Sunday, January 31, 2010

Who's There?

My kids have taken to telling knock knock jokes. The funny part is, the jokes they tell are not at all funny. Our entire dinner conversation tonight revolved around knock knock jokes. The kids would tell a "joke," and because they had initiated it with "Knock Knock" we were supposed to laugh. And we did laugh. But not because the jokes were funny, but because they were so un-funny. When we chuckled at how bad the joke was, the girls would laugh and laugh, revelling in their comedic abilities.

Sydney: Knock Knock

Me: Who's there?

Sydney: Boo

Me: Boo Who?

Sydney: Boo in your mashed potatoes! (laughs hysterically)

Cora: Knock Knock

Me: Who's there?

Cora: Boo

Me: Boo Who?

Cora: Boo on you! Get it? Get it?

Me: No.

Maryn: Knock Knock

Me: Who's there?

Maryn: Joke! (huge smile and belly laughs)

I don't know how much longer this is going to go on, but if these jokes don't improve pretty soon, I might have to start teaching my kids dirty jokes so that I actually have something to laugh at. Except that I don't know any dirty jokes. Plus, it's too risky. You never know when kids are going to repeat things that you tell them and I don't want to end up in the principal's office. They might rope me in to joining the PTA as penance.

So please, when I'm not looking, teach my kids some good knock knock jokes to tell at dinner.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Good Life, The Hippie Life

I've just returned from a weekend on Orcas Island. I always like going to Orcas Island and hanging out with the hippies. I'm not entirely sure why it is that hippies are attracted to islands in the Puget Sound, but they seem to grow there like weed (no pun intended).

Sometimes I think I'd like to be a hippie. I could wear drapey cotton clothing and grow lavender in little pots by my doorstep. I could hang crystals in my window sill and do yoga in the morning and drink herbal tea in the afternoon and recycle things in the evening. Hippies are never in a hurry. They drive around lackadaisically in their little VW bugs that are custom painted like happy rainbows. I like not being in a hurry. In my normal life it seems like I'm always in a hurry.

When I am on the Island I like sitting and listening to the waves go in and out. I like the smell of the woods and the sound of the seagulls. Although annoying when one is hungry and fresh off of the ferry, I like it that everything shuts down before 8 pm and everyone goes home and sleeps. Then you have no choice but to go home and sleep too. Sleep is nice.

The only problem is that you can't really make any money being a hippie. Although, maybe I could start a hippie blog and blog about my life as a hippie, and then you would all read it and be jealous. Although I would have to get people to advertise on my hippie blog--maybe the lady who makes those yarn socks that they were selling in the bookstore for $20 a pair would be interested. Or the people who make those wind spinners.

I'm not sure Matt and the girls would like being my hippie family, so I don't think we'll be moving anytime soon. But sometimes, when life moves too fast, I think I'd really like to be a hippie.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Maryn's New Throne

Things have changed a lot since I was a girl. Sometimes I forget what life was like before e-mail, cell phones, Facebook, the Internet in general, and all of the other things that have become integral parts of our lives. Most of these now-essential items were developed after I graduated from high school and went off into the world (if BYU counts as the world) to become an adult. I still remember the first time I ever logged on to the Internet--it was at the library at college. I got my first cell phone at age 27 (so all of you 13-year-olds that constantly whine to me that your parents are so mean because you don't have your own phone--I would advise seeking sympathy elsewhere). Yes, the world has changed a lot since I was 17.

The world continues to change. I was reminded of this the other day when I went potty shopping.

We have decided that Maryn is ready to be trained. She had her 2nd birthday this week and so we thought it would be a good time to kick off the toilet training. I've been changing diapers for over 7 years now, and I'm ready to move on to the next phase in life. The non-diaper phase. When we moved last year I got rid of the potty that we had used to train the older girls. It was never a great potty and sometimes would pinch their legs when they sat down. Plus I didn't want to store it and have it get all dusty and gross in the garage. I had paid $10 for it and I figured we'd gotten that much value out of it and Maryn could have a fresh one.

So on Wednesday I went off to find a fresh potty for her for her birthday. Yes, I did give my child a potty for her birthday, and she loved it by the way. Lest you think I'm very cruel we did give her other gifts as well--but several of them did follow a certain theme. For example, I got her a Baby Alive that pees and poops.

When I arrived at the potty section of the store, I realized right away that these weren't the potties of my mother's day. Or even the potties of 5 years ago. No--these potties were tricked out. These were potties that catered to the new cell phone toting, twittering, tech saavy mothers who would not be satisfied with a simple hole and a bowl.

For boys there was a potty shaped like a soccer ball that could sense when to "reward" your child with the sound of stadium cheers. There were several different kinds of cheers that alternated. Some potties had built-in toilet paper dispensers and handles so they could practice flushing. Of course there were options so that you could choose between hard seats and soft seats.

