Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolution

I realize I have been quite lax in writing recently.  I'd like to blame it on the holidays, but it was probably just laziness.  And maybe it was a little bit because of the holidays.  Also, Aaron has been working all kinds of hours and weekends and I have been "plumb tuckered out" (nod to my semi-hillbilly upbringing).  Whatever the reason, I have felt quite guilty for not writing and have decided to make one of those dangerous New Year's Resolutions.  My resolve is to write something here every day.  This may mean I have to subject my readers (all ten or eleven of you) to all the inanities of my life just so that I have something to say, and by this time next year I'll either have no more readers or everyone will just beg me to stop.  Then there's always the chance that my New Year's Resolution will meet the same end that so many New Year's resolutions do...and I won't keep it.  But I am surely going to try.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Lately, when Malachi gets in trouble, he immediately wails, "You're not gonna forgive me!" and buries his head in his arms.  Izzy is his little shadow, so he does it too, though he has even less idea of what it all means than Malachi.  It's quite a diversion from the issue at hand, whatever it may be, and I get frusterated about it sometimes.  I can't figure out where it came from.  But no matter where it came from, I can't ignore it, and I always tell Malachi, "Mommy will always forgive you."  To which he must reply, "Why?" because that is the favored question for both my little guys right now.  I tell him,"Because I love you, and love always forgives."  He hasn't quite gotten it yet, but it made me stop and think today.  "Love always forgives."  Even if they're wrong.  Even if they don't ask me to forgive them.  Even if they don't know they did anything wrong.  And not just my children.  As a follower of Christ, I'm called to "love my neighbor as myself."  I guess that means I should also forgive them.  Always.  Just like I forgive my boys.  Just like God forgives me.  And how often, when I mess up, do I immediately shout to God, "You won't forgive me!" and hide from Him. It's not too easy to have a relationship with a person you're hiding from.  But God says the same thing to me, I think....."I will always forgive you, because I love you, and love always forgives."  It's something to think about.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Persuading a Toddler

I find that my children are full of contradictions.  Malachi could sit for hours in front of the tv without moving a muscle, but he also jumps at the chance to go outside and play.  Izzy, on the other hand, can't sit still for more than a few minutes, and yet he never seems to want to go outside.  Malachi always wants him to come out and play with him, and I always want him to go out so I can have some peace.  Malachi and I will both try to convince him and the conversation will go something like this (as a side note, Izzy can talk a lot, but in the tradition of toddlers, his favorite word still seems to be "no"):

Me, "Izzy, don't you want to go outside?"
Me, "Don't you want to go play hockey with Malachi?"
Malachi, "Izzy, you want to come outside and see the airplane swing?"
Me, "I bet Malachi would push you in the airplane swing if you went outside...."
Malachi, "Izzy, do you want to go see the ship (a fort of sorts that Malachi built)?"
Me, "You want to go out and ride your trike with Malachi?"
Malachi is now tired of trying to persuade him nicely and tries threatening him with something like this, "Izzy!  If you don't go outside you're getting a spanking and you'll never see your blankie again and then you'll die!"
Izzy is not moved.  "No!"

In the end, I bribe him with a cookie.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Airplane Swing

Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m that great of a mom. I find myself short tempered, tired, and wishing I was somewhere else—or maybe that the kids were somewhere else…like the moon. I don’t get to spend time with the boys individually very often, but every once in a while I do get that opportunity.

Recently, I had that opportunity with Izzy. The day was chilly, but clear, and the sun was shining. Izzy wanted me to push him in our red plastic airplane swing, which is, without contest, the highlight of the dilapidated swingset we’ve inherited from someone. I think I pushed him on that swing for half and hour straight—he was having such a good time! We talked about how we liked trees, and I tried to explain that he was going to have a cousin soon, that Aunt Katie had a baby in her tummy. He said he wanted a baby in his tummy, so then I tried to explain that boys don’t have babies in their tummies, but that maybe someday his wife could have a baby and he could be a daddy. Which led to talking about his daddy and how he likes his daddy (this can also lead to conversations like, “He’s my daddy. Not yours.”) I told him that his daddy loves him and would love to be there pushing him on the swing if he could, but that he had to work. Toward the end, he just wanted to enjoy the ride, and he told me, “Mommy, say ‘woohoo!’” So I pushed him and said “woo hoo!” and he would “woo hoo!” back like my little echo, and it was just pure joy on his face.

