Monday, February 28, 2011

Darn You Barbara's!

It is hard enough to get three kids fed, dressed, groomed, and shod in the middle-darkness that is most mornings around here.  It does not help when the breakfast cereal conspires against me.

We like the cereals put out by Barbara's Bakery.  They are a northern California company founded in the nineteen-seventies to make tasty and good-for-you baked goods.  Well, they were so good at it, they have been distributed nationally for several years now.

Samuel loves Barbara's Shredded Spoonfuls so much that he just calls it cereal.  If he asks for cereal, he is asking for Shredded Spoonfuls.  The kids are also big fans of Puffins, and my favorite, Shredded Oats (called Big Puffins if you are Sam.) 

These cereals are so tasty, and the kids liked them so much, Hubband had to tell me to quit buying the kids such sugary cereals.  But, the truth is, Puffins and Shredded Spoonfuls only have 5 grams of sugar per serving.  Yeah, that doesn't mean a darn thing to me either.  Let me put it a better way.  Wheat Thins have 4 grams of sugar per serving and they're salty!

My only problem with Barbara's is their recent package change.  They have gone with a more natural looking box.  I suppose to reflect their identity as all natural and socially conscious, their brand if you will.  That is their right.

But all the boxes look the same.

You see how a tired and distracted woman (who probably hasn't had her coffee yet) could get confused.  And that is looking at them from the front, where there is a nice big picture.

From the side, and with my bifocals, I have to tilt myself almost into a back bend to read the name when they are up on the shelf.  More often then not, they end up in the cupboard like this. 

I would need x-ray vision to tell what cereal is in which box.

Barbara, I love you.  My kids love you.  But you need to fire your marketing people.  And then they need to fire the childless, young genius with perfect vision who designed  all of the boxes to look exactly the same!!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

All I Wanted Was a Cup of Coffee

I have not been blogging as much lately.  Partly because I have been really busy.  And, partly because I have nothing interesting to say.  I will let you decide into which category this post falls.

Don't let the cute smiles fool you.

It was early this morning.  All I wanted was a cup of coffee.  So, I lumbered out to the kitchen.  There it was;  the promised land that is the coffee pot.  Only ten feet away.  But not for me.  No.  First, I had to spend (what seemed like) forty years wandering the desert of motherhood.

I wandered over to the light switch to turn off the glaring kitchen lights (turned on by the children).  I opened a few curtains.  Much better.

The kids were wide awake.  Already bickering about something.  I wandered to the television.  Sometimes, this calms them, or at least distracts them long enough for me to get a cup.  Long live Word Girl.

What was I doing?  Coffee.  That's right.

"Mom, Samuel hit me with a cane?"  So, I broke up a cane fight.  (Don't ask why we have a cane about.)  I put the cane in my bedroom, and wandered back to the kitchen.

Now, what was I...yes, coffee.  

But between me and the coffee was Catherine, sitting on the kitchen floor, eating tortilla chips.  I took away the chips.  I ignored the crying.  I returned the chair she used to reach the chips to the dining room.  I wandered to the hall closet to get the broom to sweep up the mess.

Headed toward the coffee again, but...

I had to take time to praise Samuel vigorously for "dressing himself," even though his underpants were really a pair of pajama shorts and his pants were really an orange, plaid pair of his brother's pajama bottoms, two sizes too big.  And, his shoes did not match.  But he was so proud.

Then, like a woman on a mission, I went to the cupboard to get out my favorite mug, and got Jonah a cup for water instead.  How does this happen?

I was steps away, but I had to stop and tell Cate she could not be in the dishwasher.  I dried her (crocodile?) tears of disappointment, and took all of the "sharps" out of the dishwasher.

Back on track then.  Coffee close.  But, I had to stop and tell Cate she could not be in the garbage.  I tied up the garbage bag, while silently cursing Hubband for not taking the garbage out.

Cate began chanting, "Eat, eat, raisin brown."  That's how she says Raisin Bran.  "No, Honey.  Mommy is going to make oatmeal today."  "Eat, eat.  Eat, eat.  Eat, EAT!!"

