Friday, July 2, 2010

What I Really Felt (when I saw my baby)

I always knew love at first sight as a rare, romantic occurrence.

It happens, sure, but certainly not for my husband and I.  With us it was more like infatuation at first site. 

And not even with each other.

No, ours was a mild acquaintance that grew to inseparable friendship that evolved into strong and honest love (another story for another day).

But I still reserved the phenomenon of love at first site for the birth of our first child. 

Children were my dream.  I was that little girl playing mother to children mere years my junior. 

My younger cousins would huddle for a place on my seven year-old lap and looking back I am sure my aunts and uncles adored me for the hours of relentless entertainment I provided their children.

My pregnancy was uneventful, but I thrilled at every little nudge and panicked over the mildest of cramps and slightest of temperatures.

Labor was typical.  Long and hard.  I planned for an epidural only to completely miss the window in a narcotic-induced fog (yet another story for yet another day).

So when I finally peered upon my slimy, purple son I was tired.  And angry.  And amazed.  And hungry.

But I was not in love.

I knew I loved him, and I managed a few drunken "That's our baby boy"'s before they whisked him off to the weighing station.

I practically swooned over my husband as he sweetly stroked the arm of our screaming baby, saying over and over, "It's okay buddy, it's okay."

But when it came time to hold that little thing I just wanted someone to take him away and let me sleep.

Now much of those early emotions were a direct result of the late-in-labor narcotics I begged for.

But hours later after an all-too-short nap I gazed down at this little life shooting tiny, pointy needles into my delicate nipples (or something like that) and I felt resentful. 

I mean, I was more than prepared to mother this creature, just right after I caught up on the entire night's sleep I missed while birthing him.

In the course of the next few days I oftentimes peered into his clear, plastic cradle and literally hurt with love.  But other times it felt like spying on a shriveled stranger.  (It didn't help that the blonde-hair, blue-eyed newborn of our imaginations ended up looking distinctly Asian and not at all like my husband and I.)

I cried a lot that week.  When my husband wanted to watch the basketball tournament on our tiny hospital television.  When I watched an elephant ultrasound on the Discovery Channel.  When we were served applesauce with dinner (a pregnancy favorite).

Looking back I view this tearful time as a kind of grieving process.  While I thought I was bringing home a little bundle to snuggle and tote around like one of those fashionable dogs, I was actually losing a whole world that, despite marriage and my best efforts at selflessness, revolved entirely around me.

And on top of that this particular little package, while sweet and sleepy and seemingly good-natured, did little to make my heart soar.  At least not how I imagined it.

I loved my son from the very beginning, and at times I think even before that.

But I didn't realize that you could fall in love with a child as well.

And now, two and a half years later, when I sneak into his room at night and lay my hand on the slow rise and fall of his chest, the love I imagined from day one hits me like a brick.  Knocks the wind right out of me. 

I find myself searching to both contain and express a love beyond words and actions. 

Sometimes I wonder if I could possibly love him more, only to realize the next day, as he laughingly reports his recent flatulence, that somehow it doubled over night.  And if it keeps going at this rate how will I even survive him leaving in just 15 and a half short years?

I guess I wish someone told me beforehand.  That it's not like movie love.  That my deepest, natural instinct would still be to sleep and not to hold and adore my son for hours at a time.  That those feelings would eventually overwhelm me, in the days and weeks and years to come.  That it is different for everyone.  That it is okay.

But I suppose part of becoming a parent involves making those discoveries on our own.

And realizing the parents we were in our imaginations rarely reveal themselves in our reality.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Coming Back (with no excuse)

I'm not sure if I should apologize for my extended absence or try to explain or what.

Does "it's summer" count as an excuse.

Seriously though, we were away this past week. 

But I've got nothing for the week prior.

I wanted to write a Father's Day post about my husband and all the ways I love watching him with our children.  His two little men.

But instead the Tine and I spent all our free time creating a collage book about Daddy (and I spent all my free time redoing his work so my compulsive brain could stop spazzing every time two pictures overlapped).

Then we left for camp.

Which is a post in itself.

But I will give you a quick taste.

A one room cabin.  Two families.  Five kids (two babies).  100 middle schoolers.  Three new mom friends.  Zero breaks.

If you do the math you can imagine blogging time was quite limited (though I'm not going to lie, there was internet access... my kind of camping).

So I will return to both this and your blogs.  I can't wait to hear about vacations and summer adventures and life (that I completely missed these past couple weeks). 

And I also can't wait to tell you about the perils of changing poopy diapers in the woods and The Tine's first water balloon fight and the understanding of a mom who's been there.

But until then I will finish my coffee, get my family back into a much-needed schedule (for me, not them), and enjoy my boys as the days slip by way too fast.  And I will see you all soon!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh, My Aching Womb

I do not want another baby right now.  I don't.

But also, I do.

I want to pee on a stick first thing in the morning.  I want to experience that palpable mix of anticipation and joy and fear.  I want to say out loud that I dread those two pink lines, but know in my heart that their creeping appearance is my deepest desire.

I long for those first few months where the knowledge of this budding life belongs to my family alone.  When a discreet smile remains the only outward sign of an inward miracle.

I want my husband to run out for saltines and soda when the pallor of sickness replaces the glow of pregnancy.

I want to wonder for weeks whether the tiny spasms in my stomach are the jerky dance of a forming baby or just post-burrito gas (and yes, we eat burritos enough to actually wonder that).

I want to spend weeks composing carefully crafted lists of baby names, then throwing them all out around eight months in favor of the one that just feels right. 

I want teeny tiny newborn clothes and checklists of baby essentials.

I want to partake in some serious nesting.  Clean out every closet, reveal the elusive bottom of the laundry basket, wipe down every inch of the mini blinds, bleach all surfaces into sparkling white conformity.

I want to pack my bags with tennis balls and magazines and quarters that will never leave their duffelly home as I scream for help from the hospital bed.

I want that moment as we drive to the hospital when the anticipation, joy and fear that nine months earlier marked the beginning of this journey return like a flood.

I want the incomparable relief of gazing upon a healthy baby, who is yours, and knowing that the pain really was worth it (even though you may have let a few profanities fly just minutes earlier when your husband said the same thing).

I want to feel that aching sadness for a tiny, little life experiencing cold and hunger and pain for the very first time.

I want to cuddle and nourish that life, knowing that in the vast, bright world these arms are the only home he needs.

But as we all know newborns become infants, and infants toddlers.

And while I am sure the toddler years will remain my fondest memories down the road (way down the road), I just don't know how I would coerce one more living being into my car or provide enough acceptable lunch options for three preschoolers (without going crazy).

So I will demand that nagging baby-addicted voice stop immediately.  Because The Tine needs a sandwich.  The baby some attention.

And mom needs a break.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thoughts on a page (that end in a pool)

I wonder if I should write something.

I don't really want to write something.

If I did decide to write something, would it require me to think?

I don't really want to think.

Unless I can think about french fries, or my bed, or the way the fan just spins round and round and round and...

Okay, so this won't work.  Perhaps I should think on a deeper level.

Ketchup.  Mmmm.  And vinegar.  No, not vinegar.  Mayonnaise.  Oh yeah, mayo.  Let's throw some mayo on those suckers.

Oh crap, deeper thoughts... deeper...

Deep wells.  Wells are deep. 

What if the well on Lost actually represents the depth of suffering man must aspire to endure...

Okay, too deep (plus, I just threw some deep-sounding words together and possess no idea as to what I just said).

Balance.  I need some kind of balance.

I could write about how I dream of changing the world (perhaps in my fifth grade composition notebook).  How sometimes I just can't seem to settle down or stop thinking about what to do with my life and my family that will somehow make a difference.

Or I could explain that some days I am so content with peanut butter sandwiches and spit-up covered couches and wet, milky kisses that I don't want to move an inch.

Too confusing.

Perhaps I should think about bed after all.

The tickle of a cool breeze through the soft folds of my t-shirt sheets.  (Yes, I am an adult with two children and I love myself some t-shirt sheets.  So what?)

Or that moment right before you drop off where you feel all floaty and fight sleep just to enjoy the knowledge that it awaits on the other side of your heavy eyelids.

Oh, and how about when you're fading in and out and notice something wet on your pillow that you soon realize is just a tiny spot of your own drool.  But you are so happy that after 15 hours of spoon-feeding babies and chasing toddlers and scrubbing questionable brown gunk from the corner of the bathtub you are actually relaxed enough to drool, you just turn over and go to sleep, right there in a mini pool of your own saliva.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Five Minute Memories

So a quick update on the weekend of spontaneity!

Sorry I'm a bit behind on this, but I spent every free second of the past three days with my feet up and my nose in a book, trying desperately to recover.

We woke up Saturday morning, stuffed the troops into shorts and t-shirts, played the old "I don't know what I want for breakfast" bit with toddler for about thirty minutes, and finally hit the road around 10.

