Friday, June 30, 2006

Just don't do anything and you'll be SAFE!

I'm just rolling my eyes at the lady I hear on the radio saying (paraphrase) "Sparklers are six times as hot as boiling oil! You wouldn't give your kids a pot of boiling oil to play with, would you? So don't give them sparklers."

There are a few key differences between sparklers and boiling oil.
  1. When boiling oil hits your skin, it stays on long enough to do serious damage. When sparklers hit your skin, they usually immediately fall off.
  2. Kids are unlikely to stick an entire limb in the 1800 degree part of a sparkler.
  3. Boiling oil is nowhere near as fascinating as a sparkler, so kids are likely to take their eyes off the pot of oil and accidentally spill it.
Now, I'm all for fireworks safety. And I'm all for teaching your kids not to hold anything that's exploding or likely to explode, to not light fires near flammable objects, etc. But come on, sparklers? You hold their sparkler hand while they wave them, if they're young. You show the older kids how to use them and watch them carefully, you put out the bucket of water, and they have loads of fun. But what do the nannies suggest? Putting the sparklers in the lawn and lighting them on fire. Now that's a great way to start a fire in the dead grass in your lawn, plus you won't be able to remove the hot sparklers and put them in a water bucket until they cool down. I'd rather have the sparkler in the hand of someone who can control where it goes and put it immediately in a bucket of water.

How long do you think it's gonna be before the police start arresting people for child abuse for letting them hold sparklers? I'm taking bets. Don't believe it'll ever be considered abuse? How many years has it taken since the inception of carseats for it to be anathema to let your four-foot tall eight-year-old ride without a carseat?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Immunization Ordeal

We have just returned from what is probably one of the Top Five Worst Three-Hour Periods Of My Life.

It started before we left. Sonshine had taken out the garbage last night, and I discovered he hadn't put it in the can, so I tried to tell him what to do in the future when he can't get it in the can, and he flipped out and started screaming about how Princess wouldn't help him. I was afraid he was going to throw one of his signature twenty-minute tantrums, especially when he started violently attacking Princess. But thankfully he decided to master himself and calm down enough to hear the helpful tips I was trying to give him.

Our first errand was to go to the Health Department to get a shot record for Bagel. When Bagel was born back in Logan, I asked where his shot record was, and they told me they're no longer using those antiquated yellow cards because too many people had lost them and didn't bring them with when they got their immunizations. Instead they were using this newfangled computer system and anytime I wanted a copy of the shot records, all I'd have to do is ask the doctor to print one off for me. Maybe this was very convenient for doctors and health department workers, but this proved to be entirely unworkable from the parental end. Everywhere you go, people demand proof of immunization, and you can't be at the mercy of the doctor's office to get that info. So our first stop today was to get one of those yellow cards for Bagel, because he had never had one and needed shots today. That was all right, except that Princess and Sonshine had chosen to be mean to each other, even as I was telling them that they could choose to be nice to each other and forgive their past trespasses instead of feuding for all eternity, and Bagel decided to run the other way no matter which direction we went.

Our second errand was to the library. Our DSL went down last night and I needed to use the library's computer and pick up a book they'd put on hold for me. Bagel decided he was a kitty cat and went crawling around the library rubbing up against random people's legs. Someone had left a rubber chicken outside the library, and the kids had a great time stepping on it and making it squeak. Bagel had such a great time that when I pulled him off it and went to put him in the car, he screamed till he had an asthma attack and threw up all over his shirt.

