Family Circus

No one can drive us crazy unless we give them the keys. - Doug Horton


We moved!

Okay, so the girls moved. We have a small house and are limited on space, so DH switched his office to the girls' old room, and the girls moved into what used to be his office. We figured that it would be quite an ordeal with breaking down the bunk beds and DH's office desk, plus transferring filing cabinets and a safe. DH scheduled four days off to get the move finished. We did it in one. I say 'we', knowing that I did very little of the manual labor, mostly keeping Rosie out of harm's way. I spent a few hours trying to keep her distracted, and failed. We often use a tension gate to keep her out of trouble, and I realized late yesterday that it could expand to fit the entrance to the hallway that leads to the bedrooms in our house. It placed a convenient barrier that allowed both me and DH to work together in the transfer of 'stuff' back and forth from room to room. However, within five minutes of placing that gate, I saw Rosie sizing up the obstacle between her and us. Rosie made every effort to squeeze under the gate, which was the most logical way, considering it was 5 inches off the floor. She first tried to stare down the gate, then tried to slip under, head first, then left-side first, followed by feet first. Rosie never asked for the Vaseline or a shoe horn, and she never cried in frustration. Not even once. She learned that while her head and torso may slide easily through, her rear end is another story.
Rosie finally realized that she could only observe Mom and Dad through the plastic mesh of the gate, but decided that wasn't enough. My little one spent the rest of the late afternoon peering at us from under the gate.

So finally Rosie has her own big-girl bed, and shares a room with Catie. The beds are bunks no more (Papa and Rainie bought bunk beds that separate nicely, *thanks, you two*), and the middle and the youngest girls share a room. Halie is sharing space with the family office, and will soon have a twin-sized bed to go with her mattress. Each daughter seems quite pleased with the move!


If you wonder where I got it from

We must have inherited our ability to make just about anyone laugh. (read: make even a well-spoken individual search for an appropriate comeback) I enjoyed lunch with my sister today, who is expecting her first child, a son, at any given moment. No, I'm not being dramatic, considering her own doctor did not think she would make it this far in her pregnancy. I am very excited, but of course, I'm not the one who will be losing sleep or changing diapers while trying to 'bounce back'- WAIT. I'm still doing exactly that! My sister's son will be the very first boy born in our family. My DH told my sister to be prepared to have the 'most spoiled nephew in history'. As much as DH loves his role as King of the Castle, he must secretly wish that he'd had a boy. Maybe he still could, with his NEXT wife. Over lunch, my sister asked me to tell her the one thing that I wish I had been told before we brought our first baby home. I wanted her to know what I had to learn years later: Being a Mother is not always the most beautiful thing in the world. It is sometimes yucky, frustrating,leaving you weary and in much need of a long shower utilizing a Brillo pad to rid yourself of the slop of the past few days. I wish I had known that I did not have to answer the perpetual question, "How do you feel about having a baby?", with a positive answer like, "It's what I've always dreamed of!" BS!! I'd like to see how Katie Holmes deals with Postpartum Depression - better yet - let's see Tom Cruise trying to give her some vitamins!

My sister and I alternately joked with our waiter, but she definitely got the best one in quite early in the meal. The waiter was taking our drink orders, and after each of us had given our requests, he gestured towards Rosie (sitting in a high-chair). My sister smiled, and in a serious tone said, "Scotch." Poor guy. With both women from our particular gene pool, he was sunk before we were even seated in his section.


D.A.R.E. for First Graders

Drug - Abuse - Resistance - Education
This week is Red Ribbon week at my daughter's elementary school. I recently sat down with her, prepared to have to explain a lot of things to her about drugs. "Do you know what I mean when I say 'drugs'? There's medicine that your doctor prescribes to make you better, and medicine that buy buy at the store, like the Tylenol I give you when you have a fev-", I began, before Halie stopped me. She told me,"I think it's about using drugs everyday, whether you need to get better or not. I know that there are drugs that the police will arrest you for, but I'm not sure what they are." You could have knocked me over with a feather. I'm just glad that my first-grader did not climb in the car and casually ask me, "Momma, what's crack ?" Whew! Dodged a bullet there. I am prepared to be honest with my children about my past drug abuse, but I hadn't expected to broach the subject with my daughters at five and six years old! I might as well, before they figure out that Mommy does not know everything.

This week has been a Drug Awareness Week, and there has been a wardrobe to match:

Monday - 'Sock it to drugs'- wear crazy socks
Tuesday - 'Team up against drugs' - wear team shirts
Wednesday - 'Don't get tied up with drugs' - wear a tie
Thursday - 'Living drug free is no sweat' - wear sweats
Friday - 'Red Day' - wear as much red as possible

Halie has participated so far, except for wearing a tie on Wednesday.
It's never too early, I have recently discovered. Have you had a talk with your children?


Something to Laugh About

A salesman called the house and a little boy answered the phone, "Hello," said the boy.

Man: "Hello, is your mother home?"

Boy:"She's busy."

Man:"Well, is your father home?"

Boy: "He's busy too," in a whispered voice.

Man: "May I ask when they will be free?"

Boy: "I'm not sure," still whispering.

Man: "Well is there any other adult I could speak with?"

Boy: "There is a police officer here."

Man: "A police officer?"

Boy: "Yes," in a barely audible voice.

Man: "May I talk with him?"

