Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Honeymoon and Aftermath (aka: Grandparent Detox)

So, yeah... the honeymoon/Monkey's week with her grandparents went just as we had thought:

She had absolutely ZERO interest in coming home.


We walked into my parents' house on Saturday (after checking out of our hotel), and she took one look at us, another at the suitcases...and started crying. Not much of a warm fuzzy feeling, BTW.

This was followed by a full-on fit, punctuated with foot stomping, an extraordinary amount of snot, and wails of, "I DON'T *WANNA* GO HOME!!!!"

Good times.

For the record, we are obviously the WORST PARENTS EVER because we told her she had to eat what we were eating for lunch, and she in fact would NOT be able to opt out and have chicken wings instead. Which apparently she was getting away with...all chicken, all week. The kid is GOOD, I tell ya.

I am very grateful she got to spend some dedicated time with her Bunny and Papi, and even more grateful that MDD and I got that time to just be a couple and catch our breath for a few days. The weeks leading up to and right after the wedding were a total blur of running nine million and four errands and doing all the things.

With the timing of things in our relationship, there really wasn't much of that. For the past five years, our lives have been one whirlwind into another and we became parents before we had much time to settle into being a couple.

Honestly, it was weird not being with her for a whole week. Like when you are SURE you are missing something and can't quite relax? Yeah... What I was missing and always looking for was a cute little mop-haired Monkey who never stops talking.

Although, in hindsight, it may be I was *LISTENING* more than looking for her.Our hotel room was strangely quiet. Mommy tends to not trust quiet, for reasons which should be obvious.

The weather did not cooperate, but beyond that slight glitch it was a great trip for all the Doodles. Oh, and the one yucky night my stomach flipped out and I missed out on my sushi dinner. So that stunk. But MDDaddy scored big points by taking his green-faced bride where everyone wants to be when they feel sick: to her mommy. ;) He is smart like that.

My folks keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet and supply of ginger ale, and we got to sneak peeks of the sleeping Monkey. All for the good of my tummy.

We officially have the best-flying preschooler on earth. Her record stands unblemished as an awesome airplane traveler. Bonus points for not puking in the car on the way to or from the airport- that was a pleasant improvement from the last trip. No barfy car seat this time! Yayyyy!

Truly, we are spoiled by how easy-going she can be. At one point she even gave the "eyebrows" face because some other kid on the plane was wailing. But, she just shook her head sadly and went back to her Leapster game. So worldly and wise, and yet unable to tie her shoes. It's a conundrum.

The timing also worked nicely to give her just a week and a half back at preschool before we headed off to visit her other grandparents for Thanksgiving. We are quite the travelers this fall. This is more going-coming-going than I recall ever doing in such a time span.

And now, my sorry hide ain't goin' NOWHERE for a good, long time. Thankyouverymuch.

I was thoroughly impressed by Monk's ninja skills over this past holiday weekend. The three of us stayed in the spare room at my in-laws' house, with Monkey in a sleeping bag on the floor. I slept very little, as her cold reared back up and had her coughing (and me, listening) during the nights.

Each morning, I would wake up and take a look at her, trying to figure out if that cough meant she was really up or just sort of up...and rest my head back down on the pillow, keeping my ears open for further signs.

And somehow, the little stinker managed to creep and crawl her way out of that room-- THREE TIMES-- without being detected. I would turn to check on her, and see the pillow empty... and hear her downstairs, playing or laughing or talking to her grandparents.

ALL THREE DAYS, this happened.


I nearly booby-trapped the doorway, just to figure out how on earth she was getting past me.

I honestly cannot understand how the same child who sounds like a herd of elephants on the stairs when she goes to brush her teeth, who trips on every piece of lint in the rug on the way (she is MY child, after all), could have managed such stealthiness.

Perhaps the proper motivation of a grandparent audience gave her super-ninja skills?? I can't say for sure. All I know? It was impressive.

Once again, parting was such sweet sorrow when it was time to leave Grandma and Grandpa's house. Many tears and repeated hugs and whining and the whole shebang. In fact, Monkey announced she was staying with Grandma. I told her she'd miss her mommy and daddy. The look on her face was nowhere near convinced of that. But we were taking the rest of the Thanksgiving cake with us, so she had a tough call to make.

Thus, back on the road we went, and back home to our own beds. Her ninja skills have dissipated back to normal levels so that is fortunate.

Now it is back to the "normal" in general, other than the whole  name change game and other post-wedding details.

Just in time for the holidays.


Yeah. That too.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Big News in Doodle-Land

Well, howdy. I've been away for a bit, and just a TAD distracted lately...



And, I have to say-- for all the craziness and running around like maniacs and umpteen bazillion hours of planning and crafting and meeting with various people-- overall?

It was absolutely amazing.

Monkey was the flower girl, with the requisite, unbearably cute ruffly dress to match her Mommy. I made her headband and flower girl basket, with the help of my equally crafty and very patient bridesmaid.

Monkey's "attendant gift" was a diamond monkey pendant.
Diamond CHIP- I'm not stupid. She's only four, after all.

Monkey's big sis--now, OFFICIALLY my stepdaughter-- was our junior bridesmaid. She wore a slightly altered version of the bridesmaid dresses. And looked much older than anyone was prepared for, I think. Very proud and beautiful.

Which, BTW- major retailer for bridal gowns, which rhymes with Shmavid's? You can go suck an egg, for discontinuing your own "signature" color, just WEEKS after we ordered the last dress in that color. Jerks.

Also? Dresses for eight-year-old girls should LOOK like dresses for eight-year-old-girls. She did not need skimpy little spaghetti straps or a dipping neckline, thanks... She's EIGHT.

I am eternally grateful to our seamstress (who was in no way, shape, or form associated with Schmavid's), who managed to adapt the dress to give her a ruffly strap that was much more age-appropriate. And still beautiful.

OK, I can be done with that now.

But, for realz, I have never in my life felt so much love and support as I did in that room. Our families, friends, church members, all positively BEAMED love and light at us.

It was all I could do to just soak it in, and try to express my gratitude.

We had a very cute incident with our little diva. The best man gave his lovely toast, as did our maid of honor (the previously blogged-about gift-of-God known as Ti-Ti).

Monkey saw the microphone. So, you knew it was coming...

She inserted herself between her dad and me at the head table, with the big, frowny, I'm-about-to-REALLY-cry face. We asked what was wrong.

Monkey: ...<sniff>...I would like a turn!
MDDaddy: What? ...Wait, with the mic?
Monkey (closer to crying now): YEEEeeeeeees.

We looked at each other. In some degree of fear. We know her very well. There is a roomful of our nearest and dearest and the four-year-old wants the microphone. It's a crapshoot.

MDDaddy: Ok, well...what would you want to say?
Monkey: <no response...thinking hard>
MDDaddy: Ehhh...I don't know...

Me (trying to ward off the impending flip-out): Ok, about you go up there with Ti-Ti? She can help you say what you want to say. Would that work?

With a big grin, Monkey skips over to where Ti-Ti stands with the microphone.

Ti-Ti: Oh! Well, OK, folks. It seems the *daughter* of the bride and groom has something she would like to say... (points the mic towards Monkey)

Monkey looks around the room.
Blinks twice.
Then, takes off running to where her grandparents were sitting.

Without skipping a beat, Ti-Ti adds:

Cue the roomful of laughter, and "awww" chorus.
That kid can work a room, I tell ya.
...So can Ti-Ti, thank goodness.

As a bride with the big day pending, I went through about a solid week of all the ridiculous pre-wedding anxiety nightmares. The best one was about a week prior. I woke up laughing.

Because in the dream, we were preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

Which, thankfully, was NOT the actual wedding-- I know this solely because, in the dream, we were already wearing our rings.

MDDaddy expressed his relief that it was rather considerate of the zombies to hold of on the apocalypse until AFTER our wedding.

Hard to argue with that.

