Saturday, April 30, 2011

Good, Bad or Crazy

Calvin and Hobbes discuss human nature and morality.


So, are people basically good with a few bad tendencies or basically bad with with a few good tendencies?

Lets discuss!

Personally, I think I'm going to go with crazy...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Parenting Reform

There are many philosophies and approaches to raising children. Some are old school strict, some are technology orientated, some like middle eastern influence while others like to harken back to the pre-industrial revolution and pre-modern medicine mindset.

(That last set would be the ones exposing my children to whooping cough.)

But you know what? It doesn't matter!

(Well, the whooping cough matters as I'm really not a fan of my children being at an increased risk of contracting horrible previously irradiated illnesses because of a grass roots movement founded on mis-education in the first place, but the philosophical principle behind the personal choice doesn't.)

So I'm proposing a new and revolutionary style of parenting. It is bold in it's concept and design, and the goal is of such loftiness it was previously dismissed as impossible to achieve outside of theory.

Do what works.

Do what works for you, for your children, for your family, for your life.

Absolutely crazy idea, I know, but stick with me here as I think it has some real merit to it. 

Parenthood doesn't have to be some big preconceived notion of how everything will go (and lets face it, even if you had one it'll be so totally wrong), and beyond a few very basic levels of not committing child abuse, neglect, or endangerment there are no fundamental right or wrong ways to do it.

Each parent is a unique person, and each child is a unique person, and each family is a unique unit operating inside of a unique society.

And each of those unique characters have their own individual personalities, preferences, needs, wants, priorities and skills which they bring to the table.

What works great for one would be terrible for another, and that's ok.

Do you enjoy snuggling with your children and can think of nothing better than having little arms wrapped around you all night long? Excellent, enjoy co-sleeping and having that huge family bed.

Do you like to have a little privacy/alone time and are unable to sleep when you are sharing a bed with your child because they spend the whole night kicking you in the gut or stealing the pillow, and then like to greet you in the morning by peeing on you? Excellent, enjoy your separate bedrooms and ability to shut the door.

Do you find breastfeeding to be the most fulling and gratifying experience of your life? Sounds great, treasure nursing while it lasts and feel free to make it last as long as you want.

Do you find subjecting yourself to the little barracuda to be a torturous experience and want nothing more than to burn your ugly nursing bras? Sounds great, just don't forget to buy extra bottle nipples for when your baby keeps chewing holes in them.

Do you love shopping for high end children's clothing and have the financial security to indulge to your hearts desire? Awesome, they'll be surly teenagers who only want to wear black soon enough.

Do you only clothe your children in hand-me-downs either on resource conservation principle or out of financial need? Awesome, way to go being resourceful and budget minded.

Do you eat dinner out most nights because nobody in your family wants to cook? Yummy, and major props to you for having children behaved well enough to make going to a restaurant not be level 4 in your personal hell.

Do you cook all meals at home from scratch to meet special dietary needs and budget? Yummy, and major props to you for having children behaved well enough to let you work your magic in the kitchen.

Do you start enthusiastically working on learning letters and potty training well before your children hit age two? Wow, it's really nice that you're spending so much time with your kids.

Do you spend every afternoon snuggled up on the couch watching some Disney animation and eating goldfish with your little bunch? Wow, it's really nice that you're spending so much time with your kids.

There is no right or wrong way here. And there are many levels in between the extremes. And each day may require something different. And everything changes in 6 months anyways.

And that really is all ok.

There's no need to judge others or to be judged.

Live and let live, parent and let parent.

And then lets do a group hug and sing Kumbaya, to fully embrace the acceptance and love for all other living---

*gag*

Ok, I got a little carried away there, sorry about that. Lets recap with the original non-over-the-top-mushy thesis statement and call it good.

Do what works.

It's short, simple, and pure awesomeness.

(Really sorry about the singing part back there, I don't know what came over me so I'm going to dismiss it with the always good cop out of saying "it was just that time of the month" and promise to be a less nauseating blogger in the future.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Outtakes

The girls were absolutely adorable all dolled up in their Easter finery, and of course caused quite the camera clicking frenzy.

However, they weren't in their most photogenic mood that morning.

So here are all the awesomely awful best dressed outtakes:

 Kristina giving the headlock hug. Take note of Adrianna's matching hat on the floor, where she promptly deposited it every time I attempted to put it on her head. 

 "Can I take your picture with your Easter basket?" 
"NOOOOOO!" 
*Flomp*

Adrianna saw a tie for the first time. And wanted it.

But WHHHHHY do you want to take my picture??

You can sit us here together but you can't make us smile.

 The lesser known cousin of the Easter Bunny, the Easter Thief, making off with my wallet.

Curls? Check. Dress? Check check. Little lady? Uhh..... to be determined.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Best Dressed Sugar Comas

Easter morning, like most, began far to early here with Adrianna toddling in just after 5am with her blankie in tow and excited started to squeak her little "cat! cat! cat!" in response to the orange furball who had been so happily curled up and sound asleep by me.

The cat, have at least some amount of feline instincts, made his quick departure as I scooped up the little peanut and attempted to nestle down and go back to sleep with her in bed with me.

She spent the next hour alternating between pulling my hair and poking her little sharp toes against my ribs, and just when she started to look like she really might actually doze back off Kristina awoke and excitedly bounded into the room with demands of seeing the Easter Bunny.

I cannot begin to properly convey through text alone the sigh that goes through a person's soul when they realize that morning had come whether they wanted it too or not, and that a long day has already begun. But this was the sigh I gave as I hauled myself up into a sitting position and attempted to rub some sight back into my eyes.

It had snowed again last night, only a few inches but enough to make the world damp and as un-spring-looking as imaginable. It also created an intense degree of mud on all of the dirt roads and parking lots, and caused another one of those soul despairing sighs to emerge as I thought of the girls spring dresses and sandals they were to wear to church that morning. 

The Easter Bunny did not disappoint, and the girls were delighted with their baskets and the hunt for the chocolate filled eggs around the house. It was one of the mornings where I really wished I drank coffee, as the fabled jolt would have been much appreciated. I miss the mornings when I could wake up and have a few moments to orient myself, to blink away the sleep, to gear myself up for the day.

(I also miss the mornings when I could get dressed without company or the need to repeatedly run out of the bathroom to referee in all sorts of half-dressed states.)

Eventually the girls were settled in front of some Sesame Street as they gorged on egg shaped M&Ms and the adults were able to partake in pancakes so graciously made by my mother.

