Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride


Last week we went to Disneyland!  And by "went" I mean "spent a significant amount of time sitting on benches" at Disneyland.

It was kind of a disaster.  But what's that they say?  It isn't a family vacation unless you come home with a laundry bag marked "biohazard"?

Seriously, the stomach flu is the worst!  And that's not even taking into consideration the horrible sore throat illness that left Leah sobbing for more medicine every hour for nights on end and hammered Matthew into a fevered and wheezing mess for three days, or the cold that required me to use half a box of Puffs and gave my baby a fountain-nose and a fever of 103.

Basically our trip to Disneyland was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, complete with extended Hell sequence.  But, we learned a few things:

--  When your husband has a two-bucket stomach flu that is so bad it overwhelms the poor toilet (who did nothing to deserve this), don't fret.  If you saunter down to the front desk at 1 AM and ask for a plunger using the words "husband" and "violently ill", they won't ask any more questions.

-- If you are afflicted with the above-mentioned double decker flu, always take your barf bowl to the bathroom with you or you might end up vomiting into a towel, which you'll then have to wash out the best you can in the tub.  And then you'll have to leave the maids a really big tip.  And an Ebola suit for clean-up.

-- It turns out I can only handle one kid at a time if one of them is under the age of one and can't stop puking for five hours.  That means the kid whose bad sore throat doesn't involve expelling any bodily fluids has to sit next to me and wail about me not loving her as much as I love the baby.  Which brings me to some good news --

-- You can even get your baby to puke in a bowl by the 8th or 9th time it happens.  Sure, there will be some casualties of blankies and jammies along the way, but a not-quite-one-year-old heaving into a bowl is quite a feat, people.  *takes a bow*

-- Yelled prayers work.  By the third sleepless night of a whole bunch of sick children and a baby who wouldn't stop crying, I yell-prayed that we were all exhausted and MY BABY HAD TO SLEEP!  It totally worked!  Jonathan stopped crying instantly and slept for a couple hours.  Apparently my angry voice works better on God than it does on my children...

Thankfully Jonathan and David were the only ones to get smitten down by the Puking Illness of Doom, and even though I felt like I spent the next four days with my neck stretched out under the dangling blade of a guillotine, no one else barfed.  Except for that kid whose mother moved my stroller from its guardianship spot for the parade and let him puke right behind it.  (Normally I'm a pretty sympathetic person, but if you want to see my angry face, this situation will do it).

We did manage to have fun as well thanks to the makers of ibuprofen, immodium, and albuterol, a rented extra stroller, and the security of a full-body change of clothes for everyone and a ziploc bag in every pocket.  (If you think Snow White's Scary Adventure was frightening before, just wait until you have a kid say, "Mom, my stomach hurts!" while you're waiting in line...)

Peace out, Mr. Toad.  It's been real.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Do I Really Have to Say This?

Yesterday morning I was cleaning my bathroom.  Matthew and Leah were helping by wiping down the mirrors and Jonathan was wandering around sucking on various bath toys and hair clips and whatever else he could find.  Everyone seemed decently occupied, so I slipped out for approximately 15 seconds to grab the broom and dustpan out of the kitchen pantry.  When I returned, Matthew was sitting on the floor next to Jonathan, spraying Windex over his entire body.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING???"  I exclaimed.  "DON'T SPRAY WINDEX ON THE BABY!!!"

And there it is.  The sum of all parenting: Spending your entire life saying things that really shouldn't need saying.

I mean, Matthew is nearly six.  He's been working with glass cleaner for awhile now and we've had plenty of discussions about cleaning products and how to use them safely, but apparently they haven't been sinking in.  Or maybe it's just that you hand a kid a spray bottle and his brain turns off.  (Even my very intelligent nine-year-old is like, ooooh, spray bottle! and immediately regresses to about age three.)

I put Jonathan in the tub and washed him off.  He didn't seem bothered by the experience (he hadn't even been crying when I walked in the bathroom) and he loves any excuse for a bath, so I wasn't too concerned.  Fast forward to dinner time when I was telling David what happened and Leah piped up, "Matthew sprayed it in Jonathan's mouth, too!"  Well, that would have been good to know eight hours ago...  But, on the plus side, Jonathan is still alive and happy, and besides, maybe it will cure his cold.  (I watched "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and know that Windex cures almost everything).

