Monday, September 22, 2008

Urine Not Going to Believe This


Is it because I have a boy? Because he's five? Because I have a husband? Because my daughter sits on an elevated toilet seat so her teeny tiny butt doesn't slide through the hole into the deep abyss of toilet water? Why? Why? Why does my bathroom smell like pee no matter how many times I clean it? Why did I find a puddle of pee under the trashcan, take a moment to think about that—UNDER THE TRASHCAN—when I mopped the floor yesterday? The trashcan is about two feet from the toilet and there was no pee in the trashcan or around the trashcan so how, in the name of all that is not pee in the world, did pee get UNDER the trashcan? That is today's mystery. Thoughts?

Oh, and I apologize for the title of this blog. It's awful and not at all funny but I couldn't help myself.

Pluggity Plug Plug Plug

I'm all about supporting other moms trying to get their feet wet in the world of business and Gloria Moser is one such Mom. She works full time, has two kids under 4, and has recently started a local website geared at parents in the Cleveland, Tennessee area. The website is and it lists upcoming events, coupons, sales and contests that would be useful for area moms and dads in the Cleveland (and Chattanooga for that matter) area. Go check her out and if you live in East Tennessee, subscribe to her feed for updates on local family-friendly happenings that won't break the bank.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Family Wedding Part Deux

My gratitude to my Aunt Janet's neighbor for letting us stay in her home cannot be fully expressed. As someone who despises hotel rooms, particularly with children, and despises spending $120/night on a hotel room even more, I was more than happy to park my family in the home of a kind stranger. My guess is that the neighbor didn't quite know what she was getting into. Given the house's close proximity to all of the wedding action and the presence of five very active children, our home away from home turned into the indoor playground for the kids. There was so much chaos over at Aunt Janet's house that the presence of one five-year-old, let alone three of them, was like throwing gasoline on an already out of control fire.

Not wanting the flames to reach the expertly quaffed and sprayed-to-the-hilt hair of the women of the family, we opted to let the kids hang out in the neighbor's house. She had a large basement with lots of open space and the kids set up camp down there. It was raining most of the time we were in Maryland so we let them go a little wild. And wild they went. They built forts with cushions, did some major running and jumping, screamed, laughed, sang, played and had a ridiculous amount of fun. Listening to them was both enjoyable and disconcerting at the same time because of the sheer volume of their play. We let them go, though, because our main concern was burning energy.

We took for granted that we would have the house to ourselves during our stay. This was a mistake. We failed to account for the fact that maybe the kindly neighbor would forget her shoes on Friday and have to stop by mid-evening to pick them up; or that she may have to stop by on Saturday to pick up her invitation with directions to the reception. I was standing in the dining room of my Aunt's house on Friday evening, looking out the window. I had just left the neighbor's house and knew the scene: five kids going ballistic in the basement reaching volumes that most humans aren't capable of and my husband and cousin sitting in the living room, drinking beer and chatting. I did a little play by play:

Me: Oh my gosh the neighbor lady is here! She's getting her mail.

Mom (staying with us in the house and well aware of the scene): No she's not!

Me: Yep.

Mom: Oh no, she's not going in is she?

Me: It doesn't appear that she is going in.

Mom: Thank God.

Me: No kidding.

I was wrong. I had gone to the window after her entry into the home where she found my husband and cousin chatting casually, drinking beer, completely unaffected by the utter chaos going on downstairs in her home. I bet she was horrified. She probably thought we'd let a traveling circus stay in her basement. Sean and Janet said she played it cool and smiled politely but they were caught off guard. I'm perplexed as to whether I should send her a thank-you note, an apology, or both; and I'm pretty sure I'll include a complimentary Xanax.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Museum" Might be an Overstatement


Family weddings may be the best source of blog fodder on the planet. I spent two days in Baltimore with my extended family this weekend and have blog entries clogging up my brain. Here's the first installment.

We arrived via 11 hour car trip in Severna Park, MD on Thursday evening. My kids were beat but they were looking forward to seeing their cousins and excited to be on vacation. We were staying in my Aunt's neighbor's house (she was with friends for the weekend) so that my parents could help out as-needed next door. My Aunt Janet was the mother of the groom and handling all of the wedding plans as well as hosting the rehearsal dinner. Friday was the day of the rehearsal and, suffice it to say, it was a little nuts. My cousin Janet (yes, it's confusing. We're all J's and half of us have the same names. Try and keep up.) and I were under strict orders to get all of the kids out of the house during the day so that the rest of the crew could prepare for the rehearsal dinner. Janet and I did a little preplanning and decided to take the kids to the Chesapeake Children's Museum. It was only a few miles away and cost $3/person. With five kids and two adults, we were sold. Plus, it's a children's museum. I've never been to a bad children's museum.

