's about to leave on a 10-month job in Wyoming (where it snows every month of the year), and he's making his rounds, spending some time with his kids and grandkids (mostly the grandkids) and getting prepared for the trip.

I've always seen my dad as about 28 years old. I don't know if those are some of the happiest, most vivid memories I have of him, but that's how he usually looks in my memories. But, now that my brother and I have kids and he is called "Papa" more than he's called "Daddy," I've started to notice the traces of age. The fine lines on his face have become real wrinkles. He misses a lot of what we say because his hearing is not as good as it used to be. He's not 28 anymore, and he hasn't been in some time.

I've learned a lot from my father over the years, though, and I hope to learn more. When my mom brought a dead snake to my door a couple weeks ago, I remembered one good lesson that my father taught me: Snakes don't die until sundown.

She had found the snake in our yard. It was just a baby, something harmless like a garden snake. I'm not afraid of snakes, but when Momma waved that limp fellow under my nose, I wanted to take a step back.

When I was about 12, Daddy killed a snake in our yard. He told me to take the snake "to the end of the road," which was the area on our property where we put dead snakes and other such items. He scooped the snake, which had to be still warm, onto a piece of cardboard. As he handed me the cardboard, he said, "Watch him closely. Snakes don't die until sundown, you know."

Every step I took to the end of the road crunched into my ears as I cautiously carried the snake to his final resting place. I could see the snake twitching, just waiting to spring back to life, pounce on me, and inject some lethal venom into the right side of my neck. Wanting to run, but afraid I might jostle him awake, I walked slowly on the gravel. I finally reached very close to the end of the road, and I tossed that snake, cardboard and all onto the pile and ran like hell back to the house.

Flash forward about 18 years, and here I am watching my own son poke this dead snake with a stick. If it were possible to torture a creature that has already passed from this life to the next, Spark did it to that little snake. He finally discarded the fellow on the road by our mailbox.

The next day after school, Spark jumped out of the car as soon as we got home, ran over to the mailbox, and asked, "Where's the snake?" It had dried to the pavement, not much fun anymore. Spark ran off to play with a plastic shark in the mud, but I eyed the snake warily. I wondered what he had done just before sundown.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Long Way Down

The city I live in has way too many flyovers. Spark loves them because he can see on top of the red store. He thinks that’s cool. I, on the other hand, think they’re sick. Really.

I have an irrational fear of heights, and I have a recurring nightmare about flyovers. I’m driving along on the flyover, clutching the steering wheel of my car until my knuckles are whiter than rice, and suddenly two of my tires fly off my car. I careen to certain cemented death below.

So, if you see a blue Mazda moving at the pace of a slow sloth along any of the major freeways in the Austin area, please be patient. I’m bracing myself for the loss of two tires.

A similar recurring nightmare involves the stairwells in the parking garage where I work. I park on the third floor often. I start down the stairs, and all is fine. Then, out the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of the little part between the stairwells where I can see all the way down. Bad. I nearly lock up. I breathe deeply. But, I still move into my nightmare where I see ghastly images of me falling down, twisting into a strange-looking pile on the ground below. Or, I see myself falling but catching onto a slippery, cold rail and slowly my fingers slide off the rail as I, once again, careen to a certain cemented death below.

This is usually when I’m knocked out of my nightmare by the type of stairwell people I like to call “bounders.” They indeed bound down the stairs, seemingly taking them two or three stairs at a time. Surely, they must be having their own dream: they’re running a marathon or they’ve morphed into a horse in the Kentucky Derby. As a bounder gets closer to me, I become more nervous. The acrophobia gets stronger, and I almost lock up. The bounder stops right at my heels. I can feel the bounder’s breath on my neck. I want to turn around and vomit on this person’s shoes. But, I do not. I keep going, counting in my head for each stair to try to focus.

Not one of my nightmares is pretty.

Acrophobia has plagued me since birth. I do all right until I look down or think about it. Like the time I climbed up on my great-grandmother’s counter to help her get her fine china out of her highest cabinets. I looked back to hand her a dish, and I felt faint. I had to sit down. She laughed harder than I’d ever heard her laugh.

