Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Poopie the Pill Bug, A Mother's Betrayal

Millie has a new friend.  He is a pill bug who lives in our garden, and she named him Poopie. This is the story of how I murdered Poopie. I guess I'm writing this post because I need to clear my conscience. But, also I'm writing this story because I think Poopie the pill bug is hilarious and I hope you will too.

In remembrance, "Poopie" the Pill Bug
May 10th, 2017- May 26th, 2017

It all started several weeks ago, when Millie and I transplanted the seedlings we had lovingly started indoors during the cold, terrible Ohio winter outside into our vegetable garden. We had big plans for these seedlings.  With our help, they would grow into tall sunflowers, rich aromatic basil, and cherry tomatoes by the fistful for our summertime snacking. We had tiny burgundy kale seedlings, and personal sized sweet melons.  We planted them carefully in our richest soil, along the soaker hose so they would get maximum irrigation opportunities.

As we planted, Millie ran around the garden, holding a plastic trowel, and capturing various small crawly things that were too slow to elude her. She took a liking to several earthworms, but became especially enamored with the roly-poly bugs she found throughout our straw mulch. One of these unfortunate invertebrates she named Poopie, and carried him throughout the garden, telling him of all the plants we are growing.

"This is a baby Zinnia," she told him.  "It will grow into a beautiful pink flower that I can wear in my hair. Isn't that exciting, Poopie!?"
Poopie showed no enthusiasm.
"These are baby Dill plants, Poopie." Continued Millie, botanist and tour guide.
Poopie remained curled in a ball and unresponsive.
"Millie! It's time to put Poopie down!" I called, as we finished planting.
Millie placed Poopie lovingly down beside the Echinacea patch and said "Bye Poopie!  I love you-- see you tomorrow!"

For the next several days, Millie would immediately capture Poopie (or one of his brethren) as soon as we reached the garden. "Hi Poopie!! She would yell into her cupped hands. "It's me! Millie-- did you miss me?"

Poopie seemed to be thriving, but unfortunately, my seedlings were not.  The dill was the first to go. Then, the sunflowers, and even my heirloom cherry tomatoes.  I thought we had a rabbit getting into the garden. Then, one overcast and drizzly evening, Millie and I went down to the garden to check on our plants.

The first thing we noticed were the slugs.  They were everywhere. Disgustingly, Millie and I picked 17 of them off of a single young zucchini plant. It was during this surgical slug removal that I noticed the slugs were not working alone.  One of the seedlings was bent to the ground with no less than 15 pill bugs, devouring it.  Millie noticed it too.  "POOPIE! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" She called out in alarm.

I didn't say anything to Millie at the time, but that's when I decided that POOPIE MUST DIE. We came back into the house and researched the best ways to lay siege on our newly stationed slug garrison. Secretly though, I was also reading about pill bugs.  It seems these innocent looking beasts mostly eat decomposing matter, but have been known to assassinate young garden seedlings as well.

Many readers recommended an organic solution called Sluggo Plus. This slug bait also kills pill bugs, by luring them into eating a certain type of delicious mineral, which then blocks up their stomachs and makes them die a slow, painful death beneath the soil.  I ordered it with zest, and applied it last Friday when Millie was at school.  I asked Sean if he thought I should wait for Millie to put the Sluggo on the garden, to which he replied "You're asking me if we should wait for our 4 year old daughter in order to handle and apply pesticides?"  I realized he was right. Besides, she's still too young-- I don't want her to have blood on her hands.

As I'm typing this, Millie is currently singing an epic song about Poopie the pill bug. She does not yet know that he is gone, but I still prefer to think of this song as a funeral dirge.  Here are the lyrics:

Poopie was a pill bug, 
He lived inside the dirt,
Poopie pooped on a slug,
And then ate him.

I think it's how he would have wanted to be remembered.  Rest in peace, sweet Poopie. May the gardens of your isopod heaven be filled with dill seedlings, and completely free of 4 year old girls.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

In Defense of Sticker Charts

My kid will do anything for stickers.  It's crazy.

What is equally crazy is how often she receives new stickers.  I would estimate that she receives 5-20 new stickers each week. For example, last week, we went out to dinner at Olive Garden, and Millie received a sheet of 10 new "Italian Food" themed stickers, which included ---I am not making this up--- a cartoon breadstick.

