The Chocolate Lady

Monday, January 28, 2008

and now look at this!

I open up my email box today to find my regularly scheduled, "Baby Center" email. Each week they send updates about child development, partenting info, etc. etc. It's not that Im interested much, I actually signed up when I was pregnant, because I loved getting the, "how is your baby growing" updates, complete with pictures and facts about fetal development. And now, the emails keep coming, telling me about my growing child.

So today, I got the "18 months, week 1" newsletter, and here is how it started:

Hello, Kim!

One tangible sign that your child has left babyhood behind is that she's beginning to be able to hold in urine or bowel movements. Starting about now, keep a potty seat around so your child can gradually get used to the idea of using it. Don't push it, though — while some toddlers may be showing signs that they're ready to try, many others won't be ready until they're 24 months old or even older.

Are they kidding? Potty seat? I SO dread the stage where they want to be rewarded with big kid pants, but dont have the consistancy to go in the toilet...I mean, I dread it soooo much, that I really just would like to postpone the toilet training stuff (ie. potty seats, portapotties for the car, etc.) and keep them in diapers for a long while, like, until they are writing in cursive. (The scenario of being at Target with one that cant hold it is all I need to put the brakes on potty training.)

With the exception of the, "Potty Nazi" (good one Karen!), aka. "Grandma J"....who starts having their kids use a potty seat at 18 months?

Actually, maybe some of you do/did, and maybe this will cause some of you to come out of "lurkdom"...hmmmmm.....

In any case, Im gonna let my 18 month old be an 18 month old, we'll move to the potty when she starts wanting to use it, without being enticed by potty seat with Dora on it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Part 2, of Potty Training, Step 1

As we have discussed, the very wee-early stage (pun intended) of potty training, is the child's development of body awareness.

The "external" portion of that awareness, is the child recognizing that their diaper is no longer dry. The "internal" part, is recognizing that the *feelings* on the inside.

Case in point, Little One's new bath time ritual.

Tonight, I ran the bath, and put Little One in, without plugging up the drain. This is a new thing. In the past, I put her in, put in the plug, and let her play as the water fills to a safe, comfortable level. However, recently, she has come to realize that a warm, water bath is the perfect environment for pooping. So, I have learned, to leave the drain open for the first few minutes, so that if she poops, it will be easier to clean up. Dont worry, it doesnt mean I let the logs go down the drain, it just means, I can pick them up easily without massive disintegration in the water.

So, the bath ran, and after a while, I decided that she mustnt be in the mood to poop, and put in the plug. And the water filled, and Little One played. And sure enough, Beauty, who was in the bathroom, drying off from her shower, began to scream,

"She's pooping! She's pooping!"

"Ok Beauty, no need to be alarmed, go get mommy the wet wipes from downstairs" I said, as I let out the drain and held Little One out of the way of the floating logs.

Time passed, and I hollered for Beauty to hurry, reminding her that "hurry" means "RUN", as I watched the logs begin to split and separate, little pieces breaking off in the water.

Of course, Beauty is my child that doesnt like to exert too much energy, as she doesnt like getting hot, sweating, or breathing too hard. So, the poop continued to spread into many chunks, floating about, as I held Little One to the side, and pondered if it would now even be possible to pick the poop up with the wipes that might not arrive for another 10 minutes.

But Beauty showed up, and "ooohed and aaahed" while I tried to fish poop chunks out of the tub.

After a few rinsings, a spray down with bleach, and some scrubbing and rinsing again, I was ready to put Little One back in and clean all the poop residue off her cherubic body.

And then I remembered, this part of the potty training journey, when the child knows they have to go, and chooses to go when they feel relaxed and comfortable.

Rather than squat down randomly, when she feels the need, Little One is now choosing more comfortable times to relieve herself. Great.

I began having flashbacks, and suddenly I was overwhelmed by a prediction that my entire summer would be ruined.

You see, Beauty, while FULLY potty trained, felt the same "comfortable" feeling in warm water. So much so, that EVERY SINGLE TIME I took her to the pool, she pooped.

Our community has strict rules about children in the pool, and require (old school) plastic pants to go on every child under 4. It doesnt matter if they are potty trained, they need the pants, or they cant swim. Nobody wants to have to shut down the pool in the middle of summer because a little kid let a floater loose.

When Beauty was 3 AND POTTY TRAINED, we went to the "toddler pool" almost daily. The toddler pool is a small pool, 1.5 feet deep, just perfect for young kids to explore the water safely. It's usually filled with cute tots, sitting and playing with buckets, or splashing about.

