Sunday, December 19, 2010

Trees and Trains

There are very few traditions that have been handed down to Josh or I.  Or, perhaps the truth is there are few that we remember or choose to include with our own fledgling family.  Either way, the two that have stuck? Are so much fun.  Seriously.

First there is the Christmas tree hunt.  This involved packing our family and the necessary sundry winter items into the SUV and driving and inordinately long way to a tree farm.  (We have the GPS to thank for the scenic route, it has apparently never heard of the main highway which practically bisects the Dixieland Tree Farm.)  Once at said tree farm I discover that Abigail's water proof mittens are not, in fact, in the car as I had assumed (where there are now is a Great Mystery as they are not in the house, either).  Noticing this discrepancy Josh contributes his Daddy wisdom for the day and suggests we find a way to clip her gloves to her jacket.  Brilliant, as usual.  Luckily she had her very warm coat and hat and snow boots and seemed no worse for wear sans-gloves.  Isabel was equally padded down in fleece lined jeans and sweatshirts and a coat.  We had two smallish, pastel colored marshmallows with us, it seemed.

So off we went to find The Perfect Tree.  I had asked to be shown the trees which held their needles the longest, and those trees only.  Josh rolled his eyes at my very serious request of the farmers, but seemed somewhat impressed but their promise that the firs they suggested would "last 'till Easter."  I too was impressed.  And skeptical.  I will let you know come January.

Once the tree was selected and hewn and shaken and wrapped it was brought to the car in which the girls and I were waiting, heater running full blast already.  We three were giddy with anticipation of taking our tree home, and also delighted to be thawing, finally.  We slid the tree in between the car seats so that each girl would have her very own up-close-and-smell-the-sap kind of tree experience for the car ride home.  Isabel seemed content with her view and laid back to ponder deep, tree scented thoughts.  Abigail on the other hand, proceeded to lose her mind.  There was sobbing of the "get me out of here!" sort, followed by panicked screams and flailing, and general toddler sized mayhem.  After 5 minutes (maybe more) we got her back into the car seat, buckled down, jacket thrown over the offending tree and were on our way.  The fact that I was twisted around in my seat to face her, holding her hand the whole way home?  Just added to the charm.

Once home our very sensible toddler disembarked and announced: "it's just a tree, that's not so scary!"  Naturally.

This morning we decorated the tree and then dug the electric train out of the basement and set it up, too.  I will spare you the part where I may have attempted a small electrical fire with the transformer and also the part where it didn't work for half an hour thanks to a misaligned track I completely failed to notice.  But I digress.

Isabel has taken to this train much the way Godzilla does to large cities.  She delights in descending on the slow moving train and knocking it over, sending the small plastic men and parts flying.  Abigail prefers it to run at a moderate pace, while sitting back and watching it.  We have shown her - repeatedly - how to work the ridiculously simple knob but it somehow continues to terrify her.  She will touch it quickly if we force her to, but retreats to a safe distance at first opportunity.  Isabel, ever the adventurous one, has already mastered the knob and when not destroying the train enjoys sending is careening at top speed around the track and then stopping it with a sudden jerk.  Abigail is very annoyed by this, but as she will not touch the transformer herself is unable to stop her sister's antics.

(Also a fun side note to the train: as it's a German company that made it I can now -thanks to 3 years in Germany- read the little stickers stuck all over the pretend boxes that confused me all through childhood.  And as I write this Abigail has come up to me with a small box filled with candy wrappers dating back to the years when my sister and I last played with it.)

Christmas has come to our house it all it's tree scented, train crashing glory.  I love the memories that we have taken from our families and started them with our own little girls.  I love that Abby is playing with toys that I have loved since I was her age.  The fact that Abigail will have memories of trekking through snow and cold to find a perfect tree is something worth being very grateful for. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kindergarten Will Have to Wait, or Administrators are Idiots

Abigail just finished her first semester of part time pre-preschool/day care, with as many flying colors as such an organization can give.  She is bright.  She is emotionally prepared.  She is - at last! - potty trained.  She is going to "real" preschool next year, by golly. 

All this in preparation so that she can attend kindergarten in 2012 - or she would, except she won't be 5 by Sept 1.  What the hell?  I understand that having a cut off date is vital in keeping schooling ages similar and appropriate for the information taught.  But what, exactly, is the thought process in having such an early cut off?  She'll be 5 about 40 odd days after school starts - how is that NOT old enough? What type of maturation do administrators think is lacking?

I cannot believe that I will have to keep my intelligent, prepared, energetic child home another year because she isn't mature enough at 4 years 11 months for kindergarten?  Seriously

Apparently I'm spoiled by California (a state I am suddenly pleased to claim) which has the more logical date of 31 Dec.  Which makes sense: if your child isn't 5 by the end of the year that school starts, they should most likely wait another year.  But somehow keeping a whole group of nearly-5-year-olds from education is just.... stupid.

Not sure what I'll do now.  Home school?  Sneak her into 1st grade later?  I just can't imagine not having her in school that year, she's to bright, to ready, and in need of so much more structured teaching than I feel I am capable of providing.  I suppose we will just have to wait and see what is available when the time comes.  But until then, I'll just be over here silently smouldering at the injustice of it all.

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's been a while....

Isabel has turned one.  A whole year, gone.  A baby who is now...  less of a baby.  And I am beside myself, just amazed that this year has come and then gone again.

The whole day before Isabel's birthday I was thinking about her delivery - how she managed to take longer than her sister to come into the world.  How she held out almost 24 hours just to be born on her father's birthday.  How at the time I wasn't sure she was a blessing, but how now I couldn't imagine a moment with out her.

All day on the 13th I was watching the clock, and ever hour that came and went had a memory attached to it: 6am - when my water broke - a week early - hurrah!  12pm - when we packed up Abby to go a friends as we were heading to the hospital.  2pm - arrival at said hospital and still no contractions, no sign other than a leak that this little girl wanted out.  5 pm - walking and endless loop of the labor and recovery ward trying to entice Isabel out.  8pm - the doctor started the medicine to get my labor going.  1am - contracts starting with a suddenness that surprised both Josh and I.  3am - finally giving into an epidural and then getting some much needed rest.  6 am - the midwife is about to go off shift and wants to see this baby (she'd been with me all night) and encourages me to start pushing.  6:29am - Isabel arrives, howling and wiggling into the world.  6:30am - I suddenly remember it's Josh's birthday, too, and maybe he should get a 'happy birthday!'

