Putting the "MO" in MOFO since 2004

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008


A letter to Maggie on her fourth burthday

Dear Maggie,

Happy fourth birthday my love, my girl, my hunnybunny.

I considered this morning that your birthday will always be most significant to me because your birthday is the day I became a mother. I don’t want to marginalize my love for your little “brudder”, because he is sweet and adorable and certainly less lippy than you. But Maggie, your birthday is especially specially special to me.

August 21st, 2004 brought me to a place where I became free to love with wild abandon and run around like the liberated adoring smitten mother that I am. It’s fun to love someone as much as I love you. I don’t care who sees me kissing all over you at Target, or gazing adoringly as I push your hair behind your ear at the grocery store. I am punch-drunk in love with my babies. And you my dear, were my first baby.

I didn’t know how to love like that until August 21, 2004.

You may find out someday that having a baby changes the way you look at the world. I say this not only because I really really really want to be a grandma someday so that I can play with your kids, hop them up on sugar, and then give them back to you. Then I will go home to my house where I will sleep all night, every night, for ever and ever amen. Only to be woken by the occasional bad dream and your father flopping around like a 200 pound walleye, but certainly NOT to be woken up by a preschooler who can’t find her blanket, or wants her pink pony, or water, or is scared to be alone, or who wants to writhe on the floor screaming at 1:30 a.m. for no discernable reason.

I also say this because you have taken to telling everyone who asks what you want to be when you grow up “I want to be mommy”. Which makes me run to the cupboard and hand you a bag of foil-wrapped chocolates.

Your head nearly exploded when I explained to you that you could be both a mommy AND a scuba diver. But not a scuba diver in the ocean, because oceans are far away from our small plot of land locked smack dab in the middle of North America. I would not allow you to move to the coast, I explained to you, because then I wouldn’t be able to make you dinner twice a week when you are a grown-up. You nodded in agreement and explained to me (as though I were stupid, mind you) that you would instead be a scuba diver in a POND. Being a scuba diver of ponds will conveniently allow you to remain in the Midwest and close to your mother and free meals while you start your family and climb to the top of the scuba diving in ponds field.

And none of this matters anyway, because you now want to be a singer, and definitely not a scuba diver.

So, you very well may understand someday that having children shifts the entire center of your universe away from yourself and onto another person. This might sound bad, but it’s not. Life with myself in the center was boring and consisted of a lot of time spent in bars smoking cigarettes pondering the meaning of my self absorbed life aloud to anyone who was bored or drunk enough to listen. Sadly, as a main character and center of the universe, I was not nearly as interesting as you are. You, Maggie, are much more fun to watch.

I love watching you in action, but stealth and secrecy must be implemented in order to observe you for any length of time. You seem to have an irrational fear of being watched, and when you catch me, you shriek “Ma-ma!!! DON’T LOOK AT ME!!” STOP LOOKING AT ME!!! I then raise my brows in a surprised expression and wander to a corner so I can pretend to chop tomatoes and continue to spy on you, only more stealthily. You act out dramatic social interaction between dinosaur friends, zoo animals, or “pretty pink ponies” (who aren’t even all pink, mind you). They say things each other like “Oh, we LOVE YOU!” and they all talk EMPHATICALLY to one another, and you basically create a world of fantasy where dinosaurs and ponies and creatures have nonstop birthday parties with cake-eating and hand-holding and disclosure of very exciting secrets.

I have to be honest though, I am not sure if I will miss 3. You turned three and became a bossy, fit-throwing Godzilla who had to be tiptoed around and spoken of in hushed tones and observed with nervous fleeting glances.

Every day, we have a struggle over something. I can not, to save my own life, figure out what it is that you get out of these scuffles. What is your motivation for seeking out nonstop conflict? For demanding that I choose the shoes you will wear to school only to reject every pair I pull from the closet. MEANLY. Sometimes you even thrown them and scoff. And when I give up in frustration and say “fine, you pick out your shoes or go barefoot to school!” you fall onto the floor pulling your own hair and screeching. Then I say “Fine! Wear these!” and you wail.

“NO! I DON’T LIKE THOSE!” You shout, with a pained, red accusing face. It’s as though by this exercise you communicate your utter frustration and resentment that I do not understand what it is that you need, and you need me to understand what it is that you need, and in not understanding what you need, I am failing you miserably.

Then I carry you to the car and pretend you are going to school with no shoes while you kick and scream in sheer agony while the neighbors all peek from behind their blinds to find out who is pulling the claws from the cat’s foot with a pliers. But I really secretly bring a pair in the car, which you obediently put on your feet as though nothing happened as soon as we get to school.