Unfortunately, Hurricane/Super-storm Sandy was not nearly so considerate, and our best man (MDD's brother) wound up stranded with us, 900 miles from his wife and children. Not that it was at all an issue to have him with us, but it is really hard to see someone you care about- an amazing father and husband- so stressed and frustrated and worried about his family... and there being precious little you can do to fix it.

Luckily, he managed to get home via a flight to Boston and drive to Connecticut, albeit a few days after he had planned to return.

All in all, the day itself was beyond my wildest dreams.

...Even the zombie apocalypse one.

I shall now go eat more leftover cake.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Testing Mobile App

Considering how often my phone likes to make me look stupid, this may be an experiment I regret...! This is a test post using Blogger mobile.

Monkey had her first run-in on the playground today, which I will write more about later.

For now I am enjoying the sound of her "sleepy music" muffled through the door.

G'night all...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monkey's 4th Birthday

We had promised this year we would NOT have another kids' birthday party at the house. Too much cleaning (before and after), too many people in too small a house. We did three parties at home, and she's big enough (and has enough friends) that it is just TOO much.

Last year, for her third birthday, we had Monkey's party at home. We had all this stuff planned for the patio and garage space. Then it was cold and rainy and no one left the house, so it smelled like sweaty little kids and there was glitter and neon cupcake frosting everywhere.

Everyone tripped on each other and there were a lot of collisions and just complete chaos. That was topped off by a complete no-nap meltdown and Monkey peeing in the front room mere seconds after the last guests left the building.

For real. People were RIGHT THERE on the front porch and sidewalk, and she just let 'er rip in the middle of the front room. Like Seabiscuit. WOW.

So, with all the wedding planning in high gear, we really had our minds, hearts, and wallets set on letting the mess take place elsewhere this year. Then there would be the added bonus of coming back to a house in the same state we'd left it, and we'd be much less likely to deal with pee. Or glitter. Or, you know, both.

First choice: the park district, in their spiffy new fall brochure, advertised having kids' parties at their facilities. Monkey's big sis had her 6th birthday at the park district by her mom's house, and it was kind of a nice deal. They plan and clean up, you bring the people and the cake, and voila! Finis.

Our park district had better theme choices, including either a gymnastics or dance option. You book the time, they give you one of their instructors, and your kid and her friends have a private dance party or gymnastics lesson. Cool!

Given the nature of the kids who'd be coming, we vetoed the gymnastics idea. There is one family in our group of friends who, God love 'em, wind up at Urgent Care damn near every weekend. They are lovely, wonderful kids...just, uh...accident prone. I couldn't stomach the idea of putting those kids on gymnastic equipment and still sleep at night. I'd owe their parents the co-pay at the very least.

So, we went with Dance Party. We'd wanted to put Monkey in dance classes this year anyway, but given all the la-dee-dah going on with wedding planning, had to postpone that idea until Mommy's no longer having panic attacks about the delivery date for favors. Knowwhaddamean?

I filled out the reservation form, faxed it over, and awaited my confirmation email and scheduling call from the park district. And waited. And, waited... and got mad and handed the project off to MDD, because, OK, did you know David's Bridal can and DOES discontinue their own signature, trademark colors? Like, two weeks after you order four bridesmaid dresses in one of those trademarked colors? And then, they also can wipe clean ANY HISTORY or trace of that color, from any kind of accessory, so if you want ribbon to match it you have to go to EVERY SINGLE craft store on Earth to find it?

(Do I sound stressed?)

So, MDD was handed the party planning so I would not swear at people. It's frowned upon or something, whatever. Park District Lady finally told him she was "having trouble" securing a dance teacher for that date/time.

We were flexible, and said, hey we haven't sent invitiations yet...the time can change if needed, or even the day, to Sunday instead of Saturday, but it has to be that weekend. Roughly 2/3 of the main guests had a function the prior weekend. My high school reunion was the weekend after. Thus we said: YOU tell us which of those days, and what time and we will run with it.

Crickets. Nada. As in, the chick did NOT CALL BACK for like, 5 days. At which point I switched from freaking out about wedding details (we were mailing wedding invites at the same time as planning the birthday party) to OMG WE ARE NOT GOING TO HAVE TIME TO GET PEOPLE TO THIS PARTY. <hyperventilate>

Park District Lady, after being nicely stalked by MDD, finally confirmed they would be unable to meet our request and declined the booking. No teacher was willing to teach an extra class. Excuse me??

I of course then had a Tourette's-like, epic vent, because, COME ON PEOPLE, do not ADVERTISE you will DO THINGS and then NOT DO THEM! Just saying. I did not want to have to tell Monkey there would be no dance party. Enter MDD. :(

She rebounded nicely.
Just looked up, with her big puppy dog eyes, and asked if we could just have her party at Pump It Up instead.

Have you been there? It's a great idea for a kid's birthday party. Big warehouse kind of place with a room filled with inflatable things like big obstacle courses, slides, and of course your average everyday bounce house. Monkey's BFF had her third birthday party there.

So we looked into it. Uh, yeah... it's a nice place. They have it set up so you can book the absolute basic party, which runs about two hours. But does NOT INCLUDE FOOD. IMHO you can't have a warehouse full of kids bouncing for an hour, and not feed them. They will turn all Lord of the Rings on you and start chewing on each other.

Oh, OK. You want food? Gotta use theirs. And, prepare to pay dearly for it. NO OUTSIDE FOOD allowed, except the cake. Bring your own plates and stuff too. Holy schmoley. We are planning a wedding, and it's a small one, but uhhh wow this was not what we planned to do.

So, no to Pump It Up. And we were running out of options and time.

MDDaddy and I looked at each other, sighed, and agreed. <swearing>
Party's at our house.

However, Monkey did NOT rebound so well from that news. What about jumping or dancing? Could we still get a bounce house?

Unsure of our clearance for that, we called our landlords. They were surprised we asked. MDD explained we just didn't want to tear up the lawn without them knowing in advance. Blessings were given, and apparently we are the best tenants on earth. Good to know.

My maid of honor (Monkey's former nanny) has a big party for her son each year, since his birthday is right around Labor Day. It's multi-tasking :). She rents a bounce house each year from the same company. I got the guy's number and called him.

The original plan was that Monkey wanted a Batman theme. The party rental guy thought that was pretty awesome for a GIRL turning four. However, there was no super hero themed bounce house. There was a blue one with a Big Red Dog (not THE big red dog Who Cannot Be Named. He is a licensed character...but it sure looks like his twin brother). So we picked that. Book it, Danno. Moving on!

That night we hit the party store to get invitations. All the Batman ones Monkey deemed either "too dark" or "scary" because, let's face it: they're aimed at seven-year-old boys. Not four-year-old girls. Well, crap.

Luckily, they DID have some funky, fun, Monkey-approved neon monkey themed stuff. It had a cartoon monkey wearing a bright pink bow, with cool green and aqua accent colors. Grabbed 'em. DONE.

Except then came the sad lip. Because, MOMMY, the Big Red Dog doesn't match the Cute Pink Monkey. Right.

Back onto the phone goes mom. The same company also has a jungle themed bouncer, with MONKEYS! Done! Book it!! The guy said he'd email the confirmation and deposit receipt to me.
We have 15 days before the actual party now. We managed to get the wedding invitations in the mail.

Thank goodness for the interwebs. I made a Facebook event and got most of the birthday invites out that way, then mailed a few for her preschool friends* and the other folks who I know aren't on Facebook.

*An executive decision was made to only invite preschool friends from *last year's* class. She had a few kids she really liked from class, and a few she clearly said (REPEATEDLY) she did NOT want to invite to the party. One is the little guy who "always tooked stuff outta my hands, and that's NOT NICE so, NOT HIM." Ok, kid. Done.

The Parent Handbook at the new preschool clearly specifies if you're having a party you should either invite the whole class, or mail the invitations to the kids' homes so no one feels left out. You're not supposed to pass out invitations at school. I understand that and wouldn't want Monkey to feel left out either.

But, given that she'd only been in class for like three days at that point, I was not so up on inviting 21 kids we barely know to come bounce like monkeys. And the class list for mailing addresses had to be updated and a couple people were added/dropped so I couldn't mail invitations to the two or three friends I know she had made. All or none = none, this time.