One year later she's cruising around the furniture, crawling all over the place (and therefore getting into everything) and driving her sister crazy by stealing all her favorite toys.  It has been an amazing journey from there to here.  I forgot how much they can change in a year, or a month or a week.  Now the fun begins: walking and talking - watching her grow into a sweet girl from the sweet baby I know.  Bliss!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A chain of memory

Abigail and Isabel, too, I suppose, love my closet.  I'm not sure what it is about the hanging clothes, the heaps of shoes, boxes stacked against a wall full of last seasons items that attracts them so, but it does.  There is a draw to the room that pulls my girls in time after time, so that when Abigail is hiding from me I am sure to find her tucked away under my formal gowns, holding a single brown sequined shoe in her grasp.

There are also a series of shelves on which I have stacked and organized any number of things: belts and ties in a bin, work shirts for Josh and Army gym clothes, socks, and at just about chest high, my jewelry.  It is by no means a large or stunning collection, it fits neatly into a small wooden box divided into two parts: the upper that holds my necklaces tucked to one side, rings on the other, sundry keepsakes and larger items stored under the tray.  It is a plain box, ordinary in all ways and, I had thought, high as it was, simple as it was, above the notice of my eldest daughter.

She had asked to wear a 'mommy necklace' for Halloween so that she might look like Cinderella and I presented her with a string of pearls to wear over her yellow flouncy dress.  After getting out of her costume she asked to continue wearing the pearls with her jeans and t-shirt; unable to explain the fragility of pearls to a toddler I, kindly as I could, said 'no.'  She asked if she might wear another necklace of mine and I agreed, thinking that later I would run up to my closet and pick something of little value that she could play around in.

She ran off apparently appeased and I returned to whatever task I was at when she first came demanding finery.  I was quite surprised to have her come back to my side mere moments later holding a small gold chain in her hands.  "How about this Mommy?  Can I wear this one?"  She asked, full of hope.  I was startled by her discovery, it was a chain I forgotten I had, one that had been a gift to me when I was about her age, perhaps younger even.

She was holding up a necklace that had been given to me by my father's mother, seeing the gold winking in my daughter's hand brought forward a rush of emotion I couldn't have anticipated.  This chain was given to me in memory of my grandfather, a man who died before I could ever know him. This necklace that makes me think of the small woman who picked it out for me, who choose something thick and heavy remembering the rambunctiousness of childhood.  I see her suddenly, her hands covered in paper-thin skin, a crochet hook working heaps of yarn and string into fancy things for my dolls to wear.  A woman whose house smelled of talcum powder and tea and who always had crayons and the largest coloring books I had ever seen stashed in the most unlikely places, who made paste and salt dough in her kitchen to amuse her granddaughters.  She who died when I was young, before I even knew this necklace existed tucked away as it was in my mother's sock drawer, who would never know the daughters I have borne. 

Abigail is wearing the necklace now, running around the house oblivious to the metal flapping against her skin.  But I look at her and think of my Grandmother and I hope that if she ever happens to peer in on me, to see what became of the gangly girl she left behind, that she would see her great granddaughter wearing her gift, proof that it can indeed withstand the rigors of childhood.

My daughter is too young to understand the significance of this chain, why I smile a slightly sad smile as I put it on her.  It is a first, this passing down of keepsakes, the giving over of memories from my youth to hers.  It is a start, this story of who I was when I was small and who that child became: a story to be told in pieces to my daughters over a lifetime.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Death Candy

I have never been a fan of Halloween.  Never.  When I was a kid, sure, the thrill of dressing up and asking for candy was delightful.  Full of charm and freedom and excitement.  Then as a teenager and young adult the downward spiral began.  The other girls I knew took advantage of this one unique day to tart it up - wearing what amounted to lingerie and some cat ears and calling it a costume.  I was, and still am, to modest, to puritan, to Christian, to dare wear anything like that.  So it came to represent a club I wasn't - and could never be - a part of: Halloween-Sluts-For-A-Day-But-I'm-Not-Really-Or-Am-I?

Now as a mother I take a whole new offence to the day.  Being the parent of a peanut allergic child has raised my awareness.  I read labels on boxes, scrutinize menus, hawk-eye all suspicious foods served at friend's and family's homes.  I am overly cautious and very leery.  I?  Am on the front line in the war against peanuts.  I will be that Mom come school time petitioning for PB&J's to be "outlawed" from school lunches - and yes I mean the ones you pack at home, too.  So you can imagine the anxiety I have at letting my 3 year old go trick-or-treating.  Allowing her to possibly receive a peanut crusted candy into her little jack-o-lantern tub.  I hate this.  Because I can't fathom why anyone would buy candy that has peanuts in it to give to children they don't know.  I know that because of Abigail I am painfully aware of food allergies and their seriousness.  I also know that other people are not required to worry or even care about my daughter's misguided immune system.  I am meant to look out for her, to be the watch dog to her candy seeking ways. 

But still: why risk it?  The last 2 years we've stayed home rather than risk a peanut candy slipping into her hands unnoticed.  So, candy givers this year:  Just say no to Snickers, Reeses and the like.  Kid's love Jolly Ranchers and jaw breakers and mini Twizzlers.  You don't need to pass out (potential) death candy. 

Seriously.  You don't.  Please, go buy something fruity and save this mom from an early heart attack.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sleeping with sanity

I, like the house of cards I am, have folded.  On day 6 of No-More-Binkies-For-Abby, at about 10 pm, after almost 2 hours of crying, cajoling, begging, pleading and some whining on Abby's part I fished an Izzy binkie out of the baby's crib, shoved it at my toddler and stormed from the room.  I didn't - and still don't! - know who I was angrier at in that moment: my daughter who couldn't give up her baby crutch or myself for caving after a few short days.  The old routine for bedtime is a tried and true winner: bath, pjs, story, kiss, nightlight and music on, parents: out of the room in 5 minutes or less.  It's down right wonderful.  Add to those nights an equally tired and complaint Isabel and you have two kids sleeping by 8:15 - and hours upon hours of adult time until we go to bed.

But once the binkies were gone all bets were off.  First we had to read about 40 books to Abigail (not exagerating).  Then cuddle with her.  And then try to sneak from the room - which we could never quite manage, so then we had to stand at the door for 10+ minutes until she was "asleep" and we could creep down stairs.  Only to hear her whimper, let her cry for a bit then repeat.  Hours, it was taking.  Literally: hours.  On day 6 of no adult time, little sleep (Isabel sensed this was just the moment to wake every 2 hours to check on me), I was ready to do anything to get my sanity back.

I hate - HATE! - that Abby is 3 and is still stuck to her binkie, but I hate fighting at bedtime more.  Way more.  So right now?  I am willing to agree to disagree.  We shall return to this battle later.  But right now?  I am too busy enjoying the silence of sleeping children to fight. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Faires use the US Postal Service

We had a visit on Sunday from the Binkie Fairy.  As per her instructions we boxed up all of Abby's binkies and "mailed" them to Binkie-Fairy Land where they will be planted and can grow into more binkies for brand new babies.

