Thursday, September 29, 2011


What I love about North Carolina is that you can swim right up until the end of September if you're so inclined. This week, we took advantage of pool access at my parents' house a few more times before the cold sets in. The slide is finally in and it's a hit with all the kids, even my fearless 17 month old (wow, that's the first time I've said that. is that even possible??). We ended the summer with Danny swimming on one wing and Owen ditching the bubble suit and just going with the wings. Fiona is still in two wings, but tries one wing from time to time.

Patiently taking turns on the slide has been a challenge for my almost 5 year old (what???); though, after several poolside time outs, I think he finally got it. 

I'm waiting patiently. I'm waiting patiently. I'm waiting patiently, Danny chattered under his breath while in line for the slide.

The other most frequently broken pool rule is the "No screaming" rule.

Why are you in time out? I asked.
I did this: AAAAAHHHHHHH. Thanks, Dan. Now I can't hear out of that ear.

As for Owen, we just can't watch him eat anymore. It's too disgusting and bizarre. He actually takes his food from his plate and puts it down in his high chair seat. WHY???

Owen is throwing his food, mom, Danny reported while we're having a discussion about manners.
Yeah, pretty much anything Owen does at the table is bad manners.

On the bright side, it was Danny who started talking about table manners. Danny is also starting to say weird things, such as:

I like broccoli now. It's healthy for my body. Awesome.

and ...

I can make healthy choices. A pear is a healthy choice. More awesome. What a great kid.

These days, though, we can't even remember what dinner was like before kids.

A long time ago, it was just me and daddy, I told Danny.
We call those the good old days, Jim said.
Now it's the poop days, Danny giggled. Oh, how right he is.

And speaking of poop ...
I just checked Owen's diaper and he doesn't have poop, declares Fiona, my personal poop assistant. She literally gets a hold of the back of Owen's diaper, pulls it out and checks for poop. It cracks me up every time.

Did you get the mail? Jim asked.
YES. I get to get out of the house. Boy, we need to get out more.

Newscaster: It appears a large satellite is hurtling toward earth.
Jim, squirming in his seat: Oh, damn, I don't know where to sit.

[Insert random Danny explanation of the world here]
Yeah, mommy, Fiona tells me, wide eyed.

Do you have a mouth in your face? Danny asked. Clearly, he's running out questions

Is he bleeding? I called to Jim as he scooped Captain Klutz from the driveway. 
Probably, Jim replied calmly. Upon inspection: Hey, he bleeds peanut butter. (I can't catch Owen to clean him up most days.)

Is it okay to get out of time out? Danny asked
No, you can't get out of TIME OUT, Fiona replied. (Mommy snickered in the kitchen.)

I don't like this project, mom.
It's not a project, dear. It's cleanup time.

Two minutes later ...
I'm tired. Fifi can clean it up. Um, no. I suggested that he go to bed if he was tired. He started cleaning up pretty darn quickly after that.

Where's the bridge [train track] piece? I asked Danny while we were putting together a track.
I don't know. It might have walked away. It might have legs. Um, I wonder if this is a stab at sarcasm? If so, momma is just so proud!

I want to do art in the bum bum, mommy, Fiona says often. Now, the "bum bum" is what our kids call the Bumbo seat, which has made an excellent booster seat. But that doesn't keep me from snickering every time one of them says it.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I'm pretty sure there's a rotting apple core somewhere in the TV room. I just don't have the energy to track it down right now.  It's been that kind of week. Again.

The kind of week where the kids go through about 15 cups a day. (Why do I even have this many cups for them?)

The kind of week where the kids are like marauding pirates pilfering the fridge several times a day. This is why there is a rotting apple core somewhere in my house.

The kind of week where the kids flit from one activity to the next before I can stop them. This is why there is glitter stuck to a grape juice stain on the floor. I've decided to just keep it there to add a little color to the kitchen. Incidentally, my son has taken to painting his cars with water colors, dot-dot markers and glitter.

