Friday, December 29, 2006

Crap! I've been tagged!

A - Available/Single? Nope

B- Best Friend? Ray

C- Cake or Pie? Cake

D - Drink Of Choice? Iced tea

E - Essential Item You Use Everyday? Toilet paper

F - Favorite Color? Red

G- Gummy Bears Or Worms? Worms

H - Home or Homesick? Home

I - Indulgence? Pedicures

J - January Or February? February.

K - Kids & Their Names? Julia, Ethan, Brady aka Juji, EB, Bunch

L - Life Is Incomplete Without? see B & K

M - Marriage date? 5-27-95

N - Number Of Siblings? 1 sister

O - Oranges Or Apples? Apples

P - Phobias/Fears? Alligators

Q - Favorite Quote: You cannot help another without helping yourself (or something that pretty much means that but sounds a little prettier)

S- Season? Summer

T - Tag 3 or 4 people? Beth, Kim

U - Unknown Fact About Me? If I told you , it wouldn't be unknown would it?

V - Vegetable you don’t like? Green peppers.

W- Worst Habit? Leaving stuff lying around.

X- X-rays You’ve Had? Knees, wrists, dental, and not much else lately, unless ultrasounds count.

Y - Your Favorite Food? Who can pick just one?

Z - Zodiac Sign? Cancer

Friday, December 22, 2006

Holiday Letters

Dear Family and Friends:

No matter how cheesy or cliche they are, we really do enjoy receiving your holiday cards and letters. It's a treat to watch your children grow up and we marvel at how beautiful they all are. Perhaps it's not necessary to tell us about every single trip you've taken this year, or include a picture of your outrageous mansion that you carved out an entire hillside to build. Nevertheless, thank you for including us among those you send your holiday greeting to. And for those of you who go through the annual trouble to make your newsletter funny and charming, an extra special thanks.


Dear School Mommies:

Enough is enough. Thank you but you really don't need to bring treats for the whole class for every single stinking holiday. You don't need to throw impromptu class parties without giving anyone else the opportunity to participate. Our children don't need one more bag of cookies, no matter how beautifully frosted with each of their names in color coordinated icing, one more little toy and one more cute pencil. While we're at it, you don't need to be in class every single stinking day. Either decide you don't like the teacher and move your kid, or decide to support her and get out of her way. Just because it's her first year teaching and she's got enough to handle with 20 six-year olds without having to manage their pushy moms, doesn't mean she needs you to run her classroom. Besides, you're making the rest of us feel uncomfortable.


Dear Retailers:

It's called the holiday rush. Staff up.


Dear Residents of a Certain Southern California Neighborhood:

It's time to put your homes up for sale. I'm in love with your neighborhood, can almost manage to afford a house in it and love the school my daughter attends there (in spite of certain mommies) and don't want to move her to a different one. I've got 16 combined years of elementary school ahead of me and that is the school I want my kids to walk to. You have a willing buyer. So cash out, move on and move out. After 8 long years, it's my turn.


Dear Nigella Lawson:

I caught an episode of your show on Food Network and decided to make your Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake as my gift to give this year to those on my list who actually merit a home-baked present. While I love the fact that you make the entire thing in a food processor, now that I've made 6 of them I'm wondering if the whole thing is worth it. I think it could've been more chocolaty, and the whole syrup thing results in kind of a sticky mess. Notwithstanding some of the substitutions I made (replacing half the butter with applesauce, using light sour cream when I ran out of regular) for all the fat and calories as well as all the effort required, this should just be a little bit better.


Dear Mailman:


Thank you for having the most sincere and appreciative response of anyone I gave a gift to this year. How gracious and surprised you were to receive just a small tin of chocolates. Your reaction made me feel so great, so thanks. And thanks is really all that's required, isn't it. Because if your reaction to a gift I got you is anguish at the time and expense I willingly and happily expended, it just puts a huge damper on the entire process.


Dear Kids:

Despite the nagging, whining, fighting and messes, you guys have been awesome lately. It has been so much fun to participate in your year-end activities and watch your excitement at all the holiday goings-on. Mommy might have been stressed recently, but she never for a minute forgot how magical the holidays are for you guys. The next few days are going to be a ton of fun!


Dear Everyone Else:

However you celebrate the holidays, I hope yours are filled with all the big and small things that make this time of year so special. I know you're stressed, tired, and still have a ton left on your to-do list. Still, think twice about cutting someone off on the freeway, stealing a parking spot at the mall, or cutting in line at the check stand. Instead, remember that your smile may be the only thing lighting up someone's holiday, so make it big and wide and let them get in front of you for once. Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Chanukah Chortles

ME: Come on guys, it's time to eat some jelly donuts for Hannukah.

ETHAN: Woo hoo! Jelly donuts! Mom, do I like jelly?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Merriest Place On Earth, Brought To You By Grandma Goob

It's been about 6 months since the Pearl family's last Disneyland trip and a couple of weeks ago, the alarm went off reminding us that we were due for a return trip. Actually, this particular time we'd been planning it for about 6 weeks. What made this trip extra special was that we left poor little Mr. Bunch home with the fabulous Grandma Goob (what is it about our family and these strange nicknames?). Although we certainly enjoyed our last trip in July, this time we had in our favor the two components that determine the success of any day at Disneyland: small crowds and great weather. Plus leaving the baby at home gave us a lot more freedom and a lot fewer feeding and changing stops. This day was perfect.

We started the day as if it was any regular school day. Julia was mildly alarmed that we were running late, but didn't think it was strange that all of us were driving her to school since my car was out being serviced. When we dropped Brady off at her Grandma's, she was a little confused but even then she went along without asking too many questions. Soon she figured out that we were definitely not heading for school but didn't know where we were until she saw the signs as we exited the freeway. Her reaction was also perfect. We got a whole lot of "I Love You"s along with proclamations that we are awesome parents. She has since changed her mind about this a couple of times, but never for long.

Ray had to work when we first got there, so the kids and I licked lollipops as we rode the train all the way around the park. By the time we got back, he was almost finished with his conference call (damn cell phones can reach you even at Disneyland) and we headed for food and ride after ride after ride. We wisely decided to skip Toontown, which gave us time to do other things. Ethan loudly protested every ride because it was too scary, then when we ignored him and dragged him with us anyway, he walked off bragging about how brave he was.

Not having Brady with us meant that we could go on some of the rides with height restrictions so a highlight of our day was taking our kids on Splash Mountain for their first time. We were so excited that the line, which can take up to an hour and a half, was only about 10 minutes long. Well, duh! You get soaking wet and it was 50 degrees out! No wonder no one wanted to ride it. Poor Ethan got soaked but he was a trouper through the whole thing. Our scaredy cat kids also loved the Haunted Mansion, decorated in all its holiday glory.

Of course, the holiday decorations and fireworks did not disappoint, and the pin collections continue to grow. It's A Small World is as magical as ever. There must be a million light bulbs in that ride, but they're almost superfluous: the real light in there comes from the eyes and faces of the children riding the boats. Ethan hasn't stopped singing "It's A Small World" since we got back, and I know how he feels as he belts it out, as loud as he can, with pure joy in his voice.

One thing I discovered for the first time on this trip was the Disneyland Baby Care Center. Thanks to the folks at Mouseplanet I learned about this great resource for families traveling with babies and toddlers. Located just off Main Street, this quiet, well-equipped facility has everything you need for feeding (nursing, bottles, even pumping) and changing diapers, even little baby toilets for the potty training set. Way to go Disneyland!

