Thursday, April 26, 2007 

Dear Cartoon Network,

I am writing to express my unending gratitude at your wise decision to air the last Ed, Edd and Eddy show tomorrow. I'm not sure what kind of crack induced goodness you pack into this show, but all three Chaos kids bounce around the rooms like super balls whenever this show is aired. We had to ban your show in this house because our walls could no longer take the strain.

Once again, thank you. I now no longer have to search for the remote to change the channel, and can leave your programming on continually as an effective form of babysitting.



Wednesday, April 25, 2007 

Now For Something Completely Different

The Chaos family spent yesterday getting our yearly reality check. For those readers who don't know, Cman was born with spina bifida. We have been extremely blessed and lucky. He walks, runs, has full bladder and bowel control, does not require a other words, he's a "normal" kid. That is, aside from the yearly visit to the neurologist. These visits are necessary because he runs a very real risk of developing a tethered cord as he grows. The sooner a tethered cord is discovered, the sooner surgery can be done to keep the child from losing sensation, function, etc.

This year's reality check was a bit more involved than most. Usually we go in and the neurologist has him hop on one foot, touch his nose with his eyes closed, that sort of thing. This year Cman had an MRI. The MRIs are done every couple of years to help monitor the cord. His last one was performed in late 2002, so he was definitely due. Unfortunately, this did not sit well with Cman. For weeks leading up to this, he became teary at the mere mention of the doctor. The kid was terrified the scan would hurt. Needless to say, Mr. Chaos and I woke up yesterday morning with great trepidation. We were worried how Cman would cope and we were also nervous about the results. As we entered the hospital, I was in hypervigilant Mom mode. I was dialed into my son's emotion, and I was determined to do whatever it took to keep him calm.

Turns out I needn't have worried.

Cman was so incredibly brave. He sat with the child life specialist who explained to him in detail through pictures, model and video exactly what would be happening. When she was completed he said, "Okay, let's go." That's it. All of us fully expected he would need a mild sedative for the procedure. We walked down to the MRI waiting room waiting for panic. The panic never came. Cman picked out the CD he would listen to and walked out the door without even saying goodbye. We were fine with that, since we didn't want to upset him.

He'd been in the room about 10 minutes when a tech walked in. I braced myself thinking she was coming in to prepare a sedative. Instead, she smiled at us and said, "Is that your little boy in there?" We said yes. Then she gushed, "He's such a sweetheart! He got teary eyed because he forgot to say goodbye to you both. We told him he'd be right back out. He's so polite and sweet....and so well behaved! He's perfectly still in there."

Any parent would be proud to hear words such as these, and we were. Yet at the same time, Cman has an uncanny ability to engage people. Anywhere this kid goes, he puts smiles on people's faces. We've gotten used to hearing it, though never have we taken the sentiment behind it for granted. We smiled and thanked her, and shortly after Cman came back in. We grabbed a quick lunch and came back an hour later to get the results.

The doctor came in and said the words I have dreaded hearing for 6 years. Cman sat in my lap as she said, "His cord appears to be tethered." Those few words sent my world into a tailspin. I felt physically ill, and my grip on Cman must have tightened, because in the tiniest and most forlorn of voices he whispered, "What's wrong with my back?" The doctor smiled at him and said, "Nothing. It's the same as it's always been." Then I realized she was talking about the previous surgery. We had told his cord would always be slightly tethered, and she was referring to that. We left with a clean bill of health and a very proud boy.

On the hour drive home, I became somber. I often think of the "what ifs". I remember pushing Cman in the stroller as a baby watching children bike through the park, wondering if he would ever be able to bike ride.

We are working on removing his training wheels this summer. Did I think of this? Hell no.

The doctors told us when he was born that he most likely would struggle in school. He's doing second grade math and is participating in the school's Science Fair.