Since this was going to be a birthday gift, I got Maryn the potty I knew she would love the most--the Princess Potty. It is pink and shaped like a throne. There is a lid that can be folded down so that it can be used as a step stool for hand washing. When the lid is up you can see the design of a crown topped off with three purple jewels. The best part is that there are two little sensors in the bottom of the bowl that sense when she has been successful and serenade her with various trumpet heralds--Da Da Daaaaaaaaah!

So far, all of the advancement in technology has not translated into more potty success. She does love sitting on her throne, but she has figured out how to reach down under the potty and push the button and be rewared with music without actually having to make a deposit. Tonight, after sitting on it for a good 15 minutes and pushing the button at least 20 times, she proceeded to get up and pee on the carpet in the hall just outside the bathroom door.

It would seem that technology can't improve everything. Bling or no bling, trumpets or no trumpets, it would seem that potty training is one of those things that just needs some good old-fashioned time and patience.

Heaven help me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ode to Chocolate (with some help from Napolean Bonaparte)

I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Chocolate, what a strange effect you have on my heart! Are you angry? Do I see you looking sad? Are you worried?... My soul aches with sorrow, and there can be no rest for you lover; but is there still more in store for me when, yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire? Ah! it was last night that I fully realized how false an image of you your portrait gives!

You are leaving me; I shall see you in three weeks (or when my diet is over). Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire.


PS (Don't get jealous, Matt.)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Attention IKEA Shoppers--Nervous Breakdown on Aisle 53 Bin 30

I have a love-hate relationship with IKEA. I love what they are trying to do with the affordable, functional, well-designed products for every day. I mean, who doesn't love a great plastic watering can in lime green for $3? And the endless array of chiotchkies for less than $5, and walls and walls of vases and picture frames and don't even get me started on home organization. Love it. I have spent a fair amount of money at IKEA over the years, and would probably spend more if it weren't that the shopping experience inevitably degenerates into complete and utter misery.

I have to gear up mentally and physically before attempting to summit IKEA. I must make sure that I never attempt to go to IKEA on a day when I have any other appointments. Once you go in that place, you never know when you are getting out, or what your mental state will be if you do actually get out. If you go into IKEA, you must be willing to surrender to the maze--a part of you must WANT to be seduced by it all. If you are not willing to play the game then you should forget about IKEA and just take your chances at Target.

And one should never, under any circumstances, take their children into IKEA.

I forgot that part.

I decided yesterday that it was an IKEA day. I was in good spirits. I didn't have anything else going on but a party later that night. The kids were well rested and I thought it would be a fun outing. I have been meaning for months to go and get some shelves and some frames so that I could update our family picture wall. I decided that I was emotionally strong enough to handle IKEA, and I was even dillusional enough to think I could do it with children.

We parked in the netherreaches of the parking garage and started our journey. We passed a bunch of carts, and hidden amongst them, barely visible, was one of the tiny kid carts that they have with the little flags that are oh-so desirable to the under-8 crowd. Like eagles on a mouse, my girls spotted that cart and swooped down upon it. I put Maryn in the seat on one of the normal-sized carts and we started in. Negotiations as to who would get to push the little cart were already well underway.

"Sydney, you can push it now and I'll push it when we get into the store." Sydney was pretty much running away with the cart and pretending not to hear--she was going to keep her hands locked on that baby for as long as possible. I sighed.

We got in and off we went. We did pretty well for the first 1/3 of the store--breezing through Living Room, Dining Room, Office, and Kitchen. We even made it through the kid section pretty quickly with no major trauma. Cora and Sydney were sharing well, Maryn was interested in all of the colors, and everyone was happy.

Then we got into the part of the store with the shelves where I had to actually stop and look at the merchandise. I couldn't find what I was looking for. I circled. And circled some more. I stopped and looked. Maryn stood up in the cart. I made her sit down. She screamed. I kept looking. Maryn stood up again. I made her sit down. She screamed. Still not finding what I needed. Maryn stood up in the cart. Aghhhh!

"Girls, I'm going to get her down and why don't you let her push the little cart around for a minute while I try to find the shelves I need?"

Bad idea Mom. Very bad idea.

You see, once Maryn's hands made contact with the smooth plastic bar of that mini-shopping cart, she became fused to the shopping cart. Additionally, she became a complete maniac. She ran all over pushing that cart, ramming it into things and people with gleeful abandon.

Frustrated and still not finding what I was looking for, I decided to at least get the picture frames and get out.

"Let's go girls." And that was when Maryn screeched up beside me with her mini-shopping cart, looked up at me with her watery red eyes and yelled, "POOOOOOOOP!"

Crap. (I know, literally.) And I had left all the diaper supplies in the car. Oh well, I thought, she could suffer for 20 minutes until we had finished.

"Okay, let's go."

