Life as Lou

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Maggie On An April Morning

  • April 3, 2012 2:10 pm

I put Maggie’s hair into braids last night so she would wake up with waves.  It is one of my favorite ways to fix her hair, not just because it looks pretty, but because it makes for a snarl-free morning and cuts about ten minutes off of our getting ready routine because it is so quick!

When not wavy, Maggie’s hair is about seven inches longer- almost below her bum.  She says the kids tease her about it.  I love it.  We are going to be cutting it soon- taking off about five inches and getting rid of any raggedy ends.  This should mean cutting her hair to her waist when straight.Maggie and Watson got to play for a bit this morning. That dirt is driving me crazy.  We need to seed or sod or something.  We moved in to a house with a big bald patch, and then having a dog doubled it.  I am so over muddy paw prints.

I took a moment to look at this girl of mine this morning.  She is growing like a weed.  All but one of her skirts is now indecently short and she needs a whole new spring wardrobe for modesty’s sake.

Then I sent her running for the bus.

They grow up fast. I like school age kids- prefer them over toddlers and like to talk to them and watch their interests and talents developing.  Toddlers have cute power- but school kids are interesting. You never know what you’ll get.

How To Keep A Three Year Old Busy

  • March 30, 2012 7:25 pm

Step One: Give the kid your camera phone.

Step Two: prepare for a lot of close up ear shots while he is figuring out how it works.

Step Three: Enjoy the grubby faced little photographer in all 63 shots.


Limitations And Lessons

  • March 22, 2012 1:29 am

Recovery is all about just moving a little faster every day- and then hitting the wall and doing nothing for a day while you recover from your recovering. At least that is how it is going for me. I slept for a week straight once I got home from the hospital, drifting in and out of pain. Then I spent a week doing very, very little -one major thing per day, counting the minutes between pain pills. Now I can do two things a day, sometimes three. This seems like such an accomplishment.

My house is fairly tidy, and my to do list gets a bit shorter every day. I feel strong and productive, and then I realize that I am functioning in an altered reality, one in which I have no children. This reality has a floor that can be half cleaned in the morning and then totally cleaned in the evening and then just be clean the next day or three. There is no one here to derail my progress, no one is following behind me undoing all that I am doing. And when I look at what I am accomplishing from that perspective- well, I am scared to death to get the kids back because I am no where near strong enough to even begin to keep up with their constant physical, mental and emotional demands.

I got the kids’ rooms in order- total order- the theory being that people like to be in clean rooms, so hopefully they will keep their play and mess and noise confined, and it will be easier to clean up. My pantry is stocked with cans of Spaghetti O’s and ravioli and boxes of mac’ n cheese. The cupboards are loaded with paper plates. I have set things up to be as easy as possible. My expectations are lowered.

I’ve gotten used to the hours and hours of quiet. It will be more draining than usual to hear the questions and bickering and even the screams of laughter.  I’ve been mothering for nearly ten years, and I still feel overwhelmed and incompetent in my current state.  Chris is fully back to work. I will be begging my friends to take Gabe for a few hours each day for the next month because I know I’m not strong enough to keep up. I can walk around the block once, but if I try twice I get light headed. Parenting a three year old is like running around the block a hundred times every day.

I can go for a trip to Target and I can buy a few items. Taking a three year old. . .well, I can’t lift him into the cart, and I can’t chase him down when he gets belligerent, and I can’t lift him out of the cart and I can’t fight him to get back into his car seat when he doesn’t want to.  It is humbling- also unnerving.

I can get frustrated to tears by my typical limitations when I am at full strength. I don’t like how much sleep I require. I don’t like that I can’t always respond as positively as I would like. I get annoyed by headaches and backaches and brain farts.

I think my biggest challenge might simply be keeping a good attitude.

I assume each challenge is supposed to teach me something.  Patience is an obvious lesson, but knowing me, it will take a few more lifetimes to accomplish that.  I am going to focus on responding positively.  I will probably fail, but I’ll get it right an extra time or two if I am at least thinking about it.

I haven’t seen the little bugs in nearly two weeks. It has been blissfully quiet and peaceful, and oh so necessary.  It has also been a little sad, and there have been many times where I’ve wanted to share something I’ve noticed with them, and just squeeze them really tight, and kiss them before bed.  I had fun going through a few old photos because sometimes I just really needed to see them.  These photos are each about two-three years old. My how they grow!

