Public shame

When I got home last night with all my children, late enough that Matt actually beat us home, I looked at him as we piled in the door and said, “If ever an outing were worthy of a blog post . . .”

It was kind of like The Beverly Hillbillies Get a Check-up or Family Services Candidates Go to the Doctor or something like that.

Let me back up a little bit.  Natalie has a urinary tract infection.  Again.  On Sunday we took her to Urgent Care when her fever was 105 two hours after taking Motrin.  They put her on an antibiotic, but as of yesterday, she was still running a fever, so my doctor wanted me to bring her in last night.  I gathered up the kids and our overdue library books (to drop off on the way), changed out of my pajamas (yep, at 5:30 p.m.– Don’t judge, I got a lot of laundry done yesterday), and herded everyone to the van.  As I walked past the mirror I realized that I had no make-up on and still had a little bedhead.  Oh well.  Sigh.

We ran our quick errands and made it to the doctor’s office on time.  I obsessively tried to keep my kids from touching everything so they wouldn’t go home with H1N1.  Impossible.  I realized Natalie was wearing a pajama shirt stained with medicine from a previous dosage battle.  Oh well, at least she was wearing regular pants and shoes and jacket.  I zipped it up.

The boys sat in the hall while Natalie and I tried to collect a urine sample.  She peed all over my hand.  Lovely.

Clark has had a messy face since the day he was born. (I joke he’ll have a dirty face in his wedding pictures.)  Today was no execption.  The masterpiece of the day was an artistic blend of pizza and snot.

When we sat down in the exam room, the nurse asked a few questions and left.  It was then that Grant pointed out his shoes to me.  One was a navy blue lace-up tennis shoe and the other was a beige, suede slip-on.  “Grant, WHY do you have two different shoes on?”  “I couldn’t find one of them.”  (Silent eye rolling by me.)

The doctor came in and began to examine Natalie.  When she pulled her hair back to look into her ears, she revealed a large dark blue scribble all over Natalie’s forehead and temple.  “Oh, boy,”  I laughed nervously, “it looks like somebody played with markers today.”

She asked us to wait for a while so she could run some tests.  Grant and Clark both kept passing gas, which they thought was hilarious, but I was disgusted.  I made Clark open the door a little to air out the room because it was gross, and I didn’t want the doctor to have to walk back in to a wall of stench.  I kept getting a whiff of the nastiness and growling at my boys to “Stop it already,” and sometimes they would giggle and sometimes they’d swear it wasn’t them.

When the doctor returned, we discussed her findings, got a new prescription, made arrangements for follow up, and she left.  I helped the kids gather up their books and toys we brought along.  As I started to put on Natalie’s jacket, I had a sudden realization.  “Natalie!!  Did you poop in your underwear??”  She wouldn’t look me in the eye.  Oh.  sweet.  mercy.

We found a bathroom and I remedied things as much as I could.  I shoved a wad of toilet paper in her underwear to sit on in her car seat.  It was now past their bedtime, but we still had to go fill her prescription.

The kids ran back and forth between the massage chair in the pharmacy waiting area and the toy aisle.  I did my best to control them, but eventually gave in and let them chase each other with light-sabers as long as they were kind of quiet and didn’t hurt each other.  Finally I paid for the prescription– get this:  $240.00 after insurance — and we left.

The only redeeming thing about this story is that I called out the manager and asked him to cover up the nasty magazines that were at my children’s eye level.  He was kind and agreed, but I’m sure that deep down inside he wondered how a mother so “concerned” for her children could let them run around with mismatched shoes, markered faces and poop in their pants.  Whatever, man.  I just paid my entire grocery budget on one of your blasted prescriptions.

So that was my evening outing with my children.  How was your day?  Now if you’ll excuse me, I guess I’d better go put up some blinking pink flamingo Christmas lights in my yard or something just to keep our December on a roll.


D.I.P.S. and poetic justice

CartoonFor the record, D.I.P.S. is “Dumbness Induced by Pregnancy Syndrome.”

