Friday, March 31, 2006

March Madness

This seems to happen every March -- a protracted illness invades our house around Sean's birthday. Some traditions really aren't worth upholding.

This is the first day we're all mostly functional. The day after I wrote the preceding post was my worst -- even holding my head up, let alone walking around, was too tiring, and I wound up sleeping most of the afternoon. Fortunately, Jeff was home this week (on "vacation", which meant of course that he just worked from home); otherwise I'd have been quite stuck.

A quick survey of the house the next day revealed that all that seemingly pointless housework I do each day does actually amount to something -- when it's not done routinely, the cumulative effects are pretty striking!

At any rate, the kids are getting better, too, and we are all working toward improving our general temperament. Nothing like illness to bring out the extreme crankies. For some of us (*cough*Allie*cough), illness brings first clinginess (which was kind of endearing), then mommyitis (less so when the mommy can't get off the couch), and, finally, dictator-like demands delivered via shrieking and whining.

We've watched entirely too much television this week, and I'm glad that we now have the energy to do other things instead. Heck, even I watched TV for myself, something I never ever do during the day. I chose the Food Network since it seemed to provide the most kid-friendly grown-up programming. I've decided that Rachel Ray gives me a headache after five minutes and that the Barefoot Contessa is the perfect calm antidote to Ray's excessively bubbly persona. And is it just me, or has Alton Brown just gotten too self-satisfied and gimmicky for his own good? You'd think that all this interest in cooking shows would translate into actual cooking on my part, but alas my complete lack of talent is a rather large stumbling block.

It's supposed to be 75 degrees today. Windows will be opened, short-sleeved shirts will be worn, it will be a good day. I hope to catch up with you all now that I'm better. Bye for now!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Multiple choice:

Who is sick in the Mimilou household?

a. Sean
b. Allie
c. Suzanne
d. All of the above

What symptoms have been manifested?

a. Fever
b. Body aches
c. Headaches
d. Coughing
e. Copious mucus production
f. Vomiting
g. All of the above

Who was sick for his 4th birthday party and wound up falling asleep midway through?

a. Jeff
b. Sean

Who is feeling exhausted and overwhelmed and wants someone to take care of her, darn it, even if admitting it makes her sound like a spoiled brat?

a. Sean
b. Suzanne

(Okay, those last two were freebies.)

How'd you do? I bet you got a 100 on this quiz!

Still, moments of cuteness emerge from the sick bay. Today, one day after she threw up, Allie said, "Mommy? You remember when I threw up? And I threw up on the couch? And I threw up on the floor? Remember that? And I had to get a bath? And I was upset?"

Why, yes, sweetie, I do remember that. Poor thing.

Here's hoping tomorrow's better...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

What Is This Regular, Engaging Blogging Thing of Which You Speak?

Because I apparently have only a glancing familiarity with it.

Deadlines, both work and personal, approach. In addition to needing to pull a rabbit out of my editorial hat, I also have to prepare for Sean's birthday party on Saturday. This is just the family affair, no children. (The kids' party is in 2 weeks.) And with the family party comes the family house guests for the weekend. And you all know what that means -- the house must be spiffied up, or at least made habitable by people who are not quite accustomed to our usual level of housecleaning. I'll be back next week.

Oh, did I mention that Sean turns 4 tomorrow? How on earth did we get from here

To here?

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


What is it about being around my children all day that depletes my energy so? By day's end I am left a wrung-out dishrag who has no higher ambitions than finding the nearest couch. Where the recently laundered other dishrags and the towels await folding (yeah, right -- hate to dash those hopes, but it's not happening tonight).

Need a bitter laugh? Try this out. Thanks for the link, Martha!

Down the Drain

There's a new fear in town -- bathwater. Or, to be more specific, bathwater spiraling down the bath drain.

A few weeks ago, Allie threw a huge fit after getting out of the bathtub. Translating from freakout language to English took a while, but I finally figured out that she was upset about the water draining from the tub. Replugging the plug stopped the water flow and the tantrum.