Each day, I tripled Beauty up, in swim diapers, and 2 pairs of rubber pants, intent on staring at her the entire time, ready to spot the first signs of pooping (ie. that red face she gets), and determined to get her to the potty before she let one slip. I spent the whole time asking, "do you have to go potty now?" to which she always answered, "no". I tried so hard to make sure she didnt go in the pool, and I failed every time.

I spent many a days, at the showers, stripping her down, washing her off, cleaning out the swim gear, and packing up and going home. Part way through the summer I gave up all together.

Now that Pooper and Beauty are independent swimmers, and Little One is walking...and the perfect age for the "toddler pool" I was really looking forward to a great summer.

Until tonight, when it hit me, that, like her big sister, Little One likes to do her daily poop while relaxing in warm water.

I've got a few months to prepare myself, and pray that this phase passes quickly.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Potty Training, Step 1

My background in behavioral psychology has allowed my the fun task of lecturing families on potty training. Teaching parents how to recognize the first signs of readiness, the details of rewarding the child, and even how to "schedule train" those children, that for medical reasons, might never be able to go on their own.

If there is one thing that I feel strongly about, it's DONT HURRY THE CHILD. With the exception of those with mental of physical handicaps, everyone ends up potty trained. There is no contest to be the first to go in the toilet. And, truth be told, and my lazy nature to blame, I would much rather my kids stay in diapers for a while, it's easier than the inevitable accidents that come when kids train too early. Im not fond of being at Target with a child who doesnt have the muscle strength to hold it, KWIM?

**Yes, Grandma J, we know you successfully had all of your children potty trained by the age of 1, and you dont like my approach, but anyways...**

Little One has been showing those early signs; becoming aware that she potties.

It started a week or two ago at the pool, when she feverishly started to pull off her little jeans in the midst of Poopers swim team workout. At first I thought she didnt like the pants, but after a few days of the same behavior, I realized that she is now aware of when her diaper is wet, and she doesnt like it!

The past week has been spent changing her constantly, because as soon as she pees, she starts trying to get her diaper off, no matter where we are...pants off, hands in diaper, pulling on diaper, anything she can do to get away from the wetness.

I have found her running around bare bottomed, with her damp diaper left somewhere else in the house. She has made her point, she only wants to be dry.

The real kicker, is when she poops (which I usually change as soon as I know she has gone....which, apparently isnt fast enough!) She has stuffed her hand in her diaper a couple of times now! ACK!! I am now developing paranoia over her getting poop all over herself or the house! Which is probably, in part, due to the troubles we had with Beauty when she went through this stage (much earlier than her sister).

From the age of 8 months, as soon as Beauty pooped, she would immediately start taking it out of her diaper! We even had to replace the carpet in her bedroom, brand new carpet in our brand new house, because after trying to spot clean by hand, and even renting the industrial cleaning machine from the supermarket, I could still smell the poop!

So, Im taking extra measures to keep Little One from going that route; putting her in jumpers and onesies so she cant get easy access into her diaper, running around smelling her bottom CONSTANTLY to make sure she hasnt pooped, and changing her incessantly to keep her from getting uncomfortable (which leads to the strip down.)

This is the first step in the many that will follow over the next year or two....or three, when she finally reaches that independent stage. In a nutshell, we are embarking into the journey of potty training, wish me luck!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Battle of the Bads

As you probably have guessed, on Thursday nights, my rear end is nestled into the couch as I watch *Celebrity* apprentice. Being the Reality TV junkie that I am, I cant help it. It's clear that The Donald was really desperate for celebrities, because most on the show are D listers, at best, some Ive never heard of at Nelly. He certainly doesnt have any Tom Cruise's or Gwyneth Paltrow's, instead he has a few that seem to be trying to make a life out of reality tv, cough - Gene! cough- Omarrrrrrosa!

Tonight, they both ended up in the BOARDROOM, with their big fat heads on the chopping block. As much as I dont care for Gene...and agree that his ego and pompousness and arrogance and jerkiness really cost them the job, I was rooting for O-my-rooster to get the axe.

and while we are talking about O-moooo-rosa, has anyone else noticed that she seems to have dropped some weight, and, sort of looks like she is on crack? Too thin, and mean spirited....this picture below was obviously taken a while back, because she looks less healthy now;

Maybe Im just annoyed, because on the first task, O-mimosa CLEARLY AND FIRMLY told Tiffany that they were NOT to use their celebrity to sell their hot-dogs (tough task huh?), and that strategy cost them the win. And Tiffany didnt fully come out and point the finger at O-my-momma, letting her off the hook. It was a shame, and yes, I did yell, "tell Donald she told you NOT to use your celebrity!" many times at the TV. but it didnt help.

