Friday, December 21, 2012

Fly Away Jack, Fly Away Jill

And so we begin preparations to get on a plane (again) and fly to the midwest for Christmas.  Tomorrow.  This trip should be easier than the last because: a. We don't have to get up at the crack, thereby minimizing the likelihood of pissy neighbor encounters and raging children.  b. My dear, beloved, wonderful friend of a million and one years heard that we were planning to fly without any sort of screen device whatsoever.... and sent us a portable DVD player for xmas.  It's a Christmas miracle!!!  c. We just did this.  We should be SUPER good at it now!

Except.  Life has a crappy sense of humor.  And so... we are instead flying with two sick children.  We haven't had a chance to prep until today because of said sick children.  Oh, and an incident involving Urgent Care which took place after a fabulous evening of Holiday Merry-Making 'til after bedtime downtown on Wednesday.  (Everyone is A-OK; fret not.) After which, everyone woke up exhausted and the Big One was hacking and leaking massive amounts of snot and sneezing every 5 seconds.  Rad.

So the past two days have consisted of trying to keep the Little One away from the Big One (impossible), trying to keep the hacking and the snot river contained (impossible), trying to get both children to get the adequate amount of rest so we can all be as healthy as possible for this trip (huge, gigantic failure), and laundry, dishes, baking, and more laundry.   WHEEEEEEE!!!!!!

It's really put a damper on my yule, you guys.  I'm hoping we can kick the sick ASAP and that we can all have a great, snowy time in the midwest for Christmas.  It's going to be crazy busy, but I'm hoping.  I'm really hoping for some rest and relaxation.  Really a lot.  Please tell me it's possible.

*  *  *

FYI: our Holiday Merry-Making included riding the Holiday Duck downtown.  It was slightly terrifying.  The Little One was wildly confused by the entire thing.  But the Big One loved it.  I mean LOVED. IT.  I haven't seen him that elated in... well... possibly ever.  He said it was his best Christmas ever and exclaimed his love for all of us multiple times.  So... worth the raging cold afterward?  Maybe?

Thursday, December 6, 2012


So, lately I've been losing perspective.  In the sea of bills we can't pay and jobs I can't find and things we can't do and and and and and, I've forgotten to step back.  I've forgotten how to stop and breathe and remember that this too shall pass.

It's been a tough couple of years, but we've been living with purpose- with an end goal in mind- and that has made everything more bearable.  We have made the choice to struggle briefly so that we won't have to struggle in the long run.  And I think it's a good choice.  A choice that our families have mercifully supported.  I know it's a good choice for our family.  But in the day-to-day, I've forgotten about that purpose.  I've forgotten about the end goal.  I've been so concerned with making it through the day, that I haven't stopped to celebrate all we've already made it through.  Together.

And then there are the babes.  My two boys who are growing so fast and learning so much.  These two boys who, more often than not these days, drive me completely bonkers.  They are nearly two and three and half, and they are testing all the boundaries and pushing all the limits.  And instead of realizing that they are nearly two and three and a half- and therefore DESTINED to be naughty- I think, "Where did my sweet little boys go?  WHY ARE THEY ACTING LIKE THIS?!?"

Because, let's be honest here people, both of these ages are trying.  Two is legendary in its challenges and three should be- I find it to be WAY harder than two.  So, as my two boys are bouncing off the walls and each other and ignoring my every request/suggestion/order, I find myself standing in the middle of the room (OR hiding in the bathroom) wondering- WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!?

Well, first of all, nothing happened, really.  I mean, my kids are at challenging ages, and there are two of them plotting against me working together, so there's that.  They are go-go-go and no-no-no all the livelong day.  Doo-dah.

And then there's our asshole neighbor who continually shows up at our door at weird times (like 4:30 a.m when we're trying to get out the door with two exhausted/cracked out children for a funeral) whining about how my children move and make noise and it's just so hard can't we make them be quiet.  Which, um, NO WE CANNOT, but we live in fear of his icky visits because he's an annoying, mousy little asshat.  This keeps my husband and I on edge and perpetually begging our nearly two year old and three and half year old to please be quiet and stop running which IS. NOT. POSSIBLE.  (Nor is it reasonable to ask of them.)  I think this may be making my children high strung.  It's certainly making me and my husband high strung.

And then there's life, which has been a challenge, and our stress is (unfortunately) reflected in our children and their behavior.  As much as we try to avoid it, our stress comes out in our actions, in our tones of voice, in our general demeanor.  And our kids react to it- usually in highly unpleasant ways.  Which makes us more stressed out.  And repeat cycle.  It sucks.  We did a damn fine job of keeping our kids in blissful ignorance for a long, long time, but you can only live in a constant state of worry for so long before it starts to leak out of you.

And the thing is, as I've said before, I'm a worrier.  I've ALWAYS been a worrier.  And even the smallest things can cause me to worry incessantly.  I think I've done damn well with all of this, considering my clear and present psychosis, but it still escapes sometimes.  And it freaks my kids out.  Which SUCKS.  I try to model healthy coping skills- I try to name my feelings and show my kids how to handle intense emotions- but I am human.  Sometimes I just get pissy.  And then my kids get pissy.  And then I wonder what's going on with them.  Geez, MOM.

Anyway, all this to say that I'm working on it.  I'm working on remembering how much we've accomplished, how much we're continuing to accomplish, and what a positive decision this has been- and will be- for our family.  I'm working on remembering how much I love my family and how blessed I feel to be able to spend so much time with them.  I'm working on stepping back and realizing that my kids are just kids.  That they're not really doing anything wrong- that they're just being little people who are trying to figure out their place in this world.  They're pushing boundaries so they can figure out where they are.  They're just growing up.  And it's all going to be okay.

Maybe I can remember that.  Maybe.

* * *
P.S. If you have a three and half year old and you're constantly wondering why they are so psychotic... this article at Planning with Kids helped me feel a lot less crazy.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What's in a Name?

A blog by any other name... still sweet, yes?

So, I need to change the name of this here blog.  I don't need to, need to, but I want to.  The reasons are twofold:

#1. The original name (You Shall Be My Squishy) comes from my nickname for babies ("Hello, Squishy!  You are SO SQUISHY!"), but it is also a reference to a scene in Finding Nemo.  Now, listen.  I'm not dogging the movie.  I like the movie.  I totally stole my nickname for babies from the movie!  It's just that I may be sending the wrong message by referencing a Disney/Pixar film when I like to say "fuck" a lot.  Know what I mean?

#2. I don't want to get sued.  I do understand that in order to get sued, more than 10 people would have to read this.  However, I am ever hopeful that my readership will expand exponentially and at that point, it would be super awkward when Disney/Pixar calls and says, "Hey.  Those are our words.  Pay us a lot of money if you want to use them."  And then I'll have to be like, "Dude.  I don't have any money.  You do, though!  Want to pay me for reminding people how much they like Finding Nemo?"  And then they'd be all, "No.  We don't.  You have to pay us.  Get a lawyer."  And I'd be like, "Can't.  Refer back to the no money part."  And it would be this whole long, awful battle wherein Disney/Pixar would win anyway and I'd have to change the name in the end.  SO!  I'm beating them to the punch.  Genius, no?

Point is, I'm changing the name.  I'd like to keep Squishy in there, cause that's what I called (and still periodically call) my babies and I like it.  So there.  Plus, so many possible references and innuendos, so little time.

I think I've come up with a suitable replacement.  I'd like to try it out on you.  Let me know what you think.  I'll put it in big, flashy letters so you're impressed and stuff.  Ready?!?  The new name will be:

Becoming Squishy

So?!?  What say you?  Is it good?  Is it catchy?  Is the font big enough?  DO YOU LIKE IT?!?!  
I mean, it kind of doesn't matter, because I have to change it anyway since Disney/Pixar is clearly seconds away from suing my ass... (after they're done laughing about buying LucasFilm and the potential to further bastardize Star Wars), but still, I seek your approval.  

Anyhoo... I hope you like it.  I do.  Now I just have to figure out how to change my Blogger name and make sure my archives don't disappear into the ether.  

Crap.  That sounds hard.  I need a tech person.  Or skills.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Stuff We Say

All of these things came out of the mouths of my family in the past couple days.  I'm really hoping other families have conversations like this, because otherwise....

The Big One:

- While playing "Spaceship Man" in the cardboard box spaceship Daddy built, the Big One says,
"Space is long."
That's deep, man.  Real deep.

- After I complimented him on his love of veggies while he crunched on some carrots:
Big One: "T-Rexes- with two fingers (holds up two fingers like a t-rex)- they eat carrots, too."
Me: "Do you mean carrion?  T-Rexes like to eat carrion?"
Big One: "Nope.  Just carrots."
Turns out they're WAY less scary than we originally thought.