A few weeks later, she is still scarred. Every time she gets out of the tub she admonishes me, "I don't like the water going down, Mommy! Make the water stay!" So I just leave the water cooling in the tub and drain it after she's in bed.

I thought the coast was clear last night around 9:45. I pulled out the stopper and left the room. But then. Wailing from Allie's room rose above the whooshing water sound -- it turns out that the coast wasn't so clear after all. I quickly replaced the stopper and soothed Allie back to sleep. At 11:00 I had better luck draining the tub.

Is it just my child who harbors these strange fears?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

On a Brighter Note

Lest you think that we are just one fingernail grip away from plunging into the abyss, there have been some moments of levity lately:

Allison and Sean have become Elton John groupies (all it took was 20+ viewings of Bob the Builder: A Christmas to Remember, featuring a claymation Elton John, complete with star-shaped glasses). They adorably mangle the lyrics to "Crocodile Rock" (". . . had an old gold chair an' place of my own. . .") while pounding away on our completely out of tune piano. Allie's been walking around saying, "I'm Elton John! I'm the plano player!"


Allie's also crafting songs of her own. Here are the words to her most recent composition: "He does it all the time. He really really does it all the time. He does it allllll the tiiime. And he really really really does."


Yesterday, after another failed attempt to find a few decent spring outfits for the kids at the mall (why why oh WHY must toddler girl clothes be miniature versions of teenaged clothes? I just want my little girl to look like a little girl, not a tiny hoochie mama), the kids threw some pennies into the fountain. Before each toss, Sean whispered loudly, "I wish, I wish, with all my heart, to go to Friendly's for dinner." Three pennies, three identical wishes. My heart just melted over this very simple, sweet, innocent, and, most important, easily fulfillable wish.


At the playground recently, Sean made two friends almost right away. I'm amazed at how smoothly he can go up to children and introduce himself. Last year he would have tried hiding from them. Anyway, he and his two new buddies were running madly around the playground, trailed by a very determined Allie. She did her best to keep up with the older boys. They didn't quite ignore her but also didn't make any great attempts to include her, either. She did not seem daunted in the least: "Guys, guys! Wait up, guys! I'm coming!"

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Deep Breaths

Sean is a bona fide, card-carrying member of the Preschool Fan Club. He loves it -- every day he asks if it's Tuesday or Thursday; if it is, he says, "Oh boy! Today I can go to PRESCHOOL!"

This week? Not so much.

Tuesday he refused to go into his classroom. He told me that he didn't feel good, that he wanted to go home. After his teachers took turns trying to console him, to no avail, I decided to take him home. He crawled right into his bed and slept for about an hour. When he woke up, the illness or cloudy mood or whatever the problem was had dissipated.

Today was worse. He started telling me that he didn't want to go to school as soon as we got into the car. He cried, he sniffled, he whined. When we got to school I cajoled him out of the car with promises of the St. Patrick's Day party to be held today. This got me as far as the front door, whose threshold he crossed only with the semi-brute force of my shepherding him through.

After several minutes of tears in the hallway, his teachers recommended that they bring him inside without me. As I waited outside, my heart broke into several million tiny shards -- he completely melted down, sobbing and calling for me. He was inconsolable for a long time, and I almost swooped in to bring him home. His teachers, and even the preschool director, however, very gently suggested that this may not be the best solution. Since he eventually did calm down, but refused to engage in any activities, they thought that he would be okay, that learning to calm himself without me is actually something he needs to learn. So I left.

But how could I have left? I feel like I abandoned my boy, my sweet, sunny-dispositioned boy who just wanted to be comforted by his mom. Isn't that what I'm supposed to do? The teachers told me that if he became really upset again, they would call me. So I guess I know that he is not still sobbing in the corner, but I feel that I've failed.

