Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Elusive Puddle of Pee

The frequency that my daughter shows up at my side in a pair
of my son’s tighty whiteys has increased ten-fold in the past few weeks so I
decided that it was high time she had her own underwear. I made a trek to Wal-Mart yesterday to
purchase some panties for her. I tried
to make a big deal out of it and took my daughter with me to “help” me pick
them out. She got very excited when she
saw the package and tried everything in her power, including trying to rip the
plastic packaging with her teeth, to open the package before we got to the
check out. Thankfully, she did not
succeed, nor did she suffocate on the plastic that I’m pretty sure she
swallowed in the process.

We got home and she immediately took the underwear out of
the bag and requested that I open them. I tore open the package and took off her diaper so that she could put on a
pair. She put on the pink pair then she
removed them and put on the white pair. She kept the white pair on for all of thirty seconds and moved on to the
next one. She went through all six
pairs two or three times. I must say
that my daughter standing there in her teeny tiny underwear was
a-freakin’-dorable. It made me want to
institute an underwear only dress code for the under-three crowd in my home.

I decided to keep her in the underwear until she used the potty. I explained to her that she would need to
take off the panties and sit on the potty when she had to go to the
bathroom. She nodded as if she
understood every word. I went about the
business of my evening, getting dinner ready and tidying up. About a half-hour and ten garment changes
later, my daughter came to me pointing at her bottom, saying, “I wet.” I felt her undies and they were perfectly
dry so I checked the potty. It was dry as a
bone. I set out to find the elusive
puddle of pee in my living room. After
searching on my hands and knees every inch of carpet I came upon a Tupperware
bowl that the kids had been playing with earlier. Sure enough, it was wet. My daughter had squatted over that bowl and peed. Under normal circumstances I would be
overjoyed that she took off her panties and peed in a bowl. That’s pretty darn close to peeing in the
toilet. The potty, however, was less
than five feet away from the bowl. Given the choice between a bowl and an actual potty, my daughter chose
the bowl. What I wouldn’t have given to
be a fly on the wall when she was going.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Warning: Major Downer


On the morning of the last day of our blissful camping trip
this weekend we discovered the dead body of a young woman floating in the water
on the banks of our campsite. She had
clearly been dead for some time and we immediately locked the kids in my friend’s
camper to shelter them from the situation and waited for the authorities to
arrive. We stood in disbelief, staring
at the backside of this young woman. Is
this really happening?

Yes, it was. The
police came and, after lots of discussion and a flurry of activity in and
around our campsite, the body was discreetly removed. I didn’t watch the removal. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want
to see her face. That would make it

I am haunted by this woman and feel compelled to write about
her. Her identity has not yet been
released and I’m not sure that I want to know who she was. I know that she was wearing a green shirt
and jeans. I know that she had blonde
hair. I know that she was young. She probably had high hopes for the
future. She probably thought she’d be a
wife someday or a mother. She probably
did not think her life would end this weekend.

I dedicate this entry to that young woman. I hope that her life, while short, was
full. I hope that she was loved by many. I hope that she made an impact on this
world. I hope that those who loved her
will remember her as healthy and vibrant and alive. I hope that her family and friends can find peace in her
absence. I hope that she knew true
love. I hope that she finds peace after
death. I will say a prayer tonight for
her family and loved ones. I will sleep
in my home with my children and my husband and I will feel immense gratitude.
Life is precious and vulnerable. This
young woman’s ended abruptly. Her death
has changed my life. I will never
forget her.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Bunny Bandit

I had a rather bizarre conversation with my son today that I
feel compelled to share. I was on the
phone with my friend Jacquelyn this morning. She and her husband just purchased a new travel trailer and they are
taking it for its maiden voyage this weekend. We are coming along and sharing a site but we’ll be sleeping in a tent,
enjoying the luxury that their trailer has to offer like the moochers that we
are. My kids are super excited about
this camping trip and my son was listening intently to my phone
conversation. I got off of the phone
and he started asking questions:

Son: Mommy who were
you talking to?

