Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Trick or treating was a success!

Carolyn had a great time. We met some kids (older kids) who live around the block and they showed her the ropes. She only went to about a dozen houses, which is good because we were light on fellow trick or treaters and have more candy in the house than we a) need, b) want and c) should be eating this close to the holiday season.

We ended up wearing the cute pink puppy outfit, which I'm sad to say was not photographed because our camera finally had enough and decided to go into the light. It was a good camera. A kind camera. A much loved, much used camera.

You will be missed.

Energy jerks update

Steve is really good at yelling at people.

Yelling is not the correct term, but he doesn't let people get away with stuff. I always get really flustered when they say things like, "I can't remove that charge." Today, he fixed our energy woes. I hadn't mentioned it, but AmerenIP, our electric company, was going to charge us $150 deposit after they turned off our electricity.

We were all ready to report them to the energy commission, but Steve called and they removed all the fees in five minutes.

He rocks!

Carolyn went downtown trick or treating with her dad last night, and was severely traumatized. She was totally freaked out by a Darth Vader costume and returned home with a mere three pieces of candy.

When she got home, she kept saying things like, "I'm scared" and "Ooh. Scary" over and over again.

I'm trying to talk her into tonight's festivities, but I'm 50/50 on whether Carolyn will enjoy it or not. Suddenly, she's scared of the dark.

Winter's going to be a real treat.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Halloween Eve

It's a big day around here. Downtown Normal is having a little trick or treat night so I got Carolyn all dressed up for the event.

Yes, yes. I know what you're thinking. That's last year's Halloween costume.

Oh, you couldn't be more wrong. Last year, she was a cheetah. This year, she's a kitty cat.

I bought a fuzzy, pink dog costume this year (one of those zip and go numbers) but was so disappointed by my lack of creativity, I regressed in much the same way Carolyn does with potty training. I just can't believe that at 8 months pregnant, working a full time job in a place that would never be described as soothing and running after a toddler, I was able to come up with a much better costume than in my current lackadaisical state.

Next year, Penelope stars as a leopard, although I'm not sure what Carolyn will do without her costume.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Falling down

Well, it's happened again.

I've wasted a perfectly good summer thinking about fall. And now it's here, and it's everything I remember with the crisp air and smell of decomposing leaves, which I find extremely pleasant, but it also means a billion leaves covering every inch of our yard.

Here's Penelope, enjoying the leaf pile.

Just recently, Penny has shown some interesting in moving to just one nap a day. That would totally rock, if at the same time Caroyn hadn't decided she doesn't need to nap.

I guess that's why god created coffee, and valium.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The REAL Penn State




Who the hell are we again??

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My utility curse continues

You know it’s going to be a crappy day when the electric company, first thing in the morning, shuts off your power.

Should have paid your bill, one might say. Well, it was paid. It was cashed. I even called two weeks ago after receiving a “shut off” notice to find out why I was delinquent 10 days after they took the money from my checking account.

But they said the account information was incorrect, and our fault even though I called to fix the problem two weeks ago, and so we started off the day paying $75 to have the power turned back on.

In case you’re not keeping track, here’s my “LIST.”

#5 Mike Simpko (thanks Joe), a slum lord from Alexandria, Va., who stole more than $1,000 from us in 2001, something I’ve never quite gotten over. I hope I spelled his name right. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to write that $%$%$ a check.

#4 Semco Energy

#3 College students

#2 Sara Vowel

#1 AmerenIP (see above)

The girls and I headed over to the grocery and book stores to retreat from our hellish, angry morning. Once there, Carolyn, who had been doing so well, had an accident. I wiped up the seat, changed her in the bathroom and we resumed shopping. I was just shocked I had a spare pair of pants with me. Amazing!

Next, I gave her a book to read while I flipped through a couple of magazines. Turns out, the book had a bunch of stickers that Carolyn stuck all over the cart. I had to buy the crappy Dora book, at an outrageous $5.99. It would have been cheaper to buy the magazines.

Well, I have some angry letter writing to do. Better get started before I’m served with court papers or probed by aliens.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Feeling bad, 101

I think I've given people the impression that Carolyn is always beating up Penelope. This simply is not true.

For one, nobody wants to read how many hugs they give each other every day. That would be boring to read and boring to write. It's so much more fun to poke at our imperfections, don't ya think?

And for two, (Steve says I never have a two, so I'll show him) Carolyn loves Penelope, very, very much. She wants to help her walk. She wants to wake her up first thing in the morning. She wants to make sure I don't forget Penelope's juice.

It's just that sometimes, Carolyn gets frustrated. She might be playing a very elaborate pretend game with her toys when Penelope, acting as a diapered Godzilla, attacks the village. Penelope can be pulling out clumps of Carolyn's hair. Carolyn, who looks a lot older than she is and sometimes is treated as such, could be having a wonderful 2 moment.

And so sometimes Carolyn strikes out in a diva-bitch manner. Give her a break. She still hasn't perfected sentences.

And just think about how tough Penny will be. Carolyn doesn't have enough time on Penelope to get too mean before it comes back to haunt her.