Boy: "No, he's busy too."

Man: "What's he doing?"

Boy: "He is talking with my parents and the firemen."

Man: "Firemen?!"

Boy: "Shhh..."

Man: "Are you telling me the police and fire department are at your house?"

Boy: "Yeah," still whispering.

Man: "How long have they been there?"

Boy: "I don't know, I can't tell time," in a hushed voice.

Man: "Is there anyone I can speak with?"

Boy: "No. Quiet, I'm trying to listen..."

Man: "Son, is there an emergency?"

Boy: "No."

Man: "Could you please let me speak with your parents?"

Boy: "No, they are busy."

Man: "So, the police and fire department are at your house, there is no emergency and you cannot interrupt your parents?"

Boy: "That's what I said," again whispering.

Man: "Well what in the world is going on over there?!"

Boy: "They're looking for me."

Glad my children know not to touch the phone unless a grown-up hands it to them! The exception being to dial 9-1-1, of course.


Good and Bad - in so many ways

First a GOOD part : Today, DH and I were privileged enough to be invited to attend a Baylor Health Care System Board Meeting. I was told that the video of my recovery (taped in May 2005) would be shown to the board, and that I'd be there as a 'success story' - 'proof' if you will, that besides the positive financial numbers, Baylor affects each human being they treat. My physician, Dr.C, has been rehabilitating patients who have suffered Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), since long before I was her patient. Regardless of Dr. C's number of success stories, she made me feel special when I was in her direct care. I could go on and on about Dr. C , respective therapists and nurses at Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation with cheerful memories, but to sum it up in one sentence: BIR helped me to heal physically, mentally and emotionally, so I could resume my life. At the Board meeting, I expected to hear a lot of information that I knew nothing about. What I did not expect was to discover a passion about my state government! I never knew that Dr. C was so involved in the passing of bills that directly relate to her own patients' care. Listening to her share about a bill that is headed into 'sunset', and wanting to make sure that it does not simply die in legislature made me want to travel to Austin and stand in front of both Houses, pleading the bill myself. While I have made myself available to share the story of my accident and recovery with anyone who'll listen, I never imagined that I could have so much impact in the Texas Government. DH sat in the seat to my left, out of my line of sight. Though we held hands though the presentation, I could not see how Dr. C's words were affecting him,
until the meeting was adjourned, and we simultaneously volunteered to go to Austin with her.
Entirely possible that DH and I will be in correspondence with Rick Perry's office in the future.

Let me take this opportunity to personally thank all of the staff at Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation who taught me, guided me, encouraged me, prayed for me, and strengthened me. God used each of you in a phenomenal way in my recovery, and you still continue to touch my life.

But of course, the BAD part: When I saw Halie waiting under a tree with the rest of her class after school, she looked like her clothing had been mauled by a wild animal. I dropped her off at school this morning in an entirely solid outfit, consisting of jeans, t-shirt and a red zippered hoodie. The child who climbed into the vehicle was wearing what resembled jeans, ripped from crotch to cuff down one leg. What was left was being held together by staples and a prayer. My little Joey Ramone wannabe! If I had not already had a phone call from Ms. F about these jeans, I'd have been asking some serious questions. Ms. F approached the car with a bright red bundle in her hands which she held up for me to see. It was the hoodie that Halie had dressed herself in this very morning - ripped apart! All I could say was, "Halie does not need anyone else to entertain her." (insert tone of sarcasm here)This day was getting better and better. As I drove home, I (silently) went over some ideas for potential discipline approaches: 1) Make her wear them anyway, just the way they are, 2) make her pay in sweat for the two pieces, 3) see if Grandma can repair them, and still make Halie wear them to school. I called DH when we got home, and his thoughts were to let her just be 'cold' for one night, since she doesn't seem to appreciate the clothing provided for her. I agreed. So, Halie spent this evening in her bed. In her underwear, with only a pillow and a blanket. She had PB&J for dinner with water to drink( read: plain bread and water seemed too harsh). She was sound asleep by 6:30PM. I called Grandma, who agreed to survey the damage, and tell me 'yeah' or 'nay' regarding repairs.. This story is to be continued...

But this adventure ends well, I tell you! Not long ago, Halie created a pumpkin for a school contest. I'm kicking myself for not snapping a picture of it before she lugged it off to school. I can easily describe it for you: a medium-small pumpkin, wearing a baby bonnet, complete with pacifier and large google eyes with hand-drawn eyelashes (of course). She turned it in last week, and over the weekend, in the Texas HEAT, it began to rot as it sat on the floor outside the classroom door. Monday morning, I got a call from Ms. F that the 'Baby' pumpkin was no more. Halie was devastated, convinced that another student had sabotaged her prize-winning creation. Ms. F's own daughter, a third-grader at the same elementary school, found another pumpkin and reassembled Halie's 'Baby' pumpkin. My hero! More importantly, Halie's hero! My first grade daughter proudly showed me a certificate that showed her 'Baby' pumpkin had won the prize 'Funniest In Class'. It's tough to stay mad when Iamsoproudofmydaughter!