- Explaining Jack and the Beanstalk: "Jack came from the bean-stop."  Yup.  Sho' nuff, little dude.

- Me to Daddy: "Oh, stop hating my guts for a minute, wouldya?"
Big One (very seriously): "No hitting butts.  No, no."

- Big One: "When I'm really big, I wanna touch the dark.  I want to fall off the earf [earth] and touch the dark."
Me: "Do you mean you want to be an astronaut?"
Big One: "Yes!  I want to be an astronaut and touch the dark!"
Whoa.  Just... whoa.

The Little One:
Little One: "Water?" (pointing at milk)
Me: "Say, 'Milk.'"
Little One: "Water."
Me: "Milk.  Say, 'Milk.'"
Little One: "Water."
Me: "Milk.  Muh-muh-muh-milk."
Little One: "Muh-muh-muh-water."
Me: "Fine."

"No food in your holes." This was in response to the Little One sticking a green bean in his ear.  Filed under Things You Never Thought You'd Say.

Also, this happened:

Note the many slices of cucumber wedged into the cabin of the dump truck.  Why?

Being a parent is so super, duper weird sometimes.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Day in the LIfe

This was a 4 hour portion of my life the other day.  It's pretty standard, in case you're wondering. 

-Toilet clogged due to Big One and Little One locking themselves in bathroom and unrolling half the toilet paper roll into the toilet.

-Both children freshly bathed due to potty water/toilet clogging/wet toilet paper fight.  

-Mommy freshly showered due to wet toilet paper (fresh out of clogged toilet) being thrown at me.

-Bathroom rug needing to be freshly washed due to Little One squatting and peeing on it IMMEDIATELY after stepping foot out of shower. 

-All three of us freshly traumatized after all of the yelling in the past hour/day/month (that yelling coming from all 3 of us, btw).

-Beef stew cooked all day but finally made, done and delicious.  

-Beef stew cut up and carefully plated for both kids.

-Beef stew rejected by both children and thrown all over the carpet by the Little One.

-Attempts at getting both children to bed early turn into hour and a half long battle.

-Mommy trying to decide if getting freshly drunk at 8pm is cool.  Probably not.  Doing it anyway.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Saying Goodbye

We just returned home from a trip to honor the passing of my husband's grandfather.  It was important that we go, that we be there with our family and remember- together- all of the wonderful things about this man.  That we grieve- together- and say goodbye.

I am so glad we went and it turned out to be an incredible opportunity to spend time with family members we love but rarely see.  But it also brought up a lot of things I wasn't prepared to talk about with my young children.  We had to explain to our 3 year old, for the first time, what death is.

It was a startlingly daunting task- one I knew we'd have to tackle soon, but I didn't expect to have to explain it in reference to us- to one of our own.  Explaining to a 3 year old that one of their family members has died is strange moment in the life of a parent.

I sought out the help of the parent educator at my son's co-op preschool, and I'm incredibly thankful for all of her advice.  She guided me through how to speak about death to a preschool aged child (use clear, simple language- avoid phrasing like "passed away") and how to explain what happens ("when we get old, our bodies stop working, so we die").  When we discovered that there was to be an open casket viewing, both my husband and I worried about how the Big One would react.  The Little One wouldn't really understand what was happening, but the Big One has frequent nightmares and scares relatively easily.  I worried about how he would handle seeing a dead body for the first time and the trauma it could cause him.  Our parent educator was so reassuring and gave wonderful advice about allowing the child to lead the way and choose what they want to do.  As a result of her guidance, I felt much more comfortable as we left for our trip.

In the end, both kids handled it SO much better than I ever could have expected.  They spent long hours in the car and in the funeral home, behaved very well for exhausted kids at both the viewing and the funeral, and, in their own ways, said goodbye.  The Big One understood that something serious was going on and that people were feeling sad.  He sat quietly through the funeral as his family members cried softly next to him.  He climbed into the lap of his grandfather as we said our final goodbye at the cemetery.  As we drove away he said, "I'm going to miss my old Grandpa."

I often forget how much we underestimate our children.  We don't realize how much they really understand.  How much they see and hear.  How closely they listen and how much they get it.  We may have had to explain what death is, but we didn't have to explain the sense of loss that comes along with it.  We didn't have to explain that the people around him needed a little extra quiet and little extra love.  We didn't have to explain that family is important.

This experience gave us the opportunity to show our children how we rally together when we need to.  How, through death, we can celebrate life.

As worried as I was about the entire experience and as sad as I knew it would be, I could not be more grateful for wonderful things that came out of it.  We were able to honor and celebrate a wonderful man- a leader in our family- and to show our children what love and support look like.  We were able to be together, as a family, and say goodbye.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Try Walking In My Shoes

The Little One has a shoe obsession.

He has always been obsessed with shoes- it was one of his first words in fact- and has long been stealing shoes out of the boys' shoe basket to wear around the house.  More recently, he's slipped on Daddy's sneakers or Mama's red Kanga's.

But lately, he has taken a particular shine to my fancier shoes.  He sneaks into the closet and comes out looking much snazzier than before.  Yesterday, he clomped by in my black studded flats.  Today, my red patent leather wedges, accessorized with a multicolored maraca.

This kid has style.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Here I Go Again

What's that?  What's that, you say?  The title of this post is the same as a Whitesnake song?  IT IS?!?  Well, thank god.  I have so much in common with Whitesnake.


I dropped off the face of the earth there for a second.  Whoops!  Caught the edge though, so all is well in SquishyLand.

I got sick.  And I took on a big new job at the Big One's preschool.  And I'm looking for an actual paying job again.  (Did I ever mention that the part-time super awesome great paying tutoring gig that I loved got killed?  It did.  A state educational waiver killed it.  And my super awesome great paying job that I loved.  Dead.  Gone.  Damn it.)  And also I have two small boys who ALWAYS NEED SOMETHING RIGHT NOW GIVE IT TO ME NOW.  So, that stuff kept me busy.  I'm back, though.  Hi!

So, the getting sick part.  That part is lame.  Like super lame.  Like extra super double lame.  Know why?  Because parents are not allowed to get sick.  More specifically (and sexist-ly), MAMAS are not allowed to get sick.  Because there is no rest for the weary mama.  There is a little more rest for the weary dada because they usually come down with a man-cold, which can only be survived in the following fashion:

Poor little bunnies.

Anyway, babies and laundry and dishes and meals and toddlers who NEED everything all the time do not stop because you feel like crap.  In fact, sometimes they like to ramp it up when you're sick, just to be little assholes.

I'm mostly all better (apart from the periodic disconcerting hack of a 90 year old smoker), but I was sick off and on for a couple of weeks.  And it was annoying.  I was not dying.  I was not in need of a doctor.  I was not even sick enough to warrant much of a change in our daily routine.  But I was sick.  And it was hard.

5 Reasons It Sucks to Be Sick When You're a Parent:

1. Kids don't get "Mama can't __________."  Especially two kids under four.  They don't even get, "Please be more patient with me" or "Please give me extra time to do stuff" or "Ow."  They only know that they still want that damn quesadilla and they want it NOW.  Snap to it, MOM.  (Hack, hack.)

2. Kids don't have sympathy.  At all.  At least, little kids my kids' age don't.  They have curiosity (Mom?  Are you okay?  No?  Huh.  Get me that toy from up there and make me a sammich and scratch my back.  NOW).  They have observations (Mommy?  Do you feel icky?  You do?  Huh.  Make me some noodles).  They will have sympathy eventually, of course, but at the ripe old age of three and a half and 21 months, they got nothin'.

3. Kids don't stop.  Ever.  Like, EVER.  They are go, go, go from before sun-up to after sun-down.  You can't rest as a parent because there is no pause in the constant motion of kidness in which you can rest.  So... you just gotta try to keep up.  While feeling like ass.  And making a sammich.

4. Getting better requires sleep.  Sleep requires that your children sleep.  I don't know about yours, but my children don't sleep enough.  So I don't sleep enough.  The end.  Enter 3 week long cold.

5. When you start to feel even slightly the tiniest bit better, it is expected that you catch up on all the stuff you couldn't do because you were hacking and snotty and exhausted.  Suddenly your only slightly better self is faced with mountains of dirty dishes and laundry and food that needs to be cooked before it goes bad.  Also, errands, phone calls and emails you didn't have the energy to complete.  Plus, KIDS!  WITH ENERGY!  WHO NEED A SAMMICH!

