Month: November 2005

Gleek’s Horses

Putting Gleek to bed is never simple. She is usually quite happy to put pajamas on, have a snack, climb into bed, say prayers, and listen to stories, all of these things get her more attention than usual, but when it comes time for me to leave the room she begins all the stalling tactics she can think of. Her water bottle needs filled. She’s still hungry. She needs all three blankets. She needs to tell me something. This last is the most common tactic. I’ll ask her what she needs to tell me and she’ll “um” and “hmm” for a full minute before she can think of what she desperately needed to tell me. Eventually I just have theget mean and tell her to save all her important information for the morning, because I’d stand in her doorway for hours trying to listen to all of her “one more things.”

Sometimes though I have a little more time/energy to listen and I get delightful looks into the mind of this sprite that I call my daughter. Just the other night I was tucking her under her covers and she was lamenting again that she hadn’t gotten a chance to ride the white pony named Ghost when we went to a local farm last summer. Everyone else got a turn on Ghost and she didn’t and it wasn’t fair. She was ready to burst into tears over this tragedy when with one of the lightning switches of thought that Gleek so often makes, she decided that when she gets her horse she will call it Ghost. No, she will call it Ghost Sky! No, she will call it White Sky and it will be a white horse. Or maybe it would be a tan horse because that is her favorite color. And when she has her horse she will also have one of those things you fasten horses to that go around. Only it will go fast so that the horses can run instead of walk. And she will get lots of horses to put on it. And they will all run. They will be all colors. No they will be all white! All white horses! And she will name one Bretta and one Ghost sky and one Song. No, they will ALL be named Bretta! and when her friend comes over they will ride horses and the horses will go super fast! And they will hold on tight so that they don’t fall off. Won’t that be fun Mom?

I agreed that yes it would be fun and carefully tried to extricate myself from the room without disturbing her happy thoughts of the horses she dreams of having. We have no space in our yard to house even one horse, but I’m not going to rule out the possiblity that she will be determined enough to figure out how to own a horse someday. For now she can dream of a dozen white horses named Bretta that she and her friends will ride. Fast.

Nativity play

As a nice Sunday activity we decided to decorate the Christmas tree with ornaments. All went fairly well until the kids discovered the stuffed nativity set in the same box as some of the ornaments. My mom made this wonderful “huggable nativity” so that the kids would have something christmasy to play with and carry around. In theory this helps them leave the porcelain nativity set alone. The kids love the huggable nativity. They love it so much that they abandoned the tree decorating project in favor of playing with it. As I put the last few ornaments on the tree it was really hard not to laugh out loud while listening to their game. There is something so wrong about the wise men and the angel getting into a fist fight because the wise men have decided to turn to the dark side.

This year it’s not my tree

Last year I wrote about our huge christmas tree ( Well it’s made it’s annual reappearance in our front room. In prior years I’ve been heartily at work making sure that all the branches get fluffed correctly, making sure the lights are strung evenly, and making sure the beads are draped artisically. Of course doing that meant I spent a lot of time asking kids to stand back and not get in my way so that I could do things “right.” It is an all-day project which ends up with me thoroughly exhausted and usually grumpy.

Last year on Christmas Eve I looked at the tree and realized that the beads I’d strung so artisically had been pulled half off and thrown back on skewampus. The ornaments had all migrated towards the upper half of the tree since Patches kept pulling them off and I kept rehanging them where he couldn’t reach them. And half of the carefully placed lights were out for no discernable reason whatsoever. In short, the tree was a mess, but the kids didn’t care and I discovered that I didn’t much care either. Howard may have cared, but he didn’t mention it to me. In fact the messy tree amused me enough that I made sure to take a picture to record it for posterity.