Abigail bought this hook, line and sinker...  Until 8 o'clock.  At which point she was ready to rally the troops, grab some pitch forks and head after that binkie thieving witch and get her pacis back.  She was crying.  And screaming.  And whimpering.  And making all kinds of pitifull pleas.  And what could we do?  Those binkies had been mailed straight to the trash.  Literally.  There was - and is - no going back.

The last 6 months we've been rationing the binkies so that she can only have them at bedtime or on very long drives or in planes.  This has worked - for the most part she doesn't even ask for them anymore and will hand over her binkie as soon as she gets up.  But taking it away at bedtime?  Is apparently akin to baby torture.

In her defense she's used a pacifier since she was 2 weeks old.  And I've loved it.  It helped us survive the first year when she wasn't a car baby.  Without it we would never have survived the teething months.  When we stopped the rocking/singing before bed routine it was there to comfort her as she put herself to sleep in her "big girl bed."  But now her last comfort of infancy is gone.  And she has to learn how to fall asleep all over again.  I am trying to be as gentle and loving and understanding as I can be.  But when it takes 2 hours of crying, cajoling, and fighting to get her to take a nap?  My patience wears thin.  After crying for quite a while she is finally napping peacefully.  So is her sister. 

So I think I'll just sit here a second longer and enjoy the sweet sound of success, and try not to think about how Isabel is cuddled up in bed, fast asleep... A binkie tucked into her wee mouth.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Digging out with a teaspoon

I have been... unhappy much of this year.  I have been hard on my husband, hard on my kids and harder yet on myself.  I have been trying to dig up and up and up and hopefully, eventually, out of my depression.  But I am digging with a teaspoon most of the time.  And so it goes.

But lately I have been better.  My healing is coming in the form of learning to let go.  But that letting go?  The releasing of dreams, disappointments, heart break?  Is so much harder than I could have anticipated.  So much more painful than I had prepared myself for.

There are moments in this last year I crave with all my being to redo.  Moments that I can see, now, are steeped in depression, but at the time?  I just thought I was a horrible mother and wife. 

The one moment that comes to mind the most often?  The minutes just after Isabel was born.  I will never forget that morning, though most days I wish the memory was hazy, that I didn't see with shocking crispness all the ways I was hurting without knowing.  Isabel came out in a rush - the doctor barely got his gloves on, never mind his scrubs, before she was lying warm and wet in his hands.  My husband turned to me and told me we had a daughter and I could see the emotion in his eyes, the tears just behind the surface.  I could see, too, that he was hedging his emotion on mine - if I cried, he would too.  And all I was thinking was that I was tired and that now that she was here I could go back to sleep.  I knew I was supposed to say something, do something, but I had no idea what it was.  To fill the void I was staring at I kept asking "is she okay?"  Over and over I pestered the peds nurses.  The doctor was kind enough to reassure me time and again that Isabel was fine.  Then I was holding her, this tiny bundle of a girl, wrinkled, bitty, worn out and weary from her journey.  And all I felt was incredibly empty.

Those minutes?  I play them over and over.  Because I know that girl now, I am looking at her tiny lips and her round eyes and her trusting smile and I love her.  I know this with every fiber of my being.  And I wish I had been able to tell her that then, and mean it.  I want to go back to the woman holding a baby who was hers, but did not feel like hers and say: "it's okay. You'll be okay, and this girl-child?  Do not be afraid: you do love her, you just can't see it yet."

I want to go back to my daughter who knew nothing and understood less and say: "you have not done this. She is in love with you, but it will take a while for her to find her way back to knowing it."

In life there isn't a way to get back those days and weeks and months.  So I am left with this hollow ache where joy should have grown.  But I am healing now: I am learning to let go, to become okay with the fact that for me?  The day she was born was not the happiest moment of my life.  That day came later, and I can cling to that moment instead.

The letting go of that day?  Is an incredible battle, one that I know isn't over.  I will always wish it had been different.  Always.  But I am learning to let go of that sorrow and instead am thankful that I am here, now, loving her and her sister in all the ways I could not do before.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Go Fish

I think I have mentioned before how much the girls just love to play in the bath? They do. I can convince Abigail to clean up the living room of all her toys and play nicely with her sister as long as the promise of "splash-splash" time hangs in the air. Likewise as soon as Isabel realizes she's being carried into the bathroom she becomes a huge 10 month old ball 'o wiggles. If she was taller she would climb into the tub, on her own, with clothes on. (And trust me, she's tried a few times, the fact that the edge of the tub is up to her collar bone was apparently not a deterrent.)

Right now? My least favorite time of the day is bath time. Why you ask? Because it involves playing a little game I have been secretly calling Russian poo-lette for the past month or so. Can you see where I'm going here? No? Let me paint the picture:

Two sweet girls are in the tub, with bubbles because their Mommy is super nice, and toys. Lots and lots of toys. Cup toys, and squirty toys and foam letter toys. It's a toy palooza. Then, all of a sudden, I notice one that is not like the others. A lump of something brown. And long. And possibly squishy. Yup, that's poo. In the tub. With the kids. And the eighty billion toys.

And then before I can even swoop into action and pull the kids out and start the cleaning process my eldest spots the offending log. "Mommy! Mommy there is poo in the tub! Right there Mom! Sissy pooped!" She abandons ship just as fast as she can and stands shivering on the rug giving me a 'well what now?' look. Isabel on the other hand seems quite pleased with herself and has absolutely no qualms what so ever about playing in poop water.

And this right here is why I hate bath time: someone has to fish that poo out of the water. And then Lysol the tub. And then rewash the previously clean kids. Not to mention the pile of bath toys that now have to be cleaned and then put back into the toy bucket.

So every night as I take the girls up to the bathroom I wonder: will it happen tonight? Will I be fishing poo out of my bathtub this evening? Have I even changed a dirty diaper from Isabel today?

It's totally a game of Russian poo-lette, and lately? I've been doing a lot of fishing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Love: a verb

Lately Abigail has been a pill. She is suddenly prone to throwing fits over simple things, like being asked to pick out a spoon for breakfast cereal, or "can you get a diaper?" Even "help Daddy set the table" which used to be a favorite 'chore' is grounds for a knock down drag out crying fit rarely witnessed in our house after she mastered the English language. (Before she could clearly express herself she would get hysterical when her grunts or pointing didn't convey her messages clearly enough. I always thought she was equally annoyed at herself as well as us, but that's another story.) The best that I can figure is that she is acting out against the attention that Isabel is getting. As Izzy gets older she takes more of my time; to stop her from climbing the stairs, to feed, play with, cuddle, etc. Abby clearly does not appreciate sharing her Mommy. So I've started putting Isabel down to bed 30 minutes before Abigail and taking that extra half hour to play one on one with Abby. Almost instantly the crying fits are fewer and shorter than they were 2 days ago. Which is saying A LOT!