Me: Jacquelyn.

Son: What’s wrong
with her camper?

Me: They can’t get
the door unlocked.

Son: Why not?

Me: Well, they’re
not sure. Something is wrong with the

Son: I think I know
what happened.

Me: Oh yeah, what?

Son: Do you remember
that big rabbit that I scared out of the garden yesterday
(yesterday is any day
that exists in the past to my son)?

Me: Yes, what about

Son: Well, I think he did something to
the camper door.

Me:  What? What makes you think that?

Son: Well, rabbits
sometimes do bad things. They like to
chew up all of the vegetables in people’s garden. I bet that rabbit chewed up the lock on their camper.

Me: I don’t think a
rabbit could reach the doorknob, son. Their camper is pretty big

Son: Mommy, rabbit’s
can hop really high. It could have
hopped up and messed up the lock.

Me: Do you know how
far away Jacquelyn’s house is? I don’t
think that rabbit could have made it there.

Son:  It sure did run
fast when I ran it out of the garden.

Me: OK. Well, you’ll have to tell Jacquelyn that
you’ve solved the mystery of her jammed camper door.

Son:  You tell her.

Me: Trust me. You’ve got to tell her.

This went on for a while. How he made the connection between the rabbit in our backyard and
Jacquelyn’s travel trailer door, I have no idea. Apparently, in his mind rabbits are dark, sinister creatures that
travel long distances to commit acts of vandalism.  No wonder he didn’t want to sit on the Easter Bunny’s lap.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sweat and Vinegar

I just want to take a moment out of my day to express some
gratitude for the folks at the CROCS Company. They have designed a shoe that is completely immune to odor, no matter
how long it is worn. They are also easy
to get on and off and both my kids love to wear them. I feel like I should send a thank-you note to Boulder, Colorado
where the Crocs headquarters is located. It would go something like this:

Dear Crocs staff-

My name is Julianne Hale and my kids have the smelliest feet
imaginable. I thought the stinky foot
gene might mercifully skip my daughter but alas, it did not. She has a pair of Tevas that can easily
clear a room if they ever come off of her feet. My son is the same way. His feet reek of vinegar and many of his shoes have to be disposed of in
one of those orange hazardous waste bags after he’s worn them a few times
without socks. 

It’s not my kids’ fault. They come by it honestly. I’ve
never had any trouble acknowledging the olfactory offensiveness of my
feet. I’m not sure how I got so lucky,
though, because my Mother swears up and down that her feet do not stink. She could jog from here to California and
her feet would smell as fresh as the summer rain. I’m not sure I believe her but I guess the proof is in the
pudding.  I’ve never had to flee a room
due to the fact that she has removed her shoes. The same cannot be said for my husband. He has a couple of shoes that I insist he keeps on the back porch
when he’s not wearing them. This may
sound harsh but it’s either that or everyone who enters my house will walk
around in a perpetual state of nausea. The latter is not acceptable. I’d prefer that my guests not associate my home with vomit.

When my family and I wear CROCS, we can hold our heads high
knowing, without hesitation, that our feet do not smell. Sure, if you hold them right up to your
nose, you might be reminded, for a fleeting second, of dying eggs on Easter
Sunday but, for the most part, they are stink free. Thank you for making bizarre, holey plastic shoes that are immune
to foot sweat contamination. They may
be ugly as sin but they sure are functional. The Hale family is forever in your debt.


Julianne Hale
Proud matriarch of the stinkiest-footed family in America

Monday, May 21, 2007


freak flag was flying high yesterday. First of all, I was attending a Dolly
Parton concert. This would be a freak flag for many but not for me. I love her
and it has been a dream of mine to see her live for a long time. Secondly, my
friend and I turned into Dolly-stalkers when we waited for nearly three hours
outside of her tour bus for a glimpse of Mrs. Parton.

started out innocently enough. Jacquelyn spotted the tour bus as we were
parking our car. We made a run to the convenient store for a six pack prior to
our arrival so our husbands each cracked open a beer and started their little,
“Why am I here again?” tail gate party. The tour bus was less than 50 yards
away and we decided that we absolutely had to have a look. So, we walked
casually up to the back of the bus. There was a crowd of about 30 people
standing around, a polite ten or so feet away from the gate that stood between
the bus and the building, guarded by a bouncer. We staked our claim in the
front of the crowd and started asking questions, “Is she in there? Has anyone
seen her? When will she come out again? How long have you been here?”