Look at this guy.

At our house, I developed a very simple sticker chart to convert this gum-backed waste stream into something useful. We hang her chart on the fridge, and each time Millie does something really impressive, she gets a sticker.  Lately, we've been using the sticker chart to try and teach her to be more independent before the baby arrives.  The other morning, Millie woke up, dressed herself, went to the bathroom, WIPED HER OWN BUTT, and then played quietly until Sean got out of the shower.  He gave her an olive garden sticker. (I think it was a cartoon marinara sauce.)

Millie's Sticker Chart in Progress

My older sister Kelly has a son named Felix who is now nearing a year old,  and the other day I thoughtfully sent her an email, attaching the file for Millie's sticker chart, so that she can adapt it for her own use when the time is right. Worried, she sent me an email back and linked out to this article.  She had been reading the debate about sticker charts and wanted to know my perspective.

Here is my perspective:
WAIT. THERE IS A DEBATE ABOUT STICKER CHARTS? That's crazy.  That's like having a debate about whether the Cincinnati Zoo should continue posting pictures of Fiona the baby hippo on their instagram account. OF COURSE WE WANT TO SEE MORE PICTURES OF BABY FIONA. DID SHE GO SWIMMING IN A TINY HIPPO POOL TODAY? WE NEED TO KNOW. There cannot be two opinions about this.

So, judgy masses of moms on the internet.  Let me make a few points in defense of sticker charts.

1. Sticker charts help our kids, by encouraging them to wipe their own asses.  This is good for everyone. In our house, Millie doesn't expect a sticker every-time she does any good thing.  We reserve it for times she tries something new, or shows development in some way.  So, unless you plan on coming to my house and assisting my daughter every time she needs an ass-wiping, (which I can assure you is quite frequently,) or puts on her shoes (an activity that can inexplicably take 5 minutes or more, even though, you know,VELCRO.) I'll continue to incentivize her in the ways that are most effective.

2. Sticker charts can encourage good behavior from YOU too Parents. There are a number of incentives listed on Millie's chart, but it's all stuff I choose. Most of the stuff on there is wholesome crap I should be doing with her anyways-- trips to the playground, fishing trips, zoo, etc.. Millie earning these rewards makes sure I get my shit together and focus on doing some fun things for her sometimes.

3. Sticker charts can help kids earn indulgences, without expecting them daily.  I'm not a crazy strict mom, but I do not let Millie watch TV very often.  Truth be told, this is not just because of the dangers of excessive "screen time." It's also because she has terrible taste in TV shows.  Have you ever seen the new Ninja turtles show? It's fucking awful. It's basically just poorly animated mutant turtles screaming at each other, because their adoptive rat father was awesome at teaching them karate, but apparently sucked at helping them with their anger management issues. But, Millie loves it, and I don't want to totally isolate her from pop culture.  So occasionally, I let her earn the right to watch a TV show.  The same goes for candy (the only item people seem to give to my daughter in greater quantities than stickers.) Millie receives buckets of unsolicited candy at the following holidays: Halloween, Christmas, her Birthday, her friends' Birthdays, Valentines Day, Easter, Summer Solstice, Fourth of July, and United Postal workers Day. Of course she wants to eat it all, but I put it on her sticker chart, and she has to earn it, a few pieces at a time, until she forgets about it and I throw it all away.

I'm no child development expert, so I may be very, very wrong.  But I do have some expertise as a mom-who-absolutely-cannot-tolerate-wiping-any-more-asses-today. Based on my experience, I'm going on the record as Pro-sticker chart.  I think everyone should have one, including FIONA THE BABY HIPPO from the Cincinnati Zoo. Fiona's keepers, if you're reading this-- I'll mail you Millie's sticker chart, and-- to get you started-- I'll throw in a pack of Olive Garden stickers too.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Six Needs of A Laboring Woman

I have some very, very, good news.  I'M PREGNANT.  I know! You're probably thinking HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?  For those of you following what Sean and I have been through, you know that after the events of the last two years---my uterus was left as uninhabitable as the frozen ice-planet of Hoth.* Then, last August, a fancy doctor in Cleveland did an experimental surgery on me to repair "The Ole Gal." When he described the procedure to us, only 9 other women had gone through with it, and of those, 3 of them had gone on to have babies. ** Sean and I knew the odds were against us, but we decided to give it a try anyways. We were frankly shocked when I became pregnant almost immediately.