The floral dresses had been ironed the day before and were sitting on hangers ready to go. This year featured matching ones from Gymboree, in a sweet yet bright green and pink bold floral print, which were only remotely affordable because the girls have enough hand-me-downs sitting on their shelves to clothe them for the next three seasons at least and was able to catch them on sale with coupon. My buying habits would be a very different story if I also needed to buy them the plethora basic t-shirts and jeans we are accustomed to having.

Getting two small children dressed together with only one adult in the room always resembles a bit of a mad house, but it's a mad house we embrace every day and somewhere along the line stopped feeling like dreaded chaos and merely became another fact of life along with wakeful nights and poopy diapers.

I had enough sense at least to purchase accompanying tights and sweaters for the dresses, full well knowing it wasn't likely to be balmy out, and as one small grace the girls did seem to genuinely like the dresses. They had an extra layer of tulle netting under the skirt to make them stand out at appropriate poof levels, and both have been particularly enamored with tutus in general the last little bit.

(In retrospect, they both would have probably preferred tutus in the first place. I suppose there's always next year.)

I had put Kristina's hair in rollers for the first time the evening before, and she came out of it with some precious pigtails full of curls. Adrianna had wanted rollers as well, and was not to be differed by what she saw as completely irrelevant details such as her minimal quantities of hair. I did my best to secure one on the top of her head, although it ultimately brought about her hair sticking up akin to Alfalfa on The Little Rascals instead of a sweet curl up top.

Going to the Easter Sunday service came with it's own unique challenges, such as loading the children into their car seats without getting them or ourselves covered in mud, as the car was quite the dirty beast. Unloading at the church was even more hazardous, as the parking was on dirt which had been turned into a true quagmire of mud and snow and necessitated carrying of some sandal wearing little feet.

I managed to escape the unloading miraculously without getting mud on my skirt, but the car did decide to sneakily drip some onto the top of my foot and my poor heels have taken up a permanent mud line as a result of walking through it.

I was struck by the look of some of the Nederland kids there on Easter morning. I had forgotten that they have a certain look about them, despite having kindergarten pictures with me lined up amongst them and working at a preschool full of them a few years back. I think it's a combination of wearing snowboots with everything, and it always seeming like clothes are the wrong size and in strange pairings. Some of it I'm sure comes from many of the mountain folk not having much money (or not receiving ample quantities of high quality hand-me-downs), but I think there's also an aspect contributed from the parents and their lack of direction on what to wear. Mountain kids are the ones who go begin school when they're 5 or 6 having never held a crayon or used scissors before. They have hardly ever been read to, much less encouraged to write their name, and their time is spent amusing themselves with what little they have on hand. They learn to take care of themselves early, and to work hard for what they have.

The children's sermon involved 'the colors of Easter' and resulted in jellybean filled eggs being distributed. Kristina happily went off with the rest of them to dip pastel bunny peeps in chocolate (and then eat them, of course), while Adrianna insisted on staying with me and then entertained herself by toddling around the congregation, showing people her jellybeans. Thankfully most are down right amused by her antics, and all seem to tolerate her in stride.

After the service, Adrianna enjoyed a chocolate dipped pink marshmallow as well, and manged to pink the front of my white shirt while she was at it instantly, most certainly reaffirming why I hardly ever wear white tops these days.

By the time we got the girls home again, a true sugar high had set in and they were starting to go more than a little bonkers. Kristina also managed to put a nice layer of mud on her dress exiting the car, and then needed a little coxing to be convinced to change her clothes so I could get it in the wash in hopes of it continuing to be her go to nice dress for the next couple of seasons.

The afternoon was spent reiterating that yes the chocolate was all gone, no they could not have a special treat, yes it was still Easter, and no the Easter Bunny was not going to lay them more chocolate filled eggs from his butt. 

Happy Easter and spring!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Evil Easter Bunny

Kristina is getting quite the reputation around here for her reaction to people in character costumes.

She had never been agreeable to sitting with Santa, and at the time I simply dismissed it as the age, as there many an 18 month old who will scream bloody murder at the sight of the jolly old elf.

(Or so I keep telling myself.)

But then we went to Disneyland, and I started to get the inkling that my child's irrational fear of large costumed individuals and subsequent flipping shit hypertension  might be something more than I had previously thought.

And then her preschool put on a Halloween parade and had a couple of low level teachers dress up as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and Kristina absolutely would not go into the same room as them.

And then Christmas came around again.

Every time we went to the mall she'd have a panic attack at the sight of Santa. Again. Even though I've never made her sit with him in her life and continue to reiterate that she doesn't have to go near him if she doesn't want to.

She freaked out during her dance class when the instructor said Santa Clause was going to come dance with them on stage during their holiday recital in a few weeks.

(Serious thanks to the powers that be that kept that one from happening so my child would actually go dance.)

And spent a great deal of time asking for Santa to NOT visit her, NOT come into the house, and NOT leave her presents.

So let me tell you, I was just thrilled when malls brought out the Easter Bunny this spring.

However, I'd been fairly successful in keeping her steered pretty well away from the giant rodent photo opt display, and she seemed to be doing alright with hearing about his existence at school and such.

(As I sure as hell wasn't going to be opening that Pandora's box anytime soon and try to tell her about more creatures visiting out house.)

And then we went to the Bunny Train day on the day before Easter at the Golden Train Museum.

We'd had a few rough moments with the trains that morning, and her being startled by whistles and the loud steam let off, but she seemed to be coping pretty well with everything once we got settled for our ride.

There were volunteers passing out candy, and she was having just a delightful conversation about candy filled holidays with the boy sitting across from her while enjoying going around the park on the choo-choo a few times.

And then, he appeared.

The Easter Bunny. Outside. Greeting the children waiting in line for the next train and giving them plastic pastel eggs presumably filled with candy and/or small toys.



And you know what? Kristina actually seemed excited about it! She was even talking about giving him a hug, which was totally causing some serious disbelief in yours truly (as I would have been seriously impressed if she just got within 10 feet of the critter without flipping out), and about what color egg she wanted.

Good stuff, I thought. So nice that she's getting over it all on her--

And then we got off the train.

And she started screaming and wouldn't walk back to the main building because he was between it and her. 

Ah well, maybe in another year.

Or like, twelve....

(And the adorable little pumpkin sitting oh so cutely with Easter Bunny would be the girls' cousin Aerik.)

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Post-Nusing Breast

There's been more circulation among the lactavist crowd (again, stupid name. Lets just go with the "I make milk, what's your super power" motto and call it good, mmkay?) recently about the myth that breastfeeding makes the boobies sag and claiming studies showing otherwise.