I spent Saturday afternoon and evening alternately barfing and snoozing. I figured out the pattern my body was making: Barf, then 30 minutes of rest, barf again, followed by another 30 minutes of rest. So I took a chance. Immediately after the last barf session, I swallowed two Dramamine, which have helped me with motion sickness in the past. The label read 'May cause drowsiness'. It should have read, "Don't make any friggin' plans", since after I took it, I crashed on the sofa. I mean I was sound asleep! Halie and Catie were having an all-out water war in the kitchen, just four feet from my head, while I snored happily. DH played computer games behind his closed office door, and I didn't wake until I heard his stern voice directing the girls in mopping up the fallout. I knew right away that I was in the wrong . I had not told DH that I was taking the medication, and knew that he had retreated to a safe place to avoid the Princess of Puke. Every family has them, and I was one before becoming a Mommy: a Sympathy Puker. No wonder that DH was avoiding me.
Later, I was feeling solid enough to try some crackers. The crackers were soon followed by some blueberry tea, which I used to down two more Dramamine. The rest of the evening is foggy, but I do know that there was no more barfing involved. I woke this morning feeling great, aside from the familiar pain in my head. Oh great. It's baa-aack!


Independence Day

Halie was already up and dressed (again) the very next morning. She had decided to make her own breakfast as well. She created her favorite: Butter on Wheat Bread. Not toast, mind you. Baked wheat sandwich bread. Halie gave me a nod when I asked her if I could watch. She deftly laid out two slices of wheat bread, then went to the refrigerator to retrieve the butter spray. Halie held the bottle over the bread, and tried to force the pump down to make the butter-like substance coat her breakfast bread. I offered to help, but got a stern, 'No.' Good thing I backed away when I did. Halie did manage to make the liquid spray out, but she forgot to make sure that the opening was pointed toward the bread. Instead, it was pointed toward her face. I've never heard her make the sound I heard - AARRGH! I was doing my best to stifle a laugh when she turned around and burst into a whole-hearted belly-laugh herself. She had held her eyes closed in the strain to make the pump work, but she had spatters of butter on her lips, eyelids, her hair, and some sprinkles on her cheeks that complimented with her abundant freckles. Note to self: always have the camera ready!


The Truth

Good guesses! Truth is, I've lived a long life for the thirty-one years I've been alive. Would I change any of it? No way.

1. I was either pregnant or nursing for 6 years of my life.
TRUE! Halie, 1998-99. Catie 1999-2002, Emmie 2002, Rosie 2002-04

2. I'm married to my first boyfriend.
TRUE! Friends first and foremost.

3. I own four pairs of shoes.
FALSE! I own five or six, but I wear one of the same four as the season changes.

4. My daughters won't eat mac-n-cheese.
FALSE. For a long time, Catie wouldn't touch it. Now, they would eat it for breakfast if I allowed it.

5. I have three siblings.
FALSE, but not completely! I have one blood sister, Kelly, younger. My father has been married for 18 years, to a woman whom I consider to be another Mom for me. She brought into my life an older daughter and son, and I consider them to be my siblings.

6. My entire working wardrobe came from Wal-Mart.
TRUE. My 'work' is being at home with my kids, so cheap clothes just make sense.

7. I have my Italian Grandmother's meatballs and gravy recipe.
TRUE. Americans call it Meatballs and Spaghetti Sauce. So delicious, but I don't know where it is right now.

8. My daughters still have great-great grandparents alive and well.
TRUE. DH's great-grandma, in Oklahoma, still going to church and volunteering. His paternal grandparents are still working a farm in Kansas.

9. I think that my parents make better grandparents.
TRUE. Parents, like fine wine, mellow with age.

10. I studied to serve as a missionary, overseas.
TRUE. Criswell College, Missiology Major 1994

11. As an adult, I've never lived without an automatic dishwasher.
TRUE. I would have a garden if I wanted to get my hands dirty on a regular basis.

12. I simultaneously potty-trained a two year old and a four year old.
TRUE. Actually, I give the 2 year old the credit for training her 4 year old sister.

13. As a teenager, I worked at a bar called 'Babes'.
TRUE. Barely a teenager, I ran food orders to the Bingo Parlor a few doors down.

14. I never wanted children.
FALSE. I never expected to actually give birth, but I proved them wrong!

15. I look forward to grandchildren.
TRUE. I'm actually envious of the wisdom and patience of grandparents.

16. My hair has been every color that occurs in nature, except black.
TRUE. You name it:Platinum, Auburn, Chestnut. It's documented on film. Somewhere.

17. I would love to be the bread winner.
FALSE. Always been the 'stay-at-home-mom' deep in my heart.

18. I am a neat-freak, and my home is immaculate.
FALSE. I need a sign that reads: 'If you write in the dust, please don't write the date.'

I wish it was true. Then I could say, "Stop by anytime!", and actually mean it.

19. I once lived in a children's home.
TRUE. Buckner Baptist Children's Home led me to Jesus in 1989.

20. I was a private security guard for the licensing company that owns Barney.
TRUE. The Lyons Group licenses Barney, and I worked guard from 5PM-12AM, and went to
college 7AM-2PM.

Thank you for stopping to read and contemplate my statements. I'm glad that it was really tough to come up with total fabrications. Blessings to you today!


Will I ever wake from this dream?

Halie greeted me when my feet hit the floor this morning. She was already dressed, and in need of my help. I was in shock for a moment when I walked into the kitchen, behind my six year old: Lunch box full of fruit, crackers in a snack baggie, and a juice box. Halie needed my help with creating a Peanut Butter masterpiece, and in the end, it was a beautifully crafted sandwich. She told me, "I'm just giving you a break, Momma. You could use one." Remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz, where the witch melts into the floor? That was my spirit this morning! Halie definitely moved up a stone on the path toward The Castle this morning!