Then, there was the lighthouse trip. My family was spending the summer in Savannah, Georgia. We took a day trip to Tybee Island and decided to tour a lighthouse. Because so many books I’d read involved lighthouses, I could not wait. All the way up the long winding stairway, I was fine. After arriving at the top, though, and looking out at the great expanse of Atlantic ocean, sand, and cars the size of micro Hot Wheels, I nearly fainted and vomited at the same time. It took a lot longer for me to get back down that winding staircase than it did to climb up.

I was 12, and on the way down, my family met another family, including a grandmotherly type. I clutched the handrail so tightly with both hands that I couldn’t move to let the grandmother pass by. She had to let go and pass by me. Else I would have died right then and there. Or puked on someone’s shoes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Men do get better with age.

Not that I've ever for a day thought that Buzz wasn't a wonderful man, but I've known him for 10 years of his life, and I've seen him become a better man than he was when I met him.

1999: We meet, he tutors me in chemistry, and we become friends. He’s nice.

2000: He sends an embarrassingly beautiful display of flowers to the photo lab where I work. I take him rollerskating. He falls and breaks his back. Two days later, he tells me he loves me. He claims his painkillers were the ones doing the talking.

2001: We go to Las Cruces, New Mexico for a spring break trip. We’re standing in the Organ Mountains and he hands me a diamond ring. A couple months later, he marries me, a 21-year-old, barely-knows-what-she’s-doing-still-in-college girl. We’re crazy in love, though, so we do it. I stand barefoot by a lake in Mississippi as he looks me in the eye and says, “I do.”

2002: Less than a year later, we are shocked to find out I’m pregnant. A few weeks later, we learn the baby has died in the womb. I see him cry for the first time. Then, two weeks later, I graduate college and we move from Alabama to Texas.

2003: I finish grad school, and we try to plan the rest of our lives. We decide to move to the Austin area for my job.

2004: I move without him so that he can finish his teaching contract. Six-weeks later, I’m shocked to find out I’m pregnant. I tell him on the telephone. Despite his queasy, weak stomach, he stands by me through 24+ hours of labor and childbirth, with all its gross stuff. We welcome Spark into our lives in November.

2005: We go to New Orleans, and he saves my life. We celebrate with an insanely expensive steak dinner.

2006: He grows into a wonderful dad, showing our son how to pray, how to be a man, and how to buy Mommy flowers.

2007: We decide to have another baby. Our first planned pregnancy comes with one try. Without blinking, he goes to Taco Bell in his pajamas at 11 p.m. when I say I’m craving a Nachos Bell Grande.

2008: Again, he stands by me through labor and childbirth. We welcome Flower into our lives in April.

2009: I watch him fight tears as he delivers an amazing eulogy for his grandmother. Today, I celebrate the beginning of his 37th year of life.

Happy Birthday, darling.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Guess what Mommy is packin' now?

Oh yeah, after what happened earlier this week, I bought a port-a-potty, the portablest of potties, actually. How about another view of this fella?

Isn't it lovely? It kind of reminds me of some of the equipment we used in the chemistry lab in college. Nevertheless, I'm really hoping it works for me, or at least for Spark. After buying it this afternoon, I wanted to put it to immediate use. Well, not really to use, but I wanted to get it packed up with the other gear that we haul around with us "just in case." I get the team ready for a walk to a local middle school where we often get our daily exercise. There's a sand pit there, so Spark spends a lot of his time, digging. Today was no different. As soon as we arrive, he grabs his shovel and heads off to the pit. When it's time to go, I swing by the pit, and this is what I see:

After the week I've had, a picture is worth at least a thousand words. And, I've got three. So, I'll leave it at that.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Letter to My Heart

Dear Heart,

Why is Valentine’s Day so unappealing to me? Why won’t you let me love the day of chocolate, red, love, wine, romance? Is it because I broke up with him right after Valentine’s Day? I know. It was cruel to do it so close to a “love” holiday, but I had to. I couldn’t hold back anymore. I waited after the day because I thought doing it before Valentine’s would be worse. I promise I wasn’t waiting on the gift. A new white teddy bear like every Valentine before that one. Trust me, it wasn’t the gift. But you know that.

