Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Crazy

And no, I'm not referring to this little grinner as "my crazy."

For the record, I come by my crazy totally honestly. My sister got married in October of 1999. My mother had been battling stiff-person syndrome for 13 years and was nearing the end of her fight. She stayed in the hospital up until a few days before my sister's wedding so she could be as healthy and stable as possible for the big day. For months leading up to the wedding, she sat in her hospital bed with all her candy making tools on the bedside table, making chocolate cups for the wedding reception. She also needed to make the wedding cake when she came home. Had she ever made a wedding cake before? No. But that didn't slow my crippled mother down in the least. And the cake she made was in the shape of the Mt. Timpanogos temple. With stained glass windows. My mother passed away less than 3 months later. She was literally dying and continued to make things seemingly beyond her skill set simply because, as she had once said while contemplating the construction of her first (and only) man's suit, "I think I can do that."

Forward 13 years to yesterday. Our ward had announced that there would be a gingerbread house competition at the annual Christmas party. There would be categories for children, youth and adults. Now, we make a house every year. I've posted instructions as to how we do it. I've often made gingerbread for more than one house a year, but only because we've often hosted gingerbread house parties. We've never made more than one for ourselves. But I heard the word "competition" and my crazy went into overdrive.

I had hoped to get the gingerbread made before Saturday. But I ended up doing an arrangement for a funeral, and making a shepherd/Jedi robe for a nativity play, attending a Christmas party back in Citrus Heights, and oh yeah, taking care of a cute little 6 week old girl and 3 other children. And so, Saturday morning I started making gingerbread. I put together a house for the girls, then completely stepped away as they decorated. I did this so I could, one, get the pattern for my house printed and enlarged, and two, so they could have complete creative control without my control freak tendencies stepping in. It kind of was a mistake to stay so far out of it. I put out a lot of candy for them to use, and very little ended up on the house. Whoops.
The little "garden" out front was Chloe's pride and joy.

Then I started making my house. I used a pattern from a book, not realizing quite how large the finished product would be when I started. It was easily 4 times as large, and 4 times as complicated as anything I have made before. But I said to myself, "I think I can do that." 3 batches of gingerbread later, I finally had all the pieces baked, complete with stained glass windows. I kept those sheets of gingerbread moving in and out of the oven as fast as I could, watching the minutes ticking away, realizing there was no way I could get this done in the time I had left. I ignored my sad baby who really wanted Mom and not Dad. I started to sweat. And yet I pushed on because I was too invested to give up. A piece broke as I started to assemble the house. I baked a new one. I got all the walls together and the house standing. I hurriedly decorated walls.

And then I put the roof on. I realized as I placed the second roof piece that it was slightly undercooked. But I had no time to make a new one. I've never lost a piece of gingerbread yet, and trusted that even if it was a little soft, it would still work. I added extra icing, and started to decorate. Then the back slid off, and the front started to collapse. I pushed the back up, and enlisted Bracken to hold it and my baby while I finished the final details. 15 minutes after the party started, I threw on some clothes, tied my hair into a bun and loaded everything and everyone into the car. As we drove, I touched up the makeup I was still wearing from the night before. And listened as the roof of my house fell apart in the back of my van.

We arrived at the party, and I jumped out of the car to survey the damage. The front of the roof was in pieces, but had conveniently crumbled inside the house. The back had slid completely off, and cracked down the middle. I debated whether I should bring it in. I also apologized to my husband for all the chaos the creation of this behemoth had caused. Ultimately, I decided to display it, adding a note that "heavy snow" had caused the cave in. I was more than a little embarrassed, but decided that I was illustrating the idea that it is better to try and fail than to never try at all. I happily cheered for my daughters when their entry won first prize in the children's category. I was shocked when my entry won in the adult category. I'm not sure if I won out of pity, or just for the sheer size of the monster. Maybe the judges were afraid of the lingering crazy they could see in my eyes.
As we drove home, I attempted to tell Bracken a joke about how tired I was. Halfway through, I stopped because it really wasn't funny, and I couldn't remember how I was going to end it. When we got home and got all the girls down, I collapsed into bed. I was wakened in the night by the cold I had been fighting rearing its ugly head. I managed to get a little more rest, but when Rosie got up to eat at 5, I couldn't get back to sleep. Instead I got up, made another batch of gingerbread, and reassembled the roof, decorating it with candy I had salvaged from the original. I also made muffins, cleaned the kitchen a bit, and cut up some fruit (to help remedy the damage wrought by unsupervised candy gorging). Because I am crazy. And now, for the rest of the holiday season, I will be able to look at the physical evidence of my craziness.
In actuality, though, I am kind of grateful for this episode of crazy. Truth be told, the creative crazy had been completely absent throughout my entire pregnancy, and I was a little worried that it was gone for good. Though I sometimes struggle to recognize my limits, and my projects get a little out of control, I love creating and making and having projects to do. So, welcome home, Crazy. You have been missed.
I'm pretty sure the little Rapunzel doll she's holding will find her way into the house before the holiday is over.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Deep thoughts from Chloe

On tears: Mom, I might cry a little, but it's not because I want to go to bed. It's just my hot cocoa is so hot.

On jealousy and Rosie: I think she looks sad because she thinks you're going to get mad at her because she winked at me and not you.

On obesity, after I told her to stop eating candy: But why, Mom?
Me: Because eating too much is unhealthy.
Chloe: And it can make you fat. But you wouldn't make fun of me if I was fat.

Dramatics from Addie

When her sister refused to kiss her: I just want to live in a world where people love me!

When I insisted she eat her dinner: I have a ridiculous life, I just want to die!

When she couldn't play with the toy she wanted: I just don't feel special. I don't want to live here anymore. (And then she went and opened the front door. I talked her back into the house, mainly because I knew I didn't have the energy to find her later.)

When I insisted she take a nap today: I don't want you to be my mother anymore.

Performance art from Napoleon Maggie-mite
(who refuses to acknowledge the existence of any other shoes in her closet)
I guess she wanted to listen to the sound of crunchy autumn leaves.
I asked her to change her pullup, but didn't follow through to make sure she did. I had no idea her pajamas had such wicking power.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rosie's birth story

I need to get this written down before I forget, since it's already becoming a blur. This may get a little long, but that's because it's mainly for me, and Rosie.