They come home in 48 hours.

Watson Says: You’re The Top!

  • February 15, 2012 1:19 am

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Today the hubs and I caught a lovely lunch at Olive Garden, bought Gabe’s birthday gift and then he went back to work and I did some errand running.

Gabe’s party for his third birthday is Cars themed.  He is a total Cars nut, and has actually gone so far as to re-Christen most household objects with the names of Cars characters.  He has stopped saying waters or sippy and now just calls it “McQueen”- there’s a Lightening McQueen on his sippy cup, so that now means milk.  If he wants something random, it becomes a “Mater”- like, see that awesome thing I am thinking about in my brain? I will call it Mater so you can understand the awesomeness of what I am asking for.  Of course- I have no clue what he wants, but it is interesting.

Gabe is also crazy for Chuggington Station, a new train cartoon.  I am kind of glad my kids each have different preschool cartoon they have been in to.  I can only deal with one Dora or one Chuggington or one Spiderman obsession- if all three picked the same show, I’d lose my mind.  Gabe asks for Chugging-none frequently.

He is big into Thomas the Tank Engine as well, and we’ve collected the wooden sets since Jonas was a baby.  Gabe asks me to build him a train track almost every day, and the pieces are all stored in our living room for easy access.  I was very happy to find that the Chuggington wooden railway is compatible with the Thomas sets, so Gabe is getting a small Chuggington set for his birthday on Saturday.  I even found Chuggington wrapping paper, so I am pretty sure he’ll go nuts when he sees it.  I just can’t let him see it beforehand or I’ll be subjected to a nasty tantrum.

I think Gabe is by far the most grouchy child we have.  He is a sweetheart and he is affectionate but when it comes down to being just plain ornery, he takes the cake.  I suppose that is to be expected; Chris and I are both cranky and stubborn and given to moments of petulance and occasional stomping  I mean lovely, charitable, gracious individuals with no Oscar the Grouch qualities whatsoever.

Watson is in the throws of puppy regression and crazy behavior.  He is officially six months old and is acting. . .like a six month old puppy.  I love him the way I love my two year old- with extreme wariness, an urge to protect any delicate body parts from jumping and flailing and an almost uncontrollable urge to kiss his nose at the same time.

The truly beautiful thing here, the thing making all the puddles and jumping and crazy behavior worth it, is that these two are very closely bonded.  They are at about the exact same developmental stage and they understand each other completely.  Watson has respect for Gabe, and Gabe has no fear with Watson.  Gabe can tell Watson off, grab him and drag him outside and yell no and Watson listens.  The other two kids don’t have that relationship with Watson and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Gabe communicates so physically that they are able to read each other’s body language.

In three years, these two will be awesome, and I will be leading a much calmer lifestyle.  That is, if I survive.

This post is sponsored by the good folks providing internet and cable packages!

Laptop. . .Kinda

  • January 24, 2012 10:15 pm

My husband bought me a laptop.  It is 2012- and I have never had a laptop.  I know. Welcome to the future, Leah.  Oh wait, that would probably entail a pad or tablet some some kind, which I do not have so. . .welcome to twelve years ago.

And, in case you were wondering exactly how much I do not like technological change, I have said laptop closed, on my counter, plugged in to my nice big screen and I am using a wireless mouse and keyboard.

Yeah.  I know.  Love me anyway.

This new computer didn’t come with any photo software, which is why there is no photo post this week.  I sat down with the best of intentions, but my hands are tied.  I need to get that figured out and then I will catch up.

In other news:

-I have been telling myself I will do something creative for several days now, and I have lots of new goodies here to work with, but it has been a crazy few days and I have been physical and emotionally spent.  No room for creativity.

-Jonas’ Pinewood Derby is coming up, so I’ve been investing a lot of time in making a car for with my kid.  Last year’s Pinewood Derby was a complete disaster.  We did not know that you can buy kits to help you make these cars and so we did the best we could with a block of wood, a knife and spray paint- but the danged car lost every single race.  This year I brought a 40% coupon to Hobby Lobby, bought a kit and if this darn car doesn’t win at least 1/4th of the time I am going to be so skeeved.

-I have seriously wonderful friends.

-My Tupperware arrived and my pantry is crammed full of it.  It is actually a little intimidating.