"POOOOOOP!" She screamed again, and again, and again. Then she began walking with her legs all wide and spread like a cowboy with sweat-encrusted gauchos. Maybe no one will notice?

We made it to the frames. I found just what I was looking for. And they even had the photo shelves that I couldn't find in the other section! Things were looking up. But not in the right color, and they were 6 feet long. No matter. There were mirrors in this section and Maniac Maryn was still on the lose with her mini-cart and it was only a matter of time before she broke something or people started to notice the stench. No, this was no time for hesitation. Frames in cart. Really long shelves in cart, and awkwardly extending out of the cart. I can do this.

"Mom! I have to go to the bathroom!" Cora announced.

"No problem, there is one right here." Look at me all in control of the situation. I quietly congratulated myself as I wheeled my suddenly cumbersome cart over to the bathroom area. I sent the older girls in while Maryn and I waited outside the door. Then I noticed that at the opposite side was a door that led us out into the labyrinth of aisles and bins just before Check Out. Awesome! I was so good. We could skip Garden and Bed and Bath and several other sections and get out! It was almost like I was cheating!

"Maryn. Come back."


"Maryn. Stay out here."


"Maryn . . . " And there she went. She had followed her sisters into the bathroom. Oh well, she would just follow them out and we would be on our way.

Tick tock.

Cora's eyeball appeared through a sliver in the bathroom door. And then her whole head poked out. "Ummm. There's a problem."

Oh please no. "What Cora?"

"Well . . . "

"Do not tell me that the diaper came off."

"It's off. And . . . . she's poopy."


I was in the bathroom in a flash. Perhaps I could figure out a way to salvage the situation. Perhaps she had little pellet poops that could be easily flushed away and the diaper reattached and we could go . . . . nope, not pellet poop. Ohh and, no! It's smeared on her clothes. Okay. Breathe. Diaper has to go. Clean as best we can with toilet paper, and, dab dab, a bit of toilet water. Pull up pants. Almost two-year-old without diaper. Time bomb.

I hear a young child in another stall. This is good . . . they are speaking Spanish but no matter--I could probably do charades: "My daughter has just crapped all over and do you have a spare diaper?" I give it a try. I don't know if she understood or not but that lady left pretty fast.

Okay. What are my options? There was no way I was going to get out of the store and all the way to Auburn without disaster. And then I noticed on the wall above the changing station a sign with all of the ways IKEA was praising themselves for being family friendly. I zeroed in on the only two words that mattered: Diapers available.

"Let's go." Maryn latched on to her cart again, with a vengence. This time she didn't want to follow us. So we tried to hold her hand.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Epic tantrum. It's like she knew she had the ultimate trump card--she could pee at any minute. We were all at her mercy.

"Fine!" I hissed. "You push the cart. Cora and Sydney, make sure she follows me." I figured my best chance to find a diaper was to head towards the play area with all balls and the toys. But that meant going backwards--against the flow of traffic--and back into the store that I thought I had almost conquered. The IKEA gods were punishing me for trying to skip Garden.

It was torturous trying to wrangle my cart and keep track of my children--Cora and Sydney were desperately trying to help me, but Maryn kept darting in and out of the aisles, running her cart wherever she pleased, weaving in and out of people and every now and again casting me a wicked glance as if to say, "I own you, Woman."

You might think that I would just abandon my cart and the whole thing and march her out of there. But I hadn't come this far for nothing. Oh no. I was buying those shelves. But I wasn't going to make it all the way back to the play area. I zeroed in on a store employee. Male. Early-twenties. Asian. Definitely single. Maybe gay. It's his lucky day.

I accosted him. His tag said, "I'm here to help you." Well, we'll put that to the test, won't we?


He was afraid. I think my hair had started to frizz, and my eye was probably twitching.

"Hi . . ?"

I tried to explain. "Okay. . . . I have a problem . . . . it's my children . . . . here's what it is . . . you know . . . . (breathe in and out) . . . I really just need a diaper."

To his credit, this guy was really helpful. He knew right where to go for the diapers and asked me to follow him. Then, when he saw what was happening with Maryn the Maniac, he offered to just go and fetch the diaper and bring it back to me. He left us in Lighting. I would have preferred to have been left in Textiles where things are soft and unbreakable, but I decided to count my blessings. While he was gone, Cora, Sydney and I worked hard to prevent Maryn from breaking or peeing on things and she continued to show us who was boss.

He brought back a handy little diaper packet that included two little moist towelettes, a disposal bag, and a changing towel (very impressive IKEA), that I put to good use after trudging back to the bathroom near the secret exit. Once Maryn was all set, I scoffed at the IKEA gods by skipping Garden, and they punished me again by causing my check out line to take forever and ever so Maryn had plenty of time to show off the poop smear on the back of her shirt as well as her tantrum abilities.

We finally made it out, with the frames and the shelves, and I have vowed to never shop at IKEA again.

(At least not with children.)