We found out
that Dolly was, in fact, in the bus and that she would have to get out of it to
get into the van that would take her to the stage sometime between now and the start time of the concert, a mere two hours away. Jacquelyn and
I inched our way, ever so gingerly, towards the gate. We wanted a front row
seat to the action. After some discussion, we decided to screw politeness and
stand right in front of that gate. We walked up to the bouncer, cleared it with
him and, within seconds there was a rush of people behind us. It was as much of
a “mad rush” as the fans of Dolly Parton are capable of. There was some
controversy about us getting a front row seat when we had only just arrived but
we didn’t care. Come on! That’s celebrity-stalking 101: you’ve got to be assertive
and stake your claim or someone else will. We basked in our accomplishment and
realized, the moment the other Parton fans came rushing up behind us, that we
were in it for the long haul. There was no turning back now. We were going to
see Dolly Parton.

we did. After 2 hours and forty five minutes, several new friendships, some
major drama involving a psycho fan and a cake and some group singing of Mrs.
Parton’s greatest hits (no I’m not kidding—this was my favorite part), we saw
her. She walked out of her bus, clad in a garish white sequined dress, looked
our way and waved. We held our breath and, within three seconds, she was
whisked away in her van to the stage. I got a snapshot of her exiting the bus,
did some major little girl squealing and booked it as fast as I could with
Jacquelyn to our seats. Our husbands were waiting for us, half-drunk, and still
wondering, “Why are we here again?”

watched Dolly sing her heart out, marveling at her undeniable talent. We sang
along to Coat of Many Colors, 9 to 5, Little Sparrow and
many more. After a relatively short but great concert, Dolly exited the stage.
We had a great night. I walked away feeling very satisfied and very surprised at my groupie behavior. I
would never have imagined myself waiting three hours for a three-second
encounter with a celebrity from 15 feet away. The actual Dolly sighting was a
little anti-climactic and disappointing but, taken as a whole, the experience
was great.  There was a definite sense of camaraderie, a couple major
adrenalin rushes when the bus door opened to tease us with random staff members
and some group singing.  I love me some random group singing. Do I regret
it? No way. Would I do it again to catch a glimpse of Dolly’s fake hair and
garish outfit up close and personal? Abso-freakin-lutely.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Boxer Briefs

My daughter quietly changed her clothes yesterday afternoon
without my knowledge. She found my
son’s school bag and, before I knew it, she showed
up at my side, naked except for a diaper and a pair of 3T boxer briefs. It was quite a site. Here was my beautiful little girl with her
giant pink bow, clad in a pair of boxer briefs with her diaper sticking out the
top. She looked like the toddler version
of Marky Mark.

I’m pretty sure I know the origin of this wardrobe
change. She was staying with a friend
yesterday morning for an hour or two while I went to the doctor. Said friend’s son loves to play dress-up and
the poor kid doesn’t have much to choose from in his sister’s dress-up stash so
he tends to gravitate towards the blue dress. His Mama is less than thrilled about his penchant towards the Cinderella
ball gown but he does his best with what he’s got. He picked the manliest dress of the bunch! My daughter watched this scene intently and
was apparently taking mental notes. She
decided to follow the little guy’s lead and put on her brother’s clothes. After strutting around in the boxer briefs
for a few minutes (and some great photo ops), she decided she wanted to wear
everything in my son’s bag. She spent
the rest of the evening clad in cargo shorts and a blue T-shirt. My son didn’t know what to think.

