Monday, February 28, 2011

Way Back When Melina Was A Kid

Aaron, Melina, and I went to the running shoe store yesterday. I needed a new pair of shoes, and my coupon would have expired in a couple of days. The kids like to go there because the store has a bus they can play with. All smiles inside the store, as I tried my shoes on.

We got back into the car, and, since we all like to listen to music, I had the radio adjusted to a local music station. First up from the radio -- Toad the Wet Sprocket. I can't remember exactly which song, but it was probably All I Want. I associate that song (and others by them) mostly with my college days.

Melina listened to just a few lines and piped up from the back seat:

Mom! When I was a kid, I really liked this song. When I was a

Apparently, I say that alot when we listen to the radio.

I returned home from work this morning to find out the latest gem to come out of Melina's mouth. Brooke relayed to me what happened.

Melina: Are you a mommy, Brooke?
Brooke: No, I am not.
Melina: Are you just pretending to be a girl then?

Brooke has cared for the little lady since she was about 4 months old, so she has heard many of the funny things that come out of Melina's mouth. I think this one, so far, takes the cake!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Up For Debate!

I took the girls to their 9 year well-check the other day. Both of the girls are healthy and growing, and this year, no immunizations were necessary (yeah for them!). Next year, they will need a booster shot, and when they turn 11, the doctor suggests giving the girls the Gardasil shot. For those of you not familiar with what that shot is, you can visit its website for detailed information. In short, Gardasil protects against some forms of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) -- a known cause of some cases of cervical cancer and genital warts.

My point here is not to debate the merits of the vaccine, or whether or not the girls will get it. Tim and I will discuss any concerns we have with the data and then decide about getting it for the girls. They might get it at 11, or we might hold off on getting it for them. We'll figure it out in the next couple of years.

However, the whole thought of Gardasil got me thinking about unprotected sex, STIs, and teen pregnancy. The question I had for Tim was this:

If either of the girls came to us and told us they'd had unprotected sex the night before, would you go get them the morning-after pill?

Again, more information might be necessary here. Clinicians consider the morning-after pill emergency contraception. It can be used up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse, and can work in a variety of ways, depending on where in her cycle a woman is (woman is used loosely, here, as some of the clients using it are girls). According to many sites (and my own knowledge), the pill consists of progestin, a synthetic hormone similar to progesterone, which is found in the female body. The pill can inhibit ovulation, change the lining of the uterus (rendering implantation of an embryo impossible), and thicken cervical mucus (which helps block sperm from getting to the egg).

Tim had no hesitation. He would get the pill for any of the girls. He said that having a baby at say, 16, would impact them and us, and that it wouldn't be feasible for anyone. I, however, hesitated, and still am debating the issue in my head. I don't have a problem with the inhibition of ovulation or thickening of cervical mucus, but in my opinion, life begins at conception; blocking implantation of that embryo is blocking the potential for life. On the other hand, a 16 year old is not ready to raise a child -- heck, is anyone? She'd have to put all aspects of her life on hold, and in reality, so would we.

Why do I think of these things now? This has been spinning in my head for days, and really, I keep coming back to it. I think it is one of those situations that you hope you never encounter, and if you do, you use the information you have at the time to figure out the best option. In the meantime, Tim is stocking up on baseball bats and plans on showing off his swing to any suitors that might come over when the girls are older!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mom's Day Out

This past Tuesday was quite a day for me.

In the morning, I met an old friend, Missy, for breakfast. Back in elementary school, we pretty much stuck together. We were really good friends until high school, when I moved to another town and school district, about 1.5 hours away. I think we kept in touch until about sophomore year of high school, but new people and new interests sometimes get in the way of friendships.

In college, I met Karen, who went to high school with Missy, and I kept up on how she was doing that way. In grad school and once the kids were born, I still learned how she was doing from Karen. When I told Karen we were possibly moving here, she piped up, "Missy just moved to that area!"

To make a long story short, we connected at some point after we moved, and have tried to get together periodically. It is nice to hear about Missy's parents and her siblings, and how her work, husband, and kids are. I thoroughly enjoyed our time together, and I am so grateful that we were able to reconnect almost 8 years ago.

To make Tuesday even better, I had another item on my agenda for that day. Kelsey had previously asked if I wanted to see the latest Harry Potter movie when it got to the discount theater. We needed to see it before today, as it was leaving. So heading out to a movie on Tuesday night was the plan.