This year I let the kids do the fluffing of the branches. Branches need fluffing because they get flattened during 11 months of storage. I always carefully fluff each branch so that they curve gently upwards in the way that real trees do. The kids carefully fluff each branch so that it looks like an electrocuted porcupine. But when all the porcupines are put into place and covered with ornaments I’m pretty sure no one will be able to tell they’re porcupines except me. Hopefully. I did control the light stringing because there was electricity involved, so the lights are fairly evenly spaced. Then I handed Kiki & Link the strings of beads and walked out of the room. They felt so grown up and responsible to be hanging the beads all by themselves. When they declared the beads done I came in to look. Had a pot of spaghetti exploded near the tree, it would probably have resembled the arrangment of beads that Link & Kiki achieved. I’m pretty sure that sections of the beads were thrown at the tree. From a distance. But they loved doing it and I didn’t have to. I’ve realized that glowing memories of childhood are much more valuable in the long run than an artistic tree. That is good because a large portion of our christmas ornaments are going to be shrinky-dinked kids drawings of video game characters.


Late last night I woke up in darkness not sure why I was suddenly awake. Then I heard the sound again, a barking cough. I stumbled out of bed to check on Patches because I confusedly thought he might be the source. He was sleeping like an angel without even snoring. The cough came again, it was Gleek. I should have known because that barking cough is indicative of croup and Gleek seems particularly succeptable to it. The cough wasn’t bad yet, Gleek wasn’t even fully awake, but I knew from unpleasant experience that if I didn’t treat it right away we’d end up listening to gasping breaths and wondering if it was time to go to the emergency room.

By the time I’d hauled her out of her top bunk, Howard was in the room as well. He’d been downstairs in his office. He heard the first cough and thought it was the neighbors dog. (They aren’t kidding when they describe the croup cough as “barking”) The second cough had him realize that the sound was inside our house which meant one of the kids. That was when he heard my footsteps. It’s nice to know that my Mommy Radar is properly tuned to wake me up at the first croupy cough. We carried sleepy, coughy Gleek to our bathroom and gave her a treatment of nebulized albuterol. That nebulizer is one of the many things for which I am grateful this morning. Our insurance bought it for us because Link was mildly asthmatic at an age where he couldn’t use inhalers. It has saved us from hospital trips more times than I care to count. If I had it to do over, I would have spent $200 cash and bought one myself about 3 years earlier than we acquired it.

This particular croup attack was mild. By the third nebulized breath, Gleek was breathing easier. I didn’t have to haul her outside to let her breathe freezing air or run the shower to let her breathe steamy air. Best of all we didn’t have to take her to the hospital for more vigorous treatments. In only 5 minutes we were done with the treatment and she was tucked back into bed where she slept peacefully for the rest of the night. It would be fine with me if none of my kids ever suffered from croup again, but it is also really nice to be experienced enough to know exactly what to do.


I have no intention of taking up the cry and following Rev. Billy, but I find that I agree with him somewhat about the effects of consumerism on community and family. You may or may not agree, but it is worth thinking about.

Time is far more valuable than things. Time can not be bought, and yet so many of us spend all our time acquiring things.

Impending Thanksgiving

Today was a day of cooking. I am truly amazed at the amount of baking I did today. 3 pumpkin pies, 1 apple pie, 4 loaves of pumpkin bread, 1 big batch of candied walnuts, and a chocolate cheesecake. All of this is in preparation for the feasting tomorrow. Chalain & Chaliren are coming to spend the day, help cook food, and help devour food. I’m really looking forward to it. During a preparatory pow-wow where Chaliren and I divided the list of things to be cooked, we agreed that we’d eat ham rather than turkey. Tonight at dinner Kiki expressed disapointment with this decision. She really wanted turkey. Or to be more accurate, she wanted a huge roasted bird so that she could peel the cooked skin off and eat that.