Given when Monkey's birthday falls, she is likely to be one of the first birthdays. Every. Single. School year. I see a pattern coming...this was not the year to tackle that concept.

The rest of the very rushed planning sped along. Food? Just chips and cake. They're bouncing. I'm not hosing that thing down, so nothing beyond snacks. Preferably nothing brightly colored. Thank you very much.

Thursday night before the Saturday party, I realized I never got the email confirmation from the rental guy. But, my phone eats email sometimes.

So I called and left a message just verifying the rental. Unable to let it rest at that, I sent him an email...which came back with a very lovely automated message, pleasantly letting me know he was out of the office until the following Monday.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT? OMG!!! Did he have our deposit? Were we getting the bounce house? What good is a bounce house party if there is no bounce house? What will I do with all those kids?

I forwarded the email to the owner and asked him to call me back ASAP so we could confirm details.

To his credit, the man called me back at 8:05 AM and very gently and professionally advised me to breathe. It was all taken care of. Whew.

Rest of the planning:
Games? There's a bounce house. Go bounce. Games are done. LOL

Tables and chairs? God bless our church. We borrowed the ugly ones which only see the light of day when all the "good" ones are already in use. Check!

Presents? Right. Gifts for the child...I seem to recall a blur of late night and/or off hours trips to the store with the creepy giraffe and the red-dot dog. I do not recall how they got wrapped. Either we had elves or MDDaddy stayed up late. I honestly don't know.

House cleaning? We did some decluttering through the week, but left the bulk of  actual cleaning to be tackled Friday night (before the Saturday afternoon festivities) so we wouldn't have to do it twice.

Smart planning, right?

Yes. <pats self on back>

Except...guess what was NOT in the plan?

Ha ha.
How about a level five, full-blown migraine striking Mommy at 6 PM on Friday night?!?!!
Oh, yes.
Not even kidding.

I felt it coming on at work so I took the medicine as soon as I got home. The Migraine Beast just laughed its evil, roaring laugh, and plunged me me into darkness. The motion of my own breathing made me dizzy. I tried not to breathe, but that made me even dizzier.

Here is where I give mad props to Monkey Doodle Daddy. Cuz, I was COMPLETELY out of commission. I spent seven hours curled up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor. In the dark. He somehow corralled the girls to bed and cleaned the house (minus the bathroom I was occupying).

The first wave (usually the worst part) of the migraine finally passed around1:45 AM. I weighed my options.

In twelve hours, we would be hosting a bunch of PRESCHOOLERS in a BOUNCE HOUSE.
The noise of the ticking clock made me want to cry. Things looked bleak.

I took more medicine, crawled into bed, and decided if I could sleep just a little bit maybe I could push through it. As long as I didn't try to eat. Or sneeze (makes it worse, for some reason).

If there was no further break in the migraine, I decided I would get up in the morning and go check into a hotel. It would truly break my heart to miss the party, but the reality of a house and yard full of screaming children--BOUNCING, SCREAMING CHILDREN-- did not look good.

I prayed. A LOT.

I woke up at 6:45 AM, still feeling woozy but able to tolerate light again. I was going to skip making my usual taco dip (MDD's favorite thing I make) because the thought of smelling onions and cheese did not give me warm happy thoughts. But, he asked...and, I mean, he DID clean everything... so I took some Tums and made the stuff. I somehow managed not to puke, which I considered a victory.

Thankfully, MDD's parents came into town a bit early and rescued me. I cannot recall being happier to see someone. I was trying to deal with food (still not high on my list) and realized the goodie bags weren't put together. That had been another thing I was going to do Friday night, before Migraine Beast took over. Grandma and Grandpa helped corral the girls into making the bags.

The rental guy even showed up early. He said I sounded anxious on the phone, so he wanted to get the bounce house set up early so I "wouldn't worry." I apparently have become neurotic enough that strangers can discern it over the phone. Awesome. But hey, whatever- we got the thing early.

More importantly, I got to watch Monkey's face as the guy set it up. She brought out her favorite stuffed animal (a Scentsy monkey, appropriately named "Monkey Best Friend") and watched intently as it slowly took shape.

As it got bigger, and bigger...she started bouncing, slightly at first, then to a full up-down jumping on the patio. Her voice went up a full octave. By the time it was fully inflated, she actually lost her vocabulary and was just vibrating her way around the patio, going, "SQUEEEEEEE!!!!!"

That settled it. I was NOT going to any stupid hotel.

I drank a lot of water and stayed upwind from the food smells.

The kids started arriving, with a few early bird parents (including my maid of honor) jumping right in to help finish decorating and get the coolers and food in place. I was greeted more than once with, "Uh, are you OK?" I'm sure I showed every stinking minute of the long, miserable night I'd had.

But this was for my GIRL. And she's with me, and beautiful and happy, and cavorting around with her little preschool friends, and there was my amazing man, his parents, and our phenomenal friends right there, all stepping right in as needed.

Serendipity, and proof that angels walk among us. They're called friends and family. I had all the help I needed, and more.

I have LOVE all around me, and so does my little Monkey.
We are blessed beyond measure, and I am sorry I let myself get all frazzled and distracted from that.

September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, and I remember Donna's Quirke Hornik's story all too well. It changed my life.
Read it if you haven't, yet.

Donna was four, too... Donna will always BE four.

Donna doesn't get to have any more birthdays.
Her mom can't wipe neon-colored frosting off her nose any more.

Every SINGLE day with my most unexpected blessing is a gift I never dreamed I'd have.
Yeah, OK, so I felt like crap, and maybe I didn't eat solid food until Monday afternoon.

None of that matters.

I got a special day to celebrate the most beautiful event of my entire life:
 the birth of the miracle child I had prayed for, for YEARS.

And there she was, SQUEEEE-ing around the patio with her Pippi Longstocking braids, holding a stuffed monkey who smells like apple pie.

Life is good.

Happy birthday, little one.

What Happened to the Dinosaurs

This past Saturday, I got the girls up early, packed up into the van and headed out to darn-near-Indiana to meet the seamstress friend of my maid of honor. She had graciously offered to do our alterations for the wedding for FREE (woo hoo!) so it was very well worth the drive.

Upon meeting her and getting her take on how to do some of the necessary alterations, I was even more glad we made the drive. The woman is a genius and I am grateful to see someone with such passion and expertise take over an aspect of the wedding about which I am BEYOND clueless.

Hey, all I know is I lost 35 pounds since I bought my dress, and I'm five foot three, so it's too long. Exactly HOW to fix that? Uh, I got nothing. Go fish??

Still, it's a long drive and it was a bit challenging to keep the girls occupied during fittings and measurements and discussions that weren't about their own dresses. There are five dresses in the seamstress' capable hands this week, so a lot to do on one morning.

The true gem of the day though, was heading back home with my four-year-old Monkey and her eight-year-old sister. Because, the drive took an hour. I should have switched on my phone to take video (or at least audio) recording of our drive.

I was following the GPS, which kept bitching at me about "recalculating" so I am not actually sure how the conversation began. Apparently the girls started talking about what happened to the dinosaurs.

This is not a normal topic of conversation so I kinda wish I'd caught the start of it. Alas, I was too busy arguing with the stupid GPS chick trying to tell me to make a U-turn when she's also telling me to take 294 West, and the sign RIGHT THERE says turn left, but she is saying turn right. No. I am not turning right. The sign says the 294 W ramp is on the left and I am going to turn left so SHUT UP ALREADY...

Anyway, from where I noticed the conversation:

Monkey: How come there are no more dinosaurs?
Sis: Because. They all died.
Monkey: Isn't there even a baby one?
Sis (irritated): NO. They all DIED. Like, a long time ago.

Monkey: *I* know what happened. They just... they uhm... they couldn't surVIIIiieiiieve. <stretched out into about four syllables>

Intrigued, I joined in with: Yes, but what MADE them not survive?

Sis: Nobody knows.

Monkey: *I* know. They just couldn't surVIIIiieiiieve. <stretched out into about four syllables>

Me: But, why do you think that happened?

