Still Alive

One day, I’ll return to writing for my own sake.

In the meantime, this is what is going on right now:

Evan is thriving in middle school. The girls are swarming. It’s bad. Last Thursday, after some really strange symptoms that had been going on sporadically, we were told that they thought he had a brain tumor. More about that experience on another day. I just can’t right now. He is seeing a pediatric neurologist in a few days and we’ll hopefully get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, I am trying not to unravel in my worry by focusing my attention on the fact that the head CT was negative. I am instead focusing on other things: that–for the first time ever–this kid has friends; that girls love him and I actually have to worry about what goes on when he is not supervised with a girl, that he is now wearing small men’s clothes, that he has that goofy ‘stache coming in and his dad is going to have to teach him to shave.

Zach is…Zach. He refuses to have anything to do with a toilet. I am tired of having to buy Pull-Ups. Or worse yet, diapers. He still sleeps in a diaper because Pull-Ups leak too much at bedtime. I would let him feel that discomfort with the idea that it would motivate him, but he just sleeps through it, thus we sleep through it, and we wake in the morning to a child with a rash and blue lips from sleeping in soaked pajamas. I cannot deal with neither the grossness factor or the health risk of that. We encourage. His preschool teachers encourage. We have purchased every toilet-learning device known to man, looking for the magic one. Currently, that is this cushie Prince Lionheart insert that seems so comfy that I wish it would accommodate adults.He has no desire whatsoever. But what is he doing? He is speaking plainly, counting, saying his alphabet, (crudely) writing his name, singing songs. (Please do not mix up the order of he verses of “The Wheels on the Bus”!) In May, this was the child who could literally say nothing that a stranger could understand. So I am not sweating the potty stuff. We’ll get there. He always does, doesn’t he? He’s still my little wonder–smart, cute,  funny, sweet.  He’s just Zachy.

John is making me proud everyday, He has lost over 50 pounds since the fateful day over the summer when a doctor I respect came to me to tell me that he could have died at any second from the blockages in his heart. His BP is down. He is down to only one medication for diabetes, and that dosage even had to be cut in half. His cardiologist cleared him to run at home after he outgrew the mild exercises at cardiac rehab. His cholesterol was actually low at his last check, so his medication for that was cut in half. The beta-blacker was stopped after he exhibited no need for it. He was wearing a size 40 waist in the summer. He is down to a 34, and those are falling off, but we’re holding off on shopping for more, since he’s built up to 2-mile runs daily–any little bit of weight he has left will melt off as his endurance gets back up there. His doctor says he only needs to lose 9 more pounds to be ideal body weight. If he loses 18 more, he will be back down to his post-boot camp weight from his Marine Corps days.

And me? I’m hanging in there. I have–wait, let me count–8 more weeks left of school. I start my capstone next Saturday. My paperwork for graduation is submitted. I am off of work. Blame some little boys who cannot seem to get their dirty laundry in a hamper. I tripped on some dirty clothes and fell down the entire flight of basement stairs on my left leg, with it ricocheting off of each step on the way down. They thought stuff was torn. Instead, I found out that every piece of cartilage in there is inflamed from the trauma. So it has been injections, PT, crutches (for about 5 weeks). I am finally to the walking stage, but only for very short trips and in transit. I cannot stand or walk for long periods at all. (Read: I can limp to my class and sit in a chair, I can walk to the car and get in it, but I can’t do shopping trips, etc.) I’m just hanging in. Also, I remember lamenting on here how I hated undergrad corporate finance. It has nothing on the 600 level.

That’s all.

I’ll be a blogger again one day, I swear,

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My Obligatory Miley Cyrus Post: Requisite Blogging

I have to say something about Miley Fricken Cyrus because I have a blog. And my opinion may not be the popular one. I’m not even sure what my opinion is, exactly, but it’s late and I have to stay up all night so I can sleep tomorrow in preparation for night shift. So I have earbuds in, the coffee poured, and I am going to try to explain.