Wait, I wanted to get a cup anything to stop that whining!

New plan.  I got out a pot for oatmeal, filled it with water, and put it on the stove.

"My bucket, my bucket," Cate cried.  Different words, same whine.  This is a throw back to the weeks of vomiting, earlier in the winter, when everyone was given a "bucket."  The oatmeal pot had been Cate's.

I was standing around, trying to remember what I was doing,  (I was trying to get a cup of coffee, in case you forgot, too.) when I heard, "Mommy, Mommy.  Shoe mess."  Cate showed me the up-ended shoe basket.  A tell-tale sign of a four year old looking for two different shoes to wear.

When I confronted Sam about "shoe mess," I got an enthusiastic play by play of how big he is now, fully dressed, shod, and pooped all the way.  You go Sam.

And, then it happened.  I poured coffee into a cup.  Woohoo!!!!!

Don't let the exclamation points fool you.  The land of milk and honey, this was not.  I few quick steps to the refrigerator revealed that there was no cream.  I silently cursed Hubband, this time for leaving the container of cream on the counter for the whole of yesterday.  That was the second container I have had to dump this week, and for the same reason.  If he is not careful the OFB (Office of Family Budgeting) is going to fine him.

I had not even taken a sip, when I noticed the water boiling.  So, I went to get the oatmeal.  I couldn't reach it, because it was pushed too far back on the top shelf.  I silently cursed Hubband again, though I was not even sure if this one was his fault.  I pulled out the kitchen ladder, climbed up, and retrieved the oatmeal.
I was measuring oatmeal into the pot of boiling water, when Hubband, who was merely passing through on the way to the front door and freedom work, exclaimed, "Why is there water all over the floor!"  "What?  What water?"  I tossed him a towel, which he gave to the two year old, and told her wipe up the water.  She is closer to the ground.

Stirred oatmeal.  Stared blankly.  Blinked periodically.  You see, without the coffee it is hard to focus on getting the coffee.  But I knew there was something that I was supposed to do.

Ah, yes!  I thought I had it.  I checked my e-mail for lab results.  Simultaneously:  "Mom, can you help me button my pants?"  I was trying to type my log-in and password on a mobile device with my stumpy fingers while explaining to six-year-old that he is six years old and he should be able to button his own...."Jonah, those aren't your pants.  Those are Sam's.  Yours have a 6 on the tag.  Go get your own pants."  Only one kid was positive for strep this time!  He's a carrier and feels fine.  Note: deal with this later.

Things were really picking up then.

Broke up a fight over who gets to climb on the kitchen ladder.  Answer: no one.

Stirred oatmeal.  Thought to self, "I really need to go potty (Yes, I think potty to myself!).  I wonder if I can leave these kids alone while I..."

As if in answer, Sam spilled a bag of zip ties on the floor.  "Ninety-seven zip ties!" I exclaimed, Rainman-like.  (It was a bag of 100 and I know I had only used three.)

"Mom, I am all out of pants.  None of them have a 6!" Jonah yelled from somewhere not the kitchen.  "Check the dryer!" I yelled back.

Then I broke up a fight over who was going to clean up the zip ties.  I am not kidding.  Cate wanted to do it.  But Sam did not want her to help.  There was an actual pre-schooler brawl over this.  I had to take Cate to her room for not not picking up her brother's mess.  (I could not make this up.)

Meanwhile the oatmeal boiled over.

I never did drink that cup of cream-less coffee.  It was still sitting on the counter when I left to take the two youngest to pre-school.   I remembered it, only after I was driving home again.  I began to feel that familiar pain in the back of my neck, that would become full blown torment in an hour.  Caffeine withdrawal.

Hang it all!  I went to Starbucks.*  They fire people who leave the cream out all day.

*(Thank you, to my sister-in-law Heather for the gift card!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Die Princess, Die!

The Disney princesses will, if you let them, swallow your life, and regurgitate Chinese-sewn polyester costumes, Cinderella home decor, and low self-esteem.  That is why, when I was pregnant with Catherine, my first and only daughter, I issued an edict from on high.  There would be no princess crap.

