{ Dog. Pants. Now. }

 I do not believe in the great outdoors.  I do not hike.  I do not fish. I do not camp.  My idea of "roughing it" is a hotel with less than adequate room and towel service.  I do not find anything morally superior about sleeping in the dirt and washing with water that may or may not look like one of those microscope slides from high school biology. Nor am I interested in knowing what color one's boogers can become depending on what is burned in the campfire.  As far as I can tell, "outdoorsy" is just a one word phrase for "let's pretend we're homeless - only with bears and mosquitoes."

When I got married I found out that my in-laws did believe in the great outdoors.  They kept making reference to vaguely planned, upcoming family camping trips as though they expected me to say "Super.  I keep my hip waders in the car.  Just let me grab my Survivor Man jammies and we're off.  By the way, don't bother bringing toilet paper - I'm cool with leaves and grass." I promised them one camping trip.  Ever.  So far I've done two - and that was only because I really wanted the S'mores.

I am pretty much the only one on my husband's side of the family that scrunches up their nose at the thought of sleeping bags and backpacks.  My father-in-law (who is 72 by the way) goes snow camping with the church scouting group... in the snow.  (Seriously.  I didn't even know that this was a thing until I met my father-in-law.  They sleep in full on igloos...which they build out of snow.  Crazy talk.)  My husband's sister and her family go on week long hunting trips ... with guns and shooting and camo undies.  My brother-in-law loves to talk about what he's killed, what he's almost killed, what he thinks he may have killed,  and what he'd like to kill if given the chance.  He also likes to talk about killing accessories.  Knives.  Guns.  Trucks.  Dogs. Sons.

I have to admit that I feel somewhat conflicted when I listen to these stories.  My father was quite the hunter/gun enthusiast . You wouldn't think that a guy in an electric wheelchair with a bleeding disorder would be your first choice as a point man when trying to sneak up on a wild animal while holding a gun, but we need to break barriers where we can I guess.  Also, I'm a big fan of eating meat.  However, I'm pretty sure that if I had to kill the meat myself, you'd be looking at the world's newest vegetarian.   I'm just not sure that I'm totally on board with sentences that start "It was the most beautiful animal I'd ever seen..." and end with "... and so I shot it."  (You can imagine what it's like to share this opinion while sitting in a room with a giant, furry, once-real bear mounted to the wall.  A bear.)

Even though the subject matter isn't my favorite, I do like my brother-in-law... and since he doesn't run screaming from the room while gouging out his eyes when I breastfeed my baby during family game time, I feel like I should be a little flexible.  His latest story was about a duck hunt that had happened a few weeks ago.  I have to admit that I was half-listening to him, half-watching the TV, half-trying to figure out why my boys were being so quiet and half-trying to figure out how I was going to get the Christmas presents wrapped  in one night.  There was something about a duck in a bush and really cold water and his dog is a genius.  My ears grabbed onto the part about the dog.

From what I could tell, after being blasted from flight, the duck dropped into a bush and my brother-in -law (who was standing in the cold water) said to the dog "dead bird".  (A little gross, but there you go.)  Dog the Genius then ran down a hill, under a fence, across a field, and picked up the bird in his mouth.  (Also a little gross.  Although, I guess that when I eat a cheeseburger I too have a dead animal in my mouth. Hmmm.)  Then, (with the dead bird in his mouth), the dog returned across the field, under the fence and up the hill where he sat down next to my brother-in-law, put his head against my brother-in-law's leg and at the command "my bird", dropped the dead bird into my brother-in-law's hand.  Again, a little gross, but you've got to admit, impressive.

While listening to my brother-in-law's braggyness about his dog, a memory of a long-ago Nordstrom shopping trip popped into my head.  I came into the store, child sitting in the stroller, when I was suddenly surrounded by a cloud of very smelly, yet very expensive, perfume.  In an attempt to clear my nose... and vision,  I temporarily, but vigorously shook my head back and forth thus taking my eyes off of my son.  The 2 year old seized on my distraction, jumped out of the stroller and sprinted to freedom.  (I think the perfume sprayer lady may have been his accomplice.  It seemed like a pretty seamless plan to me.)  He made it to the end of the aisle, slid on his belly across the marble floor and army crawled under a rounder of very ugly, yet very expensive jeans.  Bird in a bush.

In my mind I pictured myself yelling out "dead kid" and then standing back and watching with great satisfaction while a very well trained hunting dog comes bounding down the escalator, knocking middle aged white women aside, heading straight for my son.  I picture him flattening his body, easily fitting under the jeans and grabbing my child by the seat of his pants, dragging him from his strategic position.  The dog would then knock down the perfume lady as payback and drop the little escapee back in the stroller.  Good dog.

As it was, that particular shopping trip ended with crying and threatening and staring and judging and me on my belly (less successful at fitting under the jeans than the dog would be) and my son being really glad that Nordstrom has security cameras.

It is clear to me now, thanks to my brother-in-law, that there is an easy solution to just such parenting dilemmas.  It is clear to me that what I really need to be a more effective parent is not more love or patience or organization or discipline.  What I really need is a really good hunting dog.  Besides patrolling the perimeter on shopping trips, all I need him to do is identify which kid started the most recent Christmas vacation fight, retrieve Nerf missiles from the neighbor's yard and make sure that the dirty diapers make it to the garbage.  This seems like it would be a lot easier, and less gross, than finding a dead duck in a far away bush.  I'm pretty sure that some dog will want this job.  Maybe I'll check Craigslist, or maybe I'll just yell "dead kid" really loud and wait for him to come to me.  Good Dog.

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{ My son's Ptnas }

Some people can spell. Some people can't.  Most people fall into the second category. That's why they invented dictionaries... and when that didn't work they invented spell check... and when that didn't work they invented texting.

 I don't believe in texting - all it does is promote sloppy handwriting and poor spelling/grammar... and it feels suspiciously like the telegraph to me - only smaller and more annoying.  I'm pretty sure that eventually the texting people will be selling a handheld device that will utilize some other "cutting edge" technology - like smoke signals... because they're all about efficiency in communication.  It'll be called smexting (not to be confused with sexting)  and the smoke will come in a choice of your favorite color - just to make it more "you".  Also, either U2 or Coldplay will write the song for the ad campaign.  (Oh, just a PS on the sexting thing - if a man/boy is sending you sex messages typed out in short hand on your phone he is  a). tacky  
b). possibly cheating on someone within the range of his voice  
c). intending to show his man friends everything you said and will probably email your sweet nothings to your mom when he dumps you in favor of a faster sexter.  Don't say I didn't warn you), 

 I'm not even sure how most people use those little touch screen phones.  I can barely see the keys, let alone touch only one of them at a time.  It's like that game "Operation".  I keep expecting a buzzer to go off every time I type in a letter.  It makes my hands shaky (and a little sweaty) just thinking about it.   Apparently the cell phone industry uses a bunch of Chinese sweatshop seamstresses to test out their products.  How about throwing a few big boned white girls into those focus groups fellas?  Oh, and to you Mr. "let's invent a bunch of super helpful texty features, like maybe one that automatically fills in the word that you want to use with a word that is similar to but not actually the word you want use", you owe me  a new phone... one that doesn't break when you throw it out the window.  

I just don't text.  In addition to my annoyance,  I'm really slow and my level of accuracy leaves something to be desired.  It takes me like 20 minutes to type "da kds r kklng me.  wn r u cunig hone?"...which is followed by a phone call from my husband clarifying my text message - "the kids are killing you.  when am I coming home?"  Like I said - super efficient.  I'm not good at it, and I don't want to get good at it.

I know that this might be techno lame, but I like it when the words I'm reading are spelled out...all the way... with all of the letters... in the right places.  It just seems to me that the more we abbreviate and change and eliminate parts of our language the more likely we are to miscommunicate and cause problems and create more work for ourselves.

