Monday, November 21, 2011

You Kicked Me Right In The Uterus!

I often wonder what families do when all of their children are of the same gender.  Do they have any idea what they are missing?  I know that I would not be the same if I didn't have a little brother who surprised the family after four girls.  Matt introduced me to the stench that only boy shoes can have, the art of belching, and general guy stuff.  Anatomical differences and their discoveries at a young age, provide such interesting conversations, reactions and memories.   
“You kicked me right in the uterus” was a statement that came from my young brother after receiving a soccer ball to the abdominal area. It's the perfect example of the obvious confusion that ensued for a young boy who was  being raised with 5 females. I knew as a big sister, and someone who watched Magnum P.I.,  that Matt didn’t need to put a towel turban on his head or wrap another towel around his body full up to his armpits after exiting the shower.  I knew that most little boys would not have chosen the maxi-pads under the bathroom sink to dry off their pet turtles after a swim in the tub. I thought sharing Tinkerbelle perfume with your little brother was normal until the Avon lady brought “Buckaroo” powder for boys. Did Matt find it odd that his sister had a stuffed orange hippo named Bosom? Did he know what that meant?  I really didn’t have a deep appreciation for what Matthew had to endure with four older sisters until I became a mother of three kids...... two girls on either side of a boy. 
My trio has had discussions concerning their physical differences but most discussions have occurred between Gus and Mabel due to their proximity in age.  Mabel, age three, asked her big brother when her little penis would grow to be like his.  Gus' answer was so interesting.  Without pause he said, "Well, mine seemed to take off right after I turned two." Having a sister that is four years older provides opportunities for both Gus and Mabel. I found them reading Meg’s American Girl “The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls”.  I stood outside the door and listened to the comments that were shared like, “Wow, so Meg is going to get a fuzzy bottom?”  Gus responded, “That means you will too.”  And Mabel said, “No way man.”  Gus read on and was able to sound out “breast buds” and said, “What does that mean?” and Mabel said, “Apparently, Meg will stand naked in front of her mirror and see little boobies and she’ll smile real big.” She pretty much nailed that one….the illustrations helped a lot!
  One evening after giving Gus and Mabel a bath, I was applying Mabel’s many lotions and potions when Gus came in already in his pj's, and Mabel said, “So Gussie, where do you put your penis when you put pants on?”  I did not react because they were so serious.  Gus answered, “Well, it goes where it wants to so sometimes it goes to the right and sometimes it goes to the left.”  Mabel said, “So your penis is ambidextrous?”  Gus responded, "Maybe it's just trying to find a way out."  The fact that I was able to maintain my composure is still a source of pride as is the fact that Mabel used the word, ambidextrous.   
I recall shopping for bras with my sisters and my brother Matt was always there, in the trenches, hunting for my 32 A. Those are experiences that you can’t replicate if you come from a family of all boys.  For my trio, the closest similar experience had to be shopping for Gus’ first athletic cup.  Meg rolled her eyes a lot while hushing her very loud little sister who was giddy after I explained the contraption and it's  purpose. Gus became increasingly uncomfortable as that same explanation was given, but Mabel proved to know way more than she should and took control of the endeavor.  She knocked on every cup to ensure her brothers safety and then offered to test it out at home by throwing baseballs at Gus’ crotch.  Meg did take the time to explain to Mabel that no, she would not some day need to buy one for herself, and that in turn explained why none of the cups were pink or accentuated with bling. The whole learning experience would not have happened if we didn’t get Gus between Meg and Mabel. 
We have always practiced honesty and proper terminology with our children.  Despite our practices, our kids still manage to get it wrong.  Mabel said, “So I have a tiny penis but why doesn’t Gus have a tiny bagina?”   Gus doesn't ask many questions but once he did inquire as to why Mabel's underwear didn't have an opening in the front. I must say that the kids have come so far with their understandings and I fear that the days of these oh so entertaining discussions are coming to an end.   
Although our son Gus is just 8 years old, he is acutely aware of his sister’s idiosyncrasies and he is man enough to play with Littlest Pet Shops and Squinkies.  He's obviously in touch with his feminine side and he ensures that his sisters get in touch with their masculine side. How sad would it be to miss out on force farting, slide tackling, all things related to the penis and testicles, and the thrill of collecting baseball cards? Now how my little brother figured that he had a uterus is beyond me but just the other day Mabel said, “Mom, Gus’ pitch hit me right in the balls.”  Would we hear that if Gus wasn’t around?  I think not.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Suck It Squirrels!