Yesterday also gave me an opportunity to share other important concepts with my kids, like "Stop using my arm as a kleenex!"  "Don't play in the garbage can!" and "Don't put your hand in the toilet!"  I also made breadsticks to go with our dinner of chef salad using this container of salt:


If that seems like a strange thing to have written on your salt container, you must not have a son who gets bored and starts sticking random things in little holes.  When it originally happened I asked him why he'd done it.  "I don't know," he said.  "It was just there."  Which is the same thing he said a few years ago when I discovered he'd been peeing in the bathroom garbage can.  Apparently some things never change...

So now every time I make dinner I get excited wondering if this will be the time I win the salt lottery and get rewarded with a clear pushpin.  It's practically like being on a gameshow!  And the grand prize is not having to go on an agonizing trip to the emergency room with a pushpin stuck somewhere in your lower intestine.

Yeah, I could throw the salt away but I paid like $1.79 for it!  That's two or three candy bars I can stash under the sink for when I'm "going to the bathroom."  "Sorry kids, I'm going potty!  I'll be out as soon as I'm done with this Snickers bar!"

"Don't spray the baby with Windex while I'm gone!"

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wife Swap

My husband posted the most hilarious meme on Facebook today:


All of his friends were like, "Hahahaha!  I know, right?!" which made me feel really great about myself.  I mean, there's no self-esteem boost like having the man you married -- the man who is supposed to love and honor and care for you -- mock you in front of his friends.

Then it snowballed and his friends started posting their favorite memes, and everyone was laughing and giving each other virtual slaps on the back like "Yeah man, women are RIDICULOUS!"  See for yourself:






What, you don't believe this actually happened?  (Good, because my husband is the kindest man I know and would never do such a thing!)  But, switch the word "wife" to "husband" (or "women" to "men") and you have yourself a regular day on Facebook.  

All of these memes (which my sister helpfully modified for me) are real male-bashing memes that have been posted by my female friends and acquaintances.  Memes that were laughed at and shared and snickered over by women who supposedly love their husbands.

"Oh, come on Bonnie," you say.  "Can't you take a joke?"  Well, when it comes to husband bashing, no, I can't.  Because, as a wife, the number one person I should be defending is my husband.  The number one person I should be loving is my husband.  No one should show him more kindness than I do, and that includes when I talk about him on social media.

Is my husband perfect?  Of course not, but neither am I!  And he is an amazing person who does so many wonderful things!  Why, when I love him so much, would I reduce him to some kind of male-buffoon caricature and mock him in front of my friends?

We all have faults and quirks and idiosyncrasies, and it's okay to see the humor in that.  But, to paraphrase my sister, sometimes women focus so much on the fact that their husbands can't get their dirty clothes in the hamper that they forget to be grateful for the work their husbands do in providing clothes for the entire family.

It's time to move past the dirty laundry, ladies.

And it's time to stop hanging our husbands out to dry.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Close Encounters of the Boob Kind

Years ago we were attending a family reunion at Aspen Grove, which is as close to camping as I ever like to get.  You get a minimalist A-frame cabin and you have to walk to the bathroom BUT THERE IS A BATHROOM and it equipped with flushing toilets and hot showers.  These are camping necessities, in my opinion.  (I think if our ancestors knew that people actually left their homes for a little "vacation" in a tent and a stinkhole of an outhouse, they'd check us into a mental institution).

But I digress.  Anyway, this particular year at Aspen Grove there was a nursing mother whom we dubbed "The Boob Lady."  Why, you ask?  Well, she was one of those women who felt the need to expose her entire breast while nursing, so you'd walk around a corner and suddenly be confronted with this lady's giant breast.  It was like Captain Ahab meets the Great White Boob.