The last stop of the morning was the doctor's office, where both Bagel and Knuckles were to get their shots. Bagel should be through with shots by now, but we got behind, partly because we were changing health insurances when he was a baby, and partly because with the yellow card that we didn't get comes a little schedule card that tells you when the kid's supposed to get which shots. The first sign of trouble was that Bagel fell asleep in the van on the way there, so I knew he was tired. He wouldn't get on the scale and had to be weighed and measured the way they do the babies. The nurses gave him a paper cup of water which thrilled him to no end, but Sonshine kept knocking it over and spilling it, then refusing to help clean up the water, then doing a three-eighths job of it, leaving wet paper towels all over the floor. I thought he was going to throw another one of his tantrums when I made him finish the job, but he didn't. The doctor examined him and prescribed the inhaler we asked for (he'd been on nebulizer treatments, but those are not portable, and besides they got him so worked up that they were of limited value). Then we waited and waited... and waited and waited and waited... for the shots. During the wait time Bagel got really, really fussy and had to be restrained. Sonshine was literally climbing the walls and was all over the furniture, and he tried to give Knuckles a "titty twister". Bagel, now hungry as well as tired, was screaming and trying to bite and pinch.

And then it was time for the shots.

I held Bagel's top half down while two or three nurses (I couldn't really see how many it took) held down his bottom half and administered the shots. During the shots he bit my finger and I couldn't pull away without compromising the immunization process, so I just had to suffer. Then it was Knuckles' turn. I tried to hold him too, but Bagel was biting the backs of my knees so I had to leave Knuckles to the nurses and restrain Bagel. We collected our prescriptions and immunization cards, and a nurse helped carry Bagel out to the van, where I wrestled him into his carseat, buckled the straps, and started driving home. Even though he was still screaming and writhing, I was relieved that it was over. I was letting the 60 mph drive down the state road relax me.

That was when I looked over and saw Bagel at my elbow, begging me to hold him.

I immediately pulled over to the side, put on my hazards, and strapped that kid into his carseat so tight that if he so much as moved, he'd strangle himself.

Now we are home. I put Bagel straight into his bed and he's sleeping now, although he'll wake later and will probably be pretty fussy because he'll still be sore from the shots and I won't be able to let him play outside because we haven't filled the prescription for his inhaler yet. Knuckles is justifiably demanding to be nursed.

I dearly hope the rest of today contains chocolate. Chocolate, and naps. And books. Lots and lots of books.

Parental Happy Place #266

I really don't care where I am, as long as Bagel's not there (or is tranquilized to sleep) and there's chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

I'm in a happy place... I'm in a happy place... I'm in a happy place...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Why Didn't I Do This Earlier?

Since I didn't get into the Downtown Salt Lake City Farmer's Market, I got the $30 permit that allows me to sell in downtown outside the Farmer's Market. And now I'm wondering why I didn't do that last year. People told me about it and suggested I do it, but I really should have gone and done it. I went this weekend and I did $250 in sales. I could have stuck around longer and made more sales, but I had Bagel's birthday party to do this weekend, so I left. Even as I was packing up, people were coming over and wanting to buy stuff. The onesies sold very well, which is good because onesies are easy to make and have a higher mark-up than the crocheted items.

The permit also allows me to sell in a business district in Sugarhouse, which is kind of a pricey area and might be lucrative, and outside major events as long as I'm 150 feet away. I can go any day I want, set up wherever I want in the zone (with a few restrictions), and leave whenever I want.

The downside is that there are no reserved spots. I showed up at about 7 in the morning and already all the spots along 4th South were taken. I ended up setting up along one of the diagonal walkways through Pioneer Park, which turned out to be a good spot for me because I got a lot of the foot traffic inbound to the Farmer's Market. I may set up there again in the future, just because I ought to have a place where I can be found every time I come. A lot of my business comes from repeat customers, so I need to be able to be found.

I'll still go up to Logan once a month or so to do the market up there, to serve my loyal customers in Cache Valley. They mean a lot to me. But if I can do $250 in sales on a single weekend morning in Salt Lake, I think I'll spend more mornings there.

Tooele Arts Festival

I wasn't selling at the Tooele Arts Festival, but I thought I'd report on it anyway, just for kicks.

The Tooele Arts Festival was held this past weekend in "the" park in Tooele. Really, it's not the only park in Tooele, but there isn't one near our house or, come to think of it, near most houses in Tooele. It's the closest one to us since it's only about a mile away, too far for tiny tired toddlers to walk. I guess little Tooelians are supposed to play in their own damn yards.