30 Things About Me

1. I'm a Sugar Carbohydrate Food Addict.

2. I'm my first grader's Homeroom Mom.

3. My 'nice' clothes are from Target, pronounced 'tar-jay'

4. I've walked away from two major car accidents..

I was pregnant and on life-support after the third crash.

6. I still thank God every morning for one more day to live.

7. I did not expect to have three daughters. I'm glad that I did.

8. My three daughters frustrate me more than anyone else are the joy in my life.

9. My daughters are all named for phenomenal family members.

10. I lost an unborn baby between Catie and Rosie.

11. We named her Emmerson Grace, 'Emmie'.

12. I like to lift weights, run , walk, watch cartoons with my daughters.

13. Food likes me back! I think that's why it hangs around.

14. I grocery shop when my girls are in bed.

15. When I do take the girls with me, I regret I'm reminded why I shop alone.

16. In spite of the fact that I shop with a list, I'm at Wal-Mart every three days.

17. I was a Licensed EMT, and planned to serve on a helicopter crew.

18. My very first ride in a helicopter, I am glad I do not remember.

19. I have no desire to go back into emergency medicine.

20. My modeling career was cut short by stretch marks from four pregnancies : P

21. My DH calls them "medals of motherhood". Say it with me: "AWW!"

And you were wondering why I call him Prince Charming?

23. I step on the scale almost daily praying that I'll weigh less than before.

25. I know that God designed me to be a wife and mother.

26. I know that He laughs with me, not at me.

28. I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

29. I'll figure it out when Rosie starts school in four years.

30. My DH and I agree: The one who leaves takes the kids.

Stay tuned for the answers to my Honesty Meme tomorrow.


The Castle

'The Castle' Behavior Chart

Closeup of the 'picture magnets'
I finally got a moment to complete the Behavior Chart, dubbed 'The Castle'. The brown spots are supposed to represent stones on a path leading to the door of the castle at the top. As each daughter makes a good decision, she moves up one stone. If she makes a poor decision, she moves down one stone, in addition to her minutes in the 'Thinking Spot'. When they eventually move their 'picture magnets' to the door of the castle, they get a special treat with Mommy or Daddy. They love to have individual attention more than anything, so they get to have special one-on-one time with Me or my DH. We just started yesterday, and you can see neither of the girls' magnet has moved. At all. We'll see how this progresses!


Faded Into Nothing

The perpetual pain in my head is gone now. I hope that I have not corroded my own liver by heavily dosing myself with over-the-counter pain relievers. It took two packets of BC Powder, taken back-to-back, to even put a dent in my migraine. The pain continued to fade over the next few hours, and by 3PM had utterly vanished. Whoo-hoo! I can think of one guy who'll be glad not to hear the dreaded words, "Not tonight dear. I have a headache."

The ladies flock to him

Okay, so maybe just the ladies under our roof. Some background on the photo: Netflix finally got far enough down our movie queue to send us Lilo&Stitch2. When DH got home, he made a dramatic declaration about how he would sit on the sofa with the girls and watch it - all the way through. Too bad that Daddy doesn't have more than one lap for each to share. My daughters obviously wanted to fill every inch that could be occupied between them and their father! I've never actually captured an example on film of the 'mental picture' that I try to paint for those asking about my DH standing as the only male in our household. He loves being Prince Charming to each and every female at our house. He's King of the Castle, our resident hero, at least until our daughters begin dating. Dating? Why not get married first, then go on dates with your spouse? My DH said something long ago that comes to mind each time I hear the word 'dating': "Our daughters will be allowed to date, provided that they go out together, on a triple date. We'll just make sure that one of them is always grounded."
Great idea. I really do want them to grow up and move out eventually.


Honesty Meme

I was a liar until a few years ago. You name it, I lied about it. I've come clean with all my friends and family. My Dad suggested that I make up some lies so unbelievable that they are actually funny. Here are 20 statements about me. You figure out which ones are true!

1. I was either pregnant or nursing for 6 years of my life.

2. I'm married to my first boyfriend.

3. I own four pairs of shoes.

4. My daughters won't eat mac-n-cheese.

5. I have three siblings.

6. My entire working wardrobe came from Wal-Mart.

7. I have my Italian Grandmother's meatballs and gravy recipe.

8. My daughters still have great-great grandparents alive and well.

9. I think that my parents make better grandparents.

10. I studied to serve as a missionary, overseas.

11. As an adult, I've never lived without an automatic dishwasher.

12.I simultaneously potty-trained a two year old and a four year old.

13. As a teenager, I worked at a bar called 'Babes'.

14. I never wanted children.

15. I look forward to grandchildren.

16. My hair has been every color that occurs in nature, except black.

17. I would love to be the bread winner.

18. I am a neat-freak, and my home is immaculate.

19. I once lived in a children's home.

20. I was a private security guard for the licensing company that owns Barney.

Make your guesses in the Comments, and I'll post the truth soon. Family doesn't count, since you know already. Okay, there's enough that you don't know - so go ahead and guess!


what a day.