Being sick sucks.  Being sick with little kids sucks extra hard.  Maybe when they're in elementary school I'll teach them how to make mama some soup and bring me tissue.  Or maybe I'll just teach them to play quietly in the other room and leave me alone for a full 30 minutes.  That sounds nice.

P.S. Total random sidenote: I'm going to be changing the name of this here blog soon.  Squishy will remain, but the reference to the line in the Disney/Pixar film will not.  Because I am not that person.  And I fear I am misleading the lovely people who adore Finding Nemo, but do not enjoy it when I say fuckballs.  I'm caring like that.  Also... I'm a tad worried that if more than 10 people start reading this, I might get sued.  So, there's that.

P.P.S. Please don't sue me.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Toddler Talk, Translated.

This morning, we heard from the kids' bedroom as they were playing, "DAD!  Come here!  Come look at this train I made!"

Dad hollered, "Be there in the second!"

Big One yelled, "COME!  Hurry!  Come see!  COME NOW!!!

Dad, "In a second!"

Big One, "DAD!!!  COME NOW!"  Followed by a long scream from the Little One.

Which, translated, sounds to me a whole lot like, "Come here now, or I'll kill this baby."

Oh my god.  They totally are little, tiny terrorists.

*  *  *


Upon entering the room, we discovered that the Big One was not, in fact, holding the Little One at knife point.  It really was just a train.  So that was good.

All's well that ends well.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Dear Little One,

I feel there are a few things I need to clarify with you.  Please listen closely:

* Making something fly through the air does not make it a ball.  Please stop saying, "Ball!" and then throwing things.
         Example: That little metal truck you just hucked across the table?  Not a ball.  The bit of sandwich you called a ball and then threw at lunch?  Also not a ball.

* Screeching like a psychotic monkey will not get you what you want.
        Example: When I go to change your diaper and you twist and scream that horrid scream and throw things (which are still not balls), I still have to change your diaper.  I win.

* Calling it a button does not mean you have to push it over and over and over again.
         Example: Your bits are your bits, so... I'm not trying to be bossy and I definitely want you to enjoy... things... but we do have to get things done and... there's a time and place for....  We'll talk about this when you're older.  Nevermind.

* Trying to twist out of my arms while I'm carrying you somewhere you don't want to go isn't going to hurt anyone but you.
        Example: All of the times you do this.  Quit doing this.

* Refusing to eat will not make me suddenly decide to feed you nothing but cookies and milk.
         Example: See the part about only hurting yourself.  And the part about me winning.

* While that mischievous grin of yours is killer and makes me smile every. single. time... it does not give you free reign for naughtiness.
        Example: Flashing that smile at me before you pitch your breakfast or smash the metal car into the wooden table does not excuse it.  You're still in trouble.  So just stop.  Oh, stop.  Yeah, it's cute- stop.  Ohmygod, I totally love you.

And, actually, while we're at it....

Dear Big One,

You clearly need some clarification on a few things as well.  Listen up, big fella.

* Repeating something a quadrabillion times in a progressively more irritating voice is not likely to make it happen.
       Example: Hollering from your bed at nap time, "Mommy, I need the door a little bit closed!" (meaning open) over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over...

*Just because you say, "Excuse me," doesn't necessarily mean you're excused.  Hollering over your parents as we're attempting to talk in the five seconds we have to figure out dinner is not going to help anyone.  And yelling, "Excuse me," kinda cancels out the polite, there buddy.  See previous bullet.  And just hold on a second.

*Nap time really isn't for you.  It's for me.  So it's not optional.  You do not have to sleep, but you do have to stay in your room without yelling for a full hour at least.  (Note: that does not mean you get to start yelling after the first hour.  I merely require one hour for sanity.  More will benefit all of us.)
        Example: Today when I put you down for nap, you solemnly swore that you would lie down and stay quiet.  As soon as I left the room you bounced up and down and yelled my name for 17 different things that would mean I needed to come to the room and/or get you out of bed.  "I have to pee!"  "I have to poop!"  "I need a drink!"  "What was that sound?!?"  "I need my hippo!" (which is now across the room where I threw it so you'd have to come and retrieve it.)  "I'm hungry!"  "Can I read a book?"  "I miss you."   All of that is infuriating.  Please quit it.

*Saying you "need a break" right after you've done something that you know has earned you a time out will not get you out of time out.  Nice try though.
         Example: The other day when you pushed your brother over out of nowhere and then ran as fast as your legs would carry you to the corner of the kitchen yelling, "I need a break!!!"  Nope.  Still get a time out.

*Cracking up in the middle of your tantrum, while simultaneously amusing and exasperating, will still not get you out of whatever I'm asking you to do.
          Example: Yesterday when I asked you to go potty and get your shoes on before we had to leave to pick up Daddy, and you screamed and yelled and threw yourself to the ground... and then started laughing like a little lunatic... you still had to go potty and get your shoes on.  I believe this falls under the "I win" category.  But that transition directly into mania from fury was pretty impressive, Squishman.

*Being gentle and kind and loving with your brother will always get you 4,271 points with Daddy and me.  And your brother.  Keep it up.
         Example: Today, when we got home from dropping Daddy off at school, you very sweetly and gently helped your brother take off his jacket and shoes.  Of your own accord.  It was amazing.  I love you.

Monday, October 1, 2012


The other day- for a while, a brief shining piece of day- there was peace in this house.  There was pure, unadulterated happiness.

The kids stopped fighting me and each other; we all stopped hollering and correcting and throwing and arguing and decided to enjoy each other.  To settle down in the moment and listen to comfort of one another.

The Big One was telling a story and the Little One was dancing and we were listening to music they both listened to in the first days of their lives.  I looked at both of them in their absolute contentedness and felt it myself... and found myself choking back tears.  They were tears of happiness, of gratitude, of exhaustion, of life, of unbelievable love for my beautiful family, and all of a sudden this love was so intense it was overflowing.

And then they were giggling and playing peek-a-boo together and I was (am) so thankful for this beautiful family and our life and time together.  And then we danced together.

I watch your faces grow older and smile and your laughter rings through our home, through my bones. And I am so filled with love, with recognition, with understanding of why we are where we are.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Secret to Potty Training

I have it.  Are you ready?  Are you ready for this revolutionary information?  READY?!?!?!

Here it is:  Your kid will be potty trained when s/he is good and damn ready.  The end.

I know.  Shit, fuck, goddamnit, that's what all the other books and doctors and Google were saying.  I THOUGHT YOU WERE DIFFERENT!!!!

Well, friend, so did I.  Until I had kids of my own.  And tried to potty train them.  And they had other plans.  And it turns out some of my friends' kids had other plans, too.  And then I went, "Well, shit.  This is not going at all as planned.  It's as though these little bastards have minds of their own!"

And they do.  They so, so do.  And, while you'd think that they wouldn't have such rock solid control over their bodily functions and how not to use them, they so, so do.

And so... potty training doesn't always go like you thought it would.  Sometimes it does!!!  (And to those people, I say congratulations!  And pppppffftttttppt.)  But very often it doesn't.  And then we, the parents, feel like giant failures who have failed our kids and failed ourselves and fail, fail, fail.
(Oh.  You don't feel that way?  Well, then you are remarkably reasonable.  Congratulations.  I FAILED.)

There are a billion and one methods and a billion and one philosophies and all of them work.  On the right kid at the right time.  You can pick and choose whatever you like.  Best of luck to ya.  But, apart from the actual potty training method itself, there are a great many other parts to this equation.  And we can not leave these out.

Here are the top 4:

#1. Parents.
Parents can be trained.  Parents can be trained really, really well.  Parents can be trained to take their kid to the potty every 30 minutes, or to begin putting their child on the potty at 6 months, or to recognize that look and rush them to the toilet in the middle of chopping raw chicken.  Or to precisely follow the directions in any potty training book on the planet.  And all of that is super great and awesome and uber-effective.  Except that training ourselves doesn't equal a trained child who can recognize the need to go and then go in the toilet.  Eventually it might!  But probably not right away.  So, if you're willing to be in for the long haul and be trained yourself first, do it.  All of these methods will absolutely work.  On the right kid.  At the right time.

#2. Kids.
Hey, did you know these things came with such wildly different needs and personalities?  Did you know they reached milestones in such different ways and on different time lines?  Did you know that, sometimes, they can CONTROL when they meet these milestones?  Like, they're in charge?  THEY'RE IN CHARGE?!?  We're all fucked.

#3. Fear.
Some kids are actually frightened to go to the bathroom in the potty.  Some kids feel ownership over what they "created" and are bummed about flushing it away.  Some kids don't want to stop being babies, and potty training is a clear sign o' the end of that road.  Some kids have painful poop and are frightened of the actual act of pooping... and trying to do it in a new place in a new way is just too much.  