So, now Gene is gone. I guess that's ok. He was too odd, and creepy. I mean, his hair looks like the world's largest brillo pad. Not that it matters, but, if a guy is gonna walk around and talk about how sexy he is, he should probably get a decent hair do. Maybe that's why The Donald liked Gene so much, they both are coiffaly (yes, I made that up) challenged.

Im not yet sure who Im rooting for.....kind of for Tito, because he has St. Jude's Children's Hospital as his fund pediatric cancer research. And, suprisingly, he seems like a really nice guy, if you can block from your mind that he dates a porn star (yes, I realize Im full of judgement here, but come on!) you all watch this show? who should have gone home tonight? who do you want to win?

Come on, de-lurk for a moment and tell us.....

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

making lemonade

Im a news junkie. One of those people that loves to watch the news, read the paper and find out what's going on. I love Court TV, and become emotionally vested in a lot of the crime stories I hear about. It's bad for me, Im sure of it. The Bible says to focus on what is good, but I find myself gravitating towards the bad, fascinated, disgusted, but fixated.

Lately, as I read the news each morning, I have found myself becoming sick to my stomach. The crimes seem to be more twisted, more heinous, more perverted. In my professional life, I have worked with victims of child abuse, perpetrators of crimes, and thought I had heard it all, but daily, that is challenged by the horrible acts that make headlines on the news.

Thankfully, as much as I am interested in the tragic, I also love the good. One of my favorite "goods" is Alex's Lemonade

If you arent familiar with Alex, or her amazing organization, I would encourage you to take some time to browse their website.

In a nutshell, this darling little girl, battling cancer, set out to help her doctors by raising money. She was very clear to her parents, that she wanted to help kids with cancer (of whom she knew too many!) get better. This little sweetie, bald, sickly, held a lemonade stand.....and another....and got friends to hold stands....and before venturing off to Heaven, she raised $1 million dollars!!

Really, can you imagine?

It becomes easy to see where she got her grace and strength, as her devoted parents have continued her mission, and since that first stand in 2003, they have raised over $17 million dollars.

Alex's story and inspiration are surely the spirit of the organization, but you know what else makes it so amazing?? It's success is made, one cup at a time, from regular folks, donating a dollar here and there for a glass of lemonade. It's not powered by some big's run by her parents, and a few friends, and mostly, but thousands of kids (and their parents) each year that hold lemonade stands to help kids with cancer.

As a mom of a kid with cancer, I LOVE that the money goes straight to research. They have a tiny bit of overhead (less than 10 percent) and all the rest goes to hand selected (THAT MEANS REALLY IMPORTANT AND NEEDED) research. If you go to the website, you can read about every research grant they are funding...for all kinds of pediatric cancer's amazing!!

When I get mired in the bad of this world, I truly only need to think of Alex, her family, her friends, and all the people that have made Alex's Lemonade such a shining example of what God can do, what people can do, what we all should do when we face a bad situation....and it makes me smile.

With Spring right around the corner, and the official "Lemonade Days" coming up in early June....(BTW, "Lemonade Days" is when thousands of lemonade stands are all held on the same weekend, to raise money for a cure!)....but you can hold a stand anytime.....I hope some of you will consider holding a simple stand this year. It is so easy, and it feels REALLY GOOD to be a part of something so wonderful.

If you go to their website, you can sign up, they will send you a kit with everything you need, and it will be really fun and inspiring.

Also.....if you dont hold a stand, you can always click on the "find a stand near you" button, and support someone else who is holding a stand.

Lastly...may I recommend for EVERY child's library....The book, Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand.

It is SO DARLING....whimsical pictures and a very upbeat story about Alex....for those wondering, yes she is in Heaven, but the story does not discuss her death, simply her life and her precious's a wonderful story for every child (and adult) to read.

Please, go visit her website, browse'll feel good just learning about Alex and the way she has turned lemons into lemonade.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Feeling so darned abandoned, again.

Well, as the deafening sound of crickets implies, there has been no news from Miss Rachel.

