Monday, August 31, 2009

It gets worse before it gets better

Let me begin this post by saying that anyone with a low gross-out threshold should stop reading now. Seriously.

So, Chip, Mary Clare and Buddy made it to the vet this morning without anyone running away or dropping the deuce at an inopportune time. Nevertheless, Chip was still traumatized by the entire episode. But not by either of the kids. Oh, no. It was the vet who got him. After explaining all of Buddy's symptoms, the extremely thorough Dr. Betsy turned to Chip and asked him in her ever-so-earnest way, "Chip, how familiar are you with anal glands?"

Needless to say, the guy who has an answer for everything was rendered speechless.

After explaining that she thought one or both of Buddy's glands were blocked, Dr. Betsy went on to take care of our little guy. The good news is that Buddy doesn't have worms and the antibiotics should be able to take care of any other issues.

I don't know what we're going to do about Chip, though.

Questionable co-pilot

Chip’s Monday morning was shaping up to be well, less desirable than most Monday mornings.

Late last week we noticed that Buddy was snapping around his heinie quite a bit. Chip religiously gives him his Frontline each month and we didn’t see anything, so we ruled out fleas. However, it would bother him to the point that he would stop eating mid-snarf, so we knew this was more than just one of his little tics. My farm girl mother finally diagnosed worms, and after a few Internet searches we determined that this could be the case. So we planned to snag a stool sample and get him over to the vet as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Hillside Animal Hospital couldn’t get us in until Monday morning, which posed a bit of a problem as that is Mary Clare’s day with my mom.

I had a busy day at work, so it was pretty much all on Chip. Eventually we decided that the best thing would be for Chip to take Mary Clare with him to the vet, run Buddy home after the appointment and then zip over to Illinois to meet my mom and do the hand-off. Our plan was flawless, but when you’re dealing with an ailing dog and an eight-month-old child, well, there can be hiccups along the way. Mary Clare might need to be fed, and given Buddy’s symptoms, there was a good chance that both he and Mary Clare might drop the deuce at any given time.

As evidenced by this morning's discussion, preparing for all the different scenarios was clearly taking its toll on the boy.

Chip: So, while I was shaving I was running through all the different things that could go wrong this morning.
Me: Mary Clare ate well and she’s in a good mood. It will be fine.
[Mary Clare begins to cry. Chip gives me a pointed look.]
Chip: Yeah, I’ve got a cranky baby, a sick dog and a bag of shit riding shotgun. What could go wrong?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

And the training begins

I have reports out of Kansas City saying that Brennan went on the big boy potty last night. TWICE. Sherri said she made such a big fuss that Brennan started clapping for himself as well. But the applause must wait until he's finished flushing. There are processes to be followed here, people.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Eight is great

My, what a difference mobility makes. Gone are the days when we could leave Mary Clare on her play mat and trust that she would be there when we returned. She's not crawling yet -- I'd call it more of a pre-army crawl -- but the girl gets around. She slides on her little belly to chase her binkie across the floor, and if she spies Buddy she does a spin the bottle move with her body and takes off in his direction. In the spirit of onward, upward, Mary Clare now uses anything that's handy -- a box, Buddy -- to pull herself from a sitting to kneeling or standing position. The only thing that keeps this from being a total disaster is that she's still pretty lightweight and most of her crashes resemble gentle rolls.

As far as other developments go, she's got the puffs thing down pat, and she's accrued a rather impressive list of first foods: mangoes, peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, apricots, apples, cantaloupe, watermelon, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli (against my mom's better judgment), peas, zucchini, squash, green beans and russet potatoes. Chip is confident that the food goes straight to her cheeks, and last week he asked me if I thought her head was getting more square. It is. But in only the most cute way, of course. And while she's not quite the perfect sleeper she once was, doing one bink pop per night isn't too bad. Still no teeth, and still no firm decision on eye color.

As you can clearly see, we're eight months into this gig and still just as smitten as ever. Can you blame us? Look at that face!

Click here for the complete eight month set.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Crocodile rock

Chip makes fun of my big Jackie O. sunglasses all the time. Keep in mind that this is coming from the guy who doesn't wear sunglasses when we go for walks because "they make him dizzy," and will instead squint his way through the park. So, you can understand why I listened to his comments, disregarded them and then went out and bought Mary Clare the biggest pair of sunglasses I could find for her as well. Only blue. And with polka dots. Hell yeah.

So now whenever Mary Clare and I wear our big sunglasses, Chip calls me Jackie O. and Mary Clare -- poor, sweet, innocent Mary Clare -- gets called Elton John. Which Chip follows up with a rousing rendition of "Crocodile Rock." Because we're just that lucky.