-There’s more, but I will have to post later.

Leah out.


Listerine Update

  • January 2, 2012 6:29 pm

I must start out by saying, my kids are poops when it comes to brushing their teeth.  In fact, it is almost the only thing they will actually lie about to my face.  “Did you brush?  Did you use toothpaste?  Did you rinse? Really?  Really? Let me see.  Let me smell.”  These are things only a mother will say and do, and we are still doing this daily, even while on the challenge.

That being said, we are doing alright.  I have one kid who has a sparkly smile and seems pretty gung-ho into it all.  She’s a peach.  I have one who is still trying to get out of it just as desperately as he did when he was a toddler.  And now I have this blog post as proof that this was not my fault when he needs root canals and crowns as an adult.  I tried, kid.  I really did try.  My youngest is still the tooth brushing king, and we have actually hide to hide the rinse because he would go through a bottle in a day with his enthusiasm for minty fresh oral care.  This one will be a dentist, and his big bro better start sucking up so he can get a discount on all the negligence-induced dental reconstructions he will need as an adult.

My best ally here really is the cute characters on the Listerine rinse.  They all get excited about that part of the process.  Character toothbrushes help, but since my youngest like to steal toothbrushes and hide them, we replace brushes quite frequently and they are already on to whatever I had laying in the bottom of my toothbrush/paste drawer in the bathroom.  This irritates me to no end, since I spend at least $15 a month on replacement toothbrushes, but I am trying to look on the bright side and credit this toothbrush kleptomaniac with reducing the spread of viruses by keeping us really on top of getting new brushes. I am trying hard to see the potential good in all inconveniences.  Since I can’t find any good in a root canal, I am keeping on top of this oral care challenge for me and the kids- that way I don’t have to think up anything positive to go along with hours of pain and the gag-nasty process of getting a crown.

Overall, I think this has really helped at least one of my three get on board with better oral care.  The oldest could still use some motivation, but has been a little more positive about things.  My youngest, well, he’s still just as excited about his teeth as he was in the beginning.  And he has really good breath.

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Listerine and received a sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”


Really Useful

  • December 5, 2011 3:27 pm


I am working on Christmas Christmas Christmas at my house! Lots of cozy tunes, sneaky surprises, festive wrapping and some obsessive/compulsive re-decorating of the tree once the kids were at school and couldn’t have their feelings hurt by it. There. I said it. I am that person. It made me crazy for over a week and I finally couldn’t take it any longer and it looks much more balanced now. With this kind of attitude, you would think I would have a perpetually pristine home, but I most definitely do not. Mine is a selective perfectionism; a soul saving blindness occurs when I look at things like peanut butter hand prints on the walls and muddy puppy paw prints. Those I can push back a day or two- the Christmas tree? My plasticine edifice of outdoorsy wonderment and beauty? Now THAT’S gotta glow, folks.

In other words, I can only keep up this facade for approximately 6 weeks and then I crack and go back to normal. But it is a lovely six weeks. ‘Most wonderful time of the year’ and all that jazz.

Last night we had some friend’s daughters sleep over to help make their schedule a little more fluid on a particularly crazy day. I gave them the boys’ bunk beds for the night. The girls were delightful and I want to keep them both. My children, on the other hand, have almost no memory of the last time KIDS slept over at our house and so they went positively berserk. I am pretty sure that Gabe lost his mind completely, because for the first time ever he was throwing a fit because he WANTED to sleep in his bed. Typically, he throws a tantrum when we want him to use his bed and not ours (I just call this every. single. night.).

Apparently all I need to do is put a fun teenage girl in his bed and it is the place to be. The funny thing was, he didn’t throw his fit on the premise of the fun big sister figure being withheld from him. Nope, he opted to freak out because he had to leave all of his Cars bedding and the Cars poster by his bed. “Queen! Queen!” He moaned and screamed in a desperate attempt to convince me to let him go back to his Lightning McQueen themed bed. It was hilarious. I mean I bought this particular kids furniture hoping this would be the result, but in this context it was cracking me up and I was unable to be compassionate becaue I was laughing so hard at his deflection of the actual issue. Maybe if I hired this gal to sleep over I could get Gabe into a better bedtime routine. Might be worth a shot.