Sis (more irritated): NOBODY knows.

Me: Well, what do the scientists think?

Sis (sighing and running it all together): It could be a meteor. Or a comet. Or weather changes or they all got sick and the food went away or they got stuck in the mud and then there was an ice age.

Me: Right. Or some combination of all that, possibly.

Monkey: ...They just couldn't surVIIIiieiiieve. <stretched out into about four syllables>

Me: Monkey, what do YOU think caused it?

Monkey: *I* know. <Sis shoots her a look.> No, I *DO* know.


Monkey: It was a volcaner. It arrumpted. Then they all just couldn't surVIIIiieiiieve.

Well worth the trip.

What the WHAT...?

So much to tell, so little time to type...

In the past several months, we have faced the possible loss of my job, the impending job change for Monkey Doodle Daddy, health issues for both girls, and the loss of first our main caregiver for Monkey and our backup, her sister, who stepped in for just this summer.

We have been FREAKING BUSY, and in the trenches, taking mortar shells, dangit!! Plus it was summer, and nine zillion degrees, and summer in Financial Aid Land means you have to schedule potty breaks into your Outlook calendar or it will be 4:30 and you realize you last went like, 10 hours ago. So there was also all that mess. Holy schmoley.

The short version: I did NOT lose my job, though it was looking iffy for a bit there. I tucked my tail between my legs, fessed up to my shortcomings and took my lumps. Like a grownup, even. And miraculously...moved past it.

Monkey's main baby sitter is a very close friend, whom I've known forever. I used to babysit HER when she was a kid, along with her little sister and brother. (Said "little" brother is now like six foot four.) Well, she got divorced in April and has been doing the "What NOW Math" MDD and I know so well from our own situations. The initial discussion was that in the fall, she would be going back to school. Thus, if we planned to keep Monkey in her same preschool for another year, we'd have to find a way to get her there. Not ideal, but we could swing that.

However, then, out of the blue, she was offered a really sweet job. A FULL TIME job. As in: no more stay-home-mom, and thus, no more super-convenient, just-like-family-nanny for Monkey. But she HAD to take it. She is a single mom now and has her own son to support, and, I can't fault her for taking a great opportunity. But it was a crushing blow to our plans for this year.

Because, on top of that development, our main caregiver's sister (my other surrogate little sister) lost HER job in May and has been home. They were both there for a couple months. However, Sis had already planned to go back to school in the fall and finish her nursing degree. Another can't-miss opportunity to do right by her own kids, after her own divorce...but further closing the door on this chapter in Monkey's care. She was able to take care of Monkey through the summer, but that would have to end once school started in August.

These developments, coupled with my stress/discomfort/extreme Mommy guilt from my own job, had us doing ALL KINDS of speculations.

Should I stay home? COULD I stay home? <Pleasepleaseplease>

Should MDDaddy change jobs? Could he? Does he HAVE to?? We played out all kinds of options.

In one scenario, I was considering swapping places with our caregivers-- between the three women, we have four kids. Someone has to watch them, right? Maybe I, except the math didn't bear that out, and I would've had to be at their house, which negated the benefit of my being home to tend to our domestic chores and what-not. Very sadly, I acquiesced and let that idea go.

The next scenario: could we find someone else who could watch Monkey in that same area, so we could keep her going to the same preschool? The one where her sister went, and we know people, and OMG is any of this going to pan out at all?

Sadly, no. We had to choose tolet go of things that just aren't in the cards right now. We live in one town, the preschool is in another, and our two jobs are in two opposite directions from both of those places.

It so happens I work at a university which has an on-site daycare and preschool. We'd looked into it briefly when I started there, but at the time Monkey was in baby/toddler-land. As any working parent can attest, that means BIG BUCKS for daycare, limited hours, and limited spots. But back then it didn't matter, because we had such a great setup anyway, with our family friends, and cheaper, and more flexible hours... <sigh>

Well, now Monkey is more than two years older. And POTTY TRAINED. Ding ding ding!! So I looked into it, and talked with the director about our scenario. Problem was, it was May, and all the good preschools in Chicagoland book up in like, February... and this one is top notch, in a high-demand area.

So after my brief talk with the director I realized I didn't know the wait list situation. I called just the main desk number for general info, asked about the wait list, I got this lovely answer:

"Oh YES, there IS a list! <Is that a sneer I hear? Yes, sure sounds like one...> It runs, oh, about 18 to 24 months from the time you get on the list to getting a spot."

WHAT THE...WHAT??!!! Did I MISS SOMETHING? What, do people sign up for preschool from the maternity ward or something? <Apparently? Yes. Yes, they actually do. Or even, beforehand. Like, once the stick turns blue, people around here are waitlisting preschools. I am not even kidding. Chicago is weird.>

Heartbroken, I emailed back to the director, again explaining our plight and that we had daycare only until August and if this was not going to happen I needed to know. She asked me to come meet with her and tour the school. Which I thought was kinda mean, if it was just going to be to say, NA NA BOO BOO look what your kid COULD have been doing...

Turns out, I am kind of slow on the uptake. Full-time employees and full-time students get priority placement at the university's preschool. This never even occurred to me. The person I'd spoken to on the phone was giving the generic, pat answer for the general community-at-large. Oh, THANKYOUGOD.

And, folks? This place is IN-FREAKING-CREDIBLE. Hell, *I* want to go there!! Writing stations, and patio gardens, and three playgrounds--including one INDOORS--and field trips, and opportunities to help in menu building and taking part in chapel and Their creative play area alone made Monkey's cute little head spin. It has a loft. It's like a real house, right in the classroom, only smaller and with labels on everything to encourage them to read.

So, we signed her up, starting in August. Which means, she now rides to and from work with me. I hereby get an extra HOUR of one-on-one time with my daughter, right when I was lamenting the fact that our finances couldn't support me being with her full time.

It's a consolation prize, true-- but hey, I will gladly take it. This change also freed up MDD's schedule to address issues with his job. That solidified his idea of moving on to a bigger company where he could earn more. With this preschool booked for Monkey and the hit it puts on my paycheck (which wasn't so fantastic to begin with), the need to offset that increase prompted him to move forward in the application process.

I could write a whole post on that. He's an engineer. Apparently there are companies whose sole purpose is to hunt down engineers who want to change jobs and match them with more jobs. So even when he's happily employed, he still has options because there are people whose entire jobs exist to fish out happily employed engineers and encourage them move on to a new job. I did not realize this even happens, much less in this economy. I'm just saying: Com majors do NOT get such treatment.

And, whaddyaknow? He got the job! And, it's a big raise! Go, Team Doodle!

I am pretty sure there must be some kind of interplanetary significance to August 27th. Monkey started her new school with me that day. MDDaddy also started his new job. Aunt Missy's college classes started that day too. Just, yeahhh... I should've played the lottery, but I thought that might be pushing it.

Another choice/change: starting Monk at a new preschool also means I have now made the commitment to stay at my current job for the foreseeable future. We've already had to pull her out of one preschool and into another, and I don't want to do that again. Finding somewhere I feel confident leaving my flesh and blood is NOT an easy task, and I want her (and us!) to have the stability of knowing where she will be. So we can plan. And not do this insane scramble, like, uh... ever? Yeah. Never's good for me. 

Well, at least until she is going to start kindergarten...because we ARE going to move before then, though we're not sure where... Maybe closer to her sister, or the other direction, closer to our church and MDD's new job...and then that means packing...and more choices...and, crap. Where's the Tylenol?

As far as the medical issues: Monkey's big sis had The Ear Infection Which Would NOT Die. Seriously, it was over a month. She was on antibiotics I couldn't touch or even inhale, for risk of anaphylactic shock. And by the way? That stuff smells like dead rhino. For real. Thankfully, it managed to kill that evil beast of a bug and the child was finally able to hear and chew without pain again. It was ugly.

Monkey's medical issues are still a bit nebulous. For a while there it was like an episode of House. The diagnosis is elusive, but we have some suspicions of lingering UTI or possible digestive troubles. I've had both, so neither would be a stretch. Plus it pops up rather conveniently, such as when she's in trouble for something...I don't know.