I guess I should be concerned, as perhaps her poor health took a turn for the worse and she is unable to contact me...fat chance! The truth, more likely, is that the letter I sent tipped off the internet scammers, and they have deleted me from their list of people to try to rob. Perhaps my request for a photo was not subtle enough, Im just kicking myself for not working up to that request, maybe a couple emails of sympathy and a sincere desire to help would have worked my hook in a little deeper, before, BAM, asking for a picture.

So, now here I sit, totally bored, with nothing to do, except for try to tackle the laundry monster that is overtaking the upstairs portion of my house, and I dont want to do THAT. Or, I could always clean a toilet or something, but...Id rather sit here and feel bored.

Ill let you know if I do hear from her, and in the meantime, Ill just sit here staring at the carpet, counting little things that could be vaccuumed, if someone were to vaccuum.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Miss Rachel Responds

It seems as soon as I hit the "send" button, throwing my hat into Miss Rachel's ring, she sent me a response. It came so quickly that it made me wonder about this old, ill woman...does she sit at her computer and type super fast, despite being wearied by the chemotherapy? Did she have so much faith that I would take her up on her request, that she had already typed a response? Or, is she some man in India, who has such a racket going that he is at his computer 24/7 fielding emails from suckers like me?

In any case, here is the email I received.....

Dear Beloved,

I thank you for your prompt response. What I am trying To do is what some wealthy people failed to do before They died and I pray that God will give me the Strength to see that this is completed before I pass On. I have learned a lot since my conversion to Christianity and the illness.

The mistake we wealthy people make is that when God Bless us; we decide to use the money on ourselves Alone, but that's not the wish of God. In every Part of the world, there are the wealthy and the poor; God bless wealthy men with riches for them to do other Things and distribute their wealth to the poor and the Needy; but all they can do with their wealth it so use The money to acquire more money and oppress the poor Instead of helping them.

I must tell you the truth my Friend, if not for my illness and the sudden Conversion, I would not have known the other side of The world. I have been very happy since I grew up because I am Very wealthy but since my illness and conversion, I Realized that much people need this money more than I Do; that my mission to the world is to assist those That do not have, that's why God bless me! Although, I Have done the little I could, but at this point, I can Not go any further due to my illness which is really, Really getting bad.

Why I am saying all this is to Tell you that, money is not everything; money can not Buy life. I would want you to reconfirm this information to me so We can proceed on the next step that would enable you To take possession of the funds in UK.

1. Your Full name
2. Your Full Address
3. Your direct Phone number/Cell Phone number
4. Your Occupation
5. Age
6. Marital Status

I shall be waiting for your urgent response.

Stay blessed,
Mrs. Rachel Saleh.

talk about tugging at my heart strings!! Really though, I have to wonder about the type of person that could speak about such serious things, while all the while knowing it was just to scam someone! So, in the spirit of "right back atcha" is my letter back to her............

...first, let me just say, that I realize she is just frothing at the bit for my personal info, but, you know me, gotta get some pictures, make her jump through some hoops....see how much she really wants this..............

Dearest Rachel,

My heart has been turned towards prayers for you, ever since I received your letter. I am thankful that God has made such wonderful changes in your heart, and that you have a desire to share His blessings with others.

When I was praying today, God gave me an image of you, I know it was you. You were very sick, and your head was bald from the chemotherapy. But the smile on your face radiated the joy of the Lord. I felt in my prayer that God would have me see you, to confirm that this is a mission to do His work. If you could please send me a picture of yourself, I know it will assure me that God wants me to help you with this noble task.

With many prayers,

Ill let you all know when I hear back, and cant WAIT to see the pictures of my "beloved"......

and, by the way, I feel like Wolf Blitzer, totally trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing with my online poll for Obama-ites and Clintonistas sure have a way of keeping us all on the edge of our chair in a very narrow race!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Let's try this one more time....................

As the digital date changed to 2008, it seemed my email inbox was flooded with a number of new letters, letters such as the one below, asking for my help. Well, dont we all try to be kinder, better, more caring with each new year? So, in the spirit of putting out good karma, or, let's be honest, in the spirit of just wanting to try one more time to have some fun with an internet scammer....Ive decided to answer this letter.

I hadnt planned on answering another one, but, this one seemed to egg me on.....

Here is the letter from the dear sweet woman, and my response below.....