It is a revelation to me that Abby feels like her sister is a threat to her time with her parents because I know that I love both my girls deeply and equally. Of course I'm also an adult who can rationalize that an infant is likely to take more time to care for in a day than a toddler. Since I can't exactly make Abby understand such an abstract concept I can do the next best thing: give her my undivided attention so that she sees how much I love her.

It's been a good lesson for me - a refresher course I didn't know that I needed:
Actions speak louder than words.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Going long distances with small people

We have survived our travels, but barely. By the skin of our teeth we managed not to leave any horrendous headlines in our wake. (But only just barely. There were moments when MSNBC might have lead the 8 o'clock news with "Parents leave a toddler and infant on plane, claim they 'thought they were right behind them'.") But we made it back, in one piece, all children we started with still present when we got to the house.

Some things I have learned through this experience:
-Do not wear white jeans on plane with the baby in your lap. You will get off 5 hours later looking like a stripped graham cracker.
-Do not let the kindly stewardess top off your eldest daughter's frist apple juice of the trip unless you would like her to wear it for the remainder of the 12 hour day.
-Also remember to pack outfits for BOTH your children in your carry-on. 6 outfits for the infant will not help when the apple juice crisis hits. (Men's undershirts will work for toddler clothes in a pinch.)
-Have a camera on hand to take photos of your toddler looking like a biblical character coming off the plane: long white shirt-dress, black blanket tied around neck cape style, brown sandals on. So cute, sadly no evidence except in my memory!
-Bring a pack mule to help you get from baggage claim to the curb to load the car as 2 car seats, stroller, port-a-crib, 1 large bag, carry on, laptop case, backpack and kids are hard to manage alone.

The moral of this story? Vacation is (and was) fun, but hauling 2 kids across America and back on a plane? Is a fight I may not be willing to undertake again. Or, at least not until the momory of my eldest hollering "I don't want to go on a plane!" (while sitting on the runway) stops ringing in my ears.

Give me a year. I'll be ready to try again. Maybe.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

That's my daughter

Abigail spends all day, every day with me. More or less. Which means I shouldn't be surprised when she starts to sound like me. But there you are: I was. She parrots back words that I had no idea were regulars in my vocabulary line up. My favorite? "Ridiculous". As in "Mom, that's ridiculous! (I have no intention to clean up/get my cup/take a nap)"

Also the other day she was sitting in the car going through some junk mail when her voice pipes up: "Oh. My. Goodness. *big sigh* Oh my goodness!" I peered over my shoulder to see what was causing this out burst - she was shaking open a sheet of paper and peering at it incredulously. "12 dollars!?" She shook her head and said a little softer: "12 dollars. Oh my gosh." I have no who or what was attempting to raid her piggy bank so viciously, but she was clearly appalled.

Then, later, on another drive: An incautious driver made a left hand turn in front of me and I sputtered out something to the effect of: "Hello?!" To which Abby contributed, loudly, from the back seat: "Hey! Lady! There was a stop sign there!" (There wasn't, but, you know, the sentiment was right.)

So here is my daughter greeting the world with skeptisim at the tender age of 3. Already slightly jaded that someone would want her 12 dollars (though where she had acquired such a fortune I'd like to know) and her skills as a back seat driver have already formed admirably. I see many years of "helpful" comments coming from the rear of the car.

Which I hope to find half as funny as I do today.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Counting my blessings

I have been reminded lately, thanks to fellow bloggers, friends and life, how lucky we are. Josh's job as a recruiter keeps him at home. No training for weeks in the field, no night ranges, nothing "regular army" for three whole years.

And it's amazing. He was here to see Isabel born, to hold her in the first moments of life and since he has had the amazing blessing to see her every day as she grows into a crawling, babbling baby. I know having lived a year without that, just how special it is. How important. How much a salve it must be for his heart.

What brings this to mind? This last week Josh has been at work pretty much around the clock. His office is running a booth at the fair and it's kept him away from dawn till dusk. He has missed more family dinners this week than he has in months and he hasn't put Abigail to bed in over a week - very irregular.

And Abigail has noticed. She's taken to crying for no reason in the middle of the day for her Daddy. Asking for him over and over and then not believing me when I saw he's coming home at bedtime. She is convinced that he's gone to California without us and isn't coming back. (To explain: he went briefly to the west coast for a wedding a few months back and was gone for 4 days. This has stuck with her apparently.)

The only saving grace? I get to tell her, every time she asks: "He's coming home tonight. He'll kiss you before bed, or maybe after you're in bed, but he's going to be here when you wake up for sure." And my heart breaks with every word because friends of mine whose husbands are serving in Afghanistan right now, don't get to say that. And I can't imagine telling Abby 'He'll be home next year.' Or 'next month.' Or 'soon.' Or God forbid: 'never.'

So I know how lucky we are. How precious these moments are. And my heart breaks thinking of friends who are by no means unlucky, but who are bravely facing a reality I can scare imagine.

So today? I am thankful for long hours, for crappy recruiting jobs, for 3 year assignments and for a husband who serves his country with honour, but who also chose to serve his family by asking to do the job that everyone told us to stay away from, just to be here. Every day I am thankful for the ordinary moments that we have been blessed with.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The world beyond awaits

Not to long ago we were out and about when Abby came up to me and asked: "What's this?" My heart nearly leap out of my chest when I realized that she was holding a peanut M&M. I took it away from her and gently explained it was something that would make her very, very sick. Then yesterday I was getting ready to go outside to do yard work; when I came into the kitchen to see if Abby had her shoes on, too, I was surprised to see she wasn't there. Through the window in the back door I saw a small head of brown hair bobbing in and out of sight. I ran, flung the door open, scooped up my daughter and then tried to calmly explain why going outside without Mommy is such a bad idea.

It has been a long week for me, full of reminders that everyday my daughter is pushing her orbit out a little further away from me and everyday the world is getting a little closer to her. And this is a world full of dangerous, terrifying things. Because how do you explain to a 3 year old that something as tiny as a candy covered peanut is waiting to kill her? That there are bad things, bad people, waiting outside to hurt her? How do you begin the lesson that there isn't a Fairy Godmother waiting to make sure the end comes out right; that sometimes Prince Charming shows up, but he never finds the glass slipper or, worse yet, he picks the evil step sister instead. How do you prepare her for a lifetime of unknowns, of scary, of broken hearts and sometimes hurt?

As a mother how do you raise them to let them go? Because I know that is what we are meant to do: raise competent adults from the children we have been blessed with. My own mother stood aside and let me grow into a woman, and then later into a wife and mother. But Mom? How did you manage to breathe while you did it? Because I've been holding my breath since Abby found a peanut M&M and the world and all it's tiny horrors opened before me. And I am terrified to take the next breath, and the next, and the all the ones after that.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Walking blind

My nightstand is home to many things: books, hair ties, clips, binkies, and lately a sleep mask. I bought it when pregnant with Isabel and just recently rediscovered it while trying to nap. Because? Summer sunlight and heat made hiding under a pillow impossible.