Look, mom. It's a NASCAR sparkly.

The kind of week where everything I try to do with the older kids is disrupted by Owen, the 16-month-old gorilla, who gleefully scatters papers, eats crayons and slaps his siblings around.

The kind of week where my husband is greeted with what looks like a massacre on the patio: an upturned doll carriage, a baby doll face down and a kid's picnic table on its side. If I were him, I'd be afraid to walk in the house.

The kind of week where I dread feeding the baby because he makes such a mess. My daughter and I have this conversation several times a day now:

Mommy, Owen's making a mess.
Honey, Owen's always making a mess. 

It's like having a monkey at the table. He throws food, smashes it in his palms, smears it on the table, shakes his sippy cup onto his food. It's so disgusting.

And Danny continues to give me the third degree at the rate of about 30 questions per hour.

[Insert random Danny question here.]
I don't know, Danny.
No, no, TELL ME.
Do you know what "I don't know" means? It means the answer is not in my head and I can't make it come out of my mouth. 'kay?

This is now one of my standard responses. The other?

Asked and answered. Next. 

Fiona has a lot of trouble with following directions these days.

Geez. What part of "stay in bed" does she not understand? 
The stay in bed part. Oh. Thanks for clearing that up, dear.

In fact, once she just blatantly refused to obey.

Fiona, get out of the curtains. 
No. Oh, hell no she didn't. She was sent to her room.

Good night. Clean my room, Fiona tells me. What a little bitchooger.

Look, when I do this [lowers his head and crosses his eyes] there's two Josees. Huh? Since when does he call me Josee?

WE'RE ON THE HIGHWAY, Fiona screams. Every time we get on the highway. Every. Time.

WE'RE OFF THE HIGHWAY. Yep. Fiona, again. It's more than a little jarring.

Go put your cups in the kitchen. Fiona hands me her cup.
I am not the kitchen. Go put your cups in the kitchen.

I read words now, Danny squealed after I talked him through reading the words on his fruit snack bag.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


This week's column is a little thin on content. Most of what I've heard this week falls into two categories: the pterodactyl shrieks of a frustrated 2 year old and the endless chatter and questions of a 4 year old. Who knew that 4 year olds talked so much? And why the heck didn't anyone tell me about this?
I'm just brain numb this week. I can't keep up with them. I can't wear them out. I can no longer predict what they're going to do next.

Case in point ...

I came into Danny's room after "quiet time" and caught my 4 year old with one leg over the side of his bunk bed.

Whatcha doing, Danny? I ask casually.
I'm climbing over the railing and hanging by my hands and jumping. 

See, that's what I like about boys. They'll tell you exactly what they're doing because they honestly don't think they're doing anything wrong. My daughter, on the other hand, just stares at me and refuses to tell me. And, no, I don't think it's because she's only two.

My husband later told me when I related this story: Well, that is the safest way to jump. Only a Meehan who had jumped that way from a second story window when he was 10 years old would say such a thing. They did not get this from my side of the family. 

I then decided that I should go take a shower while the baby was still napping. I mean, what's the worst that can happen, right? I'd already made it clear that jumping from the top bunk is now banned.

I come out to find boy wonder standing on his upturned hamper trying to start the washing machine. He had wet his sheets and was putting his stuff in the wash. This kind of makes up for the whole jumping off the top bunk thing.

Later that night, Jim came down and informed me that the two older kids had torn off pieces of Owen's crib mattress that was under Danny's loft. We'd put it there for when Owen moves in. Now it is ruined. They're in the hole once again.

And all this after a day when I tried mightily to wear their little butts out with a walk and bike ride on the Tobacco Trail, lunch out and swimming. Good thing my kids don't eat a lot of sugar.

Enjoy ...

What is that? Jim asks of the piece of asphalt that Danny is holding.
It's asphalt. He likes to carry it around.

Ten minutes later at home:

You can't bring that in the house. It was born in the outdoors and it will stay out there. It's wild asphalt, Danny, Jim says. Danny was not happy about this.

