Friday, August 31, 2007

The week in review

Why, Hello!
Originally uploaded by Ernesto and Kristen Burden.

We're recovering from a rough day yesterday. Sofia's face met with our side table as she jumped off the couch in kangaroo like fashion and now she's got three serious punctures in her lower lip, courtesy of three of her top teeth. Her gums and lip are swollen and she's talking a bit funny, but no teeth are loose and she is in very good spirits despite the trauma. After talking with the doctor's office we all determined there wasn't a whole lot anyone could do and that ice, ibuprofen and a little time should heal this wound. Meanwhile I'm feeling lousy for having been out of the room when it happened because maybe I could have prevented it.

When she's not doing aerial acrobatics, Sofia is coloring up a storm and filling every book and piece of blank paper that she comes across. She's also decorated the walls of her bedroom and a few areas on the carpet. I guess a true artist's canvas can be found anywhere.

David is into math more and more. He is working on counting to a trillion and so far has made it to 700. His reading is also coming along very well and I am no longer able to spell words out loud in secret code to Ernesto because David usually can tell what I'm saying. I guess now I have to brush up on my Spanish.

And Isobel, dear sweet little baby is just full of smiles and happiness. I think perhaps she is just laughing at the rest of us. I don't blame her in the least.

Happy Friday! (and long weekend for some of us!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Evening Out

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary and Ernesto and I got a much needed dinner out last night as my good friend Annette watched the kids. That's right, all three of them. As hard as it is to leave the baby at this tender age, even for a few hours, it did me good and today I feel so relaxed. It reminded me of how important it is to do this every once in a while and that we don't do it often enough. I remember reading somewhere that couples with small children should get out alone at least once every couple of weeks and I just laughed. That very well may be what we all need but it is entirely unrealistic for those of us without live-in nannies.

The bonus though, of getting out so infrequently is that we really enjoy ourselves when we do. We don't take it for granted and we do it up right. We went to the nicest restaurant we could afford (without taking out a small loan) and we got dressed up and indulged in a fantastic, liesurely meal. It was weird having both my hands free while eating, because there is usually a small child occupying at least one of them during meal time.

As usual though, our converstion eventually turned to the kids, as it always seems to. Ironic, since we often try to have in-depth discussions about other things when the kids are running around, but of course we never get to finish them. Then here we are alone and we just talk about them. I'm just glad that after eight years of marriage (and 11 years together) we still have lively conversations.

So if someone offers to watch the kiddos for you today, take them up on it! It will do you good.

Monday, August 20, 2007

My worst job ever

I've worked a few less than stellar jobs in my life, but today I was reminded of the worst job I ever held.

I stopped at the bank to deposit some checks and I went through the second teller's drive-through, the one that sends the checks through the pneumatic tube or whatever that thing is. I thought the kids would get a kick out of it.

As I'm preparing to launch the deposit, I hear the man in the car next to me cursing and giving the teller a hard time. Apparently he was cashing a check and she asked to see his ID. I couldn't make out everything he was saying, but the teller was biting her tongue and continuing to be very polite to this irate individual. Suddenly I had a flashback to the time when I worked as a bank teller down in New Jersey. It was maybe my second or third week there and I was working the drive-up window for the first time and I asked for this man's ID, just as I was instructed to do by the management. The man began flipping out on me and then drove around to the front, parked his truck and came into the bank to curse me out. He went on and on about he'd been coming to this bank for five thousand years and what kind of idiots were they hiring at this branch now, yada, yada, yada. I was horrified, embarrassed, angry, all that stuff. And not one of my superiors defended me. They smiled at him, apologized and sent him on his way. I felt humiliated and beleagured as to why no one stepped up and said anything. The job was horrible for about a dozen other reasons as well, all stories unto themselves, but this episode was one of the worst.

That same day I decided that it was time to find a new job. I think I worked there for maybe four months at the most. My last day there was my favorite day of work.

So as I'm watching this woman take this abuse, I was really impressed by how well she held it together. She was very professional and treated him as though he was just sunshine and roses personified. I'm sure she was seething underneath, but you really couldn't tell. I witnessed the whole scenario and I don't think the man knew anyone else was there but he must have heard me speaking to the kids because he flashed a quick look in my direction and then his face went all red. Yep, I'm watching you. Thanks for teaching my children some new words you big jackalope.

I'll try and remember that day back in NJ every time I'm having a bad day at home. A bad day here with the kids is still ten thousand times better than a good day back in that hell hole.

