Monthly Archives: February 2012

Hello! I’m alive!


From my absence it might appear I was on vacation. I want to assure you, I was not. I’ve been nowhere but home. Except that I’ve been on Ella’s Epic Cough Adventure. That poor child. The diagnosis is in, and apparently a little cold or allergy flairs up her asthma. So we’re trying out yet another new inhaler.

Ella’s coughing started somewhere around February 10, because that’s when I wrote her teacher a note to say that I would like her to be allowed cough drops. In the last week it progressed into her waking up twice a night needing more medicine. Guess who does medicine in this house? Just me, it seems. I made her a doctor appointment for yesterday. So for over a week, it was like having a newborn again. When she started coughing, she’d cough for about 20 minutes, then when I couldn’t take it anymore I’d get her something. Then she’d cough for another 20-30 minutes. During which I didn’t sleep. Twice a night. Usually around 12 and 4. Sometimes, it was even enough to wake Zoey up. In the next room. With mostly closed doors and humidifiers running everywhere.

By Monday into Tuesday, it was apparently too much for me, and I got a migraine. And then I kicked myself for not going out for groceries the night before. I dropped the girls off at school, and headed for the grocery store. The migraine itself was gone, I was just living in the migraine hangover. I had to change Zoey’s diaper in the parking lot — I’m sure she found the 35 degree air on her little bum refreshing. The only real reprieve of the day was that for the first time ever in her life, Zoey was an angel while shopping. I honestly think she understood that I felt far too horrible to be able to handle the usual screaming and jailbreak attempts. She sat quietly, snacking on Cheerios and enjoying taking her cup out of the cup holder and putting it back in. Another grocery shopping side note: I am amazed how quickly I was able to get through. Around the second or third aisle, I started to wonder if I was going to survive the trip without passing out. So I just took out my list and got through it as quickly as I could. I was so thankful for my Grocery IQ app, that lets me put my grocery list in order by aisle, and order the aisles according to my store. It eliminated the thinking that I didn’t have the energy for.

We made it home and I started to count down to Zoey’s nap, so I could take one, too. She usually goes down around 11. So I put her down in her crib, closed the door, and went to bed. And then I laid there for an hour and a half listening to her squawk. So much for my nap. She fell asleep around 1. I had to get up to get dinner in the crockpot. At 2:30 I had to wake her up to get Ella & Natalie, because we had to get to Ella’s doctor appointment downtown. Usually she’s up around 2 for a late lunch. So yesterday she missed lunch, had a much shorter nap, and then had to wait in a toyless doctor’s lounge. It’s a new clinic in one of Captain America’s office buildings. Not his like he owns them. His, as in he works there. The company he works for opened a clinic for their employees. I was incredibly grateful that he was able to come down to the clinic to hang out with Zoey while I had Ella in her appointment. Because she’d used every ounce of angel up during the grocery shopping. Apparently the receptionist eventually just closed the door down the hallway and told CA she could go wherever she wanted.

But hooray, hopefully the new inhaler will be helpful. The PA said it would probably take a couple of days to get it into her system and really see results. But guess who slept through the night last night? Well, not me or Ella. But for once it was because of wind and rain rattling everything around and not because of coughing. I may have been woken up a few times, but I at least didn’t have to get out of bed.

That’s an improvement.

RTT: Bisous


Random Tuesday. Time for some thoughts.

French au pair/Valentine update: In last week’s RTT I was already loving our babysitter. Well. Later that day (Valentine’s Day), I went out to get the mail. I was confused. There were letters FROM Ella & Natalie. Envelopes addressed in crayon. To me! Turns out, the Saturday before when we had Miss E babysit, she helped the girls make Valentines, and then she took them with her to mail for them. I have scanned them for your viewing pleasure. Because there’s something to note on Ella’s.