And I would just like to boldly call bullshit on that one.

Alright, "sag" might not be the most accurate adjective. But does breastfeeding significantly and permanently change the shape, form, texture, appearance, and other details of the breasts? You betcha.

(This is much like the urban legend that going through pregnancy significantly changes the shape, form, texture, appearance and other details of the abdomen region. So how come nobody's publishing work about how a saggy cottage cheese postpartum tummy is just a myth? Oh right, cause it's totally not.)

Over the course of nursing both the girls past their first birthdays, my boobs got HUGE. It was pretty awesome, once I managed to stop being overly self conscience about their enlarged state and started to rock the new body proportions.

Ice cream make nursing better.
(Also, learning to buy bigger shirts so I didn't look like a hooker was helpful.)

Granted, the Kristina nursing boobage was more than a little lopsided as a result of her stubborn right only diet, but I am a resourceful person and showed little qualm for using extra nursing pads (to a possibly slightly excessive degree) and pumping regiment to help even things out.

And then I got to prance around with E sized lovely ladies.

And then I weaned her........

Cold turkey. No ifs ands or buts about it. Nursing was D.O.N.E.

Which meant the boobage got even huger than it had been for the following week on account of "engorgement". 

(Deff: Engorgement- The horrible fate which becomes lactating breasts when they have an excess supply of milk and which brings about high levels of pain and suffering to all parties involved. Also, frequently seen to increase breast size, sometimes to dramatic degrees, while also making them the consistency of sidewalk.)

((Deff: Stupid husband- He who tries to touch the engorged breast.))

I happened to be at one of my all time lowest adult weights at the time, which also meant lowest amount of excess body fat (and lets face it, nearly all of my excess body fat is located in the bottom region anyways), and it resulted in there being absolutely nothing left for breast-ness beyond a couple of pouches of excessively stretched out skin once the comically-huge-and-painful-rocks-formerly-known-as-breasts went away.

I wasn't exactly thrilled with that particular development.

But, again being the resourceful and full of problem solving capabilities person that I am, I simply decided that I could fix the problem with some nicely padded pushup bras.

After all, they worked well enough in high school.

It took a little work to find some undergarments that didn't make the excess skin rippling effect unbearably worse (and a steep learning curve to figure out how to tuck them into bras to minimize this effect as well), but I did eventually adapt to the change in boobage and bras. I also put on a little weight, which helped to a marginal degree to make them seem less empty.

And then I got pregnant again!

And get this, the exact same thing (minus the extreme degree of lopsidedness) happened again!!

More deflated stretched out skin chest sacks for me! Woot!!

So yes, breastfeeding may not directly cause boobs sagging down to the knees, but it DOES irreversibly change them.

And the hippie lactivists claiming otherwise are probably only doing so because they have yet to actually wean their 5 year old and don't fully understand what all happens when the milk dries up.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April Showers Bring Snow Bunnies

We lived up in the semi-rural mountains of Colorado for a good portion of my elementary school years, not all that far from where my parents (and me, by default of living in their basement) live now.

Colorado in general does not get snow in the winter. Spring time had the highest snow fall, and there's usually even more snow on Halloween than on Christmas.

(Long running joke: You know you're from Colorado when all Halloween costumes are designed to fit over snowsuits.)

Me and Snowbunny, circa 1991
((As a result of this upbringing, I nearly gave my toddler heat stroke on the Halloween we were in Oklahoma by putting her in a full body warm fuzzy tiger costume when was 80 degrees outside at trick-or-treating time because it had never previously occurred to me that a costume could possibly be too hot.))

And because of the heavy snow fall being at seasonally prime times besides snowman season, I would often spend most of my snow packing days making snowbunnies.

Note the stunning portrait  of me (age 6) and my bunny creation to the right, and my magnificent artistic details such as whiskers, a snowegg, and his very own little pink Easter basket.

However, in my years since leaving Colorado, I had forgotten why, exactly, it was that I always built snowbunnies instead of the more usual snowmen.

And then I moved back to the mountains and got a lovely reminder last week.

The official count was 14" of snow accumulated overnight.

In the middle of April.

Lovely day for a picnic, no?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bunny Time

Kristina came home from preschool last week excitedly talking about how the Easter Bunny is going to visit her house and hide eggs and candy for her.

And she then asked where the Easter Bunny's reindeer were. 

Huh.

I suppose the "Easter Bunny"  had better hop to it and get right on that egg and candy thing.

Right after explaining how only Santa Clause has reindeer.

Adrianna & Kristina 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Parenting Fail: Get Well Note

In preparation of Kristina getting her tonsils out, out I had put together a care package for little sister Adrianna and Grandpa to deliver during their visit to her post surgery.

It had a nice little collection of fresh-from-the-store quiet play activities and a couple new books to read, not to mention the joy of it's surprise arrival and the act of opening to help lift the spirits of my presumed lethargic and crummy feeling child.

Well, she was excited to open it.

And then barely played with any of it (although Adrianna had a blast with the purple tissue paper), refused to even let me crack a book to read to her (not to mention anything from the absolutely overflowing bookcase of books in the playroom we could have used), and spent most of her Codine laden recovery driving a Little Tykes car up and down the pediatrics wing hallways like she was auditioning for Nascar while I chased after her with the IV bag. 

Oh, and eating ice cream. 

But, as part of my careful (and ultimately unneeded) preplanning, I even put a sweet little note on the bag for her, thinking I might steal it back later to stick in her babybook.

You know, assuming I someday FIND her babybook again and get around to updating it. Or that cute scrap book that had a total of 3 pages done in it before never being touched again, it could certainly go in that as well with some cute pictures of her eating ice cream.

(Dearest Adrianna, you do HAVE a babybook, which I think I may have even managed to write your name in, and I really do have plans of making an equally undone scrapbook for you too.)

And then, I noticed something....

Feel better soo!
Apparently I was writing quickly and forgot some slight details in regards to spelling. 

Oops....

Perhaps it wont make it's way into the babybook after all. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Geographically Declined

Geography has never been my strong suite.

In fact, I'm fairly certain that some of my all time lowest test scores ever involved that particular subject.

(Well, that and spelling.)

(And pretty much middle school in general.)

One of my courses in college had an exam worth 20% of our final grade over the countries of the world and their capitals.

(Apparently my major of International Relations actually needed to include international stuff. Go figure.)

