Thursday, June 30, 2011


I have been neglectful of my blog... but that's OK. It's because I've NOT been neglecting other areas of my life right now. So you can tell me I suck at blogging, and I can admit defeat there, and we move on. Mmmkay?

Some big things have happened lately. Monkey moved from the crib to a "big-girl" toddler bed on 6/18 and I cried like a big teething baby to see the crib come apart. But she's happy, and this needed to happen, and holy CRAP is it a cute toddler bed. It even has a shimmering pink canopy. So that part's all good.

I had a birthday too, complete with a super-yummy cake home-made (well...from a box, but still, made AT home which counts) and decorated by Monkey and her Daddy. Love on a plate, folks: hard to beat.

Recovering from the whirlwind of that, plus working back-to-back Saturdays (it's busy season for financial aid, and new student orientation season as well) had me a bit flustered and out of my normal pace.

Then yesterday, I came across something that stole my breath away.

Checking my Facebook feed while my reports were running, I saw a comment come across. My really close friend from grade school now lives in South Carolina with her new-ish husband and their daughter. Her ex-husband still lives around here, with their teenaged son.

I saw on his feed a comment wishing their son godspeed, and how he will miss him.
I thought, "Oh- so he must be off to visit his mom for the summer."


Not at all.

Their seventeen year old son went to sleep... and didn't wake up.



I couldn't believe it. Started FB stalking and a new group popped up, for his parents, and all these heartbroken people are writing tributes to him, and oh-this-isn't-happening... but it is.

A parent's greatest fear is losing their child.

I'm watching that unfold.

And truly, I can't really DO much. I can go to the wake (and I will) and I can hug my friend till I break her ribs, but I can't really *DO* much. I am trembling and there have been lots of tears.

All I wanted yesterday was to hug my baby girl. I am blessed beyond words that I GET to do that.

Remind yourself, when your kids are fighting and whining and life is kicking you in the shin:

You *GET* to see those kids, in all their fighting-shoving-wailing glory.

It is all too reminiscent of how my brother passed. Just went to sleep... and then, gone.
But my brother was at least 38, had gotten more of a taste of life-- though still, not enough. He had medical issues plaguing him.

This was a healthy, athletic, YOUNG man.

Pray for his family, for his little sister who is going to grow up without her big brother. For all the misfits and picked-on kids that Tim looked out for, and spoke up for. Just like his mom did, for me, when we were kids. He will be horribly missed and he is incredibly loved.

Kiss the people you love goodnight.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sandwich Kisses

One of the universal similarities between children seems to be the love and security they feel from getting what we call "sandwich kisses."

You know what I mean?

Where the mom takes one side, the dad takes the other, and together they kiss the cheeks of the child who bonds them.

My kid eats that stuff up. She adds in her own twist, calling it "smooshies": she wiggles her face side to side, smooshing her cheeks into the kisses.

It's abundantly cute, IMHO.

The other day, we had a really good sandwich kiss going on, and announced it as such.

Monkey giggled (as usual), and repeated:

"Sandwich kisses!"

"Don't forget to put peanut butter and jelly on me!!"

How I <3 this goofy child!!!!

We're In Trouble.

My adorable toddler does not SOUND like a toddler. She talks Con.Stant.LY. and as a result, pretty much sounds like she's about 6 or 7.

We're so used to it, because she's been like this since she about 10 months old. The words have just gotten clearer, larger and in less need of interpretation.

She thinks quickly, talks even MORE quickly, and is generally more fearless than I can comfortably watch.

...Because, after all--  she *IS* still not even three years old. Yet.

But, just TRY telling *HER* that. She gets all kinds of tweener-pissy about it. She has argued repeatedly--to ME, who gave birth to her, after all-- that on her next birthday she is going to be 6.

When random people ask her age, she usually tells THEM she's 6.

Not sure what the magic is about being 6-- except that's how old her sister really IS, and SHE gets to go to school and has a backpack and homework and a bike. And can go to dance classes, because SHE no longer wets her pants. Come to think of it, maybe being 6 *is* pretty nifty...!