While he was swinging, I was thinking, “I hope this is what he remembers.” I hope they remember the times I pushed them on the airplane swing. I hope they remember when I read books to them and sang to them or spun them in the living room. I hope they will remember those times, instead of when I lost my temper or had no patience and yelled at them or told them “no” for the fifteenth time when they asked me to do something with them.

Realistically, I know they will remember both, the good times we have, and the bad ones, but I hope, and pray, that the good moments will outshine the bad ones.

Later, I was zipping Izzy’s coat for him to go outside and wrapping him in a scarf when he asked, “Am I superhero?”
“Definitely,” I said.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning

6:22 am

My son all jittery

He knows that this should be a day that Daddy is home

But Daddy is working

“Let’s go downstairs” he whispers loudly

I turn on the TV and get him a “snack”

It consists of apples, cheese, and mini berry-flavored rice cakes

Go feed baby

Come back and eat oatmeal

Attempt to curl up on the couch and sleep

“Not today!”

This is his internal mantra, I think

Periodically, he jumps on me, just as I am drifting off

He leans his face into mine and breathes on me

“Don’t do that.”

Brief respite, and then

A strange, loud, nonsensical utterance

“Be quiet, Mommy is trying to rest.”

He gives up…sort of

He begins to pick up all his toys, which means he loudly throws things into the toy box, causing me to wonder what in the world he is doing

He’s cleaning?!?

I feel guilty, so I go and finish gluing these little animal crafts we started the other day

The glue it came with didn’t work

Neither did super glue, unbelievably

It’s time for the hot glue gun

Third time’s a charm

He is happy

He wants to use the squirrel as a hockey puck for the other animals

I guess that’s the difference between little boys and little girls

Wake up, son number 2

“You want some bamanas?”

(Yes, I said bamanas)

Yes, no, yes, no

He’s two, he has no idea, or can’t express it

Right now he screams at me for giving him what he asked for

“It’s just a phase”

I tell myself

“Mommy can you make us a tent like you did yesterday?”

Chairs and blankets and the couch and the doors from our armoire that were beginning to come off anyway

A little lamp so they can see to “read” their books

“Mommy, I don’t really like this tent. I like the one from yesterday.”

Some thanks I get

10 o’clock

It’s only ten o’clock?

Saturday morning

Monday, October 5, 2009

Where's Jesus?

My pastor once said, “Reading the Bible without looking for Jesus is like reading a ‘Where’s Waldo’ book without looking for Waldo.” It doesn’t make a lot of sense. I wonder if life isn’t the same. Maybe living life without looking for Jesus in the everyday is just as pointless.

I wonder if we looked for Him throughout the day, in all places and situations, if we would find Him where we least expect. Maybe we’d catch a glimpse of His love in the movie we’re watching, whether the people who made the movie meant to do it or not. Maybe we’d read a book and see the emptiness in the lives of the characters and realize how much we have, how full our lives are with Him. We might remember that there is a lost world out there who needs Him. We might go to work and see Him there, in a person who is kind, in a flyer on the bulletin board.

The Bible says, “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) The whole world has creation all around them like an arrow pointing to God. But most of them aren’t looking for Him. For those people the world doesn’t make sense. It is simply a book crowded with drawings of random people, no why, no rhyme or reason to any of it. No Waldo, so to speak. No Jesus.

The thing is, most of the time, I forget to look for Him too. Most of the time I go through my day, caught up in all the things of life—kids and laundry and dishes and messes and going places and doing things. And I don’t even see Him. I don’t see Him when I clean because I hate cleaning, and I don’t like doing it, but He’s there. He’s there in my cleaning because when I clean it makes my husband feel loved. When I see it like that, my cleaning becomes and act of love, and God is always in on it when we love people. I don’t see Him in the faces of my children who were made in His image. I’m too busy being frustrated that they made a mess. I don’t see how much I’m like them, and how patient God is with me when I’m the one making a mess.