When I am pregnant (I am not pregnant right now), I get it bad.  And my family thinks it’s hilarious.  I mentioned it a while back when I talked about going on a walk around the neighborhood and forgetting to put on my pants and other misfortunes.

Well, my sister loves my D.I.P.S. stories and brings them up often and laughs belly laughs.  And now (evil laughter), SHE is pregnant.  And it’s my turn to laugh at her when she does things like drive 45 minutes to return an item, and forgets the receipt . . . and the item.  So, in her honor, I am republishing my most humiliating D.I.P.S. story (and her favorite) of all time, and hoping that karma hits her hard.

Sigh.  When I was pregnant with my first, I suffered greatly from what my husband and I called D.I.P.S. (Dumbness induced by pregnancy syndrome), and believe it or not, we have actually seen it mentioned in magazines since then.  It’s basically this side-effect of pregnancy where your brain turns into oatmeal and you do idiotic things you never even considered yourself capable of.  Kind of like the time I started to go walking in the neighborhood and realized I didn’t have any pants on.  Anyway…

Set scene:  I was in the middle stages of pregnancy, where you know you look pregnant, but anyone who doesn’t know you well just thinks you look fat.

I drove from North Carolina to my parent’s home in Atlanta to spend a few days visiting.  (I can’t remember if Matt was away on business or if I was just feeling independent and needed a vacation.)  After a day of shopping and some errands, I dropped off my mom to work at the temple and told her I would pick her up when her shift was done.  Come to think of it, my dad must have been out of town too, because I was the only one at home the rest of the evening.  Well, the time came to go get her and I grabbed what I thought were the keys off the kitchen table, walked to the garage, and shut the door.  I could see that my mom’s car keys were sitting on the kitchen table through the window and realized at the same time that the door had locked behind me.  “Oh no.  What do I do?”  I looked around in their garage for a while for a spare key of some kind, and finally decided I would have to go to their neighbors’ house to use the phone.  Actually I had a cell phone, but I needed to look up the phone number for the temple and try to get a hold of my mom.

I had never met their neighbors before, but climbed up the hill that divides their driveways, their two lap-rat dogs yipping at me the whole time.  I knocked on their door that was an entry through their garage because I just felt too lazy to walk all the way around to the front of their house.  They were nice and when I explained the situation they patiently let me in.  They even offered to let me drive one of their cars:  A Hummer or a BMW.  Ha, I have never driven anything bigger or more expensive than a Dodge Neon.  I just wanted to call my mom and find out if there was a spare key to her car or the house.

So I stood in the neighbors’ kitchen while I called the temple.  I was on hold several different times while they tried to track down my mom and let her finish up some of her duties.  The neighbors smiled at me and tried to look sympathetic.  I explained my dilemma to a few nice elderly people on the phone and finally talked to my mom.  She had the spare set of keys with her since she had left her original set with me.  Curses. I told the neighbors that I guessed I would drive their BMW since I was too nervous to drive a honkin’ SUV and went back to my mom’s house to get my purse and stuff off the hood of her car.  As I trudged back down the hill it *dawned* on me that it was absolutely unnecessary for me to hang out in their kitchen for 30 minutes like that since I was ON MY CELL PHONE.  I only needed the stupid phone book to look up the number and I could have taken the rest of my conversation back outside.  As I was reflecting about what a dork I probably seemed like, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the keys I must have originally grabbed:  HELLO, THE KEYS TO MY VERY OWN CAR!  The one I had driven to Atlanta and that had been sitting in the garage right next to my mom’s car this WHOLE time.  Enter overwhelming shame.  I turned around and climbed back up the hill and stammered my way through my little “oh, ha ha ha, I actually have keys to my own car and I won’t need to drive your luxury vehicle after all, but thanks anyway” speech to the now totally perplexed neighbors standing outside with car keys in hand.