I thought the whole episode was pretty funny but I have
taken action to avoid a similar scene in the future. I moved all of my son’s underwear to his top drawer where my daughter
cannot reach it. I’ve also made my
daughter’s new secondhand (thanks Jacquelyn!) Cinderella dress readily
available to her and have plans to purchase several more dresses for her to
play dress-up with. I’m just not ready
for gender confusion issues yet. Let’s
save that stuff for the teen years when I’m so heavily doped up on anti-anxiety
meds that it doesn’t bother me that my son wears all black and won’t make eye
contact and my daughter's wardrobe is not what I had in mind. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


The day after Mother’s Day my husband took off. He hopped on a plane to Texas for a last
minute business trip, leaving me to fend for myself. I guess he figured he had thanked me enough for giving birth to
and raising his two children when he finished installing the hummingbird feeder
that he and the kids got me for Mother’s Day. I had been appreciated enough. He could leave. All kidding
aside, this trip offered a great opportunity for his career and I fully support
him. I just don’t like it when he is

I don’t like having the full responsibility of the kids all
day with no break. I don’t like sitting
alone on the couch after the kids go to sleep watching our favorite TV shows
solo and I don’t like sleeping alone. I
guess the latter is the reason that I caved to my son’s request to sleep with
me last night. He claimed to hear
strange noises in his bedroom that kept waking him up. Whatever. He sensed my vulnerability in the absence of his father and decided to
capitalize on it.

Regardless of the reason, I caved. I tucked my son in on my husband’s side of our bed and kissed him
goodnight. I laid down beside him,
hoping to get to sleep early when he turned to me and, totally unprovoked, said

“Mommy, do you know why I like to sleep with you so much?”


“Because I don’t have to wait to see you when I wake up in
the morning. You’re right there.”

I melted. I cannot
imagine a sweeter sentiment coming out of anyone’s mouth. I knew, right then and there, that my son
would be sleeping on my husband’s pillow every night until he returned
home. I fell asleep a very happy,
peaceful Mama.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Cruisin' For A Bruisin'

My poor, deprived child has never been on a cruise
ship. Can you believe it? How can I call myself a parent? 

In January, my husband and I went on a Disney cruise. It was a short trip, just three nights, but
it was just what the doctor ordered. We
enjoyed the Caribbean Sea, drank some fruity drinks, ate some good food and did
not have to worry about anyone’s needs but our own. It was a blissful three days. My son has been watching the photo slideshow screensaver on my computer
recently and the cruise pictures prompted him to say, in the whiniest voice
imaginable, “You and Daddy always get to go on a cruise ship and I never
do. I never get to do anything fun.”

I was a little taken aback by this. It came out of nowhere. He had never even mentioned the cruise
before and had certainly never expressed a desire to go on one. I decided, in my infinite parental wisdom,
to mock him, “Oh, poor you. I can’t
believe that in all of your four-and-a-half years of life you have never been
on a cruise ship. How have you made it
this far?” This did not go over well.

My son did a dramatic, arms to the sky, “why me?” kind of
move and plopped down on his knees and sulked. I decided to ignore him. My
hopes of raising a child with minimal entitlement issues have been
squandered. I guess I need to deprive
him of some basic needs for a couple of days so he appreciates what he’s
got. There’s that infinite parental
wisdom again.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Black and White Stripes

Female referees are hard to find in the world of
professional sports. They seem
virtually non-existent. This is
unfortunate, as it seems to be a role that females in general and mothers in
particular were born to play. I have
learned this lesson the hard way in the past two months as I have adjusted to
my new role. I tend to be a solid
color, peace-lovin’ kind of girl so it has taken me a while to get used to my
new black and white striped uniform. I
do not wear it well and would most definitely get canned at Lady Footlocker if
I ever had the desire to sell overpriced tennis shoes and sportswear to young
female athletes.

My children fight all of the time. I am constantly running interference between them, trying
desperately to negotiate a peace plan.  It’s not working. My
diplomatic efforts have been snubbed by the inability of my two-year-old
daughter to communicate effectively and my four-year-old son’s unwavering
intolerance of anything and everything outside the realm of what is “supposed
to happen” in his grand life plan. It
is a really bad combination and I do not know if these two strong personalities
will ever be able to coexist in harmony. It doesn’t seem likely in the near future. 