Our little girl was due to arrive on 14 October. Given the fact that I was induced with all three of the other girls, I really didn't expect her to come on her own. But I had a little bit of hope, mainly because I just really wanted to feel what it was like to go into labor on my own. I also was nervous about being induced this time.

The day after my 20 week ultrasound, I got a phone call from the genetics department at the hospital. During the ultrasound, they had found that my umbilical cord only had one artery, instead of the two it was supposed to have. Single Umbilical Artery (SUA) is a fairly common condition, but is often accompanied by other birth defects, so they needed me to come back in for an additional, more thorough ultrasound to make sure everything was okay. Two days before our move, when I was already more than a little stressed, I went back in for another ultrasound. Thankfully, everything looked fine. I had also opted to do the additional genetic testing with this pregnancy, which I had opted out of with the previous ones, and all those test results looked normal as well.
Me at 41 weeks. The shirt was a gift from my sister and reads "Pregnant is the new sexy." I was definitely feeling it.

However, this reminded me that there had been an issue with Maggie's umbilical cord, so I called my previous doctor to find out exactly what it was. After Maggie was born, and they were examining my placenta, they discovered that there was a velamentous cord insertion. This means that rather than the cord inserting into the middle of the placenta, the cord inserted on the edge. The cord is then less protected and more prone to damage, and possibly hemorrhage. Everything is usually fine, but when I read that there is an increased risk of velamentous insertion with SUA , that sometimes the cord can get snagged if your water is broken by the doctor, it made me nervous. And then I googled more, which is very unwise, and learned that the medications often used in induction, particularly when ripening the cervix, can negatively impact a baby with SUA. Although generally I felt like things were going to be fine with this little girl, these other worries kept nagging me, particularly as I got closer to my due date.
That is a big belly.

My due date came and went without any action on my part. I was having contractions here and there, and my cervix was still a 1. My insurance provider's policy is to not induce before 41 weeks, so I was grateful (though nervous) when I was able to schedule my induction for 41 weeks and one day. Not that that made the time pass any more quickly. As the week wore on, my mood declined. I started avoiding leaving the house because I was tired of answering people's questions about when my baby was due. Then I found out there was a good chance the hospital would be full on Saturday, and I might not be able to come in that day. I was supposed to call the hospital at 5, and was very relieved when I got a call at 2 inviting me to come into a different hospital at 4. I didn't care where I had this girl, just as long as I had her.

We ran a few errands, loaded up the car, and drove to Antioch. This was actually a newer and nicer hospital, though just a little further away. They admitted us right away. We had brought all the girls with us, and they were sure excited and interested in everything going on. The nurse got my IV started immediately. She did a great job, but it was very stressful for Addie to see me getting poked. Even the next day when she came to visit, Addie was still very concerned about my IV. The midwife checked my cervix and decided it looked favorable enough to start the pitocin without having to ripen my cervix first. This was a big change from my previous inductions. Typically, they insert a misoprostyl pill, which I respond very well to, but it's at least 6 hours before they can actually start the pitocin. So, not only did my induction get started faster, but my worries about the medications used in the induction were lightened.Bracken left and brought the girls to our generous friends who kept them overnight. I got started on the pit, and my contractions started right away. Bracken returned and we played card games while my contractions intensified. At about 10:00, my water broke on its own. I've never felt that sensation before. It was another huge relief to me that it broke by itself. They checked my cervix shortly thereafter and found I was about a 5, and since the pain was getting pretty intense, I asked for my epidural.

As always, the longest part of labor was the amount of time between when I asked for the epidural and when the anesthesiologist actually arrived. But once she finally got there, it was the fastest, smoothest epidural I've gotten. Once it kicked in, my whole body relaxed. In fact, when they checked my an hour later, I had dilated from a 6 to a 9. 30 minutes later, I was complete. I started pushing at 1:40, and things moved quickly. I got to reach down and feel her head as she crowned. At 1:54 am on 23 October 2011, Miss Rosemary Ruth Mannion arrived.And that's when things got a little interesting. I remember sitting in a birthing class back in 2005, eight months pregnant with Chloe. I raised my hand and asked, because it had been weighing heavily on me, "How often are babies born with the cord around their necks?" The instructor quickly replied, "Not very often. It's nothing to worry about." Well, 4 births and 3 cords around the neck later, I do know that it is nothing to really worry about, but it does happen often! Rosie had the cord around her neck, but it hadn't tightened. She got an 8 on her first Apgar, and a 9 on her second. And it turns out, the cord was slightly velamentous again. It's a good thing I'm not planning on making any more umbilical cords because I am not good at it! Either that or I'm just too creative at it.

Then they weighed her. Because of the SUA, I'd had an extra ultrasound to monitor Rosie's growth. Though everything looked fine at the 21 week ultrasound, there is still a concern with SUA babies and fetal growth restriction. At 30 weeks, she was right on target for size. My other babies all weighed within 2 ounces of each other, and I gained about the same amount of weight, so I thought it would be pretty obvious if her growth had been affected. As always, I laughed when the midwife checked my belly and told me she thought the baby would be about 7, 7 1/2 pounds, but definitely nowhere near 8 1/2 pounds because that is what I have been told every single time. But still, I wondered. When they finally weighed Rosie, about 2 hours after she was born, she was 8 pounds, 11.5 ounces, and 20 inches long. My heaviest baby by 3.5 ounces. Take that, SUA. We beat you on every front (knock on wood). The nurses kept commenting on how big she was, but she still looked tiny to me.The most dramatic part of the delivery, though, was what went on in those two hours between when she was born and when Rosie was finally cleaned and weighed. Though I only had a first degree tear this time, for some reason, I started hemorrhaging after Rosie was born. I had to have extra medication, and some extra procedures from the midwife to get it to stop. All the nurses and midwife kept blaming it on the fact that I'm a redhead, but it's never happened to me before. Is it because I've given in and started dyeing my hair redder? I really don't know. Thankfully, the bleeding did stop after I'd lost about 3 pints of blood. I felt awfully calm throughout the whole process. Maybe I was just super tired, or maybe the whole process was just surreal because it was so much shorter than my other labors (only 8 hours!), but I was peaceful during the drama. Given how short my labor was after I finally got the epidural (only about 2 hours), I've wondered if I really needed it. However, I know it did speed my labor up, and the more I reflect on everything that went on after the birth, I'm glad I had that buffer against the pain in place, because otherwise it would have been rather rough.
We are so glad Miss Rosemary Ruth is here. She is named for Bracken's aunt, and for me, obviously. Since our daughters' hair has gotten progressively lighter with each one, it seems fitting that thus far she seems to be blonde with a hint of red. I was actually hoping for a blondie this time, and Chloe had been praying very earnestly for a "yellow-head." Her eyes seem to be blue, but I won't put any money on it until she's at least a year old. What I do know is that we love our little girl and know our family wouldn't have been complete without her.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Things I love about my newborn