What I learned this week is that I am not alone in my opposition to the alternative spelling movement.  Mother Nature isn't on board either.  Especially when it comes to a little something called DNA.  Even though it can only use only 4 letters (A, T, C, and G), DNA spells out the longest word in the world.  (Take that antidisestablishmentarianism.)  Long story short, you'd better hope that your DNA was homeschooled because this is one spelling bee word that you don't want to mess up.  Too bad for us... our son's DNA was not so much a speller as a texter... and not a very good one. Turns out that his DNA reads "A" where it's supposed to read "T"... and it ends up spelling "hemophilia".

For those of you who don't know, hemophilia is a bleeding disorder that effects primarily boys (there are a few girls that have it, but it's really rare).  Hemophiliacs are missing a protein in their blood that helps it to clot.  There are really excellent treatments now, and the risk of being infected by blood born diseases like Hepatitis and HIV is basically zero these days because the replacement clotting factor is made from synthetics instead of human plasma.

We are doing totally fine.  We have a great treatment center with an amazing hematologist and insurance that covers our son's care and meds.  (Tender mercies people, tender mercies.)

I debated whether or not I should write about this, it's not exactly funny and doesn't make as good a story as giving myself a bad haircut, or locking myself out of the car at Winco...but I write about life, and this is just part of our life.  Although I wouldn't ever raise my hand and volunteer my son to have a life long medical condition, especially one that involves so many needles, I am not sorry for him either.  I will never mourn the life of another person just because their body functions differently than mine.  I think it's condescending and arrogant.  It would imply that because a person faces challenges different than mine that they will, by definition of their circumstances, have a less fulfilling life.  I have a friend with a child with Down Syndrome, a friend whose child died during birth because his heart was backward (and some other stuff) and a niece with cystic fibrosis.  I never said that I was sorry about those children because I am not sorry about them.  They should be celebrated just like every other baby born to this world.  Each of them is important and will contribute things and learn things and be things that I can and will never be.  So here it is - I don't want anyone telling me that they are sorry about my son - unless you want to annoy me... which you don't.

However... you can tell me that I have the most beautiful baby that you've ever seen, and that he's really, really ridiculously lucky... and clearly a genius... and brimming with talent... just like his mother.  You can even text it to me.  I'll let it go - just this once.

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Golfers wear ugly pants

Thought that I would forward this on to Tiger.  My advice was originally intended for John Edwards, (see" His pants have been around"), but apparently we need to get the word out.  Listen up boys- the mistress always tells on you... and then your wife beats you with a golf club and leaves you shoeless in the street... Oh, and then she takes all the money and the kids.  If only he would've asked...

"...The general rule of thumb is : Keep your pants on. If you are unsure whether or not this rule applies to your given situation here are a few simple tests. Ask the woman with whom you are on a date "Are you my wife?", if "yes", you are free to do whatever you'd like with your pants as long as you are not in public - the rule always applies there. If "no" - leave your pants on . Follow up with questions such as: "Have you seen my wife?", "Do you know how I can contact my wife?", or "Why am I on a date with you if you aren't my wife?".

If you cannot determine whether the aforementioned woman is your wife- keep your pants on, and leave the premises immediately. Proceed to a safe location, your home for example. If there is a woman there who is making sure your children are cared for, nutured, well fed (in theory),and is sacrificing herself to support your ________ career (add specific field of employment here) you may have found your wife. If she looks like the woman in the wedding/family pictures on the wall - you can safely assume that she is your wife and it is now safe to remove your pants. (Unless she's the nanny - which is a far more complex and dangerous set of rules and a different blog all together.)

You're welcome in advance. Hope this clears things up.

Maybe I should also write some advice for all those girls out there who believe "he really does love me more than his wife, his kids, his money and his reputation",  "he'd never treat me like he treats her", and "I'm actually a really good person".  Super smart.
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He's watching our pants with the eye of the tiger.

I have, what I refer to as "The Crazy". Every time I had a baby, I heard a lot of talk about depression...but not so much about crazy. I kept reading those online screening tests.  Apparently someone, somewhere thought to themselves "Clarity and accurate judgement- that totally describes the clinically depressed.  This self diagnosis thing is fool proof." Just a hint Mr. Depression Test Writer, asking women who are dealing with the hormone induced free fall that is the post partum period the question: "hey crazy lady, are you crazy?" might not be the best screening mechanism.  Just a thought.   The problem for me was that these surveys seemed really concerned with things like "crying for no reason" and "fear of death", but "head exploding into flames when the three year old spills her juice (again)" - not so much. I figured, therefore, that crazy was normal... and therefore I was normal... and therefore - problem solved.

During the first few months after my third child was born, I finally realized that being bossed by The Crazy really wasn't normal (and when I say "I realized", what I mean is that my husband made an appointment for me with my doctor, drove me to said appointment and told my doctor not to let me out of her office until I agreed to a pharmaceutical exorcism.)  It was practically a reality television show...but it worked, and The Crazy was fired from being the boss of me.  Until this weekend... when we put up our Christmas tree.

Every year I manage to convince myself that this is going to be big fun for the whole family.  I picture my children gathered around the tree looking like 3 little models for The Gap.  In my mind there's usually a lot of dark washed denim and  layering of vintage tee shirts and hoodies and maybe the occasional piece of corduroy.  I picture matching ornaments that each child hangs in a predetermined "decorating zone" that leaves plenty of room between siblings to avoid elbows and whining.  The ornaments (of course) coordinate with the stockings that I laundered and packed away carefully the previous year.  I picture everyone snacking on cut up vegetables and whole grain crackers and warm cider.  Oh, and there's music.  Handel's Messiah - all 2 hours of it - which we can stream from the NPR website.  (This is not product placement for NPR - I promise.)


 Every year I find myself staring into a box of ornaments which contains a grand total of 14 glass balls in 14 different colors (8 of which are missing the tops and hangers), 1 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer made from 2 old-school clothes pins and a piece of red felt, 1 glitter covered canning lid with my picture from Kindergarten in the middle, some white wire snowflakes, and a handful of green jingle bells.  Every year I try to figure out where I put that other stocking.  Every year I end up totally annoyed because my kids insist on hanging every mismatched ornament in the same 8 square inches of space and I find myself saying things like "just wait until after I hang this part up and then you can help" over and over again, while feeding them left over Halloween candy and yogurt for lunch. (Thank goodness they trick-or-treated in a good neighborhood this year.)

So this year, in an attempt to include my children in their childhood memories, I let them help me.  We assembled a chain made from silver and gold paper that I found in a box during our move.  (I did half, they did half.  Then I fixed their half when they weren't looking).   I also let them help me fold origami star ornaments (my attempt at a coherent tree theme)  from brown paper lunch bags (seriously, I had tons of them and they were free) - or in other words, they watched me fold origami star ornaments from brown paper lunch bags.  (For some reason they weren't totally on board with the "organic look" of brown paper lunch bags.)  I also let them help pick the decorating music.  We each got to choose a song.  I picked The Messiah.  I went first.  After 30 minutes of my "song", they caught on, and my son started asking "is it my turn yet Mom?", "how 'bout now?", "do we get to hear my song now Mom?".  Hoping that it would be a short selection and then we could get back to Handel, I consented to play his carol... which turned out to be "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor.

As I watched my son take his power stance and start up his air guitar to the "dun... dun, dun, dun... dun, dun, dun...dun dun duuuuun" riff at the beginning of his chosen song,  I gave up.  I decided what he needed was not a crazy mother and a perfect Christmas tree.  I decided that what he really needed was... an awesome drummer.  He smiled at me as I sat down next to him and did my best Tommy Lee (wrong band - I know).  I smiled at him as he rocked his head back and forth and made a face that clearly said "I am the best air guitarist ever".  Then I smiled at The Crazy and waved goodbye to her... and her tree.. and her memories...until next year.

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These just look like Scrooge's pants

My daughter, whose birthday was last week, has always had pretty strong opinions about food. When she was five or six, she came to us and said that she wanted to be a vegetarian. She said that she didn't want to eat animals because it made her sad. I was ok with it. I believe that just because a person can't tie their own shoes, doesn't mean that they can't believe in stuff. I explained to her that vegetarians eat grains with made up names like "quinoa" and "millett". I explained to her that vegetarians eat actual vegetables- even the ones that (in her words) "are stinky and feel like slime in my mouth". I explained to her that vegetarians do not eat chicken nuggets - ever. She gave up being a vegetarian. (I think what she really wanted to be was a carbotarian.)