And when this was announced while going over the syllabus the first day of class, I started to twitch.

I had 3 weeks to learn hundreds of them..... Well, hundreds minus the two or so I already knew. Regardless, it wasn't going to be a pretty picture.

[Side note: the courses at Cornell College are done one at a time for just under a month. Weird schedule compared to most universities and really intense learning wise, but I totally rocked at it.]

So I promptly set about drilling my ass off emphatically studying maps and lists of countries and capitals at every opportunity. Peter was indispensably helpful in this matter, and much of my (very marginal) success at learning them should be accredited to him.

He came up with little euphemisms associating the countries with their correct capitals (it also greatly helped that he actually knew a reasonable number of them before hand, while my prior knowledge was truly disgraceful and makes one wonder how on earth I ever graduated from the International Baccalaureate program in high school), and quizzed me on them at every opportunity.

This also meant that lunch break conversation for those three weeks went like this:

P: What's the capital of Belgium?
M: Brussels! Because you want chocolate but get brussel sprouts instead!!


P: What's the capital of Taiwan?
M: Taipei! Because I want and you pay!!

Others at our geeky cafeteria table would vary in reaction from amusement to helpful suggestions for other ones to thinking we were seriously loosing it.

But one of the guys who often sat with us was in the same class with me and totally understood exactly what we were doing. And then decided to use me as the test for his hypothesis that it was actually impossible for somebody to learn all the countries and their respective capitals with no prior knowledge over the length of the class, regardless of how hard they worked at it. 

And, in some sense, I did prove him right.

The exam was administered, it included both map labels and capital/country answering, and I got 68 out of 100 right on it. 

But hey, I managed to pull a B out of that class anyways.

(For the record, I scored better than him on the LSAT. And four years later he's a successful lawyer and I'm an unemployable mommy, supporting my current hypothesis that academic success doesn't matter worth shit once you're out of school.)
"War is God's way of teaching Americans geography."
-Ambrose Bierce

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Local Plug: Enviromentalist Children's Music

I recently took the girls to a preschool age kiddo shindig at Chautauqua, and in addition to face painting, seed planting, and sandbox dinosaur fossil finding there was a performance put on by Jeff Kagan and Paige Doughty.

It wasn't the concert highlight of my year, but Kristina thought it was pretty awesome.

And in the genre of children's music, it had some good stuff going for it.

First up, they are original songs. This is an EXTREMELY important detail when you've been listening to the same soul-sapping versions of "Wheels on the Bus" and "Old MacDonald" for a couple of years and are about ready to chuck that CD out the car window if your children demands for it to be put on one. more. time.

(Whomever decided little children's squeaky voices were the ideal medium for recording annoying and overly repetitive intellectually numbing songs never had to listen to them. Repeatedly.)

They are extremely "local" to Boulder CO, both in where they live and preform and with the subject matter of their songs. That has a certain level of cool uniqueness to it as well as the appeal of supporting the local economy and people working to make a livelihood here.

(Even better to support: local Colorado breweries.)

(And no, that does not include Coors Light.)

That said, a few of the songs are little.... weird hippyish overtly environmental conservation minded. 

I kid you not, there was one they preformed about using alternative energy sources.

But most, like this Thank You Honeybee (which is the only one they've made a music video of so far) are really rather cute and instant hits with the 3&4 year old crowd.



And should you bee (buzz buzz) so inclined, the CDs can be bought online here.

Rock on hippy children's music writers, rock on. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Rample Is Worth A Thousand Words

Today I thought I would give a glimpse into how my brain works on sorting out life. I'm going to use specific examples, but the process is the same and repeated with only slight variances with all the job searching I do.

I recently applied for a position as a Courtroom Assistant I for the Aurora Municipal Judicial System, which is happens to be remarkably similar to my ideal employment situation at the moment.

Except for one teeny tiny little detail.

It pays $13 an hour.

Can I (with children) actually LIVE on $13 an hour?

I started with looking for housing (I'm a total house hunting nerd), and actually found several apartments (on the smaller side to be sure, but still within the probably-not-going-to-loose-my-sanity size range) listed on Craigslist in the neighborhood of $650 a month.

Life wouldn't be glamorous, but I think I could afford rent and groceries in the same month with that.

But then I did a little more searching. And was slightly terrified by the online reviews of these complexes.

(There's just something about repeat fatal gang shootings that makes me a little squeamish.)

So then I thought I'd take a gander into what was available to buy. I'm not jumping up and down to deal with that whole process again just yet, but I'm also well aware of how much lower a mortgage payment is than the comparable renal price of a place.

Single family homes didn't turn up anything I would actually consider buying in the super cheap price range (as I am making the assumption that by buying I would live there for more than a year and thus have higher expectations of what it would have. And I just don't do trailers), so I moved on to the condos/townhouses search.

And found one that was more than a little appealing.

The list price is $55,000 and their auto calculator for mortgage and taxes and HOA dues puts it at $576.49 a month. Insurance would be extra on that, but if I'm remembering right the insurance on the condo we owned in Iowa was really cheap because they didn't have to recover replacement costs of structural stuff and the outside.

It was built in the 1970s, and has just over 1500 square feet plus an unfinished basement (which they're claiming is easily finishable). It has 3 bedrooms upstairs, and a total of 3 baths with two upstairs and one on the main level.

(That means I'd have my own private bathroom, the remote prospect of which brings me immense joy).

The kitchen isn't stunning or particularly large, but it has a usable looking layout and also what appear to be reasonably modern (if slightly mismatched) appliances.

Although the green paint color throughout the living space isn't one I would have chosen, I was stuck by the thought that it would look reasonably nice with our couch. 

And owning means painting (should I ever actually be motivated) would be a very viable option, and would certainly make the process of creating the required pink bedroom much easier.

I was a little confused how exactly the outdoor space works with this specific townhouse unit (as doesn't have enough pictures from the right angles up online), but it has a couple nice views of grassy areas and trees and makes a claim of "lots of play area outside for the kids", so I'm going to go with it being alright.

And being a townhouse unit means that all the yard care and snow removal is (almost always) done by the home owners association.

I know absolutely nothing about the city layout of Aurora, but googlemaps claims I can leave the townhouse, go by a Kindercare facility, go by the local elementary school, and drive to the municipal building in 10 minutes without touching an interstate and only driving 3.2 miles total. I'm cool with that.

The city itself is on the wrong side of Denver from where I'd ideally like to be, as it's most definitely getting a good ways south and east from the Boulder area.