#4. Health/Genetics/Diet.
Sometimes other things come into play.  Some kids take a little longer to recognize the actual feeling of having to go to the bathroom.  Some kids have health issues, like constipation.  Some kids diets are weird because they refuse to eat anything that grew from the ground, or will only eat white food, or hate whole grains.  The genetics and health and diet of the child play a HUGE role in potty training and all of these things can hold it up a good, long time.  Be prepared for this.  And try not to be too pissed off about it.

There's a lot that goes into this.  It's kind of a miracle anyone ever gets potty trained, actually.

Anyhoo, none of this is to say that you have to wait until they saunter up to you one day and say, in perfectly clear English, "Pardon me, Parent Dear, but I do believe I'm prepared to utilize the toilet at this juncture.  Please pass Anna Karenina. "  Cause if you're still willing to change your kid's diaper and wipe his or her butt, that day might never come.  Your kid ain't dumb, friend.  S/he knows that kind of personal service won't roll around again for a good 70 years.

Listen, if your child is developmentally ready and you are mentally prepared to take on this mighty adventure we call Potty Training, then by all means, get 'er done!  Pick your method and run with it!  It'll totally work!!!  (IF your kid is ready.)

I know.  This was no help at all.  I'm sorry.  You had high hopes.  We all did.  I failed.  AGAIN.

Look.  Here's the thing.  I jest and make fun and laugh and act all apocalyptic about potty training because potty training can be one of the most confusing, frustrating, embarrassing experiences of parenthood.  Or it can be super easy and awesome and exciting.  YOU NEVER KNOW.  Because, hey!  Guess what?!?

The kid will go when the kid is ready to go.  The end.


Best of luck to those beginning this Potty Journey.  Don't stop believin'.

And hang in there, comrades in Potty Hell.  We will all be done changing nasty, dumptastic diapers one day.  One day soon.  And our houses will no longer smell like feces.  Damn it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Wonder Woman

I'm gonna let you all in on a little secret.  Are you ready?  Susie Sunshine, I am not.

I know, I know.  This is shocking information.  Try to contain your astonishment.

Apparently, I'm Debbie Downer instead.  I've come to this realization, though it was probably obvious to everyone but me.  I would never have described myself as an optimist (I was once called "Bubbly" by a friend's boyfriend and I resented him for it for years), but I have always been great at cheerleading for others.  I can encourage and find the bright side and generally wax happy for anyone.  Except myself.  When it comes to my own life, I am decidedly pessimistic.  Sullen, even.  I cannot look on the bright side of my own life (although whistling this tune does help a lot:)

But life has been particularly redundant and decidedly unhelpful lately, and even whistling a Monty Python tune doesn't quite do it these days.  And, as a result, I fear I'm bringing other people down with me.  I think I'm becoming that grouchy person in the room that no one really wants to talk to, because they know it's all going to be bad news.

All of this to say (SEE!!  SO Debbie Downer.  Damn it.) that because I am in a place of blue that I can't quite squeak myself out of, I am going to write about the things I forget to focus on.  Because life gets in the way and the littles are so little that their unpredictability throws me for a loop, and I forget to focus on all the wonder of their littleness.  So today, I focus on that.  The wonder.  (Wonder Woman would totally kick Debbie Downer's ass, right?)

The Little One:
-He is now the same age his brother was when he was born.  Whoa.
-He adores all things vehicle and plays trucks and cars and trains contentedly for what seems like hours        sometimes.  His siren sounds have become increasingly realistic (read: LOUD).
-His cackle is infectious and he is jolly as all hell... until he is mad as all hell.  Then he is loud as all hell.  Regardless, it is always impressive.

The Big One:
-He is a reader extraordinaire.  He gets positively giddy when he receives a new book or one of his little magazines in the mail.  I hope this never, ever goes away.
-He has started saying, "You're the best!" to me and Daddy.  Of course, that means that neither one of us is actually the best, but I'll take it.  WAY more pleasant than the other oft heard "GO AWAY."
-After a long, long, LONG battle with constipation, we might be starting to win (maybe?) and he is finally going to the bathroom regularly.  Yesterday, he finally (FINALLY!!!) pooped on the potty of his own accord.  If you have kids, you totally get why this is so exciting.  If you don't, you are totally grossed out right now.  Sorry.

I will come up with more later.  In the meantime, it's enough to remind me that there is, absolutely, a bright side of life.  Doo doo, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo.  The Wonder Woman in me will kick that Debbie's ass yet.

* Totally random side note: I had an incredibly awesome set of Wonder Woman underoos when I was little.  I rocked them with such frequency and verve that my mom made me wristbands, a belt, faux boots, and that little crown/headband thing out of aluminum foil.  And a little yarn lasso.  It was awesome.  Why can't we run around like that as adults?

I am reminded that ComicCon exists.  Nevermind.

** UPDATE: Right after writing this, I found a post on a popular blog called Girl's Gone Child addressing a very similar feeling.  Whoa.  Good to know we are not alone in feeling... alone.  And that the solution is sometimes as simple as time with a friend.  Noted.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

And You Shall Be My Twitchy

Dear Kids,

I love you boys dearly and I treasure the time I'm able to spend with you while you are so little.  Nonetheless, if you could just hurry on past these toddler years, I'd be grateful.  My eye twitch is starting to freak people out.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Parenting Siblings as an Only Child

My husband and I are only children.  We have no concept of what it's like to have brothers or sisters.  We don't understand the dynamics between siblings and we have no idea what is normal and what's not.  As far as we're concerned, it's a constant party with your very best friend right! next! door!

And so, having two boys 20 months apart is... interesting.

We are constantly astounded at the vim and vigor with which siblings would, apparently, like to kill each other.  It appears that the Big One's greatest desire is to beat up the Little One and take his toys.  Except that it isn't.  It's like a switch.  They'll be happily playing together (or across the room from each other) when the Big One turns around and must think something like, "Hey!  He looks happy.  I should fuck that up tout suite."  What in the hell.  He jumps on the Little One, sits on his head, runs over to take his toys, whacks him out of nowhere and tackles him about 65 bazillion times a day.  It is CONSTANT.  We tell people about it- how aghast we are at what appears to be his random, focused rage and violence.  And those people invariably raise their eyebrows and laugh at us.  "Yup," they say.  "They're brothers."

Meanwhile, the Little One could not adore the Big One any more.  He runs to him when he wakes up in the morning or from nap.  He attempts to share and bestow gifts upon the Big One.  He absolutely lights up when he thinks he's done something that may impress or tickle his big brother.  He is a hardcore groupie, yo.

The Little One's only recently started to fight back when the Big One harasses him, but it is something to behold (as we knew it would be... this kid does EVERYTHING big.  No middle ground).  He hits back, hard, and usually in the face.  He's mighty proud of his abilities- probably because he thinks it makes him more like the Big One- but I'm just envisioning the hundreds of ER visits we'll have in the future.  I'm terrified.

On top of all this hitting and screeching, it is exhausting trying to keep them from killing each other.  I know I'm not supposed to intervene too much; they're supposed to learn to work things out.  But I'm having a hard time figuring out when that's supposed to happen.

I've heard, "Only intervene if someone's going to get hurt."  And, well, that's super duper helpful except that I have two homicidal toddlers here and SOMEONE IS ALWAYS GOING TO GET HURT.

I've also heard, "Give them space to play together alone so that they learn to compromise and share."  This would be all well and good if I lived in a house where I could kick them out into the backyard to, quoth my father, "Let the wind blow the stink off 'em" (aka: run around in circles until they were too exhausted to scream and beat each other anymore).  But I can't.  I live in an apartment.  We have neighbors that- I'm virtually positive- we terrify on a regular basis.  If I leave the two of them alone in a room together for more than two minutes, I'm going to come back to shattered glass, broken plumbing, and hummus smeared on every surface.  And that's best case scenario.

And then finally I've heard, "Don't worry about it.  It'll all work itself out and they'll love each other later."  Except, I CANNOT HELP BUT WORRY ABOUT IT.  This very issue fills every second of every day with yelling and throwing and hitting and crashing and Oh. My. God. Make. It. Stop.  I can't just "not worry about it."  I have 17 years to get through before they like each other enough to stop trying to kill each other.  And even that's a gamble.

And so, Dear Siblinged Ones, I ask you.  What do I do?  How do I ensure the survival of both children and minimize the gaping wounds?  And how do I remain somewhat sane for the next 17 years.  BECAUSE I AM FINDING IT DIFFICULT HERE, PEOPLE.