My day was not bad, considering I only had little Rosie at home with me until 3PM, and I got a few things crossed off my To Do List. Here's what made it rough - a migraine. I don't like going to bed with the same headache that I woke up with, nor do I look forward to waking up with it again, which is assuredly going to be the case, tomorrow. Ugh.

How is a woman with NO KIDS an expert?

Please! I'd read every book published about parenting while pregnant with our first child. I had a parenting plan, backed by experts, that would bring the most enjoyment to my life and hers. Then she was born.
This week's SuperNanny featured a full-time Mommy with three young daughters almost exactly the age of my own. In the opening, I saw an all-too-familiar look on the mother's face, as she frantically ran her hands through her hair. She was quite frazzled with three very active daughters (check), always having her daughters try to negotiate (check), and having to constantly separate her fighting girls (check). Okay! I had not watched Jo Frost, the SuperNanny, in quite some time but, like watching Martha Stewart, if I get one idea that I can actually use, my time was worth it. Long ago, I saw Jo Frost working with a family with three children, and she implemented the use of a 'naughty spot', having the child who was disobedient spend some time in a specific spot for one minute per year of age. I loved the idea, but because we are not British, we are Texan, I named ours the 'Thinking Spot'. Works well in our house! I am always looking for ways to tweak my approach to discipline. In my efforts to provide more positive parenting, I got one great idea from the last show, too. Jo Frost, brought in a posterboard with a castle on it, with 'stone' paths leading to the drawbridge (door). Also, a tiny photo of each daughter was glued to a magnet. The idea is that as each daughter does something positive, they get to move their respective pieces one 'stone' forward. When they reach the drawbridge, they get to chose from predetermined special activities ( painting nails, puzzles with mom). Again, I'm loving that idea. (read: I'll do just about anything to get my girls to stop fighting!)
This morning, I am working to recreate the castle, complete with a mock drawbridge, along with the simple 'stone' path. I'll update you on how it works!


Summer 2002

These hang in our house - I took them, I love them!


Google Images Meme

Thanks to Jenny B. for turning me onto this fact-finding mission! You have to use Google Images to search for:

*The name of the town I grew up in
*The name of the town I live in now
*My name
*My grandma's name
*My favorite food
*My favorite drink
*My favorite song
*My favorite smell

Then you pick your favorite result. Here are mine:

I grew up in the Dallas area

Born in Chicago, IL. I've lived in Texas for 25+ years
I'm still here!

My name: Erin (husband's-name-here)

My paternal Grandmother: (from Italy) her birth name was
Rocchina (ro-keen-ah), but she was called Rose.

My favorite food: Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake

My Favorite Drink:Cosmopolitan

My favorite song:
'He Reigns'

My favorite smell: my DH, of course!


The Squirrel Saga

This epic begins just about a year ago, when we heard scratching noises in our fireplace. Turns out the thing with sharp claws was scratching at the door of the chimney flue. We have only a cheesy mesh curtain between us and whatever said thing, so we were concerned. Okay, so I was scared. Not DH, my Prince Charming. He put on a brave face for the girls, as we witnessed an assortment of mulch raining onto the fireplace grate. DH investigated and saw that it was unlikely, no matter the size of the animal, that it could get out. We covered the fireplace opening anyway. The next day, DH had to work, so we again left the fireplace covered. When he came home, he got down to business. He asked Halie to be in charge of opening the front door if the animal got loose. She stood trembling with her hand on the doorknob. He brought in a large lidded trash can, put it into the fireplace and opened the chimney flue. Lots of leaves came out with a *whoosh*, and then a thud in the bottom of the trash can. Before we could attempt to squeeze the lid of the can into the fireplace, a red squirrel popped its head out the top of the can, sized up the room and the strange people watching him. Halie screamed and scrambled onto the entryway table, pressing herself against the corner. The squirrel leapt out of the can and looked for an escape. I opened the front door and the squirrel bounded out, never stopping to look back. We were all relieved!
Fast forward to yesterday. DH had an early work day, so I was on my own getting all the girls up, fed, watered, groomed, dressed from head to toe, and out the door. No sweat. I dropped Halie off at school, then stopped at the park for some adventures with Catie and Rosie, then drove home. When we walked into the house, we could hear familiar scratching noises coming from - you'll never guess - wait for it... THE CHIMNEY! I decided to spare DH the fiasco that happened last time by calling Animal Control. A man arrived about two hours later. I can't blame him for taking so long, since we were not in immediate danger. He put a large net in front of the fireplace and opened the flue all the way. Only leaves fell, and after that, he told me that he could not get the flue door all the way closed. I didn't know how to close it. Crap! He told me to call a Chimney Cleaning Professional. He says,"It will cost you, but they know how to get squirrels out." Then he left. Crappity-crap! I put a heavy folding table against the fireplace opening (thanks Mom and Dad), and I loaded up the girls to go pick Halie up from school. When we returned, I heard scratching on the table itself. I carefully leaned the table away from the bricks, and when I shined a flashlight into the crack I'd created, a red fluffy tail appeared.

I called animal control again, explaining that now the animal was out of the chimney and in our fireplace, all my girls were home and freaking out about the noises. A different man showed up this time, with the same net, and also what looked like a gigantic set of barbecue tongs. He reached in with said 'tongs' and pulled out a little red squirrel, carried it past Halie (on the table again), out the front door and released it into the yard. Then he left.