Anyhoo, we were at an ice cream social at the home of fellow church choir members.
Wow, that sounds so very wholesome. <chuckle> 

Monkey is kind of the mascot of our church. She's little, cute, and very outgoing and talkative. Thus, the older kids are usually really cool about including her in whatever they're doing. Of course, with THEM, there's no whining, because they're cool and she wants to be like them. But, uh, Mom and Dad? Not so much, thus whine away...!?!

The kids (including Monk) had been banished to the expansive yard to play or chase each other, or whatever the hell would keep them busy. The grownups hung out on the screened-in porch or in the house, to better avoid the Mutant Brain-Eating Mosquito Swarm.

I was talking with a friendly mom, whose kids were also braving the M.B.E.M.S. (This is the same family we hung out with when Monkey unleashed her recollection of Ke$ha lyrics a few nights earlier.)

We were laughing about the "look" I get from my adorable offspring when I clarify to whomever is asking her that NO, she is NOT SIX; she is in fact, *TWO*.

It's the "MooOOooom, you're cramping my style" look I hadn't expected to see until she had at least hit puberty. My friend's girls are older--and the elder girl IS currently in the vicious, mood-swinging throes of puberty. So, she sees that same lovely look All. The. TIME.

So anyway, we're having a nice parental commiseration chat, relaxing... and see our children (her older daughter, and Le Monk) approach the screen-porch door.

Which, by the way, opens onto a (very nice, very SOLID) *brick* patio.

Said offspring are thus standing ON said BRICK patio... and Monkey has apparently gotten a piggy-back ride from her pubescent friend.

They reached the door, and Monkey said she wanted down... so the older child says, "OK! Here you go."

And my toddler flies off her back, to the VERY SOLID, BRICK patio. Cue the slow-mo...

I *flew* off my seat, very un-church-ly yelping "JESUS!!" as I tried to somehow get to her (through the door?) before her adorably body went splat.

Needless to say, I am neither magic nor coordinated, and she met the patio before I could intervene.

Luckily, she landed mostly on her bottom--and did NOT, in fact, bounce--so her precious, precocious noggin did not have a rude introduction to those nice, hard bricks.

I think my reaction actually scared her more than being dumped on her tush. She saw my freak-out-face and started crying.

I grabbed her, checked for impact and tried to slow my stampeding pulse.

The rush of Pure FEAR flew through me... how many parents, every SINGLE DAY, see their kids start what looks to be a normal day, only to have something tragic happen to change their lives forever? ...That kind of thing. I'm a world-champion worrier.

While I had jumped to grab Monkey, my Mom-Friend had also grabbed *her* offspring.

...By the back of the shirt. Like a mama lion. It was kinda cool, actually.

In the "you're-lucky-we're-in-public" tone, she barked: "Come. Here. NOW," and pulled her bewildered daughter aside. Note: I don't think her lips actually MOVED... I need to work on that technique.

I sat with Monkey, trying to calm both her and myself. Her dad and I explained that we do not want any of the kids carrying her around, because she's too little to get down safely, and that she had just scared the unwavering CRAP out of us. Which was not OK.

Monkey calmed down long before I did, decided she was "all done cwying" and bounded out to go play some more. Not a scratch, and back to our regularly scheduled program...

I sat there, shaking my head.

Just scared, and grateful... and, maybe just a little pissed off at the tween who had so unceremoniously dumped my toddler onto a BRICK FRIGGIN' PATIO.

However, it turned out that my irritation was ill-placed.

My Mom-Friend came back in and apologized, asking if Monkey was OK.

Daddy Doodle: Well, *Monk's* fine...but Mommy, ehh, not so much. (I shrugged. It was true.)

With a sly grin, Mom-Friend said she wanted us to know that she'd appropriately reamed her daughter for piggybacking and DROPPING a two-year-old on the patio... but that she'd had a pretty valid defense, as the conversation played out:

Mom-Friend: blah blah blah, you dropped a TWO-YEAR-OLD!!