P.S. If you tell me not to worry about it, I will find you and leave you with my kids for a full 24 hours and then YOU can not worry about it.  K?  K.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This... Kind of.

I failed as a parent yesterday.

I don't actually feel like I'm a failure at parenting in general, but specific days of feeling like a failure are becoming more commonplace.  I don't like it.

Here's the thing: I feel like a pretty decent parent, actually.  I love my boys and I know they love me.  They are confident, strong, playful, joyful little fellows.  They get along pretty well (as far as I can tell as an only child parent with boys 20 months apart).  We have regular family meals and trips to the park.  I feed them good food.  We have 90s jams dance parties.  We laugh a lot and there are a lot of wonderful parts of each and every day.  Every night I find myself thinking wistfully of them after they've gone to bed and I often go and peek at their adorable little sleeping bodies and peaceful little faces.  I adore my kids and I love being their mama.

But there are also the days when I've used up every last wisp of patience by 9:30am.  Days when I repeat the phrases over and over that I repeat every single day, "Please stop jumping off the couch.  Please stop jumping.  Stop jumping.  Stop jumping!  STOP JUMPING!!!!"  Days when, the second I turn around from pulling the Little One off the table, the Big One has climbed on top of the same table and jumped off.  Days when I literally watch the clock waiting for meal times when I know they'll be strapped down in their seats, or nap time when I know they'll be contained, if not peacefully asleep.  Days when there are no naps and they are beyond cranky and obstinate.  Days when I seriously consider going to a bar- by myself- when my husband gets home at 10:30pm just so I can be somewhere where no one is asking anything of me.  And there is beer.

I used to have a shockingly large amount of patience.  My students used to comment on it.  I was described, repeatedly, as serene.  As a teenager.  But somewhere along the line, my patience disappeared.  Perhaps while teaching I used up the amount allotted to me for the early years of parenting.  Perhaps, along with iron and calcium, my babies absorbed my patience into their own bodies.  Perhaps every parent of two young children feels this way.

All I know is that I do not have the same level of patience I once had.  I hear my own voice coming out and think, "Ugh.  She needs to chill out."  But holy begeezus, people, I CANNOT CHILL OUT.  I try, but I fail more often than not.  It's just so much some days.  These little creatures are 19 months and three.  They are Dennis the Menace all the time.  Having two boys with a serious case of the naughties test the boundaries every second of every day is a lot.  It's a lot.

I'm exhausted by the end of every day.  Some days I'm exhausted by the time breakfast rolls around.

A friend messaged me the other day asking for advice on keeping his two and half year old occupied and happy now that she was out of preschool.  When I got the message, I literally laughed out loud.  I thought, "Holy shit, brother.  If I knew how to do that, my daily life would look very, very different."  But as I sat down to craft a helpful response, I realized I DO know how to do that.  I know how to do all the right things and plan a day for a restless toddler.  I've done it.  I was pretty good at it, actually.

It seems it's TWO restless toddlers that have me thrown for a loop.  They are just far enough apart that they can't do the same things and neither one is trustworthy yet.  Going to the park gives me a coronary- I have to choose which kid to watch on the play structure (answer: the Little One) and hope that the other one doesn't leap to his death.  Trying to do art is risky- paint is out of the question (unless it's finger painting with yogurt in the bathtub, which is actually kind of awesome), and crayons are pitched across the room and at walls by the Little One (thank you, Magic Eraser).  Regular puzzles are instantly destroyed by the Little One and the Big One is too old for peg puzzles.  The Little One pours out bubbles and sucks on the wand.  The Big One doesn't want to sing Itsy Bitsy Spider seventeen times in a row.  The Big One could read for a solid hour, but the Little One yanks books out of his hands.  They can't play blocks next to each other without destroying each other's creations and then trying to rip each other's faces off.  And the Big One tackles the Little One any chance he gets.

And so some days, I turn to the almighty quieter.  The babysitter of shame.  The magic box.  And I swore I would NEVER do this.  I was going to be SO conservative with how much T.V. my kids watched.  The Big One almost never watched T.V. before the Little One was born.  But then, I had two kids under two.  And I had to figure out how to keep the Big One busy while I put the Little One to sleep.  Enter: PBS Kids.  And now, the Big One ADORES the T.V.  Begs for it.  He usually only gets his pediatrician recommended top dose of two hours, and even that seems like a ton.  But then those days come along and I have to find a way to make dinner without the Little One getting pummeled... and then he gets more.

I hate it.  I hate that sometimes it's a relief to turn on the television.  I feel like a fraud.  A bad mom.  A failure.  I know that a lot of people would roll their eyes at me for feeling like this.  I know that a great many kids were raised on Sesame Street and they turned out just frickin' fine.  I know that ultimately it's not a big deal.  But I intended to do other things with my kids.  I intended to have the patience and the forethought and the goddamned time to be a parent that doesn't rely on T.V.  But it ain't working out that way.

Yesterday was not a good parenting day.  I'm not proud of my "solution."  I know it's not a solution and that it's not good for my kids.  But I felt like it was a preferable alternative to yelling.  So there we have it.  Another Mother of the Year award for me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Goblin King.. er, Queen?

You know those days when your two kids feel like 64 goblins?

Yeah.  That.

We have been awake for all of two hours and the Little One has already tried to chop his fingers off with the box fan, electrocute himself by removing an outlet cover, cover the house (and himself) in both my Rosebud Salve and cream blush, and has participated in a 20 minute cry-a-thon.

This combined with the fact that my children have decided to listen to me never has made me feel a lot like David Bowie's character in Labyrinth.  (Oh, I'm sorry, is my nerd showing?)

Perhaps this should be my solution:

Well... laugh.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Something Like a Phenomenon

There are a great many inexplicable phenomena that take place once you become a parent.  There's the Can't Complete A Sentence problem, IPSS, the Mount Vesuvius Laundry phenomenon, the ability to completely phase out screaming, and a great many more.  Including the one where I Can't Finish Anything.  Ever.  I have started and stopped this post 3 times now.  Wait, what?  Who?  Where?  What was I doing?

Anyhoo, one of the more puke-tastic, yet unstoppable among them (for me anyway) is the Overexcited Mom phenomenon.  I cannot explain it, but I know it's taken me in its sticky little grasp and I am helpless against its powers.  I CAN'T STOP TALKING MOM.  It's gross and annoying and a little bit embarrassing.  And yet I can't make it stop.

Yes, yes.  I AM a mom.  Yes, yes, I'm a 98% stay-at-home parent.  Yes, yes, motherhood is a huge part of my life.  In fact, it's pretty much been my life for the past 3 years.  BUT.  I should be able to talk about other things.  I shouldn't get so bloody excited to talk about another person's child's sleeping habits.

But I do.  I totally, totally do.  I am into other people's children's sleeping habits.  And their poop habits.  And their eating habits.  And pregnancy.  OMG, PREGNANCY.  I am no longer pregnant.  I do not intend to be pregnant again.  I have only been pregnant for 20 months out of my entire life.  And yet.  I somehow feel like I'm an expert on pregnancy?  Or something?  Because I cannot stop talking to pregnant people about being pregnant.  Or formally pregnant people about being pregnant.

And then there's the accessories that go with being pregnant.  Or with being a mom.  I literally have a list.  (And if you ask me to, I'll totally post it for you.  I'm that person.  Because, OMG, PREGNANCY!!!!)

There are theories and practices and discipline techniques and potty training techniques and pedagogy and psychology and philosophies ALL CENTERED AROUND BEING A PARENT.  There's what you should do and what you might have done and what you should think about doing soon and what you probably waited too long to do and now you're screwed and there's who to talk to and when and why you might have already broken your children for life.  There's what happens to your body when you're pregnant and what happens to your body when you're nursing and what happens to your body when you're done being pregnant and nursing and then there's what happens to your brain and your psyche during all of this and OH. MY. GOD.  The stuff.  So much stuff.

It's exhausting.  It's exhaustive.  But I cannot stop talking about it because there's just so much to talk about.  Guess what my kids did today?!?  Your kids did what today?!?  You're gonna have kids?!?  YAY KIDS!!!

 Ugh.  On the rare occasions when I get a moment alone with my husband, or night out with a girlfriend (who?  where?  what's happening?), I can't seem to stop talking mom.  And when I hang out with my friends who don't have children, I still can't stop talking mom.  And when I find out my friends will be having new children?  OMG, PREGNANCY.

Dude.  It's a sickness.  I'm way too momcentric.  I need a hobby.  I need time for a hobby.
Actually, I just need sleep.

P.S. This phenomenon has been explained beautifully and better than I ever could here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

You Should Probably Know...