Little bits of nature make their way inside our house almost daily.  Our kids love to be outside and they are acutely aware of how much I appreciate a beautiful leaf or perfect acorn.  Rocks, tree bark, uniquely shaped twigs, random seeds, berries, leaves, rabbit turds, and acorns can all be found taped to art projects, displayed in vases, or in the lint trap of the dryer. 
My personal favorite is perfect acorns. I can’t explain it so I won’t try.  Just know that a competitive spirit that I didn’t know I possessed has been unleashed in the pursuit of perfect acorns to display with our Fall decor.  For a while I thought that I should purchase some of the fake acorns but I struggle with the concept of displaying fake nature.  My children would bring me acorns that had been bitten, or cracked, or were missing their cap.  In the beginning I would smile and place them in the “nature bowl”.  And then one day I couldn’t lie any longer.  I started to reject the imperfect offerings from my kids; each time building more and more bitterness towards the bushy tailed rodents that were ruining them….squirrels.  Picture the “no wire hangers” scene from Mommie Dearest! “No cracked acorns!”
While I dealt with my acorn issues, my husband was harboring his own issues concerning squirrels.  Pete is young but I have seen the potential mean old man that exists within.  Pete became enraged watching squirrels repeatedly steal bird seed from our bird feeder.  It started with stomping his feet or clapping his hands as he watched the robberies from our sun porch.  Then he would be seen sprinting to the back door to go and scare squirrels away.  Comments were thrown around about the strong desire to own a BB gun.  I tried to squash the problem with a Father’s Day gift….the Yankee Flipper……..  The only truly squirrel proof bird feeder on the market. The videos online were both astonishing and eerily enjoyable.    
Pete loved the gift but his hatred for the suburban rats worsened.  He became obsessed with capturing some squirrel carnage on video, while his baby girl would yell, “No Daddy, No”.  And finally Pete collected rocks and piled them up at the back door to use as ammo against the buck toothed beasts. Mabel asked over and over again what the rocks were for and each time Pete came up with explanations...."I think the chipmunks made that pile".   
Who knew that over 15 years into a marriage, you could find yet another commonality….we both despise Squirrels.  There is something so attractive about a man who goes to great lengths to protect the family bird seed. Sure, I judged Pete and made disapproving faces as I watched him giggle with delight and chase a squirrel off the deck.  But was I any better when I almost militarily trained my children to toss aside imperfect acorns or glue the little lids back on the bulbous corns?  
Our son noticed that the oak trees in our front yard have unusually large and beautiful acorns this year. Gus mentioned on the fly, “wouldn’t it be great if I could climb that tree and get the perfect acorns for you?”  And with that, a giddy adrenaline rush started.  We concocted a plan….maybe I could stick a rake out of my bedroom window and shake the tree while the kids waited below to catch the bounty?  But then we realized that it was too far to reach from the window.  And then Pete appeared, so excited to join in our plan.  Squirrel hunter came running out of the garage with a tree branch saw complete with extended pole.   That too proved to be fruitless.  I had given up all hope and mosquitoes were attacking my ankles so I went inside to brainstorm. 
A few minutes later Pete appeared at the front door with two pockets full of the most pristine acorns you have ever seen!  I was speechless!  I peaked around him through the small window alongside of our front door and saw Pete’s enormous ladder.  That man got out a ladder, placed it on our front porch and then proceeded to pluck more acorns than I could count!!!  For a moment I worried and asked, “How many people went by and saw you?” but then I snapped right back into pure glee. 
 All the while Mabel stood in judgment and repeated, “Really? You are stealing acorns from squirrels?”  That’s right baby girl, the squirrels can suck it!  We won!  Sure they were snacking on bird seed in the back yard during our acorn mission but little did they know that we were decreasing their winter supply in the front yard at the same time.    
I promise you that the ladder will be out again and this time, with pride.  My acorn stash is proudly displayed in a beautiful glass bowl on the dining room table.  Mabel has started to embrace our actions but was reprimanded when I realized that she had taken perfect acorns from my stash to make “acorn soup”.  “Mabel, go outside and get cracked acorns for the soup” I said.  Gus chimed in, “yeah Mabes, the cracked ones have more flavor anyway.”  After a strong judgmental stare, Mabel walked away saying under her breath, “I know a few cracked acorns but you two won’t fit in the bowl.” 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Don't Blome It!

My then, three year old daughter, Meg, received a new baby doll.  I asked Meg what she was going to name the baby and instantly she answered, “Jennifer Blome”.   Jennifer Blome has been the morning news co-anchor on the NBC affiliate in St. Louis, Missouri, forever.   I’m guessing that most three year olds rarely name their babies after news anchors, but after my initial bewilderment, I got used to it and welcomed Jennifer Blome into the family.  Strange statements like “Don’t forget to buckle Jennifer Blome”, and “Meg, I think I hear Jennifer Blome crying upstairs” were heard on a regular basis. On one occasion I was walking through the grocery store carrying Jennifer Blome like a real baby per my toddler’s strict instructions.  If you dared to call the baby, “Jennifer”, those three year old eyes would instantly stop you in your tracks and remind you to use her full name.
About six months later Meg and I were standing in the basement of “Two Nice Guys”, waiting for our carry out order.  It was a Thursday evening and the basement bar of the restaurant was teeming with people sitting at small tables, enjoying libations.  Most people were there enjoying a post work happy hour but Meg and I were there because my husband was out of town and I don’t cook. My toddler was tugging on my coat incessantly until I leaned down and asked her what she needed.  Meg’s giant blue eyes were even larger than typical and she said, “Jennifer Blome is sitting right over there.”  Of course I thought she was crazy, and had to pay the bar tender for our order.  Coat pulling ensued and I once again leaned down to hear, “That is Jennifer Blome right over there.”  There was so much excitement in her voice.  I scanned the somewhat dark bar area and sure enough, sitting at a round bar table, was THE Jennifer Blome,  the woman I entrusted to inform me every week day morning so as not to completely fall into a stay at home Mom fog. 
Meg begged to go talk to her.  I was torn and after watching Jennifer for a few seconds, I concluded that I would seem like a complete idiot if I marched my toddler across a bar and informed her that Meg is her biggest fan!  WEIRD!  So I chickened out and told Meg that we couldn’t interrupt her.  And we left. 
There it went….the opportunity.  My three year old told her Memaw and Grandpa all about the sighting. She told her preschool teachers and friends.  On each occasion, Meg made a point of stating that I didn’t allow her to speak to Jennifer Blome. After a few days I completely hated myself for letting the opportunity pass us by.   I was so concerned about appearing as some type of psycho parent and I let that overshadow my daughter’s passion for early morning news.  I overheard Meg playing with Jennifer Blome in the days after the sighting and all of the make believe conversations involved reassurances from the bald, plastic, creepily smiling baby doll, insisting that Meg come to the studio for a visit and tour.  Throughout the house I would find Jennifer Blome staring at me with judgmental eyes and it all became too much! I took to the internet and sent a message to Jennifer trying so hard to come off as sane.  Shockingly I never heard back from the famous anchor.  For some reason the email from the mother of a three year old stalker just didn’t inspire a response!     
My anchor stalking toddler is now twelve years old and I fear that any dream of becoming a morning news anchor has vanished.  Did I kill the dream?  At the same time I wonder if embracing that meeting with Jennifer Blome would have led to a teddy bear named Tom Brokaw or worse yet, a baby brother named Art Holliday (Jennifers co-anchor).  I go back and forth.  The Jennifer Blome sighting has had a lasting effect.  I don’t let opportunities pass me by.  If I could turn back time, I would march right up to Jennifer Blome, interrupt her happy hour, introduce my three year old to her idol, invite her over to have carry out and let her hold her namesake.  I’m not a spontaneous person by nature, but I’m getting better and better.   Life is too short to deter your three year old from a good stalking!   

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Don't Ask a Krussel What They Did This Summer!!!!