Evan used to have a little crush on Miley when she was this:RP9581

I remember John practically losing his shit that his son wanted to spend birthday money on a Hannah Montana poster and cd, because John isn’t as open-minded as I am when it comes to gender roles. But then Ev admitted he thought she was cute, and that made it okay. The Age of Miley didn’t last long. It probably would have if Evan had been a girl, so for that, I was grateful.

But then Miley turned into something else. Controversy followed. Undies pics, smoking, whatever the hell she did. It didn’t impact my family, so I didn’t care. Everyone else seemed to be enthralled though. Whatevs. I lived under a rock or something. I didn’t participate in MileyWatch.

Until this shit happened:Miley-Cyrus-2224429

Even if you had no interest in MileyWatch, you got thrown into this shit this past week. It’s everywhere. Being somewhat normal, I had to see what the fuss was all about. Oh holy hell. Really? The whole thing was just weird. The giant teddy bears tethered to the backs of twerking girls, the teddy bear bustier, which really looked more like Chuck E. Cheese. The twerking, the hair. It was an attempt  to turn the juvenile to the racy, but it came off as trashy. I was appalled, and I can see how some parents would be up in arms that it was on prime time tv. But….

Have these parents watched anything else that is on MTV? Any of these videos? How was what Miley was doing any worse than what anyone else has done? And if you have seen what is on MTV, why the hell is your kid watching it if they are too young? So really, the air time is between you and MTV. Miley, I’m sure, was not given a choice on when it aired.

So that brings me to the whole sexuality thing. Miley is not Hannah Montana. Hannah Montana was a character. Miley was a child when she played the character for Disney. Miley is not a child anymore. She made that point a long time ago. Justin Timberlake used to be a fresh-faced cute little kid on Disney, and now he isn’t. Same for Brittany, Christina Aguilera…I’m sure there are more. Child actors grow up. We cannot expect them to stay kids forever. Just like our kids who once worshiped them no longer do. If that act was performed by Gaga, Britney, Madonna, we would have still thought it was weird and embarrassing, but there wouldn’t have been such an uproar. Quit being hypocrites, people. (In fact, I’m the reaction to this whole thing is kind of reminding me of the reaction to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” shenanigans of my childhood.)

Now, before you think I am letting Miley off the hook, let me tell you that I am not. The performance was weird. The hair was weird, though I think (maybe) she was trying to emulate teddy bear ears with it. The whole set was weird. The strategically-timed sticking out of the tongue, the awkward look-at-the-camera-stick-out-the-tongue-now-walk-down-the-stairs. The posing. Then there was the whole humping of the foam finger, mor tongue sticking out. Gettin’ down with Robin Thicke, whom I continue to confuse with the dad of Growing Pains. Miley is a pretty young girl, and while I don’t personally love her music (“La-da-da-da-Deee, we like to par-Teee”? Really?) she seems to have a knack for creating buzz. In celebrity status, it seems any attention is good attention. I heard somewhere that her iTunes sales skyrocketed the next day, but I can’t remember where I heard it, so it may be inaccurate. And she can certainly create a following, as she did it before. She shouldn’t have to resort to that God-awful getup and scheme. She should have more pride in herself, more self-respect than that.

And for shit’s sake, Miley, what is up with the tongue? Put it back in your mouth. You’re creeping me out.

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Mastering the Art of Suckage

I suck at life right now. No, really, I do.

I woke up this morning to tackle the day. I was ready. Quick shower, yoga pants, hoodie. Ready. To. Go. And then I sat down. And I started reading Justin Halpern’s Shit My Dad Says on my phone. And before I knew what was happening, I had finished the damned book. And then I was exhausted, and we all took a collective nap. I was so hell-bent on not procrastinating on the finishing of the economics, and I suffered a massive failure on that one. (More on the econ in another post-that class is going to drive me into an early grave.)