For better or worse, we live in a town where kids have a lot of stuff, do a lot of stuff, and go to a lot of places. Many of my kids' schoolmates travel extensively, with annual trips to Hawaii, Disney cruises, and the like. Because of logistics and finances, we have cut down heavily on travel in recent years. However, it means a lot to me to be able to take our kids to Disneyland fairly regularly and hopefully create some great happy memories for them. It was special to be able to concentrate only on the big kids with no baby care duties. To be honest, we all needed that. Once again, Disneyland came through and got our holiday season off to a very merry start.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hannukah Humor

Overheard from Ethan, while reading A Blue's Clues Chanukah at bedtime tonight:

"I like regular pancakes and chocolate chip pancakes, but no potato pancakes. Ew."

Soon he will learn that sour cream is just one more little Hannukah miracle.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!


Forget the Superbowl, the Olympics, or any other major sporting event you can think of. Around here, what matters is the the UCLA-USC football game. And after being on the losing end for 7 straight years, the Bruins finally beat those arrogant Trojans 13-9!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What makes the victory even sweeter is that USC was headed to the National Championship game, unless they lost to us. It just doesn't get much better.

Nobody, but nobody thought UCLA would win this game. I sure didn't. USC, with its Heisman trophy winners and National Championships in recent years, is just too good. But the great thing about this rivalry is that stats and records don't matter. Often, it's the most important game of the year for both schools. Add to that the local media, the hoopla, and alums from both schools everywhere you go in this town and it is a huge deal!

Here's to a great game and entire year's worth of bragging rights. Let the trash talking begin!

Oh, and have you seen who's leading the basketball polls?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Holiday Miracle


It's indeed a miracle that during this season of wishes and magic and all that other stuff, I actually got a couple of hours to myself to scrap. I used those magical hours, when I really truly should have been sleeping, to complete this page, which I started several months ago. Pathetic, isn't it?

True to my scrapping style, I did a Valentine's day page in November. And you'll note by the date that yes, I am almost 5 years and two children behind in my scrapbooking, but let's not talk about that and ruin the miraculous mood.

This a design team LO for Dragonfly Designs whose very generous and understanding owner never complains about the timeliness of my submissions. She provided the Daisy D's paper and monogram, both of which I love. By the way look for great things happening soon from Dragonfly Designs; Jacquie has been hard at work. I can go through the rest of the supply list, but do you really care? I will say that I love my Anna Griffin clear stamps that I used for the bottom part. Stamping for Dummies, indeed. No offense, dummies.

I'd like to think that my photography skills have improved since I took these photos. The bottom one, in particular, was kind of a messy hodgepodge, so I made a vellum overlay for the important part and tucked the rest behind the photo mat. Of course, now that I'm looking at the page again, I see things I could add and change but really, what are the odds of that?

Tune in 6 months from now for my next great creation.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What I Learned At Thanksgiving

  • It really is all about the turkey, mashed potatoes and apple pie. Unless you're a kid, in which case it's all about playing with your cousins. And that's how it should be.
  • Three pies are better than 1.
  • More really is merrier!
  • Even the craziest of crazy relatives can be incredibly lucid and well-behaved, long after they've been written off!
  • Despite what Tannaz says, red Kuri squash is kind of gross and nowhere near as good as butternut.
  • It doesn't matter who you are, high cholesterol is the universal equalizer.
  • The secret to my first-ever good batch of mashed potatoes is to totally waterlog the taters when they cook. Who knew? I'm no longer mashed-potato challenged. Hooray.
  • My mom cooks awesome turkey, breast down, with saffron. It's SO good.
  • I need more cute serving pieces, not to mention a new dining room table and chairs. And a nice new house to go along with it all.
  • The best thing about hosting Thanksgiving is a weekend's worth of leftovers.
  • Pulling off a Thanksgiving gathering is no problem at all, as long as my mom cooks the turkey.
For a different take on our family's Thanksgiving for those of you who just can't get enough, read Tannaz's version here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

So Thankful

We interrupt this blog to bring you some uncharacteristic sappiness.

Those who know me and love me anyway know that I spend a good deal of most days complaining about the sheer physical and mental exhaustion of my kids, who I swear sometimes gang up on me. I keep waiting for an easy day, but I'm starting to think one's not coming for at least another decade. All this pining and whining do not mean that for one second I forget how blessed I am to have the 3 that I do. The girly girl, the all-boy boy (who is thankful for his mommy and daddy) and the sweet babe who missed the memo that babies are supposed to sleep. They bring us so much joy and love and laughter every day. As I look around me, I'm reminded also that I'm so lucky to be married to someone who is supportive and reliable and loving and an adult, who puts his family's needs and wants before his own, no matter how loudly the football games call him every Sunday.

Most of all, we've been blessed with the gift of good health, and with wonderful doctors who stepped in and fixed it when that gift was temporarily compromised.

Yes, we are a lucky, lucky family with so much to be grateful for. Happy Thanksgiving one and all. I hope your tables are overloaded with food, and that you spend the day among loved ones.

You may now return to your previously scheduled sarcasm.

Friday, November 17, 2006

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...

I don't know who decided that it was a good idea to start playing Christmas music and put up holiday lights before Halloween. I get it, we're supposed to be spending money and running up debt as quickly as possible because that, after all, is the American way, not to mention the spirit of the Holiday Season.

To all that I say a hearty "Bah Humbug." As far as I'm concerned, they can start putting up the twinkly lights in March and truck snow in from the Himalayas. It still won't feel like the holidays until the Starbucks menu changes and the little red cups of happiness arrive. For me, the season was officially inaugurated with my first Caramel Apple Cider of the year. Mmmmm...even without the whipped cream. Next time, I may go for a Gingerbread Latte. Even if tastes a little strange, it still makes you feel quite festive. I'll probably wait until December for an eggnog latte. Of course, if I'm feeling autumnal I might just have a Maple Machiatto. Or maybe I'll ignore the blaring Jingle Bells and stick to the old standby. Decisions, decisions...

I may be broke, and in a hurry, and definitely stressed from the holiday hoopla, but at least I'll have a lovely beverage and snazzy red cup to drink it from. And isn't that the real reason for the season?

Monday, November 13, 2006

For Kyle

I know I said I wouldn't be around much, but this is too important not to pass along.

All of us who are parents have the chance this mom wishes she had: to save her baby from a deadly car accident and still have him in her arms. Get your kids in a car seat with a 5-point harness, make sure they're buckled in safely, and make sure it's tethered to your car.

Bear With Me

It seems the blogging mojo has temporarily left me. This is not surprising since all my other kinds of mojo (scrapping, cleaning, being a fun mom, giving a shit, the one my husband likes) are also pretty much gone. I have plenty to write and rant about but no time and when I do have time, sleep wins. Besides, I am now third in the priority line to use my own computer, since the little people are getting quite proficient. I'll be back soon and hopefully more regularly and I know you just can't wait.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's A Miracle!

He slept through the night.
Twice.
In a row.

He is so my favorite right now.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

It's All About the Chemicals


I could use this space to rant about how I'm so mad that I'm sick that they should invent new swear words to describe my anger. The ones we have just don't cut it. I could complain that my annoying cough just went away and I was actually enjoying sleeping in my bed and not on the couch when the fever, chills and aches started. I could even go on and on about the horrible timing of this because not only is my husband in the middle of a really busy time at work, including two late nights in a row, but also because the one person in the world who would come over, take care of me and my kids and send me straight to bed while she fixed me hot tea and soup is in Freaking China. China! I could do all of those things.