School has begun and therefore I live in fear of THE QUESTION. It’s a question that friends, teachers, and neighbors all ask……”What did you do this summer?”  I have good reason to fear the question.  In fact, I often pause during summer or even holiday and spring breaks to reflect and perhaps predict how my children will answer THE question, and it’s never pretty. 
My son was in kindergarten and after Spring Break he was asked THE question…..”What did you do over spring break?”  While other children say, “We went to Disney World”, or “We went to the Beach”, my child responded in the factual and literal fashion that is classic Gus Krussel….”Meg got impetigo so we stayed in the basement and Mom grew a unabrow.”  And there it was, out in the universe.  To translate for my then 6 year old son…..Meg did get Impetigo because contagious rashes and illnesses are a key component for every Krussel holiday break.  The kids played in the basement because with Impetigo, you cannot go out in the sun but they had a blast making forts out of moving boxes.   Now the unabrow statement is a tough one.  Gus spoke the truth but gained his information after overhearing my comment to a friend while I was on the phone….really, the unabrow wasn’t that bad.  Oh, and we did get to see Missy Elliot the rapper at the pharmacy while we were picking up Impetigo supplies!  How many kids could say that??? Why wasn't that mentioned? See, isn’t my explanation so much better! 
After a weeklong Thanksgiving break, Mabel responded to THE question with, “My Mom drove us to a bunch of Walgreens until we found flu shots.”  Again, extremely truthful and just plain sad.  How could she have left out the fact that I purchased each child their own bottled water while we waited in line?  I even splurged on a bag of pretzels! 
One of our most memorable school breaks was last September.  We had a full week off thanks to a new calendar that our school district adopted.  The neighborhood quickly evacuated for Disney or the beach.  The Krussels however were living in a construction zone thanks to a house fire just a month before.  For fun we took care of our friend’s bulldog, Mabel got extremely sick, Meg broke her finger in two places and we constructed a 10 foot tall bone out of plaster of Paris and chicken wire for Halloween purposes.  I can't imagine what my kids said after that break!   I tried to lay low and avoid the embarrassment.
I love my kids and I want them so badly to have a summer like I had growing up…..siblings and sun and the most fun that was born from boredom.  Barbie photo shoots in the backyard with our model wearing Kleenex couture…..giant water balloons that were treated as babies complete with clothing, bassinets and names……playing Fisher Price with our real live rooms where furniture was rearranged…..walks to the pool and the only “toy” we brought along was a penny for diving.  My kids aren’t too far off from my childhood summer activities.  While a trip to St. Louis was cancelled and instead we enjoyed numerous doctors’ visits, blood tests, gluten free seminars and the like, Meg, Gus, and Mabel managed to make their own memories.
 “Dust making” was all the rage during the first two weeks.  At a dimly lit table in the basement full of equipment that eerily resembled a meth lab, my trio worked tirelessly to make dust by scraping my measuring spoons across clumps of Georgia red clay.  Funnels and tiny glass bottles were filled with the gorgeous dust and then passed to Meg who made custom hieroglyphic labels (her current addiction).  Then the bottles were sold amongst the trio for a dime. 
Week three brought about a new addiction…..Fubbles.  Fubbles are small animals and aliens fashioned from pompoms, large amounts of glue, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners.  Again, they were sold to each other for a dime.  We have a theme brewing here.  Week three was when I realized that our summer had been completely hijacked by Celiac so I trashed the chore chart and reading charts.  The summer slide was in full swing at the Krussel house!  Our only educational moments came out of dysfunction….we taught Mabel that it’s a Vagina not a Bagina.  We taught Gus all about the repercussions of male crotch injuries.  We tried but failed to teach Meg how to hock a loogy during her three week bronchitis term.  We all became familiar with the poop charts at the GI's office.  I don’t think they have flashcards for any of those topics!  
We did manage to have some fun… kids have fallen in love with a CD created by Aunt Lucy.  Every child under 18 should name Nelly as their favorite rap singer and “Only a Dream” as their favorite song.  Journeys to more doctors visits than I can count,  were always made more fun by looking in my rearview mirror and seeing my three children waving their arms in the air just as Nelly commands in the song….”If you ever loved somebody, put your hands up!”   
So we don’t travel…big whoop!  All of my childhood vacations were spent in Bluffs, Illinois on Smith Lake, in a trailer with a septic tank and the memories are fantastic!  I turned out okay, kind of.  I’m sure having the kids spend the night in the basement is enough of a change of pace to generate similar memories, right?  As much as I try to convince myself that we’re okay despite our lack of vacationing, I find evidence to the contrary.  In Gus’ first grade story about himself he wrote…”One day I will travel all the way across America without a boat.”  Crap, we’re in deep trouble!  But frankly unless we carjack an ambulance and kidnap our pediatrician, we can’t really go too far from home without an illness or a rash or both.  And if I committed those crimes, I doubt the Georgia correctional facilities would offer me a gluten free menu.  

As we reached the end of July, I started to worry about THE question.  But then, a miracle.... All of the illnesses and new diseases finally paid off!  The thousands of dollars we have spent on office visits, blood tests, strep tests, and scopes earned us an offer from our pediatrician  who insisted that we use his condo in Florida for a few days.  ( I think we can claim at least the master bedroom closet in the condo as being completely paid for by Krussel illnesses).
We were bold and daring, packed up like we were taking five elderly people with us complete with Miralax, five different lotions, vitamins, allergy medicines, inhalers, nose sprays, special soaps and more gluten free food than you could shake a stick at and headed south.  It was fantastic but we’re still Krussels……three of us were stung by jelly fish, one suffered massive amounts of water in the ear despite a custom ear plug, another experienced her skins revolt against sand, salt and sun and yet another discovered that her foot was broken.  Benadryl, ear drops, lotions, and a lot of gumption got us through and amazingly fond memories muted the typical Krussel crap.  I was just pleased that an ambulance and pediatrician were not needed. Most importantly, my kids have sea shells, bags of sand and pictures to produce as proof that their summer was not a total loss!  Without that trip, someone was bound to answer THE question with…..”All the girls got Silly Ack Disease so we ate beets, made dirt, went to lots of doctors and saw Mabels gizzards on tv.”