Anyway, this is a major event in Tooele. There were cars parked down every adjacent street. The parking lots at the Aquatic Center and Tooele High School were full to bursting, with cars parked along every available inch of curb and underneath the signs that said "no parking-- loading and unloading only." In fact, the only spaces available within three blocks of the event were in the library parking lot, which is just as close to the event as the high school. There were plenty of empty spaces at the library, but the streets around the library were full for several blocks over.

It was kind of like Logan's Summerfest, if Logan's Summerfest had been run by a committee that included unwashed Philistines who wouldn't know fine art if it bit them on the rear. Some of the same vendors that sell at Summerfest were there, but overall the quality of the "art" was lower. There were fine photographs and ceramics, but there were also lawn whirligigs and hideous moss-covered birdhouses. The tie-dye lady I met last year at Summerfest* was there, as was the guy who sold those clever curved earrings. And some of the music acts were the same (Salsa Brava was one), but the rest of the music acts sounded like Amateur Night. Where's Cinnamon Brown and the Eskimos when you need them?

Another difference was that there was alcohol and tobacco at the Arts Festival. People were walking around with plastic cups of piss-colored beer and bottles of fruity hard drinks, and smoking like chimneys in between every booth. I wanted to get FH and Bagel out of there as soon as possible, for fear they'd have asthma attacks.

Overall, it was like an arts festival held in a trailer park: a great place to go to buy art-- if your idea of "art" is a pearlescent painted ceramic unicorn head, and if you don't mind walking by tramp-stampers and burly half-drunk men to buy it. I had missed the app deadline for the Tooele Arts Festival this year, and I think next year I'll miss it as well.

* I thought I had blogged about her at the time, but I couldn't find the post, so I assume I only thought about blogging about her. I walked over to her booth at Summerfest last year and interviewed her, because her tie-dyes were hideous and dark and looked like computer-generated drawings do when they are made with way too wide a "paintbrush". I asked her how she chooses her colors, and she told me the colors speak to her (they'll do that if you inhale too many, uh, chemicals). I asked her what the dark colors say to her, and she said they said "Take me seriously!" as if anyone wearing a tie-dye would be taken seriously.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Help Me Find Something

Is there such a thing as a service like Netflix, but for books instead of movies? Where for a membership fee you could borrow books and mail them back? I'd totally go for that. Our library is great, if you're into bestselling crime fiction and romance novels, which I'm sooooo not. Anything you want to get through interlibrary loan is $2.50 a book, and I can read so voraciously that I could easily rack up a $50 library bill in a month. My Amazon wish list just keeps getting longer and longer. Help!

UPDATE: I found several services of this type that offer audio books and paperback books, but dammit, I want to read new books! I can't wait until they come out in paperback! And audio books are nice... IF you can get the kids to quit whining at you long enough to actually hear them, and IF they don't have any dirty words or non-kid-friendly topics in them... and those are two really big ifs.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Just Like The Real Thing

I have had some interesting conversations in the past with some people who can't tell the difference between something real and something that's "just like it".

I had one conversation one time with a lady who told me that having one boy call another boy a "sissy" in a movie was violence against women. Astonished, I asked her a few questions to clarify her position:
Me: So you're saying that if a boy calls another boy a sissy, that's the same as if a woman was hit in the face?
Her: Yes.
Me: No difference whatsoever?
Her: No difference.
Me: Is the name calling just like violence, comparable or analogous to violence; or is it actually violence?
Her: It's actually violence.

I had a neighbor once whose husband beat her. She came out of her house with a face made of ground beef and her nightgown on inside out screaming "Call the cops!" The husband had already woken us up by throwing his wife against the wall between our apartments. We heard her hit it and slide down it. I wonder if she would prefer that treatment, or being called a "sissy". Because, for this woman I was talking to, it'd be sixes. (Oddly enough, though, the woman was able to tell the difference between word problems on her math homework and real life problems.)