And yet, I keep putting those blue polka dotted bad boys on Mary Clare.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Frugal chic

So, I started reading this Gourmet magazine writer's weekly updates on his family's attempts at cutting back on their living expenses, the series of which is aptly titled Serious Frugality. While I enjoy each story, I nevertheless thank my lucky stars that it's him and not me who is keeping chickens, chopping firewood and forgoing all use of the clothes dryer. Oh, and wine doesn't fit in their budget, either. Can you imagine? The horror.

Anyway, wine habits aside, I'm all for saving a buck*. And as I've said before, I'm all for the environment when being green doesn't pose too much of an inconvenience to my daily way of life. Mary Clare's bum, after all, is cozily ensconced in a Pampers disposable** at this very moment. However, I do the recycling, we casually compost and I do mix up some of my own household cleaners. True environmentalists would laugh at how little we do, but hey, it's something, right? Well, now I'm ready to take it to the next level and am seriously considering making my own laundry detergent. Seriously, we go through the stuff like gangbusters. And while Mary Clare is old enough that I could safely move us from the more expensive, but chemical-free, Seventh Generation back to our usual Tide, I am intrigued by the concept of spending $5 vs. $15 for all the laundry detergent I can handle. I am currently researching options, and if I can find a way to add Seventh Generation's glorious lavender and blue eucalyptus scent to my homemade batch, well, it's on like Donkey Kong.

Stay tuned.

*Chip laughs because I religiously clip coupons and then proudly announce, "I saved us $5 at Schnucks today!" yet am quick to say, "Whatever, it was only $5." when justifying a frivolous purchase.

**It should be noted that I tried both the G diaper and Seventh Generation options, but Chip wasn't having it. If it wasn't a Pamper, he didn't want to see it. So I gave up. Sorry, Mother Earth.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Notes on a garage sale

Saturday's garage sale was a huge success. Amanda made a killing (in garage sale terms), I made more than I expected and the husbands were made happy by the fact that anything left went to the St. Paul Kirchenfest flea market. Cash and clean basements ... it's enough to make any marriage a happy marriage.

There were, of course, some hiccups along the way, most of which came at the hands of our valued customers. Needless to say, garage sales bring out some of the more interesting individuals in the world, such as the lady who knocked on Amanda's door Friday evening asking for a sneak peek, only to be perturbed that everything wasn't priced. While most of the shoppers were nice and several complimented Amanda on having such a nice garage sale (seriously!), there were of course a few characters. Here are a few of my favorite encounters and individuals from the day:

*Please do not offer $1 for six nicely framed prints reasonably priced at $3 and up and act as if you are doing us a favor. Do I look like I need this money for crack? Be serious, people.

*Thanks to the woman who pulled $1 out of her bra to pay Amanda. I am still sorry I missed that.

*Dear lady who didn't take her meds: Thank you for spending $50. You stressed us out, but at least you didn't try to write a personal check.

*Shaking clearly priced items at me and asking, "How much?!? How much?!?" is not any way to make friends. Oh, and following it up with a surprised "So expensive!" is not any way to get me to negotiate with you. Especially when you do this with every item that catches your eye.

*When Amanda says she's keeping the hanger, she's keeping the hanger. You got a brand-new children's outfit with tags on on it for $2. Be happy with that.

Like I said, the garage sale was a success. But then again, a garage sale with ribbon-adorned baskets can't be anything but a success.

Click here for a few -- and I mean a few -- shots from the day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Totally pea-ved

We had some serious dinner drama go down at the house tonight.

Peas and sweet potatoes were on the menu and oh my word, Mary Clare was angry. But hungry! No, angry! Wait, make that happy! Hungry! Angry! Happy! When she wasn't screaming at me, blowing pea-infused raspberries all over her tray, demanding another bite or rubbing her face in frustration (hello, Grandpa Thole!), she was busy looking for Jeff Tweedy. Yep, Jeff Tweedy, lead singer of Wilco. I thought playing some Wilco on the iPod would make for nice dinner music, but all it did was thoroughly confuse her. Every time a new song started Mary Clare would whip her head to the side and stare at the dining room door, as if expecting Jeff Tweedy to stroll through it at any minute. The fact that this mysterious singer never produced himself really hacked her off good and proper.

After finishing the vegetable course, I redeemed myself by producing a lovely dessert of mashed banana and cantaloupe. Even Buddy was pleased with that selection, as he always gets the end chunk of banana. (The banana butt, if you will.) Mary Clare snarfed down her fruit as if the pea incident had never happened. After a serious scrubbing in the bath, all was right in the world again.

Oh, and lest you doting aunts and grandmothers think I'm exaggerating, I have photographic proof.

I'm seriously pea-ssed about tonight's dinner.
And don't even get me started on all the bad "pea" puns.

I know you're in there, Jeff Tweedy. I can hear you.
I demand you show your face!