If there is anything worth discussing I will do so, later. Just know we spent much of the late summer dealing with lab tests and follow up visits and still no one seems to have much of a clue, nor much of a concern. So, maybe it's nothing. I surely hope so. Knock on wood, as it's subsided since August.

Just some more of those unexpected twists of the road, which in turn point you somewhere you never thought you'd be. The last time I posted, we had the next year all planned out and now here we are...and very little looks the way we thought it would.

Interestingly enough, I think we're headed in a good direction, though it is bittersweet on many levels.

On a related note: It is now October and the wedding is less than four weeks away.
So of course, today I woke up with my first wedding-induced anxiety attack at exactly 4:40 AM. I have no idea what worried me enough to wake me up but yay, here I am with an extra hour of wakey-wakey time. Coffee, anyone???'s what happens while you're busy making plans.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Queen of Non Sequiturs

Wow, I am the crappiest blogger ever. Has it really been that long??? 

Anyway, Le Monk is on a roll lately and I had to capture this so I will explain what I have been doing with myself another time. Can't lose these gems...

Tonight's bedtime snuggle included the following exchange: 

Monkey: <lifts head from my shoulder> Do I know how to ice skate yet? 
Monkey: Oh. 


Monkey: Do YOU know how to ice skate? 
Me: Eh...not really. Sort of. 
Monkey: Can you show me?
Me: I don't know. I can surely try. <Monkey puts her head back down>


Monkey: Well, it doesn't really matter anyway, because I don't even HAVE ice skates. 
<puts head back down>

Me: Well, that's OK. You rent them. Like when you go bowling and rent shoes. You don't have to have your own. 

Monkey: <speechless, looks at me like I am a bumbling idiot, shakes her head, and puts her head back down.>

<another 42 second pause>

Monkey, mumbling: Good night Leia. Good night Skywalker, but not Anakin. You're a bad guy now. Good night, Han, and Obi Wan. Good night Yoda.     <smiles, puts her head back down>

<42 more seconds go by>

Monkey pops her head back up and declares: I *LIKE* walking. 

<She smiles and plops her head back down.>

Annnd... scene.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Explaining the Chimp

I recently shared the (awesome!) story and video of the Stripping Chimp. He should probably have a real name, but it looks like Stripping Chimp is what sticks.

Anyway, there's a bit more to that story.

Because we were so crazy busy the weekend S.C. (that's how we roll, we're tight like that) made his debut, I actually didn't get a chance to talk to my mom (Bunny) until Monday night. A full 48 hours into our Life with the Chimp.

I called my parents as we were wrapping up dinner. Bunny asked if Big Sis had gotten to open her gift yet. We said she had... and paused.

Bunny: Well, did she like it?
MDD: Oh, yes, she likes it. However...

Me: Did you, uh, happen to play that song... ALL the way through?
Bunny: No, not really... <thoughtful pause> ...Wait. Why? What does it do?

That's where I started laughing. And apparently, just laughing for seemingly NO reason makes people nervous. In case you were wondering.

In the most awkward two-step ever, MDDaddy and I tried to skim around directly telling my mother that she'd sent a stripping primate to her granddaughter for Valentine's Day. Thankfully, Bunny picked up on our evasiveness and cut through it by asking what, EXACTLY, this thing does that is so bad.

To which I gleefully replied: IT *STRIPS*!!

She was absolutely mortified. And then, much like her offspring, started snort-laughing. Monkey chimed in trying to sing the chimp's song and then we all were pretty much useless.

I had them on speaker phone at that point, so it was really just a cacophony of snorting, laughing, stomping, weak protests of "no..!" followed by confirmations of "YES!" There might have been some gas passed in the general frolicking.

My father, in his effortless straight-man tone, then asked if we were "all on drugs, or what."
I told him, maybe we ought to be...

In all the chaos, MDDaddy had gotten up from the table to take some dishes to the sink. I don't really recall where the conversation had meandered by then, and what came next is even more mixed up still.

All I know is: one minute he was taking dishes to the sink... and the next, he was just... CACKLING.

I mean, full-on, lost-his-marbles, keep-away-from-sharp-objects, CACKLING. Crazy eyes and all.

Papi (my dad): What. The. Hell...???

Me: I honestly have *no* idea. He's just... standing there. Holding a sock.

Papi: Wha..???

Me: I do not know what is going on right now.

The absolute pandemonium that ensued is a little hard to describe. MDD looked like his eyes were going to pop out on springs, like those cheap toy glasses or something, and he was laughing so hard he couldn't breathe enough to talk.

All he did was wave this sock at me.

...Which is not an effective means of communication, for the record; I don't speak sock.

Interspersed with his cackling are my parents' questions of WTH is going on at our house and Monkey shrieking laughing.

He finally caught a breath, and punctuated by the sock waiving (which loosely translates as, "Look! A sock!"- I am a quick study), started to explain.

He got to the sink and went to put down some dishes, then figured he should roll up his sleeves.
So, he did.

And pulled out a missing black dress sock he had been looking for, for like, weeks.

From his sleeve.

...Of the shirt he had been wearing ALL FREAKING DAY.

It was seven o'clock at night by this point. We're talking-- this sock hung out through TWELVE HOURS in that sleeve.

Without him knowing.

I do not understand how a grown man could not notice an extra bit of fabric, of that magnitude, up his sleeve for twelve hours.

Including three meals- breakfast, lunch, AND dinner-- and an entire work day, plus driving to and from work.

This was not a tiny little, Monkey-sized sock either. It was his OWN big black dress sock. Roughly the length of my entire forearm.

I laughed a bit but then just stared, blinking at him.

All I could come up with was, "How... oblivious... ARE you?????"

His answer was simple: "I don't know. That's why I'm laughing."
I just nodded and said, "Well, OK then. Carry on."

My parents adeptly diagnosed us all as needing some sleep, and got off the phone. Still sore from our laughing fits, we ran Monkey's bath and relocated upstairs. Our hallway forms a  bit of a landing/balcony/whatever, just outside the bathroom door.

Monkey was relishing her bath toy time while MDDaddy and I were talking on the landing. We confirmed our suspicions that Bunny had honestly had NO idea the chimp did what it did, and that this undoubtedly made it all that much better.

We also discovered I had really cold hands, as proven by my unstoppable impulse to put them on the back of his neck. He countered with equally cold hands, and we progressed into a cold-hand tickle/jump fest outside the bathroom doorway.

We stopped to catch our breath again, to find Monkey staring at us from the tub, frozen with a mermaid in her hand.

Head cocked, she raised one eyebrow, shook her head slowly, and with a sigh, sadly admonished:

"I'm *really* concerned about you guys..."

That did it.
I actually FELL DOWN.

I barely dragged myself into our room and collapsed on the bed, laughing so hard I could barely move. The snorting, crying, kicking, choking convulsions lasted a couple of minutes.

Sensing a victory, Monkey just kept YELLING from the tub: "I SAID I'm really CONCERNED ABOUT YOU GUYS!!!"

Eye to eye with MDDaddy, caught up in his own laugh convulsions, I weakly mumbled, "Do we have a carbon monoxide problem or something?"

He calmly reassured me that that probably wasn't it.

A little later, my sides still sore from the evening's ridiculousness, I snuggled with Monkey in the rocking chair before her bedtime. We'd read her books already, but she wanted me to tell her just ONE MORE story, *without* a book (a.k.a.: pull a story outta yer... well, yeah).

...Thus began the story of Daddy's Sock Friend, who ran away from Laundry Town in hopes of escaping a life spent shoved in Daddy's shoes.

It was freaking beautiful, I tell you.

Choosing Hope.

I am not typically what you'd call a "girlie" woman. In fact, I'm often chided by Monkey Doodle Daddy for being more outwardly jaded and cynical. It's that Cancerian fall back of the hard shell, I guess.

But, this past September, I found a story that truly, deeply impacted my life. It is Donna's Cancer Story, and if you haven't read it... you need to. Preferably with a box of tissues handy.