Most of the time, I don’t look for Him, and I don’t see Him. But He’s there, if I would just stop for one second, and look. And I want to do that. I want to look for Him, I want to see Him. He isn’t confined to a building or a book. He’s everywhere, and He’s in me. I want to look for Him in the places I don’t expect to find Him. I want to go through my life looking for Jesus everywhere, because that is the only way for it to make sense and have meaning.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Words Have Tempers

In the book Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, Alice has a conversation with Humpty Dumpty about words.
“When I use a word,” says Humpty Dumpty, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
Alice replies, “The question is whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” Humpty contradicts her, “which is to be master—that’s all.” Then he goes on to tell her that some words have tempers, and verbs are the proudest.

I think we can learn a lot from Alice’s interaction with Humpty Dumpty. How often do we speak without thinking? And although we’d like to think so, words don’t always mean just what we choose them to mean. Sometimes a word may mean one thing to me and something else entirely to the person I’m speaking to. And that’s where we get into trouble, because words do indeed have tempers, and they aren’t the only ones. People are very like those words Humpty Dumpty was talking about. And words aren’t the only ones who are proud either, are they? Sometimes we say something stupid or hurtful, and we know it, but we don’t want to admit it because we are too proud, so then we say more stupid things trying to cover up the fact that we are wrong.

It’s very similar, in fact to the passage in the book of James where he talks about the tongue. He says, “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the image of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?” (James 3:5-11)

In some ways, Alice and Humpty Dumpty are both right, and the question is both whether you can make words mean so many different things, and which is to be master. We can’t always make words mean just what we choose them to mean. Words tend to take on a life of their own. But, if we can’t control their meaning, we can still control who is master: us, or the words we say? Will we let our tongues go free and set a destroying fire to our lives, or will we quench it?

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Perfect Conversation

I was sitting in the living room on the chaise sewing a pillow. Izzy came over to me, saying, “Ma ma, after you’re done sewing…” he trailed off and ambled over to the other side of me.
“After you’re done sewing…” he said again. “When you’re done sewing.”
“When I’m done sewing, then what?”
“What should I do when I’m done?”
“After you’re done sewing…”
“Then what? What should Mommy do?”
“Yeah!” A pause. “When you’re done sewing…”
“After I’m done, what should I do?” I repeated.
“You’re sewing, ma ma.”

Once again, a conversation with Izzy has led to a dead end.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fantasy (as in Literature)

As it was not my intention to only write about my children, and because Aaron recently said something like, “Quit writing about the kids. I‘m sick of it. Write about something else,” I am going to divert the subject to something else entirely this time.

I have recently begun to read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. I have, of course, seen the old Disney cartoon, but I’ve never read the book before. In the particular copy that I am reading there is an introduction by some guy named Martin Gardner, who is apparently a science writer who wrote a column called “Mathematical Games”, which seems odd except apparently Lewis Carroll was a mathematical lecturer at a college in Oxford. So I guess that’s the connection.

A lot of times I don’t even read the introduction, but occasionally I get in the mood to read the entire book from cover to cover, even the introduction and whatever else might be there. This was one of those times, and I’m glad because he had a lot to say in defense of fantasy, which is one of my favorite genres.

He mentioned first that “Many adults dislike fantasy, preferring fiction about the real world.” And then he went on to point out that in spite of this, many literary classics are, in fact, works of fantasy. Such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Goethe’s Faust, Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, to name a few. He mentions that “scores of fantasy novels have outlasted myriads of once admired works of realism.” Among children’s stories, the majority of classics are fantasies. A few more well known are Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, The Chronicles of Narnia, and of course, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Not to mention that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are some of the most popular right now.