I greet you in the name of God Almighty, I am Mrs. Rachel
Saleh formerly known as Mrs. Rukan Saleh, a widow to
Late Abdullah Saleh.I am aware that this certainly an unconventional
approach to starting a relationship. However, I would want you to give
this proposal a good thought. I crave your most desired indulgence. I
am an old woman suffering from cancer. From all indications,
my condition is really deteriorating and is quite obvious that I
maynot live long because the cancer stage is very severe.

My late husband died in an air crash on the 31st
October 1999 in an Egyptian airline Boeing 990 with other passengers
on board. You can confirm this fact from the
website which was aired by the BBC World
and my only son Nasim died with his father in this same crash.

My late husband was very wealthy and after his death,I inherited all
his business and wealth. My personal
physician told me that I may not live for so long and I am so scared
about this. So, I now decided to divide part of this wealth,
by contributing to the well being of less privileged
people in the society like America, Canada, Africa, Europe
and Asian Countries.

I understand my request of you is no doubt is tasking.
I selected you for this purpose and prayed over it.
I am willing to donate the sum of
Eight Million United States Dollars (US$8,000,000.00)
to you for the development of the wellbeing of handicapped
in the society and also as aids for the less
privileged around your country, and I have mapped out
One Million, Two Hundred Thousand United States Dollars
(US$1,200.000.00) for your own personal use to help me for
this work which will stand for logistic and your compensation.
Please note that this fund is with a security
company in the UK. Therefore immediate application for Change
of Beneficiary in order to make you the beneficiary of the fund
will be put in place immediately I confirm your acknowledgement to do

Please, do not reply me if you have the intention of using this
fundfor personal use, than enhancement of the comfort of the
Lastly, I want you/your home to be praying for me as regards my entire
life and my health because I have come to find out since my spiritual
birth lately that wealth acquisition without God one's life is vanity
upon vanity.

I await your reply.

Mrs. Rachel Saleh

Now, Im sure you all can see why I MUST respond.....she greeted me in the name of "God Almighty" and as someone of strong faith, how could I refuse her request?

Plus, she has cancer, and, my family is connected to the cancer world too (whose isnt?), so, it's like an omen, that I am to carry our her wishes, right?

So, here is my response....


Dear Rachel,

When I received your letter, I knew it was from God, because you sent your greeting in the name of "God Almighty" and that is something I know is true.

I have great sympathy for you, losing your son and husband, and now you are facing your own illness with cancer. May God be with you.

I am a woman of deep belief in God, and pray that He will guide me each day. I feel as if He is guiding me to help you, because I know your heart is trying to do the right thing.

One thing that made me so sure that I should help you, is that you have cancer, and my young son also had cancer. God did a miracle in healing him, and I want to do all I can for God to return the blessings to others. I know that because we both believe in God and also know the pain of cancer, that God has put us together to be partners to help others.

We know many young children who can not afford their medicine or cancer treatment, and I know that if you would like me to use the money to help these children, it would be an answer to God's healing for them.


So, now I will wait, and see if I hear back from Rachel, who claims to be an ill woman. I hope if she sends me pictures that I dont find her practicing pole dancer moves by the pool, like my sweet orphan daughter Sandy

Ill keep you posted....

and, while we are waiting, wont you take my poll? Let's find out how we compare to the frenetic polling that is going on throughout the country.....who is your choice for President?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

My life as a virtual grandma

I remember hearing about Webkinz months ago. I was at our local toy store, and there was a frenzy of buying for the furry little creatures.

"You can register them online, and they are virtual pets, where the kids learn to take care of them. It's great for teaching responsibility!" Said our perky toy store owner.

The last thing my kids needed was "virtual responsibility", I was happy that they hadnt been hooked into this craze.

Fast forward to a couple months ago, when an UNNAMED GRANDMA purchased a generation of "virtual great-grandchildren" for Pooper's birthday. It was like a pet expolosion that weekend, and the results, are 8 new members of our online family.

Pooper has; Red Eye (tree frog), Sweetie (the black cat), Duey (the bull dog), and Brownie (monkey).

Beauty has; Twinkle Star Pink (the poodle) and Cutie (the panda)

*somehow* I got roped into caring for Little One's; Ruffy (the cocker spaniel) and Froggy. I cant help feeling like my teen daughter had children out of wedlock, and Im now one of those grandparents raising up the next I log on each day to feed, bathe and care for these little creatures.

For those who have been fortunate enough to miss out on this phenomenon (count your blessings), let me give you a little lesson.