But rather than spew all that venom into the world, which frankly is pretty full up, this being election season and all, I'll be the bright ray of sunshine that you all know me for being. The sunlight and joy in every day. That's right, I won't complain (this time). Instead, I'll sing the praises of the one person who makes it possible for me to get out of bed and go through my exhausting day without having a complete mental breakdown (yet). Mr. Advil Inventor, you will never know how much I love you.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Halloween Recap


I'm thinking the day after Halloween should be declared a national day of rest. There seems to be so much leading up to the day, then trick or treating, and that candy induced sugar rush to slowly come down from (and I don't mean just the kids!). Add to that the fact that it's now November and the start of The Holiday Season (dreaded words to many). We could all use a day to relax before we launch into the next two months' activity.

Our Halloween was a good one. Julia made it to school and back with her costume intact. Thanks to a smart mommy at her school party who insisted that all 25 kids put garbage bags on over their clothes before they start painting with black and purple paint. First year teachers don't lack enthusiasm but there are certain things they don't think through. We made more candy corn cookies for her class, and while the process was almost the end of me, they seemed to go over well. After Jack O' Lantern quesadillas, complete with barf and boogers, for dinner, we headed out for trick or treating. First we stopped to see some cousins visiting from the East coast. Lots of fun, that.

Because our neighborhood has its own surprisingly large population of spooks,weirdos, and freaks year-round (this is a whole other post), apparently Halloween isn't a big night here and trick-or-treating is, frankly, lame. We went instead to the neighborhood we want to move to and had a blast. There were tons of kids out, and Ethan and Julia were so much less timid than last year. The adults were really friendly, sweet Bunch fell asleep in the stroller and we had fun fantasizing about which house we'd like to move into. Even the older kids we saw were really cute and nice to our little ones. The only thing that would have made it better would've been to be strolling with a lovely Caramel Apple Cider from Starbucks. Lesson learned for next year.

This night confirmed that this is definitely the neighborhood for us and we're going to start looking in earnest. It will remain to be seen if we can actually buy a house here and still do things like turn on the lights and eat (and no, we're not talking a mansion or anything close) but we intend to find out.

There was a low point in the evening. A few houses handed out spooky labels with a message to vote against a certain issue in the upcoming local election. It was completely inappropriate and thoroughly pissed me off. There's no reason to get kids involved in political issues. Sick, sick move and I hope it backfires. Who's the idiot who thought this would be a good idea?

Happy Halloween everyone. Now put your feet up for the rest of the day because tomorrow you'll start stressing about You Know What.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Book Review: Toilet Training the Brazelton Way

Unlike my last book review, I've actually read this book, and, incidentally, don't I just read the most interesting books? So while the review is refreshingly not half-assed, the book kind of is.

This is a good book for anyone who has not yet begun toilet training his or her first child. It gives you lots of advice on how to ease into the process and go about the whole annoying business with a lot of patience and a really long time line. However, it is also useful if you are deep into the potty training process. So deep, in fact, that according to some grandmothers you are a good year behind schedule. In such a situation, it is really good at pointing out every single mistake you made, each time you put too much pressure on your poor bladder-challenged child, and all the long-term damage you may have caused in your unreasonable haste. Really, you are a horrible mother. Whatever gave you the idea that you should reproduce?

This book does have some positive things in its favor. First off, it's really short. Second, it gave me the suggestion to put my kid on the toilet backwards, facing the wall. Genius! No more precarious situations with me squatting and trying to balance both my weight and that of a squirmy little boy who is convinced he will fall in and be flushed away. Finally, it's given me a little more freedom to back off and take the trainee's lead. He's making sloooooooooooow progress and I'm trying not to lose my mind.

This definitely is not a magic bullet, train your kid in a weekend kind of book. But, if you and the kid are headed into the bathroom and you know you'll be in there so long you decide to bring an overnight bag and a cold beverage, it's the perfect size to use as a coaster on the edge of the bathtub.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

It's Fall!


Once upon a time, I used to subscribe to Martha Stewart's magazine and do things like take cake decorating classes and attend cooking lessons taught by actual chefs in actual restaurant kitchens. Restaurants that did not serve chicken tenders and fries, even. I had a cute and quirky little house, with a kitchen I would give my right pinkie finger to have again, and I had a lot of fun decorating it in my own amateur way. Those days are gone. I now live in a crappy little house, and most decorating attempts are quickly nullified by Ethan The Tornado (more like a dust storm, but you get the picture). Still, I always try to put a few pretty things out when it starts feeling like fall. Today was the day.



To top it off, Mr. Tornado and I spent the morning making candy corn cookies for his preschool's Halloween party tomorrow. We had a great time, he couldn't have been cuter, and it helped with my constant guilt about him not getting enough of my attention since he became The Middle Child. The recipe is out of the October issue of Parent's magazine.


So, even though it's supposed to be 90 degrees tomorrow, at our house, it will officially be fall.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

It's A Girl Thing...Unfortunately

Of all the fun things about being a girl, and there are many, one of the most amusing is everything having to do with fashion. Especially when other people are wearing the clothes and you get to be the scathing critic. Come on, how many of us watch the Oscars just to see what the stars are wearing? And while we all love to admire those who look beautiful and perfectly put together, it's way more fun when someone shows up looking ridiculous. There are entire magazines and web sites, not to mention cackling Joan Rivers and her talented daughter, to this very subject. It's definitely a girl thing, and a fun one at that.

So the other night when I first caught my 6 year old daughter and my sister leafing through the pages of In Style, deciding who looked pretty and who didn't, I thought it was a very cute, very sweet bonding moment between a little girl and her aunt. I was amused to see Julia, who has recently become very opinionated about her own wardrobe, have smart comments to make on the pictures in the magazine, as well. I always wanted a girly girl and I've definitely got one, at least as far as clothes go.

An instant later, though, I was hit with the realization that this is how young girls start being exposed to the very media images that we know are behind the rise in eating disorders, poor body image, and low self-esteem that many young girls (and girls at an increasingly younger age) are experiencing. I've watched enough Dr. Phil to know that these are not things to be taken lightly. Unfortunatley, I've got my own baggage as far as body image and self-esteem go, and so it is importnat to me to set a healthy example for Julia. At the very least, I want her never to feel inferior because of her size or what she looks like. Luckily, that hasn't been an issue for her and I hope it never becomes one. What's more, it is also vital to me to raise children who can see beyond the superficiality they are surrounded by (do kids really need to be wearing $100 jeans and having plastic surgery before they graduate high school? In my little corner of the world, apparently they do) and judge people by their personalitlies and actions, not by their clothes.

So, what to do? Do I put an end to Julia and her aunt having a great time looking at the cool clothes in order to teach Julia a lesson? This time, I decided not to. With a few veiled comments to Tannaz, we quickly got on the same page. The conversation was focused more on the clothes than the people wearing them, which I think is appropriate. And the opinions of this particular precinct of the Fashion Police were overwhelmingly more positive than nasty. Good and good. Still, this is something I will continue to quietly keep my eye on because I'd hate for Julia to internalize the notion that she has to look like one of the airbrushed models in the magazine. So when we watch Dancing With The Stars I may point out that the dancers are hard workers and athletic, in addition to noticing how silly the headdresses always look.

Is it just me or did being 6 used to be a lot more simple?