Neither of my kids has ever gone through much separation anxiety; they were always happy to go to my sisters' house when I worked (only a few morning departures resulted in tears, and certainly nothing like what happened today). I asked Sean, and then the teachers, if anything happened at school to make him so reluctant to go. Sean first said no, then yes, then refused to elaborate. His main teacher couldn't think of anything; she told me that Sean plays with everyone and that she hasn't noticed any incidents with other children. There isn't any upheaval at home, either. So what gives?

I pick him up in about 45 minutes; I hope that he'll forgive me.

[Edited to add: Happy as a clam now. At pickup, he was playing outside with the other kids, running around and yelling. When I asked him how he was feeling he said "I really missed you, Mommy. But I'm not feeling sad anymore." I hope this is the end of a brief chapter in our preschool story.]

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

At Post's End You'll Be Wishing I'd Just Remain Quiet…

DSL is up and running. Thank heavens. There's only so much real-life immersion I can take, and then I simply must have a virtual fix.

I've been toying with engaging in a purely academic exercise of seeing just how long it takes for my readership to dip into single digits. The precipitous decline already brought about by sparse posting and limited commenting is impressive! Can it continue if I keep up with my nonactivity?

Since I am actually posting, I suppose I am not engaging in this exercise at all. Ah well. I'll keep it in mind.

So little has been happening hereabouts that I feel sheepish popping up to report, ummm, nothing. The main motif to my life right now seems to be Allison's tempestuous temperament.

The girl is driving me crazy.

She throws the most spectacular, eardrum-shattering tantrums I've ever witnessed. And although some triggers are predictable, allowing me to avoid the near occasion of sin, others are completely mysterious. Still others are knowable yet unavoidable. Getting dressed, for instance. We kind of have to do this every day, but it's always a dicey process. Even if I let her pick out her own diaper, pick out her clothes, pick out her socks, take off her pajamas, and unfold her diaper, she still might completely freak out over the fact that I have to help her snap her undershirt. And if that sets her off, we are in for a good 20 minutes of hysterics.

Sometimes, and forgive the hyperbole, it's like living with a deranged, abusive spouse. No matter how carefully I tread, I'm still liable to step on a landmine. And I have to confess that I do not always handle these situations graciously or patiently. Sometimes it's all I can do not to scream my head off in response to her screaming her head off. Sometimes I do yell. Sometimes I both yell and stomp away from her because her behavior makes me so angry and frustrated.

Clearly I need better coping strategies. Acting like a petulant teenager in response to the terrible twos is not particularly helpful.

Sorry for whining. Maybe silence is better than constantly kvetching about my kids!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Blink blink blinkety blink.

Or, loosely translated from the modem-ese, "I am on strike. Deal with it."

Having spent two freaking hours on the phone with my ISP, I and the brain trust that makes up the tech support team have come to the conclusion that something is in fact wrong with my DSL service. As in, it's not working at all and will not for 2 days till they figure out the problem and fix it. Or not. Who knows?

And those manuscript deadlines I've been dealing with? This does not help matters. I am over my sister's house to use her (forgive me, Kath), kludgy and SLOW BEYOND BELIEF dial-up connection to do some work. But hey, at least I have this option, for which I am very grateful.

So again, I guess I'll see you when I see you. Miss you all terribly.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Don't Give Up on Me Yet

Somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain there exists a post that does, as a matter of fact, have more mass than the neutrino-weight content I've been doling out lately.

I just have to wait for my work schedule to clear a bit. Sorry I haven't been around your blogs much; I'm reading when I can but haven't been able to comment as I'd like. I'll be back, soon.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Five Meme

Phantom tagged me for a meme a while ago. Perfect for those days when original content is just not forthcoming!

Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Than add your blog to the bottom slot, like so.

Phantom Scribbler

Next, select five people to tag.
If you want it, come and get it.

What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was neck-deep in wedding preparations and trying to find an apartment with Jeff. I think my wedding shower was in March, too, so at this point I was most likely either desperately trying to figure out when it would be or coasting on a domestic-goods high.