Natalie’s Valentine cover

Natalie’s Valentine inside – so sweet

Ella’s Valentine cover…wait a minute…

Ella’s Valentine inside

So, yes. Miss E not only helped them make and send Valentines, ELLA’S IS IN FRENCH. “Bisous, Ella” Be. Still. My. Heart. Totally seals the deal, I’m locking Miss E in the basement and not letting her leave upon her college graduation in May. Shhhh! Don’t tell her!! (Dear Internet Big Brother, I am joking. I will not lock her in my basement. But I do hope she finds a job here and never ever leaves. At least not until my children no longer need a sitter.)

• • • • • • • •

I may have mentioned in another post last week that my children are horribly picky eaters and I know it’s my fault. And it’s still not up for discussion. But, I did find a handy thing courtesy of Mr. Chuck E. They’ve got reward charts. You can have your kids fill out 2 weeks of a reward chart, and when they bring it in they’ll get 10 free tokens. We’re giving the “Good Eater” chart a try. You probably don’t take your kids to the Cheese’s, but an occasional visit is a pretty good motivator around here. I’ll just soak them in sanitizer later. (Dear Internet Big Brother, Do I need to disclose that nobody paid me to say that? I just saw it and thought if anyone else uses the occasional Cheese bribery, they’d like to know.)

• • • • • • • •

A while back Ella turned her nose up at the history themed book order. Well this last weekend we took the girls to the mall. We said there WILL BE NO TOY PURCHASES. NONE. WHATSOEVER. But if you would like a couple of books, here’s what you can pick from. They were buy 2, get 3. Natalie picked out 3 chapter books from a series her teacher had read them at school. She’s been reading them and enjoying them. And I showed Ella all the exciting! biography books. She actually picked some out. She has already finished “Who was Sacagawea?” and has now started “Who was Walt Disney?” Did you know Mickey was originally named Mortimer? I didn’t. She actually had a tough time choosing, because she liked so many of the books. Victory! And now I need to do some studying of my own, because according to Ella, Sacagawea gave her baby to Lewis & Clark.

• • • • • • • •

Dear Charter Cable,

Would you mind moving the channels that show yucky murder recreations farther away from kid channels? My toddler has figured out how to change channels on the cable box itself, and I keep finding her watching shows like “The Real NCIS” and “Dateline” instead of “Play with Me Sesame” or “The Wiggles.”

• • • • • • • •

I’m sure you’ll all be happy to know that the dog Phoebe has several applications in for adoption. Good for her! Now I have spotted a small, 1 yr old Collie in a neighboring town. I think I should adopt him and train him to be a pet therapy dog. Captain America thinks this is ridiculous. And he still has zero interest in a dog. It seems like such a good idea until I think about those muddy paws coming inside on my cream colored carpet. Finding the garbage knocked over because the dog got into it. Barking in the middle of the night. Chewed precious toys. In real life, I wonder if I should just volunteer at the Humane Society as a dog walker.

• • • • • • • •

More random over at Stacy’s.

That’s not in my job description.


Sometimes when you get a new job, you find out all kinds of things that weren’t in the job description, but still manage to find their way into your work. This is also the case with motherhood. You’ve probably heard you’ll be sleep deprived when the baby’s little. And you figure you’ll have to change some diapers. You might even be smart enough to realize that at some point you’re going to watch more than your fair share of things like Dora, Elmo, or the Wiggles. Here are a few random things that I somehow missed in the job description:

  • Psychologist: Is Ella actually upset about this teddy bear not being hers, or is this about something else altogether? Is Natalie really that upset about the dog we barely knew, or is she just tired?
  • Repair services: Stuffed animals, jewelry, books, projects – anything that gets broken I need to fix. This may involve, but is not limited to, sewing, gluing, tying, and threading.
  • Short order cook: Now. You can spare me your lectures. I know full well this is a mess I have gotten myself into because I chose other battles. We’re just not talking about it, ok?
  • Specialized cleaning services: Have you ever taken a good look at a toddler’s high chair? Don’t. Especially not mine. And the marker and glitter glue that you have to get out of laundry. Sheesh. Not to mention the cleaning that illness can bring.
  • Mediation: I have girls. Two years apart. Enough said.
  • Doctor: It’s not just first aid. There’s also the first aid that you don’t really need. Fine, use a bandaid. But you don’t really need it. There’s also mysterious stomachaches. Too much food? Too little? Dehydration? Too much sugar? Could it be a sinus related issue? Do you need to poop? (Please click that link. You’ll be so happy.) Then there’s the figuring out what medicine to use. Is it a dry cough? Is your nose stuffy too? Is there gunk in your throat? Allergies or cold? Choose wisely, because it’s anywhere from 4 – 24 hours til you can try something else. Is that a rash? Dry skin? Eczema? Are your eyes pink because you’re tired or because you have pinkeye? Does your throat hurt because the air is dry, or because you have strep?
  • Special Investigations: Missing blanket? Missing stuffed animal? Missing pacifier? Missing homework? It’s all on you. And you’ve got 3 minutes, because it’s bedtime and things are about to get ugly.
  • Homework Assistant: Good gracious my children have a lot of homework. Some of it is daily. Some of it is due in three weeks. You need to help keep track of it and be ready to assist on any matter of problems. Multiplication? Quadrilaterals? Scalene triangles? I am so thankful to be parenting in the age of google.
  • Social Agent: Setting up activities and playdates, and keeping everyone’s calendar straight. This includes half days of school, no school days, special events, and things like haircuts.

After that, there’s a whole bunch of miscellaneous stuff that’s probably just mine:

  • Eater of the chips no one else likes: Bought a variety pack of chips? You’d best believe there’s a kind no one else will eat, so that’s what you’ll have.
  • Eater of cold food: Yes. It’s your job to make sure everyone else is happy and ready to eat before you eat. Which inevitably means your next hot meal is coming somewhere around 7 years after your last child was born.
  • Nail technician: I don’t think Captain America has ever cut a nail. I’ve done all the nail cutting forever. And, of course, any nail painting has been mine to do. I try to do my best in that department – Ella had candy corn nails at Halloween.
  • Craft supplier: It takes a lot to keep these crafty girls going.

Also, if aliens abducted me tomorrow, it’s possible that my children would never:

  • Brush their hair or teeth again.
  • Put on clean underwear.
  • Shower/bathe.
  • Study spelling.
  • Bring snowpants to school.

So. Is there anything I missed? Something you didn’t realize you’d be doing? Something your mom did that you’d bet she never thought about before she had kids?



This week’s spin cycle is about embarrassing moments. I don’t really have one. Sorry.

I don’t mean to say nothing embarrassing has ever happened to me. I just mean to say I don’t have one with a really good story. Perhaps what I lack in quality, I have made up for in quantity? I’ll give you what I’ve got, though.

  • Kindergarten. I think I was a lot like Ella. Loud at home, quiet in the classroom. I knew I had to go to the bathroom when we headed to music. But I was kind of afraid of the very stern music teacher, and thought I could wait til I got back to the loving arms of Miss Jenney before my bladder exploded. And then we found out we were playing guitars. And apparently, the proper posture for that with 5 year olds is to have them stand at the desk, with one foot on the seat. It was more than my little bladder could take. There was soon a yellow puddle under the chair.
  • Also when I was of that age, I had a boy haircut. I’m sure we talked about this ad nauseum on the Old Blog. I was constantly mistaken for a boy, which I thought was MORTIFYING. Just a few months ago my mother admitted that the boy haircut was just because she didn’t want to take me for haircuts so she did them herself. MOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!
  • French Camp. Yes. I am *that* kind of geek. I didn’t speak French and it wasn’t offered at my school. But I so desperately wanted to. So I went to French camp. After the two weeks, we put on a program for our parents when they came to get us. I still barely spoke French. So I said the line was supposed to say. But one of the counselors whispered to me, “Plus fort!” So I said, “Plufor!” which was met with much giggling. “Plus fort” apparently means “louder.” Whoops.
  • After getting married and moving back to my home town, I went out to my old high school for something. I don’t even remember what it was now. But I remember running into somebody who had been a class or two ahead of me. “When are you due?” she asked. “I’m not,” I said. I recognize this shouldn’t really be embarrassing to me, it should be to her. But it still was. And I still wanted to die a thousand deaths.
  • Birth! Labor and delivery is a great place for embarrassing stories! I am petrified of having a needle in my back (no, I can’t explain why I have a back tattoo, in that case), so I didn’t have an epidural for any of my labors. Which meant I felt every. Little. Thing. During Birth #2, I was as far as some pushing when the doctor decided to just handle some things for himself. I had a literal knee jerk reaction, and I nearly kicked him in the face. “I’m just trying to help!” he said. I think Captain America probably remembers more embarrassing things that I yelled while giving birth, but I seem to be blocking them now.

