Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Andy Says the Sweetest Things

When I was in college, unmarried and childless, a friend of mine asked a rather sadistic question: “If you were shipwrecked with your family, and you could only save one person, would you save your husband or your kid?” 

Being the foolish young thing that I was, I answered that I would save my husband. After all, I reasoned, the two of us could always have another kid. 

I was an idiot.

Now, I do love my husband. He’s a great guy, and I love him dearly. But unfortunately for him, my Andy is about the sweetest thing you will ever meet. Plus, my husband can swim.

Here are just a few of the things Andy has told me lately that has guaranteed him a spot on the lifeboat:

1.      “You are the best mama I’ve ever seen!”
This is absolutely not true. I have proven in previous posts that I am definitely in the bottom percentile for good parenting skills. But he’s young and innocent, and we don’t get out much. So I’ll take it while I can get it. All too soon, he’ll head off to Pre-K and see what good moms actually look like. (For proof, read my previous post I Am Not the Best Mom)

2.      “Mama, you look so pretty!”
The only thing I had done to invoke this compliment was change out of pajamas and into regular clothes. And by regular clothes, I mean jeans and a tank top. But it makes it all the more endearing to me that he is so easily impressed. Again, I am sure these compliments will disappear when he goes to school and begins to notice that other moms actually wear outfits with honest-to-goodness shoes (not flip flops), and they do special things like brush their hair and put on make-up. 

3.      “You’re so sweet, Mama!”
I get this every time I agree to share my food with him. It’s pretty impressive that anyone can wrestle any food away from me when I am this pregnant, but when I know he’s going to give me that big, gap-toothed smile and tell me how sweet I am, how can I refuse? 

4.      “Dear God, Thank you for Mama, and Daddy, and Finnick, and Jo, and Mama, and Andy, and Mama!”
I made it onto the thankful list three times! THREE! Don’t think I failed to note that that’s two more times than any other family member. Because oh yes, I most certainly did. 

5.      “Mmm! Mama, this is so delicious!”
Sometimes, this is in response to a dinner that I slaved over. And sometimes, this is in response to lunch meat and cheese roll-ups and Ramen noodles. Either way, I will take it, especially when Finnick is busy chucking his on the floor or rubbing it in his hair. 

6.      “Shnank you, Mama! Shnank you!”
Translation: “Thank you, Mama! Thank you!”
My Andy is one of the most grateful people I have ever met. He says “thank you” for EVERYTHING, even things that I really can’t take credit for. For example, he recently thanked me when I told him that no, I didn’t think it was going to rain today. Obviously, I was not the one who made the decision to make the sun shine that day, but I certainly got credit for delivering the good news! And Andy says his thanks the way some people sneeze—always in groups of two. Combine that with his little boy speech impediment and my heart is effectively melted. 

7.      “I’m sorry I did that, Mama. I’m sorry.”
Another thing he always says in twos—his apologies. And they are always so filled with remorse that forgiveness is already given before he can get the second “sorry” out. Even our church nursery workers have noted that while, yes, he did smack someone in the face, and yes, he did steal some toys and push some kids down, and yes, he did dance on top of the snack table, he apologized SO SWEETLY. And I swear that sometimes on those bad days, the worker seems more upset about not being able to let him pick a prize out of the prize box than Andy does.

8.      “Mama, will you kiss it?”
I know that all kids think that kisses have magical, healing powers. But it still makes me feel special when Andy only wants MY kisses on his ouches. Dad’s kisses won’t do, nor will Grannie’s, or anyone else’s. Only MINE! (Although others’ kisses will do in pinch, if Mama is unavailable…) Earlier this week, the injury was on his hiney, but even then, I didn't complain! I was too busy feeling special about being the one kiss that he needed to feel all better.  

9. "I love you so much!"
Out of the blue, Andy made a play-doh sculpture for me the other day-- a Christmas tree! When we asked him why, he said it was just because he loves me. Then he sang one of the little jingles from Daniel Tiger, "Making something is one way to say 'I love you'." It just doesn't get any better than that.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Children Should Be Bald Til Puberty

Hair. My nemesis. 

Who would have ever thought that BOY HAIR could cause so much drama? Girl hair, sure. I get it. It’s long, it tangles, it takes forever to dry—obvious drama potential. But boy hair? Really? It’s a whole whopping half-inch long, for crying out loud! But you would think my child was Rapunzel herself by the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth that goes on behind that bathroom door. He doesn’t want me to rub the shampoo in; he doesn’t want me to wash the shampoo out; he doesn’t want me to dry his hair with a towel...

Drama, drama, drama. 