Despite the fact that she is a huge fan of the soy burgers (or "protein sponges" as I refer to them) and that she tells me "you know that's a dead animal right?" every time I grill up a ribeye, she is still a sucker for fast food. Basically for her, (and her brothers), the ultimate dining destination is a McDonald's restaurant...with a play structure.

The McDonald's playland is indeed my worst nightmare. It more often than not smells like a poorly sanitized boy's locker room and there is always at least one family who seems to think that the sign that reads "SOCKS MUST BE WORN AT ALL TIMES ON THE PLAY STRUCTURE" really means "IF YOU WANT TO WALK BAREFOOT TO THE RESTROOM AND THEN COME CLIMB ALL OVER THIS THING IT'S COOL WITH US". Also, I'm inclined to believe all those urban myths about how playland janitors find used hypodermic needles and random human body parts in the ball pit. When my kids are playing on these structures I become the slightly panicky mom who you see pacing neurotically back and forth in front of the twisty slide muttering words like "e. coli" and "cryptosporidium" under her breath while clutching a purse sized bottle of hand sanitizer like some kind of super clean talisman.

I do not like the McDonald's playland. However, I believe that a person should be able to do whatever they want to do on their birthday. More specifically, I believe a person should be able to eat whatever they want to eat on their birthday - and so at my daughter's request this is where we went for her birthday lunch.

We walked up to the counter and I asked them what they wanted to eat. I've got no clue why I do this since they order exactly the same thing every time we go there. We ended up with 1 McNuggets Happy Meal (no sauce), 1 Double Cheese Burger Mighty Kids Meal (only ketchup), 1 Chicken Strips meal (no sauce) and 1 really gross salad. (The really gross salad was mine - I'd like to wear jeans with a zipper again.) I swiped my debit card and began working out how I was going to carry two trays full of food and a baby car seat while stopping my four year old from pretending that the tables and chairs were in reality, a practice course for that TV show "Wipeout". (He watches it with his father during "man time".) The McDonald's counter lady told me my total and then said "... and would you like to donate a dollar to Ronald McDonald House Charities today?" I looked right at her and said "Nope. I wouldn't", and hit the accept button on the debit machine. I'm pretty sure I saw her give me a look that clearly said "Oh, no you didn't."

I didn't mean to go all Ebenezer Scrooge on her, but honestly, it's not just her. There are a lot of worthy causes out there that I choose not to support. I feel like maybe I should have more guilt about this than I do, but I ask myself - is it better for me to give one dollar to thirty different charities just because I don't want to get the evil eye when I say "no", or thirty dollars to one charity because I believe in their mission and want to help? I have chosen the latter. My husband and I give to a few, specific organizations that we feel address the diseases and social ills that we care most about. When I give a dollar - I give it to them. Unfortunately, there's not usually enough time to explain this to the four people standing in line behind me at the grocery store who see me not donating to breast cancer research... or to the McDonald's counter lady who I'm guessing was less than impressed with my apparent lack of generosity. All I'm saying is that I do my alms in private. Is it too much to ask that I be allowed to do my non-alms in private too?

My kids eventually finished their romp in the playland and we made it home with no sign of serious infections or illness (yet.) Just my guilt over not feeling guilty. Hopefully if I wake up in the near future with a scary, non-verbal Christmas Spirit floating over my bed, he'll let me pull up my online statements to prove that I really am a good person and that he should go haunt someone else. In the mean time, I think I'll just stick to the drive through... at least until next year's birthdays.
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Who wears your favorite pants?

"Rants In My Pants" is a nominee for a Divine Caroline "Love! This Site Award". Please help me get enough votes to at least not be embarrassed. Just click on the badge on the right hand side and vote.

There will be a winner in each category plus 9 "Editor's Choice" awards, so I'd like to get enough support to get noticed. I'm not going to lie - I get money if I win... and (again with the not lying) - I like money.

Voting ends on DECEMBER 4th at 4pm (PT), so hustle on over there and show the love. You can also "share" with your friends via the Facebook, the Twitter and however else the kids are sharing these days.

Thanks for the support.

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Proud of My Pants

When I was pregnant with my oldest child I knew a few true things about having a baby. Most of these things, it turned out, were totally untrue. Foremost among the untruths was this: babies require a lot of junk in order to survive and be happy and get the pediatrician to put a little PostIt Note on your child's chart saying "you can tell that this baby momma totally knows what's going on because she owns a baby wipes warmer." I bought all kinds of stuff that I later discovered is the reason that garage sales and consignment stores were invented. I also discovered that the depreciation rate on a baby bathtub is basically 100%. Apparently other moms just use sinks... or the bathtub that came with the house. Or maybe, people just feel weird about putting their baby's naked bum in the same place where someone else's naked bum has been sliding around. Even if the other naked bum that's been sliding around belongs to another baby.

As the birth of our 4th baby grew steadily closer, I realized that I was going to have to break down and buy some supplies for our new addition...and I wanted no part of it. This was for two reasons. First, when we found out we were pregnant way back in January, we had no job and therefore - no health insurance. Awesome. I basically handled this by pretending that the reason that I was sick everyday was because I had some rare and exotic stomach flu whose other side effects were constant crying and giving false positives on at home pregnancy tests. The professional term for this is "denial", and it lasted until at least 5 days past my (alleged) due date.

Second, even though we now do have a job and health insurance, I was trying to be resourceful and just use what I already had. (Stupid recession.) Which unfortunately was not much since I either gave away or sold all of my baby clothes and accessories the previous year... (when we had a job and insurance)... because I couldn't get pregnant. (Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?) I came up with a couple of super rad ideas too. What baby wouldn't want a hat made out of his father's old Gold Toe sock or a jammie sack converted from a tee shirt that reads "Eat Krispy Kremes"?

My mother, however, was not having any of this. She generously gifted our son with clothes and diapers and onesies and a super plush bath towel and a super plush blanket with a softy edge(my husband really wants a man size one of these). She also got me a new diaper bag. The best diaper bag ever.

This bag has a name- "Chocolate Cake". Literally, that is the bag's name. Mmmm. Mary Poppins wishes that she has this bag. This bag comes with a matching wallet. This bag comes with a second, washable bag that you use to protect the Chocolate Cake bag just in case you are forced to place it on some kind of unclean, unworthy or otherwise undesirable surface. (I asked the lady at the store if the second bag was for dirty diapers. She was not impressed and I think that she seriously reconsidered allowing someone who would not hesitate to put actual poop inside this diaper bag to purchase it.)

I have gotten more complements on my bag than my baby - and he is cute. I take good care of my baby and I take good care of my bag. I am proud of my baby, but I am also proud of my bag... and that's what got me in trouble. Bag pride.

Here's how it went. I took all 4 children to Winco for the weekly grocery shop. (I do this because I love to hear the comments about how it looks like I've "got my hands full". It's my favorite. Also, it's fun to mess with the guy that has to reconstruct the Pyramid of Giza out of macaroni and cheese boxes on the end of aisle 4. You haven't seen fear until you've watched that guy's eyes when he catches site of my four year old demonstrating his new found ability to walk backward and spin at the same time.)

After strategically parking near the cart return and assigning each child a cart spot where they would not be within touching or breathing distance of their siblings, I strapped the baby up in the sling and picked up the Chocolate Cake bag. I looked at the Winco shopping cart. Visions of little hands covered with peanut butter and jelly, boogers, H1N1, and worm guts flashed before my eyes. The cart that was good enough for my kids - not good enough for my bag. I put the bag back in the car.

I was very thorough. I covered that thing with every sweatshirt, backpack and burp cloth I could find - just in case there was some roving diaper bag bandit on the loose... because I'm sure that the master camouflage job wouldn't tip him off. I closed the door. I realized that I forgot my cell phone. I put my hand in my pocket to get my keys.