*If you are reading this blog to seek actual medical information and not Star Wars references, the medical term for what was wrong with me was Asherman's syndrome, caused by multiple D&C's following a placenta accreta. The hospital I went to was University Hospital- MacDonald Women's Hospital.
** Pro-tip-  If you nearly die 3 times from pregnancy complications and then conceive a baby who is an ACTUAL medical miracle,  the hospital will feature you in their annual development campaign and you can get some free family photography out of it! Woot Woot!

I won't lie to y'all-- this pregnancy has been hard.  If I had to pick one word to describe it, it would be "vulnerability," although a close second would be "Cramps," then followed by "salt-and-vinegar-potato-chips." I found myself jealously thinking of my relaxed mental state with my previous two pregnancies.  Remember when the biggest concerns I had were axe-body spray and cabbage related office smells? This time around, I've been scared basically the whole time.  That's probably why I waited until I was 33 weeks along to type this blog post.

The good news is, Millie's sense of optimism is unhindered, and she recently made me this drawing, which is my new all-time favorite work of art:

Lately, I've been letting the exciting reality sink in: Oh my god! I'm really going to have this baby! But unfortunately, the other reality has started to sink in too: OH MY GOD, I'M REALLY GOING TO HAVE THIS BABY.

Shit. Shit. Double Shit.  Childbirth is not the funnest thing I've ever done. So, I broke out my trusty book on "The Bradley Method," to brush up on my skills. For those of you unfamiliar, the Bradley method is a tried and tested natural childbirth technique, which for nearly 30 years has helped expectant mothers see graphic pictures of other women's vaginas.

Now that I'm reading it with the trained eye, I can see that parts of this book are total bullshit.

For example, it contains these reassurances:
"Natural Childbirth can be painless."
(Throws head back and laughs.) Please. 

"Partners-- don't let your wife sit on a comfortable couch while she is pregnant. She will secretly appreciate that you make her sit on the hard floor! Even if you overhear her complaining to her friends about you, she's actually just low key bragging that you're such a good birth coach!"
Partners-- don't be fooled by this lying book. I know it seems medically legit because there are so many pictures of vaginas in it, but this is BAD ADVICE.  

"Many women actually have orgasms when giving birth."
Yeah, so I'm not buying this one.  I get that every labor and delivery is different. Some women like aroma therapy--I preferred for my hospital room NOT to smell like a cheap head shop where teenagers buy bongs. Some women are meaner than snakes-- the meanest thing I told Sean during labor was "don't sing," as he tried to comfort me by crooning along with the playlist. 

When I had Millie I actually BROKE MY TAILBONE, and was so preoccupied that I DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE. So, all I'm saying is that if some women get to have ORGASMS-- that's not fair, and I hope all of those women have colicky babies, or, at the least-- really out of tune xylophones. 

So, as a public service announcement, I've decided to improve on the Bradley Method's "Six needs of a laboring woman."  

The Bradley Method's List:
  1. Deep, complete relaxation
  2. Abdominal breathing
  3. Darkness and solitude
  4. Physical comfort
  5. Closed eyes
  6. The appearance of sleep

Katie's List:
  1. Deep, warm Hot tub
  2. Husband, Stop Singing 
  3. Die Aroma Therapy, Die
  4. Delivery Room Ban on Axe body spray
  5. Open bag of Salt and Vinegar Chips 
  6. Silence from woman one room over, who's painless childbirth is climaxing in a loud orgasm. 
If you're a first time mom, the Bradley Method book CAN actually be immensely helpful. However, for those of us who are doing this for a second time, I'd like to recommend Dave Barry's Book, Babies and other Hazards of Sex,  as alternate reading.  This book, which is subtitled, How to make a tiny person in just 9 months with tools you probably have around the house, will not prepare you in any way for childbirth, but it contains far fewer graphic pictures of vaginas and makes for much more pleasant reading while you are sitting on your coach, enjoying your salt and vinegar potato chips.