I rarely spend a Valentine’s Day that I don’t think of him and our last Valentine’s Day together. I had a lump in my throat. I wouldn’t stay at his apartment. I gave him a knife and a dry kiss. It wasn’t pretty. He called me by the time I got home. I forgot the teddy bear at his place. I had tried to end it several times, but wavered back and forth, back and forth. I was shifty, cold, not nice our last months together. Not usually a mean person, I must have been trying to brace myself, build some kind of barrier around you. I’m sorry I did it over the phone, but I did. I’m a wimp sometimes, thanks to you. But, I couldn’t face him when I delivered the news.

Perhaps that’s why I’m cursed from enjoying Valentine’s Day. I felt you break for the very first time many years ago a few days after. But, I want to punish myself, so I live every Valentine’s Day with a lump in my throat, a lump that presses down on you. The lump leaves by March, and you’re free again.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Not Exactly a Walk in the Park

I'm so geeky the only claims to law breaking I can make are lame. For instance, one time, when the owners were out of town, my best friend from high school, Lauren, and I broke into their house. The house was supposed to be haunted, so we finagled around the property until we found a door we could jimmy open. With a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling and stakes of liquor boxes half draped with sheets, the room had an eerie glow to it. As we talked in whispers, we spooked ourselves into leaving and running through the woods back to her house.

As far as breaking other laws go, I once stole an item from Target. It wasn't on purpose, and it wasn't even something I wanted (a tube of pearlescent taupe lip gloss) but I didn't take it back. My friends and I skipped school, but I'm not sure truancy is a real law, either.

So, you can see, my law breaking is pretty lame-o.

Today, thought, I broke the law, perhaps two laws. I go for a walk/jog/run in my neighborhood quite often. One time, a while back, I happened to walk/jog/run into a neighboring 'hood and stumbled upon a small park. I jogged past it and thought how convenient it was. In the 5 years we've lived here, I had never noticed it. Then, I noticed a sign: "Residents of Booger Row Neighborhood and their invited guests only allowed in the park."

Oh, well, never-break-the-law me sighed. I guess I wouldn't be taking Spark there after all. But, on several subsequent walk/jog/runs by the forbidden playscape, I couldn't help but notice that no one was ever playing there. And, I went by at prime kiddie play times on prime weather days.

Today was an early-release day at Spark's school, which meant I would have him at my usual time for the walk/jog/run. After we got home, Spark was begging to go to a park. And, I caved. I did it. I told him about a new park I had found, told him how it had cool tires to play on, and after a short walk (not quite a mile), he could play a while before we headed back home. He seemed very excited about our adventure.

We pack up the stroller with Flower and some snacks to eat at the park (a tangelo, cheesey puffs, and a bottle of water), and we head off. About 30 minutes later, we see the park just ahead in the distance. Spark is so excited, "I see it! I see it! It's blue, Momma, your favorite color." I tell him he can run on ahead of us, and he takes off.

Evidence of our law-breaking afternoon.

I arrive, get Flower's stroller situated (she's napping) and sit myself down on a park bench. I notice Spark is running around in circles. He's excited about the park, but he's also uncomfortable looking. Sure enough, he comes over to me, "I have to go potty. I got to pee-pee."
A quick inspection shows that while the playscape is not gate-protected, the restrooms are. And, being that we are vandals, using this off-limits playground equipment, there's no way I have a membership key. I tell Spark that he's going to have to urinate on the ground. "Pee over there." We tried this a couple weeks ago, when we had walked to a local middle school track in our neighborhood. He wouldn't do it. He totally freezes up.

He looks at me terrified, "I can't go potty on the grass, Momma. I have to poopy, too."

Oh, this makes things interesting. I'm thinking, even if Spark and I run all the way home, it will likely take us 15 minutes, so I tell him, "Spark, it's a long way to get home. You're going to have to poop on the ground."

He's running in circles, completely freaking out. "I'm about to go poopy in my pants," he's yelling over and over again. "I want to go home and poopy."

I know we can't make it. There's no way. So, I just tell him, matter-of-factly, "Spark, you have to decide: either poop on the ground or poop in your pants."

He runs away from me. There's a hill with a ditch. He runs down into the ditch, screams at me, "Don't watch me, Momma." And he takes care of business.

I do have baby wipes handy, so he can clean up things. As we walk back to the playscape, he looks up at me, dejected, "Momma, birds go poopy on the grass, don't they?" He seems forlorn that he might have a similar status as a bird because of what he's done. Birds, are apparently, not the king of the beasts.