The following post is inspired by an amazing NPR series called This I Believe.

A spectacular fellow teacher introduced the series to me and we taught a full writing unit around it.  I have since become obsessed with an essay by Anne Donahue called "Some Things You Should About Your Mother."

Every child deserves to know their parents like this.  Every parent should give their kids a little something that may surprise them, might make them laugh or shake their heads.  Something that might help them realize something about their parents, know them a little better, connect some dots.  Might comfort them one day.

And so... for my boys.

*    *    *

Some Things You Should Know About Your Mama:

I still eat Ants on a Log (aka: celery with peanut butter and a line of raisin "ants" down the center).  Regularly.  I'm eating it right now.   So there.

I have a minor obsession with puffer fish.  They're perpetually smiling, dude.  It's cute.  Yes it is.  Quit arguing.

I sing "Oh Holy Night" loudly (and year round) when I'm by myself to see if I can hit the high note.  I usually can't.

I believe love is the most important thing in the world and, even when it's hard, you should fight for it.

Coffee LITERALLY saves my life (and yours) some days.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't survive without it.  It makes me nicer.

The first CD I ever bought with my own money was The Violent Femmes.  The first concert I ever went to?  Official answer: REM at The Gorge.  Unofficial answer: weird but awesome bluegrass festival with my parents in I Have No Idea, Idaho.

I worry.  A lot.  Sorry.

I apologize.  A lot.  Sorry.

I cannot make a simple decision to save my life.  If it's important, I can usually reach down deep and locate my decisiveness, but ask me what we should have for dinner and you'll have a 20 minute contemplation on your hands.

I believe there are very few real and talented DJs out there- people who actually teach you about music- but John Richards and DJ Riz on KEXP are the real McCoy.  I'm a dork.  Whatever.  I love them.  Listen.

I'm stubborn to the core, but rarely admit it.  'Cause I'm stubborn.  See how that works?

I have two favorite words.  My favorite word for the sound of it: malarkey.  My favorite word because it sounds horrible, but isn't: pulchritude.  I rarely use either of them.

I could eat Mexican food every day of my life and never, ever get tired of it.

My bark is infinitely worse than my bite.

I will hug you and ruffle your hair and want to snuggle and poke you in the elbow for the rest of your lives.  I'm touchy.  Deal with it.  (I'll try to restrain myself when you're in middle school.)

I'm a sucker for a good, bad sci-fi movie.

I could sit and stare at a body of water for hours.  I've done it.  I intend to do it many more times.

I believe the right story will live with you forever.

I hate change.  I'm working on it.

I love you boys with every ounce of my being.  I hope you always know that.  And I will continue to try not to annoy you too much.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Please Make the Lambs Stop Screaming

I just experienced my first full-on, committed, psychotic, no-holds-barred, kicking, screaming, hysterical big boy tantrum two days ago.  It lasted 40 minutes.  And it started because I wouldn't give him free reign with the squeegee in the shower.

So he kicked the shower walls and threw his towel on the shower floor.  Then it escalated because the towel I gave him to replace the now soaking-wet one was too small.  The Too Small Towel tantrum lasted a full 20 minutes on its own.  Then it escalated further when he finally went to use the too-small towel and realized that he was already dry (having air-dried whilst tantruming).  So then the tantrum became a Where Are My Drips; I Need New Drips tantrum.

(FYI: Attempting to explain evaporation to a screaming, kicking, writhing 3 year old is not effective.  The more you know.)

Finally I decided that I just needed to get him in bed, at which point getting him dressed for bed turned it into the I Need To Go Hide tantrum.  Because naked hiding is, apparently, the only logical option when one's towel is too small and one has no drips.

Round two happened yesterday.  This one was over blueberry yogurt.  It lasted 35 minutes.  Apparently we are making progress?

Holy shit.  I have no idea what is happening, but it is highly unpleasant.

(Ed. Note: The title of this post is stolen directly from the mouth of a good friend and fellow mama.)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Camping with Kids

Today we take the kids camping for the first time.  I'm not quite sure what to expect, but I know better than to expect anything.  Except mud.  I expect lots and lots of mud.  I'm pretty sure they'll love every second of it- dirt, trees, fresh air, lots and lots of room to play ball and blow bubbles and run around laughing maniacally- but one never knows.

I haven't been camping in over 10 years.  Camping is by and large a young person's game.  I realize that I'm talking like I'm 90, but good lord people... who over the age of 22 is still good at squatting to pee?!?  It's hard.  And sleeping arrangements become a bit more complicated.  I used to sleep in a sleeping bag.  On the ground.  No mat, no mattress, nothing.  Ground.  Now I require a self-inflating air mattress with actual bedding (mostly because I no longer own sleeping bags... because I'm OLD).  And the thought of having to drink instant coffee is absolutely abhorrent.  It's pathetic.  I used to be good at this.  I used to be a camper.  I camped, damn it!  Now... well, hopefully I can rediscover the pee-in-the-woods squat.

And now there are children.  Two of them.  And they're small.  Small children.  I can easily imagine camping with a six year old and an eight year old.  They can help.  They can set up camp and build fires and sleep in their own tent.  They'll be interested in exploring and I'll feel like it's probably okay to turn my back on them for more than two seconds.  Now, however, I'm wondering what's going to happen if my husband and I both have to pee and we can't keep a firm grip on the Little One.  The Big One's not much help in that arena.  But that Little One, man.  He's wily.  And he's FAST, you guys.  You have no idea.  One blink and he'll be hitchhiking on the interstate.

Luckily, there's a 50% chance of thunderstorms and general rainy goodness over our camping weekend.  So that'll be neat.

Just as long as the giant spiders stay away from me, I'm game for all of it.  Bring it on, nature.  Bring it on.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Instant Personality Shift Syndrome


It is a little known problem, but a common parental condition.

IPSS, or Instant Personality Shift Syndrome, is rampant among the parents of young children.  Its symptoms appear without warning and are difficult to treat.  IPSS becomes almost incurable among the parents of toddlers and is easily recognizable.  Exchanges such as, "Roll the ball, baby!  Roll the ball to your brother!  Good job, baby.  GET OFF THE TABLE!  That's right, roll the ball!  Good!  STOP THROWING THE BALL AT YOUR BROTHER'S HEAD!  Wanna roll it back?" are commonplace in the parent/child exchanges involving parents with IPSS.  Parents may move from soothing coos to ear-splitting screeching with nary a warning to be heard.

While IPSS is not life-threatening, it can cause others to question your sanity.  Symptoms may include hollering, sighing dramatically, rolling of eyes, foreheads in hands, and clenched jaws.  Symptoms may be accompanied by a toddler screaming, throwing things, tantruming, or hitting.  Siblings may exacerbate the problem.

If you notice symptoms of IPSS and have a toddler in your home, do not be alarmed.  Symptoms will begin to dissipate over the next two to sixteen years.  If symptoms do not disappear completely, seek help immediately.  And a margarita.

This has been a public service announcement.  We will now return to regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Upside, Downside

I am looking for balance.  Life has felt perpetually off kilter for quite some time now, and I'm attempting to give it a kickstand.  In an effort to temper my incessant whining (you guys, I know... I'm sorry!), I've decided to look at the glass as half-empty AND half-full.  Both sides of the coin.  Cloud with silver lining.  Yin and yang.  Luke and Darth.

You get the drift.

We all know I can't stop whining all together.  It's in my DNA people - I couldn't make it stop if I wanted to.  I grew up in a house where sour moods spread like wildfire.  But I also grew up singing "Shiny, Happy People" and Ren & Stimpy's "Happy Happy Joy Joy" with my dad whenever anyone (usually my mom- sorry, Mom!) got a little pouty.  So if I can buffer the whining with a little sunshine and lollipops... well, that doesn't sound so bad.

Accordingly, I'm playing a little game of Upside, Downside with myself.  Every time I want to wallow in self-pity or complain or be a generally hellish human to be around, I'm going to attempt to find the positive side of the situation.  Because I don't want people to stop talking to me.

Anyhoo, I don't know how long this happy-happy-joy-joy will last, so fair warning.

Upside, Downside: Episode 1. Going Back to Work

Upside: While I was working at "that store," I learned to relish the time I have with my kids.  As in, the book-it-as-fast-as-I-could-out-of-the-mall, leap-into-the-car, and speed-my-way-home kind of cherish.  Leaving "that store" and just doing tutoring now has not lessened the effect, despite the fact that I ADORE tutoring.  (OOH!  Upside!  I HEART TUTORING!!!)  I've always loved my time with my babes, but now I genuinely treasure my time with them (as barf-tastic as that sounds), because I've experienced having that time taken away.  The time I took for granted is limited, and that's a tangible concept to me now.  Even amidst all the screaming.