However, the remote prospect of being able to live on my own with an hourly wage like that does quite a lot to counter balance the location.

The biggest variable in all of my calculations for anything is childcare costs. I know how much my car payment is, and can take a reasonable guess at a monthly utility bill stacked on top of housing payments.

But full time care at a decent center ranges anywhere from $400 to $2,000 a month (or MORE) per child.

My hope is that Peter will be covering child care costs with his child support/paycheck generosity. And his ability to fully do so really does depend on what exactly those costs are (as, unfortunately, his paycheck isn't infinite either).

However, from the familiarity I have with childcare facilities and the looking I've done into program costs in Colorado, it DOES appear that the prices generally match the housing costs of the area.

The pricier to rent, the pricier to get childcare.

And Aurora isn't particularly pricey to rent in, especially compared to Boulder or the Capital Hill region of Denver (that's the good area with the big old houses right by the zoo). So perhaps childcare would be more reasonably priced too.... as long as I can find a center that's not in the middle of those fatal shootings zones.......

Monday, April 18, 2011

For Sale By Owner

Dearest Children,

If you don't start sleeping between the hours of midnight and 5am soon I really might follow through on that threat to sell you.

Sincerely,
Management

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pricey Playhouse

Every so often I come across something particularly remarkable for sale.

Most recently, I discovered that my children are lacking a vital piece of outdoor play equipment: The
Pirate Playhouse, very modestly priced at $27,000.

But I started thinking, as cool as a pirate ship/tree house combo is, am I sure that this is the best thing on the market? After all, if I'm going to be spending the price of a small house or state college education on something my children will outgrow in less than 10 years, I at least ought to make sure it is the most awesome piece of ridiculously overpriced indulgence out there. It just wouldn't do for the girls to have anything less than the cream of the crop when I spend my entire annual salary of my potential hypothetical job on this back yard monstrosity.

There's The Grand Victorian, which has square footage to rival a small apartment. Perhaps I should just buy one for us to live in. It really doesn't have much else going for it beyond being a ridiculously sized miniature grand Victorian playhouse.


The same company also offers a much more modest Sassafras Castle, which for a playhouse isn't bad but for a castle is a little lacking. Also, it does not include a dragon (a serious marketing oversight, if I do say do myself.)

However, as it is at the mere $6,999 price point, it might not be a bad option for the grandparents' house or our vacation home.

(Note to self: buy vacation home.)

And with the savings, we could get a nice mastiff  or dozen to guard the place.

However, as I was doing some comparison shopping for truly ridiculously priced children's toys, I realized that my original pirate ship just isn't the top of the line.

No no, for my little buccaneers (buccaneeras?) to truly have the top of the line pirate ship playhouse experience, we need to go with this puppy.


Red Beards Revenge Pirate Ship Playhouse, priced at a mere $52,000.

But then again, perhaps I am thinking to big.

After all, even the most luxurious of abodes (which I'm sure we will be aboding in soon. You know, once I make my big break as a country music star and get paid a few million a day for my marginal musical ability.) can be tight on outdoor space if they are in the city.

How about I settle for a $645 children's step stool instead? It's certainly not like I could take that fifteen dollar one I got from Target last year and paint a few flowers on it for the exact same effect.....



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Whoop Whoop

When I started into this whole motherhood thing, I was pretty clueless to most of the parenting varieties beyond the mainstream modifications that were used in formal childcare settings.

(Ok, I was pretty clueless about everything being 21, but those are minor details.)

I had gone out and bought bottles for Kristina shortly after finding out I was pregnant after having determined long ago the best of the best from feeding babies in my care while giving absolutely no thought as to what, exactly, would be put in them until my pregnancy book said we'd have to decide whether to nurse or use formula or some combination of the two.

(Turns out pregnancy books contain, on occasion, information beyond detailed descriptions of all the ways things could go horribly, horribly wrong.)
I knew clothe diapers existed (and there's a great family story about how I wore them as a baby but then insisted on wearing disposables instead), but I had no idea that they now existed in a form beyond the white rectangles my mother used as dust rags during my childhood.

(By the way, there are MANY types of clothe diapers around these days with all sorts of different technical details of which I know very little but kinda wish I'd looked into more back when I first got into the baby business since some really do seem rather spify.)

((Also, ruffled bums.))

I knew drug free homebirths were certainly possible, but had no interest in going that route and tended to equate them to more of the third world where hospitals don't really exist.

I knew some parents fed their children very strict diets and that some nursed well into the toddler years, but was totally happy with the one year mark for a personal breastfeeding goal and couldn't imagine depriving my offspring of the joys of french fries.

But I didn't know parents (smart, well educated, slightly aged, and way more "adult" than me) would purposefully choose to not vaccinate their children.

And despite gaining more knowledge and appreciation for alternative parenting methods (and stumbling across some, like cosleeping, out of survival instinct), I still do not get the elective unvaccinations.

Right now, whooping cough has been breaking out amongst the children in Nederland.

(WHOOPING COUGH!)

And I'm starting to freak out just a little bit about it.

Now the girls have been vaccinated on schedule (although each state we've moved too has argued about which vaccines should be given when and somehow they'd go from being completely uptodate to needing another three or four ASAP simply by moving across the country), and I keep refering to this point as I despretly try to un-freak about the whole thing.

(That, and telling myself how this is just Dawinism taking out the stupid anti-modern-medicine mountain hippies by killing off their children with Victorian era deseases.)

But Adrianna is late for her 15 month immunizations.

She keeps getting the creeping crud always going around, and each time I bring her in for a cold or an ear infection the doctor wants to bump the shots back another week so she's not sick for them.

And although she's only technically a week past her 15 month birthday, the well-baby appointment has gotten moved back three times and is now at the end of April. What if it keeps getting moved? Is it even a whooping cough vaccination appointment? I totally didn't think of asking that when we were there two days ago for her latest ear infection! Just how important is the time line? Would she suddenly be vulnerable for getting it (and who knows what else) when she hits 16 months?? Wasn't whooping cough a total epidemic in California children a little while back????

*breathe*

*focus*

*get the Lysol and bleach*

*contine blogging*

Also not helping is the circulating literature including the note of "pertussis can occur in fully immunized individuals".

*twitch*

Oh, and I was never fully vaccinated for it either when I had a bad reaction to the first round of it as a baby, which means if the girls get it from the hippie kids at preschool or the library and spread it to me I just might die.

Did Adrianna just cough??

I think I need to go Lysol my children a few more times.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Too Young To Work

In all the job applications I've been doing in a dedicated attempt to get a real job, there have been many questions that are posed about the last 10 years.