I wish the Saga ended here.

Now, I had a heavy table to lug back out to our garage - by myself. I asked Halie (again) to be in charge of opening and closing the front door for me. I carried the table, placed it in the garage, and walked back in through the laundry room, closing the garage behind me. When I walked into the living room, I could see that the front door was open. "Halie, you were in charge of the door. I'm really disap...", then "Where's Rosie?!" Oh no. Our house is small, and all the doors were closed, so I knew she'd run outside. I ran out to look for her - she was nowhere in sight, and I heard the other two urging me to call 911. That's exactly what I did. I described her physical appearance, what she was wearing, told them she's a two year old, not talking yet, that I'm her mom and that I'm having a panic attack. The 911 operator stayed on the line with me while she relayed the information to the police via radio. Then I saw Rosie. She was army-crawling out from under our next-door neighbors' bushes onto the front porch. I could finally breathe again. Two officers came by a little later to check on us, and all three girls were just awestruck. The officers were so friendly with my girls, offered them sticker 'badges', shook their hands and headed back to work. DH came home just after that and got the whole story from Halie, Catie and me. He smiled and said, "It's good to be home."


I'm not JUST a mom

I shop at Wal-Mart, and do just as my DH says: when I go shopping, I leave him on 'Snore Patrol' (children can be quite rambunctious in their sleep), and he tells me to 'take as long as I need.' I do just that! He's fortunate that I shop at Wal-Mart and not Nordstrom. I could do some financial damage there!

I love being able to say to others, "Go ahead of me. I have all the time in the world." I get such positive benefits from being considerate, even if my shopping trips to Wal-Mart are the only points in my life where I do not seem pressed for time. I feel free to stop and visit with other folks, especially those with children up past what I would consider a normal bedtime. Not judging, I promise. It takes a lot of work to get your child's circadian rhythms in tune with early bedtimes. The Fall time change has been a big help for me in the past.

So when I was speaking with another mother at Wal-Mart recently, she mentioned her 3 year old son, but continued speaking of her career, her coworkers and her boss. Then I got the question I used to dread: "So that do you do for a living?" When I hesitated to respond, trying to formulate a succinct answer, she filled in the blank for me. "Let me guess. You're wearing khaki pants, a stained tee, tennis shoes, and no makeup. I'd guess you stay home with your kids all day." That statement took almost no thought to react respond to. "Actually, I do quite a bit while I'm at home with my children, and I do have three girls, ages 6,5 and 2. They are actually boys in floral prints. I have a blog, titled Family Circus, and I've looked for a doorbell that plays Wringling Brothers' theme music." I almost blurted it, all in one breath! The mother said, "Well, Bless your heart!" I've heard that statement too many times in my life to mistake it for compassion! While I had a list of daily duties that I was prepared to spit at the woman, I quickly decided to move on. The man behind the Deli counter handed me the smoked cheddar I had requested, and I walked away. I realized that I was not angry, just frustrated at how many people, how many mothers consider stay-at-home mothers not a real contribution to society. I think all mothers influence society by raising our next generation! Women who are SAHMs work the equivalent of two full-time jobs, often without help. I have the privilege of knowing firsthand what some the many hats are that a stay-at-home mom has to wear each day:

  • Concierge
  • Full-time Chef
  • chauffeur service: school/activities
  • Full-service maid
  • Daycare/Preschool Teacher
  • Tutor for older kids
  • Garbage/Recycling Guru
  • Crayon/watercolor Aficionado
  • Household manager
  • Nurse
  • Sexy Wife

This list barely covers the bases. I love it when Dr. Phil goes off on a husband/father who doesn't appreciate the effort that goes into caring for their own offspring each day. I'm so blessed to have a husband that once remarked to me, when we brought our first daughter home, "It's okay to step over a basket of dirty laundry to pick a crying baby." I know that I'll never need 'Tell it Like It Is Phil' to set my hubby straight. He really is my Prince Charming. That's him in the picture with Catie, 1 day old, five years ago.


Momma is good, Momma is wise

Isn't she so sweet? Rosie is at the age where she thinks she knows what's best for herself. Isn't every twoyear old displaying the spirit that will be magnified when they're a teenager? I'm doomed if that's true. Rosie's thoughts on the following :

Diapers? Fine. ( I pray she'll be potty-trained by Kindergarten)

Potty Chair? Who needs it? (the toilet is a water park for her)

Talking? Overrated! (when you can grunt and point, using The Force?)

Naps? I'm not even sleepy. (when she finally stopped moving, see above)

I'll save this picture to show Rosie later, when she thinks she's too old to take naps anymore.


Here we go again...

We are members of Netflix, a company that mails our movies to us, along with a postage-paid return envelope. We get a DVD from our list of requested movies at least once a week. I never know what movie is coming until we're watching it. So, DH says last night, "Hey, we've got a movie to watch." I asked him which movie had been sent to us. "Hide and Seek," he told me.
"I have no idea what that's about," I said to him. DH told me, "You see, I'll cover my eyes and count while you go and hide..." That's why I married him. He makes me laugh!

It was a good movie, full of suspense, with an ending that I did not expect. And Dakota Fanning wears a dark wig that makes her resemble our oldest daughter - creepy!