It was one of those times when you feel like you might throw up a little bit and automatically start to do a mental inventory and your mind starts replaying the last few minutes of your life. I saw myself removing my wallet. I saw myself putting my cell phone in the pocket of my bag. I saw myself hitting the lock button on my key. I saw myself putting my keys... in the pocket of my bag. The same bag that was now residing at the bottom of a pile of kid gear... in my locked car... with my cell phone. Awesome.

I learned several things that day. One was that pride cometh before the fall... and the call... for help from the Winco customer service/MoneyGram/Lotto numbers line. I learned that I need to stop using the automatic dial feature on my cell phone and actually memorize someone's phone number. (Seriously, the only phone number I could remember for several minutes was 911 and I don't think that they would've been on board with my definition of emergency.) I learned that my plan of keeping my spare key in my bag just in case I locked my first set in the car qualifies me to work for FEMA or maybe those flu shot planning people. (I'm sending them a resume). I learned that anything that can be locked, can be unlocked (after your husband gets the valet key from your friend that was holding it as a backup),

But most importantly I learned that the best way to deal with your kids during a dilemma with the Chocolate Cake bag at Winco is... the chocolate cake aisle at Winco - and that's something that I'm proud of.

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Suprisingly large pants

I keep trying to write something witty and funny and enlightening about the birth of our son. I have started 6 or 7 times. I got nothing.

I guess some things really are just better left unsaid... for now anyway.

So... here it is.

Birth Day: 10/02/09 (I will be starting a campaign entitled "Due Dates Are A Big Fat Lie Perpetrated By The Man On Unsuspecting Women Who Can No Longer See Their Feet")

Weight: 9 lb. 10 oz
Length: 22 inches long,
Other random facts:
  • Huge shoulders (which I think they should measure and document on that little card in the baby warmer and the birth certificate... and maybe give you a t-shirt and a medal like at the end of a marathon. I wonder who I talk to about that.)
  • Lovely auburnish hair... which has all fallen out (except for the back and a few long scraggly ones on the top. Basically he has a middle age man comb over.)
  • Ears that are flat to his head... rather than the "elf" models that our other children were issued. (Thankfully they grow out of this.)
  • Pointy chin. He will thank me for that later. There's no hiding a weak chin.

And here he is...

And so it begins.

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Smartie Pants

What does it mean when your four year old's last words to his father before drifting into a Halloween candy induced coma are "Dad will you put my candy up somewhere high where Mom can't get it?"

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Goodbye to Maternity Pants... Sort of.

I am coming back from my pre and post maternity leave. I will posting again ... as soon as I think it's funny to be covered in milk, poop and vomit at 3 am.

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Two sisters, One pair of pants

A few weeks ago I had to fill out a little survey about myself for church. I spend time each Sunday attempting to open up the exciting world of Christian spirituality to a group of fourth and fifth graders, who as far as I can tell, are concerned primarily with
a. telling me what they did the previous week,
b. asking me if I brought treats, and
c. requesting permission to use restroom during class. (In that order.)

Each week during the children's Sunday School, also referred to (by me) as "The Show", there is singing and storytelling and lots of adults telling the kids to "shhh" and "pay attention" and "this is very interesting actually" and "stop flipping your eyelids inside out - it's gross". Also, (and this is the kids' favorite part of the whole fiasco), there is "The Spotlight". Hence, the aforementioned survey.

Most of the time during The Spotlight we learn a little something about one of the children, but every once in awhile they like to shake it up and feature random facts about one of the adults in the room. What I learned from answering The Spotlight survey questions, which I can only assume were designed to show that I really am cool and interesting and not just old and bossy, is that... I am totally uninteresting. The most exciting things that I could think of about myself were that I like chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and that I work as a labor doula. (If you think that explaining the doula lifestyle to an adult is challenging try the 8-12 year old crowd. I felt like I should've had a signed note from their parents with an explanation letter detailing the course syllabus. In retrospect, I think I should've told them the story about how after we moved my husband couldn't find the case for his contact lenses and so instead put his last pair of contacts in two cups next to the sink. It is his contention that he told me what was in there, but clearly under the impression that they were His and Hers matching drinkware, I apparently downed the entire contents of the "Hers" cup during the night and now he only has half a pair of contacts. Not remotely useful... or so he tells me. Regardless, I'm pretty sure that the 10 year old boys would think that me swallowing a contact lens was very gross and therefore very cool. Oh well.)

One of the other things that I told them was that "I am the oldest of four sisters and that we don't have any brothers." My dad used to joke that even the dog was a girl. Our house was a house open to all the girlie issues. Our father was so comfortable with the girlie issues that sometimes I think he forgot that not all men are so comfortable with the girlie issues. Example: Once he was shopping and needing to stock up on girlie supplies. (Teenage daughters require a lot of supplies.) Unfortunately, stores tend to keep the girlie supplies way up on the top shelf where a man in a wheel chair cannot reach them. Fortunately, my father was met in the hygiene aisle by people that he knew and could ask for help with the reaching of the girlie supplies. Unfortunately, those people were the missionaries from our church. Poor 19 year old boys - retrieving industrial sized boxes of tampons in the name of Christian service.

My mother-in-law was also raised in an all girl house. There were five of them. A couple of weeks ago the youngest of the five died. It made me very sad for her that she had lost one of her sisters. I wondered about what it was like to see someone that you had known in every stage of their life come to the end of theirs. I wondered about what you do when someone that is part of the definition of yourself dies. I think it must be different than a parent dying. You expect that your parents will die before you and although it can be tremendously painful, it seems like a natural progression somehow. I have never lost one of my children (thankfully), but I think it must be different than that as well. When I think of my sisters dying I picture that scene from Back To the Future where all of Michael J. Fox's siblings just sort of fade from the family photo and then he starts to fade out too. I think it must be something like that. Fading.

I started to think about my sisters and what the death of any of them would mean to me. When I was a little girl, the only nightmares I can remember having involved something happening to my sister K. (mostly someone taking her and me not being able to stop them. Hmmm.) She is 17 months younger than I am and I don't think that I have a memory in my life where she is not in it. After she was married, she moved away from me for a short period of time. I remember watching her drive off down the road and I was sobbing and crying like those women in the Middle East that you see on the news after a road side bombing. I laid down on the couch and cried for so long, that the back of my head hurt. To me, we seemed very far apart, but eventually, she came back home.

I have to admit as well, that I was a little bit stunned when I realized that I was thinking in terms of "what I would do" when really, eventually, it will be "what I will do". We joke all the time about what we will be like when we are old, and our husbands are dead, and none of us can remember anything- except that there's something important that we really need to remember. Here's what we've never talked about though- eventually, one of us, and then another of us, and then another of us will die. Eventually, one of us will be the last sister to have said goodbye to all of her other sisters... the last one that remembers our childhood homes, and our father's smile when he was young and our mother singing "Oh Holy Night" at Christmas... and then she will be... sisterless and sort of alone. I do not want to be the last sister, but I also don't want any of my other sisters to be the last sister either. (I'm pretty sure that it will hurt a lot, and I'm not such a big fan of pain. ) I'm not sure what to do about that. It seems like a problem that doesn't really have a good answer. (ps - my mother's convinced that she is going to outlast all of us, so maybe that's the solution. Poor Mom.)

The other thing that bothers me about this whole sister thing, is that I'm about to give birth. To a boy. My third boy. My last baby (and I am totally serious about that.) This means that my daughter will never have a sister of her own. I have tried to spin this as a positive thing, but really it's just a big fat lie. It's lame that she will never have a sister - and no matter how I try to help build excitement about the prospect of holding her third brother, who is due to arrive any day (or week knowing me), she knows it's lame. The birth of her brother will be the death of her chances at a sister, and even though I know that she loves her brothers, and that she is very blessed to have female cousins that help fill the void... she is sisterless and sort of alone.