So lunch came. And went. I didn’t eat a bite. Nothing sounded good other than a pint of black raspberry chip ice cream. And, well, that isn’t diet-friendly. Before I knew what was going on, it was time for dinner. Chipotle. And I ate the whole fucking bowl. With chips. How much more Fatty McFatFat can you get than shoveling heaps of rice and chicken and salsa onto chips to eat it? To use chips as flatware, for shit’s sake! So I’m not exactly feeling all svelte/ bask-in-my-hotness. On the contrary, I can practically feel the cellulite building up on my thighs just in the 45 minutes since I ate the last chip.

So now, the coffee is brewed. I’m ready. I am going to study.

“Andrea, I set a reminder for you, baby.” Awww, my husband is so thoughtful. A reminder for what?

For the season kick-off of Project Runway. Tonight. And suddenly, I can hear my resolve to study screaming in agony as it withers to nothingness.

Summer has entirely too many distractions.

And also, I am kind of tired of being a student.

Bring on the fall semester. Let’s get this shit done.

Fatty McFatFat's Flatware

Fatty McFatFat’s Flatware

Obsessing Over…

To give just a glimpse into my ridiculously easy days right now, this is what I’m obsessing over at the moment:

The Naked Bee Orange Blossom Honey Hand & Body Lotion
The Naked BeeI would love to give you a link to this, well, because it is the bee’s knees, but it appears to only be sold by retailers and is not available or purchase directly from the company. I have eczema on my hand. Call it an occupational hazard that comes from years of harsh sanitizers, surgical scrubs for the NICU, and washing one’s hands a gazillion times a day. I have seen my family doctor and a dermatologist. I’ve tried prescriptions and over-the-counter lotions, creams, and cleansers. Some of these have been really expensive, too. Some have improved it a little, but none have really worked. So one day, having taken my lotion home from work (I usually buy a bottle to keep in my locker) to try on Zach, who also has bad eczema, I was kinda stuck. I had found this stuff the week before because a coworker was using it and it smelled so nice, prompting me to buy my own bottle in the hospital gift shop for $15.99 for an 8-ounce pump bottle.  So I tried it on my hand that one lotion-less night. Holy Cow! It worked. I’ve been using it ever since. All that is left of my eczema on my hand is a scar on my middle knuckle. If I don’t use this for a night of work, it comes back, So tonight, I couldn’t find Zach’s lotion (dye-free, unscented). If we do not slather him with lotion before putting his pajamas on, his whole body is red and itchy in the morning. So I took a chance and tried this on him. A couple of hours later, his skin is already looking better.

I googled the stuff and discovered they make a whole line of skincare products. Soaps, lotions, creams, hand sanitizers. Mind you, the stuff isn’t inexpensive, but if it works? Pshhh. So now I am going to desperately search for the body bar and hand sanitizer. I’m curious to see how it works.

Chipotle’s Adventurrito.
993926_10151685938204253_1600249411_nYep. I know, it’s cheesy. Well, here lately, with only enough cheese to taste. Ha! This is some clever marketing. I love Chipotle. And if I use a little restraint, John and I can eat here without feeling like we’ve wrecked our lives or clogged John’s newly-stented arteries. The beauty is that they give you enough food in one serving for 2 whole meals, so I either split my buttito bowl with Zach or save half for another meal. My bowl consists of chicken, fresh tomato salsa, corn salsa, romaine, brown rice, and just a teensy bit of cheese. If I’m feeling extra naughty, I’ll get a tortilla on the side and roll my own tiny burritos with it, as it is one huge tortilla. John, after the heart incident, gets a meatless bowl with 2 types of beans, brown rice, romaine, and all three of their salsas. No tortilla for him. So this meal, other than a veggie sub with no dressing at Subway, is the only quick-service meal he can eat.