And the most frustrating thing is that IF HE WOULD JUST LISTEN AND OBEY MY INSTRUCTIONS, then hair washing and drying would be a breeze! Literally, it would be a 60-second process. But no, that’s not going to happen. Because “listening” and “obeying” are foreign concepts. So instead, here is how hair time is destined to go:

Mama: Andy, close your eyes, and tilt your head up.
(Andy immediately opens his eyes and looks down at his toes. A swath of bubbles runs directly down his face.)
Mama: Okay, calm down! Just close your eyes, be still, and let me wipe the soap off your face!
(Andy immediately jerks away and uses his soapy hand to wipe his eyes, which are still wide open.)
Mama: Andy, be still! Close your eyes, and stop rubbing them with your soapy hand! Let me get the soap off your face!
(Andy runs for the towel, slips and falls right as he reaches it, hits his head against the shower wall, and soaks his towel in the running water. All the while, he maintains a high pitched keen over his ruined eyes that has every neighborhood dog howling.)

We repeat this process every day during bath time. I had thought the shower would be an improvement, since he kept standing up in the tub every time I tried to dump water over his soapy hair, and I was worried that he would slip and fall. Obviously, that plan backfired. I keep waiting for him to out-grow this little phase and start enjoying having clean hair, but the forecast isn’t looking good.

I recently became so frustrated by the meltdowns that I threatened to shave every single hair off his precious little head if he pitched another fit about getting it washed. I know you want to judge me, but you know what? THAT’S BIBLICAL, people. The Bible says that if an eye or a hand is causing you to sin, you should just whack that thing off. Well, my eye and my hand are doing just fine, but this hair is causing me to sin all over the place. I’m just trying to obey the Lord here.

I’m really at a loss as to what hair is good for at this age anyway. They can’t take care of it, and I’m pretty sure that kids would still be plenty cute even if they were bald. There are actually multiple advantages to having hair removed from the equation: fewer meltdowns, fewer traumatizations (it’s not a word, but it should be…), less frustration for both parties, better hygiene, conserved time/energy/patience… It truly would be a win for everyone.

In fact, I don’t think kids need hair until puberty. Isn’t that about when kids start being concerned about looking and smelling clean in order to impress the opposite sex? So, theoretically, they would WANT to have freshly washed hair? Awesome. Then I vote for that—baldness until puberty.

Anyone with me on this? Maybe if enough of us join the movement, we can get a bulk rate on No-No’s.   

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

UPDATE: Pregnancy Razor Burn Continued

Men, once again, you don’t want to read this one. It’s actually worse than the last one I warned you about.

If you read my previous post, “Pregnancy Advice I Would Give Myself”, then you know that I recently encountered the new and hideous pregnancy experience of razor burn. You might also recall that after suffering for close to a week, I finally sucked it up, went to the doctor, and got prescribed magic drugs that had me up and feeling human again by the next day.

Well, I should have known “the fix” wouldn’t be that easy. 

Being the genius that I am, I really made no changes to my routines and activities other than applying the medicated powder given to me. Never once did it dawn on me that I should probably skip the kiddie swimming pool and the sweaty laps around the park. But lucky for you, I can now be the voice of wisdom in your life that was totally lacking in mine. DO NOT GET SWEATY OR WET WHEN YOU’RE RECOVERING FROM MAD RAZOR BURN! 

Within a few days of my dramatic recovery, I started to feel the burn returning. I could not for the life of me figure out WHY because I had avoided shaving products like the bubonic plague after all the trauma occurred. After suffering through a shower that felt incredibly similar to how I envision a chemical bath would, I checked the situation out. And even though I had no previous experience with this phenomenon, I immediately knew what the problem was.

My razor burn had mutated into a yeast infection. 

I figured yeast had to be the culprit because I remembered the nurse saying to me, as she handed me my prescription, that I needed to be careful that it didn’t become a yeast infection. Obviously, I did not do a very good job following that advice. See paragraph #3. 

Okay, so I was fairly certain that I knew what the problem was, but I did not know anything at all about yeast infections. 

Enter Google.

This time, Google was a wealth of information—still no pictures, but tons of advice on how to treat the yeast. Unfortunately, the vast majority of information assumed an incorrect location of the infection. Mine was actually the creases of my legs, so quite a bit of what I read did not apply. Nonetheless, I figured surely I could find something applicable. The consensus from everything I read was actually not to self-diagnose, but I ignored that since the nurse had prophetically pre-diagnosed me four days earlier. The secondary consensus was to do the 7-day Monistat treatment. 

Ken immediately went to Wal-Mart.

24-hours later, I felt a familiar burning sensation, but in a new location: my old C-section scar. 

I realize that at this point, you’re probably questioning why I didn’t just go back to the doctor. After all, did I not learn my lesson the last time I avoided seeking out medical professionals? 

Well, no, obviously I did not. But my excuse was that it was Tuesday, and I already had an appointment scheduled for Friday morning. And that was only three more days. Surely I would be fine for a mere three days. 

Yeah, that was stupid.