My daughter is an instigator. She likes to irritate my son for the sheer joy of making him
angry. I can’t imagine where she gets
this quality. Other than the bi-weekly
pain tests (pinching of each of his fingers as hard as I could muster while
forbidding my brother to utter even the softest sound) and the constant
manipulation, I was the perfect sister. I was sweet and loving and fun as long as my brother did exactly what I
told him to without question. My son is
not quite as innocent and vulnerable as my brother was but he is still a pretty
easy target. Making him angry is a very
simple task and he always comes back for more. He just can’t seem to recognize the fact that his reaction is what
motivates my daughter to irritate him. Will he ever figure that out? Only time will tell.

Right now I need a plan. I need a consistent plan that will give me the power to punish my
daughter for irritating my son as well as the power to punish my son for
telling on her in the whiny, indescribably annoying voice of a hapless victim. The latter is incredibly taxing. Hearing my son whine and play the victim has
become so commonplace that it sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me. I have to put a stop to it. Right now my plan is to divide my living
room and the backyard (where we spend the bulk of our time) into two equal
halves with a tall, clear plastic, soundproof partition. I realize this may not be the most practical
or economically sound plan but for now it’s all I’ve got. I’m open to suggestions.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Lofty Goals

It’s 9:12 a.m. and I have already loaded the kids in the
car, driven half the way to school, watched Sickie_2my son vomit twice all over himself
and the car seat, turned the car around, unloaded the kids, cleaned up a
massive amount of vomit and put the car seat covers in the wash. It’s been an eventful
day. I’m hoping that this vomiting episode is
just a short-lived stomach bug and that my son’s throwing up episodes are over. I’d prefer to spend the rest of my day
completely vomit free. We’ll see what

On a much more positive note, my daughter has been pacifier
free for 24 hours with hardly a complaint. She asked for it at naptime and at bedtime yesterday but passively
accepted my refusal to give in to her request. This may be a surprisingly painless process. I have two goals for today:

  • Keep my daughter’s pacifier out of her mouth and her sight.

  • Keep myself, my son and my daughter vomit free.

Wish me luck.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow...

My son cannot distinguish between today and tomorrow. He
thinks that every time he wakes up from a nap a new day has begun. Sleep equals tomorrow regardless of whether
it was a nap or nighttime. I’m not
quite sure how to cure him of this condition. I’ve tried explaining that another day cannot pass until the sun has set
and the moon has come up but this goes right over his head and is unfortunately
negated by the many sightings of the moon that we’ve had during daylight hours. This inability to distinguish between bedtime and naps may seem like a fairly benign condition but it does
create some conflict in our household.

I told my son, for example, this past Tuesday that we would
be getting the pool out tomorrow. He
smiled and said, “Yippee!” and did a little happy dance. A couple hours later he woke up from his nap
and began this conversation:

Son: Are we
getting the pool out today?

Me: No,
remember? We’re getting it out

Son: That was
yesterday. I just woke up.

Me: Sweetie, that
was a nap. It’s still the same day as
it was before you went to bed.

Son: What? ((((Pause while he comprehends the
situation)))) I thought we were getting

the pool
out today! (Jumping commences) You TOLD me we were getting it out
and it IS tomorrow. (tears start to

Me: It has to get
dark and light again before a new day begins. The sun is still up. We’ll
get the
pool out tomorrow. I promise.