Our first stop... the grocery store.  Pick up some food for a picnic lunch.

Our first meltdown... the grocery store.

It all began with a simple request.  Some Lunchables please!

(I guess I should note here that both the request and the meltdown were courtesy of yours truly.)

I have not eaten Lunchables since I was a little girl and thought they would make for a fun afternoon.  I know the preservatives are terrible, but just this once, I thought.

Plus baby just entered his deepest phase of car sleep.  I knew that more than five minutes in the store would result in awakening, followed by approximately thirty minutes of contented baby noises and the remainder of the trip in wild crying, forcing mom to squeeze between car seats shoving toys, fingers, and possibly breasts in said baby's mouth while stomping her feet as they inevitably fall asleep.

Anyhow, my health nut husband (and I mean that in the kindest possible way, honey) decided to get some crackers, deli turkey, and natural cheese instead.

Fifteen minutes and an incompetent deli worker later he sheepishly ducked into the car, bracing himself for the wrath.

And he got it.

The baby awoke as I suspected and all I wanted were some freaking Lunchables.

I completely flipped.  There was hardly a plan, but already things were not going according to it.

I dreaded our two hours in the car with our now wide-eyed baby, but since I could not possibly beckon a spark of anger towards my tiny little man, I found a target in my husband.

Sparing the gory details, I will simply state it was not pretty.

Eventually I apologized and we moved on with the day, but it was a rocky start.

Plus, my husband was pouty when I told him a four hour trip to a semi-nearby city was out due to a Sunday afternoon commitment.

So instead we began our adventure with a picnic at a state park just a couple hours away.

Already I began thinking that the lack of planning was a bit of a mistake.

There was an amazing, little beach at this particular park.  The facilities were brand new and sparking clean.  Families everywhere donned brightly colored swim suits and cautiously tiptoed into the cool water.

My family and I stood sweating in our jeans and sneakers, dressed for the weather back home.

After explaining to our sweet, little toddler (who was convinced we were spending the day at the beach) that we, in fact, could not take him in the water, we packed up our picnic and took off for our next destination.

A nearby mountain resort that boasted a huge Memorial Day Celebration weekend.

After checking the internet that morning I timed our arrival with that of the "children's games on the lawn."  I thought it sounded like something out of Dirty Dancing and anxiously hurried my family along.

But when we entered through the gate I noticed an immediate lack of cars... and people... and events.

I expected an outdoor venue crawling with running children, anxious parents, and friendly vendors.

We found, instead, a few lone stragglers and some mountain bikers descending a long, dirt path.

After finding a parking spot near the so-called center of the festivities, we plopped the kids in the stroller and set off for, well, something (we hoped).

Before I knew it we stood before a daunting ski lift and a long, luge-like slide.

I noted a glimpse of excitement in the eyes of husband and toddler.

So, although I pictured The Tine jumping off the lift and tumbling down the rock-covered mountain, I swallowed the lump in my throat and asked my husband if they would like to go.

It was not like me at all.  I am the queen of safety and the enemy of adventure.  But I couldn't handle any more disappointment on either of their parts, so we bought two tickets and waved furiously as my two year-old son became an extremely proud speck in the distance.

I played with the baby as though I had not just sent the loves of my life to their ultimate demise, and, in an ironic twist, I actually enjoyed the moment.  For five minutes I stopped picturing disaster and started imagining my smiling son twisting through the exhilarating curves of the longest slide he ever imagined.

With wind-blown hair and wide eyes the twosome stepped off the slide and toddled excitedly to my waiting arms (okay, that was just the little one).

After ice cream and dinner (in that order) we began our return trip home, deciding a night in our own beds necessary to survive the rest of our picnic-heavy weekend.

So it wasn't all that we hoped, but also it was.

And with summertime quickly approaching I hope this adventure is only the beginning.

Because the fighting and stress is a small price to pay for those five minute memories.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Feel Good Friday: Skimpy Sleepwear and Spontaneity

It's Friday!!!!

But not only is it Friday, it is the Friday before a long weekend.

And not only is it the Friday before a long weekend, but it is the Friday before the long weekend that marks my husband's last week of school. 

Which means four more days of "Where daddy doe?  Daddy teach tids?  Want daddy tum home!"

So needless to say, I'm feeling pretty good.

And I want to share it with the world!

So I am participating in The Girl Next Door Grows Up's Feel Good Friday.

Since I can't seem to stop thinking about all things happy (my second cup of coffee not at all the least of these) I'm just going to spew it all out there... cover your worlds with a little sunshine (okay, maybe it's my third)!

1.  Skimpy Summertime Sleepwear

No, not mine.  Unfortunately for my husband I enjoy the old cotton pants and baggy t-shirt when I climb under the sheets.  No, the sleepwear I reference here is that of my two little men.  There is nothing cuter in the whole world than a baby in a little t-shirt with his tiny, diapered rump sticking straight up in the air.  Or a nudey toddler under his Thomas blanket (that he insists on donning even in 80-degree, non-air conditioned heat).

2.  A Break

My husband finishes a month-long break from grad school classes this weekend.  I reaped multiple benefits during this reprieve including a near strike from all evening cooking/ dish washing responsibilities.  Of course my husband also reaped multiple benefits including more free time in the evening to do with as I pleased (wink, wink)!

3.  A Baby To Hold

I was always a "baby person."  I loved, loved, loved babies.  But surprisingly, I did not enjoy the babyhood of my first son.  I loved him, of course, and at times I soaked in the moment, but mostly I looked for ways to put him down and walk away without drowning in guilt for just a few minutes.  I completely forgot why I ever wanted to hold babies.  Now that my "baby" flails his way out of my arms the moment I scoop him up I finally remember.  Just in time for baby number two.  And suddenly I can't get enough of it.  I understand now that this baby period is the shortest in his life.  That all too soon those chubby thighs will toddle across the grass instead of wrapping around my waist.  That those dimpled hands cautiously exploring my face will grip tree branches and baseball bats in what seems like minutes.  That hurried toddler pecks will replace the drooly, open-mouthed kisses of infancy.  So slobber away baby boy... I'm soaking it up! 

4.  Homemade Iced Mochas

Alright, it's no Starbucks mint mocha chip frappucino, but it's cold, chocolately, and I don't have to drive fifteen minutes both ways while alternately blasting rock music and poking at my children's legs chanting, "Wake up, wake up, wake up" so I can enjoy said delicious beverage during the only peaceful, 30-minute nap overlap of the day.

5.  Mysterious Weekend Adventures

Our Memorial Day plans: Wake up.  Start driving.  Find fun.  Find excitement.  Find a hotel.

I'm a big planner (in theory), so we'll see if I can follow through (I'll update next week). 

Hope your weekends are full of spontaneity, sunshine, and sitting around doing nothing!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Can I do this?

So I know I am scarce these days (well, this past week at least).  But things have been crazy around here lately.  There are meals to cook, dishes to wash, and, well, TV to watch.  Lots of TV to watch.  Before you think that's a lousy excuse, you must understand it was season finale week.  I need proper time to mourn the loss of quality television programming and accept the arrival of laughable reality TV shows (that suck you in the moment you turn them on). 

Now I don't know if you can do this when your blog is less that four months old, but I'm going to recycle an old post.  I figure I posted it before anyone read my blog, so it shouldn't make a difference, right?  Maybe I just shouldn't have said anything.  Oh well. 

So here's a glimpse back at my early days as a mother of two. 


The following is a letter I wrote to a friend in the final days of her second pregnancy. I think it serves as a quick snapshot of my life with two kids and, well, momhood in general.


I know this is supposed to be a letter of encouragement, telling you what a great mom you are (which is true) and how easy life with two kids will be (which is not true at all). But I realized as a new mother of two sometimes I just want to hear how other moms function with multiple children. With my first I tried to do everything perfect. Now that there’s two I’ve given up trying to be perfect and simply try to get by. It’s not always glamorous, but it’s my life. So here it goes...

The morning my water broke my husband jumped out of bed with excitement, just the picture of the perfect father thrilled to meet his new son. I in turn snapped at him to be quiet because, and I quote, “I’ll be so mad if you wake up The Tine.” Lovely.

I thought I would miss my son terribly during our stay at the hospital. Instead it felt like a mini vacation. Nearly 24 hour room service, more distraction-free TV than I watched in the last two years, a romantic dinner for two, and best of all, free babysitting... for both kids!

I let my newborn cry.

Last week my oldest son woke up with damp pajamas after soaking through his diaper (we ran out of the overnights weeks ago and still haven’t replaced them). I was so tired I simply changed his diaper and zipped those damp pj’s right back up. And despite the faint smell of urine surrounding him I didn’t change his clothes until after nap time nearly 8 hours later.

Later that day when I finally got him changed he wouldn’t put on his shirt. He walked around like a little construction worker for the rest of the day (his unusually long buttcrack hanging out of his diaper and everything).