Monday, October 16, 2006

He's Leaving Me: The Sleep Post


Call me pathetic, call me sappy, call me whatever you want (ok, not that!) but I'm not one of those moms who just gushes with glee every time her child meets a milestone, celebrates a birthday, and shows obvious signs of growing up. I've been known to cry when putting away the clothes my babies have outgrown. Of course, I'm thrilled and blessed to know that my children are healthy and developing normally, but a part of me wants to keep them babies forever, and I seem to have a lot of trouble keeping that part quiet. After all, in my own nutty family, any signs of independence were immediately honed in on with laser precision and squashed lest they run rampant and ruin not just my life but my entire devastated family's.

So, while most parents would be glad to have their sweet infant sleeping in his own room at night, my heart is breaking jut a bit that my little roommate has moved on to bigger and better things: namely, sleeping through the night in his very own crib, much too far away from his doting mommy.

We didn't come by this momentous occasion easily. Unlike Ethan The Wonder Baby, up to now Brady has preferred to fall asleep with a boob in his mouth, or at the very least in extremely close proximity. Contrary to the advice to put babies down when they're sleepy but still awake, we'd have to put him down dead asleep and then pray he didn't wake up. Always a light sleeper, recently he'd started waking up when we'd come into our bedroom, several hours after he'd already gone down. So we started putting him down in his own crib at the beginning of the night and then moving him when we were going to sleep, so he'd be close by for night time feedings. Sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn't. Overall, our system has been somewhat chaotic, usually leading to long nights of me trying to get him to go to sleep, succeeding long enough to start some night time chores (dishes, school lunches, etc.), only to have him wake up 30 minutes later, and to have to start the process over again. This does not make for a relaxing evening.

Even though I'm generally against letting babies "cry it out" in order to go to sleep, I knew the time had come for Mr. Bunch. Let me be clear: I hate this method and would never ever ever recommend it for a newborn or young infant. I did it with my older kids, however, and knew I'd have to this time as well. Friday night turned out to be the night. We finally got everyone to bed and were all but passed out on the couch. Ray had just returned from a business trip and I was pretty immobile with a bad backache. So when Brady started crying a half hour after he went to sleep, no one was exactly jumping up to soothe him. We let him go a while, and pretty soon 30 minutes had passed. Eventually I reasoned that it would do more harm than good to go get him. The last thing I want to do is reinforce the crying by rewarding it with a loving visit from Mommy and her portable dairy. I'm proud to say that our son didn't go down without a fight. After a while the screams turned to whimpers and he finally went to sleep after the worst hour I've had since he was born. Of course, I hated myself, just like I had the nights when I let Julia and Ethan cry themselves to sleep. For the record, Brady cried more than Ethan and less than Julia.

The real test of the sleep torture method actually comes the night following the torture. If it worked, the baby will get himself to sleep with considerably less crying than the previous night. For example, it took Julia 3 nights to get herself to sleep without crying at all. I'm happy to report that for Brady, it was pretty much an instant success. Saturday night he went to sleep with barely a whimper. But the true miracle came early this morning. He'd woken up sometime before 5 a.m., when he usually does to eat. t took me a while to wake up and get my act together to go take care of him and by the time I did, he had fallen back to sleep!!!! A few whimpers and he was out, with no cuddles, milk or parental intervention. Woo hoo!

It's hard to sit here and type this with Brady in his room, instead of in the co-sleeper he's slept in almost every night of his life. By the way, the Co-Sleeper by Arm's Reach is one of those awesome inventions that allow you to have your cake and eat it too: the baby sleeps right next to you, in a contraption attached to your bed, but you don't have the risks of having the baby actually sleeping in your bed. I used it with all 3 kids and loved it. Anyway, I know he's where he needs to be, and is sleeping better away from us and our tossing and turning and snoring and lights and TV and computer and alarms in the morning. My brain knows all that. But my heart knows that this is just the first step as my last baby grows up, and out, and just a little further away from me. I'll miss him all night. Every night.

Mr. Bunch, on one of his last mornings in his co-sleeper.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Validation

No one would call me a fashion guru (shut up) but it seems I am right about one thing. Remember when I went off about those godawful Crocs that are the current scourge of casual footwear? Well, it seems that Those Who Know agree. Check out one of my favorite blogs. Crocs are not OK.

Friday, October 06, 2006

My Future's So Bright....


I gotta wear shades!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Forgiveness

Although I'm not the most observant Jew these days, there's a lot I love about being Jewish. Apart from the joy that accompanies every celebration, the great food (NOT gefilte fish, but the really good stuff), the tradition, the community, all of it, it's just a religion that makes sense to me. Growing up in a traditional Jewish family, I had a pretty extensive Jewish education. And although Hebrew school is as much social as it is educational, if not more so, a lot of what they taught seemed to stick. Add to that my own experience with a pretty observant extended family, and exposure to both Orthodox and Reform Judaism, as well as the Conservative temple that I grew up in, and I know enough about this complex religion to know that it works for me.

Case in point is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year. Today. Yom Kippur falls 10 days after the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, and is a day where we ask God to forgive us for the sins we have committed against Him, and to inscribe us and our loved ones in the book of life for the coming year. Although it involves a 25 hour fast (there are many exemptions to this for those who are pregnant, elderly, nursing and/or infirm) and almost as many hours in a synagogue, it's a good way to start the year. You make your peace with God, the slate is wiped clean, and the new year is yours to do with as you like. Judaism is a religion of freedom and choices, and you alone can direct the course of the coming year.

Here's the clincher about Yom Kippur, and the part that makes it seem so logical to me. While you can pray and fast and earn God's forgiveness, that forgiveness only goes as far as the sins that you've committed against Him. So if you've sinned against another person, you're to use the 10 days before Yom Kippur to find that person, be accountable, and make amends, in the hopes that he or she will forgive you. Only he or she has that power. That's right, even God almighty is powerless to intervene if you've wronged another person. And each person holds a power that God cannot possess: that of forgiving one who's transgressed against him or her. But as you think it through, you realize that if God can forgive us the sins that we commit, knowingly or unknowingly every day, shouldn't we also forgive those who come to us with sincere contrition, bothered by the fact that they may have hurt us, and ask for another chance? Doesn't that act bring us just a little closer to God?

Believe it or not, I hate discussing religion. I think it's so personal, so private, that I hate to talk about it with most people. I hate explaining it, or feeling like I have to defend it. There are parts that I'm not even sure of my own views about, and parts that I feel guilty about, and much I struggle with. In addition, unlike most religions, Jews are discouraged, if not outright forbidden, to proselytize. But observing Yom Kippur is one of the things I love about being Jewish. My observance of this holiday as an adult is a bit different from how my parents observed it as we grew up, and I'm sure it will evolve as my own kids get older. But I don't think contrition and forgiveness are strictly Jewish issues. In fact, if I've offended anyone by anything I've written in this blog, I sincerely apologize.

To all who are fasting, I hope it goes quickly and easily. And may we all be inscribed in the book of life for the year to come.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Best Summer Ever Wrap-Up

Fall is the one season I go into kicking and screaming. Although I like it well enough once I'm in it, I like to delay the onset as much as possible. Give me flip-flops and shorts over sweaters, socks and shoes you have to lace up, especially when I'm responsible for 3 other people to dress. Luckily I live in a part of the country where the start of fall is nice and gradual and isn't really official until towards the middle of October.

But the signs are definitely here. Besides the Halloween decorations everywhere, our leaves are starting to change color too. Mornings are foggy and evenings are cool. Since we declared it the Best Summer Ever way back in May, I thought I'd do a wrap-up and see how we did on our goals to have as much fun as possible.