Instead of focusing on the positives, I became melancholy. It wasn't fair that such a fantastic boy should have to live on the finest of threads. Why my boy? I am embarrassed to say that I railed internally at the unfairness of life. Did I look cross-eyed on a Tuesday? Drink a drink before I knew I was pregnant? Why had this happened to us? Frustrated, I found tears welling in my eyes when I heard Cman tell his daddy from the backseat, ".....and that's when I kissed H on the bus."


I couldn't help but giggle, then chastise myself. Once again Cman had managed to point out the joy in life. Instead of spending the ride home telling us all about his experience, he decided to share a different new experience. Turns out he's been smooching a girl on the bus for well over a month. Not only did I have no idea, but it's not even the girl I thought he had a crush on.

We spent the ride home talking about little things. Cman likes gym class, loves playing tag with his friends, and apparently kissing on the bus when he thinks the bus driver isn't looking. He couldn't have cared less about the MRI, or the doctor.

Suddenly, neither did I. Thanks, Cman.

Monday, April 23, 2007 

The Wind Cries Mary

The Chaos family hiked to the park this weekend to fly kites. It was LMD's first time flying the kite by herself, and she was thrilled as she watched her Barbie kite dip and twirl in the sky. As it inevitably happens, the wind began to lose it's strength about a half hour after we started.

Me to LMD: "LMD, we'll have to go. You can't fly your kite anymore. The wind is dying down."

"No, Mommy, it just has a boo-boo."

Unable to argue with that logic, I watched her struggle to fly that kite for another 20 minutes. I savored every second of it, knowing her childhood will be as fleeting as that wind.

Saturday, April 21, 2007 

I Would Like To Thank The Academy

Blog Antagonist has given me a Thinking Blogger Award. I consider her blog insightful, often funny and very thought provoking. Getting this award from her is a huge honor and one I'm not sure I am worthy of, but I'll get over it.

I want to nominate Gina over at There's N.O. pLAce Like Home. Gina lives in New Orleans and writes about her life and her city's long path to recovery after Hurricane Katrina. If you are like me, you forget people are still trying to get back on their feet. She's my reminder that people perservere in the face of adversity. Please go check her out!

I also want to nominate Moe Berg over at Simon Metz. Moe blogs about most anything, including his kids culinary eccentricities and general daily observations. His witty insight into daily life is entertaining and refreshing. Plus, any guy who puts his kid in a MD 20/20 t-shirt as a wry joke is okay by me.

Friday, April 20, 2007 

You Have Been Warned

This week's carnival topic over at Crazy Hip Blog Mamas is Favorite Beauty Secret/Product.

Oh my gosh...those that know me know I was born to write about this. I have more beauty stash than Donald Trump has combover. I can't pass a beauty counter, shop, drugstore without buying at least one product. It's a sickness, and I'm working on it. That having been said, these are the things I come back to again and again....

1. Bare Escentuals foundation. Yes, it really is everything you've heard it is. It's goof proof, quick to apply, gives your skin a gorgeous glow without screaming makeup. Say goodbye to clown lines on your face when you use this stuff. Plus it has SPF 15, so you can skip the sunscreen. This is the original mineral makeup that started the trend.

2. Lip gloss. I'm currently addicted to Goldie's lip gloss because it's not tacky or sticky and smells divine. Every time I put it on I get a whiff of vanilla buttercream. It feels so indulgent, especially when you're perpetually dieting like me. The site says it smells like dolce de leche, but who cares either way? It smells GREAT!

3. Olay Regenerist Microdermabrasion and Peel. I use this twice a week to keep my skin dewy and youthful looking. Since I started using this six months ago, I get the best compliments on my skin. It gets rid of a dull, lifeless complexion and leaves your skin glowing and radiant. Really. Use this with the serum daily and you'll love the results.

4. Blinc Mascara. I know it's a lot to pay for one tube of mascara, but since I started using this, I will never use another brand again. This mascara coats your lashes with tiny little tubes of color that are buildable before they dry. It adds length, and it stays put all day. No more raccoon eyes with this. Just a little water and it comes right off.