What were you doing 1 year ago?
Preparing to depart my beloved job for a new phase of my life -- stay-/work-at-home mother. Panic had probably begun to set in over whether this was, in fact, a good choice. (Yes, as it turns out.)

Five snacks you enjoy
1. M&Ms
2. Peanut butter crackers
3. Cereal (it's not just for dinner anymore)
4. Pita chips and hummus
5. Cookies of most sorts

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics
Sadly, I think at least 63% of my brain is devoted to song lyrics. It's hard to pick five! Let's try this: I'll pick five artists whose canon I know mostly by heart:
1. The Beatles (give or take a few earlier cover renditions)
2. 10,000 Maniacs
3. The Go-Go's (did I actually just reveal this to the Internet?)
4. The Bangles (this is getting more embarrassing by the second)
5. Sting

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire
1. Buy houses/pay off mortgages for all our family members.
2. Pay for my sisters-in-laws', niece's, and nephews' college educations.
3. Travel everywhere possible, except to South Dakota
4. Hire a decorator to renovate my kitchen, bathrooms, bedroom, and family room.
5. Donate, donate, donate.

Five bad habits
1. Reading while eating.
2. Avoiding talking on the phone if at all possible (BUT see #3).
3. Talking on cell phone while driving.
4. Being way too impatient a driver.
5. Retreating to a noncommunicative state as a defense mechanism.

Five things you like doing
1. Reading
2. Blogging
3. Walking
4. Listening to music
5. Watching my children play

Five things you would never wear again
1. Velour
2. Pin-striped jeans
3. Corduroys
4. Above-the-knee skirts
5. High-top sneakers

Five favorite toys
1. Computer
2. Digital camera
3. DVD player
4. Do books count?
5. Boggle (nerd alert! nerd alert!)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

No Quick Fixes

I've found that sing-alongs in the car are an easy way to diffuse tantrums. The other day, Allie was in the middle of an impressive screaming fit over the grave injustice of my helping her buckle her carseat.

"Why don't we sing a song?" I suggested four or twelve times.

Finally, sniffling, she acquiesced. "Okay..."

I started with "A Few of My Favorite Things," and got a few lines into the song before Allie interrupted me.

"NO! I want to sing it!"

"Okay, sweetie, go ahead."


*More silence*


Sobbing resumes.

Some tantrums are more intractable than others, I guess.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Weekend Report

You know you are scraping the bottom of the blogging barrel and living a low-wattage life when you think that going out to dinner and a movie warrants mention.

Nonetheless! Guess what Jeff and I did on Saturday? We went to dinner and a movie! My nephew Ryan babysat, much to the kids' delight. ("Mommy, Mommy!" Sean told me Saturday morning. "I have THREE best friends! John [friend from preschool], Daddy, and RYAN!" Notice who did not make the cut.)

The last time we went out, in October, I had chosen The Constant Gardener. Beautifully acted, thought-provoking, and so depressing I wanted to just shoot myself. When the movie ended, Jeff and sat in the theater for a few moments, blinking slowly, not saying anything. Finally, I turned to him and said, "Guess that wasn't the best choice for a first movie out in 6 months."

This time around, I took one look at the movie listings and gave the newspaper to Jeff. "You pick," I said. The only movie I really wanted to see was Capote, and I knew that there would be no chance of us seeing that (have I mentioned that Jeff's and my tastes in movies are quite disparate?).

He chose Firewall, with Harrison Ford. This I could live with given the other options out there. Well, until the movie started.

It's a completely run-of-the-mill thriller with a plot that's been recycled approximately 8000 times, 7997 of them with Harrison Ford: principled everyman is thrust into life and death situation by European psycho, must save his family and salvage his credibility, blah, blah, blah.

Why, then, did I find myself absolutely shaking throughout the entire movie and crying when it was over? I'm a jaded moviegoer, for heaven's sake; it's not as if a Harrison Ford movie would end with the hero and his family actually, you know, dead. But something about the scenario -- home invasion and kidnapping of the wife and two kids -- completely unnerved me. Especially when hero's little boy was terrorized.