I guess that’s all I’ve got. I’m ok with not having a great story. I mean, is anyone really aiming to get better embarrassing stories? I probably have one but am blocking it out. I do my best to either avoid the embarrassment altogether, or brush it off when it happens. If this wasn’t embarrassing enough for you, there’s plenty more at Gretchen’s place.

RTT: Loves


In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d tell you some random things I’m loving right now. And I mean random, because it’s Tuesday. Not the obvious things like my husband and my family and God.

  • Downton Abbey. In case I hadn’t mentioned it. Even though I have. IT IS SO GOOD. Since Captain America doesn’t read the blog, I will admit to you that I tend to watch each episode twice. Once right away, because I can’t wait. Once shortly before the new episode so I can refresh. As if I needed refreshing.
  • Lindt Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt
  • The Civil Wars
  • My Dollar store Valentine decorations.
  • Yarn-related crafts
  • The crockpot
  • Date night! We had one Saturday! We just went to dinner and did a little shopping. But it was so nice. There were no chicken fingers. The loud child wasn’t mine.
  • Our babysitter. SO. I am so excited about this. Do you know what I found out, after I got all into having a French nanny? Our actual babysitter spent the semester before last IN FRANCE. For real. She’s in French club. She has eaten frog legs. Next best thing to the Grandmere Au Pair? I think so. Plus, she’s the only person Zoey is willing to be left with besides us.
  • My iPhone. Oh, Apps. You are so handy. Some of my favorites are: Words with Friends, Grocery IQ, Shazam, Petfinder (I’m not getting a dog), Migraine Diary, and Pinterest. And last week I downloaded the PBS Kids app. It just runs through clips of Elmo non stop. Other shows too, but we just need Elmo. Zoey’s got some serious love for Elmo. When Sesame Street gets to Elmo’s World, the house could crumble around Zoey and she would not notice. ELMO.
  • Things my children say. Ask Zoey any question right now and she’ll say, “Yeah!”
  • This video. This song. This place. This boy. This sweater. I was happy to see Bon Iver win the best new artist Grammy. Love his stuff. And he’s from Wisconsin!  
  • Vacation planning. It’s not til August. But I’m a little excited.

As always, more random at Stacy’s.

If only my children had imaginations


Yesterday’s trip to school went like this:

Ella: “Cassie forgot her bike today, so she’s riding an elephant!”

Me: “Who is Cassie?”

Ella: “Nick’s twin sister.” (Nick is Ella’s imaginary older brother. He, apparently, has some mad skillz on the skateboard.)

Natalie: “My dog is coming in his wheelchair.”

Me: “What? Your dog has a wheelchair?”

Natalie: “Yes. He’s a chihuahua. His favorite bone was in the van one day, and when he was chasing after it he got hit by a car. His back leg was broken. So now he has a wheelchair.”

Ella: “What if someone brought 100 chihuahuas to school???”

Natalie: “I don’t think I’d like that. They’d be really yippy.”

Ella: “What if someone brought an elephant to school? WHAT IF SOMEONE BROUGHT 100 ELEPHANTS TO SCHOOL??”

Me: “I’m not sure 100 elephants would fit in the parking lot.”

Ella: “They could go on the playground, and the top of the hill, and on top of the school.”

Me: “Oh, ok.”