So Chipotle is giving away free burritos? Hell, yes, I’m down with that. The grand prize is 20 years’ worth of free burritos (one per week, I am assuming). Other winners can win free burritos for one year. You are entered when you play the online game, whether you win or lose. To win the grand prize, you have to get all 20 of the puzzles correct. I think there might be a drawing or something for those people. These puzzles are little riddles posted online at 20:20. The 4 they have had so far have been kind of challenging. For example, the above picture is of their basket liner they are using for their anniversary, The answers to one of the riddles involved all of the integers on the liner. They didn’t tell you that, though. Instead, in the clue, they mentioned one should ponder it over a burrito or taco. Of course it was in the middle of the night and Chipotle was closed, but I happened to remember that they posted the above pic on their Facebook page, and Score! I got the puzzle correct. So now I am all geeked out over this little contest because, hey, Fatty loves her burritos!

Bailey’s Mudslide coffee creamer
0004410010766_500X500Because I realized the calorie content of my venti Mocha at the ‘Bucks. And I cannot give up on coffee. I tried the nonfat versions. I tried the soy. I tried every-damned-thing, including black coffee. I decided I am not grown up enough for black coffee. And so a splash of this. I can handle that. So long as I remember to log the calories in my little calorie counter app, I’m good. Thanks for keeping me sane, Bailey’s Creamer.

Barefoot Moscato

barefootmuscatosparklingI’m not even gonna talk about a bouquet or that other crap. I know nothing about wine, but I wanted to start learning. I’m sure that, at the whopping $13.00 I paid for the bottle of this wine, it is most definitely not high-brow. Yeah, whatevs. I mentioned to some of my wine-drinking coworkers that I wanted to learn to appreciate wine, and this was what was recommended to start with. Because though I am all women-power/ fight the patriarchy, I enjoy some good frou-frou sweet booze. And I was told this would fit the bill. And they were correct. The plan is to start here and get a little more sophisticated over time. With different wine types and vineyards.  I would like to be able to have conversations about it eventually. Because I have been elected to the board of directors for the association of women MBA’s at my university, and our introductory meeting is at a wine tasting in a few weeks. I’ve also been told that I would probably like Beringer and rieslings.  If this is your area of expertise, please leave any suggestions you may have for me.

Laughing Cow Smooth Sensations Cream Cheese Spread
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Ummmmm. I love this stuff. I love that there are only 45 calories in a wedge and a whole english muffin (whole wheat, thanks) only takes me about half a wedge. The same can be said for a whole wheat frozen waffle, toasted with this and a little organic strawberry preserves–tastes delicious and only 100 calories total. I love that it travels well, so I can easily pack it for lunches or snacks at work or for trips to the park with my offspring. I love that it comes in a gazillion flavors, though I haven’t tried them yet. Hey Laughing Cow people, if you would like more free marketing, feel free to send me some free stuff and I will be glad to offer up my opinion of your fabulous products. Wink, wink. Because I am a struggling grad student and I am currently slathering this stuff on everything.

“Whodunnit” on ABC

Whodunnit_ABCI cannot look away when this show is on. Part Survivor, part Big Brother, part Clue (yeah, the Milton Bradley board game–the old version, not the new-fangled stupid stuff). Because in my mind, I am playing along, trying to guess, getting aggravated when the contestants can’t get it right.

If you haven’t watched the show, it is like a murder mystery. They get clues. Each week, another guest gets the ax, and the remaining guests have to use clues to determine how it happened. The “killer” is among them. The more wrong/ less correct they are, the more at risk they are to be the next “victim”. Some of them have resorted to tears in fear, leaving me to wonder if they are really that dumb and think ABC is going to have them murdered on set on national network television. But still, it’s entertaining, and I am all about that these days when I have no class to worry about. Even soon-to-be MBA’s don’t want to think about marketing or finance or accounting all of the time.