  • Grill-did this quite a bit, but not enough. The most notable addition to our grilling repertoire was Trader Joe's Carne Asada, or "spicy steak" as Julia calls it.
  • Beach-not enough. After Memorial Day weekend, we ended up going just once, and it was cold and stinky. Big bummer, but definitely something to improve on next year.
  • Swim-We did this quite a bit, whether at friends' homes, Grandma Goob's, or on one of our trips. Julia had a great summer of swim lessons and she's officially water safe. One of these days, maybe we'll even have our own pool.
  • Play in the Backyard-done! The swing set was a big hit on the days that weren't too hot.
  • Camp-done and it was a huge success. Woo hoo Julia!!!
  • Legoland-done!
  • Disneyland-done!
  • Read-eh, could've done better.
  • Clean out the kids' rooms-kinda sorta
  • Scrapbook-in my dreams.
  • Picnics and playdates-didn't happen, which is sort of disappointing.
  • Stay up late-done, but we soon realized that earlier bedtimes are better for everyone.
  • Sleep in-heck yeah!
  • Ice Cream-um, yeah.
  • Popsicles-ditto
  • Shave Ice-most definitely, although the end of summer won't be the end of that.
  • Date nights-unfortunately, this didn't happen as much as we'd liked. But my birthday dinner was amazing!
  • Sleepovers at the grandparents'-sadly, no.
  • Zoo-ditto
  • Go to work with Daddy-ditto, but we can do this during the school year, too.
  • Get Ethan Potty Trained-you know how that went.
  • Dinner at Paradise Cove-this one we did do but it wasn't as great as it could've been.
There were a few other things that didn't happen. As usual, the summer went by too fast. It was also a lot of work planning all the outings, excursions, etc. and trying to fill the kids' days. I'm hoping that next summer, with Brady a bit older, will be less chaotic and much less tiring. We'll definitely remember these lessons (camp for sure, swim lessons for Ethan, Legoland is not necessary) and hopefully have the Best Best Summer Ever in 2007!

Monday, September 25, 2006

What I Learned At Tannaz's Birthday Party

In a show of amazing bravery, which could also be viewed as foolishness, my sister invited not just my brood and I, but our parents! to her birthday barbecue with all her friends last night. Talk about your worlds colliding! As I am not in the habit of hanging out with twentysomethings and my parents and/or drinking all at the same time (too bad) I ended up learning a few things.

* It is possible to have a successful gathering of 30 or so people without being a stress case, planning everything to death, and working yourself into a complete lather for months beforehand. However, it is not kind to invite your parents to a party and make them man the grill the whole time. Of course, some people's parents have big issues with relinquishing control, but that's a whole 'nother post.

* My 6 year old daughter is a complete social butterfly, not to mention, a flirt...but primarily with grown-ups. At one point she was in a group talking and laughing with 4 or 5 of the guests. It's the kids she sometimes has trouble connecting with.

* Blue cheese dip made with lowfat cream cheese and candied pecans rather than full-fat and plain walnuts is quite delicious. Also, the more cognac the merrier. In the dip, I mean.

* Drinking beer, wine, and Tannaz's strange cucumber-vodka concoction all in one sitting does not, in fact, make you sick! Woo hoo.

* It doesn't matter if they're 3 or 30, boys think boogers, farting, and burping, along with other general gross stuff, are funny.

* My dad is fun! Everyone who knows my dad knows that, he's a lot of really great things, but he's also kind of a grouch. He has no problem falling asleep at social events if the conversation isn't stimulating. Phone conversations with him are quite short, and often include grunting in lieu of speaking. He has a lot of fun with his own group of friends, sure, but he's always been really quiet, if not purposely absent, with ours. But last night was a different story. It turns out that Tannaz's friends like tequila as much as he does. He was positively hilarious. Way to go Saeed!

* People should do what they're good at. Say you're a really good, even a great, smart, cook. And you've mastered many difficult techniques and on any day have a freezer stocked with exotic dishes and finely chopped ingredients to make more exotic dishes. This does not mean that you know how to barbecue. If this describes you, and someone else tells you to stop flipping the damn mean so it will cook, take my advice and don't serve raw meat to someone else's poor unsuspecting guests.

* Little boys are much easier to keep track of when the exits are blocked.

* When my mom is trying to cook the food and chat with the guests at my sister's party, she has no time to take care of my kids. What the hell? Who's going to take care of them then?

* Tannaz and her friends are cool, fun, accomplished people. The group represented a slice of young LA life and the vibe was so friendly and welcoming. I'm so glad they're all in her life. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous of this fun group of friends, and I'm so glad to have been asked to join them for the evening.

Friday, September 22, 2006

How to Make Friends and Irritate Your Mother or Adventures In Potty Training

Allow your mom to put a pull-up on you. Promise promise promise that Buzz will keep his airplanes this time (they magically disappear when they get wet). Elicit a promise from her that if he does, you get candy.

Pee in your pull-up, then demand a bathroom break. Dribble 4 drops of pee into the potty, the rest of it already being in the pull-up, and proclaim the bathroom break a success. Insist on wiping yourself, flush, demonstrate a flushing toilet, wash your hands, get water all over the bathroom. Demand candy for your success because you did after all squeeze out a few drops and there was one corner of one airplane that hadn't disappeared by the time the pull-up came off. Get a lollipop just so your mom can you the hell out the door to Costco. Promise promise promise that you'll save your lollipop for after your pizza. Ask 90 magillion times if you can have just one lick before the pizza.

Roll all over the nasty Costco bench as you eat your pizza while your mom cuts yours, eats hers and feeds nasty looking pea baby food to your brother who doesn't really like it. Ask if you're being a big boy. Make your mom late so she has to shove the rest of your pizza in your mouth 3 bites at a time. Ask if you're being a good boy. Ask for ice cream.

Get your lollipop at last.

Tell every single person you come across at Costco that you get candy when you have a bathroom break. Invite the checker to come to the bathroom at your house 'cause maybe your mom will give him candy.

Go to school with your mom and brother to pick up your sister.

Go hide behind the classroom where your mom can't see you.

Poop in your pull-up.

Happy Day!

Today is the day my baby sister, Tannaz, celebrates her 29th birthday for the first time. In honor of this momentous day, Jews all around the world will feast on apples and honey, and if they happen to be Persian, also on cow tongue and black eyed peas (I'm sensing a huge culture clash...what if you're Persian and from the South? Do you double up?). Oh wait, maybe that's for something else. At our Rosh Hashanah celebration, we will have the aforementioned, as well as birthday cake. Woo hoo!

Happy Birthday Tannazie and happy New Year to all who are celebrating it tonight. May it be one of peace and prosperity.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

If You Are My Husband...

And you got yourself on the local news last night for being a hero and helping get a school built where it's sorely needed....
And you got your back patted by all the big boys, and a few girls, at work...
And you've been frolicking at the Four Seasons for the last day or two, "working" while you loll by the pool in between expensive meals....

Don't think you don't have to change poopy diapers when you get home not a minute too soon!



P.S. The flowers were a very nice touch, thanks.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Free Fashion Tip of the Day

Gentlemen:

If you must insist on wearing these godawful plastic shoes for some reason, there is no reason to make them uglier than they inherently are by adding socks, particularly when you are wearing them with shorts. Granted, the socks probably make your feet less stinky, but trust me, it's not worth it.

