Sunday, January 31, 2010

'Scuse me while I kiss the sky

Rachel is potty trained.

In case you don't understand the magnitude of such an event, let me explain....

My oldest child is 9 years, 9 months, and 3 weeks old.

I have been changing diapers for 9 years, 9 months, and 3 weeks.

There was a brief (oh, so brief) hiatus after I trained Ben. Roughly 3 months after I finished with him, Alexa was born.

But my tour of duty (doody?) doesn't end there. When the boys were very little, I babysat 3 days a week for my friend's 2 kids....which means I had 4 non-potty-trained kids. We had assembly line diaper changes. I kept the diapers neatly stacked in an easy-to-reach location. I said, "Get your diapers and come to the living room." Nicholas would grab one for Ben, who was too little to take care of it himself. And I changed them one by one....and they threw their own wet diapers in the garbage.

After those kids were no longer with me, I babysat another friend's little girl. More diapers.

Plus, when I was in high school, I frequently cared for my 2 nephews. More diapers.

And after I graduated, I became a nanny for one family with 2 little boys, and then a different family with one baby boy. More diapers.

I'm feeling a little woozy....I think I should sit down.

Wait. I am sitting.

Talk amongst yourselves. I'm going to put my head between my knees.

That's. a lot. of. diapers.

* * * * * * * *

So we started training Rachel a couple weeks ago. We followed the standard Cas Family Method....stick 'er in some panties and brace for the cleanup. The results were typical.

Two days of, "RAH, RAH, YOU CAN DO IT! Yaaaaaay, POTTY!"

Two days of, "If I have to hunt down and clean up one more pee-pee puddle, I'm gonna jump off the Brooklyn Bridge."

Two days of, "Did you just SEE that? She just ran into the bathroom ALL BY HERSELF and pulled down her OWN pants and got onto the potty WITHOUT HELP!"

Ordinarily, I take care of the daytime training first....focusing on that for a month or so before attempting the nighttime training. It appears, though, that Rachel has other ideas in mind. For the last 2 nights, she used the potty before bed, during the night, and in the morning. Her diapers stayed dry!

I'm nearly giddy at the prospect of living in a diaper-free house.

I'm GIDDY, I tell you.

HOORAY for the end of saggy-diaper fashions!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Easy weight loss via a surround sound thingy

The Husband was reading a book while I was sitting next to him watching Oprah interview The Devil (aka: Jay Leno).

Thanks to some new surround sound-style speaker thingy that's hooked up to our tv, we now have to use TWO remotes to watch tv. One remote is used for nearly every function...except volume.

Which means the second remote is used only. for. the. volume.

"You know, it really SUCKS that I have to use TWO remotes to watch tv," I whined.

He looked at me sideways. "Yeah, I know your life is so tough."

I used the volume-only remote to poke him in the arm. "I'm serious! What a huge pain in the ass!"


"HOW am I supposed to eat my POPCORN?!"


"You know I love to have my popcorn every night! HOW am I supposed to eat my POPCORN?!"


It finally dawned on me. "You did this on purpose, didn't you?! You want me to lose WEIGHT! So you decided to get a system with TWO remotes so I wouldn't have a free hand to eat my POPCORN!"

"You figured me out."

"I KNOW! You walked into Best Buy and said to the guy, 'My wife's got too much junk in the trunk. Can you get me a two remote system so she doesn't have a free hand for eating?' THAT'S IT...RIGHT?!"

"Yeah. That's exactly how it happened."

"I knew it."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's a good thing I have a sense of humor

Three examples of why I don't spend thousands of dollars on priceless antiques:

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Parenting Shortcuts - Vol. 2

Mmmm....celery and apples with peanut butter!

* * * * * * * *

I was griping last weekend about how, when the kids are on break from school, I end up playing waitress/short order cook. It was particularly bad over the Christmas/New Years break. All 4 of them have very different schedules and needs. On many days, I found myself making breakfast 4 different times, lunch 4 different times, and supper 4 different times. All of this PLUS snacks. I spent a good portion of their vacation in the kitchen.