Devou Park Backcountry Trails- Covington, KY

devouAbout a 2-song drive from my house (it’s that close that I have no idea how many miles or minutes–I can listen to two normal-length songs!). Pack a little cooler bag of water. Some yoga pants and good shoes. All-terrain stroller in the back of the SUV. Off we go. The way the trail is designed, we can hike/ speed-walk as much or as little as we want. It’s peaceful. It’s cleansing. You can pass anyone from the elderly out getting their exercise, to young families, to serious athletes out for a trail run or bike. When it is raining, or has recently rained, the trails are closed for their own preservation, but at the same park, there is a lovely paved trail as well. We’ve walked in a light rain before, on the paved trail, only turning back when it turned into a thunderstorm. We have had days where it was too hot and we had to stop halfway find a spot to relax in the shade. We also park next to one of the playgrounds so Zach can get some playtime in before we head home. I have pulled a muscle somehow and this have been resting this week, and so I miss this. We had been going everyday, walking briskly enough to work up a sweat. Love it.

So that’s my life right now. Or a little bit of it, anyway. Until next time.

I Can’t Afford It: The Inevitable Rant About PPACA from the Inside

I don’t usually get all political up in here. It just isn’t my thing. I have read countless comments on Facebook about the Supreme Court’s decision about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That shit is everywhere. And everyone has an opinion. “Everyone is entitled to healthcare…” Yeah, okay. Great. Kumbaya, and all of that jazz. If you are disadvantaged and need medical coverage, and there is a way for you to get it, I am all for it. We have programs like that in the U.S. We have for decades. Yes, they suck a little more than the insurance one pays for electively. If I am out of food, and I go to a food bank to get food for my family, the items I get, though appreciated, are not of the same quality I would buy if I went to the grocery store and shopped for myself. You take what you can get. I’m sorry to sound so blunt, but it’s true.

I’ve said it before and I am going to say it again: I used to not have insurance. John worked at a job that paid him $8/ hr. and the benefits were almost $700 per month. Evan was a newborn. So I took an eq\ually crappy job as a housekeeper at a hospital where the insurance was about $400/ month. I essentially  worked for the insurance When the income got to be too little, I went to work on a degree that would pay me what we need, both in income and in benefits. And I’m not afraid to give you the straight dope, though it is poor etiquette. I gross over 8 thou a month. I bring home about 4K of that. What???? Why? Well, simple, really. I pay over half of my income on taxes and pesky little necessities like medical, dental, and vision insurance. Right now, that is the lay of the land. It is how the shit falls.

So while I am not too keen on spending even more of my very hard-earned money to support those who did not have the wherewithal to go out and do what I did–find a beter job, better benefits—I simply cannot afford it. I am not living high on the hog. We have one car. My husband rides his motorcycle in good weather to save on gas. We try to limit our dining out these days. I clip coupons. We live in a house that is way below our means because it is cheap despite being in a nice, white-collar neighborhood. And though I am off for my neck and shoulder right now, I work every God-forsaken hour my employer will allow me to work in order to make more, to pay more in taxes…you get the drift. I cannot afford more of my tax dollars to go to support your healthcare. I will take care of you when you are ill. I will risk contracting any infectious disease you are carrying because someone has to. But I am not willing to sacrifice the well-being of my children to pay for you and yours. I’m sorry.

And there are other misgivings I have about PPACA. This part is coming from a healthcare professional who works in the trenches, from someone who is wrapping up a degree in business \with a concentration in healthcare management. Hospitals rely on reimbursement. They do. The naional average for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement revenue is around 60% of hospital revenue. The hospital I work for receives about 80% of their revenue from Medicare and Medicaid. That’s a big ol’ piece of the pie. The pie that determines the amount they can do for their community, the services they provide to their patients. And guess what! For added fun, those coffers are getting pretty shallow. Hospitals are fighting harder for less dollars. And we can expect more and more of these patients. This would seem like even more reason for the PPACA, right? Nope, and here’s why:
The PPACA also has implications for providers. More stringent guidelines to provide more cost- effective care. Nothing wrong with that. One of the yardsticks with which providers will be measured is their readmission rates. Currently, there are a few diagnoses where hospitals are penalized for excessive readmissions. As a part of the PPACA, four more will be added by 2015. One of these is COPD.