For anyone who doesn’t know, cooking a Turkey starts about 4 days before hand when you pull the beast out of the freezer and use up your entire fridge to give it room to thaw. When the bag the turkey is in starts leaking, you know it’s ready to cook. In short, it’s too late to acquire a turkey and expect to be able to cook it tomorrow. Besides, I baked all day I don’t want to go shopping. Howard was sporting a vicious headache and didn’t want to go shopping either. In hopes of heading off the looming Pout of Doom, I rummaged in our freezer and discovered a frozen turkey breast left over from last year. It was small enough that if I used the defroster in my fridge I might be able to cook it tomorrow. I triumphantly carried the partial bird up to Kiki expecting excitement and thanks. She took one look at it and sat back pouty again “It says turkey breast. Will it have skin on it?” sigh. I’ve no idea, but at least I attempted to not ruin Thanksgiving for her. If our sacreligous decision to have ham instead of bird does ruin her holiday, then she can add it to her store of character building memories.

In unrelated news I’ve got a new game at the top of the “We will never rent this again” list. It features a cartoony alien creature who runs sideways across the screen while violently slaying and infinite supply of identical FBI agents. It is repetitive and annoying and my kids love it. As I was baking I got to listen to them howling with laughter while shouting things like “I bit his head off!” “Die FBI!” and “I cut him in half!” It was rather disturbing, at least to me. I did discover that there was a feature that allowed you to turn the “gore” off. This meant that when you sliced FBI agents they spouted flowers instead of blood. I hoped that would be better. Instead I got complaints. “Mommy! The blood is all gone!” If I really believed that it was harming them, I would take the game back right now even though that would make me into the super bad guy for days. As it is, I’m going to work really hard at finding them more interesting things to do. It just feels wrong to hear those things coming out of the mouths of my beautiful little children. Yuck.

What he said

If you haven’t already, got read Howard’s Open Letter ( It makes me cry to read it and so grateful that we’ve come to a place where he could write it.

We’re so lucky.

Here we go a bagelling…

On Halloween night someone in our neighborhood handed out coupon books instead of candy. I wish I knew who it was so that I could thank them profusely. The coupons are for Einstein Bagels, they come 6 to a booklet and each coupon is for a free bagel. All four kids got one, so we have 24 coupons. These coupons are ingenious from a business standpoint because they only apply to kids 12 and under. So the kid gets a free bagel and mom or dad is standing there in the store looking at yummy food and will probably buy something.

Einstein Bagels are one of the things that I miss. We used to buy them with shmears for the family fairly regularly and we all loved it. Thanks to these coupons our kids are getting to have bagels again, at least until the coupons run out. We’ve made a real treat out of going to “the bagel store.” Usually it is just one child and Howard. The child gets to hold the coupon, pick a bagel, hand over the coupon and walk out of the store with a little brown back of “yum.” They feel grown up and important doing those things themselves. Howard brings the bagel home, toasts it and sprinkles it with cinamonsugar for the child to devour. Sometimes the child isn’t very hungry and then Howard or I get to have some too. Yum.

Getting to eat yummy bagels is happy, but even happier is being able to provide a small treat for the kids. The bageling ritual is far more imporant than the actual food content of the bagel.

Survivor’s Euphoria

This past week does not qualify as the worst week of my life. But if I kept a list of most stressful weeks, this one would be right up there. Fortunately it is now Friday evening and I discover that I’ve weathered the week to find a happy place on the other side. I survived managing preschool with a baby in hand. I not only survived it, but I feel like it went pretty well. NotMyBaby cooperated by taking a long nap at the best possible time. Howard removed Patches from the house at a critical moment and all else went well. Most amazing ofall, I was able to sneak in some leaf-raking yard work during one of the free play times. I still have events scheduled tomorrow and Sunday, but now that my brain isn’t busy supressing panic at the anticipation of preschool, I can see that these final events are all ones that require me to leave the house without my children. That kind of activity generally de-stresses me rather than stressing me further. So, now I’ve got a survivor’s euphoria and I feel happy.

I still want to do some analysis of the effects stress had on me this week. I need to sort it all out and figure out why I was so panicked and why that panic surfaced in the ways that it did. But that’s too thinky for me right now. For now I just want to float calmly on a wave of relief, put my kids to bed and have a long bath. That would be good.