So as I whined about my predicament, my sister-in-law reminded me of a technique that I used when the boys were smaller (before the girls were born). Make up some trays of healthy food and leave them on the table.....and allow them to eat whenever they need to.

I started doing this, many years ago, for several reasons:

1 - Little, growing bodies need constant fuel....but they need it in smaller doses than an adult does. 3 apple slices and a piece of string cheese might be all they need right now. And maybe they'll come back in an hour for 2 whole wheat crackers with peanut butter.

2 - It's important for a child to be in control of his or her own eating habits. One of the quickest ways to encourage childhood obesity is to deny the child's own hunger cues.

3 - There are meltdowns and tantrums that can be avoided simply by keeping the child's blood sugar level steady. Have you ever been so hungry that you get shaky, sweaty, tired, and dizzy? That's what it feels like to have low blood sugar. (I have plenty of first-hand experience with hypoglycemia.

4 - Less time that I have to spend in the kitchen.

5 - I discovered that, by suppertime, my kids were too tired and distracted to eat a full meal. And, quite frankly, I hate eating a full meal and immediately going to bed....I can easily sympathize with their desire to skip it altogether. So if they didn't eat more than 3 bites at suppertime, I felt better knowing they had eaten very well through the rest of the day.

6 - Peer pressure isn't always a bad thing. If Rachel sees a plate of yellow bell peppers on the table and she sees her brothers eating them, she is more likely to take one and try it. If this happens enough times, she might decide that she really loves yellow bell peppers.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I had to stop and think about why I had ended the "buffet" serving. Most likely, it was when Alexa was old enough to climb onto the dining room chairs. At that point, it wasn't safe to leave certain foods on the table. Rachel is nearly 3 years old now and eats the same food as the rest of I'll be able to resume the practice.

Today, a couple hours after breakfast, I put out buttered bagels, apple slices, and celery with peanut butter. It worked like a charm. I successfully avoided the Mom, I'm Hungry chanting. Which is closely related to the Mom, Can I Have chant.

The beverage situation is pretty similar. I have small plastic cups stored in a location that they can all reach. Our fridge has a water dispenser right on the door. So the question, "Can I have a drink?" is answered with, "Sure! You know where the cups are and you can help yourself to some water."

This clearly isn't a method that works for everyone. I think most parents prefer to encourage their children to sit down for 3 or 4 scheduled meals. Which method is better? Who knows? It's honestly a matter of what works best for you.

For now...for us....this is what works.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Run, Forest! Run!

It's January....a new month. New year. New decade. Seems like a good time to figure out new (and more constructive) ways to deal with the general stress, anger, sadness, and frustration that pops up now and then.

I did 3.17 miles on my treadmill this morning. I even managed to squeeze in 4 sprints at 6mph for 40 seconds and NOT drop dead. Whoopee!

And I'd like to thank some people who kept me company while I accomplished this great feat of athleticism......The Beastie Boys, Green Day, Simple Plan, Maroon 5, Pink, OutKast, and The Black Eyed Peas, to name just a few.

Oh yeah, and I'd like to thank the creator of the iPod by planting a big sloppy kiss on his/her cheek. Truly, without my iPod, I wouldn't run 3 feet, much less 3 miles.

And I'd like to thank the Academy.

Wait. Wrong speech.

So in the interest of inspiring you to run or walk or shake your groove thang, here's a list of songs that never fail to light a fire under my backside:

(PS. They're in alphabetical order. Not because I'm a huge anal-retentive dork who alphabetizes her music. Honest. It's because the iPod lists them that way.)

"Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet

"Basket Case" and "East Jesus Nowhere" and "Know Your Enemy" and "Minority" and "Nice Guys Finish Last" and "Peacemaker" by Green Day (Psst. In case you're wondering, I love these guys.)

"Black Cat" by Janet Jackson

"Blister in the Sun" by the Violent Femmes

"Bust a Move" by Young MC

"Copacabana" by Barry Manilow ("Her name was Lola. She was a showgirl....")