I pooped on top of my underwear, Fiona informs me. Oh. (Not really, though.)

So I put ice cubes in the cup and we'll come back later and see how much water the melted ice cubes added to the cup, I explained to Danny. He had wanted to know if the ice in his cup would overflow when it melted. (It didn't.)
Okay, let's go hide, he replied. Um, that's hole other game, dear.

Danny, maybe Owen could go in your hideout with you, I told him.  Owen was screaming indignantly at being excluded.
No, no, I can't. It's too good.

I want to sit on the red seat. I want to sit on the red seat. I want to sit on the red seat, Danny whined. Then ... he hears his buddy next door outside. I want to play with Josh. Short attention span strikes again.

Danny, please just stop talking. 
No, I need to talk. 
Because I have a mouth. 

What comes after five, Fiona? I asked her as I held up a thumb on my left hand while holding up five fingers on my right.
Thumb, Fiona said. I honestly didn't know the child could count to five.

He's about to eat the paper. Does he know he's about to eat the paper? my mom asks as Owen is eating an ice cream cone.
It's okay, mom. The kid eats toilet paper. I'm not to worried about it. 

Have a great weekend. Enjoy the cooler weather! I know I will.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

AiS: PB&J Bread Pudding

I've never been one to cut the crusts off of sandwiches for my kids. I actually never let them think they could have it any other way. Of course, their plates are always filled with munched-on scraps of sandwich when they're "done" anyway. Try as I may to relax about the food waste, it bugs me.

It's not like I can do anything with the drool-soaked scraps other than toss them. And this has been where I've missed our dog the most lately. So the other day I figured why not just cut the crusts off before putting the sammie on their plate and bake something with the crusts. I offered them PB&J cut into stars. The actually at all of it.

So with the unblemished scraps, I made bread pudding. It rocked. 

Here's how I did it:
PB&J scraps from three sandwiches
1/2 cup of milk
1 tablespoon of Splenda
Squirt of vanilla
1 egg
Cooking spray

I cut up the scraps of three PB&Js into bite-size pieces and put them in a medium-size ramekin coated with cooking spray. I whisked together the egg, milk, Splenda and vanilla together and poured it over the bread pieces. Then I baked it in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or so or until the egg mixture sets.

And they ate it for breakfast the next morning, because, by God, they will eat that food eventually.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Behind the photo

Sometimes I look at my friends' photos on Facebook which show clean, well-mannered kids happily frolicking in the sand or the waves or the woods or wherever and I suddenly think my kids are impossible. Because there is no way they would look that happy or play that well together or frolic for 10 consecutive minutes without screaming or fighting or melting down. (Okay, I'm exaggerating. They can't go 5 minutes without incident.)

Once I saw my sister's photos of a lovely sunrise picnic at the beach in Okinawa. It really doesn't get more idyllic than that. And at the time, I was in daily survival mode, living on Diet Coke, Luna Bars and three hours of sleep at a stretch. I mentioned how jealous I was of the whole scene. And how hopeless I felt at that moment.

She let me in on a little secret. It wasn't quite as idyllic as it looked. Between shots of the kids frolicking in the surf against the rising sun, there were fights and she wasn't feeling well and everyone had to get up way too early. (In my blinding jealousy and discontent, it never occurred to me that they got up before sunrise for this.)

It was then I realized that behind every photo is a story. Photos stand still. But time marches on. And with those marching orders comes conflict and unpredictability, which is why I savor the times when my kids are sleeping or gone or frozen in photos. It's peaceful and predictable.

So I've decided to add a running feature to the blog called Behind the Photo. I post lots of photos on Facebook. And in viewing them, I see the happy moments, the memories we made, the fun we had.
I also fear that some mom somewhere who is having a rough time will feel the same hopeless discouragement I felt over my sister's photos. But my husband and I are the only one who knows the real story behind the photos. For instance, only I know that 20 seconds after this beautiful sandbox shot, Danny dumped sand on his sister's head for no apparent reason. (And now you know, too. You're welcome.)