Getting ready to give birth to my baby and the death of my mother-in-law's sister has made me think about all the changes that come with shifting a family, and about how those changes are very much the same, whether you're coming or going. Birth and Death are indeed the sisters of life. They look very much alike and sound very much alike. They both have a rhythm and a pattern and tears and suffering and blood and exhaustion and relief. They both have a job, and the job is to help someone change places from where they were to where they are going. To shift a family. One is the first page. One is the last. One is the winding up. One is the winding down. They cannot be separated from each other. The one helps to define the other. To give her boundaries. To give her purpose. No matter how many times we experience them and feel them and act apart of them, like true sisters - even when they seem very far apart, they always come back home. These are two that will never be sisterless - and I guess once you've had a sister, you will never, ever be truly sisterless either.
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My pants are marooned

If I was writing a message in a bottle/marooned on an island diary in the sand.

Last week...
No internet.
This week...
No internet.
Next week...

Send help and cookie dough.

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A Gypsy in Snow Pants

Women have children for many different reasons. Some women want a baby (This is a classic bait and switch ladies. How they start out is not how they end up.) Some women want to be mothers - sometimes even after they truly know what that means. Some women just want people to stop pestering them about when the baby is coming already. Here is a confession - one of the main reasons that I had kids was to dress them up in super awesome Halloween costumes. In my mind I saw my little trick-or-treaters marching into the night clad in thematically inspired clothing designed and executed by their super creative and capable mother. (Me.) The actual trick-or-treating would be done with their father, because October's too cold for me to do that kind of craziness and also, someone has to answer the door and dole out candy. (Also, this was going to be the time when I could judge all of the other mom's efforts to see if they were as good as mine.)

As you can see, my plan was foolproof. In my mind. Then I had children... and my children had opinions. These opinions included ideas about what they would and would not wear at Halloween. Mostly these opinions revolved around what they perceived as "cool" or "not cool". Also, these opinions tended to change the night before Halloween...after I'd completed their costume. So now it's store bought costumes and no matching. (Who's being judged now? )

Too bad, because I had some good ideas too. Some of the better ones that were summarily dismissed were:
  • Marie Antoinette and some random French peasants. My daughter just didn't get this one and she hated the wig. What kind of girl hates a huge white wig, I ask you? If I could wear a big old powdered wig to the grocery store I would totally do it... and I might or might not yell "let them eat cake" when I walked past the bakery.
  • Little Bo Peep and her sheep brothers. I'm not sure why my four year old son would not want to dress up as a sheep to coordinate with his baby brother and be herded by his older sister's crook while I took pictures, but it totally ruined a good photo op. that would've been very cute in one of those graduating senior slide shows. Whatever.
  • A family tribute to "The Wizard of Oz" - again foiled by: a. my sons, who felt that they could've made a lot shorter work of the Wicked Witch of the West if only they were allowed to use their light sabers at the church trunk-or-treat, and b. my husband, who had no interest in going out in public dressed as a member of The Lollipop Guild. Go figure.
Personally, my favorite Halloween costume when I was a little girl was a gypsy. When you live in the Rocky Mountains the idea of being a gypsy is about as exotic as it gets. I had visions of being decked out in a white peasant blouse, huge gold hoop earrings, a festive head scarf with fringe all around the edge, and a red skirt that would fly up in a huge circle when you spun around on your heels. (One of the best parts of being a little girl is a twirly skirt. Fun.) I would of course need lots of bangles and beads and bracelets and baubles - because I was pretty sure that those were the things that made a gypsy's life so great... and I'd seen pictures. Oh, also, I'd need a tambourine.

Yep, that's what my costume looked like... in my head. However, as I recall I usually ended up wearing a read bandanna, lots of cheap, beaded necklaces, and some lipstick. (I realize now that essentially my costume was a biker chick at Mardi Gras.) The things that really gave it that authentic Mediterranean flair though, were - snow boots and a winter coat. The sad truth was that Montana at the end of October was no place for twirly skirts and peasant blouses. No place for a gypsy- unless the gypsy wanted frostbite.

I look back on my gypsy obsession now and have a couple of thoughts. Firstly, I'm totally unclear about whether it is or is not okay to allow your child to dress as a gypsy for Halloween. It seems a little... racial. I think it must be alright, though. I mean, I would let my kids dress in lederhosen (another thwarted family costume theme: "The Sound of Music" - I wanted to be that Baroness lady), or in kimonos or ninja wear. I would let them dress like Cleopatra and other Egyptiany people. So...

Secondly, I didn't know that one day I would come dangerously close to living the gypsy lifestyle with my three children and hugely pregnant belly. Living like a gypsy, with the constant moving around, is less glamorous I've found, than dressing like one. We are on the move again after just one year. Our rental house was sold and the people that are buying it actually want to live in it. Rude. At first I did not think it was going to be a big deal to find housing. We wanted to "downsize" anyway and we were pretty open to whatever came along. (By the way, the word "downsize" might sound neutral and consoling, but in reality- it's pretty lame. I'm hoping to leave the "downsize" part of life behind us really soon.) Too bad for us, finding a rental that allowed us to keep our kids around people they know and didn't force us to revisit the last school year with our daughter (an experience just as enjoyable as a daily bikini wax) turned out to be asking a lot. Particularly when you're trying to "downsize".

With about 10 days to go before we had to move out we still had no place to move... in. What I learned next was this: Necessity might be the mother of Invention, but the mother of Necessity is Poverty. That's when I hatched my plan. Yurt. Or maybe a tent. At a campground. Homeschooling and cooking over a fire. Apparently Poverty is also the mother of Crazy. My family was not impressed. I told my sisters that a lot of people live that way. They told me that those people were called "homeless" - or "scary polygamist kidnappers on the run from the law". They told me that I needed to find somewhere to take my soon to be newborn baby that did not include communal showers and exposure to random mosquito borne diseases.

Fortunately, God knows that despite my willingness for adventure/borderline personality, I am not exactly cut out for camping and that I would last about two minutes in a Yurt homeschooling my children and beating my clothing against a rock. After that, there would just be a lot of tears. From me mostly. So... although I was looking forward to a big adventure, we have successfully found a place to move our family... that includes a permanent roof and flush toilets. Now with exactly two days to spare all I have to do is come up with a way to move all of our stuff. Maybe, if I can find one that fits over my belly, I'll wear a twirly red skirt and a huge powdered wig during the whole fiasco and hope that the new neighbors recognize a gypsy (at heart) when they see one... and since it's August, I won't even need snow pants.

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What kind of pants does a doula wear?

If you are curious about what I really do as a doula, read this. It was written by a mom whose birth I had the privilege of attending. Women rock.

PS- I am not loving the picture of me. Just remember that I am very pregnant and had just done several hours of labor support. It tends to be hard on the makeup.
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It's a miracle his pants survived

Animals are interesting things. Some are beautiful but not useful. Some are useful, but not beautiful. Some are not beautiful, and not useful. Some are just so stinking annoying that you don't even notice if they're beautiful or useful. (I'm just now realizing that this applies to people too. Hmmm.) Falling squarely in the "stinking annoying" category are: our dog (don't ever let Santa bring your kids a dog - ever), woodpeckers that mistake your roof for a giant red wood tree, Nancy Pelosi, (seriously Nan, I can't understand what you're talking about 99% of the time, and I'm pretty sure it's not me) and ... moles (any size, any kind).

Moles are the Howard Dean of the animal kingdom -ridiculous looking and without any apparent purpose other than to agitate the landscape and drive self-respecting suburban property tax payers to the very edge of sanity. Also, there is no way to get rid of them. You think they're gone and then... they're back.

My family's obsession with mole eradication is one of the things that binds us as a people. There are four principle mole hunters among us and they have had varying levels of success.

1. My husband: We used to live in a house that was situated on a large corner lot. Behind us was a huge field (good for privacy, not so much for vermin control). When we moved in, the entire property was overrun with knee high weeds, and creeping vines and very aggressive flora of every other sort. My husband worked for a long time on that yard and finally got it looking really lovely. It had green grass and everything. He was proud. He was a content lawn gardening putterer. (You know - he went out and dug around in the dirt and admired his tulips and lilies and whatever.) Then came the great mole plague of '05... and '06 and '07. My husband turned into a hunter. It was a little scary.