Friday, July 29, 2011

Praying For Failure

I think I am a typical parent in that I do quite a bit of self reflection and review to check myself on my parenting skills.  Am I doing a good job?  Are my kids screwed up?  Should I have not allowed the word fart in the house?  The questions are numerous but the day I stop asking means I’ve already failed.  Of course our eldest born child, Margaret, has the honor of being the guinea pig of sorts and we learn right along with her.  So, why is it that with our first born we are already praying for failure?  It seems wrong.
Meg is a typical first born with a type A personality and a drive for perfection.  I will be honest and state that she did not inherit this characteristic from her middle child mother.  While I have high standards on some things, a perfect report card is not one of those things.  Meg set an extremely tough goal of getting straight A’s for all three years of middle school before she embarked on her 6th grade year.  I support my kids in their goal setting but I looked at Meg and said, “You know B’s are great too” and “all we want is your best”.  Meg received a schedule containing all advanced content classes and that made me nervous.  It was going to be quite a load and challenge all on its own!  I pictured a teenager in trouble if we didn’t break this goal of perfection!
Sure enough, the first 9 weeks, she nailed it and there we were at the straight A’s ceremony.  Second nine weeks were a little harder but she did it again.  By the third nine weeks I was praying for a B….the stress was mounting. I thought we had it in the bag with a “bomb” on a science quiz.  Like all good parents Pete and I were fist pumping and high fiving when we learned of the poor grade.  We grabbed our baby girl and told her that we loved the bad grade and it will be okay and sometimes you need to totally screw up so that you can appreciate the hard work…..and there it was……the look…..eerily the same look appeared on Meg’s face that I saw so many times on my own mother’s face when I would use the word fart and she would say, “why can’t you say passed gas”….the type of face that oozes of disappointment and disgust.  So it went over like a fart in church (sorry Mom).  But again, she pulled it out on the very last day and got all A’s!  Pete and I felt defeated, like we had lost an opportunity to drive home a point.  Should we have grounded her from homework?  Should we have kept her up late and fed her junk food?  Obviously we had dropped the parenting ball!

In the final nine weeks we thought we were golden!  Art, of all things, was deeming itself to be a Meg buster!  Absences helped to make that an extra challenge but Pete and I were in agreement that we would take the end of the A’s in Art.  And then a bonus!!!!  Meg bombed a math quiz.  A secret high five between horrible parents was exchanged in private as we proudly hung the D quiz on the family magnet board.  Again, a speech was given but this time with far more compassion.  The quest for perfection was falling like a house of cards and then the final blow….
  As I sat in the score board tower at my son’s baseball game, acting like I knew what I was doing, I received a phone call from Meg.  I told her to talk fast because I was in the midst of a 7 to 8 game and somehow I managed to have 3rd down showing on the scoreboard and I was getting nervous about the dirty looks from hardcore baseball parents down below.  Meg’s voice was off….it was the voice I knew so well…..a self confession was about to happen.  I said, “Meg, what’s wrong?” and she said, “I got in trouble today.”  All at once I stood up and let out a Wahoo!…Mabel gave me a disgusted face and said, “Mom, that’s not our team that just scored.”…...ignoring Meg, I announced  the happy news to Mabel…”Meg got in trouble today!”.  Mabel’s eyes lit up with excitement and she immediately grabbed a clean sheet of paper and a marker to make her own demerit sheet for her big sister.  I focused again on Meg as the umpire motioned up to my window that I needed to change the score, and next I began a perfect parent oration on the importance of behaving in school……  “Meg, I’m so proud of you…you need to cut loose once in a while and talk to a friend or try to pass a note!  It’s a rite of passage and most importantly you have to learn that no one is perfect and you aren’t horrible for getting in trouble.  And then I paused and thought , crap, maybe I should have asked what she did first!….sold crack in the hallway?....smoked in the bathroom?.....disrespected a teacher ?.....but it was all good…my instincts were correct….Meg just giggled too much with a friend.  Part of me wanted to get a cookie cake and get out the “You are special today” plate!  Instead, I hugged my baby girl when I got home and reinforced that she should watch her tail at school and not beat herself up over this.

Meg always punishes herself far more severely than Pete and I could ever dream of so we stepped back and did what all good parents do…..let  the 5 year old spitfire little sister  take the lead….Mabels course of punishment included repeated references to juve along with daily greetings at the door to ask if there had been another incident, and my favorite, the constant reminder to Meg that Mabel had maintained a perfect record and had not yet been reprimanded by a teacher during her kindergarten year. This burned Meg up because we all know full well that Mabel should have been nailed several times by now but third borns have more street smarts than the first borns. 
The combination of being reprimanded for poor behavior and some less than stellar grades was just amazing!  We couldn't have asked for more!  Pete and I were convinced that Meg would finally lose the perfect record and go forth in her middle school years knowing that you can always start over and life is too short to forgo outbursts of laughter.  I’ll cut this short and tell you that Meg pulled it out again…..perfect A’s all year long and now we are forced to wait and wonder if next year we can break her spirit and bring home a B.  It’s a hard job but I vow to do my best to teach my daughter how to fail, screw up, get in trouble and keep on trucking.  Gus is following in his big sisters footsteps so we have already begun a course of treatment that includes constant reminders to get in trouble at school each day and our secret weapon, Mabel, has been teaching Gus to loosen up with butt fives and hoola hooping lessons. Obviously we will have to completely shift gears for Mabel but we have time.   

A new school year starts in just a few weeks and Meg’s quest for perfection has crept into my mind.  While Meg sets her new goals, Pete and I are setting our own.  We shall overcome!  We will not accept straight A's and stellar behavior! Who knew that parenting would be so hard? 

Monday, July 11, 2011

What Am I Supposed to Be When I Grow Up?