Where have you lived for the last 10 years?

I actually had to go look up several of the addresses the first time (and save them for future reference), as there are 8 of them and my brain is a little dumbified from all the pregnancy/nursing/motherhood depletion of functioning neurons.

Have you had any traffic violations in the last 10 years?

Dude, I was 15 with a learners permit 10 years ago. So, yes. My two (on record) vehicle operating oopsies during the high school years are still giving me grief. So much for feeling all grown up.

Have you used any illegal drugs in the last 10 years?

Well, I haven't used any at all, but if I had I'm pretty sure it would have been during those stupid teenage ones, which would still fall into the last 10 years time line. So lookie there, one thing I did good in preparing for my future!

But those aren't even the worst of the questions.

The most dreaded one of all:

What's the longest you've held a full time position? 

The longest I have worked a full time job in my life has been 9 months (during which I was pregnant the entire time), which means I get to check the "Less than a year" box.

Got a little busy moving all over the country and having babies and all.

But I still don't think that looks overly good on the job application forms.

*sigh*

It's hard only being 25 and needing to live the life of a grown up.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Me Too

Adrianna is absolutely convinced that she can do anything Kristina can.

The two and half year age difference is completely irrelavent to the little peanut, and she is very insistant on not being left out of ANYTHING.

Drinking out of a regular glass? You betcha.

Helping Grandma cook in the kitchen? Of course.

Sitting on the regular swings? Why not!

(Oh right, because you don't know how to hold on yet and fall off immediately and then get whacked in the head by the swing when you try to get up.)

((Small details, I know.))

And the latest and greatest (not to mention adorable) "me too!" moment involved the recent arrival of the infamous little pink potty.


Monkey see, monkey want to make doodoo too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Parenting Fail: The Letter K

Kristina has recently been on quite the alphabet kick, which is really awesome because for a while there I kept trying to teach her letters and she had no interest whatsoever in learning them and I was beginning to despair that she wouldn't be able to write her name before Kindergarten and would forever be shamed with the label of the least advanced child in the family.

But she seems to have come up to the next developmental milestone all on her own in regards to reading and writing.

And in addition to trying exceptionally hard to write letters, she has also really started to enjoy pointing them out at any opportunity.

And her most favoritist letter of all to find is, of course, the letter K.

Thus I am frequently privileged to have all the K's pointed out to me by her on signs, license plates, newspaper headlines, books and any other source of text which we encounter throughout daily life.

Now I also need to tell you that I keep a journal from time to time, mostly for writing particularly whiny laments (or like, the stuff that would just be better not to publish to the world under my real name) and doodling.

And a few weeks ago, I was feeling a particularly frustrated and embittered towards the general state of my life at one point (which really isn't particularly surprising considering the state that it's in, with things like children who like to be awake between the hours of midnight and 3am and my complete sucking at getting a job in the last 4 months prominantly featured), and was creatively expressing that through some large and bold font work in said journal. 
Dramatic recreation of the event in question.

And then I accidently left it sitting open on the floor next to my bed.

And Kristina, being the bright and inquisitive child that she is, walked in the next morning and promptly exclaimed "Look Mama! The Letter K!! TWO Letter Ks!!"

But hey, at least she can't actually read yet and wasn't asking me what that nice word containing the letter K meant. That means it wasn't too terrible, right?

Oye.....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Also Available in Gray

Practicle jokes run the gammet from funny to down right cruel.

Most of the time I prefer to be left out of them entirely, but every so often something comes along that is down right epic.

A few nights ago, I made a quick run into Nederland to grab a few things (ok, it was totally a beer run, but that just sounds so unclassy), and my car got tagged in the most awesome way ever.



Do you see it??

That would be "ALSO AVAILABLE IN GRAY" written into the exceptionally dirty and mud caked bottom half of my car.

And it made me laugh.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Think About You All The Time

I have noticed something about me.

I am substantially better at rekindling old friendships than making new ones.

(And I still kinda suck at that....)

I recently got friended on facebook by a girl I went to school with in the 2nd grade.

We went to different schools the following year, but still got together with some regularity for playdates for the next few years.

And I would go over to her house for a Halloween sleepover at the very least for a few more years after we stopped seeing each other very much.

Then we ended up at the same annual holiday recital for put on by the go-to wind/brass instrument teacher in the area.

(I'm judging his popularity merely by the fact that just about everyone I knew in middle/high school who took private lessons took them from him.)

And then we attended the same high school, although we barely ever saw each other and never even had a class together.

However, we did have a few overlapping friends thanks to her playing the sax in Jazz Band and me being constantly teased by sitting in front of the saxophone section in Marching Band, which is how I popped up on her facebook profile as a friend suggestion in the first place. 

(For the record, dearest saxophone players, your instrument isn't that great. In fact, it often sounds like the misbegotten red headed stepchild from a closed mouth affair between a clarinet and a trumpet which is in desperate need of being taken out back and shot to be put out of it's misery. And you all have egos of ridiculously inflated size, which is a rather unbecoming trait for a section.)

(And if you call my clarinet an ugly stick again, I will beat you with it.)

((Ahem.))

*goes back to re-read first half of blog post to remember where this all was supposed to be going in the first place*

Right, old friendships.

So, since she friended me we exchanged a dozen several paragraph messages catching up on the excitement of life (turns out I'm not the only one who manages to get an ex-husband by the age of 25), and she keeps telling me that I should give her a call sometime.

And I totally should!

And yet, I haven't......

Because I really suck at that and I don't know why. I have numerous past-lifetime friends who would be more than happy to chat away with me were I to give them a call. And yet, somehow, it's remarkably hard for me to do.

I long ago gave up trying to talk on the phone with children around.

And then, when evening comes and there might be a few hours of peace, I'm tired. I want to flake out in front of the tv, or send in more job applications, or shower, or write blog posts, or do really stupid time killing things on the internet just because I want a brief distraction from my life.

Or even just have a few minutes to be alone in my head without the constant clambering for my attention. 

So I don't pick up the phone as  much as a should. And when I do, I tend to call people who I know are safe, those who I know will ramble about all sorts of things that have nothing at all to do with my personal affairs and expect nothing more out of me than an opinion of a new song or the occasional chuckle at a lame joke.

Someone I haven't spoken to in years isn't safe. They might ask me questions I don't know how to answer. They might have opinions about things I don't want to hear. They might expect me to be have brain function on a really random adult topic like current political events.

Or they might not answer their phone at all.