Kelsey drove because I don't see well at night, and we had a nice time chatting in the car, and before the movie. I bought myself a blue raspberry icee, and I must have had a look of pure bliss on my face when I tasted it the first time, because Kelsey said something to the effect of, "That must taste really good!" Of course! I didn't have to share my icee with anyone under 9, and I was sitting in a movie theater for the first time since 2001! Woo-hoo!

I met Kelsey about 6 years ago because we attended the same play group. Her daughter Harper is a good friend of Aaron's, and little Michael is about the same age as Melina. We both love books, care immensely about education, and enjoy getting our families together. That last bit is sometimes hard to do, as Harper has a severe peanut allergy, and we eat more peanut products than the average American. In any case, I am again, grateful to have met Kelsey and her family, and feel blessed to have both these ladies in my life.

So here's to you, Missy and Kelsey, for making my Tuesday an absolutely wonderful day. Perhaps we should do it again soon!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Melina's Secrets

Melina has this hilarious habit of telling secrets. She walks up to me and whispers, "Mom, I have a secret," and expects me to lean in close and listen.

What types of secrets can a two year old have, you ask? All of her secrets are things that she would like to have or do at the moment.

1. Can we go downstairs? (Whispered to me at 5 am.)
2. Can I have an ice cream sandwich? (Whispered at almost any time of the day.)
3. Can I watch the old Scooby Dooby Doo? (The old 1970s version.)
4. Can we make macaroni and cheese?

She will walk away defeated if you respond no to her secret (usually to numbers 1-3). If you comply with the request, she does a little happy dance that is just the cutest. Trust me.

And just because I think it is funny, I have to relay this story. We were headed to church last Sunday, and I was sitting in the front seat, giving the usual "you must behave spiel" to the kids.

Me: Kids, I expect you to be behave and be quiet, please.
Zoe, Talia, and Aaron: We know.
Melina: Well, I am not going to be quiet!

We all bust up at that response. Thank goodness that she actually did pretty well that morning.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thanks for Reading!

Yesterday marked our 200th posting to this blog! Happy Anniversary to us! For some people, that number is nothing. However, to me, that seems like a lot of information to be posting out there.

So, I just wanted to say thank you to all of you that actually read us. Another thank you to those that comment, and a third thank you to those that tell me, via the phone or email, how much you enjoy the blog.

We'll keep posting even if if you don't keep reading!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Would You Do?

I have had a couple of "What would you do?" moments over the last couple of weeks. So, I am curious. What would you do, in these instances?

1. Talia came home with a paper that covered the anatomy and physiology of the heart. The paper explained what type of muscle the heart is, and had a brief paragraph on what the heart did. On the other side, there was a labeled diagram of the heart. Both the paragraph and the diagram had errors on it. This was not the fault of the teacher; she had downloaded the papers from an educational website, thinking that the information was correct. Contact the teacher, or not?

2. I ordered two Adirondack chairs for Tim's birthday. Yes, his birthday isn't until late March, but I thought I'd get a jump on things. The chairs arrived, and Tim started to put them together. As he was finishing up the first chair, he realized that the arm rests were defective, and that they would not go on properly. He checked the second chair -- same thing. I contacted the company, who said they would check two new chairs for the defect, and if they did not have the defect, they would send them out as replacements. The other chairs, being defective, can be donated or disposed of. I realize that the company cannot sell those chairs. Do we keep them and make the arms work, or not?

3. A student came up to me and asked for my lecture notes. I am not lecturing this quarter; I only teach the laboratory component of several classes. However, I had this student in a past quarter. She asked for my notes because she isn't doing as well as she would like in her lecture right now, and she thinks it is partly due to the organization of the instructor's notes. Let her have the notes, or not?

4. Melina woke up at 1:30 am last night -- a regression of sorts, considering she had been going until about 5 am the last couple of nights. As usual, she asked for mommy milk. I was so tired. So tired. Give her the milk or not?

In case you are wondering, here is what I did:

1. I wrote a nice note to Talia's teacher, explaining that there were factual errors in the worksheets. I offered to find her a lesson with the correct information. I received a gracious note back from the teacher, and I also spoke to her when I ran into her the next day. She actually said she was embarrassed, but grateful. She ended up tossing the lesson and will find something else.

2. We have 4 chairs. Two are put together, and 2 will be put together by the time summer comes, after Tim finagles the arm rests on.