Tween: Wait... what?!?!?  What two-year-old?!?

Mom-Friend: Monkey!! She. Is. TWO.

<wait for it...>

Tween:  Really?!!?! ... She told me she was 6!!!!

As Mom-Friend sooooooooo rightly pointed out: 

We are in BIG trouble with this kid.

Discussion ensued of a potential, unpleasant phone call in our future...from a not-so-friendly police officer, informing Mr. Doodle that his 15-year-old has been removed from a club and could he please come retrieve her underage butt. "What?15?!!?! She said she was 23!!"

We are kinda screwed.  :(

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Parenting FAIL

I don't know why it continues to surprise me, but it does, every time:

Kids latch on to the absolute LAST THING you want them to repeat.

Say ONE bad word, and it becomes the repeated mantra for the next week. With, like, your inlaws or the Sunday school teacher.

So, yeah. <sigh> Color me surprised.

I'm a musically inclined person. I sing, write songs, listen to all kinds of music, and dance if no one is around to be traumatized or trampled. Monkey's dad (Daddy Doodle) is also very musically inclined; he plays guitar, bass, and drums, and is currently rocking out as a member of our church's handbell choir.

My family has a long history of talented singers. Both my parents, my late brother, and assorted other relatives have great voices. Daddy Doodle has a family history of musicians and singers, and his great-grandfather used to own a music store back in the day.

Thus, genetically, it's a given that this kid's alllllllllllll about music. She loves dancing and makes up her own songs all the time.

Monkey can sing pretty well for her age-- stays relatively on-key, and remembers lyrics REALLY well.

Maybe, uh... TOO well.

The other night, we had a get-together for the aforementioned church handbell group as an end-of-the-season celebration. Families were invited to join the ringers at a restaurant for a fun dinner out.

My job was to pick up Monkey from GoG (Gift-of-God = our sitter) and go meet Daddy and the bell ringers at the restaurant.

This should NOT have been complicated. Ha ha.

However, I was told the meeting time was 6 PM. That meant boogie-time to get me from work to GoG's, then through rush hour traffic to the restaurant.

We got to the lot at 6:05.

I'm thinking, "OK. Close enough, with a toddler and rush hour." Patting myself on the back, I park the minivan.

Didn't look like anyone I knew was there yet, but this group is even tardier than *I* tend to be, so that's no big surprise.

Monkey ate @ GoG's so she's set, food-wise. I'm feeling confident. We can chill.

Have you ever attempted to sit in a parked vehicle with a toddler strapped in a car seat, and nothing to look at or do?

Seriously, FIVE minutes went by and I was sure it had been at least thirty.

I decided to let her stretch out a bit. Got her out of the car seat-- we were PARKED and NOT GOING TO MOVE anyhow, so it's safe-- and brought her to the front seat to hang with Mommy.

I plopped her in my lap. The engine was still on so we could keep the heat going.

Because, it's June in Chicagoland and yes, sometimes that means you need HEAT in the car. Global warming, my rear.

Sitting in my lap, Monkey promptly reaches out and tries to use the windshield wipers. AGGGH! No touch!!

Monk, sweetly: "Is this how you dwive?"

Me: Sort of. This is where BIG PEOPLE sit to drive, when they're going to drive-- but we're NOT driving because we're already here, and if we WERE driving you'd have to be in your seat.
She looks around, and starts poking at buttons.

"*I* can dwive."

Me: No, dear, you can't. And, that's the radio. So stop asking. We're not going anywhere except INTO the building, once Daddy gets here.

"Show me how to dwive!"

Ummmm HELL no!

Much more nicely presented as, "No, honey. That's not happening."

Location change: I tried to get her to sit in the passenger seat and color.

That lasted all of 42 seconds.

I finally switched on the radio, moved the front passenger seat back, and had her "dance it out" on the passenger side.

And I'm thinking: see, this is GOOD. This will burn off some energy before we sit with grownups and attempt to eat in a restaurant, and speaking of which, where on the **** is everyone?!!