Of course, the same advice goes for the ladies but I can't imagine any ladies making this fatal footwear faux pas.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

When Nature Calls

Picture the Pearl household on a surprisingly non-chaotic afternoon: Julia, having finished her homework and watched enough Spongebob to turn her own brain into kelp is playing on the computer; Ethan is happily making a mess in his room, quietly occupied in his happy place, after having run out to inform us that there is a "gecko" on his "ground" (translation: there's a lizard on his floor). A quick investigation reveals that the "gecko" has fled. I'm totally relieved because I'm not an animal person and definitely not a reptile person and yuck. But I know it'll probably be back. I put the whole episode out of my mind and head to the couch where I happily play with Brady, who is in an exceptional mood, and watch Dr. Phil. All is well, at least for the moment.

All of a sudden, my hand feels slimy and my arm is covered halfway up to my elbow in green poop. It's on my pants, all over Brady, everywhere. Disgusting! I holler for Julia to help me, undress the Bunch and start getting a bath ready for him. All of a sudden, I hear shrieking and Ethan RUNS out of his room. Guess who's back?

Completely creeped out, I grab a glass, make sure Julia is stationed to make sure Bunch doesn't roll off his changing table, and head into Ethan's room. This time, the poor baby lizard is trapped among the 10,000 toys on the floor and can't figure out which way to run. The poor thing tries to get away, and I'm so tempted to let it. But I'm The Mom and must Make It Go Away. After a little chasing, I use Ethan's dump truck to nudge it into my glass. And that little lizard trick with the detachable tail just never gets old, does it?

A few minutes later, Brady's clean, the lizard is wondering how the hell it landed on the front lawn, kids are playing and mom has recovered. It's not exactly dragon-slaying but it's the mom version. Hopefully, it'll always be this easy. Now, off to Lysol my watch.

Half Assed Book Review: Breeding Between The Lines


It is customary, when reviewing a book, to have actually read it. But I, laughing in the face of convention, have decided to recommend Breeding Between the Lines without taking the time to read it myself. Imagine how much time this will save me in reviewing book in the future. Besides, I already read a book this month.

There are several reasons you should check out this book, the premise of which is that people of interracial descent are healthier, more attractive, and a whole bunch of other good stuff (there would probably be more details if I'd read the thing). First, and foremost, it's written by a very good friend of my sister's. Alon is a really smart, good guy with whom she's been friends forever. Second, it's been well-received by those who did read it. The author is a clever, good-natured person, so I imagine his writing style to be engaging as well. He's been on some radio shows in LA, one of which I heard this morning (see, I do my research) and he did a great job enticing me to think about reading it. Plus, it's just cool that he was on the Kevin and Bean show. Third, apparently my sister appears in one of the examples, and since her lineage is identical to mine, you can, by reading this book, learn more about my ancestry than you ever hoped. I'll leave the book to spill the beans on whether we're interbred...or just inbred.

Finally, and this is serious now, apparently Alon's book has stirred up the white supremacist crowd into quite a tizzy. Obviously, they oppose any suggestion of mixing up the races and have chosen Alon to be the current subject of their vile hatred. Disgusting. Of course, the book has little things like science and common sense to back it up, but why let a little reality get in the way of your filth? For this reason alone, I'm tempted to buy several thousand copies of the book and help shoot it up the best seller list. Maybe I'll start by sending Mel Gibson a copy.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Night Out

The gods smiled upon us, the stars aligned, and we actually got to go out last night. Ray is on the board for a great organization, the Child Care Resource Center and last night was their 30th anniversary gala. For us, a night out involves coordinating with the grandparents, schlepping food, milk, toys, diapers (in 2 sizes), pajamas, etc., fighting traffic, and other stress that hardly makes it worth it. Being on the political side of his business, Ray has to go to lots of evening events and I usually skip them. But he really wanted me to go to this one, and I had a dress (actually, several to choose from, miraculously, with shoes to match!) already in my closet, so I happily complied.

The event was at Universal Studios, with a silent auction along a couple of the fake Universal streets outside the ballroom where dinner was held. We bid on a few items (some very cool John Wooden autographed UCLA basketball memorabilia and VIP tickets to a taping of Dr. Phil) but were outbid. Because Ray didn't have to work at this particular event, we got to just hang out, eat some good food, have a few, ahem, drinks, and enjoy each other's company without having to worry about someone shoving chicken nuggets up his (or his baby brother's) nose. It was lots of fun to get dressed up, and see everyone else dressed up, in spite of my killer heels. Who cares how much they hurt when they look this good? The best part, by far, was having Ray tell me over and over how much fun it was for him to have me there. We definitely have to get out more.

If I Knew Then...


This is a topic my friend Jacquie posted for her blog ring this week, and it's taken some thought for me to post my response. I'm a firm believer that things happen for a reason, and that the journey is sometimes much more important than the destination. But I really think that if I knew how awesome it was going to be, I wouldn't have waited as long as I did to become a mom and start our family. I remember thinking, just after Julia was born, "What took us so long to do this?" I know I have the kids I was meant to have, and I can't imagine my family with a different set of kids. The only thought that lingers in the back of my head is that if I'd started younger, I may have decided to have more. I love my three to the ends of the universe, and now that I know how special they are, I can't help but think more would be better. Circumstances being what they are, this is most likely what my family will ultimately look like (I'm still mad at that little Bunch who didn't bring a twin sister with him), but then, we don't always know how things are meant to be, do we?

The only other thing I would have done had I known better would be to beg, borrow and steal to buy a house the minute we landed in California 8 years ago. But, again, the Southern California housing market is a topic for another bitter post somewhere down the line.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Random Thoughts and Updates

Agreeing to have Ray go to Las Vegas this weekend (just one night) for his annual dork convention, also known as the Fantasy Football Draft, earned me a little bit of time this afternoon to sit, veg, and not think. First order of business is to blather on a bit about some random stuff:

  • First Grade seems to be going just fine, just as I hoped it would. The offending kid apparently hates ALL girls, not just mine; all the moms tell me that they've heard great things about Julia's teacher (no idea how), and most importantly, Julia is perfectly happy in her class. So far, so good.
  • Other than a discolored middle finger (the joke continues), my hand no longer bears any signs of the fnipple. After the whole slicing off bit the black skin eventually fell off and there's brand new normal skin underneath. My hand doctor was very happy, and almost seemed surprised, that the granuloma seems to be gone. There's a little bump where it was, but it doesn't seem to be coming back so far. Woo hoo!
  • Potty training has begun anew, God help us. I'm trying to have a sense of humor about it, and am trying some new parenting techniques (more on that in a later post) that are hopefully making it easier on Ethan and less frustrating for me, although cleaning poop off carpet is inherently frustrating, no matter how it got there and whose it is. We're nowhere near done, especially since he can't figure out that underwear is not absorbent like diapers. Preschool starts tomorrow (you'll find me at the mall with JUST ONE KID!!!) and I'm hoping that a group trip to the bathroom will move things along a bit more quickly.
  • Thanks to everyone who commented on the baby food issue. I appreciate knowing I'm not the only one out there who thinks homemade baby food is a good idea. Brady is doing great on it so far, although he doesn't love carrots. He does love slurping pears through his little mesh baggie and has almost mastered holding the contraption himself. What a great mom I am, training my 6 month old to feed himself.
That's a good rundown of what's been going on around here. I've also had to deal with a Bridezilla issue that is now resolved to my satisfaction by my not attending a wedding I thought I was going to. Just a note: if you're getting married, and your mom tells my mom that it's OK to bring my infant if I need to, and so I plan on it, and arrange a babysitter for the older kids, don't leave me a snooty message telling me that the hotel has some rooms blocked for my nanny to take the baby into. Nanny? Are you kidding? Honey, if I had a nanny you can bet that I'd be using her to go to someplace better than your dumb wedding. And on a similar note, if you promise your daughter at least a month ago that you'll babysit her kids so she can attend a work event with her husband, and then you get invited out to yet another dinner party, it's rude to ask your daughter what you should do. Either flake and own up to it and deal with your guilt, or do the right thing and skip the damn party for once. Better yet, if you're planning on having children and ever asking your parents to, God forbid, watch them for an evening, make sure their social life isn't way, way better than yours.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Attitude Problem