So when I saw this article pop up in my newsfeed yesterday, I was like, "Hey, it's The Boob Lady!" Now, is it actually the same lady?  Probably not, but I can't be sure -- I have trouble remembering faces when someone's boobs are staring me in the face.  (If I were male this would make me a chauvinist, but thankfully I'm a female so this just makes me human).

This New Boob Lady's breast feeding photo has gone viral, not because she's breast feeding, but because she is involved in a staredown with some prudish lady who feels that she is a little too exposed.  (Such Puritanism!  Pshaw!)

Now look, I have zero problem with this lady breast feeding her baby in a crowded restaurant.  Zero.  I don't even care if I see a little boob, or a lot of boob for that matter.  If her sole purpose is to feed her baby, I don't care if she is entirely shirtless.  Breasts are made for feeding babies.  No big deal.  

The problem is not that she is feeding her infant.  The problem is her screw-you attitude and the here's-my-middle-finger staredown she's giving to the lady who feels uncomfortable guessing her cup size.  Moms who just want to feed their babies?  Fine.  Moms who want to use their babies to act like jerks?  Not fine.

Now, how do I know this is her attitude?  Well, I'll let you in on a little breast feeding secret:  With the shirt she is wearing, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that she needs to pull it down from the top to feed her baby.  NONE.  I know this because I have breast fed four infants myself.  And I currently have a baby who absolutely refuses to be covered while nursing -- he'll bat at the cover and wiggle and whine until I take it off, so I only use it in public these days to latch him on, and then I'll let him breathe.  Do you want to see what it looks like while I'm nursing uncovered?  Be ready because this is a close-up and it's really offensive:



Awww, isn't that a sweet picture of a baby napping nursing?  What's that?  You couldn't tell the difference?  Imagine that!

I'm not sure why it is that so many women feel the need to make a statement about breast feeding.  You want to make an impact?  Just freaking be kind already!  Be polite!  Recognize that the universe does not revolve around you or your baby, and that anything you can do to be a decent human being is a good thing.  And then, if someone is a jerk to you about it, they are a jerk.  But don't you be one.  Rudeness begets rudeness.  Kindness begets kindness.  

There now, is that so hard?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Signs


This afternoon, I was stopped at a stoplight behind a car with a yellow "Baby on Board" sign suction-cupped to their rear window.  Confession: these signs used to annoy me.   "Oh my gosh, who cares that you have a baby?!" I would think to myself every time I saw one.  They were right up there with that perfect-looking stick figure family that made we want to get one of these for my car window.

But that was before I learned the purpose for these signs -- in case of an accident, they are a signal to emergency responders that they should look for an infant in the back seat of the car.  Not so annoying now, are they?

More information changed my perspective.

Not long ago I was sitting in a ward council (a group of male and female leaders in our local church congregation that meets together regularly to discuss the needs of the ward) and one man shared this thought that struck me deeply:  "Imagine we are all climbing a rock wall," he said. "How often do we look at those who are struggling to climb next to us and say things like, 'What is wrong with you?  Why aren't you climbing faster?  How come you keep falling?  Why can't you reach the next foothold?  Why aren't you higher already?' when what we should be saying is, 'Here, let me help you!  The next foothold is right there -- you can do it!  Don't worry, I'll catch you!  Take your time, I'll wait for you.  It's okay, you can start over.  I'm right behind you!'"

We never know what is going on in someone's life or in someone's heart.  Even if we have walked a similar path, we haven't walked it in the same shoes.  Imagine if we looked at others' signs and, instead of saying, "What is wrong with you?" or firmly declaring that we would never act that way or make those decisions, we said, "I'm here for you.  I love you.  Take my hand and I'll help you."

Anyone can read a yellow sign, but not everyone knows its true meaning.  For example, how many of you thought this blog post was going to be a pregnancy announcement?  (Be honest...)  There is always more to the story than we can see.

Especially when we refuse to look beyond the first page.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Life's Little Indignities

Womanhood is so undignified sometimes.  I mean, the guys complain about the turn and cough thing, but seriously, fingers UP your nether regions?  We'll see your inguinal hernia check and raise you an annual date with a speculum.  To say nothing of motherhood, which basically takes every last shred of dignity you were holding onto and forces you to watch it burn.  "We'll just do a quick check of your cervix today, Mrs. Overly.  If we find your dignity up there we'll let you know..."

