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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