3. Because I had a working relationship with the student, I went ahead and gave her the notes. I first informed her that she needed to let her instructor know that she needed extra help, and see where that got her. To be honest, at the end of the quarter (in the quarters that I teach the lecture portion of a class) I also post my notes for the next class in the series. Doing so allows the students to get a head start on studying for the next course.

4. Proud of myself I am! I told Melina to go back to sleep. We snuggled our heads together and slept until 6 am. Woo hoo!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The (Not So Much) Slumber Party

This past weekend, the girls had the slumber party that was supposed to be in celebration of their ninth birthday. It was originally planned for February 4th (their birthday is January 31st), but due to the power outage and sickness, I postponed the party.

Preparations were minimal: cleaning, buying some healthy groceries, and making chocolate chip cookie bars and rice krispie treats. My plan was for pizza at dinner (thank you Mr. Delivery Man) along with raw veggies and juice. Dinner went off without a hitch, as most kids like pizza, aside from one child showing everyone how to explode the juice container. Thank goodness the tablecloth was one of washable kinds that cost $6.99!

After dinner, the girls played -- loudly. There was a lot of shrieking, running, and dancing. I like Taylor Swift, so we had one of her CDs from the library. The girls turned up the volume, and proceeded to sing and dance. Melina was in the thick of the whole thing, and at times, she was carried around by the 6 girls. The scene really was quite cute.

While Melina and Aaron got ready for bed, the girls played upstairs in our room. Because the master bedroom has more-than-ample space and an attached bathroom, we have made it the designated guest room. It is very quiet and warm, and with the door closed, most of the house noise can't get back there. More importantly, with the door closed, the noise from 6 adolescent girls was muffled such that Aaron and Melina would be able to get to sleep!

Once Aaron and Melina were tucked into bed, we let the girls have snacks and watch a movie. They decided to watch Princess Diaries II, which two of the girls had seen, but the others had not. Tim and I sat in the dining room and read; we tried to give the girls some space, but wanted to be within earshot, should something happen. Listening to the girls watch the movie was a hoot! One of the girls who had seen the movie was reciting favorite lines, while one of the girls who had not seen the movie kept asking questions. In between all of that, Zoe and Talia would whisper, "Shhh! There is a baby trying to sleep in this house!" We've got them trained well, don't we?

The movie ended at 9:30 pm, which is well beyond our girls' bedtime. The ladies decided to head upstairs to brush teeth, read, and play for a little while. Tim was supposed to be the designated slumber party guard: he'd check on them from time to time and encourage them to go to sleep. I hit the hay at 10:15 pm, in Melina's room, and listened to the muffled laughter.

The question is, how much sleep did everyone get? Well, the only two people that had a good night sleep were Aaron and Melina. After that, Tim was the most well-rested, then me, then the girls. I woke up several times that night: first at midnight, then 1 am. I poked my head in our room and mentioned that the kids should really get some sleep. I also poked my head into Aaron's room, where Tim was sleeping, and asked him to go back in again soon.

A lot of good that did. At 3am, I woke again, because the crescendo from the girls' laughing was at its climax. I opened our door, and stepped into the room.

Me: Girls, did you even try to sleep?
Them: Yes, we did.
Me: I was once a young girl. I used to have slumber parties. I understand how much fun you are having. However -- YOU NEED TO TRY TO SLEEP!!!
Them: Okay. We will try.

I fell right back asleep, and to their credit, the girls eventually did sleep a little. How much? I can't tell you. While I was getting breakfast ready (bacon, eggs, pancakes, and fruit) they bounded down the stairs, bleary-eyed and smiley. They all made it to the end of the morning, and protested when they had to leave. Clearly, the party was success.

The girls actually lasted through the day, only having a few tears at piano practice time ("I went first yesterday!"). Tim and I are glad that the party went well, but we are also glad that we won't be having another one anytime soon! Our plan for Melina's party, when she is 9, is to hire the girls to deal with Melina and her friends, send Aaron to a friend's house, and for Tim and I to pack up some snacks and drinks and head up to our room to watch a movie and have a peaceful, relaxing, quiet evening with each other.

Friday, February 11, 2011

An Easier Week Than the Last One!

A good Friday to you all. Lots of things have been tumbling around in my head, most of them not worth sharing. But every once in a while, I think it is nice to just purge things from within. Lucky you, today is the day!

We have had power all week. Melina has been ecstatic about that fact; she repeatedly tells me that the refrigerator is now plugged in, and that the TV works! "And my hands aren't cold, Mom!" I heard that quite a bit this week.