Maybe it's because my own little Monkey was named after my mother, too, who is a cancer survivor. Maybe it's because so much of Donna reminds me of my own little girl, who is way cooler than I will ever be.
Maybe it's just because I'm a human fricking being, and this little girl I never met found her way into my heart.

Everyone has been through *something*-- we all have our scars and damage. Some people have a whole lot. Some people falter under the weight of all of it, and sour their outlook on life and love and goodness. Others, like Mary Tyler Mom-- Donna's mom-- make a conscious decision to overcome. Choose not to be held down by what is handed to you, no matter how raw the deal. Choose to make your life matter.

Choose to see goodness, wherever it may be found... and admittedly, sometimes it is very hard to see.

Choose HOPE.

That is the motto of Donna's Good Things, an organization dedicated to spreading the positive things human beings can do for one another in the name of a valiantly brave little girl who lost her fight with cancer. She lives on in the kind acts of strangers and friends.

She lives on in the hearts of those who knew her, and even in those who didn't get that chance...but honor her anyway.

Last night, I was blessed to get to meet Donna's mom, and hear her speak firsthand about Donna, her Good Things, and making the conscious decision to make every day a Good Day. Once you set your mind to that, it is amazing how the universe responds. Though rarely giddy or stalker-ish, I have to admit I probably freaked out Mary Tyler Mom a little. Her words have been resonating with me for six months. That must be a little weird to hear from a perfect stranger. (Expecting a restraining order soon, but that's OK.)

Monkey was there with me and, unfortunately, acting like a complete stinkbot. My envisioned introduction of my miracle child to the mom whose perspective has helped me be a better mom did uh, NOT go as planned. (I made a couple of attempts. Monkey buried her face in my shoulder and/or took off running. Nice.)

The event last night was a fundraiser for St. Baldrick's, sponsored by the Brookfield Jaycees. My dear friends are rabidly involved in that organization (and trying their hardest to get me to drink the Kool-Aid). I was there in support of a friend who volunteered to shave her head to raise money towards pediatric cancer research. The fundraiser is going towards Donna's Good Things.

Did I mention the shavee is also my bridesmaid? In the wedding? Which is 7 months away now?

When she first said she was going to shave her head I totally did the Chester Cheetah/Scooby Doo WHOA. But then she said she was doing it for Donna... And I understood.

I also donated enough to get a swipe at shaving her head and was kinda hoping to leave the AWESOME mullet we started. But she kept her word and shaved it all down.

Unfairness report: she looks good, too.

I've been reflecting a lot the past few days on seeing the signs around me. Paying attention to those tugs at the heartstrings and opening myself up to feeling their impact. It essentially comes down to letting down my guard, just a teensy little bit... which of course scares the blooming daylights out of me.

MDDaddy is relishing the fact that I am, in fact, just a person and not the invincible wonder woman I like to show people. I've let him in again, and it is a beautiful development.

The signs have been abundant lately...

Yesterday I watched the abundant glee of a beautiful golden retriever joyfully flopping on the ground, writhing around with his feet in the air. Probably soaking up squirrel piss, but still-- he was LOVING LIFE right then and it was impossible not to notice.

The calm, rational, and loving talk I had with MDDaddy this weekend regarding some of the impending life changes we're facing was another sign. How we have been blessed with the love and friendship we have found is, to me, proof of God's existence. We have a lot on our plates, and for the first time in my adult life, I KNOW... I KNOW, without shadow of a doubt, that the person by my side is fully there for me, and I for him. There is a peace in that I have never had before.

There has been a lot of loss, grief, heartache and anxiety about so many things. We are headed into spring and Easter and April and that means facing the anniversary of losing my brother. Again.

But more, and more, and more... I am feeling called to do something. To BE something. To make an impact where I am and find where I am meant to be.

It's almost like an itch I can't quite scratch.

So, I'm looking. I have a really strong feeling that ignoring so many signs would be foolish and probably a really bad idea.

The last time I felt this, THIS strongly, was when I realized my first marriage would end, and I had to decide what would be the next phase of my life. Then, I started hanging out with old friends who'd known me forever, to reconnect and remember who I was and where I'd been, in order to figure out where I wanted to go. I made the time to make my needs important again. I got a tattoo. I got, er...Monkey.

This time around, it's different. It's not just me now.

This is intended, I think, for the whole family. We're entering a journey... and folks, it's going to be epic.

All indications are it will be epically GOOD. Not easy... whatever it is, that seems clear too... but good, nonetheless.

I just wish I knew what it was.

So I am keeping my eyes open. I am letting the universe and my faith whisper to me, and  hope to have my steps guided to the next thing.

There's that word again: HOPE.

Hope is a choice. Love is another.

I told Monkey this morning that the awesomest thing about this day is that we get to decide what it's going to be like. Do we want a GOOD day? Or, no?

She chose to make it a good day.
I agreed.

Then she wiggled her stinky toes at me and I pretended to eat them. Business as usual.

Every day, we are faced with that same choice. Within each day, as things are flung at you from the universe, you get to choose your reaction. You get to choose whether you will see these things as good or bad, and you get to choose what you take away from those interactions.

*I* for one, choose hope. *I* choose LOVE.

To modify a fun little saying: I choose to be the person my (beloved, departed) dog thought I was.

Maybe that is all it is, this calling.

 Maybe that alone is going to epically change my family and life as I know it. I don't know. But it sure can't hurt... I choose to give it a try. And hope for the best.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Stripping Chimp

Part of the reason I started this blog is that I swear, some of these stories write themselves. With my, er... unique... family, I am sometimes just the messenger.

So, I love my mom. She is a truly unique (there's that word again!) individual, and I could probably write an entire blog just full of funny stories about Bunny. Which isn't her real name, but her childhood nickname, discovered by my brother when he was about 14. From then on, Mom became Bunny, or "The Bun." When Monkey was born it seemed only fitting that instead of just being Gramma, my mom should be called Bunny.

Anyway... Bunny loves, Loves, LOVES these kids. She is a typical grandmother in that respect, always sending packages to the girls for every holiday with something fun or different. They absolutely lose their ever-loving minds when they see a package from Bunny and Papi has arrived.

Part of this tradition, and the girls' mind-losing-ness, is that her gifts tend to be things no one else would think to send. She is the person who discovered Monkey's bizarre obsession with funky socks, and has nurtured that with a steady influx of new inventory. (We have on video the opening of last year's Valentine's Day box, where Monkey just keeps repeating-- and in the EXACT tone of voice as John Travolta in his Sweathog days-- "I got SOCKS!!" Pure freaking GOLD, I tell you!)

So we just had Valentine's Day, and with it, a box from Bunny and Papi. Monkey's older sister can now recognize the handwriting so she knew the source. Due to some questionable behavior from both offspring, the Bunny and Papi Box sat high out of reach on the dining room hutch until the 14th rolled around.

It was a a Tuesday this year, which meant Big Sis was at her mother's. Thus, Monkey got to open her part of the Bunny and Papi Box solo. Inside was a card and a dancing sock monkey, which plays Usher's "DJ's Got Us Fallin in Love" and does a rather IMPRESSIVE scooting, sliding dance.

Very, very cute. And, a monkey, so you can't lose there. Big hit.
It is also very loud by the way. And really, realllllllllly easy to make go. More upsides, for the little one.

It did a lot of dancing throughout that week.

Since Bunny usually tries to get the girls similar-- but NOT the SAME-- things, and Big Sis' package looked similar in size and shape, we kind of figured she also got a dancing animal.

Even knowing that, we were ill prepared for the actual unveiling of the gift.

The words are starting to fail me because I am laughing too hard to type. Please bear with me...

So OK, the weekend rolls around and Big Sis is back in Doodle-land for the weekend. Behavior is slightly better so we move forward with opening her part of the Bunny and Papi Box.

Dear Lord, I wish we'd had the camera rolling.

We made her read the card first (before it got flung across the room-- she is only seven, after all), and then she tore open the tissue paper wrapping.