I look at him. "Spark, yes they do. But you know what else goes poopy on the grass?"

He looks at me. "What, Mommy?"

"Puppies go poopy on the grass," I tell him. He's quite fond of puppies, sleeps with a puppy every night, even pretends to be one fairly often. As he beams up at me, I'm hoping that I don't have to call a cleanup crew in the grocery store the next time he wants to "be a puppy."

Friday, February 6, 2009

Some Things You Just Shouldn't Buy in Bulk

I haven’t bought paper towels in almost a year. One reason is because I despise them. I hate that when I’m using them to wipe up liquids my hand almost instantly gets wet with whatever I’m wiping. Also, I find them disgustingly gross for cleaning counters as they start to shrivel.

They also fall short on many jobs, leaving lint on my mirrors and windows or ripping in half right in the middle of scrubbing the stove. Another reason I decided to ditch them? They are wasteful. To clean up an average 4-year old spill, it takes 4-5 paper towels. And, they aren’t reusable or recyclable, so those pups go straight to the trash.

What, then, to use in their place for maximum efficiency, environmental friendliness, and ease of use? I mean, come on, paper towels haven’t been around forever. What did folks use back in the day? A simple Google search on “before paper towels” lead me to an old standby that I already hand on hand but didn’t use very often: flour sack towels. Genius! I love flour sack towels. I can cut and hem them to various sizes and use them for just about anything: cleaning, drying dishes, wiping up spills.

The flour sack towel has helped me to completely rid my home of paper towels.
But, then, I saw a recipe for homemade baby wipes that I just had to try. Unfortunately, I thought about this homemade baby wipe recipe while in Sam’s, the world’s most massive big box store.

I hate Sam’s.

Oh yeah, it’s nice to get an ultra-mega-jumbo pack of diapers and not have to worry about buying diapers for the next century, but I hate that when I go to Sam’s if I remember that I need, say, an ink pen, I have to buy 25 ink pens or plan to make another stop. For a pen afficionade as myself, committing to using the same pen for the next 25 pen usages is hard to stomach. Sure, making another stop on the way is not a big deal if you don't have to load up two kids in the car, get two kids from point A to point B, unload kids, go into store, suffer through "I'm hungry" wails and "Can I have a surprise?" choruses, then reload, and head home.

Sam's has also lead me down the slippery slope of buying things in bulk that I likely won't use all of like canned asparagus. I have several cans of asparagus in my pantry. I love asparagus, but I really prefer it fresh and cooked tender crisp. This canned asparagus is limp. I can't think of much worse than limp asparagus. I tried grilling it to see if it would crispen it up a bit. That was indeed a small culinary disaster. So, I have several cans of asparagus, waiting for their season in our diets.

Oh, and there was the time I bought a bulk pack of packing tape. It happened around Christmas time about three years ago. We were furiously trying to get all our packages mailed on time for once, and while in Sam's, I remembered the packing tape. Last time I counted, we still have about 12 rolls of packing tape. And don't get me started on the bubble mailers, chewing gum, shampoo, and CD cases.

On my last visit to Sam’s to get the ultra-mega-jumbo pack of Pampers, I remember the baby wipe recipe. I push the ultra-mega-jumbo cart with my two kids and the diapers over to the paper goods aisle. Into the cart goes the ultra-mega-jumbo pack of Bounty. The baby wipe recipe calls for a thick, good brand of paper towel. I’d go for Brawny because I like the guy in their logo. He epitomizes brawn and he’s not afraid of a makeover! What more could a woman want in a paper towel logo man? But, alas, Sam’s carries Bounty and Member’s Mark (which is the store brand, so I’ve got a sneaky suspicion it’s not going to qualify for the “thick, good” in the baby wipe recipe).

Now, we have 15 rolls of white Bounty paper towels. I better get cracking on those baby wipes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Top o' the Morning

Mornings with Spark have become something of a challenge. He is not a morning person, which is the first big hurdle, but he’s also very needy in the mornings. He makes strange demands. An example: Buzz goes into his room to wake him up. He turns on the light and says, “Spark, it’s time to wake up.”

