Update October 2015

We've been living overseas since about the time this blog petered out. There are lots of funny Mo-and-Curly-abroad stories to share -- I'm exploring the best way to do that.

Thanks for tuning in!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Scaring the elderly at the post office

I'm sure I was a sight to behold at the post office last week. I was lugging the much bundled-up baby and a package full of goodies for a friend who's due in March. Our preschooler was holding onto my coat, since I didn't have any free hands.

The charmer that he is, my tot was chatting up the elderly woman behind us in line, and she was getting a real kick out of him. When we were almost to the front of the line, my son who was now bored with the conversation he was having with the lady, annouces, "I gotta go potty."

Now, I know that he's been potty trained for 6+ months and has had just a few accidents. If he needs to hold it until we get to the kid-friendly potty at the library (our next stop), he can do so without a problem.

But the lady didn't know that. In fact, I think she was worried he might go tinkle right there, all over her sensible shoes.

"Go! Go!" she yells to me, shooing me with her hands.

I look at my son. "Can you hold it a little bit?"

"Sure," he shrugs.

Ignoring us, she yells to the postal worker at the counter, "EXCUSE ME? Where's your bathroom? This little boy needs to use the potty!"

The worker tells us they don't have a public restroom.

Panic crosses the older woman's face. "Maybe you should take him accross the street to the grocery store?" When I furrow my brow, she says. "I'll hold your place in line!"

At this point, even my son is sensing the lady's unfounded anxiety.

"It's OK," he says to her, very sweetly. Then he points down. "You see, my penis has a stopper in it."

In response to her look of confusion, he apparently felt the need to expand on his explantion. "You see, it's like a tiny little belt. I can just pull it a little tighter, and it holds in the pee."

I have no idea where he comes up with this stuff! We've never heard him mention this stopper-thing before, but his creativity never ceases to impress me.

That's about when the postal worker called us up to the counter. And at that point, I think we did our share of scaring old ladies for one day.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Love at first sight

I’m embarrassed to say that we were watching some cheesy, brainless reality show one night. Momma’s Boys, or something like that (we don't have cable, so choices are very limited).

My three-year-old caught an eyeful of the parade of bimbos. Immediately, he puts down his truck to watch a buxom blonde make some ridiculous statement.

“Mom,” he says in awe, “I love her.”

Oh please no.

“Why do you love her?” I ask.

“Because she’s a cutie pie,” he explains.


(Grandma always calls him a "cutie pie.")

In retrospect, maybe this would have been a good time for a discussion about love being more than skin-deep. Instead I rolled my eyes at my husband when the little guy turned away. Somehow, I think we'll have plenty more opportunities to talk about love and cutie pies in the future.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Reincarnation or just a truck fascination?

Sometimes my three-year-old mentions his “old mother” in conversation. It completely creeps me out – I mean, isn’t that the opening scene of a horror flick?

When pressed, he even gives away details, like “she dresses like a worker-guy,” and “she drives a truck.” And he never changes these details, they’re always the same.

I’m not sure if I believe in reincarnation or not. I think there’s some kind of energy in the universe that recycles itself somehow, sure. But does my preschooler actually remember the woman who mothered him in a former life? I just don’t know.

In the car the other day, out of the blue, he blurts out, “My old mother is going to be gone for a while. She’s working on a road that’s really far away.” And then it’s back to his typical little boy chatterings – begging for candy, complaining about his brother, asking to go swimming.

Another time, shortly after he woke from a nap, he told me that when his aunt was a little girl, he was her doctor. He has no way of knowing that his aunt, in fact, had a serious illness and spent much of her childhood in hospitals and clinics. I just replied, “Really? That’s interesting.”

It could be completely random. Or it could be him projecting his wants and dreams into these little stories. After all, he is fascinated with trucks and “worker-guys,” and maybe he’s just projecting that image of coolness onto a mother-figure.

But it does certainly make me wonder.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Art or trash?

My son runs to me in tears with his crumpled art project from day care. “I found this in the garbage can! How did it get there, Mom?”

Oh boy. I can’t blame this on his baby brother, who can’t even walk yet. And it would be cruel to blame it on Dad...


So I'm the Big Bad Mommy who threw away his masterpiece. Give me a break, OK. Just about every day he comes home with at least one piece of artwork – and I certainly keep an extra-special stash for posterity. I even post these treasures on my walls at work. But yes, I do admit, that about 85 percent of my kid’s art projects end up in the recycling bin (after he's gone to bed).

And he totally called me out on it.

So did I fess up?

Kind of. I did tell him that I threw it away. But looking into those sad little eyes, I caught myself saying, “It must have been an accident, Honey.”

Then I tacked it to the fridge, oh that wondrous place of prominence. He sniffled once, then smiled again, all puffed up with pride.