Yes, yes. I'm quite pleased with tonight's performance. Let's plan to do this again soon. Oh, and see if that nice Ray LaMontagne can join us next time. That Jeff Tweedy was a real jerk.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cousin competition

This past weekend we loaded up Mary Clare and Buddy in my parents' car and took off to visit the Jones family in Kansas City. Now that Brennan is talking more, we were all so excited to see what he would have to say about Mary Clare. Ha! What fools we were. He wouldn't look at her, much less talk to her.

When we arrived Friday night, Brennan had zero interest in Mary Clare until he caught my mom holding her. He didn't fuss, but his expression made it quite clear that if grandma knew what was good for her, there would be no more associating with the enemy. Breakfast the next morning proved equally stressful for B, as Mary Clare decided to start playing with his new jackhammer toy. Again, he didn't fuss and he didn't grab it away -- he just stared at her and slowly began to rub his forehead and head in a frustrated fashion. (This is a classic Denis Thole move, so apparently B inherited more than just his love for John Deere tractors from his grandpa.) Later on Saturday Sherri brought out Brennan's old jumperoo for Mary Clare. Of course she was delighted by all the neighs and galloping noises, and well, that just about killed Brennan. Not only had his mom betrayed him by hiding this fabulous toy from him, but then she went ahead and put her in it. Chip and I gave B a break on Sunday morning when went to the Clifford's house for breakfast so Mary Clare could spend some time with her Uncle Arthur and Aunt Kerstin. Before leaving on Sunday, we tormented ourselves and the kids by trying to take a picture of Mary Clare and Brennan together, the best of which you see above.

All in all, it was a great weekend, and I think even Brennan managed to have fun. While I'm confident there are epic B and MC battles to come, I'll take it as a good sign that we're seven months in and both kids are scar-free.

Click here for more photos from the weekend.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Martha's garage sale

So, the Hehmeyers are hosting a garage sale this Saturday. Bless them, as this allows me to unload some of the junk Chip and I unearthed from the Rubbermaid bins that occupy our basement. Aside from the grime and griping that goes with putting together a garage sale, I must say that Amanda has made this process most entertaining. This morning we fired a few bulleted lists back and forth, as well as some inane emails about ladders that would make our husbands cry from shame. Just moments ago, I received this message:

I am in the kitchen giggling because I am tying bows on the baskets of stuff for the garage sale.

Honestly, this doesn't surprise me in the least. This is Amanda we're talking about, people. I can also guarantee you that the garage sale signs will be beautifully lettered, and possibly backed by a nice 80# linen card stock in a rich summer hue. Tethered to each sign will be balloons in complementary shades. It should be noted that Amanda will only use balloons after Rob quashes her plans of placing a bouquet of fresh flowers at the base of each sign. Guests of the sale -- not garage salers, mind you -- will likely be greeted by a linen-covered table with heaping baskets of homemade muffins for guests to nosh on while they peruse our wares. Oh, and everyone leaving the garage salon (sale is such a tacky word, no?) will leave with one of Amanda's famous hand-dipped chocolate- and caramel-covered pretzel sticks.

Price of hosting a garage sale? $250. Only breaking even, but putting on a garage sale that will have the neighbors talking for years? Priceless.

It's good to be Amanda's friend.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Make it work

Brennan is becoming quite the little handyman. Last week Sherri sent me a photo of Brennan drilling away on his little house, and now it looks like he's added mechanic to his resume. As much as Brian the engineer loves how Brennan uses his tools to fix toys, mostly I'm sure he's relieved that he's stopped using them as theater props.

Click here for two more of Brennan at work.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mash it up

My parents came over to help with some house projects this evening, and kind souls that they are, they arrived with a full home cooked dinner in tow. Love that. My only contribution was green beans and tomatoes, both of which came from their garden. Easy and economical. Nice.

Mary Clare charmed the pants off of us during dinner and even charmed some mashed potatoes off of Chip's plate. It's amazing how laid back having the grandparents over can make you. Since Mary Clare started eating solids, Chip and I always discuss what she'll have for dinner, what she ate at school, how much she should have of each item and so on and so forth. Seriously, a lot of thought goes into what goes into the little tyke's mouth -- and this is coming from a mom who eats meatloaf for breakfast. However, all it took tonight was for my mom to casually say, "You could give Mary Clare some mashed potatoes," and we thew some up on her tray without giving it a second thought. It was highly entertaining, and I think a few bits of potato even found their way into her mouth.

Now that I think about it, I guess maybe Mary Clare shouldn't have had the butter or milk that was in the potatoes, but eh, what's a little butter among friends? Of course, we could be paying for it in diapers tomorrow, but for now, it was worth it to watch Mary Clare delight in making a mess of her mashed potatoes.