Which brings me to another observation: Why are child actors subjected to material like this? Are they really such professionals (this boy was probably about 8) that they can walk away from playing the victim unscathed? If kids have a hard time separating fantasy from reality, how does movie making like this affect young actors?

Anyway. I guess we're 0 for 2 now when it comes to going to the movies. We should have seen Capote.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Mimilou, Childhood Felon

A post by Laura at 11D about her son's attempt to alter his own behavior chart at school (by writing in marks that he didn't earn) reminded me of a similar story from my own childhood.

Well, not exactly similar, but in the neighborhood. Kind of.

In second grade, I had the misfortune of having an especially nasty teacher. One of her requirements was that each child had to have his or her homework tablet signed by a parent each night. I suppose that this was to ensure that the student couldn't claim to have forgotten about homework that night.

I was a dutiful, rule-following student. I never forgot my homework, and always had my mother sign the tablet.

Until the night I forgot to have her sign the tablet.

I realized this at the bus stop the next morning. Panic completely washed over me, and I still remember the almost paralyzing fear of getting in trouble over this oversight. One of the older girls on the bus must have noticed my tears and offered to sign the tablet for me. I declined, opting instead for a much worse solution.

I forged my mother's signature myself. In BIG BLOCK 7-YEAR-OLD PRINTING.

Who I thought this would fool is unclear. But such was my fear of being reprimanded that I made the situation much worse.

When the teacher checked our homework tablets at school, she took one look at mine and hauled me to my feet. "Do you know you could go to JAIL for this?" she said. Well, no, that hadn't occurred to this particular 7-year-old.

At the end of the day I had to go to the principal's office, or so I had thought. It turns out that the teacher hadn't informed the principal about my offense, so I would up waiting outside her office until long after my bus had departed. Thus, on top of everything else I missed my bus and my mother had to come pick me up.

I needn't have worried about my mother's reaction to this -- she was completely understanding and thought my teacher overreacted (to this day, she still refers to that teacher as "that witch you had in second grade"). She wrote a note in my homework tablet acknowledging my wrongdoing and assuring the teacher that it wouldn't happen again.

It didn't, of course; I never got in trouble at school again.

But it's just amazing to me that my complete aversion to making waves and breaking the rules still exists. I suppose some things are never completely outgrown.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Hip Hop Dance Lessons? Yeah, Let Me Get Right on That

If the world at large isn't make you feel hopeless, here's a little dose of domestic outrageousness on the Dr. Phil show (courtesy of the Literary Mama blog) to tip you right over into a pit of self-righteous anger:

Grant and his 75-point list of requirements [for a wife] . . . included: "organizing closets; organizing hallway closet; keep the car clean; grocery shopping; cook efficiently; use the oven; use the stove; get rid of the stuff you don't use or need; sew; mend; wash; load and use the washing machine properly; basic routine maintenance on washer, dryer, oven, dishwasher, fridge, freezer, toaster; decorate windows; weekly and monthly cleaning; positioning of furniture; organize videos and DVDs; organize CDs; organize the linen; stock the linen; sanitize the bathrooms; cook Mexican food; get country dance lessons, Latin dance lessons, hip-hop dance lessons; and do preventative maintenance relating to common household items." Grant wanted his wife to dress sexier and had suggested that she wash his truck in her bathing suit and have breast augmentation surgery. He graded her cooking abilities. And not only did Grant feel that his wife should do all 75 things on his list (in addition to caring for their three children), but that all wives should be subjected to the same expectations: "those are just things I thought that a wife in general would need to know. . . . A wife staying at home [with children] ought to be able to handle those things."

I'd add one more thing to this list: "Muster all the self-possession you can and NOT murder husband in his sleep."

(Thanks to Anne for pointing this out and setting my blood to "Boil".)