And all was well in our house again.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Teddy bears are softer

We’re sitting at the dinner table, and our son declares, "My penis hurts," to which Dad replies, “Why does your penis hurt?”

“Something was poking it!”

“Really? What was poking it?” Daddy asks, concerned.

“Well, my toy boat.”

“Kiddo, if you are going to poke yourself there, do it with something softer,” Dad advises.

He thinks about it, nods, and goes back to eating. My husband and I give each other one of those knowing looks, as if to say, "Are we really having this conversation?"

Then our son’s head pops back up, suddenly. “Hey Dad! Can you get my teddy bear?”

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Back scrubber

A friend of mine was sitting on one of our kitchen stools. My preschooler comes up behind her with a dripping washcloth. Exactly even with his line-of-sight is a small swatch of her exposed back, right where her T-shirt and jeans don’t quite meet.

“Ahhhh!” She shouts, jumping to her feet.

Guiltily, he holds out the washcloth.

“What are you doing?” I ask, tersely.

He throws up his hands, angry that I’m angry. “Cleaning!” he shouts. As if it’s painfully obvious why he was scrubbing her back, he shakes the washcloth in the air.

My friend and I look at each other, puzzled.

Then my friend touches the small of her back, and a grin spreads across her face. “My tattoo!” she laughs. “He was trying to scrub off my tattoo for me!”

Sure enough, she has a tattoo on the small of her back, and he was trying to help out and “clean it off,” just like I’m constantly scrubbing his dirty little hands and face with a washcloth.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Expecting the Unexpected

When I was pregnant, my toddler excitedly came to show Dad and I that he had shoved his bear under his sweatshirt.

“Look! I’m having a baby.”

Let’s see: My (significantly) prepubescent, male child is pretending to be pregnant with a bear.

My husband looks at me and says, “That’s wrong on so many levels, I wouldn’t even know where to start explaining it to him.”

So, in our typical parenting style, we just let him happily prance around, pregnant with a bear, until he got bored with it. Which took a whole minute and a half.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Never wake a paranoid mama

So last night we did the usual routine. Baby gets up at 11:30, and it takes me an hour to get him back down. You know the routine: rock the baby, pat the baby, feed the baby, put him down, pick him up, walk some laps, put him down again. Back away slowly.

I woke up a couple hours later, like always, but to a strange new sound. I started to panic. I haven’t known this sound in many, many, many months.

The sound of silence.

So, of course, I go tearing into the nursery.

Is he breathing?

Yes.

Really?

Yes, OK, he’s breathing.

Is he tied up in his blanket? Or choking on his nuk?

No, seriously, he’s OK.

So I crawl back under the covers in astonishment, half-expecting to hear a scream or sniffle or at least a little toot. But nada.

An hour later, I’m up again. Still quiet. And – yes, I confirmed – everyone’s still breathing. Holy cow, did I do something right for once? Is this sleep-training project actually working?

Wake up an hour later. Holy engorgement. I can barely move my arms. What can I say, I’m used to nightly nurse-a-thons. Sleepily, I roll onto my belly - ouch, bad idea! Eventually, I fall back asleep wondering, “Isn’t that kid getting hungry yet?”

At around 6, the alarm goes off, and everyone’s up. Baby made it 12:30-6. I’m hesitant to say, but I think that means Operation Nighttime is doing some good.

Now I wonder if there’s some sleep training out there for paranoid mamas?

Monday, January 19, 2009

I have a dream: To one day sleep through the night

Our baby is eight months old, and he’s never slept through the night. Well, OK, once he slept 11-5, if you count that. But that was once.

Consequently, sleep deprivation has become a way of life around here. We’re so used to being bleary-eyed and foggy-headed that we don’t even notice it anymore. Daddy’s life-water is coffee, and I’ve started a nasty Diet Coke habit just to get through the day.

So this long Martin Luther King Day weekend was the kick in the butt we needed to start “sleep training.”

Part of our problem is that we’re unintentional cosleepers. Our toddler is good at sneaking into our bed in the middle of the night, and we’re just too tired to move him back to his own bed. Since the baby is breastfeeding, it’s easy to put him in bed and nurse him on-and-off throughout the night.

But with the four of us packed like sardines, no one is getting much sleep. Our toddler is a kicker. Dad snores (even though he denies it). The baby alternately cries, nurses and falls asleep. And every time the little guy stirs or twitches, I pop right awake, terrified he’s going to nose-dive off the bed.

Basically, the cosleeping arrangement ain’t workin’.

So we’ve started Operation Sleep in Our Own Beds. (To be followed by Operation Stop Nursing at Night and Operation Put Baby to Bed Awake.)