When the baby wakes up he grunts like an agitated bear. It sounds like nails on a chalkboard in the middle of the night. I cover my head with a pillow until I can tune him out no longer.

The Tine ate chicken nuggets and watched an entire movie before 10am today.

I tried to cook dinner for the first time the other day. Somewhere between my oldest son literally hanging on my leg (arms and legs locked in a death grip) and the baby screaming from his infant seat I told them both I didn’t want to be a mom anymore.

Bady smiled that goofy toothless grin that’s so ridiculous I laughed out loud. I decided to stick it out as a mom a little bit longer.

When the baby poops in his clothes I don’t wash them right away. It almost always comes out.

On Bady’s first car trip to my parents he began crying five minutes from home. With my first son I would have pulled over the car, swept him out of his seat, and comforted him any way possible. This time I looked at my husband and said, “It’s just five more minutes,” at which point we turned up the music and averted our eyes from the rearview mirror.

I find most of my prayers these days center around getting the baby to sleep. People are suffering all over the world and all I can think about is how I want nothing more than a good eight hours.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

All before 10 am

These mothering maneuvers may not win me parent of the year, but they sure could make you feel like one.

1.  Pretending not to hear my toddler chanting, "I'm hungry, I'm hungry, I'm hungry" just in time for his third breakfast of the morning. 

2.  Laughing hysterically when the little baby boy yanked a toy from his brother's sticky hands, snarled ferociously at him, and sent the big one running to his room in a tornado of tears.  Don't worry, I soon after followed the toddler and folded him up in my arms (while snickering quietly behind his back).

3.  Asking The Tine if he wouldn't rather watch some Elmo than make me brave the boxes of diapers, baskets full of neatly folded laundry, and 6 month-old baby gifts (still in their bags) to reach his box of craft supplies at the very top of the closet.

4.  When that delicious baby woke up from his nap I scooped him up, nuzzled his tasty little neck, and told him I wanted to love him to tiny pieces so I could then eat him up, spit him back out, and do it all over again.  Is that so weird?

5.  The Tine climbed into our bed this morning all too early and soaking wet (yes, my toddler is wetting his bed while still wearing diapers).  I was too tired to retrieve a change of clothes, so I groggily removed his damp pj's and sopping wet diaper, threw the blankets over his bare little body and told him to just lay there (making sure of course that any naked butt rubbing take place on his father's side of the bed).

6.  When the baby spit up on the floor The Tine proceeded to clean it up with his sock.  I personally am appalled at his behavior and have no idea where he learned such a disgusting habit!

7.  My innocent little toddler confessed to eating a stone.  I find it hard to believe, but he seemed to keep his facts straight, so who knows?  Of course after the 15 minute interrogation I asked, "Did you really eat a stone?" to which he replied "Nooooo" as if the joke was on me for ever believing him in the first place!

It's all in a morning's work! 

Happy Thursday from my household to yours!

Monday, May 17, 2010

When the world keeps on going, but I just can't move

I feel frozen lately.

It's like, I go to the gym and I have all this time to think while I'm prancing on the elliptical (you know, taking advantage of the childcare).

I read these parenting and organizing magazines that make me feel like I want to make over my life.

Like if I can just get some sort of cubby or shelf or teal wicker basket for every corner of my house then somehow I can regain control.

Or if I can teach my toddler the alphabet with one hand while stimulating my infant's developing senses with the other, all between loads of laundry, then I can finally breath.

I can rest assured that I am the mother and wife and household organizer that I am supposed to be.

So I drive home in an endorphin-driven frenzy of ideas and motivation.

I prepare each child a healthy lunch and cheerily whisk them off to bed.

What lies ahead is 45 minutes of peace.  Of quiet.  45 minutes to organize my life.

But I just can't move.

Piles of folded laundry and month-old mail and drying dishes start closing in.  Smothering.  Suffocating.

I turn instead to the buzzing white of my computer screen.  And somewhere in its vast depths I numb myself to the sense of failure that is everywhere.

Shopping with my husband today I pointed out a twenty dollar mail organizer. 

All the man said was, "Do we really need that?" and I practically stormed out of the store. 

He tried desparately to pull me out on the car ride home.  To understand why this was so important to me.

I mean, we already own a perfectly nice mail bin.

The words escaped me at the time.  I kept rambling about how I want to redecorate and how everything needs organized.

But I think what I meant was this.

Yes, we already own a mail bin, but that's not what I want.

It's too revealing. I want something to hide the mess. Something to tuck it all neatly away so I can pretend it's just not there.

I need to cover it up.

Because lately, at night, I lie awake with my heart racing.  I think about books that need returned and friends I need to call and rebates and paperwork and cleaning and all the things that are piling, piling, piling.

My throat closes up and I pry my heavy eyes open, straining toward the light of the television, hoping the laughter will somehow drown out my thoughts. 

I need something to hide the mess.  Something to tuck it all neatly away so I can pretend it's just not there.

I need to cover it up.

Because tomorrow I face another day with its lists of to-do's and should've-done-months-ago's.

And I keep thinking if I could just start... just organize the mail or put away the laundry or send that e-mail... then everything else will fall into place.

But I can't. 

I feel frozen...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Goodbye kiddos, hello margarita!

My in-laws live about 30 feet away from us. 

At first I hesitated at the close proximity.  I mean, what if we were doing a little something in the living room, accidentally leave the blinds open...

Or even worse, what if they're doing a little something in the kitchen, we happen to glance over (wondering what's on the stove and whether it is worth fishing for an invitation) and...

You get the point.

But we couldn't beat the rent and we are pretty tight with the landlords (also my in-laws), so we moved in straight from the honeymoon. 

Now I love my in-laws.  I really do.  They respect our privacy and, unlike the many comments I receive regarding Everybody Loves Raymond, they completely control their nosiness, refraining from any unannounced pop-overs. 

That being said, we certainly experience both highs and lows.

But in the end, what really matters is...

The free babysitting!

We try our hardest not to take advantage, but the people love their grandkids.  It's like they can't get enough.  And really, who am I to deny them that simple pleasure?  Right?

Evenings out, however, remain rare for my husband and I. 

I feel too guilty imagining my mother-in-law flipping through the four channels on our big box of a television when their 50" (right?) HDTV sits a mere 30 feet away, taunting her with its Food Network and Lifetime movies.

And also, my kids cannot do without me at bedtime.

Oh crap, I forgot my husband's reading again... what with  this post about my partial nudity and all.

Fine, so maybe they don't exactly need me.  But they certainly want me.  Prefer me?  Tolerate me?

Okay, okay.  Those boys could care less whether I am there or not.

I mean, at first The Tine chants, "Mommy doe?  Mommy doe?  Mommy doe?"

But then cookies and bubbles and the undivided attention of Grammy and Pap abound and when I rush in early the next morning he tears around the house, demanding, "Brammy Pap doe?  Brammy Pap doe?"  (translation:  Where did Grammy and Pap go?).

And that baby really does adore me, but when it comes to bedtime he cares very little about anything apart from his fuzzy pajamas and snuggly, warm crib sheets.

So when date night rolls around every couple of months or so, I spend approximately 30 minutes pre-departure strangling the control freak mom inside.  You know, the one that wants to dictate minute by minute the itinerary of events for the evening.

I hold back, but it must come out somehow.

So here it is. 

10 Things You Need to Know about Dinner, Bath, Bed, and My Sweet Little Babies

1. When feeding The Tine, name the meal according to its most appealing ingredient.  For example, a chicken wrap involving a whole wheat tortilla, baked chicken, sprouts, parsley, and a tiny sprinkling of cheese, must be referred to as a "cheesy wrap" for consumption purposes.

2.  Stick what you will in Bady's mouth, bottle, spoon, pizza (you know I'm kidding on that one, right?  Because it is a choking hazard and I will probably explode with worry if I don't clear that up)... unless it is milk-producing flesh, he will clamp those little lips and no amount of airplanes or "boop boop" noises will open him up.  Don't worry about it, he will just wake up 16 times tonight to make up for it.  And in an attempt to ease my guilt for leaving him in the first place, I will quickly oblige.

3.  Do not touch The Tine's clothing.  He recently watched Head to Toe with Elmo and insists on undressing himself.  Blood may appear when he wrenches his diaper to his knees without undoing the tabs, but please remain silent while he proves his manhood.  Afterwards profuse clapping and the singing of high praises is required.

4. The Tine adores his bath.  He loves duckies and bubbles and drinking the warm, urine-filled water.  But he considers the actual bathing process a complete injustice.  For full cooperation please place Elmo in a seated position on the pot, making sure he retains an unobstructed view of the bath.  Use the phrase, "Elmo is watching" at the first sign of tantrum.  Do not worry about scarring the child.  We already have that covered.

