Monday, February 22, 2010

The Man in My Life

A house full of chicks, that's what Shawn lives in. A chick wife, a chick dog, a chick baby, and a chick cat. There isn't another Y chromosome in the bunch. His Y is the only Pierce Y for now and it has a lot of man things to do. I need that chromosome to do all the normal man stuff: take out the garbage, shovel the snow, mow the lawn in season. Light bulbs get changed, water softeners get salted, and racing is watched on TV. The Y takes care of all that.

But Shawn is called on to dig deep and use his X chromy from time to time, too. He listens to my "Lesbian Music," a term coined by one of Shawn's less enlightened friends, without complaint. He does diapers without batting an eye and cleans up after dinner most nights. He lets me be indecisive and doesn't roll his eyes. The length of my showers or get-ready ritual has never been called into question. He gossips with me and pumps my gas, watches ice skating and carries my 14 year old mop dog outside for a pee.

Shawn surely wants a son but, if ever there was a man who could survive--thrive, even--in a female filled house, it is this one. If we have another baby, which we plan to do, I know he would welcome a girl as enthusiastically as he would a boy, and for that I am thankful.

As long as it is just us girls, I'm glad we have friends who have sons. Shawn practically choked on his dinner volunteering to dress as Batman for Carrie and Conor's son's 4th birthday party.

That's not Bruce Wayne. That's my husband. In full bat regalia. At McDonald's.

Hands off, Ladies.

Batman was a huge hit with 4 year old Griffin. I know that Shawn would love to share superheroes and slot cars and tackle football--all those activities that are so strongly identified with the male gender--with a son, but I'm sure he'd love to share them with Violet, too, if she was interested. Judging from her reaction to Batman showing up at the party, he may want to wait a couple years for the superheroes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Pot to Poop In

As recently as 2009, I was disgusted by the itty-bitty crappers people use catch their toddler mess. We'd get an invite over to a friend's home for dinner and then, sitting there beside the crudites next to the coffee table would be this teeny-tiny port-o-john. Usually it would go unused, but some nights you'd get lucky and actually get to see the kid in question pinch one off before dessert. Why can't the kid sit on the toilet, I wondered, or at least have his port-o-pot in the bathroom? Why does it have to be in the living room for all to observe?

When she first started showing an interest in the toilet a month ago, I bought Violet one of those kiddie donut seats that sits on top of the full-sized john. I figured she could learn using that and we'd never have to go the port-o-tot route. Then, like many of the other parenting decisions I've made in the last 21 months, reason and laziness trumped disgust and I saw why so many parents have chosen to let their kid wee-wee in bucket on the floor.

They can reach it.

Potty Chair, I believe, is the proper mommy term, but they are really not much more than a molded plastic bowl that the kid sits on to take care of business. Obviously, there's no running water attached, so a parent has to clean out the trough after the baby is through. And actually, for me, wiping down a plastic bowl after dunking umpteen cloth diapers in the toilet will be like being a zookeeper transferred from the elephant exhibit to the gazelle run. Still scooping shit, but a vast improvement.

So, a co-worker gave me two tiny potty chairs and they have taken up residence in our bathrooms. However, if Violet agreed to shit exclusively in a training toilet from now on, never again soiling a diaper for me to change, I would let her go about her business perched like a grunting centerpiece on the dining room table if she so wished. I might move her to the floor if we had guests or a piping hot dish on the table, but otherwise, I wouldn't let it get to me. Again, laziness trumping disgust.

Part of me feels like this is premature. She is only 21 months old, after all, and I've watched lots of bright kids who don't potty train until over age 3. But she showed and interest, so I figured, let the kid have a chance to choose not to wear crappy pants. Seems like a basic human right.

I don't know if it was the novelty of the the potty, the glitz of the toilet paper, or just dumb luck, but the morning after we introduced the new potty chairs, I let her have a sit down and discovered this at the end of her turn:

That, next to the penny (which I added as a point of reference on size), is a teeny-tiny turd. I was overwhelmed with pride and disbelief.

Less than 30 minutes after this photo was taken, I was dunking into my toilet a diaper filled with 70 times the volume of crap as is shown in this photo; but still, my little girl made ca-ca. In a potty. And I took a photo. And posted it on the Internet.

This is why childless people don't read mommy blogs.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Our Budget; One Slice of Pie Away From Turning Us Into Cannibals

I spent the better part of the afternoon yesterday linking our family finances up to the budgeting tools at A friend had recommended the site to me before the holidays and it became clear last week when I warned Shawn yet again that our joint checking account was on red-alert that I needed to figure our what is becoming of our money. So I signed up. I inputted all of the ugly details about who we owe, where we shop, and what's coming in. The site sends alerts to your email account to keep you abreast of your finances. Within seconds of establishing our account, I got a low-balance alert.

Thanks, That's why I signed up.

I had been fooling myself into thinking that what Shawn and I had was a cash flow problem; that we just needed to redistribute the pay dates for some of our bills and we'd have hundreds left over at the end of each month. The pie chart generated by tells a different tale. When I say we spend the entire pie, I do not exaggerate. There is not one crumb to spare. And, the frequent transfers I make from savings to checking--"just this month," to cover this one time thing (a new set of tires, a special birthday gift, Christmas) are because we routinely spend more than we make. This is hard to admit, embarrassing even, but it's true. I gave great lip service to the cuts we would have to make so that I could work part-time, and then we really didn't make any cuts. We'd go out to eat 5 or 6 times a month and then I'd wonder why we we can't save a penny and why we have to limit our gas fill-ups to 1/2 a tank at a time the last couple days before a paycheck.

Here's the good news; a good chunk of our budget is slash-able. The second largest slice of our pie during January was food.

Oink, oink, piggy.

That includes both groceries and restaurants. The dining out is a no-brainer. We aren't rich, eating out once or twice a month is plenty. The hard thing about that for us is we never want to miss anything so it can be difficult to turn down an invite. But I know we can do a better job of focusing on the "can't miss" opportunities to eat out like birthdays or special get-togethers with friends and skipping the "we are bored because it is January in Indiana so let's go get some nachos" nights. Those nights add up with a quickness when both of us have 2 or 3 drinks. We rarely get out of a restaurant for under $50 once we leave a tip. During the month of January, we spent close to $500 eating out. There was New Years, then Jen's birthday, a random pizza night, a girls night, a book club. You get the picture. Going forward, that is going to be unheard of.

Cutting the grocery bill is a different beast. I am a firm believer that spending a little more on organic milk or pastured eggs not only makes good health sense, but it is also the environmentally sound thing to dol. I buy generic stuff when I can, like mouthwash or canned beans or tortillas, but I need to trust that my freshies: veggies, dairy, fruits, fish, etc...

And don't even get me started about cutting out wine. NOT. GOING. TO. HAPPEN. While wine and beer are regularly the culprit for pushing the total on our Meijer receipt from the tens place to the hundreds, I need to have some release. All budget and no play makes Jill a total bitch. So the wine stays.

After all, if I cut out wine, became a total bitch, and Shawn divorced me, then we would have to pay for TWO households instead of just one, and that would be a complete budget-buster. would send an alert for sure.