The other day Abigail found it.

You bet she put it on.

And, naturally, took a walk.

I started saying "Abby! Abby stop!" But she just giggled. And completely ignored me.

And then? There was a loud thwack of her head against the door frame and the thud as she sat down hard. She was splayed out on the floor for a full 5 seconds completely bewildered before she started howling. I scooped her up and hugged her until the crying tapered off. Then we talked about how maybe? Walking with a blindfold on? Not such a good idea.

You might think that would make an impact on her?


The sleep mask? Too much fun, apparently. She put it on again and took off in great big strides. I was barely able to grab it off her head before she slammed into the foot board of our bed.

Of course.

The mask? Now? In it's new home: on top of the TALL dresser.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A tub full of wishes

A tub, some water, a bottle of body wash. Normal enough parts - but add two small girls and you'll get a horse of a completely different color. Most nights Abigail begs to go "splash-splash-splash" with Izzy and most nights I agree, because after a hot day nothing feels better than a cool bath before bed.

Watching the girls interact in the tub brings a smile to my face every time. Isabel splashes with a reckless abandon unaware that she is terrifying her sister who has a near apoplectic fit every time water larger than a dew drop nears her face. Abigail manages to bear it with aplomb and even gets in the act and splashes back - much to Isabel's delight. They chase each other around the tub one squishy tushy wiggling in inch deep water around and beside the other. They overflow with giggles and tiny-person voices and generally act as though nothing in the world could top the joy of the moment.

Except mine: This is why I have two daughters. A tub full of mirth is what I wished for without knowing the name of it. Two little girls who already love each other, already chase each other across rooms and beg to sleep next to each other is it's own kind of unequaled perfection. Two is better than one, but two girls? So much better than I imagined. Ever. Even if I tried really hard. (Which I did.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Backwater Mama:Amam Retawkcab

Here is a view: a woman elbow deep in her small garden, kneeling in shorts that have a milk stain or two on them already and hair that hasn't seen a shower since yesterday. A toddler bent and focused on the green beans being picked, her feet tucked into sandals that need a good scrubbing and are on the wrong feet to boot; her hair is in desperate need of a brush. Behind them both a baby sits in a highchair in the middle of the yard, naked but for her diaper, cooing and babbling away at her family.

But who was viewing me so? A book salesman came peddling his wares today, catching me off guard and unprepared for company of any sort - even the transient kind. I felt incredibly backwater as I held my toddler tight to my side as I explained we'd already bought those books and were full up for the time being. Half way through the youngest began to fuss, irritated at being forgotten, I picked her up switching one child for the other on my hip. Once in my arms I discovered that not only was she naked but her face was covered with remnants from her much earlier banana snack. That was the icing on the cake: I was ready for the salesman to leave so I could run back into the house to shower and clothe the youngest and generally un-hillbilly myself.

But after some thought I began to consider: Do we not always see the worst of ourselves in our own reflection? Aren't there two sides to a mirror and if so, what other way might I have been perceived today?

Another view: A woman is elbow deep in her small plot of garden, her daughters close at hand. She is teaching a valuable lesson: reap what you sow, be resourceful. If her clothes aren't perfect it is because small hands have used her as a napkin or blanket depending on the need. If her hair isn't done it is because something more pressing has pulled at her attention: there is always one more book to read, one more game to play. Her daughter's shoes are on the wrong feet because she is an independent, do-it-myself kind of 3 year old. If her youngest is naked but for her diaper it is only to allow her to stay cool, to be more comfortable than anyone else is allowed to be in humid summer heat. The remains of bananas on her cheeks make me think: shouldn't we all be so covered by fun once in a while that even a good scrub can't get it all off?

The mirror of motherhood has two sides: It can be so easy to see only the harsher version, but to be able to see beyond to the side that rejoices in the very parts that make it unseemly is the challenge. My hope is always to look into the mirror and then beyond into the world where everything that I think marks me as an unkempt mother rather exemplifies my best attempts at motherhood.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Mother's First Dictionary

Just a few of the many Abby-isms that pop up in conversation around here. They tend to crack me up and hope that they bring a smile to your face, too!

hoop-a-loop (hoola hoop)
Cinder-la-la (Cinderella)
ca-bees (because)
dammy (mom or dad)
Izzy-bell or Sissy-bell (Isabel)
blue blue car (Dad's car)
Mickey Mouse Clubs-clubs (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show)
ban-ban (band-aid)
pataeboes (potato or tomato)
Sleeping Booty (Sleeping Beauty)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

That Mom

I was that Mom last week. You know who I mean: the one who brings her children into a store and then fails to keep them silent and orderly. The mom who looks obviously frazzled facing down a 2 year old while trying to quite the infant. The one who regularly bribes said toddler with refined sugar and popcorn as she pleads with her to get back into the cart. I evened used the "angry while in public mom voice." (For those of you who have perfect children and therefore have never used this technique it's where you manage to speak through clenched teeth at just above a whisper as you tell your child just how much trouble they're about to be in. I distinctly remember being on the reciving end of this kind of "talk" as a child, probably in the same sitution I use it in these days.)

That was me. I freely admit it. And to the locals here: I'm sorry. I really am.

To the women in the ladies section at Target: I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't have let my daughter out of the cart but I really didn't think she'd take off at top speed for the opposite side of the deptartment. I also didn't think she'd hide in the clothing racks and then pop out as you passed giving you a heart attack. (Please send medical bills to: Frazzled mom, aisle 4, Target.)

To those who had to witness the cranky toddler being forced back into the cart: I'm sorry. I was trying to keep her from taking more things off the shelves than I could resonably put back as she continued to move at top speed. I should have known as soon as her bottom touched the seat she would start her "I'm not getting my way" wail. But it still came as a shock to me - and to your ears, too, I'm sure.

To those who listened to the baby crying: Again, sorry. By the time we got to the store it was nap time. It's always nap time when you're 8 months old. My daughter is espically picky: she likes to sleep in her crib. And she cannot sleep in Target, so she cries. I'll work my my pacifier technique for the next trip, I promise.

To the other Mom's who want to offer unsolicited advice: Don't. I do not want to hear that your son will sit in the cart from parking lot to store and back again. I do not want to hear that your daughter will walk primly beside you while you browse the clearence rack endlessly. My daughter can do that too. When she wants to... Which it turns out was not today.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Topic for discussion: Poo

You know how I know I'm a mom? No, it's not the obvious: the abundance of people under 3 ft tall following me around all the time. Oh no. It's that poo is a genuine concern of mine. As in it makes apperances at the dinner table as a topic of conversation. Seriously. Who has and has not gone recently, how much, consistancy, smell and likelyhood that foods on the table will encourage or discourage another diaper deposit are all frequent subjects.