Gardner also quoted G.K. Chesterton, who said “that fairy tales in their essence are quite solid and straightforward; but that everlasting fiction about modern life is in it’s nature essentially incredible. Folk-lore means that the soul is sane, but that the universe is wild and full of marvels. Realism means that the world is dull and full of routine, but that the soul is sick and screaming. The problem of the fairy tale is—what will a healthy man do with a fantastic world? The problem of the modern novel is—what will a madman do with a dull world? In the fairy tale the cosmos goes mad; but the hero does not go mad. In the modern novels the hero is mad before the book begins, and suffers from the harsh steadiness and cruel sanity of the cosmos.”

When I think of a madman in a dull world, I think of the narrator in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. There you have a very ordinary world, a very ordinary situation. Except. The man has some sort of disease which has caused him to go mad and fixate on the eye of the old man he takes care of, driving him to murder him and hide the body, only to give himself away when he imagines he can hear the old man’s heart beating under the floor boards and giving him away. That’s just scary.

When I think of a “healthy man in a fantastic world”, I think of the Pevensie children in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. They are thrust into a frightening situation, where myths and fairy tales are real, and animals can talk, and the world has been stuck in winter for 100 years or something. Yet, they overcome obstacles, become heroes, fulfill their destinies, and also manage to remain in their right minds. That’s encouraging. And hopeful, too, I think, to believe that there is a purpose.

For me personally, fantasy reminds me that there is more than what I can see. It points me toward the spiritual realm, reminds me that we aren’t just living on a planet spinning through the universe with no rhyme or reason. There is a God, and He has orchestrated everything down to the finest detail. Even when something doesn’t make sense to us, it’s part of His Grand Scheme.

Or, as Mel Gibson’s character in the movie Signs asks, “Is it possible, there are no coincidences?”

I think so.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

“Getting Fancy With the Spices”

The way the layout of our house is setup, you go through the kitchen to get to the back yard. My children have managed to take much advantage of this in the last few days. The problem is that if I am in another room besides the kitchen or the dining room, I don’t have a direct line of sight on them. And in those moments, when I am anywhere else, which I often am, they like to take things outside that shouldn’t go outside.

It was very quiet in the house, and the boys had been playing in the backyard for a while. When boys are happily playing for a long time, it usually means they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing. When I went outside, what I found did not make me happy. They had taken my salt, pepper, paprika and a couple of Mrs. Dash spice blends and dumped them all out in the dirt. The majority of them of them I had purchased recently and were mostly full. I cannot even say how angry I was.

I might not have been so angry, if I felt that Malachi had any remorse whatsoever. But he seemed very indifferent to the whole situation. Aaron helped him with that by taking one of his toys and throwing it to the neighbor’s dogs so he could understand how it felt to have something taken away.

All I could think of was that line in the movie Ratatouille when Linguini says to Remy, the rat/chef, “You were the one gettin’ fancy with the spices!” I hoped that it wouldn’t happen again.

This morning, Malachi went to the store with Aaron, and I was here with Izzy and Simeon. Izzy was outside and I was on the computer. Very soon, he came to me with an empty egg carton. I wanted to believe that he had gotten it out of the trash and it had already been empty. Unfortunately, that wasn’t so. If I wondered where the eggs had gone, I got my first clue when he mentioned his backpack. And then, the mystery was dissolved when he came dragging his Elmo backpack into the movie room. I looked inside, and sure enough, there are eggs in there. There are also eggs all over the floor of the back porch. Sigh. I go through all the eggs, throwing away all the broken and cracked ones, about eight or so. I wash off the ones that are still okay. There’s three. I clean up the eggs that are in a puddle on the floor. I give Izzy a spanking, though he doesn’t seem to think he deserves one. I feel strangely emotionless. I am not angry. I am resigned. Is this a bad sign? I’m not sure.

Thinking about it later, I began to wonder what they might take next. Maybe tomorrow they will dump out all my flour. Or the sugar. Who knows? Then I think, with all those ingredients, maybe they’ll bring me back a cake. Wouldn’t that be nice.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

At the Park

A few weeks ago I was feeling optimistic and decided to take the boys to the park. Now, normally, I try to never go to the park alone, and you'll soon see why. I got them all into the van, I had food for lunch, and I brought their skateboards and trike along. We were all set.