"Cowboy" by Kid Rock

"Eat the Rich" by Aerosmith

"Fight For Your Right" by the Beastie Boys

"Gives You Hell" by The All-American Rejects

"Gold Digger" by Kanye West (featuring Jamie Foxx) (Don't look at me like that. I am a klassy person in real life....that doesn't mean my musical tastes are equally klassy.)

"Hey Ya!" by OutKast

"Hollaback Girl" and "Rich Girl" by Gwen Stefani

"How Far We've Come" by Matchbox Twenty

"Ice, Ice, Baby" by Vanilla Ice (I give you permission to cringe. Even I can't defend lyrics like, "If there was a problem, yo, I'll solve it" or "I'm cookin' MCs like a pound of bacon.")

"I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers

"I Gotta Feeling" and "Pump It" by the Black Eyed Peas

"It Takes Two" by Rob Base

"Just a Friend" by Biz Markie

"London Bridge" by Fergie (In my next life, I will have her abs.)

"The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World

"More Human Than Human" by White Zombie

"Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry

"Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) by The Offspring (As a testament to how often we listen to this and how much we love it, Rachel walks around singing, "Give it to be me, baby! Uh-huh, uh-huh!")

"Semi-Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind (I could listen to this every. single. day. and not tire of it.)

"Shut Up" by Simple Plan

"That's Not My Name" by The Ting Tings

"U + Ur Hand" by Pink

"Wake Up Call" by Maroon 5

"Whiskey in the Jar" by Metallica

"Without Me" by Eminem

"You Spin Me Round" by Dead or Alive

"1985" by Bowling for Soup

I will soon be downloading "Hot Mess" by Cobra Starship and "Lola" by the Kinks.....

As you can see, my musical tastes swing wildly into many different genres. My iPod selections have Nick scratching his head and seriously reconsidering this whole "til death do we part" arrangement.

Nicholas, too, is finding out that Mom is missing some crucial marbles.

I filled his iPod with any music that was "safe" enough for his 9-year-old ears. He came down the steps from his room and asked, "Who put BARBIE GIRL on my iPod?!"

Nick's reply: "That would be your mother."

* * * * * * * *

So, my peeps......Give me one song that makes you wanna shake what your Momma gave ya. I'm always open to suggestions!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Memo to the Big Losers at The Biggest Loser

Dear "TBL" producers,

I fully understand that your top priority in life is to make a buck. You have children to feed, mansion mortgages to pay, and Hummers to gas up. I get it. But my patience is wearing thin. See, in your quest to make a buck, you're messing with people's emotions...toying with their lives....humiliating them for entertainment.

It's Tuesday night. And here I am watching the first episode of the season.

You have made it another 'couples' season, which is fine. Get fat together...get healthy together. That makes perfect sense. The part that rubs me the wrong way is that eventually, I know, these 'couples' will be forced to compete against each other. Mother vs. son, cousin vs. cousin, husband vs. wife, etc. That's strike #1. (Edited to add: Holy cow. You're making them compete against each other in the FIRST episode? I'm watching the contestants try to decide on which twin brother to send home.)

Strike #2 - In this first episode, you reached a new low. It's bad enough that you make these people take their shirts off for the weigh ins. (Seriously? Is that 1 pound shirt going to make or break anyone? Especially a 400 pound person? How about, for every single weigh in, from day 1, they wear the exact same shorts and shirt. The clothing would remain constant while the weight fluctuates. Don't you think they suffer enough humiliation in their every day lives without disrobing in front of the entire world?) This time around, you forced them to complete the first weigh in at front of family members, neighbors, co-workers, random strangers. And for extra shock value, you were sure to include lots of close-up camera shots of stretch marks, blubbery tummies, man-boobs, back fat, and dimply thighs.

Strike #3 - Did you actually edit the footage so when the one guy was walking by it would look like he was SO HUGE that he MADE THE EARTH SHAKE?! Fantastic. I bet you'll sleep better tonight knowing you got to pile on the shame just a bit more.

Strike #4 - You brought all of these teams to the ranch and announced that the first challenge would be taking place immediately and that the 2 teams who came in last would be going home. Without even unpacking a bag.