Then as I turned back to go down the hill, I tripped a little and with my new pregnancy center-of-balance shift, I totally tumbled down the whole hill.  The neighbors ran over to see if I was okay, and I scooped myself up as quickly as possible, said something retarded like “Ha ha, (nervous embarrassed laughter) Oops.  I just slipped a little. Ha ha . I’m fine. I’m fine,”  and hurried to my car as quickly as I could.  I got inside, took a deep breath, tried to process the fool I had been and backed out . . . right into the side of my parent’s garage!  I heard the noise and looked out my door to realize that my driver’s side mirror had hit the door frame.  Well, the neighbors were still standing on the hill watching me, so I just thought “screw it” and kept backing up until the mirror popped backwards and the glass broke out.  I went down the rest of the driveway making sure that I did NOT make eye contact with the people who were most definitely thinking “I’m SO glad I did not let her drive the Beamer.”  I spent the first 20 minutes on the road in a complete stupor…. I could NOT believe that I had become mentally handicapped.  I just went over and over it in my head trying to figure out how I could have possibly committed 32 acts of complete brainlessness in a 40 minute period.  Meanwhile, my mirror dangled off the side of the car by a stretched cable.  It still boggles the mind.  On the way home, I purged all the horrible details to my mother and asked her to please please tell her neighbors I am not normally like that and explain to them that I was PREGNANT.

So let this be a comfort to all of you who have lost your brain function during pregnancy, and a warning to any of  you who are thinking about conceiving a child someday.  (Ha, ha Becca!  Your turn!)  Luckily D.I.P.S. is a temporary condition . . . . I’m told it goes away when  your children graduate from college.

Bring it on ladies, I bet you’ve got some good D.I.P.S. stories.  And after my story, you can’t feel that stupid about it anymore.

Some people have an evil twin. I have a stupid twin.

Photo 6Photo 7

(Even I am frightened by that second picture, but I must be more lazy than proud because I don’t want to delete it and upload another one.  The shame serves me right.)

I didn’t know I had a stupid twin until I became a mother.  Then my brains fell out.  This phenomenon began with my very first pregnancy, like the time I decided to go on a walk around the neighborhood and realized as I sat on the step outside my door lacing up my shoes that I forgot my pants.  And that’s not even the worst of DIPS (Dumbness Induced by Pregnancy Syndrome), but I’ll save those great stories for a day when I don’t have any good blog fodder.  Lucky for you, I’ve been stupid enough lately that I’m in no shortage of current fodder.  Anyway, my brains fell out almost 7 years ago.  After 3 births, the remaining brain residue functions as well as it can but is subject to shriveling, exploding, turning to mush and other unfortunate and value-diminishing episodes— also ongoing symptoms of  motherhood.

So my stupid twin does dumb stuff.  I mean really dumb stuff.  And I just shake my head at her and wonder how we could possibly be related.  This past weekend my family went camping.  We love to camp, but it is so much work (unless your name is not “Mom” because then it’s mostly just about playing and getting fed).  Well, despite my hours of planning and stressing about the upcoming “vacation,” I managed to forget pillows, my children’s pajamas, a can opener, a jacket for myself (even though the trip included a tour of a cave that averages 48 degrees), and –sweet mercy– DVDs for the trip down and back.  By the way, I am not pregnant; just wanted to clear that up.  Simply dumb with no pregnancy to blame.  We managed to muddle through all my oversights and things were fine.  We even had lots of fun.  We collected all our dirty laundry, dirty dishes, and anything else the raccoons didn’t drag off and headed for home.

The “natural man” in me wants to dump off everything in my entry way and then not look at it again for a few weeks, but I was all industrious and put things right away, and started the dishwasher and started the laundry and even made a hot dinner.  I was too tired to even shower, but after three days, does it really even matter any more?  So I slept like a log (yes, a dirty log), then got up this morning and began the real-life routine.  This brought me face-to-face again with my stupid twin.