I don't think this is a negative exercise, though. It's about honesty. Sometimes moms focus so much on the positive that we think other children are perfect. And then we end up hating other moms and ourselves because we're comparing our insides to your outsides. That's just too much hating. We all need to know about each other's insides if we're going to survive parenthood with our sanity intact.

Here's our first entry.
Jim flying a kite in a hurricane

How does this thing work, Danny?
On a Friday night in August as Hurricane Irene's outer bands buffeted our area, we decided to test out a family joke. My husband loves kites. He brings them with us every time we go to the lake and tries to fly them, wind or no wind. Actually, the wind almost immediately stops when he tries to put a kite in the air. I've long told him that he couldn't fly a kite in a hurricane.

I brought the camera, of course, because he would want irrefutable proof that he could indeed fly a kite in a hurricane.

What really happened: Jim got the kite up in the air several times. Jim impatiently tried to get Danny set up with a kite. I followed behind with the two younger ones, continually untangling them from trailing kite strings. Owen freaked out and cried each time he got tangled up. Fiona obliviously walked through the kite strings. Jim barked. I sighed. I tracked down Fiona and Owen's shoes in a large field. Then I got bit on the foot by a chigger (?). It hurt. Bad.

Time spent: about an hour, maybe 10 minutes of which the kite was in the air.

Time to go? Danny pitched the kind of fit that makes us wonder whether such family outings are worth the effort. Which, of course, they are because we accept (eventually or at least before the next outing) the fact that fun is frequently punctuated by unpleasantness with little kids.

P.S. Yeah, it was pretty fun. And, yes, my husband can fly a kite in a hurricane. Indeed, that may be the only time he can fly a kite.

Friday, September 09, 2011


We had a pretty wild week here.

Monday we got the vet bill for our dog Bob's final expenses. And it was like reopening a fresh wound.

Tuesday we spent some time in the hall closet as a tornado hurtled toward us and then broke up before reaching us. Boy am I glad my husband built that pantry closet under the stairs. It's safe, entertaining and there's food in there. The kids and I played with magnetic letters on the freezer and ate goldfish crackers until the storm passed.

Wednesday I got my second speeding ticket in six weeks. By this time, I was feeling a little sorry for myself, which is actually unusual for me. Doing the math on two speeding tickets, a possible insurance hike and a large vet bill got me down. Math is just so depressing.

But Wednesday evening, as I drove home from a meeting, I saw a mom and two small children waiting for the city bus at 8 o'clock at night. And it hit me. We can pay our bills, even the unexpected ones, and still put food on the table, have cars in the driveway and a roof over our head. Things could be worse. 

Thursday was better. I took the kids on a two-mile hike down the Tobacco Trail near our house in the gorgeous fall weather.

Anyhow, enjoy ...

He's not a bad cop, mom. You were going too speedy.

I know that I never said [standing Owen's pack and play on end] is not allowed, but let's not do it again. And now I will go add that to the list of rules I never knew needed to exist.

What's this song about? "Tainted Love" was playing on the car radio.
Um, potato love. It's about a guy who loves potatoes.
Or someone who has a love-hate relationship with potatoes?

ARGH. Why are we waiting here? I got stuck at a stop light at a crosswalk with NO ONE in it.
Green light, Danny replies matter of factly. Great. I have a traffic cop sitting behind me.

Please don't turn out the light, Danny. 
No, no, your computer might glow [with the light out]. He likes to see the little apple glow on my Macbook.
Yeah, and my head might just explode if you turn out that light. In my defense, it had been a long day and I was just trying to get some work done on the laptop

You did not put that toy away; you just moved it to another spot. Cleanup time was not going so well that night.

Those guys are stupid, mommy, Fiona tells me while we were watching some dogs singing in "All Dogs Go to Heaven."