And unveiled:

A stuffed chimpanzee.

...Wearing I'm-too-sexy-for-your-party Kanye West sunglasses.

AND a pseudo-police looking outfit, complete with a patch that reads, "Love Patrol" on the sleeve.

Eyebrows raised, Monkey Doodle Daddy and I caught each other's eye, warily.

Then, Big Sis pressed play.





... the chimp began to STRIP.

I will let that sit for a minute. Re-read it.

Because, nothing says "I love you, granddaughter" to a seven year old, *quite* like a stripping chimp.

Who also plays the song: "I know you want me... You know I wantchaaa... I know you want meEEeee... You know I wantchaaa..."

...And opens up his Love Patrol jacket to show a flashing LED heart.

...Annnnnd swivels his low-slung-khaki-clad chimp hips.

Seriously. I could not have made this up if I tried.

It is so SPECTACULARLY inappopriate that I -- *I*!!-- was actually rendered speechless.

Annnnnnnd, then I started laughing. Not the quaint dainty laugh, either. This was like, snorting, foot-stomping, incredulous and horrified and yet also just maybe a teensy-bit manic and scary, laughing.

This touching family scene was capped off by the fact that Big Sis' mom (The Ex) showed up to pick her up roughly ten minutes after this... creation... was introduced to the room.

We had not sufficiently composed ourselves before she came in, and the oddness of the moment was palpable.

She warily asked what was going on. All I could muster was, "Uhh... my mom sent the girls some stuff for Valentine's Day..."

The Ex replied that was very nice of her.

MDD snort-laughed, and, I think, farted.

At which point I reverted to a 10-year old and started laughing, too.

The Ex was understandably confused by this reaction. Then, Big Sis came back downstairs shouting, "Mommy! Mommy! Look what Bunny sent me!" ... and pressed play.

Time stopped, briefly.

The only sound was the stripping chimp, strutting his inappropriate stuff through our living room.

Thankfully, she laughed. She knows Bunny, so she didn't even have to ask WHY this was deemed a good gift for her child... Some things you just take for the spectacular weirdness they are.

MDDaddy managed to weakly explain, "We'll be talking with Bunny about the uh..., the...uh..." Gesturing...

"The Stripping CHIMP?!" I volunteered.

"Yes. Uh. That," he answered.

So of course, the kids freaking ADORE this whacktastical toy. It has been playing non-stop.

We really weren't sure what to do about it. At one point, MDDaddy decided to hide it. We told the kids it was sleeping. Yes, we did.

But, he put it in OUR ROOM!! And I didn't realize that, and thus made rather unexpected eye contact with it, and COMPLETELY lost my marbles snort-laughing, so it had to get outta there.

Big Sis was really upset that it had been taken away, and really, it's not fair to not let her have it, when Monkey gets to have hers. Even though Monkey's dancing primate is PG-rated and does not make anyone uncomfortable.

So we conceded that we now share our home with The Stripping Chimp.

We just had to remind Big Sis that it is NOT OK to go singing that song. Especially not at church, please!

Also NOT OK: dancing naked along with him, because he seems to inspire such behavior in the girls.

Something tells me we have a new family heirloom.

There is a post script to this story. I finally had the chance to talk with my mother and ask her, basically, WTH????

My suspicion turned out to be right on target: she had picked out the one for Monkey, and wanted to get Big Sis something similar... so she just grabbed another dancing primate.

She thought it was cute that the heart lit up. She never played it all the way through his routine, and never heard the song or saw the swiveling hips.

She also didn't believe me initially, as to just how BAD this thing actually is... so I took a video of it and sent it to her.

Sorry it is sideways; it looked normal in my phone. But then, normal is a truly relative term, isn't it???

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Party Planner

There are few things my little girl loves more than a good party. We've had a few lately; it seems like birthday party season for the under-10 age group is in FULL swing right now.

Her first classmate party was last weekend; technically, first AND second, since it was for twin boys from her preschool. It was at their (ginormous) home, and there was a magician and a balloon-animal-making uncle and magic wand painting and all sorts of hilarity. She was good guest, except that teensy moment when we uh, lost her. Briefly! Just briefly... but yeah.

Turned out, she had gone to the potty and managed to lock herself in. One of the other moms, waiting with her kid, helped get the door open. (fail, on my part...her Daddy and I were eating a cupcake. With hand-made marshmallow bunnies on it.)

This week, Monkey was sick (more on that in a later post) so I stayed home with her Tuesday. A day with Mommy *not* working apparently = PARTY.

While I was on the phone with the pediatrician's office, she escaped the family room, only to return wearing: her Easter hat, a Hawaiian lei, eight bangle bracelets and two beaded necklaces. I asked what was up with all that, and was told, with a shrug:

"It's. A. PARTY.... Didn't you call my friends yet?"


So, imagine her three-year-old glee when I announced Wednesday night that we had to stop off at the store on our way home to pick up BIRTHDAY STUFF for one of my co-workers.

(It was for the birthday of the one person in the office who generally plans all that stuff for everyone one remembered, until I figured out late on Wednesday that HER birthday was, in fact, THURSDAY. Could've been an epic fail, but I saved us all the discomfort. Yay, me.)

Monkey seized this opportunity. With gusto.

She actually clapped her hands together, and started rattling off a list of what we were going to get:

"OK! We need... a cake!! And, a card! And- decorations? Yeah, decorations. Balloons! Wrapping paper!! Candles?"

I stopped her there, to say we were getting a card and a cake and that was probably it.
Her disapproval was palpable.

So, we walk into Jewel at the door right by the flowers. They are ALL set up for Valentine's Day.

She walks in, stops dead in her tracks, throws her hands up and says, "WOOOooooo!!!! Wook at dose FWOWERS!!! OOOOOH!" This, in response to a teddy bear bigger than my child, with a vase of red roses and baby's breath.

Fellow shoppers chuckled heartily.

I told her those were pretty, but that's not what we were looking for, and led her to the cards. In her so NOT inside voice, she declares "OK I WILL PICK THE CARD! Look! SPONGEBOB!"

More chuckles from fellow shoppers.

I explained Mommy's friend is a grownup, and probably not that into Spongebob, but we'd see what we could find. So, we kept looking... she enthusiastically grabbed a GIANT Strawberry Shortcake card, and promptly (and LOUDLY) started singing "Straw-ba-babba-berry, Strawberry Shortcake!"

I decided card shopping needed to be done. Like, now-ish.

I finally located the "birthday cards from group" area to pick something suitable for work and not preschool. Monkey was grabbing and/or commenting on every card she saw, until she finally settled on THE ONE.

I was still looking. Triumphantly, she hands me her PERFECT card.

"MOMMY!!! THIS is IT!!!!"  With the biggest, proudest grin you can imagine.

So, I think, OK, well, we're in the right section... and look down at the card in my hand.

And at my super-proud preschooler, rocking on her heels in gleeful anticipation.

So, this card...

The cover is an image of a dog.

Drinking out of a toilet.

I am not even kidding.

Somewhat apprehensive, I open it to read:

"The secret to getting well soon? Get plenty of fluids."

...I nearly wet myself. Ironic, no?

I started snort laughing, which was probably bad because she then jumped for joy and said, "See!! It's perfect! It's a DOG, and he's IN THE TOILET!!!!!!!"

To be honest, I don't even know what I told her. I think something about it not saying "happy birthday" so it didn't "count" as a birthday card.

I grabbed a monkey-themed (of course, you saw that coming, right?) group card and herded her towards the bake shop.

Where she went straight to the birthday cake binder, loudly saying NO to "stupid boy cakes" like Thomas and Iron Man. Apparently my co-worker should have gotten the purple Dora princess wand cake, but I am a dolt who does not have good taste in cakes because that's not what we got.

She actually DID pick the winner, a chocolate crumble bundt cake.

In line, waiting to check out, she suddenly announces (loudly, of course): "HUH!! We FORGOT the ice cream!" and started to leave the line. I calmly informed her there was no need for ice cream, and we had what we needed.

In the car on the way home, she asked what time I would be picking her up to take her to the party.