Catie's Victory

Looking at these sweet, joyful faces, you would never suspect that they are just waiting for the right opportunity to waylay their sibling. Today- case in point: Halie and Catie were invited over to the neighbor's to play. No sweat. DH and I thought, since they are right next door, they'll be playing in the backyard, and we can see and hear them at all times. We were sure that the guardians would keep a watchful eye on the kids in the backyard. We didn't know that they would only be listening for trouble. We didn't realize that the battle that ensued would be so stealthy, or that my five-year-old would WIN. Halie came home to tattle on Catie first, and I saw that her pale pink shirt was now gray and dripping wet. I sent her strait to the bathroom for a shower. Then Catie rounded the corner, perfectly clean and dry. My irritation drained, and my curiosity was aroused. I asked the logical question: "What happened?" Catie explained to me that while having a race around the backyard, she was winning. When T. brought out some bottled water for each of them, Halie decided to use her bottle of water to try to spray Catie. Being the fastest, Catie simply ducked, dodged and ran away from the stream of water. When Halie was out of water, Catie turned on her big sister! Halie began throwing dirt to defend herself, meanwhile getting soaked by Catie's spray. Now, she was soaked and covered in dirt, and the combination of the two all but destroyed Halie's clothing.
I don't know what amazes me more: Catie won a footrace against her sister and a second-grade playmate , or Catie was resourceful enough to save her water for the moment when Halie had none.
Hmmm. Do I give her a High Five, or send Catie to her bed? Neither. She's been 'roughed-up' enough by Halie. Guess she got her payback.

Only 16 years until they are all legal adults...



Things I want accomplish before I turn 40:
  • learn to play something besides the radio
  • get to my ideal weight, whatever that is
  • be brave enough to get something waxed
  • finally WIN the Pimple War ( it started as an adult, and I'm losing)
  • have someone guess me younger than my calendar age
  • have the 'Birds and the Bees' talk with my daughters (oh boy)
  • be done changing diapers
  • figure out what I want to be when I grow up
  • get a degree in something
  • invite people to 'stop by anytime' and mean it

Just for grins, I'll share my list of things I wanted to accomplish before 30:

Yes, my list was shorter then, but so was my attention span. I did shave my head, on my 21st birthday. I am tattooed, but if I showed any to you, my DH would have to hunt you down. I did give birth to a third (final) daughter in July 2003, at only 28. I got my EMT License in 1997, later found out that the town we lived in employed firefighters to serve as paramedics (read: I instinctively run away from a burning building and I did not want to be a firefighter, who runs into said building). The only thing I did not do was jump out of an airplane. I do not intend to - ever. God's already sent me back once, I'm not sure He would do it again. I want to see my daughters grow up, graduate, marry, have children of their own, and smile when I see them as mothers dealing with the same kind of things they are doing now.


They've learned how to charm their Daddy

It's the nature of DH's career that he leaves on a trip once in a while. It's usually overnight, but he tries to always bring home surprises for our two oldest daughters. They are still young, so pretzels from the plane have satisfied the need at least once. My DH also has a ceremony of sorts with them, explaining that he'll be gone for one 'night-night', but then he'll be home again, and maybe he'll have a special 'surprise' for each of them. This week, my five-year-old responded by asking her father this question: "Daddy, if you're out and about and you see something that you think I would like, and if it's not too expensive, could you pick it up and bring it home for me? Please?"

Catie knows the *magic word* and she bats those smoky blue eyes at her daddy, and she's already won. DH never returns without a 'surprise' for each of us, in fact.

I love the chance to miss him. It also allows me the chance to invite the girls into bed with me. Of course, I give them Daddy's spot, along with his pillow. They are quite the cuddlers, but there's only one of me, with only so much exposed skin to be in contact with. On most of these occasions, about 3AM, cold feet in the small of my back urge me to sleep elsewhere. Funny how comfy the sofa looks in the wee hours of the morning...


Teach 'em the Hokey-Pokey, QUICK!

Rosie loves to spill liquids. Whether it comes from her supposedly spill-proof sippy cup, from the hole in her lower lip, or as a result of her overly full bladder, she claps for herself, then proudly takes me to the puddle on the living room floor. DH and I have agreed to make her start mopping up her own messes. We figure that if she has to clean up every deliberate spill, she'll lose interest. Right.

Tonight, DH was home for dinner (read: God is listening) so we all sat at the table, and Rosie, as always, finished first. I unbuckled her from her booster seat, and she climbed down from the chair to wander the kitchen. Rosie soon found nothing besides locked cabinets and returned to the dinner table to take one last sip of milk. DH, Halie, Catie and I were so engrossed in conversation that none of us saw Rosie take a mouthful of milk, then put her cup back on the table. Next, I heard the milk spluttering from her lips, and turned to look my baby girl as she smiled at her own defiance. DH reminded me of our agreement to make her clean it up, so I handed her a dinner napkin and asked her to wipe it up. What did she do? Exactly what she sees her Mommy do: Rosie unfolded the napkin, spread it out to cover the puddle, then used her foot on the napkin as a mop to wipe up the rest. Rosie looked like she'd practiced this clean-up dance before. Well, I know that at least she's watching my actions, even if she doesn't obey my words.

DH remarked that it looked like teaching Rosie the Hokey-Pokey is paying off:
You put your right foot in,
You put your right foot out,
You put your right foot on the napkin,
And you swipe it all about...


Testosterone - Bring It On!