You can buy a stuffed animal, which comes with a secret code, and then go to the Webkinz site online and register your pet. The Webkinz site knows the type of animal, based on the unique code, and it gives you a room (which you can decorate and furnish), a birth certificate and a little bio. You get to name your pet, determine it's sex, and then take care of it.

Each pet has 3 meters; health, happiness and hunger. It's up to you, to make sure your pet get's good care, is fed, etc. or they will get sick...and who knows what happens then! You can keep track of how you are doing by the meters, and making sure that all three aspects of your pet's life are being nourished.

You can earn money in the arcade, or doing daily tasks or at the employment office.....and you also must buy food, provide exercise, love and attention to your little pet. They also have stores where you can buy furniture, knick knacks, toys, a garden, all kinds of household stuff. Sounds easy.

My kids were all gung-ho to take care of their webkinz the first week, and it's not that their interest in the activity has lapsed, not at all, it's just that, well, my kids are horrible parents.

Pooper in particular, is the poster child for a dead-beat dad. Ive logged on to see how my virtual grandchildren were doing, and have been horrified at the lack of responsibility he has shown.

I know, I know, they arent real..........and, he's 7, but.........

It's kind of pathetic to see pets whose hunger meter is in the starvation range, and they have become so sick that there is an "ice pack" on their head (webkinz icon which means you need to take your pet to the doctor).....and there is no food in the home, and no money in the bank....

and yet, their father that is virtually starving them, has paid thousands of dollars to deck out his pad with bamboo floors, rock star posters, every odd knick knack, and a closet full of funky hats. Pooper gets particulary excited to tell me about all of his latest webkinz shopping sprees....recently, he has purchased a movie studio with actors, a fancy desk and bookcase, he has every possible electronic gadget for his pets.....but NO FOOD.

My Honey was particulary concerned, when he saw Duey in the arcade, with pink fuzzy sleepers, a cowboy hat, and polka dot pants.....

"Isnt Duey a boy?" he asked

"I guess" I wondered

"Why is he dressing his boy pets like hookers?" he said with concern

"starved hookers" I pointed out.

Im glad Ive still got some years to teach him about finances and responsibility, and that this is all a game, but Ill tell you that it scares me to think about the future....and Im worried that Im raising the next K-Fed.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Let me tell you about our Holiday Excursion......

With Christmas break coming to an end, I was feeling guilty for not having taken advantage of the time off to make memories with the kids. I mean, CHRISTMAS is a memory, of course, but something fun...and extra, and vacation-ish seemed in order.

I love seeing the Rose Parade in looks so stunning, so amazing, and after watching it on TV New Years morning (with my face aflame with a raging sinus infection)....I got the gumption to gather the kids and take them to see the floats.

My plan was to be out the door by 9am, which automatically translates to 11am, because, that's how we roll around here.

Get this one dressed, brush that ones hair, the other poops her pants - change the diaper, that one has a meltdown because he wants to wear all his spy gear and I say goes on and on.....

Oh, and one thing I should mention, if you ever spend a 3 day weekend laid up with a sinus infection, take the time to brush your hair. Just because your eye is so swollen that you cant see, and your face feels like someone is pouring acid into your nostrils, dont think you dont need to detangle your tresses, is all Im saying, because you may then be faced with a huge nest in the back of your head...which will take a good 30 minutes of your time, while you wrestle with a brush and your daughters *detangler* spray, trying to get rid of the massive ball that was created while you didnt brush your hair for three days. And, such a thing only goes to slow you down when you are trying to get out the door to go see the Rose Parade floats.

By 11am, I was out the door; stroller (check), diaper bag with extra clothes, snacks and waters (check), jackets (check), money (check), kids in their seats (check).


First stop Starbucks, cause you didnt think I had time to feed my kids in that whole morning, did you??

I ran in, got the kids their pumpkin bread (each in their own bag) and their organic, chocolate milk (big treat!)....and I got my frappucino (which is sort of like a morning version of the ice-cream-shake)...and mine was made wrong (who is going to argue with a 1/4 cup of caramel on their morning ice cream shake??) ...but it was made wrong for the same reason that it took so long, because the "barista boy" was chit-chatting with his friends that had come to visit...goofing around and taking all the time in the world.....

in the meantime, my kids are waiting in the car while I "quickly run in"...and everytime I do that I fear I will return to a van that has 3 kids, and some "concerned citizen" and a cop, ready to bust me for leaving the kids alone (but bringing them into Starbucks would have just been a disaster....I was so lucky to finally have them in the car....)....but anways....