But that doesn't mean I don't think about them. Or that I don't say "I should really give so-and-so a call one of these days" on a nearly daily basis for months without ever managing to do anything about it.




Caledonia, by Celtic Woman

Let me tell you that I love you, that I think about you all the time....
But if I should become a stranger, know that it would make me more than sad.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Half of Motherhood

Motherhood has it's share of unperks. 

No, I am not talking about the unperkiness of post-nursing boobs.

(Two words: push-up bras)

I am talking about all those extra special experiences the little darlings like to save just for their Mamas.

Or at least the ones mine like to save for me. I'm fairly certain they really could pass this extra special kind of love onto Daddy (or Grandma, or Auntie Ali, or that overly friendly cashier at Target last week for that matter), but they like to make sure their Mama feels the exclusive adoration.

Incidents like how spit up always landed on my hair. 

Incidents like them only choosing to puke (the super icky sick kind, not just the spit up version) on me and/or my bed in the middle of the night.

Incidents like the projectile pooping during a diaper change that Kristina pulled out TWICE during her baby days.

Incidents like Adrianna and the half-and-half......

--------------------------------------------------------------

Peter drove up from Oklahoma to visit the girls on Thursday, and they were (of course!!) thrilled to see him.

Friday morning we dropped Kristina off at preschool (normal schedule) and then stopped by one of the cafes in Nederland to get some breakfast.

(Whistlers Cafe, serves good pancakes and has a true "Nederland" feel to it.)

((Also, funny to watch the ski tourists share tables with the true mountain hippie folk.))

And while we were waiting for some delicious chocolate chip pancakes for me Adrianna (shhhhhh.... don't tell Kristina we had them without her.....), she was happily playing with the little half-and-half cups for Peter's coffee.

Now, let me take a moment to stress that he and I were sitting on opposite sides of the table, with the Adrianna-holding highchair at the end, equally spaced between Mommy and Daddy.

(She was COMPLETELY EQUALLY SPACED between us. Right in the middle. Exactly.)

With Adrianna being the baby she still (mostly) is, it wasn't long before a half-and-half little cup ended in her mouth.

And it was right about the moment I was thinking it would make for a cute picture that she bit down on it, and SPRAYED my face, my shirt, my drink, and the wall behind me with high velocity half-and-half.

How did Daddy fair?

Dry as the Colorado mountains, and laughing his butt off.

(He got some slight redemption when he pulled out a napkin and helped wipe the half-and-half off of my forehead. But it was very slight, as he was still giggling about the whole thing while doing so.)

Thanks, dearest daughter, for loving me so much more.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Sounds of Spring

Spring is here!

But wait, here doesn't mean daffodils and tree buds.

No no, here means melting snow, slush, and MUD.

And HERE are some cute videos of the girls playing outside in the spring, with Adrianna happily splashing away in the slushy murk and Kristina making some delicious mud birthday cakes.

video

video

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fat Cat Fridays

A gal I went to college with is presently working at the Longmont Humane Society, and had mentioned (hey, facebook counts) a new adoption special the shelter has going on this month: Fat Cat Fridays.

All kitties over 6 months and 10lbs can be bought for $2 a pound on Fridays.

Which made me think of my sweet kitties.

And that we would have to pay a pretty penny to get them on the "pay by the pound" scale today.

Whispey was a newspaper kitten, who somehow managed to grow into a rather large and fluffy orange pillow hog.

And Diamond  is a shelter beauty (if also quite possibly somewhat mentally challenged) we got for Whispey to have a friend.

(He would actually probably chose to do without said friendship given a choice. But chasing her around is the extent of his daily exercise, so it's good for him.)

They both have an excellent track record with the girls. Whispey isn't quite as fond of their maulings lovings as Diamond is, but he puts up with his fair share without protest (much less tooth or scratch) and then opts to recluse himself under my bed when the opportunity presents itself.

And guess what? They arrived via certified Peter delivery today!!

The girls are, of course, absolutely ecstatic to have their beloved kitties back. 

Kristina and Diamond
Adrianna and Whispey
















   The kitties may be a little less than ecstatic......

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Zoo Trip!

As promised, the girls and I went to the zoo this past weekend.

My friend Courtney (from high school, as I have no human contact outside of Kristina's preschool teachers in a normal week) came along, and was just awesome with the girls.

It also gave me the amazing realization that I actually do have friends who are happy to come hang out with me and the girls while not having children of their own.

(Crazy stuff, I know.)

The very first animal Kristina wanted to see was the giraffes, and she wasn't disappointed with the fabulous Denver Zoo.

I was a little sad to see that the albino giraffe that had been around when I was a kid has passed on sometime in the last 15 years. Apparently giraffes are not closely enough related to unicorns.

Kristina thought the zoo map was just the coolest thing, and had to study it in great detail to determine where we were going next frequently throughout the day.

She also was quite convinced of her superior navigating abilities, and firmly maintains that SHE found lunch while riding on Courtney's shoulders and holding the map in front of poor Courtney's face.

Adrianna thought the whole thing was fun, although she wasn't the most thrilled about my insisting she actually ride in the stroller on occasion.

Kristina voluntarily walked for most of the day (the stroller is a sit&stand which has a bench seat just for her on the back), which I was rather impressed by as I'm quite certain we walked at least 8 miles around that place thanks to Kristina's exceptional navigation skills and desire to go between animals at opposite sides of the zoo.



Adrianna also thought it was very awesome that there were so many handy climbing structures available for her.

Lunch (which Kristina insists she found after Courtney and I got a little lost) was a personal pizza affair, and the girls managed to polish off nearly all of one between the two of them. 

The zoo has also expanded (since I was little) to include a carousel and a little train, both of which were huge hits with Kristina. However, she did think we were a bit harsh to only let her go on each one once and insist we spend the rest of the time looking at animals.

(Sorry kiddo. I promise it won't seem that horrible of a fate in a few years.)

Kristina really liked most of the animals, although she was slightly disappointed in the MIA status of the tiger. And she wanted to see a horse. Despite having elephants, camels, sea lions, hyenas, penguins, and okapis (apparently they're related to giraffes, although they look more like a horse/zebra hybrid to me), the zoo had no horses.
Adrianna was quite the little trooper, and held it together in true rockstar style while her nap was pushed back 3 hours.

Now, I had somewhat thought she might just dose off in the stroller at some point, and despite getting floppy a few times and me lowering the sunshade to help encourage the potential snooze, she stayed awake until we were out of the zoo parking lot and driving home.