I must be honest with anyone reading this who knows nothing about me other than what you find in my blog/profile. I can still remember being pregnant for the first time seven years ago, and having my doctor ask me, at 7 months of prenancy, about the kind of delivery that I would like to have. Since it was a high-risk pregnancy, I was seeing her each week, and I told the doctor I would think about her question and have an answer ready the next week. At the next visit, I told her, "I want a Beverly Hills delivery." With a puzzled look on her face, she asked me to explain. I replied, "I want you to knock me out after the first contraction, and don't wake me until my hairdresser and publicist arrive." My DH, the doctor, and I all had a good laugh at that. Little did we know that just a few weeks later, I'd get my wish. I had an emergency cesarean at the beginning of month eight, and I felt no pain.
With our second daughter, I had the doctor's OK to try to deliver vaginally. I was more than 40 weeks with no issues, when I noticed a slight rise in my blood pressure (from 128/70 to 130/80). I called my doctor, and she asked me to drive in (DH and I lived 90 miles away). Turns out, I was already in labor and had no idea. I labored with Catie more than 30 hours, then had to have an epidural and another c-section.
So, do I appreciate both births? YES! My sister is due in late October and has decided to have a natural birth. I support her. Would I do it? No way. My sister's son has been loved from the night he was conceived. My sister has taken phenomenal care of her body, growing the tiny boy (although I hear 'tiny' might be a fitting nickname), and counts it all, good and unpleasant, as blessings. I'm so thrilled to watch my little sister become a mother, to watch her and her own DH become parents. And I'm excited that there will finally be a boy. He'll be the lone testosterone buoy in the sea of estrogen that my daughters have created.


I forgot!

Today, at 7:26 PM, Catie will officially be five years old! *SIGH*

Party All Day..And Into the Night

Catie requested a bounce house, and since the princess castle had been 'popped' the weekend before last, we opted for the Dalmatian one. Catie wanted all of our family, plus all of her preschool friends to attend her soiree, so we arranged it so she could have both. Grandma opened her home (backyard) for the set-up of the bounce house at 10AM. DH, Halie and Catie were already there. The girls enjoyed about two hours of jumping in it before I got there with Rosie. Noon was the scheduled 'preschool party', with cupcakes and pink lemonade and goodie bags. Even little Rosie loved the bounce house - mostly climbing in, then sliding out and landing on the air-filled steps of the house itself. About 5PM we had the 'grown-ups party', with our respective family members (yes, they all get along famously well). While the girls continued to play in the bounce house, the grown ups visited. DH grilled hamburgers, and we had chips/pretzels, soda, and lots of laughter. We had to go inside to light Catie's BIG number '5' candle, then we all sung to her and let her blow it out, after making the obligatory 'birthday wish', of course. Then we adjourned to the backyard, since the weather was so nice. Catie ate some cake, then opened her presents. When the crew arrived to take the bounce house down, Halie climbed into someone's lap and gave a big *sigh*. Then she said, "I'm just weared out."
I took Rosie home, bathed her, and had her in bed by bedtime - no resistance whatsoever. Halie and Catie came home with DH a short time later. I bathed them together to spare some time, the got them ready for bed. Catie requested her new Cinderella costume to sleep in, and since it was 'her day', I let her. Hugs, Kisses, and off to bed they went, again, with no protests. No attempts at negotiation. No pleas for the special toy that they forgot out in the living room.
I'm thinking: Bounce house every weekend. Once the girls were settled in, I picked up laundry, loaded the dishwasher, put away toys (read: cleared a path to the bedroom), washed my face and got into bed. In my mind, I repeated the sweet words I heard Halie say earlier, "I'm just weared out."


One Chance Is All You Get

Catie will be five on Monday, and we are having her birthday party one day early, on Sunday. My DH has rented a Bounce House, and Catie has become obsessed with physical stunts. Of course, the only stunts that she knows about are aerobatic feats performed by people who jump from planes. She assures me that she can 'get enough air' to perform a stunt or two for us at her birthday party. Yeah, right. If you believe that, I'm psychic. I see another ER visit in the near future.
Catie knows that jumping out of a plane requires a parachute. This morning, we had this conversation:

C: What would happen if I didn't have a parachute?

Me: You've never owned one. Somehow, you've survived.

C: I mean if I jumped out of an airplane!

Me: Why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?

C: To do a cool stunt!

Me: Being alive to explain why you jumped out of an airplane without a parachute would be a stunt that would defy all odds, I can tell you.

C: Would I bounce when I hit the ground?

Me: Maybe, but not a 'fun' kind of bounce. An 'OUCH' kind of bounce.

C: Would I die?

Me: Yep. More than likely, you would.

C: I think I won't be doing any stunts for my birthday, 'kay?

Me: Okay, sweetie. But I'm not taking 9-1-1 off the speed dial.

Yeah, my daughters are all Adrenaline Junkies to different degrees. I know that as they age, they will grow in wisdom that results in bravery, not stupidity.


Erin: 31, Emcee. Witty redhead, handy with a whip.

DH: 30, Strong Man. Comedian, defender of virtue.

Halie: 7, Chimpanzee. Pulls teeth, loves bananas.

Catie: 5, Leaping Lemur. Gentle and cuddly, loves grapes.

Rosie: 2, Cappuccin. Flings poo, loves carrots.

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