We got to the the park and I set myself up in the shade of the building where the restrooms are, with a good view of where they could or would be playing. It was a beautiful day, and things were going great. Then as I looked over to where the boys were playing on the playground, I heard Malachi say, "Izzy, give me the knife!" I looked, and sure enough, Izzy had a knife in his hand! My first thought was, "Oh my gosh--somebody left a knife at the park!" Then as I looked closer, I saw that Malachi had a knife as well, and it was exactly the same as the one Izzy had. That was when I realized that they must be our steak knives from home. I suspected that Malachi had smuggled them in the seat of his plastic trike. "That little booger," I thought. I ran over to them. Malachi saw me coming and knew he was in trouble, so he started pedaling furiously to make his escape. Thankfully, I am still a little faster than a four year old on a plastic tricycle, and I caught him. I removed him from the seat and lifted it up to see the evidence. He had like five steak knives in there! I was so mad. I recovered the knives, and put them in a safe place.

After that was resolved, not fifteen minuted had gone by before Malachi came to me with a handful of those little flags that stick in the grass to mark something. "Go put them back where you got them," I told him. Off he scampered, only to return bleeding when he somehow managed to stab himself in the big toe with one of them. I had no band-aids or ointment or anything like that with me, of course. But I did manage to find some gauze and tied it around his toe so he could keep playing.

By that time, Simeon had gotten hungry, so I got him out of the stroller to feed him. While I was doing that, Malachi decided he wanted to get his skateboard out of the van. I had left it unlocked, and he knows how to open the door by himself, so I let him go and get it. Unfortunately Izzy followed him and proceeded to get into the front seat of the van, pull out all of our CDs, and scatter them. As if that didn't worry me enough, Malachi then shut him in the van by himself. It wasn't a hot day, but it was warm enough that I knew he shouldn't be in there too long.
It was time to go.

Days like that make a great story later, but at the time it was very frustrating. At the time, three kids seemed like a lot. I have heard if you can handle three, you can handle any amount after that. I try to comfort myself with that, except I think it remains to be seen whether I can handle three or not. Just because I have avoided losing my mind so far doesn't mean I won't lose it later. Or tomorrow. Or right now perhaps? Sometimes it feels that way, like I'm right on the edge of sanity. Well, who wouldn't feel that way, with children screaming all around them at an unnatural pitch because someone took their book, or their toy, or their rock?

But I remind myself that someday it will all be worth it. Some day, when I am an old woman, none of this will matter. I won't care how close together my children were born. All the screaming, and the smuggling of steak knives, and the dirt, and the destruction of Cd's will just
be funny memories. All of the hard work now, the struggle, will fade away. It will be worth it.

To Izzy: "Do you want it on or off?"
Izzy: "Yes!"

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Toddler's Mind Works in Mysterious Ways

Yesterday I woke up not feeling so good. I felt tired (no surprise there) and achy (definitely not normal). Malachi was the only kid up, so I put on a movie and attempted to sleep in the papason chair we have in our movie room. Then I tried to sleep on the loveseat. Then I tried to lay on the floor. Nothing was working. I felt uncomfortable just being alive at that point, which is a pretty miserable way to feel. Finally, I took three ibuprofen and I was able to doze on the loveseat. Malachi was a good boy, and pretty much left me alone cuz he knew Mommy wasn’t feeling good.

It really would have been wonderful if I could have taken a sick day. But moms don’t get sick days, so I had to settle for being thankful that we have a backyard and that the boys were inclined to play outside.