Just in case you are completely oblivious, let me explain something to you. These people are at death's door. Morbid? Not really. When the man or woman standing in front of you weighs 450 should be thankful that they're standing at all. The next breath could bring a stroke or a heart attack. You cannot bring them to the ranch and say, "Aw. Too bad. You'll have to go home now."

* * * * * * * * *

My proposal is this: Expand your facilities and staff enough to accommodate 50 contestants. Bring all 50 people to your ranch and give them a 2 week boot camp. Intensive nutrition classes, daily cooking instruction, and gut-busting workouts. Throw in a couple challenges with rewards meant to inspire or boost morale. At the end of 2 weeks, send home the 10 people who lost the least. Skip the voting, for now. At week 3, send home another 5. At week 4, send home another 5. And so on. At some point, the voting can be introduced (or not. I would be fine without the sobbing and the drama and the pleading.).

And another thing. Relax with the in-show infomercials. I know, I're heavily sponsored by Brita. But do I need Jillian to tell me how often to change the filter or that it can be found "in the hardware section at your local Wal-Mart?" Not really. When, exactly, was the last time Jillian was even IN a Wal-Mart?

Oh, and before I forget...I'm not suffering from dementia and my IQ is higher than 20, so I don't need you to repeat things that I just saw or heard 5 minutes ago before the commercial break. If, before the commercial break, Contestant X falls off the treadmill and pukes on the floor, I don't need to see the footage again of Contestant X falling of the treadmill and puking on the floor. I also don't need a recap of the first hour before the second hour starts. Thank heaven for the DVR from my cable provider. I can turn your 2 hour train wreck into a solid one-hour show.

Shape up, folks. I'm getting tired of watching you all tap dance in a puddle of human shame. Focus your priorities before the audience starts drifting away.

Cuz it's really hard to make money hand over fist if your core demographic gets sick of your shenanigans and total lack of respect for suffering.

A formerly devoted fan who is rapidly losing patience.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thug Life a la Rachel

It's hard to pull off the gansta look when you've got big brown eyes, curly blonde hair, and your name written on your weapon.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Don't stand, don't stand so, don't stand so close to me

I'm in a state of shock today.

And it's not because we went out on the town last night and I downed too many screwdrivers and danced on the bar while doing my karaoke rendition of "Dude Looks Like a Lady".

* * * * * * * *

To be perfectly honest, clubbing and drinking have never been my idea of a great evening. Ever. I'm a bit of a dork that way. When The Husband and I were dating, our conversations went something like this:

Him: Do you want to head over to (insert random bar name here)?

Me: Uh. Do we have to?

And then, if we did venture to Insert Random Bar Name Here, I spent most of the evening thinking, "This music sucks. It's too loud. I'm going to smell like smoke when we leave. WHY is this strange, drunk guy standing SO CLOSE TO ME? I'm tiiiiired."


Plus, if and when I DO indulge a bit, I get all sleepy or vomity or "ILOVEYOUMAN!" and that's just not very lady-like.

* * * * * * *

So now that I've wrapped up that little uninformative detour, I can get back to my original story. (Isn't it fun to go on these little trips with me? No? My bad.)

I've been in a state of shock (a good kind of shock) today because of the events of last night....New Year's Eve.

We went to a friend's house for a New Year's party. Kids included. Which is super-triple-fantastic because, hello?, have you ever TRIED to find a babysitter for NYE? Mission impossible.

It was one of those great house parties where everyone brings food and it's okay to wear the comfy jeans-and-sneakers and there's a giant basement for the kids to call their own and there aren't any drunken strangers spilling their drinks on your shoes.

To simplify, it was wonderful.

And the best part of the whole night was midnight.

Mrs. S, the hostess of the party, gave everyone hats and crowns and noisemakers. We all gathered around the tv to watch the ball drop.

We counted down.

We made noise.

We hugged and kissed and wished each other a wonderful 2010.

And then I realized it was the first time I saw in the new year with my whole family. No one was fast asleep in a crib upstairs. No one lost the internal "I can stay up until 12!" battle.

We were all together.

And awake.

And it was perfection.

* * * * * * *

Happy 2010. Let's make it a good one.