I know the first day of school is too soon to be one of those parents, and maybe you teacher types or those of you who have had more experience with kids in school can help me through this, but I'm pissy. I'm pissy that my kid, one of the two shyest in her kindergarten class last year, is now in a class with just one other girl from that class, and not even one of her close friends. What's more, the one boy that annoyed her all last year (most likely he annoyed all the girls, and there might be some mutual crushes involved but still...) is in her class. The latter problem isn't that big of a deal to me, but I do wish she had more friends in her class. We met her teacher for the first time this morning and I swear she doesn't look like she's old enough to drink legally. I'm not saying that she's not a great teacher, but I do know that this is her first year teaching so she's not experienced. This could prove to be an OK thing. Julia's kindergarten teacher was also in her first year and she was enthusiastic and wonderful and nowhere near burned out like a lot of overworked teachers, but a little experience would be nice too. Results remain to be seen on that front. So my attitude is lacking a little today.

My daughter, on the other hand, sailed through the morning like a champ. She got up without much fuss, ate her breakfast, got dressed and we all (including the brothers, one of whom is severely bummed that he doesn't get to go, too) got to school on time with a few minutes to spare for pictures. She did crawl into our bed somewhere around 3 a.m. but when it was time for me to leave her classroom, she just asked for a hug and off I went without any of last year's theatrics. Maybe I can take a lesson from her.

P.S. Is she not the cutest little first grader?????

Monday, August 28, 2006

Eat, Eat, Eat

I thought Jewish mothers were supposed to bestow guilt trips, not suffer from them (of course, most Jewish mothers by definition have their own Jewish mothers so they could theoretically be both guilt trip creator and recipient, but we won't go into that here). In my case, though, I've been right in the middle of one for several weeks.

The dilemma began with Brady's impending readiness to eat solid food. When my other kids began solids, I happily made them homemade baby food and fed it to them almost exclusively until they were ready for table food. I loved doing it, it wasn't that difficult, and jarred baby food grosses me out. My freezer was always full of colorful fruit and vegetable purees and it worked out really well for us. However, looking at my current chaotic life, I didn't think there'd be any way I could do this again for Mr. Bunch. Life these days is hectic, the only thing I have less of than time is freezer space, and I don't need to spend more hours in my godawful messy relic of a kitchen. Still, I wanted to give my little guy the best possible first foods.

I decided to try organic baby food. A field trip to Whole Foods was futile. The jarred baby foods only came in really odd flavors (and being organic didn't make them look any less gross) or I could purchase one baby size portion of fresh baby peas for more than the cost of an entire bag of frozen peas. No, thanks. I did discover dark chocolate peanut butter, but I hoard that for me and don't even tell the kids it's there!

I tried putting off the decision, but it's not one of those things you can postpone forever; the baby needs to eat. In the end, my own guilt and weirdness about jarred baby food seem to have triumphed for a third time. Over the last couple of weeks, I've cooked, pureed (my Braun hand blender kicked my mini Cuisinart's butt in this department), and frozen peas, spinach, butternut squash and carrots for the boy. The final decision seems to be a combination of prepared and homemade. I don't want to sacrifice quantity and variety to the craziness that is my current life, so I'll buy some baby food. You can't beat the convenience, especially for travel. But as often as I can, I'll make small batches of fruits and veggies, and eventually probably chicken (there is nothing nastier than boiled, pureed chicken. It smells like farts.) until Brady graduates to table food (and the ensuing battles that will no doubt follow). I'm also a big fan of fresh bananas and avocado as baby food: portable, nutritious, readily available in most restaurants and easily mushed. We'll also do some bits of food in the little mesh baggies-with-handles and before I know it, this phase will have passed too.

Damn, now I'm feeling guilty and depressed.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Doggie Mask


It's going to be great having a preschooler again!

Weapons of Torture

It seems my little finger friend did not respond to the burning chemical the way it was supposed to (rather than shriveling up into itself, it just got dry and crusty and started peeling away from my finger) so yesterday it got sliced right off (with a knife that makes an X-acto look like a butter knife). And if that wasn't enough, it got a burning hot electro-cauterizer thingie shoved right into it to kill whatever was left over. Take that! The whole thing wasn't too painful (OK, the cauterizing was kind of) and bothered me a lot less than having a FULL glass of iced tea dumped on me, and having to walk out a restaurant wearing see-through pants earlier in the day. My finger got a lovely whirlpool bath and the penis now has a blue collar. I have a couple more therapy/doctor's appointments scheduled in the next week but hopefully this is the beginning of the end. Unless it comes back, in which case the doctor pulls out the big guns: surgery.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

My Day In Colors

Brownish Black - the color of my finger, nail and fnipple. The silver nitrate that I'm using to cauterize the thing has the lovely benefit of discoloring everything it touches. At times there's also a lovely crusty white shade as the medicine starts to dry. It wouldn't be so bad if I actually thought this was working and I was something other than a sick science experiment. My next appointment with my doctor cannot come soon enough.

Green - the color that the penis is turning from the bright green tape that keeps it on my finger. Nice.

Rust - the color of my best friend, Advil, which is one of the few things standing between me, my finger, and a mental breakdown. (Note to all moms in the pregnancy/childbirth process: HOARD the pain meds you get in the hospital after giving birth. There are so many things in life that hurt more than childbirth and you'll be so glad you had the forethought to save a few pills. Also, my math tells me that 3 Advil=1 prescription Motrin. It's amazing how smart you get at 4 a.m.). I'm trying not to think about my poor little guy and all the chemical crap coursing through his milk.

Purple - t
he color Brady turns when he rolls over onto his somach (his latest trick), then realizes that he doesn't know what to do next and starts crying, no, SCREAMING for someone to roll him back.

Fuschia - the color of my toenails. I decided that we had just enough time for a mother/daughter pedicure while Ethan was in school this morning. I felt like doing something nice for Julia, she needed some Mommy time and God knows I needed a little bit of relaxation myself. It so did the trick.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mommy

Today is my mom's birthday. I won't tell you how old she is, but trust me when I say she doesn't look her age. I don't know how I would have gotten through the last few years without her. There have been days that she's absolutely saved me, just by showing up and taking care of my kids so I could attend to whatever emergency was going on. She never says "no" and actually volunters to change the poopy diapers. When Julia was hospitalized, we moved Ethan into her house for a week. And since Brady was born, I've relied on her more than ever. Of course, we have some typical issues, but I can't imagine my life without her. It'll be difficult to come up with a proper celebration for her, and she'll complain about us going to the trouble, but it's definitely warranted. Happy Birthday Goobie. We love you!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It Has A Name


Well, my new little friend is actually not a medical mystery after all. It is, in fact, called a Pyogenic Granuloma and if you're feeling really brave, I dare you to do a Google Image search for that term. I recommend waiting a few hours after eating to start looking at the pretty pictures. The good news is that it's not malignant or anything scary like that. The wonderful hand surgeon that I saw Friday is actually treating it topically, with a silver nitrate solution that will hopefully kill it and eliminate the need for surgery. He even went so far as to call my pediatrician to make sure none of this stuff would impact the little guy's breast milk, which it won't. The silver solution seems to be working. Although the fnipple is still growing, it seems to have slowed down, is turning black and feels like someone is slowly letting the air out of it.