Since I know this is our final baby, I've been noticing more of the little things that make newborns so entrancing, and savoring the little moments with Rosie. Some of my favorites are
  • When she caught onto the whole nursing thing, and suddenly started opening her mouth as wide as she could to latch on, pretty much whenever she wasn't already actively nursing.
  • The way she starts rooting at my arm if I don't get the nipple there fast enough.
  • How her eyes dart back and forth as she latches on, like she's found the most wonderful thing in the world and is afraid someone might take it from her.
  • The way her lips purse and sometimes pop when I remove her sleepy head from the nipple.
  • The fur! Heaven help me, the fuzz on her ears and shoulders just kills me.
  • The various grunts and grimaces and awkward faces she makes as she goes about the business of being a baby. And she snores.
  • The wonderful smiles in her sleep, that even sqwunch up her eyes. I can't wait until she smiles those smiles awake.
  • Her delicious smell, and her yummy skin.
  • The forehead wrinkles.
  • How she doesn't build to a full cry, just suddenly lets loose with an ear piercing squawk.
  • The way she gazes at me, just trying to figure it all out.
  • The bobbly head
  • The spastic arms
  • The sweetness she brings that attracts everyone in the house to her.
  • And I really love how every one of my babies has looked so familiar to me the moment they are born. We try to analyze it, say they look like so and so, but each girl really just looks like herself. I think they are familiar because they are mine and always have been.
I'm sure there will be many more things to add to this list, but rest assured, this little one is adored. We are so glad she's here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Guide to Your Feelings

Today I am 39 weeks pregnant. This means I look kind of like this--

Only with more belly, less makeup, and stretchy pants. This also means that within the next couple of weeks, I will be sitting in a hospital bed, starting the final countdown for my baby. Chances are very high that I will again be induced, and will be debating whether I am in enough pain and grumpiness to justify an epidural yet. I may even be forced to stare at the chart below in order to figure out just how much discomfort I am in.
Or maybe I won't. Chloe was preparing a talk for church recently, and conveniently happened to draw up some very helpful Emotion Identification pictures for me. And a brief disclaimer--obviously we were very on top of that whole "kids lose several months of education over summer vacation" thing. I guess we should have spent a little less time breaking in the cable TV and a little more time practicing writing. But the pictures--the pictures are very helpful.



And my personal, most favorite,
or for those who spell traditionally,
Kind Of
I feel like I've been in Cinduv for quite a while now. I'm mostly ready for this little one to arrive, but I also realize they are much more work outside than in. However, I've reached the point where my general pregnancy malaise and lack of motivation also includes random contractions and sleeplessness, so it would be nice to feel like myself again. I've kind of missed me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On Breastfeeding (and I will be discussing nipples, graphically)

Me, on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland, informing Bracken that this is not the best time to take a picture of all the girls.

Since I am due to have a baby in about 3 weeks, many things are on my mind. One of my random google searches was for preparing my nipples (and we're off) for breastfeeding. Since this is my fourth child, I have, of course, nursed before, but I was curious if there was any new information out there. The answer is no, but once again, I was completely angered at the misinformation most of the breastfeeding advocates put out there.

Don't get me wrong--I am pro-breastfeeding. I have spent three full years of my life nursing 3 different children and plan to spend another year at least doing the same for this new one. I support the right of women to nurse their babies whenever and wherever they see fit, though I also advocate being considerate of those around you (and I'm mainly talking about teenage boys here, though I have been oogled by a 7 year old). I tend to nurse covered myself unless I am only around other mothers and children. I also find that once my babies are old enough to start moving around a lot on their own, it's not really effective to try to nurse in a public place. It's just too distracting for them.

And here I'll confess something. I get the stigma about public breastfeeding. Despite all the time I've spent with a baby at my breast, when I am not lactating, I have often found breastfeeding creepy. I have caught myself looking at a 9 month old and thinking, "That baby is way too old to still be nursing," when I have nursed all my babies far longer than that. Hypocritical and prudish, I know. What I don't know is where that knee jerk reaction comes from.

I also try not to judge those who don't breastfeed. It's a very personal choice, and there are a lot of factors in why a woman will or will not breastfeed. I personally have had a very easy time of it, and I recognize that. I'm a stay at home mom, my milk comes in on time, I make enough but not extra, I have very rarely been engorged and I've never had an infection. I'm not going to go into all the scientific reasons why breast is best because even though I know it's been proven to be the healthiest choice, I also don't feel that giving your baby formula is equal to filling their bottles with soda. I also know I've saved a lot of money with all the formula and bottles I haven't had to buy. That said, I had two babies who completely refused the bottle, so I really had no other choice. The one child who would take a bottle weaned herself the earliest.

But here's where I have my real issue with the nursing nazis. As I visited half a dozen different breastfeeding sites, I found they all told the same lie. "Nursing will not hurt if you are doing it correctly." That is a steaming pile of poop. Sure, after a month or so, once you're used to it and your milk supply has regulated, nursing shouldn't hurt. But no matter how good your latch is, no matter how many times you switch positions, no matter that you follow every rule in the book, THE FIRST TWO WEEKS WILL HURT LIKE HELL.

Yeah, I said it. Your poor nipples have never been though abuse like this, unless it was the last time you nursed, and since then the callouses have worn off. It will start out fine, and the baby will latch on in the hospital, and maybe you'll have the lactation consultant come in and help you out a little and you'll feel like you've got it all under control, and they will send you home.

And that's when it really starts. Your nipples will start to feel uncomfortable, and then they'll get a little blistered looking. Then they will scab, scabs that will be loosened or pulled off with every feeding session. Every time your baby latches on your feet will lift from the floor as you attempt to silence the screams building up inside. If your husband tries to talk to you while your baby latches on, you will have to control the urge to punch him in the throat. And your baby will be latching on constantly, because they seriously do nothing but eat and sleep and poop, and often all three at the same time. But in about two weeks, your nipples will have become leathery, the scabs will have fallen off, and with great surprise you will realize that the tear trickling from your eye as you feed your baby is from love and not because your breast feels like it is on fire.