These four (okay, five) items are my basic must haves. I keep coming back to them no matter what else I try.


Cman the Entrepreneur

Last night coming home from karate class, Cman and Mr. Chaos had the following conversation:

Cman: "Dad, what makes people get a lot of money?"

Mr. C: "Well, if you study hard in school and get good grades..."

"No Dad, I mean a LOT of money."

"...then you go to college and study to become a doctor or a lawyer..."

"NO, I mean a lot a lot of money. *pause* Hey! I know! I'll open a lemonade stand! Then I'll be filthy, STINKING rich!"

I'm still not sure where he came up with the "flithy, stinking rich" line, but Mr. C and I are both greatly heartened by Cman's new endeavor. Last month he told us he wanted to be a pizza delivery guy when he grows up, so this is a move in right direction. Baby steps little man, baby steps.

Thursday, April 19, 2007 

Beware the Ides of April

What is it with this time of year? Columbine. Virginia Tech. Oklahoma City. Branch Davidian standoff. Hitler's Birthday. See a pattern?

I know most of the incidents happening in schools this week are kids desperate for the same level of attention Cho is getting. Realistically I know in my heart this is true. My knee jerk emotional reaction is to pull Cman out of school and homeschool him.

I remember when Columbine occurred. I was a working woman in my late twenties. Mr Chaos and I were newly engaged, and I remember coming home from work that day in utter shock. He and I sat on the couch drinking beer and watching news reports. A tear trickled out of my eye. I hastily wiped it away, but it soon became a torrent. I railed at Mr. Chaos that to bring children into a world such as this was madness. It was the height of vanity. I vowed that we wouldn't have kids with the world that messed up. Bless his heart, he agreed, though I am sure he knew it was a fleeting fancy.

Cman came along in 2000, and while Cman and I were visiting my parents, the unthinkable atrocities of 9/11 occurred. I sat holding my nine month old son, tears pouring down my face again. This time my heart hurt looking at my innocent little boy. It pained me to know that I couldn't protect him and if evil wanted to get him, it would. I was thankful that I didn't have a child old enough to understand how horrific people can be.

Then the incidents of this week occurred, and I had the difficult task of trying to explain yet shield Cman from the events at VT. He knows a man shot people, lots of people. I'm not sure he understands it was at a school. At least he hasn't shown me he's made the correlation. Though now that I think on it, maybe he has since he's been crying and not wanting to go to school the last two days.

I sit here typing now and there at least two incidents in the news. One is in Florida, where a boy said he wanted "an even higher death toll than Virginia Tech". Another is in Tempe, AZ where a suspicious package has been found in a bathroom.

My God, when is it enough? When will this stop? Has our society become so enamored with fame that some will do anything to achieve it? Loner kids want attention, and unfortunately this is a great way to get it. All I know is until we figure it out, it's all I can do not to keep my kids home for the next few weeks.


Today I Betray My Own

Spring finally started thawing the Frozen Tundra today. I guess my bitching about it's absence the other day was enough, because today it is sunny and gorgeous. You know how else I know it's here? I saw my first garage sale sign. Forget daffodils, robins or green grass....puh. Here spring is heralded in by the appearance of orange and black signs popping up on every corner.

I used to feel foolish going to yard sales with my mom. I thought that yard sales were for people who were in need. Why would you buy people's used stuff when you can get new? Then I had kids and I realized the joy of something new is far outweighed by the joy of a bargain. LMD loves going with me, hollering out each time she sees a sign as we drive. We saw our first sign today, so off we went in search of a deal.

I struck up a conversation with the woman running the sale while I browsed. We found out our children both attended the same elementary school, were both in kindergarten, and even were in the same class. This is where the betrayal of my first born began.

Me: "So, who is your daughter?"

Her: "Unbearably Cute One."

Me: "OH! Really? Cman has been talking about her all year! He has the biggest crush on her."

Her: " Really? I'll have to ask Unbearably Cute One about Cman."