These aren't particularly common; my doctor says he sees two or three each year. While they don't know what causes these things, they are common during pregnancy. So my theory is that my leftover pregnancy and/or raging breastfeeding hormones are behind this. I also learned that I could've had one in my eye or mouth, so I'm considering myself quite lucky that I didn't. The pain and discomfort are manageable with an Advil now and then. The only down side is the "cap" they made to protect my fingertip. It is flesh-colored plastic, and quite hard, and looks exactly like my hand has grown a penis. Yes, the penis is covering the nipple. My friend suggested that this is my punishment for flipping everyone off as a teenager and she may be on to something. Just goes to prove my theory about God and his sense of humor.

Sorry about the excrutiating detail. So many of you have been concerned and sending me good wishes that I wanted to thank you and reassure you that this looks like it will be over in the next week or two. Besides, there's just something about being an oddity that makes you want to share it with the world.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Quick Update

The fnipple lived to see another day. The surgeon was quite intrigued by it and readily admitted that he has no idea what it is. I think his exact words were "WOW!" Very reassuring. Today I'm seeing a hand surgeon who will hopefully know exactly what this being is and more importantly, how to get rid of it asap. Meanwhile it continues to grow, and grow more annoying. I know it's mocking me.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

This'll be a short one

Not because I don't love you, because I really do. But because it's too big of a pain to type. It seems that my middle finger on my right hand has grown a nipple, or something that looks like one anyway. If you were to, hypothetically of course, piss me off and I were to, just for the sake of argument, flip you off, it would have an exclamation point. Maybe, in hyper-breastfeeding mode, my body decided it needed another way to get the milk out. Maybe because I don't have enough stupid stuff to deal with on a daily basis. Probably for no reason at all. What started out as a cute little teeny red dot is now a pulsing, oozing growth the size of a pea, and growing constantly. Thankfully it's coming off tomorrow. This will involve a surgeon, and stitches, and hopefully drugs (but not too many because of the little guy's milk and having to be coherent to take care of the kids and all that). So the good news is that this painful, hideous appendage will no longer be attached to me as of tomorrow afternoon. The bad news is that I may not be able to blog for a day or two. Try to contain your anguish.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Dancing Doll



This is my favorite picture of Julia ever. It's this year's dance portrait. I love how she looks beautiful and all grown up, but you can see her little girl hands too. I love her thoughtful expression, and thinking about how much she loved wearing all that makeup. She's definitely a girly girl, that one. I know she did a great job listening to the photographer and doing what she was asked to get a portrait like this. I'm really proud of her for that.

I also love thinking about how she wanted to quit dance this year, but didn't. The class was different from her first year, not as many girls, and definitely not as many good friends. The teacher's style was also different, but not bad. There were times when I wanted her to quit. Getting her there and back, especially after the baby was born, was difficult. I hated showing up at the end and watching her not participate. I really hated class days. But both of us soldiered on. She loved her costume and her recital so much that she decided to take dance again next year. We're really proud of her decision, because it was definitely her decision. Of course, it would be so much easier and cheaper for her not to do it again. But it's so worth it. It's helped her to come out of her shell so much and she really loves the dancing. She takes it so seriously and she's good at it. Besides, now I have someone to watch Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance with.

Yesterday we watched the DVD from last years' recital together, and since I was hugging her from behind, she couldn't see my tears. I'm so blessed and thankful for my dancing girly girl, and for pictures like these, that capture her little girl moments before she's much too grown up.




These portraits were taken by Visage Photo Studio . If you ever have the chance to have portraits taken by them, take it!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Artist

My son is an artist. Apparently he prefers murals to canvases and even dabbles in furniture. He has even altered some Thomas Trains, whish sadly, I have no pictures of.

Once upon a time, in what seems a lifetime ago, in a land far, far away, little Torreh's parents were having their apartment painted. I don't remember a ton about life before we moved to the United States, but I do remember the day the painter came. I must have been about 4. My dad was at work but my mom and I were home while the painter did his thing. Now, who stays cooped up in an apartment with a four year old while the place is getting painted, but that's besides the point. Knowing my mom, she was there either to supervise the painter or make sure he didn't steal our stuff. Probably both. So anyway, this nice man was painting the walls and apparently I didn't think he was painting them pretty enough. So I followed him with my colored pencils and drew all over the freshly painted walls. I'm pretty sure I owe this man my life because when Violet noticed the scribbles on the new paint, she was ready to kill her beloved only child (no Tannaz yet). But the nice painter, in one of the calmest voices I've ever heard, assured my mom that no harm had been done, and it's just paint and I'm just a kid and he calmly painted right over my artwork. I'm sure his reaction amazes my mother to this day.

So when I noticed that Ethan had decided to color his walls, and bookcase, and train table and trains even though he'd been told at least a million times that we color on paper and that he's not allowed near the markers, my first instinct was not to kill him. Surprising even myself, I wasn't even particularly angry. It could be that the exhaustion has finally gotten to me and I can't be bothered by anything that doesn't require a visit to the ER. Thanks to scrubbable paint, washable markers, and the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (which really and truly is magical), Ethan's wall and bookcase are back to their previous condition. The whole incident took less than 10 minutes to clean up. Maybe one day he'll remember the time he colored his wall and his mom didn't freak out. Probably not. But the markers did go in the trash.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Pooped

I'm throwing in the diaper, at least for the time being. Potty training is being temporarily suspended at our house. One very stubborn boy + a harried mom with an infant does not equal quick or easy potty training success. We definitely had our good days and he's on his way, but I have had one too many days of cleaning up all the things that come out of a boy's bottom half; one too many sessions sitting on the bathroom floor begging, cajoling, pleading, bribing, negotiating and sometimes yelling for him to do his thing, usually while the baby is off crying somewhere. This is the boy I love to pieces and this was starting to get in the way of that. Let's just say we weren't really enjoying each others' company. The grandmas may be horrified, the other moms may squawk, and the preschool lady will most certainly wag her finger. I'm going to trust in time and peer pressure and give it another go in a few weeks. In the mean time, we've had a lovely weekend with none of the stress and tension that we've been having lately. Sometimes, you just need to know when to let go.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

5 Months Old


And chubby in all the right places!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Feeling Hot Hot HOT!

I'm not usually one to get too concerned about hot weather. You turn on the A/C, eat some ice cream and deal with it. Summer is my favorite season so I'd rather have the heat and flip-flops- and the beach and long days with no school than a cool, rainy day. But it seems even I have reached my limit with our current heat wave. 20 straight days with 100+ temperatures is approaching something out of the bible (and not the happy parts). To be honest, it didn't really start bugging me until day 16 or so. We survived Disneyland (even DH who gets flustered when it gets over 80) and frankly I was getting really bored with the fact that all anyone was talking about was the weather. But now I'm right there along with everyone else. It's hot. And humid (what the hell? where did that come from?). And hot. And sticky and miserable. The kids can't go outside and are getting stir crazy. I don't feel like moving or eating or thinking and just feel snarky (love that word from my friend Beth). It's starting to feel like there just isn't enough cold Starbucks drinks or shave ice to cool us down. Maybe we're just not trying hard enough. If you run into me in the next few days, be careful. I'm just looking for someone to snap at.