Two and a half year later, that edict has not been broken.  Mostly.  There was one pair of pajamas bearing a frog princess which sneaked in.  And her Grandma gave her a tiara with a flowing veil for Christmas.  I considered this more of a dress up item, (and it was just adorable), so it slid in too.  Until Catie woke up with a yard of tulle wrapped around her neck.  Twice.  It has, sadly, been put up, and only gets to make guest appearances for now.

But, my edict, and the resolve with which it was issued, are quivering under the weight of the Disney marketing machine and my daughter's unrelenting cuteness.

My mother gave, also for Christmas, bed tents with Disney characters on them.  In a valiant and much appreciated (though ultimately futile) attempt to keep princesses out of my house, she gave Catie one with Tinkerbell and friends.  No harm in that, right?


Catie calls them "princess" anyway!  "My princess bed.  My princess pillow."  Where did she even learn the word princess?

My ban was meant to avoid unintentionally sending the message that beauty is a girl's only value and catching a man her only needed skill.  It was meant to keep advertisers from turning my own daughter against me, because I did not want to spend money, or my aesthetic integrity, on Beauty and the Beast sheets.   My ban should have been extended to fairies too.

Fairies, it seems, are the new princesses.  But with wings.  More makeup and fewer clothes.  And, instead of waiting around for a strong, lantern-jawed man to save then (which is nice), they have done away with men all together (not nice).  Tiny waisted, man-hating tarts!  Not, not nice.

And marketing, is marketing.

A few weeks ago we were in an unfamiliar market.  One where I did not know, instinctively, which aisles to avoid for fear of arousing my children's lust for sugar and artificial food coloring.  As we zipped down the "fruit snack" aisle, we passed a box of artificially flavored gummy pieces in a box bearing the faces of the Disney fairies.  Catie saw that box blur by, and started to squeal.  "Mine.  Mine.  Have it!  Have it!"  She did not even know what "it" was, but boy was she mad at me for not stopping to buy it.

I think it is time to introduce her to "Dora, the Explorer."  Hola!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Holy Trinity According to Jonah

Jonah and Sam have a castle (complete with dragon), and a pirate island (complete with sea serpent), both well populated by little knights and sailors.  Hard, oddly shaped, painful-when-stepped-on, little knights and sailors.  The other night, after I almost trod upon Sir Angus at the foot of Samuel's bed, I reminded them, "Boys, you need to make sure all of your castle pieces get picked up or you are going to lose them."

To which Jonah replied, "Mom, we don't care about those.  We only care about video games, Legos, and God."

God was not an after thought, which is good, but He only got third billing. And, Jonah was totally lying when he said he didn't care about his castle pieces, he was just too lazy to pick them up.  (Mother hangs head in shame, on both counts.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Plagues

Frogs, locusts, and rivers of blood don't sound so bad after what we've been through.

It started, just after Thanksgiving, with the vomiting.  Three rounds.  At least three people per round.  Not the same three.  And, thank you Jesus, never me.

Then came the asthma.  Only one felled this time.  But, there was talk of ambulances and hospital stays, and on his birthday too.

Then the strep throat.  All five.  I went down first, a rarity.  I slept for forty-eight hours, and awoke to watch Hubband topple.  The children were tested, infected, and dosed with the finest anti-biotics my HMO could provide.  But they never suffered.  The little carriers.  Though, I would rather suffer through it twice, even four times, than have to care for three children who awoke in tears every time they swallowed.  Can I get another, Thank you, Jesus?

Then a root canal on a six year old.  Yeah, it is as bad as it sounds.

Now, it is the pox.  Poor Cate.  Head to toe.  Red dots.  The doctor can't tell me what it is, but he is certain that she is not contagious.  I guess we will know soon enough.

There has only been one week, in the last ten, that I did not have to call, e-mail, or see our pediatrician.  When I mentioned this to him he said of that one week, "Oh, I figured you were on vacation or something."  A pediatrician with a sense of humor.

Spring, and the fresh air, can not come quickly enough.

(The picture above does not have anything to do with anything, but it is awfully cute.  And Hubband would not let me post the one of her diaper clad and covered in pox.)