5.  Just so you are well informed... that boy will do anything to stall the bedtime process.  He will want to eat a vitamin on the potty immediately after bath.  He will ask for multiple stories and, right when you are ready to remove him from the toilet, he will start yelling, "Peepee come down!  Peepee come down!"  Do not be fooled.  Nothing is coming down.  Except perhaps that thread of sanity that is currently hanging by a wee little string.

6.  Just go ahead and pick a book for bedtime.  I used to let him choose any book he wanted.  Big mistake.  Then I narrowed it down to two.  And while watching him put his finger to his lips and mull over his choices with a long, drawn out, "hmmmmmmmmmm" was super cute at first, it got annoying fast.  He can veto the choice, however, which he indicates with a long, whiny, "Nooooooooo."  In this case give him a choice or two.  I mean, I'm not a freaking dictator, I just want to sit down already.  Is that really so wrong?

7.  After you read the book, he will want to read it to you.  It is another stall, but go ahead and let him.  I mean, we're not going to beat those other preschoolers with a couple extra minutes of sleep, but if I can get him reading by three... (evil laugh)

8.  After tearing the book from his surprisingly strong little hands he will want you to ask what he did today (which he will remind you about by saying, over and over again, "Do today?  Do today?  Do today?").  He will rarely ever tell you what he actually did that day.  He will always tell you he went Pap's house, whether he did or not, because we laughed at that once.  Then he will want to know what you did today.  And he actually listens.  I don't really care if this one's a stall because it is so stinking sweet.

9.  He will not kiss you goodnight, but pour on your kisses lavishly.  Hug his tiny toddler body until he pushes you away and blow kisses as you leave the room.  Don't bother going far.  A curtain call awaits very shortly.  More kisses and hugs and away he goes to dream land.

10.  Oh crap, the baby!  Yeah, you can just put him in his crib.  He will be slumbering shortly!  (But don't rest too easy, the toddler years are not far off.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dreading the dishes: There's an App for that

I am not all that into music. 

Sure, as a teenager I spent hours in my room pining after the Backstreet Boys and screaming Spice Girls lyrics, but my interest weaned to nearly nonexistent levels after college.

It is not that I don't enjoy music.  I think I really get the art of it.  I love myself a good melody and mulling over deep lyrics (though not too deep, not poetic symbolic deep... that stuff frustrates me). 

I just never know what to listen to.  My husband owns an iPod, but the vast selection of songs makes me feel like a claustrophobe in an elevator.  My throat tightens as my eyes nervously scan through artists, songs, and albums too numerous and varied to choose. 

On my more courageous days I venture a musical guess, only to experience complete disconnect with my album of choice.

In less adventurous times I throw the thing back at my husband and savor the silence.

But not tonight.  Oh not tonight.

Tonight my husband created art in the kitchen.  A delicious Thai feast that left my taste buds buzzing and my kitchen... well, a disaster.

Piled dishes, cilantro-covered floor, and some kind of hard core glue holding my butt to the chair.

I needed some kind of motivation, a small piece of inspiration...

I needed an app for that!

And I found it.

It is called Moodagent and it is unbelievable. 

You just move these fun little bars to match your mood at the moment, and Moodagent generates a whole playlist of songs (from your own library) based on that mood.

Or if you are completely indecisive like me and start to panic that you placed the Tender bar too high and Joy too low, you simply pick a song.  Just one song that you're really feeling and a whole playlist of songs with similar moods magically appears.

(And the best part is, it's free!)

So I'm listening to music again.

And loving it. 

I have yet to come across a song I am not in the mood for.

And instead of dreading the dishes, I look forward to them.

I may have even wiped an extra counter or two just to prolong the fun!

(But don't tell my husband!)


More tips at We Are THAT Family!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Don't make me come out of this computer!

I am a complete perfectionist.

I would say I hate that about me, but in all my perfectionism I only want to be a better perfectionist.  Perfectionizing in all areas of life to a perfect degree.

So while blogging is a sweet relief, it also constitutes the worst form of torture.

In the form of...


(duh, duh, duh)

I hate that little button.  It seriously taunts me.  (And in a British accent of all things.)

"Would you like to publish this post?  No seriously, you're going to publish this junk?  I mean, I was kind of kidding there.  I didn't think you would actually put these meaningless words on display for all the world to see.  Wait.  What are you doing with that curser.  Get that thing away from me.  Seriously, don't... come... any... closer..."

Well, you get the point. 

I simply cannot post every day. 

When I strive for quantity a vicious cycle commences.

I post.  A few days pass and I get a little jittery.  I notice my bloggy friends are writing two or three posts to my one.  And good ones at that.

So I turn one out.  I ignore the sassy British lady and publish that post.  I breath a sigh of relief and step away from the computer.

And panick. 

What in the world did I just put out there?  Did it even make sense?  Why would I word it like that?  Did I really just use passive voice for three paragraphs?

Well, maybe no one read it yet.  Oh crap, a comment.  Now there's no going back.

I need to write something else.  Quick.  Publish.



Did I just write an entire post about laundry?

Now there are times when I am proud of what I write.  When my words at least make me feel something.  I love capturing my emotions at any given point and knowing that in five years I can look back and experience this time in my life all over again.

And perhaps one day I will appreciate my sentiments on the hazards of laundry day.

But probably not.

Oh well, guess it's time to publish this post.

No, you shut up.

Am I publishing a post about publishing posts?  Why yes I am.

Do you have a problem with that?

Oh yeah, well I don't like scones.  So take that.

You're right, I love scones.  I can't get enough of their floury goodness and delicious chunks of chocolate and raspberries and...

Stop trying to distract me!







Sunday, May 9, 2010

Gifts from the kids, straight from the heart (and butt crack)

What my children gave me this mother's day.

6:45 - One vomit soaked baby and crib

6:50 - Laundry

7:00 - My biggest fan screaming my name... over... and over... and over. 

7:45 - A potty partner (nothing like a baby on your lap, unraveling toilet paper, to say, "you will never be lonely again!")

8:00 - One ham and cheese scramble coming up!

8:30 - Dishes.

9:00 - A hot, quiet shower.

9:15 - A card, hand-made and delivered to a dripping wet mommy... and the question, "Mommy penis doe?"

9:16 - Laughter

9:40 - A father-son outing and a quiet house

9:55 - One poop-filled diaper... and pants... and shirt (at which point I am pretty sure my 6 month-old smiled and exclaimed, "Happy Mother's Day!")

10:00 - Laundry

10:10 - A late departure for an afternoon with the in-laws

11:00 - 3:00 - Mother's Day Festivities (Train museum and lunch.  It may be Mother's Day, but if toddler's not happy, nobody's happy.)

4:30 - Baby laughter (and hungry toddler tantrums).

5:00 - A sweet sibling moment that went something like this...

The baby cried as I mercilessley sucked mucus from his congested, little nose. Meanwhile, I heard The Tine in the background, rooting through the fridge, mumbling about the baby. I imagined he would emerge with a yogurt demanding that I abandon the baby and help him with his snack. Instead he ran over with a bag full of Bady's cold teethers, pulled one out, and proceeded to shove it in his mouth, repeating, "It's otay baby, it's otay." When the baby shot a grin his way he absolutely lit up and proclaimed, "Daddy, baby happy, baby happy!"

6:30 - A tiny, toddler hand, gently stroking my cheek

6:31 - The knowledge that said tiny, toddler hand just minutes earlier explored the mysterious crevices of tiny toddler's butt crack.

6:32 - More laughter.  The "butt"-induced kind.  (The best kind.)

7:30 - Sweet memories: After a day of fun-filled, train-happy activities I asked my toddler, "What did you do today?"  To which he responded, "I poopoo-ed at Pap's house!" (That was sixty dollars I'll never see again.)

7:45 - A break... finally!

Hope your Mother's Day was filled with the kisses, laughter, and poop-filled diapers that let you know you are loved!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Honey, I'm Cooking Indian Wearing Nothing But an Apron (Now Will You Please Read My Blog!)

My husband was this blog's original reader.

For a while he was the only reader. 

He sat next to me when I jumped out of my chair, electried by my very first comment (thanks Helene!).

He explained why someone else's picture suddenly popped up on my blog (and that followers are not the same as stalkers).

He discussed with me the content of my posts and used it for insight into the workings of my mind.

Now I am not bragging many followers and I certainly can't claim status as a comment queen...

But those of you who (for some reason) care about the things I write... well, you apparently lifted a serious burden from my husband's shoulders.

I can't get him to read this thing for the life of me. 

I write posts about him, about our "hoyney" toddler , and even one about how much I suck (I mean, he could have a field day with that one)!

I quiz him regularly with seemingly casual questions, which, after an appropriate amount of blank stares and head nods, I simply retort, "You would know if you read my blog."

Nothing works.

He claims he is waiting for time to sit down and enjoy it (okay, I have to give him one thing... the man is king of sensitive excuses that are practically impossible to argue with).

So I am brainstorming some future posts in the hopes of reclaiming what is rightfully mine... the complete absorption and near obssesion of my husband (that was in our vows, right?).