We get on the road, and thanks to "holiday light traffic" I got to our destination in just over an hour (about 60 miles away).

I was feeling pretty good, as we pulled up to Pasadena City College to park.....once I found a spot, we unpacked the car and headed over the shuttle bus.

This is about the point I should have patted myself on the back for just getting there, and turned around. But I had to push my luck.

It was now 12:45 and it was warm, AND, thanks to the increase in altitude (I leave near the beach, and this was up near the base of the mountains) sinuses had become enraged. Which in my world, means my patience level was operating at nil to none.

We walk the 1/2 mile to the bus area, to find 2 winding, long lines, and about a thousand people.

The first line, is to get the ticket to get on the bus. Naturally, just as we get into line, Beauty spies the porta-potties, and needs to go. And if she needs to go, we might as well take the time to ALL GO. 20 minutes wasted. and no one even peed.

So, then we wait in line for 30 minutes, it's hot, and Ive apparently forgotten the waters, and my sinuses are burning....but we are going to enjoy this.

Just as I step up to buy my tickets, with my 3 kids and stroller, some clown steps up to the counter in front of me. Some clown that just waltzed up, didnt wait in line......and, no joke, he had 2 black eyes! Wonder how that happened?? anyways......I pointed him to the back of the line, got our tickets, and we were on our way to line #2, the line to actually get ON the bus. But just as we went to get in line, Beauty grabbed her crotch, and we detoured AGAIN to the porta potties.

I would just like to mention, that while Beauty and Pooper slept on the hour long drive to Pasadena, Little One did not.

On a typical day, she would have already had a 2.5 hour nap, and she hadnt yet slept a wink. (dark, forshadowing music)

So, we finally go to line #2, which lasted about an hour. Little One wanted to be held off and on, squirming in and out of her stroller, etc....but I was pretty sure we would make it all work out. That is, until we got about 30 yards from the bus, and I was told I had to "break down" my stroller. Um, I cant break it down and carry it, and also carry my baby.....and quickly hop on a bus, and blah blah blah.......

But we did, and we got on the bus, and this was going to be fun.

Feeling pretty good that we had made it thus far, with no major meltdowns, I decided to do the "good-mother" thing and give my kids a talk about safety, and staying together, and going over their names, phone numbers, etc. and what to do if they got lost. They seemed to really get the drill, and knew just what to do if they got lost.

Once we got off the bus we walked the 1/2 mile to the float display area (a few blocks of city streets, that were roped off with the floats, as well as booths of food, drinks, etc.)

As we entered the gates to the float area, I pointed to the kids and showed them, "that is the *blue gate* lost and found, that's where you will go if you get lost, just ask someone in a white hat if you need help, or go to the *blue gate* lost and found."

Well, let me just say right now, that you may not want to drill this safety stuff into your kids so much, that they actually start to look forward to getting lost and getting to go to the lost and found.

With Little One in her stroller (screaming to be held), I forged ahead, with the other two holding hands, and walking right behind me.

We have a "rule" (I like rules), that when we are in crowded areas, they need to walk behind me, not beside me....there isnt always room to walk beside me, like at th grocery store, or the Rose, it is best to avoid traffic run-ins, by walking right behind me....I forge the path ahead, and they just follow behind. It usually works. With me shouting out, "behind me, get behind me" everytime they start to go BESIDE me, and then get run over by some foriegn person.......

So, moving ahead, trying to look at the GORGEOUS floats, but having a hard time, because when you are in a super crowded area, with people packed in like sardines, moving slowly (if at all) you need to keep your eyes on the road, or your stroller will run people, you keep your eyes on the person in front of you, trying to take side glances at the floats, while holding your now crying toddler, and navigating a stroller with one hand, while hollering out, "stay behind me, come on guys, stay right behind me" to the older ones.

And then, we stop at some floats to take some pictures, and catch our breath, and it was nice. for a minute.

As we continued forward, Pooper lingered, to look at the float. "come on, hold your sisters hand" I yelled, as we moved ahead, pushed by the crowds....but he didnt hear me (so he says)...and the next thing I know, he bee-lines it back to the *blue gate lost and found* !!!

What is he doing? He is only 10 feet behind us, Im yelling his name, while I try
to turn my stroller around, with one hand, against the direction of the packed people, screaming his name, as I watch him scurry off to the lost and found.

I try to catch up to him, it's like driving through rush hour on the wrong side of the road...his little body scoots in and out of the crowd, while Ive got to navigate my stroller..nearly impossible.