Take it from me, parents just don't understand

I truly believe parents are nuts.

I think today’s parents are thinking way, way, way too much about giving their child a competitive edge.

Seriously, when I was in school, and one of the youngest with a Sept. 3 birthday, my best friend, Martha, was about 9 months older than me and 8 inches shorter.

Being tiny was awesome for her. Everybody always thought she was cute as a button.

And I had a high school friend with a November birthday who was confident, smart and popular. Did I mention tall?

Being tall was awesome for her.

Seriously, parents are nuts.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Snakes and bunnies

I finally got Carolyn to a store to see some snakes. We've been reading Lynne Jonnell's "I Need a Snake," which is a totally awesome book about a little boy's fascination with, yep, you guessed it, snakes.

So anyway, pet store! It's a promise that bought 30 minutes of carefree grocery shopping.

After the blissful Kroger experience, we walked around the pet store looking at fish, lizards, birds, ferrets, mice, bunnies and, yes, even snakes. When we're leaving, I asked Carolyn what animal she liked best.


Oh Carolyn. You're such a girl.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Good parenting feels so bad

Punishing Carolyn sucks. If I yell, sometimes it just makes things worse, especially if I use that voice usually reserved for yelling at Fife (my fat beagle) to come. It’s screeching and would sound irrational even if I were shouting quantum theory. I’m not sure quantum theory is a real thing, but you get the drift.

So sometimes, especially when I’m very angry at Carolyn (usually for trying to gouge out Penelope’s eyes), I quietly take away whatever toy she’s playing with, pick up Penelope and leave the room, and leave Carolyn behind. I don’t even shut the door.

The other night I did this when Carolyn was playing with what I’ll call “box of crap,” or some random, cheap toys in a shoebox. She pushed Penelope down by the forehead and held her head to the floor. So I gathered up the crap, uh toys, put them in the closet, took Penelope and left.

For about two minutes, Carolyn sat there plotting her next move. At last she tried some other toys, like the ball popper, until it was too much. She started to bawl.

I went in there to explain that she shouldn’t push Penny, it isn’t nice. I gave her back the box and she picked out one toy and said, “share.”

That was just too much. I told her I know her sister can be a pain, constantly grabbing at her stuff, but if she’s angry she should tell me to take her away.

Carolyn put down the toy. Then she said, “Mommy, TAKE Penny.”

Could it be that I’m getting through?

Monday, October 16, 2006

I'm baaaack

Now that's better. My computer is fixed and I'm no longer looking up html while praying the computer doesn't crash from having two screens open.

I'll bet that sentence would've sounded weird 10 years ago. Crash? Screens? What's this html you speak of?

Anyhow, here are some pictures, as promised. One is proof Penelope takes after mom, the other is from Steve's Birthday Party yesterday. Gotta love Flickr.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Day 43, and counting

Same story, another day. Still no computer, although Apple said they have 500 of this part coming Monday and only two, presumably one that is me, are holding for said part. Good news!

I've felt a real motivation lately to be a good parent. I met with the owner of the Gingerbread House, a fancy-shmancy toy store, about Christmas gifts for children. It was like going to a (insert occupation here) writing conference and getting all keyed up to go back and (insert craft here) write. Instead, it was about child rearing.

She talked a lot about independent play and open-ended toys that let kids use their imaginations. While I sipped coffee with her for TWO WHOLE HOURS, I did a mental inventory of Carolyn's toys. Pretty good, on the whole, I decided. But even the Little People, which I think are great toys that Carolyn pretends with often, are holding specific items, or wearing very specific clothes that make total creativity hard. Don't get me started on the songs and moving parts.

I even read an article this week, which came out the same day I met with the toy store owner, that said children are lacking free play these days. Too many dance classes and soccer games. I totally buy into that.

And enough of the soap box.

Today, Carolyn, Penny and I walked over to the close playground, which is at the Normal Community Center. They have a daycare there and the kids sometimes come out to play, which just so happened today.

It was 4-year-olds. Carolyn even knew one little girl, whose great-grandmother lives next door.

One little girl came up and asked me if my daughter could be in their class. I said she was still too young.

"She's only 2," I said.

"Well," the little girl answered, "maybe when she's 4."

"That's a good idea," I said. "But when she's 4, you'll be 6. Then you'll be in first grade."

"Maybe," the girl said. "But I was 3 for a really long time, so I might still be 4."

Those kids, they say the darndest things.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Today, Carolyn had her first professional haircut.

Oh, the pain. The pain of it all. Actually, it wasn't bad. It was just a trim and she sat in the chair like she'd been waiting all her life to visit a beauty parlor. Next step: wax.

What's really on my mind these days in family life. And not just the, "how in the hell does anybody find time to vacuum" kind of thought process. I'm thinking about family habits. How they drive. How they shop. How they exist.

For more on this incredibly not-funny topic, visit my other blog. Otherwise, just know this blog will soon be inundated with pics of the girls as we've cleared Apple to make the necessary repairs after they dropped the price — by half. They must be feeling bad about the Steve Jobs thing..