These ought to do it.

1.  An Apple a Day (ipad review and giveaway)

2. Doing Business While Doing Your Business (10 Ways to Stay Entertained in the Bathroom)

3. How To Brew Beer in Your Basement

4. My Thoughts on Lost: So Much More Than a TV Show

5. One More Check: How I Completed the Laundry, Cleaned, and Cooked All in One Day

(Okay, he may not read that one, but he would certainly get a good laugh from the title.)

6. Hungry No More: The Decision To Pack My Husband's Lunch for the Rest of His Life

And if all else fails, the title of this post...

7. Honey, I'm Cooking Indian Wearing Nothing But an Apron

Of course I don't know if he will read this or just book it home (to be bitterly disappointed by my empty kitchen and puke-stained t-shirt).

Either way, I got his attention, didn't I?


What title would get your significant other clicking that link faster than a McDonald's drive-thru?

Monday, May 3, 2010

At the End of the Day (Where I Want To Be)

A hot pink corvette, giggly girl, and crooning Elvis can only mean one thing.

 Someone got married!

Okay, so it was just my cousin.  Not too exciting for any of you.

But they did it.  A semi-planned elopement of sorts.

(And I have to say, I get it... I really do.  As an avid procrastinator and disorganized mess, wedding planning was nothing short of torture.  And with all the pressure to invite everyone and their mother, literally, I completely understand.)

So her parents threw her an adults-only celebration party (she refused to call it a reception) this past weekend.

And for the very first time since the birth of my first son we left the kids with someone who was not our parents.

Two someones to be exact.

My high school and middle school-aged cousins.

While this may seem crazy, the eldest cousin completed babysitter training (whatever that means) and they are both like 30 year-olds trapped in teenage bodies (plus we were less than 10 minutes away should chaos ensue).

I was nervous, but not about the kid's safety (Okay, that's a big lie.  For anyone who knows me I am ALWAYS nervous about my kid's safety.  In fact, I possess the unique ability to project disaster into every possible situation.  Not to brag, but it's one of my few talents!)

So anyhow, I may have spent a few sleepless nights imagining my toddler falling in the pool, my panicked cousin dropping the baby to go in after him and... well, for the sake of maintaing some semblance of sanity, I will leave it at that.  Just know it did not end well.

But I would picture those things with my parents, in-laws, husband, and even myself.  So that wasn't it.

I was nervous for one simple reason.  My two little boys are fatal attraction, borderline obsessed with me.  I mean, really, it is kind of creepy.

Every night my husband puts my son in a bath while I get the baby to bed.  Literally just sticks him in the tub.  And every night, the minute his bottom submerges, my needy little man begins the momma crescendo.  It starts as a whine and builds to a panicky scream.  "Momma!  Momma!  Momma doe?  Need Momma!!  Momma!!!"  Every night.

And even though he shares me with a mommy-dependent toddler, our little bundle of baby manages his own mom addiction.  I am like heroin to him.  He is such a little baby I sometimes forget he even notices me.  Until I go away.  And he reminds me in no uncertain terms that he expects my arrival very shortly.  And continues his obtrusive reminders until my return.

So when I left the kids happily snuggled up to my doting cousins I felt both proud and relieved. 

I went to that party and I drank a glass of wine.  (Okay, half a glass of wine.  I was so woozy halfway through that I gave the rest to my husband.  Can you tell I lead an exciting night life?)

After two plus hours of barely thinking about the kids I called my cousins, just to check in.  Everything was great, he said. 

I wanted to ask if the baby fell asleep and if The Tine ate, knowing full well that both events would set the tone for the rest of the evening.

But I didn't.

I decided to play the cool, laid back mom, resting in the knowledge that my kids were okay and glossing over the details.

Big mistake.

Fifteen minutes later I received the dreaded phone call.  I could barely hear my cousin what with my frantically screaming duo in the background.

I jetted home (in a safe-ish fashion), my heart pounding in my chest and doubts pounding in my head.  

The kids were calm when we walked in the door, but resumed their desperate sobs at the sound of my voice.

They were fine, of course.  But the baby, in fact, did not sleep.  And my toddler grew frantic upon hearing a clock, which he mistook for the doorbell (announcing mommy's arrival).

It so was not a big deal, but I left with this weight in my chest.  

Was I an irresponsible mother?  Were my cousins scarred?  Would they hate my children?  Would my children hate me?     

But then I recalled a conversation from earlier that evening (pre-disastrous phone call).

My uncle told us about a time he babysat my aunt's (his sister's) kids.  After a few hours he was forced to call her.  "Come home," my uncle demanded, "he won't stop screaming."

My uncle is now 50 plus years-old.  A successful lawyer.  Single, no kids.  What he remembers most from that evening is this...

"I expected her to be mad when she got home.  But she wasn't.  She was happy to be home with her kids.  She actually wanted to come home to them." 

My aunt nodded from across the table and an hour later, in the same situation, I agreed.

I wanted to hold my babies.  To sit between their carseats and listen to my toddler relate groggy stories about his evening.  To gaze into my baby's eyes as I rocked him to sleep.  To lay down with The Tine while he played with my hair, eyes fluttering closed. 

To stand with my husband's arm around my shoulders, looking down at our sleeping children in a room thick with satisfaction and joy.

My carefree days are truly over.  Long gone.

But standing in this place, I can honestly say, I am lucky.

Friday, April 30, 2010

How I Got Off My Butt and to the Gym

I returned to the gym this week.

Though I despise working out.

And I do not want to lose weight.  (Wait, wait, wait!  Before you click that little red X you should know that, although I am down to my pre-pregnancy weight, the last ten pounds were not going anywhere before a nasty case of the flu, which I gorily detailed in this post.)

However, I do want to eat more.

And I suppose I feel better about myself all pumped up on endorphins than wearing the same pajamas for three days and eating handfuls of red and pink m&m's from Valentine's Day.

Oh, and there's also this...

When The Tine was six months I learned a dirty little secret about the gym.  They will take your kids.  And not in the creepy way that italisized sentence implies.  But they actually take your kids for you... for an hour and a half... at no extra charge.

Which frees me up to do a little of this...
  • Finding the resistance on the elliptical that allows me the slowest pace with the least effort (not as easy as it sounds, but I found somewhere around eight does the job).
  • Reading the same two copies of Parenting magazine over and over again (go ahead, ask me the eight common traits of a happy family, I dare you).
  • Exerting myself in two to three one-minute "sprints."  I mean, I can only go slow eight for so long before I risk identification as a slacker mom exploiting the free childcare. 
  • Eavesdropping on ellipticals five and six as they exchange post-pregnancy sagging stories.
So as you can tell, my time there is well spent.

At least an hour a day sans kiddos.

I eat all the time. 

And my bowels are rocking (that's a little too much, isn't it?).

Nothing like torturing yourself for a few precious minutes of mom time!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Me I Find There

I enjoy a good escape.

Nibbling on dark chocolate while sipping a bold Starbucks coffee.  Losing myself in a Jodi Picoult novel, or falling in love with a classic for the 14th time.  Slowly biking a stone-laden path, blasting Kelly Clarkson and The Beatles.

It is why I love Time Out for Theta Mom Thursday.

A chance to escape. 

My graceful exit from the land of sweet potatoe puke and breast milk splatters.

The only requirement... one hour spent away from your children.

I'm in.

Only this month my escape was more like a swap.  One set of preschoolers for another.  Finger paints and play-doh for, well, more finger paints and play doh.

I did avoid the ever-dreaded bedtime marathon, but at the price of three and four year-olds hopped up on pizza, soda, and two dishes of ice cream a piece. 

The exchange... a sense of normalcy.  Of contribution.  Of importance.

The feeling that I'm good at something that is not getting a baby to sleep or negotiating lunch options with a toddler.

Okay, so what I did is this.  I began volunteering with a grief group... again. 

I was involved at its conception, then took a break after the birth of my second son.  It is a group for families dealing with the loss of a loved one.

I spend more than an hour there, actually over three, once every other week.

And I know I'm just working with preschoolers, but I feel like I'm making a difference. 

A month before my first son was born I graduated from a program in child counseling.  I loved it. 

I was scared out of my mind before every session, but I left with the satisfaction of knowing I was good at something. 

And now that I'm volunteering with this group, it is like I remembered that I can do things other than, you know, mom things.  And I can do them well.

My little baby is one of the most ridiculous human beings I know.  All you have to do is glance at him and his face explodes in a big, goofy grin.

When my husband and I need to leave the baby with his toys we begin our withdrawal by "pumping him up with love."  We just go crazy on him, tickling and laughing and baby talking until he just can't take it any more.  His little feet kick, his hands dance spastically, and he grunts like a miniature machine gun.

I think that is what I am doing for these kids.

Because their adults just don't have the energy or emotional security to pour such focused attention into their little ones.