They had been outside for a while, and I decided I should probably check on them and make sure they were having fun, but not too much fun, which might include killing each other. I peeked out the windows of our back porch to see Malachi throwing dirt in Izzy’s hair and pushing him. Izzy actually seemed fairly okay with this until I called out the window, “Malachi! Don’t throw dirt on Izzy, and don’t push him!” As soon as he heard my voice he came running and crying and he needed a drink and he wanted to watch a movie and he didn’t want to play outside. And I was thinking shoot! because I wanted them both to keep playing outside so I could rest. I got Izzy his drink, and then Chi came in and was upset because he wanted Izzy to come back outside and play with him. I began to try to explain to him that if he’s going to throw dirt at Izzy and push him, Izzy won’t want to play with him and that Izzy wanted to stay inside now because of that. He didn’t like that, and of course expected me to fix the situation. Ordinarily, I might have just let it go, but since I wasn’t feeling good and I too wanted Izzy to go back outside, I tried persuading him. That went something like this.

“Izzy, Malachi wants you to go out and play with him,” I say.
“No, I don’t want to,” he says in a whiny voice.
“Are you sure? Don’t you want to go play with him?”
“I don’t want to!” He’s a bit more adamant this time.
“Izzy, Malachi wants you to play with him, he misses you,” I tell him.
“I wanna watch a movie!” This is funny, because he doesn’t really watch movies, he just glances at them while he does other things.
“Izzy, Malachi will be sad if you don’t go outside.” How do I explain this in two year old terms? “You’ll give his heart an owie.”
To this, he replies, “But, I didn’t pinch him!”
I laughed and gave up trying to reason with him.

(After that, I did manage to get them both back outside using many tactical maneuvers, which included blankies and snacks.)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Not the Only One

Anne Lamott said in her book Bird by Bird, "Toddlers can make you feel as if you have violated some archaic law in their personal koran and you should die, infidel."That is pretty much how I feel most of the time. But there are usually a few shining moments in every day that make it all worth it.

One moment I will never forget happened a few weeks ago. We were getting the boys ready to go somewhere one evening, and I had had a really hard day with them that day. I had knelt down to help Malachi with shoes or something similar, and Izzy walked up to me, smiling his sunshine smile, like he had a delightful secret. He put his little chubby hands on my cheeks and said, “Mommy, you bright!” And the way he said it, I felt like it was the best compliment I have ever received. Especially because at that moment, I didn’t feel very bright. I feel more like a shriveled banana peel or a storm cloud.

Those moments are really important. As a stay at home mom, sometimes I feel like life is pretty monotonous. It’s not very exciting, I don’t get paid for it, and my children seem to scream an awful lot. At me. Every day. It can be wearing.

One of my teachers at Christ for the Nations, the Bible College where Aaron and I met, used to say, “Surviving can drop dead! I want to thrive, not just survive!” But most of the time, I feel like I am definitely more surviving than thriving.

Some days I am not sure my kids will live to adulthood. Other days I am sure they will, but I question whether I will still be sane when they do.

But I take courage, knowing that I am not the only one. I am not the only one who is going through this right now. I’m not the only mom who feels exhausted at the end of the day.

Sometimes when I’ve had an especially difficult day, and I feel like a terrible mother, I think how unfair it is. It is unfair that if Aaron had a job that he felt he just wasn’t at all good at and it wasn’t working, he could quit and do something else. But you don’t get to quit being a mom. Even if you really are a bad mom, quitting would make you a worse mom, not a better one. So you just have to keep going, and trust that one day, you’ll see some fruit from these little “plants” that you’ve put so much of your life into growing. I look forward to that day.

And I know, I’m not the only one.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Here We Go

How do I begin? Where do I begin? I meant to start this blog the day after my third son was born. I thought it would be interesting to write about the challenges and craziness and chaos...oh yeah, and the joy...of being a mother of three. That was five months ago. But, better late than never, right?

My kids are Malachi, Israel, and Simeon, whose ages are four, two and five months. They are wild and sweet and willful and wonderful and covered in dirt...well, all except the little one. They are boys. I love them. I try to remind myself of that when they sneak cookies out to the backyard, or throw Cheerios all over the floor deliberately, or when they shriek at an unnatural pitch when I tell them 'no' about anything. It's an adventure. And I'm going to let you in on it.

Here we go....