Photo 7valtab

The tab/sticker on my license plate says my registration expires in June 2009.  Well, I never got any renewal stuff in the mail, so I emailed the DMV about it, and they kindly explained to me that I never paid my registration last year so would I please tell them what tabs I stuck on my license plate.  After several moments of dumbfounded confusion, things became clear and I realized that after we sold our other car last year, the renewal stuff must have come in the mail and I didn’t pay attention, so I just stuck it on my van.  But it wasn’t for my van.  So I registered a car I no longer owned and failed to register the one I did own.  In their polite email way, they told me I need to go to the DMV and take care of my little problem.

So this morning, I got ready to go to the DMV and loaded all the kids in the car.  Then I realized I’d probably need my drivers license and spent a few minutes looking for it.  By a few, I mean about twenty.  My kids were sweating in the car and begging for snacks and water.  I looked in my camping luggage and in all the other places it might be.  I made my regular daily call to Matt asking if he knows where I left something.  No luck.  I started thinking maybe it was stolen from our car or trailer on the trip because I’m pretty sure I took it.  I got online to check my account and make sure that there were not suspicious purchases.  When I saw that the last purchase was made at Wendy’s on Friday afternoon, a lightbulb went off.  Actually it was more like a loud annoying alarm with a painful mallet.  In about 20 seconds, the following “vision” went through my mind:

  • Stopped at Wendy’s on way to State Park.
  • Trailer too big for drive-thru.  I went inside while Matt waited with kids in van.
  • Carried my wallet.
  • Made large purchase for five people and received my to-go order in a large bag, a small bag and a drink tray.
  • Needed both hands to carry bags; put wallet in large Wendy’s bag.
  • Returned to car.  Bombarded by hungry, needy people and played waitress for 25 minutes.
  • Went on carelessly with my life.
  • Arrived at State Park.  Matt removed trash from car and left it in the dumpster at the Ranger Station.

The vision ended with a blur of my credit cards, insurance cards, season passes, library cards and much much more swirling in a vortex of dumpster filth and an image of raccoons currently on a spending spree at PetSmart or Trader Joes.

credit-cardsPhoto 7racoons

So I spent most of this morning making phone calls and hearing helpful customer service agents say things like “I’ve heard a lot of good stories, but never this one before.”  As if people don’t throw away their wallets in State Park dumpsters in fast food bags all the time.  Yeah, right.  Then I loaded the kids up in the van again, this time without snacks and water, and went to the DMV.  I knew this would be my stupid twin’s moment of glory:  back-paying my missed registration while explaining that I also threw away my drivers license.  I took a number, sat down with my children, and entertained them with pamphlets about fishing and getting a motorcycle license.  Finally my number was called.  I proudly marched up to the counter and started my conversation:

“First of all, I am an idiot….”

I wish I had an evil twin.  I would totally make her beat the living daylights out of my stupid twin.

Recent lessons in self-awareness

So you may have noticed I wasn’t a stellar blogger last week, but boy howdy, was I busy. Try to imagine that your friend who is a medical doctor asks you to “substitute” for him at work the day he’s supposed to perform surgery. That’s what it’s like when you get called as a counselor in the Stake YW presidency one month before Girls Camp (and the new president will be out of town for the month). So last week I spent two and a half days at Girl’s Camp and I learned a few more things about myself.


  • Girls obsess about boys as much as I obsess about sleep.  (Oh, the part I learned about myself is that I’m annoyed by that… the boy part, definitely not the sleep part.)
  • When I went to Girls Camp as a youth, we loved singing all kinds of silly songs over and over again wherever we went.  This trend is apparently still in force, but now as an old and incredibly wise adult, I realize that many of those songs are really kind of inappropriate.  Heck, some of them are even anthems of boy-mongering.  Again, annoyed.  (Are you noticing a trend?)  My friend Shantel and I tried to come up with some counter-culture camp songs ourselves like “Boys are stupid until you’re twenty.  (and while marching…) Stand for Truth and Righteousness!”  Not a big hit.  Can’t imagine why.
  • I had to teach a fireside at camp and even though I thought I had prepared with many weeks of pondering, when I sat down to put my notes together a mere hour or so before the presentation, I had some severe writer’s block.  Just a little testimonial:  Prayer works.
  • When girls go to Girls Camp and decide to sleep as little as possible, they get to go home and recover.  When women go to Girls Camp and are victims of as little sleep as possible, they get to go home and immediately pick up their regular duties on overtime.  The trend continues:  Annoying.
  • I thought the girls might be annoying.  I was wrong.  I loved them, and I looked forward to spending more time with them.
  • Glitter lip gloss does not look good on grown women.