As a very young girl I aspired to have long, painted fingernails and work as a cashier at Glaser’s drugstore in my neighborhood.  It was my dream job!  I loved the sound and the look of those long, red, fingernails clicking away on a register and picking up each item and entering a price that always ended in .99.  Such a sad dream that would never come to fruition due to the fact that I have man hands and an inability to grow long fingernails and on the one occasion where fake nails were applied, I looked like a cross dresser. 
  When I reached my teens and could get a job, I ended up at Schnucks grocery store as a bagger.  Great skill building position to have…in no time at all I knew where to locate SPAM and horseradish and yell paper or plastic with a smile.  Being tall, I was also utilized by the vertically challenged folks, to reach items off the top shelf. 
My next career move took me to Purina Mills, courtesy of my Dad who worked a deal with a fraternity brother.   I wore a hard hat, jeans, and safety glasses and made rat poison, horse chow,  and utter ointment.  Finally I was sentenced to an obscure part of the factory that was leased for another purpose. For the rest of the summer I was making Sani Flush Toilet Pucks for people in Taiwan.  I literally turned blue every single day from product dust and worked on a line next to an ex con who called me “sweet meat”.  I have to share that the ex con and I bonded and set an all time record for most pucks produced in one shift.    
The next summer I landed a great gig via the secretary at my high school, working as a manager at Joe’s Car Wash!  And you guys thought I lacked drive and determination!  The truly funny part is that I lacked a driver’s license!  I could detail a car with Q-tips, toothbrushes and tar remover but I couldn’t move them!   I became an expert about car waxes and I took on the mission of educating car owners about the dangers of  Armour All overuse.  I did achieve an incredibly stellar hoosier tan which is always a benefit. 
My next two positions involved the Girl Scouts of America….first, Waterfront Director  and Head Life Guard at Camp Lakamaga in Big Marine, Minnesota.  There I convinced small children that they could not drown during polar bear swims because the water was way too cold and I wasn’t going to jump in to save them.  But I did save small children from the berating torment of “Kiwi” my junior lifeguard from New Zealand who came to work in America but clearly hated America and tried to feed me Vegamite before she ditched camp and headed to the grand canyon.  But the premier experience gained from this job was my newfound talent......  using a tree trunk to repair a dislocated shoulder….pulling a Lethal Weapon Mel Gibson movie moment if you will.  If you are hours away from a physician, and you are in great pain, and you can’t scream because you are surrounded by small children, the tree is your only option. 
Camp Cedarledge Program Director in Pevely, Missouri was my next stop…..I was in charge of scheduling daily camp life for 600 children. Head snake remover.  Boutros Boutros -Gahli  call name on the walkie talkie for weekly, United Nations themed, capture the flag games. Handled all calls from parents who wished their kids were homesick and acted as chief head lice inspector because our narcoleptic nurse tended to fall asleep during inspections(totally not kidding). 
I know what you are thinking….Rachael has done it all and she could go back to any of them!  Oh but wait…my first real job out of college was the best of all.  Investigator for Child Support Enforcement in North St. Louis City which is the hood. I was  totally na├»ve and had the Crips or Bloods gang members guarding my car in the parking lot each day, depending on who was winning the war….again, totally not kidding.  It was an education unlike any other.  "CT", my security guard became a close friend very quickly as he was my only hope when I was meeting with large male clients who wanted to kill me for taking their paychecks or cars.  I later learned that "CT" stood for Carmel Thunder….his stage name when he went over to the East side to perform as a stripper to make some real money.  There, I truly learned about real life and how incredibly fortunate I am.  And then I kissed all of those incredible employment positions goodbye for the best of the best….stay at home motherhood. 
You will be shocked to hear that none of my past professions are at all alluring to me.  What should I be when I grow up?  I ask this out loud at least once a day and most of the time my kids are present and roll their eyes (everyone except Gus because he literally cannot roll his eyes.  We’re working on it because I feel that is a necesssary skill for the teen years.)  “Mom, you are already a Mom.”  I always wanted to be a Mom.  I have a great Mom and I  grew up watching her and knowing that I wanted to do all of it like her……we do say fart, I've purchased rather than make some Halloween costumes,  and I can’t cook  so I have added a few things and omitted a few things from Barb’s repertoire but all in all I achieved that goal!  I am a Mom to three amazing children who challenge me, inspire me, and bring me more joy than I ever knew possible.  They also frustrate the hell out of me and bring me to my knees in worry but evidently that comes with the package. 
So I need a little more and I often wonder why I couldn’t get a gig like the guy who opens the show on Iron Chef.  I have been told that I have a plastic face capable of many different expressions and I could do some karate moves timed nicely with the ninja sounds that are piped in as he reveals the mystery ingredient.  I also think that I am highly qualified to be chief batting helmet shiner for the St.Louis Cardinals baseball team.  It’s always been a pet peeve of mine that major league baseball players have pine tarred, ugly helmets when it’s so beautiful to see a nice clean shiny helmet under the lights of a ballpark.  I don't think the position really exists.
I’ve often wondered if I’m destined to be a greeter at Wal Mart….but then I realize that my cankles would be massive if I had to stand all day and my back would go out if I had to tackle a shoplifter.   I toyed with the idea of being a professional organizer…the “Crap Fairy”.  I would show up in my “CrapWaggon” (a vintage green Ford Grand Torino) wearing my fairy wings and Converse high tops, and while families are at work and school,  I would commence with crap removal and crap organization.  But then the paparazzi would reveal a picture of my very own basement which is in need of a crap fairy visit and everyone would realize I’m a fake and the gig would be up. 
After further review I might have all aspects of my dream jobs already in hand….I like to type on the computer even if it is without long painted fingernails. I do reveal mystery ingredients each night at dinner to my own family only because they can’t recognize what I’ve prepared.  I don’t shine up batting helmets, but God knows that I do enjoy a nice shine on my stainless steel frig.  And finally, I am my own personal crap fairy. All I really need to do is paint my fingernails, yell "Allez Cuisine" while presenting my crappy dinners and put on fairy wings when I am de-cluttering my  own house.  I have a Psychology degree from Quincy University and that little fact right there explains this predicament of vocation dysfuntion in its entirety.  Maybe I should be a life coach! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Going Gluten Free Grief

It all began with one little question from the grocery store cashier.  “Did you find everything you needed?”  “Yes” came out of my mouth but in my head where my brain has been soaking in celiac for a month and a half, the following unfurled…..I call it a Celiac Attack of sorts. ”No!  Hell no I didn’t find everything I need!  You’ve got to be kidding me, right?  I need a donut the size of my head.  I need about 1,000 more gluten free products in this store.  I need a deli manager who will agree to clean the slicer.  I need your tiny gluten free section to be relocated because I get depressed hanging out with magazines and the baby products that are too overpriced for anyone to journey there.  I need the gluten free, crap ass Styrofoam crackers to cost a little less than $5.26 a box.  I need a sale!  I need to walk out of here with more than seven items that cost a total of $80.00! And for the love of Christ please put the Dove chocolates on BOGO because this is crisis time!”  Of course none of that came out of my mouth. 
The cashier picked up each of my items as she scanned them and instantly her eyebrows lowered and her lips furled as if to say, “Hmmmm, I’ve worked here a long time and I’ve never seen this?” Then the question came….”Are you trying to eat gluten free?”  I responded, “Yes, I have Celiac Disease so I can’t eat glutens.”  The cashier said, “I’ve heard that can be painful……..ya know, with that shooting pain going down your leg.”  What?  Oh my God this lady had Celiac and Sciatica confused!  I wanted to laugh but I just smiled and nodded and pictured myself eating a donut the size of my head while I suffer extreme leg pain.  It was the perfect cure for my Celiac Attack. 
Sometimes there are moments of extreme joy at the grocery store.  You would have thought that I won the lottery when I found sunflower oil at Kroger….only $5.64!  On one fateful day I made my typical mad dash down Kroger’s health food aisle to the end cap only this time it was all happening in slow motion and I heard music playing in my head. My cart made the turn so smoothly despite my speed, and there I found, for the first time, Udi’s gluten free hotdog buns!  I grabbed the buns and for a moment thought that I should buy the mother lode inventory….all 4 of them.  You have to know that Udi’s hamburger buns are sought after like the latest and greatest Christmas toy…..a Cabbage Pack Kid or Tickle Me Elmo or Wii game system if you will.  You can’t find them anywhere including all of the weird gluten free online stores! 
Regrettably I only bought one and now I dream about how much I could have made if I bought them all and put a few up on EBay.  It was such a big win!  I looked around to make sure that no one would try to steal them out of my cart….only to snap back to reality knowing full well I am alone in the “special diets” aisle and my buns are safe and sound.  
 I really don’t have to go down any of the middle aisles but I always hit the cereal aisle in the hopes that Chocolate Chex has made their way to my store.   I have found that younger eyes are much more talented in finding the little “GF” that we all crave to see on packaging and we all instinctually cheer and pump a fist when luck shines on our side.  
 Gus is convinced that we should go Kosher instead of Gluten free because he sees those foods more often.  Mabel rides down aisles sitting in the back of the cart telling me that she will one day have her own line of gluten free foods called “Mabel Made It So It’s Good”.   She explains, “And everything will be really little because little food always tastes better than big giant food.”  The last statement reflects the fact that we have reached the sixth and final stage of Elisabeth Kubler Ross’ 6 Stages of Going Gluten Free Grief…..We’ve made it through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and now we’re in the rarely studied final stage of Reshaping……When you’re sick of eating all of the same foods over and over again, change their shape to something tiny and you will think it tastes better and it will buy you a few more days.   Mabel is so right, the new plan is to take a tiny biscuit cutter to everything we eat and it will be all good.   