Also, for example just this morning you were so well behaved that I said you could have a treat in the car on the way to school. In an effort to not give you the WRONG treat (which happens often and is SO EMBARRASING!) I decided to offer you your choice of three. A starburst, a baby ruth, or a few sweet-tarts. You sat, buckled in your car seat and began to whine the moment I offered them to you. You didn’t want any of those treats. You wanted a different treat. I instructed you to choose one, and got in the car and began to pull out of the driveway. “Those are your choices, and you need to pick one” I told you.

Then you threw all three treats at the back of my head as I drove.

You quickly changed your mind and decided you did in fact want a treat. By this time, of course, you had a snowballs chance in Hell of getting anything from me. And then you cried and screamed and threw yourself on the ground outside of school as parents walked by and gave me sympathetic looks.

I do not know why you do these things.

Another example: this year we had a daily toothbrush trauma.

When asked to brush your teeth you inevitably refuse the first toothbrush I choose for you, demanding that I present you with another. When presented with another, you turn your nose up at THAT one. You scoff at “Thomas the Tank Engine” and God help the poor fool that offers you spider man. We repeat, and repeat and run around in circles until I lose all patience and tell you that we are done trying to choose a toothbrush and you are going to bed without brushing your teeth already to which you respond, screaming and sobbing, and tearing our your hair “I DON’T WANT MY TEETH TO TURN YELLOW!” Then you race into your room in a panic with red face, tears and frantic frenetic jumping to and fro.

This went on for nearly a year until we realized that if you only have ONE TOOTHBRUSH all this can be avoided. SEE! We’re not so dumb! It only went on for seven months until we found the painfully obvious and simple solution.

On the other hand, three was a lot of fun. It was amazing to watch you figure out the world. You understand the seasons, and you know how to make cupcakes, and you know to ask to lick the beaters every time, because I will always let you. You know to behave well when there are treats at stake. You know to ask Mommy for things that Daddy already said “no” to. When we ban treats for bad behavior, you say “but I am being good NOW!” with the same conviction one would use arguing, say, a supreme court case. You know that you are much more likely to get what you want when instead of simply saying “please” you give your dad a wide-eyed look and implore “Oh, please daddy?” while jumping up and down. You are no one’s fool. While I admire this about you, your intelligence presents some parenting challenges.

You seem to have mastered emotional manipulation at a young age. This started when you spread your arms as far as they could go, and said “I love Daddy this much.” Then you looked at me solemnly and placed your palms parallel to one another two tiny inches apart, and said “I love you this much”.

“So you love Daddy more than me?” I asked?

“Yes” you replied.

Later that night, when your father and I were going to bed, I was still bothered by this. “She’s MEAN!” I whined incredulously. This bothered me for several days until I found out I could confuse AND trump you by nodding enthusiastically and smiling every time you repeated this, and saying “OH! That’s wonderful sweetie”. This confused you so much that you stopped once and for all.

The strangest phenomenon of our growing family is that each of you seems to think I can carry on three conversations at one time. Just the other night, I was sitting at the kitchen table looking from you to Ben, and back to you, trying to decide if I should take you to both to the doctor to be checked for an ear infection. Ben was screaming for my attention with red goopy eyes and snot crusted nose. Your father was asking me for the 8th time if I REALLY needed to take you to the doctor. And you exclaimed “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” – these things all took place simultaneously – everyone loudly demanding my attention, but you called my name with such urgency that I stopped, looked at you and said

“yes, Maggie?”


“Why to pterodactyls have wings?”

Other popular questions are “Why are the bugs in the world?”, “Why are there animals in the world?”, and “Why are reptiles reptiles and mammals mammals?”.

I love that you are so inquisitive.

You like reptiles better than mammals, even though you are a mammal and so is your whole family. You don’t care. Also girls are pretty, and boys are handsome.

You are also incredibly brave and tough. You recently had to get 2 shots at the doctor’s office, and did not shed a single tear. I nearly started bawling as you sat in my lap and that nurse stuck a needle in your perfect, precious little arm. But not you. You took it like a champ.

You make me very proud.

I will miss the time (and I know it’s coming) when you stop telling me on a daily basis “Mommy, you’re my BEST FRIEND.”

I hope you never stop calling me Mama.

I worried how you would adapt to having a little brother, and you took it all in stride this year, and have a perfectly typical love / hate relationship with Ben. You slam your bedroom door in his face and make him cry when he enthusiastically crawls towards your room. You push him out of the way and knock him over on a daily basis. But every morning you greet him with a huge smile, put your face right up to his, and give him a “Hey there buddy! Hello Stinker!”. He never seems to hold anything against you, and returns again and again, seeking you out and trying to engage you with a smile and a laugh. Most of the time, you give one right back.