I have come to realize that I do want to teach- in some form- and to be involved with everything I have always loved: kids, literature, writing, and learning.  Tutoring has been absolutely awesome.  It's helped me readjust my view of who I am and who I want to be... something I was struggling with as a full-time stay-at-home parent.

Downside: Holy adjustment, Batman.  My kids struggled BIG TIME with my going back to work.  They were totally pissed off at me and misbehaved WAY more than they did before.  The Big One cried when I left for "that store" (not in the dramatic way, but in the quivering lip, slight whimper, ask for a hug and try to be brave, but totally break your heart kind of way) and told me daily that he was sad/scared when I left to go to "that store."  We didn't get family time or weekends at all for a couple months.  My husband had a hard time getting all of his school work done and we were all exhausted.   We realized that working for $10 an hour, getting a stress fracture in my foot, and having stressed out kids and no time together was not worth it.

Upside: I quit "that store" a few weeks ago.  It was awesome.  I've never felt so good quitting a job.  And it's not that the job was all that bad, it was just a bad fit for me and my family.  Nonetheless, I'm delighted that I no longer have to take bullshit from people who feel, apparently, that anyone working in a clothing store deserves to be treated like vermin.  I'm tickled frickin' pink that I will never again have to experience the heartache of looking in newly vacated dressing rooms to find giant piles of inside-out clothes next to giant piles of hangers.  Oh, the horror.

Now, I get to help people- little people and their families who are authentically thankful (wha?) and students who want, want to learn (WHA?!?).  IT. IS. SO. GOOD.  And on top of all the goodness, the money is significantly better than retail, so I can work fewer hours for the same piddly money I was making at "that store."  We have weekends and family time again.  My kids are happier.  And my family is happier.  And I am happier.  Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Parents Are Trained Ninjas

Never before have you seen such stealth, such skills, such quiet-ensuring acrobatics as those of a parent with sleeping children.


Even children who sleep peacefully through every night, through alarms and loud movies, through dropped glasses and neighbor's parties- even the most sound of sleepers- will wake up at the slightest blip of noise when it is nap time.  Drop a bobby pin, baby's up.  Ankle pops when you take a step, toddler's awake.  Sink drips, and nap time is over.

It is for this reason that parents develop super-skills in order to facilitate uninterrupted sleep.  We know every creaky stair, every idiosyncrasy of each squeaky door handle, each popping floor board.  We know how avoid every possible noise in the household for a full 3 hours in order to protect nap.  I have seen parents backflip, snatch objects from midair, and slither through their houses like Hattori Hanzo.  SKILLS, I tell you.

For some reason, however, it is during these precious, precious hours that all things noisy happen.  The big kid is finally down for nap, except- OOPS!- it's the recycling truck, and it's glass pick-up day!  The baby finally settles down, and then- uh oh- the UPS man rings the doorbell.  Both children miraculously fall asleep (!!) at the same time (!!!), and then things on your counters and shelves start spontaneously committing suicide, jumping to their deaths onto the tile mere feet away from both sleeping children.


If only the ninja skills were transferrable.  And the garbage trucks would read the dirty looks you give them when they show up at 1:30pm.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


So there are days when things are great, awesome even, and life is moving along swimmingly.  Mornings at the beach filled with sun breaks and laughter.  But then,  it's time to leave the beach.  And your 3 year old won't get in the car.  And you have to manhandle him because he tries to run away from you in the middle of a parking lot and then he starts screaming.  And then all of the other parents and children look at you.  And then you have to smile like this: "HI!!!  I'm torturing my child for sport!  It's super awesome fun!  Wanna join me?  I have hot pokers in the trunk!!"

Can you picture my maniacal waving and open-mouthed smile?

Why?  Why must the fit follow the awesome?  Why must the perfect morning of fun be ruined by the perfect storm of evil whilst trying to move on to lunch and nap?  Why?

Today, we had our final day of pre-3s preschool.  We met at a beach on the sound and played in the sand and enjoyed some final time together.  The kids played together, ran together, snacked together, sang their final songs of the year, and received handmade "yearbooks" from their teacher.  It was dream day for a 3 year old.  And yet.

As we went to leave, all was well.  He said he did not want to go.  I said that it was time to go because he was shivering ("I'm not cold!!") and the Little One needed a nap.  He sulked briefly, tried again ("Can we go over to the swings?  The other kids got to go!!"), but finally gave in somewhat gracefully.  We gathered our things and walked to the car.  Where he refused to get inside.  And then ran around the car away from me every time I got near.  And then I had to grab him and stuff him inside the car while he hollered.

Me smiling at the staring people: "Hi!!!  Everything's fine here!  Just a happy family preparing to leave!!  No torture taking place whatsoever!  PLEASE IGNORE THE SCREAMING."

And then he continued to cry and scream (and empty his shoes full of sand into his carseat) for the next hour.  Through the garage.  In the elevator.  Through the halls of our building ("Hi Neighbors Who Already Hate Us For Having Children!!!  Does this help?  LIKE US NOW?!?!").  Into the house.  Throughout being stripped of sandy clothes ("AAAHHHH!!!!  TORTURE!!!!  DON'T TAKE MY CLOTHES OFF!!!!  OOOOWWWW!!!!").  Throughout attempts at nose-blowing ("I HAVE BOOOOOGGERSSS!!!").  Throughout attempts at going potty ("I CAN'T PEEEE!!!!  I HAVE BOOOOOGGERSSSS!!!").  And into the beginning of lunch ("BUT I DON'T WANT THAT!!!"  "That's what we're having."  "BUT I DON'T WANT THAT!!!"  "Then I'll give it to your brother."  I WAAANT THAAAAAAT!!!!!").

And then I forgot all about the nice time we had this morning and wished I could get on an airplane and fly to Japan to see cherry blossoms.  That seems quiet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Letters to the Boys

Dear Squishies,

Oh, my boys.  As I write this, you are both fighting sleep, exhausted, and filled so completely with the desire to play and learn and absorb that you CAN. NOT. STOP.  My babies, my two little squish-boys, are growing up before me, and I am astounded at how quickly it has happened.

I feel the need to record something.  To try to capture this brief moment in time and tuck it way so my brain won't loose it.  I want you to know that I think of you constantly, and that I see you.  I know you, Squishies.  And I love you so much I can hardly breathe sometimes.  You boys make me happy every day.  You make me smile and laugh in a way I never knew I could.  You make life make sense.  You also make me crazy sometimes, but that's the sign of true love.  

Thank you for completing our family, boys.  Thank you for being such loving, amazing, hilarious little people.  Thank you for allowing us to love you and play with you and laugh with you.

* * *

Dear Big One, 
We measured you the other day, and in just over a month, you had grown a full inch.  You are sprouting right in front of us, and some days when you wake up, I think I can actually tell that you're bigger.  You're changing.  You are 110% 3 year old.  It's your way, or the screaming, yelling highway.  You're pulling away, but still holding on so tight.  

You've had a hard time with my return to work, and I'm so sorry for that.  It was sudden and it was confusing and suddenly the mommy you had had by your side 24 hours a day, 7 days a week... was gone.  A lot.  And you were frightened and sad and angry.  So was I.  You have been fighting me and arguing with me and yelling at me.  You've been like a different kid.  And I'm sorry.  I'm sorry you lost your mama for a little while.  I'm sorry you lost your family time.  I'm sorry it didn't make sense to you and I'm sorry we had to put you through all of it.  That first job, "that store," wasn't worth it.  It was not worth the stress I put you through.  But tutoring is different and it's astounding how you seem to understand that it's important to me and important for our family.  You still miss me when I'm gone, but it doesn't seem to break your heart in the same way.  So now, I'm okay with it.  Happy even.  And you seem to be coming around, too.  You hug me and kiss me again, instead of clinging to me with fear in your little eyes.  I'm so happy to see you happy.  

You've started to work on your relationship with your little brother, and it is amazing to see.  You still have an incomprehensible desire to sit on his head, but you also want to play with him now (instead of on him... yeesh).  You've been voluntarily giving up toys when you see that your brother wants them.  You've been excited to show him things and you protect him fiercely.  And sweet boy, I am so proud of you.  

You have also started drawing like crazy- your daddy's talent is leaking out of your every pore.  You create recognizable people with features now, and I cannot get enough of them.  And you still have a very serious interest in music.  You want to listen to songs over and over- get the words right- so that you can sing them and play along on your instruments.  You assign each family member a job, "Daddy, you play drums.  Mommy, you're piano.  Wren, here's a tambourine," and then you lead our little family band.  You want to listen to music all the time, and you have clear opinions on what is and is not good music.  And frankly, you have awesome taste.