Me: "Cman came home last week and said he told Mrs. G that he is in love with Unbearably Cute One. But Mrs. G said that we don't love in kindergarten, we are just good friends, so she's my good friend."

Uch. I know! Can you believe I went there? Instantly I felt dirty and wanted to scrub my skin raw in the nearest shower. It used to be so cute talking about his crushes and girl buddies, but I was completely unaware that it's not so cute anymore until those words left my mouth. I committed the most heinous of sins...that of embarrassing my firstborn. Moms have been doing it since the dawn of time. It's practically a rite of passage for both parties. Kid realizes he is growing up because mom mortifies him publicly; Mom crosses line into uncool mom territory. Can you see those high waisted mom jeans in my future? AGH!

I meekly handed over my $10 for a Columbia jacket for Youngling and got the hell out of there. The only thing lessening the sting of my faux pas is that Cman is completely unaware. Lucky for me, he was in school today. Since I'm sure there will be a next time, I'll just have to accept it. But I know I'll be wearing yummy mummy jeans when I do.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 

Better Than Sasquatch

Recently I started up an exercise regimen. I figured since the last kidlet was born almost two years ago, it was laughable that I carry around baby weight. So I've been hitting the gym 4-5 times a week for the last month. I hadn't really noticed much of a difference in the way my clothes fit, and the scale wasn't moving, either. Yet I felt healthier, less stressed and more energetic, so I stuck with it.

I was resigned to this process not resulting in any weight loss or effective change. I stuck to my routine of quickly running past the bathroom mirror after I got out of the shower, carefully averting my eyes from my flabby mommy body. Seven is far too early to stare that in the face, er...flabby tummy, er....saggy butt.

This morning as I was darting by the shower, I saw it. Something so magical, so mystical, it had previously only been rumored about these past seven years. Glimpses of this mythical creature have been as rare as sightings of bigfoot since I started this crazy motherhood business. I gasped, amazed. I was frightened to move lest I scare it away.

Waist, how the hell have you been? I missed you!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 

A Moment of Silence

Bullets had barely stopped flying at Virginia Tech before the media began throwing salvos of their own. The situation was still unfolding during the first press conference Monday; I don't think there was even a clear number of victims at that point. Yet Chief Wendell Flinchum was already accused of not acting promptly enough to save lives.

Now, before we go any further, I do agree this needs to be investigated, and they need to find out where things went wrong in order to avoid these tragedies in the future. Was I the only one who thought that afternoon the focus wasn't precisely where it needed to be? What about those victims? What about the families involved? I realize the media has a job to do, but it could have waited a day. The police would have time to investigate and the media could turn focus where it needed to be...on the victims.

Thirty-two people are gone. Most families had barely been notified at the time of that press conference, yet the media had already discarded them in their search for the juicy bits, the gory details. Flinchum was lambasted for not having acted quickly enough. I'm sure he had played what if scenarios in his head at least 100 times before that press briefing. Meanwhile families throughout the country were waiting in agony. Most got news their loved ones were fine, the equivalent of a lottery winning. Thirty-two families got the tragic news their lives had been drastically altered. One mom this morning said she didn't get word until 11 pm that night. Several survivors gave graphic details to the press by this time, adding vivid pictures of last moments to the grief.

Yesterday during the convocation, Governor Tim Kaine heralded the VT students for the shining example of community and optimism they set for the country. VT students understood their peers deserved to be remembered. The community came out in vast numbers to show respect. Outpourings of love and loss must start before healing can begin, before answers can be demanded. Too bad that story was lost on the media.

Friday, April 13, 2007 

What Are Words For?

Our society sits at a crossroads. You know what I'm talking about. Words were used in an offhanded manner that hurt. People are talking, defending, condemning. Pundits on both sides of the issue are overly heated, sparring with verbal missiles. As an adult, I clearly understand both sides of the Imus debacle. Would I if I were a child? I wonder.