Everybody needs a world view, a way to organize all the information that comes flooding in through our eyes and minds. But if your world view throws name calling in the same mental basket with actual violence (and not even on different sides of the same basket either), there is something seriously wrong with it. Even the law distinguishes between violent acts and the threat of violent acts. Hell, even kids can make a distinction between actually hitting someone and playing a video game. Why, then, does the world contain numbers of people who can't tell the difference between violence and things that are only comparable or analogous to violence? Do these same people not make brand distinctions because generic grape juice is "just like" brand name grape juice (if you ignore the sediment in the bottom)? Do they wear rags because one shirt is just as good as another? Do they drive at all, because a car is a bike is a nice long walk? Or is their inability to make a distinction limited solely to politically correct and/or feminist doctrines?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Proud of Princess

For the last two days, Princess and her friends have been running a lemonade stand out in our front yard. They all want to go see the movie "Cars" so they are raising the money by selling sachets and lemonade. And today they reached their goal! They got enough money for admissions for themselves and a chaperone to be determined later.

I'm proud of my little Princess. She earned her own way instead of asking for a handout. She encouraged the other kids to do the same. She organized them and led them to their common goal. And she used her math skills to figure out how much money they needed.

This is a fun age to parent, because they are old enough to make some of their own decisions, but not yet so old that they think you have no useful input for their plans. You have to show respect for their ideas and give them rein to try them out, keep a close enough eye on them that you know exactly what they're doing, but at the same time never let on that you know, and wait for them to tell you what they've done wrong and ask for your advice. The hardest part is letting them make their own mistakes and forge their own path.

I would dearly love to just give Princess the money for her movie admission, and I'm sure the other parents would too. And some of you readers out there are probably saying, "What's the big deal? Just give her the $4.50 and save her the trouble and save yourself the dish washing." But it's so much a better experience for them to earn the money themselves. To see the pride in their eyes, to watch their jubilant screaming as they tote up the money and find it exceeds their goal, to hear them talk about paying their tithing and donating the extra to Primary Children's Hospital, is worth much, much more than $4.50.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

For The Totally Bored

Are you bored with just watching your cat lick himself? Now you can watch somebody else's cats lick themselves! On live webcams!

Geez, the things they put on the internet today. I can't believe I wasted five minutes of my time watching those damn cats.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I Am Ill Today

Actually, I've been ill all weekend, why should today be any different? ;)

I have come down with mastitis, and although my fever broke this morning, I'm still going to the doctor this afternoon, as it's threatening to come back. For those who might not know what it is, mastitis is a very painful infection of the nursing breast. The pain is at its worst while nursing, but you can't avoid nursing while you have mastitis, because if you do, it will only get worse as the milk builds and builds. The pain is so bad that whenever you lay down to nurse (and you will want to lay down, so that you don't fall down), you should bring a pillow with you to grasp with your free hand, to keep your fingernails from penetrating the skin of your palm. It is usually accompanied by fever, so the shaking from the chills makes it even harder to nurse.

Mastitis is usually caused by overwork or stress. You get all wound up, and part of your milk doesn't let down, and things just back up in there and an infection grows. Personally, I blame my mastitis on my drinking problem. I get so tired that I can't think, and I just have a drink... of cola... to perk me up. Soon I was drinking the stuff two or three times a day. I loved that I was able to actually get enough done that I could keep up with the kids' destructive pace. The caffeine masked my body's signals that it was wearing thin. I kept saying I should lay down and take a rest, but then Bagel would break a glass, and Sonshine would steal Princess' toy, and Princess would steal Sonshine's toy, and by then it was time to cook "foo-foo" again.

I spent yesterday in bed. Obviously that's not an option today, since FH is at work. I've already had to sweep up one broken glass, and as it is the kids have eaten leftover pizza from last night for breakfast and lunch because I'm still too weak to cook a proper meal for them.