Monday, June 13, 2011

Silly Ack Ceptance

On June 3rd our youngest daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  Upon hearing the news, Mabel asked, “Does this mean that all of my dogs have to be naked?”  Naked is the term we give to any sandwich, burger, or dog that goes bun less.  With one little question, we started down a new path. Here is what I know so far…..
Adrenaline is a great thing.
Maternal guilt is stronger than logic.
Maternal instincts are stronger than everything.
I have hate mail to send to some specialists and some judgmental women.
Practically everything in any grocery store is poison for my child.
The internet is both a blessing and a curse.
Facebook is a blessing.
So much of our special memories and traditions revolve around food.
First communion, college drinking and wedding cakes have all crept into my brain in the last week.
Gluten Free is easy…..corn, soy, tomato, apple, orange, and nut plus gluten free is hard.
Gluten free costs an arm and a leg.
Mabel is no longer an enigma (or an anemone as she puts it).
There are specialists out there that do look at your entire child; you just have to find them.
Anyone can be a nutritionist, and dieticians are scared of us.
Very few people know what Celiac Disease is….we’re not going gluten free to be hip.
Meg and Gus are extremely protective of their baby sister.
I married extremely well to say the least.
Mabel contains the wit and tenacity to take this on and be okay.
Timing is everything.
Of course there are worse afflictions but if you think this isn’t scary, you are a dumb ass.
There are $7.00 crackers that should only serve as packing material.
Any minute now I will drive a VW bus, stop shaving my armpits, and hug a tree.
My grocery store, which was like a second home, is now an alien planet.
I’m one of “those” moms asking weird questions like….”Do you have a separate slicer for the Boars Head products?”  “Does your fluoride and toothpaste contain glutens?”  “If you are allergic to soy, can you have soy lecithin?”  “What aisle is Xanthan Gum in?” 
Mabel could be a totally different kid within 6 months.
Chances are very good that Mabel is not the only “Silly Ack” in the house.
One day we will look back on this past week and realize that we’ve come very far.
My children were eating a great diet before this so now it will be stellar.
I thought I was addicted to chocolate but if you tell me to give it up because Mabel can’t have it, it’s easy.
Crying in your closet from time to time actually makes you stronger, rather than weaker.
Despite the fact that I’m 39, I still find poop charts in a GI’s office, very entertaining.
“Gizzards” is far more fun to say than intestines.
I have amazing women surrounding me who have listened, advised, encouraged, and helped.
The strong desire to make your children happy and healthy is relentless, and despite the fact that we are somewhat powerless, having that knowledge doesn’t make it any easier. 
My sister Ann put together family cook books for all of us a few years ago. She took the time to photo copy original recipe cards so that we could each appreciate the handwriting, smudges, spills and scribbled notes on the sides from our Mom and grandmothers.  When Mabel is an old lady, she will pass down her own recipes.  They will have a pinch of Xanthan Gum and lots of rice flour.  They will be full of organic foods.  And her recipe cards will have smudges of beet juice.  Hopefully processed foods will be unpopular and everyone will make a shift back to real food.  Hopefully our motto will become everyone’s motto…”If it doesn’t grow or have a Mama, we don’t eat it.” 
We found out that Mabel has Celiac Disease on a Friday and on Sunday evening while doing a word find, Mabel said, “I’ve found a lot of FU’s but no N’s.”  She was looking for the word “fun”.  Pete and I paused and then laughed hysterically.  Pete thought it was a great way to sum up our weekend.  But then we both agreed that it was just the opposite.  We did get one FU but we had a lot of N’s.   No matter what it is, we will find a way to laugh about it……poop charts, GI visits, blood draws, allergists, and trying funny foods.  Mabel renamed her disease to “Silly Ack!” and it’s very fitting.  It’s totally silly and if you are going to have a disease, this isn’t a bad one to go with…..sure there are scary things but no pills to pop or treatments to endure….you just eat healthy and you will start to feel better.  Will all of Mabels hotdogs be naked?  Nope….we found a $6.00 bag of hotdog buns to put the $9.00 hotdogs in alongside the $4.20 rice macaroni and cheese! 

Monday, June 6, 2011

When You Look Good, You Don't Run Into to Anyone!

I wrote this on January 9th, 2008 when we lived in St. Louis and my kids were 8, 4 and 2. I drove to and from our school three times each day for drop offs and pick ups for Meg who was in third grade and Gus who was in half day preschool.  Showers were hard to come by with our schedule and the constant presence of a two year old. 
I began the morning with a stubborn 4 year old that would not cooperate in getting ready for school. This was a first for us so I was ticked pretty early. Pete stayed home with Gus and tried to hog tie him into a uniform while I did the carpool. For all of you stay at home Moms out there I’m sure you can relate to the following information. So I haven’t showered and I’m wearing the clothes I had on the previous day but I thought, “no one will see me because I’m just doing drop off”. Those words would haunt me all day long!