So now I want to know...what's the worst job YOU ever held?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Now I know why some men leave the toilet seat up

It's because as young boys all they did was let the lid slam shut after using it and their mothers went so crazy hearing the "BANG! BANG! BANG!" from it all day that they finally broke down and pleaded with the little guy to "just leave it up...please, whatever you do just leave the seat up!"

And that's how it happened. Those guys were just obeying their moms.

So my apologies, future daughter-in-law.

Friday, August 10, 2007

My big kids

We get a lot of comments on how tall our kids are. When David was three and we were out and about, people would ask, "How come he's not in school?" I'd tell them, "He's only three." Then the typical response of, "Oh!" would follow. He's not exactly a giant, though he is taller than many of his peers. I don't wonder so much about his height, but then there are my girls.

I'm a very tall woman and I was a very tall kid. More importantly, I was a very tall girl. I don't know if you know this or not, but out in the "real" world if you are a little different from everyone else, well, it's not necessarily perceived as a good thing. Particularly during adolescence.

Those were some rough years for me. I remember in fifth grade being about the same size as most of my friends and then suddenly, everyone was shorter than me. Like, a lot shorter than me. Then people began drawing quite a bit of attention to my height. Not, "hey, what sparkling blue eyes you have" or "you've got some healthy hair, there". No, it was always, "Hey! You're really tall!!"

Really? I hadn't noticed.

It became irritating. Really irritating. And it only got worse the older I got. When you are a self-conscious pre-teen to begin with and then everyone keeps drawing attention to your physical being, it's nothing short of humiliating. They may as well have said, "Hey! Look at how microscopic your bosom is! Remarkable!" Okay, well they might have said that too. Imagine if I'd gone around calling attention to how "short" other people were. Like, "Hey, tiny! What are you, about 4' 3"?"

Then as I grew older and was more interested in boys, I'd sometimes get comments from guys saying, "Oh, you must be at least 6' 2" because I'm 6' and you're taller than me." I always steered clear of those guys because I was pretty sure the delusions didn't end there.

I remember my high school graduation when we were paired up alphabetically to walk down the aisle toward our seats. It just so happened that the young man whose name came right after mine was an actual "little person". Yes, whatever the PC term for it is now, he was a dwarf. We had grown up together so when we saw we had been assigned to walk together during the processional we glared at each other, shaking our heads in disgust. I wonder which staff member said, hey, let's team up the tallest girl in school with the smallest guy. Won't that be a kick? And now when I reminisce on that day I look at the pictures of me walking down the aisle, seemingly alone, since you cannot see my partner's cap from above the crowd.

So when I get these growth charts for my girls and I see how tall they already are compared to their peers, I wonder if they're going to have to endure the same trials I did. Hopefully they will embrace their height, and be proud of it. Maybe they won't be as clumsy and awkward as I was (am) and they won't be all that bothered by it. Or who knows, they may not even be that tall and it will be a non-issue altogether.

Or perhaps I'll start calling them "shorty" now so that when the tall comments start, they will be thrilled.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Now We Know Why Elmo Talks So Funny- Lead Poisoning

Thank you so much Fisher-Price, for instilling yet more fearful thoughts into the impressionable minds of my children. Now my child would rather bleed all over the place rather than accept a Dora brand Band-Aid, worrying that it might contain traces of lead.

Now here's a puzzler: Even if the toys your children have are on the list of recent recalls, but were purchased prior to those sold containing lead (and therefore supposedly safe) do you really want to keep them? Because if Fisher-Price put these others on the market and didn't know they contained lead, how do I know the others are safe, or any of them for that matter? I'm not an overly suspicious person, but I find that a little troubling. I mean, let's see here...what's the one thing that would be really dangerous to put on a child's toys besides sharp little knives...Oh YES! Lead paint! It's bright, colorful AND delicious!

I guess they thought they would save a lot of money by outsourcing to China, but it looks like this little incident will end up costing them a small fortune.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Talking Buffalo (and other horrifying tales)

Lest you all begin to get the impression that everything is all sunshine and roses over here at Milkweed Hill, let me tell you a little story about my family's evening out.

Ernesto called me as he left work tonight and we chatted about what to do for dinner. It was too damn hot to cook, so we thought about take out, but then couldn't agree on what to get. So finally I said, "Okay, let's just go out to a restaurant then. I'll get the kids ready and we'll leave once you get here." Easy enough.

So we head out to one of the "Bugaboo Creek" chain restaurants, and no, this is not a gourmet night out, but it's kid friendly and there's air conditioning. We had an incident there once with David when he was three because he was scared of the talking moose, but we got through dinner without too much trouble. There were enough people there to help distract him and I think he may have ended up under the table, but whatever. He assured me he was no longer afraid of the animatronics, making this a safe bet.