You are a lot of fun.

You are so smart, it amazes me.

I love spending time with you.

You are really funny.

I love you.

Thanks for being you, for being four, and for letting me be your mom.

Love, Mama

Monday, April 21, 2008


Keeping up with the Liberians: A wince-worthy statement

"For most American women, of course, the idea of 16 weeks paid leave is a mere dream. The United States is one of a handful of countries with no guaranteed paid maternity leave policy, along with Swaziland, Papua New Guinea, Lesotho and Liberia, researchers found last year. "


Thursday, January 03, 2008


Excuse me, I would like a refund please.

There has been a recent proliferation of dairy products designed to “aid digestion”.

I noticed that one of these products advertises a money-back guarantee.

I tried to imagine the conversation required to exchange enough information to communicate the products failure to perform, and the desire for one’s money back:

“Yes, Hello. I would like my money back for your cheese product. I ate it for a week, and it did not make me poop.”

“Okay, I am happy to help you. Let me understand. Our cheese did not make you defecate, and you would like your money back. Is that correct?”

“Yes. I ate your cheese. Then I didn’t poop. Because of this, I would like my money back, please.”

“Okay, great. We just need a little more information. For a refund to be processed, we require some form of proof of your failure to defecate. To ensure that we have enough information, we ask you to verify pressure of the contents in your colon. Please provide us with an address to which we can send our fecal pressure gauge, follow the simple instructions, and return the results to our lab. If the report reflects a manometric pressure of more than 3 pounds per cubic centimeter, your two dollars and forty nine cents will be refunded.

If you happen to have a bowel movement between now and the time you receive your verification kit, we ask to preserve the sample so that our technical staff can study the shape and markings of the fecal matter to estimate the velocity at which the contents of your bowels were extruded.

Our forensic experts will study the markings of your dung and compare them to a test sample. As with bullets fired from a gun, each fecal extrusion posesses markings unique to the individual who fired them. So please, do not attempt to send in matter not belonging to you. We seek first to prove that the matter was produced by your bowels. Next, we test the markings to reveal the colonic pressure estimated upon extrusion. If our forensics team finds the measurement to be above our required level, you will receive a voucher for a product of equal or lesser value.

“Yes, please send me the kit. It is imperative that I receive a refund for my two dollars an forty nine cents. You promised your product would make me poop, and your product did not, in fact, make me poop. Therefore, it is well within my rights to request a full refund. Thank you.”

“We look forward to hearing from you. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions.”

“I appreciate your help. Thank you.”

Monday, December 17, 2007


A very special 5 days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas a loved one gave to me:
a baby with plagiocephaly.

On the second day of Christmas, a loved one gave to me,
2 Pink eyes
and a baby with plagiocephaly.

On the third day of Christmas, a loved one gave to me:
3 nasty coughs,
2 pink eyes,
and a baby with plagiocephaly.

On the fourth day of Christmas a loved one gave to me:
4 runny noses
3 nasty coughs
2 pink eyes
and a baby with plagiocephaly.

On the fifth day of Christmas a loved one gave to me,
5 ounces of ham! (stuck in my husbands esophagus requiring a visit to the ER).
4 runny noses,
3 nasty coughs,
2 pink eyes
and a baby with plagiocephaly.

May your holiday season be free of helmets, esophagus's filled with ham, and general snotty congestion!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


For Maggie

Dear Maggie,

There have been so many moments when I have stopped, made a mental note to remember a specific thing you said that was hysterically funny, or something you did that was just so.. well... MAGGIE. Here a few things I want to be sure to remember from age 3 years 2 months.

You live in Minnesota, and have always lived in Minnesota, but instead of using the local dialect and accent (straight out of the movie "Fargo" no matter how many locals insist we don't talk like that. WE DO), your accent more closely resembles a jewish grandmother from Long Island.

You even say "talk" like her. "Toowalk" You wanted to stick your hand in the flour jar ther other day because is was "sowaft".

Where you picked up this affectation is beyond me, but it is highly amusing.

You have an obsession with soap. This is preferable to other possibilities like poop and garbage, so I will count my blessings.

When you visit your grandmothers house or your aunts house, or any new place, I know that if I haven't seen you or heard you in five minutes that you are rooting around the bathtub looking for bars of soap. No matter if it's nothing but a sliver. You sniff them out the way a squirrel finds nuts and lovingly clutch them to your chest like little baby birds.