Today I had to return the large speaker system podium that we borrowed for camp to the church building.  When I arrived and got out of the car, I realized I needed to go to the bathroom.  I bent over and heaved up the podium to carry it in the building, and –um– apparently something about that bending, lifting and heaving stretched the limits of my bladder control.  I went home a little damper than I arrived, which is simply God’s way of reminding me that I’m not nearly as young or cool as I think I am.

So, learned any fun lessons about yourself lately?

Someone in this family is going to jail.

So far I have counted three legal infractions today.

We went Wal-Mart (that in itself should be a misdemeanor).  Clark wailed in the parking lot and said he did NOT want to go in.  His heart was set on Sam’s Club and free sample handouts, but my membership expired, so we went to Wal-Mart instead.  He wasn’t happy.  He refused to get out of the van.  I explained to him that if I left him in the van, someone would call the police, and they would come get him and take mommy to jail and he would have to live with another family.  He thought about that for a minute with a scowl on his face.  I’m not sure what his real preference is, but perhaps for the sake of not hurting my feelings, he hopped out of the van and surrendered to our shopping trip.

While I was checking out, he and Natalie somehow managed to get about 5 toy cell phones in their possession and run with them over to the blasted arcade section in front of the check-out area.  I finally wrangled them back and returned all the merchandise to its appropriately unpurchased position.

When I got home, I unloaded the van.  As I was putting the groceries in the kitchen, Natalie kept digging in her pocket.  “I have lipstick,” she grinned.  “What lipstick?”  I was trying to think what she might have dug out of my backpack or van.  She proudly showed me her treasure.

DSCF2080“Hey, where did you get that?!”

She smiled again, “At the store.”

“Natalie….(remember that grumpy sighing I told you about yesterday?)… that’s STEALING.”  I went on to explain to her in terms that she understood that she was a robber.  (She always asks me, “what if there’s a robber?,” and I say, “He’ll go to jail,” and she says, “I’ll punch him in the nose.”)  I’m not sure whether she was more afraid of jail or a punch in the nose,  but she got a little remorseful and said, “I’m sorry mommy.”  I asked her what we should do and she said, “take it back to the store.”   To be honest it feels like torture to return to Wal-mart again with my children, but it must be done.

All that criminal behavior for this little gem:

DSCF2082Yes, it does say “Oooh La La Bubble Gum Lip Gloss.”  What can I say?  Natalie’s got impeccable class.

Grant is my smoochie kid.  He is super cuddly and lovey-dovey.  Not being much of the affectionate type myself, I’m often annoyed with his abundant loving.  (I know, that’s not very nice of me, but I am.)  So today, Clark and Grant were playing tag and I hear Clark say the classic line of obnoxious childhood, “You missed me.  You missed me.  Now you have to kiss me,” which of course Grant takes literally and chases Clark around the house for 30 minutes trying to smooch his face off.  I reminded him of my tramautic childhood experience of being chased by a kissy boy around the playground in kindergarten.  I also repeated my sage warning that boys who kiss people who don’t want to be kissed can go to jail.

So, I’m sure you’re all proud of me for raising a band of 3 pint-sized hoodlums.  Maybe our family can just become a small gang of toddler thugs.  Yesterday I cut off the bottom of sweatpants to make shorts for the boys and I used the discarded pieces as hats.  How do Clark and I look?

DSCF2075Maybe our gang can be called the Jailbound Jesters.  Send me chocolate when we’re all in the slammer.

(Final plea to go vote for my blog at MMB by tomorrow…. look on my sidebar for the link.)