And as I approach the blue gate lost and found, I hear, "Will the parents of......"

"Im right here!" I say.......

The nice volunteer in the white hat was handing her newest little guy some crayons and coloring book.....

I was totally sweating, sinuses burning, baby now fully crying, and we were right back at the beginning!

I tried to gently remind Pooper, that while I was proud of him for knowing just where to go when he "got lost".....NEXT TIME, feel free to look around before you high tail it to the lost and found, because WE WERE RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!!

I couldnt say too much, what mom wouldnt be glad that their child knew what to do, and was safe (although he was always in our sights!)

We forged ahead......and saw some really beautiful floats.........

Elise was not so happy about being put in the stroller during picture times, she really just wanted to be held, dear thing.

And then, I saw this lady, and couldnt resist taking a picture. My friend Darla may be the only one that sees the humor in someone shalacking their hair in a purple spray (which may not be very apparent in the picture, but trust me, up close in person, it was clearly PURPLE)...but I took this picture for her...even though I dont think she even reads my blog.....but, anyways, this is for you Darla!!

We then browsed through the floats, got some junk food, and made the reverse trip home....

Here is Little One (churro in hand) on the bus ride back to the parking structure, now about 4pm, and hasnt had a nap all day!

And these two troopers.....(yes, Beauty did her own hair, at least it isnt sprayed purple!)

We made it back home around was a long day, full of "memories" that Im sure in time will seem so wonderful, that I may even become so delusional that I take them again next year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Christmas Chronicles 2007, Part 3

When the kids woke up Christmas morning, we all went downstairs together...except me, as I rushed ahead with my camera and made everyone wait until I was ready....

I captured the first looks of Pooper and Beauty as they laid their eyes on (what I thought) would be their most cherished gifts, their bikes.... (you can view those photos on Pooper's Site , you may need to check in the journal history for the pictures and story.)

But there were some presents that seemed to be even more exciting.

For Pooper, it was his "Ben 10 Deluxe Omnitrix"...which is some sort of large, watch type contraption that allows you to play digital games with monsters. Unfortunately, all stores were completely sold out of this strange item. I mentioned to Pooper that the stores were sold out, which meant Santa didnt have anymore, and I got that incredulous look, with a remark that "he can make anything!" So, I was forced to go on ebay.

When I got to ebay, I quickly learned that the folks at Ben 10 (which is a strange, animated show with a kid that fights off aliens) had remade their "watch" several times. There was the Deluxe, and the F/X and all sorts of other funky descriptor names, and I couldnt figure out which one was the newest, most-coveted. Luckily, I got the right one, cause can you imagine if I didnt?

And, before I show you the moment when Pooper opened his gift, Ill give you a little idea about him, and his interests, which might help you get a better understanding of why he likes this toy.

here he is, in his regular "get up"...notice the head set, which allows him to communicate with the command center (which is an American Idol microphone, a happy meal toy from McDonalds), the yellow thing around his neck, is his "ipod" joke! It's really just a yellow jumprope, and he tucks one end into his pocket, and pretends to listen and talk into the other end.....then, his arms are covered with a variety of "watch" type things (not yet the Ben 10, as this was taken before Christmas)....anywhoo, he feels very empowered by all these gadgety things, and has wanted the Ben 10 watch since last year (when I bought him a real watch with a timer, etc, instead! which obviously didnt satisfy himm, because the Ben 10 Deluxe Omnitrix was at the top of the list, again, this year.)

Here he is during that shining moment....

Unfortunately, he opened it in such a hurry, that the instructions were misplaced for the first two days. He wore it anyways, and became so frustrated with not being able to figure it out, that we heard things like, "I hate Santa" and "I wish I were Jewish".....hmmm....luckily for him, the instructions were found, and he was able to apologize for his outbursts.

As for Beauty, Ive already told you about her coveted jingling Greek skirt

But she also enjoyed many other glamorous items, such as a dozen things of lip gloss and body spray and a little kaboodle to keep them in ...and her reaction was the same to each one.....

although, with this one, she realized (unlike SANTA!) that there is not just plain lip gloss, but a glossy COLOR in which it makes it very easy to look like Baby Jane, or a clown....

All in all, she was quite happy with her kaboodle full of beauty products, and makes sure that she smells nice and her lips are "ON" before she leaves her room each morning.

What a lovely thing, when a single trip down the dollar aisle at Target is enough to make a child happy.