The first thing he tried was to drown them. I was skeptical of this technique as I didn't believe that one could actually flood real life mole tunnels like might be done in an episode of Winnie the Pooh. (All I could picture was that little mole guy with the miner hat and the lisp stomping up to angrily confront my husband about the goings on in his tunnel system and how he was behind schedule now.)

Next he went for the "stalk and smash" approach. I found him at 2am in the back yard with a headlamp and a shovel, poised over a section of earth which he had determined as the spot most likely to host the mole's next appearance. I was pretty certain that the only people (other than my husband) that wandered around in the middle of the night with a head lamp and a shovel were those that made a living farming the kind stuff that gets them thrown into the pen, and since I didn't fancy seeing myself on the next episode of "Cops" made him go back inside the house.

Some of the other things he tried were - chewing gum down the holes (I think this operates on the same concept that your mom had when she told you it would sit in your stomach for 7 years if you swallowed it), maybe poison of some kind, and these strange devices that he borrowed from my brother in law. They were like cylinders that you'd bury down their holes and then at random intervals (both day and night) would vibrate and hiss. Apparently I have better ears than the mole. The "audio deterrent approach" made me want to leave my husband, but the mole was willing to go into counseling to save their relationship.

(Just for the record the only mole I think we ever caught was caught by me. And when I say "caught" I mean I found it dead on the driveway and picked it up with a shovel while saying "iiih". I suspect he may have caught a glimpse of my husband in the head lamp and laughed himself to death.)

2. My sister A. I'm not sure that her mole capture should count in the family tally as it was actually her rat terrier that made the kill. Poor mole. What he learned that day is that you can't outrun good breeding. (Also, I think this is the only reason that she keeps that dog. Santa got her too.)

3. My mother. She actually caught a mole with her bare hands. Or rather a cup that she was holding in her bare hands. Moles might be fast with the tunneling, but with the running - not so much. For reasons best known to the mole, this one was making an above ground dash for my mom's flower beds when she trapped it in a cup and then, as any logical woman who suddenly found herself holding a cup containing a live mole would do, flushed it down her toilet.

From there on out, my mother hired a mole removal service.

4. My brother in law. My sister and her husband own a piece of property that is like 3 acres or something. 3 acres can hold a lot of moles. My nieces actually came running inside the house one afternoon yelling that there were 2 moles wrestling on the lawn. My sister and her husband were skeptical, but upon closer inspection actually found 2 real life moles wrestling around on their lawn. (They weren't doing that kind of wrestling. They were actually wrestling - a territorial dispute I guess.) In a move that I think made my husband a little bit jealous, my brother in law grabbed a shovel and - there's no easy way to say this- bashed the little suckers. He does admit to being slightly concerned at the impact that this act of brutality might have on his little girls, who were onlookers to the attack, but don't worry - they cheered him on. Literally.

Like I said, moles don't leave. I'm not sure if it's reincarnation, resurrection, or reproduction, but there's always one ready to step up and take the place of its fallen comrade. So... despite the shovel incident, where he got two in one blow, the mole problem persists and my brother in law has resorted to traps. Lots of traps.

Which brings me to... mole karma. The mole traps are usually covered, for obvious reasons, but yesterday they were uncovered so that my brother in law could mow the yard. My 3 year old was taking turns with his cousin (waiting for his turn actually) riding the lawn mower with his uncle and I was sitting talking to my sister. That is when I looked over and saw my son, holding in his beautiful man sized hands, a fully armed mole trap. I yelled. He dropped the trap, but because he is going to be a valedictorian some day, leaned over to pick it back up. I yelled again and went over to pick him up before he succeeded in losing at least 7 of his 10 fingers. (At this point my sister said to me "Don't you pick it up". Apparently she thinks I'm a valedictorian too.) I explained to him in as graphic language as I could think of why picking up a mole trap was a bad idea. (I didn't feel like it was a time to wax poetic.) Unfortunately for him he's three, and his uncle was coming back toward him with the lawn mower. He thought that it was his turn for a ride.

In reality my brother in law was coming to disarm the mole trap. My son ran toward the spot where he would traditionally wait to swap with his cousin ... right toward the still fully armed mole trap. I screamed for him to stop. He kept running. He stepped on the mole trap. The trap snapped. The trap missed.

Call it what you want. Call it luck. Call it a miracle (I do). Maybe it was because my husband never actually executed a mole and therefore its blood did not cry out for vengeance. I grabbed my son and hugged his trap free foot/ankle/leg, made sure he was okay... and then I yelled at him about obedience and listening and how hard it is to run with crutches. I yelled. I yelled loud enough to scare those pesky little moles into saying to each other "Man, that girl's crazy. C'mon, I heard some guy's trying to flood us out two doors down. I could use a laugh."

And if I can get rid of moles, I'd consider myself both beautiful (most days) and useful.

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Always have a spare pair of pants

Here's something you need to know about boys: every boy knows everything about something.

My oldest son knows everything about oceans and all the stuff that lives in them. Want to know what color an octopus' blood is? Ask my son - (also, you can ask him why it is not the same color as your blood, if you're interested.) Want to know which sharks give birth to live young? Ask my son. Want to know how barnacles eat? Ask my son. (My kids and I actually saw this at the coast last week - it was pretty cool, if I do say so myself.)

My second son knows everything about Star Wars. Apparently this is something that lots of boys know everything about. I learned this lesson when I went to the park with three of my very good friends and their children. Between the 4 of us we have 14 children ages 10 and under. The families break down like this 4 boys, 3 boys/1 girl, 2 boys/1 girl/1 boy on the way, 1 girl/2 boys/1 boy on the way. That's a 13:3 boy-girl ratio, in case you're counting. You'll never see anything more wonderful and potentially dangerous than a pack of little boys roving free range through a park hitting each other about the head and shoulders with multiple colors of plastic light sabers. At one point one of the little Jedis ended up saberless. Sad. I pointed out to him that one of my sons had two light sabers, and because he was raised right, I was certain that he would willingly give one up. If hope had a face, it would've been his. However, when he turned around and figured out who I was talking about he explained (to a girl who was obviously in need of some serious Star Wars education) "Oh. Yeah, he's General Grievous. He's in Clone Wars episode three. He's actually supposed to have 4 light sabers." Apparently he was a Star Wars purist, and so settled for a blaster rather than further compromising the aforementioned Grievous.

You might think that when boys grow up, they no longer know the everything about the something that they knew as children. Not so. Totally not so.

My husband, for example, knows everything about cars and always has (according to his mother.) He too likes to share his knowledge with me. Before I met him, I knew where to put the key and the gas. I now know terms like "continuously variable transmission", "holly four barrel carbs" and "dual exhaust". Before I met him, I used the terms "wheels" and "tires" interchangeably. Now I know that wheels and tires are not the same thing, and you cannot call them the same thing. I also know that they come in different sizes. I even know what size tires our car takes.

I know this last little gem, because when you are 8 months pregnant and you are driving on the freeway to a baby blessing on a 95 degree Sunday afternoon with your three kids in the back seat of the car in their church clothes (complete with little man neck ties) and suddenly your car says "low tire pressure" and then "hey hope you are close to a cute little boutique that sells tires because your spare is already on the car and it's gonna be hard to drive on three wheels - even if they do do it in the movies all the time", you get to hear your husband telling the people that he's managed to reach on his cell phone over and over again what size tires you need followed by "a special tire order isn't going to help me - I'm literally sitting here with my kids in the car... (fill in the explanation from above here)." Also, I learned that the only people besides our family that observe the Sabbath anymore are the people that were already at the blessing (cell phones in the car, not the church) and the Les Schwab Tire Company - who slightly deflated the miracle of loosing a tire at the freeway exit by a tire store, by not being open on Sundays.