And that’s when I had to drop them off. It was much more fun than today. Last night we found out our neighbor’s dog had died. The girls had played with the dog once last fall, and we all said something like, “Maybe you can play with Buddy again sometime.” Captain America had the not so great idea to tell Natalie about it before she went to bed. She burst into tears. For an hour. So instead of going to bed at 8, she went to bed at 9. Still choking back sobs. And then she woke up crying again. So this morning was a lot of Ella saying something like, “I’m pretending that Buddy is right here on my lap.” And Natalie responding, “I need to think about other things!!! That’s not helping!!” And there was also a lot of “Now I know TWO dogs that have died. {insert sobs here}” Followed by me “Ok, but you need to get some socks on and pack up your backpack, IT IS TIME FOR SCHOOL.”

I’m not sure if she’s really sad about Buddy’s actual death, or if she’s sad she won’t get to play with him again now. At one point Captain America mentioned that there were other dogs and she said something like, “BUT WE DON’T KNOW MANY PEOPLE WITH DOGS HERE.” Which I don’t think is really true, but ok. In any case, I’m hoping we can get another imaginary dog and pick up the pieces of the shattered dreams. Because if she bursts into tears again, I’m going to be extremely tempted to go pick up Phoebe. And I don’t think I really want to do that. And I know for a fact Captain America doesn’t want that to happen.

Spin Cycle: Honeymoons


This week Gretchen suggested Honeymoon stories. I’ve got one of those.

First, I should say that I was just a baby when we got married. I was 20, and Captain America was 21. Neither of us had a full time job yet, although Captain America had enough of a job to get us both health insurance. But we didn’t have a very exotic honeymoon budget. Which was fine, because every year my family vacationed on the North Shore of Lake Superior, and I was pretty sure I’d spend my honeymoon at Cascade Lodge‘s Cabin 11. It has a little footbridge over a creek from the parking spot. I wanted more than anything to stay in that cabin from the time I was very little. Mostly because I wanted to have to cross a bridge to get to my cabin.

Another thing about our wedding – we moved it up. We were going to get married in Duluth, MN in November in between quarters of school. BRRR. And then this job came available for Captain America (with benefits!), so in late July we decided to get married in my hometown at the end of August instead. So we had a wedding to plan in five weeks. By the time we thought of the honeymoon (and probably by the time we thought of the wedding), Cabin 11 was booked. But we decided to stay at a hotel in Grand Marais instead, which would be equally lovely.

Here’s a wrench I didn’t expect: Captain America had already committed to a fantasy football draft on the Sunday after our wedding. Since when he committed, it was just going to be a Sunday. Not the Sunday after our wedding. And I thought it’d be so sweet for us to do it together, so I’d said I’d be in the league, too. Yeah. I was young and in love.

So on a Saturday in late August, we got married. We arranged our trip so we’d be in Duluth on Sunday. I spent the afternoon the day after my wedding sitting on somebody’s living room floor picking out football players. And then we drove up the North Shore and had a fantastic couple of days in one of my favorite towns. It all seemed perfectly reasonable when I was 20.

And now, every year I am reminded of it, as I spend my anniversary at a fantasy football auction (Oh, they’re still together. They’ve changed from a draft to an auction, and I quit after that first year). It’s a lot of fun to see old friends and we all make a weekend out of it now. I wouldn’t give up that weekend, I just wish it wasn’t at the same time as my anniversary. I’ve never had an anniversary trip that didn’t include fantasy football. And until we had to start bringing our kids with us, I helped by auctioneering. So I have spent many an anniversary saying something similar to “Aaron Rogers…$20…going once…going twi…” and then I got interrupted because somebody upped the bid.

SOMEDAY I want to take a little anniversary trip to Cabin 11. Spend some time with Captain America. Eat our breakfasts at the Cascade Lodge Restaurant. Have lunch at Sven & Ole’s Pizza in Grand Marais. Hike around the trails to see rivers and waterfalls. Shop for outdoorsy things we don’t need (because we’re not outdoorsy) at the trading post. Maybe have dinner at the Angry Trout Cafe. Pie back at the lodge again. Or have some ice cream and throw rocks in the lake. S’mores in our cabin! It’s just one of my favorite places in the world, and I can’t wait to go back. Without stopping for fantasy football on the way. I’m pretty sure it’ll be more special than it would have been on my honeymoon, because after all these years and all of these kids, I’ll appreciate it a whole lot more.