However, before we made our exit, we took a swing through the gift shop.

Kristina had been playing with a display of little plastic animals, and I asked her if she wanted to pick one out to buy.

And somehow, her choice became an 18 inch tall stuffed giraffe.

Ah well, at least she really seems to love it, as she's taken it everywhere with her and slept with it every night since.

Adrianna latched onto a cute little fuzzy stuffed elephant, and seemed to completely forget about the little stuffed unicorn we had brought with us but lost somewhere along the way.

But it's ok, because the zoo totally needed a unicorn exhibit.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Paci Diaries

Hi all, Adrianna here. Listen, I got a problem and need your help on it. My mama keeps noticing how many of my absolutely adorable photographs contain my precious pacifier, which just so happens to be my most coveted and beloved possession in all the world (well, at least since she took the awesome boobies away). And do you know what she keeps doing? Talking about how she needs to start taking the pacifier away from me too!!!

I know, I could barely stomach this news myself, so I'm sure you are all the more shocked by this devastating development of my childhood traumatizations.

I keep hoping she'll loose interest in the idea, much like she completely abandoned the decree that I needed to size up to a bigger pacifier size once I sufficiently explained how those bigger pacis just don't suck as well and how I simply could not tolerate anything besides my baby sized binky. Or nuks. Or whatever they are. Just be sure you get the right brand when you restock, Grandma and Grandpa tried to get some one time and they simply were NOT the right shape. I'm very particular about my suckies, I'll have you know. It's a sign of exceptional tastes and good breeding, no less.

So what I need from all of you fine followers is for you to convince my mama dearest (since she listens to you, or at least reads your comments with great anticipation and excitement and starts squealing away with profound stupidity along the lines of "they like me, they really like me!") that not only is acceptable for a very nearly 15 month little princess like myself to continue to have full access to her pacifier collection at her every whim, but that it is actually encouraged for how beneficial the added suck-urity is concerning my future development.

And lets face it, I am more than a little awesome at convincing her to let me have my precious through a carefully orchestrated cycle of long term sleep deprivation to wear down her resistance and then excessively pitiful while simultaneously annoying whinyness when I am without it.

(Do I have her trained good or what?)

Thank you all so much for your help in this very grave matter, it is very greatly appreciated. 

Hugs, 
Adrianna

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Political Deficiency

I am a big fan of comics in general, and find the intermixing of art and humor and politics just fascinating in political cartoons. 

I also happen to think that the one included above does an excellent job outlining what I think is the core of nearly all of the political party strife in America.

We, as a nation, haven't been able to decide whether or not we want to be a welfare state.

And since we can't decide, we've been doing a lot of tax funded programs somewhere between marginally well and totally crappy. 

The idea of a welfare state is founded with the notion that contributing to the success of a nation as a whole is better than having individuals fend for themselves. 

You put more meat into the communal pot, everyone gets more soup out of it. 

But right now a substantial portion of the social welfare programs we have are either drastically underfunded or so caught up in bureaucratic red tape that they are, at best, ineffective. 

And ultimately, a waste of money at present. 

If you want to build a barn for that nice little herd of cattle you just inherited from your kinda crazy Uncle Eddie, you have to be willing to put forth the cash and time to actually get all of the materials needed AND the subsequent labor to get it built and keep it maintained. Otherwise you just wasted a whole bunch of money securing a barns worth of raw lumber which will now sit slowly decaying in your back yard for the next 12 years while those cows take up permanent residency in the basement on account of your forgetting to buy the nut part of the connector bolts and never getting around to remedying the problem so you can put the stupid thing together.

Way to go America, what a lovely pile of useless rotting wood we've built ourselves. 

Now do you think we could decide whether or not we want to fund these programs, and then actually give them the support they need to be successful or axe them entirely? This half funding and constant squabbling over their worth and funding that we keep doing isn't helping anybody. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Missionary Misconceptions

Peter's cousin Laura Jean has been doing missionary work (with her sister, husband, and daughter along for the ride) down in Nicaragua for the last 9 months or so.

She is a minister by profession, so I'm fairly certain that this is not quite as crazy a thing to do as it might sound.

But my mind has had a few little grappling issues as to what, exactly, their living conditions are like.

When she first told me about doing all this, I was absolutely convinced she was going to be living in a small mud hut very truly in the middle of the middle of nowhere.

(Ever read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver? Good book, and EXACTLY the image that "missionary work in Nicaragua" brought to my mind.)

Well, turns out they're not quite that remote. In fact, I hear they even live in something resembling a house in the city with such luxuries as flush toilets and internet.

Ok, I don't actually know whether they have flush toilets. I'm pretty sure they have indoor plumbing. And they DO have internet. I've even managed to Skype with them inside of their not-a-hut dwelling.

Quinn taking a bucket bath.
(It had walls, I saw them!)

However, they also have no hot water from their potentially indoor plumbing, and subsequently bathe little Quinn in a bucket with water heated on the stove.

(Well, I'm assuming they have a stove, since I KNOW they actually cook food. Although I suppose they just as easily could have something as newfangled as a microwave. Or like, a bonfire with a spitted goat in the front yard.)

((Have I mentioned they were vegetarians prior to this adventure?))

But the capital city which they're in has internet cafes, cars, crime, and the newest personal discovery (meaning I read LauraJean's facebook status and it was in regards to doing stuff beyond battling wild howler monkeys and almost being eaten by alligators): a zoo!

Now admittedly, despite having been convinced of the presence of McDonald's and internet, I was still fairly certain that to view live animals all one did was go drive around in the car until you drove over a sleeping alligator or got attacked by howler monkeys.

(Central America has alligators and howler monkeys, right??)

But apparently Nicaragua has all sorts on interesting and unique "small mammals" (LauraJean is so good, I would have merely termed them "large hairy looking rodents"), including some interesting coloring varieties of squirrels.

However this also could present a problem.

As these were creatures seen at a zoo and presumably contained inside some sort of cage and all, they very well might not be running rampant through the streets and into the houses.

BUT....

On the chance that A) I convince Peter to let me take his little girls to go visit a third world country and B) find sufficient funds to finance such an adventure, there could be some potential complications with me unexpectedly finding some "unique small mammals" hanging out in that bucket I'm about to use to bathe my children in.

Any guesses on how loud I can scream "AHHHHHH RABID MUTANT SQUIRREL!!" while chasing it with a broom?

Let me tell you, it would be nothing compared to my reaction of finding this little Nicaraguan native by my sandal-wearing feet.