In the Chaos household, we talk about the power of words. As a writer I find myself fascinated by what makes people choose the words they use. Some of it is upbringing, in other cases, it's personality. The way a person strings words together tells you about them. On a smaller, though no less important scale, we talk about "bad words". Words such as stupid, duh, dammit, and yes, even the "n" word, which Cman learned at school last year. We talk about the impact those words make. Cman and I conversed several times about the way words hurt; the way they can leave a bigger impact on a person than we intended. We choose the words we use carefully for that reason.

Personally, I don't give a flying fig which side of the debate you fall on. Americans should learn a very important lesson from this. Certain words are not ok, no matter who you are. Be you black or white, male or female, straight or gay, there are certain words NONE of us should ever use. They are disrespectful at best, damaging at worst. Kindergartners understand this. They understand that it is definitely NOT ok that Mommy gets to say "dammit" when they don't, and they'll reprimand you in a heartbeat for it. What do we as adults lose along the way? When words are equal for all, they lose their power. The issue is simple. The lesson is simple. We as Americans have a fantastic opportunity to make something great come from all of this. Let's teach our kids an important life lesson.

Do as I do, not as I say.

Thursday, April 12, 2007 

Do What Now?

That's one of those quirky Southern colloquialisms I picked up while living in Georgia. For you Northern folk, it's loosely translated as "What?"

LMD is watching Strawberry Shortcake DVDs in the other room and they just broke out into song. It sounded like they were singing "Itchy, Bitchy Scare". In our house, that would be me during PMS. I get hives from chocolate, crave while PMSing.....ah, never mind, it loses too much in translation.

Anyway, I bolted out of my chair, and as I was lunging for the power button on the TV, I realized they were singing, "Itty Bitty Scare". Jeebus, more like gigantic one, you mean. Remember when LMD wouldn't forget dammit?


Wake Me When It's Spring

So yes, technically that calendar says we started spring over a month ago. That calendar can perform an anatomically impossible maneuver.

I woke up to 6, count 'em, six inches of snow today. It's funny that I'm complaining about it, really. After a 10 year hiatus in warmer climes, we came back to Wisconsin last August. Our first fall here I was giddy with excitement each time it snowed, and I was gleeful when the kiddos had snow days. I would spend days wide eyed with wonder, admiring how everything looked like a Currier and Ives print. Obviously the patina wore off quite quickly.

In my defense, those of you who live in south need to know the contributing factors. For instance, do you have any earthly idea how long it takes to get three kids bundled up to go outside? I think the Chaos record is 45 minutes. This includes at least one harried search for a missing glove while the child whines at me to hurry up. Also, one pant change because the diva forgot to pee before getting in her snow pants and we couldn't get them off in time. And you have to do this anytime you go anywhere. Granted, the snow pants don't factor in, but hats and gloves do. Did you know toddlers are genetically programmed to loathe hats? Yup, it's true. So when you do finally get all the kids strapped in their car seats looking like Mini-Michelins, your in-flight music is the low whine of the toddler. Lovely!

And dirt? Let me tell ya, you would think snow would be clean, right? After all, it's just frozen water. Yet not only does the rain freeze, it becomes polarized to attract any sand, salt and rocky mud within a 5 mile radius. I don't care how meticulous you are in insuring the kids take their boots off on the entryway carpet, either. As soon as that snow melts inside your house it magically reverses polarity and the muck, sand, rock et al redistributes itself throughout the house. This requires twice weekly mopping on our tile floors. Did I mention I hate to mop?

Finally, here in Wisconsin, spring is an evil temptress. Two weeks ago we were blessed with two sun-filled 80 degree days. I opened the windows, we aired out the house and the kids played outside. We drank up that sunshine like we'd been shipwrecked for weeks without water. For two glorious days the sun warmed our pale skin. The kids loved being outside, and I loved attempting to reclaim the house as mine for an hour or two. Winter came back only after the kids remembered how wonderful it is to be outside without winter clothes. Now they are stir crazy and cranky.