I just called to say I love you?


On Sunday I was just coming out of the bathroom when I heard my phone ring. My phone doesn’t ring on the weekend, so I was slightly alarmed. Or excited. Someone is calling! When I got to it, the caller id said it was Captain America. Who was 15 feet away. He has been known to call me in the basement before, but I won’t lie, I was a little irritated. I WAS IN THE BATHROOM. WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME???

“I’m not.”

Huh? A quick check of the Older Two  showed them phoneless. Hey…wait a minute…where’s Zoey?

We found her hiding behind a recliner, pressing buttons on daddy’s phone. She immediately got that busted look. I ended up with a voicemail that was Captain America saying, “Zoey’s over here. She’s got it. Click.”

Now. Even I can sort of see the humor in this. Zoey says a few words now. This weekend she even started saying “chin” when she points to her chin. However. She does NOT say Mama. Ever. Every baby’s first word, Zoey refuses to say. Captain America leaves for work and he gets a “Bye Daddy.” Which is more like “Bye Dahyee.” But still. She will not say Mama. Yet, somehow, she managed to CALL ME ON THE PHONE.

Basically, it was like a whole new level of “this one’s going to give us a run for our money.”


RTT: Grandmere Au Pair Collette


Nothing makes the weeks seem faster than sitting down for some Random Tuesday Thoughts and realizing it wasn’t yesterday that I just did them.

I have decided I need a French nanny. A lovely, grandmotherly woman from somewhere in French wine country, like Provence. Then we can also go visit her family and stay with them. And of course, they’ll send the occasional bottles to sample.

Reasons we need a French nanny:

  • It is making me sad to hear Zoey make sounds that are so helpful in speaking other languages (particularly French & German), and knowing that by the time she takes a language course she will have lost the ability to make those sounds. Did you know that? There are sounds that are really difficult to make in French (and other languages, I assume). Everyone is born with the ability to make them. But if you don’t use it you lose it. I don’t remember the age it’s gone by – perhaps my sister, the lover of linguistics, will pop in with an answer in the comments. It’s making me wish I remembered French, even though I wouldn’t be able to model those sounds properly. So if I had a French nanny, she could teach her those things.
  • Have you seen this article? It’s written by an American living in France. She noticed huge differences in American kids and French kids, and found out a scientific study backed her up. The French kids are more patient, and able to entertain themselves. She admits she doesn’t want to go ENTIRELY French in the raising of her kids, but says they’ve got a few things right. This is extremely interesting to me as we’ve been going through a rough patch with the older two and interrupting. I’m not completely sold, but I am certainly intrigued. I might buy the book. It makes sense when you consider how focused we Americans are on instant gratification. Of course our children would expect the same.
  • On a related note, I nearly have to applaud Zoey’s zealous efforts in perfecting the temper tantrum. The very second something doesn’t work for her, she throws herself on the floor. Sometimes she runs a little first. Sometimes she kicks. She got a small ball pit for Christmas, and sometimes she runs and throws herself in it during the tantrum. It’s really an impressive spectacle. Especially when you catch her being careful not to actually hurt herself. But she still rolls around on the floor yelling “OW!!” So the French nanny covers two issues here: 1) I am currently exhausted of Zoey by 10 am and could use a little help with her. 2) Being French, the nanny would no doubt teach Zoey to be patient.
  • So that’s just why I think the nanny should be French. Other than that, I just think it might be nice to go out to lunch sometime. As it is, Zoey sleeps through lunch every day. Sometimes I’d like to run to the library. Or the grocery store.
  • Date night. Our last dinner out, sans kids was…the beginning of December? I think? I don’t remember. That’s actually pretty recent for our usual schedule. And the last overnight away from our kids was, I believe, maybe in June of 2010? That’s pre-Zoey.

So there you have it. Plus, we could totally call her an Au Pair. I hope she is named Joie or Noelle or Collette. We could call her Grandmere Au Pair. She’d be our granny nanny. If nothing else, maybe Zoey and I need to find a Mommy & Me French camp.

Not really random, but random all the same. There’s more at Stacy’s.