Advice for anyone who is also stupid and fully intends to self-diagnose despite the previous advice not to: MONISTAT IS AMAZING. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I was still pretty pitiful, but I would at least experience momentary relief from the burning right after applying. And I still had three more days to get things under control so the nurse would not see what a total idiot I was for allowing my condition to deteriorate this horribly. 

Another 24-hours passed, and guess what? A familiar, burning sensation, but in a new location! This time, the sisters. 

Realizing that this was getting totally out of hand, but also determined to make it until my appointment (only two days away!), I returned to Google. Again, I sifted through lots of inapplicable information. But then, the jackpot! Finally, I ran across a blog that discussed the ins and outs of yeast infection candidly (don’t you love blogs that do that?). Here’s what I picked up, since it was iterated time and time again: 

Fatties are prone to yeast infection.

Thanks, candid blogger, for adding emotional pain to the list of things I was now suffering from. Still, that information was helpful because for once we were discussing MY locations—thunder thighs, C-section scars, and saggy boobs—instead of the unmentionable. And because of that, we were also discussing how a yeast infection can travel all over your big, fat body if you don’t take precautions.
When the initial outbreak happened, never once had I considered that my loofah should be trashed, or I maybe should use multiple towels at shower time, or that I might need to super-duper sanitize my sheets each morning. But candid blogger educated me. Thanks to her advice, I survived until Friday.

On Friday, at my long-awaited appointment, my doctor educated me further. Apparently, I should also have been changing my clothing multiple times a day, avoiding sports bras, and staying completely and totally sweat-free. 

In June. 

In Texas. 

Eight months pregnant. 

I told her I’d get right on that. And she gave me another prescription for another ointment even more potent than Monistat, although she said that I could continue to use the other on my thighs, since that part was almost cleared up. And I should also continue to use the medicated powder in between ointment applications. My daily yeast treatment now looked like this:

 (Oh, and the Benadryl cream? I got matching insect stings on each boob at some point during the yeast outbreak. I guess the tops felt they were not receiving enough attention since the underside was getting a daily rub-down of ointment, so the bites swelled and started itching like crazy.)

 So here’s the regimen, all of which you can accept as MY ADVICE to you if you are unfortunate enough to end up in a similar situation:

1.      Shower
2.      Blow dry all infected areas
3.      Apply designated ointments to infected areas
4.      Lie in ridiculously immodest positions under ceiling fan until ointment is dry
5.      (Fatties only) Strategically place paper towels in bra to collect excess moisture (AKA stinky sweat). No, I am not kidding. I understand that this will not be the most attractive look. However, boob sweat is the reason that the top half of you is in the mess. So suck up your pride, and stuff that bra!
6.      Repeat steps 1-5 four times per day, swapping powder for ointment every other time, and donning new clothes every single time
7.      Become a hermit until winter

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I Am My Father

I am my father’s daughter, no denying it. I know that I look just like my mother, but the truth is that at my core, I am the female equivalent of my dad. There are times that this is a great thing, and times when I could kill him for warping me into the mess that I am. But regardless of how I feel about it, there’s no avoiding it. 

For Fathers’ Day, I thought I would honor my dad by naming the Top 5 ways that he and I are alike.

Thanks, Dad. 

1.      Magenta v Magneta

My dad always thought it was a lot of fun to purposely mispronounce words. Unfortunately, science has proven that the English language is acquired by listening to others speak it. We hear it, then we reproduce it. So if, for example, you’ve heard your father talk about the color “magneta” your entire life, you could potentially end up in a situation like this one:


               ME: “…and it was magneta, and…”
               MOM: “You mean “magenta”?
               ME: “No, magneta.”
               MOM: “Magenta.”
               ME: “No, I know there’s a color called magenta. This was MAGNETA.”
               MOM: “What color is magneta?”
               ME: “Sort of reddish, purplish…”
               MOM: “That would be magenta. There is no color called magneta.”
               ME: “But dad always says…”

Sadly, I was in high school at the time of this conversation.

Afterward, I always vowed that I would NEVER do this to my own children. But low and behold, the other day, I realized… I DO THIS. Not in exactly the same way, or I would have realized it before. But I do mispronounce words by putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable. I do it a lot, actually. And I have never thought anything about it until Andy repeated something I said in the exact wrong-way I had just said it.

And all I could think was, “MAGNETA!”

2.      “A Better Way”

No matter what we were working on as kids (or teens, or young adults, or presently…), Dad always had a method that would make things better. Repeat—no matter what. So, you’re folding towels? Try it THIS way instead! It’s better! Cooking? This way would be better! Enrolling in college? Teaching school? Trimming your toenails? Raising children? Washing the car? DAD’S WAY IS BETTER.

That used to drive me nuts.

But now, I’m married.

And have children.