Yet I stoically hold my head high, and remind myself that warmer days are ahead. Spring always comes, on her terms. I just hope this year it will be by LMD's July.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 

In "Who Gives a Shit" news....

So. Hi. How ya doin'? Been a while since you and I pulled up a chair, isn't it? Want some coffee?

I suppose I do owe you an explanation.

It all started a year ago when Mr. Chaos was offered a fantastic job less than 2 hours from where I grew up. We didn't hesitate and packed all our stuff to move to the Frozen Tundra. We stayed with my parents (thanks, guys) and they have painfully slow dialup. Like 16K on a good day, y'all. Swear. So I was offline for six weeks while we house hunted and finalized our move.

In retrospect I should have posted a "See ya, I'm going away and won't be back for a while" post, but I didn't. Mainly because like Kevin talks about here, I, too scoffed at those "Goodbye Cruel World" posts. It is frowned upon in the message board strata of the nets, so I figured Emily Post would say the protocol was the same for blogging.

And when I came back, y'all deleted me. Even those of you who knew why I was gone. Realistically I know it was because I hadn't posted. Who wants to link stale material on their blogs? Not me, no siree. Gotta get my blog fix every other day, or every three days at the outset.

But am I ever realistic? Getouttahere! Soon that tiny voice that I try not to listen to started to get louder. "You are one of THOSE blogs. You know. One of those blogs that thinks it's inherently funny and witty and insightful, but is really boring as hell. It's self-aggrandizing bullshit! Who the hell wants to read your stuff? Loser! You are totally fooling yourself!" So I slunk off with hurt feelings and hid away like Gollum, certain no one in Blogworld would miss me.

Lately a few very kind souls have been encouraging me to write again, so here I am. Let me 'splain where I've been. No, there is too much, let me sum up. We moved to the Great White North, aka Frozen Tundra, aka Place of my Birth. Cman started kindergarten and is doing amazingly well. LMD is in preschool and loves it with a passion. Youngling is now walking and getting into all sorts of mischief.

As for me, I am in a much different place than I was a year ago. Is that good or bad? Well, I guess that's for you to decide. I do know that I am a lot more accepting of myself and where I am as a mom. Before my posts were cloaked in humor to hide my fear that I was fucking my kids up irreparably. I am in a much happier place physically and mentally. And yes, we are rapidly backsliding into that BS I discussed earlier, so I'll stop.

Anyway, how have you been? Today's assignment is to give me an update on you. Go.


Now THERE'S a game show I'd watch!

During my freshman year of college, my roommate and I religiously watched one show every day. We'd rush back to our dorm room after class, pop some popcorn and settle in to watch our favorite show, Supermarket Sweep. Feverish with excitement, we'd yell things at the TV like, "Go for the hams! Hey, stupid! Everyone knows you go for the hams. Baked goods?! Lady, are you crazy?" We'd gleefully soak up that half hour, learning all the while how to rack up a grocery bill in the quickest way possible.

Oh, naive child.

It struck me when I was at WalMart today just how wrong that show was. I wasted hours of my misspent youth watching a show that gave me virtually no life skills. Hell, my advanced calculus classes prepared me more for life than that show.

I want a show called Fantastically Frugal. This show would show moms frantically trying to feed a family of five on a tight budget. The shopping experience would be replete with pitfalls. The contestant would have to draw a setback card, and these setback cards would have additional difficulties such as "cranky baby" or "picky eater". The mom would then have to craftily juggle her shopping list to meet these additional demands all while staying under budget. If the mom completed these tasks she would earn bonus points. The moms would be judged on nutritional value, variety and creativity also. Think of the learning potential!

Unfortunately, this will never happen. People watch TV to escape reality and this show would be way too realistic. Unless it was promoted as reality TV. That could work, right?

Nah. With the overly charged PC world we live in these days, it still wouldn't happen. It would be deemed sexist and voted off the air. You ever see a dad with three kids at the grocery store?