And that is whete the respiratory therapist in me gets all fired up.

COPD. The bain of my existence. My livelihood. But these are the worst patients that CMS can use to penalize hospitals for readmissions. I understand the concept: if we’re doing our job, the patient won’t be readmitted within a certain time frame. The problem is this: while some COPD patients are dream patients, I would say the majority of my patients are non-compliant. They won’t quit smoking while their alveoli fight with each other for every breath. They pick and choose which of their respiratory meds they take and when. (No, inhaled steroids are not going to work if you only take them as needed, and you should not stop taking them just because they don’t work as rescue inhalers.) And toward the end, they could be in and out of the hospital every week. So if hospitals stop getting reimbursed adequately for these admissions, they lose progressively more money as time goes on. That is the same money they use to attract and recruit higher-credentialed staff. The same money they use to provide indigent care. The same money they use to obtain equipment. To maintain equipment.

But my other problem? We all speak of the access to care. Well, if you live in the U.S., you have access to care. If nothing else, you can go to an ER where we have to evaluate you. That is access. What is truly lacking is a way to pay for it.

Is the U.S. healthcare system having trouble? Yep. I don’t blame hospitals or providers. I don’t blame insurance providers. Thete are many pieces of the puzzle, in my humble opinion. Lawsuits. Malpractice insurance. ER abusers ( by this, I mean drug-seekers, etc.). Doctors being forced to practice defensive medicine. (And if you don’t buy that, ask me and I’ll tell you the crackhead story.) Drug patents. And us. Yes, us. We want the latest and best. When a standard x-ray is sufficient, we still want the CT. When a cheap generic drug will work, we want the brand. And doctors are stuck. Patient satisfaction is a reimbursement buzz word, and if they don’t give us what we want, we get upset and don’t stop until we get it. Whatever it is, it may not be the most cost-effective, or even the most effective. We need to leave doctoring to doctors.

So, yes. I am a healthcare professional. I am hopefully a future hospital administrator. And for all of these reasons and more, I am completely against the PPACA. And I will vote accordingly in November.

Toddler Challenges

Oh sweet merciful crap.

I never have enough time to blog about my Mommy Misadventures. My life is chaos, though right now, I am even off of work for a couple more weeks following the shoulder issues. We’ve had some big changes.

John got a job.

Zach started daycare (and abruptly stopped when I got put off of a work for a short while.)

I am wrapping up my undergrad business degree and preparing for grad school in a couple of short months.

But the biggest change is the challenges we are facing with Zach. Not that Zach is having trouble, but that we are a little bit. I forgot what the life was like of a mother of a toddler. I forget some of the simple stuff every day that one takes for granted. Like how it is no longer cool to have anything important within reach. Books will be pulled off of shelves. It will not matter if those books are expensive text books or cheap paperbacks–they all have equal right to destruction here. We do not discriminate in this house.

I forget how keys must be kept hidden from a toddler who loves them. It took a couple of occassions where we were frantically trying to find said keys while the alarm was going off on the car. Apparently that red panic button on the keyless entry is just to powerful to resist, but then you have to find the keys to turn it off.

Yes, you really can crawl around on the floor, picking up toy cars and blocks and puzzle pieces a million times a day.

The dial on the dishwasher has a gravitational pull that begs for little hands to mess with it.

The refrigerator is a fascinating place. And there is no appliance lock that can withstand the Power of Zachary. We have resorted to locking the fridge and sealing it with clear packing tape or we will end up restocking cans of soda, bags of cheese, gallons of milk, and a gajillion cups of Greek yogurt as often as we pick up toy cars/ blocks/ puzzle pieces.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, has power like a couple of plain M&Ms. Yeah, I know. Junk. Zach usually doesn’t get junk, but in a quest to find something to motivate him to use his words, his speech therapist recommended it. It worked. We try to limit its use to when the situation calls for the Big Guns.