Here’s a recap of our past few nights:

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Swaddle the baby. Nurse the baby. Rock the baby. Jiggle the baby. Hush the baby. Walk the baby. Delicately put the baby in crib. Back away slowly.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Re-swaddle the baby. Pop in his nuk. Pat the baby’s back. Rub the baby’s tummy. Hover over crib. Wait. Wait. Slowly back away.

Tiptoe into hall.

“MOM! I need some water!” or “MOM! Cuddle with me!” yells the toddler.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.


Urg. Now, where’s my Diet Coke again?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The baby with two belly buttons

How do you explain a colostomy to a toddler? Turns out we didn’t have to.

Our baby has Hirschsprung Disease and needed an emergency colostomy at just four-days-old. When we (finally) brought him home, he had a still-healing belly button and about two inches just to the left was his little red-button stoma with a little colostomy bag attached.

We didn’t specifically mention the colostomy to our toddler. We didn’t want to scare him or make it seem like a big deal. Plus he was going through enough change with having Mom and Dad at the hospital all the time, and then suddenly we were home again – with a new little brother.

So during one of what would be many, many bag changes, our older son declares in complete fascination, “He has two belly buttons! My baby brother has two belly buttons!”

“Um, yes, I guess he does,” I stammered.

“What’s in the bag?”

“Poop.”

“Really?” he questions.

“Yeah, really.”

“Wow!” still fascinated. Then just to make sure, he asks, “He poops out of his belly button? And then into a bag?”

“Well, yeah,” I say, pointing to the stoma. “But just out of that one.”

“I want to poop out of my belly button!”

So much for the stigma of having a colostomy, I guess. And even though the baby doesn’t have his colostomy anymore, our toddler is still fascinated that his brother used to be able poop out of his “extra belly button.” And, naturally, likes to tell other people all about it. Especially strangers. Usually at odd or inopportune times. “Hey, did you know my brother used to poop out of his belly button!”

Friday, January 16, 2009

Curtain rod crash

My “baby” has become a speed demon in his little walker and especially loves to plow through my drapes. I try to keep him away from them, but I’m not perfect. The other day, he yanked on them so hard, the whole thing came crashing down!

Thankfully the heavy curtain rod missed him by a good margin.

But my preschooler, for once, was dumbfounded and completely speechless. For years I’ve been telling him that if he played with the drapes, they could come crashing down - and I don’t think he ever actually believed me until that moment.

The baby, unphased, buzzed by me onto to his next favorite hazard: the garbage can.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tension in the grocery line

We’re in the grocery store. Naptime is closing in, and the baby’s hungry and starting to fuss. We get in line and I’m frantically throwing food onto the conveyer belt, hoping to get outta there before a full-blown meltdown ensues.

Baby lets out a howl, and I know we’re in trouble. I whip out the credit card and start zipping up coats all around.

Several heads turn to stare. Someone sighs loudly. Eye-daggers and evil looks are hitting us from all sides.


Can’t they see we’re just trying to get outta here? Families with small kids need to buy groceries, too!

But instead of begging for candy or refusing to put on his gloves or throwing an all-out tantrum, my toddler comes to the rescue. Without even knowing it, he helps diffuse the situation. He tugs on my hand and says – extremely loudly – “Mom, my baby brother wants some boobie. He needs BOOB, Mom!”


A couple people actually giggle, and we make it out, unscathed.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Breastfeeding bear

Because of my baby’s health issues (Hirschsprung Disease), he was fed intravenously for a couple stretches in the beginning. After that he could only have pumped milk for a while as they carefully monitored how much milk he was getting and his weight gain.

I, therefore, spent a lot of time with the breast pump during his first few months of life.

One day I walked by our preschooler, calmly sitting on the recliner. He’d taken out my pump and was lifting up his shirt, holding the breast shield against his tiny, little-boy chest. He sat their very calmly, his teddy bear on his lap.

I bit my lip to stop from laughing. As casually as possible, I asked, “Watcha doin’ Honey?”

He shrugs. “Getting some milk for my bear.”

It was such a sweet gesture, I didn’t have the heart to set him straight.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Rare and wonderful gum

In our world, gum is a rare and exciting treat. Usually it ends up either swallowed because it’s forgotten – or kept a little too top-of-mind and spit out within seconds, after a few hearty chews. Or worse, it gets stuck somewhere it shouldn’t be – my hand-finished cedar chest comes to mind.

Or have you ever had a partially-chewed gum wad go through your dryer cycle? If not, just remember that you dryer’s contents are hot and spinning rapidly. Thus, the gum rapidly melts and then gets tossed around with your wool socks and work pants and dishtowels, coating everything with goopy, sticky reminders of why you should never, EVER give your toddler a piece of gum.