They need to think about who will mow the lawn or complete the taxes or bring home money to pay the bills.

So for a couple hours every other week I enjoy pumping up these kids with the attention and acceptance and security they crave.

It is a time out.

For these families and for me.

I feel like I'm part of something bigger.

And I know that staying home with my children is important.  That I am helping and making a difference in my daily life. 

But when my life seems like a string of poopy diapers it hardly feels that way.

And so I admit it is selfish and certainly not a great reason to help others.  But I like contributing to people I did not push out of my body.

It makes me feel good.

There, I said it. 

And though my white, volunteer shirt may be stained with sweet potatoes and breast milk, I like leaving the mom me behind.

I like the me I find there.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

When Daughters Become Mothers: Game On!

My husband skipped town for the weekend.

Some 30th birthday guys only shindig.  A can't-say-no excuse for 15 grown men to leave their wives and children for two days of frisbee golf, video games and beer.

(And husband, if in reading that description the word "dork" pops into your head, please dwell on that thought and return with  renewed appreciation for your younger and cooler half.)

Anyhow, it is the weekend.  And he is gone.

And I am a weekend brat.

I completely refuse for my weekend to look just like my week (what with its dinnertime wars, rapid fire showers, and mandatory defecation clean-up).

So I run home to my mommy and daddy (three hours away).

And I look forward to it.   I really do.

I imagine sipping on hot coffee and painting my toenails while Grammy and Gramps go knee deep in poopy diapers and toddler tantrums.

But I forget about two things.

1. That I produced and expelled two complete mama's boys, fresh from the womb.

2. That the sharing of childrearing responsibilities comes at a price.  A price by the name of... mom!


Mom: "I don't like your hair."

Me: "Really?"

Mom: "Yeah, it's the bangs.  I don't like the bangs."

Me: "Why not?"

Mom: "They're just not blended very well.  Why, do you like it?"


Me (to toddler): "What do you want to drink?.... Actually, I'm just going to give you water.  You need to drink water with lunch.  It's not a choice today."

Mom: "You do give him a lot of choices.  You're always giving him choices." (In case that sounds like a good thing to you, add a derogatory tone and accusatory stare... yep, that should do it.)

Me: "No I don't.  You do."

Ah yes, eternally twelve in my childhood home.


Mom (to baby): "Your mom would have brought you a cloth bib.  I don't know why in the world anyone would use cloth bibs."

In my defense I prefer the plastic bibs at home, but go cloth on car trips to help absorb the mess.  So there.


Mom: "Should I just mix his oatmeal with skim milk?"

Me: "No, water is fine.  They're not supposed to have milk until they're a year."

Mom (both loudly and under her breath): "I gave you kids milk at six months and you survived."


I love my mom.

Really I do.

Good or bad, her world revolved around my sister and I.

She chaperoned every field trip, sewed for every musical, hosted every sleepover, study group, awkward middle school co-ed party.

She gives abundantly and in every way to her children, and now to her grandchildren.

I learned from her the meaning of generosity and forgiveness and devotion.

But sometimes, she drives me crazy.

It is a tug-of-war particular to mothers and daughters.  And it reaches its peak when daughters become mothers.

I used to hope it would end.

Now I just hold tight and try to stay out of the mud.

And even though we both may pull, we're really rooting for the other team to stay on dry land.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Small Steps through Dark Tunnels

My little man is fearless.

Here he is running into (and through) a long, dark tunnel without so much as glancing back, completely unaware of the lurking dangers in its cold, dark recesses.

(My husband followed after, of course.)

In some ways I am proud of him.

He is adventurous and athletic and uninhibited.

But the compulsive and slightly neurotic side of me (that still checks my two year-old's breathing multiple times throughout the night) is going crazy.

I want to hold and protect him like the little baby he is (to me).

When we go to the park, I want to hold his hand up the stairs and catch him at the bottom of the (3 foot) slide.

My husband wants him to climb plastic rock walls and brave the tallest, twistiest slides all by himself.

I watch other parents.  I envy their cautious children.  And while I tell myself I do not want a three year-old too scared to attempt the kiddy slide, I do.

I envision worst case scenarios everywhere I go.

When he was a baby I imagined some careless holder smacking his tiny head against the wall.  As a beginning walker I pictured him diving eye first into sharp, pointy surfaces.  Now I see him leaping off slides, dashing in front of cars, trapping himself beneath heavy furniture. 

Not to say I don't childproof to the best of my abilities.  Believe me, I do. 

But I can't childproof the world.  (Right?  I mean, if anyone hears of a way, please let me know.)

The fact remains that at some point I need to let go. 

To trust.  And to hope.

Hope he is cautious and intelligent and safe with his choices.

I mean, one day (God-willing) the boy will ride a bus to school and play sports and drive a car.

I can't follow him, ready to catch his fall, grabbing the collar of his shirt when he starts to stray. 

He needs to dream and to pursue his dreams.  Dreams in which he saves the world or makes the team or braves a long, dark tunnel with his tiny, toddler legs.

And I need to take small steps back with each step he takes forward.

And then I need to do it all over again when my baby grows up. 

If I can't, well...

... watch for me you mothers of two year-old girls. 

I'll be the one at your daughter's rehearsal dinner, cutting up grapes and hot dogs for the groom.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

All Eyes On My Baby (what they will never tell you, but always hope you find out)

As a first time mom I believed everyone held their breath for my baby boy.

I saw everyone's eyes on him. 

Imagined his voice in their heads, chiming like a bell, drowning out the noise.

Thought hearts melted at the touch of that pale, dewy skin.

Now there are two.  And while I do not claim status as a mothering pro (or anything close), I can tell you that they, in fact, do not care.

Not that they don't love your child.  They do.

They just don't care like you think they do (and by they I mean everyone that is not you, with the exception of other parents or parent-like figures, and oftentimes, but not always, grandparents).

These are the things they absolutely do not care about.

(And I must preface these points with the simple statement that I am, in fact, guilty of every single one.  And that I will probably continue in my child-centered delusions as long as those chestnut brown and sky blue eyes blur my once rational and possibly even intelligent worldview.)

So here it goes...
  • They do not care if your baby says "dada" or "yaya" or "baba."  You can spend an hour taunting her in that high-pitched, dog-trainer voice and even if she says it (which she won't)... they don't care.  They are not fooled into thinking she knows what she is saying and mindless babble does not make her the next brain child.
  • They do not care if your child can roll over, and they are even less impressed if you give him that extra push on his rear to complete a trick that a puppy could accomplish at birth (basically). 
  • They do not care if your baby cries.  They realize your child is not an evil dictator exerting power over you, her miser parents (on this point they are wrong, but they don't know that).  So please refrain from exclaiming that your baby is tired/hungry/poopy the moment she squeaks out a milli-cry (though in the instance of a full-blown screamfest please stick one breast/bottle/soothing device in said infant's greedy little mouth.  If in the presence of breastfeeding mothers do so immediately or be prepared to avert your eyes and feign the non-existence of embarrasing leakage issues).
  • They do not care if it is time for your child's nap.  If they are taking the time to come visit (especially if they do so in a respectful, non-intrusive way) they want to actually see your baby.  I am all about schedules, but just like rules they are made to be broken.  Let them see him.  Because despite the previous points...
There are things they love about your baby.
  • They love your baby's laugh.  How it bubbles up from her toes and flows from her mouth in grunts and snorts and screams.  How her little body shakes and her eyes go spastically wide with uncontrollable joy.
  • They love your baby's smell.  You know, that pungent mix of baby powder, stale milk breath, and multiple rounds of vomit (which for some of us more lazy moms does not prompt multiple changes of clothes).
  • They love the heavy, damp weight of a baby in their arms.  They love watching him drift off to sleep or grab at their face or just follow the arc of a conversation.  Do not snatch up your child for fear of burdening others.  It is hard to believe (especially when you spend most of the day trying to set your child down), but people love to hold your baby.  So let them.
  • They love that your baby is there.  Don't be dishearted if no one is dangling toys, cooing at, or playing with your baby.  They are happy for this fresh little life beside them, and while they will not notice every chirp and wave and hiccup like you do, they notice she is there.  And they love it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Kind of Suck (But I Think That's Okay)

I looked at myself in the mirror last night.

And I realized I am not great at anything.

It hit me like a punch in the stomach and came completely out of nowhere. 

I guess maybe I was watching American Idol and remembering my own singing days.  When I thrived on compliments like a sad, little girl starved for encouragement (which I was not).  When I dreamed about being discovered in the most random of places and pictured life on the road, acoustic sets in small venues, making a living if not making it big.

Then I watched this show.  I heard people do things with their voices I never dreamed of.  And I knew I was good.  But I was not great. 

And writing.  How I dreamed of writing.  In the fourth grade a teacher read a paper of mine and told me I should be a writer (although if she read that last sentence she may have changed her mind).  I said, "Okay," and adpoted a new dream. 