I seriously wonder how many moms give up too early on breastfeeding because they think they are doing it wrong, because they have been told it will not hurt at all. I'm sure it takes longer than two weeks for some people, and maybe there are some miraculous people out there who can escape that two week window of hell. For the majority of women, though, I know it's going to be a rocky start. I promise you, in most cases, it will get better. So much better. And you will look down at your sweet little baby, milk drunk and grinning in her sleep, and realize these are some of the best moments you will have with her.

So I encourage you novices to endure, and I thought I'd share a few of the products that have helped me the most.
  • Lanolin cream-- I have always used Lansinoh brand, but as long as you get something thick and protective, I'm sure it will work. I will usually start applying it to my nipples about a month in advance, just so I feel like I'm doing something, but where it really comes in handy is once baby arrives. It's safe for baby's consumption, so apply it to your nipples after every feeding and it will aid them in healing, protect them and keep those fresh scabs from sticking to the inside of your bra. And don't even think about stepping in the shower without putting a thick layer on. Trust me.
  • Post Partum support belt-- I bought my first one of these before I had Maggie. Amazing. Not only was I wearing normal pants a couple days after childbirth, and didn't look like I was still pregnant, but it kept all my jiggly bits contained every time I had to lift my shirt to feed her again. And even better, when I was wearing it, I didn't feel a single after pain. If you don't know, after pains are bonus contractions you have for a few days after the baby is born as your uterus tries to shrink back down. You probably won't feel them with your first, but if it's your second or later, it's like a punch to the gut every time your baby nurses. I have this support belt, but there are other, cheaper options out there I haven't tried. Mine did run large--in clothing I usually wear a large, and the medium belt was the only size I needed.
  • Breast pads-- I'll confess, I'm not much of a leaker so I don't usually end up with those nice wet spots on the front of my shirt that many new moms have. But for the times when I am full, I do love these Lily Padz. They are not absorbent, but they compress your nipples so they don't get a chance to leak. Be warned, though, if you are a big milk producer I've heard they don't work so well. Where I really love them, though, is on days when I'm wearing a thinner bra and a snugger shirt and I don't want to look like I'm smuggling grapes (because nursing nipples definitely are beyond the scope of raisin smuggling), these discreetly smooth you right out.
  • Nursing shirts-- I just bought some of these half-tee's to wear with maxi dresses and other shirts that are easier to access from the top. Obviously, I haven't actually used them for nursing yet, but I'm thinking they'll be great for those times when I don't actually want to lift my entire shirt up.
  • Neck pillow-- There will be a lot of nights, and days, when you just want to sleep through feedings. A supportive pillow for your head helps a lot.
  • Baby support pillow-- A Boppy, or a Breast friend (If you can say it without laughing) is very handy for supporting baby, especially post caesarian. I've only had a Boppy, and it continues to come in handy for tummy time, and practicing sitting and stuff.
  • A sleep bra-- Nothing is worse than waking up from your precious moments of sleep because your very full and unsupported breasts are throbbing in pain and leaking all over your sheets.
  • Special K lips-- My first lactation consultant told me this--that my baby's lips should look like the Special K "K" when she latches on. This advice has never done me wrong.
  • A good place to sit.
  • A spouse who will get up and change the baby and bring her to you in bed. And maybe change her again after the feeding.
And now I'll get off my soapbox. I just needed to get that off my chest before my chest is consumed with more pressing matters. Breast of luck! Anyone else have any good ideas to share?

(None of these brands know me, I'm just sharing what has worked.)

Awesome Zucchini Carrot Muffins

I picked this recipe up last year when we were driving through South Lake Tahoe. We stopped at this place that looked like a total hole in the wall, but was actually quite a fancy little soup place. They had this recipe on the counter, and I thought it looked quite tasty. I did modify it a little, adding salt for instance (Baking without salt? Come on! Don't the 4 cups of fruits and vegetables in the recipe make it healthy enough?). These muffins are incredibly tasty, have really good texture, and are perfect for using your end of season garden harvest.

Zucchini Carrot Muffins

2 cups carrots, finely shredded
1 cup zucchini, finely shredded
1 cup apples, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup flaked or shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 teaspoons orange zest (or 1/2 t. orange extract)
2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Gently toss together carrot, zucchini, apple, coconut, almonds and orange peel. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients until just combine. Batter will be very thick. Stir in carrot mixture.
  4. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 375 for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to wire rack.
So simple, so yummy, and healthy. But just remember, if you get to work early one morning and make these with your preschooler for her class snack, don't include the nuts. Otherwise, when you pick her up later, you will feel really stupid when the full container is returned to you and your disappointed preschooler, and you might even burst into uncontrollable, embarrassing, pregnancy tears. Not that I would know from experience or anything.

Friday, September 9, 2011

English As She Is Spoke, by Addie

A long time ago, I read about a book titled "English As She Is Spoke" According to Wikipedia, it "was intended as a Portuguese-English conversational guide or phrase book, but is regarded as a classic source of unintentional humour, as the given English translations are generally completely incoherent." I have thought of this book often since I have been a mother. Sometimes I'm not sure English is my children's first language. However, while Chloe and Maggie have thus far been content to adapt pronunciations to suit their own needs, Addie prefers to completely create new words out of the ether. Sometimes I can figure out a definition, but not always. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Toring. This refers to being moved back and forth, like on a sharp turn in the car. "Mom! Stop toring me!"
  • Crinky. I think this means dirty and uncomfortable. "Mom, my bum is crinky." (We're working on wiping better.)
  • Blurking. As in, "Mom! Maggie's blurking at me!" I'm not sure what this means exactly, but it's obviously worthy of a tattle.
  • Also in common usage for a while were Smaking (with a long "a"), Crunking, Blurping and Porping. No clue what they mean, but if someone did them to Addie, I heard about it.
Lately, Addie has moved on to longer words. At least four syllables. These words typically only get used once or twice, but hey, if you need the right word for a certain situation, you need the right word. They include such winners as Expitating, Conferating, and Flusterated. Flusterated actually makes perfect sense to me.