DJ Lance What’s-His-Name on “Yo Gabba Gabba” looks strikingly like JJ from “Good Times”. And nothing will make a toddler giggle like these four words: I. Like. To. Dance!!!!! We can end any horrific mood with that one.

Words, coming from the mouth of a toddler who has a speech delay, are very interesting. Truck is Cuck. Except when he sees one and gets excited, shouting out the name, it doesn’t sound like CUCK. It sounds like a very vulgar term for male parts, and we get lots of looks. Similarly, when one has a southern husband who refers to pants as “britches”, and that same toddler gets a hold on that word…well, you can imagine what that sounds like. I remember the first time Zach came up to me, putting his little hand on the leg of my denim capris, saying, “Mama Bitch.” Gasp! Pause! ” Yes, Zach, those are Mama’s BRITCHES!”

The sliding window in the living room, which has a sliding screen, is a veritable Vortex. If it is opened the wrong way, one side is completely opened, no screen or anything. If it isn’t attached, isn’t too heavy, and isn’t too big, it’s going out that window. Yesterday, at various times through the day, I rescued my cell phone, the remote control, a binky, the beloved Lightening McQueen car, a ball, my planner, and the phone book. This morning, I cannot find the cell phone charger and must remind myself to check the shrubs under that window.

I’m reminded that, if you cannot say the word, it is perfectly acceptable to make up your own, so long as you are consistent. Lightening McQueen is loved in this house. But he isn’t Lightening. He’s Ahhhhhhh-Baba. I do not know. No idea. Not a clue. But that is his name. It is also the name for anything with the Cars logo on it. At all. And when these crazy “word approximations” (the term his speech therapist uses) come out, it is our job to know what he is saying, to speak his language so we can not only know what he wants, but repeaat the word back to him in correct form so he can learn.

Play-Doh balls aren’t for squishing and molding and playing. They are most obviously for throwing around the room.

Mashed ‘Tatoes are delicious. Until you have your fill. Then they are for finger-painting. On a similar note, it is perfectly normal to simply get tired of a spoon or fork mid-meal and just give up. And cutesy plates with cartoon characters don’t really encourage a child to eat like a human. They encourage the dumping of the food anywhere and everywhere just so you can see Mickey/ Elmo/ Lightening McQueen without all of that pesky food in the way.

Toys ‘R’Us has got to be the most identifiable store on the planet to a toddler who is in a car with a Mom who really just has to get somewhere NOW without stopping at Toys ‘R’ Us first.

It does not matter what it is. I you see it and want it, it should be yours and come home with you. The cart at Wally World. The ginormous aquarium at an orthopedic surgeon’s office. Every damned toy within a fifty-mile radius.

Toddlers create a challenge that, once we can say we have survived the toddler years, we often forget. I don’t remember having to do any of this stuff with Evan when he was Zach’s age. It isn’t that the kids are that different or that Evan was an angel and Zach is not. I just forgot. I let my mind slip because, while all of these seem like a massive pain, they are wha you do. This is a mom’s job, to teach a child to navigate the world around him. To tap into herself to see how keys really could be fascinating, how Toys ‘R’ Us really is a cool place, and finger-painting with mashed potatoes can be interesting. We see them do it, we try to prevent them from infringing on the rights of others in the process, and so long as it doesn’t hurt them, we let them carry on. They have their whole lives to learn lessons. Now is for them to learn of all of the little things in the world that can be so awesome. And I think we forget the challenges over time because, well, those challenges get completelyy overshadowed. You don’t see the mess, you see the smiles and hear the giggles and squeals of delight. You hear new words. You see the child you once nursed feed himself.

And you count every challenge of toddlerhood as a blessing. Because, lucky you, you get to witness every bit of it.