It should be noted, for the purposes of this story, that my cousin Janet works for Walt Disney World. Her expectations, as a result of her job, are a little high. She told me in the car on the way to the museum that the online reviews of the place were less than stellar. When we arrived, we discovered why. The museum resembled a small mobile home. I think Janet's exact words when we pulled up were, "I think I'm gonna cry." We opened the door to the mobile home to find an elderly lady who asked us repeatedly if we were from a daycare center and seemed to be a little angry that we didn't call her to tell her we were coming. When we finally got her to understand that we were not with a daycare center, she counted all seven of us and asked for $21. We gave her $30. She continued talking and had no intention of giving me my change.

I spoke up, "Um, we gave you $30."

"Oh, I'm sorry honey, I thought you'd given me $21."

And so the kids set out to explore all 350 square feet of the museum. Despite my trepidation about the cleanliness of the place and the "Museum" designation, I must admit that the kids had a great time. We had three five-year-olds, a three-year-old and a two-year-old and they engaged in a variety of elaborate scenarios using the museum equipment. It was fun to watch. After some time in the "main room," we moved to the upper level (about three steps up). Here there was a dollhouse, a couple toys and a large wooden cage with a sign that said something like, "This is Bubba the red Boa Constrictor's home." The kids and I looked and looked but Bubba was nowhere to be found. There was a regular visitor to the museum sitting in a rocking chair close by who casually explained, "Oh Bubba's been missing for a couple days. He got out of his cage and we haven't seen him since. We're sure he'll come back soon." I'm not sure how you would have reacted to that but it was a pretty big red flag for me. A boa constrictor large enough to justify a six-foot-tall cage was loose in the museum and no one seemed even a little concerned. Feeling a little uneasy about the snake on the loose, we decided to take the kids downstairs and see what exhibits awaited them.

The downstairs area features a large lounge area, complete with old leather recliners, a long table with chairs, shelves full of cleaning supplies and indistinguishable clutter, and a rabbit cage with a cute grey rabbit walking all over his own excrement. In my experience, rabbits are usually kept a couple inches above where their poop falls so they remain clean. Not at the Chesapeake Children's Museum. Our new goal became keeping the children away from the poop-coated rabbit and we made use of the two sinks that randomly sat against the wall of the downstairs. One of them was full of dishes and couldn't be used but the other was in working order. We coated each kids' hands with Dawn (the only soap available) and washed them one by one. We headed back upstairs for one more look at the upper "exhibits." I secretly hoped that Bubba would find a way to get to that rabbit and put an end to its misery but I decided not to share that little tidbit with the kids. We left the Chesapeake Children's Museum feeling that we'd gotten our $3 worth and headed to lunch.

I have mentioned the museum a couple times in front of my son, doing my best to do justice to the nature of the place but my son gets very defensive. I believe the words, "The best museum ever!" have come out of his mouth on more then one occasion. What do I know, right?

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Litter Box

About six weeks ago my husband purchased an automatic cat litter box for me. It was, perhaps, the most thoughtful gift ever bestowed upon a newly pregnant woman and it didn't come cheap (about $100). Much like little Ralphie did with his Red Rider on Christmas morning, my husband ripped open the box with gusto and immediately (and very uncharacteristically) tossed it in the trash and began assembling the litter box. I didn't know that he had tossed it until Monday afternoon, after the trash pick-up had come and gone. I was not a happy girl.

We both gazed at our new marvel of modern technology in wonder as he did the honors, pressing the green button to watch the box rake the litter, pick up any refuse (there wasn't any yet) and toss it neatly into the plastic bag. It was a thing of beauty. A thing of beauty that didn't work worth a darn. Our eldest cat, Dickens, drinks more ounces of water a day than me. I've theorized that he is a diabetic but I'm much too afraid of the bills and medical regimen that will follow to actually get a diagnosis, plus it's his only symptom. His excessive water drinking causes him to, surprise!, pee excessively. He pees in absurd quantities a ridiculous number of times per day. The Litter-O-Matic was no match for Dicken's bladder. That poor motor can't even handle one pee pile from good ol' Dickens. The motor runs and runs and the rake goes back and forth again and again but, try as it may, it can't scoop up the ginormous pile o' pee.

Our Litter-O-Matic was a lemon and it needed to be returned but we had a problem. We had a receipt (thanks to your's truly) but no box. I sent my husband to the store with strict instructions to demand a refund and he returned with a new Litter-O-Matic, minus the box. My poor husband, filled with remorse about his impulsive choice to toss the box, is down in the basement as I write this, doing his best to will the second Litter-O-Matic to work. He's tried every brand of clumping litter, worked on the motor, spent endless hours watching it and he still will not give up. Six weeks, people. SIX WEEKS! I wonder if there is a support group for people like him, the "My Litter-O-Matic Can't Handle My Cat's Pee 12-Step Program."