I had to explain that this was for Mommy's friend, at work, and it wasn't going to really be a "PARTY" party, just something at work, so unfortunately, Monkey wouldn't be there.

There was a sad pause.

From the back seat, I get:

"Well, who's going to do the decorations?"

I said, "There aren't going to be any decorations, I don't think."

She nodded, solemnly, and then said:

"That's why I should BE there."

Thwarted by my card choice, she decided to make her own card for my friend. I should've taken a picture before giving it to her, because it was friggin EPIC Monkey, in all her glory.

She drew a picture of the cake. It kind of looks like an igloo.
Next to the cake?

Darth Vader.

Who is eating the cake.

Or, maybe fighting it-- it's hard to tell, really.

OMG, do I love this kid.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ho, Ho, Holy Crap, That Was Funny

We had QUITE the holidays in Doodle-land. Hope you all fared well through the insanity.

Every year, I promise myself I'm NOT going to wait until the last minute for anything and everything WILL be wrapped before 12/15 and, uhh.... yeah. It's basically the same as New Year's resolutions, only they start in November and are dashed to bits by December 1st.

Last year was the Birth Control Christmas, courtesy of the 2 year old Monkey and her half sister, who was six. I don't even remember what happened, just that in the hazy fog of holiday insanity it was a hot mess.

Not to be outdone, this year, we had the "Mommy Can't Talk Right Now, Because She's Busy Banging Her Head against the Wall" Christmas. Not quite so catchy, I'll admit.

Like any major holiday when you are missing a loved one, emotions run high for Christmas. My brother's absence still flavors the preparations with anger and loss, often when I least expect it. I'm told that might get better with time, but it's been nearly three years and I don't see a difference thus far.

Thus, hanging the stockings still sucks, every year, because his is still in the storage tote. This year I even posed a question to my FB friends as to what to do so opening that stupid box doesn't fill me with such dread. I got responses ranging from "hang it anyway" to "fill it with something he would have liked, and donate it-- so it's not in that box anymore next year." Opposite ends of the spectrum, and advice given with love from some really caring people.

But, being my usual passive-agressive self, I, uh... did nothing. Left it in the box. I'll let you know what happens for Christmas 2012...

Anyhoo, it was the usual whirlwind of cleaning and cooking and shopping and wrapping and kids off of school wanting to stay up past MY bedtime (much less theirs).

MDDaddy's birthday is a few days before Christmas too, and I made *SPECTACULAR" coconut cream cake... so then, there's the sugar high (and crash) to deal with. Woo hoo!!

Add into the mix the arrival of my parents (who clearly outrank me in the eyes of these children, on the Scale of Awesomeness) and we had some crazy couple of days.

My soon-to-be-stepdaughter is a very smart girl. She knows my buttons.
She pushed Every. Single. One. 

That Friday night was just bad.

Then, Christmas Eve morning, I was attempting to keep the girls quiet (HA HA I AM SO STUPID) so they didn't wake the whole family.

By 9:00 AM I was ready to go all Godzilla, and I had even HAD half a pot of coffee. Not my finest moment.

Luckily, my mom is pretty much The Stepdaughter Whisperer, and she intervened beautifully to spare my least, for another 12 hours.

Cuz, here's what happened, y'all:

Christmas Eve was a BUSY day, right? Everyone had to get fed a couple times, showered and dressed all purty for church. We had to be there early because as (what was supposed to be!) a surprise to my parents, the girls and I were singing together with my friend and her two daughters.

...Wouldn't that have been lovely? I mean, if they had both actually DONE it? Yeah, I thought so too.

But, all sparkly-dressed and coloring-booked to sit through the service, Monkey decides at the LAST possible minute she ain't doing this. No how, no way, fogeddaboudit.

Probably, because she was huuuuuuuuuuuungry, but because she had to go up front for our song, MDDaddy tried to take hold of Monkey's snack bowl of Cheerios. Oops. That was NOT WELL RECEIVED.

So we get up front to our seats, IN FRONT OF THE MICROPHONES (of course!!) and Monkey decides she is tiiiiiiiired. She is huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnngry. Which she announces as our pastor is reading a lovely scripture passage.

And, just like that, she was OUTTA THERE.

Bolted to Daddy, and that wasit. Her sister and I carried on without her. At least she *did* sing and overall it was still nice. Just, not quite how I had envisioned the performance...

We left church to go to dinner at this super-awesome Greek restaurant. YUM! By the time we got to our reservation it was crystal clear that Monkey had officially Left The Building.

We were in public with what truly looked like a drunk three-year-old. I kept looking around for DCFS to tap me on the shoulder and clear their throats or something.

Here's the short list:

  1. She crawled under the Christmas tree right by our table, because she wanted to eat the (dusty! not-really-food!) gingerbread house under the tree. This happened at least twice.  
  2. She fell off her chair so many times I lost count.
  3. She did, however, eat calamari again... even the squiggles, which *I* don't even touch.
  4. She also started singing at the table... the song she was supposed to sing with us an hour earlier. <fuming!>

I was tracking Santa on my phone (thanks, Norad!) which helped shuffle the evening along.
When we got home, the plan was to get the girls into PJ's and open the grandparent gifts.

Mainly because my parents had shipped SIX BOXES of presents to our house, and putting them under the tree took up most of the room. They're kinda cool and crazy like that.

So the explanation was, we do "family presents*" that night, and see what Santa brings-- IF he even visited our house-- in the morning.

*Our own presents had to wait because, you guessed it: not done wrapping before we left for church! ha ha haa... shoot me!*

So we get to the gifting and things are going well. The girls were being super sweet to each other, with the older child reading the tags and doing a fairly remarkable job of alternating between gifts for herself and Monkey.

It was lovely.

We finished up everything that was currently under the tree and were gathering up paper and such, when I notice Monkey crawling around under the tree.

We didn't have a gingerbread house there to tempt her, so I was confused...

She came out from the tree with the face every parent knows: the purple, scrunched, silent, ugly-cry face that indicates there is a giant WAIL about to be unleashed...

So, of course, I grab her, and start checking for injury, asking: "What?!! What's wrong? Tell Mommy!!"


She takes this huge breath and sobs:

(translation: He didn't leave me a Leapster!")

She had asked Santa for a Leapster Exlorer -- after first requesting a PONY, and being told by the COOLEST FREAKING SANTA *EVER* that he is "contractually prevented from leaving livestock of any kind, so let's try something else."

...I could've kissed him, I swear.


We calmly tried to explain Santa had not even BEEN THERE YET.

She did not get it.


So we dry the tears, and remind her we have to leave Santa his note and cookies and GET TO BED or he maybe won't come, for REAL.

Big sis got her own paper and marker and wrote a lovely note wishing Santa a very "Marry" Christmas. ;)

I got some paper for Monkey, picked up a crayon, and asked her to tell me what she wanted to write.


She announced:

"Dear Santa,
I hoped you would weave me a Weepstah... but, you *didn't*..."


I just set down the crayon and left the room.


I thoroughly collapsed into convulsive giggles and just looked at my mom, tears flowing, as I fell over onto the couch.


My mom, not missing a beat, finished Monkey's thought:

"You A-hole!!"

<snicker> My parents and I were whooping, coughing, laughing and crying on the couch, continuing what sounded like the rest of the letter.


"Thanks for NOTHING, you fat bastard!!!"



My dad: "Wait... You're not really going to write that, are you?"


I told him no... I was OUT. Done. Not taking part in the letter writing. Probably all for the best.


...Meanwhile, my very irritated Monkey was still standing in the kitchen, wondering what was so funny.


Her dad came down to help, and we explained the first draft of the letter.

To his immense credit, he DID pick up the crayon and actually wrote Monkey's letter.

It reads:
Dear Santa,
I have tried to be really good. I will keep trying to get better. I really hope you might leave me a Leapster. I would be very happy. Love, Monkey


And THAT, my friends, is why we left Santa this:


Cuz, milk just won't cut it this Christmas, folks.

Santa was pleased.
Ho, ho, and uh... ho.