I am proud to say (and somewhat almost deflated at how long this is taking) that Melina is on her way to being weaned. I keep the nursing at nap time, as I think if I take it away, then nap time will not occur. That scenario is just not acceptable to me at this time! The nursing at bedtime is still there, but once she is done, I go help put the others to bed, and she falls asleep on her own. The problem we are having is with the 3:09 am nursing session. For 3 days in a row, I have gone into her room, told her "the mommy milk is sleeping" and offered to at least rest with her. For 3 days in a row, that stubborn child cries, asks politely for mommy milk, and then alternates between fidgeting and whining for 75 minutes. Each day, I wonder why I am so tired, and then I remember the wee hours of the morning. I am hoping that by day 5 or so, we just skip the ordeal all together. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, I have been sneaking a bit more regular coffee into my usual cup of decaf.

Aaron has been doing quite a bit of reading lately. He has always enjoyed being read to, but he finally is at the point where he can read pretty well on his own. He is currently reading aloud one of Ron Roy's books, "The Talking T-Rex" and loves it.

Speaking of reading, I have this zany idea to actually start teaching Melina to read. While it is a bit early, she actually seems ready. She knows her letters and knows many of the sounds. She also sits down for many minutes at a time and recites the books she knows out loud, or even makes up the stories. She once asked it I could teach her to read. I might see what happens if we start, and if she has no interest, than so be it.

The state of my face as of late is distressing to me. I have dry skin all year long, and the cold week we had indoors last week has been disastrous to my epidermis! The fine lines and wrinkles are starting to manifest vividly, and the more I worry, the more they will show, I guess. I'll be 40 (!) in a couple of years. Add that thought to thinking about the the actual wrinkles, and it surprises me that I don't fixate more on fixing myself up.

Talia and Zoe have a wonderful art teacher, Mr. H. The girls absolutely love him and claim that the man is "awesome." I told him they thought so when I saw him the other day. One of Talia's pieces has been selected by Mr. H. to be shown in the local art show at the high school. Zoe hopes that someday one of her pieces is selected, too.

Because of the sun, Melina is convinced that it is spring. She ran around the house this morning shouting, "We have sun! It is spring!" I wonder if we will need to deal with seasonal-affective disorder and that one.

Along the same line as spring, Melina has been talking about the pool. She is so convinced that the pool will open soon, that she has decided to wear her bathing suit around the house. Since it is still chilly, she acquiesces to wearing a t-shirt underneath the suit, along with socks and shoes. The whole getup, in fact, makes her look like a pretty ballerina. But if you tell her that, she just says, "I'm Hermione." I can't recall one place in any of the Harry Potter books where Hermione had on her bathing suit, so I am not quite sure how this came about.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Twice a week, I make a short trek from the parking garage, where I park the car, to the school in which I work. The two are connected by what I consider a human habitrail, but what is really a covered pedestrian walkway. The walkway is useful when the weather is extremely cold, snowy, or rainy. During that short walk, I am able to see the backs of many people. Sometimes, I try to recognize students from the back, and sometimes, I just admire people's sense of style. Today, I happened to look at the pants of several people in particular. Why? I don't know, so don't ask.

First up, was a lady with long, black hair. Her hair was very pretty, in fact, and nicely highlighted. She had on a simple black, form-fitted sweater (it was 1 degree above zero, so why she wasn't wearing a coat is beyond me), tight gray pants, and long, leather, black boots that went from foot to just above the knee. From the back (I actually never saw her from the front), she was quite attractive, and was able to carry off her look easily. My first thought? Wouldn't Tim just love to see me in those boots? My second thought? Boy, would I be uncomfortable wearing that outfit. I looked down at my cotton pants, sensible brown shoes, and wool sweater. I think I cringed, seeing the ensemble, and decided that in the next new year, updating my wardrobe and trying something new might just be in the works.

She passed several people as she walked on the path. Most of the people were women, who looked her up and down. Let me reiterate that this woman really did look nice, and was able to wear her outfit well. I am guessing that the women she passed, most of them clothed in jeans and sweatshirts, perhaps had the same thoughts I did.

Other pants I saw during that walk were not nearly as exciting. Some jeans, a few sweatpants, and a couple of pairs of what I would consider slacks. Do they still use that word? Aren't slacks just nice pants?