Tomorrow is yet another busy day. They are dog-piling on me lately, but that’s ok. My house isn’t perfect, my to do list is growing faster than it is getting checked off, but I have had my time filled with opportunities to be of useful service the past few days and I love that. I kind of giggle because my kids have all loved Thomas the Tank Engine- and the main theme of those stories is that all the engines want the title of “Really Useful Engine”. I’d like to be Really Useful, especially to my family, my friends and to God. Useful people are grateful, happy people. Busy people are just busy. Perspective and opportunity are such blessings.

RSV Season Is Here!

  • November 21, 2011 2:51 pm

It is RSV awareness month, as is it the kick off to the RSV season. RSV stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Although RSV typically presents with cold symptoms, it can be particularly damaging and deadly for preemies. You or I might be merely uncomfortable for a few days, whereas a preemie could easily develop life threatening complications. Their higher risk is why so much attention is given to this virus. Infants under the age of six months are particularly susceptible. In most places, RSV is most prevalent between fall and spring.

There are steps you can take to prevent this illness. Hand washing is critical, and probably the most sensible thing you can do. Avoiding crowds is also helpful. When you are out with your infant, have others wash their hands before touching her, or keep their distance. Washing her toys and bedding frequently is also helpful. Because RSV affects the immature respiratory system, keeping your child away from second hand smoke is critical in reducing susceptibility to RSV, as well as the common cold, pneumonia, croup, bronchitis and a number of other potentially dangerous respiratory diseases.

Two out of my three babies were preemies, and so RSV was something I had to think about when they were little. I hate to be cooped up at home, but found that using a baby carried that faced me prevented most people from getting too close. I have a friend who has a cute little sign on her baby’s carrier that reminds people to wash their hands first.

If your infant does become ill, you should watch for the following symptoms. (This is taken from the RSV website):

-Coughing or wheezing that does not stop
-Fast breathing or gasping for breath
-Spread-out nostrils and/or caved-in chest when trying to breathe
-A bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
-A fever. (In infants under 3 months of age, a fever greater than 100.4°F rectal is a cause for concern)

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of the symptoms above.

Respiratory illnesses in infants, and particularly in preemies can go from mild to deadly very quickly. When it doubt, seek treatment.

Here’s to a happy, healthy Thanksgiving and Christmas season!

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”]]>

Halloween Costumes

  • November 4, 2011 11:45 am

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It should be noted that that is Maggie’s actual hair- waist length when curled. I know, I’m jealous too. Also, I don’t think I’m going to let her wear makeup until she’s thirty.]]>

Recess Matters

  • September 21, 2011 4:28 pm

You see, California is broker than broke, so the district we left had recently fired one third of their teachers and canceled all specials like physical education and music. While all of this was hard on everyone involved, upped class sizes to unreasonable levels, and basically killed morale- there was one silver lining. To keep the teacher's contracts fair and allow them to have the prep time and humane potty breaks that these special classes provided, they increased recesses. My son's second grade class had three to four recesses per day, in roughly fifteen to twenty minute increments.

Some parents griped about the lost learning time, others, like me, wondered why they weren't already doing this- simply as part of a healthy educational environment! Kids who have the chance to stretch and run off the wiggles a few times a day are able to better focus on the academics. Time to decompress and move actually results in students who are more ready to learn, more alert, and more physically fit. No adult wants to sit, glued to the same types of quiet tasks for hours on end, no matter how enjoyable the task or how brilliant they are. While adults take their coffee breaks and quick walks around the office, do stretches in their cubicles and wander down the hall to the vending machines, our kids sit on their butts with brains more full of apathy and daydreams than knowledge.

When we moved to South Dakota, the funding was much better. The P.E. and music classes are phenomenal, and the resources available are great, but a lot has been lost as we have gone down to only one recess per day. Class isn't going as well. Facts aren't as sticky as they used to be and the enthusiasm level is way down. The ADHD levels are way up, along with stress and peer conflict. I'm no psychologist, but I'd bet my booty the lack of free range running is a pretty important factor in that.

This is why I was happy to get behind the Danimal’s Rally for Recess Campaign. Five lucky, lucky schools across America are going to get brand new, gorgeous playgrounds and an all day recess celebration- all you need to do is register the codes on the Danimal’s yogurt on their webpage, and the school with the most codes wins! Make sure your kid’s school is in the running next time you are at the store and get those codes ready to go. Good luck!

“I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Danimals and received a gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”]]>