As an English Literature major at a small University my professors offered nearly endless encouragement while I honed my writing skills, maturing from a casual writer to master of MLA essays (at least in my mind).

A job at a bank and one unrelated Master's degree later I decided to stay home with my new baby boy.

Two years, another baby, and I found myself practically rewriting my husband's grad school essays, lost in a world of words, painting sentences and stepping back to view the finished product like a work of art.  I felt like a drug addict searching for a thrill.

So I started blogging. 

I loved the outlet it provided for the words building up inside.

But the thing about blogging is that other people blog too.

And they blog good.  They blog real good.

There are people in the blogging world, every day, non-writer people, doing things with their words that I cannot imagine doing with my own.

They are like artists, like musicians.  They evoke emotion and inspire and I absolutely love what they do.

And while they draw tears and laughter they also make me realize that I may be a good writer.  But I am not a great writer (and that is actually not a plea for you to tell me otherwise!).

I was still staring into the mirror when I thought, "Well, at least I'm a great mom."

At which point I literally doubled over, grabbed onto the sink, and thought, "But I'm not great.  I am a good mom, but I am not a great mom."

I know this all depends on your definition of a great mom.  I love my kids more than anything and so want to be a great mom.

But my patience is often very short.  I use the television as a babysitter probably more than I should.  I don't do crafts or bake cakes or host multiple, themed parties throughout the year.  I often look for the shortcut and I only do laundry upon complete necessity (when we run out of underwear).

I am a good mom.  I am not a great mom.

But I want to be great. I really want to be great.

And I got to thinking, still in the bathroom (wiping whiskers off the faucet), that most people are not great.  I mean, by very definition the majority of people cannot be great.  The majority of people are average.  That's kind of what makes them the majority.

So maybe it's not about being great. 

Maybe it is about trying to be great.  Working hard and failing and trying again.  Not giving up and not settling when you yell at your kids or send your husband to work in wrinkly pants of forget the sunscreen on a cloudless, 80 degree day.

What if it is about trying to be great even though you may never get there?

What if that is great?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Christmas in April

It is mid-April. 

The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, the Easter bunny came and went...

And yet as we walked through a crowded restaurant, surrounded by crackling bacon and light-hearted conversation, my two year-old son greeted each table with panicked eyes and whispered...

"No Santa.  No Santa.  No Santa."

Very creepy.

And I'm sure more than one of those unsuspecting patrons considered calling child services.  I mean, why else would a sweet, little toddler experience Santa paranoia right in the throes of springtime.

I could try to explain it... but who would believe me?

And besides, this is not the first time he has "seen" Santa.

One snowy evening in February my husband carried The Tine across the yard from my in-law's.  As they traversed the dark, eerie terrain the wind picked up, slamming shut the breezeway door behind them...

At which point my son's head whipped around and he cried,

"No Santa!  No Santa!  No Santa!"

By the time they climbed the stairs where I waited with a hot bath for The Tine, his wide, tear-filled eyes and sobbing rants of which I could understand only one word ("Santa") sent my mind into whirlwinds of paranoid mother scenarios.

First off was the serial-killer-dressed-as-Santa-and-lurking-outside-our-house scenario, of course.  But when I noticed my husband's calm expression, and the fact that they, in fact, were alive, my mind took a less dramatic route.

The movie-about-the-serial-killer-dressed-as-Santa-and-lurking-outside-a-house scenario.  Then I recalled my husband's obsessiveness over our son's viewing of television violence (he was outraged that his parents let The Tine watch that superbowl commercial with the football player running down the little, old lady... so horror films would certainly not pass his careful scrutiny).

Okay, maybe just a creepy figurine Santa, then, lingering long after the New Year, lost somewhere in my in-law's cluttered house.

Possible, but in the end, though we racked our brains for viable explanations, the slamming door and snow-covered lawn were the only ones that stood.

Obviously The Tine's irrational fear of Santa stems from somewhere... so here it is...

The First Meeting

Background:  My son's introduction to the concept of Santa Claus consisted of the occasional Christmas book before bed and a movie that quickly earned a place as his favorite, The Polar Express

While my son adores trains and most of this movie does, in fact, take place on a train, a small portion features a large, pale, slightly glowing Tom Hanksish Santa who I, as an adult, even find frightening.

The Tine never relayed this same fear, however, and when we announced Santa's attendance at the play group Christmas party he was elated.

The Meeting:  My son cheerfully eats chicken nuggets and peas (his favorite) while "chatting" with his best friend Emily.

"Santa tumming!... Santa!... Eat peas, Emmy?... Cheers!"  Random, as usual, but excited nonetheless.

Suddenly a "Ho ho ho!" echoes throughout the room as the door flies open, revealing the big man himself.

The Tine is ecstatic.  He jumps in his daddy's arms, hoping for a closer look.

He waves and shouts "Hi Santa!  Hi Santa!"

Santa greets the children like the celebrity he is, shaking hands and patting little heads.

A smile covers my son's face...

Until the moment of contact (or almost contact).

Santa extends his hand to The Tine and the meltdown begins.

He screams.  He cries.  He barrels out of his daddy's arms and claws his way onto my lap, burying his head in my chest and continuing to sob.

He spends the remainder of the evening like so, his little body shaking and repeating over and over again, "All done, Santa.  All done."

He refuses to enter the room where Santa sits, taking pictures and handing out presents, and we certainly do not force the issue.

When Santa leaves he yells, "Bye bye Santa!  All done Santa!"  And continues chanting those words on the ride home, in the tub, until the moment his little eyes close on his pillow.

And now, nearly four months later, this seemingly innocent meeting continues to haunt him. 

It is both disburbing and funny at times.

People keep saying to try again next year... that he will like Santa when he's three.

But as the months tick away and the Christmas countdown begins (this is when Christmas shopping begins, after all), I am beginning to think that a two and a half year-old fraught with Santa paranoia will not become the big guy's number one fan when he turns three.

At this point I don't really care if he likes Santa or not.

If he could just stop relaying his paranoid delusions in the middle of Eat 'n Park... that would be great!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Road I Took (And How It Made All the Difference)



    Not now.
      Don't do that.

        Why in the world?

As the parent of a toddler I oftentimes feel engulfed in a world of negativity.

I swim in a sea of "no's," of "do not's" and "cannot's."

I want to rescue my son, to pull him safely to the sunny shores of "yes's" and "thank you's" and "go ahead's."

But I feel stuck.

I vow to stop saying "no."  And I don't say it.


I promise more hugs and kisses.

I give more time out's.

I am tired of it... and I am sure my son is too.

So yesterday I made a small change that made a big difference.

I laughed.

That's it.  I decided to laugh.

My son loves to sit on me the moment I lie on the floor.  It makes working out nearly impossible and makes me super frustrated.

Yesterday I attempted some sit ups while my son watched Bob the Builder.  I thought I was safe, but the moment he spotted mommy prone on the carpet he broke into a huge grin, clambered down from the couch, and threw his 30 plus pound body right on top of me.

And I laughed.

He laughed.

We rolled around in fits of giggles for five minutes, creating a moment I will remember on his first day of kindergarten, his high school graduation, his wedding.

Fast forward to dinner time. 

Both kids are screaming.  It is Mexican night and The Tine wanted chips on the side, but daddy crumbled them on top.  He removed the chips, but the crying continued.

The baby refused his last nap of the day and instead screamed on my lap throughout dinner. 

As I held a teether in my baby's mouth and shouted conversationally with my husband I looked down to see the baby's tiny fist full of rice and refried beans, swiped neatly from my plate and heading towards his teether-filled mouth.

And I laughed.

My husband laughed.

The kids screamed harder.

But I couldn't stop laughing.

And suddenly it wasn't such a big deal after all.

Linked to Feel Good Friday, hosted by The Girl Next Door Grows Up


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Musings of a Delusional Mom

I love to daydream.

When I was a little girl I could lay in one spot for hours imagining my big break as a Broadway star or the discovery of my royal heritage and subsequent life as princess of a far away land. 

Not much has changed.

I still have conversations with people in my mind.  Not the crazy kind (if you can even say that when you're talking about voices in your head), but the kind where you say everything right and the other person says exactly what you want to hear.

Now that I have kids the conversations are different, but the gist is the same. 

These dialogues usually take place with complete strangers (seeing that husbands don't cooperate with the whole "exactly what you want to hear" idea).

And they go something like this.

Imaginary Conversation: Take One

Stranger: "I hope you don't mind me saying so, but you look way too young to have a kid."

Me: "I don't mind at all.  In fact, I get that all the time."

(Never happened, not once.  I figured people did not want to appear rude with my first son.  After all, what if I accidentally got pregnant in college or something.  Then number two came along.)

Imaginary Conversation: Take Two

Stranger: "How long have you babysat those children.  They seem so comfortable with you."

(Yes, I have the same "hot babysitter" delusion as the mom in the minivan commercial.)