Wow, what a . . . smile? The dead tooth in the front really makes it pop. Oh, Addie girl, you do make me laugh. And shake my head. As Addie once said to Maggie, "You get what you get and you don't get upset. And many moooorrreee!!"

I'll let her dance you out.

A language guide for understanding Miss Maggie

Our little Maggie Moo is quite the little talker, and always has a lot to say. And like her sisters before her, she plays pretty fast and loose with the English language to better suit her needs. For instance, she likes to make one pronunciation work for multiple words. For instance:

  • Muggie might mean Maggie, or monkey, or occasionally Mommy.
  • If she asks for a boo bup, you have to follow up with additional questions to determine if she's asking for a flip-flop or a pull-up. Do not confuse the two.
  • Woda is either Soda, or Yoda, who we talk about more than you would expect. I guess they both have sparkling personalities? (I'll be here all week.)
  • And the very worst offender is, "Naaaaah." If you ask any Maggie any yes or no question, the answer is usually, "Naaaah." Which sometimes means no and sometimes means yes. So you have to ask a follow up, "No or Yes?" to which she will respond with a definite no or yes. It is more than a little frustrating at times, though I have noticed that the longer the "naaaaaah" goes on, the more likely it is to be yes. But not always.
She has a lot of other little phrases she uses that I love. Such as:
  • "By my wose," which means, "By my self." I'm not sure how self morphed into wose, but there it is. In general, Maggie does have a tendency to substitute the "s" at beginnings of words with a "w," so there is that, but wose? Whatever. It's super cute.
  • The phrase, "By my wose," is often followed by, "I need Pie-a-see!" I actually love this combination of phrases because it means someone is going poop on the potty, and there are few things in the parenting of a two year old better than that. She isn't making it to the potty for all of her pee-pee yet, but 99% of the poop is in the toilet, and that is just fine by me.
  • "Ah-Oh, Dabetti-oh," is pretty darn cute when she makes a mess.
  • She loves to sing "I Am a Child of God," but mainly just the "Weed me, died me" (Lead me, guide me) part. She also is a big fan of singing, "What's gonna work? TEAM WORK!" over and over again. She's only seen the Wonder Pets a couple of times, but obviously it made an impression.
Finally, Maggie is not a fan of adjectives, at least when used to describe her. I'll ask, "How did you get so cute?" Response? "I not cute, I Maggie!" in the same vein, she will get angry if called any other name than Maggie. Margaret Melissa--who is that? Also, do not call her a baby. As far as she is concerned, she is just as grown up as her sisters. Thankfully, though, she is still small enough to love and cuddle on as much as I want. She really is the best cuddler I've had.

And one more super cute thing about Maggie. Whenever she sits or lays down, she always crosses her ankles. It kind of kills me.

All right. Enough. I'll let her dance you out to close this blog post.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Questions I can't answer

  • Why aren't there arm restraints for children in shopping carts?
  • Why are store aisles so narrow?
  • Why do I let my children convince me to get the plus sized shopping cart that seats three and is about four miles long, every time?
  • If I accidentally injure a store employee while trying to maneuver my gargantuan cart down a miniscule aisle, while attempting to prevent little hands from stripping every item they can reach off the shelf, is it really my fault?
  • Why is the alarm button on the elevator always right at toddler level?
  • Why are the hairs that grow out of moles so disturbing and wrong?
  • Why do I have one of those moles on my face?
  • Why can't my children wait for me to finish pulling my pants up before opening the door in a public restroom?
  • Why do my child's diapers sometimes smell like cat poop even though, to my knowledge, she has never eaten cat food?
  • Why does another child feel it's her personal duty to do her doodie in every public restroom we visit?
  • How can my children completely thrash a perfectly clean living room in the time it takes me to walk into the kitchen?
  • Why, when I am the least physically capable of doing physical labor, do all the things I need to do in a day involve physical labor?
  • Where do I find a doll who's hair doesn't immediately turn into cotton candy mess as soon as my children open the package? Was doll hair that much better when I was a child? (When I was nine I had a really cheap set of wigs to put on my Barbies. They were all short and curly, and I used to plop them on top of my Western Barbie's long hair to make her look like Dolly Parton. Barbie wig mullets. True story).
  • Should I put my short wig on top of my long hair and rock a killer mullet for Halloween? I could wear a snug tank top over my super squishy, hopefully postpartum body. Has inspiration just struck?
  • Will any of my creative energy return once I'm done channeling every ounce of possible inspiration into creating this new little person?
  • Will I leave the hospital with a child without a name?
  • Did I really hear my child say a word, twice, during a recent temper tantrum, that she shouldn't say, that I know she learned from me?
  • What is it about being a vessel for an angelic creature, straight from heaven, that makes me want to curse like a sailor?
  • What is stuck to the bottom of my foot? I can't see down there.
  • I have been very grateful that my children wake up early, and that getting them up for school won't be much much of a struggle, but how on earth can I survive not sleeping in until 8?
  • Why are my recent early morning dreams always accompanied by house/techno music? Is my subconscious attempting to prepare me for the day I'm going to have, or is it merely the most appropriate closing credit music for insane dreams I've been having lately?
  • Why would a child who has just been injured by another child, keep putting herself within arms reach of the injurer (who is in time out)?
  • When can I go to bed?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ketchup and Mustard

School is starting soon at our house. Chloe will be starting first grade and Addie will be starting preschool. There have been preparations made, including buying new socks and underwear. The girls old unders were looking a bit dingy and worn, and some were rather stained, and they all were snug. The practical part of me considered just passing Chloe's underwear on down to Addie. But then I reconsidered. After all, everyone likes to have new skivvies to wear. And since Addie prefers to wear dresses everyday, people tend to see her underwear a lot.

So now I'm left with a bag full of used girls underwear. And I don't know what to do with them. There is still some life left in them, and there may be a family out there who would benefit from them. I grew up in hand-me-downs, and so have my kids, and I would love to be able to share our excess with someone else. But underwear?

All this pondering of old undies brought up a very specific memory from my childhood. Our family had been given a bag of used clothing. The bag was emptied and sorted into the appropriate genders/sizes. I can't remember what all came in the bag, but I do remember one particular item. It was a pair of boys underwear, red with yellow trim. I remember thinking, "Really? McDonald's themed underwear?" And then I didn't think much more about them. I know I folded them when they came out of the laundry, and that they seemed to need to be folded quite often, but that was it.