I wish this wasn't the case. Really I do. But somehow part of being a parent is being deeply, irrevicoably, interested in poo.

Other things I care about and really wish I didn't:

~Belly button gunk
~Picking mysterious subtances out of hair (not always the kid's hair, either)
~Prying half eaten stuff from a mouth, then examining it to figure out what it once was
~Throw up
~The crud found under toenails

Friday, July 23, 2010

We'll be singing and singing and singing...

Abby loves to sing and some days (thought not all) she even likes it when I sing (which is proof that she must be tone deaf!). We have a song boook in the house and she has learned that if she points at a song and looks pitiful/cute enough I can be coaxed to sing. From that she's figured out that all it takes to have a mini mama concert is to point out new songs before I finish the old one. I've sung for 45 minutes straight before, which must have been torture for Josh who was sitting next to me and is by no means tone deaf (he had wisely kept his singing abilibites to himself and is not bothered by Abby).

All this leads up to today when on a drive Abby wants to sing the wheels on the bus - not an unusual request, really. However, today she instructs me there are only 3 wheels on the bus and my song needs to reflect this. Funny how adding one small syllabul to a song can confuse you! The other perennial favorite is "she'll be coming 'round the mountian" a song Abby likes because I let her pick which animals go into the song. This is usually easy - unless she says polar bear in which case I'm hopeless as that's a syllabul and a half to much for my meger skills. Today was no different, and she pulled out all the stops on this song, we sang that she'd be ridding: horses (that was me), trucks, motorcycles, trees, pickles!, and my favorite: a pickle carseat. That's right, rather than "she'll be riding six white horses when she comes" it was "she'll be riding in pickle carseat when she comes" - tounge twister no matter what! When I gentely tell her maybe my skills aren't up to her pickle challenge she says to me: "yes you can! You can do it, Mommy!" Who can turn down such cheering? So I muddled through it laughing most the way - which could only make the song sound better.

Oh and did I mention the greatest irony of all? Abby loves the word 'pickle' but actually hates the food. Naturally.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A letter to my youngest daughter

Sweet Isabel,
I want to remember, for always, the way your tiny body tucks into mine, so that your knees press against my stomach and your hands are at my neck. I adore the sweet milky smell you still have - that ancient hallmark of an infant. I love how your peach fuzz hair stands on end after a nap, giving you a startled look as you smile up at me from your crib. You are a miracle to behold - each day you discover something new about yourself - this week you have found your tongue and nothing could make you happier than to blow raspberries and attempt to lick everyone within arms reach. The week before it was your toes - your whole goal seemed to be to fit all ten in your mouth at once (I think your personal best was 7). I love how excited you are to see me when I come into a room, how your eyes light up and your whole body vibrates in anticpation of being held. I want to remember for a lifetime the way you look up at me from my arms, your eyes alight with love and joy.

I am so honored to love and know you,

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A letter to my eldest daughter

Dearest Abigail:
There are so many things I want to remember about you, now, at this age. There is the way you suddenly fling yourself at me and wrap your arms as tight as you can around my neck and whisper into my ear "I love you, mommy," or the way you snuggle up next to me when I read you a story that warms my heart. There are a thousand memories that I want to store forever, to hold and cherish of you, because this time is all to fleeting - I can see that. I love how when I come home I can hear you careening around the house aiming for the back door screaming "Mommy's home! Mommy's home!" at the top of your lungs - and of course the way you graciously reintroduce me to our family ("this is Daddy, that's Izzy") as though I have been gone years, not hours. I love your unexpected quips: I ask you if a new pair of sun glasses look good and you say "you really look like a bug, Mommy" or when you patiently ask Daddy and I to come to the living room "so the rain can start" (I don't pretend to always understand). Each day is an adventure and it makes me stand in awe of you, of what you know and what you are capable of learning and how new the world still is for you. You have taught me so much in so little time: to dance even when there's no music, to sing even if you don't know all the words, and to laugh just to hear the sound.

Thank you sweet pea, for your wisdom and love!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

20 Things I Say Every Day (Abigail)

1. I love you.
2. Good morning
3. Are you hungry/thristy?
4. If you're not going to drink that now can you put it in the fridge?
5. Can I have a hug/kiss?
6. Someone's stinky - who pooed?
7. Yes, I would love to read a book to you!
8. No.
9. Would you like to go on a timeout?
10. I love you!
11. Please stop sitting on your sister.
12. Can you help me pick up the mess?
13. What kind of snack do you want?
14. You're such a good dancer/singer!
15. Mmmm, that's a yummy (plastic) dinner you just made!
16. Are you sleepy?
17. Don't move until Mommy cleans you up!
18. Please stop playing with your food.
19. Can I please change your diaper now?
20. I love you, Princess!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ode to things I rarely use

O towel, my towel, you hang so neatly on the bar,
Your soft fabric so lovingly washed, so neatly folded,
You must think I don't like you - But really, I do!
Do not fear, O towel, my towel!
One day, perhaps soon, both the girls will be napping
and I will find a moment - so brief!
Then I shall need you again, so wait for me,
O towel, my towel.

Dear shower, my shower, you call to me each day,
The dry floor of your tub, so mocking, so lonely
I miss you dearly and long for your spray of hot water,
Dear shower, my shower, If I bathe before bed (when else is there time?)
I will have wasted clean hair on my pillow
Someday I will find time to use you each day -
Dear shower, my shower!

O clothes, my clothes, how I admire you hung in the closet,
I live in pajamas, loose t-shirts and socks,
To feel the stiff fabric of denim - to wear something real,
O clothes, my clothes, how I long for a reason
To cast aside last nights outfit - but what is the use?
Clean clothes but no shower is a fool's errand
O clothes, my clothes!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

You don't say

Watching Abby learn to speak English is both entertaining (as when she manages to come up with completely new pronunciations for words, like bang-bang for band-aid) as well as revealing. If you ever want to know how ridiculous some of the rules of English are, talk to a toddler. They distill out the basic rules of speech: pluralization, verb placement and possessive nouns and then apply them to all situations. Unfortunately they haven't learned yet that English has a tenancy to make very little sense.

Case in point: Abby understands that when you have many of a thing you should place an 's' at the end to signify the plural. This seems easy and straight forward until you encounter such a word as popcorn which to her mind should be 'popcorns' and logically so. Sadly English does not concur. Also a constant plural troublemaker is tracks (as in train tracks). The idea that they are already pluralized does not register with her and therefore she will ask in all earnestness to have you put her train 'trackses' together.