Instead of opening his eyes and smiling sweetly like an angel, Spark gets ill, cantankerous, and rude. “I don’t want you to wake me up, Daddy! I want Mommy.”

Where is Mommy? Cuddled up in the bed, getting some last few minutes of precious slumber before the day begins? Hardly. I’m usually nursing Flower, who has grown very demanding in that area, especially in the mornings. So, while I’ve almost got Flower back to sleep, I have to go into Spark’s room, jarring Flower back awake just so that I can be the one who wakes up our dear son. Occasionally, though, like this morning, Flower is still asleep and Spark is in the bed with me and Buzz while we're waking up. So, Flower begins to wail and I instruct Spark to get on up. Even though, I am the one waking him up (as he prefers), he is not pleased with the sudden awakening. He starts to wail, too. With both yelping, I feel chaotic at best.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there. Spark wants me to get his clothes out of his dresser, and even though he is perfectly capable of dressing himself, he whines around, asking me to put his clothes on. Meanwhile, Flower is clawing at my shirt, looking for breakfast. When I insist that Spark must dress himself as every big boy does, he responds with: “Ok, but I want to sit in your lap while I do it.” Then, he plops his naked butt in my lap, wraps his long, skinny arms around me while he wiggles into a pair of Shrek underwear. It’s an interesting site with Flower on the other side, nursing away. It gets even more interesting when Spark turns to me and says sweetly, "I peed on your bed again, Mommy. I'm very sorry."

Breakfast introduces another struggle, to say the least. We have some standards for week-day breakfasts. Weekends, we often have a bigger breakfast, such as homemade biscuits and sausage or pancakes with maple syrup and fresh fruit. But, during the week, our standbys are Cheerios and milk, frozen waffles, scrambled eggs, and occasional cereal bars.

In the spirit of spurring independence, I try to give Spark a couple choices, which sometimes works well, but other times, like this morning, all the poo-poo hits the fan. It went something like this:

“Spark, do you want a bowl of Cheerios and milk, or do you want a cereal bar and some milk?”

“How about pancakes and eggs, Mommy?” Spark LOVES pancakes. But, today, when he was already running late for school, and I had a busy day ahead at work, pancakes were not going to happen.

“Spark, do you want a bowl of Cheerios or a cereal bar? Pick one.”

“Do we have any eggs?”

“Yes, we have eggs, but we are not having them for breakfast. You must pick Cheerios or a cereal bar."

“Mommy, I want both.” Though at times I feel like a short order cook, the last time I checked, we were not offering a breakfast buffet in our dining area. Martia's kitchen is not the new Comfort Suites continental breakfast bar.

So, I give Spark a strawberry cereal bar, pour him a glass of milk, and tell him to eat up while I shower.

My wonderful Mom is in town this week, and she was missing this entire exchange, hiding out in the guest room. She emerges to watch Flower for me while I shower, and she reports that Spark had a breakdown when she walked into the kitchen where he was eating breakfast.

He pointed at the table and whimpered.

She said, “What is it?”

He whimpered again, adding a high pitched whine to his dramatics.

She said, “Spark, tell me what is wrong.”

He said, “It’s …. gooooonnnne,” in the creakiest, whimpering voice he could muster.

Mom, who had been in the guest room, still had no idea what he was talking about. “What’s gone?”

Spark replied, still whining, “My cereal bar. I ate it. Now it’s gone.”

Pee on the Mattress

Too many mornings start with Spark coming into my room, saying, "Mommy, I peed on the bed again. I'm very sorry." It's KILLING me. The laundry. The sheets. The blankets. The pajamas. The mattress pad. Did I mention the laundry?

Buzz and I are not sure where he gets all this pee. It's insane quantities. More often than not, the pee seeps through the mattress pad onto the mattress. Having tried several different methods of cleaning urine out of Spark's mattress, I've concluded that Borax works for me. It's simple and extremely effective.
  1. Sprinkle about 1/4 of a cup of Borax on the offensive spot on the mattress.
  2. Rub it in with a rag.
  3. Allow to dry for a while (even all day if you're headed out the door soon).
  4. Vaccuum the Borax from the mattress.
Done! No more pee! SERIOUSLY!

For extra freshness, add a couple drops of your favorite soothing essential oil, such as lavender, to the mattress.
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