Years later I found out that this pair of underwear had been dubbed "Ketchup and Mustard," and were quite the hot ticket amongst my whitey-tightey clad brothers. I know at least two of them would race to laundry and fight over who got to wear them next. At least I hope they waited until they'd been washed to re-wear them. I don't want to think too much about it. All I know is by the time those pants were finally retired, they probably deserved a 21 gun salute. They had done their duty.

None of the recently retired underwear at my house is as colorful or as memorable. I tried posting them for free on craigslist, but immediately my ad got flagged as inappropriate. Really? Who has the dirty mind now? So I guess the panties will just go to Underwear Heaven, if there is such a place. Maybe they will run into Ketchup and Mustard there.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


This morning, at half past breakfast when my tummy rumblings had started to escalate, I gracelessly heaved myself off the couch and headed to the kitchen. I popped one slice of bread in the toaster for Maggie, and one for Addie. Chloe, preferring her daily breakfast of chocolate shredded wheat, declined. The toast popped up, I buttered and jammed it, cut it into triangles and passed it to the girls. I then put two pieces of bread in the toaster for myself.

No sooner had my toast popped up when I heard, "Mom, I'm done, I want more!" from Addie. Being the noble, self-sacrificing mother that I am (and because I had not yet entered the "I'm going to pass out if I don't eat right now" stage of pregnancy hunger), I passed my first piece off to her. I then prepared the second piece with butter and a generous helping of strawberry freezer jam. As I brought it to my mouth to take my first delicious bite, I heard, "Mom! I done! I want more!" from my littlest daughter. Again, I passed my breakfast to my starving offspring. I sighed, put two more pieces of bread in the toaster, and waited for them to brown.

As soon as they popped up, Addie again asked for more. This time, I declined her request and directed her back to the half eaten apple she had abandoned earlier because it, "Made her tummy hurt. " Apparently it was still not a good option because then she turned her eyes to Maggie's still untouched second piece of (my) toast. Fighting ensued. And so I excused myself to the other room and enjoyed my toast at last, whilst ignoring the bickering from the kitchen table. I finished my breakfast, returned to the kitchen and found they had abandoned the table for the great outdoors. The toast sat on the table, seemingly untouched. I remained in the kitchen and washed the dishes while chatting on the phone with a friend.

When the kitchen was clean, I started to walk through the dining area to check on the backyard. To my horror, I discovered half a dozen very gooey, very jammy footprints on the floor. Where had they come from? Where did they go? HOW DID THE BOTTOM OF FEET GET COATED IN JAM? The toast looked untouched, and each footprint seemed to contain an amount of jam equal to the original jam on the bread. Horrified, I checked the carpet but could see no continuation of the trail. It was a mystery, one I'm afraid I will never solve. However, I will ponder it every time I stick to the kitchen floor until I finally am grossed out enough to mop it.

I can tell you the final ending for that last piece of toast, though. Hours later, Addie rediscovered its existence and asked if she could have it. Maggie saw that Addie was eating it and was immediately enraged and desperate to eat the toast herself. Addie shared, a little. Both parties ended up wholly unsatisfied with the results, which led to yelling and threats, which I may or may not have participated in.

Tomorrow I will tell them we are out of bread.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Some moments of late

It's been a while since I've blogged. We have been up to many things, most notably, moving from Citrus Heights to Concord. And let's not forget that I am still pregnant and woefully unmotivated. Today I felt very vindicated in my laziness, though, since my decision to not shave resulted in my wearing my longest and most attractive maternity dress, and my decision to put my wet hair up in a bun before bed resulted in nice wavy hair.

But, in an effort to overcome my blogging ennui, here is a collection of moments from our recent life that don't warrant a blog entry of their own. (And so you know, I just typed "glob" twice in a row while trying to type blog.)

Here is Miss Addie, very focused on a foam block sculpture. I was very impressed with the thought that went into her design.
Chloe has lost two more teeth, for a grand total of four. Now, I knew kids with missing teeth was cute. And I knew little kids with grown up teeth was not so cute, but a necessary part of growing up. However, I was totally unprepared for the awfulness of loose top front teeth. Chloe does not want any outside help with her teeth coming out, so those two front teeth got looser, and wigglier and moved around in her mouth. At times she looked liked Nanny McFee with one tooth peeking out from between her closed lips. I really couldn't look her in the face. Finally I convinced her to let me have one try, and I got the top right one out.
Yet still, that left one hung in there, pointing sideways at times. And she wouldn't let me touch it. I was awfully grateful for our 60 degree pool party with Josh and the monkey business that finally knocked that tooth out. Thankfully Chloe was not upset about losing her tooth to the depths of the pool. And the tooth fairy accepted her note in place of the tooth, although it took a panicked 5:30 am wakeup for the tooth fairy to remember her job.

My little toothless vampire in the pool. The first front tooth is making its way in, and looks like the poor girl will be inheriting my special front teeth.

This is a picture of the saddest end I've ever seen a ladybug come to, even worse than the weekly lawnmower massacres.

Why is it that a child who screams and fights to get out of her car seat for the entire trip, will refuse to get out of the car once we arrive at our destination?
Look, Mom. I helped Maggie get dressed! And I dressed myself!
Do not interrupt me when I'm reading.

Yes, I loaded up that truck and drove it 90 miles by myself. Because I'm nuts. And a bit of a Hoarder.
Chloe's last day of school. Awfully bittersweet. How dare she grow up so much?
Dear Maggie, thank you for being so entranced by the TV, for at least a few minutes, while I packed. P.S. You are cute.

"Mom, MOM!!!" calls Addie as I attempt to sneak off to the bathroom. "Maggie's dead!" In vain I scream back, "No she's not! DO NOT WAKE HER UP!" I return from the bathroom to find a very much alive, very sad Maggie.
Pretty solid photographic evidence that Maggie is her Daddy's girl. And still, very cute.
Our new back yard is significantly smaller than our old one. It also has significantly less grass. Like none. I made the mistake of setting up the wading pool in the dirt. Did you know that the dirt in Concord is much lighter and softer than the dirt in the Sacramento area and turns into great mud with very little effort?

I won't soon forget.

Addie thinks it makes a great facial.
I love that Chloe can read now. So does Maggie.