I'll go and lay down now, and gather my strength to go to the doctor. Sitting up is a chore at the moment.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

O Frabjous Day

It's wrong to rejoice in the death of a fellow human being. That being said, there's a palpable feeling of relief in the Big Classroom when one of the worst troublemaking bullies gets sent to the Celestial Principal's Office.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Parental Happy Place #265

The plump baby is laying on the bed. He squeals with delight and smiles as he sees me enter the room, wiggling his legs in anticipation. As he nurses, he gazes adoringly at me with his chocolate almond eyes, making little hums of pleasure as he gulps. I run my fingers through his silky hair. His eyes roll back as the milk lets down, and he enters his Baby Utopia, a land abounding with milk, where every woman has an abundant lunch buffet.

I'm in a happy place... I'm in a happy place... I'm in a happy place...

Getting Rid Of Telemarketers

We are on the "Do Not Call" list, but since charities are exempt from it, we get tons of calls from worthy causes wanting us to give money, especially so ever since I gave some old clothes to the MS Society. I actually did give a small amount of money to a walk for diabetes and Primary Children's Hospital, but that was because of my sister and her family. We really can't afford even $10 out of our budget to give to each of these worthy causes; if we had $10 lying around, I could go out to lunch with the kids or a friend at a fast food joint. Anyway, when I tell them our budget is tight, they still keep flapping their pieholes, begging for any small amount of money.

I have found the thing that will get them to hang up! I simply tell them that our budget is so tight that we're using cloth diapers. They are totally astonished and will tell you to have a nice day, then hang up.

I'm not sure why cloth diapers seem to be such an astonishing indicator of poverty to them. Cloth diapers are cheaper in the long run than disposables, and they're certainly less convenient (you pay for convenience). But they're not so much cheaper that they should indicate abject circumstances. Still, though, in a world where people think pushing a button on a microwave is "cooking," anything out of the convenience norm just shocks them. Honestly, though, what do they expect people did before the invention of all these conveniences? Did kids just go around pooping on the floor? Did people starve to death before the invention of the microwave?

Semi-related aside: I told a supermarket clerk that I was going to make some cheese, and she just dropped her jaw and said, "People can MAKE cheese?" I replied with a wink, "Well, it doesn't come out of the cow in one-pound rectangular chunks, does it?" She realized then that of course, cheese had to be make-able by people.

Everybody Play Nice

They say you don't want to mess around with people who buy ink by the barrel. Welcome to the world of cyber-publishing, where pixellated ink is very, very cheap. In a milieu where everyone has the power to tell the world all about you, you'd better play nice.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Anyone Know Where To Buy A Used Carbon Reduction?

I was struck by this (link via Dr. Sanity):
Al Gore justifies his enjoyment of a carbon-intensive lifestyle in a speech in the UK:

He said he was "carbon neutral" himself and he tried to offset any plane flight or car journey by "purchasing verifiable reductions in CO2 elsewhere".
So, where does one purchase verifiable reductions in CO2? And how much do they cost? I'd probably be in the market for a used one since new ones always cost more.

When I want to price something around, I go on eBay and look it up to get some idea what it's going for and what the major points of quality to look for are. I searched on "carbon reduction," figuring that maybe I could get an unverifiable one for cheaper. There were only two items that came up. One was a book about climate change. The other was some kind of water filter.

All kidding aside, I really do know what he means by a verifiable reduction in CO2. I just don't know where you would buy one. Do you, like, pay somebody not to drive? 'Cuz I'd sign up for that. Now that school's out, I hardly drive anywhere at all. It's such a pain to go anywhere with all four kids.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Bagel Sits On The Potty

Lately Bagel has taken an interest in the potty. He's started becoming more aware of when he has bowel movements and such. And today he finally asked to sit on the potty. It was too late, of course; he had already pooped in his diaper. But he's not even two; what do you expect? I certainly didn't expect him to be interested in the potty this soon, so I'm just happy for his interest.