I also get the opportunity to watch her think through a sentence - usually out loud. It's not uncommon for her to stop mid-sentance and start over, the obvious reason being that half way through she realized that she wasn't ever going to get to the end of the sentence the way she ought to. This usually happens when she's trying to use two verbs in a sentence (I want to go outside and blow bubbles) or when she's trying to establish an order of activity appropriately (I want to watch this movie first). It will occasionally begin: "I want to outside" or "I want first." Her face is so expressive at times that I can watch her thoughts play across her face in such situations: first the determination to ask for whatever it is she wants, followed by confusion/consternation when she realizes something is a muck with her sentence structure, then the determination to start over and say it right. She is quite the perfectionist and won't leave off trying to get it right, even if she has to stumble through it 3 times.

Beyond this daily struggle to navigate the spoken word she is also discovering the spoken emotion. There seems to be no real way to explain that emotions are on a grade with hate at one end and love at the other and like somewhere in there, too. To her mind it is all more or less equal. If she doesn't like it, then she must hate it and if she likes it she must therefore love it. An example: yesterday she was standing in the hallway her hand against the newly painted wall when she announced: "I love this wall, Mom!" This was news to me, I wasn't aware that this wall had done anything to merit so strong an opinion from her. (To date she also loves not only the wall but the paint color, various trucks and sundry birds, her diapers, pjs and, of course, her family.) She also freely announces "I hate this rice!" at dinner, which when she eats all of it a moment later makes one wonder what exactly she was trying to convey.

Thought I attempt to help her navigate this strange world of spoken language I know, in the end, it's something that she'll unravel and discover all on her own. I only wish that the few changes she's made would take root; because, really, popcorns does make so much more sense than popcorn!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tell Me What You Think!

I know some of you have asked how to leave comments, apparently I had a restrictive setting on the site which only allowed "members" to comment. I've removed that now so you should be able to comment without hassle. (There is a drop down box at the end of the comment you can either put in your name or pick anonymous, no need to sign in - even though that option is there.) Please let me know if you have issues. If there are any other changes I can/should make please let me know. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Signs and Symptoms of MH

The first sign of the life long condition called Motherhood (MH) is usually the little understood condition Baby Fever (BF), though not always present BF can be a good indication that MH will become fully active shortly. It is worth noting that Fatherhood (FH) is symptomatically very similar to it's counterpart MH, the most noticeable difference between the two is the inital physical aspect of MH is conspicuously absent in FH.

The gestation period of MH is about 9 months and once contracted will stay with a woman until death. At the end of the gestation period there is a rather painful process that ushers a woman into the first truly active phase of MH. This process can vary in length from a few hours to a few days and intensity of pain is highly subjective, some women have very little while others experience much more, regardless of these variables this period is nearly always marked by a brief hospital stay. Once contracted the condition does have different phases, the beginning phase being the most active while later phases seem to allow for a certain amount of rest. The active phase(s) of MH may include, but are not limited to: lack of sleep, constant running, forgetfulness, a need to gather small objects, declined interest in world events, decreased attention to grooming (i.e: hair cuts, etc.), and a sudden interest in, or awareness of, the dangers of common household items. However, it is inadvisable to get comfortable in the later "rest" periods as an active phase of MH can crop up with little to no warning. It is worth noting that women who have MH will often have daughters who have it as well; the daughter's conception of MH will usually result in a sudden active period for these women - in some cases lasting years.

Unlike every other condition that can afflict a woman MH is the only one that is actively sought after by those who do not have the condition and seems to bring intense joy at the moment of diagnosis. Though a lifelong condition MH is managed without much medical intervention at all. Most women who have MH remain in good spirits and in fact most seem to find continued happiness and comfort in, and from, MH. Though MH does remain with a woman throughout her life it appears that the condition increases her quality of life rather than diminishes it (the very earliest stages of MH being excluded). MH, in short, is not a life ending condition, rather a life altering one; but as many a MH veteran can attest it is not at all an unwelcome diagnosis.

Monday, May 24, 2010

They Only Need You When You Sit Down

As parents - and mom's especially - we pride ourselves on the development of that phenom "the eyes in the back of the head." Children it seems have also been wried with a sixth sense of their own: the uncanny ability to tell - down to the nano-second - when a mom has gotten comfortable somewhere. It never fails. They will wake spontaneously from naps with a howl, magically lose ALL their toys and need them retrieved from behind couches or another child's mouth, or they will be overcome with a sudden desire to be read to. Either way whatever they want it is bound to interrupt the "rest" and busy mom has found.

Now on the other hand the busier you are as a mom the more likely it is the child will be content to build miles of train tracks or color peaceably in coloring books (for once not attacking your library). Piles of laundry and dirty bathrooms yield compliant kids - 5 minutes on the couch? Complete anarchy.

Go figure. On the upside I tend to have lots of clean laundry and toilets on hand. I guess that counts for something.

(Encase you are wondering how I managed to write this (since blogging is apparently restful as far as my girls are concerned): I have broken up no less than 3 attempts to feed Isabel something small and plastic, hugged Abby after she fell off a child sized chair (while attempting feeding 2 with her sis), and rescued my sunglasses, phone and sundry kitchen items from the hands of my toddler - who was attempting to offer them to the baby for chewing purposes. And mind you, this has all taken a scant 10 minutes to pen. Now imagine if I'd wanted to watch a full 30 minute show!?)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why Walk if Someone Will Carry You

If Isabel could talk I think she would look at Abigail and roll her little baby eyes and say: "If you just sat there and looked cute someone would eventually come along and carry you around so you wouldn't have to do anything. Ever. Now sit down! You're ruining it for the rest of us, you over achiever!"

Isabel seems content to be a baby forever. She rolls over like a champ but does not seem interested in crawling, or sitting up, or generally making any attempt to move into the older baby phase of childhood. She held out for the better part of a month when it came to baby food, seeming to insist - as much as an infant can - that such an addition to her diet was both unnecessary and unwelcome. She has grudgingly begun eating sweet potatoes, but the glares I get at dinner make it clear she's swallowing against her will.

While I might seem like I'm complaining, I don't mean too. I love it! Abigail spent the vast majority of her infant months frustrated: that she couldn't sit up, that she couldn't crawl and then walk, that Cheerios seemed to get in her eyes and not her mouth. It was a year of irritation for her, or so her little sour looks seemed to say. Our second daughter is relaxed and at ease with her abilities, she seems to have no greater frustration in life than trying to manage to fit 4 fingers into her mouth rather than the usual 3.

It makes for a wonderful infancy, full of giggles and only the occasional glare - usually aimed at me as I try to encourage her grow up faster than she wants to. I should enjoy these moments, because if Abigail has taught me nothing else it's that kids will grow up faster than seems possible.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lions, Dragons and Bunnies... Oh my!