Our Lady of Perpetual Packing, as recreated by Addie. That's an upside down wall sconce with a washcloth wimple.
Gee, I wonder what Maggie would like for lunch?
Hopefully there will be many more blog entries to follow in the near future. And they may even have individual themes. Or, I may just take another nap.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A few things on my mind today II

For those who are interested, it's been a long time since I've shared a "few" things. The first time was here. I'm pretty sure there's less of a theme to this list. But after all, I'm pregnant.

  • The girls are currently playing some sort of prison game. I'm sure there will be a riot soon, but for now, all is quiet. I would like to join them. I would be the model prisoner. They could lock me in my room all day and I wouldn't make a peep. I'd even give myself a homemade tattoo. To the outside world, it might just look like stretch marks, but I'd know it signaled my membership in a pretty hardcore gang. Plus, I already go the bathroom prison style.
  • I'm thinking hard about packing my clothes today. On the surface, this seems like a pretty easy job, but there are categories of clothing that need sorting. So far I've come up with Small Maternity, Large Maternity, and I Really Don't Care Anymore Maternity. Though, I did catch a glance of some overalls on a cute girl on 90210 the other day (the new 90210, not the old one), and thought, "Shoot, now wearing my overalls everyday come September is going to look like I'm still trying." After the maternity clothes comes Large Nursing, Smaller Nursing, Attempting To Do Weight Watchers, and Will Number 4 Wreck Me So Badly That I Will Never Be Able To Fit Into These Clothes Again and Should I Just Give Them Away Now?
  • I sat in the bathroom, contemplating packing while picking my toes and my thoughts wandered to the Pioneer Woman, who also waxes contemplative while picking her toes. I realized the train of logic must go as follows. Pioneer Woman picks her toes. Pioneer Woman used to be a ballerina. I pick my toes, ergo, I am graceful. It makes perfect sense.
  • I had a big achievement in the bathroom the other day, and no, it has nothing to do with with my Hoarders problem. Lately, the shower has had a hoarding problem, and despite my best attempts to get it to drain and large quantities of hair removal, nothing has worked. Saturday I busted out the adhesive floral clay. 1 ball of it on the end of a hanger grabbed the shampoo lid Maggie had dropped down the drain. 2 balls on the ends of a pair of tongs secured the toothbrush. So now I have fixed a washing machine with floral wire, and plumbing problems with floral clay. Ladies, forget becoming photographers on the side--become a part time florist.
  • I discovered the origin of the giant pile of dry baby wipes that keeps mysteriously appearing behind the trunk in the living room. I entered the room the other day to finding Addie cleaning her hands with a wipe. I then asked her to help me with something and she said, "Just a minute, Mom. Let me throw this away." And then she tossed it in the corner. I love when my children have been doing something the wrong way for so long that they will now blatantly do it in front of me.
  • Here's another logic problem for you. If the maternal grandmother of your baby is the second of four sisters, and the paternal grandmother of your baby is the third of four sisters, how high is the probability that your fourth baby will be a girl? Or we can approach the problem from a different direction. If your husband is known for being incredibly consistent, a man of deliberateness and routine, was there any chance that after he produced one gorgeous little girl, he would try anything else?
  • Do you know what's worse than trying to scrub dried shredded wheat cereal sludge off the inside of your sink after a helpful child has dumped her bowl all over the sink? Discovering that the child didn't make it to the sink and not only didn't eat any of the second bowl of cereal she requested, but managed to spill it all over the floor, the cupboards and the trash can on her way to the sink. And then you left the house without seeing the mess and returned 2 hours later to find it had permanently adhered itself to those surfaces. At least it wasn't this again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


If any of you had been here this morning to witness the little meltdown I had (and I'm awfully glad you weren't), you would probably be certain that I had a problem with high blood pressure, a.k.a. hypertension. Truth is, it was probably the closest my blood pressure has come to normal in a few weeks. Like 19, if you're counting. Every doctor's appointment I go to, I'm complimented on how great my blood pressure is. And I nod, and laugh, and quip the same joke about how hard I work at it. I'm starting to rethink that response. Because low blood pressure doesn't always equal great blood pressure.

I remember waiting in line to pay at a store when I was about this pregnant with Addie and suddenly feeling dizzy and faint. When I mentioned this to my OB, she told me it was just my blood vessels relaxing in anticipation of the increased blood volume that my pregnancy was bringing. Because it was my second pregnancy, my vessels already knew what to do and were either

1. Eagerly anticipating their increased job responsibilities.

Or, and I feel this is the much more likely option,

2. Slacking off and "relaxing" early just because they could. Incidentally, they decided to get my intestines in on the action. Those intestines of mine are so relaxed about doing their job I'm thinking we could shoot a whole episode of Hoarders up in there.

My blood vessels have gotten increasingly lazy with each pregnancy. With Maggie, I ended up needing to teach all my lessons at church while sitting in a chair because I couldn't stand for more than a minute without feeling woozy. But this little fetus has taken it to a Whole. Notha. Level. It has completely cut off the blood supply to my brain.

This pregnancy, I get light headed when standing still for seconds. Without the movement of my legs, my body can't be bothered to get the juices flowing all the way to the top. I end up bending down quite regularly to "play with my kids" while waiting for Chloe after school when in reality, I'm debating just completely laying down on the sidewalk to clear my head. For the last 4+ months, I've been too lazy to even get mad at myself for being so lazy. I sleep 9 hours a night and wake up craving a nap. I stood under the water in the shower this morning, rinsing my hair, and couldn't remember if I was rinsing it in anticipation of washing it or if I was rinsing it because I had just washed it.

I leave gallons of milk on the counter for hours. Last night I put the dinner leftovers away in a container, then brought the pan over to the sink to wash it, along with all the pots from the last three night's dinners. I'm hoping I actually remembered to use soap when I washed them. When I finished, I turned around to find that despite thinking I had put the leftovers away, I had actually left the container on the table with the lid off. I'm sure pretty soon, something I've forgotten in the kitchen is going to give me a nasty case of salmonella. But hey, that might be the wake-up call my bowels need.

Even funner, I've been getting some really nasty headaches throughout this pregnancy. I've come to realize it's not my body telling me how desperately badly it wants Dr. Pepper and is actually my brain telling me it needs blood. Then, just this week I've started having a stiff neck and upper back pain. Initially I thought it was because I was spending too much time playing Bubble Blaster on my phone, but on a whim today, I googled "pregnancy hypotension" and guess what? Fatigue, light headedness, headaches, stiff neck and sore upper back are all symptoms. So, I took my afternoon rest with my feet propped up on the back of the couch. And now my back doesn't hurt as much.