Yesterday your Grandma gave you 3 small hand soaps and you brought them to bed with you during your nap. I told you not to rub them in your eyes, and no sooner were the words out of my mouth, you raised one to your eye socket and smushed it around in circles to test my hypothesis that it would sting and make you cry. I take no small amount of pride in the way you stubbornly insist on deciding for yourself if someone is full of crap or not. And I was grateful that you kept your eye closed while smooshing the small purple fish-shaped soap around your eyelid, proving my theory wrong.

Boy, you really got me there.

You have taken an interest in playing the piano as well. You stand before the keyboard, raise your hands, pause, and shout "ONE! ONE! ONE TWO THREE!" before you begin pounding away. Because this is what Lindsay Buckingham does in the live version of "Go your own way" that your father tivo'd and watches with you over and over again so that you can dance and sing along.

This is good, because you no longer allow me to play music cd's for you when you play in your room. I am not sure why you decided that you no longer enjoy music. Perhaps it distracts you from other things you like to do in your room, such as pretending you want to play with your animals, shutting the door, undressing, putting on your own pull-up, re-dressing yourself, and crouching in a corner to poop. This is all to avoid defacating in the dreaded toilet. This kind of thing takes a great deal of concentration, and you can't be distracted by the soundtrack of "Diego Live".

I have kept you far from all varieties of princess toys and movies, and so far you are much more intrigued by things that are creepy-crawly. One of your favorite toys is a rubber lizard we got at Target for two dollars and fifty cents last spring. Your dolls sit in the basement gathering dust, but that lizard gets dragged from place to place.

Your favorite thing to say to me is this: "Ma-MEH! CAN I HAVE A SNACKANADRINKANWATCHMONSTERS?" You would watch "Monsters Inc." fourteen times a day if we let you. I must confess that I am tiring of being your snackanadrink fetcher. I may resort to getting you your own minifridge and raisin cupboard to keep in the TV room. I'll have to think about that one.

You spontaneously burst out with "I love you Mah-Ma" about twenty times a day. Often while grabbing my hand. Sometimes you tell me "I love you Da-Deh" just to be funny. You think it's positively HYSTERICAL. I hope you never stop doing that, however I know you probably will. I will miss it terribly.

You also love your baby brother, which truly makes my heart swell with pride and love and wonder. You wake up in the morning and immediately want to touch him. You stick your face right up next to his, and exclaim in this breezy, rushed, high pitched voice: "HiBEN! HiBEN!"

If he cries, you turn on the music on his baby rocker and sing for him. You love your baby brother. And it had nothing to do with your father or me prompting you or pressuring you (not that those kind of tactics work with you anyways). Your love for your baby brother came from your own heart, and that heart of yours is enormously sweet, and whipsmart, and adorably stubborn and independent, and I am so very proud of you.

There's is a lot more where that came from, but that's what I have time to write for now.

I love you hunnybun.

Love, Mommy

Friday, November 02, 2007


Thoughts on Home Depot

If I have to set foot in Home Depot one more time I think I shall stab myself in the eye with a carpenter's pencil.

I have accompanied my husband on approximately 435 trips to the black hole of our money in the last 12 months. Most of these invitations have been covert. As in: "Honey, do you want to grab a bite to eat?"And then we end of at Home Depot.
"Are you in the mood for a coffee?" (Once I am in the car, miles from home): "I just need to make a quick stop."

45 minutes later while husband peruses 45 different kinds of caulk, I find myself giving my 3 year old her 2nd timeout in the bath fixture aisle while silently cursing the entire big box concept. I also curse the hamster wheel of modern home improvement.

Keeping up with the Joneses stuff, like granite coutertops and stainless steel appliances that are trademarks of the new alterna-yuppie affluents. SO ALTERNATIVE. Not. We are all suckers. Suckers who drop a hundred bucks at Home depot every weekend. Those who are truly alternative drive by home depot with their middle fingers raised, and go home to their outdated kitchens and bathrooms without emptying their bank accounts and racking up credit card debt.

Note to self: implement moratorium on all home improvement projects until further notice. "Project never ending blackhole of a basement bathroom" has been in full patchy swing for over THREE YEARS NOW, and we still don't have a blasted everloving toilet on the lower level.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Staying / working at home is harder than going to work

In case you were wondering which was harder.

And also, I am mired in poo.

Maggie is old enough to go into her room, change into her own pull-up and re-dress herself so she can take a giant crap in her pants, but not capable of going poop in the toilet.

Also, my children have been re-named Madge and Bif by their aunts.

Madge, Bif, and giant piles of doodie. There are the things that compose the vast majority of my waking hours.

It's not as bad as it may sound.

It's a good thing they're cute.