We have embarked on a new adventure with Abigail: her imagination. Just yesterday I went to get into the shower while Abby was in the room with me - privacy is myth as far as I'm concerned, rather like Yeti: I'd have to see it to believe it. Anyway, Abby pulled back the shower curtain and announced: "Mommy! There's a lion in there!" "Really?" I replied as I peered over her shoulder expecting a lion-shaped bath toy to be hanging out by the drain, but no. The tub was empty. This lion was invisible. "What's a lion doing in there, Abby?" "I dunno" she said and wandered off to pop some imaginary 'popcorns' under the bathroom sink. Then today the lion was back and still Abby had no idea as to why a lion would be hanging out with me in the shower. She also announced there was a pink bunny in the corner of the bathroom too. Apparently we have a zoo forming. Then at dinner a dragon was hiding under glasses of juice and innocent looking tableware. Amazing!

Considering the potentially scary nature of some of these new house guests Abigail seems unperturbed. She's just announces when they arrive and then seems rather surprised when she looks again (such as after my shower) and finds them to be gone.

It's fascinating to watch her imagination grow day by day, she is becoming more and more creative all the time. I'm sure she'll be having her imaginary friends over to tea any day now - and maybe then she can ask her lion to kindly schedule his bath time after mine.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just call me Mad

Lately Abigail has given up calling me Mom - or for that matter Mama or Mommy, too. Right now she can't seem to decide what she wants to call Josh or I so she's invented a Mom-Dad hybrid word to make sure that no matter who she's speaking to, we're all covered. There are two options in Abby-speak: Mad or Dam. It's great. Really. I'm Mad and Josh is Dam, or wait, is it I'm Dam and he's Mad? Who knows. The short of it is that Abigail has taken to speaking in a kind of code that goes far beyond the usual dropping of vowels in a new word or warping the pronunciation so that only a Mother can translate. We have come across the hilarious "ca-bees" which so far as we've figured means "because" and "flamnnnngooma" (which when spoken is about 6 syllables) that means flamingo.

I feel as though I need a dictionary to navigate her childhood. Each day I stand before her earnestly trying to decipher what she means this time. Pointing helps but at least a half dozen times a day I get an exasperated look from her (who knew that the "gee you're stupid Mom" looks that teenagers have perfected begins at 2) and she tries again to explain what she's after. Poor girl, so often I just abandon the project and try to distract her with her favorite toy/snack/game. I can only hope that when Isabel reaches this age Abby will still speak toddler sufficiently to translate. It seems like such a small hope in a life: to have someone else tell you what in the heck your ticked off toddler wants - even if it's your other toddler!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Survival Instincts

I have come to the conclusion that mother's who have a clean car - by which I mean a clean backseat - scare me. Case in point: we've had a rental car for about 3 days now, and Abigail has already destroyed it. Crumbs, dribbles of milk and toys abound. It's hopeless. I've tried - I really have! - to clean the backseat on a regular basis, but somehow seeing you hard work and painstaking vacuuming going to waist mere moments after your toddler gets into her car seat is demoralizing.

So Mom's out there who have an immaculate car: I don't trust you. It just doesn't seem possible. I'm sure you have a logical system for keeping it clean, something really simple like "no food in the car" and "only water in the sippies" and good for you, hope that works out well. Sadly my feisty daughter would not survive without her milk, her cheese crackers and her fruit snacks for each trip. The result being, naturally, enough food on the floor of the car to feed a family of 4 for the better part of a weekend.

All of this naturally leaves only one option: draw a line down the middle of the car - my side and theirs. Mine will be a clean Mommy-only zone: no cheese cracker crumbs, no sippy spills, no fruit snacks embedded into the carpet. And their side? I think I'll leave it alone on the off chance we're ever stranded and need food until the rescue chopper arrives.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A revelation

My husband came home from work the other day to find me - his lovely though frazzled wife - standing in the kitchen attempting to make dinner while also keeping the 2 year old from sitting on the 5 month old, and the dog from eating our cat. In short, it was a normal evening. Loving man that he is, he sees immediately that I am about 4 arms short of being able to handle the situation long term, and offers to help by taking one or both of the kids to the living room so I can cook in peace. I believe he does as much for my sanity as for the fact that a distracted wife tends to serve burned and over salted dinners. But first, he says, I need to go to the bathroom.

And then something miraculous happened: He closed the door.

He was in the bathroom, ostensibly using the facilities, and my 2 year old was on the other side of the door. Just staring. She looked bewildered, as though she had never seen something like this before - a magical entity that shut her off from the joys of interrupting an adult in the restroom. She looked at me, then at the door, and then at me again. "Daddy's going pee-pee" she announced and then ran off.

Why haven't I thought of this before? This amazing invention has been here all this time - and I, foolish Mom, have ignored it's power. So, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go test out this new contraption right now and see what 3 minutes of privacy feels like.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pairs Well With

My lovely 2 year old daughter and I have a great system worked out: anytime I wish to vaccum (which with a dog and cat is about every other day) she plays in her room and I clean downstairs. This has worked out marvelously, I get the cleaning done and she gets 15 minutes to play upstairs in the bedrooms. Most days I find her playing dress up in my closet or putting her stuffed animals to sleep in her bed.

However, that was not the case today. I went up to get her after the vaccum had turned off and she hadn't appeared at the top of the stairs to annouce "Mommy's done!" as usual. This was not a good sign. (As any Mom can atest silence never bodes well.) I followed a strange menthol sent to her room and found her half naked, a small pot of Vicks Vapo-rub empty at her feet. I leapt into action wisking my gleeful toddler to the bathroom for a wash off when I realize it's not just smeared on her chest - oh no, she has it down her legs, on her arms and worst of all on her face.

Have you ever tried to quiz a toddler about weither or not she's eaten something? She will invariaible tell you all kinds of intersting and useful things - but not the information you're after and even if she did tell you, you wouldn't believe her anyway because she's 2 will say or agree with the most rediculous things you've ever heard. (Seriously, try it, ask a toddler if they've seen a pink elephant recently - bet you they'll say 'yes.') I had no other choice: I calmly stuck my nose in her mouth trying to figure out if the menthol smell was from her breath or from her thickly covered cheeks. There was no way to tell for sure. Immediately I ran for the medicine to read what to do incase of ingestion. I scanned the bottle as quickly as I could (meaning I had to read it about 3 times before any of the tiny print made any sense) I came to what I was after: Call Poision Control. I could only shake my head and smirk - what did I think it was going to say: Pairs well with wheat crackers and fresh pressed apple cider?

Once I called Posion Control I got a very nice lady on the line (thank you to the peditrician for sending me home with posion control stickers for the phone!) who tells me the irritant in Vick's Vapo-rub is camphor, and wouldn't you know? She suggests I give Abby some crackers and juice to settle any possible stomach upset. Naturally. Now where did I leave those fancy crackers?