 I got three kids buckled in the van and made it to school 15 minutes early and I successfully got three little people unbuckled and out of my van while cars started to line up behind me. Only problem was, my car would not move! I was at a loss! My car literally would not come out of park no matter what I did. Luckily my friend Liz was right behind me so I threw on my hazards and she came over laughing. I told her what was happening and she got in my van and tried it for herself  but to no avail. She quickly said, “You are so screwed but I’m leaving you because people are going to start honking.” And off she went! There was a lot of staring and three different Dads’ came to assist me but they too could not fix it! They tried rocking my van, turning it off and back on, and it just wouldn’t budge. I dared to glance behind me and I saw that the line of cars now extended all the way through HR’s parking lot, down Mason Avenue and then out onto Lockwood Blvd!!! There I stood in my haggard state getting a lot of dirty looks while children were running from cars in fear of not making the bell.  I don't know how, but eventually I got it into drive. The three Dads ran to their vehicles screaming, “GO, GO, GO, and don’t stop anywhere until your home!” Perfect, I'll get home and shower!

 I had every intention of showering but my good friend called to update me on her 7 year old son who has been diagnosed with Diabetes and things were really scary so I wasn’t going to ditch her for a shower. I cried with my friend, ate some Mega MM’s and then had to pick up Gus from preschool. I was still wearing the clothes from yesterday but now I also had flour all over my blue sweatpants due to a Mabel incident that involved creativity with flour and a whoopee cushion (you really don’t want to know), and I was scared to death that my van would malfunction again but what can you do? That pick up went well even though I had to talk to the wealthy woman who was leaving for Europe today for a nice trip. In my floury sweatpants, no makeup, and hair in a ponytail state, I asked where she was going and she said London and then she asked if I was going to be traveling soon and I told her that my next trip will be to the grocery store and that’s only if I can make it out of the parking lot.

Our afternoon was full of adventures including a garbage disposal jammed with dry elbow pasta, trauma over food coloring stains on hands, and my favorite, the apparent sabotage of a tiny rock collection that Gus compiled. Guess who sabotaged? The sabotage might explain what else was in the garbage disposal jam!! I also had two phone calls from my spouse informing me of two different business trips to happen in the next two weeks, which always brightens my day. A napless two year old meant that, yep, you guessed it, no shower for me.

But then, at 2:30 the phone rang and I saw on caller ID that it was Meg's school. Anytime that name shows up on caller ID I have a little panic attack so I rushed to answer. It was the principal calling to inform me that our school was awarded the Pendergast-Weyer Foundation grant. We have a very serious, prim and proper principal and upon hearing her words my response was, “SHUT UP!!!!”  Really not the response a mature school parent should come up with but that was better than other things that could have come out of my mouth. Through September and October I wrote a grant proposal to get new computers for our school and we got it. It’s amazing. I was doing the happy dance in my living room while Gus just watched with that facial expression that says,“God, my Mom is so weird” so I made him dance with me. The whoopee cushion was brought out for the celebration.

And then it was time for the 3:15 pick up so Mabel and Gus climbed in the van with their chocolate chip cookies and my basketball whistle because really every 2 year old needs a whistle, don’t you think? I was still unshowered but oh so happy that I really didn’t care! At school  I was hugging and high fiving and enjoyed a celebratory huddle with the grant committee and then children piled in the van-(all 6 of us because somehow I gained a mystery child that ended up being a neighbor’s play date)……and my van wouldn’t go into drive, but I didn’t care!! Mabel was whistling and Gus was begging to go to the library and Meg was telling me that she forgot her spelling words, and the two other girls were trying to trade earrings and I just didn’t care! After a few minutes we were in business. We came home and danced in the front yard and then Mabel headed to the backyard. Quickly the mood changed.

She reappeared in tears holding her brand new bear who was an obvious victim of the storms on Monday night. The bear really did look like a child’s toy that had been pulled from tornado wreckage. And then Meg was in tears because she truly believes that all stuffed animals are real and Gus was giggling and telling me how it looked like it was covered in poop. We rushed the victim to the kitchen sink where Mabel sat on the counter and Gus and Meg pulled up a chair to watch the animal rescue episode going on in my kitchen. Meg was ready to be a blood donor, Mabel was weeping and Gus was yelling, “Use the sprayer, use the sprayer.” Finally, I was appropriately dressed for a part of my day! I got enough mud off to read the tag and joyfully announced that our victim could go in the washer and dryer and that he would make a full recovery. Mabel cried harder and said, “Please don’t put him in the dishwasher.” I explained the difference between a dishwasher and clothes washer as well as the process and said that we could all go down in the basement and do a ceremonious washer cycle but Mabel wouldn’t hear of it. So I have an extremely soggy bear sitting on a paper plate but you know as soon as that child is in bed, that sucker is headed to the Maytag rehab. So it’s 7:40pm now and I’m still unshowered but I don’t care. If I were showered and wearing clean clothes, chances are that the car wouldn’t have broken down and I wouldn’t have had to chat with the wealthy European traveler, and we wouldn’t have received the grant. The moral of this story is…..amazing things can happen when you least expect them, especially if you don’t shower. Oh, and every household needs a whoopee cushion.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Baby Chucking

This is an Anniversary Edition….June of 2008, Pete was already in Atlanta and I was in St. Louis trying to sell our house and stay sane.  Meg had just turned 9, Gus was 4 and Mabel had just turned 3.  I was 36 and managed to dip to an all time new low on the Maternal Malfunction Meter.  Enjoy!

The last five weeks have been a whirlwind of stress, despair, worry, frustration, hard work, and separation.  It’s really the six key components to a fabulous summer. On week one I found out that a whopper grant I wrote for our school was successful and that was bittersweet knowing my kids would not reap the benefits.  On week two my parents abandoned me to live in DC for two months and the lovely Mrs. Green who lived in our house for 40 years, passed away and I made an ass out of myself at her funeral.  On week three I found out that Gus has been partially deaf in his right ear for a year due to a perforated eardrum (no maternal guilt there at all). On week four I herniated a disk in my back and an ear surgery for Gus did not happen because the surgery center lost power two minutes before he was going into the OR.   I don’t have a great story to share as to how I injured myself.  I wasn’t playing sports, or saving a child.  Instead I will share that I bent over to shave my leg and that was it.  Popping, shifting, and pain to the extent that my arms and lips went numb.  If Pete had not been here, my children would have witnessed Webster Groves’ finest pulling me out of a shower.  Not a great image to have etched into young minds. Thank God for small favors. 