Monkey is happily dancing. Minivans are good for a little dance space, I guess.

Distracted by the passing time, I text Daddy Doodle with an irritated: Uh, where R U?

His response: Well, we just now started practice... the reservation is in <the director's> name, for 7 PM.

Had I been a cartoon, my head would have blown up in squeeze-y, pulsating bursts. I even felt a little pop in my eyeballs. 

WHY then was I told to be here at 6??? I have a toddler I'm trying to entertain... AAAAAAGH!

His response: We'll be there soon.


But at least Monkey was having fun dancing.

It was only 6:30. I waited another 10 minutes, then took her in for a pre-dinner potty trip. By the time we were done, everyone had arrived and we were seated.

She did fine during the meal, largely because she was already full. But it did run late, and we were nearing bedtime...

Also known as Leaving Da Building-time for Le Monk.

She got like, sloppy-drunk and was all floppity and goofy. Pure entertainment.

We waited for our bill (for FOREVER!). As we were getting ready to go, Monkey was singing to herself but struggling since she was so tired. She asked for help with the song.

I asked her which song it was.

"Sing the PJ song!!"

Hmmm... there's a song called Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton. Did she mean that?

I sang the start of the chorus.

"NOnononoNO! Sing the *P* *J* song!!!"

Clueless, I asked her to sing part of it so I could help her.

She was standing between Daddy and Mommy. Then my sweet little just-past-babyhood baby promptly stuck out her cute little toddler butt, WIGGLED it, and sang:

"PJ, turn it up-up-up!!!"

I convulsed in "OH DEAR GOD!!" followed by maniacal laughter.

...Daddy, who does not have anything to do with pop music if he can avoid it, stared at me as if I lost my mind.

Which I kinda did, since I was all snorting and red-faced.

He very calmly asks what the heck she's singing.

So I told him... it's that vile Ke$ha song that the hip-hop class danced to at Big Sister's dance recital.

He immediately remembers the uncomfortable clapping after watching 9-year-olds in green glitter lipstick inappropriately lip synching to "looking sweet and sexy-fied." Horror befell him.

Then, lasers shot out of his eyes.

I ducked them and apologized profusely...

Then ever-so-sweetly pointed out that had I not had AN HOUR to kill entertaining a toddler in a minivan, this might not have happened.

Bottom line:

Epic fail. Times two. :(

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tis the Season...?

Do you remember when we were kids, and studied the FOUR seasons (and no, I don't mean Frankie Valli)? Winter, spring, summer, fall...rinse, and repeat.

I'm not sure when that changed. I went to college in central Illinois, two hours from my home in the 'burbs. I remember clearly that we DID still have seasons then, at home and at school. So, it had to be after that.

I stayed on as a townie for an unexpectedly delayed layover after graduation (four years, instead of the planned 6 months). Then it was back to Chi-town-land, and briefly back to central Illinois. During all that time I still recall having actual, definable SEASONS.

Thus, I'm going to blame Indiana.

I lived there for about four years, and when I returned to Chicagoland, suddenly there were no longer four seasons.

*I* think it's because Indiana could never figure out what FLIPPING *TIME* it was, and that threw off the rotation of the earth or something. Look it up, I'm serious.

*Now, IN has adopted daylight savings time, and stays constantly within the eastern time zone... but when I lived there they opted out of DST. I was at the border of IN and MI, and seriously, you could never be certain what the hell time it actually was. Even within the same Hoosier town, one business could follow IL in central DST, but across the street was an hour different for completely random reasons. The whole state was an unorganized, time-clashing mess for six out of every twelve months. It completely irritated me --every. Flipping. DAY.

So, thanks to Indiana, Chicagoland now has basically two seasons:

Winter, and Yay-It's-Warm-So-Now- We're-Crazy-Busy (also called Non-Winter).

Winter means it's *FREAKING COLD*. C-O-L-D, cold.

...And/or snowing, sleeting, raining, gusting winds from the Arctic, all of the above, in many different combinations and likely to change from minute to minute.