We were seated fairly quickly as I had called ahead and they brought us around the corner, past the talking Moose to a table directly under the mounted head of a talking buffalo. So Ernesto and I are like, "Hey kids, isn't this great? Look at the cool stuff!" David points out a skunk peeping out of some fisherman's waders and there's a red squirrel hanging from a lantern. I get Isobel all situated next to me and then I look to Sofia with her face turned upward, trembling with fear, wide eyes filled to the spilling point as she stares in horror at the stupid talking buffalo.

Immediately Ernesto and I spring into mommy/daddy reassurance mode. "Oh, it's okay, Sof, it's just a little robot inside it, like your barking puppy, you know?" Ernesto tries to place her in her seat but she clings to him for dear life, still unable to turn away from the wall-mounted beast looming above.

Between the quiet sobbing and the cries of "I don't want to hear it talk!!" we somehow manage to order some drinks. Somehow I think she'll be appeased by a fancy frozen lemonade. Not so. She comes to my side and implores, "we've got to go hooome..."

I'm both sympathetic and very frustrated. I understand that she cannot help her fear of the robotic buffalo telling lame jokes, but I just want her to get it that this thing is benign and it's nothing to be afraid of. Ernesto takes her outside to try and calm her down and meanwhile the waitress is trying to complete our order, but she can't with Ernesto gone. And now David has got his ears covered and is saying that he just doesn't want to hear the buffalo because "it's so loud." His sister has got to him. At least the baby is happy.

They finally come back, but Sofia is no happier than when she left. Tears are streaming down her red cheeks and she's trying not to look directly at the hairy beast, who hasn't moved or said anything for at least ten minutes. I ask Ernesto if we should try and get another table but the place is packed and there's no way we'd be eating anytime soon. We begin getting snippy with each other and finally we determine we have to leave. We pay for the drinks and tip the waitress for her trouble and leave, getting funny looks from some of the other tables as we go. Some sullen faced woman is staring at me as though I've just ruined her life and I insincerely mouth the words, "I'm So Sorry".

We pack into the car and head home. As I'm driving I'm reminded of the time I was about Sofia's age and went to the annual Christmas party that they held through the newspaper my mother worked at. It was a gala event every year, with magic acts, presents for all the children of the employees which numbered in the hundreds, and of course Santa was there in his grand sleigh, patiently listening to Christmas wishes while his cheerful elves (also employees of the paper) looked on. And as glorious as this whole scene was to my delighted young eyes, there were also the clowns.

Oh, the dreadful clowns.

I now know they were just doing their jobs, but I remember it like it was yesterday. There were four, or maybe six of them. A zippy little gaggle of them, all buzzing around in their primary colors , their pom-poms and their crazy hair. Most, if not all of them made balloon shapes and so there were kids running amok with "swords", battling it out in the great orchestral hall. Some of them talked, but many fancied themselves mimes I guess, because they wouldn't speak, but would rather honk or make some kind of whistling sound with a device hidden somewhere in their costume. They were all just awful.

But of course they weren't at all. I think as clowns go they were probably the best out there, but I was so freakin' afraid of them I could not stand it. And the most vivid memory I have is of my mother holding me on her hip while one of the clowns tried to give me a balloon shaped like an apple and all I could do was cry. He made one of those sad clown faces and I think it just made me cry even harder. He kept trying to give me the apple but I wouldn't take it. What was it about my wailing and refusal of the latex fruit that he didn't get? I mean come on. Enough already! I remember even feeling sorry for him, as though I really was hurting his feelings, but I couldn't bring myself to talk or smile or engage this character in any way.

So I get it. Sofia's scared of something that can't hurt her in the least, but it doesn't matter. She perceives it as terrifying, so that's just what it is. No amount of cajoling will fix that. She'll grow out of it, as I did my fear of clowns. Well, I'm mostly not afraid of them. I can talk to them without bursting into tears, anyway.

Tonight after I had put the kids to bed, I went in after a few minutes to check on them. David was crashed out but Sofia was still wide-eyed.

"I heard a loud sound," she says to me.
"It was just some thunder."
"Thunder?" she begins to look frightened.
"Yeah, just some thunder. Thank goodness it's not a talking buffalo!"
She smiles brightly, "Oh, yeah, it's good it's not that! Just some thunder!"

And with that, she rolls over and happily nods off to sleep.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

You know there's too much "tech talk" in your house when...

...your three year old daughter cuddles up with you on the couch, opens a copy of "Business 2.0" and offers to read you the story of the "Three Little Laptops".

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.