I am sure that one day, my children will complain about me (I am sure my husband already does) and how I always made them re-fold towels to fit my specifications, or re-wash dishes until they met my standards of cleanliness (more on this with #3), or whatever. But for now, it is easier to warp them too rather than fight against my own warped-ness.  

Besides, my way really is better. Probably because it’s the same way as Dad’s.  

3.      Sanitation

My dad is a freak about things being clean. And by “clean”, I don’t just mean sparkly white and “good enough”. I mean, no germ could survive upon it. He has actually used the phrase before, “I should be able to drink out of it,” to describe the condition the toilet should be in after you finish scrubbing it. One of our family’s favorite stories tells about how he used to carry his own dishes with him when he would stay at others’ houses because he didn’t feel like theirs were clean enough.

So, needless to say, the average person’s cleaning style isn’t going to cut it in Dad’s world. That’s okay because he has developed his own, better way (see #2) of guaranteeing that things are up to his standards.

Let’s talk dishes, for example.

1.      You use one sponge to knock off food from a dirty dish.
2.      You use a separate sponge to clean the dish with soap.
3.      If your hands aren’t covered in third degree burns by the end, your water’s not hot enough.
4.      If raw meat touched it, it still goes in the dishwasher.
5.      You use a separate towel to dry your hands than you use to dry clean dishes.

Now, to me, this seems completely normal. In fact, I am in total agreement with Dad—this is the best way. It’s probably even the ONLY way if you’re wanting me to eat off your dishes. But, I am a graduate from Professor Dad’s Home Economics Class. (Where I received an A, by the way.)

Apparently, this is not the norm. I only know this because dish washing was a HUGE source of contention for about the first five years of my marriage. For five years, I watched my husband try to “help” by doing dishes. He would fill a sink with water and soap, stick every dish inside of it (without rinsing first! What the heck???), and start scrubbing. And as he scrubbed, the sponge would collect more and more food residue. But that didn’t seem to bother him in the least. I guess he figured that since the sponge was soapy, and the food bits were gone from the dish itself, the dish was clean. 

There were several times that I walked in towards the end, and I could see the sink full of tepid water filled with floating food chunks and the sponge covered in soapy food bits. And I would be nauseated knowing that I would never be able to find every dish that he had just “washed”, plus all the ones that those dishes had touched and contaminated, so that I could start over. 

And my sweet, helpful husband would turn to me, expecting a huge kiss and overflowing gratitude, and instead would find me holding back tears and vomit as I collected ruined sponges and threw them in the trash.

I finally called my mother for help. I explained to her that I had tried my best to train Ken for FIVE YEARS, and that in FIVE YEARS I had not been successful, so apparently we were doomed to eat off sparkly-yet-secretly-death-trap dishes FOREVER, and that I didn’t know what to do!

And do you know what she told me? She told me that HE was normal and I was the weird one! 

               ME: “But mom, this is how Dad always taught me…”

               MOM: “Catie, your dad is not normal.”

And now I know—I am not normal either.

(If you’re wondering, I did finally solve the dish-washing problem. I banned Ken for life from doing dishes. Our marriage immediately improved.)

4.      “If you can’t get your feelings hurt at church, you ain’t got no feelings.”

This is one of my father’s favorite quotes. I am not sure if it’s an original, or if he stole it from somewhere, but I am convinced that it is absolute truth. Church people can be downright mean. And I used to think that was all Dad meant when he said this. But eventually, I started to figure out that Dad really never did get his feelings hurt at church. In fact, the whole congregation could be in an uproar about something, and there was my father, just as cool as a cucumber.  

And that’s when I started to realize that, all this time, he had been trying to warn me, “Honey, I don’t have any feelings.”

And that’s when I figured out why I had never been able to cry my way out of trouble, or, as I got a little older, play on his sympathies when I would need a little extra cash, or make him feel even remotely guilty about anything, ever. It was a blow to realize that I was probably the only girl in the world who could not wrap her daddy around her finger.

But of course, it didn’t hurt my feelings to know this. Because, like my dad, I don’t have any feelings.

In our home, my husband is the sweet one. He is the one who is more apt to cave if the boys cry enough or if they make a cute little face when they ask for something ridiculous. I, on the other hand, am the hard-butt disciplinarian whose “no means no”. Unfortunately for them, I am the one who stays home with them day in and day out, so they NEVER get to cry themselves out of trouble or sweet-talk their way into things.

Poor kids.

On a happy note, I really enjoy our church since I never get offended there.

5.      SWEETS

My father and I have the same amount of self-control when it comes to Blue Bell ice cream and homemade chocolate meringue pie. And that amount is exactly zero. Dad often quips about how “everyone’s gonna die someday, and chocolate pie/Blue Bell seems a pretty good way to go.”

I can’t find anything in that statement to disagree with.

Unfortunately, our affinity for these two items means we also sport nearly identical bellies. So maybe I don’t look ONLY like my mom, after all.