 The crying and jumping went on for a few minutes while he
came to terms with the pool situation. I reassured him that tomorrow was not very far away and explained the
distinction between naps and bedtime again to him, grasping at straws in the
hopes that it would finally compute in that head of his. It didn’t. After his nap yesterday he wished my daughter a happy birthday because I
told him earlier in the day that her birthday was tomorrow.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A Local Tragedy

Tuesday a 14-month-old little boy died after he was left in a car for seven
hours in 90-degree heat. This happened in Chattanooga. The father (who left him
in the car) is an upstanding citizen with four children. This is a tragedy that
I cannot seem to let go of. It lingers in the air around me like humidity. I
can’t shake the feeling that it could have been me.

could have been that father who left his baby in the car. I could have been
talking on my cell phone while I dropped my three older children off at school
and completely forgotten about the baby asleep in his car seat behind me. I
could have gone to work and pushed the button on my car keys four times to
silence the ultra-sensitive alarm, not knowing all the while that it was the
motion sensor alarm triggered by my child’s movements. I could be facing
criminal charges right now. I could be mourning the loss of my precious baby,
wondering what he went through in that car for seven hours in 90-degree
weather. It could have been me. That child could be mine.

have parked in the Wal-Mart parking lot, gotten out of my car and closed all of
my doors before I remembered that my daughter was asleep in the backseat. I
never did it when I had just one child but I have done it twice since having
two. I leave my son at home or at a friend’s house and take my daughter with me
on whatever errand I have to run. She falls asleep and I am so accustomed to
noise and incessant talking when children are in the car that I forget, just
for a second or two, that I am not the only passenger. It’s scary.  I know
that I am not the only person who has done this. Anyone with multiple children
has probably forgotten their sleeping child for a second or two, whether they
will admit it or not.

feel deep sorrow for this family and their loss. I cannot imagine what they are
going through.  I realize that the father made a horrible, irreversible
mistake and is most certainly guilty of criminal negligence but I think his
loss and grief are enough of a punishment. Taking him away from his family will
accomplish nothing. We need to refrain from cell-phone use in the car and
remember how quiet and peaceful a car ride can be when a child is asleep.
Always check and recheck your car seats when you exit the vehicle, even when it
seems ridiculous to do so. This is a lesson that no one should have to learn
the hard way.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Cold Turkey

I’m happy to report that my YMCA nursery battle is
officially over. My daughter walks
through the Dutch door happily every morning and doesn’t even request her
pacifier or her blanket anymore. When I
come to get her after my blissful, child-free workout, she’s happily playing
instead of standing by the door, patiently waiting for me. What a relief. My challenges are far from over, however, because I have decided
to take away her pacifier on Sunday. 

My daughter has never been super attached to her
pacifier. She likes to have it when she
sleeps and when she is tired. Most of
her waking hours are spent pacifier-free. I have been trying, for the past few weeks, to limit her pacifier use to
bedtime only. I’m working myself up to
the big day. Her second birthday is
Friday and I feel like two is a pretty good age to surrender the pacifier. I don’t want to do it on her actual birthday
and we’ve got a babysitter on Saturday night so I think Sunday is the day. 

Moms are always quick to pass immediate and harsh judgment
on other Moms when they seem to be indulging their children in some way. Allowing a child over the age of three to
use a pacifier can be the source of many disapproving looks. I know. I’m guilty of it. I’ve seen
children that are four or five with a pacifier in their mouth and, dependant on
whether I am alone or with friends, I will criticize the Mom quietly to myself
or lock eyes with my friends in a collective, supercilious condemnation. We will snicker about that mother behind her
back at lunch and feel sorry for that child. He’s probably attached to a leash in crowded places too. Poor kid.

My best friend when I was five was a pacifier addict. The victim of an overindulgent Mother, he
kept two to three pacifiers in his pocket at all times. Whenever he got the urge, he’d pull one of
those suckers out and pop it in his mouth. It was pretty comical but I shudder at the thought of having a kid like
that. That’s why I’ve got to tackle
this issue now. I’ve got to get her
over her pacifier before she knows how to ask for it. I’m taking it away Sunday, cold turkey. I’m sure this won’t be a permanent solution as there are probably
12-15 pacifiers hidden in various places in our house. My daughter is pretty resourceful so I am certain
she will tap that supply in the coming week. We should be, however, completely pacifier free by the time school is
out (May 18th). Wish us
luck. I sure am going to miss that
Bubba pacifier. I might have to have
another kid just so I can use it again.