Even after you make it through the whole nine months of pregnancy and all the embarrassments of childbirth they still want to check all of the things.  "I just need to take a look at your nipples."  "I'm here to check your bleeding."  "Any trouble with hemorrhoids?" and one of my personal favorites, "Have you had a bowel movement yet?" which is just a "polite" way of saying, "Have you pooped today?" and we all know that that is not a polite question at all.  Luckily I read Miss Manners and she says it's perfectly okay to rebuff nosy strangers, which is is why I started responding, "It's kind of you to be so concerned about my private life..." followed by a withering glare.  (Miss Manners says you can always end with a withering glare, as long as you say something polite first).

Fortunately, they do let you out of the hospital eventually.  Unfortunately the indignities do not end there.  Soon you find yourself sitting on a couch, hooked up to a machine that literally milks you -- like, literally sucks milk from your body as if you were a Jersey cow.  (Go on, try to feel dignified while doing this.  I DARE YOU).  Besides eating, your baby's only priority is to claim you as his mother by coating your entire wardrobe in his bodily fluids.  ("She's my mom!  Can't you see my vomit on her shoulder?")

Of course this is probably more dignified than when your baby hits the crawling age and decides that no matter what happens, you must never go to the bathroom alone.  This phase lasts until he is at least eight, possibly longer.  (I'm not sure because my oldest is eight.  For all I know this phase will last until he's 25).  Even when you lock yourself in he has to stand there with his toes under the door and ask for help with things that obviously can't be done while you are on the toilet.  "Mom, can you make lunch?"  "Will you get me a band-aid?"  "Can you jump on the trampoline?"

Why yes, son,  I can sit on the toilet and jump on the trampoline at the same time.  I am just that amazing!

But, in spite of four kids who make it their daily mission to embarrass me, I thought I had successfully started the process of regaining my grip on dignity.  Then I discovered that I had spent half the day with baby poop on the front of my pants and my shirt inside out.  The next morning Leah made a valiant effort to permanently strip me of any last vestiges of dignity when she appeared with my cell phone while I was taking a shower.  "What are you doing with my cell phone, Leah?"  I asked.

"I'm taking pictures of you in the shower!" she answered cheerfully.

Oh GREAT.  Naked pictures.  Of me.  One little button away from being posted to Facebook.

"PUT THE CELL PHONE DOWN RIGHT NOW AND BACK AWAY, LEAH."

"Why, Mom?"

Oh, I don't know.  Maybe something about the fact that we don't take naked pictures of people.  Or push one button and traumatize the entire internet.  (I gave birth to twins, you guys.  I have stretch marks that are basically canyons).

"Mom's dignity, Leah."

"What's dignity, Mom?  How do you spell it?"

"C-L-O-T-H-E-S O-N."

Seriously, it's good advice for life.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Something to Stand For

After a weekend of watching my Facebook feed turn into a battle between Somewhere Over the Rainbow and the We-Think-We're-Righteous Brothers I feel the need to share some simple truths:

* No person has ever had their mind changed by a Facebook avatar.  Not one.  It is simply not possible to change someone's heart by using your profile picture or your status update to say I'M RIGHT AND YOU'RE WRONG.

* If you think that all of your friends share your view of the world, you don't know your friends.  Name-calling and ascribing evil motives to anyone who disagrees with you damages people, and it damages your friends.  It doesn't matter what side of an argument you are on; being right is never more important than being kind.

* It's more important for you to love people than to correct them.  Correcting them is not your job.  Loving them is.

* The world will not end if it is deprived of your opinion on every issue.

* It is usually more important to have open ears than an open mouth.

* And finally, God loves all of His children.  ALL of them.  You should do the same.  

There will never be a time when every person will agree on everything.  We are different people with different backgrounds, different experiences, and different beliefs.  But whether we are pro-life or pro-choice, pro-gay marriage or pro-traditional marriage, all of us can -- and should -- be one thing:

Pro-kindness.