After he sat on the potty this afternoon, I went out to the garage and got out the little training potty, washed the dust off and put it in the bathroom. I told him it was his own potty and he liked it so much that this evening he decided to try it out. He had me take off his diaper and he sat on it, confident that if he just sat long enough, poop would come out. Once again, though, he'd already pooped in his diaper, so it was futile, but he had to see for himself. We sat with him and read the potty book over and over again, with him checking periodically to see if poo had come out. He was clearly disappointed, but I made sure to praise him and let him know we were proud of him just for trying, and that when he succeeded, he would be able to wear Big Boy Pants.

Now I Know Where Not To Send My Daughter

Since there were no customers at Deseret Peak Days, I got to watch the entertainment, some of which consisted of performances by local dance troupes. We're going to put Princess in some sort of lesson of her choice, and she's leaning toward dance lessons, so I took this as an opportunity to audition various dance academies. And I decided that no way in hell is she ever going to study dance at N Sync here in Tooele.

They did nothing but "hip hop" style dance, in costumes that made me wonder why they didn't bring a pole. Spangly handkerchief tops. Extra-curly hairpieces. Bare navels. Skintight gold lame low-rider pants. The pants were so tight that they made normal twelve-year-old girls look like they had belly rolls. The poor girls couldn't even dance in those getups without showing underwear out the back every time they bent over-- and they bent over pretty frequently, with their backsides to the audience and their legs apart. And we wonder why child molesters come after our daughters.

Guardian Angels

I firmly believe that the men who died storming the beaches of Normandy have been assigned to Guardian Angel Special Forces, with entire squads assigned to a single toddler boy.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Tooele Officially Sucks For Business

I spent the weekend roasting in the sun at Deseret Peak Days. I made a grand total of... one dollar.

I had been debating whether to get a booth there or not. I ended up sharing a booth with some ladies I met online. We had a 10x20 booth and we split it ten ways. I brought only my onesies, since I didn't think anything organic had much of a chance. I sold exactly one onesie, which paid for my share of the booth fee.

This show was advertised. It was outside of a PRCA Rodeo event. There were signs all over everything. There was a karaoke contest and all kinds of events. There was a free bouncy slide for the kids (although they started charging for it on Saturday). The promoters did everything they could. And NOBODY came for the craft show. Tons of people came for the rodeo and walked right on by the booths, never looking to one side or the other.

I've already paid for a space at Tooele's 4th of July, so I'll do it. But I'm officially giving up on ever selling anything to these cheap people who can't be bothered to look at anything that isn't on four legs or on a shelf at Wal-Mart.

Faith of our Fathers

My parents joined the LDS church when I was three. Their families are not members, so I grew up with many of the traditions of my parents' former faiths. We celebrate Hanukkah and Passover with the Jewish side of the family, and we still participate whenever we can in the Festa do Espirito Santo with the Portuguese side on Pentecost. My husband was Catholic before he joined the church, and we still recite the Hail Marys and Our Fathers at the rosary.

A lot of ethnic Mormons (i.e. those for whom Mormonism is their culture as well as their religion) think this is sort of blasphemous and view this sort of behavior as a sign that we're not truly converted. But for us, we see it as more of a celebration or a transition. The faith of our fathers was important to our fathers, and so by extension, to us as well. While they did not have all the truth of the fullness of the Gospel available to them, they still understood many things about God and His relationship to our lives that we would do well to emulate.

So I light a menorah and prepare a seder plate. I bury a St. Joseph statue in my yard when my house is up for sale. I light a St. Jude candle when it's still not selling (St. Jude being the patron saint of lost causes). And when I go out for a long trip that I'm afraid to take, I recite (although I will butcher the spelling) "Nossa Senhora da Guia, vaia nos acompania". To me, it is the hearts of the children turning to their fathers. These things meant something to my ancestors, and by extension they mean something to me. It is an expression of the fact that I draw on their faith in God as a source of strength for my faith in God. I expect that these rituals will mean less and less as the generations pass, until there is someday a generation of my descendants that is ethnically LDS and would scoff at my superstitious ways. But the ancestors I knew are a part of me, and I cannot deny their share in my beliefs.