Well, in the midst of another frantic morning before the day care run, my kid sweetly asks if he can have the piece of gum he just dug out of my purse. “Fine,” I relent between packing lunches, stuffing the baby into his snow suit and making sure my shirt’s actually buttoned. Minutes later we head to the garage to load up, and he darts past me and stands in the middle of the driveway.

Chest puffed out, arms spread wide, he declares to the cold, quiet neighborhood for the whole word to hear: “Hey everybody! I’m chewin’ gum!”

I let him relish in the moment for a good few seconds – wondering if he thought someone would reply – before nudging him into the car seat.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fate and cystic fibrosis

If you ever question fate, here’s a story for you.

I insisted on going alone to my first prenatal exam – I’d had a kid two years before, so I figured I knew exactly what to expect. Well, the nurse offered me a cystic fibrosis screening – something new that they now offer to everyone.

I said, “No.”

We didn’t get any of the genetic tests they offered for our oldest, so why would we want them now? We figured that if the kid had Downs or whatever 1. We’d find that out at the ultrasound and 2. We wouldn’t do anything differently (i.e. terminate the pregnancy). So no point in worrying about it, right? Plus those tests just say if you’re a carrier, so it could cause a lot of worry for naught, since mom could easily be a carrier and never pass it on to babe.

But then, the nurse gave me a dirty look, and I withered. Remember, here’s me, pumped with hormones and all alone, thinking, “Uh, oh. She thinks I better get this test. OK, I need to get this test!”

That night when I was going through the literature they weighed me down with, I noticed a warning that you should check with your insurance before getting the cystic fibrosis screening, because a lot of them won’t cover it. And sure enough, I get a bill for $300+ and I was PISSED. I even called the doctor’s office and the hospital billing department to see if I was billed wrong or if they would cut me some slack because the nurse never mentioned that it might not be covered. They give you a folder full of info and then draw your blood like minutes later – so there’s no way I could have read all that stuff, including the CF disclaimer, before my blood draw. But to no avail.

So, eventually I sucked it up and shelled out the money. But it was a major sore spot. Of course the test came back negative. No one in my family has cystic fibrosis, so no shock there.

Now fast forward. The baby is born and seems healthy the first two days – but he never has a bowel movement, not even meconium. By the night of day two, things go downhill. He refuses to breastfeed. Then orange crystals appear in his pee because he’s so dehydrated. Then he vomits green bile. Then we notice his hard, distended belly. He’s rushed to the NICU. He’s howling in pain, and 14 IV attempts later they shave a spot on his head and finally get one to work.

And the residents tell us that it looks like cystic fibrosis.

And there’s no cure for cystic fibrosis. And what I’ve seen and heard of cystic fibrosis is not good.

But you know what, I’m not a carrier for cystic fibrosis. And when I told them that, it was like, “OK, then we know it’s not that.”

The best, best, best 300 bucks I ever spent was on that stupid cystic fibrosis test. It saved me just a little bit of grief, a little bit of worry. And I tell you, on that particular day, just the tiniest bit of good news was exactly what I needed to keep from losing my mind completely.

The next day my son had an emergency colostomy. And two days later, they confirmed his diagnosis: Hirschsprung Disease.

Waitress Encounters


Yesterday we went out for breakfast. Well, my three-year-old is a talker. But that’s not surprising. My childhood nickname was “Motor Mouth,” and my husband often got in trouble in elementary school for talking too much – though neither of us is especially chatty as an adult.

So our waitress at breakfast, I think she was trying to pay us a compliment, says, “He talks really well for a little guy. What is he, two years old?”

“I’m three,” he deadpans.

It drives me nuts when people ask me questions about him instead of asking him directly – and I think it’s starting to bother him too.

The waitress laughs and looks at us, “Well he’s going to drive his teachers crazy.”

Without missing a beat, my kid tells her, “I think YOU’RE crazy.”

Ha!

Uncomfortably she replies, “Well, yes, I guess sometimes I can be a little crazy.” And walks away.

Should we have punished him? It was a good comeback. And yes, while his comment was a little rude – I think hers was too, assuming that my kid is going to drive his teachers crazy. (OK, so maybe he will, but that’s besides the point.)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pig farm

We were driving through the country and I noticed we were coming up on a pig farm with several large smiley face signs. The place was called “Ziggy’s Piggies,” kind of a fun little landmark in the middle of cow pasture.

So I mentioned this to my three-year-old, thinking he would get a kick out of it. He was silent, so I thought he was just taking in the scenery, but when I looked in the back seat his expression was that of horror and disgust as we passed the pig farm.

“What?” I demanded, suddenly concerned.

“Piggies, Mom? Like… feet?”

And then I remembered, just that morning, grabbing his little toes to play, “This little piggy.” Just imagine where his little mind was going, envisioning a piggy farm. I guess we give our kids conflicting information all the time without even realizing it.