Other things that you should know about cars with flat tires - if you pull into a gas station, don't expect anyone that works there to give you any kind of helpful information, except how much a car wash costs, and also, if you buy your kids and yourself an ice cream treat to stop them from saying "stop putting your hand in my section" and "I can hear you breathing too loud through your nose" it will taste slightly of petrol, Valvoline and trucker stink - just like everything else you buy from the Chevron quick mart. Yum. Oh, and the patrons of the Chevron will keep asking your children where they are going dressed like that on such a hot day and then look at you like you're some kind of fundamentalist loony because you dared make your children change out of their camouflage shorts and Crocs before going to get religion.

Every boy knows everything about something, but every girl knows something about everything. The something about cars that I know is this -they break - but fear not, eventually someone will answer their cell phone, eventually you will come up with a plan to rescue your stranded family and eventually someone will be able to sell you the part you need...and then - who cares what it's called, if they sell a spare, buy one and keep it in your car.

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Sometimes it's ok for a man to wear the pants.

Every person has good parts of their personalities and bad parts of their personalities. Most of the time they are the same parts of their personalities. For example...

I am a fairly independent girl. I was raised by an independent girl - and an independent boy. For those of you that know my parents, enough said. For those of you who do not...

My mother was raised on a farm in one of those towns where they could've filmed the movie "Hoosiers". Except the town was in Montana, not Indiana. It's one of those quickly disappearing rural communities that no one knew existed in the first place. As a matter of fact, I don't know if it's there anymore. Anyway... she was raised on a farm with 6 brothers and 3 sisters, and when I say she was "raised" I use the word as loosely as possible. My mom was "free range" long before they started applying the word to really expensive meat and dairy products. Let's just say that when your mom has 10 kids, and a farm and works a job at the post office to help ends meet, you aren't exactly sitting around waiting for her to make your lunch. If you need food, you fix it yourself. If you need clean clothes, you wash them yourself. If you need to get your dad from... wherever farmers are... during a snow storm... uphill both ways... because your mom's in labor, you drive the car yourself, license or no license.

It stuck with her I guess, because, for as long as I've known her, if my mother needs something done, she does it herself. (Except polish her toenails. That girl likes her pedicures.)

My father, on the other hand, was raised by a woman that would've been happy to take care of him for his entire life. Not that I blame her. He was in and out of hospitals and clinics and doctor's offices a lot during his childhood and adolescence and she learned, sometimes the hard way, to guard her son. Too bad for her, my dad wasn't super interested in being guarded.

Eventually, because of complications from his disease, he ended up in a wheel chair (I don't remember him any other way). I think it would've been very easy for him to have other people do lots of stuff for him, but like my mother, if he needed something done - like changing the horrible, awful, greasy, pulley wires on the lift for his van, or making sure his daughters had a decent softball coach, or curling the hair (and sometimes burning the ears) of 4 girls everyday before school - he did it himself.

Which brings me back to me - and a clogged pipe. I went down to the basement of the house that we're renting and the utility sink was overflowing with, what can only be described as, pipe vomit. Yep, vomity smell, vomity appearance... vomity reaction. So, because I am who I am, I got my utility vacuum and starting sucking. A couple of things about utility vacuums - they eventually fill up and then they must be emptied. Our vacuum holds 16 gallons of pipe vomit. Pipe vomit weighs roughly 8 lbs per gallon. Now, I'm not that great at math, but what I found out is that when you're 30 weeks pregnant, pipe vomit is really heavy, even if you're only lifting it into the bathtub where it will hopefully run into the sewer and not the basement. I filled and lifted and emptied that stupid thing 4 times. I'm not going to lie - it hurt, and I sounded a lot like those men in the Scottish Highland Games that throw that big log thing.

After clearing the water I proceeded to get under the sink (admittedly with some difficulty), disassemble the plumbing, snake the pipes, locate and snake the clean-out-hole-thingy in the wall next to the sink, locate and snake the clean-out-hole-thingys in the ground outside, locate and snake the clean-out-hole-thingys under the deck, reassemble the plumbing...and then, because all of my snaking was for naught, purchase what I can only assume to be one of the main ingredients in chemical explosives, to dump down the drain.

The pipe stayed blocked.

Like I said, I am an independent girl, but having exhausted all other options, I did something that I despise above almost anything else. I asked my husband for help. Now, I am very well aware that if this had been one of my sisters, I would've welcomed the rescue, but... what I'm pretty sure that this boils down to is ... my husband is a man, and asking for man help makes me... very unhappy - like the time that I drove to church for a big meeting, and there were so many cars that the usher guys wanted everyone to back into the parking spaces, presumably to make it easier for the worshipers to make a quick escape in case they got bored. (Which I'm pretty sure I did.) I had to get out of the car and let my husband park because I cannot back a car in a straight line. Rrrr.

So... when he got home from work, my husband opened up the clean-out-holey-thing in the wall, pushed the snake through
and - WHOOSH. Unclogged pipe.

I tried to be annoyed, (since he did exactly what I had done, but apparently his plumbing voodoo is better than mine), but between having a husband that could solve the pipe problem and knowing that I could safely shower and get the pipe vomit out of my hair, I was so happy, I just had to hug his neck.

So much for independence... or maybe just pride.

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Act now and you get the second pair of pants free.

When I was maybe 10 or 11 years old I was obsessed with this guy on TV named "Chef Crowley". Looking back, I'm not totally convinced that that was his real name... or that he was actually a chef for that matter. However, he did have a very excellent set of knives...and he was selling them...and I was so buying.

Chef Crowley had a knife for any and all culinary eventualities. There was a little tiny knife that you could use to transform a radish into a mouse - tail and everything people. There was a knife that sort of twisted down inside any solid vegetable giving you a super nutritious and edible slinky. (The potato was my favorite. French fried slinky. What's bad about that?) There was a knife that was kind of v-shape so that you could fancy up your boring old melons into fluted edged baskets that you would then fill with all kinds of other fruit that you fancied up right there in your own fancy kitchen saving you hundreds of dollars a year in catering expenses. (Apparently the soaring costs of catering expenses was a big selling point for the "11 year old girls living in Billings Montana" demographic.)

I had no idea when I was 11 years old that Chef Crowley was doing a commercial. I sort of thought he was doing a kind of public service announcement for aspiring food preparation experts the whole world 'round. I had never heard the term "infomercial". I didn't know any better. You'd think I would've learned, but...

After I learned of the death of Billy Mays, (don't pretend like I need to explain who this guy is), I started to think of all of the things that I have purchased from TV infomercials. Then I called my family for an informal survey. It appears that this is a congenital defect for which there is no cure, and over which we have no control. I regret to say that my sweet son is also affected by this disorder. Sad. One day he said to me ... and I quote... "Mom, I really think Grammy should get "Life Alert". Then she can live alone, without ever being alone." I thanked him for his concern for his grandmother and then laughed until I wet my pants. (Not really, but I laughed pretty hard.) I'm sure my mom will be totally on board with wearing the stylish Life Alert necklace.

So... In honor of Billy (and his totally inexplicable hair - whoa) here is a list of my favorite TV infomercial purchases. (Either I or a member of my family actually own/have owned/own multiples of each of these items. I'm not saying who owns them though. Confidentiality is an important part of the healing process.) Note: You don't even want to see the full list, I actually broke it down into categories: beauty, exercise, kitchen accessories, cleaning products, strange and unlikely children's toys, misc. clutter.

10. The Slap Chop- This is one of those containers with a blade that has a sort of plunger thing attached to it. The plunger thing moves the blade up and down and ... voila. Chopped stuff. Now, the reason that this made my favorites list has nothing to do with the product, but with the commercial. The pitch man is chopping nuts (because you can't do that with a knife) and he states emphatically, as only a man can "you're gonna love my nuts." Sorry, it makes me laugh. A little 13 year-old boyish, but there you go.

9. Moon Sand - Whoever came up with this stuff should be forced to visit the homes of everyone who bought some and pick up every last grain with their bare hands. Also, I don't think it actually comes from the moon. I think it might be the bi-product of some kind of industrial waste disposal project and I'm pretty sure it's gonna give somebody cancer.