You are all kinds of things, my big boy.  You are headstrong, timid, silly, frightfully observant, beautiful, and kind and loving beyond your capacity.  I have been told that you have an old soul, and I think that's the perfect explanation for the way you approach the world.  It's as if you already know what's coming sometimes.  You are a perceptive little man.  People tell me that you look just like me, and it pleases me to the core.  But I hope you won't be exactly like me.  I hope you will be braver than me, more independent than me.  I hope you will learn from my mistakes and be happier for it.  Most of all, I hope that you will always be proud of the person you are and will always feel how incredibly loved you are. You are my original Squishy.  I love you, Monkey Moo.
All my love,

* * *

Dear Little One,
Holy spitfire, Batman.  You are all black and white, my friend.  No grey area.  You are either jolly, or incensed.  Laughing, or screaming.  Dancing, or throwing yourself on the floor.  You are a balls to the wall, full-throttle, no-holds-bar kind of kid.  And it is both thrilling and terrifying to behold.

Your entry into toddlerhood is everything I expected.  You do everything big.  (Except pooping... you are a silent, ninja pooper.  It's astounding.)  You are a climber, a thrower, a chortler, a kid who is into EVERYTHING.  I literally cannot blink in your presence lest you climb on top of a table or rip something off of one.  

But then, you are a lover.  You adore your lovies with every fiber of your little being.  You hug regularly of your own accord and grip your Daddy and I with such passion that it is hard to let you go.  Despite the fact that he sometimes takes your toys and often sits on your head, you love your big brother so completely, it oozes out of you.  You light up when you hear him wake up and call for me in the morning and you run, RUN, to him as fast as your chubby little legs will take you.  You greet your Daddy and me with such joy, such unbridled happiness, when we return from an absence and it is literally impossible not return the glee that ebbs from your little soul.

You recently started to dance and, MAN do you take that business seriously.  You bob your head and shimmy your little shoulders as though it is necessary- vital!- to get your groove on.  Now.  Shhh... I am jamming.  You feel music down to your little bones and you smile whenever we turn on a song you know, just before the serious face and the bobbing begins.

You are a man of opinions, and usually those opinions are some version of, "NO!!!!"  Whether we're trying to help you eat, or change your diaper, or show you how to use a new toy, if it was not your idea, you are NOT. HAVING. IT.  Fits ensue, screaming starts, and you now bang your head on the nearest hard surface.  Because that will show us.  (By the way?  It doesn't show us.  It just hurts your noggin.)  Luckily, you are also pretty easily distracted and usually can be brought around from enraged to delighted in seconds flat.  Seriously, no grey area.

Little Squish, you are a sweet, goofy, wildly stubborn, daring, fearless and awesome little dude.  You look exactly like your Daddy and you are cute as the dickens.  You have the most hilariously low voice for a baby.  You are walking trouble, but you are absolutely irresistible.  You were the perfect addition to our family- the perfect combination to shake us up in all the right ways- and we cannot imagine life without you.  You, my Squish-face, are a love.  Thank you for the laughter you bring us and the love that emanates from your core.  I hope you will always love with such wild abandon and that it doesn't get you in too much trouble.  I hope you feel the love that is returned to you and I hope you will always know how incredible you are.  I love you, Monkey Two.
All my love,

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Attack of the Sappy: More Things to Remember

I am in need of more fodder for smiles.  Below is such fodder.

Things That Make Me Smile:
* The Little One is a head-banger in waiting
* The Big One is a break-dancer in waiting
* Words like: "fpider" (spider), "fponge" (sponge), "fweeper" (sweeper), "balilla" (gorilla), "bazoo" (zoo), and "lip cream" (whipped cream)
* When the Little One grabs any of his lovies or sees a stuffed animal from across the room and comes a-runnin' yelling, "BAAAA-EEEYY!!"  Followed by snuggle and, "Mmmmm" to said baby.
* The Little One's first words upon entering his room in the morning/after nap: "HIIIiiii!!!"  Spoken in exact same ridiculous tone I use.
* The Big One will sit in his crib for a freakishly long time just. reading. books.  And listening to "my symphony" (classical music).
* The Big One's new habit of leaning over and kissing my arm at random moments
* The Little One's new talent of jumping- the cutest part being the prep required and his proud grin after he jumps
* The Big One's booty dance
* Watching the kids gallivant in the sand on the first beautiful sand-worthy day of the year
* The way they both run for me with arms spread wide and giant grins whenever I return from "that store"
* They are finally learning to play together without maniacal screeching.  It is a wonder to behold.

Music That Makes My Kids Boogie:
* Tribe Called Quest (specifically, anything from Midnight Marauders)
* Talking Heads
* Any of Daddy's music
* 70s funk (or nouveau 70s style goodness like Escort)
* Caspar Babypants
* Bob Marley (we sing "Three Little Birds" to them as a lullaby)

The Big One's Ideal Mixed Tape:  (aka: "Mommy!  It's my song!!")
* We Are Young by Fun.
* Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People
* Somebody I Used To Know by Goyte
* The Weight by The Band
* Boom Boom Pow by Black Eyed Peas
Cool Like Dat by Digable Planets
* Hey Ho by The Lumineers
* Anything by Daddy
* Anything by Wil "Uncle Woolis" Blades
* "That Monkey Song" (aka: Monkey Gone to Heaven by the Pixies)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Worry Wart

I'm a worrier.  I've always been a worrier.  I vividly remember laying in bed at the age of fifteen worrying about the possibility (not even an actual plan- just the possibility) of having to take driver's ed and thinking that it would probably be easier if I just died in my sleep.  Um.  What the hell is that?  Who in their right mind, given the choice between driver's ed and death, chooses frickin' death?!?  Clearly I was not in my right mind.  I was fifteen.

But I'm still a worrier.  I no longer see dying in my sleep as the preferable alternative to, say, going to the dentist.  But I worry.  A lot.  I fret.  I'm a fretter.  But here's the thing.  90% of the stuff I worry about is STUPID SHIT.  It's probably understandable when I get nervous belly and break out in a cold sweat because my baby has woken up with croup in the middle of the night.  That seems relatively normal.  But having an almost identical reaction to starting a new job?  That seems excessive.  And dumb.  And possibly worthy of medication.

Internet, I am a wreck.  I am a wreck for no reason, whatsoever.  I am a wreck because, essentially, I have a hard time with change.  I struggle with transitions.  It appears that I am no different from my children and am, essentially, a giant toddler.

This realization is unpleasant.

When I think back to all the things I've had idiotic, ill-placed panic attacks about, they all have to do with change.  I suck at it.  And I've sucked at it for as long as I can remember.  I like to be in my comfy place.  I like predictability.  I like familiarity and routines.  I like home and family and stuff that is NOT BRAND NEW AND HARD AND SCARY.  Which is sad, really, because life is hard and brand new and scary the majority of the time.  Especially with kids.

What's extra funny is that I seem to be able to handle some really difficult things relatively well.  I haven't been perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but things have been pretty rough around these parts since the Little One was born, and I've handled the majority of it pretty well.  Then we decide that I need to get a part time job- stat!- and I fall apart.  What's that all about?

My parents have always told me that, as a kid, I handled every injury in the exact same way.  According to them, paper cuts and broken bones received the same broo-ha-ha.  A gross overreaction in the case of the paper cut, but a damn brave little gal for the broken bone.  Perhaps my responses to life are measured in much the same way.  When things get really ugly, I seem to be handling it pretty well.  When things are just mediocre, I go off the deep end.  Crap.

All this to say... I'm starting a new job.  Another new job.  For a couple weeks I will have three jobs, (which... AHHHHHH!!!!) but I'm leaving "that store" in three weeks (because I miss my husband and my children and weekends and I cannot take any more "Mommy!  Don't leave me to go to that store!!!) and will then only have two jobs.  One of which will be periodic and at my leisure.  With weekends.  Mostly.

So.  Another new job.  Tutoring.  And I'm crazy nervous and I shouldn't be.  It has everything to do with what I've always done, but instead of 150 kids, I'll have two.  And I will be working with them one at a time.  I can do this.  I know I can do this.  But I'm suddenly terribly frightened that I'm going to fail them, AND I DON'T WANT TO FAIL THE LITTLE CHILDREN.  They're little, you guys.  Just getting started on this crazy business of life and school.  If I mess this up, they may never get to Harvard.  AND IT WILL BE ALL MY FAULT.  Damn it.