Basically, I'm just looking for a way to justify all my bad behaviors this pregnancy. I'll keep googling until I find a diagnosis that also covers "extremely short temper" and "loss of ability to cook." But in the meantime, expect to find me lying on the couch with my feet over my head, cursing at angry birds while something in the kitchen smokes.

(And I will bring it up with my doctor at my next appointment, though I'm sure the response will be, "Just take it easy and drink more water and have your partner give you a back massage.")

Monday, May 2, 2011

Booger McSnottyface

For the second week in a row, I took Maggie home from church early because I didn't want to share the products of her nasty nose with the rest of the nursery. You're welcome. I will also admit I was eager to come home early myself because
  1. I had the beginnings of a really special headache coming on.
  2. Sacrament meeting had run about 20 minutes over, which in kid time equals 3 extra hours of trying to keep them "reverent."
  3. I love to ditch church. Yeah, I said it.
I still wasn't clear as to whether or not my motives in coming home early were entirely pure (i.e. Maggie really was sick) until this morning. Here's the thing. Maggie gets colds like I get colds. We both start to feel rotten for a day, maybe have a scratchy throat, a little mucous, nothing super specific.

But day two, the faucet opens. Seriously. My nose runs so hard and fast, it's all I can do to stem the tide. The snot pouring from it is the consistency of water, and if I don't keep a tissue in hand at all times, is likely to just flow forth onto all surfaces. I once had a roommate remark that I wasn't using my tissues very "effectively" because she couldn't believe how many I was going through. During this portion of my colds, I have often had to resort to sticking tissues up each nostril just to do basic household tasks, or even go to sleep. You're right. I am very, very sexy.

After day two, the tide usually stems and the flood thickens, allowing me to function for a couple days until it thickens so much that it glues my throat shut and I have moments where I can't breathe. On those days, I use one of these. If you haven't tried one for allergies/colds/sinuses, you really should.

Today when I went in to get Maggie up for the day, I knew I was right in keeping her home from church. Because she looked like this.

Like an old man in a toddler suit. I say old man rather than old lady because her hair growth still puts her more in the old man category. Although Maggie is usually very willing to let me wipe her runny nose, and can even blow it when I ask her to (Unlike Addie, who still sucks in. Special.), I am not there to help her in the night. And in the night, she rubs that runny snot over every last inch of her face, right up into her hairline. And as a result, when that mucus dries and cracks, she looks like she's aged 70 years.

I've spent all day chasing that little monkey with a tissue, but I'll admit, I haven't worked very hard at cleaning the rest of her face. I'm kind of hoping if I let it build up, by tomorrow morning I will be able to find her work as a circus freak.

Monday, April 25, 2011

In the Fishbowl

For Chloe's first birthday, I bought her 3 small 10 cent fish. I think they died before we even reached home.

I refused to be defeated and bought her one more expensive fantail goldfish. His name was Fish. He was orange and white, and Chloe loved him. She loved him so much that at 18 months, she figured out how to scale the front of her dresser and get on top of her changing table so that she could reach the fishtank. One day I found her up there, something clenched tightly in her little hand. It looked like a hairbow sticking out of her fingers, so I didn't worry about it until I noticed the water everywhere, and the piles of gravel, and finally, the empty fishtank. How she caught that sucker I'll never know, and how he survived the ordeal virtually unscathed is nothing short of a miracle. Sure, he always swam upside down after that, but he moved with us from our apartment to our first home and swam cheerily inverted until one day when he choked on a large bite of food. I think. Chloe's not talking.

A few months after Fish passed, Chloe won a little fish at a party by throwing a ping pong ball in his bowl. His tiny, little bowl. Nemo lived in that bowl for several months, in increasingly cloudy water, until I realized he actually was going to stay with us. I went out, bought a new, bigger aquarium and a couple buddies for him, and now we had Nemo, the feeder fish, Tinkerbell, the calico fantail, and Gill, the Black Moor.

Addie and Chloe took turns doing this to the tank.

That's about half a can of flake fish food in there. And yes, the fish are actually in there, too, somewhere. You can see Nemo at the top. He's looking pretty bloated.

That batch of fish stayed with us for a couple years. Gill gradually changed color from black to gold, and grew to dwarf the other two fish. When they died several months ago, I'm pretty sure he had something to do with it. But he's not talking.

So now, giant, orange Gill has the tank all to himself. Until Maggie decides he needs extra care. Whereas the other girls were content to just encourage the other fish into obesity, Maggie has concern for his entire well being. For instance, the other day he must have looked like he had a cold because I found half a box of tissues floating in the top of the tank.

Another day, he looked bored and illiterate, so she provided entertainment.

Not only did she give him a book to read, but she drew pictures on the outside of the tank.

Maggie also likes Gill to feel a part of our holiday celebrations. A few weeks ago I discovered several small plastic carrots, collected from other Easter decorations, resting on the the bottom of the tank. I decided to leave them there. I figured they wouldn't dissolve, and Gill's big enough that if he decided to eat one, I think he really could get it down.

Most recently, one day I decided to break out of my usual morning lethargy and do a little gross housekeeping, namely cleaning out the shower drain. I removed several large, cheesy looking hairballs from its depths, then went to check on the kids in the kitchen. As I walked past Gill's home, I did a double take. I saw something resting on the bottom of his tank that I could have sworn I had just placed in the garbage can in my bathroom. I looked closer and realized that Maggie had now decided to share her favorite breakfast cereal with Gill.
Am I wrong in thinking that looks like something that would generally be found in a drain? I think not. This particular mess turned into several days of cleaning because even after I had removed all the shredded wheat and cleaned the entire tank, the water kept clouding up. I choose to think that it was leftover from the initial cereal hairball, and not because Maggie was pouring her milk in the tank. But I could be wrong.

(In case you don't know, you can now buy Chocolate Frosted Mini Wheats. They are delightful. And my kids love them. They (and the fish) eat more of them than I do. Plus, nutritionally, they are healthier than a bowl of Raisin Nut Bran (I did a comparison for Bracken's sake when he started complaining about how good our kids have it). But seriously, healthier chocolate cereal that actually tastes like chocolate. Have you tried the Special K Chocolately Delight? It tastes like death.)