Part of the motherhood package includes a healthy portion of guilt but it also includes a fast track to insanity.  It’s a vicious circle of pushing you to your limits where you may act your ugliest and then the guaranteed follow-up of extreme guilt.  They go hand in hand and there is no way to avoid it.  Such was the case last Wednesday.

I had just finished my round of steroids and I was upright for the first time in a while.  My husband was in Atlanta but we were close to a deal on our house and I had my sister Lucy in town to help me because walking was difficult, and bending, twisting, or lifting was impossible.  Steroids can make you really crabby according to my neighbor who is a physical therapist…..this explains all of it!  I’m totally blaming all of my actions and words on the steroids from here on out.  Please remember this as you read on.

 We had to clean the house and evacuate so that the new buyers could do their home inspection.  So we packed up and headed for my parents house. After a few hours the kids were ready to kill each other and I needed to be back in the fetal position so we loaded up to head for home.  Mabel was being extremely stubborn and refused to do anything I said, simply because she knew I couldn’t do anything about it.  Eventually we got her to the van but once there she fought me again and refused to let me buckle her car seat.  I had been threatening all day and I was really close to blowing a gasket.  After being kicked I knew I was going to follow through on a threat.  I yelled, “Mabel, stop it or I will chuck your baby.”  Mabel still refused so I said, “Gus, give me the baby.”  Gus obeyed because the boy is not stupid and he knew I was on the edge.  I instantly chucked the baby over my head into the middle of my parent’s front yard.  Mabel started screaming but relaxed her torso so I was able to buckle.  I got in the car and drove.  Mabel was screaming for her baby.  Gus, the voice of reason, then said, “See Mabel, the point is that you can earn the baby back.  You just need to be good and maybe then Mom would take you to visit the baby in the grass.”  I’ve never heard Gus say, “See the point is…”  That was when I snapped out of my insanity and realized just what I had done.  My sister had been silent in the passenger seat but lost it when she heard Gus’ thoughts.  She then looked at me and said, “You know what you did could be considered a hate crime because you threw the African American baby.”  Then I too lost it.  Mabel fell in love with a black baby at the dollar store and she hasn’t let it go.  Why did that have to be the one baby that I chucked!  How many neighbors witnessed the hate crime?

After we got home, Lucy and I sat down on the couch while the kids went to play and twenty minutes later, Lucy received a call that her good friend JT had died.  JT was only 33 and a good friend of Lucy’s since college.  He was diagnosed with cancer in late April and Lucy and her friends rose over $90,000 for him a few weeks ago so that he could go to Oklahoma for special treatment and all reports were very positive so this was unexpected.  Lucy and I cried and cried until children came around.  Lucy decided she needed to go have a good cry away from my kids so she left. 

So I was alone with the kids and had to stop crying and suck it up and somehow make dinner in my invalid state.  I managed to get a pizza in the oven which was a fete!  I was thinking I was doing really well until Mabel summoned me to the bathroom for, how should I say this…..oh hell….she needed to be wiped.  I couldn’t bend to wipe and Lucy was gone and there was Mabel in her wiping position which means she bends at the waist and puts her hands on the floor.  Blood was rushing to her head and she was begging for someone to wipe her.  Meg was outside so I had to ask Gus to wipe his sisters behind.  I was there to instruct on technique and the moment little Gussie started, Mabel started crying and saying it hurt.  Evidently she had some resipooy (this is a Krussel term…..a combination of residue and pooy……formal definition would be a residue of fecal matter that remains on human epidermis in the buttocks region causing chafing and irritation and of course, discomfort).  So I’ve got a kid screaming with her drawers at her ankles and the pizza buzzer was going off and then my agent pulled in the driveway.  I had no choice but to abandon Mabel and save the pizza from burning.  While keeping my back straight I did the deepest knee bend ever to get the pizza out of the oven.  Mabel stopped crying when my agent walked in and Meg and Gus were mad because I had to sit down for a second before I could slice the pizza. 

So in walks my agent, Pat and she instantly said, “Where’s Woocie?”  Woocie is the name Pat’s children called Lucy when they were tiny and Lucy was their babysitter and they couldn’t pronounce their L’s.  I instantly started crying!!!!  I had to tell her that Lucy’s friend died and that I was so sad and then Pat was crying.  Meg and Gus just continued to eat and Mabel climbed onto my lap and quickly fell asleep at 5:30 pm while my friend and I cried.  Honest to God I had not shed a tear for 5 weeks straight until that day!  It was like a damn broke and I was a lunatic!  I didn’t want to do all of it anymore.  I didn’t want to leave my family, Marshall Place, Webster Groves.  Pat left and I was stuck on the couch with Mabel on top of me. There was no way that I could lift her or carry her up to bed.  It was actually very nice.  I watched Mabel sleep and you know they always look so innocent when they are asleep so the guilt of the baby chucking incident was looming large at that time.  Lucy came back by 7:00 with a giant coffee and seemed to be in a better place.  Of course we cried again and I told her to just go back to her friends in her town.  She put everyone to bed for me and set out breakfast bowls for the next morning and then she was gone.  I managed to survive Thursday and Friday without Pete or Lucy, with a renewed sense of what really is important, but I will tell you that my house has never been that trashed and you know things are bad when you dread the pain of pouring milk for your kid’s breakfast. 

Pete came home Friday night.  Mabel ran and jumped into his arms.  She instantly put her hands on Pete’s cheeks and looked him in the eyes and said, “Mommy loseded her mind and threw my baby in the grass.”(We all now use that tense of lost).  Pete just looked at me.  All I said was, “The kid is not lying.”  We have a long way to go until we will be settled in Atlanta and I can guarantee you that I will have further, less than stellar mothering moments.  In the interim we are coping by playing inappropriate games and singing inappropriate songs.  Strip Candy Land is a new family favorite (I don’t participate) and my kids have been walking around singing “Somebody farted. Somebody farted in here” to the tune of “Let’s get it started.  Let’s get is started in here.”  (Thank you Tim Basler)  The sad part is that I find it very humorous.  Single handedly I am ruining what would otherwise be three amazingly intelligent and normal children.  So the question still looms, should I just call family services on myself?  Most would say yes but I would argue that children need to see their Mom’s lose it from time to time if for no other reason than to appreciate when their Mom’s are sane.