I passed through the double doors that led into the hallway of the building, and stopped at the coffee shop. A young man was pouring himself some coffee, and since his pants were right in front of me, I happened to notice them. He was not wearing tight pants at all. In fact, his pants were situated at a very strange angle, and the waist of his pants was directly over his bum cheeks. You know the sort...the pants practically hang off of the person, and threaten to fall down at a moment's notice. I understand that wearing the pants this way is a type of style, but I so wanted to ask the young man how you get the pants to stay on. Does he worry that the pants will fall off? And if that happens, what is underneath? Does someone that wears the pants this way actually have a back-up pair underneath, or just a pair of long boxers? Does anyone know? Furthermore, does anyone but me care?

The whole topic of pants got me thinking about the kids and their pants. All of the kids so far prefer soft cotton pants. Aaron has 4 pairs of cargo sweatpants that look nice enough for school. The girls have a plethora of yoga pants. Each of the kids own a pair of jeans, but I rarely see them wear them. So far, Melina seems to be following in their footsteps, as she will pick out the cotton pants in her drawer when we force her to wear clothes. At this point, she is in her NUDE phase, and prefers to NOT wear pants at all.

Thankfully, Melina's style is NOT something I see as I make that trek two times a week!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pretty Pictures By Tim

Tim was the only one in our house brave enough to head outside on the ice to get some pictures. The coating of ice made for nice images.

The above picture is of our lilac tree. The poor thing has been dying the last couple of years. We had decided to give it one more year to redeem itself. It seemed to survive the ice, but the winds that followed the next day did the poor tree in...the last large branches have broken away from the trunk and the whole thing will need to be taken down come warmer weather.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekly Recap

Let's recap the week we just had, just for fun. Those of you that know the week we had might think that I am a glutton for punishment. However, I just want to spread the glee.

Monday, January 31 (see previous post): The girls birthday.
They had a great day.

Tuesday, February 1: No school due to ice. Vomit from
Aaron. No power as of 10 pm.

Wednesday, February 2: No school due to wind. Aaron diagnosed with
strep. No power.

Thursday, February 3: Two-hour delay, but the kids can warm up at
school. Tim vomits all day.

Friday, February 4: No delay, no cancellation. Tim and Aaron are
fine. Power on as of 9:30 am!

Saturday, February 5: Laundry galore, but we still have power. Vomit
from Melina.

Sunday, February 6: My stomach is queasy, but nothing happens. Cat
vomit all over the girls' beds and floor.


To be quite frank, we all held up really well, and I need to commend the kids for being real troopers. The first day, the kids were fine in sweaters. They played normally and enjoyed their day off. Melina's nap was a little disrupted, but by nighttime, with the aid of battery-powered nightlights, everyone slept peacefully. The second day was a little cooler, but Zoe and Talia were at school. I took Aaron (who hadn't been on antibiotics yet for 24 hours, so needed to stay home) and Melina to the bagel store, where we shared warm bagels and hot chocolate. A friend 2 streets over boiled some pasta for Melina's lunch, while Aaron and I had a gourmet meal of peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, grapes, and chips. We did take the kids out for warm meals at dinner.

Some people, I am sure, thought we were crazy to stay in a house without heat. We don't have a gas stove, so cooking was not an option. But our food didn't spoil -- the back patio was wonderful at posing as our refrigerator/freezer. We also don't have a working fireplace (we plan on doing something about that now), but the temperature in the house really wasn't that uncomfortable until Friday morning. At night, we all paired up, and the body heat worked to our advantage. We had hot water, plumbing, and food...something that quite a few people don't have on a daily basis. We were all set!

If the power had not been restored by after school Friday, Tim and I would have found a pet friendly hotel, and moved the camp over. We don't have family in the area, and while several friends invited us to spend time with them, I could not, in good conscience, bring strep and GI issues to those people. We also have 2 cats and a dog to worry about. Who wanted an infectious family of 9 infiltrating their home? Provided we are healthy the next time this happens, we will likely take those people up on their offers.

As I said above, though, despite being somewhat uncomfortable, our family had everything we really needed. As my sister says, we experienced a teachable moment, or several of them, rather. The kids and I discussed several times how grateful we all should be for what we have on a daily basis, and how some people experience cold each and every day of their lives. Hunger didn't even set into the equation, a fact that we also discussed at great length. Even with infections and viruses raging in the air, we all came out on the other side unscathed.

So here's to finishing out winter with an air of optimism and burst of happiness! I hope you and your family are well, and that you, too, manage to make it through the next six weeks healthy and happy. And do me a favor, please? Pray that the vomiting viruses skip our home the next time. I can deal with having no power, but I think we've already experienced our fair share of GI bugs the last couple of months.