8. Caruso Steam Curlers- Okay, this one is just mean. Mr. Caruso, who I assume is ex-mafia turned infomercial hair dresser, promised me - I mean he promised me, that his curlers that were heated with the power of steam could transform my stubbornly-straight-awesome-for-the-70s-not-awesome-for-the-80s hair into curly fabulousness in 15 minutes. Turns out, steam... good for the industrial revolution and saunas, but not so much for curling the hair of a desperate 13 year old. All I got out of this was burned fingers... and what you get when curly hair is exposed to steam - frizz. Curse you Mr. Caruso.

7. Core Secrets- Also known as "that big silver ball that has a pile of dry cleaning on it" or sometimes "the birth ball" (if you don't know why this is "the birth ball" you've never had back labor with a baby - count yourself lucky.)

6. The Gazelle- Seriously. I think this may have been purchased out of fear. Tony Little is scary and there's no way around this. I didn't know that face skin could be so tight, nor did I know that "mandex" (my word for man spandex) was acceptable attire on anyone not competing for multiple Olympic medals. In swimming. Not gymnastics. Yuck. (Don't even get me started on, what my husband has christened, his "tonytail".)

5. Ronco "Set It and Forget It Rotisserie Cooker" - Finally. A countertop rotisserie cooker for the whole family. Too bad for you... every time it's magic rotisseries make a turn it sounds like a car that is long overdue for a break job. We used this little beauty to cook a Christmas roast and the whole family was on sedatives by dinner to stop us from committing Roncocide. If "set it and forget it" means "stand and watch it cook so that you can figure out if your rib roast is off center" then I'm totally with them. (The best part of this is the giant, elbow length, latex gloves that you wear while pulling/prying the meat from the skewers. Have you ever tried to hold 10 pounds of hot meat in too big latex gloves. Hopefully the "5 second rule" applies to Christmas dinner.)

4. The Ped Egg - The commercials make me gag a little, (who really wants to see someone empty out their nasty foot skin shavings into the trash), but if it helps combat public grooming then I'm for it.

3. Urine Gone- Yep, that's its real name. This handy cleaning solution comes with its very own blue light to help you search out whatever dried bodily fluids might be hiding in your home. It's like playing CSI. Mostly I just laugh at the name.

2. The Flowbee- I've decided that this was invented, produced and marketed on a dare - it was either going to be a handy vacuum haircutting device, or a handy vacuum hickey machine. Too bad for my nephews the haircutting thing won out.

1. I think it's called "Nads": Edible Honey Based Body Wax- If anyone ever tries to sell you something that promises to pull out your hair by the root without causing any pain, straighten yourself up, point your finger at them, and yell "liar" (picture Billy Crystal's wife in "The Princess Bride" while you're doing it). Of course you only need to do this if buying something with the words "edible" and "wax" in the description weren't enough of a warning for you. They weren't for me. I schmered this stuff all over one of my legs, gave a mighty yank and ... not so much "pulling the hair out" as just "pulling the hair". Not one hair was actually removed by this alleged hair removal system. However, it did effectively remove the top two layers of skin leaving me looking like I had a giant rug burn on one shin and calf. PS - the reason it's edible is that you have to practically chew off your own leg to get the stuff off.

Note: (It was a tough choice for #1 between this one and something my sisters and I loving refer to as "idiot sticks". These are essentially popsicle sticks covered in fine grain sand paper used to "gently buff away unwanted facial hair". Yeah - I know.)

There you have it. The consumer sins of my family. Maybe we'll start a support group for those afflicted with the dreaded "as seen on TV" addiction. If all this sounds familiar - just put on your Snuggy, and head on over. I promise, you're gonna love our nuts.

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Short pants

Why do the people at the Twitter assume that a bird must "tweet". My favorite bird is an owl and it does not tweet - it hoots. I don't use the Twitter (because I think it's arrogant, presumptuous and narcissistic), but if I did I would send out "hoots" and change the name to the Hooter.

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Are you sure there are only 2 people in your pants?

When I was in the first grade I had a teacher named Mrs.Bowen. Mrs. Bowen was the Maria Von Trapp of Lockwood Elementary School, and indeed, my childhood. (Except for the part where Maria dances with the Baron Von Trapp and then marries the Baron Von Trapp because: a. my dad was in a big, heavy, electric wheelchair that no girl would want running over her toes during the Viennese Waltz - trust me I know, and b. my dad was already married to my mom, and she is not a girl to be tangled with.) We did, however, do a lot of singing in Mrs. Bowen's first grade class - mostly folk music and patriotic tunes and the occasional seasonal songs about Santa's shaky belly or Easter bonnets or pumpkins sitting on a fence. Also, (and I liked this a lot) she gave us a package of Smarties when we got perfect grades on our spelling tests... which I did every time we had a spelling test... except once. I cried.

The best thing that I remember about Mrs.Bowen though, was that she knew how to pronounce my name on the first day of school. Without my help. Now for all of you Amys and Jennifers and Sarahs out there, I'm guessing that this would not be all that impressive. I, on the other hand, was used to spelling my name out and having my mother break it down syllable by syllable into easily understood phonics so that people could stop trying to fancy it up. (My mom still does this by the way: "It's End, like the end of a sentence, Re, like to redo something. Endre.") I'm still not sure why people have such a hard time with my name, but Mrs. Bowen didn't and she is still one of my favorite people ever.

Now that I'm an adult I think that what Mrs. Bowen did by finding out from someone how to pronounce my name- (I found out later that she had asked around to see if anyone knew my family and thus might be able to give her a clue. Another teacher at the school did)-was just good manners. What it said to me at age 5 was , "My teacher is so cool". What it says to me now is "Hey kid, I know you're only 5 and I've got 24 other names to learn, but I'm choosing to make you feel good about yourself today." It boils down to this - people with good manners try to make everyone around them feel as comfortable as possible. All the people around them. Even the pregnant ones.

That's right. Shocking as it may seem, pregnant woman are not interested in being insulted every time they leave their homes. Commentary on the size, shape or volume of a pregnant woman's body is not an acceptable social greeting. Conjecture about whether or not she might "explode right now" is never something in which a pregnant woman wishes to engage. Convincing you that she is not carrying twins or that she has not miscalculated her due date by several months is not her job. Although, based on my experience as a pregnant woman, it appears that this is not common knowledge as I have actually been asked, all of the following:

1. Could you possibly get any bigger? (Check back in 1 month. Oh, and shut up.)
2. You sure got big fast, huh? (Yep, yep, I did. Oh, and shut up.)
3. Are you having triplets? (Triplets. Seriously lady? You went right to triplets?)
4. You're due when? Oh, you'll never make it. You're too big. (Just "shut up" with this one.)
5. Maybe you should jump on a trampoline to get things moving. (Good idea. You must be some kind of famous doctor or something. Maybe I'll try that in 4 months when I'm actually due. Or not.)
6. Are you okay? You just look tired all the time. (Fantastic, I guess I'll apply more moisturizer, oh, and shut up.)

The amazing thing is, that when I, the pregnant woman, attempt to defend myself by saying things like "well thanks for that", or "wow, that was super nice to hear" the person that originated the rudeness acts like "oh, was that offensive?" or "her hormones can talk too, how cute". Apparently these people think that my job is not only to be life support for someone I've yet to meet, (and I can only hope that I'll get along with), but also to gracefully accept the verbal abuse that the men -and worst of all, woman (c'mon girls - really?) see fit to inflict upon me.

Well, no more I say. In the spirit of Mrs. Bowen I am launching a campaign to educate people one at a time about how to behave properly around a pregnant woman, large or small. When people say things to me because I am pregnant (and yes, very large - I do own a mirror folks) that they would say to no one else, I am going to respond "Think about what you just said. (Dramatic pause while they are thinking). Now, try again." Maybe this will remind people to use their grown up manners, and not those of the mean 13 year old girl that even her friends secretly hated. Maybe this will encourage even the most verbally clutzy among us to help pregnant women feel good about themselves during a time when that's not so easy. Maybe, they will never speak before thinking "would I like to hear this" again. And maybe, if they are very sorry, and they tell me that I am the most radiant vessel of life ever, I will give them their very own package of Smarties. Maybe.

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