However, it is a universal law that the absolute WORST of the wind/snow/sleet/icy daggers from above will flare up exactly 42 seconds before you leave your current location, so as to inflict maximum damage upon your outfit and/or hair, and leave you with the maximum lingering mess to deal with for the rest of the day.

Welcome to the midwest.

So now that it finally stopped snowing--maybe, I dunno, 3 weeks ago?-- it seems we're on to season #2.

Because it was 97 degrees yesterday. 99+ the day before that, depending on your location.

Courtesy of the 20+ degree drop today, there were storms overnight that literally shook me awake. I thought we were having an earthquake until I saw the rave party of lightning a few seconds later.

But yeah, we're busy. It's GO time, folks!!

Pools, splash pads, and water parks are now open...for the only two months you get to use them in Chicagoland.

Everyone and their DOG is having a BBQ, birthday party, graduation party, outdoor wedding, christening, celebration of cat adoption, or some-such-thing.

--Oh, and all those events? Most certainly will be on the SAME DAY. (Because there are only about 8 weekends of Non-Winter, so your options are limited.)

The Season-Formerly-Known-As-Summer also means it is INSANITY time at work. Higher education administrators <waving HI!> spend virtually all of Non-Winter gearing up for the start of the school year...

Which means that of those 8 glorious Non-Winter weekends, I will be WORKING at least three Saturdays.

I wasn't a math major, but I do believe that's a high percentage of prime Non-Winter time. Grumble.

On the up side:

Non-Winter means splashing around in the baby pool, chasing fireflies, letting Monkey make a colossal mess with the sandbox toys, and watching her flop down on her pillow, snoring before you even let go, ripe with the sour-sweet elixir of kid sweat, sunscreen, and watermelon juice.

On the down side:

There are mosquitoes here bigger than my fist. And they *ALL* know where I live.

Happy Non-Winter.

Grab a Popsicle before it melts and refreezes instantly when winter returns. In like, a week. ;)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Monkey-speak, Part 2

I actually have a whole ton of these saved, mostly for my own enjoyment. It's funny to read back over the list now, because Monkey now speaks like a typical five-year-old... but she's still not even three yet.

(Don't tell HER that though- she is rather insistent that her next birthday will mean she's six. No amount of arguing will convince her otherwise.)

PhrasePart of SpeechTranslation

 I'm done being stinky.declaration Please let my time-out be over.
 Not an excew-wentn. A bad thing to do. As in, "Sorry, Mama, that was not an excew-went."
 Woof feetv. To sniff someone's stinky toes, pull back, and say "WOOF! Stinky!" Inspires serious giggle-fits.
 Turn the wight offdeclaration Turn the light ON. We have some on/off confusion at the moment.
 Airplanen. Helicopter
 Headbandn. Sticky protective item put on scrapes or cuts. As in, "I got a boo-boo! I need a headband on it."
 Skelloweensn. Halloween decorations, especially if they're scary. Also used for Christmas yard decorations. 
 Eski-mo-moesn. Nose-rubbing version of kissing
 Binkyn. The now-vanished pacifier; also known as the Mute Button to Mom and Dad
 Babyn. Any child with a pacifier, even if he/she is bigger and/or older... Cuz, only babies use binkies, yo.
 Hoopta hoopn. The sparkly round toy Monkey *thinks* she knows how to use. Watch your shins.
 Arieln. Any of the Disney princesses. They are all Ariel.   Yes. They ARE.
 Snooping Bootyn. Disney movie about a princess falling asleep, and/or the name of the lead character (after she is first called Ariel). Calls to mind an entirely different genre of movie which would be horribly inappropriate.
 El-MO-mo n. What she used to call the furry red monster from Sesame Street. (Sadly, she now just calls him Elmo like everyone else.)
 Old MacFarmern. Kids' song about a farmer who has a bunch of animals. He also has a "MonkeyDoodle," with a giggle-giggle here, and a giggle-giggle there.
 Ippy Bippy Pidern. Kids' song about an arachnid getting hosed by Mother Nature
 ABCD'sn. The alphabet. It is NOT ABC's. She will correct you.
 Bring-backsn. Kids' song about my Bonnie lying over the ocean. Usually I am requested to skip to the good part (i.e., Bring BACK, bring BACK…); best sung LOUDLY.
 Poniesn. Hairstyle in which her hair is divided in half and put up in elastics on the   sides of her head. Unca Yim apparently needs them... Even though his     head is kinda shaved, Monkey keeps trying to give him pretty pony hair.
 I need to go pottydeclaration I am tired of being in my booster seat, and just want to go elsewhere.
 Got pee comin'!declaration I actually DO need to pee.
 I tooteddeclaration Danger: possible code brown in the diaper!
 What do you say?question She thinks you either burped or tooted, and therefore need to say  "Excuse me." Even if you didn't do anything, just say it. She won't let up until you do.
 Go cribv. To sleep, perchance to dream
 Sit-and-scootv. How wobbly toddlers are encouraged to safely go down the stairs 
 Babies bounce!declaration Gleeful response to falling on her butt. Courtesy of Aunt Boo.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I have a lot of reasons I could sit here wallowing in my misery. There have been so many horrible, life-altering, soul-crushingly BAD things that have happened to me, at me, around me.