I like that girl, mommy.
Because she's singing. Oh, so singing girls are good. Singing dogs, not so much.

What's the problem here, guys? Fiona was wailing in the bathroom just as Owen was leaving with a plastic knife in his hand.
Owen put a knife in the toilet, she wailed. And apparently, this was utterly tragic for her.

... it's raining now and the house is in the car wash, Danny says. And this is at the tail end of a diatribe about getting the tires rotated on the van. Not sure how we got from rotating tires to the house in a car wash.

Excuse me, Danny, Fiona says.
Good job saying excuse me, Danny responds.

Sometimes I say excuse me, and sometimes I don't. Then I wait for you to move, he tells his sister. Mommy thinks she may be dreaming at this point.

Here, Fi Fi, I want you to enjoy this, Danny says. He had given her a piece of his pasta. Who is this child?

I want to do that, mommy, Fiona says as she watches older girls flip off a vault into a foam pit at gymnastics. Of course you do, baby. (Lord help us. I just hope she doesn't try to do it at home.)

I saw some plastic containers like ours at the thrift shop, but they had no lids. I thought about getting them just to drive you crazy, Jim says. Aw. Isn't that sweet?

He even used his sirens this time, I told Jim about the cop who pulled me over.
Of course he did. You're a known felon.

Have a great weekend. And drive carefully. I know I will now.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


My head hurts this week. Bad. I fear that my eardrums will burst. The noise and fighting among the older two has reached a fever pitch.

It all started when Jim began using "races" to motivate the kids.

Need them to get their shoes? Make it a race.

Need the kids to head up the stairs for bed? Let's see who can get there first.

Need to motivate Danny to go potty? Race him to the bathroom.

So my smart, observant little Fiona has figured out this week just how to needle her brother Danny. Here's a conversation that I hear about 20 times a day. (I'm not even exaggerating.)

I beat you, Danny, Fiona says and then cackles.

Danny really is so loud that I need to use a different font size to express it. Meanwhile, mommy is in the kitchen eating strawberry cheesecake bars straight out of the pan. 

He has at least figured out that he can beat her to the bathroom. He gets his pants down and hops on the pot before she even knows what hit her. 

And then there's more screaming.
She also comes out with this winner of a statement at least once a day:

Don't beat me, mommy. 

Oh, honey. I won't beat you. I might beat my head against the wall. I do pray that she never says this in public.

Stop eating those, Danny admonished me while I was driving. I was eating jelly beans.
You can save them for breakfast. Um, okay.

Five minutes later.
Oh, you got to stop eating those. You got to listen to what your told to do.  Oh yeah, you told me  to save those jelly beans for breakfast, right?

In other news, we weathered a mild, slightly overhyped hurricane last weekend. Danny was fascinated, especially since the power went out and we got to see the downed tree that caused it.

We got to get in the house before the hurricane comes and sucks us all up. Okay, so maybe he was a little confused about what a hurricane actually does.

Here's the deal: In 15 minutes, you guys go up, go potty, get your pullups on and go to bed. You're old enough to do this yourself, Jim says as he watches football. Um, good luck with that one, buddy.

Okay ... it actually worked.

We should change the bedtime mantra to 'Potty, pull up and shut up,' Jim tells me. Ah. There's our book idea.

Did it go down the wrong pipe? I ask Danny who was sputtering at the table.
Yeah, it went down the cough pipe. 

Quick, Danny, she's coming, Jim tells Danny as they ate dessert in the dining room. So Danny closed his eyes.

I love you, Nana tells Fiona.
Yeah, she says. I pity this girl's future boyfriends.

What do you know about this wad of toilet paper I found in Owen's crib?
Oh, it's my race track, Danny replies.
Okay. Deep breath. Toilet paper is not a race track. If you had told me that one day I would utter that phrase, I would not have believed you.

Bye, Dan. I'm going to a meeting, Jim tells Danny.
Don't punch anyone, he replies. Good advice for everyone, actually.

Have a good weekend and don't punch anyone.