Me: "I'm actually their mother, but don't worry, I get that all the time." (Seeing a pattern here?)

(Also never happened.  With two kids people must assume they were on purpose.  That I am grown and married and planned these two beautiful children.  So why aren't they bombarding me with underhanded compliments on my youth and good looks!  I just don't get it!  Well, maybe I'll go a different route...)

Imaginary Conversation: Take Three

Stranger:  "Your children are absolutely gorgeous.  And so well behaved.  It was a pleasure being near such a wonderful family."

Me:  "Thank you so much!  That is very kind of you to say.  And they really are like this all the time." (Okay, I'm laughing even as I type that one.)

(And again, never happened.  Although, once, an older man said, "Good for you" when we asked for to-go bags and jetted from a local restaurant with our crying baby and rambunctious toddler.  Didn't know what to make of that one.)

So the moral of the story...

If you see me on the street or in a restaurant, please make an embarrasingly big deal about my youthful good looks and my children's perfect behavior (and maybe throw something in there about my tiny waste line if you're feeling generous).

Tell me I'm not the only delusional one around here!

The Toddler Tatrum Tamer

It was a long weekend, of which we spent nearly every waking moment in the great, sunny outdoors.

So when Tuesday rolled around and my husband (finally) went back to work I wanted a day indoors, to recover from sunburns and and breastfeed my baby in the privacy of my own home (Spare my father-in-law the uncomfortable squirming when he happens upon feeding time in the yard. It's as though my breast will take on a mind of its own, pop out of my child's mouth and throw aside the blanket covering, joyfully exposing itself to the world).

My two year-old had other plans.

"Mama, wanna go outside."

"Sorry sweetheart, mommy needs to do some stuff inside" (And besides, I don't think Regis and Kelly broadcast outdoors).

"Wanna go outside.  Shoes on!"

"I know babe, but mommy has some goals today" (Like the goal to make it from sun up to sun down without changing anyone out of their pajamas).

"Outside, outside!"  He's getting excited now.

"Listen," I say with angelic patience, "we will go outside later.  Why don't you play trains?"

"No!  Outside!  Outside!"

Okay, this is not going well.  And desperate times call for desperate measures.

"Do you want to watch The Wiggles?"  I shudder slightly as I say the words.

"No!  Wanna go outside!  Wanna go outside!  OUTSIDE!!!!"

Anyhow, I'm sure you get the point from there. 

So what do I do when we reach that dreaded point of no return.

I go to the kitchen and quickly whip up The Toddler Tantrum Tamer!

Grab a bowl, throw in some corn starch and water, food coloring if there is time, and presto...

A fun tactile experience that (at least in my house) is sure to calm the most rampant of toddlers.  The mixture becomes a silly putty-like substance that solidifies when still and liquifies under touch. 

It is fun to play with any time, but really helps my son gather himself when his emotions go out of control.

Plus, clean up is really easy with a wet paper towel (just don't do it around carpet).

So here's to tantrum-free days and emotionally stable toddlers (at least for a few minutes)!

Linked to Works for Me Wednesday

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Starve a Fever, But Fill Up On Love

This is a blog about my life.

The glamorous moments (of which there are very, very few).

The not-so-glamorous moments (of which there are plenty).

And the downright-nasty-why-on-earth-is-she-telling-us-this moments.

Thus begins my past week...


6:30 pm  I just returned from the grocery store.  Unloaded the groceries, pawned my children on the in-laws, and proceeded to orchestrate a beatifully timed pasta/garlic bread/salad dinner (I'm feeling supermom-esque... even without the children).

As my husband retrieves our tiny tots I gracefully spoon the jarred pesto (okay, supermom-esque, but I'm no Giada) over the heated pasta.  Something rumbles in my stomach, but I ignore it and move in for the taste.

I debate the pesto-ness of that single piece of pasta... to add or not to add...

And then it begins.

7:00 pm  In true supermom fashion I manage to feed, bathe, and put both children to bed between and during waves of nausea (in my husband's defense he did try to help, but as the spawn of a compulsively controlling first-time mother my two year-old is a complete mama's boy, and while my husband does indeed possess nipples he cannot fool the baby).

7:30 pm - 11:00 pm  For the sake of decency I will keep this brief (though probably not brief enough).  Let's just say if I left the bathroom at all between these times it was for no more than one minute.  During this time I actually recalled labor memories to assure myself that I was not dying (though I told my husband multiple times "I can't do this," to which he responded, every time, "Do what?").

There were loads of wash and hot showers, but I will stop there.

11:00 pm  I find a half reclined position on the couch where I crash from pure exhaustion.


12:00 am  I roll over.  Run to the bathroom.

1:00 am  The baby cries.  He's hungry.  (And kind of a pain in the butt).  I yell at my husband to bring him to me.  Nothing.  I yell louder.  Nothing.  He is too far to reach and I know I can't move.  I throw my arm over the coffee table and find a hanger (no idea why there was a hanger in the living room).  I chuck it across the room and hit him square on the head.  He may not be happy, but he's up and the baby greets us both with a big goofy grin that I can't help but smile at (even though it may have me running to the bathroom).

2:30 am  So thirsty.  I yell at my husband to get me some ice.  He hears me the first time and gets me some ice.  I take a tiny bite.  Run to the bathroom.

5:00 am  So, so thirsty.  Baby's crying.  When my husband returns the baby to his crib I feel brave enough to request a glass of coke.  I take a sip... pause...

It tastes delicious.  Bubbles coat my throat and stomach.  I suck down the entire glass and for the first time all night I actually relax.

7:00 am  My husband whisks the kids to his parents before he leaves for work.

9:30 am  I spot a speck that could be a spider on the ceiling.  I haven't moved all morning, but I have to know.  When I get up I nearly pass out and move promptly back to the couch.  Though not before validating my suspicions... it is indeed a spider.  I call my dad (who is on his way to help me out) and tell him to hurry.  There's a spider to kill (he tells me that's more of my mom's thing, but he will do it for me).

9:30 am - 10:30 am  I try unsuccesfully to leave the sanctuary of the couch.  I want that spider gone.  Instead I lock my eyes on its location, vowing to keep watch until the moment of my dad's arrival.

10:30 am  I close my eyes for three minutes.  When I open them again the spider is gone.  I risk bodily harm to discover its new location, but to no avail.

10:45 am  My dad arrives and after relaying the sad spider story he spends the next hour delivering refreshments, unloading bags of goodies from home (not the good kind of goodies, the sick kind of goodies...saltines, soup, gatorade), cleaning up after my husband and even vacuuming my house (I, like my mother, cannot rest until all is tidy with the world).

He gathers the kids from my father-in-law.  He plays, he feeds, he diapers (possibly his first diapering experience... ever), he continues to wait on me.  He is a true superhero.

5:30 pm  My in-laws feed my whole family for dinner and bring me a tray of soup, crackers, and sherbert.

I still cannot eat and am so weak I can barely shift positions on the couch.

But I am grateful.


8:00 am  Feeling good.  Kept down one whole piece of toast and all kinds of liquids.  Bady woke only once to eat.

My dad slept in with the baby (which used to be our room, long story, more on that another time).  When the baby cried he brought him to the couch to eat then returned him to his crib.  When he placed him back in the crib the baby kept hold of his finger.  Instead of disentangling himself and returning to bed he stayed bent over the pack 'n play, sacrificing his finger to that tiny little fist until those endearing, little eyes succumbed to the pull of sleep.

And he was thrilled about it.

2:00 pm  Still feeling light-headed when I stand, but keeping down liquids and solids (of the white, carbohydrate variety) and feeling confident enough to send my dad home (with the help of my in-laws and husband). 


8:00 am  Feeling human again.  Still no energy, but Elmo and I are taking care of the kids and I am doing alright on my own.

9:30 am  Completely out of patience.  Calling my father-in-law.  "Please remove my emotional mess of a toddler before we both explode!" 

1:00 pm  I google "foods to eat after the flu for energy" and begin a regimen of bananas, hard-boiled eggs, and yogurt.  Neaseau returns, but I am desperate so I continue on.


7:00 am  Wake up feeling 100%, though cautious.  Play in the yard.  Take a walk with the family.  Throughout the day I eat sandwiches and half of a hot fudge sundae.  Then I know this is real.  One of the most physically trying weeks of my life is officially over.


8:00 am  My husband's phone rings.  His mother, father, and brother are competing in the three-people-with-the-stomach-flu-and-only-two-bathrooms olympics.  The outcome shall remain a mystery forever (I hope).

8:05 am  My husband complains his stomach hurts.  Immediately after he hangs up the phone.  I decide it is completely mental. 

9:30 am  It's not.

So if anyone missed me this past week in the blogosphere... that is where I was.  But don't worry... I'm back (at least until the next one falls)!

Linking up with The Crazy Baby Mama and her oversharing challenge!
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