Sometimes, I do wallow. Not often (or at least, I try to restrict my wallowing to as infrequent an occasion as possible).

One of the glorious things about the modern world is we can connect with people we've never laid eyes on, and likely never will. We can know someone's life as deeply as they're willing to share. We can reach out, and be the recipient of the reaching.

I have lymphedema. It is a completely craptastic, gross, and scary disease. Recently, I've joined a couple of online groups where others in this same bandage-laden boat can support one another and just vent, or at the very least, hang out for a bit in the company of those who "get it."

What I've gotten is the very abrupt realization that I am blessed. Abundantly.

Not because I have this infuriating condition, of course-- but because I DO have the means (and the insurance coverage, thank you GOD!) to tackle it head-on.

I've read stories from people, just like me, who are completely incapacitated by their lymphedema. Dangerously infected, immobile, bed-bound, unable to find clothing that accommodates their swelling and/or the bandages required to treat it.

People who can't even take a shower without an extended preemptive routine to keep the bandaging dry.

And ya know what? I. Am. BLESSED.

I can bandage my legs without assistance. At the present time I do not have any drainage or fissures in the skin, so I am *only* dealing with compression garments during the day.

I can shower. Whenever I want. (Though, likely not without a little voice calling out, entering the bathroom and demanding to know why I'm all wet. But that's OK too.)

There's a family in New York-- the Bonds-- who are currently facing a road I can't even imagine. Both the husband and wife are battling cancer. At the same time.

And, they have a toddler.

My heart ACHES for them, for the plans they had for life that cancer so rudely tossed in the shredder. Their determination to be there for each other, and their love for that little girl is so real and so true and so... just... just *so.*

Read their blog. Pray for their recovery, or at least send them good vibes because the universe needs more of that.

I am BLESSED that although my body rebels in numerous ways, I still have some semblance of health. I can still walk and talk and run after my child (for a few steps anyway).

I am BLESSED to have the little girl I dreamed of, forever. If I could have custom-ordered my daughter, she'd be exactly who she actually is. I marvel at that daily.

I am BLESSED to have the love of a wonderful man, who thinks I am beautiful even when I am scrubbing the tub and/or plugged into a compression pump for my lymphedema and can't move for an hour.

I am BLESSED by friends whose love and humor and strength and support give me that last burst of wind in the drooping sails, to help me cowboy up and rock on wif mah bad self.

I am BLESSED because I am alive. My life is not perfect--never will be-- and that's OK.

Because JOY is a choice. LOVE is choice. LIVING is a choice. You can dwell on the crap or you can look to your blessings.

Take realistic stock of your surroundings. Chances are, the blessings outnumber the crap, if you can shift your focus to see them first.